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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Slacker...

It has been almost 5 weeks since I have run. They have been an interesting and oddly revealing 5 weeks. Interesting because of all the accommodations needed in order to train when you are restricted to the pool or recumbent cycling. This makes for fairly stressful traveling which I have been doing a lot of. I have been in the pool or on the bike everyday, alternating steady day/workout day and lifting or doing some form of strength training 6 x's/week. Oddly, although not running I still feel like I am in good shape. We shall see.

Toward the end of this coming week, Pat has me doing two test runs (6 min & 8 min). That is my goal, to get through them healthy and sound. After being on crutches for two weeks longer than planned, I was feeling a fair amount of despair last week.

We are in Hawaii for the next 9 days. BYU-Hawaii kindly agreed to let me use their facilities-which I am grateful for. It is a mile down the road from the house we are staying in. The beach is a mere 50 meters away where I plan on doing morning yoga once it stops raining. Yes, raining. Though the sun does seem to be peeking out as I write this.

Pictures will follow at some point but for now, since I lost my camera in Minnesota last week, imagine the waves crashing and the air so thick that it hugs you, while making your skin feel velvety and fresh.

Later this week will be a highlight of the year in the form of running moments...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Uh...now what?

Well, those nagging issues in my lower legs? One of those turned out to be something. I kept trying to run last week and was fairly successful at masking the pain but finally it was too much and I went into my PT, Mike Devitt. He confirmed what I was dreading, stress fracture in my right fibula. Remedy: Crutches for one week to speed up the healing and 6 weeks of NO running. There is no denying that I cried bitterly on and off for about 24 hours. I went from devastation to determination and have firmly accepted my current state of affairs.

Diagnosis was on Wednesday. I had run that morning through gritted teeth-I did not know it would be my final run in many weeks. You always forget how much you love and rely on running until it is taken away. I am missing it now. Thanksgiving morning I woke early and hit the recumbent bike and weights. Then I went to Ontario for the Turkey Trot and watched Pat and friends race in the freezing cold. Friday was on the recumbent again and this afternoon I joined the YMCA for a month and did an hour of aqua jogging. It is so odd to sweat while you are in the pool. Feels odd. While I was lifting weights, my muscles were shaking-it cracked me up. Leg is a bit sore now.

I suppose if I have to miss training, there is no better time than now. With my focus on the track I should be ready to roll in plenty of time if I can just be patient with my comeback. It is certainly not worth sacrificing my ultimate goals due to impatience. I believe this to be my biggest weakness. Apparently it is time to work on it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sidelined.

My foot strike is my constant enemy when it comes to training and racing. While efficient, it is rough on my lower legs. At the moment my cramped calves from the half-marathon have caused some nasty compensation issues. Working through them and trying to move forward. I just want to do a workout. I miss running fast. My body misses running fast.

Thursday I am planning on racing a 5k turkey trot in Ontario, Oregon. It is a tradition for Pat and I and every year more and more friends join us. It is supposed to be 1-4 degrees. I don't know about you, but by my standards that is COLD!! It may feel like the infamous XC Club Nationals in Spokane, WA a couple of years ago. Now THAT is a story.

Until then, I will work on rehab: foam rolling, icing, all that stuff that I put off until something reminds me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Race report and beyond (Part I)

I am in a bit of a foul mood this afternoon. The reason?? My calves are killing me! I know, I know, stop complaining but I am bummed that I will not be able to race tomorrow as I had planned. I would have been defending champ 4 years in a row. Now I have to watch while someone else claims the title. That is tough for me to swallow.

On to the San Antonio half-marathon recap from Sunday. 4:40 am came all too early but come it did...as it always does. I got up and ate a banana, a mini bagel with peanut butter, and drank 20 oz. of water. A quick shower woke me up and at 5:30 am I was in the lobby to meet up with our group. We headed out with plenty of time, even accounting for traffic. We made it to the start line but then, when looking for the finish line parking (about a mile away), we accidentally got back on the freeway going in the opposite way. Thanks to the wonder that is the iphone (not mine, but there were three in the car) we found our way-through the ghetto-to our destination by 6:13 am.

After a short warm-up run to the start and weaving through total clustered chaos I arrived at my start. But I did not see any other elites or the normal warm up spot for us. When I asked a volunteer where I should be and where I needed to check my bag she told me I needed to go all the way back to corral 10 and drop off my stuff at the appropriate UPS truck which would then take it to the finish. Did I mention there were 30,000 people at this race??? I knew it was wrong but I headed back through the crowd because I did not know what to do and I was running out of time. On the way, I ran into a fellow who looked like he knew what he was doing and asked again. He hurriedly rushed me back up to the front and into a nice warm building and lo-and-behold the rest of the elite group. I should have planned ahead but you know...I had 15 minutes. I checked my stuff to go to the finish line and did a few drills and stretches.

And we were off! 6:00; 5:55; 5:57; 5:56; 6:07 (kind of fell asleep here); 5:48; 5:54; 5:53; Oh no..SHIT stop; 5:57; Oh lord...another one!; 6:02; 5:56; 6:02; 6:39 (last 1.11 miles)..FINISH! Official finish time was 1:18:54-including stops. I was happy yet, really frustrated with having to stop. I have been having stomach issues for a month or more now. I will be totally fine and then NOT. Without the stops I had my time around 1:17:58-one thing I am is a quick crapper. At least I've got that going for me. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ready or not.

The morning will bring race day and with it something new. Arrived in Texas last night, we rented a Prius and drove to Gruene Hall (oldest dance hall in Texas) and watched a great show in a fantastic venue. The Bo Phillips band opened for Stoney Larue and rocked the house. We grabbed a bite to eat at a diner across the street and I has the best smoked turkey and avocado sandwich I have ever had. It was unbelievably flavorful and delicious. Fuel for the night. After the show we made our way to San Antonio and after taking a dissatisfying ice bath, I crashed into my bed about 1:30 am.

I have found that ear plugs are a must when traveling. Period. I slept soundly and woke up at 9:45 am. Got up, went for a refreshing and light pre-race run along the famous San Antonio riverwalk and felt like a million bucks.

Had a satisfying brunch at Bill Miller's bar-b-que (shredded chicken, hand-cut fries, peach cobbler, and iced tea) then made our way to the Alamo dome to grab our packets. After a stop at the H.E.B for groceries, it has been a day relaxing at the hotel watching college football and staying hydrated. The weather is perfect. Low humidity and about 50 degrees this evening. For a 7:15 am race start, I would say...magnificent.

Just took an ice bath followed by a warm shower 30 minutes later. I am now hunkered down, ready for sleep. It is 9:30 pm. Planning on being up at 5 am. Sometimes I wonder why...then I remember...I LOVE racing. I am privileged to be able to compete in such a great sport. No matter the result tomorrow morning, I will enjoy the process of the moments that make up the result. Because I run for those moments, the result is just whip cream. G'night.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Amarillo by morning....

Okay, I am not going to Amarillo but I am going to San Antonio for the weekend and then Austin for the week. And I do plan on not only eating a bunch of Mexican food but also listening to some great alt-country tunes.

Sunday is the Rock n' Roll half-marathon in San Antonio and yours truly is going to give the distance a shot. Getting pretty excited about it, a little nervous as well. Was able to get my piriformis issue under some sort of control and training has been fabulous this week. 20 x 200 yesterday morning with :50 rest was actually FUN! No pain. Just a bit cold...or as Clark Griswold would say...nipply. I do love that sound of crunchy, frosty grass under your feet occasionally interrupted by the rustle of fallen leaves. I LOVE the fall!!

Expect lots of pictures and updates in the days to come. I am documenting the hell out of this trip. The half-marathon is on Sunday and barring a physical catastrophe I will be running a 5k in Austin on Wednesday.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November sunshine...say what?!?

Wow, Idaho is spoiling me with this divine weather we are having. Absolutely love it!

During Saturday's workout I felt a twinge of piriformis pain rearing its ugly head in the form of a slightly numb right leg, knee pain, and major nerve pain in my right butt/back area. By bedtime on Saturday, no position- standing, sitting or lying down was comfortable. Sunday morning I ran for 50 minutes easy and was very uncomfortable the entire run. It felt like I was forcing my right leg to work correctly and my left leg was doing 75% of the running. I made a frantic call to the office of Mike Devitt (a.k.a. the miracle worker) at Forcus Physical Therapy http://www.focus-pt.com/ and snagged the first appointment available (Tuesday @ 9:30).

I literally had a bruise on my lower back on the right side where most of the specific nerve pain was. Maybe I shouldn't have finished the workout and aggravated it more but...it wasn't THAT bad at the time. Thankfully I am fairly skilled at putting my back, pelvis and sacrum back in their rightful positions using what Devitt has taught me but this time nothing was budging. I would get something to move, have some relief and then right back to where it was before. Monday morning I did my long run (100 minutes) and for 60 of those minutes the pain nagged at me, sometimes worse than others.

On Tuesday morning, I waited to run until I had seen Devitt. Sure enough my sacrum was totally rotated forward and just a mess. He worked on it and it easily shifted, the problem is that it shifts far too easily. So I relearned how to self-correct the issue. He also had some interesting breathing techniques to share and have me work on due to residual diaphragm issues from my hernia surgeries. I left the office feeling better and went for one of the most gorgeous runs I have been on all year in the foothills. No one was out, the leaves are all sorts of reds, yellows and deep burnt oranges, it was calm and cheerfully sunny...what could be better? By the time the run was finished I was having the pain again but I was quickly able to calm it down.

Yesterdays workout was phenomenal. I felt stellar. 8 am, bright sunshine, light breeze-just me and the track. Varying energy systems workout: moderate 2400 meter tempo (8:49); 3 x 300 meters @ :55; another moderate 2400 meter tempo (8:44). It was fun.

On another note, I have been eating like a superstar. With the whitetail deer Pat got a couple of weeks ago-lean meat is in abundance. Delicious. Plus, I have perfected the ultimate post-workout smoothie. Still working on upping my fluids though-for some reason having a tough time getting enough. I am being lazy about it though. Time to shape up.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturdays are NOT for sleeping in...

When the alarm went off this morning at 5:15 am I was actually kind of excited. Kinda sick, I know. But the week has been a mish-mash of routine for me and I was ready for a sense of normalcy. It has been College of Idaho break time, so Pat does not have to get up early and thus, I don't either. It never hit me as poignantly as it did this week how much I rely on running being BOTH of our daily focus. I feel lucky.

Back to my point, I am a morning runner. I don't care if it's an easy run, a long run, a workout, whatever...I prefer to get up and get it out of the way. Running in the late morning and early afternoon this week has been the pits with no one to blame but myself. So, when Pat gave his college girls the early morning option this morning I jumped on it.

I love running on the track in the dark. First, it makes you feel like a bad ass to be working out that early. Second, it feels easier to run in the dark. Third, we had glow stick bracelets! I had a blast with this workout, 10 x 600 cutdowns with 1:00 standing rest between. I started at 2:09 and cut down to 1:56 with most of them between 1:58-2:02. I felt strong, rhythmic, and in control. Love that combination.

My training schedule this past week:
Sunday-long run
Monday-easy + drills + dynamic strength training (DST)
Tuesday-easy + weights
Wednesday-workout (8K progressive on a 2K grass loop) + 60 min yoga
Thursday-easy + DST
Friday-easy (secondary long run) + weights
Saturday-workout (10 x 600 w/1:00 rest b/w) + DST + 60 min yoga

I feel good about:
-getting back into my yoga routine
-lifting & dst mix
-GREAT workouts, fast and fluid
-amount of sleep I have been getting

I did not feel good about:
-running later on Monday & Tuesday, felt like poop
-not hydrating enough
-piriformis issue bothering me

Overall, the week was stellar, training wise. And I am ready to do it all over again this week. Woot! Woot!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ringing in a new decade.

Pie week has come and gone and so has a decade. For me. As of Sunday, I am in my 30's. That's right, officially past my 20's. Why is it that twenty-nine sounds so different from thirty to me? What are all those sayings? "You are only as old as you feel", "Age is relative", " or my favorite, "Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese." If age doesn't matter, why are there so many quips about it?

The birthday weekend in McCall was fantastic. Lots of good friends, beautiful spot, strong drink, rich food.

Made our way up to McCall on Friday and had a fairly low-key evening. Venison chili, corn bread and apple pie. Saturday was workout day. Since Genny lived in the area for about a year, she took me out to a gorgeous single track trail that looped through a densely wooded area and around to an open marsh land, through more woods and back onto a wider, gravel & dirt trail. There were roots and twists and turns and at one point a log over the trail but it was a perfect route for my free-form fartlek. After a 20 minute warm up and one dangerous crap stop (I jumped off the trail and was in such a hurry that I stabbed my knee with the sharp end of a broken branch), I began the 30-minute fartlek. I stayed on the loop and ran between :20-:50 intervals with equal rest. It was hard but I had a blast! At one point, in a fast segment, I rounded a corner and almost ran smack dab into three deer standing in the trail. I laughed out loud when I heard myself yell, "Move it!" They took off, crashing through the forest. It was beautiful and their speed put me to shame. I ran harder.
The fartlek segment was followed with a 10-minute cool down, drills and strides. The day had begun.

 It varied between sprinkles and light rain all day. After helping with some wood-cutting, we all headed to the McCall Brewery for some eats and drinks. Played some pool, watched a little college football, had great conversation. I almost forgot I was almost 30.

Back at the house we bar-b-qued salmon and venison backstrap. Genny made some delicious eggplant, tomato dish, and Angela brought a salad. It was a fantastic meal. Laid a base for all the "toxins" we partook of later. I am of the opinion that, there are times for going all out-and this was one of them. And we did.

Awesomeness ensued. Good times had by all. Even better times, by some.  Some things are better left unsaid. Midnight toasts with my drink of choice, Pendelton and more toasts, just because.

The rain came pouring down. I woke up on Sunday morning and laid there listening to it tap on the roof. I love that sound. It makes me feel like a runner. Pat and I went into town for some coffee and a bite to eat while the house slept. When we came back everyone was stirring, it was time for my long run. Genny, Pat and Sean joined. Genny took us on a climb leading to a breathtaking view of Payette Lake with low fog hovering around it. The trails were flooded and the rain kept on. It was cross-country at it's barest. Ninety-five minutes later I was drenched, soaked to the done, and freezing, but happy. Then it was time for goodbyes. They always make me sentimental.

Pat, Jess, Bettis, Jesse, Megan, Sarah, Mike, Kimmie, Hopper, Angela, Calovich, and Genny...thanks for making my 30th one that I will always remember and cherish. Here's to good friends and a new decade for living life like it matters.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Slots and Neon Lights!

Okay, update from the weekend. Downtown Reno is as dirty and corny as ever. The area where the race was held was more my style. Ashley and I left on Friday afternoon and arrived 6 hours later. Checked into our hotel/casino http://www.peppermillreno.com/-the room was luxurious but, like most of Reno, you have to walk through the casino to get to the elevators to get to your room. Lots of smoke, lots of perky (and sagging) boobs and lots of neon lights.

Friday evening was fairly low key. We ate at a restaurant in the casino called Saucy's (a bar-b-que place) where, after more internal debate than I thought was possible over a dinner choice, Ashley ordered an entire chicken-in case she got hungry later. The problem was that the mini bar and snack bar in our room were on sensors. You literally could not open the fridge or bump the snack tray without being charged for the $6.95 candy bar. And so, Ashley had no where to put the left over chicken and although the front desk promised to bring an 'additional fridge up for your use, free of charge', it never arrived. Thus, a wasted half-a-chicken. 

Saturday was fairly uneventful. We slept in, went for a run in the foothills which I found out about on this great website: www.renorunning.com, ate the most delicious lunch at this stellar cafe we accidentally found http://www.stockpotinc.com/. I ate fresh chicken tortilla soup with a spinach salad and a turkey (real turkey, not lunch meat) pesto sandwich. Talk about a flavor orgasm. Unbelievable. My number one recommendation if you ever happen to find yourself in Reno.

Most of the afternoon/evening was spent in our room, trying to study (Ashley) and work (me) while half-watching a cheesy movie marathon-featuring Matthew McConaughey. Dinner was fairly unmentionable, Baja Fresh burrito and some red wine in the comfort of our room. Then it was early to bed in light of an early rise.

Race day. 6 am wake-up. I drank a cup of water and half a bottle of a Naked coconut juice smoothie. I ate a banana and a Luna bar. At 7:15 we left the hotel and drove the 10 miles to Damonte Ranch high school. After picking up our race numbers and a couple of visits to the Honey Buckets we began our warm up run, drills, and strides. We had plenty of time to spare-which is how I like it. The race, however, did not start on time. The 9 am race start was more like 9:12 am. I raced the 10k and Ashley gave the 5k a go.

The thing about fun runs is the bat-outta-hell mentality of the kids that come to these things. I have learned it is best to let them do their thing and try  not to run them over when they fall back hard core after 300 meters. The 10 and 5k races began together and the first mile is a gradual climb. After which the 5k participants do a 180 degree turn and head screaming back down the hill. The 10k keeps going for about another mile and then turns sharply to the right and onto a narrow path along a canal. It then takes a sharp left where you run out 100 meters then turn 180 degrees around a cone and go back, take another sharp left and head down the path again. Around mile 3 you take a sharp right onto a neighborhood road and this is where you begin to run into the 5k walkers and joggers. Not a problem, since there is lots of room. By mile 2 the leader had left another woman and I in the dust and about mile 3 I took off and put a good amount of distance between myself and number three.

My lungs were seared by mile 4-I believe the elevation is around 6,000 feet- and I was struggling running on my own. Suddenly, out of nowhere an older guy came up behind and ran slightly ahead of me as we climbed the hill for the second time. It was a key for me to have someone to race at that point. First, I had to crap (badly!) and second I was sucking wind. At mile 5, I was able to revamp my body and put all my focus toward a strong finish. At mile 6, I gave one final surge and as I crossed the line I was fairly convinced I might die. As with any time I race at elevation, my sinuses felt like someone had stuck a red-hot poker into them. Needless to say, not a pleasant feeling but it was trumped by the fact that I can truly say that I left just about everything out on that course. That makes me happy. And my flats speak to this fact.
 
 Retirement for these puppies.

Placed 2nd out of the women and 6th overall. Walked away with some cash and fairly satisfied with my effort. We hit the road quickly and were home within 5.5 hours. The 6:30 am long run on Monday felt surprisingly effortless, minus the final 5 minutes. Aside from a sore left calf and a few gnarly blisters on my left forefoot (might have pushed the flats one race too many), I am no worse for the wear. Ready to roll on. 



Pie Week Kick Off!

Yesterday marked the beginning of 'pie week'. The idea originated when I was in Virginia last  month for the Virginia Beach Rock n' Roll half-marathon. I was working a booth for Oiselle Running. I have a good friend, Mary Ashburn, in Richmond whom I visited while I was in the area. Long story short, she and her significant other had the idea of having a 'pie week' and asked me if I would like to do so, remotely. Pie? All week? Uh...duh! Of course, I did.

And so, beginning last night it is a-pie-a-day for a week. Last night was taco pie-an old favorite in my family. Perfect runner's food. Cornmeal crust filled with a blend of ground turkey, kidney beans, tomatoes, onion, and delicious spices. Accompanied with a spinach-pear-avocado salad. Perfect! This week I am throwing caution to the wind, I am allowing myself one piece of each pie and the rest I will share. For the most part, I try to follow the Paleo diet, but this week-slight deviation.



Pie Schedule
Tuesday: Chess Pie
Wednesday: Shepard's Pie
Thursday: Pumpkin Pie
Friday: Apple Pie
Saturday: Key Lime Pie

Tune in for more all this week!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Get up!

Waking up this week has been rough. I have been battling myself every morning, whether I get up at 5 am or 8 am. It begins a little like this, "Ugh. Really? I feel like I just fell asleep.", the next voice is a little like this, "Okay, just get up. Get out the door for your run and you will feel better." Then..."I want to SLEEP, for once I just want to sleep and not have to get up and go running. I can run later. Whatever." Followed by, "Geez, Andrija-just get up already-you are being ridiculous." At this point, I normally think ahead and try to picture the next time I will have a chance to sleep. Sometimes, even when I know it is not true, I tell myself I can sneak in a nap at some point and that thought is enough to get me up. Oh the tricks I can play on myself. I am fairly gullible in this respect. 

It is not that this battle is uncommon but it is tiring.

Can you find me? Hint: Strollers are dangerous!
Ashley Miller (College of Idaho alum) and I are taking off for Reno, Nevada this afternoon. One of my favorite races of the year is on Sunday, the Washoe County Run for Education (http://washoerunforeducation.org/). I had never thought of Reno as a 'destination' but it is gorgeous (as long as you steer clear of downtown). There is a 5k, 10k and a kids run. I have always raced the 5k and this year am making the move to the 10k. This should be interesting. The course is not particularly quick and being at altitude it is not a place to run a fast time but the competition is solid and participation is stellar. Great crowd, lots of energy.

In prep, I got a massage on Wednesday. This is one luxury that I afford myself and have found helps a ton several days out from my races. I saw my favorite massage therapist, Laura, in Boise and she worked me over. Literally, I had several bruises on my legs from it the next day. But, now, two days out I feel fresh and ready to roll. Ice baths tonight and tomorrow will certainly add to that feeling.

If you don't know this about me already...I LOVE racing. Bring it on.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Before the Sun

It is 11 am and my inner hobbit is once again coming out in the form of second breakfast.

The alarm went off at 5:15 this morning and while I will admit I did not actually get out of bed until 5:33, it was too damn early. I had some coffee and choked down a GU while I did some work. Then at 6:10 it was off to meet some of the C of I kids for a workout. As I left the house, I looked at Drake snuggled up next to the heater and for a split second wanted to trade places with my dog. The sun had yet to show it's face-it was 29 degrees.

In typical fashion, I warmed up with the kids for 20 minutes to Brothers park, followed by drills, shoe change, and a couple of strides. The sprinklers were shut off (thank god) so the 800 meter grass loop was perfectly frosted and ready for running feet. The workout was a fun one-aside from not being able to see where the turns were for the first half-2:00 at race effort/1:00 easy run, continuous for 8 laps (4 miles).

I felt light and quick. My toes were completely frozen but I barely noticed until I finished. My only complaint was that I did not eat enough dinner last night. I was STARVING! Kind of sick to my stomach because of it. Again, you don't notice that stuff until after finishing. It was beginning to get light. A quick change of shoes and a cool down back to the college where we did DST (dynamic strength training) in the climbing gym. The workout was complete by 8 am. Awesome.

Back at the house I let Drake out for his crap and gave him breakfast. While I ate my own (scrambled eggs and a fruit/peanut butter smoothie), I became computer-consumed and began working. An hour later, I was annoyed at my lack of good recovery so I showered and followed that with a 40-minute nap. Feelin' stellar.

Just another day, up before the sun.