Jeff Winters City of Lakes Half Marathon {Race Recap}

I knew I shouldn’t run it. When I woke up after only three hours of sleep. I knew. When I was having bad cramping from the cyst, I knew. When I felt cloudy headed and nauseated, I knew. As I drove to the starting line with a pounding headache and upset stomach, I knew. I just was being stubborn old Jess, justifying my bad decision by telling myself I would just being throwing money away if I didn’t show up, run the race and get my medal and beer glass. I knew these were stupid reason. Still, I lined up at the start and was off with the gun.

This was a small race and started fast. I got caught up in the crowd the first few miles, which were too fast for how I was feeling. But then I thought, the faster I run, the sooner it will be over and I can go back to bed. I knew better than that. I stayed in the 7:25-7:44 range for the first four miles.

That’s when the headache really started pounding again and my stomach started churning. I started to slow down. I even took a gel at mile five, which is long before I would normally take one. I also started to think about stopping around the half way mark when we ran by where I parked. This was the first time I’ve ever thought about just dropping out of a race. It would have been the first smart decision I’d have made that morning. Instead, stubborn Jess won out. I continued to slow down mile by mile (7:50, 7:56, 8:08, and 8:15).

Just after mile nine I had to stop. I wasn’t sure if I was going to throw up or poop, but I had to stop when I saw a porta-potty. Luckily I did neither but I gave myself a moment to regroup and figure out if I should just turn around. I was super hot, but had the chills. I wasn’t sure what was going on. That mile was obviously my slowest at 8:55. Still I trudged on.

At this point I just wanted to be done. I told myself just to run, not walk. Walking would make this last longer. The hills were getting more difficult. None of them were huge, but big enough to irk me. Mile 10 was my fast mile of the second half of the race at 7:58. Much slower than I started off but I was giving myself pep talks to get through to the end. At least I was closing in on the finish line, the last three miles at 8:08, 8:11, and 8:05. When I saw the finish line, I knew I had just enough left to sprint through. I flew past a man running in which elicited a laugh from the announcer as he announced me coming through the shoot.

My official time was 1:44:46 which is about an 7:59 avg pace. Definitely not a PR, but very respectable, especially for how awful I was feeling.

I grabbed my medal, beer glass and a cookie as I started the walk to my car. When I got in my car, I had to sit for a while. I had horrible cramping, nausea and dizziness. When I got home, I took my temperature to find I had a fever. No wonder I was super hot but had the chills. I was pale as a ghost and felt awful. I spent the rest of the day on the couch in and out of sleep. We were a little worried that I had gotten an infection from the cyst rupture, but when my fever finally broke, we figured I was in the clear. The next day I was still down, but felt like a new person a few days later.

Lesson learned, running post cyst rupture, is a bad idea.

Losing Myself and My Joy

I’ve been off the grid lately. To be honest, I’ve felt some blues the past few months. I haven’t been sleeping well and have been stressed and lonely thanks to a variety of things, including Josh having to work pretty much seven days/week up to 15 hours/day. That is no fun for anyone. A combination of factors that leads me not wanting to blog at all. After all who wants to read complaints?

Over the past several weeks I’ve taken a few steps to help myself feel like myself again, including getting rid of my Mirena. Did you know that side effects include weight gain, depression, acne, and ovarian cysts, among others? That might explain this solid 10 lbs that I cannot explain how I gained and cannot lose no matter what I do. Which has done nothing for my self confidence. It may also help explain these blues. Lucky me, I also got a tennis ball sized ovarian cyst that ruptured a few weeks ago. I apparently have a really high pain tolerance because I just thought my IUD had moved. Not so much. Side note: DO NOT run a half marathon a week after your cyst ruptures. It’s a horrible idea. More on that later.

I also saw my family doctor who prescribed me something to help me sleep. Some nights I wasn’t falling asleep until 2-3 am. Other nights, I’d fall asleep but wake up around 1 am and not be able to go back to sleep for hours. I had forgotten what a good night’s sleep was. Now I’m finally sleeping well again. I wake up and I’m a better mom. In a better mood and have more energy, not to mention more patience.

All of these emotional and physical things have definitely started to effect my running. Even before Boston, I started feeling like running is a job. It’s something I have to do, not something I want to do. There is no joy for me in it right now and hasn’t been in at least six months. My training for Boston was really hard. I didn’t want to do it. I had worked so hard to get there and then, I just struggled.

I have all these thoughts and concerns going through my head as I put off runs as long as I can before I make myself trudge out the door. I have to continue racing. I have to continue doing speed work here and there. I have to maintain my reputation as a ‘fast’ runner within our running group or among my loved ones. What will happen if I stop running? Will I ever be able to regain my speed again? Have I peaked? Will I have a great race again?

I don’t have the answers to these questions and I am sick of them causing anxiety. I don’t know if I will ever set another marathon PR. If I don’t, is it really that big of a deal? Who even cares but me? For now I’m trying to take care of me, outside of running. Getting sleep, spending time with friends and family and trying to take back my joy.

 

Six in One

I’m solidly in the camp that you do not need to run every day to be a successful runner. I’ve adhered strictly to my run only three to four days/week rule for years now. That is, until last week, when I was reminded why I don’t run so much.

Monday morning I was excited to try a strength training class that I hadn’t done in years. I’ll admit, I went in a little cocky thinking that it wouldn’t be a big deal since I’ve been doing Orangetheory for more than a year now. I.was.wrong. Holy cow, an hour of strength training did me in. I was sore before the class was even over. Come 7 p.m. I get a text from my friend Ashley asking to go for a short, easy run with her. Couldn’t pass that up. We did about three miles.

Tuesday I had my usual run. I did a six mile tempo and my butt and legs felt it the entire time. I knew I was in for it on Wednesday night at OTF.

Wednesday, Orangetheory. Usually I run between 1.5-3 miles total. Yeah, not this week. This time I ran 4.16 miles of pushes and all-outs. Now I was up to three days in a row of running. That’s ok, I do that fairly frequently.

Thursday I did my first 400m intervals in a long time. With warm up and cool down, that was a total of 5.75 miles. That was my third day in a row of intense running, fourth day in a row of running. My body was feeling it.

I took Friday completely off. In fact I think I only took 6000 steps the entire day. I had the Rice Lake Classic to run Saturday morning and I didn’t want to totally blow it after four days and 19+ miles.

Saturday morning, I really did not want to go to the race. It was hot, humid and I was tired. Tired from my intense workouts, tired from having company all week, tired from not getting enough sleep. As soon as the race started, my legs made it known they were done. I felt my sore glutes with every step. I tried to move my legs faster, but they didn’t listen. Instead my bone fragment pulled in my leg causing burning and by the second mile had a minor locking incident. I just wanted it to be over. Turns out, I ran the exact.same.time as I did two years ago and came in third in my age group. I should be happy right? I placed in my age group. I was so disappointed. All I could think about is that I am stronger and faster than I was two years ago, so I should easily be able to run a faster time.

After talking to my mom last night I realized, I am stronger and faster. Two years ago if I had worked out that hard leading up to the race, I would have run way slower. I would have walked more and been in pain. I guess I needed someone else to help me look at it from another angle.

I was supposed to run 10 miles total Saturday, but after the Rice Lake Classic, running the kids run with Ella, and spending two hours at Maple Grove Days in 90 degree weather, I was exhausted. Sunday afternoon when we got back from camping, I went to the gym and slowly, ran my 10 miles. I wasn’t going to do all 10, but slowing my pace down made it doable.

Monday morning, I was so tired and sore. My body was not happy. I went for a walk and called that good.  It’s amazing how a few unplanned runs and an additional session of intense strength training affected me. Lesson learned, six days a week of running doesn’t really work for me. At least not when I have four intense runs. Not when I want to excel. I am considering adding a fifth day, just a short recovery run maybe on Sundays. We will see how it goes.

Running and Exercise Lately

With no races in the next couple of months, my schedule is wide open for whatever I want to do. One thing I’ve really been missing over the past few years when I’ve been working towards qualifying for Boston, is strength training. Unless I was going to workout twice a day, I just didn’t have time to do both with all the running. Now I can.

Three weeks ago, a week after Boston, I started a strength training program. It’s 12 weeks long, but I’m not necessarily making sure I fit all the sessions into a single Monday-Sunday week. I’m loving it so far. I lift 3-4 times/week in addition to my weekly Orangetheory class.

While the program doesn’t always call for cardio, I still throw in a run here and there. Some days I run three miles, some days 5-6. I’ve been trying to keep one weekly long run of 9-10 miles to keep my base pretty strong. I feel heavy and slooooow. I think that my body is hungover for years of training cycles in rapid succession. It’s also getting use to being challenge by weights again. Hopefully the strength training will help me become a stronger runner and it wouldn’t hurt if I looked a bit more toned.

As I mentioned, I signed up for a half in late September. Josh and I are also going to do a half the last weekend in October. That means I don’t need to start training until July or so. A break from prescribed running workouts is so nice. No paces to hit, to distance I have to run. I’ve forgotten what that’s like. This little breather may be just what I needed to not slog through my half marathon training cycle.

Training in Review {Boston Marathon Edition}

Not to beat a dead horse with Boston, Boston, Boston, but this is all a bit therapeutic for me. Honestly, though I’m physically recovered, I don’t know that I’m mentally or emotionally recovered. I worked so hard for that moment, that day, that race, that now that it is over, I feel a sense of loss. Strange?

I won’t lie to you, my running ego took a bit of a hit in Boston. While I never went into the race with a PR as a goal, it was a total blow to run nearly 21 minutes slower than my qualifier. I did not expect that at all. Yes, the course is much more difficult than Lake Wobegon, yes it was 40 degrees warmer without any shade and during the warmest hours of the day, yes those all impact performance.

I keep telling myself that it was a hard day for a lot of runners, but I find myself being jealous of my friends who are running marathons soon and are sure to PR and likely to qualify for Boston. I want those things for them. I’m so excited for them! I’m not a jealous person and find these feelings really unsettling. Running is an individual sport and I certainly don’t compete with anyone but myself. I think it’s just knowing that I don’t have an opportunity to qualify again before September to join them in Boston next year. I thought I’d do it once and not want to do it again, but I really want to. I want to run the race I know I can on that course.

Let’s look back at what worked well leading up to the race.

  1. My body handled the increase in mileage well. I was healthy, other than my silly shoulder, when I got to the starting line.
  2. My eating/carb loading was on point. I had zero stomach issues on race day and plenty of energy.
  3. Fueling also worked well. Honey Stinger gels have worked well for me, without causing GI issues. I ended up taking four gels during the race because I started to get hungry. I was also out there longer than expected. Luckily, I never hit ‘the wall.’
  4. I was well hydrated going into the race which was good because I dehydrated quickly.

Here are some things I want to work on or do differently next time.

  1. Heat conditioning. When I’m doing a race with the potential to be warm, I need to prepare myself. Sure this is easier when I train over the summer, training during winter in Minnesota, is a whole different animal. I’ve been reading on how to acclimate your body to heat even when you live in cool places. Definitely going to work on that next time.
  2. Try out salt tablets or some other sodium replacement. I was sweating profusely for a long time before it suddenly stopped. I think if I had replaced some of the salt I had lost, it may have helped my body regulate itself a bit more.
  3. I think I was trying to out run myself during some of my speed intervals. I don’t know if it was adding more miles to warm-up and cool-down or trying too hard to run at the high end of my paces, but some of those workouts were so hard. When I went back and compared my training paces from Wobegon, I sped them up quite a bit. I’d probably step back to my previous paces until they feel super easy.
  4. Add another easy run. Even if it means just a slow mile or two.
  5. I say this every time, but strength train more. I usually have the opportunity to run or strength train. I choose running obviously. I just started a strength training program which I hope will get me going again. I won’t be able to continue at this level during a training cycle, but will definitely have some moves that I can incorporate to a training plan.
  6. Get my weight in check. I very rarely weigh myself these days. Mostly because I’m afraid of what I’m going to see. It’s not even the number on the scale necessarily, I just feel flabby. My clothes are tight and my old jeans have collected dust because there is no way I can fit into them.

Boston is not the final chapter. I will run another marathon. I actually entered the lottery for London. Knowing that my chances of getting in are slim to none, I’ve started making lists of marathons I’d like to do. Hopefully I will be able to qualify again and have the opportunity to run a better, for me, race performance-wise.