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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Mission Accomplished

My last post a few days ago was about the negative splits that kept evading capture. It didn't take long to track that beast down and nab it. Twice in fact. During back to back runs. Last night I was feeling good, determined. I slacked this week when it came to running, exercise in general. Monday nights are normally Zumba night for me, but the mister came home from work so late that I didn't get to class. I thought about bringing all 3 kids along to sit in child watch, but I quickly decided against unleashing the hell spawn they've been of late on any unsuspecting innocents. I got my scheduled run in on Tuesday, but crapped out on Thursday, and then the make up day on Friday. I refused to let the weekend go down in flames as well.

So with a nice long nap Saturday afternoon and a good dinner, I set out at dusk for a quick 2 miles. I've been setting my virtual pacer on my Garmin to 10:45, but have been staying well under that. I did my first mile, part of it downhill, the rest flat, in 10:06. Now that would be a hard mile to beat for the second one, because the 2nd mile was half flat, and a good chunk of uphill climbs. As my BRF and Team Shamy partner Patty says, hills are my own personal Wil Wheaton, my arch nemesis(if you don't get this reference, well, you are missing out in life). I spend all of my time avoiding hills at all cost. I. Hate. Hills. I've been forced to start confronting the enemy recently, because, unbeknownst to me when I registered, the Rock N Roll Half Marathon I'm doing in St. Louis in October is hilly. If there is one thing I hate more than hills, it's hills during long distances. If I encounter them on shorter runs, I can live with them. But you add 13.1 miles and hills, more specifically reaching the pit of despair point during a half(you know, the point where you are just ready to die and you question your sanity because you didn't just sign up, but you paid money to get to this lowly state) AND facing hills, and the pair is not exactly my idea of a good time.

So I've been forcing myself to face hills more often, in hopes of being somewhat prepared for that battle. Facing a hill during my second mile, a very long hill, followed by a shorter, steeper hill, didn't leave me confident that I'd be faster than 10:06. but I pushed it, and it paid off.
I didn't know it at the time, I knew I was very close, but I was busy celebrating two back to back near 10 minute miles. I wasn't extremely uncomfortable and ready to die, which means this faster pace is getting comfortable. This means I can push myself a bit more, and go even faster. I went inside and plugged in my Garmin. There it was, by just one second, I'd managed negative splits. One second meant the world to me, and even though it was only 2 miles, it's the start of something fabulous. That fabulous came tonight.

If last night's mindset was good, tonight's was the exact opposite. Wanting to get a 3rd run in for the week, and wanting to test myself on two back to back runs(since I am registered for the Glass Slipper Challenge in February, the Enchanted 10k on Saturday and the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday), I'd made up my mind that I would be running tonight as well. But my mood sure was poor. I'd had a busy day(cleaning, laundry, feeding kids, work, oil change, grocery shopping), the mister had me less than pleased with his not so  busy day(sleeping late, watching tv, playing computer games, napping on the couch), add in 2 fighting older children and 1 beast of a toddler and by the time it came time to head out for a run, I had to force myself to do it, and only then by telling myself that I HAD to get out of the house before I lost it. When I stepped out the door, I wasn't even sure if I'd run the whole way. Part of me said I'd just walk a few miles, another part said maybe I'd go slow or do intervals. I had absolutely no desire to push myself tonight. I didn't bring my music because I was overstimulated from my day, I didn't need that noise. I turned the virtual pacer off on my watch. I just decided to run.

At first, I was still annoyed. The constant presence of music during my runs has apparently been preventing me from hearing the slapping of my arm fat against my body. I ran, slap, slap, slap. I grew more annoyed. Should have brought music, I thought. Running at dusk in the summer also brings bugs. Being a mouth breather while running brings bugs in your mouth. Still more annoyed. The first mile passed and I was at 10:23. Not too bad actually. I was hoping for somewhere around 11, so to be still under that despite of the arm fat slapping and the bugs in my mouth, I felt the tension subside. I went back up the hill, feeling like I was slowing down. Oh well, no negatives tonight, it's cool, just get home. But then the second mile passed, and I was at 10:11. NEGATIVE again!! I pushed it back up the last hill and brought it home strong. I did another .36 miles and if I would have kept up that pace for a complete 3rd mile, it would have gone down again.

The thing I like best about tonight's run is how even my pace was through the entire distance. Up hill, down hill, flat, I kept pace. This is something I've always been bad at. I can run a 7 minute mile down hill, but a 13 minute mile up hill. Even last night's run had a pattern, speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down. So I'm quite pleased at the pace control. But I'm not done with my negative split goals. Next up, negative splits over 3 miles.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Elusive Negative Splits

Up until a couple of months ago, I had heard the term negative splits, but I had no clue what it meant. It finally dawned on me when looking at someone's training run, that negative splits meant your pace going down as your miles went up. Ohhhhh shiny new thing! I like setting new, smaller goals for myself when I'm working towards bigger goals. Right now my big goals are the 4 half marathons I will be doing this fall/winter. I'm registered for the Rock N Roll Half in St. Louis on October 27, then just 13 days later I'm registered for Disney's Wine and Dine Half, on November 9. I plan on registering for the Tinkerbell Half in Disneyland in January as soon as registration opens next month, and the April's United States Half Marathon Tour will culminate with the Glass Slipper Challenge in Disney World in February, a 10k on Saturday and the Princess Half Marathon on Sunday. While the first of all of these races is coming up sooner than it seems, I usually have a hard time staying focused and maintaining training. I learned my lesson with that towards the end of my training, and during the Princess Half Marathon this year, ending up injured. I refuse to let myself do that again, so I'm planning on a more regular training schedule, starting early, and climbing in miles a lot slower than I did last time. In order to motivate myself to keep going on a regular basis, I set little goals for myself. I want to beat my 5k PR of 29:54, I'd like to beat my 10k PR of 1:09:, and I want to do 3+ miles with negative splits. I've been doing a lot of treadmill running lately and finally decided to take myself outside for a run this evening. I set the pace setter up on my Garmin for a 10:45 min pace. On the treadmill I've been averaging around 10:20 for 2-3 miles, but those are nicer conditions, no hills, and right under the air conditioning vent. It was warmer outside, and not flat. I was very obviously not a runner when I picked what neighborhood to live in, because I went and picked one with a whole bunch of hills. I hate hills, but knowing the RnR Half in St. Louis is nice and hilly, I know I have to suck it up and face them here at home. I set out, it was warm, the sweat started immediately, but I got the first mile done in 10:06. Sweet, well under my goal pace. Naturally, right after I hit the first mile, I hit the first hill. I powered up but the 2nd mile was done in 10:23. Well, so long negative splits. I ended up right at 3 miles and my splits looked like this:
Now I could go on about not speeding up, but there are tons of positives here that I'm really pleased with. For one, I'm still running pain free. Keep in mind that since PHM this year, I'd battled ITBS and knee pain. It took over 2 months to be able to run pain free. Because of that injury, I had to back off from running, a lot, and am just now starting to add miles back. I also had to start again using intervals, and only in the past 2-3 weeks have I been skipping intervals and running straight through. Still I remain pain free, so this makes me happy. Secondly, I love watching my training pace improve. At this point last year, I hadn't even started running yet. I started in July, and even through the fall and winter, my training pace stayed around 11:30-12 mins per mile. In the heat of last summer, it was even higher at some points, climbing as high as 13 mins a mile. But I've changed, and shaved 1-2 mins off of my normal training pace. This really helps because one of my goals this fall is to run the RnR Half in less than 2:30. I'm pumped about getting there. Just goes to show you that just because one goal isn't met, it doesn't mean that I'm not improving and growing stronger, because I am.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

EnergyBits Review- I Am Powered By Bits!! Energy Bits GIVEAWAY!!

In recent weeks, I've heard a lot of chatter in my running communities and on Twitter about something called EnergyBits. I'll be honest, I didn't pay much attention. Another supplement, those things are a dime a dozen. I've tried things here and there, stuff like Shakeology(which has to be the nastiest stuff on the planet, I could barely get through 2 days of that sludge), and I found it overpriced and pointless. I used fuel on long runs, as I couldn't eat too much before those runs. I was left with awful stomach issues and an uncomfortable feeling. There was no "magic pill" that could help me out. But EnergyBits had caught my interest. I entered a few giveaways for samples, but didn't win, and left it be. That was until the company actually reached out to me on Twitter. I followed them, they followed me, and they had been keeping up with my posts, which are pretty much just about running and fitness. This company was actually interested in how I was doing. We chatted about my ITBS and how my current training was going. Wow, since when does a company reach out to their followers to check in on them? Impressive. They offered me a sample, to try out and review on this blog. Well of course, I'll take a sample! Here's the thing about me. I love free stuff. At the grocery store, I'm all over free samples. I belong to freebie sites to try things out. I love trying new things. Keep in mind I still wasn't sold on EnergyBits. Sure, it would be cool to try, but they looked expensive, and while my ability to drop large amounts of money on Disney races might suggest otherwise, I'm cheap. I use coupons, I like to save money, and I will only spend money on things that I find 100% worth it and amazing. Just 2 days after talking to them on twitter, I had my sample of EnergyBits in my mailbox. Wow, talk about fast. It was a Friday, and boy did I need a pick me up. By the end of the school year for my kids, I was running on empty. Late nights of working, early mornings and getting the kids ready for school, working during the day, keeping up my house, getting my running and exercise in, Fridays are usually rough for me. Fridays at the end of the school year were even worse. I was so exhausted I could barely see straight. My beloved coffee was working overtime and still not producing. I was excited to try the Bits out. I opened my package to spill out the contents.
A tin of Bits to try and lots of information about the Bits themselves. GREAT information, lots of stuff I didn't know, and comparisons to put things in perspective. I have no problem hitting up Starbucks or grabbing an energy drink when I'm out. Sure, it seems cheap at the first glance, $2-4, but it adds up! Not to mention the huge amounts of calories, chemicals and complete lack of nutrition. Might be a short term pick me up, but probably does more damage than I care to pay attention to in the long run.
So they SOUNDED impressive, but would they actually perform? I still had doubts. I figured it was good for me, but I wasn't going to feel any different. I mean, yes, something being good for me was always a plus, but I wanted to be wowed like everyone said I would be. I opened my tin. Let's get the first piece of info out of the way. EnergyBits don't smell pretty. In fact, they smell exactly like fish food. That's because, well, they are fish food. EnergyBits are made of 100% organically grown spirulina algae. Not one single other additive. That's one thing I liked about it, just pure, simple, one ingredient. So yes, they smelled like fish food. They are small and green tablets. But they aren't vitamins or supplements, they are food, just in pill form. Because let's face it, I'm not going to my nearest pond to eat some algae.
As you can see, they are small, and very easy to take. I've heard you can chew them like nuts, but well, I didn't go there. The recommended daily amount is 30, or more if you are particularly active. that day, aside from the normal daily goings on, I was not particularly active. I started by taking 10. They went down very easily. There was no after taste and no lingering smell or taste. The website says that these break down and absorb very quickly, as they should, seeing that they are one simple ingredient. The website did not lie. I felt a little boost from just 10, so I took 10 more. Now I take different things for energy. I drink A LOT of coffee. I drink coffee from the time I get up until well into the evening, probably way too much. This makes it hard to keep properly hydrated, which is something that is key when I'm running or working out. Too many times I have noticed the dehydration when I go running. While I will always love my coffee, and it does give me my boost, it's not an optimal boost. I feel energetic, but it's a nervous kind of energy. I feel like I need to do 10 things at once, and sometimes it leaves me snappy and quick. I feel like I am trying to go too much and go too fast. This is not a good thing when you have 3 children who usually prefer to move at the pace of a snail crawling through molasses. But the Bits gave me a different kind of energy, a pleasant kind of energy. I felt the pep, but it was a smooth energy, one that put me in a better mood. Were they kidding me? Were these actually the magic food they claimed to be? It was feeling like it. But that was just how I felt on a normal day, how would they perform when I had actual physical activity? I would find out the next day. The day after I got my Energy Bits sample in the mail, I had the Warrior Dash, a 5k obstacle race. My race was in the afternoon, so I had a good breakfast, lots of water, a smidge of coffee and a handful of Bits. Temps were near 90 degrees that day, in the sun. I was afraid of fading fast in the heat. But I didn't. It was hot, it was rough, but I felt good. I was worn out after, but another 15 Bits and I was good to go, enough so that we took the kids out to dinner and did a little shopping. So my Bits sample passed the daily life test and the physical activity test. I performed better each time, I was able to lay off the coffee and drink a lot more water, plus I got all kinds of nutritional goodness, including protein! Protein for athletes is key, it can be hard to get enough in your regular diet. But these aren't just for athletes. I do run 3 times a week and do other fitness/strength training activities a couple of times a week, but a big part of my life revolves around my home life. I have kids and a house to take care of, dinner to cook, and I have a job outside of that. I'm busy! Energy Bits proved that they weren't just a supplement for athletes, but for anyone. I got behind Energy bits and the company so much. I bought a full sized bag. You know they have got to be good if my cheap self bought them. I got behind them so much that I have actually become a brand ambassador! I'm really excited about this, because they look for people who set an example and live an active lifestyle. Validation that I'm not just a mom, wife, housekeeper, and employee, but an athlete! I love my Bits, I look forward to trying other kinds, especially in the fall when my little germ carriers start bringing things home from school to share.
Being a brand ambassador, I'm able to extend a pretty sweet discount to my followers. If you want to skip straight to trying a full sized bag for yourself(trust me, totally worth it), enter the code MomsRunning at checkout, for 30% off! Still skeptical? Want to try a sample for yourself? Well you're in luck. EnergyBits is sharing a sample with one lucky follower! You'll receive a sample tin from them, which has 2-3 days worth of Bits in it. Try them out! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Running for a Cause-And A GIVEAWAY!!

I like to make a lot of dedications when I run races, as a member of #Run3rd, to make each mile mean a little more. Recently, I signed up to take my runs one step further, and I raised money for St. Jude's for the Warrior Dash. While the sometimes constant begging for donations did get a little frustrating, when I reached(and then surpassed) my goal, it was such an awesome feeling! I always want my miles to mean more than just one foot in front of another, and fundraising for a cause is an awesome way to do that. This brings me to another awesome charity I've seen a few fellow runners racing for, it's called Give Kids the World. I'm sure everyone knows how much I love Disney. My love of Disney has pushed me to run half marathons, it has given my family amazing memories, and is an institution I couldn't imagine not being in my life(Cheesy, I know!). I never experienced Disney as a child, I didn't go for the first time until I was well into my 20s. It's extra special for me to give these trips to my kids, to fill their hearts and minds with magic and imagination, to watch their eyes light up in wonder. But my children are healthy. We don't face things like high medical bills and constant doctors appointments. We don't have to choose between paying for medicine or a hospital stay or a trip to Disney World. Other parents aren't as lucky. They have children with life-threatening illnesses, their days and weeks are filled with doctor visits and appointments, they don't save for Disney, they pay the latest bill that comes in. They worry their child might not be healthy enough for that kind of trip. That's where Give Kids the World comes in. From their about page: "The most magical sound in the world is that of a child’s laughter. That is what fills the air at Give Kids The World Village—a wish-fulfilling, fanciful, carefree retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses, and their families. Give Kids The World Village is a 70-acre, nonprofit “storybook” Village located near Central Florida’s most beloved attractions. Here, children and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations, complete with accommodations in the Village’s whimsical villas, transportation, donated attraction tickets, meals, and much more. At the Village, these precious children learn that dreams really do come true, as they and their families are immersed in joy, hope, and non-stop fun for a few unforgettably happy days. Since 1986, the Village has welcomed more than 115,000 families from all 50 states and more than 70 countries. This extraordinary, life-changing experience is Give Kids The World’s gift, made possible only through the generosity of dedicated corporations and countless individuals" A truly awesome organization if you ask me. I know what you are asking. "What do charities have to do with a giveaway? I came for the free stuff!" I'm getting there, I promise. I recently met another runner online, who is raising money for Give Kids the World. Her name is Miranda and she will be running the WDW 1/2 Marathon in January 2014. Between now and then, her goal is to raise $3,000 for GKTW, and every donation counts, getting her closer to that goal. Her fundraising efforts would be responsible for sending a family with a sick child to Disney, giving that child the chance to experience the magic, to forget about their medical issues for a week and to just be a kid. Here is here fundraising site: Miranda's qualities aren't limited to just running and having a big heart. She also makes awesome vinyl decals. To help with her fundraising efforts, she sent me a set of vinyl decals for my IPhone.
She also sent a set for one reader! Want to Disney-fy your IPhone or your case? Here's your chance. Plenty of ways to win. "But April," you say, "I never win anything. Well it's pretty simple if you want your own IPhone or car decal. With any donation of $15 or more, Miranda will give you your own decal. You're not limited to just IPhone skins, she makes all kinds of decals, including the awesome ones for your car like this: If you've run or are running a big race, she's got lots of choices for race decals. You already pay $8+ for one of these custom decals, why not donate to charity and get one? Everybody wins! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Warrior Dash Race Report 6/1/2013

My first obstacle race, in the books. Before I go on about the race, a few things first. The Warrior Dash partners with St. Jude's to raise money for them. When you register for the race, they ask if you'd like to become a St. Jude's Warrior, and raise money on your own for them. Being the big sappy lover of children that I am, of course I agreed. I can barely get through a St. Jude's commercial on tv and we are monthly donors because of my inability(and my husband's) to turn that charity down. I set my goal to $300 and am proud to say, thanks to so many generous people, that I was able to exceed that amount. I raised enough for access to the St. Jude's VIP tent, and you'll find out later how this really helped me out. Now, onto the race. I wasn't too terribly nervous until the day of the race. I can run, I do some strength training, but was starting to get a bit scared at not making it over some of the bigger climbing obstacles. Luckily I really wouldn't have enough time to worry about things, and it turns out the climbing obstacles would be the least of my problems. I registered for the race with my Marti Estes 5k partner Jessica, and a friend of hers, Kathryn. The first wave of the race started at 9 am but by the time we signed up, the only times that had left were from 1:30 pm until 6:00 pm. We signed up for the 1:30 wave. Waves left in two groups, every 15 minutes, every 30 minutes. Picking 1:30 pm was not a very well thought out plan, living in the south, in what might as well be summer. I met up with Jess and Kat to ride with them to the race site. All of the emails we got said to arrive 1 hour before your wave time. Packet pick-up was on site, which I absolutely hate. This process only confirmed why I hate it so much. We arrived an hour early, like we were supposed to. We paid our $10 to park in a large field, and I got out, ready to race. Turns out I was just ready to wait. We should have arrived a few hours early. I went to the St. Jude's tent to check in and get my VIP wristband while the other girls stood in line to pick up our bibs and packets. I stepped in for a minute to check it out, found they had sunscreen(which I'd forgotten to put on) and sprayed myself down. Grabbed a cold drink and I met back up with them after getting my wristband, and they were still very far back in the obscenely long line. We stood, and inched forward. The sun blazed overhead and the closer we got to the front, the more packed in an unorganized people became. Packing people close together, just before 1 pm, in the summer, is not fun. What the folks at Warrior Dash failed to tell the people standing in line for 45 minutes was that pick-up was arranged by males and females and alphabetically by last name. Nobody knew this until you got much closer to the front, leading to a cramped and furious shuffle when this information was discovered. Finally, after about an hour in line, we had our packets and bibs. We checked all of our things in the St. Jude's tent, so we had no idea what time it actually was, and we wandered to the starting line, thinking our time had to be soon. Soon was actually now, last call. As we got closer, we heard them announce that it was the last call for the 1:30 wave. Not wanting to wait around for the 2:00 wave, we dashed closer. Last call actually meant "If you are going, start running." Jess figured this out first, and started running. Kathryn and I went after her, barely making it across the starting line before the closed it off. I was expecting a bit different, but the first part of the race is all running. For over the first mile, there was not one single obstacle. We were running around fields and on trails, there was absolutely no shade, with the temperature close to 90 degrees. It was rough. I had hydrated very well in preparation, taken my EnergyBits, and while I was hot, I was feeling good. Kathryn, after drinking her pot of coffee and not eating that morning, dashed well ahead of us, I'm not sure how. Jess started to fade fast, and I tried to encourage her, but I didn't want to push her too hard in the heat. I was not wearing my Garmin and had no clue how fast we were going or how far we had gone. It was awful. I am not a "by feel" runner by any means. We came to the first obstacle, which was crawling under barbed wire. Not too difficult and I was pumped from managing to crawl on the ground. We kept running, and came to other obstacles, climbing structures, including a very tall wall that you climb using a rope. I was intimidated by this one but found it pretty east to climb up. Still feeling pretty good and after close to 2 miles, we ended up in the woods. We'd done some walking by then. We did more walking in the woods. Twisted tree roots and rocks popped up all over the place. Thank goodness for hyper-mobility in my joints because I imagine I'd be typing with a broken ankle without that blessing. We went through a few obstacles in the woods, including a tight rope walk over a ravine, which I thought for sure would mean a fall to my death. A fall of a whole 5 feet. I made it across with no problem. Shortly before hitting mile 3, we came out of the woods and to the 3rd to the last obstacle, a set of rope "tubes" that were very deceiving. I figured they'd be a breeze to get through but I quickly got tangled and ended up with a few rope burns. Next up was jumping over fire. Two rows of it, it smelled and it burned my eyes but I made easy work of it. I got through it and knew the last obstacle, the mud pit right before the finish line, waited for me.
For the record, this is not my photo or from today's race, just an example. The mud pit was what I worried about the least. Oh, it would be so fun to crawl through the mud and get all dirty I thought. But I completely ignored the fact that I hate getting dirty. I don't like walking barefoot outside and I don't like digging in my own garden and getting dirt on my hands. Mud covering my whole body should have thrown up a red flag but for some reason it didn't. I got closer to the mud with excitement, and I got right up to it. That excitement faded. This wasn't the watery mud you see in the picture above, that is 6 inches deep. This was thick sludge that was a few feet deep. With great hesitation, I got in. You have to climb under barbed wire, and the mud was so thick and so deep, it became increasingly hard to move. I got past the last row of barbed wire and I couldn't move. The more I tried, the more I bent and the more stuck I became. I had two guys come by and they asked if I was stuck. I was, and so was the girl next to me. One of them worked on me. He dug deep, trying to dislodge the leg that was stuck. My foot was pointed down and he couldn't get to it. He crawled in front of me and told me to grab on to him and he would try to pull. I still wasn't budging. I started to panic a bit. I don't like tight spaces and while it was just my legs that were stuck, it was an awful feeling. After several minutes of no movement, we had to wave to the men on the side to help me. I wasn't going anywhere. First they helped the other girl who was stuck, luckily she was closer to the side and was easier to get out. Then they threw the rope to me. At first just one of the two men pulled, but he couldn't get me, so it took both grown men pulling the rope to finally get me to the edge to where I could climb out on my own. I was worn out. All of the running didn't do me in, fighting to mud pit was what did it. I had mud in my eye, and couldn't wipe it out because my hands were covered in mud. Everything from my chin down was covered in mud. I tried to wipe off the several pounds of mud before trudging my way, like some kind of swamp monster, across the finish line. At this point, any hope of finishing with a remotely decent time was long gone. I grabbed my medal and water and met up with the other girls who were finished and waiting for me. They decided to wait to get hosed off while I made my way to the St. Jude's tent, as my VIP access came with hot showers. I waited for another 45 minutes for the volunteer to hose me off(you had to be somewhat free of mud to get in to the showers). I gave that man quite the show. I had mud in places mud should never be. At that point, I wasn't ashamed of him using the hose to spray down my sports bra and in other areas. The young men behind me commented that they needed to volunteer next year to get a job like that. Yay me I guess. I got into the shower and attempted to quickly rinse mud out of my nether regions, I was able to change clothes and shoes. Sadly, my running shoes were so caked in mud, they were deemed a lost cause and I threw them to the muddy donate pile. It took me awhile to find the other girls, but I was quite glad to get going once I did. Some wrap up thoughts on today's race. I'm glad I got the experience, but I'm not 100% sure I would do something like this again. I am almost certain I will not do another Warrior Dash again. They were extremely unorganized. Pre-race packet pick-up would have saved them, and us, a lot of time and trouble. They didn't let people in line know what they were standing in line for, and a few signs and some caution tape could have really gone a long way. The course was ok, but the mud obstacle was awful. I imagined crawling through a bit of watery mud, not fighting my way through feet of thick mud. I'm not sure if they meant for it to be like that but I'm thinking no, based on other pictures I've seen online from other locations. I've talked to people who have done other obstacle/mud races, and the girls I ran with today did a different race like this, and they all agree that this was pretty bad. I'm just glad that it's over, I'm sitting here nice and clean, and I have a new appreciation for a hot shower.

5/28/2013 The All Clear

I'm a little late with this announcement, but I've been officially given the all clear from my physical therapist, and have been discharged from therapy. I should be jumping, or running for joy, but I'm having a hard time being 100% optimistic. I haven't run with pain in weeks. My last race, the 5k I did with my son on April 20 went well and I have been pain free since then, but I haven't done more than 2-3 miles at a time since then. I have had some time to reflect on my injury and how I got there, and thought I'd share, because looking back, I can see a lot of problems and where things went wrong. 1. A wonky training schedule: Too much, too fast- I found myself injured just a few weeks before the Princess Half, and was forced to run through that race in pain. I told myself I had properly trained for the race, and to some extent, I did. But that's not completely the truth. I did train for the distance, and I had no problem completing the full 13+ miles. But I climbed, to fast. I had a hard time fining motivation through the end of last year. I would run 1-2 times a week, my training schedule wasn't a schedule at all, just when I could convince myself to go for a run. Up until the end of December, I hadn't done more than 6.5 miles, and that I'd only done once. The beginning of January rolled around and I knew I needed to get my behind in gear. I finally started sticking to the 2 45 minute runs during the week and started the long runs on the weekends. By the middle of January, 6 weeks before the race, I was at 6-7 miles for a long run. I climbed by a full mile, sometimes a bit more, each week. In 4 weeks I went from 6 miles to over 10 miles, and this is when the pain kicked in. As I often do, I left things to the last minute. While I did get the miles in under my belt, I went way too fast climbing to get there. 2. Lack of strength training- Up until I started physical therapy, I had absolutely no idea how big of a part balance and strength in so many parts of my body meant to healthy running. I thought it was all endurance, and that running built up the muscles in my legs. Not so. My first visit to my therapist revealed extremely weak muscles in most major areas of my body. My core(abs and back muscles) we weak, my hips were all out of whack(which is extremely common in women, especially those who have had children), my hips and glutes were weak, and my leg muscles were weak. What the what? I was in great shape. I could run a half marathon! That wasn't the case. There are so many factors of muscles that control your legs and hips while running, and if those areas are weak and not balanced, injuries can easily occur. In my case, they did. Even after 2 months in physical therapy and introducing new methods of strength training, weakness is still an issue, although I have seen quite a bit of improvement. 3. Stretching- Who needs it? This girl didn't. I could get out there, run, and not have any issues. I didn't need stretching. So I didn't do any stretching. Big mistake. Stretching really helps keep my body balanced, and while I'm a get out there and do kind of girl, who doesn't want to slow down for things like stretching, I now know it's something that has to be done. This experience has really taught me a lot about my body and the mechanics of running. It's really not as simple as lace up your shoes and get moving. Now my goal is to get completely on track, because I've got a busy schedule ahead this fall and winter. I have back to back half marathons planned, 2 within 13 days in October and November. I've gotten the green light from the wonderful Mister to earn one half of my Coast 2 Coast medal with the Tinkerbell half marathon in Disneyland in January. I'll be accepting the Glass Slipper Challenge, a 10k and the Princess Half Marathon in 2 days, in February. If I want to finish those races pain free, I will have to keep up with strength training, stretching, and a proper training schedule. Thank goodness Disney is helpful and puts out Jeff Galloway training plans for each of their races!

Bash Color Dash 5k- May 5, 2013

Picture May in North Carolina. What do you see? The sun shining, birds chirping, nice warm weather? Wipe that picture out of your head. I live in the south and we haven't seen 70 degree weather in weeks. We've also had a decent amount of rain. Spring has been pretty miserable and the time of year I'm usually starting to turn on my air conditioning, my heat is still busy pumping instead. As this past Sunday's race approached, so did the threat of rain. A lot of rain. Cold rain. This was just a little local fun run, so normally I would have just skipped it. But this time, I couldn't, this race was special. It was my 8 year old son's first race. He has been begging to race with me and we promised he could do one of the kids' races at Disney when we went as a family for PHM next year. He wanted to do the Color Run with me last fall but I didn't think he was ready for a 5k. So this seemed like a good time, a smaller race and just perfect for him. We started his weekend off right with packet pickup on Saturday. This was a little rite of passage for him. I made him tell them his name and collect his bib and shirt. He was quite excited. Sunday morning brought doom and gloom. And cold. The race wasn't until 4 pm and up until Saturday, they said it would just be windy and cold, with rain starting late afternoon. I had hopes that it would hold off until after the race but no such luck. It started raining by 11 am, and it didn't stop. A few hours before race time the situation looked a bit like this...
I can deal with the cold. I can deal with the rain. But the two of them together? No thank you. I seriously thought about just staying home, but I knew that would break my son's heart. So we decided to suck it up and deal with it. We dressed in layers. LAYERS!! In North Carolina, in May, we dressed in layers. Stick that in your global warming pipe and smoke it. I told my son that the fast we went during the race, the sooner we would finish.
We headed out to our race destination, with the rain picking up as we drove. The race started at a local high school, and we were at least able to take shelter in the school, the warm, dry school, before the race. We stretched and I dreaded the actual race. This was a color race of sorts, where they squirted paint on you as you ran. This sounds fun, but not in the rain. As starting time approached, we were forced outside to the starting line. The race was supposed to go at 4 but they didn't start on time. I'll admit, this race seemed very unorganized, and for a control freak like me, I didn't like it. We stood there in the rain, cold and wind, waiting for them to give some kind of instruction. Finally we were able to start. My son wanted to take off like a little speed demon. But I made him stay with me. He had never run this long before and I didn't want him to burn out. I set my Garmin watch to 2:2 intervals, thinking he would want to take it easy. Let me tell you a little bit about my son. He is not the world's strongest athlete by any means. He really isn't all that athletic at all. He prefers to play a video game or bury his head in a Harry Potter book. He isn't lazy by any means, but when it comes to work of any kind, he is an instant gratification kind of kid, and if something takes a long time or a lot of work to achieve, he loses interest fast. He is just like his mother. So I really expected to be walking most of this race, with a lot of complaining from him. But I grossly underestimated him. He kept pace with me and he kept running. He would dart ahead at each color station. Ah, the color stations. Unlike the Color Run, this color isn't in powder form, it's in liquid form. The volunteers, bless their hearts standing out in the cold rain like that, had large trash buckets full of the color and large water squirters to shoot the runners/walkers as they passed by. I will admit, this made it that much more miserable. We were already getting rather wet from the rain, and the cold colored liquid they squirted on us as we passed made things that much worse, that much colder and that much more wet. Cold or not, my son loved it. We made it through the first mile in under 11 minutes. After around 1.75 miles, he started to fade a bit. I expected this, but much earlier. He asked to walk, and was ready to go again after less than a minute. We passed a couple who overheard me talking to him about it being his first race. They were thrilled for him and they kept pace with us for the rest of the race(I actually think they liked my constant updates about time, pace and mileage that I was giving my son from my Garmin). We came closer to the finish line. I talked to my son about finishing strong when he asked to walk. We were soaked, we each wore two pairs of socks and 2-3 shirts, all that were wet all the way through. The male half of the couple we kept pace with during the race came up from behind us in the last stretch. He tapped my son's shoulder and told him to come on, speeding up. I yelled for him to go, to keep going. He dug deep and he sped up with the young man. They crossed the finish line together at 34:01, and I crossed 3 seconds later. Not the world's fastest 5k but I was thrilled. Normally, this would have gone down in the books as my worst race ever. I have never raced in conditions like this before, I purposely avoided this kind of weather. Being cold and wet was miserable, and the race itself was poorly organized. But I consider this one of my best races ever, for many reasons. First, it was my first race with my son. This was very special to me, because it was something we could share together. I want my kids to grow up to be active, and I'm thrilled to have shared an activity I love with my child. I hope it inspires him to keep going and to keep running. It was also great to have the "us" time. Having 3 kids, it's hard to have individual time with him. Having 2 younger, much more demanding little girls, my son often gets the short end of the stick when it comes to one on one attention. He is a very good kid, does well in school, behaves as well as an 8 year old boy can, so often I don't hover above him like I have to with my girls. He is not as demanding of my attention, so sadly he doesn't get as much. That's why I refused to give up on this race, because it was for us, and I wasn't going to bail on the opportunity unless I really had to. Second, this race made my mama pride meter shoot through the roof. I was hoping for a 40-45 minute finish with minimal complaining. I got so much more than that. He never once complained about being cold or wet. He never once complained about being tired. He communicated with me about what he needed to do, when he could run and when he needed to walk. He dug deep at the end and finished strong. I couldn't have been prouder of my boy during his first race. Lastly, I'm very excited that he got a warm welcome to my runner family. Runners, whether they know you or not, are one big happy family. We wave and high five when we pass each other. We encourage each other, we give advice. I love my running friends and family. Having that random stranger there for my son was awesome. The man who encouraged him during the race and took him and pushed him in the end recognized our family's bond and brought my son into our fold. I'm glad that my son got to see how kind and encouraging our community is.

5/6/2013 Baby Steps

I have a race report, an awesome race report, for you all, but I'm drowning in work right now so I'll get to that later in the day. Right now, I'm going to be cautiously optimistic(knocking on wood), and say that I *think* I might possibly be on the road to recovery from ITBS. Maybe. Hopefully. I don't want to jinx anything. I've been through 7 weeks of PT now. The world's most painful massages, controlled electrocution on my leg, my foam roller is my best friend and so many other tips and tricks I've read about online. Up until a couple of weeks ago, it all seemed fruitless. At my last PT appointment, 4 days after my last 5k(which I did with a low level of pain, but pain either way), my therapist said it was time to stop. No more running. I knew it was coming, but my I was still bummed. Running has become a part of my life. But this time I listed and I took the week after that off. I continued to foam roll and see my chiropractor twice a week. After last Wednesday's visit, he told me to try running. I was conflicted, but decided to try. I hopped on the treadmill Wednesday night. I started slowly. I walked for a warm-up, got off and stretched everything. I got back on, and decided to try for 4:1 intervals, 4 minutes of walking, 1 minute of running. I got through the first minute, no pain. Then the second and still no pain. I spent 30 minutes on the treadmill with several running intervals. I had no pain at all. Score!! But I know I have to ease into this. In an endurance sense, could I go out and run for 5 miles? Sure. Would I end up putting too much stress on my leg? Probably. This is something I'm going to have to ease back in to. But after a 5k I did yesterday, I'm more hopeful, at least right now. But you will just have to stay tuned for that race report. *Cliff hanger!!!*

Marti Estes 5k Race Report 4/20/13- #Run3rd For Boston

I'll admit it. I've become a bit of a running snob, more specifically a distance snob. I can't tell you how many times I've said or thought to myself that it's "only a 5k". It brings me back to last summer, when I was thrilled to do a 5k. I remember getting excited watching my times drop, from 40 minutes to 33 minutes. I wondered if I could get myself under 30 minutes. I did this last year, in November, when I finished a 5k in 29:54. Even though I've become something of a distance snob, it has been a desire of mine to defeat my 5k PR. I wanted to get in under 29 minutes. This was still a goal of mine about a month ago, after I completed an 8k in 51 minutes and some change. But my ITBS was still a thorn in my side, and I was doubting being able to run this race at all. To add to it, last week I realized this morning was going to be quite busy. My 4 year old had a soccer game, her last soccer game of this year. My husband was going to take her because I was registered for this race. He would bring our 8 year old son with him, but I didn't want him to have to take our 2 year old along, as she very much loves to chase her sister and the soccer ball. For my birthday a couple of weeks ago, I got a BOB stroller. I've been drooling over one for months and finally was able to score a very good deal on one locally, so we picked it up. I wanted to be able to walk or run during the week with our youngest. Since I've gotten it, I've taken her for a walk a few times, but have never run with it. With my knee still sitting nowhere close to 100%, I volunteered to take the baby(yes, she's 2, but she's the youngest, she's my baby) with me to the race. I figured she would help slow me down so I wouldn't push my knee too much. To be honest, I really liked the idea of the extra challenge. I psyched myself up for it all week. I had somebody offer to watch the baby instead of me having to take her, but I declined because I actually wanted to bring her with me. It just happened to rain all day Friday and by Saturday morning, my 4 year old's soccer game was canceled. I had every chance to leave the baby home with my husband, but again, I declined and decided to bring her with me. I headed downtown. The race was local to me, in fact it started in the parking lot of where my middle daughter attends preschool. I met up with an "old" friend. By old friend I mean someone I met when we first moved to North Carolina 4 years ago. We both have 4 year old daughters, born 8 days apart. I haven't seen her in a few years but she recently started running and we've signed up for a few races together.
Jessica and me getting ready for the start. It was only in the 40s, so cold for us southern gals! I had made the decision to try running. I have kind of gotten to the point in my injury that I am just dealing with it. I've been told numerous times to stop running, and I have quite a bit, it's not working, nor is the PT, the massages, the muscle stim and adjustments by my chiropractor. Completely cutting out all activity for weeks upon weeks to see if it gets better is not something I can bring myself to do, not to mention I've heard from quite a few people that even that didn't work. I figured, with the stroller, I couldn't go too fast, so as long as my pain level remained low to moderate, I would run. I was hoping to finish in under 40 minutes. We were ready to go.
I can't say this race is super organized. There was no official timing and everybody was just kind of milling around at the start. But it's a popular race in my town, and I joined a pretty large group registered through the fitness center where I do Zumba. My favorite instructors were there, including the lovely Molly, who I like to try and keep up with. She's a wonderful woman who really connects with the people who take her classes, she's so encouraging and motivating. I chased her during my 8k and blew my goal time out of the water. So we are there, at the start, waiting. Well actually to the side of the start, on the sidewalk. I wanted to hop in with the runners and not go to the back of the crowd. This is a big community race so there are lots of people who don't run and are just walking it for a good cause and for fun. I didn't want to spend my time attempting to run and dodge a sea of walkers, especially on a rather narrow road way and because they typically don't understand race etiquette of slower to the right, pass to the left(pet peeve of mine). The horn goes off and we jump in and start running. So far, so good. The BOB Revolution is a dreamy stroller, it moves with little effort. At least that's what I thought until we hit the first uphill climb. I'm not going to lie, it was rough. It was a pretty long hill and halfway up, Jessica said we could stop to walk if I needed to. My arms were starting to ache a bit. I told her yes, but we never actually stopped running. I hadn't looked at my Garmin watch, but I figured we were somewhere around the 11-12 minute mile pace. I was ok with that. I was hoping for somewhere around that with me pushing the stroller. When we hit the first mile, I was pleasantly surprised to see we were under 10:30 for that mile. We kept going. I was even more thrilled to see our second mile at the same pace. I am notorious for slowing with each mile that passes. I normally do under 10 minute miles for the first 2 or so miles, slow to over 10 for miles 3-4 and then drop over 11 minutes a mile after that. Even in past 5ks I have slowed as time and distance go on. Around mile 2 I got to the point I always get to during a race. The reminder of how much I hate running. I'll admit it, I have a love/hate relationship with running. I hate it while I'm doing it, but love it any other time. I don't hate it enough to stop though. I couldn't wait for the race to be over. We were closing in on mile 3 and although I was wishing for the end, I was still moving well. I was pleased to see that mile 3 was actually a bit faster than mile 2. I was staying steady, at a decent pace(for me), even with the stroller. We crossed the finish line, and my Garmin read 31:55. I was so happy. I wanted to be under 40 minutes, but was hoping to be anywhere as low at 35 minutes. My personal best is 29:54, and that's without pushing a stroller and the 25 pound 2 year old it holds. Jessica crossed the finish line with me, she stayed with me the entire time. She is in a different age group than me, and she actually came in 3rd in her age group. My knee held up the entire time. Yes, it did hurt a bit, but it wasn't slowing me down. Neither was the stroller. I have had pain through the day, but I'm just to the point where it is what it is. It's not horrible pain, and I've made stretching and my foam roller my friends through the day. I know my physical therapist will only shake her head at me when I see her this week, as this past Wednesday she told me no running this week. Oops. I'm very happy with my splits. As I mentioned above, staying at a steady pace is something I have always struggled with, whether I'm running a 5k or a half marathon.
Another thing that helped me along the way today was who my run was dedicated to. My #Run3rd dedications were for the people killed in Monday's terrorist attacks in Boston. Each mile was dedicated to each person who died. I brought them with me, and I ran for them. I think I ran pretty darn well for them.

4/16/2013 Our Biggest Supporters-Our Families

As information on one of the victims of yesterday's horrific bombing at the Boston Marathon is released, it's caused me to think of how much goes in to running. We all know the key parts to running. Good shoes, clothes, proper nutrition, lots of water, training, there are a lot of different pieces to the running puzzle. But there is one key piece that often goes overlooked, and that is the support system. Personally, without the support of my husband, my children and other family members and friends, I would never have made it to where I am today. I might not have even made it off the couch in the first place. It's not as simple as lacing up my running shoes and heading out for a run. I have a house to manage, a husband and children. During my half marathon training, my husband was there to support me. He helped get the kids ready for bed so I could be starting my evening runs at a decent time. Some evenings he got the kids ready for, and into bed, by himself, giving baths, helping with homework, brushing teeth and reading books to all three kids, to make sure I could get to my cross training classes or out for a run. When my long Sunday runs started, he got up in the morning before me, started the griddle, and cooked my favorite pre-run food, bacon. As I got ready, he got the kids up, changed diapers, cooked, cleaned up dishes. My kids missed Sunday breakfasts with me, they missed bed time with me. All of these sacrifices made by my family to put my training first. They supported me through races. My husband nodded and smiled through clenched teeth when I came home with yet another pair of running shoes, or when I new piece of running clothing showed up in the mail. He simply said "Yes, dear." when I talked of race fees. He knew how important this was to me, and he backed me up 110%. We tend to forget the supporters in the background. Yes, it's an amazing feat for someone to train so hard for, and complete races, especially races like half and full marathons. It's a huge accomplishment for the runners, but most of us have others to thank for carrying us through. This brings me to the sad part. A picture of a little boy has been circulating the internet today.
This is Martin Richard. He is an 8 year old little boy. I have my own 8 year old little boy, and in many ways, he reminds me of him. Martin, his sister and his mother supported his father through his running. His father was entered into the Boston Marathon, and was running yesterday. As his supporters, Martin and his family were spectators yesterday, waiting to support their father and husband as he ran such an important race. In a cowardly act of terror, Martin made the ultimate sacrifice while supporting his father. He gave his life. Most certainly not willingly, but while cheering his father on, he was taken too soon. His mother and sister sustained injuries. He did nothing wrong, and was simply there to support the runners and his father, to push them across the finish line. His father will forever live with the pain and the questions. I imagine he will pour over his race, wondering if he had just run a bit faster, or not stopped for water, if he would have made it sooner, saving his family. The parents of lost children are not only left with the pain of their loss, but the mountain of "What If's", and those what if's are almost worse than the pain itself. They eat at you. This terrible loss, it only makes me more aware of how huge our supporters are, how vital they are to our success. It makes me appreciate my family more. It makes me appreciate my friends more. It makes me appreciate my running groups more. It makes me appreciate the volunteers of races more. I just hate that it's taken the loss of an innocent child to make me realize how important they all are to me.

4/16/2013 My Heart Is Heavy

First, stop reading this. Well, not quite yet. But stop for a minute. Stay quiet. Think about those affected by the unspeakable act of violence in Boston today. Just observe a moment in their honor.
Ok. I know everyone is talking about this. I won't be any different. I am a huge mix of emotions right now. I was not directly affected, and only know a couple of people through running networks(not personally) that were affected and injured. So I can't begin to actually imagine the pain that those directly involved are feeling. I won't act like I do. But I am a runner. Today is not about slow or fast, distance runners or 5k runners, those who work for years to achieve the big dance at the Boston Marathon or those of us(like me) who will never stand a chance. We are family. I feel like I'm waiting for word on someone, I feel like someone hurt my friends. I'm lost, I'm hurt, and I'm angry. I know what it's like to lose a loved one, I've lost a child. After all that I went through over my first 21 or so years, I consider myself pretty tough emotional. It takes a lot to shake me, let alone make me cry. I don't think I've cried since the Newtown shooting in December. That broke my heart. I cried on and off for three days. But I've stayed solid since then. Until today. The Boston Marathon is the mecca of races. People train for years in hopes and dreams of this race. Runners have to qualify for entrance. Runners and spectators come from around the world. Somebody took advantage of that, and this breaks my heart. Information is scattered right now, and we don't have any real answers, except for the fact that people are dead, maimed and injured, children included. Many of the runners had the race of their dreams cut short, unable to cross the finish line. So many affected, and our nation in shock. In memory of those who lost their lives today(early reports say an 8 year old child was killed, the age of my oldest child), tomorrow I will be wearing my PHM race shirt. I will hop on my treadmill, and I will pound out the miles, whether walking or trying to run, because there is now a group of people who are unable to run. I hope you will join me.

4/12/2013 IRL. Not, not In Real Life, the Injured Reserve List

Buying running shoe after running shoe to find the best one for you-$300 Three pairs down, still looking. KT Tape- $20 Multiple chiropractor visits-Lost count of how much I've spent Visit to an orthopedic/sports medicine doctor and a cortisone injection-$240 Weekly physical therapy-$15 a week Massage therapist- $75 and counting Being able to run for a decent distance, at a decent pace, completely pain free-PRICELESS Except I haven't gotten to the last part yet, and I'm pretty bummed and frustrated. My troubles started last December when I bought a pair of new shoes. I finally went to a "professional" to be fitted, and they put me in a neutral shoe. Almost immediately pain started on the outside of my right knee. It got worse over the course of 5-6 weeks and long runs left me limping, unable to do stairs. My IT band was not happy with me. The IT band is a long band that runs from your hip down the outside of your leg and attaches right below your knee.
Before I started running and even after, I'd never once heard of the illiotibial band. I had no problems running, no pain, no injuries. I pitied all of those poor people who had to foam roll, stretch, take ice baths, etc because of pain. I was young, I was invincible. That was, until I got injured. After my knee pain started when I bought my first pair of new shoes, it took me a bit to realize it was the shoes. I went into a different running store and they told me in no way should I be in a neutral shoe, I over-pronate, I need different shoes. Return the first shoes, run a long run in my old shoes and voila, pain gone! But I still needed new shoes. I was less than 4 weeks from my half marathon, my old shoes would not take me through that, and they were a bit too small(did you know you should always go 1/2-1 size up in running shoes? because I didn't!). I got put into a second pair of shoes, a pair of stability shoes to help control my pronation. I did a quick run in them the day I bought them and they felt good. The following day I went out for 8 miles, still no pain in my right knee. Ah but what's that? What's that twinge? Pain? Yes, pain, in my left knee. Same pain as I had on the other side. All of this time I had no issues with my left knee, and 3 weeks before a half marathon is starts to hurt. The pain only got worse between then and the half marathon. I did my long runs on Sundays, and they left me hurting in a bad way. I could not walk up or down stairs, I could barely walk at all. Each Monday I saw my chiropractor, he worked magic, and got me feeling better, until the following Sunday. I had no time to rest, as the race was quickly approaching. I knew what I was in for during the race. I knew if I took Ibuprofen I would at least deal with a low level of pain, not enough to stop me(for the record, Ibuprofen and running is a huge no-no). I also knew that I had to run or jog. If I stopped for pictures, stopped to walk, stopped to go to the bathroom, starting running again would be extremely painful and there was a chance I'd be walking(another for the record, if you are hurting and an action is painful, don't do that action, and don't keep doing that action for 12 miles). But I had no choice. Too much time and money invested into this race and this trip. I pushed through it. Yes, I'm proud of myself in a way for doing that. It wasn't all that smart to ignore my body's pain, but normally I'm a big wimp. First sign of pain, take the easiest way out. It's why I have epidurals during child birth. But I resolved to finish the race and push past the pain. Post-race was rough. I could barely walk. I was in a lot of pain. Normally the pain after would go away in a day or two, but it didn't this time, and 8 days after my half I was at the orthopedic doctor. He checked my knee out, did X-Rays, and diagnosed me with what I already knew I had, ITBS, or Illiotibial Band Syndrome. The band got super tight, formed adhesions around my muscles, got even tighter and rubbed on the tissue under where the band connects at my knee, making that tissue extremely angry. He gave me a cortisone injection(ah relief!) and suggested I start physical therapy. I could start running again, slowly. I took in very easy when starting PT. 1-2 miles a couple of times a week, mostly walking, with the exception of an 8k race a few weeks after starting. Thanks to KT Tape and lots of stretching I had very little pain while running that race. But it was still there. I wasn't sure whether I should be thrilled that I had so little pain or worried that I did have some pain. The physical therapist said my issue is most likely core issues. I have very weak glutes, hips, abs, back, etc. You'd think all of the exercise I do would help, but no. Add to that having 4 babies, and everything in that area is all kinds of bendy and twisted up. My right hip doesn't have the mobility my left does, I actually lean to my right side when I run, my gait is horrid, and I'm all kinds of off balance. This looks to be putting a lot of stress on my left leg as it overcompensates for the lack of core muscles and everything going on with my right side. So we start building up these areas and stretching. We try a lot of different things and I'm still having some pain when running, and I'm most certainly not running long or hard. On a whim, last week, I wonder if it could be a shoe issue. Again. After all, the left leg went bad as soon as I got the 2nd pair of shoes(you know, the ones I bought to correct the problems my first pair caused). So last week my PT agreed that I should try another pair of shoes. I put on the old trusty pair again(the worn down, too small pair), and hopped on the treadmill. I alternated 1/2 mile of walking with 1/2 mile of running, for over 2 miles. No pain. None. I was thrilled, but also kicking myself because I've spent so much money on medical treatment, when it was simply a shoe issue again. I decided to put myself to the test(in the old shoes again) and attempt 5 miles, running, this past Sunday. In hindsight, this was a bad idea, shoe issue or not. A mile or so in, my knee started hurting. Like really hurting, not the low level of pain I'd been dealing with since I started treatment. I ran for the first 3 miles, in some pain(bad April, bad bad April), stopped to stretch, I felt better but it wasn't long before the pain returned. I cut things short and walked the rest of the way back to my car, managing 4 1/2 miles. I felt defeated. I'm an impatient person. When I want something, I want it immediately. So when I want my knee fixed, I want it done immediately. When it does not happen, it frustrates me. Running has become part of my life. Taking time off and figuring my body's issues out and correcting them, while letting my leg settle down, is not my idea of fun. I hopped on my computer and consulted with Dr. Google. I came across a certain kind of massage, called myofascial release. Lucky for me, one of the ladies in my local Moms Run This Town group is a massage therapist and works with this technique, and she also has issues with ITBS, so she feels my pain. I was in her office Monday morning(told you, I'm impatient). Ohhhh a massage you say, how nice you say.
There is nothing relaxing or comfortable about this kind of massage. There is pressure, there is pain. Add having to bring your two year old to the mix, and well it's not as relaxing as one would think. But it helped. I've got lots of knots and adhesions along my band. After our session, she recommending I visit my chiropractor. I scaled back my visits when I started physical therapy, and he wasn't pleased to see me back with him again, still dealing with the same issue. He decided to take a different approached. I like to call it controlled electrocution. He attached two paddles to my leg to stimulate it. It was a very odd feeling, but after I got home, my leg felt a lot better, aside from the bruised feeling the massage left me with, which is very normal. I went back for round two of the leg electrocution on Wednesday and back for another massage today. We will go through that routine again next week. I also saw my PT to report back to her. She does think it is an issue with the shoes, but that I've also reached a point in my injury where it isn't going to magically or immediately get better, allowing me to jump right back in to long runs. So we continue on. I'll keep going with the PT, the massage, the stim. Next week I'll start back in slowly. Aside from not being able to actually run, the next hardest part is the idea of easing back in. My body is conditioned for long distance running. I ran a half marathon less than 2 months ago. 1 or 2 miles is a warm up for me now. But not according to my knee. I have to go slow. Next week, while I can do plenty of walking, I can only run for a few minutes, at a very slow pace. That's it, until the next week. It's like I'm starting all over again, and I've worked so hard. It almost feels like I've erased all that hard work. Now I have to build myself up to being able to run a mile straight, not working on endurance, but simply being pain free. It's a very frustrating and helpless feeling. But I know if I have any hope of running 2 half marathons in 13 days this fall, I need to be as close to 100% as possible, so it's a necessary evil.

4/9/2013 The Benefits of Running-Part 2

I discussed the first perk of running in my last post, the weight loss! Next up, the sense of accomplishment. Last summer, I decided to make the Princess half my goal because I was turning 30 in April(which I did, on Tuesday, and I didn't die! Officially 30 and fabulous ladies and gents!). I wasn't having so much of an issue with turning 30, what I was having an issue with was my lack of accomplishments coming up to 30. I really hadn't done too much. I did get an Associate's degree in college, but put my big 4 year degree on the shelf when I got pregnant with my (surprise) middle child, and my husband took a job that relocated us halfway across the country. I've been a stay at home mom/work at home mom for years now. So I haven't done much more than have a bunch of kids in my nearly 30 years of life. Don't get me wrong, my family is wonderful, I'm so blessed to have such an awesome bunch, but it didn't feel like it was something I worked so hard for, if that makes sense. The half marathon was going to be my big accomplishment before I turned 30. I'm going to be honest. Training over the months was hard. It took awhile to really find my steam and my groove. I have my stay at home mom gig, the kids, the appointments, the cooking, the cleaning, the school work, then I have my work at home job as well, which takes up several hours of my day. In the summer, with lots of hours of daylight, it was easier for me to get out and run, but when fall and winter rolled around and it got dark earlier, I hit a wall. My husband doesn't get home from work until 6pm, sometimes later. Going out in the dark and the cold was no something I found easy to do and my training suffered. I ended up getting a treadmill and was able to get into a good running pattern, twice weekly inside for around 3 miles, then a long run on the weekend outdoors. They call it a dreadmill for a reason, and no matter what kind of distractions I set up for myself, I found the treadmill so boring. I could managed 30-45 minutes on it, but not much more. Even though I hate the cold and I hate getting up in the morning and running(I'm not a morning person and prefer to run at night, I'm an oddball), I would still get up every Sunday morning and head out. Sticking to training was my first accomplishment. I am the queen of grand ideas and then not following through. Blame my mild ADD, but I'm constantly going "Oh look, a cool thing to do! I'm going to do it! Look a squirrel! Do we have an ice cream?". The old me would have thought the half marathon was an awesome goal, registered, run for a couple of months and drifted on to something new. But I didn't do that this time, I kept going and made myself keep working. I'm sure the fact that I spent so much on race registration and was earning myself a Disney trip helped, but my own flame and desire to finish this was the driving factor. My biggest accomplishment was finishing. I've come across a few people who didn't finish this race, or who just flat out didn't bother going. I saw the excuses, work, kids, illnesses, they go on. People blaming life. Well all of us deal with life. I don't know anyone who trained and finished this race who doesn't deal with life, who doesn't have a job, who doesn't get sick. Many of us have kids. I didn't let those excuses get in my way. Normally I would have. I remember having nights, after putting the kids to bed and knowing how much work I had ahead of me, after a stressful day, and I had no desire to get on that treadmill. I wanted to sit on the couch. But each of those nights, I told myself that those were excuses and I was done with excuses, that so many others managed to get their runs in. It all paid off and I finished in good time. I am a mother, I am a wife, I am an employee, I am busy as all get out and I ran a half marathon. The sense of accomplishment the journey itself and the changes I made to me gave me is worth every step I've taken and every mile I've covered.

The Benefits of Running-Part 1

So what kind of difference can running make in your life? I've had time to reflect on this and it's really hit me how much running has done for me. It's changed who I am. I am currently going through physical therapy thanks to another shoe injury(I'll touch on the huge importance of shoes some time soon), and it hit me today. I am a runner. Yes, I've trained for months, yes I ran a half marathon, but for some reason I still didn't feel like an actual runner. I have no idea why. This week marks my fourth week in PT. I had a visit tonight, and the whole time I've been begging my therapist not to tell me to stop running. I have cut back a lot, only running 1-2 times a week, for 1-2 miles at a time, with lots of walking involved. The cut has made me kind of anxious and I couldn't stand the idea of not being able to run. Today my therapist told me that our goal is to make normal activities in my life free from pain, and then work up from there. I looked at her and told her that running is part of my day to day life. There is walking, picking up my kids, going up stairs, running. These are normal activities in my life, they are a part of my life. That's when it hit me, that I'm a runner. Running has become part of my life and is as normal to me as walking from the kitchen to the living room, it's a required part of my life. It was a great "A ha!" moment. That brings me to the positive changes I've had in my life because of running. The first one is pretty basic and expected. Weight loss! After I had my last baby, just 2 years ago, I was at my heaviest. I've had 4 babies and have always rebounded pretty nicely. I never lost all of the weight, but even after my 3rd baby was born, I was back down in the 120s within 6-9 months. This changed after my last baby. I gained about 30 pounds during my pregnancy, not horrible, but enough. Here's where things changed for me though...after I had her, I didn't start losing weight. I was nursing, and everyone tells you nursing helps you lose weight. This is a lie. I gained weight after having her. By the time she was 4 months old, I gained 8 pounds. I was 17 pounds heavier than when I got pregnant with her, and the scale was moving up. I was horrified.
Now I wasn't terribly heavy, but it was for me. I was close to 30 lbs over my preferred weight, and over 30 lbs heavier than I was when I met my husband. I was in a size pants I'd never worn in my life. I was gaining weight after having a baby! I got up to 147 lbs and a size 10-12. I was battling postpartum depression and anxiety as it was, and the shame I felt about my weight made it so much worse. Towards the end of the summer of 2011, I tried running and exercising but it had a negative effect on my milk supply(I was still nursing) and my nursing relationship with my daughter came first, so I stopped. I cleaned up my eating and did lose a little weight, 6 lbs, but when she turned 1, I was still 2 lbs heavier than I was 2 weeks after having her. This is about the time she started to wean. I started going to Zumba once a week and didn't need as many calories since she didn't rely solely on me for food, and the weight slow started to come off. By the summer of 2012, I'd lost another 10 lbs. I was getting close to where I was when I got pregnant with her. This is the point that I decided to register for, and subsequently start training for, the Princess Half Marathon. I was running 3-4 times a week, I was doing Zumba once a week, I was eating better, and the pounds kept coming off. By this March, a year after my fitness journey began, I was down to 122 lbs, for a total of 25 lbs lost since I realized how unhappy I was with my weight. This is actually 8 lbs under the weight I was when I got pregnant with the baby. I'm wearing a size 6, and these days those are starting to feel not so snug.
I look good. I still have some areas to tone up, but I'm thrilled. I don't feel ashamed of my body anymore. I'm not hiding myself anymore. My husband actually gets to see me naked every once in awhile(hey, we're all adults here)! The best part is, I feel good. I feel proud of myself. Running has given this to me. It's given me health, it's given me confidence in the way I look and it's given me a sense of pride, because I worked darn hard to get to this point. Considering I'm 30 years old now, and have carried and given birth to 4 babies, I think that's pretty awesome.

3/22/2013 Pushing Out of the Comfort Zone

For a long time, I have been a comfort zone kind of girl. I had my little bubble, I did a lot of things inside that bubble, things that I would call fun and things that I thought made me happy. But I've come to realize that being comfortable did not mean happy. Don't get me wrong, even inside this zone, my life is pretty darn awesome. I am blessed in so many ways. However, I've always battled fears that kept me in one place, it kept me from true greatness. It meant the difference between having a good life and having an awesome life. Fear is something we all deal with, whether we acknowledge it or not. We can call it keeping things calm, we can call it being cautious and safe. But the root of it is fear. Fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of rejection. I've always been afraid of things going wrong, so I stayed on the safe, well lit path, to avoid the things I was afraid of. This was my comfort zone. I was happy here, life was good. Things didn't go wrong, I didn't get hurt, my boat was sailing on calm seas. I wanted more though. It was last summer that I finally committed to having more. By more, I don't mean more things. Not more money, not more possessions, but more life. With the age of 30 quickly creeping up on me, I was no longer content with settling on a calm, easy life. I needed to say hello to my fears, tell them I was over them, and see what else was out there. This is when I made the commitment to run the Princess Half Marathon. I hadn't started training yet, and was very afraid of failing, or something going wrong and keeping me from going or completing the race, but I closed my eyes and hit enter on registration day. This was the first step. For months, even with training, I still battled the fears that I wasn't going to make it, that I needed every outside force to help me finish. I needed a good corral, for an earlier start, with lots of space between the sweepers and me. That fear of failure still nagged at me. The excuses still got in to my head and kept me from training. I see it in a lot of people. Life gets in the way. We have kids, homes to run, jobs, illnesses pop up, bad days happen. For some people, these excuses are enough to stop, or at least to keep them from really giving it their all. They did for me for months. In the weeks leading up to the race, I saw many people discuss how life got in the way and they "couldn't" train. I learned that these excuses are simply mental barriers and they aren't a matter of can't. They were simply our brains telling us to stay in the comfort zone, not to try, and not trying means you can't fail. Towards the end of the year, I stopped letting the excuses rule me. I have 3 children and a husband to attend to, I have a house to run, I have a job that I work at from home. We dealt with illnesses, we dealt with bad days, days where I just wanted to sit on the couch and numb my mind in front of the tv or my laptop after the kids went to bed, days where my kids had been up the night before and I had gotten little sleep. But I was never going to get to where I wanted to be if I let those days get to me. There are so many people who deal with kids, home, work, stress, illness, no sleep and more and still get out there and run. There are people who are missing limbs or dealing with terminal illnesses, yet they still get out there and train, to add to their lives. If they can do it, so could I. So can you. On the days when I really didn't want to take the time and burn the little energy I had left I made it a point to hop on my treadmill or head outside and go. Every time I heard someone say they were worried about not finishing the race because they missed weeks of training due to "life", I wanted to scream at them. Some people deal with so much more and manage, many more deal with life and still manage. It was an excuse, plain and simple, and in the grand scheme of things, a pretty lame excuse. Nobody lives a perfect, stress free life. It's simply a decision not to let that become a mental barrier that keeps you from being as great as you want to be. This realization of how much I have faced my fears and broken out of my comfort zone has made me proud. I stopped thinking about all of the things that could go wrong and I did it. I have applied this to other areas of my life, doing things I normally wouldn't do because I was afraid, and it's enriching other areas of my life. It's also made me aware that I still do sit in my comfort zone, even when it comes to running. I can run. I've proven that, by running a half marathon. I can go the distance if I want to. But I get there rather slowly. I noticed, even during my half marathon, that when I run, I don't give it my all. I push for distances, but I haven't gotten a whole lot faster. I'm not breathing heavy, if it's not hot I'm not sweating. My goal for PHM was just to finish. I wanted to finish in under 3 hours and I accomplished that. With the rough weather conditions and my injury, I couldn't really exert myself, but I can now. During training runs, and during the race, I stayed at a comfortable pace, and it was rather easy. But I don't want easy anymore. I want improvement. I recently talked about the 8k I ran this past weekend. I pushed myself for this race, I was breathing heavy, I was sweating, I felt ready to puke. It was spectacular. I knocked a few minutes off my comfortable pace. Pushing myself past the point of just being comfortable was worth it. I see now that it's time to really start pushing myself. I want to finish my next half marathon in under 2:30. It will be a hilly course, so I'm going to have to break out of the comfort zone again and start pushing myself more, especially during training. It's the only way I'll see improvement. Truly living life and achieving greatness is a constant motion. Evolution and improvement is ongoing, and if you have the desire, there is no stopping point, you just keep climbing. I want to keep climbing. I finished my half marathon, but there is more beyond that. This line of thinking doesn't just apply to running either, so I will just keep swimming.

3/18/2013 I Ran 3rd for Her

I've posted about #Run3rd before. I normally keep the babies taken too soon close to my heart for races, and this past Saturday's 8k was no different. That is, until I was less than a mile in to my race. The race was run through a very small college town. We ran through the streets of town, through neighborhoods and by houses. Many people came out to watch us race by and cheer us on, it was great. There was someone who stuck out to me, someone that really touched me and motivated me. I don't know her name. We started up a tree lined street, and I saw her, there on the side of the road, watching runners with another child and her parents. She looked to be about the same age as my oldest son, 8 years old. She was in a pretty pink wheelchair, not a regular wheelchair, but one of the custom ones for a child who is in the chair permanently. Her legs were skinny and slightly bowed, a sign that they saw no use. She was on the right side of the road, I was closer to the left side when I saw her. I was moving faster than I normally was and seeing as I hadn't had a real run since my half marathon nearly 3 weeks before, I was feeling it. I choked up almost immediately upon seeing her, and I began to check behind me to make sure I wouldn't get in anyone's way as I made my way to the right side of the street. I got very close to her and slowed my pace, and stuck out my hand for a high five. She smiled and extended her hand, as did the little girl watching with her. Now normally I'm a bit of a germaphobe and don't high five people often when I'm racing. Usually I will high five police officers as I go by, because I very much respect them and their line of work. But this time was different, and she was delighted to have the attention of a runner. I sped away with tears in my eyes. This little girl is a reminder of the gift I have been given, the simple gift of the use of my legs and the ability to run. I picked up my pace, continued to push on, finished my race in great time, and all because I was running 3rd for a little girl that would never have the chance. This is motivation. There are days when we feel tired, when life has gotten in the way, when the routine of work, kids, family, mundane day to day life and stress clouds our head, and we just don't feel like getting out there for a run. Think of all of the people who simply can't do that, even if they wanted to. It really puts things in to perspective, and it makes it much harder to take our gift of running for granted.

3/18/2013 Leprechaun Loop 8k Race Report & Seeing the Difference

I love that I have kept decent documentation of my journey since I started. Yesterday, I ran my first real race since I ran the Princess Half Marathon. It was "only" an 8k(as if I've turned in to some kind of distance snob), but it was really the first real push I've given myself since the half and since I've started treating my ITBS. Since being diagnosed with ITBS a couple of weeks ago and taking more aggressive steps in getting better, I haven't been training hardcore. I haven't really needed to since my next half marathon isn't until the end of October, but I do want to maintain between now and when I do need to start climbing into the higher miles again. However, trying to not only recover from an injury but build myself up so it doesn't happen again has put a damper on my maintenance. I had to over a week off after the half from running, due to pain I had lingering after that race and the subsequent cortisone shot I got when I visited the orthopedic doctor, and after that I got back on the treadmill pretty slowly, with a lot of walking and only small running intervals, never more than half a mile at a time. I was actually nervous going in to this race. I kept thinking "I did a half marathon less than 3 weeks ago, why am I nervous?" but it didn't calm my fears. I had grand plans for my pace. I wanted to finish in 55 minutes, which was an 11 minute per mile pace. In the weeks leading up to the half, and during that race, my pace slowed because of the distance I was running and my injury. I don't have exact numbers, but my average pace for the half was about 12:30 per mile. I was afraid the pace was a bit too fast coming off of my injury. But I was hopeful. I was dressed in my green, representing my favorite running group, the Pacebook Running Club, KT Taped up, and ready to run.
Pre-race I ran into my favorite Zumba instructor Molly. I knew she ran races and it was a pleasant surprise to see her there. We began the race, and about half of a mile in, I saw Molly pass me. I challenged myself to try to keep up with her, I figured she was probably pretty quick. I managed to keep up with her for less than 2 miles, staying right behind her and keeping her in my sights. That's when the hills started, and that's when I started slowing down. I did notice a twinge in my knee but nothing terribly painful and nothing that slowed me down. The hills on the other hand, they were wicked, and they did slow me down. But I kept going. I was thrilled to cross the finish line in under 52 minutes, official time was 51:18, which was under a 10:30 mm pace. I met my goal, and then I killed it. I saw Molly at the finish line(she only finished about 5 minutes ahead of me!) and I thanked her for unknowingly keeping me on pace. Reflecting on this race, I realized how far I've come. I looked back at the pictures I'd saved of my distances and times over the past 8 months. It was last August that I first reached 4-5 miles. Reading my comments on this picture, I was pushing myself and running this distance at over a 13 minutes per mile(with no hills, flat running). This picture was from an August 10, 2012 run:
That was my farthest run at the time. Since then, I have climbed to being able to run 13.45 miles, and I have shaved about 3 minutes off my pace(for that distance), with hills.
I'm proud seeing my progress. I'm looking forward to getting better and nailing my future goals.

3/13/2013 I Have Been Sucked Into a Black Hole

The black hole know as runDisney races that is. I have to laugh at myself, as in the weeks before the Princess Half, I swore I'd never do it again. Not just another Disney race, but another half in general. Check it off of my bucket list, pat myself on the back, and move on with my life. I remember running with a couple of local girls in December and telling them after my half, they'd probably never see me running again. But the race got closer. My training got more intense and steady. I already feared the PDD, or Post Disney Depression(look it up, it's a valid medical condition, I promise). It's kind of like Christmas. You look forward to it all year, and as time draws nearer and nearer, you get more excited. Then on Christmas Eve you can hardly sleep. But by 10 am Christmas morning, your presents are opened, it's time to clean up and the reality of having to take down your lights and wait a whole year to do it again hits you. The weeks leading up to the race were like that. At first I was excited. But as the days ticked away, my confidence in doing well grew, and my internet groups became more active with buzz about the race, I got more and more excited. I knew as soon as it was over I was going to miss that anticipation. That's why, at the end of January, when I got an email about the Rock N Roll half marathon in St. Louis in October, I jumped on it. I'm originally from St. Louis, my family and my husband's family live there, it would be a good excuse to visit. Let's face it though, it's not a Disney race. Don't get me wrong, I've heard the RNR series is just lovely, and entertaining. I'm glad we'll be able to go out and visit the families, the kids can see their cousins and spend Halloween with them. I have friends there that are running the race, someone who can help pace me for the PR I'm aiming for. But it's not Disney. This reality hit me after I got back from this year's Princess half. Disney hooked me. I love that place on it's own, but their races are just awesome. I had such a fun weekend. While I was down there, I decided to plan for the Princess half next year. My husband(a true Prince Charming) was on board and we're going to make it a family trip. But it a whole year away. 12 months, 365 days, 8760 hours. That's a long time to wait. Shortly after I returned, the internet boards began buzzing once again, this time about registration opening for the Wine and Dine half in November. Looking at the date, it's just two weeks after my half in St. Louis. We're staying a week there, so we'll return home(700+ mile trip) the weekend before that race. All that driving didn't sound pleasant to me, but my interest was still peaked. I approached the topic with my husband, but he was firm on saying no, so I dropped the idea. Registration day got closer and closer, until it opened today. Even after it opened, I had fully resigned myself to the fact that it wasn't possible for me. But where there is a will, there is a way. A little flicker of a flame started up when my husband came home from work. I touched on the subject again. I got a no again. I argued my case a little. It'll be a short trip, down Friday, home Sunday, he won't have to take off work, I won't do the parks, I won't do nice Disney restaurants, it'll only cost about X amount of dollars. That's when I got an "I'll think about it.". The flame grew. I argued my case a little more, even offered to make it my anniversary present, since it's less than a month away. I wanted a new Coach purse, so hey, it works out the same in cost. Finally I heard the magic words, and I got the go ahead to register(Yes, I know, I'm super lucky my husband is pretty awesome like this, sorry ladies, he's taken), and register I did. So there it is, I've been sucked in by runDisney. I'm registered for the Wine and Dine half marathon. The night time race appeals to me(I'm not a morning person), and all kinds is featured after the race(since it coincides with the Food and Wine festival). I. Love. Food, so this very much appeals to me. I'm also taking it to another level with two half marathons in two weeks. I'm pretty stoked.