The Mope-Train Has Left the Station

It’s week two of no running (not that I’ve been counting), and things have gotten slightly better for me, both mentally and physically. I’m still rolling around town in my boot but the swelling in my ankle has finally started to dissipate. Not enough for me to put a shoe on it just yet, but close! I’m thinking by next week I’ll be able to rock some actual shoes and give some stationary biking a try at the gym, and that makes me happy!!!

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I’m in a wedding this Saturday and it’s going to be a game time decision if I sport the boot under the (thankfully) long dress, but I’m leaning towards keeping it on since I’ll be on my feet almost all day.

Other than the ankle, things have been going pretty well lately. I did a few core workouts this week and some upper body, but nothing really to write home about. It was all just stuff to keep my mind off of running. It feels the best when I limit my walking around (obviously) but I’m really, really hoping that after this week the worst will be behind me.

Some other things of note that happened/were decided this week;

  1. I should buy stock in KT Tape – Seriously, this shit is amazing. I’ve used it before on shin splints, but after realizing I was whipping my ace wrap/splint off during the night, this was a GODSEND. It’s been allowing me to start attempting to walk like a freaking human again, and the support of it rivals and surpasses using those stupid ace compression socks.I just hate that I need to use 5 strips of it each time I need to wrap my ankle up, that adds up quick!
  2. I somehow have lost weight – I’m really not trying to brag about this, but how is it that after months of intense running and working out, I lose two pounds when I’m just loafing on my ass eating pizza and drinking beer? I will never understand my body.
  3. I’ve officially backed out of the 10 Miler in October – It’s just stupid to think I can run this distance when walking now is a chore. I’ll be manning a water station with a friend and cycling to the station, so I’ll get all the exercise in I need that day. The November 14th 5 mile trail run is still up in the air, though honestly is probably out as well.
  4. I signed up for a rowing class! This was kind of an impulse decision, but a local rowing association (that I run by all the time on the North Shore) had a groupon for a six-week indoor rowing course. It starts on October 27th, and I’m super excited! I know rowing requires you to use your feet as well as your arms, but I’m taking the beginner course and hoping it won’t wreck me.
  5. It was Ares’ 1 year “adopt-a-versary” this past Thursday! One whole year ago we picked him up from Animal Rescue League and we seriously could not have picked a better dog. He’s been awesome!!!

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Ares sporting his taun-taun Halloween costume a few weeks early.

Hope you’re all doing well! I’ve been trying my best to keep this blog up while I’m injured, but it is in these times that I realize I have nothing to talk about if I’m not training or running 🙂

What I Talk about when I can’t talk about running.

If I’m being 100% honest, the past week has blown monkey chunks. I always knew I relied on running to get my daily “high”, but I didn’t realize just how much I’d come crashing down when I knew I couldn’t get my daily fix in. It didn’t help that I had a lot of workout plans for last week … I had this past Monday off and was planning a longer run, and every weekday this past week was super crappy out, which called for perfect gym going weather! I actually had to figure out alternate lunch hour plans since my building doesn’t have any kind of cafeteria to chill out in. BUT ANYWAYS ….

What have I been doing to “try” to keep sane? It’s been a solid mix of distractions, self pity and some cross training. But it’s been miserable, but I’m looking forward and trying to embrace that this going to help me mentally in the long run. My ankle is still too big to fit in a shoe and it’s become a wonderful rainbow of purples, blues and greens. I was able to obtain a walking boot so at least I don’t need to hobble the half mile back and forth to my building downtown on crutches.

So what have I been up to this past week?

Flip-Flopping on my remaining 2015 Races

Obviously, any sane person would completely abort any remaining races for the year after injuring themselves. Myself? I’m not entirely sure if they are “out” just yet. The EQT 10 Miler is on October 25th, and in theory that will be 4 weeks from hurting myself. While my ankle is still quite a bit swollen, it HAS improved slightly and I can put minimal weight on it. I certainly can’t run on it just yet, but I think I still have a solid fitness base where I could reasonably complete it. I don’t think I could gun for a PR anymore, but as long as I’m out there running I don’t think I’d care all too much. So that’s still on the shelf … I’ll probably re-evaluate the closer we get to the date, but for now I’m still in for running it.

As for the 25K, this is probably out for now. I mean, besides the fact that I hurt my ankle in the first mile of the course, I just don’t think I’ll have the time to acclimate my feet to trails for this to be a safe idea for me. Depending on my how I’m feeling, I made drop down to the 5 Miler. Even that is a stretch, because when I last ran this race 2 years ago I fell a few times. I just don’t want to take any chances re-injuring myself on the trails.

I’ve also been re-evaluating my plans for next year. I had some pretty lofty goals for a race in April, but I am not 100% sure if that is going to happen anymore. Maybe I’ll blog about it at another point when I’m more comfortable opening up, but for now I’m thinking of taking on something else … but I need to mull it over.

Lots and lots of video games, books and netflix

The first weekend at home I pretty much was glued to our chaise lounger indulging in old re-runs of Scrubs, The Office and How It’s Made. After around 10 hours of this, it got incredibly old. I’m not a huge movie buff, so I had to figure out something else to do while laying around aside from reading the reddit front page for the 38742093482 time and checking my twitter feed.

I have a friend in California who has been SUPER into Splatoon for the Wii U lately, so he invited me to play a few matches. I had forgotten how much I loved this game! It’s essentially Nintendo’s take of a first person shooter, but the object of the game is to paint more of the floor your teams color. I can’t describe how satisfying it is to play that game, and play that game I did.

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I also picked up my 3DS and remembered a new game had come out, Animal Crossing Happy Home Designer. I quickly downloaded it and put the majority of my waking moments into it. It’s essentially a virtual home designer in the AC world, which I love. It will get old very quickly as that is the only objective in the game, but for the time being it’s been fun. You can even buy amiibo cards to design homes for some of the more popular characters, and my husband has bought me a few packs to cheer me up.

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Last, some books. I’ve been continuing to read “Eat and Run” by Scott Jurek … though admittedly it’s been tough because it makes me want to run just reading it. He sprinkles in some interesting recipes that I’d eventually want to try for some longer runs, and his story is fascinating. I’ve also been re-reading “On the Field from Denver, Colorado … The Blue Knights!” by Greg Kuczma. This is a weird, niche book about the history of drum and bugle corps, specifically the first hand account of one member from the 1994 summer tour. I read it on my 2005 drum corps tour and gave my hard copy away, but I’ve been enjoying re-reading it on my kindle.

Perfect my “story”

The most annoying part about being injured and having to interact with people is that the first topic of conversation is “What did you do to your leg?”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blessed having people who care about me and want me to be healthy, but man does it get old having to explain yourself over and over. Though sometimes you have awesome co-workers who buy you coffee and you kinda forget about having to explain yourself repeatedly.

Though, a pet peeve of mine is having to deflect the side-eyed comments like “Ouch, that must hurt. That’s why I don’t run!” or “I hope your husband is waiting on you hand and foot at home!”. Nah, believe me, I am an independent person and I absolutely HATE being cared for. I only allowed myself to lay-up for two days, and then I basically defied orders and walked around on my ankle so that I could at least clean, cook and actually care for my home. My husband hates it, because he thinks (and rightfully so) that I should be resting a lot more than I am, but I can only stay in one spot for so long!

Cross Training DVD’s

I hate working out my upper body, that’s no secret. I don’t feel like it does anything for me and I’m notoriously weak in my upper body (hmm…this probably correllates somehow). But I can’t do anything else, so I’ve been doing alot of the T25 and P90x Upper Body and Core workouts. I’ve even done a little bit of yoga (surprisingly, I can do downward dog with a boot on!) but alot of the poses I have to opt out of. It’s been nice to get my sweat on in a different way, but I really have to force myself to get these ones done. I have to keep telling myself it will keep me in shape for when I can come back … but seriously, why does this suck so much!?

Eating copious amounts of pizza and drinking craft beer.

I dunno why, but pizza makes me feel better. I’ve been eating a lot of it. We’ve also been going to a local brewery a lot. Both of these make me feel better, so I’ve been indulging a lot more than I probably should. But … oh well.

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So, apparently what I talk about when I can’t talk about running STILL somehow circles back to running.  Oh well, that really doesn’t surprise me. I promise I won’t be as mopey the next time around, but sometimes you just have to air your dirty mind laundry.

Take this post with a grain of salt. I don’t recommend you run through an injury or jump back into things earlier than you should. But I think we can all sympathize with the fact that once we are side-lined, it’s kind of hard to think of anything but returning back in full force.

Week Wrap-Up – 9/24 through 9/27

Welp, let’s just say this week didn’t end how I had hoped.

September 24th – Run, 3 Miles; 31:30

Today started off pretty rough. I’ve been having this issue lately where I wake up and genuienly think it’s the weekend and I can sleep in. It become so tough to wake up and face the day after that realization ….ugh. Anyways, after I got up and showered I was able to see the sunrise peeking through my living room curtains, and it looked beautiful! I took Ares outside for a quick walk just to snap a quick shot of it. Absolutely stunning!

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I was able to sneak in a quick treadmill run at work towards the end of the day. I decided to keep the pace at 10:30 minute miles because my thighs were still pretty stiff from my longer run the previous day. I was able to keep up pretty well and finished in exactly 31:30 as expected. I had the weirdest “pains” in my left foot’s toes at the end of the run though, it was almost as if they were snapping in and out of their sockets …. but as soon as I was done, and for the rest of the day, they felt fine. I feel like I’ve been having a lot of those weird “pains” lately, but noting to really keep me from running.

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My one gripe about the treadmills at my gym; they countDOWN the time instead of show time elapsed, forcing me to do stupid math whenever I’m done to figure out how long I’ve been running. BOO.

September 25th – Rest Day

Today was a boring ol’, but needed, rest day. I felt incredibly hungry all day, so I fed myself appropriately. I mean … multiple iced lattes and chipotle is a good diet, right?

September 26th – Run, 1 Mile; 10:15

Soooooooooo……yeah. I debated actually posting about this because I’m still coming to grips with it …. but my trail long run this weekend (supposed to be 9 miles) ended up with only 1 mile annnnnnnnnnnnnd a sprained ankle. Warning, I’m gonna show you my gross foot.

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It was basically a blur …. we were going on a downhill, everything was fine and then POOF, it wasn’t and I was on the ground. I heard a loud pop noise as I hit the ground and knew I was in trouble. I was running with a group and everyone stopped, which was very nice. I had a few of them asking me to try and walk, and as soon as I tried too I knew that I wasn’t finishing my run …. my foot blew up like a balloon and I could see a very marked difference in the two. One of the runners offered to walk me to the road and then go run ahead and get his car to drive me back to mine … SUPER awesome group of people! I was so embaressed and honestly my pride hurt the most, but they made me feel OK about it and even were asking for updates during the day about it.

After I got back to my car I instantly went to the ER. I knew it was bad, I obviously knew it was sprained, that was a given … but I just needed to be absolutely sure that I didn’t break anything. And, I also had a bachelorette party to attend to which required some walking … and I knew I would at least need some crutches to get me around because I was NOT walking on this bad boy.

Luckily my XRays came back normal, but I have a pretty severe sprain and need to keep off of it for at least a month. They patched me up with an ace wrap and air cast, and a quick cortisone shot for the immediate pain. Hopefully the swelling goes down by next week or else they want me back to just confirm I didn’t tear anything.

Not sure where that leaves me with my races I have left for the year. The 10 Miler is October 25th and I’d technically be allowed to start running on October 17th. I’ll play it by ear … the races I had planned for the end of the year were really only there as motivation to keep in shape.

In the meantime, at least I’m going to have a killer upper-body from all of this walking with crutches.

MID – Week in Review – 9/20 through 9/23

I’m trying something new this week and bringing you a “mid”-week in review. I like doing my run recaps in this format because it allows me to be (lets be honest, lazy) and keeps them in a contained format for me to look back on. But sometimes I get antsy and want to share, so here goes! I’ll be posting a mid-week review on Wednesday and a week wrap up on Saturday/Sunday depending.

September 20th – Rest Day

Today I took my first FULL day off of running/cross-training in over a week, and boy did I need it! While the itch to run was still very prevalent, I stuck to my guns and only went on a long-ish walk with my husband and dog. I had gotten home the night prior at 12:30AM, and while I optimistically set out workout clothes for the next morning, I did the right thing and shut off that 8AM alarm and slept in until 9!!! Seriously, don’t even know who I am. The rest of the day was spent cleaning and loafing on the couch. I indulged in Sheetz breakfast and enjoyed delicious margherita pizza with some riesling.

September 21st – Run, 6 Miles; 59:57

This morning’s run was TOUGH, mostly due to the last mile. I woke up at 5AM and was dressed and down by the trail at 5:30. It was pitch black out and 52 degrees … absolutely wonderful running weather. I used my headlamp this morning (obviously!) and it worked amazingly under a buff-headband. It stayed put through the entire hour and didn’t once slip or fall off. It also illuminated the entire trail width-wise, and lit up about 10 feet in front of me. I felt incredibly safe the entire run that people could notice where I was at on the trail, and that I could see them.

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The run itself was supposed to be six miles at about a 10 minute consistent pace with tempo miles whenever I could push (around 9:15-9:30 min miles). I started off strong with my first two splits coming in at 9:59 and 10:05. Then, I got lazy during the third mile. I had encountered a side stitch and was trying to breathe through it, and to do so I had to slow up just a little bit. It was enough to bring in that split at around 11:48. I stopped at the turn around to snap a few pictures (because I don’t take enough photos of downtown Pittsburgh) and then started up my watch and headed home. My side stitch was gone but I was still lazi-ly running, my fourth mile was hovering at 10:12. When I hit five miles with a 9:55, I saw that if I could somehow bust out a 9 minute mile for the last split, I could make it under an hour. So my legs took off … I don’t really know why I wanted it to be under an hour, but as soon as the thought popped in my head it’s all I could concentrate on. So I ran … and I ran, and I felt like throwing up …and my stomach hurt, but I kept going. As soon as I hit my car and my watch beeped, I looked down expecting the worst … but I had done it!!! 59:57, just barely squeaked in under an hour but I DID it!

September 22nd – Run, 3 Miles; 29:23

I had meant to wake up before work and get in these miles, but when my alarm went off at 5AM I was POOPED. In retrospect, I probably wasn’t as tired as I thought, but nevertheless I reset my alarm for 6:30 and got ready for work. That meant my run was moved to my lunch hour, which was fine.

I had a marathon of a day, with tons of meetings and constant back and forth between buildings. I had a small breakfast but that was it, I barely even had time to drink any water! When I finally got to the gym at 1:30 I was starving and feeling run down. I’m glad I got this run done, but I really should have had something to eat beforehand. I hopped on the treadmill and ran for about a mile and a half before I could feel my energy waning …. it took all I had to finish. My thighs were tight and I had a headache that increasingly got worse as I ran more and more. I wanted to do four miles, but I stopped at three because that’s really all I had in me.

I then showered up and went STRAIGHT over to Moe’s Southwest Grill to get a niiiiiiiiiiiiiice big lunch. I never scarfed down a burrito bowl so fast in my entire life!!

September 23rd – Run, 9 Miles; 1:38:15

From the moment I woke up at 5AM to the moment I stepped outside on the North Shore trail I did NOT want to be running, no less going 9 miles. I’m not really sure how the heck I got out of bed, but by some grace of God I auto-piloted my way to the trail.

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Looking super thrilled to be out of my comfortable bed.

Again, it was pitch black out and about 75% of my run was dark. The first two miles were sluggish as I played mind games with myself deciding if I even wanted to continue. After the second mile my stomach started rumbling (grr) so I started to suck down a salted caramel GU. I alternated sucking in the fuel and drinking water for the next mile. I felt an immediate boost in my energy and bolted for Point State Park.

I did two loops around the Point (running into a friend twice on each pass by, which was a nice treat!) and filled up my water bottle before heading back over the river again. I poured in some cytomax powder as my stomach was still screaming for food (seriously, don’t think I’m ever going to fix this issue …). Everything was going smooth until I hit the seventh mile and my lower back COMPLETELY siezed up … it was the strangest thing! I walked a bit, took in some cytomax and allowed myself to walk the majority of that mile (I hit an 18 minute mile, lord!). By the 8th mile I was feeling slightly better, not fantastic, but good enough to run the rest of the way to my car.

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The neat thing was on the trek back, I could see fog rolling in downtown. I’ve never seen that happen before!  When I finally finished up by my car I was complete toast. I sat down and flipped on my seat warmers to help my back stop screaming at me. The rest of the day at home I’ve pretty much been married to my heating pad, and finally feeling a bit better. Not sure what happened with that but looks like I need to add in some more core work.

Week in Review 9/14 – 9/19

31 Miles down for the week. I am very proud of powering through this week; it included two morning runs and a difficult long run. I even got some cross-training/strength training sprinkled in this time around!

Sunday 9/19 – Trail Run, 5 miles: 1:05:55

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This was one of those unexpected runs that just “happened”. I wrote about it in full here. I woke up wanting to run in the woods, and so I did. I ended up getting lost and ran two miles on the roads, but the three miles I ran in the woods were absolutely magical and I can’t wait to give it another shot! This time, I think I’ll actually get on the correct trail.

Monday 9/14 – Weights/Strength for 30 Minutes

I had no intentions of running today, and I was glad I didn’t. I woke up with tight hip flexors and tender shins. After a bit of foam rolling in the A.M. I was a bit looser, but still in no shape to run a few miles. I was able to sneak away for a bit of cross training at the gym by my work. It was then that I realized I am completely lost without the treadmill. That’s all I DO at my gym, what else am I supposed to do? So I kind of ended up doing a bunch of random crap …. 10 minutes on the rowing machine, kettlebells, deadlifts and some planks and body weight core work.  After I was done with that, I rolled out a bit. It wasn’t pretty, but it got me to work up a sweat. Next time though, I think I will just take a class so that I feel like I got in a truly “good” workout. I was just bored … and that’s saying something from someone who can run upwards of 12 miles on a treadmill.

Tuesday 9/15 – Run, 4 Miles; 41:25 + Bike Commute (Total of 7.5 Miles)

The lot I normally park in was closed today due to a Pirates double header, so I was essentially forced into a bike commute this morning. No lie, wasn’t really feeling it. I woke up at 6AM and cleaned up, got my bike on my car (I drive down our hill and park to avoid nasty hill climbs coming home) and headed down to the trail, but very reluctantly.

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The trip to work is around 3 miles, but sometimes I take an extended route and make a loop around Point State Park. Totally worth it today, the views were gorgeous this morning and it was crisp and cool. AHHHH I can’t wait for fall to officially come and stay! I live for the mornings I can wear a long sleeve tee and capris.

Every Tuesday I actually work in a different building in a support role, and the nice thing about this building is that it has showers! I brought in a set of running clothes and towel and decided to set out for four easy miles on my lunch hour. It was a bit sunny out for my run, but not unbearable. My shins are still a bit tender and sore, but for some reason running actually helped and made it feel better? It was hard to describe, but I felt no pain while running except when I would stop to catch my breath a bit.

I showered up and before I knew it it was time to head home for the day. It had gotten considerably warmer out, but I decided against changing in to workout clothes for the ride home. Bad idea numero uno. It took A LOT of effort to pedal the 3ish miles back to my car, so much so I even walked my bike a bit on an uphill. But despite all that time, I made it back to my car and raced home to shower and sit on the couch with a cold beer.

Wednesday 9/16 – Run, 7 MIles; 1:18:23

Ah, Wednesdays …. my usual work from home day. Most of the people in my department will sleep in to the minute they need to start working when they work at home …. but not me (usually, at least). I woke up at 5:45AM completely NOT wanting to run. My eyes were practically glued shut, I considered resetting my alarm to get some more sleep …. but then I thought about my new running playlist and trying out my new headlamp, and suddenly I was awake, dressed and excited to get outside and run!

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Based on where I was running, I’m not sure if I really *needed* the headlamp, but I brought it along anyways. I’m glad I did, because while the trail is slightly lit, the lights are a bit dim and seeing in front of you can be a challenge in spots. I wasn’t the only runner out with a headlamp, so I started to feel less silly about it.

I reaaaaaaally wanted to keep this run at about an 11 min mile pace, because I was a bit sore from the run yesterday still. I wasn’t so successful for the first three miles on the out-n-back trail, but coming back I walked a bit to slow myself down. It worked and I came in at an overall pace of around 11:08 min miles. I tacked on an additional mile just because I was feeling good. One thing I realized is I need to get better about eating before runs over 4 miles in the morning. My stomach was SCREAMING for sustinence at about mile 2 …. stupid stomach.

The headlamp worked out fairly well for it’s first trial run. It stayed on fairly snug but I did need to stop and tighten it a few times. Not sure if that’s because of my small head or it just won’t tighten any further. I’m going to try it with a buff headband under it or maybe a visor/hat next time to give it the true test. It was more than bright enough and helped me feel safe, not only so that I could see, but that others could see me coming. I left it on until mile five and then decided to carry it the rest of my run. Something about a headlamp that’s not turned on made me feel like a mutant, so I just took it off once it served it’s purpose.

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September 17th – Run, 5 Miles; 52:23

The plan for today was to run 4-5 before work and hit up an ab/core class on my lunch. Well, one out of two ain’t bad.

I woke up at 5:30, and again cursed myself for what I was doing. I played on my phone a bit and got changed into my running clothes. I drove the 10 minutes to a garage downtown by my work (once again, Pirates game changing my plans!) and started my run. I try to get my runs as close to the mileage I want while also starting and ending at exactly the same place. Usually, the only way for my tired brain to comprehend this is to either A) Do a boring out and back or B) run somewhere and do a ton of laps to equate to what I need.

Today I chose the latter. I ran about 1.2 miles to Heinz Field across the river and started my laps. I wasn’t sure how many I would do, but it ended up that a lap around the stadium was around .75 miles. The cool thing was on every turn around the stadium the sun rose even higher, so it was pretty cool to watch the sunrise. I did three laps and decided to tack on one more to bring me to a total of five miles on my return to the parking garage.

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Later on in the day I was supposed to go to an ab/core class at my gym, but decided against it to have a relaxed walk on the north shore and to eat my lunch outside for a change. I am so used to going to the gym three, sometimes four days a week that having a lunch “off” was a luxury. I earned it, at least I felt like I did.

September 18th – Yoga Class, 45 minutes

Today, as you may be aware, is Run @ Work Day. Actually ….I’m not sure if this is a national thing or if it’s just PIttsburgh trying to get people off their asses, but regardless, it was a thing here on social media and damn did I want to participate. But I was a good little girl and went off to my yoga class as I had previously planned. I’m actually quite proud, because I have a small bit of pain in my left thigh and decided running would have been a real bad idea anyways.

September 19th – Long Run, 10 miles; 1:52:34

The goal for today was simple; time on my feet. My mileage goal was 10 miles, but honestly I was secretly hoping to run for 2 hours and see where I would be at. As evidenced by my time above, I clearly stopped at 10 miles and I’ll let you in on the dirty details why….

I started at about 9:30AM. From the beginning of my run to end, I just felt …off. The first mile I felt extremely thirsty and nauseous, but yet everytime I would drink my stomach would cramp up … so I would slow down a bit, try and take in some water, and push on. This continued for the ENTIRE. RUN. I should have just stopped, looking back on it, but I really wanted to push through. My goal was to run 5 miles out to Point State Park, and by then have finished a bottle of water. Then I would fill up and mix in some cytomax to hopefully calm my stomach a bit.

Welllllllllllllll apparently The Color Run was happening today? Yeah, way to go Robyn … maybe you should double check these things …. anyways, I hit the race and had to make the unfortunate decision to go over another bridge, to the other side of the trail and continue on. The only problem was now this added about a mile and a half til I would hit the park to refill. I was already dying with the cramps, and was honestly not sure how I would do it. It was started to get super hot as well … blech.

I finally hit the convention center and ran underneath to get out to the trail on the opposite side of the river. Won’t lie, pretty nice views.

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I would be lying if I said I didn’t sit down for a bit on those ledges and gather myself. I pounded the remainder of my water and set off for the park. Once there, I had hit 6.5 miles. I filled up my bottle and poured in the cytomax and chugged the shittttttttttt out of it. Mistake number two. After running back to the other side of the river (The Color Run had concluded by this point) I felt AMAZING …. for about a half mile … and then my stomach was now sloshing around and I felt like I was going to puke!

Once again I allowed myself to run when I felt good and would stop to take small sips of my cytomax to keep myself going. For what seemed like an eternity, I trudged on … putting one foot in front of the other until I finally hit the end of the trail and my watch beeped 10 miles. I stopped immediately … I couldn’t even bear the thought of going an extra eight minutes to hit 2 hours….I wiped my forehead and felt COMPLETELY dry and salty. There was my problem. I was dehydrated and sweating pure salt …. duly noted.

I’m glad I got out and completed what I had planned, but man do I hate having runs like that. They are tough to power through, but in all honesty, without those bad runs we’ll never appreciate the good ones.

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Getting Lost on the Trails

With 12 miles on my legs and a belly full of beer and burgers the night prior, I had absolutely zero intentions of waking up Sunday morning and going for a run, no less, a trail run. But that’s how this training cycle has been going, and since I woke up with ZERO soreness and an absolutely insane urge to run ….. I did what any sane person would do and laced up my trail shoes and headed for North Park.

I’ll be the first to admit, I am a total trail noob. I’d been studying up the routes around North Park, and had the trail head I wanted to hit scoped out ahead of time. My only problem? When I got to NP, I completely missed my exit for it …and just decided to keep on going til I hit another shelter/trail head. I consulted my trail map and situated myself, and set out into the woods.

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I was very much intimidated, and my biggest fear was getting lost. The trail didn’t have very many markings, but I decided I would just keep on running the blazed trails until I hit 2 miles or found the park road and climb out. The first mile was a bit of a run/walk shuffle as it had rained the previous day. The trail was slick and I was still getting adjusted to my newer shoes , despite all of that, I was having FUN … hopping over logs and avoiding roots was like a game, and I didn’t even get annoyed when I chose dead-end paths and had to double back around (which, if I’m being truthful, happened around four or fives times).

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My new Hoka’s (ATR’s) that make my size 11 feet look like barges.Thankful for my pro compression socks out there as well, better my socks be crusty and muddy than my calves!

The second mile was much slower, around 18 minutes, because there were A LOT of water crossings, slick leaves and huge tree roots, not to mention a ton of uphill climbing. My body wasn’t terribly used to this rugged of terrain, so I just slowed down and enjoyed the views. As my watch beeped at 2 miles, I looked up and saw the road. I decided to take a quick breather and head up to the road to finish my run. I wasn’t entirely sure what paths I had taken previously and didn’t feel too comfortable running back through the woods to my car.

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Found a nature preserve/trail, some wooden bridges (totally almost wiped out on it), and a quaint little creek. No wonder people run trails, so much random stuff to happen upon!

Once I got up to the road I had zero sense of direction. I ran up the road’s hill to the top because I saw another runner doing it and figured, “why not?”. My legs were not happy with me after that. When I got to the top I took out my phone and opened up google maps and entered the pavilion I had parked at into it. Welp, the run back to my car would be 2 miles uphill on that road. This is what happens when you get lost. Oh well, I didn’t complain (too much), I need more hill training anyways. I shuffled up the hills and cursed myself for getting myself into this mess, all the while still not feeling as terrible as I thought I would.

My watch beeped four miles and the weirdest thing happened ….. I kept running! I kept going because I saw a sign a bit further back from my car, and I wanted to read it … and then I got to the sign and still don’t know what it said because I didn’t stop. I ran across a field and chased down another trail runner heading down a short-ish trail and decided to run a half mile in and then come back out. I never caught that trail runner, but I did get surprised by a mountain biker who was coming up the path towards me! He looked a bit rough, but let me tell you, mountain biking is NOT something I’d want to partake in. Pretty sure I’d wipe out a zillion times trying to navigate a bike over roots and mud.

Once I hit halfway I turned around and sprinted back up the hill (why is it that all trails go DOWN???) and to my car. This time, my watch beeped five miles and I stopped. I felt great! I could have done with some water on the run as it started to warm up a bit, but otherwise I had powered through a completely random-ass run. 3 miles on the trails and 2 on the road in 1:05:55. I’ll take that the day after a long run!

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Week in Review 9/6 – 9/12

This was a great week! 31 miles running and 20 miles on the bike. Not as much cross training as I’d like but I did my fair share of foam rolling and stretching to keep me limber.

Sunday 9/6 – Bike Ride, 20 Miles; 1:45:45

Completed my first 20 miler on the bike this past Sunday, and wrote up a whole post on it. It was a fantastic time and I hope to do it again, maybe even longer next time!

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Monday 9/7 – Run, 5 Miles; 51:08

Monday was Labor Day, and I originally had a longer run of 9 miles on the docket for the morning. I had everything lined up, my watch, water pack and clothes were all set up in my office to be put on at 6:30AM. Long story short, that didn’t happen. I rolled over and shut off my alarm and woke up around 8AM.

My husband wanted to go for a bike ride, so I decided to cut my long run down and go with him down on the trail. We’ve done this before and it’s kind of fun to “race” him back to the car. He did 12 miles and I did 5. Thank goodness I cut my run down, because there was no way my legs were taking me 9 miles today. It was hot and humid and there were too many people on the trail for my liking, but I got it done. I did beat my husband to the car though! I was completely wiped after this one, pretty much came home and watched my husband play FFVI the rest of the night.

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Tuesday 9/8 – Run, 5 Miles; 52:18

Ah, the miles that almost weren’t. I had planned to wake up before work and try out our newly fixed treadmill, but apparently my sleeping mind just will not allow this. I even put my phone across the room, but somehow in the middle of the night changed my alarm from 5AM to 6AM. Someday I’ll run before work, someday.

Anyways, since that didn’t happen and I was NOT running outside on my lunch break today (hello 95 degree weather), I decided to run as soon as I got home. I typically hate doing this, but I really *did* want to see if the treadmill was working properly. I filled up a water bottle with some cytomax and got to work. I had no idea what mileage I’d put in, I was kind of just going on feel. Two episodes of The Office down, and I decided to gun it a bit more for 5 total miles. I was absolutely drenched in sweat, but felt great! In my previous training cycles, I would never run this “high” of mileage on back to back days, but I am enjoying the two-three day run streaks I’ve been doing lately. I really feel like they are improving my endurance. Five mile runs are becoming my new three milers, I can bang them out normally with no problem.

Also, I had to retire my old Gel Keyano 20’s today …. that meant a fresh new pair for today’s run. NOTHING beats a new pair of running shoes!

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These shoes got me through a marathon, two half marathons and countless more miles.

Wednesday 9/9 – Run, 4 Miles; 38:28

Wednesday’s I typically work from home, but this week I had too many meetings that I reluctantly went in. Work is ramping up and I’m starting to stress just a teensy bit about it, half because I’m so new and don’t really have a good grasp on what I’m doing and half because my job is kind of mystery in the first place (business systems analyst, solving problems that aren’t concrete … yadda yadda). Luckily, the one thing I can control in my life at the moment is my training and my runs. After one of my marathon meetings, I hopped over to the gym to get some miles in.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel after running two days in a row, but as soon as I turned on the treadmill I was golden. I started off running 10 minute miles and then decided to push it a bit and run two miles at 9:30. My last mile I pushed a bit more and ran at a 9:00 minute pace, but could only keep that up for about half a mile. Still, I was super proud of myself after this run and was absolutely drenched in sweat. I showered and went back to work feeling refreshed.

Thursday 9/10 – Run, 5 Miles;  50:23

Here’s to my fourth straight day running! I feel pretty great given I’ve ran a total of 19 miles over the course of four days. I ran on my lunch hour today at the gym near where I work. I would have loved to run outside, but with the rain being pretty spotty today I decided to play it safe. I ran five glorious miles on the treadmill and felt fantastic for almost all of it. I pushed the tempo a bit at mile 4 and my left ankle was NOT having it, so I dialed it back to a comfortable 10 minute mile. I watched several of The Ginger Runner’s running movies (highly recommend his 100K WS Qualifier Race video!) which really put me in the mood to just bust my butt. Definitely will keep this idea in my back pocket for when I need an extra boost.

Now, lately I’ve been pretty infatuated with the Ultra Running scene. I have absolutely no intentions of running an ultra any time soon (though, I haven’t ruled it out as an absolute) but the drive and determination these people have to run 50K, 50M, 100K and even 100 miles is simply amazing and inspiring to me. I’ve been spending a lot of my free time reading blogs, watching videos and listening to ultra running podcasts. If anything, they are inspiring to me and help me bust out my own miles, even if they are paltry in comparison.

Friday 9/11 – Rest Day/Core Work

I worked from home this past friday, and boy did my body need the extra sleep! I set my alarm for 5 minutes before my usual log in time, and I almost shut the thing off and fell back asleep! I was totally convinced it was a Saturday.

Thankfully I got up and started working, and I felt completely refreshed and rested ….so I just did a quick 15 minute core workout and foam rolled for about 15 minutes with some short yoga stretches. My left ankle was feeling a bit “stretched out” so I iced and took an epsom salt bath to be on the safe side.

Saturday 9/12 – 12 Miles (4 on TM/8 Outside); 2:05

 I woke up bright and early at 6AM to make some coffee and chug a bottle of cytomax while I waited for the sun to rise so I could get out and run. After about 40 minutes and I had done my business and took in the calories I’d need, I was too antsy to wait any longer and hit the treadmill in my basement. I did 4 miles as I watched the rain pour outside, and I saw my long run fading away before my eyes. As I was thinking this I said …. wait, WHY? It’s just rain. I have a rain jacket, I don’t need to bring my phone …. why don’t I just suck it up and go?

So I did.

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I set out to do 6 miles total outside, but allowed myself to go further if I felt I could. I started at my usual spot and decided to hike up the 40th street bridge. It was absolutely pouring and I felt like my hands were human windshield wipers trying to keep the water from stinging my eyes ….. but I felt amazing!!! I couldn’t stop smiling as cars would pass me on the bridge and stare at me, or when I would look around and see no other runners out. There’s something about running in bad conditions that just makes you feel like a total bad ass.

I ran across the bridge and back down to my car for a total of 2 miles. I went to my car for a moment to grab some more cytomax and I was on my way back down the trail. I ran two miles down the trail and decided to assess how I was feeling then if I wanted to go on. When I got there, I don’t even think I stopped running …. I kept on going with the intent to go another mile, bringing it all to a total 8 miles when all was said and done.

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I stopped for a bit when I hit my “new” turnaround point to just enjoy how quiet the trail was. I saw, at most, 10 people total in the hour and a half I was out. It was great.  I hate when the trail is congested, and these less than perfect conditions had chased most of the people away. After about five minutes of stretching out my ankle and hips, I set off on the last three miles back to my car.

At no point did my feet/ankles/anything on my body hurt going back, except my stomach. I was STARVING. Noted, make sure to always have an emergency GU or sport beans in my pocket for moments when I decide  to extend my long runs. Aside from the hunger pains, I made it back to my car in record time to chug the remainder of my cytomax and towel off before heading home.

I’m super proud of myself for getting outside when I normally wouldn’t, this was hands down one of the best runs I’ve had in a LONG LONG time. Perfect conditions wont always present themselves (even on a race day) so we have to work with what we have.

Here’s to another great week of running!

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Training without a training plan.

12 miles completed today, capping off 19 mid-week miles and some cycling sprinkled in. When I penned this in my running log, I took a step back and realized I hadn’t had a 30+ mileage week since I ran the Columbus Marathon last year. Even then, I’m pretty sure my highest week was only 35 miles, and that was only due to the 20 miler long run. HOW did I survive these races running such “low” weekly mileage? Obviously , mileage varies person to person, but for me 30+ mile weeks are HARD to hit. So much so, that even when I had to traverse 26.2 miles, I managed to only do it a handful of times. The rest of my weeks, I was lucky to hit 15-20. No wonder both of my marathons felt like death marches, I was not prepared in the slightest. I finished, but I bonked hard in both of them.

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A shot from my 12 miler today, weather I normally would never run in. Today, I said “fuck it, why not? it’s just rain.”

One of those reasons, was my total lack of cross training and strength training. Another was skipping lots of mid-week runs. I always made excuses for why I didn’t “need” to strength train, or why I could skip that 5K before work. I made a whole shit ton of excuses during my two previous marathon training cycles. I think I finally figured out why.

I hate training plans that tell me what to do when they don’t even KNOW me, my skill level, my work-life balance, etc. So I decided to stop following training plans and pretty much going off of how my body feels that week. Can I run 4 days in a row without pain/injuring myself? I don’t know, but I can try and see. Can I go for a 12 mile long run without building up to it? I didn’t think I could when I left the house this morning but I came back with what I set out for. Am I feeling sluggish and run down? Take a day off or two …

I’m obviously not advising you do this kind of “training” if you’ve never trained for a race before, or don’t know your body’s limits. Having been running for a little over four years now, I have a pretty fair understanding of what is pushing the limits of my body and when I need to back off.

I have two races coming up. The EQT 10 Miler in October and a trail 25K in November. When I signed up for the 25K, I hemmed and hawed for about 30 minutes even wondering if it was doable to get my long run mileage to 15.something miles. I was talking myself out of something I wasn’t even entirely sure I COULDN’T do. So I submitted, and bought some trail shoes …. and we’ll give it a shot. I won’t know until I try.

I miss the challenge that running used to provide me. I’ve ran two marathons, a handful of half marathons and plenty of shorter distances to know I can confidently complete them. By not mapping out my runs in advance and going off of how my body feels that day, I get to challenge it daily to go that “extra mile” or to head out for a long run in pouring rain at 7:00AM.

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More shots from the 12 miles this morning. Note to self: Trails are significantly quieter during storms. As someone who absolutely abhors congested trails, I need to remember that the sogginess will reward itself with stress free miles.

Right now doing what I want, when I want, has been working wonderfully FOR ME. I haven’t experienced any burnout in the past three months, and have actually been looking forward to my runs (even the ones on the treadmill, SHOCK!). I’ll obviously have to report back and see if this does anything on race day, but for now I am enjoying my renewed sense of “running self”.

First 20 Miler (On a bike)!

Since getting our bikes this Spring, my main goal (aside from commuting more) was to go on a 20 mile bike ride. After completing the PedalPGH ride last week, Labor Day weekend seemed like the perfect excuse to get out there and get it done.

To preface this, I haven’t really been “training” to ride longer on the bike. My longest ride was around 16 miles, and that kicked my butt. My other rides have been in the 10-12 mile range. Cycling at the moment is my “backburner” cardio, as my training for the 10 Miler is taking the front seat. Still, I had a good feeling going into it, and it helped I had my pace-leader husband coming along.

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We did an out and back course starting on the Riverfront Trail, crossing some streets in downtown Pittsburgh, and then hopping onto the jail trail through to the Greater Allegheny Passage for a few miles until we hit the Waterfront. (LOVE the PGH Rails to Trails system, it’s amazing!!!)

I compare cycling with running in my mind a lot, and this was no different. We started out strong on the trail, albeit running into a 5K which slowed us up a bit. Once we navigated some downtown streets, we came out on the jail trail and hit around 5 miles. At this point, I was feeling amazing and was even considering maybe pushing a bit further than Sandcastle (our turn around point and Pittsburgh’s “premier” water park) because I was feeling so great. When we turned on to the South Side trail a few miles later, my tone had changed dramatically. The trail was beautiful, but all I wanted was for it to break and show me that stupid water park so we could turn around.

We kept on pedaling until we finally found a bus stop to sit down and take a quick break.

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I mixed some Cytomax in my water bottle and guzzled it down. I was already salty sweating and with 10 more miles to hike back, I was not feeling so hot. Although we hadn’t completed our full 20 yet, I made it a point to get a photo with the Sandcastle sign … just as proof that I finally did it! After all, we weren’t going to get home unless we biked back.

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It’s amazing what a quick rest and some hydration would do because I felt nothing but AMAZING for the next 10 miles. We were going between 12-16 MPH the entire time and I didn’t once feel like crapping out. I wanted to go further, but I knew my body wouldn’t like that.

All in all, the experience was great and I can’t wait to go out and tackle even more miles! I have to remember that my bike is there and she needs love too, not just for commutes 🙂

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20 Miles in 1:45:45, Now it’s time for some relaxing and day drinking. Happy Labor Day weekend!!!

Week in Review – 5/25 – 5/30

This past Memorial Day weekend was a doozy. My husband and I headed up to Corning, NY for a weekend of glassblowing, wine, and more wine. I indulged a bit more in the wine than I should have, as well as a bit of beer at a local brewery and gastropub. They had the most AMAZING grilled cheese sandwhich, that we went back THREE times. So good!

The weekend hangover is over and it’s back to reality. It’s no secret I’ve been pretty lax with my fitness lately. A number of things affected this, a broken toe, home problems (calling around for a roofer is no fun) and the last, waiting on a very important phone call for a new job. I kind of tricked myself into thinking that just sitting around and mulling over these things would help my anxiety over them. Huh, news flash, it didn’t. Though I’m happy to report A) The toe is slightly better B) We’ve got a few leads and C) I GOT THE NEW JOB AFTER A MONTH AND A HALF OF WAITING! But all those aside, here’s my “back at it” week in review.

Monday May 25th

Bike Ride: 8 Miles, 41:10/11.7 cadence

I won’t lie, I had no intentions of doing this bike ride. I was moody, miserable and just wanted to sit around and be a loaf. My husband convinced me to go out and at first the ride was going OK. I knew there was going to be a lot of people out for the holiday, but I didn’t expect the mass amount of idiots riding the trail. Tons of people taking selfies (while on bikes!) not looking behind them when passing or in general, and lots and lots of people hogging entire lengths of trail. I got so annoyed that I just wanted to get home, so we sped back to the car. That probably accounts for the quick time (for us).

We also finally planted some flowers and re-did the front gardens of the house. Snap Dragons!

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Tuesday May 26th

Treadmill Run: 3 Miles, 27:57/9:19 pace

My first day back at work was…… interesting. My new job is a promotion within the department which requires me to relocate to another building downtown, so my job now is basically to train everyone on my duties. An entire 8 hours of nothing but question upon question left me completely drained and agitated, so I knew I had to fit in a run when I got home. Problem was, I was drinking the air and it had been quite a bit since my last outside run …. so treadmill it was. I started reading the “Run Less …. Run Faster” book by Runners World, and I’ll be honest, it’s a bit confusing. All I “really” have grasped so far is that you run three times, and they are all quality. As in, each run has a purpose. So, speed repeats, a tempo run and a mixed level long run. I decided to give the speed repeats a try today, starting at 6.0 and gradually ramping up each .25 mile up to 7.0 and then back again. Seemed to do the job as I was panting and dripping sweat by the end.

Wednesday May 27th

Treadmill Run: 2 Miles, 20:00/10:00 pace

I decided to use my work from home day on Wednesday, mainly because I was already feeling sluggish and run down from a day back in the office (wish I was joking). I woke up a bit later than intended, so I had to hurry up and do only 2 quick miles. I won’t lie, it really was no fun at all. Sometimes, two miles is the easiest thing ever and then BAM you are hurdled back to reality. Running never gets easier, you just get stronger. Thankfully I got that run done in the morning, as I ended up working til 5PM due to some system issues. Boo! At least I can comp my time out for an early Friday!

Thursday May 28th – REST

Friday May 29th

Treadmill Run: 2 MIles: 19:06/9:41 Pace

I was lucky enough to be able to comp out my 2 1/2 hours of overtime to leave work by 11:30 today. In true nerd fashion, I rushed out to Toys R Us to secure myself the exclusive Greninja Amiibo that released today, and headed right on over to Best Buy to pick up the Splatoon Wii U I had pre-ordered, kind of as a “congrats” present to myself for my promotion.

I got home around 12:15 and Brian and I giddily set up the machine; it’s been YEARS since we’ve purchased a new video game console and the rush is always the same!!! Anyways, as we were setting it up I decided I had to get SOME kind of workout in today. I started off with intentions of going four miles but mother nature was noooooooooot having it. I quit after 2 quick miles because my stomach was feeling awwwwwful.

Saturday May 30th

Rest Day

Took another rest because woman reasons. I have a bike ride tomorrow with some friends for Open Street PGH which should be an awesome time!

Total for the Week: 7 Running Miles/8 Bike Miles