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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Treatment plan

I can hardly believe that two weeks ago I ran a 19 miler with 15 tempo miles at 6:54 thrown in there like it was no big deal. And this was capping off a 72 mile week, the most I've ever run, and the week after a 4-week stretch that included four races (three of which were PRs).
Hm, I can't imaging why I'm injured! Really, that's a recipe for overuse injury, and I think that's exactly what I have.
I don't have an official diagnosis, but I am 100% sure this is a stress fracture. I have textbook symptoms, and my recent running history also points to the likelihood of this being a fracture. Maybe it's not a bad one - I definitely caught it early; I saw my doctor the day after it started to hurt, and no fracture was visible on the x-ray, so it was too early for any osseous changes to show. But I will probably never get an official diagnosis.

Why? Well, my doctor, who obstinately refuses to think this is a stress fracture, has asked me to get a confirmatory MRI. Totally understand that - you need proof before you can go willy-nilly prescribing walking boots, etc. But with my schedule, holidays and end of the year, the schedule of the imaging center, and the fact that I am changing insurance January first (and restarting a jumbo deductible!), I probably won't be able to get one until the first week of January. And at that point...well, I'd be four weeks out and probably out of the boot, anyway.
Walking boot, the perfect holiday accessory!

So I think I'm just going to go ahead and not get the MRI, and self-treat. Please, someone, when I lose use of my left foot, remind me that I wrote these words. But really, I think it's ok. One of my dear friends is lending me her walking boot (oh, runners!), and I don't intend to wear it long, anyway. I see the value in protecting the tender bone from impact until a callous starts to form, but then I need to start stimulating bone growth, and that happens with impact. I guess I'm thinking about a week or three in a boot, then three more bootless, then see how it feels? I know healing times vary hugely for stress fractures, so I'll have to play it by pain!

Monday, December 11, 2017


Saturday's test run was decidedly a disaster.
I think that's a broken bone...

NOPE. I limped home in pain with a bruise developing across my foot. I am suspicious of that bruise. It points to a stress fracture, no matter what my doctor says! I placed a call to his office Monday morning to report, but I haven't heard back. Meanwhile, I think my winter running is over!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Progress stalled

Mystery foot pain has me temporarily off the marathon training this week: hopefully for only this week! On Saturday, we had a really tough workout on schedule: 18 miles with 15 miles at marathon pace in the middle. This was on day 6 of a 72 mile week, the most I've ever can see where this is heading. Increase in intensity PLUS increase in mileage = injury!
Saturday's run was obviously hard, and I ended up with 19.5 including running to and from the meeting place; plus it was a humid morning with a slick surface to the levee. We planned to meet as a group, jog over to the levee, and do a 7.5-mile out-and-back at marathon pace. The levee is topped with a paved bike/pedestrian path, and there are no vehicles, so it's ideal for this type of tempo workout when you absolutely don't want to have to stop. I was lucky enough to have a large group to run with: myself, plus three other guys. We were also lucky to have a not-too-windy day; often, there is a heavy headwind off the river on the way back, but it wasn't bad on Saturday. Our group was shooting for 6:57 pace, and for the first few miles, it was conversational. We held together pretty tightly, with the only time our pack spread out being during a brief off-road episode due to construction on the levee. But we were still together at the super-tight hairpin turn to head back. By mile ten or so, I was getting tired. We had some water from a group member biking around with bottles, but not much - he was toting bottles for all fifteen of us out there, so we were just sharing sips. And like usual, we had no fuel, although our coach posted that we could take one or two gels if we wanted to test them on our stomach. I didn't, because I didn't think there was enough water to manage it, but I did chew two salt tablets. We ended up with a little over 15 at 6:54 pace, and I was immediately sore when I got home. I was happy with our pace and the workout, and happy that we were able to finish pretty strong (we didn't slow on the second half, even with the mild headwind).
Long run group

But foot started to hurt. That night, the top of my foot ached, but it was ok when I woke up, so I headed out for eight miles. It hurt so much that I cut it short at 7.5 and walked back. By Monday morning, I called my doctor, and went in for an x-ray. I was happy that there was no sign of a fracture, but I have a ton of inflammation between the metatarsals, and a bone bruise. Apparently there was just too much pounding during the long run. I am taking time off until it doesn't hurt, and taking some NSAIDS. I'm glad it's not fractured, but concerned that it will be slow-healing: it still hurts to walk on it! I'm hoping some time off doesn't totally derail my race! 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

This year's tree: running medals!

I finally put to use all of those finisher's medals David and I have collected over the years!
I've been removing the ribbons and stuffing them in a box for years, and finally the collection was large enough to cover the whole tree.

Some of them are kind of neat. I hadn't really looked at any of them since I took them off my neck! Here are a few favorites:
Top L, clockwise: My first long distance race, before RnR bought the Mardi Gras marathon; a medal that looks like a crawfish; one that looks like a boot (also...a medal from a 5k?!); a pretty one from the  Louisiana half

Top L, clockwise: My first marathon; last year's Ole Man River (with moving wheel!), one from a marathon I won; the cute wooden medal from the Bar Harbor half

Top L, clockwise: My one and only Boston, a spaceship (oh, Stennis, such a weird race), one of many Crescent City Classic 10k medals, and a hand-made model of John Brown's jail from Freedom's Run in Harper's Ferry - also David's first half. 
And after this, I'm throwing these out. Storage is at a premium in my uptown home!

What do you do with medals? Save them? Display them? Pitch them? 

Monday, November 27, 2017

The 110th Turkey Day race!

When I woke up Thanksgiving morning to low 50s weather, I knew I'd PR the 5 mile! As you might have noticed, my hard training with the Powermilers is paying off: I've been getting faster. Despite my qualms about a five mile race being too short for my current ability, given my marathon-trained body, I could almost guarantee a PR. My PR going into this race was a 33:30 from 2012; recent races predicted I could run 32:30. That's 6:30 pace, and I'd run two miles at that pace in the middle of a workout just this Tuesday, so I felt good about accomplishing that.

We arrived early enough to join the Powermilers' warm-up, glad that one of our group had picked up our packets on Tuesday so we could avoid those lines. After two miles, I was feeling warmed up (I was freezing when I arrived) and eager to start. For some reason, this year seemed super easy. The corrals weren't crowded, everyone was being civil, and I found an appropriate spot right away. I saw people I knew all around me - this is the 110th running of this race, and it's a big NOLA tradition - and I shook some hands and offered good luck. We sang the national anthem, then we were off (I mean, I sang. I always sing the anthem pre-race, even if it's just me warbling on by myself while other runners seem scandalized).
Photo by Powermiler spouse Jen at mile...3? 

This race is crowded at the start, but I was close enough to the front to avoid most pushing and bumping. The whole first mile was just about finding my pace and my place. I wanted to run a 6:35, then run 6:28ish for the rest to hit my goal. It was a breezy day, but not as bad as last week's long run of tornado misery, so I just lowered my head and plowed forward. The mile beeped before I even realized we were racing, honestly - 6:34. "Perfect," I thought, and we moved to a less-windy part of the course. By now the crowds were thinning, but this race is large enough that you're always in a pack, and I saw some of my teammates ahead of me. Mile two flashed by in 6:25. "That was because the wind was blocked; I'll lose some time in this next windy mile," I thought. But mile three was also done in a flash - another 6:25. By now I had passed two women, but otherwise I was mostly surrounded by guys, and except for some high schoolers burning out, we were mostly keeping pace. I grabbed a water and kept trucking. So far, except for some annoying and persistent stomach issues that had been present pre-race anyway, I felt...fine. Oddly fine. In fact, when mile four beeped at 6:24, I realized that I should be picking up the pace. I had now closed in on two of my teammates. We started nearing Tad Gormley Stadium for the track finish, and here's where I messed up: the course has always entered at one end and turned left for a 300m track finish. So, while I pushed past one teammate, I then held steady instead of pushing ahead. We were close to the stadium, and I was planning to SPRINT that track! Except. The course had changed, and I didn't know it. Instead of going left, we turned right, and suddenly I realized that I had under 100m for my finish! Boo! But I sprinted like a mad woman, and finished in 32:12 chip time - eighth woman and a huge PR. I didn't catch my teammate, but we crossed at the exact same moment. My final mile was a 6:17, so I ran a nice negative-split race (although probably should have started speeding up in mile four). My average pace was 6:27, which means I was able to beat my goal; it also means that I'm kind of close to start considering a sub-40 10k, which requires 6:26 pace.

The only bad part of the day was that, during my cool down, my Garmin touchscreen froze. And this time I think it's gone for good. I tried every trick I know, but the screen won't respond. I'm calling Garmin support today, but if they can't advise me, I am out of warranty and will need a new one. Luckily, I bought this one with my American Express, which doubles the warranty on electronics, so I will actually get my money back!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Garmin woes

Ever since the Jazz Half, my Garmin had been annoyingly stuck on trying to download a damaged file. Whatever happened during that race, I never recovered any Garmin data, but every time I was in Wifi, my Garmin tried to download the file. Not only was it wasting battery, I think the corrupted file was messing with the Garmin functions. The problem was, while the file was on the watch somewhere, I couldn't see it.
Pesky file!

Finally I plugged it in and opened the activity folder on my computer and sure enough, there was the rogue file. I deleted it, and the problem is solved. For some reason I am particularly aggrieved that I could never get any data from that race, but oh well. I think I'm mostly concerned that maybe the course was short, and my PR is fake! But I went back and looked, and it's a USATF certified course, plus I saw my friend's Garmin data, so I am now assured that it was indeed a 13.1 mile course and I did indeed PR.

The Garmin story, though, doesn't have such a happy ending. Even though this fixed the file transfer error issue, my Garmin has all manner of other bugs still going on, and when the screen froze yesterday, it never came back on. So now I'm in the market for a new one.

Have any recommendations? My specific needs are simple: I need at least seven data fields, preferably eleven, available. I like to have three screens set up: one for laps/intervals/track, one for races, and one for long runs. That way I never have to switch screens mid-run. The 230 only offers 8 data fields, because one screen is reserved for heart rate data, which I don't use. I currently have the 620, and I like its ease of use, but I'd like to find one with either no touch screen or a better touch screen. Please share any suggestions!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Picking up the pace

Fun fact from yesterday evening's workout:

I ran it at a faster pace than I ran the Crescent City Classic 10k this year.

And tonight's workout was eight miles. We did a mile warm up, then three miles at goal marathon pace, then two miles at "tempo" pace, then three more at goal marathon pace. We ran it at City Park, n the roads, but luckily our evening workout was bright enough to avoid trips and falls thanks to the Christmas lights set up for Christmas in the Oaks. And I was also lucky enough to have a big group to work with: it was myself and five other guys. You know what, though? I never take advantage of running in a group to allow others to "pull me along". If we are on the track, we'll take turns pacing, but I struggle when I follow. I think it messes with my cadence or something. I am a million times better in the lead. Same with the roads: we don't really take turns leading on the road, but I do better spread out or up front. I don't care that I'm "doing more work"; I just feel like it's more natural and easy that way.

Our first set's splits were 6:59, 6:52, and 6:46 for the MP miles; we picked it up for the tempo and ran 6:35 and 6:28. As we settled back into marathon pace, it felt almost easy now: conversational. 6:52, 6:48, 6:45. Now, those splits are a tad fast, but I think I should add a few seconds; my Garmin was beeping a little sooner than everyone else's, so I think it lost satellite for a little bit. My teammates got most splits in the low 6:50's. My results were 8 miles at 6:46 pace, so yeah, faster than the 10k I ran this spring. I can feel the training working!

But here's the big catch: I have to prove it in races. So far this year, despite several PRs, my racing has been spotty, especially short distances. Up next is the Turkey Day, that race that loves to hate me (it's usually a rough day for me), and at five miles, it will be a test of speed. I hope I can pull off a good race, and hopefully another PR!

Do you workout with a group? Are you a lap leader or follower?