Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer!

I had a great nine days in Italy, with very little running.  The running I did was spectacular, however, along the Naples Waterfront (the castle is also where our conference was held!!),
 and the Arno in Florence

 Then we got to retrace our steps from the Rome Marathon in 2013, with cocktails on the Piazza Navona, and
Dinner at La Campana, the site of some excellent carb loading that we blogged about back in 2013 -- this time with Vicki and Emma.  Happy Father's day to me!!

I even got to correct my ordering mistake and tried the black truffle linguini!!  Then to top off a perfect week, who should show up in New York, just in time to cure jet lag with a fantastic, hot, humid run through Central Park, but Philip!

Summer is off to an excellent start!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The bad and the ugly (not much good here): Part One

As promised, I am sharing some "highlights" from last week's 3D gait analysis at UVA. In case anyone has forgotten, I have been suffering from a variety of lower leg and foot issues for the past several years (more than two for sure). Before that, I was pregnant, and before that, I had my knee stuff (arthroscopic surgery in '08). I haven't been able to string together any consistent mileage (not without pain, anyway) in about nine years.

So I went looking for answers, or at least insights. I read about 3D gait analysis one night randomly (probably on someone else's blog) and when I found out that there was a facility less than three hours away, I had to look into it. And it turns out that my most recent PT knows the director of the lab and he was able to brief him on my case a bit in advance of my arrival.

Max, the 3D guy, also set me up with an appointment with UVA's head physical therapist, Eric Magrum, who is pretty well known as a runner-fixer. The only thing I couldn't make happen was an adjacent appointment with the medical director of the program, who literally wrote the book on running. But I still got a lot of info.

Here is the raw data I got. When you see that I was "running" at 5.3 mph, you will get a good sense of how much I've been struggling lately. I wrote a lot more here previously about the conclusions and recommendations I got, but then I forgot to save it. I'll let you all stew on this and then will report back in Part Two of this saga.
















Saturday, May 23, 2015

Body Type

It's a bit daunting when you roll into the 7am meetup on a holiday weekend, and only the speedsters have shown up . . . There were four of us. I was the shortest by about six inches and probably the heaviest . . . Yikes.  I knew what was coming.  The three of them were going for a leisurely jog, and I was in for a long tempo run . . . We did six miles at about an 8:20 pace.  The good news is that I kept up.  The bad news is that it was hard.  I'm aiming to bring my half marathon pace back down under 8:00/mile by Fall.  That still seems like a long way off . . .

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Lots of data

I took a day trip to the Univ of Virginia SPEED clinic today for a 3D gait analysis and other assessments for my never ending issues. It was super informative and awesome. I will post some of the data when I get a chance since you all are a good audience for it. 

Bottom line: I have learned to NOT use my quads, hips and glutes while running. The result is a biomechanical mess that has me doing more to stop myself than propel myself. This PT I also saw said I look like someone who has torn both ACLs and never had them repaired. (That definitely didn't happen to me, but he was making a point.)

I need to stretch and do some rudimentary things to get my body working normally again. At this point I am hopeful but realistic that I've tried so many things and nothing has worked. More to come. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Return of the Glute

Last week was a good training week.  I was encouraged by the race two weeks ago, recovered, and running felt really good.  Thursday, though, I did a hard brick workout with the BTC folks.  2 mile warm up.  Then "race pace" 1 mile run, 13.4 bike, 2 mile run.  I didn't keep any data, but I went hard and it was fun.  I got home, and my lower back was tight, as was my left glute.  By later in the day, the glute was spasming, ugh!!  I was a bit concerned that I had really done something to my back or hip.  Two days later, a bunch of ibuprophen and a lot of walking, it's calmed down, so I think I just yanked it, but I'm wondering what I did.  I think the issue is still the seat height on the tri-bike -- a bit too high -- and that is goofing up the ergonomics of my pedal stroke. Time to start experimenting . . .

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Why I haven't been posting

I have been more or less on the shelf since lumbering across the finish line at the New Orleans half marathon in a serious ugly 2:20 plus.  I finally went into the sports doc to see about the constant clicking and tracking problems with my patella and tibia.  He thought it was my left meniscus which has had a very minor tear for 2 1/2 years and sent me for a follow MRI.


 Image result for left knee

Good news, bad news on the MRI. The meniscus is unchanged from 2012 but I have very little cartilage remaining on the inside of my left knee.

So at the moment, I am in a knee brace and doing all kinds of weird but kind of cool exercise physiology.  But no impact running other for a 1-2 minutes at a time to see how thing are doing.  They want me to stay active with biking, swimming, pool running, walking on trade at 4-5% elevation.  No running other than 1-2 minutes at a time to check on form and discomfort.  Trying to be stoic about it but man do I hate running in a pool, god awful boring stuff.

Only good side is the exercise physiology is starting to correct a lot of little flaws in posture, gait and foot strike that have crept in over the years.  Goal is to stabilize knee, strengthen the surrounding muscles, take stress off the inside joint by improving balance between larger muscle group and gait.


No surgery on the horizon just a lot of tedium in the mean time.  Will keep you posted. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Marathon That Will Not be Spoken Of (after this)



The marathon distance must be respected.  This I know.   And do.   One trains.  One rests.   One fuels.   One starts out slowly.  One is conservative.   Only when things are going amazingly does one push things to the limit, usually in the last 10k of the distance.   And yet, and yet, STUFF happens.    Welcome to Milton Keynes, GB.

 
"MK" is a planned city.  So unlike anywhere else in the UK it has a grid system of streets.   (This becomes relevant later, dear runners).  It also has a marathon a week after The London, which is quite popular with the overflow of capital city marathon draw rejects: 5000 or so of us.  

So there I am, yes 9 short weeks after the Malta marathon (negative split!) and amid lots of heavy rowing ...


Oxford City Bumps:    BOOM Four
 
... but lined up on the Start feeling quietly confident of a sub 3.45.  I'd been training at the required pace, and faster during track outings.   Especially yummy Yasso 800s.

Levitating at the Oxford Iffley Track


I had a conservative first ten miles planned of lurking just behind the 3.45 pace group.  Then my second ten would shave off 5 seconds per mile and I would catch and pass them.   Then my last 6.2 would see me really put the hammer down and fly off to a 3.43 or so.  Still slower than my PBs but a necessary step towards faster times next year.   Or so went the plan.  



And so went the plan, for the first ten miles.    But it was a clammy muggy warm day, and we were all feeling it.   I was hydrating and taking on Powerbar and gel goodness, but it was HOT (for the UK).   And it was also a winding and much more hilly course than I expected.  Not so much big hills, but unrelenting small ones, it seemed there were no straightaways or flats where you could get a rhythm, we were forever charging up and down hills, berms, underpasses, roundabouts and severe 180 degree turns.  Check this out

... especially please note the first half of the race (to the left, mainly in purple).   It was back and forth and back and forth and up and down and around and around - all with little hills and my legs really felt it, I just didn't know it yet.

So at 10 and again at 12 I dialled it up and tried to reel in the 3.45 pace group and...and...nothing happened!   I tried again, and again, and saw I was SLOWING.    This was ridiculous.  I felt strong, I felt light.   Yes yes I felt hot, but goooooooooooooood.    To no avail.  
 
Consternation set in.   The next few miles were worrying, I was slowing down, not by much, but it was getting harder and harder to keep my spirits up.   The pace group vanished from sight.   It wasn't The Wall, it wasn't a swamp, but it was unpleasant and painful.   Every few hundred yards was another berm and another turn and another windy path or turn and all in scarcely any wind, and quite a bit of humidity.  

So 20 miles came and I thought I would just bank those middle ten miles and now turn on the jets...hunkering down, I reached for that special pedal, and ... the tailfin fell off and I actually started weaving!    Oh my oh my.   I was still hydrating, I was still taking in nutrients and yet now I was walking shady underpasses and water stations and all the positive thinking in the world wasn't helping much!   Walking, weaving, grinding down into a very nasty positive split.


and so, what lessons?    Could I have trained more if I just wanted to lop 30 secs per mile off?   Should I have trained less given the rowing?   Was it just environmental: heat and wee hills?   Perhaps not that wee at that, since my gadgets say I climbed a lot more than I did during Malta, on a suburban course in the UK!   I think it is all of that, but mainly, that the marathon always deserves respect, and no matter how trained and confident you are, STUFF happens.   The plan now is to take the finishing stadium smile below (never so happy to see a Finish line) and apply it to a summer of training, and try again in the autumn, as determined as ever and as happy to be running as ever.    But first...some rest and genuine relaxation.     (oh, and rowing)