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Archive for March, 2014

The Chocolate 5K – Louisville, KY (March 30, 2014)

Sean Astin and me after finishing the Chocolate 5K - Louisville, Kentucky

Sean Astin and me after finishing the Chocolate 5K – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: The Chocolate 5K

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: March 30, 2014

Time: 21:02* (UNTIMED EVENT)

There is nothing better than a race that combines three things that I love: chocolate, puppies, and running!  And thanks to No Kill Louisville, there was a fun, untimed event held on Sunday that involved all three of those things.  Yep.  All three of them.  No Kill Louisville helped put on The Chocolate 5K, which involved a 3.1 mile run/walk, Ghrirardelli chocolate (provided on the course and at the finish…not to mention two squares in your packet at packet pick-up), and…lots of animal rescue leagues.

The morning was cold.  I knew it was cold because I had to go outside and do my heel drops off the stairs of my apartment complex (and the only stairs available are outside!).  So, I dressed accordingly…in a long sleeve top, a pair of capris, and my compression sleeves.  I was actually running as part of a team.  My friend, and running compatriot, Dawn, was running with a team of co-workers and invited me to join their team (for the team discount price).  I was totally about that, so I did sign up.  I’m just getting back into racing and my speed is not back yet, so I intended just to see what I could manage.  After all, this event was not timed.  Sort of like the Glo Run and The Color Run.  Go out…get some chocolate…have a good time.  Worked for me!

Cathy and I headed out just about the time we wanted to, after each downing a bowl of cereal and having some coffee.  I brought along some Lärabars to eat as the race time crept closer (I had no bananas on hand…which is NOT good on race morning).  We piled into the car and off we went to Waterfront Park, the new venue for the race.  It was originally scheduled to take place at E.P. Tom Sawyer…but due to muddy trails and the like…it was moved to the paved Waterfront Park area.  I was more than happy about that.  Trust me.

We made good time down to Waterfront and even managed to find a parking spot under the bridge.  A short stroll through the little booths set up (for places like Earth Fare and all the animal rescue leagues that came out!), I made my way to the registration line.  Recent e-mails said that the turnout for the race was not good and there weren’t that many participants.  But there was a line by the time I got there for people picking up their packets.  And the line only continued to grow from there.  So…either people were trying to decided at the last minute whether to run or walk or not…this was actually a really, really big turn out!  I managed to get up to the table and told the volunteer my name.  She kept looking under BA, so finally I had to spell out my last name…”B-R-A…”  But she found me after I pointed my name out on the list.  She handed me a green bag that contained two different varieties of Ghirardelli Chocolate and my race bib and then sent me over to pick up my t-shirt.  After that, I was standing around for a second when Dawn and a co-worker of hers arrived.  They were going to get in line, so I went to go put my chocolate and t-shirt in the car so Cathy wouldn’t have to try to juggle it on top of the sign and my jacket I was going to shed before the race start.

As we were heading back toward the registration line, I was opening up my Lärabar (Jŏcalat Chocolate Mint…in case you were curious) and taking a big bite when a small group ran past.  They were in race numbers (not unusual at a race) and just doing this slow little warm-up run together, talking and smiling.  I eyed the guy in the middle in the yellow running jacket and the shorts as he went by.  After I swallowed my bite of bar, I turned to Cathy, who was having an epic struggle with the wrapper of her bar (she didn’t want to take off her gloves), and said, “That guy looked like Sean Astin.”  She heard me but didn’t respond.  I think she was really focused on eating the rest of her breakfast, but first she had to get to it.  I eventually helped her out and went to toss the wrappers away.  Dawn said her boyfriend, Matthew (I train with him a LOT), was going to run from his house to the race, do the race, and then finish up the remaining miles of his scheduled 20 mile training run.  Whew.  That made me tired just thinking about it.  Her other two co-workers arrived around that time and got in line to get their bibs and packets.  And they all consumed their chocolate as a pre-race sugar rush.  Or so I joked.  But…chocolate consumed…we were just waiting on the start.  Matthew arrived with a few minutes to spare and we helped him get his blinkie lights turned off.

A quick picture in front of the start line and some announcements were being made.  And then…I hear it…”And now a quick word from Sean Astin…who you might know from the Lord of the Rings Movies and the Goonies…as well as many others…”  And then he took the mic.  You better believe that I moved up to see if I had heard that right.  I had.  It was him.

Cathy still wasn’t paying attention, but rather getting artistic photos of the start line when I found her and said, “That guy I said looked like Sean Astin WAS Sean Astin.”

So…I do have this running (see what I did there?) joke about how Sean Astin is stalking me on my races.  He has run every Disney race I have ever been a part of and he also ran the Chicago Marathon last year when I did.  So…this was just further proof that the man is following me.  To come out to an untimed event for charity to run 3.1 miles just speaks so highly of his character.  He didn’t have to do it.  But he did.  And it made me love him even more than I already did.  He spoke briefly, and commented that the weather, for him, was perfect for running.  We all laughed because we locals were all in compression gear and there he was in shorts just soaking it all in.  God love him!

After he wished us all luck on the race, we were told to line up at the starting line.  The announcer began to give us the route, then simply said…”There are yellow arrows on the ground.  Just follow the yellow arrows.”  And with that…we were sent off with a whistle.

I found my stride early and was out with the first five in the pack, with others right behind me.  I didn’t want to push too hard.  Not on an untimed race.  I get frustrated with my lack of speed these days, and that is understandable, but my friend Andrea always reminds me…I’m healing.  I need to heal up and the speed will return.  So, for now, I can’t set time goals…I just have to run smart and run safe.  And that was my ultimate goal.  I followed the yellow arrows…and the people in front of me…for the first mile before I passed up the one female that was ahead of me.  My strides felt good.  No ankle twinges…so I kept on, just doing what I could to maintain.  It also didn’t help that I woke up that morning with some chest congestion and an intermittent cough.  No good.  This is what happened during the Triple Crown of Running last year and I did not want to relive that.  So, for the sake of being able to breathe without dying…I made sure I maintained a challenging, but even pace.

I passed up the table where they were offering Ghirardelli chocolate squares because…I was running.  I can’t run and eat chocolate.  So, I kept on going, rounding the corner up ahead and getting sent up a bit of an incline.  I pushed up the hill, not feeling any discomfort in the ankle, rounded the corner again, and then started on the gentle slope back down toward the race course.

Now this is where it got messy.  We had runners and walkers making their way up to the incline ahead, but were taking chocolate from the Ghirardelli stop as well, which was located on the side of the path where people running back toward the finish were now running.  Oh well…it was a fun event…you just go with it.  As I’m trucking along, I see Sean Astin running toward me and he starts applauding those of us in the front of the pack and telling us we were doing great.  I held up my hand and he high-fived it.  Awesome.  A moment later, my co-worker’s husband was running by and we high-fived as well.  It was a high-five kind of race and I was loving it.  A little ways down my co-workers, Laura and Kayla, were walking past and Laura told me to go catch up to the guy in front of me (it was her son…who was banditing the race).  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that, but as I was coming into one of the final turns, I did pass the kid in the orange sweatshirt that had outpaced me for much of the first part of the race.  I managed to keep ahead of him, and came back into the familiar Great Lawn area of Waterfront Park.  One final turn and I booked it to the finish line, pausing my Garmin a moment after.  I was the 4th registered finisher across the finish line.

I was all smiles!!  Seriously…all smiles.  It has been hard for me to not focus so much on time, but what I’m discovering is why I love doing this sport in the first place.  Yes…PRs are awesome and should be celebrated and should be fought for…but sometimes you have to work back into that.  I have rediscovered the joy that comes with just being able to get outside and get that run in.  I have found so much positivity from the people who saw me struggle with my sprained ankle and who have seen my will and determination to come back.  It’s a slow process…but I’m making strides in the right direction.

Me crossing the finish line of the Chocolate 5K - Louisville, Kentucky

Me crossing the finish line of the Chocolate 5K – Louisville, Kentucky

After crossing the finish, I went to get some water and a couple pieces of chocolate.  Cathy and I each ate a square…and we waited for the rest of my team to come in.  But…about four minutes after my finish…here comes Sean Astin.  Seriously.  I cheered as he crossed the finish line and then went down the ways a little to catch his breath.  His companion (and sort of body guard) went to go get him some water and after a moment, I walked over to say “Hi.”  And he was very gracious and very welcoming.  We took a picture together and I told him the story about how I believe he’s stalking me.  I told him the races we had run “together” and when I mentioned Chicago…he said, “You ran in Chicago…with your hair like this and everything!”  He pointed to my pigtails.  I laughed and nodded.  We talked about our finishing times and he said his goal is to eventually, one day, run a sub-4 marathon.  I told him I had every belief that he could do it.  He told me that I was going to win the Boston Marathon.  Seriously…can I keep him?

I knew he was busy and had a schedule to maintain (he was in town for the Wizard World Comic Con Louisville) so I said goodbye.  He gave me a hug and told me to have a good day.  I thanked him for coming out to run.  And that was that.  A few moments later…my team came in and I cheered for them all the way to the finish!  It was an amazing day.

So…my official time for this untimed event, according to my Garmin was 21:02.  I want to note, however, that the course was only 2.78 miles.  So…I am not little miss speedy!  Trust me.  I didn’t even feel all that speedy.  And at that pace, I wouldn’t have come close to my 5K PR.  I was okay with that, but I wanted at least 3 miles for the day.  So I went and did a slow, steady shake-out for the remaining mileage before returning to talk with my friends a bit longer.  We were wrapping things up, and I had grocery shopping, laundry, and an apartment to clean…so I said goodbye to everyone and Cathy and I departed, stopping by the Earth Fare booth to say hi.  I might have forgotten to mention (and will blog about it maybe next month) that I am, once again, an Earth Fare Athlete Ambassador.  And I’m loving it.  So, we had a short talk with the person at the booth, who recognized me immediately.  And, after snagging some chocolate dipped banana chips, we headed out for the day.

I had so much fun at this little race.  I smiled the entire time.  I managed to not die from a rattly chest.  I pushed a little harder than I normally would.  I want my speed back.  It will come.  I keep telling myself…it will come.  But for now…strengthening that ankle and getting myself back on track is way more important.  I’m just thankful that I had the opportunity to take part in such a fun event for a great cause.  And I can’t wait to do my next one.


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Hey…you never know!

TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON

TCS NEW YORK CITY MARATHON

I grew up in New York.

And there were these commercials that would air for the New York Lottery…and the catch phrase was “Hey…you never know!”

Well…that holds true in running as well.

I have been searching for a fall marathon to run this year.  I did Chicago last year…and thought about Marine Corp, but have heard such a mixed bag of reviews on that one that I thought to let that one sit on the back burner for now.  There were a few races that I eyed…but none that really grabbed me.

Then…I got the e-mail from the NYRR…to enter the lottery for the New York City Marathon.  I went ahead and paid the fee to put in my name for the draw way back in December.  The draw was today…

AND I GOT IN!!!!

I never get into anything via the lottery.  EVER!!  So this was a huge surprise.  I saw the pending charge on my credit card while I was at work, but decided to wait until I got the official e-mail…which came earlier this evening.  And soon commenced with me jumping up and down, dancing a jig, maybe doing the hokey-pokey…and SCREAMING!!!

So, I guess the luck of the draw found the fall marathon for me.  New York City…here I come!

And I can’t wait!!

Pardon me while I go dance around to Pharrell William’s “Happy” for a little while.

*FLAIL*

Like the commercials (for the other New York Lotto) always said…”Hey…you never know…”



Publix Georgia Marathon – Atlanta, GA (March 23, 2014)

Me crossing the finish line of the Publix Georgia Marathon - Atlanta, Georgia

Me crossing the finish line of the Publix Georgia Marathon – Atlanta, Georgia

Race: Publix Georgia Marathon

Place: Atlanta, Georgia

Date: March 23, 2014

Time: 3:51:32

 

I must be out of my mind, right?  I was just cleared to run this past Monday and went for a sprint in a 3K race in Frankfort, Kentucky.  No pain.  No problems.  And I did some outside running throughout the week to what my training schedule would have been had I been able to properly train for a marathon distance.

Which…I haven’t.  And…I didn’t.  In fact, my longest run since the ankle sprain was done in Columbus, Ohio…around my friend’s neighborhood.  And that was only 8 miles.  Yep…not exactly going into this having logged double digit runs.  AT ALL.  Not since February…and I think the longest one I managed then was 10 miles.

This…is not the way I wanted to come into this run.  But, when you badly sprain your ankle…there are few choices left to you.  Unable to run outside…and then limited to a treadmill (NOT a tready girl…I get so bored and long runs are not an option at a gym that limits you to only an hour on the machine).  But…with the ankle rehabbed and my running slower…but okay…I packed up my bags, packed up my car, and made the long drive down to Atlanta.

For…a marathon.

A full and hilly 26.2 miles.

Because…I was cleared to do it as long as I don’t blitz it.  I had no intentions of blitzing this one in the first place, so I was okay with that.  But, that’s not to say the nerves haven’t set in.  Because, trust me…they have.

The drive down was pretty uneventful.  Listened to some tunes…then a few Doc Savage radio shows…until I got downtown.  Pulled into the Omni Hotel and had my car valet parked.  The luggage was left with the doorman and I went to check in.  I stayed at the Omni when I was in Atlanta for The Police concert so many years ago!  So, I knew it was a very nice place to stay.  And as I checked in, since I was here for the marathon, the hotel provided me with an awesome bag of goodies: a banana, a bottle of water, and a KIND Bar.  This…is my happy face!

Went to the room and waited for the luggage to arrive.  When it did, it was time to head to the expo.  Now, I had every intention of walking away from this expo with nothing more than maybe a new BondiBand…and my race packet.  But then…EXPO AWE OF PURCHASING DOOM hit and my wallet…took the brunt of it.  Now…for the most part, nothing was really something I didn’t need.  I bought a couple of Wonder Woman tech shirts.  YAY!  Been looking for those everywhere.  I bought a new pair of Newton’s…which was my splurge buy, but my old pair is up in the miles and, damn, I love those shoes.  And…I bought the adhesive spray for my KT Taping.  Oh…and while I was there, as an extra precaution, I had the people at the KT Tape booth tape up my ankle.  Figured it wouldn’t hurt.

After that…I had to get out of there before I talked myself into other items that caught my eye…because the shirts in the Official Merchandise store were tempting.  But I really don’t need more shirts, LOL!

So…Cathy and I left the expo and took items back up to the room at the hotel.  We had some time to kill, so we decided to take a stroll over to Centennial Park.  So…we did that and actually found the finish shoots and the start of the finish line being put up.  We wandered over so I could take pictures in front of the finish line.  Then, we strolled up to the Hard Rock Cafe so I could pick up a pin and Cathy could get a shot glass.  Been ages since we’ve been to the Atlanta Hard Rock.  We went to check out where we were dining that night before taking things back to the hotel, relaxing for a moment, and then making the short stroll up the street to dinner.

Dinner was at Max’s Coal Oven Pizzaria.  We saw them listed on Find Me Gluten Free with some good reviews…so we figured we’d give it a try.  We were seated immediately and we made a decision on a gluten-free pizza to split.  We chose the Gluten-Free Fontina & Funghi Pizza…which was a white pizza that had fontina cheese, wild mushrooms, caramelized onions, and fresh oregano.  It looked amazing when it was delivered to my table…but it really…was kind of MEH.  The mushrooms were awesome.  The crust was…uninspired and rather boring.  SO not the way I wanted my mandatory pre-race gluten-free pizza to go.  So disappointed.  After that, we walked over to the CNN Building to take a look around.  We got some frozen yogurt for dessert and came back to the room to relax.  I had my stretches and foam rolling to do and really just want some time to relax and make sure I was hydrated and ready for the morning.

My first alarm went off at 3:30 a.m.  I got up and did a couple of things before climbing back into my comfy bed and getting about 45 more minutes of rest.  When my second alarm went off at 4:30 a.m., I checked the weather, then got up and got my clothes I laid out the night before and went to get changed.  At first, I was afraid that the t-shirt under my Marathon Maniac’s singlet (OH…forget to mention I totally qualified for Marathon Maniacs back in January with the Disney Marathon) would be too warm.  The temperature that morning was 58° F with little breeze.  Wearing it turned out to be the best decision I have made.  More on that later.  I ate my cereal and then did my stretches (my physical therapists would be so proud!) and resistance band work (again…they would be proud).  I brushed my teeth…then put on my fuel belt and bib and headed out the door.

Then…I get to the elevators and realized that I left my cellphone in the room.  So, I hurried back to the room to get it.  Exit…take 2…I get in the elevator and head down to the lobby.  I get to the door and realized that I left my pre-race banana in the room.  So…now I’m stressing myself out and went back to the room and grabbed the banana…and my hoodie…just in case it was windy and chillier than the Weather Channel app on my phone told me.  Exit…take 3.

And this time…we made it out the door and onto the sidewalk.  The start of the race was in Centennial Olympic Park right across from my hotel.  No stress.  So, I was starting to feel a little calmer and better about everything.  I was supposed to meet up with the other Marathon Maniacs for a picture near a statue, so that was where we headed first.  It was my first official photo as a Maniac…and that was awesome!  The photo was a quick thing and then I went to find somewhere to do some more stretching and eat my banana.  Cathy gave me a good luck hug and said she was off to find a place past the starting line to see me off.  I decided to get into my corral (Corral E).  Time was ticking down.  Fifteen minutes to go to start time.  The nerves were starting to settle in…again.

The National Anthem was sang beautifully!  I was listening to all the chatter in the corral about time expectations.  I had none coming into this one.  I just had a goal…to finish…and not get re-injured.  Having just been cleared to run last week…well…this was a huge risk running this race.  I had so many people tell me to defer.  But…I figured if I was cleared to run…this was running.  I would listen to my body.

I got to chatting with a guy next to me.  He noticed me getting my Garmin ready and he said his all-out died on him so he showed me his standard watch (with the actual watch hands and everything) and said he was taking it old school.  Awesome!  We got a good laugh about it and I mentioned I had to replace my Garmin because mine did the same thing.  I love my new Garmin, BTW!  Little treat to myself!

The corrals began to get collapsed and the flag barriers removed.  We all moved up and then the official countdown in a robotic voice began.  And then…we were off.  I walked for a moment, then we all started to job.  And…we were off.  I gave a wave to Cathy as I ran past her.  She cheered and then…I was hitting the road.

And this road was H-I-L-L-Y!!!

Seriously…it became immediately apparent that I haven’t been able to train much this winter.  First…I was barred from running for over a month.  Then I was banned from running hills along with it…for longer than not running.  That also meant no incline on the treadmill either.  So…I was so not ready for the Hills From Hell™ in Atlanta.  But…I signed on for this, right?  Right.

Between Mile 1 and 2, I had the chance to run with a really nice guy, also a Marathon Maniac.  We discussed our sprained ankles, as he had badly sprained his ankle too and this was his first run back as well.  His name was Anthony and he was really nice.  I lost him at a water stop though.  From there on out…it was all about what my body was telling me.  With the number of hills and the various climbs and steepness of each…I said that if my ankle twinged, I would back it off.  So…that was the plan.  I wasn’t running for time…just the fact that I could run again!

I absolutely took on this challenging marathon with my whole heart.  I was having a really good run for the most part.  They volunteers at the water/Powerade and food stops were awesome.  I actually expected there to be more crowd support through the entire race…but…nope.  It was pretty sparse.  The Decatur area had some groups out and the police officers helping with traffic control were awesome.  I got a lot of shout-outs for being a Maniac…which was awesome.  It definitely helped me get through some of the more challenging portions of this race.

Around Mile 16 it began to spit rain.  I knew we had a big chance of rain…but it had held off.  So…I was sort of expecting it (hence the reason I was wearing a hat).  But…it only spit rain for about 30 minutes and then…it just stopped.  Sadly though, when the rain came in…so did the wind.  And some of these gusts of wind reached 20 mph.  And we were running right into it.  It kept catching the brim of my hat and trying to pull it off my head.  It almost reminded me of the Marshall Marathon where the wind battered runners the entire way.  Of course, with the wind…it got cold.  Fast.  And this is why I mentioned above why I was glad I decided to keep the t-shirt on.  The beginning of the race was humid and warm and I sort of was kicking myself for putting the t-shirt on beneath the singlet…but after that wind hit…I was happy to have it.

The end of this race was a gradual uphill, which made it very difficult at times.  My calf muscles were screaming and barking and mooing at me all at once.  Like I said…you could tell that I hadn’t been running the hills recently.  Or…running at all.  I felt way under-prepared…and a bit out of shape.  But…you know…I walked part of the inclines…I kept my pace easy so as not to do any damage.  And I ended up having a better race than I anticipated I would.  Finishing a marathon in sub-4 after not being able to run for over a month, and having to tackle some intense hills…yeah…I’m happy with this!

I spotted Cathy at the finish line and she rushed over to congratulate me.  Then she said to go get my medal and stuff and to meet her in the reunion area.  I walked through to get the beautiful medal from this race.  Then…water.  Ah, sweet water.  And then it was the Mylar blanket followed by chocolate milk.  I made my way through the chute until I made the turn to head toward Centennial Park and the Publix Food Tent.  Cathy was waiting on a grassy knoll just inside the gate.  I walked over the area where the bomb went off during the 1996 Olympic Games and made my way to where she was.  She gave me a huge hug and congratulated me once again.  We made our way over to the Publix Food Tent and I had my ticket torn off my bib to get my bag of goodies for the finish.  They even gave Cathy one.  That was very nice of them…as Cathy works just as hard as I do at these races, trust me.  I went to a clearing in the grass and put my feet up, attempting to call my parents.  They were still in church though, so they didn’t answer their phones.  After that, I got myself back on my feet and went to do my calf stretches against what we later realized was the base of the Olympic Torch holder.  For real.

The finisher's medal of the Publix Georgia Marathon

The finisher’s medal of the Publix Georgia Marathon – Atlanta, Georgia

It was really cold out with the wind, so we made the short hike back to the hotel room so that I could take my shower, have the fruit cup Cathy picked up for me and then get ready to head out to the CNN Center for the CNN Studio Tour she picked up tickets for while I was on the run.  That, by the way, was so much fun.  I have a degree in journalism, so I was eating up every moment of the tour.  We did a little bit of shopping and TONS of walking around Atlanta.  It was a good afternoon.  And I never really stopped moving, which is always a good thing.

And now, I’ve retired back to the hotel room where I am about to do my stretches and resistance band work.  Law & Order SVU is on…and I’m feeling content.  I was so nervous about this race going into it…and I’m content with what happened and how I did.  Sure…slightly disappointed…but you know…this one had to be about running smart.  It just had to be that way.

So…my official results of the Publix Georgia Marathon are that I finished in a time of 3:51:32 (for 26.47 miles).  I wasn’t expecting to go sub-4 on this one, so this was a very nice surprise.  I was 296/1628 finishers overall.  I was the 64/647 female to cross the finish line.  And I was 10/98 in my division.  Was this the marathon I wanted?  Absolutely not.  But…it was the best marathon I could have given the circumstances I was under.  I ran smart…I listened to my body…and I crossed that finish line.



The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, KY (March 17, 2014)

Me crossing the finish line of The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K - Frankfort, Kentucky (I'm totally smiling because I finished without pain!)

Me crossing the finish line of The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K – Frankfort, Kentucky (I’m totally smiling because I finished without pain!)

Race: The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K

Place: Frankfort, Kentucky

Date: March 17, 2014

Time: 13:09

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!!

Did you miss me?  I missed me.  So, I hope you missed me too.

This has been one rough year for me thus far when it comes to my running.  It just seems like it’s one minor ache then one major sprain.  And everything just spirals out of control from there.  For real!  UGH!  I’ve been in tears more than once over the amount (or lack thereof) of running I’ve been able to accomplish thus far this year.  Why?  Well…weather has been awful and treadmill running is not my favorite thing to do.  I will do it, yes…but it takes a lot for me to get on one because…BORING!  Secondly…a really bad sprained ankle.  Bad enough to require numerous physical therapy sessions.  I was on an “absolutely NO running” restriction for awhile…and then it was an “only run on the treadmill…and not too fast…or too far” restriction.  Finally, I got the “you can run outside, but only if the terrain is flat.”  Have you seen where I live?  There is no part of this area that is pancake flat that would allow me to run.  SO frustrating.

But yesterday…on a chilly, but sunny St. Patrick’s Day…I went to what would end up being my final PT session.  Yep.  I’m done.  And, my therapist told me…that very day before I got into the car to make the drive to Frankfort…to try running hills.  See how the ankle did.  Which…worked out because I knew of the one steep-ish hill we have to climb in Frankfort on this little sprint.  If it hurt…I was to continue my sessions.  If everything seemed okay…no pain or twinges…nothing felt off…I was done.  We shook hands, and I headed toward my race.

This is my traditional St. Patrick’s Day race.  Yes…it can be a bit of a hassle, especially when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a weekday…like this year.  Monday evening.  This meant leaving work for PT, then immediately getting in the car and making the journey to Frankfort.  It takes just under an hour if the traffic gods are smiling on you.  I packed dinner.  Gluten-free peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, to eat a little later.  My roommate and I made crazy-good time, actually.  We were in Frankfort long before we really needed to be.  With some time to spare, we stopped by the Kroger, where I went to use a flushing toilet and she went hunting for something to eat with the sammies.  She found me a banana…so I was a happy girl.

Anyway…we returned to the car and dined in the parking lot on my homemade sammies.  I saved my banana for a little closer to race time.  Once we noshed, we returned to the road and ventured toward downtown Frankfort, parking in our usual parking garage and hiking over to where packet pickup was being held.

I was in and out of there in no time.  And, since it was really chilly in the shade…we ventured over toward the sunshine across the street from where the race was starting.  A lot of runners also had this idea.  We stood around and just sort of discussed a few things, mostly my take on this race.  I had no great expectations being so fresh off my really bad sprain.  So…my goal was to finish it and finish it without doing further damage to myself.  While I was standing there, my super-speedy friend, Linda, came over to say hi.  We hugged and talked for a moment, before she dashed off to get her packet.  I pulled out my iPhone and was updating Facebook with a status about pre-race jitters when I got a tap on my shoulder.

Remember Kendall Hayes, the amazing young woman who won the Frankfort Trifecta last year?  It was her dad, her mom, the legend herself, and her brother, Connor (who is also an amazing runner and came in 6th overall this year).  Her dad wanted to thank me for saying such nice things about Kendall in my blog last year.  I said she definitely earned the praise.  Honestly…look for this woman in Bend, Oregon running with the Nike elites.  This will happen.  Mark my words.  In fact, Kendall won the top spot again this year!  Like I said, she’s incredible.  The two kids went to stretch, which reminded me I needed to do the very same thing.  I promised both of my physical therapists to be better about doing that before and after running.  Hoping to prevent future injuries.  So, I did a few of the usual stretches I normally would half-ass, but this time, really did them.  I could tell my hamstrings were tight, so I did the hamstring stretches my physical therapists had shown me.  And, I actually did something I never have done before…I did some warm-up strides.  Yep.  Me!  Doing those little dashes up and down the street before the start of the race.  It definitely helped loosen up those hammies a little.  Not a lot…but some.  And that was better than nothing.

The race start was getting close, so Cathy went to find a spot to cheer from.  As I was heading to the starting line, I felt a little tap on my shoulder.  It was my dearest friend, Debbie Brown, who helps put together the 5K race that is part of this series.  She asked how my ankle was doing and asked if I was running.  I told her I was going to attempt to run and see how it felt.  I was so glad she spotted me, as I had been looking for her while we were standing around.  The pace signs were being held aloft so people could line up appropriately.  I wasn’t sure what to do about lining up, so I just picked a spot and went with it.  A blessing was given for the runners and walkers, tied in with a nice Irish Blessing.  It was nice.  Then…we were awaiting the pistol.

It fired…and we were off.

It felt so weird to be racing again.  Not just racing…attempting a sprint without getting hurt.  Cathy had brought some KT Tape to tape me up, but I told her it was a short race…I’d be fine.  At this point, remembering this was more of a sprint than a distance race, I was second-guessing this.  Call it ‘first official run after the injury’ concerns.  Or minor panic.  I just found a decent stride and fell into it.  I was trying not to focus on my time this year…as I was really just released to run.

Linda blazed by me within the first hundred feet and said, “Don’t you dare hurt yourself.  I will beat you if you do!”  It made me laugh and it was just what I needed to settle my nerves.  And I was proud of Linda.  Last year she was the one trailing me.  This year, I have a feeling I’ll be the one trailing her (because she kicked my ass in this one!).  With that little boost, I was rounding the corner and making my way up toward that incline.  My first incline since the injury.  I almost held my breath…but then…pushed…up…the…hill.

No pain.  Just felt really winded.  Man…I must have lost some fitness in that entire month I was off from running.  It sure seems like I lost fitness.  I just haven’t been able to run like I did last year.  And it drives me mad.  But…slow, steady steps.  Rush it and risk reinjury.  So…I just sort of made my way up the street to the turn around point.  I made the turn and headed back down toward the bridge.  As I was passing some spectators, I heard one of them shout, “First place for pigtails!” at me.  I pumped my fist and smiled.  Awesome.  Down the hill I went and back into the town.

A 3K is a very short distance…around 1.84 miles.  Last year, I ran this race in 13:02.  I didn’t think I’d come anywhere close to that this year.  I was huffing and puffing like a rookie runner at this point and felt myself get so angry at that fact.  But…pushed onward.  And forward.  I came around the final turn and attempted to pick up my pace to dash into that finish line.  I saw my numbers tick by as I crossed.  Not too far off of last year’s time.  No improvement.  And…a part of me felt so good about the run.  And another part of me felt so disappointed.

It’s hard to explain when you come back to a race…but you’re not up to where you were the previous year.  I was so happy to have finished with no ankle pain, no twinges…nothing.  And then, there was that part of my brain that said…if you had pushed that hill harder…if you had maintained that initial speed you took off with…you could have…you should have…you would have…

It wasn't the race I wanted...but it was the race I had...and I finished strong and without pain.  That was the important thing!

It wasn’t the race I wanted…but it was the race I had…and I finished strong and without pain. That was the important thing!

And then you just need to tell that voice to shut the hell up!  Because, while I am a little disappointed that I didn’t place in my division this year…that those I passed last year were passing me…that I feel like I’ve lost my speed…that I may never find my speed again…I have to remember…I sprained the hell out of my ankle and being able to run that race was a gift in and of itself.  That being said, finishing only 7 seconds slower than last year isn’t bad.  It’s not great…but that’s really damn impressive for someone who hasn’t been able to do much running on varied terrain…or even outside…or even at all.  Yeah, part of me is very sad, upset, and wants to throw a fit…but the bigger part of me is proud of what I accomplished and managed under the circumstances.

Anyway, the official results of The Good Shepherd Run For The Gold 3K are that I finished in 13:09.  I was 48/708 finishers overall.  I was 4/109 in my division.  Once again, the 30-39 women’s division was the largest overall for the race.  So…I’ll take this.  My brain might not like it…but my heart tells me…I did good just to run it.  Running is a gift, and I’m thankful I can do it again…even if it means slowing down for a little while to allow myself ample time to heal.

Another hell of a sprint this year.  Already making plans to come back next year…and maybe best my time from last year.  With a little work…anything is possible!

Thank you again, Frankfort, for this very fun race!



Physical Therapy – 2 Weeks In…

Stepping out with weights...

Stepping out with weights…

Ever since the ankle sprain heard around the world (okay…not really, but…it seems like this just isn’t going away), I have gone to the doctor, been X-rayed, and now am going twice a week to physical therapy, where I am working with two very good therapists, Jill and Shawn.

The good news is…no fractures. No stress fractures. NOTHING…I repeat…NOTHING…is broken.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is…I seriously sprained my ankle.  Yep.  Seriously.  And not the typical inversion ankle sprain either (that would be on the outside of the ankle).  Nope.  I’m a special case.  I do the more uncommon and rather quite rare, rolling the ankle outward and doing the damage to the inside of my ankle.  Because, why do things the way 80% of the population does, right?  I will not conform.  *sigh*

So, last week I went to my first physical therapy session.  And was immediately discouraged.  There were measurements taken of both my feet an ankles, and I was given a couple of exercises to do, and given some of the bands to really work my ankle some more.  I left not really sure how I felt, but had another appointment set up to meet with Shawn, who would go over some other things I could do and work with me a bit further.  Needless to say, I had my doubts, but that Friday evening when I went into my session, Shawn really did make me feel better and did move things along.

I have about 30 minutes of stretching that I am doing, twice a day, every day.  Then, I am doing 3 sets of 20 reps of each ankle flexing exercise with the various bands (they each provide a different bit of resistance and strength) twice a day.  That’s a lot.  But…I do it.  Despite not always feeling like doing it.  I still do it.  Why?  Because I am seeing improvement.

That being said, today was going to be a very important session.  I went into my session and did my warm-up on the bike.  Then, Shawn got me strapped into a weight machine and had me do some forward, backwards, and side stepping, while hooked up to some weights.  Resistance to make it a little tougher and to test that ankle.  Then he had me doing some ankle exercises while hooked up to some weights around each ankle, to work on some balance and strength.  I managed these, no problem at all.  The hard part was talking and counting my required 20 reps.  It’s the little things.

The moment of truth came after that.  Shawn took me over to the treadmill, which he told me he was going to do today, to have me walk…then up the pace…then up it to a very light, very easy, very gentle run.  He put it on 5.0 mph and I sort of just jogged…for three minutes.  And I did okay.  The ankle twinged (nothing painful, it just didn’t feel right…) a couple of times, but it was progress.  Good progress.  I felt good about it.  I was hoping…praying…that I’d get the okay to start running again.

And I did.

Kind of.

A deliberate-paced run on the treadmill...

An easy, deliberate-paced run on the treadmill…

I’m still not permitted to run outside.  Not yet.  Nope.  That’s a negative on the one thing I was really, really hoping to get the go-ahead on.  Yeah, I was a bit bummed when he delivered that news to me.  I know, he wants to make sure I’m ready, and I understand that, but, God, I miss being out there.  I really do.  However…I am cleared to easily run and do some intervals of run/walk on the treadmill.  Completely cleared to do that.  And when I go in on Monday, I get to report on how the ankle is feeling after spending a weekend doing that.  This is progress.  It just wasn’t the progress I was hoping to make.  But…baby steps.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and this ankle won’t get back up to speed (pardon the pun) overnight.  It just doesn’t work like that.  At least I’m cleared to do some deliberate running…even if it is at the gym on the treadmill or around the tiniest track in the world (FOR REAL!).

Progress is progress…no matter how small, right?  Right.

That’s what I keep reminding myself.  I am also learning to get used to a little disappointment (like the news delivered today).  But, in the end, it just means I’ll have a lifetime of running…and not do damage to myself that I can’t come back from it.  My physical therapy sessions are definitely helping.  And I hope…come next week…I’ll see a little more progress as well.  Maybe get out in the fresh air.  Maybe.

For now…as much as I hate the treadmill…it sure is better than nothing.  Now to just train my brain to keep it easy and slow and ease back into it.  Running smart means sometimes running with your head and not your heart.

Progress!

Progress!