Sunday, August 14, 2011

Scream-Worthy Runs, Fun Leg Gear, and Gross Energy Gel

I'm still running. Technically, I'm five weeks into my half marathon training schedule gearing up for my next half marathon in Ocean City, NJ in October.  It's been a lot of ups and downs much like the rest of my life.

My first challenge was a touchy calf, achilles, and shin on my left side in the first few weeks. I had to back off some miles and let it ease in.  It's doing much better now, in part thanks to my fancy new compression sleeves. Check these out. Aren't I fashionable?

I'm new to the compression gear, but I'm pretty much in love already. According to the description of the pair I got, they provide "pin-point compression to shin and calf muscles to improve blood circulation, performance and muscle recovery." I've both ran with them as well as put them on post-run. Sometimes I've done both. All I know is they feel good. I kind of want a compression jumpsuit to put my entire body in after wearing these. Compression tights might be next on my list.

For now, my husband finds me sitting around the house like this. Those are my new toe stretchers. I was skeptical and paid only $4.26 for them (although I see they've dropped below $4 now!). I was hoping these might help with the constant pain I'm in from the tailor's bunion on my left foot while I avoid cortisone injections and surgery. I'm not sure they are a miracle cure, but they definitely help reduce the pain! I can bend my foot more without pain than I could before after using them. I probably need to use them more, but I don't spend that much time sitting down.

After taking some time off to ease my leg into things, I was knocked on my butt by some strange illness I still haven't figured out. My husband has Lyme so that's a consideration, but for now, we are waiting blood test results and just trying to live gently while I recover. This means I've lost a lot of training time. So far, I should have covered 79.5 miles according to my training plan. I've covered 48.66 of those miles.  This isn't exactly new to me as I had only covered about half of the miles on my training plan going into my last half marathon, but I wanted this time to be different. At the same time, I have to listen to my body and do the best I can.

Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail
With that in mind, I logged some miles in the last 4 days after a 10 day break.  I started with 3.5 miles on the treadmill on Thursday playing a little with my speed. On Saturday, I ran 4 miles on the Paulinskill Valley Rail Trail. I love the trail. Very pretty, nice and flat, though it was very narrow at points causing a few rolled ankles. The most exciting and alarming part of that run was when I startled a deer standing just two feet from me. It jumped and ran across the trail in front of me, and I screamed. Like loud. Ha!

Today, I headed out in the rain hoping to get in 8 miles. Was I being overly ambitious after being injured, then sick, and not running for 10 days (with spotty training before that)? I kind of think so at the moment. It was a crappy run. I worked my way through 5 miles slowly and grumpily. Starting at mile 3, I was mentally and physically fighting myself to go each half mile farther. At 5 miles, I stopped to hit a bathroom and take an energy gel. 

A friend gave me some gels she wasn't using so I could try them. I liked Clif Shot Bloks so I thought I might like Clif Shot Energy Gel. The one I tried was Razz flavored, and it didn't go so well. In fact, I gagged and spit it out on the side of the trail. I think it was the texture... and the flavor... and everything about it. I had a vanilla gel with me too, but thought I'd do better with the Razz. Not so much. I'll stick to Shot Bloks and Honey Stingers.

After that catastrophe, I stood on the side of the road in the rain having a bit of a temper tantrum. I did. not. want. to run ANYMORE! I was cranky, tired, and my legs hurt. I was supposed to do another loop of the park I was at but convinced myself to just run home at a faster pace to make up for not hitting my mileage. That lasted for a few tenths of a mile before my legs just stopped. I hit the intersection where I would turn to head the 1.5 miles home. I was pissed at myself for all the stopping, so I headed in the opposite direction determined to finish the 3 miles I needed despite the walk breaks I'd taken. 

Yep, that's how I felt about the whole run.
Well that lasted about a mile before my legs rudely stopped moving in the middle of one of my peptalks. Seriously, they just stopped. My head was all, "you're doing great, just 1.5 miles from home, just bang these out and you're done. You can consider it a success despite the walk breaks" and my legs were all "yeah right, we're done." Finally, I gave up and called my husband a mile out to come pick my butt up. In the end, I squeaked out 6.8 miles, though the first 5 were the only real continuous miles.

But, I'll get myself up and brush myself off. My next race is a 5k on Labor Day. It's the same 5k I ran last year starting this journey with a time of 34:29. I'm determined to run hard, leaving everything out on the road. I'm determined to best my time from my 5k in March (33:58), but also fight hard to set a new lifetime PR (one that was set 2005, 32:41). It's going to be a stretch, but I want to fight for it. I've got a redemption run in my future, and then it's on with the training. I've got speed work and long runs on the brain.

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