Monday, February 28, 2011

Marathon Training - Week 9

There isn't a whole lot to report on this front.  Since that last run with the strained calf two weeks ago I have ran twice.  Well, one three mile run and one .66 mile "this isn't going to work I still hurt and have wonky gait" run.  The three-miler was last Wednesday and seemed to go pretty well.  I could feel the tightness in the right leg but the calf was basically fine and I felt like as long as I watched the length of my stride the gait wasn't weird.  I haven't been out since then because of snow and out of town company but I plan on heading out for a four-miler tomorrow night.

I think I am going to go back to where I left off on Higdon's Novice 2 plan rather than trying to jump ahead to what week 11 is going to look like.  I can always compress the schedule somewhere else.  It is probably a much smarter idea.

There are still two months until Eugene and if I can stay healthy I think I might still be able to pull this race out.  If not, well, there is always the half.

Wish me luck this week.  If all goes well with the legs Sunday will be my first-ever 14 miler and then we get to go to our first dance class with our new instructor.  Nope, my legs won't be wobbly and worn out at all.  We haven't given up on East Coast Swing but if we are thinking about doing a first dance we figured we should maybe try to do something more than the junior high stand in one spot and hold each other while swaying uncomfortably to the music. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Injury Update

Turns out I don't have something as cool and runner-y as piriformis syndrome.  Instead I have......sciatica.  Other than arthritis I don't think there is an older people sounding diagnosis.  Between sciatica and my bunions can gout be far behind?  Will I need to start wearing comfortable shoes and handing out sticky purse-fuzz laden hard candies to people?  Will I need to wear a babushka?  Can I get a more old lady diagnosis?  Well, frankly yes but it is still embarrassing. 

Actually sciatica is a symptom and not a diagnosis.  It means that I somehow tweaked my back in early January without knowing it and that is causing impingement on my sciatic nerve that causes pain and weakness down my right buttock, thigh and behind my knee.  The physical therapist thinks that the sciatica and right side weakness probably exacerbated my already ridiculously tight left calf muscle.  It was fascinating to do the strength tests and to realize my left side could resist all of her pushing and effort and the right side could be easily moved.  In one move there was zero resistance on the right side.  This is definitely nerve and not muscular because she had me do a few stretches and then retested and the right side was stronger than 10 minutes before. .

So how do we treat this old lady symptom?  Well, I start by purchasing a foam wedge so I can change the position in my car while I drive.  And I get a desk chair at work that actually has lumbar support.  Then I do a series of back stretches and strengthening moves to "un-impinge" the nerve.  For my calf, I rest and do stretches, lots and lots of stretches.  Once the pain is completely gone I can work on strengthening it too.

As for running, the therapist would like me to wait until I am completely symptom free on both sides but she must work with runners a fair amount because she said "but you are going to run before I think you are ready to aren't you" and I said "yup."  That marathon won't run itself, lady.  If the calf feels OK tomorrow I am heading out for an easy, flat four-miler to test it.  I'm not sure what to do about my 15 mile long-run on Sunday but I will let my body dictate that decision.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Three Months to Go

Yesterday was the three months until the wedding mark.  Yikes!  How did that happen so quickly? 

Once we got done with our Portland weekend and finalized all the vendors and FINALLY decided on what to do about centerpieces (I marvel at how much brain time went into that only to fall back to the original idea I first liked last summer) I felt great.  I said to myself  "wonderful, all the decisions have been made and there isn't much else to do."  And then I started listing some of the little things that were left on the list.  And I listed, and listed and then, for a change, I listed some more.  Holy crapballs is there still a lot to do.  Here's the problem:  I feel done.  Not particularly interested anymore.  The fun has passed.  This is bad, bad, bad.

I am gamely trying to keep my enthusiasm about wedding details going but at this point it is just about checking tasks and decisions off the list because we have to.  We have created this beast and must see it through to fruition.  Yes, I realize lots of the items on the list are technically optional but they are details we really want so we must proceed.  Those lemons won't get wings by themselves you know.

Luckily, Kevin is very invested in this wedding and enjoys helping plan and find just the right things. This way, the entire day is a reflection of the both of us and not just something the bride conjured up and the groom shows up at to say his few words.  This has been an equal partnership and I am extremely lucky that he cares, and wants to, and actually takes an active involvement in the whole process.  From stories I have heard this is a rare sort of fiance.  Hopefully the wedding will reflect that by actually showing some personality. 

In the meantime I keep checking the few wedding websites I visit to keep some level of enthusiasm up and wait to hear details from my friends Amber and Mike who are planning a July wedding to keep me motivated.  We just need to remind ourselves that we just have to keep pushing down the course and that the finish line isn't that far off.  Do you think there will be bananas and bagels?  Will Kevin's nipples bleed?

Marathon Training - Week 7

Trainus Interruptus might be a better headline to this post.  I am hoping the interruptus doesn't last longer than a few days so my frustration level doesn't end up higher than it already is.

Monday - An hour practice for the next night's swing dance class after a wonderful blissful yet painful massage.  My calves end up screaming after dancing so I am going to blame part of my woes on this whole dancing thing.  I am still counting it as cross-training though.

Tuesday - An hour swing dance class.  Cross-training!

Wednesday - Seven mile marathon pace run that went really, really well.

Thursday - Four miles that started with some sharp piriformis pain that went away after about a half-hour.

Saturday - Earlier in the morning while I was bounding down the stairs I felt my always tight left calf muscle go "tweak".  It hurt.  It bothered me the rest of the day, mostly going up or down stairs but I thought it was just more calf tightness.  Then I went for my four miler, in the wind-storm downpour thank you very much.  I limped through almost all the run and could tell my gait was off even when the limp became less prominent.  I came home and iced and stretched but it still hurt. 

Sunday - I decided to scrap my 14 miler because of the calf strain and the affected gait.  The night before I needed a little convincing to not go but when I woke up and it hurt to roll over in bed I realized it was absolutely the right choice.  No sense screwing up the rest of the marathon training for what is, in the grand scheme of things, a short run.  I still felt like a big loser though for not being able to go out and run.  I was actually looking forward to what would have been my single day mileage PR.

Oh, and I did my upper body and core strengthening program three times last week.  Woo-hoo!!

Today I have a PT appointment after work to deal with the piriformis (buttocks and leg pain) and we will also address the constant calf tightness and mild-strain I had this weekend.  I am hopeful they can get me back on the road (literally) to healthy running.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, I'm getting antsy and annoyed.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

Kevin had some "use it or lose it" vacation days so we planned a quick, cheap Disneyland trip for January.  By the way, January during the week is the way to go.  Thursday there were almost no lines or crowds and even on the weekend days the wait times were never too bad. 

We both had an amazing time and just played like little kids from the time the park opened until it closed.  It is impossible to have a bad time at Disneyland.  We were also reminded how exhausting Disneyland can be.  Being on your feet and walking around for 10-12 hours really takes it out of you, we even had to go back to the hotel on Saturday and take a quick nap because we were both completely done in.

Day one was spent entirely at Disneyland.  I also (pat myself on the back) got up early and ran around the mean streets on Anaheim for my scheduled six-miler before we headed into the park.  The weather was gorgeous, blue skies and high 70s for all three days we were there. 
In front of Main Street Station
This was the scariest sight in all the land: a sea of strollers in front of It's A Small World.  Actually the little kids weren't obnoxious at all, it was the junior high aged kids running around on their own that you wanted to smack.  But even they weren't too bad 'cause it's Disneyland and you are HAPPY.

Speaking of scary, on our second time through It's A Small World our boat got stuck.  Like something from a bad sitcom we were trapped inside It's A Small World for 20 minutes.  And when you are trapped the song and the dolls don't stop.  So between the ride and the stoppage we were exposed to 30 minutes of It's A Small World and lived to tell the tale.  No noticeable post-traumatic stress either.
Smiling the first time through the ride unaware of the terror that laid in wait for us later that day.

We did every single ride in Disneyland at least once, except for the ones that were closed which included my all-time favorite Splash Mountain.  I was quite distraught to find out we missed it by a week but that just means we have to go back again so we can ride it together.
We got this cup spinning hard.
Kevin in Mickey's car in Toon Town

The second day was split between Disneyland and California Adventure.  I braved the Tower of Terror which does indeed live up to its name.  However, it is terrifying in an exhilarating and fun way.  For those who don't know it is an "elevator" that takes you up in this building and then suddenly and randomly drops you straight down a few floors, takes you up a few, drops you a few and then at some point you drop the entire 13 stories.  I found out afterward that the ride designers didn't think the 13 story free-fall was fast enough so there are cables that are actually pulling your car down during the free-fall to make it more intense.  Awesome ride and a nice Twilight Zone tie-in.

The Tower of Terror at night
Best. Ears. Ever.
The third day was spent mostly at California Adventure exploring that park and getting SOAKED on the Grizzly River Run ride (twice) and then back to Disneyland at night. More eating, riding and marveling at all the little details Disney puts into everything before heading back to Seattle early Sunday morning. 

Apart from the amazing amount of fun we got to have together we also had three days of almost no wedding chat.  Three blissful days of no planning other than "what ride do we want to do next" or "hmmm....more popcorn or a chocolate frozen banana".  Three days of....well, almost.....

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Is War

Alright Piriformis pain, it is one thing to hurt when I drive and to cause me to run a little stiffly but once you start interfering with my quality bathroom reading time all bets are off.  This is war and I will destroy you.

Clearly I Was Clueless

I really thought I would have oodles of time on the day of the wedding to help take care of decorations and make sure everything was set up the way we want for the reception.  That turns out to be not even close to being true.  My leisurely "oh, the wedding isn't until 4:30 we have oodles of time" has turned into "holy crap, I have to be in the salon for hair and make-up at 12:00 so there is enough time to make me look presentable and have time for all the pictures before high-tailing it to downtown Portland for the ceremony."  We don't have access to the reception space until 11:00 so that leaves exactly one hour for me to help set-up and make sure this beast we have spent a year planning looks and feels the way we want it to.  Aaarggh! 

All this wedding day stuff is really interfering with our wedding day. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Marathon Training - Week 6

I am getting back on track, sort of, in regards to my running schedule.  Last week was busy, busy, busy and I wasn't able to squeeze in one of my short runs.  I am up against a similar situation this week with only one weekday with nothing but running scheduled after work so I am going to have to really flex the schedule to make it all fit. 

Tuesday - Week three of East Coast Swing 2 and we get sweaty enough in this class that I am going to count it as cross-training. 
Wednesday - Six crappy miles I posted about previously.  I am still proud I gutted through those.
Thursday - Three easy ones around the neighborhood.  Infinitely better than the day before.  I also did my home strength training program after the run.
Sunday - 12 down by the lake.  Slow and steady but done.  I had leg tightness for about the first six miles but it loosened up after that.  I also did a shortened version of my strength training while waiting for the interminable Super Bowl to end. 

Weekly Mileage: 21

Coming next week:  a new one day distance record for me (hopefully).  Also, much home stretching, changing my work ergonomics and a painful yet incredibly relaxing massage have improved the piriformis situation.  It isn't 100 % yet but I also no longer feel the need to yelp in pain. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Running Can Be A Pain In The Rear

Sometimes the worst runs are the ones that can teach you the most.  Let's take last night for example.  First a little backstory.  For probably about a month I have been having pain in the back of my right leg.  Sort of started right where the buttocks meets the top of the thigh and then has progressed to the entire back of the leg and behind the knee with occasional twinges down into the calf.  I have self-diagnosed it as piriformis syndrome.  Thanks internet for my medical degree! 

The pain is strongest when I drive and driving seems to exacerbate it.  Since I average about two hours a day of driving it just keeps getting worse.  I actually yelped while driving home from dance class Tuesday night.  Fortunately, it hasn't bothered my running (until last night) other than noticing some tightness when I run and walking around Disneyland for three days straight actually seemed to make it go away for a short time.  Good, except for the fact that my day involves sitting and not moving much so that doesn't help.

But onward to last night's run.  I had six miles on the schedule and immediately knew it was going to be a bad run.  The pain in the right leg wouldn't go away, my left ankle felt tight and uncomfortable and when I relaced the shoe to loosen it up then my heel would slip which changed my gait so my calf tightened up.  Then the groin got in on the act.  Really, Groin?  Really?  Anyway, I was doing two laps of a three-mile loop and at mile three I passed my car.  I knew the run was crap by this point and I had even had to take a few walk breaks and I just wanted to stop.  And there was my car and the opportunity to stop.  But I didn't.  Instead I did a quick assessment:  
Are any of the pains you are having acute?    No
Do you think running further will cause you harm?  No
Are you just maybe being a whiny, namby pamby baby and could you run through this?  Probably.
Will you regret stopping early?  Yes
Than continue on, Grasshopper.  And I did.  And it felt good.  Not physically good mind you but mentally good that I didn't wuss out.  It took me years to get to the point of running through discomfort and pushing on when I want to stop.  It wasn't pretty, it wasn't good but I did it.  And that was my running victory last night.  And my ass still hurts.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Marathon Training - Week 4 and 5

The three day trip to Portland for wedding vendor mania two weekends ago and the four day trip to Disneyland this last weekend have completely and totally thrown my training off schedule.  Add to that some general overscheduling and you get a tired and unmotivated runner.

While in Portland I did manage to get up early and drag myself out to do my scheduled 6 miler around the river and I did the same thing in Anaheim (substitute river for theme parks) for that scheduled 6 miler.  However, a couple of 3 milers were lost and the 12 I was supposed to do Sunday after flying back from California just didn't happen.  I meant to do the 12 last night but....meh, I just didn't want to.  So I have lost one complete week of training but I am getting it back on track this week.  I will do my 12 this Sunday and all will be fine.  I am far enough away from the race that completely screwing up one week will hopefully not kill me.  Besides, this Sunday was scheduled to only be 9 miles so I think I am OK.

On the plus side though, I did manage to have one of those amazing runs where everything just clicks and you feel strong and fast in these two weeks of training.  It was a mid-week 5 miler at marathon pace and I just didn't want to go.  I was tired and cold but I went out anyway and posted the fastest miles I have run yet this year.  It was a nice little reminder that training works and you will reap the benefits.

Oh, I also had a one-time session with a personal trainer to help work on some core and back strength issues for both the marathon and wedding time.  I am also trying to make my arms not look like hams anymore.