Sunday, July 26, 2015

I'm Back...Maybe

So, where were we?  Oh yeah, I was basically giving up running, and then my domain lapsed and, since I'm technologically delayed, it took me about a year and a half to figure out how to get it back.  Now I have it back.  Literally nothing else has changed in my life since my last blog post in April of 2014.  Well, except that I uprooted my family from Lawrence, KS to Portland, OR to help facilitate my wanderlust and desire to see the world.  The running?  Ha ha ha.  I'm laughing to stop from crying.

After my minor plantar issue turned into a life-ruining calamity, I had to reach the unwelcome conclusion that I will most likely not be able to achieve my goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, let alone qualifying for it in the next year and a half.  Am I disappointed?  Of course, but I'm well over it at this point.  Some things aren't meant to be.  I can qualify when I'm 80 and the time limits are greatly increased.  So what happened, and did I learn anything?  Well, I refused to listen to my body in my desire to attain an attainable goal.  There really was no reason why I couldn't have just played it safe and attempted to qualify in a different time frame, but I felt beholden to the goal I had set.  Call it ambition, but it was really just reckless and it basically ended any chance I had at becoming a completely legit runner.

It's hard to really fathom, because it still feels like it just happened, but it has been 33 months since the Des Moines Marathon and the ensuing injury the day after.  So what is going on now, and why did this blog pop back up after months of dormancy?  What is going on now is that I no longer struggle to walk without intense pain in my foot, but I do currently have to deal with much tightness in my right hip, knee, and calf, all stemming from pushing it way too hard while I should have been healing.  The reason the blog is back is because I'm dabbling into jogging again.  Nothing serious, but it's kind of a start, or it could be kind of a start.  You want in?  I don't know that it will be as entertaining as it was before, but so far it's been equally as difficult to get into as it was before.  But, as the title indicates, not running means I'm fat, which I am at the moment.  Not quite like what I was when I started, when every day was like a death march, but so far it hasn't been smooth sailing, either.  I haven't decided on a race to run yet, but if I do choose one, I want to be able to take it seriously, like I had before.  So can I do it again?  We'll see.  Moving to Oregon means I'll probably have a longer season to run in tolerable conditions.  That could be considered a positive.  We can only hope.  Well thanks for reading, and until next time....later.


Friday, January 24, 2014

Feels Like The First Time

So the long road to recovery has potentially hit a milestone this week.  This week being the first week in my old friend Hal Higdon's Novice 5K training schedule.  Yes, I am officially back to training for races.  I figured there was no better way to kickstart my renewed quest for Boston than to go back to absolute square one.  The Hal Higdon Novice 5K training schedule was what got me into running in the first place, and with some luck, I'm hoping it will get me back to racing for real by the end of the year.  I am not going to make the mistake of signing up for races too early this year, as I threw away several different race entries last year.  I am only focused on getting through this 8 week schedule and potentially signing up to run the Big XII 5K in March.  That will then lead into Hospital Hill training, which is really the goal.  This has essentially turned into a 20 week long training plan, in hopes that I will be able to cash in a 4th consecutive Hospital Hill Half Marathon finish and stay injury free.

It has been entirely too cold to go outside and run around here, so I've been easing back in over the past two weeks on the treadmill at the gym.  So far this week, I've put in two 1.5 mile jogs, speed 6.0, uninterrupted, followed by my newly picked up yoga sessions of an hour.  Yoga has been the perfect addition for me and the way I exercise, because I'm just not much into weight lifting, and the randomness of the yoga workouts make for a terrific full body strengthening regimen.  I have made it through the runs without stopping, and without feeling any pain in my foot/sole.  The addition of those new soft inserts, which someday I will make a point of including the name of the product (too lazy to go find the box), along with new Brooks shoes I got for running and the new Brooks shoes I got for work have made such an enormous difference, I curse the fact that I didn't think about getting shoes for fat guys a loooong time ago.  They have made the pain of working on hard floors almost non-existent.  Extremely happy about that. 

Minor problems in the grand scheme of life, but just when I was getting really into running, I had this major setback that cost me over a year of training for my Boston Qualification attempt.  Which really threw off my 5 year plan of working my way into that qualification process.  Which in turn allowed me to put on enough weight that virtually none of my clothes fit anymore.  A lot of that was due to my sulking and inability to find some sort of method of exercise outside of sitting on the stationary bike a few times a week.  Really makes me wish I had taken up yoga months or even years ago.  But, it is what it is.  Like I said, a minor problem in the grand scheme of the world.  But for all of you that are hanging on every word of this blog, I thank you and very much appreciate the readers.  Until next time...later.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Yoga Is No Joke-a

*rim shot*

As you know, I decided to pick up yoga as both a complement to running (if I can ever get back to running full time) and as a way to try something new that I felt I could stick with.  I had never so much as looked up common yoga terms before I went to my first class a little less than two weeks ago, so diving right in was pretty much just showing up and seeing how stupid I could make myself look.

First class:  Thursday morning, the day after New Year's Day, and it was in the single digits outside temperature-wise.  Suffice it to say, the class was sparsely attended, which I was OK with.  If I'm going to look stupid, it might as well be for a minimal amount of people.  The class consisted of me, two very old women (probably in their late 60s/early 70s), and one other girl that was probably closer to my age (I'm now 32.  Started this blog when I was 27.  Yikes).  From what I gather, this teacher was also a substitute instructor for the regular girl, adding to the thin crowd.  I did not take my mismatching colored mat for fear of looking a little too ambitious, so I grabbed one of the more-than-likely-soaked-with-dry-sweat-from-numerous-other-yoga-participants mats from the bin and got down on the floor.  This particular class was about 45 minutes of yoga poses and 15 minutes of relaxation.  The poses, to me, did not seem all that difficult, save for the fact that I have pretty limited flexibility and could only do so much.  Did I mention that this class was specifically geared to be an easier class?  That helped.  I left thinking that I could get the hang of it, but it didn't strike me as all that challenging of material.  I expected other classes to be more challenging.  They were.

Second class:  Sunday morning, colder than Thursday.  Jumped into an hour long class that was significantly better attended, and that also had promised to be more in the intermediate range of experience, so I figured it would be a lot more work.  It was.  This particular class focused on the Vinyasa style of yoga, which, as I learned, is meant to flow into positions with every breath you take, thus you are moving around from pose to pose with increased frequency.  The first 10 minutes or so were hectic for me, since I had no idea what any of the terminology was, but eventually, you kind of figure out the rhythm of the instructor and what they expect.  I left sore, but not overwhelmed.  I'm not entirely sure that I was doing everything in the absolute proper form, but I didn't feel like I was struggling to grasp the concepts of what was happening.  I expected it to become more familiar when I went back the following week.  It was.

Third class:  Tuesday morning, and the regular instructor has returned.  Single digits outside again, but this time we have a full house on a weekday.  This particular class seemed to be a perfect level in between the first class and the second class, in the sub-intermediate range.  It went just longer than an hour, and I found myself working hard, but not like Sunday.  Instructor went out of her way to help me get some proper form on certain poses, which I appreciated.  She did not show up to teach class on Thursday, which I did not appreciate, but the weather was bad so I'm guessing that played a role in the absence.  I was bummed about there not being class on Thursday, but I was already looking forward to Sunday's class.

Fourth class:  Sunday morning, warm outside.  The yoga studio became a sauna within about 15 minutes.  I was just pouring sweat, which at least told me that I was putting in effort.  Several of these flow poses are long stretch-and-hold types, which really test out your strength and durability, of which I have neither.  I could really feel my arms working in ways they had not in forever, and my back finally felt stretched out.  My hamstrings are still pretty much wooden planks with very little flexibility, but I'm working on it.

Overall impressions to this point are that I like the focused effort of the class and the work that goes into it.  It almost feels as engaging as running a road race.  Sitting on the bike or hitting the sidewalk to put in some miles, frankly, does not take a whole lot of focus.  Running a race does, and these classes do as well.  If I'm not focused on the movement or the instructions heading my way, I'm either going to lose my balance or be out on an island doing whatever I'm doing while the rest of the class has moved on to the next pose.  As for how I can feel it in my body, I'm not quite sure yet.  My right side, shoulder, hip, and lower back and so out of whack from the many months of favoring that side due to my foot injury, and the additional stretches are just now getting to the core of the problem.  One particular hip stretch is like taking a knife into my hip, but I can feel it stretching an area that has been bothering me for as long as I can remember.  So we'll see how it progresses.  If after 3 months I don't feel that I'm gaining strength, I guess I'll have to evaluate it at that time.  But, I'm sold enough to keep going.  Thanks so much for reading, and until next time...later.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Finding My Center

This could be spectacular failure, or I could find a new cross-training exercise to help me out while I ease back into running.  I'm going to attempt Yoga.

I have a very limited background in the subject.  I got pretty decent at the Yoga portion of Wii Fit.  I also bought a Yoga mat specifically because it had the poorest combination of colors I saw, which were a pale green and purple.  I thought that was a funny combo.  I should also point out that I bought it at a time where I hadn't even thought about doing yoga, I just wanted a mat to lay down on when I stretched. 

Let's just call this turning over a new leaf in the New Year of 2014.  So, does anyone have any advice for a newbie?  I'd welcome all feedback, including anyone telling me "This is a bad idea for you, moron."  Until next time...later.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Is This Thing On?

Let's start from the top, shall we?  I'm fat again and I stopped running.

It's slightly more detailed than that, but if someone were to ask me "How are you doing with your running?", this would be the quick and dirty (and sadly accurate) response I would give.  If you have ever checked in on this blog, especially since October 2012, I have been battling a wicked case of Plantar Fasciitis, or bone spurs, or who the hell knows at this point.  The main thing is that it has not gone away, and by training on it very hard for nine months after it happened, I probably set back the healing process quite a bit. 

It appears the last time I wrote about my training and goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, I was just ramping up the training for Hospital Hill 2013.  I set out a tremendously challenging race prep schedule to include weekly brutal hills, extra speed workouts, and increased distance training.  Of course, all the while, I could barely walk when I finished and gutting it out at work on the rock hard floors was getting more difficult all the time.  As Hospital Hill approached, the hill workouts were really paying off in terms of my endurance, even though post-run pain was reaching a high level.  My main goal was to try to eclipse my time from the 2012 race, even though I was worried that the hills would be too much for my foot to take.  I was, in fact, able to beat my time by eight seconds, even though I felt that I had been taking it really easy on most of my runs.  It was a nice morning to run, and I was glad I was able to make it without making things worse.

Making things worse...that really was the most perplexing thing of the entire PF injury throughout the past year.  It seemed that no matter how much trouble I was having with my foot during non-running periods, it wouldn't matter once I started running.  The tendon would warm up and feel fine, if not just a little uncomfortable, and I would be on my way.  I was getting to the point that every run I would make would end up being under 8 minutes a mile, which I was loving.  My endurance had finally gotten to the point that I could start making a serious push for Boston Qualifying.  Except that once I got done running, all the ice and stretching in the world wouldn't help me walk.

The final setback was the first week in July.  First day of vacation.  I had been routinely pushing a weekend run of 5 miles with 2 miles under 7 minutes in the middle of the run.  Super tough, but I was hitting my marks.  I paid for it when I finished, but I was still going.  One Wednesday hill run I was absolutely killing it.  Ran a short 3 mile run.  Went to sleep after I calmed down and woke up completely unable to put weight on my foot.  Went up to KC that evening for a Sporting KC match and could barely tolerate walking from the parking lot to the stadium.  I needed to take a break, badly, so I forced myself.  I didn't run again for weeks.  I've only run three times or so since that week.  I'm guessing I've set back my Boston Qualifying attempt.

The worst part of the whole deal is that nothing has worked to alleviate the pain or heal the injury.  Not running, hard braces, compression sleeves for the arch, cortisone shots, icing, stretching, resting, new shoes, newer shoes...you name it, it hasn't worked.  Chasing the cure has become an obsession, and it also hasn't worked.  I've really lost motivation to even exercise or eat well.  It's pathetic, and I'm only slightly disappointed about it.  That's probably the worst part.  I don't care enough to care right now.

But, at some point the pity party had to end, and I suppose it ended yesterday.  I finally picked up some comfortable shoe inserts that should lend plenty of support to my sole, which, again, has not fully healed.  Picked up yet another pair of new shoes, Brooks Glycerin, which appear to have plenty of cushion for me to work with.  Hospital Hill is less than 6 months away, and my 20 week training plan is ready to go.  I'm starting all the way over on this and building slowly.  Going back to Hal Higdon's Beginner 5K plan.  First run is in 3 weeks and is all of 1.5 miles, which used to be a pretty solid warm-up run for me, but, so it goes.  If anything, I should probably go back to the beginning and see just how I did get started when I started running.  Maybe I could learn a thing or two.  Thanks for reading, and until next time...later.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Of Course Boston's Been On My Mind

I'm pretty unemotional about virtually everything.  I like to say that I'm made of stone inside, and I attribute that to seeing things that don't relate to me, and not dwelling on them.  I don't really know how to explain it, but I could watch horrible story after horrible story on the news and not really thing anything of it because it doesn't really affect my life or what I do, or who I know.  Probably doesn't reflect well on me, but that's just the way it is.  But the Boston Marathon bombing this year got to me.

It got to me because I know what that finish line is like.  It got to me because I know what those people have put in to get to Boston (not that I have accomplished it, but I have an idea of what it entails).  I know what it means to those families to see a loved one work so hard for a goal, and then realize that goal.  Like I said, when I can relate to it, I feel more for it, and I certainly feel for all of the people that had their lives turned upside down by this disatrous event.  The end of a race, especially the end of a marathon, is a time of unbridled joy, of masked pain, of exhaustive relief, and of incredible pride.  The marathon itself is less of a challenge than the 18 weeks of training, with early morning workouts and 20 mile training runs, and thus the entire day turns into a giant party.  I don't remember feeling anything other than excitement when I ran in Des Moines in October, because all the work had been done.  To cap off that training, you get to go compete and give everything you have, knowing that you don't have to get up on Tuesday and go run.  Then you rehash the events with your peers, and have a laugh, a banana, and a beer.  That entire thrill was erased for the people that did not get to finish and their families who did not get to see that happen.  And that is without mentioning all the people that now have emotional and physical damage, and well as painful memories that will no doubt haunt them forever.  Families constantly having to replay the loss of life, the loss of limb, and the loss of peace within themselves and their surroundings for, well, forever.  It's upsetting to say the absolute very least.

I've been behind in training because of my foot, but I think it's getting better.  While my goal of a Boston Qualifier is out the window for 2013, my resolve to get my foot back and qualify for Boston ASAP is as strong as ever.  I want to be there to experience the peak, but also to grind it out with survivors who have braved their own misgivings and wounded souls to venture back to the course, to the very spot, where so much was taken away from them.  I want to hear stories about where they were, what they did, and let them know that even though I could in no way understand what they have been through, that I share a bond with them through a fighting spirit and a competitive drive to attempt to not let anything rattle us or get us down.  Every runner out there feels the same way, no doubt, because we've all experienced that crossing of the line that brings about the warm emotions of gratification and accomplishment, and possess a sadness when we know one of our own has the opportunity taken away from them.  I write with a heavy heart for all affected, I really do.  I hope for nothing but the best to come out of such a horrific and thoughtless situation.  Until next time...later.