Tag Archives: recovery

Am I running or am I driving? Because Santa Monica Blvd is a f[rea]king nightmare!

OMG LA MARATHON MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR!!!

Yes, the one event in my life for which I am shamelessly, obnoxiously, totally cheesy-ly and excessively excited and enthusiastic!!!

I was looking at my marathonfotos, and in almost all the pics IDed so far I have the most ridiculously blissful great big smile, it’s like, who is this person?! hahaaa.

Because I love LA. I love the LA Marathon.

Every year, without fail, it’s a grand, fun, challenging, and emotional journey unlike any of the other marathons I’ve done.

Turn-by-Turns where I choked back tears a little:

Elysian/Dodger Stadium

Caesar Chavez

Grand Avenue

Hollywood Blvd

Sunset Blvd

little Santa Monica Blvd

Doheney

Rodeo

Wilshire

San Vicente

Ocean

so…… almost all of them 🙂

No, not horrible tears of pain and frustration. Like the Tony Awards. How I Met Your Mother, Harry Potter, the Tony Awards, and now, apparently, every mile marker of the LA Marathon are the occasions during which I tear up.

This one was rough.

We had record high temps, so the vast majority finished slow, and we had double the number of medical aid requests and DNFs, according to the reports I’ve seen/heard.

I was terrified, to be honest, not about the weather, but about kneehab. My very darling, loving, insomniac husband stayed up to drive me to the shuttle at 4:45 a.m., and on the way over:

Me: I mean, now I’m nervous… I could just go home and nap.

Spouse: F that, I stayed up all night and we are two blocks away. You are racing and I don’t want to hear from you until you cross the finish because I am going to sleep. Where do I turn?

Oh, what a sweetheart. He always knows exactly what to say 🙂

Really, Seattle and Kneehab had me scared. The farthest I’d gone in kneehab was about 16 miles, in the safe and controlled environment of my gym’s newer treadmills.

But I’m me, and the fact is I would eventually be doing another full, so it may as well be LA because I LOVE LA. Gotta start somewhere. If the knee is going to fail, at least it will be on a course I love surrounded by people and places I feel really comfortable with.

So that was the Race Plan. No pushing hard. Easy pace, pay attention to the knee, see if you can cross the finish with no alarming or questionable LCL sensations, and see if things feel normal the day after.  Running by feel to finish with two knees that could run again (albeit much shorter distances) later in the week. I mean, I was hoping to come in around my LA course record, which I felt was reasonable because it’s almost a half hour slower than my PR and matches nicely with the kneehab paces. But that was a back-seat thought, not an actual goal.

I am grateful for 2 things in this race: That I was already set to do it as a Kneehab test, so no agressive pace goals, and that I ran with my heart rate monitor.

Because it was HOT. So very very very hot. Record breaking hot, with clear, cloudless skies, running on shade-less, blacktop roads.  FANTASTIC beach weather, though.

“Am I running or am I driving? Because Santa Monica Blvd is a f[rea]king nightmare!!!”

There came a point where walk breaks were frequent. Most notably the stretch on Santa Monica Blvd from Beverly Hills to the VA. This is when I finally thought to scroll through the garmin and check my heart rate. 176-177 running, and even with the specific decision to walk and slow my heart rate down, I had a hard time getting below 160.

My resting heart rate is around 60. I am a generally fit person and experienced marathoner, drinking extra water and gatorade,  wearing plenty of sunscreen, weather appropriate attire and a very effective visor, and I can’t get my heart rate below 160 during a walk break.  I can not imagine how it was for some of the other people I know or saw.

So it was a challenge. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy to cross mile 18. I heard later that many people behind me dropped around 18 and 19, and one of the elites had dropped at 20 much earlier in the day.  Once we got off Santa Monica and into the VA, there was more shade and a little Ocean breeze, and only about 10k to go.

I got my 3 oz beer at Mile 20, finally stopped at a bathroom around 22 – I’d had to pee since the start, but refused to stop until I found one with no line, also in the hotter areas, whether I still needed to pee was a good indicator of whether I was adequately hydrated.

Finally started to cool down around 23 and putt-putted on through to the finish.

Met up with a Maniac I had talked to earlier in the race, he finished about 10 min ahead of me.

Got a bag of ice from medical to put on my head.

Made sure to get the official finisher photo, since this is one I especially wanted to commemorate.

Out of the finisher area, straight up one block to the 2nd street Coffee Bean for a latte and croissant (they were out, so I had marble loaf instead).

From Coffee Bean to the Sanuk on 3rd to buy the sandals I’d been daydreaming about since mile 4 or so.

From Sanuk to the Double Tree to check in with Leggers, cool down, and figure out how I was getting home.

BFF, who was supposed to pick me up since he only lives 3 miles from the Double Tree, woke up sick.

The traffic was horrific.

The cab co. said it would be an hour wait, which mean it would be an hour to get back out of Santa Monica, too.

And like hell I’m paying for cab fare to sit in a cab for an hour when the place I’m going is only 3 miles away.

“This traffic is ridiculous and you sound terrible. Forget it, I’ll walk.”

So after a little sit and some ice water at Double Tree, I reapplied sunscreen, refilled my latte cup with water, put on my new sandals, and walked to BFFs house in Venice, where, once he woke up, spouse came to pick me up safely outside the zone of ridiculous and horrific traffic.

The End.

DID YOU NOTICE HOW NONE OF THIS STORY INCLUDED ANY KNEEHAB ISSUES WHATSOEVER?

Yeah, that’s because there were none. My knee was fine.

My knee was fine and another fantastically fun LA Marathon has been completed.

Now, I get to work on kneehabbing my way back to my normal paces… I’m looking at you OC Marathon 😉

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OUCH!! But in a good way this time :D

OH…. I may be mature enough to know when I should drop from a full to a half marathon, but I am not mature enough to not be whiny about it.  At least I’m not in denial about it, though.

CARLSBAD [HALF] MARATHON WEEKEND!!!

Boy oh boy was I bitter about this, until about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, when we all found ourselves in possession of seasonal flights at Karl Strauss Brewery.

As we know, I sold my Carlsbad Marathon bib.

Update, I also elected to not run any portion of the San Diego Trail Marathon due to the likelihood of uneven surfaces and their adverse effects on knee-hab.

But two of my friends were also planning a little weekend getaway around the Maniac Double, so the three of us met up at the Carlsbad Marriott Saturday – Sunday.  And one of them was my friend who was registered for the half, but couldn’t run because he was recovering from a respiratory infection and had not trained past about 6 miles.

So I got his bib, and did the half @ about marathon pace, a little over marathon pace honestly, because knee-hab.

Two Big Take-Aways:

1.  The knee did really well, and we are a go for LA Marathon on March 9. I am so freaking excited!!! I had to remind myself to back off and slow down A LOT since I was supposed to be only testing out the knee. There were crowds, and rolling hills, and many “sudden directional changes”… a guy even totally cut off/plowed into me at about a quarter mile in. But the knee withstood. Twice on the down hill, and whenever I would inadvertently pick up the pace – because the rest of my body was just itching to go faster – I would start to feel some warning signs in my knee.  But otherwise things went really well.

2.  I thought maybe that I wasn’t excited about the course for the full because I was inherently bitter about the situation. But #1 Spectator Liz and I drove the full course, and before I even said anything, she said, “This is terrible!!!” So I guess it wasn’t just me. And to be fair, about 8 miles of it was an out and back up through industrial, an airport, office parks and ongoing construction sites, so really… I mean, it’s no San Francisco.

Ok, it was just meh. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t spectacular. It did smell like the grass in the fields had just been fertilized. If it was my first marathon and I didn’t know any better, I’m sure it would be great – quiet, gentle hills, nothing too steep, and capped at 2000 for the full so not too crowded. Or if I was, as I had planned to be, there for the mileage and not the scenery, then it would be great for that, too, because support on the course and the overall organization of the event were fantastic. The part that both the full and the half did was great too, all along the water and through a cute little seaside village/downtown area. But I realized then and then re-realized the next day, that not running the full was the right choice.

And I got over it, got some beer and fried food, and started mapping out my plans for LA.

because OMG LA MARATHON IN 43 DAYS!!!!!!!!

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Day 18: 75 & Sunny

because this is Los Angeles!

but my disposition, not so much. I remain cranky but steadfast in my decision to be conservative about recovery and rehabbing the knee. Day 18 of 21.

Even though the injury is/was relatively minor, exacerbating the situation could lead to serious.  So conservative it is!!

“No sudden directional changes.” hahahaaaaaa. THAT is hilarious. Forget running, try walking through a shopping mall at Christmas time without any “sudden directional changes!

I have become good friends with the stationary bike, and I’ve even got over taking twice as long to finish certain mileage on foot. I’m keeping two training logs, also. One reflecting the actual workouts done and one converting the workout to it’s alleged “running equivalent” according to my recovery/rehab resources. For example, under the plans that I’m using to maintain fitness and endurance while I am not running – with an eye toward still doing the double in January – walking 3 miles supposedly counts as a 1.5 mile “easy” or “recovery” run.  And 60 minutes on the stationary bike at 75-85% effort counts as a 60 minute tempo run.  Yes, I’m a little skeptical. But, you know, I’m going with it. I mean, why not?  At least it changes things up a little and makes me use my brain.

So one record of literal and one record of the (supposed) conversion to running equivalent, mostly for assessment purposes, but also to help me keep things in perspective.

OH!!! and this weekend, I get to go outside! and try alternating running 30 seconds and walking 30 seconds on a flat surface. Ok, really this is supposed to be on a treadmill. But with those intervals, I’d be punching the controls on the treadmill incessantly.  So I’m going outside. This will be my first literal running since Seattle, unless we count when I was at Court and forgot I was injured and wearing a knee brace and tried to sprint down the hall to talk to someone. That went REALLY well.

And really, it’s supposed to be run 5 seconds and walk 55 seconds. But again, this is where I hit the “are you f-ing kidding me?” line.  5 seconds? that’s like, 10 steps.  I mean, it takes more than 5 seconds to start and then stop running.

Ok, so maybe I’ll try run 5 walk 10 or 15 or something, then bump up to 15/15, 30/30 and so on. But run 5/walk 55 seconds? I know me and there is just no way I’ll be able to get up off the couch for that.

The BIG kicker, what I think has me having a hard time accepting and moving on, is that this is not even really a “running” or “sports” injury.  It’s not overuse, or poor form, or any of that.

I wasn’t paying attention and stepped on a damn rock.

I mean seriously.

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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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….[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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Savasana at the Doctor’s Office

Portland Marathon was this weekend, kicked my butt but so much fun – more on that later.

Can we talk about yoga for a minute? And needles? Body awareness, injury prevention…

It’s in the name of the blog, I’ve been practicing for, oh, whatever 29 minus 12 years is. And not just the physical aspects either, the whole 8 limbed shebang.

I went to the doctor this morning, not marathon related, OBGYN related, but don’t worry I’ll keep the details PG. Really it was limited to a short convo with the Dr. followed by some needles in my arm. And NO I’m not pregnant.

But I was asked to lay down on the table in case I felt faint. And due to the set up of the room, my feet were at the top of the table, and my head at the bottom, to allow better access to my left arm, and resulting in an ever so slight inversion.

So I lay on the table, and, boom, like a finely tuned muscle memory machine, my whole mind and body…straight into savasana.

Like all of my systems said, “oh! we recognize this position! relaxation time!!” Dr., Nurse, and Observing Intern, came in and were like, “you ok?”. YES! Totally fine. Can I just lay here for a little while? It’s been a bit since I’ve made it to a full class in studio……

And so, 10 minutes of needles turned into a mighty fine 10 minute savasana. Can you believe it? Granted there were a few specifically timed deep breaths and “sensations” in the left arm during those 10 minutes.  But my goodness! So simple.

Of course, obligatory marathon tie-in: As I lay down, before what we’ll call the “savasana response” kicked in, I thought to myself, “you JUST did a marathon. Remember 25.75 through 26.2? there is no possible way for this to be more physically taxing than that.”

Which is to say, yoga is fantastic for running injury prevention, and not in the way you might expect. Yes, the physical practice of yoga, done with a qualified teacher who understands the special circumstances of the endurance athlete, is great for strength training and flexibility/range of motion.

But what I’ve found to be my most valuable yoga-acquired skill, in running and in life generally, is body awareness.  We talk a lot about when to push and when not to, sensation, good sensation, bad sensation, pain vs. sensation, observing where you and your body are today versus yesterday, know what is a physical limitation (as in stop, accept that this is something your body will not do/ can not do/ is really not supposed to do), and what is something that maybe just needs a slower, gentler, more mindful approach to ease the body over time to a new place.

Hey runners, sound familiar??? It should, even if you are not also a yoga junkie.

After Portland Marathon this weekend, I found Mother in Law in the reunion area where she had run into a friend who was waiting to meet a woman from her own running club who had just finished her first marathon. We all went to brunch, and of course, how many races each person did came up, cue Maniacs conversation (again, more on that in a different post) and the “dangers” of running so many marathons, so frequently, etc.

The first timer talked about how proud she was that she ran the whole thing (one of her big goals) and she did have a really great pace and finish time! She did wonderfully! And she should absolutely be proud of this achievement despite anything else I say in this post. But she talked about doing this despite severe pain in her knee that started around mile 17.  That she was still feeling, and she was going to go to the doctor for the next day.

We’ve all been there. Even I was there in San Diego earlier this year. But as the conversation about recovery and frequency continued, I just said, “you know, that’s part of how I can do so many.  Yes, every race there is the hope that you’ll PR or finish by a certain time, but at the end of the day, my goal is to also run the next one. So if it hurts, I stop.”  I ask myself why and what’s happening. And if it’s really pain, not “sensation” or “sore” or “discomfort”, not “good pain” like a deep tissue massage, but “bad” and “pain” — indicative of certain potential long term consequences (like my calf in SD) I stop. Or first I back off, and then I go through a checklist to determine whether to stop. But still. Mandatory.

But to make those kind of informed decisions, you need body awareness. And that I developed through years of yoga.

So when I say yoga is a fundamental part of my ability to run so much, I don’t mean the strong abs, or reduced recovery time, or improved alignment/running form. I mean the ability to listen and assess and work though discomfort and recognize pain.

NOW! off my yoga soap box!!! Still mentally and physically recovering from Portland, but it was, truly, SO MUCH FUN in every possible way. So that post is coming soon 😀

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Like Pulling Teeth!

Literally. I had a tooth extracted today, followed by a bone graft.

And it really reminded me that absolutely everything in life can be analogized to either yoga or a marathon.

I am terrified of the dentist. Terrified. Or at least I guess I was, because today was not so bad.

I found myself in the days leading up to it pretty much in denial. Then this morning when I arrived, I started to get nervous. I stopped in the bathroom before checking in, and I caught myself thinking exactly what I think before long runs and races…

“This might suck, but it probably won’t and you’ll be glad you did it.”

And so in I went… to the chair.  Thanks to my dental group’s amazingness, some deep breaths, and some strategic shifting between drishtis (drishtii?), it was all pretty stress free. Like the marathon, like yoga, I found myself almost on autopilot – calming the mind with the breath and moving (or intentionally not moving) through the physical and psychological stressors.

And now, as per the post op instructions, I am recovering on the couch with a solid block of crime dramas & documentaries.

See, the benefits of marathon training and yogic practice are infinite!

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