Sunday, March 31, 2013

Slow and steady

Saturday - beautiful sunny day, 48 degrees. Still a bit chilly, but at least starting to feel a little like spring. I stretched out the poor hip muscles and headed out for a slow run. The first mile hurt a little, but not too bad. For the second mile, I slowed down and tried to concentrate on my form. I’m trying to shorten my stride, lift my knees less, and lean forward ever so slightly. I was only planning on running two miles, but the hip was feeling OK, so I did another slow mile. I wound up at my favorite cemetery and walked to the top. It felt strange not to be running up the hill. Then I walked slowly down. At the bottom, I decided to try another short run. I managed 2.2 slow miles, then thought I might be pushing my luck and walked the rest of the way home. I got cold quickly once I stopped running. 48 is not warm when you're wearing one thin layer of running clothes.

Today the hip is just a little sore. Being Easter, I had lunch with family and then it started raining. If tomorrow is nice at all, I’m going to try for four miles. I’m anxious to get back to where I was before this annoying hip pain began. Of course where I was is what caused the hip pain. Going too far too fast. Slow and steady won't win a race, but it's better than not running at all.

3.03 miles, 29:06 minutes, 9:36 pace
2.23 miles, 22:34 minutes, 10:07 pace (ugh)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Injury Update

The hip still hurts. I tried to run a little yesterday, but it just hurt too much and I don't want to undo whatever healing has taken place. From what I’ve read, I do believe I have bursitis. The IT band is putting pressure on the trochanteric bursa which is inflamed and irritated and it all just hurts. I’ve been resting and stretching and even bought a foam roller to try to massage the stupid IT band. Each day it gets a little better, but I'm worried about time slipping away. My half marathon race is May 5. That only leaves me a month to train. And at the moment, I'm not training at all.

In my research on running related hip injuries, I found an excellent website: Running Injury Oracle. If you don't have a Word Press account, you'll have to sign up. It only takes a few seconds. You can search on what hurts and then follow the advice which has all kinds of great videos to go with it. It's a UK site so the narrator has a wonderful accent. I've been following the videos and the advice. I really like this website. It also gives tips on form and running.

Today I am going to try a short walk/run. Walk for a minute, run for a minute, repeat.

Injuries are frustrating. Running the 15K with an injured hip was probably not the smartest thing I have ever done, but I really wanted to run that race.

My next race is April 28th. It's a 5K and hopefully I'll be healed by then.

Monday, March 25, 2013

40th Annual Chenango Forks XV

Somewhere near mile 3 where it was
actually flat.
Chenango Forks is a small, rural town in upstate NY and home to the ever popular Forks XV. Yesterday was the 40th running of the 15K race.

The race is organized by the Triple Cities Runners Club. They always do an excellent job of holding a race. From the registration, to the timing, to posting the results, everything runs smoothly.

I was a little nervous about running this race. A nagging hip injury has kept me from anything longer than 8 slow miles. 15K is 9.3 miles and I knew there was a killer hill at the end. My first fear was that I wouldn’t be able to finish. My second fear was that I’d have to walk the dreaded hill.

The race starts and finishes at the high school. I got there with plenty of time to warm up, got my bib number and shirt, and then did plenty of stretching. The hip was a little sore, but I was ready to run. There were a lot of runners. A lot of good runners. A 15K race tends to weed out the slower runners. No one really wants to be running for over two hours.

There was an early start for anyone who couldn’t finish the race in 1:45. I wasn’t even tempted. I was quite sure I could finish in 1:30. Assuming I finished.

When it was time for the start, I saw just how many runners there were. 300 maybe? That was more than I was expecting. Although cold, probably 38 degrees, it was sunny and actually a beautiful day. Everyone was anxious to run.

I'm somewhere in the middle of all this. What a crazy start.
I took a spot near the middle of the pack. Usually I line up just behind the front runners, but this was a long race and I didn’t want to run the first mile too fast. Turns out it didn’t matter. I got swept away by the wave of anxious runners and did everything I could not to step on someone or get stepped on. After a few minutes the chaos of the start was over and everyone found their place. I was running faster than I wanted, but had no desire to slow down. The hip felt fine and I was running a race.

The course was mostly through the country. The roads were not blocked off, but there was very little traffic and a wide shoulder. Cars were very good about slowing down and pulling over for runners. There were a lot of fans along the course, people waving, playing music, holding signs. It was nice.

The course was described as mostly flat with a horrible hill at the end. To me, mostly flat means no hills or just some slight hills. At mile two, I had already encountered a few hills. They weren’t steep, but they were hills. At mile three, there was another hill. At mile four, yet another hill. I was starting to see a pattern. This course was nothing but hills! I don’t hate hills, but I lose time on them. I can’t maintain the speed that I have on flat sections. At mile six, a large group passed me on yet another hill. I tried to increase my pace a little, but the hip was starting to hurt. Two young girls in bright green shirts flew by me like there was no hill at all.

I had brought water with me for this race. In the past, I have suffered from dehydration and a lack of energy at anything over an hour. At 45 minutes, I took a big gulp. At 55 minutes another gulp. There were water stops on the course, but I find they slow me down too much and I made a homemade sports drink to keep my glycogen and sodium levels up.

At mile seven, the hip was making itself known, but was no worse than it had been at mile six. The hills were not helping, and the downhill runs were actually more painful than the uphill runs. I had just over three miles to go.

There was a water stop at mile 7.7 and even though I didn’t stop, I head the lady manning the stop say, “Just that last big hill to go. You’re almost there.”

I looked up ahead and there it was. The killer hill. I’ve been running practice hills all winter. A local cemetery has a huge hill which I try to run a few times a week. This hill I was about to climb was probably just as steep as the cemetery hill. Part of my brain was saying, “OMG, look at that hill.” Another part was saying, “Oh look, another hill. What a surprise.

I switched into steep hill mode and started up the hill. Steep hill mode means going up on my toes and taking tiny little steps as fast as my legs will go. “Baby-steps, baby-steps, baby-steps.” Had there not been runners around me, I would have started chanting this. Half way up the hill, people were walking. And a little farther up, I saw the green shirt girls off to the side walking. I passed them by with my crazy little baby-steps. Then I passed this big guy in a USMC shirt. He was soaked in sweat and dying. I passed a few more people who had passed me by at mile six. I was feeling pretty good.

The end is near.
The hill kept going and so did I. More people were walking, but not me. Those silly little baby-steps were working. Then finally the hill was over and there was a half mile to go. I could see the turn into the high school parking lot. There were two runners in front of me. At mile nine, I passed them both. Just 0.3 miles to go.

The course snaked around the front of the school and then disappeared around the side. There was no one in front of me and I couldn’t hear anyone behind me. It was a strange feeling. As I turned the corner of the school, there was finish line and a few runners I knew were there cheering me on. The clock read 1:28:24. It was time to give it everything I had left. I went to switch into finish line mode and a searing pain tore through my hip. It was so bad I could only take a few steps. I had forgotten all about the injured hip until now. I went back into normal run mode and crossed the finish line - 1:28:52.

I had run the entire Forks XV.

9.3 miles, 1:28:52 minutes, 9:33 pace

(215/288 for all finishers, 5/11 for my age group, 69/117 for all women)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Ready for a 15K?

15K here I come.
Tomorrow is the big race. 15K or 9.3 miles. This will be the longest race I have ever run. I’m a little nervous. I tried to run 9 miles on Wednesday and only made it to 7.4. My hip started to hurt and my legs felt rubbery. On Friday I made it to 8.2, but stopped when the hip pain flared up and both thighs were starting to feel tight. It was very cold both days and I was having a hard time staying motivated. I’ve really had enough of this freezing weather. Two pairs of pants, two layers of socks, three shirts, a hat, a hood, and gloves. I must be carrying an extra 10 pounds of clothes. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny with a high of 38. 40 would really be nice just to be out of the 30s.

My longest training run was 11.2 miles. I’m not sure how I managed that. At 6.5 miles, I can feel myself running out of fuel. I have decided I will carry my homemade sports drink for tomorrow’s race. There will be water stops during the race, but water doesn’t seem to be doing it. I’m running out of glycogen and sodium and hitting that infamous wall just after the 1 hour point. I don’t eat a lot of carbs unless I’m running a race. Like tonight, I’ll be having spaghetti for dinner and a bagel with peanut butter for breakfast on Sunday morning. I’ve also been drinking water all day. More than I usually do. Hopefully that will be enough to carry me to the finish line.

This race will be a test to see if I am anywhere near ready to run 13.1 miles in May. If I have trouble completing 9.3, then I may have to make some diet changes. I think my legs and lungs are about as fit as they are going to be. I’ll keep pushing the mileage on my training runs until 10 miles is easy, like 6 miles is now. And I need to get the hip strong again. I’ve been doing exercises, but I probably should do more. Even though I always say my goal is “just to finish”, my real goal is to finish strong. I don’t want to be one of those runners who staggers across the finish line and collapses.

I know I can run a race pace of 9:25 which will give me a finish time of around 1:27. I also know I always run the first 2 miles too fast. And I also know there is 1.5 miles of uphill to the finish which is going to be extra hard with a sore hip. So all I have to do is run smart, drink my water, and stretch out the hip and everything else just before the start of the race. And then just run and pretend I don't see any snow and that the cold wind isn't stinging my face.

7.46 miles, 1:11 minutes, 9:35 pace
8.23 miles, 1:19 minutes, 9:41 pace

Monday, March 18, 2013

Goodbye old shoes

Finally feeling good enough to run and what happens? Snow. Snow, snow, snow. Four to seven inches by morning. I had to settle for three slow miles on the treadmill.

Today I threw out some old friends. These Avias were my first pair of running shoes. I ran my first 5K in them. But I can only have so many pairs of old, worn out, running shoes lying around, so in the trash they went. As you can see, I’m a heel striker. I always wear my heels out first. I would like to be a forefoot runner, but it’s just not how I’m built.

My next race is on the 24th which is this Sunday. It’s a 15K and fairly flat until the last mile and half which is uphill. I hope it’s at least in the 40s and all the snow is gone by then. I really am sick of the cold and snow. It's March. Where is spring?

And speaking of sick, my problem was severe eye strain which was causing migraine headaches and weird flu-like symptoms. I sit in front of a computer all day at work. I want to get my work done so I sit and work, and work and work. The cure is to take a break every 20 minutes, get away from the computer at the first sign of a headache and reduce stress. Only a slight headache at the end of the day so I guess it's working.

3.0 miles,  29:14 minutes, 9:45 pace

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Double ugh

I thought it was nice out and I thought I was feeling better. Neither were true. The wind was cold and a half mile into my run, it started to snow. That hard, pellety kind of snow. Yuck. But I kept going. I ran my first mile in 9:32. I was just trying to run. At mile two, my hip started to hurt and the headache behind my eyes made itself known. I ran my second mile in 9:54. I was wearing my new New Balance sneakers and something wasn’t feeling right in the right foot. At 2.58 miles I started wheezing. I have a slight case of emphysema thanks to 16 years of breathing second hand smoke. When I’m tired or nor feeling well, it kicks in. Time to stop. This was no fun at all. I walked the last half mile home. Because I was sweating and no longer running, I started to shiver. Could it get any worse?

After a hot shower, I downloaded my pitiful stats. Wow.

The fever and chills from earlier in the week are gone, but I still have a throbbing ache in my head. It’s been so long since I’ve had a migraine that I don’t remember how long it takes to recover. And it could still be a bug of some kind. I haven’t slept well since last Friday and don’t think I got any sleep at all last night. I was kind of a zombie at work today.

I’m actually thinking of going over to this health food place to find some kind of natural sleep aid. No way can I go another night without sleep.

I’m not thinking about the race on Saturday at all. If I don’t feel well Saturday morning, there’s no point in running.

I ran such a great race last Saturday and now I don’t know if I’ll even be able to get out of bed. Very disappointing.

2.58 miles, 25:27 minutes, 9:51 pace

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


The hip is 90 percent better, but now I'm sick. I can't believe this. I never get sick. Almost never. I might have picked up a bug at the race. There were probably over 1,000 people there. I was fine after the race, then Sunday evening I started feeling really tired for no reason. Then a headache kicked in, a killer headache, followed by fever and chills. The headache is mostly gone, but the fever/chills part is hanging around. This is no fun at all. I really hope I'll be able to run on Saturday. Of course, the forecast is for 30s and rain. The one thing I won't run in is pouring rain in the cold. A race is supposed to be fun and wet clothes are no fun.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

And now for some hip pain

Why does something always hurt?.
50 degrees and sunny outside and I can’t run. Well, I guess I could, but I shouldn’t. Towards the end of yesterday’s big race, my left hip started hurting. I ignored it and ran hard, and now today I am paying the price. Ouch! It hurts just to walk.

I’ve been battling a slight case of runner’s knee since December. The pain was on the outside of my left knee and would come and go. It was never so bad that I couldn’t run, but some mornings it really hurt and sitting for any length of time made my entire knee stiff. I found some runner’s knee exercises on the net and started doing them. By February, the knee was much better. Then the hip pain started. Just a little soreness after a long run, but worse in the morning and very stiff after sitting for any length of time. This getting old thing is a bitch.

Yesterday I was actually pain free when I work up and very anxious to run. I guess I ran a little too hard. It was worth it. That was a great race.

Just like with my knee pain, I have been searching the internet to pinpoint the cause of my hip pain and what to do about it. I’m quite sure I don’t have a stress fracture. I don’t think I have bursitis. It’s very possible I stressed my iliotibial band when I started running longer distances and yesterday’s race stressed it even more. It could also be a boring old sprained ligament or strained tendon or muscle. I’m 48, not 28. Aches and pains happen and take longer to heal. It could also simply be my shoes. I wore some rather worn out Sauconys yesterday. Not quite ready to test out the new NBs in a race.

I don’t do doctors because they are just educated guessers. No one knows your body better than you. The human body is not a mystery and there is enough information at your fingertips to figure out what’s ailing you. I truly believe you should know what's wrong before you decide to see a doctor. See if they come up with the same diagnoses you did. If I thought I was capable of giving myself a stress fracture from running, then x-rays would be in order. But I'm not that good or that fast.

I am prescribing myself rest and a few ibuprofen. I have also added five hip exercises to my half dozen knee exercises which I do every evening. I should probably also retire the Sauconys and get the NBs ready for next Saturday’s race. I think I have about 20 miles on them. If they had plans to hurt me in some way, they’d have done it by now.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Race Day - St. Patrick's 4-Miler, Binghamton, NY

I dressed in safety green for the St. Patrick's 4-Miler.
Beautiful morning! Blue sky, sunshine, no wind. Temperature: 32 degrees. That was the only bad part, but the sun made it feel warmer.

I got to St. Patrick’s Church around 9:10. Got my number, my shirt, and then sat around for awhile. I always get to races too early. My husband came with me to this race so that was nice. I hope he wasn’t too bored.

Finally it was race time. I jogged down to where the start was. There were a lot of runners, over 700. That’s a big race for this area. The race was chip timed but had a gun start. I took my position a few rows back from the front runners. I always run a fast first mile and hate having to negotiate around people.

A half mile into the race and
feeling good.
It was impossible to hear the race director, something about rough road and pot holes, and then we were off. I ran the first mile in 7:40. That’s a bit fast, but everything felt good. There was indeed some rough patches and big pot holes. Around mile two I felt a side stitch coming on, but took in some deep breaths and the stupid thing went away. At mile three I was just under 25 minutes. Still running fast, but still feeling good despite the cold air. Actually, I didn’t even notice it. Running outside all winter has helped me cope with cold weather.

The start of mile four was uphill for a short ways, then downhill, then up another small hill. I did pretty good on the hills. Only a few lanky guys passed me. Then it was one last turn and all downhill to the finish line. A final look at the Garmin showed two-tenths of a mile to go. I switched into high gear and gave it everything I had. I could see the top of the church and people all around the finish line. When I was close enough to see the clock, it read 33:20. I crossed the finish line at 33:48. A new PR! My goal was anything under 35:00.

4 miles, 33:48 minutes, 8:22 pace

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March races

I got in a treadmill run after work today. I could have run outside, but it was just too cold. I am so sick of the cold. Next week I turn the clock ahead for daylight saving time which will give me another hour of daylight to run in. That will be nice. I have a hard time getting out of work before 5:00.

I am signed up for three races this month:

St. Patrick’s 4-miler this Saturday
John McKenna Memorial 5K on the 16th
40th Annual Forks XV (15) K Run on the 24th

The 15K run will be a good test for my half marathon in May. It’s a mostly flat course until the last mile and a half which is all up hill.

I still plan on doing a long run on Sunday. I’m interested to see in my hydration cocktail will work. I’ve been running the trails at Otsiningo Park, but I’m starting to get bored with the place. Speaking of bored, I also need to find some new music. I download mixes from Rock My Run, but it’s hard to find something that doesn’t have terrible songs mixed in with good ones. There’s no way to edit the mixes. I avoid anything that has that “Moves Like Jagger” song in it. I really hate that song.

3.3 miles, 31:05 minutes, 9:25 pace

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Staying hydrated

Last night I researched dehydration and how to prevent it. Sports drinks are the way to go. I then researched sports drinks. Most have artificial somethings in them – flavor, color, preservatives and other unpleasant surprises – so it looks like I will be making my own. I try to eat healthy and avoid anything processed or artificial. It’s not easy.

I have decided on the following recipe:
3 and ½ cups water
½ cup real orange juice
2 and ½ tablespoons sugar or honey
¼ teaspoon sea salt
a generous squeeze of lemon

The only ingredient I am lacking is sea salt. Sea salt contains 84 minerals and is best to use as an electrolyte source as the minerals of the sea are very similar to our own electrolyte composition in our blood. Aside from sodium, you get potassium, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese, and more. This recipe should have everything I need to keep from dehydrating on long runs. Like I said before, live and learn.

Next Saturday I have a race – St. Patrick’s 4-Miler in Binghamton, NY. It’s only 4 miles so I should still be able to get in my long run on Sunday to test our my hydration concoction.

It was just over a year ago that I started running and I’m still proud of the day that I managed to run this entire street without stopping. The distance was 0.7 miles. I then had to rest for a few minutes before I turned around and ran back. That was the day I declared myself a runner and now here I am seeing 4 miles as a relatively short race.

It’s all good.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Running on empty

Last Saturday I went for an 11.1 mile long run. About two hours after the run, just as I was sitting down for lunch, I was overcome by nausea. It was terrible. I almost didn’t eat, but thought food might help. I ate very slowly and soon felt better. Weird.

Today, I decided to try an 11.2 mile run. After mile 8, my legs started to feel tired. After mile 9, my legs were really tired, but I was determined to improve on last week’s run and kept going. At 11.22 miles I was exhausted and finally stopped running. It was cold, in the 20s, and I never really warmed up like I usually do. By the time I got to my car I was shivering. I downed a bottle of very cold water and headed for home.

When I got home, I took a nice hot shower and then proceeded to make lunch – soup and sandwich. The minute I opened the can of soup (Progresso, the good stuff), I was once again overcome by nausea. It was so bad I had to go lie down for a few minutes. My stomach was ills and hungry at the same time. I asked my husband if he could finish making lunch, and he did. I sat at the table and stared at my food. The nausea was getting worse. I picked at my sandwich and sipped the soup. After a half hour, I had managed to eat most of it and the nausea was finally receding.

So on the two longest runs of my running career; I was racked with nausea within a few hours. Probably not a coincidence so I headed to the internet to see what was going in. After reading about a number of runners experiencing them same thing after runs of 9 miles or more, I knew what was going on. Dehydration.

My summer running buddy.
In the summer, I carry water for longer runs, but in the winter, there’s no way I’m going to carry a bottle of cold water with me. And all the water fountains at the Park are turned off so they don’t freeze. I also drink at least three cups of coffee on the weekend. Coffee is a great dehydrator. The cold weather isn’t helping either. The body wants to keep its extremities warm so it pulls blood away from the stomach which means even if I was drinking water, it might just sit in my stomach and slosh around.

So what do I do? The obvious answer is to run less miles when it’s cold. That’s going to be hard because I have a half marathon coming up in May and the longest distance I’ve done is 11.22 miles. On race days, I have one cup of coffee and hydrate like crazy at least two days before. I should probably do this for long run days as well. I could also put a bottle of water on the hood of my car and make my car part of the course. I run near my car at least four times. It wouldn’t be hard to alter my run and stop for two seconds to gulp down some water. I doubt anyone is going to take it. I’ve never tried sports drinks because I’ve read they don’t hydrate any better than water, but they contain electrolytes and sodium which is lost through sweat. The lack of sodium is what causes nausea. I could also carry a bottle of water or sports drink.

Live and learn. I’ll be better prepared for next Saturday and maybe it will be a little warmer. It is March finally. On a positive note, I didn’t have even a hint of side stitch. I was probably running too slow.

11.22 miles, 1:49:24 miles (I really slowed down after mile 7), 9:45 pace (kind of sucky)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Some of my best friends are hills

I managed to get out of work early enough to get in a run yesterday. The weather was only somewhat crappy. Cold and snowing off and on.

There is a cemetery a mile and a half from my job. The bottom section is mostly flat. The top section is anything but flat. There is a very long and very steep hill to get to the top (total ascent of 196.85 feet according to Garmin).  I decided I was going to tackle the hill. I am not a good hill runner. I can get up them, but my pace slows way down. Especially on this hill. The last few yards are almost straight up. But I did it. And once at the top, the view was beautiful. I could see for miles.

Because I was at the top, I decided to go a little further to a second cemetery which sits behind the big cemetery. I really like this cemetery for some reason. It is well maintained and very peaceful. There are statues and fountains (in the summer) and elaborate headstones. There are also hills, but they are rolling hills and not so bad. I ran around this cemetery twice. There was a man sitting on a bench in this one courtyard area. He waved as I went by. That was nice. I never know if people are going to wave or take out a knife and chase me.

The sun was starting to set so I went back to the big cemetery and started my journey back down the monstrous hill. I’m not very good a downhill either. It seems like it should be easy, but it’s not. I have a fear of tripping and tumbling all the way down.

When I got to the bottom, without tumbling, I still had a lot of energy and I never know when I’m going to have time to run. So I decided to climb the hill again. This time I went three quarters of the way up, then took a side road and a less steep road back down. I then did two laps around the bottom flat section and decided it was time to head back.

My total mileage – 6.22. Not too bad.

A few days ago I bought some new earbuds to go with my MP3 player. The ones I had were terrible and didn’t stay in my ears very well. I bought some Panasonic RP-HJE-120 earbuds and I must say they are awesome! Excellent sound and I could barely feel them in my ears. I got them from Amazon for less than $6.00. Good deal.

6.22 miles, 57:22 minutes, 9:13 pace