Saturday, June 21, 2014

Injuries: my biggest set back...

A little over a year ago, I've stopped running. It was not because I didn't love it or it was too hot outside (which it was), but I had my first impact injury. For those of you who didn't know, I was an aspired cross-fitter (ha!). It was actually really fun because lifting weights was not something I thought I would be into. Sometimes I wonder how I even got into all this running and eating healthy(ish) lifestyle. Anyway, long story short... I fell from the pull-up bar (assisted with a band) and landed - back first - on the edge of a wood box (for box jumps).  Apparently, the fall looked bad! Like, folks thought I might have broken my back. I was really concerned because I felt my spine hit the edge of that box.  Luckily, I was able to get up and only had muscle injuries.  However, I stopped running for basically the rest of the year after that fall because my back could not handle the pain.  Every time I ran, my back started to hurt from where I landed.  

Anyway, I started/attempted to run again in September 2013 and I was SUPER SLOW.  I'm talking about 13 min/mile slow.  That killed me since I was running sub-9 min/mile and was trying to work towards a sub-8 min/mile pace.  Ugh, just thinking about it right now makes me cringe.  But!  Good news, by January 2014, I was able to run between a 9:30 - 10 min/mile pace.  

With my pace improving, adding more speed workouts, and training for another half-marathon AND a relay race -- I inevitably injured myself again.  This time, both my legs "gave up".  It was during my last race (TIR) that I've noticed how my legs were just in a lot of pain. 

It wasn't until a few weeks after the TIR that I finally saw a doctor about my legs. I had just finished an easy 4-mile run in the morning and while shopping with my sister, I couldn't bend my right ankle anymore.  Worried that I wouldn't be able to run in the future, I saw a sports doctor and learned that adhesions had built up in both legs.   The first session with my doctor was the most painful experience I've ever had.  So for a while, my calf muscles were not recovering/building back correctly; hence the adhesions.  The doctor told me he could not pin point exactly why it happened or what caused it, but he  was hopeful that I would be back to good in a month.  Well, it's been almost 3 months and I'm not 100% yet.  Both my doctor and I are finding that I have adhesions built up in other areas of my legs.  My calves are MUCH better, but now I'm having issues somewhere else.  The only good news for me is how I'm actually catching all this before it affects my achilles tendon.  

I won't lie, I haven't ran more than 10 miles per week because I'm afraid of injuring myself further.   Some of my running buddies have asked "what happened to you?" because of my pace and all.  It sucks and my injuries are my biggest set back so far.  My doctor is very optimistic that I will be good by my first race of the fall season (in September).  I just hope he's right.  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Texas Independence Relay: My First Relay Experience #TIR2014

The glorious map from Gonzalez, TX to the San Jacinto Monument.
So I finally committed and joined a team for a relay race. I've been avoiding relays because of the "horror" stories from my friends about how they slept at the parking lot of AutoZone, no sleep, no shower, no real food... yup, something this gal ain't too fond of.  However, after much internal debate I realized I have to "rise to the challenge" and test my limits. How am I to improve if I don't keep challenging myself!? All I have to say is, I'm glad I did.

Not knowing what to expect, I think we were blessed with the relay Gods.  First, the weather was optimal.  Okay, how chilly it got at night wasn't fun while you're standing around trying to support your runner, but while you're on that leg running... it felt great.  Second, I was placed in a van where no one knew each other, but the chemistry/personality worked with everyone.  In about 36 hours, we forged new friendship.

In this relay, I had 4 legs and ran a total of 20 miles in 2 days.  I slept for 2 hours and was up on pure adrenaline (okay, I had a cappuccino before the start of the race and a cup of coffee at 3 or 4AM after my 3rd leg).   Our team finished 88 out of 149 and finished at 30.5 hours (we averaged 9:09 min/mile). I have to say it wasn't bad for our first relay and it was a nice bar to set.  We had a slow runner in our group, but on the other van; however, she did great for her first (I'm assuming) relay as well.  
About the course: This relay is based on Texas history (hint - Texas Independence) and the route was from Gonzalez, Texas to Pasadena, Texas.  It was very well organized for the 200 mile stretch and while the runner's directions could have been better, it was still good enough to where we didn't really get lost.  (Well, one of our runners went the wrong way for a bit, but figured out she didn't make a turn she needed to).  

Funny story, our van actually got pulled over by the Gonzalez cop at the beginning of our first leg.  Yup, you read that correctly!  Our driver took a detour to look for some celebratory booze (our van thought about chugging a beer right after the leg) and after we made a turn, the cop pulled us over for allegedly running a red light.  Everyone who paid attention saw the light was a stale yellow.  The cop, who was power tripping, basically let us go on a warning.  It was an interesting situation because we were right next to the start of the race and yet he acted like we were complete foreigners, not knowing why our van was not "really registered" after he ran the plates (we rented, by chance, a new van so the plates were not ready).  Anyway, our driver wasn't too thrilled, but we were fortunate enough to get away with a warning.

During my first leg (I ran leg#3), I was approached by the Mullets. The Mullets team was truly an awesome team to have around. They were basically the "party team" and at every exchange, they had music blasting and they were super supportive to not only their runners, but runners all around them.  My first encounter with them was again, at Leg #3.  I had just finished crossing this huge hill and was trying to catch up with this other runner when they approached me in their van.  The Mullets slowed down and asked if I wanted a ride (I don't think I looked like I was dying - promise!).  I was taken off-guard by them but realized they were being silly.  The guy even opened the door and told me to jump in - haha.  Later on during the race, our van approached one of their runners and yelled "hey little girl, need a ride??"  
The Mullets at their finish.
We got 39 kills on our first time!
What's cute about the Mullets... after the race was over, their family met up with them at the San Jacinto Monument.  Their kids were wearing the same shirts as they were! Talk about cute and matching!

After completing this run, I now understand why my coach was telling me that I need to run twice a day to train for TIR.  You literally run for 3-5 miles (depending on the stretch of your leg) and rest for a few hours before getting up for another run.  The lack of sleep and real nutrition really takes a toll on your body.  I was up for 39 hours because I was up at 4AM to meet up with my team for our drive to Gonzalez, Texas.  Our start time was 9:12AM.  My hardest leg was my 3rd one at Leg #26.  Even though it was flat and straight, it was in the middle of the night (about 3AM) and I literally had just got up from my 1 hour nap.  It was my slowest leg and for some reason it was just hard.  It was painful on my calves running up and down the sidewalk end/curb.  

This was also the first time I've ever worn a headlamp and reflective vest during a night run.  First, it was mandatory for runners to wear it after 7PM.  Second, I was glad it was mandated because running on Highway 71 with no lights, but random on-coming cars is SCARY!  OMG! Regardless, I still had a good experience and would love to do again.  

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Runderful Time With Friends at #RnRDal

This past weekend, we made a really quick trip over to Dallas, Texas for their 5th annual Rock n Roll Half-Marathon.  I kept telling myself that I must take it easy on this run because the potential injuries are not worth it and also because I have a relay race the following weekend (I know... I know...). 

I always take one of these :) 
I finished at an okay time - 2:14:04.  It's not my best since after my injuries in 2013, but I did take it easy.  At a 10:14 min/mile pace, I am satisfied with my results.  I also did not train much between this half and the Lil' Rock Epic half... so what did I really expect.  I do know that most of the time, I was concentrating on my new form.  Yup... my running form is changing!  I started running/training with the BON Racing Team and my coach have been correcting my form.  I didn't realize I was heel striking (I think I was heel striking, no on really confirmed with me) and now I'm transitioning to toe strike.  Let me tell you, my calves hurt like no other!  I didn't think it would make a huge difference in terms of muscle usage, but it did.  

Anyway, back to the race.  This race was MUCH better than Little Rock.  It was windy and chilly (about high 40s to lower 50s), but it was not raining! (Thank you God!).  No joke, Dallas was hilly.  There was a stretch where I was thinking to myself if the up-hill was ever going to end.  Overall, I still had a good time hanging out with my friends and getting all sort of free swag at the Expo.  I took enough items to where my bag started to bust.  It's okay, I'm stalking up for next week's relay! I think I have enough Gu and protein bars to survive my first relay (I hope).  

Overall time = 2:14:04
5k = 29.34
10k = 1:02:42
10 mi = 1:42:53

"Three attorneys and a civilian." (inside joke)
Ironically, this was our 6th half-marathon - go us!