To the pain…

One of the things running through significant levels of pain in training can cause is over doing it.  For whatever reason it’s possible to have important pain points silenced or muted that under other circumstances would tell a runner to slow it down or come to a dead stop.

It might be pain killers or just one pain point that shouts down all the other pain points due to volume.

So to say I shambled the last 5k of our 40K day would be generous.

There have been a couple of times in the last 18 months give or take where I’ve hit that point.  Where one pain source was so loud everything else go lost in the background or even worse, one was so loud that I had to artificially lower the volume to keep moving forward which drops all the other pains to a dull whisper.

This last weekend we did the Tulsa Run, both the 5K and the 15K and immediately after we added another 20K of trail running.  The Tulsa Run is a street race.

Due to the damage I’ve inflicted on my feet about 4 weeks ago I required a ‘little’ help to keep moving for this run.   I felt and still do feel, the risk was worth the return as I really do not care to go into my first 50K being forced to take the 7 weeks preceding it off.

The payment to the Piper though is that the pain killers enabled me to really over do it.  I ran the 5k+15K at my half marathon race pace.  The follow up trail run, at least the first 3/4 of it was also at trail race pace.

Around the 35K mark for the day was when things shut down and shut down hard.  Literally every muscle below the knees started hard cramping at the same time.  Calves knotted into Hulk fists about to punch Thor in the face, shin muscles like steel bands.  Trying to lean into either one to stretch it out just made the other side madder and also triggered the hamstrings to knot up like an old gnarled tree that’s suffered a hundred years of ocean storms.

So to say I shambled the last 5k of our 40K day would be generous.

The pain medication on top of the pain of my feet made it impossible to really hear the rest of my body’s complaints.  As a result I pushed to and through that point of physical failure of the nerves that manage and maintain muscle contractions.  They start misfiring causing contractions when they shouldn’t and there’s literally not much one can do about it except haul back the reins sharply and grind things to a walk and give them a chance to recover.

It’s not a hydration thing or an electrolyte thing, it’s fatigue of the ‘wiring of the engine’ that isn’t used to it.  Too fast, too hard, too long for the current level of ability.

Part of that was also in no small part due to the forced break in training from my foot injuries, specifically a combination of metatarsalgia and Morton’s Neuroma that I’m currently suffering; both from over-training combined with using the wrong shoes for an ultra long run day.

So while I am obviously going to do a “giving advice that I don’t use myself” here, I would like to just reiterate that every bill does come due so if you spend foolish during a run and order the caviar and champagne then don’t be shocked if the next day you can only waddle around like a dad penguin trying to carry an egg on his feet.  If you happen to forget your long distance shoes, go back and get them.  The hour it might take to go home, change and come back isn’t worth the 3 weeks off you might have to suffer from running a marathon distance in 5K race shoes.

If you can’t hear all the parts of your body then maybe you need to stop and listen harder to the kids at the back of the room and ignore that loudmouth at the front.

Or… if you have your first 50K and 50M races coming up, maybe you do what you have to do, you put gag orders on the pain points and you can recover afterwards.

Ultimately the choice is yours.

Je suis prête

On the heals of our first ultra we ran our last long race/runs this weekend, a combo 5K/15K street race followed by nearly 19k on our usual trail loops on Turkey mountain to complete the distance. As mentioned in recent posts Trex has been bouting with injury and this was our last chance at a solid long run before we start the taper.  In total we logged 24+ miles, just shy of our goal, but a strong comeback in my opinion, in spite of the significant amount of pain we both experienced during and now after the runs.

Speaking of heels, it seems that mine took a bit of a beating during our 5/15K combo which was made worse on the trail, and now I have a nasty swollen red lump at the back of my heel that hurts quite a bit when I walk. So I am elevating it and icing it in hopes that there is no real injury, because being injured this close to our race would “sucks major donkey balls,” to quote my RH.

having a plan B–an alternative exercise routine to stick to during downtime, is extremely crucial for your mental game.

I took time off running and have been cross training with Trex since I frankly didn’t want to suffer injury as a result of over training, and had had a few early signs of things growing a bit unhappy with me right about the same time his foot started giving him fits. So in a show of solidarity and to grow my cross training muscles I joined him in his downtime in efforts to minimize the impacts of our grueling running schedule on my own body. Frankly I feel it did us some good to take some time to do more alternative exercises. I think we both needed to find some greater balance in our approach to running and sometimes being forced to is how it has to happen.

In an effort to maintain my cardio and core strength I have reacquainted myself with the love of the water, and have been swimming in addition to doing stationary bikes and weight exercises along side Trex. We also tried aqua jogging which I find to be quite awkward, although a good cardio workout, when done without the jogger belt. It will take more time to get used to this exercise and in the end it is rather boring which makes it more of a challenge to maintain focus while doing, that and frankly I feel ridiculous doing it!

But the key take away from this experience, for me, has been that having a b plan–an alternative exercise routine to stick to during downtime, is extremely crucial for your mental game. I for one found it very beneficial to be productive physically, even if it wasn’t gaining me ground in my running, because it has been a chance to practice fighting off those pesky mental demons that like to taunt and try to scare me into thinking I’m not ready.

I fully understand the impact to my bodily training by not running. It is extremely difficult to face a race feeling that you may be under prepared physically, but it is crucial to remember your training, and be prepared to face down those mental demons that try to tell you that: a few weeks of not running has undone nearly 2 years of base training. A BOLD FACED LIE!  I am using this time to hone my positive self talk skills, practice how to be supportive to my partner–who is facing those demons daily, and just as importantly to slay my own demons.  And after yesterday’s battle on the streets and trails I know that my plan B has been working. Je suis prête. 

Looking to the horizon

While we’re signed up for our first 50K, the Dead Horse Ultra and our first 50Mile, Rocky 50 we, you know, haven’t actually done those but still I’m looking forward at the future.

The next run for us would be a 100K.  There aren’t as many 100K’s out there as I might like due to our particular qualifications such as monster vertical is a problem since we can’t train for it easily or well.

Although to be fair I’ve found reclined indoor bikes to at least seem to be pretty good at strength training the old quads for vertical.  That’s based on the soreness after doing an hour of bike at the 50% to 75% maximum resistance settings followed by an hour of elliptical in the same resistance.

a lot of my height is waist up, not waist down.

SO… maybe that’s our vertical option?  We did 2000′ of Carls over the weekend which works out to right around 10k but it’s such technical terrain that it took almost 3 hours to do.   Interestingly one side of the hill is easier going up but some scary stuff coming back down.  We were out and backing it instead of looping it to get the the most elevation in the shortest time frame.

My feet are still a concern unfortunately.  After Saturday’s power hiking we did the Snake route on Turkey Mountain, the 5k loop version, not the 3.5mile version (basically cut out that short narrow loop out near the end).   Including a loop down to the restroom at the main site we did 22KM with an average of 13 minute miles.  We were on pace to break into 12’s as we were consistently getting more negative with our splits.   It was an attempt at our current thoughts on our Ultra pacing which is a half K walk to start with to get things warmed up, then run 1K and walk .25k and every 6k extend the walk to half K.  Lather rinse repeat.

Bottom line is the hike went okay but the run every step was painful, not in the walking on ground glass pain but in the deep bruise that someone is thudding with a medium weight hammer way.

#injuriessuckballs

What it works out to for us once we get warmed up is a 6 minute run and a 90 to 120 second walk.  My walk pace is slow, a lot of my height is waist up, not waist down and I am not built like a Kenyan but more like a line backer.

*ramble alert*

So back on topic, for the future I’m looking at 100K’s.   Of interest is the Zion 100K as the terrain looks gorgeous and the vertical isn’t too bad at under 4k although a big chunk of it is front loaded in a short section that if we don’t do it smart will burn us for the rest of the run.

I also found Antelope Canyon which doesn’t have a 100K but it’s an even more spectacular terrain and scenery.   So it’s either a 50 mile or a 100 mile at that one, anything less isn’t worth the expense of getting there to me.

Things like that make it very hard to try and determine where I can go.  It’s a time issue, a training issue, a money issue.

Rehab and PT

I’m still dealing with the fallout of the my injuries unfortunately.  It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve really run any distance.  This is more than mildy depressing due to the our upcoming 50K and 50M races we’ve already planned out, paid for and been training for.

I went to my GP who bascially said, “Beats me what’s wrong.” and prescribed Naprosyn aka Naproxim aka Alleve as an anti-inflammatory.  He did get me a referring to a sports injury specialist who was also “Beats me what’s wrong”.   I have so little faith in our medical industry and based on personal experience justifiably so.   WebMD has proven to be as valid if not more so in my findings.  I won’t go into my medical history but trust me, my opinion is justified based on my interactions with the doctors I’ve had over the last 20 years.   Anyway bottom line is X-Rays didn’t show any stress fractures of the bones which barring a more detailed analysis using MRI or something called a bone scan (might be the same thing) indicates the problem is stressed and inflamed nerves and tendons/ligaments and irritated end caps on the bones.  This translates to metatarsalgia and Morton’s Neuroma.  The cure?  Stop doing whatever it was that caused it.

But my ability to go long is taking the hit I’m sure.

In the last 2 weeks I’ve been doing various low impact sports, indoor bike, two types of elliptical both with inclines, water jogging and various weight machines for upper and lower body strength training.  One thing I’m finding is training for an ultra gives you the ability to ignore the passage of time to some degree.  You can do something incredibly boring like pedaling a ‘bike’ indoors for an hour without much mental effort.

One of the oddities is I’m having a very hard time cranking my HR up due to lack of musculature development for these particular exercises.  My muscles give out before my cardio system starts to get taxed.  An hour of bike at level 12?  100 BPM but quads are tore up.   Followed by an hour of inclined elliptical at level 15?  105 BPM with quads, hams, calves hurting.  Not remotely close to breathing hard.   An hour+ of aqua jogging?  98bpm but calves cramping up.

It’s getting better in terms of I’m seeing fairly rapid capacity in my ability to bike and elliptical for longer times, it’s just different muscles than I use for running or rather they’re used in different ways, just enough to be pretty interesting from a science/technical perspective.

I feel I am improving my ability to go vertical, my quads especially are feeling the heat with that background burn that indicates you’re tearing down and building muscle fibers.   But my ability to go long is taking the hit I’m sure.

Another interesting factoid is how quickly my resting heart rate started climbing up.  It’s 3 beats higher now than it was pre-injury.   How quickly we start to lose our capacity is just interesting to me in a morbid kind of way.

This weekend I’m going to do some Carls, at least 2 or 3 hours if I can.  On Sunday I’m going to run some easy trails and try out my new shoes, Sketchers GoRun MaxTrail 5.  Sketchers?!  WTF?!  Well a fair number of runners say these are sleeper shoes and are far better than one might think considering the brand.   Sketchers apparently has upped their game in the last couple of years and their shoes are getting pretty good.  Allegedly.

As I’m desperate to find shoes that I like with the demise of my Lone Peak 3.5’s I’m willing to take a chance on them.  And if they don’t work out then back they go.

I tried the Hoka Bondi 5’s given their ridoculous stack height which I hoped would equate to more protection for the damaged feet and frankly there wasn’t anything about them that I liked.  Nothing I disliked but nothing I liked.  And they left pain points on my arches toward the heel side just walking around on them.  They weren’t very ‘cushy’ feeling either given their stack height.  Almost like a brick in comparison to the Hoka’s I tried on back in early 2016.

I have a pair of Hoka Napali’s waiting for a shot as well as so many people seem to think they’re a throwback to the Clifton 3’s.  Frankly just standing in them I don’t feel it but I’ll withhold judgement till I can get them out on the street.

With less than a month till our first 50K I’m not really feeling that great about it.   🙁

Bad timing

So…. I haven’t run since this last weekend.  That really long weekend three weeks ago tomorrow where I ran a 5K, 10K races followed by a 20K followed by a 15K (ish), a total of 28 miles I think for the day and did it in my race shoes (Escalante V1) kind of messed up my feet.  To the point where each foot strike is like landing on a bottle cap, with bare feet, with the jagged open side face up.  I ‘should’ have taken some time off but I decided to push through it and ran another 40 or 50k the following weekend.

sucks major donkey balls

So what ended up happening is to try to take some of the pressure off my forefoot I would claw my toes to take some of the impact.  This had the obvious in hindsight problem of stressing the tendons and muscles that control the toes.   Then to soften some of that I would shift to landing on my midfoot and side foot which stressed my arches.

To say it’s a giant flustercuck is a mild understatement.

Now I’m in the position of having to take time off.  In the last three weeks that we should be hitting our peak for our first 50K.   Obviously this is going to impact my abilities.  Hopefully not too badly.  Worst case I walk my first 50k.

I have the resources to medicate the pain to a dull roar, enough to let me run it.  But then that risks longer term damage and we have our first 50 mile in Feb.

Bottom line and I know you’re heard this before but until you go through it it doesn’t really ‘mean’ anything, regardless of the impetus to keep up with the training, the drive to not break your schedule, it will usually be in your best interests to take a short time off and recoup than push through serious pain and be forced to take a longer time off.

The trick is knowing which is which and when is when.

I’ve been running (moving faster than a walk) for the last 2.25 years.  Per SmashRun my average runs per week during this time is 4.2 days with an average of 4.5 miles.   Just shy of 2500 miles in 28 months.  With a total of about 8 missed run days, 6 of those during a 2 week injury from major ITBS problems.

That I’ve missed 3 runs over the last 2 weeks and will miss another 4 runs at least before I feel it’ll be safe to try again sucks major donkey balls.

My RW’s are helping, we’re doing strength training now and stationary biking this last week.  It’s all pretty much strength training for me, I’m having major issues getting my HR up above zone 1 before the difference in how you pedal a bike versus run a mile causes too much strain.   It was funny I set a cardio program on the bike with a target of 140 BPM.   My HR was around 80 5 minutes in and it really started cranking the resistance up as a result to the point where I was literally standing on the pedals to try an get them to go down and around.   I had to kill the program and do a manual one with a resistance of around level 4-5 out of 10 to find a setting I could sustain for half an hour.  Even there I hit a whopping 120 bpms before I hit that point where it felt like I was doing more harm than good to my quads.

If you taken nothing else away from this post, then just take the fact that sometimes a little break as much as it sucks, sucks far less than a long break.   So take the little break.

Injury – Run Through or Take Off?

As mileage goes up as we’re working through the plan the wear and tear is becoming a thing. Our last two weekends were short by a few miles off the plan. There was still 50 miles last week but it should have been 55 for example.

Weekend before last was an especially hard day and having the wrong shoes by mistake didn’t help and I ended up with extremely sore feet, as in a sensation like getting stabbed with a dull knife every time my foot landed.

One of the odd things I’ve had going on with me for quite some time is off and on I’ll get a sensation that at first feels like the sock or insole of my right foot has folded up causing a crease under my forefoot. The first time I had this was probably 18 months ago and I blamed it on a new pair of socks I was trying out (Darn Tough Socks). As it turns out there is nothing wrong with Darn Tough Socks it was my foot.

Anyway… I made the decision to cut last Sunday’s run a bit short, 26K instead of the 35K we had on the plan. And I took yesterday off which was a split 20K of 10K in the morning and another 10K in the evening.

So… this is the one exception I can allow to my mantra, “If it’s a run day you run.”. Injury that might lead to being forced to take an extended time off and you cannot ‘run through’ is the one thing. Case in point, this weekend was a 32 mile weekend even with the short day and I ran it with a cold/flu. It’s physical injury that can make me take pause and reflect.

In your own running you will always have to be the judge of if you need time off or not. From personal experience and the reason for my “run day you run” philosophy is that taking a day off is a very slippery slope and for most people very easily leads to another day off, then another and before long you’re finding other reasons to not run, some possibly valid, some not so much.

Everyone though has to ask that question, why am I doing this? Is it to lose weight? To get healthier and potentially live longer? To push yourself past where you thought you could? To find your own physical and mental limits?

The reasons matter and will drive the impetus to get out there each training day. But regardless of the why you’re running and totally regardless of how far you run, in the event of injury be as impartial and reflective as you can be before you decide on running through an injury and just as importantly before you decide to skip a day. You do not want to cause permanent injury either to yourself physically or to yourself mentally. The decision to take a break or just move on to something else shouldn’t be forced upon you because you broke something or because it was just the easy way out.

Tearing down the Wall

I have written a bit before about what it’s like to face my personal walls while running, but I encountered an interesting experience during our back-to-back 30K/15K and I feel it is worth a few lines to describe it as it seemed rather significant and useful for future use.  At least to me, myself, and I anyway.

As T-Rex mentioned in his report, I have had a bit of knee pains the past week or so. I don’t think it is my shoes as I am alternating between 4 pairs of shoes and don’t quite have enough miles on them to be the cause. As such that pretty much leaves strain due to weakness & overuse, sooo I am going to have to up my PT game a bit. I have done band exercises (mostly) on the two days a week, that are our only non-run days, but I guess I will have to do them more fervently and frequently.  I would rather not have to do all this work only to bench myself as a result of injury.

Anyways I have had a bit of extra pain while running. Who doesn’t really? So after we started our second long run for the day my knees complained loudly. My right knee especially using rather colorful profanity from the beginning threatening to force me to turn around. The right had griped a lot after our earlier 30k, so during the day I iced it and applied liberal amounts of Biofreeze gel. I don’t know that any of this helped but it made me think I was doing good anyhow.  So not one to listen to “a bunch of b*tchy little [knees],”  I willed them into submission by running long enough for everything to warm up and loosen up. Thankfully this only took about 15 minutes. Bunny 1, knees 0.

So as the pain subsided I found the 7-min/2-min run/walk cadence helped me get into a decent zone faster for the first half of the run. I agree with T-Rex, our runs have improved with the return of the run/walk repeats.  But one problem I have with this pattern is that towards the end of our longest runs I hit a point when the stop/restart of running and walking becomes extremely painful and it feels better to just simply trot than to change gears. So painful in fact that at the restart of the last run of the night, after an extra-long walking bit, both T-Rex and I, in unison, belted out four letter expletives at our discomfort. The pain was real my friends.

It was during the last 3-4 miles or so of our run/walk that I felt my wall beginning to form. Brick by brick. And not the Yellows kind either.  Perhaps it was the hypnotic atmosphere created by the dark, mingled with the strong light of the high full moon, (or the delirium brought on by the pain and late hour), but somehow I was able to consciously observe the construction process in an almost disembodied state which gave me the opportunity to deconstruct the wall before it could form a solid obstacle.  This disconnected deconstruction process struck me as rather remarkable, and as it repeated itself over the last half run cycles, it allowed me the opportunity to meditatively experiment with my thoughts over my state of being. It went something like this….

Muscles: “Everything hurts, we are sooo done with this sh*t.”
Brain: “I concur, this sucks. F@#k it I’m out.”
Conscience Observer: “Wait a minute, we’ve totally been through this before guys, remember? Let me remind you that we have twice this distance to cover in a few months so cut this moaning crap out and let’s finish strong!” (Rocky theme begins to play)
Muscles & Brain: “But it hurts! And it’s hot. And we are tired. And this sucks. And it HURTS!”
Conscience Observer:  “Ya ya heard it all before, shut the hell up, we are just fine and we are damn sure not quitting. Here think of this…. We are half way from finishing our first 50k and the end is nowhere in sight, we are in the middle of the high desert with no aid nearby and, did I mention, we sure as hell aren’t quitting now? So what would we do then?” (Duh duh duuuun)
Muscles  & Brain: “Sh*t.”
Conscience Observer: “That’s what I thought. Now shut it, we’ve got a long way to go.” (Whip crack sound effect)

I know what you’re thinking… but as Sheldon would say “I’m not crazy, my mother had me tested.”

The not-crazy-like-at-all thought cycle continued to roll through my brain, and each time I would conjure up the idea that “we” simply were in the middle of a much longer run and, in fact, had no choice but to carry on. I basically tricked myself into thinking the end wasn’t near and it worked!   Well that is until the next time my muscles and brain tried to unionize and strike, forcing me to remind them of their ‘At Will’ contracts as I cracked my proverbial whip. (cue Devo song).  In those moments I somehow, not through the use of hallucinogens, stepped outside of myself and talked some sense into my brain and body. It was a rather surreal experience. But I am curious to know if other runners have a similar trialogue with themselves, or if perhaps insanity is creeping in with stress and age. Probably the latter. Hoping it’s the former, for Trex’s sake.

While I can’t say that I didn’t struggle with the wall, I can say I learned how to not allow it to form solidly, gaining me the clarity and abatement of the pain needed to reset mid-run. It also gave me hope that I have what it takes mentally to finish Ultra distances.  Or I am mental. Either way as long as I can keep my machine from giving out on me I intend to give it a try.

Being Injured Hurts

After our marathon I’ve been forced to take it easy and by easy I mean pretty much do nothing.  I keep trying to run and I keep having to bow out within a couple of miles.

Being injured hurts and not in the obvious way.   It feels like I can feel all the effort I’ve put into getting this far slipping out while I’m benched.  I know I can make it up and I know I’m not losing as much as it feels I am but still… being injured hurts.

I’ve run once this week since Sunday’s atrocity of a run.  I’ve got a 3 Hour run this Sunday, a lap trail race with the laps at 3.75 (ish) miles.   I’m hoping to get 4 laps in, will settle for 3.  If my quads will hold up and let me do my slow dinosaur thing.

I would much rather have to stop running because I’m out of energy or wind or whatever.  I hate having to stop running due to injury.

My dear running wife got me a t-shirt that is pretty awesome.  It says “I ran 26.2 miles because I’m a Badassasaurus” which is pretty cool.  I have something coming for her, technically us so we can be twinsies, that she’ll hopefully like as much.

I got my V3 Paradigm’s in yesterday.  They’re definitely not as ‘duck foot’ as the V2’s I have but they’re longer, almost too long, the next size down might be better.  I just can’t win on shoes since I can’t try them on in person since no one carries my big foot sizes.

Honestly how hard is it for a shoe company to make a shoe and sell it as a specific size?  It’s not like a size 13 varies in length depending on the month. It’s a very fixed, down to the millimeter, length.  And yet, literally, Altra shoes models in a size 13 vary by as much as half an inch in length between the models.

The Escalante is the only shoe of theirs I’ve owned that a size 13 is ‘true sizing’ for me.

But such is life in the shoe lane when you’re a #notarunner.

021118 Rest & Retirement

Unfortunately I have learned the hard way I probably should have rested my foot a bit more after our 20 mile run, and that is time to retire my Clifton 4’s. How exactly do you know it is time to retire a pair of shoes?

“had I opted for the new shoes I might have been saved from running like Quasimodo”

Well for starters, we track our gear mileage (mostly) in Garmin Connect. According to my logged data they have less than 300 miles on them (286 to be exact), but after a resurgence of knee (ITB) and foot pains I think their time has come.   But with long distance running (at least for me) it  can be difficult to identify the causes of the many aches and pains that come with the territory. As example, I’ve had a flare up of Extensor tendonitis for over a week following our 20 mile.  Attributing this most likely to overly tight laces on the Escalantes, I decided to go back to my Cliftons for the next long run, instead of risking further injury, if there was an issue with the fit of the Escalantes besides the lacing. I also opted to stick to our training run instead of resting my foot. This proved to be the wrong choice(s). After about 30 minutes into the run my Extensor tendons were very very angry (probably not really the Hoka’s fault), and by about halfway into the run my ITB issues flared up, which I was probably caused by bad form due to the various pains, as well as the old shoes.  While it was only a 10 mile run, it proved to be more than I should have done and I probably at the very least should have worn my new Clifton’s which I purchased at the same time as a back-up in case I didn’t like the Escalantes. (Yes, I have back-up pairs of shoes just like Trex, it’s not a girl thing, it’s a runner thing.) But had I opted for the new shoes I might have been saved from running like Quasimodo that last mile or so, as well as the extra time with ice on my foot and knee.

That brings me to the topic of post long run selfcare. My post long run recovery routine might be a bit time consuming, but it is extremely crucial to helping me get back on my feet (literally). I known some runners who don’t do much beyond a little icing and some anti-inflammatories, but for me personally I take a more holistic, whole body approach to help revitalize my sore and worn down body after a hard long run.   I am sure some of this is phycological as much as it is physically beneficial, but I am a big believer in mind over matter so I stick with what I ‘think’ works and that’s that.

My typical post run routine:

  • Chocolate Milk – Great for lifting the spirits and providing much needed nourishment as your body begins its repairs.
  • Banana or Other source of Potassium – Helps keep the cramping at bay
  • Caffeine – It like a nice latte or Yerba Mate to give me a little bit of recovery pep
  • Hot Epsom Salt & Cold Baths  –  To warm up or cool off and to speed up recovery I alternate hot, cold, hot Epsom salt & essential oils baths because it is an easy way of applying alternating heat and cold to all your muscles and joints in need, and is most often recommended for reducing inflammation and promoting repair and to help alleviate stiffness and soreness.  I have found when I skip my baths that my aches and pains last much longer. I often take a lacrosse ball and gently roll my legs and feet while I soak in the hot/warm water.
  • Arnica Gel (Arniflora) – I rub this gently into sensitive injury prone spots instead of other topical rubs for muscle pain and inflammation. I find it is much more effective and I add a little bit of peppermint oil for the nice cooling sensation.
  • Coconut Water or other Electrolyte drink through the day
  • Gentle Yoga  –  I do a couple of hip and torso poses in order help open up my breathing and to allow better circulation. I am careful to avoid doing any poses that pull the overworked tissues which would cause further tearing.
  • Keep moving – I find house hold chores like folding laundry and doing dishes keep me moving and from stiffening and turning into Rodin’s Thinker like we saw in Paris many years ago.
  • Relax & Enjoy – The above regiment really helps me relax and to enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from having completed hard run no matter how well I did or didn’t do.

A note about Cold baths – I fill my tub with only cold water just past my hips immediately following my first hot salt bath. I sit with my entire lower body immersed for 10 minutes more or less depending on my soreness levels.    Pro Tip – Find a distraction like watching funny clips on YouTube to help you ignore the shivering pains of the cold. (I suggest not holding the phone/tablet however as the shivers may cause you to drop it in the water.)

So in summary, pay close attention to indicators that shoes are due for retirement based on mileage and visual inspection of the shoe soles, and always attend to the body post long runs as you only get the one (at least according to some); and it sucks to get sidelined due to injury, especially when running is what you do to maintain weight and stress relief. For me personally without running these days I will probably go a little crazy and eat my weight in cake or banana pudding (I really like cake and pudding.)

An Introduction

An Introduction

On the heels of my (our) first 20 mile paved trail run I decided it was a good time to make an introduction, as a soon to be occasional contributor to this blog. Having accompanied Trex (my Running Husband, not to be confused with my Dear Husband) on a good number of the runs documented on this blog I suppose it is only fitting that you hear the other side of the story, or at least another perspective.

First and foremost I am a #runner. I am very much an athlete, having run, swam, and even played Roller Derby; but I find I have returned most often to running, probably for the practicality of it. This past year I have once again fallen in love with running as an outlet and inlet for my mind and body.  Yes yes I am one of those people.

I, unlike Trex, actually enjoy running (while running). Yes, physically it is very hard, and my brain and body offer up the normal responses to tell me ‘This sucks! You really really should just give up right now’; but I find enjoyment in the physical mental process to conquer my own version(s) of the Blerch or LAD – whom I haven’t yet named, so stay tuned.

I struggle, like every other human on the planet, with motivation and discipline issues, and what I have found, repeatedly now, is that finding a running partner (like Trex) has been exceptionally beneficial to overcoming my personal tendency to stray from the (running) path.  While I do occasionally enjoy solo running and the benefits of this, over the course of my life I have always had companions to run with and just feel it is way more fun if it is a shared experience. Yes I did in fact call running fun, a fundamental difference between myself and the Trex–we generally don’t much agree on much, and certainly don’t agree on the definition of what we find to be fun. But nonetheless I appreciate the company so I don’t complain–much.

Now about our first 20 mile run….

I am not going to lie, it was hard. I mean really effing hard. The kind of hard that, for me personally, I would rank up there with child birth in terms of the mental fortitude required to keep moving once my body had hit it’s physical limits. And to toot my own horn, I have had two children at home without the assistance of drugs to numb the pain, so I have earned the right to make that comparison.

Since the 20-mile run is an achievement milestone on the journey to a marathon, as it is for most runners on that path, I fully expected it to be it’s own challenge. Being the longest distance we will run before the Full, it was a good test to see how we would hold up at our planned marathon pace. In short I feel we passed the test, but not easily, and not without sweat and (for me) tears (at the end, when Trex wasn’t there to see).

Since Trex handled the technicalities, having already crunched the numbers and tallied our distances and times and projected how we can make our planned times at LR, that leaves the feels to me….  As I already said this was effing hard, but it was also a lot of fun….right up until that last couple of miles, and even then I enjoyed being done.  We managed to keep our spirits high and the energy positive, and I am super proud of this run and what we accomplished.

The +‘s:

  • The weather held, not too unbearably cold.
  • Mentally I think I (we) was (were) in a good place for this run having completed the 30K the weekend before.
  • I feel I (we) gained extremely valuable insight into pushing through walls.
  • We stuck to the workout schedule we built with some flexibility and managed to maintain a good run/walk pace.
  • Good Carb/caffeine fuel intake during run keep energy and mental strengths in the green.
  • Escalante’s first long run performed well, no dead toenails or blisters. Super comfy on my feet.
  • Overcame the physical wall between mile 18-20 to finish on pace target.

The ‘s:

  • Too much food at rest stop.
  • Not sure if Escalantes will be cushion enough for my joints through 26.2 miles. Leaves me to debate on what to wear.
  • Encountered pre-cramping at mile 18-20. Made it difficult to stay positive.
  • Physically felt spent at mile 19-20, did NOT feel I could have run even one more tenth of a mile past 20. This has left room for doubt about how the hell I will manage to run 6 more miles.

Lessons learned: (The hard way)

  • Check your watches the day before to make sure you remembered to sync your workouts
  • Don’t overeat or drink too much at the break stops… molasses cookies, and fig newtons are a weakness.
  • Charge/check HR belts
  • Don’t linger too long at stops.. It causes muscles to lock up and you eat too much.
  • Don’t over tighten laces and or use straight laces. After the fact I have Extensor Tendinitis in my right foot thanks to my pulling the laces too tight when my shoe came untied. This injury is still bothering me 5 days later and probably needs another day or so to be completely healed.

All in all, as I said, I feel like we achieved this milestone with flying colors, but there is a niggling feeling of doubt planted in my brain that I am going to have to wiggle loose and dislodge in order to be mentally ready for 6.2 more miles.  But I am fully prepared to give it my all and try like hell to finish the next milestone on this journey for the sheer fact that I am stubborn and strong willed and hate to lose (even to myself).  Type A all the way