Friday, October 9, 2015

Travel oops

I had grand plans of scheduling posts about last year's trip to Nepal, India and Dubai to come up over the next few weeks while we are in Spain, Morocco and Italy, but alas, time got away from me. 

And to further complicate matters, I'm having trouble uploading pictures from my camera to the blog, so my revised idea of sharing just a photo a day is also scrapped. 

What can I say? 

Super excited about the trip.  We are about to leave for the airport because my husband's birthday is while we're gone and I got him what I hope will be a gift he'll love, but it will be enjoyed at the airport beginning in a couple hours. 

Tentative itinerary (we haven't really booked much, planning to wing it again as we did in India):

Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Grenada in Spain,
Then to Algicieras to take a ferry to Tangier.
Then Tangier, Chefchouen, Fez, Marakesh in Morocco.
Then a flight to Lamezia Terme (connecting in Milano).
Then about 6 days in Lamezia seeing my husband's family.
Then a day in Milano, then a flight home.

For the first time ever, I'm going to try to work while on vacation.  I scheduled 3 partial days of work while we're in Lamezia.  Kind of a trial run to see how it works -- if it goes well, maybe when we're back in 2 years, we can extend our trip a week or so without me using vacation.  And then eventually, maybe I can work there for a month, then a few months, then half the year!  That's a ways down the road.  I'm also hoping working partial days will make it less painful to come back to weeks and weeks worth of unread emails. 

Have a great few weeks!  By the time I get back, it should only be another couple weeks until I can run again (already trying to find the positive...). 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Shirt question

What are the rules on wearing this shirt?

I started the race but dropped out halfway through (my half-marathon time registered). 

I fully trained for the race.  I was in the middle of peak week when I fell (I had done my 22 miler, followed by a 9 on Tuesday of that week, had set out for 6-7 the day I fell, had 8 on the schedule for the next day, and an easy 5 on Saturday, then I truly would have been in taper mode). 

When I ran the San Fran marathon in July, the woman I bought the bib from on Craig's List wanted to keep the shirt.  I thought that was weird and a little ... unethical?  That might not be the right word, but it seemed disingenuous.  She knew at least a week before the race that she wouldn't be starting it.  I bought a shirt at the SF marathon expo and I wear it a lot (I like the color), even though my name doesn't show up in the official results. 
The photos don't show this shirt well.  It's almost a forest green colored shirt, with a blue-ish undertone. 
Anyway, what say you?  Can I wear the Lakefront Marathon shirt, even though I DNF'd?  Or should it just be a throw-away? 

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.