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.

Dance of joy

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.

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

Advertisements

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.

Goldilocks day

Texas doesn’t gradually transition from summer to fall. It’s summer one day, and then a cold front blows in and suddeny it’s winter. That happened this week–Thursday night I ran my six (!) mile training run in 80-degree temperatures; Friday the high was not quite 60, and this morning it was 38 as I set out to attempt seven miles.

Obviously my leg is vastly improved–as long as I wrap it tightly, it gives me zero trouble. And it has held up as I’ve increased mileage the last couple of weeks. The first week of October I ran a total of eight miles. Second week, eleven. Last week was sixteen, and this week I ran 26 miles. That’s still well below my typical October average, but as far as injury recovery goes, I’m pleased.

Seven of those miles came this morning, on a Goldilocks day.

As a general rule, I don’t like cold weather. I like some of my winter clothes (and my favorite fuzzy clogs) but I don’t like being cold. Except when I run–then Austin can’t get cold enough to keep me from getting out there.

45 degrees

It was about 38 degrees when I headed out a few minutes before sunrise. I wore a light long-sleeved shirt, the sleeves long enough to cover my hands instead of bothering with gloves. Which I needed for about half the run, mostly due to the wind. But I didn’t care. It just felt good to be out there without anything hurting, without dying of heatstroke.

As long runs go, this was a slow one. But I was pretty consistent, each mile within 20 seconds or so, and my last mile was my fastest. And I hardly took any walk breaks. Everything aligned perfectly–cold temps, sunny sky, pain-free leg, and a reasonably flat route. It wasn’t easy, but it never felt difficult, either. It was just … good. The last time I ran that far was late July, and everything about today was different. The first cold day of the fall, seven pain-free miles. And juuuuuust right.

Sunday Runday

Thanks to the Texas football game schedulers, who didn’t consult me prior to deciding on an 11am kickoff yesterday, I had to push my Saturday run into Sunday. But I think that worked out for the best, because early this morning a thunderstorm rolled in and temps dropped into the low 60s. When I headed out around 9:00, it was overcast and damp but not raining. Pretty nice!

I had originally planned to run five miles on the Brushy Creek Trail, but I thought maybe the thunderstorms would keep people home, and I really didn’t want to run alone on a fairly deserted trail. A flasher was reported at a different Williamson County park this week, and when my coach posted something about it on Facebook, a couple of people chimed in about suspicious situations on BCT also. I’m not afraid of running alone on the trail, but this morning the neighborhood streets felt like a better choice.

Yeah, five miles was my “long” run this week. But I don’t want to come back from this injury too quickly–it’s still not 100% yet–so I’m trying to play it smart. I ended up with, like I said in my last post, almost ten miles the first three days of the week. Thursday I ran four miles at the track with my group, and Friday I got in 2.2 miles knowing I’d be missing my Saturday run. That one didn’t go so well–I ran out of the tape I’ve been using as compression on my shin and had to use something that, it turns out, isn’t as effective. So 2.2 was the best I could do.

tape

This is the right stuff

Saturday I spent most of the day at the Texas – Oklahoma State football game where once again Texas snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory. Sigh. But I got in a lot of walking–13,000 steps–even though I didn’t run.

So that brings us back to this morning. I wrapped my shin and ankle with the correct tape, then headed out. The first half went pretty well–it was cloudy and breezy, maybe 65*. I stopped for water at the park, but after I started again I could tell I had begun to fade. I’ve been doing run-walk intervals as I rebuild my endurance (2:30 running, :30 walking) and starting back up was getting more difficult as the distance increased and the sun came out. The last mile and a half was tough. I got back to my starting point after 4.75 miles and I just couldn’t make myself even that out to five miles. I was DONE. Which is pretty sad, considering my training levels just three months ago.

After I got home, made coffee and had a snack, and got some laundry going, I got a text from one of my BRFs. She had run 12 (at hilly River Place!) the day before, and this morning went out for another 4.5. Yes, I know she’s training for a full marathon in December, and I know I can’t possibly keep up with her. But I went out for another 1.25, straight running, to give myself an even six for the day.

My running feels a lot like the Texas football program. They’ve struggled the last few seasons, and this year have lost three very winnable games (we won’t talk about that fourth one…). I mean, when your QB (not named Vince Young) is also your leading rusher and your punter is the player of the week (his punts are in the 65-yard range and twice he pinned it inside the five) you know you still have work to do on offense. Yeah, there are glimmers of hope in the true freshman QB, the defense that held the Big 12’s number one scoring offense to 13 points, and the don’t-give-up attitude from the team as a whole. But just when I think they’ve turned the corner and are back on the road to the Top Ten, they drop the game-winning pass, commit a stupid penalty that gives the other team fresh life, or throw an interception in overtime. Same with my running. I’ve struggled, I’m improving, but I’ve still got obstacles. And patience is not one of my virtues, with football or running or anything else.

Here’s to turning those moral victories into actual victories, and soon.

Good news, everyone!

You read that title in Professor Farnsworth’s voice, didn’t you?


Anyway, I really do have (tentative) good news! Since I got back from Dallas, I’ve managed three successful, non-medicated runs! Sunday morning I went 4.2, Monday after core class we ran two more, and Tuesday night I ran another three miles. Three days in a row! I think I’ve already run more miles this week than I managed all of last week, and they’ve been virtually pain-free. 

It also helps that we’ve had some fall-like weather the last few days. This means I’m struggling to breathe because I lost some fitness, not because I lost fitness AND it’s hotter than Satan’s testicles. 

I’m still not 100%, but I can string together several miles at about 90%, and that makes me really happy. 


“Oh don’t worry Fry. I too once spent a nightmarish time in a robot insane asylum, but now it’s nearly over. So long!”

Second Saturday in October

I didn’t run on Saturday morning, but I still managed to rack up more than 17,000 steps for the day by walking around the Texas State Fair and attending the Texas-OU game at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

IMG_8517

Huge thanks to my friend, who had an extra ticket and a hotel room!

Even though kickoff wasn’t until 2:30, we arrived at Fair Park pretty early in the day because my friend had never been there and she needed to experience everything that is the Texas State Fair.

The Cotton Bowl is inside Fair Park, so game tickets come with tickets to enter the fair itself. We got to skip the main entrance line and go through a “game ticket” entrance that was a lot faster, too.

We visited (new) Big Tex, where we ran into B’s kindergarten teacher. Which is hilarious because the joke is that you never make plans to meet up with someone at Big Tex–it’s so crowded that you’ll never actually find the person.

IMG_8558

Howdy, folks!

Tragically, Big Tex burned up in a fire in 2012, and in typical everything-is-bigger-in-Texas fashion, the new version is larger than the old one. But his “Howdy Folks!” greeting is familiar as ever.

We also tried to find the weirdest fair food. Some standouts: fried Frito Pie, fried Froot Loops, fried cheesecake, and bacon funnel cakes. Sensing a theme? We also saw a huge butter sculpture shaped like Mount Rushmore. I didn’t eat any fair food, though, unless you count the nachos (complete with cheese that’s a color not found in nature) I had at halftime of the game. Lest you think I’m some kind of healthy eater…. dinner the night before was fro-yo, queso, and margaritas. So I wasn’t quite feeling the fair food early in the day.

IMG_8528

Hook ’em!

Around 1:30 we headed into the stadium, which has been renovated and expanded since the last time I came to one of these games. It now holds somewhere around 92,000 and hosts just a handful of games a year. They no longer even play THE Cotton Bowl game here–its main event is Texas-OU on the second Saturday in October, which is like nothing else in college football.

The stadium is divided equally between the two factions–Dallas is roughly halfway between Austin and Norman–along the 50-yard line. And I mean it literally when I say factions. The gloves are off, and the hatred flies back and forth all game. The end of Texas’ fight song changes to “OU SUCKS!” and the band stops mid-Grandioso to shout “Beat the hell out of OU!” The booing is expert-level.

Texas fans sit on the north side, facing south toward Austin, while OU fans face north toward Norman. This means the south end zone (not the sideline) is extremely inhospitable when Texas is moving that direction, and vice versa. The tunnel is on the OU end, and in recent years the stadium erected fences around it because OU fans tossed stuff on Texas players entering the field. The teams alternate who wears home jerseys–this year, we were the “home” team.

Fun facts: this year was the hottest game-day in more than two decades–it was 90-something at kickoff–and for the first time since 1947, both teams had first-year coaches.

IMG_8564

See how the colors change from Texas to OU at the 50-yard line?

Fortunately, by the end of the first quarter, our side of the stadium was in the shade from the upper deck. The score was … less in our favor. But after halftime we showed some life, both on the field and in the stands. By late in the fourth quarter, we’d engineered something of a comeback and took the lead by one point. Which we quickly surrendered with like two minutes to play. We had a couple of shots at the end zone as time ran out, but our true freshman QB and his patchwork O-line just couldn’t quite make it happen. It was a nail-biter, and in the end a disappointing one.

I hate losing, and I REALLY hate losing to them. The walk to the car was long, and the drive home even longer. We finally rolled in to my driveway about 12:30 in the morning. But hey, I got a jump on my Sunday step count before I even went to sleep Saturday night.

The family (and dog) let me sleep late, and by the time I got up a cool front had moved through. It was cloudy and breezy, maybe 68*, so I decided to try to run. I’d seen my sports doc earlier in the week–he warned me that there’s a small chance I could have a stress fracture, but he felt like it probably wasn’t. He’s going to work on it a few times, and if it doesn’t improve, we’ll look in to that possibility a little more closely, but he’s hopeful it’s a soft tissue problem that will respond quickly to treatment.

I wrapped it tightly–compression seems to help–but even with extra support, for the first quarter-mile or so it felt like it wasn’t going to go well. Yesterday’s 17,000+ steps (then four-plus hours in the car) hadn’t helped. Not only that, my training has been so limited the last two months, I feel I’ve lost a ton of fitness, so I’ve been running 2:30 to :30 run-walk intervals, and that helps a little.

File Oct 15, 4 17 33 PM

It was really windy

Fortunately after half a mile it felt pretty okay, so I kept going. I made it the whole 4.25-mile route sticking to the intervals, stopping twice for water, twice for a traffic light, once when I guy asked me if I’d seen his dog (I hadn’t), and once because a bench overlooking the lake called my name.

I could feel some minor twinges, but it wasn’t painful and did not affect my gait at all. I think more of my discomfort came from feeling slow and out of shape. But I am slightly optimistic because even without the pharmaceutical assistance of Aleve, I didn’t have real pain and I was able to hold a relatively consistent (albeit slow) pace over 4.2 miles. Two weeks ago I was only able to run about two miles before it went all to hell, so perhaps I’m making progress.

I hope my football team is too, because we have another tough one this coming Saturday.