Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Two Halves

Two halves make a whole right?
Does it work that way if you're trying to be a 50-stater? 
Unfortunately, I'm sure the answer is no, but if it were yes, Wisconsin would be crossed off my list!
I had an amazing weekend at home and wish I had time to write more.  The bullet-point recap:
  • I worked from home on Thursday (home where I was born!).
  • Finished up around 1 (I had an early flight and had worked on the plane).
  • Went to my grandpa's house to see him and borrow his car.
  • Grabbed lunch from my favorite build-your-own salad bar.
  • Ate salad in the car on the way to Chicago.
  • Horrendous traffic the last 10 miles of the drive.  70 miles in about 60 miles, then 10 miles in about 60 minutes.  Ugh! 
  • Got to meet my new 6-week old niece! 

  • Went out for dinner with my baby bro, his wife, and the baby. 
  • Awesome pizzas.
  • Hung out with them most of the night, got to give my niece a bottle.
  • Worked all day Friday.
  • Dinner with family (including next youngest bro, his wife and their 3 kids).
  • Saturday morning tracking my friends running St. George.  Amazing results, tons of PRs.  3:03, 3:10, 3:20, 3:23, 3:24, 3:44, and on, and on!  They had great weather -- cold at the start, gradually warming up as they descended. 
  • Saturday morning at my nephew and niece's football game, which they won 50-0 or something, and during which I sat freezing in a chair, covered in blankets and coats, remembering why I'm so glad I don't live in Milwaukee anymore.  The best part was my niece who wasn't playing football -- she likes to play dog (who I've named Scout), and after she'd gotten her shots, barked, growled, eaten treats (pretzel sticks), gotten a ??? in her paw, and played fetch, she curled up on my feet for a little while.  I lamented out loud how maybe I'd have to go to the shelter so I could get a lap dog, she curled up in my lap for a long time.  It was warm (she's a little furnace) and I can't get enough of her hugs.  It will be 2.5 months until I see her again.  She just turned 6 a few weeks ago and I worry the "playing puppy" stage will end soon. 
  • Picked up my friend at the airport.
  • Expo (small, but well-organized) (best part was seeing 35 years of shirts and medals -- though they didn't have medals the first few years, then it was more like medallions for a couple years, then by the early 90s it was medals that have steadily improved over the years). 
  • Naps!
  • Cooked dinner at home, pasta and garlic bread, a little for me, a lot for my friend who was trying to break 4 hours the next day.
  • Early to bed, $hitty sleep all night.  I have no idea why.  I usually sleep like a rock when I'm alone back in that bedroom of my childhood (different story if my husband is there, it's a smaller bed than we're used to, and a creaky floor, so I hear when he gets up to pee).  I totally zonked out every other night, but the night before the race, as is usual for me, I was up almost hourly.  Either getting up to pee or just looking at the clock and worrying it was time to get up. 
  • Alarm was set for 4:50, and I woke up for the last time around 4.  Tossed and turned and then gave up on trying to sleep around 4:30. 
  • Drove back downtown and we took the shuttle bus from the hotel to the start in Grafton.  We ran into a friend from our training program in Dallas and got to ride with him on the bus. 
  • Pre-race inside the high school.  Bathroom lines were manageable, and there was no line outside for porta-potties for anyone who didn't care about indoor plumbing.  Sat on a staircase in the high school and we got organized and chilled out in the warmth. 
  • Race started.  The weather was thoroughly perfect.  Low 50s, overcast, amazing. 
  • I walked and after a mile or two, was almost at the very back.  I realized my plan of walking for a couple hours might not work since I could see the police car behind the last runner, and I realized maybe they enforced the 14:52 pace minimum from the outset. 
  • Tried to jog, realized I definitely cannot run, but found that I could do a 100% pain-free shuffle kind of thing, that was faster than walking.  But still allowed me to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  • Caught up to 2 guys talking and they said something about Texas.  That was all I needed.  I just invited myself into that little party.  They were doing 3-1 run/walk intervals, and their run was very close to the shuffle pace I found comfortable.  It was about 6 miles of awesome with them.  A first timer named Kimberly joined us for a couple miles of it. 
  • Around mile 8, just after we started on the Concordia University campus, Arthur stopped for the bathroom, Matt surged ahead to catch a few other friends, and Kimberly slowed down to walk more, so I was alone again.  I stopped to take some Lake Michigan pictures, so beautiful. 
  • Continued on solo about half a mile, then started talking to another person who was staying around my shuffle pace with no walk breaks.  Kathleen, a music teacher from Crystal Lake, Illinois.  We talked for miles and it was great.  Finally around mile 12, I was worried I was holding her back, so I took a walk break and wished her well.  She was hoping to break her 2014 time of 5:40, and I looked her up -- she did!  5:34!  Matt finished in 5:09, which was faster than I think he planned, but I'm guessing he felt great.  And Arthur finished in 5:48!  And he's 68!  I wasn't able to look up Kimberly, but hopefully she was also happy with the day. 
  • I made it to the halfway point, and while I felt good (and my ankle felt 100% the same), I dropped out.  The wisdom of friends (real world, blog commenters, FB friends) and my husband had sunk in -- keeping my mind on the big picture (future races, being healthy and able to move around in Europe later THIS WEEK (eeeeeek!!!!)).  I had been carefully watching my step (and I mean every single step, I spent most of the race looking mostly down), and part of me thinks I could have finished, but I respect the distance.  There's a big difference between a half and a full.  I think I was around 2:50 for the half, so if I'd stayed around the same pace, I would have finished around 5:40 (and therefore beaten my very first full ever!).  But of course, it was far from certain I'd stay around the same pace, and the idea of being out there for about 3 more hours did not sound fun.  I warmed up at times, but at other times, especially along the lake, it was cold and windy.  I'd pitched my long-sleeve shirt around mile 1, and about 10 seconds later, I went back to pick it up, realizing I might need it later -- good decision! 
  • At the half, there was a sweet girl named Allie who'd dropped out.  Felt dizzy, weird numbness, and her parents were coming to pick her up.  She was so disappointed in herself, and really down in the dumps, all kinds of friends and family had come to watch her and she felt like she'd let them all down.  Her parents were nice enough to pick me up as well, and we all drove to the finish together.  I tried to help her feel better, reminding her there would be a lifetime of races if she wanted, but that if she didn't want, there's no requirement to race to be a runner, or she could do races other than the marathon, or she could just do activities other than running, she has tons of options, and for her family, finishing 13.1 miles still seems like quite an accomplishment, even though it wasn't what she wanted, and they were still undoubtedly happy to have been there to see her run some and to support her. 
  • At the finish, I found my family and then joined the finish line crowd to wait for my Dallas friend.  Unfortunately, I saw the 4:00 pace group, and then 4:10, before I found her.  She finished in 4:12 and was a bit bummed about missing her sub-4 goal, but in great spirits anyway to have finished with one of her top 3 or 4 finish times.  She'll get it eventually, and she knows it. 
  • Quick showers, then we went out to Lakefront Brewery for lunch.  Beer, cheese curds, fries, and a grilled cheese sandwich.  I ate like I'd run the full!  Oops...
  • Then a trip to Leon's, for Wisconsin's best frozen custard.  I went with 2 dips (all summer long, during marathon training, I thought about looking forward to having possibly my first 5 dip cone ever, but alas, half the distance, half the scoops...).  Vanilla topped by mint.  Divine. 
  • We went to visit my grandpa one more time.
  • We went to see my brother and my niece "Scout" (who was acting like a human on Sunday). 
  • Then we went to the airport for pizza and beer, then flew back to Dallas.  My ankle and foot felt a little tight sitting on the plane, but I think my brace may have been a bit too tight, particularly since my foot may have swelled some in the air. 

An all-around wonderful weekend, even if it didn't include the highlight marathon that I imagined it would as recently as 3 weeks ago when I finished my 22 miler.  Oh well, better safe than sorry!  And if I'd kept plodding along as I'd considered, of course it's possible I would have hurt my ankle more, but it's definite that I wouldn't have had enough time after the race for the couple final family visits. 

And good news yesterday -- even though I got home late and got to bed very late, I woke up for boot camp Monday morning, and my ankle felt the same!  I had some very mild soreness in my quads (totally normal for me after a long run; while 13.1 wouldn't ordinarily be long, it probably is after 2.5 weeks off).  And now I'd say I'm totally back to normal.

If only Sunday's unofficial half (my time registered at the half mark, but I think the online results are only finishers; thankfully I got a results print-out at the finish line so at least I have my own little documentation), could be paired with my decade-old half time from the Journeys Marathon in Eagle River to count as one Wisconsin full.  Oh well, someday (assuming I go for 50 states, and possibly even if I don't, just for the convenience of racing near family), I'll be back. 

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon only had 3500 runners registered (it was capped), and only 2300 finishers.  Not sure if that's normal, or if maybe less than 3500 registered.  It was very well-organized.  The race director was walking around inside the high school before the race start, checking to see if anyone needed anything!  And as I feared, being toward the back of the race, the participants were very far spread out.  Normally, that might make me a bit concerned about staying on course.  However, for this race, at I think every single street that was not a private driveway, there was a volunteer with a flag, making sure we all stayed on course.  It was absolutely incredible course guidance.  And so many of them were encouraging, calling us by name (printed on our bibs), and telling us how great we were doing!  I still feel a little teary thinking about it.  So many nice people.  The course was pretty.  I wouldn't say it was flat, but there weren't any significant hills in the first half (and my definition of a "significant" hill probably encompasses things people in hilly places wouldn't even notice).  There were a fair number of spectators who'd come out from their houses to cheer us on, lots of cowbell!  The weather was a dream.  The pre-race buses were flawless, ample, easy.  Waiting inside the high school was great.  Looked like there was lots of food for the finishers.  I'll definitely consider it for my legit Wisconsin full some day! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Marathon Plan

Well, my hopes for a miraculous full recovery of my ankle weren't enough.  It's still swollen, but significantly less painful for the most part. 

The official diagnosis:  I've torn two ligaments (ATFL and C-something).  I have a medial sprain (which is apparently fairly rare, less than 10% of all ankle injuries!).  I have a "stress reaction" on my fibula (small bone in the shin).  It could already be a stress fracture, but my doctor can't tell, but it's also from the fall.

Prognosis:  cast has come off and I'm wearing this awful brace thing.  I'm free to be active as long as there's no pain, and as long as there's no inversion or eversion of my ankle (kind of redundant since there's crazy pain with the slightest inversion/eversion).  The doctor said probably no running for 8 weeks (though I was cleared for things like pool running and running on a special treadmill), but the doctor said I could walk until I'm blue in the face.  In 8 weeks, the doctor will apparently be able to tell if the two ligaments are healing properly.  If they aren't, then it's a pretty simple surgery to stitch them (and then more recovery time).  In 8 weeks, the stress reaction will likely be a full stress fracture if it's not already, or it will have subsided. 

So far...

The day my cast came off, I tried the elliptical. 

I likely overdid it.  Who would have thought just over 2 hours on an elliptical in a whole year was too much????

(Ignore the fact that it was over 2 hours after more than a week of full immobility on my leg and yeah, I hadn't been on an elliptical in probably 5 years before that day.)

So I strained a medial gastroc muscle.  That's territory I know!  I've never had to miss over a week of running due to an injury since I got hurt in October 2005 (and then I missed months).  But almost every year, when my mileage gets high, I miss a day or two of running due to fear of an injury, usually in one of my calfs (calves?  That sounds like cattle to me.). 

A few days of exercising more reasonably resolved the gastroc strain, so that's out of the picture now.

I also ran on a treadmill for just over 1.5 miles.  It was an Alter-G treadmill at a sports rehab facility.  Basically a normal treadmill, but you wear biking shorts with half a zipper around the waist.  You get on the treadmill and a big bubble thing is pulled up around the treadmill belt and up to the treadmill side arms.  You're then zipped into the opening at the top of that bubble.  It's a little like wearing a huge hoop skirt or something.   Then the bubble is filled with so much air you almost float off your feet.  It calibrates a few times, then you set how much impact you want, based on a percent of your body weight, from 20 to 100 (so 100% has just room air in the bubble, and it's like running on any other treadmill).  PT thought I'd maybe start around 65%, and they said if I got up to 95% without pain, I could probably run the marathon.  But there was pain at 65%.  And 50%.  And 45%.  But not at 40%!  So I ran at 40-42% of my body weight (I fluctuated it a little).

It was so-so.  I was so happy to be running and it was totally pain free, but wow, it was awful.  Alone on a treadmill and not even a TV to watch (well, there's a TV screen, but you're just watching 3 different camera angles of yourself running).  Insanely boring!  Made me think that I might not love running as much as I think!  Instead, I really love exercising with my friends outside.  The actual running motion inside on a treadmill doesn't hold much joy.  But I was actually elated for most of the run just because I was doing it.

So I don't know what it means for this weekend's marathon.  The doctor assured me that I would likely be fine walking for the better part of a day repeatedly in Europe and Africa, he said walking doesn't have any impact that concerns him, as long as my steps are on level pavement.  And the doctor said I could walk the marathon if I was so inclined.

The marathon pace requirements are 14:52 per mile, and that might be pushing it for me.  I walk with my neighbor sometimes and we usually hover between 15:45 and 16:15 per mile (I consider her a fast walker).  So I'd have to be faster than that. 

The most likely option I think is that I start the marathon, walk until I'm tired, bored, or the last person/behind the required pace, and then take the sag wagon to the finish.

I have a friend who gets here on Saturday and she's racing it, trying to do her first sub-4 ever (this is the friend I paced a few years ago to a 4:10ish PR).  So I would like to be able to go with her to the start and enjoy some of the race (they don't let you defer entry anyway). 

But I might also just watch, though it's not a spectator-friendly course. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Life Wheel

In something I was reading for work, I came across something about a "Life Balance Wheel."  It has a circle divided into areas of the person's life: 

Personal Growth,
Fun and Recreation,
Time Alone,
Friends/Social Life,
Health and Exercise,

And when I read that, it hit me -- running (and boot camp) is what fills a lot of my circles!

It's fun and recreational -- aside from travel, it's probably one of the most fun activities I do with any regularity.

It's one of the things I love doing with my husband. 

It's my time with friends and it's a big part of my social life.  I run/boot camp with many of my dearest fiends -- feel free to draw your own conclusions about cause/correlation -- when you run with someone, you spend hours talking to them every week, so you'd better hope it's someone you like.  I'm very lucky there, and I know it.  I don't spend tons of time on the phone with out of town friends, and the local friends I spend the most time talking to are definitely working out friends.  Sure, I'm emailing with people while injured, and people have stopped by to sign my cast and commiserate, but it's not the same as spending hours chatting per week. 

It's my health and exercise.  I have been trying to go to boot camp the last few days and just stay on my mat, doing abs and arms and stuff, but yikes, not really burning any calories at all.  I've been struggling to find any cardio I can actually do in this cast, but honestly, even if I found something, I'm not wild about it since I've noticed sweating in the cast is very uncomfortable and makes it even itchier. 

It's what I spend most of my "fun money" on, so I guess the financial part of my life is better without it?  Not really, since it's fun money and I don't really spend a ton on it. 

And in a lot of ways, it's where I feel like I set goals and have personal growth. 

So what now?????? 

I know there's a lot more to my life than running/boot camp, and I know with certainty I'll be back as soon as this ankle is healed, but right now, I'm mostly just crying in my beer at my own little pity party. 

Going to the doctor again this morning to get this stupid itchy cast off.  And I find out what's next.  Another cast for 8 weeks?  A brace of some sort?  Or (my hope, hope, hope), the "all healed, good luck in the marathon next weekend"?! 
Haha, wishful thinking.  It's still pretty sore and I'm worried about what the doc will say. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

He Said, She Said

Another quiz.  What's funny is that I actually have a few million blog posts I should write.  When I ran the San Francisco marathon, I carried my phone and took a bunch of pictures I can share.  And I went on a self-guided Breaking Bad tour in Albuquerque.  And I turned 40.  And I went to Pittsburgh to visit aging inlaws.  And I got to meet (and run and have breakfast with) Jennifer, from Running on Lentils -- in real life!  But life has kind of been kicking my butt lately!  Lots of miles on the road -- running and traveling for work.  And I'm just feeling wiped out.  So ready to taper.  (Heh, clearly written pre-ankle injury.)

But somewhere in the last month or so since I've been inspired to write, I came across another quiz when I was reading the Jen Chooses Joy blog.  And it was kind of a fun one, so I wrote out my answers, figuring we'd have some down-time in Pittsburgh for the AC to give his answers, so I wrote mine out, but of course we were busier than expected, so it took another week plus to do this.  Anyway, here we go! 

Directions:  First answer the questions about yourself.  Then, without ANY prompting, ask your spouse, boyfriend, partner, etc…these questions about yourself and write down EXACTLY what they say.  Husband's answers in BLUE and my answers (written first) in PINK.

1.  What is something your wife always says to you?
"Be present."  (When I tell him to ignore his phone.)
I love you!

2.  What makes your wife happy?
Being with friends and/or family

3.  What makes your wife sad?
Injured feet and legs (as I asked these questions, I just finished 22 miles and we are watching wrestling on tv while I sit with my legs on his lap and he's halfheartedly rubbing them) (now that I'm posting this, wearing my below-the-knee cast, waiting for more answers on Thursday about my leg, this would definitely be his answer!).   
Missing my family.

4.  How does your wife make you laugh?
I don't know.  Says funny things. 
Silly jokes or showing him funny FB memes.

5.  What was your wife like as a child?
Bossy and in my own world.

6.  How old is your wife?
40 and 2.5 weeks!

7.  How tall is your wife?
5’6″ (I laughed, then he said 5'5"?)
5’4″ (maybe 5'5"?)

8.  What is her favorite thing to do?
Plan and go on vacations and trips.

9.  If your wife became famous, what would it be for?
Running.  Or a famous lawyer. 
Probably losing my $hit and yelling and flailing my arms at inefficiency and waste  while someone stood by and recorded the whole thing (I had jury duty a couple weeks ago and the wounds of wasted hours are still fresh).

10.  What is your wife really good at?
Arguing.  It's your job.  You are good at it.  No arguing that. 
Arguing, negotiating and convincing (it's my job!)
For the record, I am totally appalled by the fact that we agreed on this.  Felt like a zinger! 

11.  What is your wife not very good at?
Barbeque-ing.  (I pushed for another answer and he said "sprinting.") 
Singing, and being patient. 

12.  What does your wife do for a job?
She's a lawyer. 

13.  What is your wife’s favorite food?
Macaroni and cheese. 
Too broad to just say cheese?  Mac and cheese, pizza, cheesecake...

14.  What makes you proud of your wife?
She's very smart.  And beautiful. 
My running.  He brags about me all the time, even if I'm disappointed with my performance in a race.

15.  If your wife was a tv or movie character, who would she be?
Someone on Law & Order (you wish you were)
I wouldn't mind hosting The Amazing Race.  In terms of a character, I always wanted to be Frances Houseman.  I also wanted to be Vivian Ward (but that was before I really understood the movie).  But I think right now, I'd most want to be Abby Carmichael (the ADA from Law & Order, I'd frigging love to look like Angie Harmon!), or Elizabeth on The Americans (it would be kind of fun to be a Russian spy living in the US undercover in the 80s).  I predict my husband will say Gillian Anderson from the X Files, since he thinks I look a bit like her. 

16.  What do you and your wife do together?
Boot camp. 
See the world, travel, cuddle, work out, watch TV.

17.  How are you and your wife different?
I like to eat animal flesh. 
I'm more of a planner and list-maker.

18.  How do you know your wife loves you?
She takes good care of me. 
I tell him all the time!

19.  What does your wife like most about you?
I don't know.  I think she likes pretty much everything about me.  Maybe that I don't like sports very much.  Except this (while watching wrestling).  Be glad we don't live in Iran.  This stuff is probably on all the time over there. 
His sweetness.  He's such a nice and good person, it balances me out.  I think we're a good team.

20.  Where is your wife’s favorite place to go?
Calabria in Italy!  If I had to be more specific, I'd say my husband's aunt's house in Lamezia (maybe on the little balcony off "our" room when we stay there), or in the piazza in Pizzo, overlooking the sea and the castle where we got married.