Goals With Plans

One of the things I like about running is that it gives me a chance to exercise my muscles in goal setting and planning, things that I feel I don’t do very much of as a stay at home mom type person. I do plan to clean, do laundry, etc., with the goal (possibly unachievable with two little boys in the house) of having a clean or at least presentable home – the accomplishment of which feels less like I’ve accomplished something awesome and more like all I did was keep filth and chaos at bay.

Suffice to say, it’s not the most motivating thing to just be treading water all the time. The mess and I are in a constant competition to see who will win. Usually it is the mess. I would feel worse about this but it is 4 on 1 including the cat, who as the only one that poops in a box and coughs up hair balls on the regular, makes the most disgusting messes of all.

The odds are always against me.

But running is an area of life where I can actually feel like I am somewhat in control of things. I can see and feel myself making progress. When I am not injured or having surgery, that is.

Now that my surgery and recovery are mostly behind me, I am in a goal setting phase with running again. So, what’s next? What do I want to focus on?

Well, between the ankle injury and fitness lost from recovery, I am not sure when I will feel ready to start training for longer distances. Stamina is basically gone. I think it will come back, but I also don’t want to place a lot of repetitive stress on a healing ankle. So I think I will focus on getting back to doing 5k and 10k races and work on getting faster at those distances.

I’d like to think I’ve learned something from the injuries I’ve dealt with since I started back to running over the last year, and I would say the big takeaway is that the experts are right – you cannot work on speed and distance at the same time. And since I apparently have to choose, I guess I’d rather run fast than far. I’d like to do both but it seems I have to choose one thing at a time.

My next race will be the Inspiring Hope 5k on May 10, which I will be running and walking. Gotta start somewhere I guess.

There doesn’t seem to be much that looks interesting enough to plan for until July. Starting in July I’d like to do:

Mill Creek Run of the Mill 5k – July 12
Run-a-Muk 10k – August 23
Snohomish River Run 10k – October 26

Other things might crop up, but these are the races I will plan to do. After October I will decide if I want to try moving up to the half distance or stick with 10k’s for a while longer.

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Recovery Report – Week 6

Yesterday was 6 weeks to the day since my hysterectomy surgery and I am excited because all my restrictions on exercise are finally lifted. I can start running again!

Truth be told, I jumped the gun and ran a little bit last week anyway, but now I am actually allowed to. Yay!

So I ran on Sunday, and again this morning. Technically, Sunday was the day before I was released. But whatever. Close enough – no harm was done. I ran about a mile and a quarter, and 1 mile of that was non stop, albeit going pretty slow. Didn’t wear a watch or keep track, I just ran on feel. It felt fine, though I was definitely ready to stop after that mile.

Today I did about 16 minutes on the treadmill, broken up into intervals of 5 – 6 minutes at about a 10 – 11 minute pace. So, I’m not sure of the exact distance, but I think it was probably a mile and a half or so. This was after I also did 20 minutes on the adaptive motion trainer, and before a core strength class. In core I had to modify everything and didn’t do V-sits at all (just seemed like a bad idea), but I got out there and did what I could.

So I’m proud of myself and feeling pretty pleased with my progress. Even though I don’t have the stamina I used to and my ankle is still a bit sore, I’m not going to focus on that – the important part is that I CAN run. I can still do these things. And soon, I’ll be able to do more – before long, I should be back to where I was. I am healed up, feeling good, and the PT I have been doing for the ankle issues has made a big difference very quickly.

So if you’re reading this, and you or someone you know is going to have a hysterectomy, or similar surgery – please know, it doesn’t have to be a scary thing. I know I was very scared about it and only did it when I really felt there was no other option.

Some people have a hard recovery, but mine has been quite easy since about the 10th day. I would guess my experience is fairly typical. And really, a couple weeks of feeling not so great is a very short amount of time when you consider that it is going to keep me from having to worry about the possibility of cancer developing later. The recovery was hard at first but I think I will eventually feel better than ever.

Planning Ahead

I am kind of excited to have a race to look forward to, even though it is a 5k. I usually prefer the 10k distance because 5ks are over so quickly, but right now a 10k would really not be possible. So 5ks it is, for at least the next little while.

The race is the Inspiring Hope run, which is right here in my home town on May 10. That’s Mothers Day. What better way to celebrate being a mom than running off and getting all sweaty? It is cheap to enter, and I can walk to the start line from my house. Can’t really say no to any of those things.

I did the 10k at this race last year and had a lot of fun, even though at that time I was really just getting back into running. It’s a race with a great feeling of community, since a lot of people in the community come out to support the runners, and also because it being a small town race, a lot of the runners know each other.

Alert: justification ahead. Lest anyone think I’m being silly to do this so soon after being released I just want to be truthful that I will not really be running. I will walk/run it – no particular goal time, just wanting to finish and feel good at the end. It’s a starting place – a chance to celebrate feeling better and getting on with my life.

I’m a Naughty Little Cheater

I did a potentially bad thing that turned out okay today – I actually ran a little. Just a little. And it didn’t hurt one bit. Well, the ankles got a bit sore but nothing in the abdomen gave me any trouble.

I feel like a bit of a cheater though, because technically I really shouldn’t start running at all until the 6th week is complete, and today is just the beginning of the 6th week so one might say it’s a bit soon. However, I think I am basically healed up. I haven’t even seen so much as a drop of blood in almost 3 weeks, and never anything more than transient pain (gas, I think) for about as long, so I can only think I’m probably close enough to where it’s probably okay.

I started my treadmill workout with 5 minutes of brisk walking, then ran 1 minute, very slowly. No abdominal pain and no ankle pain either. So I walked 4 minutes then ran 2. Still no problems. Then I ran a bit faster for 3 minutes and walked 3. No problems with the abdominal area but the ankle started feeling sore, so I just did it one more time, for a total of just over 12 minutes. I think the running averaged about a 12 minute pace, so if I had to guess, I’d say I probably ran about a mile. Then I walked for the remainder of my workout for a total of about 3 miles.

Depending on how I feel, I may or may not try this same workout again later this week. I have a PT appointment for my ankle on Wednesday – I might try it again that day and Friday. I just have to take it day by day and see how I feel.

Oh, and by the way this is not even the dumbest thing I did in the last few days. I went with my husband and kids to the baseball diamond where he was going to work with them on some batting skills, and we all basically forgot that I had even had the surgery. I swung at a couple of balls and had no problems. It was on the 4th swing that I realized what I was doing was probably not all that smart, and on the 5th swing I realized it was in fact downright stupid. My body, in particular my belly button, gave me a heads up that I was being an idiot. So I went and laid down on the bench while the boys finished up. No problems since then – woke up feeling great today. Thus my decision to give running a go. If I was gonna tear a hole in myself, seems like it would have happened yesterday. This is what they call justification.

So yeah – I’m a cheating cheater who cheats. In my defense I do feel that recovery from this surgery is highly individual and I think I must be on the faster end of the spectrum. Probably because I was in good shape going into it – I really feel like I have bounced back pretty well. It didn’t feel like it for the first couple of weeks, but once things started to turn for the better, they really turned around quickly.

But anyway, all in all I feel like my recovery is going very well, and it continues to appear that the limiting factor in my return to running isn’t the surgery at all, but the ankle injury. Which it’s probably good I have that ankle injury or who knows what stupid thing I would try to do to myself next!

Rain Run Recap – Better Late Than Never

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Decided that since this is a running blog, it would be good to actually write about some running. The problem is, although I have lots of time to write, I can’t actually do any running right now. I do, however, have some old races to recap, so I can at least write about that while I am laying here in bed, where I am trying to rest after a strenuous trip to the outlet mall to buy kids’ jeans, and Costco this morning.

(I am not even kidding – recovering from this surgery is no joke and while I am feeling better everyday, some days just the day to day stuff is very wearing).

Anyway, back at the end of January, I ran my first ever half-marathon – the Rain Run out in Redmond. I think the race billed itself as being in Woodinville because that’s where you ran to, but since it started and ended in Marymoor Park, I’m gonna say it was actually in Redmond.

It was an out and back course along the Sammammish River trail, which because of the early start was mostly, but not totally devoid of other traffic. As the race got later in the day, other traffic became more of an issue. But at the time when the race started it was mostly just racers on the trail.

This year the Rain Run didn’t live up to its name, as there was no rain. There was, however, ice fog. It was very cold that morning, I think about 25 degrees, and foggy. Later in the day the sun burned through the fog and it warmed up somewhat.

I thought it was a pretty well run race generally. They had the start and finish in a place where there were lots of restrooms and had also brought in porta-potties to address the runners needs, but as is always the case in these races there were still massive lines in the 15 minutes before the start because that is when everyone wants to go.

For various reasons having to do with pre-race stomach problems and subsequent dehydration, I decided to wait until the very last minute to make my last visit to the facilities, which contributed to a nearly 2 minute discrepancy between my chip time and my gun time. The race had started by the time I got out of the potty, and so I had to go tearing over to the start and ended up somewhere at the back of the pack. Not a great way to start a race, and not a good place for the middle of the pack runner to end up since you spend the first half of the race dodging bodies until you find your pace and an empty spot to run.

The race looped around in the grass to start and then headed over to the paced portion of the River trail. The trail is old converted rail bed so it is pretty much pancake flat except for a couple spots where you have to go over the River via a bridge.

The run out to the turnaround was therefore flat and mostly unmemorable. Once we hit the turnaround things got a bit more interesting. They had Gu and water at the two hydration stations. This was good because again owing to the aforementioned stomach issues, I was sort of dehydrated. I got a banana flavor Gu, which lasted me the whole race. I could barely eat because it was pretty gross tasting and because the cold gave it a texture a bit more like gum than Gu. And I ran through the stations meaning I wore more of the water than I drank, but whatever. I tried. Probably my fueling strategy needs improvement but it worked well enough given that my goal was just to finish, which I did.

Once I hit the turnaround, things got hard for a few miles. I wasn’t feeling overly fatigued but my ankle, which had been bothering me for a couple of weeks, really started bugging me. I tried walking a couple of times to see if it would let up (it did), but I was pretty determined that I wanted to finish in under a 10 minute pace, so I chose to ignore this little bit of biofeedback and continue running as best I could.

Around mile 9, the ankle finally went numb and stopped bothering me. Either that or the rest of my body drowned it out. My legs started feeling pretty much like lead by about mile 10 but I kept on chugging along. I felt like Dory from Finding Nemo, only instead of singing “just keep swimming,” it was “just keep running.”

As we neared Marymoor Park on the return it was necessary to cross over the River via a little pedestrian bridge that was also open to bikers. Remember how I said we had ice fog that morning? Well it came into play when a cyclist tried to pass me on a tight turn under that bridge and ended up losing traction and falling down right in front of me. I hopped over (it was that or trip and fall down myself), then ran about another 20 feet, then I felt like an ass so I went back to ask if he was okay. He was, so I ran the last mile and a half to the finish as fast as I could manage. In other words, still not that fast, but faster than I had been running before.

As I neared the finish I spotted my husband and kids holding up signs that said “Go Mom” and was suddenly overcome with emotion. I was proud of finishing my first half, glad it was over, and wondering when or if I would be able to do it again. It felt pretty darn good to cross that finish line.

After the finish line, there were cupcakes, stretching and some post race recapping with a friend of mine who also ran the race. Then I changed clothes and drove the half hour home in the car. By the time I got home my right ankle had completely seized up. The tendon pain I’d been having prior to the race became a full fledged case of tendinitis, which I am still dealing with somewhat. But oh well – it will heal, and it was worth it.

In the end, despite bike crashes, bathroom emergencies and lack of fueling and hydration, I finished the race in just under a 10 minute mile pace (9:56). My chip time was 2:10. I had been hoping to finish in under 2:15, so I was very pleased with that.

And now I am recovering from surgery. I am glad I pushed myself to run the race even though I had less training than was probably ideal (adding too many miles too quickly probably caused the tendinitis), and I look forward to running this race again next year!

Where was I?

Well when last we left off I wasn’t feeling very well and was fighting a case of what seemed like bronchitis. I finally decided to go to the doctor when it got to the point that I couldn’t sleep, and was coughing so long and so hard that I couldn’t catch my breath. Oddly, I was fine when running, I just coughed all the time when I wasn’t. Which eventually made me so tired I didn’t want to run anyway.

What it turns out I had was some sort of virus that triggered a case of reactive airways, which is essentially like asthma without the wheezing. The doctor says that the fact I could run meant it wasn’t bronchitis and that it is typical if reactive airways to have improved breathing during exercise because the adrenaline opens the airways (when they close again, the coughing resumes).

So I didn’t get antibiotics again (which is good because I basically told the doctor that I had taken too many rounds already this year and so I didn’t want to take them anymore unless I had to), but I did get Flonase and two different kinds of inhalable steroids. They have mostly helped me keep the coughing fits under control and I seem to be on the mend, though my airways do seem to still be a little bit sensitive at night.

I’m back to running again. I ran 7.6 miles on Sunday, which felt fine, and I ran 4.5 miles today. My plan is to run a 12k race in December and possibly a half marathon at the end of January so I feel like if things keep going like they are, both of those should be manageable. Still trying to be careful and take it kind of slow as far as adding miles.

I do have another new thing I am doing on non running days: PiYo. That’s a combination of Pilates and Yoga which provides a lot of strengthening and core work, along with flexibility which I can always use more of, especially in the hips and hamstrings where I am always sort of tight. There’s also a fair amount of upper body strengthening including boy push-ups which I pretty much can’t do. I can do a ton of girlie ones with the bent knee but basically can’t do ANY with straight legs. So that is something to strive for I guess: I would like to be able to do boy style push-ups and I’m sure if I stick with this class I will eventually be able to.

Because I can never just be happy

Because I can never just be happy when I have accomplished something big (like running an entire 10k at a 9:02 pace, when I seriously didn’t even think I was capable of that, for instance) I have decided that my goal pace for my next race is going to be 8:45.

So on Wednesday, I did 4x800s with the following paces:

1 mile progressive warm up (400 @ 12:00, 400 @ 11:15, 400 @ 10:30, 400 @ 9:45)
1 x 400 jog 11:45 pace
1 x 800 9:30
1 x 400 jog
1 x 800 9:00
1 x 400 jog
1 x 800 9:15
1 x 400 jog
1 x 800 8:45
1 x 400 walk

That’s 4.25 miles, and right now it is some hard effort, yo. It was pretty much my only hard effort this week, what with Halloween and half days at Max’s school and all. I also have a pretty bad cold that I am trying to overcome (I first started feeling it on Sunday morning but it apparently didn’t slow me down by much).

So next week I hope it will be back to normal and healthy again for a few weeks and I can get back to more running, weightlifting, etc.