Why I’m Thankful for Running

I allowed myself this weekend to be mad, sad, irritated, etc. about the fact that I am injured will not be able to run for several more weeks (in case you missed it, you can read my sob story here). But it’s a new week – and a short one at work – so that means it’s time to adjust the attitude and celebrate Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for so many things, but I’m going to limit this list to stuff that is directly tied to running and why I am so grateful that I got addicted to it about five years ago. If you’re looking for a reason to try out a run/walk/jog/crawl/whatever, here are some great perks:

  • The running community. I don’t even know where to begin. I have met so many inspiring, interesting, and fun people all because we happen to run. I love hearing other people’s stories. I love the encouragement I get from others (seriously, I’m still in awe of the number of people who have reached out to me about my stress fracture). I love following other people’s adventures – some I only know through blogs, Twitter, or being a J&A Racing ambassador. These people “get me”. So if you think running is a solo sport that’s no fun – let us prove otherwise! And guess what, we don’t care if you’re fast or slow – we love to celebrate every accomplishment right along with you.

    Photo Credit: Jennie Coakley/Atlanta Track Club

    A group run from this year’s National Running Day. Photo Credit: Jennie Coakley/Atlanta Track Club

  • The energy boost and mood improvements from running. Whether it’s a 3 mile run or a 20 mile run, I always come home happy and ready to conquer the rest of the day! (Though I may need a nap later on to restart myself after long runs…) And if I’m upset or stressed, a run will always make me feel better.
  • Running clothes. If I could find a way to wear them all day, everyday, I would. So much more comfortable.
  • Being able to eat chocolate, have a glass of wine, etc. without feeling guilty. Everything in moderation!
  • Getting outside. I love being outdoors, running through neighborhoods and parks, seeing other people out and about, and enjoying the weather. It’s a great way to see new places too. One of my favorite runs ever was through Paris last fall – I’ll always remember the sights along the way that morning!
As seen on my run - last November! Amazing.

As seen on my run – last November! Amazing.

  • My crutches. Hey, at least I’ll get some arm workouts in, right?? I told you, I’m trying to adjust the attitude!

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

 

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Marathon Lost

Three weeks from today, I was supposed to be crossing the finish line of my first marathon. Sadly, this is no longer possible.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had been experiencing pain in my lower right leg. I saw an orthopedist who was pretty confident that I had a stress fracture but wanted to see a bone scan to be sure.

I went back in for the scan yesterday. As I laid on the weird (yet oddly comfortable) table, I stared at the ceiling, hoping that my doctor was wrong and that somehow I’d still become a marathoner by the end of the year. About halfway through the 10 minute scan, I carefully turned my head towards the monitors to avoid moving my legs at all. I’m no doctor, but I was pretty sure the bright yellow orb that was showing up right where my pain is was not a good sign. A little over an hour later my doctor called with the bad news: confirmed stress fracture.

My sentence: at least 2 weeks on crutches followed by 4-6 weeks in a boot. This not only knocks me out for the Kiawah Island Marathon, but also the Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler that I was so looking forward to.

Thumbs down for crutches

Thumbs down for crutches

My doctor talked at length with me about my nutrition, my training plan, and my running history on our first visit. He told me I’ve done everything right – this isn’t an overtraining issue or some other stupid thing, it just happens to endurance athletes of all levels. This is comforting but also infuriating at the same time. Had I done something wrong, I could point to the problem and never, ever do it again.

I’m not trying to sound like I’m the only one who has ever trained for a marathon, but I’ve worked so hard and now I can’t even cross the finish line to prove it. I’ve logged countless hours since August towards this one goal. I’ve paid close attention to what I’ve been eating and drinking to make sure I’m properly fueled. I’ve said no to fun things so I could get extra sleep or make sure I could get up early for my long runs.

To come this close to completing a marathon and not being able to do it is maddening. I’ve cried. I’ve dropped F-bombs. I’ve cancelled hotel reservations and deferred my entry. I’ve cried some more.

But one thing’s for sure: as soon as I am cleared to run again, I’m immediately going home, changing into my gear, and heading out.

Any advice or encouraging stories for an injured runner? Leave me a comment or send me a tweet.

The Waiting Game

They’re the words you never want to hear as a runner: “I’m almost certain that you have a stress fracture”. And I heard them yesterday morning at the orthopedist.

But before I get into all the medical fun, let me first take you back a little bit in time. Picture it:

Picture it... It was a Saturday...

Picture it… It was a Saturday…

A week and a half ago. It was a cool Saturday morning, and I had just crushed a 20 mile run. It was a great confidence booster heading into the Kiawah Island Marathon. The run felt good and I was in great spirits afterwards, happily stretching afterwards and telling the boyfriend about all of the fabulous moments of that run.

That evening we went to a brewery for an event with friends and I felt a little pain in my lower right leg just standing around. I decided to skip my run for Sunday to rest, ice, foam roll, and stretch. Mondays are a scheduled rest day and I took that day off as well. A week ago Tuesday, I set out on a 7 mile run before work. The weather was great, but every single stride on my right leg hurt. I quickly detoured and slowly jogged back – the entire endeavor lasted only two miles.

For the next week, I kept icing, rolling, and even wore a compression sleeve during the day and sometimes at night to try to speed along healing. It felt a little better to walk and stand on, but every morning when I tested my leg with a little jog around the house it felt like a stab every time I landed on it. I have not run since last Tuesday.

This is how I feel right now and I hate it. Photo courtesy: biomed.missouri.edu

This is how I feel right now and I hate it. Photo courtesy: biomed.missouri.edu

I made an appointment to see the orthopedist and went in yesterday. After feeling my leg, looking at it, and talking to me about what has been going on, he uttered those cruel words: that my injury was likely a stress fracture. I’ll be having a bone scan on Friday to confirm it – though I really wish they had an appointment earlier in the week. A small part of me hopes he’s wrong, but I know that is a long shot. He warned that crutches may be in my future and I could be out for several weeks.

I’ve been injured in the past, but this development could be a pretty big blow. I am scheduled to complete my first full marathon in just 3.5 short weeks. The week after, I was planning on running the Surf-n-Santa 5 Miler under the holiday lights on the boardwalk of Virginia Beach. But for now, I sit and wait. And hope that somehow my doctor is wrong.

Ladies’ Night: Esprit de She Recap

A good run, wine, snacks, and some fun girl-time. That’s the short version of a race I did last week!

The Esprit de She is a 5K/10K event that is basically run in my front yard – Piedmont Park. Last Thursday night, three of my co-workers and I met up to run – two did the 5K, I had one other lady join me on the 10K.

I couldn't pass up a race at my favorite park!

I couldn’t pass up a race at my favorite park!

After a quick walk over to the park, we said goodbye to our 5Kers and then hung out for 30 minutes until the 10K start time. (The 5K started at 6:30 p.m., the 10K at 7 p.m. – I wish it would have been the other way around…) The start/finish area was right next to a restaurant that was hosting our post-party, which included music, cocktails, and tapas. The time passed pretty quickly and then it was time to line up for our start.

Me and Holly getting ready to run!

Me and Holly getting ready to run!

My colleague Holly and I got into place. We struggled to get out of the crowd right after the race started, but the congestion cleared up pretty quickly. The 10K course was a loop, which I usually don’t enjoy but it wasn’t bad in this race. Since it was dark and went through the park, it was kind of nice to know what was coming next the second time around. I will say that race organizers did a good job of lighting parts of the course and having volunteers with lit wands guiding you at other points. I could have done without the few hairpin turns they threw in there though – no one likes trying to navigate tight turns through cones. But the weather was great!

I was wondering how I would feel during and evening race, but luckily I was running really well! My splits were:

  • Mile 1: 8:28
  • Mile 2: 8:14
  • Mile 3: 8:10
  • Mile 4: 8:21
  • Mile 5: 8:36
  • Mile 6: 8:16
  • Finish time: 50:45 for a pace of 8:21/mile

My one complaint is that this course was not a true 10K – my watch brought us in at 6.08 miles, not 6.2 (and others verified this as well). This would have been a PR for me, but I will settle for coming in 13th overall.

Afterwards, I met up with my colleagues and the second part of this party began! Your bib got you two complimentary drinks (my choice for the evening: prosecco) and tapas. We had a great time talking, laughing, and dancing as we enjoyed all of the yummy things that were offered to us.

Jaime, Holly, me, and Anna enjoying ourselves post-race

Jaime, Holly, me, and Anna enjoying ourselves post-race

I think my favorite part of this race was the fact that the post-race party combined with an Athleta participant tank drew a lot of newer runners. We had a couple of ladies in our group who had never run a race before, and they did great! Hopefully this won’t be their last… This one was the last race for me until my first full marathon on December 13th – and it was a fun one!

How do you feel about evening races? Or women’s only races?

Christmas Came Early!

Don’t worry – I’m not going to spoil Thanksgiving by getting all Christmasy at the beginning of November (although I do consider myself to be well-versed in elf culture). But I did receive an early Christmas gift and purchased some things for myself before I kick off my holiday shopping and I had to share my excitement!

Side note: I am extremely anti-Thanksgiving Day shopping. Come on retailers, let your employees enjoy the day with their families. Those of you who shop on Thanksgiving, consider yourself judged… (It’s my blog – I’ll hop on a soapbox if I want to, ha!)

Anyway… A little over a week ago, my boyfriend informed me he had a Christmas present for me that had to be opened early. Very suspicious and not wanting to take away from the actual holiday, I was hesitant. Turns out, he got me a new GPS watch ahead of my upcoming marathon! I now have a brand new Garmin Forerunner 10 that will replace my heavy, old dinosaur of a Forerunner 205. I’m already in love with it after my first several runs. However, I do want to acknowledge my old dinosaur for steadily guiding me through thousands of miles over the past several years. Farewell, old friend!

Check out the difference in size. There's also a big weight difference!

Check out the difference in size. There’s also a big weight difference!

Late last week, I also received two purchases that were necessary before the big race. My running shoes were shot, so I am now on my third pair of Brooks Pure Connect 3s. This time I got wild and chose a different color from the last two pairs. I also decided to get a pair of compression sleeves for my remaining long runs. I tried out a pair of Zensahs during a group run several weeks ago and liked them, so I went ahead and bit the bullet. I wore them on Saturday’s long run and I think they did indeed help my weary calves. My right one has been especially tight over the past couple of weeks.

New shoes make me so happy!

New shoes make me so happy!

And speaking of Christmas coming early, apparently winter has too! Temperatures suddenly dropped here in Atlanta over the past few days. When I left for my long run on Saturday, the wind chill made it feel like 28 degrees! I enjoy running in the cold but even I was caught a little off guard with the shift! I really enjoyed the change in weather during my runs over the weekend though.

What are your recent running-related purchases? Let me know if you have new gear that you love! Comment or send me a tweet.