Redemption

After Thursday’s Torture Turkey Trot and a late Texas football game Friday night, I was a bit wary about my chances of success for 10 miles on Saturday morning.

It was dark when I got home Friday night (technically by then it was Saturday morning…) and it was still dark when I left my house after 4.5 hours of sleep. See, although I’m a six-minute drive from Rogue, as luck would have it this particular long run was taking place in Georgetown, 30 minutes away on the toll road. It was also still dark when I started dragging my gear out of the trunk of my car. Which is probably why I forgot my sunglasses.

We’d run from San Gabriel Park back in July–coincidentally I’d run ten miles that day too–so I had a vague idea where I was going. I started around the same time as two others, right around sunrise, and while we didn’t run together, we were close enough that it wasn’t creepy on the trail like last time.

About a mile and a half in, my headphones died. This was the replacement pair for the ones that died during my half-marathon in Ireland back in June, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to be shopping for new headphones this week. Fortunately my friend was carrying a spare pair of corded headphones, so at least I wasn’t stuck inside my own head for another 8.5 miles.

My breathing was still a little rough (this is typical for the first few runs in cooler weather) so I had to take some walk breaks, but my running pace felt decent most of the time. I wore the compression brace on my leg, mostly out of caution rather than actual need, and it never bothered me.

It was slow overall, but I finished strong. And there were cows.

IMG_8858[1]

Sunday morning I took an easy run with the dog, but he’s an erratic runner so I dropped him off back at home after the first mile. Then I went back out for another 1.75 miles–the whole distance with no compression sleeve or tape or wrapping on my leg. And it’s 100% fine. I also didn’t have any sort of breathing problems. I’m not in the same aerobic shape I was pre-injury, but I feel like maybe it’s coming back.

I don’t know if it’s realistic to have high expectations for the 3M half at the end of January, but right now that’s my unofficial goal race. I missed 3M this year (NJHS went to D.C. that weekend) and Ireland didn’t go the way I’d hoped, so 3M 2016 is still my half-marathon PR. Now that I’m back on my feet and training well again, I’m hoping two months is long enough to give that one a shot.

Advertisements

Turkey

The last couple of Turkey Trots have included some obstacle–one was the day after I’d had some blood drawn and I had no energy. A couple have been too warm. And then there was yesterday, or what shall henceforth be known as the Agony Trot. Which is unfortunate, because the Running Gods also gave me perfect running weather, and I was excited to finally put together a good run at this race.

IMG_8842[1]

At least through the first two miles.

And then everything fell apart. My lower back hadn’t felt great before we started, but it was manageable. Then some sort of abdominal cramping started rolling in waves. I hadn’t eaten anything weird, so I really don’t know what caused it. But I wasn’t even halfway through the race and I found myself barely able to run. I tried, but I had to walk a lot. My formerly-grumpy teen tried valiantly to cheer me up–and I appreciated that, even if I was unable to muster the proper recognition at the time. And I managed to run the final stretch to the finish line. I’m not sure how I made it back to the car, but collapsing into the front seat didn’t really improve my situation.

We stopped at a mom-and-pop grocery (whoa, there’s still something like that in Austin? I thought those guys had been gentrified out of existence by now) and raided their first-aid section for a cocktail that included ibuprofen and something that may have been Imodium. I couldn’t even identify what was wrong, so I threw a bunch of things at it and hoped something would help. It felt a lot like an episode that landed me in Urgent Care (with a bill of $8000) almost exactly a year ago, but I wanted to avoid THAT again if I could.

I felt a tiny bit better by the time we got home. A shower (and more Advil) brought more improvement, and by the time we were ready to leave for my mom’s I was drinking coffee and feeling cautiously optimistic. After the two-hour drive, I was hungry for Thanksgiving dinner.

This morning I decided I needed to do some kind of redemption run. Not too much–I have ten on the schedule Saturday morning–but something to get back on my feet, so to speak. I ran a fairly easy-paced two-mile loop around my house, then added a few strides from my driveway to the corner. The Agony Trot reminded me that I have a lot of work to do before 3M at the end of January, so now is as good a time as any.

My reward?

IMG_8849[1]

No ankle brace, nothing compression-y on my shin! I only ran the second mile (and strides) this way but it felt 100% normal. It’s still bumpy to the touch, so I plan to keep rolling it and trying to work that out. And for tomorrow’s ten-miler I might wear the wrap again just because of the distance–I don’t think I’ve run ten miles since my half-marathon back in June. But if I had to choose between feeling awful during the race yesterday and having my leg at 100% today, that’s a no-brainer.

And now it’s time for some leftovers.

Ankle bone’s connected to the shin bone

If you run your hand along the inside of my lower tibia, you’ll notice the fascia feels oddly bumpy. That seems to be the last manifestation of whatever this injury has been, but as long as I wrap it tightly, I have been able to run on it pain-free.

Skelly’s form is better than mine

I’ve been using that semi-reusable self-adhering tape (pro tip–if you Google it, skip the result about “bondage pleasure tape” when your kids are around) because compression sleeves and socks seem to focus on the calves, not the shins. I bought an ankle support sleeve, but the last time I ran with it, about two weeks ago, it felt pretty loose and I had some pain. I’ve been hesitant to try again–I don’t think I am emotionally prepared for a setback–and the time never felt right. I wanted to protect it during a Thursday quality workout, then I didn’t want to risk it on a long run, and then I went to Shiner for a race. Yesterday I ran eight miles, so this morning’s short recovery run around my neighborhood seemed like maybe a good time to give it another try.

I wore it like the picture suggests–there’s even a little indentation for your heel–which made it loose around the bumpy tibial area. But for the first half-mile or so, it was fine. Around .75 I had to stop. Not because my shin hurt, but because the seams on the underside of the sleeve were putting weird pressure on my heel and arch. I pulled the sleeve up and wore it more like a typical compression sleeve, except shorter. And I didn’t feel it again for the rest of my three-mile run.

Temps were in the 40s and it was sunny and perfect. I’m still struggling to breathe–I think my inhaler has expired–but my pace was better than yesterday and I felt … normal.

skelly

Dance of joy

My ankle bone might be connected to my shin bone with bumpy fascia, but it doesn’t hurt. And that makes me happy.

Shiner Beer Run, or I’m So Glad I Ran the 5K

After a busy last-day-before-a-holiday, I met my friends in the school parking lot (carrying two backpacks and an Athleta bag) and we hit the road to Shiner, Texas.

After the obligatory Buc-ees stop, we arrived at the Spoetzel Brewery to pick up our race stuff. And as luck would have it, they had run out of my shirt size. They promised more were coming, and they gave me a pencil to trade for a shirt in the morning. But I was skeptical, considering they gave pencils to just about everyone picking up packets, shirt problem or not.

Shirtless, I grumbled and complained a lot. But margaritas and Mexican food took some of the edge off. I wasn’t brave enough to try their special beverage the night before a race, though.

After dinner we checked into the hotel and tried to wind down. I didn’t sleep well, though.

By about 7:30 Saturday morning I’d successfully traded my pencil for an appropriately-sized shirt, but we still had time to kill before the race. The half-marathon started at 8:30 but the 5k-10k folks didn’t start until 8:45. Did I mention it was 72 degrees with eleventy- billion percent humidity? Ugh.

We took some pictures in front of the giant inflatable beer bottles, then saw our friend off for the half. Fifteen minutes later, it was our turn. I had no real expectations for this race–last year I ran a PR here, but after being sidelined by injury this fall, I was happy just to be running again.

I cranked up my music and took off.

The first half of this race is uphill. It’s not super-steep, and it makes for a fast(er) finish, but it does provide a challenge right out of the gate. Add in the warm humidity, and I was hitting my asthma inhaler before the turnaround. My second mile was my slowest, but then I got to take advantage of the downhill return.

I finished probably a minute and a half behind last years’s time, but all things considered I’m pleased with my race. I was at mile two before I even noticed that my leg felt fine–the only pain was from my labored breathing.

We collected our medals (medals this year!) beer, and sausage wraps and sat on the grass waiting for our friend to finish the half. The sun came out and it was probably in the 80s by then. We kept looking at each other and repeating, “I’m SO GLAD I ran the 5K.”

We made sure to pay attention to the awards because one of us (not me) won an age-group trophy! And this year we took the brewery tour, the stairs of which were slightly more difficult for some of the runners. Again, I was glad I just ran the 5K.

A cold front is supposed to come in this evening (naturally) so at least it will be more comfortable when we meet up for our long run in the morning. They’ve got 22 on the schedule; I’m jumping in for the last eight or so. Which hopefully won’t be uncomfortable after just a 5K.

The icing on the crap cake

This week sucked.

Actually, other than something dumb I did on Monday morning that haunted me all week, it didn’t start off too badly. Monday after core class we ran three miles–yeah, it was dark but temps were in the 60s and nothing hurt. But Tuesday was Halloween. I teach middle school. You do the math. And The Days After are almost worse, with everyone hopped up on sugar.

Thursday’s workout was a long one–1.25 mile warmup, two 2-mile loops, and then 1.25 miles back. Our coach is in NYC to run the marathon this weekend, and the person who was supposed to sub for him … didn’t. Warm temps had returned, so arriving to the workout start with no coach and no water made things worse. Fortunately one of our friends was late to the workout and just drove straight to the meeting point. He was kind enough to get back in his car, go to Rogue and get a cooler of water, and come back.

I was supposed to run the two loops at HMGP, and I guess I started off that way. But the humidity, lack of hydration, and general exhaustion of the week (see: Halloween) bit me in the ass pretty early. I ended up sort of run-walking it. I almost didn’t do the second loop, but I am coming back from such a long layoff that I really want to make some forward progress now. So I did it, again run-walk-complaining my way through it. Total was 6.5 miles, and my quads disapproved. Ankle/shin was okay though, so there’s that.

The dog and I fell asleep around 8:30 Friday night, if that tells you anything about my week. Even after nine hours of sleep, though, it was difficult to get out of bed at 6am. But the overnight low was only about 70, so I couldn’t really start later like I did last week. Had to suck it up and hit the road.

It will not come as a surprise that I did not correct my hydration situation between Thursday night and Saturday morning, and nine hours of sleep was not enough to erase my ever-increasing deficit. That it was 72 degrees with 90% humidity didn’t help either. Thus my eight-mile run was about seven miles too long, according to my legs.

But I really didn’t expect anything different. It was the icing on the crap cake that was my week.

 

crap cake

My friends ran 24 miles, though, so it’s time to celebrate with coffee. And maybe real cake.