This sure was a busy weekend of hiking, biking and trail running…..oh and eating….lots of eating!

Saturday I ran the Beat the Blerch Half Marathon in Morristown, New Jersey. I was so off my game I forgot to eat breakfast or drink water before leaving the house and I didn’t bring a water bottle for the car. OOPS!

The good the bad and the ugly

I had been following some posts on the Blerch Facebook event page that the course was a legit and seriously challenging trail run and to be prepared so I initially thought I’d drop back to the 10k. But the night before I made up my mind to just ride it out and stick with the half. I was scheduled to run 10-12 miles anyway. Truth be told the only 2 reasons I got out of bed were to see my friend Jane (and her hubby, mom, sis and friend who were also running) who I hadn’t seen since the NJ Marathon back in April and to eat cake along the course. Part of the Blerch caché is that they have couches and cake along the course.

sweet cake! or cake, SWEET!

sweet cake! or cake, SWEET! and the first thing I ate all day (at mile 2)

one of the couches along the course

one of the couches along the course

So there you have the good!

There was a full, half, and a 10k and with limited parking at the location of the race they had shuttle buses to take us to the start. I got there super early and I’m glad because my bus driver got lost. I also noticed that after our bus pulled out the traffic getting into the lot for runners just a few minutes later to arrive was insane! The lines to get your race bib, shirt and check your gear bag were also pretty bad. In general it seems they were pretty short on volunteers. Poor communication and lack of volunteers = bad.

Luckily since Jane had such a big group we divided up to hold spots for each other in the various lines. All the logistics aside the vibe of this event was pretty cool. If you’re not familiar with the creator of the Blerch, Matthew Inman, and his comic called the Oatmeal you should check this out. It’s some funny sh-it!

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This is just one of the 1,456,321 hills that we ran up

This is just one of the 1,456,321 hills that we ran up

Before the race

Before the race

at the start

at the start

Lots of the terrain was rocky

Lots of the terrain was rocky

More »

I’ve probably written this post before. The one where I throw my hands up and just want to give up on running, marathon training, my goals and my entire runner identity. #dramaqueen
I don’t feel like a runner lately.
My idea of hydrating the night before a run...

My idea of hydrating the night before a run…

This is clearly not a runner.

This is clearly not a runner.

I don’t feel excited for the NYC marathon like I should. I’m embarrassed to say that because there are so many people who’d do anything to run it.

While struggling through my short 5 miles this morning I dug down deep into why I am feeling this way.
#meh

#meh

Last year I had all these amazing PRs. I finished a half in March in 2:05 and then came the NJ Marathon where I finished in 4:38. I felt strong and was seeing such improvement that it stoked the fire in me to push for faster finishes and goals. I even bandied the idea of a sub 2 half marathon in my near future. And was hoping to shave another few minutes off that NJ marathon PR this year. Well I ended up injured, and injured again, and then again….ankle, knee, rotator cuff, back, hamstring, sometimes more than one issue hurting at the same time. It’s been 16 months of battling injuries and compromising of races. Dropping back from a full to a half for the San Francisco Marathon last year, and then not running a few other races at all. Getting only half the training in for this year’s NJ Marathon with a resulting 20 min slower than PR finish.
I wanted this NYC Marathon training cycle to be great! I wanted to feel so jazzed and healthy and really find that spirit and running high that I had in the past. I wanted to put these injuries behind me. And here I am struggling to keep up with training and worried I’ll have another poor performance come race day.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have no time goals for this race because of my not so stellar training but deep down I’m still so sad that my fire to get faster was snuffed by injury after injury. It has messed with my mind so much that I feel like a failure. I don’t feel like a runner anymore….more like a “shuffler”. My “good” runs are rare and that scares me.
I’m signed up for a half marathon this Saturday—the Beat the Blerch.
blerchBut I’m pretty sure I’m going to drop back to the 10k. I heard that most of the course is on trails and I’m worried about more injury. I’ll make a game-day decision.
I’m tempted to just stay home and lay on the living room floor with this guy:
IMG_8254But because I know my running peeps Cindi and Jane will be there I’m going. Jane has been in beast mode lately running and triathaloning and I’m hoping she’ll give me a pep-talk and some inspiration.
Tomorrow I promise I will UN-surrender because I know I’m not a quitter. And these feelings of failure and disappointment will be replaced with desire and perseverance. I’m going to actually slow down as I approach the finish line at the NYC Marathon this year. I want to take it all in. I want to savor the moment. I want to acknowledge the completion of a journey that took time and dedication. It might not be a “win” in the sense that most runners want but for me it will be a precious ending to the last chapter in my marathon book. I’m going to take a break from this distance. Not forever but for a bit. But I want to remember those seconds as I approach the finish line and realize that even through challenges I can make it. And my identity can be more than just a marathoner.
OK enough of that soapbox. I’ve agreed to start working full-time at my new(ish) gig. I’ve been freelancing with them for a few months but as of November I’ll be there 5 days and with an almost 2 hour commute each way and no marathon training I won’t have too much to talk about during the week. So I might drop back to once a week posts. I still plan to Sweat Out The Small Stuff of course =) Meanwhile, Duncan said he will guest post for me.
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Hey can you teach me how to use WordPress?

He’s got plenty of time because while I’m at work there’s only so much stair resting one can really do

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Question: Right now, Shut up and Dance by Walk the Moon and My Body by Young the Giant are the only two definites on my marathon playlist. Obviously 5 hours of running means I NEED MORE MUSIC!!!! Any suggestions???

 

Seriously, I can’t believe how much food I ate yesterday after getting home from my 17 mile run.

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Let’s rewind to how the day started. I was smacked in the face by the obnoxious alarm clock blaring at 3:45am. I had all my gear laid out the night before so I slathered sunscreen and anti-chafe balm everywhere and then somehow managed to get dressed while not nearly awake. I ate a soft pretzel and took a few swigs of water. Took Duncan out quick to do is biz and then I was on the road by 4:25am.

By 5am I was parking in Brooklyn and meeting up with Lisa and Mike. We had planned to run mostly along the NYC Marathon route. We ran 9/1 intervals (9 running 1 walking) and were keeping sub 11 min miles until hitting the Pulaski Bridge. We didn’t really chat much in the beginning. We just ran and every so often five minutes I would complain about the humidity.

Before we knew it we were in Queens and then Erin joined us at the base of the Queensboro Bridge.

peeps on the QB (we'll be back here at mile 16 on November 1!)

Lisa and Mike on the QB (we’ll be back here at mile 16 on November 1!)

At this point the sun had finally come up and I was finally awake enough so the conversation started to flow as we crossed over the Queensboro and into Manhattan.

FullSizeRender 3The next few miles seemed to fly and I felt pretty comfortable. By mile 8 though, the outside of my left foot started to hurt. This is a spot that has caused me a lot of aching for a long time. I have had peroneal tendon issues on and off since an ankle sprain in 2011. And the outside of the foot is where the tendon attaches. I thought about stopping to prevent further irritation but with our walk breaks I figured I’d be ok.

Erin and Mike somewhere on the east side

Erin and Mike somewhere on the east side

By mile 11 we met up with a couple more friends. The humidity was raging and I think Erin was starting to have some dehydration issues. Her legs were cramping and she was fading. By mile 13 she decided to change her intervals to 4/1 and I opted to stay with her. I figured that walk breaks more frequently would take some pressure off my foot. So we split up with the rest of the group. It was nice to catch up with Erin since I hadn’t seen her in probably a year! We walked a lot but ran when we could. I wasn’t really concerned at all about the walking—I just wanted to cover the mileage. It’s nice to have no real time goals this time around =)

sunflower in the foreground and the Chrysler building in the background

sunflower in the foreground and the Chrysler building in the background

I stopped my Garmin at mile 17 but we walked another mile to get from the west side to the east side. The good news is that I felt pretty strong even in the later miles. Never felt winded or defeated. Granted I felt the fatigue in my legs but it was just normal fatigue for running for 3+ hours. And I was happy and relaxed. I wasn’t hating running as I can usually do when running long. I would normally have one or two more long runs before the marathon. Probably an 18-19ish and a 20ish. I might still get the 18-19ish done on 10/3 but if not I’m running 2 back to back half marathons the weekend after that (10/10 and 10/11) which will be replacing my 20ish miler. I’ll see how I feel. Next week I’m signed up for the Beat the Blerch half but after finding out it’s mostly a trail run I’ll probably drop back to the 10k. Next week is a step back week for me anyway so no need to run 13 =)

 

50,000 runners will have to deal with the construction on the Verrazano during the marathon. I doubt it will be complete by then. Oh well.

50,000 runners will have to deal with the construction on the Verrazano during the marathon. I doubt it will be complete by then. Oh well.

Meanwhile when I came home I tried to figure out why my foot had started hurting so suddenly. That’s when I felt the inside of my new Brooks Ghost sneakers and realized the vinyl strip under the logo was super stiff and protruded through so that you could feel the ridge on the inside of the sneaker. I’m guessing the 2 shorter runs I did in them didn’t bother me because I wasn’t wearing them that long.

That silver part right under the pink part of the logo

That silver part right under the pink part of the logo :(

Sadly, I returned the sneakers. Thank you to Dicks Sporting Goods for taking back slightly worn merchandise! Boo hoo! I’m gonna have to wait a bit for my foot to feel better (been alternating between ice and heat and wearing compression socks to help) and then probably just get another pair of Asics Cumulus. Or maybe get a wide width of these.

Today Duncan and I are relaxing and then I have some freelance work to do. We went for a nice walk early this morning (since I went to bed at 9pm last night I was up super early today).

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I can’t believe she took me out so early on a Sunday. She must really feel guilty she was gone for so long yesterday

relaxing

relaxing

Early morning walk

Early morning walk

I hope you all are having a great weekend! And a big shout out to Becky who ran 20 strong miles today. She’ll be rocking the Steamtown Marathon (her first marathon!) in just a few weeks.

Who’s running a fall marathon?
Who has a birthday coming up? Mine’s in 35 days =)

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Tuesday 3 miles

So after feeling a slight improvement running 3 miles on Tuesday I ran 7 miles today and FINALLY felt like the runner I’m used to.

7 miles

7 miles

I’ll never be fast but today I felt pep in my step. My leg turnover felt normal (NO MORE SHUFFLING!), my gait felt normal and my breathing felt normal and no side stitches. I averaged 11:15 miles and was pretty consistent for all 7 miles.

What do I think is the reason for finally having a better run?

1. I slept 2 extra hours on Monday and 1 extra hour on both Tuesday and Wednesday
2. I stayed away from artificial sweeteners and processed foods for the last few days.
3. I got new sneakers! (Brooks Ghost 8s)
4. The temps have been a little cooler
5. I took ibuprofen and walked for a mile with Duncan this morning before running

new kicks!

new kicks!

OK let’s discus #5 shall we? I have been suffering with some general back pain since the end of April. When the pain first arrived I thought I slept wrong and hoped it would go away in a few days. Well it didn’t. It comes and goes in waves and the actual pain center migrates. Sometimes it’s the sciatic nerve, other times the small of my back, sometimes it radiates to the front of my hips to the point I think i’m having issues with my ovaries!

I was trying to relieve my back pain last night. He was obviously quite comfortable

I was trying to relieve my back pain last night. He was obviously quite comfortable

Anyway, this morning while I was still in bed and waiting for the alarm to go off, the pain was this constant dull ache and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I finally got up and took 2 ibuprofen. Then I grabbed the dog and we headed to the park for a walk.

6:45am walk with the doodle and my very much needed coffee

6:45am walk with the doodle and my very much needed coffee

Both the ibuprofen and the walk did wonders and the back started feeling great. And as a side-effect, my achy sore legs felt great too. I think this was one of the reasons I felt so much better running today.

celebrating my good run with some relaxing in the grass

celebrating my good run with some relaxing in the grass

I didn’t carry a water bottle but was happy to hit up this water fountain about 1/2 way through.

hydration station

hydration station

I’m meeting my running friends on Saturday morning for a long run. I’m aiming for 17 while they are going to cover about 23. We’re running most of this along the NYC Marathon route which is key! I’m feeling confident with some good sleep tonight and tomorrow night I’ll make it through Saturday’s run just fine. Not to mention having great company!

Whew!

So what’s new with you? Tell me one thing you’re happy about and one thing you’re frustrated with.