Getting Back on the Horse

It’s been months since I posted here. It just hasn’t been a priority with so much going on lately. I thought I’d pop in and do a little update post-surgery.

Surgery was back on November 7th. What was supposed to be a quick, get in, pull out the floating body, sew it up, turned out to be a little more invasive. When they got into my knee, they saw some cartilage damage from my 20 year old injury and the floating body. In order to help it regenerate a bit, they did some microfracturing. When I woke up from the anesthesia, I was disappointed to learn it would be at least three to four weeks until I would be able to run. I left on crutches which was unexpected, and I was in some pain. The pain meds did a number on my stomach so after the first two days, I stopped taking them.

Over the next week I started doing a series of recommended exercises to get mobility back in my knee. After my first post-op, I was told that I could ride a stationary bike, very slowly an with no resistance. They also told me I was going to have to wait three to five more weeks to run. WHAT?! That was a blow. Not that I was ready to run just yet, but I started to panic as I was suppose to start marathon training the first week of January.

I listened though. I rode that stationary bike and started walking on the treadmill. A few weeks later, I was given the ok to start running. My first run was on the indoor track of our local sports dome. It felt strange and stiff, but the longer I ran, the better it started to feel. I covered about three miles that morning and had a huge smile on my face.

After that run I followed up with the coach I’d contacted a few months prior. I had decided I would need help getting back from surgery and I also needed help breaking through my plateau. He started me run/walking and after a few weeks of that, slowly (both pace and distance) building a base so I could safely start marathon training. I happy to report, things are going well thus far. My legs are tired but I haven’t had any pain. I don’t have that little floating fragment pulling at my tendons which is awesome. My IT band gets so from time to time, but I figure that’s normal considering they cut through it.

I’ll report back soon about how marathon training is going thus far, how it’s different from what I’ve been doing and why as a coach, I wanted a coach.

The Good Life Halfsy {Race Recap}

Throwback Thursday post to my last race of the season and my last race before surgery.

I was hopeful that I could beat my existing half PR set last year at the Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon. As Josh and I talked about the race, he offered to pace me. While I took his offer with a grain of salt, I figured why not take him up on his offer. The worst that could happen is I annoy him or he annoys me and we part ways. I knew I should be able to run at least as fast as I ran the Twin Cities 10 Miler a month ago as the course was basically the opposite of what I’d be running in the Halfsy.

Sunday morning I woke up and did my pre-race thing. We kind of lounged around the house since the starting line was just a few miles from Josh’s parent’s house and the race didn’t start until 8:30 am. Both Jim and Nancy, as well as my sister-in-law volunteered to do traffic control for the race, so at about 8, we all got in the van and made our way to the start.

The starting line was well organized with huge pace flags lining the shoot. We snapped a quick selfie and lined up just ahead of the 1:40 pacer. Josh confidently told me that I could run under a 1:40 and I’d be upset if with myself if I didn’t at least try. I said ok and right on time, we crossed the starting line.

The start was a little odd, winding around a high school then out onto 70th Street. We saw all three Van Kirk’s in the first mile which was fun. We had some pretty good rolling hills in the first few miles, but nothing too challenging. I wasn’t looking at my watch, running by feel and talking with Josh a bit. When we passed the three mile mark, he pulled me back a little bit. I was feeling great. The temperature was in the mid-30s which is my ideal running weather. As we ran down 70th and into Holmes Lake Park, I knew there was a fairly significant downhill around the 5th mile. Josh told me that we were going to take advantage of the downhill and run the next mile at 7:15. Um, what?

The downhill felt nice and we covered that mile in 7:14. I was able to recover from the faster speed easily once the course flattened out again. Around mile seven I took my gel. It was a little early for me but I wasn’t carrying my own water and I remembered the next water stop wasn’t until around mile nine. A short while later we could see the capital building. There was a large crowd cheering us on as we ran by the halfsy point of the Halfsy.

We turned onto a really nicely maintained trail that I often ran portions of with Nancy. There were a few more small rolling hills. Everyone once in a while we’d pick up the pace, then pull it back. I looked at my watch and saw our average pace was sub 7:30 min/mile. I was running this race faster than the 10 miler by about 10 seconds/mile.

When we left the trail, the course got pretty industrial. It was not the most scenic but we were closing in. I was getting tired and the biggest hill of the race was coming at mile 13. Between miles 11 and 12, Josh pushed me to run a 7:20 for a quarter mile. I begrudgingly did it but told him I was done. I was going to try to sprint to the finish but I had to save some energy for the hill.

As we turned a corner out of a residential area, I saw the LINCOLN bridge and the hill I was going to have to climb to get up and over it to the finish line. Ugh. What sadist thought that was a good idea? I did my best to just chug up it. Once at the top I was struggling to keep my breathing steady. Working my arms, I started to make my descent to the finish line. Josh pushed me to pass people as I tried to sprint through the finish.

As I crossed the finish line I lifted my arms above my head and a huge smile crossed my face. I set a 3 minute, 33 second personal record. I think sometimes Josh has more faith in how fast I am than I do.

Official finish: 1:37:37     Avg. Pace: 7:26 min/mile

I was 11th out of 515 my age group (30-34), 57 out of 2919 women and 259 out of 4505 overall. That put me in the top 2% of my category and gender, as well as, top 5% of all the runners at the race. I was pretty excited!

This race was really well organized. Other than that hill at mile 13, the course was PR friendly and really well marked. There were plenty of volunteers at the water stops and at the finish line. Bonus, the lines for the post-race massage were so short, both Josh and I got to have one after only a five minute wait. We got really nice long sleeve tech shirts and the medals were nice. I definitely do this race again if it worked out for us to be in Lincoln.

This race helped me get excited for my upcoming marathon training cycle. I haven’t lost my speed and there will be more personal records to come.

 

A stick in the tendon

Twenty years ago I fractured near the patellar surface of my femur. It’s a long story, but I may be the only girl to ever sustain such an injury at a Bat Mitzvah. After a long winter on crutches and a brace that my Jankos (they were cool back then) were wide enough to accommodate, I thought I was healed. Are you laughing harder at how I sustained my injury or my super cool fashion choices at 13? Looking back it’s both funny and embarrassing.

Well as it turns out, not everything was back to normal. About three years ago, in the midst of a speed interval, I felt a sudden popping sensation followed by an intense burning down from my knee down the left side of my shin. I stopped, stretched and continued running at a steady pace rather than my intervals. Over the past few years I’ve been experiencing this same thing more and more. Sometimes it even locks a bit. After avoiding going in to have it checked out, I finally decided after Boston I had to go in.

After an MRI, we found that a piece of my femur completely disconnected from where it originally fractured and is floating around near my kneecap, occasionally tangling itself in some tendons. This means two things: it can be removed, but it also means that I will eventually need a bigger knee surgery. I scheduled the first surgery for early November. I want that annoying little fragment gone.

The second surgery will involved drilling a hole in the right side of my femur where the bone is larger and is not as weight bearing. They will then take the bone they remove and pack it in the ‘pothole’ where the bone separated after my fracture. That will give me more strength and stability. This surgery also means I will be down for the count for 4-6 months. That’s not really conducive to our lifestyle with two young kids. Since I’m asymptomatic, the orthopedic surgeon said I could put it off until I develop symptoms which could be in a year, five, 10 or more years from now. Phew.

I’m a little nervous.  I’ve never had surgery before. I’ve had several nightmares that they do the major surgery instead of just the fragment removal. I should probably just call the office to reconfirm again to alleviate my concerns. Hopefully all goes well and recovery is speedy.

Medtronic Twin Cities 10 Mile {Race Recap}

I was up at 3:30 am Sunday morning, starting my pre-race routine. Ashley was going to be picking me up at 5 to go to our friend Amanda’s house so we could all carpool together. After I ate my toast and foam rolled, I started to get nervous. I don’t know why. I run 10 miles regularly and this was supposed to be fun. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go for a goal time or just run the race as I felt comfortable. I figured I’d see how the first mile went.

By 6 am, we were downtown hoping that the rain wouldn’t start again. We met the rest of our Team OT Efers crew, snapped a few pictures and talked about the brunch that we were headed to after the race, before I went to my corral.

Once in the corral, I saw the 1:15 pacer. I heard him talking to another runner about the pacing strategy. I heard him say he was going to bank some time to make up for the two mile long hill that we’d hit around mile four.

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I knew that I did not want to even attempt to run with that strategy. Banking time never works out well for me. It was then I decided I was just going to do my thing. I’d run as fast or as slow as felt good.

Just as we were sent on our way, it started raining again. Not too hard, but enough to be a little irritating. The first mile I started slightly fast, but not so fast that I was going to regret it. It was really crowded but we were treated to a beautiful sunrise. As we approached mile three the rain really started coming down and a headwind picked up. It made me so happy that I was only running 10 miles and not the full marathon. We had to curve around a tight and narrow turn to cross the bridge over the river. That was my slowest mile at 7:52.

Once we were on the bridge, the congestion started to break up. This was the part of the course I really remembered from running the marathon three years ago and cheering for my friend Kirsten last year as she ran the 10 mile. I grabbed water at the first water stop I saw and unfortunately got more up my nose than in my mouth. The rain was letting up which was exciting, but it left large puddles all over the street. I tried to avoid as many as I could without weaving too much. I was still consistently a tenth of a mile ahead of every mile marker.

By mile four, the rain had stopped and I had run under the blow up wall. The steepest part of the long hill was starting. I began to slow my pace to compensate. When I ran through the five mile clock (38:33), I calculated I was going to have no problem beating my previous 10 mile time from Goldy’s Run two years ago. I distracted myself by gawking at the beautiful houses (mansions?) I was running by.

I continued to run at a steady, but slower pace as I gradually climbed the never ending hill. It’s so deceptive because it doesn’t look like I was going up hill, but my legs could feel it. After getting to the top I got a little downhill segment where I speed up. One more tiny hill and I was on the flat and downhill home stretch to the finish line. I picked it up some more as I started my final mile to the finish line. It was my fastest of the race, the downhill helped of course. I was still about a tenth of a mile ahead but I didn’t care. My watch was showing I had maintained a 7:34 min/mile pace. Woohoo.

I ran through the shoot with a big smile on my face. I had finally gotten a personal record. My first in any distance since Thanksgiving. I’d also negative split the race.

Official time: 1:16:28  Avg. Pace: 7:39 min/mile

My Goldy’s Race 10 mile time was bested by nearly six minutes. I expected to run it faster than two years ago, but that was a surprising chunk after my lackluster races lately.

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I made my way out of the finisher’s area and waited for the rest of the team to come through. Everyone did so well!

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We made our way back to Minneapolis and enjoyed brunch at Ike’s Food and Cocktail.

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It was a fun morning! Now we’re talking about a relay race next year some time. That would be really fun. I’ve been wanting to do a Ragnar or similar event.

 

Surly Loppet 13.1k {Race Recap}

Trail running is intimidating to me. Sure I run on trails, but they are lovely paved or crushed limestone trails. They are not grassy, muddle, steep, single track hills. Nope. I’ve only run on such terrain once, last winter in the snow on the coldest morning of the fall. It was fun, but not something I thought I’d do often. I was right. It took me six months before I did it again.

Last weekend, with some of my friends and fellow Daisy Troop moms, I ran my first official trail race. We decided on a whim last spring that it would be fun to run the Surly Loppet. If it wasn’t, we’d still get beer at the end. There were three distance options: 5k, 13.1k, and a half marathon. I opted for the 13.1k figuring that a little over 8 miles would be doable. After all, I had no idea how my fall race schedule would shape up.

I won’t lie, I was a little nervous. One because I didn’t run on a trail even once before the race and two, because this is how the course description starts:

“The Trail Loppet is challenging. There are big hills. There are narrow trails with rocks and logs. There are many intersections.”

Eek. I just hoped I didn’t get lost. And those hills…which don’t look so bad here. Only a few of them really sucked.

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Like several places in the country, we were having unseasonably warm weather. Like 80-100 degrees plus intense humidity. Not ideal at all. Luckily with such a race, there was no time pressures or performance anxiety. I only had to go as hard and fast as I felt like it. There was also going to be ample shade which would give us some relief from direct sun on top of the oppressive heat and humidity.

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We got to Theodore Wirth Park with about 10 minutes until my race started. I quick hit the porta potty and ran across the parking lot to the starting line. It was really crowded at the start and we started right uphill. The first tenth of a mile was paved before we moved to some grass and onto dirt trails through the trees.

I won’t go mile by mile because I rarely knew where I was at mileage-wise and it’s kind of a blur. I was happily running, music free, enjoying the scenery and the challenge. There were several times that I was forced to walk because those in front of me were walking. On a single track, there was no room to pass. Frankly, the few walk breaks were welcome. There were usually up very steep, root and rock ridden hills. I only almost bit it three times. I recovered and was happy that I didn’t end up scraping my face because we had family pictures later that afternoon.

I chatted with a few runners here and there as we ran. While I considered wearing my CamelBak I’d decided I didn’t want anything extra on my body. It was just too hot. I wished I had carried my own. There were only two water stops and I was sweating so much that I needed every drop I could get.

When I finished, I decided I wanted to do it again! It was so much fun. It was hard and dirty, slow and steady. It kept me on my toes and I didn’t once look at my watch wondering how I was doing. I didn’t care. I was far out of my running comfort zone and soaking it all up.

I met my friends who had done the 5k, grabbed a beer and waited for our other friends to join us. We already decided that we are going to make this an annual race. Maybe next year I’ll do the half.