OK, Let’s Talk About Seattle [Marathon].

petulant – pet·u·lant – ˈpeCHələnt – adjective: 1. (of a person or their manner) childishly sulky or bad-tempered. “she was moody and petulant”

“The lateral collateral ligament (LCL) is probably the least often injured ligament of the knee.” Cite.

Because, of course.

Remember Ragnar when I rolled my ankle? And then my left knee was hurting on the downhills?

And then I took it easy in the two weeks in between, sort of. Low impact, indoor treadmill-ing on the fancy treadmills at my gym.

My longest run in the interim was a bit over two hours, 0.0 incline 15-16.0-ish on the fancy shock absorbing low impact treadmill.

The “toughest” one was 11-ish with incline variances, on the not so fancy treadmill, tempo pace.

At Seattle I set out to have a strong but relaxing finish for the West Coast Challenge.  It was cold, to which my body, particularly my left knee, has never responded well.

I set off trotting along at an easy and surprisingly even pace.

And then Mile 12.

Just past mile 12, just as I was passing the maximum effort threshold for the previous two weeks, my left knee just quit.

And I walked, eventually limped, the remaining 14 miles.

I did manage to trot across the finish line. But if this had not been 5 of 5, I would have been out.  I can state with certainty that had this not been 5 of 5, I would have quit around Mile 17.

I am fortunate to be generally healthy, generally financially stable, and to have a variety of very smart and successful professionals among my friends and family. Happy Thanksgiving for that.

Without MRIs and scans (premature I’m told, “see how this week goes”), based on my description of events and some general physical examination, the most likely cause is a mild LCL sprain aggravated by running (walking) a marathon two weeks after the inciting incident, and running (however reduced/modified for my personal habits) what most people would consider high mileage in those two weeks in between the initial cause and the subsequent marathon.

But all is not lost. The emphasis is on “mild.” The fact that it was not aggravated during my indoor, climate controlled workouts is promising. The fact that it did not have any problems for the first 12 miles in Seattle is also promising.

Alternatively, ITBS, which has similar symptoms and is consistent with my history of the left knee acting up in winter. Both are indicated by pain and weakness on the outside of the knee, and the two share most of their primary symptoms. But ITBS pain is slightly higher on the side of the knee. The location of my pain and the ankle rolling at Ragnar point to LCL.

Both are heal-able and rehab-able on a 2-4 week plan. Good.

But I have to be cautious, conservative, meticulous, etc, etc, etc… in my recovery/rehab efforts if I have any hope of going forward with the Maniac Double. In 6.5 weeks.

I have a pretty resilient body, so I’m not jumping to conclusions, either way. I’m going to make my best efforts to behave myself and not be too aggressive (or aggressive at all) too soon. Hopefully, this combined with my significant running base will allow me to go forward with the double, albeit with no time goals other than “finish.” But I’m realistic, at this point nothing is set in stone.

I’m being careful on the diet and nutrition front, too, because we are what we eat.

So basically, I’m going into December and the Holidays on a program that does not allow running, cute shoes, more than one drink with dinner, most holiday comfort foods, or dessert.  Presuming things follow the best case scenario, tomorrow I’m allowed on the recumbent bike and/or light walking. This weekend I can mindfully resume strength training.  But since I’m being cautious I probably won’t start the biking walking until Saturday or Sunday, and I’ll probably keep the strength training to the basic leg rehab exercises until next Monday. My pride wanted to ditch the full-time knee brace yesterday, reality seems to be dictating today or tomorrow, but in the spirit of “cautious” and “conservative” I’m giving it a genuine full 7 days of rest and support and sticking it out to Monday.  If things do not go best case scenario, next week I’ll be seeking scans to check for tears, etc. But as things are going so far, the initial prognosis seems to be panning out as predicted.

And I’ve been doing a whole lot of reminding myself of what I tell others — you only get one set of knees. Forfeiting $200 in race entry fees hurts, but not nearly as much as knee surgery or the resulting bill.

And yes, while I am doing my best to be adult about this, deep down, I’m quite petulant. It’s the best word for it. Deep down, I’m childish and sulky. Like being grounded as kid, where you can’t do any of the things you like to do.

But you know what?? It’s Christmas time. I have a job, a home, a car, heath insurance, friends, family, and a pretty mild form of the injury that I do have. So I’m going to focus on that, and, as always, we’ll see how it goes!!

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2013 WEST COAST MARATHON ADVENTURE, DONE!!!

You know what feels good? Finishing what you started.

West Coast Marathon Challenge COMPLETE!!!

LA SD SF PDX SEA.

Finished!! Hooraaaay!!!

Seattle Marathon Weekend was so much fun, but with a bittersweet ending I’m not ready to talk about.

I was met at the finish line by three of my favorite people bearing flowers, cameras, and craft beer.

In the days before there was shopping, movies, amazing food, and bar hopping.

After, Thai delivery, potato chips, beer, cocktails, and netflix. Good times.

So that’s that, the good news is I already have two new challenges set up for 2014.

The bad news is…. well, to be continued.

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Mile 24

I am a marathoner.

For serious. I don’t identify so well as a “runner.” But I do identify as a marathoner.

This weekend, I did Ragnar Trail Vail Lake.  It was a good time, there were ups and downs (literally, the elevations were ridiculous), some challenges — a seriously, multiple-y rolled left ankle leading to a seriously pissed off left leg, surprise rain, but still a generally good time was had.

But more so than anything, this event really drove home that I identify as a marathoner.

Before my last leg, I gave myself a little pep talk, one sentence: “ok, you’re at mile 24, get it done.”

And I’ve caught myself using that reference before, too. In the final stages of a ridiculous case, for example. At mile 12.3 at the Santa Barbara Half two weeks ago.

Mile 24 has come to represent the last bit of effort necessary to reach the finish of a major ongoing challenge.  You don’t drop out at mile 24. You run, walk, crawl, whatever it takes, because you’ve come that far.

It may not be a literal 2.2 miles left, on Saturday I had a challenging 3.57 remaining, and obviously, at Santa Barbara it was less than a mile.

And it’s not limited to running. This morning at Court I had to go to hearing on one remaining issue after previously settling 13 or 14 other open issues. This case was crazy, and I was not the least bit enthusiastic. But we’d come this far, and F if I was going to let it fall apart at the end. And what thought should pass through my head?

“Mile 24.” Suck it up and finish what you started. Get it done.

And that’s when I realized, only a certain group of people would get the reference, and an even narrower group of people would really, truly know the feeling the reference embodies.

My friend Liz and I were at the Santa Barbara Expo, and there was a booth for a 5/10k with a cool banner. Liz only saw the banner and got excited.

“ooh what’s that one?”

“too far for you and too short for me.”

Liz is a self-proclaimed spectator. She’ll road trip and cheer, and make posters, carry stuff, wake up a 3:30 am and stage the cars, but she will not run. So anything over 0.0 is too far for her. Try as I might, I can not bring myself to pay the registration fees to run “only 3” or “only 6” miles.

I even primarily register for the halves to practice my race plans for the marathons. I might get it in my head that I’ll train for a new “half marathon pace”, I’ve even gone on about it here — but really,  in the end I always change last minute to whatever combination of intervals I want to try out before the next full. AND when I arrive for a half that is affiliated with a full, without fail, every time, I get a little race envy.

AFC is great example of that, at the beginning of the week I was all excited to push through hard and try to PR. Then I looked at my training calendar, and then I got into the Portland Marathon maps, and then the AFC maps, and then I realized the similarities between AFC and the second half of Portland, and all my goals/targets for AFC got changed.

And after AFC, I even told spouse, destination half marathons just aren’t for me. “Too much money and hassle to only run 13.1.”

Not in any way intended to belittle the other distances. I mean, I don’t identify as an ultra-marathoner either.  Those just aren’t my distances.

It took me a really long time to identify as a “runner”.  I still feel kind of weird about it.

But I don’t feel weird at all identifying as a marathoner.

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why?

I know! On a roll with the regular blogging lately.  I saw a post on about weightloss today, and I have to talk about it, sorry. And it’ll probably read a little lawyerly too, but I’m a lawyer who’s been writing lawyerly documents all day, so that’s that.

Without going too deep into a bunch of complex issues, let’s start with the basic premise that many women in my demographic grew up with skewed body images and skewed relationships between food, exercise and self esteem. 

The next presumed premise is that the person referenced above is someone I’ve known for many years, but really could be any woman born between 1980 and 1990. 

Women who often fall into the trap of only adjusting their diet and exercise for purposes of affecting their appearance.

I’ve been there too. I’m still there sometimes. But what I’ve found, particularly over the last two years in teacher training and with the return to running, is that these two activities, I have never done for the exclusive purpose of weight loss. 

Ever. 

None of the times in my life that I have set out to change how I look or how much I weigh have involved yoga or running. Seriously. 

I have at various times adjusted my diet or calorie intake, I do occasionally enjoy trying out a fad diet for a 7- 28 day trial period if life permits, just to see what happens. I have planned out detailed 28-60 day activity schedules that incorporate weights, spin, stairmasters, and ellipticals at different times in my life when I had clearly gained a little too much or wanted arms that looked a certain way in a special outfit…

But I have never once gotten on a treadmill or gone to a yoga class for the purpose of weight loss. 

Don’t get me wrong, I mean, I’m sure all the running and yoga contribute to my having what’s been referred to by some as a “hot” body (due to my own lifelong body image/ego issues, I have to defer to past compliments, and not rely on my own assessments).

But when people ask how I can run so much, I mean, the answer is because I like it. Most days. Some days, it’s because I know I’ve already paid a non-refundable fee for an event, and I don’t want to have a crappy finish time or be in pain the whole way through. But most days, it’s because I like it.

And I like yoga. It feels good, it aligns my body, strengthens a diverse array of hard-to-activate muscle groups, it slows me down, and makes me calmer. It goes with me everywhere, even when I’m not consciously practicing.

I really hope that as my generation of women grows out of the kate-moss-ideal-body-type era, more women will find they are doing things because they make them feel good or they make them stronger or healthier or happier, not because of how it makes them look in whatever they plan to wear Friday night. It seems that this kind of epiphany is starting to trend, and I think that is great.

Because if you’re only exercising or eating because you want to look a certain way, then you probably will not enjoy much of either of those activities. But when you find something you like enough to do regularly, it all kind of comes together as a pleasant side effect.

alrighty, back off my soap box!! 

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….[crickets chirping]…………….

It’s 6:30 a.m. I’m up and dressed for running, but…….

I’m not going to group run 😦

I’m bummed because this means my next group run will not be until november 24.

I’m also having difficulty enforcing the principle that recovery time is important.

Group run is supposed to be 14 miles this week. I’m only at about 11 miles for the week so far, which seems low, but then I have to have a little chat with myself about having just done a full followed by a half and still technically being in a recovery phase. My left knee has been clicking a little, a situation that comes up when the weather changes to the cold-humid we have for “fall” and “winter” down here by the beach in SoCal.

And frankly, I’m just not mentally in the mood for a run that long right now.  I’m pretty squarely in the 3-8 mile mindset right now.  Beyond that, I don’t have to run a long run this week. I think should really do an 8-10, but I don’t have to. It’s not required by any aspect of my training or racing calendar.  To ramp back up to seattle marathon, I have a half Nov. 9 and a Ragnar Nov. 15.  And as was established with Portland and Long Beach I’ve developed a pretty solid running base.  I also don’t need to prove to myself that I can run 14 miles. I’m totally confident that I can run 14 miles comfortably at my pace group’s pace, i’ve done it lots of times. In fact, I just did the first 15 miles of portland just under pace group pace, and Long Beach at pace group pace.

I just REALLY don’t want to right now.

There are many 14+ mile days in my immediate future, it’s totally ok if today is not one of those days.

So now I’m sitting on the couch waiting for the sun to start coming out– weather.com says that’ll be 7:09 — so I can go do 5-7 miles on the trail in Manhattan Beach.  Maybe follow up with some netflix/treadmilling after to tack on some of the extra group run mileage.

But this morning I’ve decided that it is more important to get back outside running than to have the higher mileage. Treadmills and ellipticals are great, but they are not the same. I do best when I have the full rotation.  It’s time to start bringing back more road/trail miles.

HA! I say that like it’s been ages… the reality is Portland was only 3 weeks ago, and long beach two weeks ago.  I’ve really only been in recovery for two weeks. It is actually totally appropriate to just now be getting back to the 5-7 mile long run range.

See? The conversations I have in my head? ok, sun’s coming out… i think. time to go!

UPDATE!!! (12:57 p.m.)

after all of that, I got overwhelmed deciding between which trail to run on, so I went to coffee bean to decide, and coffee bean is next to my gym, so I decided to just go to the gym to do 6-7 miles. That turned into 20 miles….you know how sometimes you turn on netflix and wind up on the couch longer than you planned? replace couch with treadmill, and that was my morning.  funny how all that worked out.

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….but i’m not a morning person :/

Morning runs are exhausting!!!

I am not a morning run person, which usually works out well. I often have to be in Court or to the office early because that’s just how law is. And in early usually does not also mean out early, because that’s just how it is. But since I prefer evening runs and evening yoga, this has always worked pretty well for me as long as I can find a well lit street or a gym with late-night hours.

But recently we’ve been having more “stay late” than “get in early” situations, so I’ve been going to the gym in the morning to make sure I don’t skip out because I got off work when I would normally be wrapping up at the gym.

Which has been nice, because I don’t spend the whole day waiting for it to be run or yoga time, and I get to start my day with some weekend-esque treadmill/coffee/netflix sessions.  These make Mondays and Tuesdays… ok all of the days, really… better. Like everyday is a Sunday morning.

But also not nice because by the time i get home, I’m totally spent. I don’t have the second wind from running or yoga happy hour.  Also, I don’t run outside as much this way, because it’s just too hard to get out of bed when it means being out on the street.  I just don’t like running out on the roads on weekday mornings at all.

So we’ll see how the month progresses… maybe I’ll need to incorporate more doubles? maybe reduce a little how long i go in the mornings and make a point to follow up with an outdoor 5k in the evenings.

Or maybe my schedule will naturally shift itself back…

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Portland, Long Beach, and ….. what?!?!

Registered for my first maniac double. yep, yep.

But we’ll get to that, let’s get caught up first. Lots to update and “memorialize in writing” before things get even busier!

Portland Marathon!!!!

Was a blast. Remember, how I set no goals at all and was just going to “enjoy the experience”? Yeah, that went really well. No sarcasm.

Highlights: cruised through the first half spot on my “easy” half marathon pace.  Parts of this course are really f-ing tedious on the mind, at least for me, and about mile 14 I was like, you know, I’m good. No time goals right? Let’s take a walk break and call some people.

yes. I’ll repeat that. Let’s take a walk break and call some people.

This was followed by a little conversation with myself wherein the royal “we” assessed whether we would really be ok with it if this walk break turned into an “i don’t want to run anymore at all” situation. How would I feel if this walk break (and i’m not talking 30 seconds or three minutes, i’m talking like, a full mile) turned in to an incredibly lack luster finish time? could I live with that?

YES. I’m here for fun, dammit.

So, I decided to try to call BFF in Texas…. but the freaking app I’m using (iSmoothRun, love it, it exports to EVERYTHING and let’s you program insanely specific and complicated workouts) would not allow me to make a phone call without pausing the run. Touche, iSmoothRun. You win.

Portland, btw, was my first marathon as an official maniac. So I was wearing my pink Maniacs singlet, and met a TON of maniacs. Since I could not make phone calls, my revised race plan became, if you see a maniac, shadow them until you can’t anymore.

I maintained this race plan for the rest of the race, to great success. I wound up having nice little chats with three Maniacs, and it was a total blast. At mile 26.0, a far-higher-ranking Maniac came up behind me and said, “come on maniac, you got this, let’s sprint!” and we did, and that instance alone took about 3 minutes off my finish time.

Final result: Second fastest marathon ever (missed a PR by 7 minutes and 3 seconds) and I (felt like I) wasn’t even really trying. Also, beat last year’s Portland time by 51 minutes and 16 seconds. Very satisfactory results for my “embrace the experience” approach. Actually, pretty satisfactory results generally.

That’s not to say Portland was easy, it was not. Mentally taxing, and apparently a little more physically taxing than I realized, since I was actually sore and stiff the next day. I’ve gotten my recovery rituals pretty refined, so I haven’t had this degree of soreness or stiffness after a long run in a while. I guess, much like I was apparently “moving forward” faster than I thought I was, I was also working a little harder than I thought I was!!!

Which brings us to…..

LONG BEACH HALF MARATHON!!!!!!!!!!

The 2007 Long Beach Half Marathon was my very first running endeavor ever. Before this, I had run, at most, three miles at a time, pretty slowly, and only a few times. I had signed up for my first LA Marathon, and all the books said try a half to practice race day logistics. So I did, and like many, I’ve been hooked since.

2013 Long Beach Half was 3 of 3 in Beach Cities Challenge. I was not excited to do this the week after Portland, but that’s just how things played out. I accepted that this could be a very long walk, and set the Garmin for an easy recovery session of run 4 minutes, walk 30 seconds, with no assigned paces. I had the loose goal in my head of beating my 2007 time by 30 minutes, because that is a nice round number. In the end, I beat the old time by 29 minutes and 11 seconds.

Effectively, I ran on autopilot in both Portland and Long Beach, to some very enjoyable and satisfactory results. I feel like I’ve found that magic balance between aiming for specific paces and splits, while still enjoying myself. I’m really interested to see how things go in Seattle, which is about six weeks out at this point. I genuinely took the week after Long Beach off, some light indoor stuff, 3 easy miles at the track Wednesday, and no run, long or otherwise, over this past weekend. Easing back into it this week with some indoor and outdoor workouts, as well as a 14 mile LA Marathon training run on Saturday with LA Leggers.

Which brings me to what I DID do this weekend……

or, in the two weeks since Portland. You Ready?

I registered for my first Maniac Double!!!

2 marathons in 48 hours. I wanted to find an ultra that coincided with my birthday in February, but the logistics just weren’t working out. Then, I discovered two sets of (relatively) local double marathon weekends, one actually on my birthday, and one two weeks earlier.

After some recon, I settled on the earlier one.  San Diego Trail Marathon on January 18, and Carlsbad Marathon on January 19.  The logistics were just too perfect to pass up. Some points of note: the start/finish area of the two races are 26.5 miles apart (marathon magic number!); and the races are exactly seven weeks after Seattle and seven weeks before LA. Carlsbad is only a 90 minute drive from home, and there are about three really excellent hotel options within .5 miles of the expo/start/finish area. I could go on, but this post is already super long.  No, wait, one more: the Monday after is a Court holiday, so no one can give me Ex Parte Notice for a hearing on the day after Carlsbad!

The trail race is ridiculously flat. WAAAAAAAAAAAY flat, with one mega-hill at the start and finish of an out and back course. Not a lot of shade though. Carlsbad has gentle rolling hills throughout, and one mega hill from about mile 5 to mile 8, but is mostly scenic oceanfront views.  The moral of this story: totally doable.

Whew! So it’s been a busy two weeks! Next!

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