Slowly but surely

I have updates-good updates!

1. The knee is progressing well. My chiro has confirmed that the inflammation has gone down and that we can now lengthen the time between visits to once every week and a half to every other week.

I still need the pro-flex IT band strap and if I’m attempting anything other than a couple of miles, I need to KT tape it, but hey, I’ll take it.

KT tape

2. I have been doing speedwork weekly-mostly hill repeats. This week I was able to get in an extra session and do some fartleks. It was a couple of miles but again, hey, I’ll take it.

3. The movie is going along a little slower than I would like but that’s because I want everything done now. We have been able to do a couple of more interviews and have started cutting the footage to try and put a little teaser together. I’m hoping to have it online in a couple of weeks!

4. I was able to get in a five mile run today with NO ISSUES. NONE. Granted, my knee looked like ^ but I’m happy. This injury seems to be resolving itself much quicker than the plantar fasciitis did. Or maybe my perspective has changed and I’m more accepting of taking it one day at a time and not pushing anything but either way, it’s nice to see.

We ran at Cedar Ridge and it was so gorgeous. The polar vortex or whatever we had last week had dissipated and it was sunny and warm. Couldn’t have asked for a better ‘long run’-one that put my weekly mileage at 17 for the week.

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Happy running, guys. :)

So what’s next?

Now that my dreams for my first 50K have been put on the backburner for awhile, you might be wondering what’s next for me.

Well first, there were the temper tantrums.

Then I died my hair purple because feelings. Or something.

I like it! It's fun!

I like it! It’s fun!

But you know…wallowing gets old pretty quickly and I hate being in a negative funk so I did the only thing I know how to do to get me moving forward and focused on the positive-I made a plan.

Where I’m at now:

My chiropractor and I have figured out that the IT Band/meniscus stuff was a symptom of a greater issue that I’ve having with my kneecap. My kneecap goes sideways, not up and down like it should-this creates a lot of inflammation and obviously puts stress on the connective tissue on the side of my knee.

And now that we’ve discovered that (and when I say ‘discovered’ I mean he did a procedure that had me coming off the table and yelling so loudly the receptionist heard me), I remembered all the issues I had with my knee playing basketball in middle school. I eventually stopped playing because of the discomfort/swelling/inflammation but once I stopped playing, the symptoms decreased. They’ve never gone away but I’m so used to them, I don’t think about them anymore. I think it says something about how much less impact there is in trail running that it’s taken a year and a half probably 1000 miles (maybe?) for this to become enough of an issue to slow me down.

And right now I’m just in the cluster stage of healing where everything feels wonky and twingy as I’m strengthening muscles I haven’t really used before (or correctly, I guess) and other muscles are compensating as I use this brace to redirect how my quad muscles support my knee.

The plan:

I’m calling it THE YEAR OF THE STRONG GIRL.

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I know. Sort of cheesy.

But here’s the thing-I was starting to think that something was wrong with me, that I was weaker than other people and that’s why I could never get up to the distance I wanted to. Now it seems I have some biomechanic issues that are preventing me from getting as far as I’d like (the plantar fasciitis was on the same leg). So this is about getting a really firm foundation under me.

What does that mean?

No goal races in 2015- this was a hard decision. I just need to focus on other things now and take that off the table for now. And if I get healthier and get to a distance that might mean I can run a 50K sooner than I think, that’s great but it’s not the focus.

Strength training- Obviously. Not just my normal strength training regime. Consistent PT exercises. Changing up my yoga routine to include more specific exercises for the affected areas.

Better self care- The chiro will probably be a weekly visit for the time being. But I also need to be better about regular massages, hot baths, foam rolling and quality rest days (which means no more back-to-backs for the time being).

Finding a running group- My focus has been so much about doing longer and longer distances and while the training has been really valuable, it’s also been lonely sometimes. I want to run with people.

Speed work- once I get healthier. Let’s see if I can get stronger and faster.

Keep exploring- just because I can’t go as far as I’d like (at least for now) doesn’t mean I won’t be getting on to new trails. It may be shorter excursions and more walking but what really lights me up is the adventure of a new place. I need to remember that.

Thoughts? Experiences with this?

 

 

The Midpack: a movie

Yep, we are making a movie.

But first things first. Unfortunately, despite foam rolling/resting/stretching and high hopes from my chiropractor, I won’t be starting the Rockledge Rumble 50K this coming weekend. I tried a 5 mile run on Saturday and didn’t even make it half way before the knee was hurting so bad that I had to stop and limp back to my car. I can’t imagine putting 10 times that distance on my knee in a week. It sucks. It really, really sucks and I’m sort of a mess about it.

However, I will be sharing more of that in another post but for now, I want to focus on something else.

Jason and I have started making a movie. Yeah. Here’s what happened. I love watching trail running/racing videos. I am so inspired by the imagery, the runners, the stories. Yet often those videos area focused on elite/top runners in the ultra running scene and let’s be honest, they are basically unicorns to me. I can’t really relate to their running or their experiences.

But every time I run a race, I find myself just as inspired by the runners I end up spending time with in the midpack. Regular, everyday people with kids and jobs who are training and facing big challenges with just as much grit and courage as an elite runner in my opinion.

There aren’t a lot of videos made about them-these workaday runners and I think there should be. So that’s what Jason and I are making-a movie about the midpack runner-and let me tell you, I am already so excited by this project.

I put a call out for runners willing to talk on camera about their running experiences on a trail and ultra running facebook group I’m part of. Several of the runners that offered their time were in the Boulder area so we were able to meet with them last weekend when we were there.

I am so, so, SO glad we did!

Meet Hillary:

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And Laurie:

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And Jenny:

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Three amazing runners from different backgrounds, different racing experiences and different viewpoints but all with a passion for trail and ultra running.

They weren’t necessarily amazing because of what they’d accomplished (though they’d accomplished quite a bit. I mean Laurie alone is a TEN TIME LEADVILLE 100 FINISHER HELLO). They were amazing because these women who didn’t know each other and had varied life and running stories, all were so compassionate and nature loving and open and full of determination and spirit.

I absolutely loved talking with them and I can’t wait to share their stories as well as the stories of other runners we plan to meet. I hope to have a short teaser video of our time with them soon.

We will be interviewing runners in our area and plan to do a little traveling as well when we can. This is a big project for us and I expect it to be between 6 months and year before we get a finished product. But I plan on keeping you guys updated as things progress.

So I’ve got a bright light in the midst of a pretty crappy time. More soon-

Recalculating

Anyone remember me mentioning a Colorado vacation in early September and then never seeing a follow up to that? Well that’s because it didn’t happen. The day before our trip, one of our dogs who’s had on and off stomach issues had the dial turned up to 11 (seriously, throwing up water) and we had to cancel to address his medical needs.

It kind of sucked but such is life and as it seems to do much of the time, it worked out for the better as the weekend we were supposed to go was rainy and cold.

This past weekend, Boulder was anything but that.

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I did’t know how much I needed it until we arrived in Boulder but this trip was an opportunity to get away from the routine, from trails I’ve practically worn grooves in, and the change of scenery was a huge catalyst in changing my perspective.

I had built up this race in my head as the be all end all of the world. Trekking around the hills in Boulder reminded me that this one race is not most important thing in my life. It is very important, but if I am not able to complete the race, there will be another one. And the miles I’ve run will not have been for nothing, they will have helped me get up to the next level and better prepare for whatever race is next.

This is what’s important:

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Not that we did much running. For one, I wanted to give my knee ample rest and two, the fact that every time we exerted ourselves, we found ourselves bent over and gasping from the 5000 extra feet above sea level that we were now in.

'The secret life of Walter Mitty'-great movie

‘The secret life of Walter Mitty’-great movie

But getting out into nature and wheezing hiking our way up a mountain trail had me grinning for most of the trip. I reset and recalibrated, got back to center.

Then I tried a very short (2 mile) run on sunday when we got back to Dallas and while the knee is feeling a lot better, it’s still very twing-y and I can’t see it holding up to 31.5 miles in it’s current condition. Fortunately, I’ve got an appointment with a chiropractor tomorrow and I remain hopeful that he can help me heal and strengthen enough to make it to the finish line.

If not, well, maybe I’ll just find a mountain to run away to.

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While we were there, Jason and I were able to get started on a project that we’ve been tossing around for awhile and have started to put into action. I’m still in the midst of getting settled at work but I hope to post more on that later this week. I’m pretty excited about it!

Hope ya’ll had a great weekend!

And then it got darker

It occurred to me when I started crying because walking the dogs felt so. freaking. overwhelming that maybe something more than a little training fatigue was going on. That was Saturday before last (the 11th). I had been feeling drained the entire week prior but thought maybe it was just a result of being in my peak weeks of training. I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to realize that this didn’t feel like normal exercise tiredness. This felt like that time in college that I was diagnosed with an iron deficiency.

I had taken the day off of training, partially due to how drained I felt and partially due to attending a friend’s wedding, so on the way back from the wedding, I picked up some iron pills with the hope that maybe it would help. And it did, a little bit. Enough that I was able to get in a decent long run the next day-not quite as long as I would have liked but certainly much longer (18 miles) than I would have been able to do even a day before.

So I had my iron pills and was feeling less depleted. I’d been able to get in a good quality long run, even if it wasn’t quite the mileage I wanted. And then I had one week and one more weekend of long runs and then that was it. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Ultramarathon training over and nothing left to do but compensate for the taper crazies by eating ice cream until start time on November 8th.

ice cream

 

Well.

That last weekend of long runs was this most recent weekend. And a few miles from the finish of my 20 miler, the outside of knee started really hurting. Not an aching pain that said maybe I was just fatigued and sore. Sharp, shooting pain. A pain that seemed connected to the outside of my hip. I couldn’t bend my knee. Not good.

I was obviously concerned but the pain stopped once I stopped running and as the day wore on and I didn’t feel discomfort, I felt like maybe it was just a bad run and I’d be okay with a good night’s sleep.

The next day I got up with the idea of getting in a few more miles to round out the weekend. Approximately 2 seconds into that attempt, I knew something was wrong. Really wrong. Each step felt worse, the pain in my knee was stabbing. I didn’t make it a half mile before I had to turn around and limp back to my house.

well this sucks

I am writing this with some humor now but the truth is, I got back to my house and collapsed on my kitchen floor in tears and stayed there for a long time. Hard, ugly, choking tears. An injury on the last day of training…I couldn’t. I can’t.

One thing that running long distances has made apparent to me is what a huge well of self doubt I have within me. I’ve done a lot of work on that particular aspect of myself over the years but it’s there, this huge well of negativity, just below the surface. These last couple of weeks when I was feeling depleted and drained and then injured have shoved that doubt to the surface. What a loser I am. I’ll never complete anything I start. The universe doesn’t want me to accomplish anything. I can’t do anything right. I shouldn’t even try.

Yeah it’s been an ugly couple of days with the fear and disappointment of this injury (I think it’s an IT band situation but I have an appointment with my sports doc to find out) and the swamp of that ugliness on top of it. The ultra is in three weeks and I don’t know if I’ll be healed enough, if I’ll be able to maintain well enough during the taper, if I’ll be able to start the race or if I do start, be able to finish it. I’m looking at 3 weeks of uncertainty ahead of me while also looking behind me at hundreds and hundreds of miles of training that may be for nothing.

I’m scared and I’m pissed.

But I’m also hopeful. After a couple of days of diligent icing, foam rolling, resting and stretching, that area is feeling better and with that, my mindset is brighter. I may have a loud voice of self doubt, but there’s another voice there that tells me to keep trying because I love it. To keep figuring things out. To just take it day by day and see how far I can get. That if this race isn’t in the cards, there will be another one.

And then a text from my husband really put things into perspective: “The race is just part of the battle, you’ve been in the fight since you decided to try this in the first place. The race is just the last part, you’ve been ‘running’ it for months. No one can take that away from you. Regardless of the outcome on race day, I am really proud of you for what you’ve done so far and believe whole heartedly that you will finish and this won’t be your last one.” (published with his permission)

I am a lucky girl. And the plan is still to show up on race day. Hopefully, this is a small set back and I’ll be ready to go. But I’ll just take it one step at a time.

It’s getting dark in here….

…despite evidence to the contrary:

oct 16 run

Last weekend was gorgeous. GORGEOUS. The sun shone, the sky was that deep fall blue and the highs were in the 70’s. It was the perfect weekend to get in some long runs.

And they sucked.

It was the voices in my head-they were screaming at me. I’m too slow. I’m not doing enough miles. I wish this were easier. I wish I was better. I should have started training earlier. I should have started doing back to back long runs sooner.

Those thoughts followed me for all 25 of the miles I ran this weekend. And yes, I know I’m doing the best I can and that I’ve come a long way and all the other nice things my friends will tell me. I know it rationally but don’t feel it emotionally, if that makes sense.

I still don’t. Those thoughts are still lingering and I debated on posting about this or not. I don’t want to be a debbie downer. But it’s part of the journey, I suppose, and to be honest, I don’t know when these bastards plan on leaving.

I’ll tell you this though. You know how all the quotes you read on pinterest about leaping and the net will appear and do what you love and follow your passion and blahblah? I absolutely believe those quotes-I could not do this level of training if I did not love trail running. But I realized this weekend how far you can get on fear too.

I took those crappy thoughts with me for every. damn. mile. It’s not nearly as much fun to run carrying fear as it is to carry joy with you but I did it and I think it’s an important lesson. Just because I’m scared I won’t be ready or good enough does not mean I can’t keep going forward.

So that’s what I’ll do.

The highs and the lows

Last saturday I had the best run I’ve ever had in my life. Until I didn’t.

It didn’t start out as anything special. Just another early saturday, another long run to get on the books. I was at my usual haunt-the Northshore Trails on the north side of Grapevine lake (which is also where the ultra will be held so it’s nice to be able to train for a race on the actual course).

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There I was plugging along when I found myself in this deep well of joy right about mile 6 or so. Anyone who reads here regularly knows how much I love being out in my woods. It sounds melodramatic to say but it’s absolutely true-the first time I ran on a trail, my life completely changed. I found home. So yeah, I love my woods.

But I had never experienced anything like this. The deep sense of well being, of joy, of gratitude. I felt light as air. I felt like I was flying. I felt so complete. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life, this feeling, and it stayed with me for the majority of the run.

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Until I was maybe 2 or so miles from my stopping point (the run was a 15 miler) when I hit the wall. I didn’t know it was the wall at the time-I’ve never hit the fabled wall that I hear about so often-all I knew is that all of a sudden my body was like

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I felt this overwhelming fatigue, like I wanted to just lay down on the side of the trail and not move for a long time and my legs felt like they completely locked up. Running was pretty much out of the question.

Fortunately I wasn’t far from my car and still had water and one more gel left so I was able to shuffle through the rest of the miles but it was so strange to experience the highest high I’ve had during a run and then get smacked with that so close to the end.

At first, I let it get to me. I completely forgot how wonderful I had felt a few miles earlier and started questioning if I could even make it across the finish line. I was in a funk the rest of the day, scenarios of epic bonks playing over and over in my head.

But after some food and a good night’s sleep, I was out on the trail the next day for the second in my back-to-back long runs and…I was fine. Totally, boringly, fine.

The experience reminded me yet again just how much this running/racing this is mental. How I can’t get too attached to anyone one feeling or experience but instead accept that I’m going to experience any number of things during the race. To not let the negative enter my brain and to be glad that this happened because it’s practice-in dealing with bad situations and getting out of them, in learning what works and what doesn’t.

Because I’m getting across that finish line.