Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Health Issues

It's been a tough year so far. It kicked off with recovery from my toe surgery in December 2011. I was cleared to run up to 2 miles at a time in the second week of January. I started off with double days - running 2 in the morning and 2 in the evening. The doctor quickly cleared me to run up to 5 and by the last week of January I was allowed to run as much as I wanted to. I quickly overdid it - going out for a 25 mile, very hill, trail run - and developed Plantar Fasciitis. The PF has proved to be a lingering issue as 6 months later it is still hanging on.

Not having any time to stop and deal with the PF as I had to ramp up my training to handle Boston on April 16 and Yakima Skline Rim on April 21 I tried to push through as best I could and just pretend it wasn't going to be a problem. In addition to the PF I just didn't seem to have much energy. My runs were not great - slow and laboring. I would have an occasional good run to buoy my confidence for Boston but it would almost inevitably be followed with a bad on that would shatter what little confidence I had.

As I headed to Boston, reading the forecasts of the predicted high temps, I had a feeling the race was going to be more about survival than racing. And that proved to be true. Race day dawned warm - it was already 79 degrees when we hit the Athlete's Village at 9 AM. I was able to maintain an OK pace for the race, but was pretty wasted towards the end - a combo of the heat and lack of training did not make for an easy day. Five days after Boston I "ran" the Yakima Skyline Rim 50k. There was very little running on this course as my legs just had nothing to offer. There was 9700 ft of climbing and descending over the 31 mile course - sections that weren't straight up or straight down were so rocky that I couldn't run them. I was 5 places from DFL, crossing the finish line in 9:32 (only 22 minutes less than my 50-miler last year).

After Yakima my legs were just done. I took a week off thinking I would come back feeling refreshed, but I didn't. I had trouble just getting out of bed in the morning. I did short runs and hoped my body would come back. The one bright spot was running the Sun Mountain 50k on May 20. I went into the race as rested as possible and actually had a bit of rare energy.

Then it all went downhill. Back at work I had trouble climbing a single flight of stairs - needing to rest when I would get to the top. My legs felt weak in a way they never had before. I made attempts to run trails and hills and I just couldn't do it. I could barely drag myself out of bed in the mornings. I went home from work one day b/c I couldn't keep my eyes open at my desk and wound up sleeping for 5 hours straight.

Made a trip to the doctor and she couldn't come up with anything other than my iron was a little low (which we already knew). She sent me to a sports doc who did a complete treadmill test (drawing blood before and after, hooking me up to an EKG, pulse ox, and breathing tube during the test). The results of that experience were that he felt my iron and B12 levels were just too low to do what I was trying to do. While I was still within the low range of normal he felt that I needed my levels pumped up in order to get back to my previous level of fitness.

On July 4 I went out for a 20 mile run. I only made it 13 and had to quit. I never have to quit runs - I can always tough it out, even when I'm feeling low. Yet it was just an exercise in futility that day - I could tell I was just beating my body up. I had no energy to keep moving myself forward.

On July 5 I started a course of 5 iron infusions and B12 shots (once a month for the B12 for 3 months). The infusions required a trip to the infusion clinic. A little room up at OHSU with 6 reclining chairs. One nurse was there for the duration of my infusions. I would show up and she would call the pharmacy to "mix" the Venefer. She would get me all prepped - starting the IV line, testing the line, pushing some saline back through the line, and then wrapping the arm in a stretchy bandage so the tube didn't shift around. A couple of the infusions were really painful, while others were just a bit uncomfortable. I had the last infusion on July 20.

Bit by bit I have started to regain some energy. I am able to get out of bed in the morning without hitting snooze 9 times. My legs seem like they are coming back. Now my limiting factor seems to be the fitness I have lost over the last few months when I wasn't able to really train. Fingers crossed that my energy keeps coming back.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

One Last Look Back

These were the goals I set for myself at the start of 2011 and how I fared:
  • Run 1600 miles - Total 2011 miles 2347
  • Complete my first ultra race - Completed 3 50k's & 2 50 Miler's
  • Get my marathon time down to 3:30 - Close but not quite, Vancouver - 3:35:25
  • Run a 21 minute 5K - Didn't race a 5K this year. Even if I had, I think this one was out of reach.
  • Run 1:15 15K - Close, but not quite. The only 15k I did was the Shamrock Run which was the day after the Gorge 50k. My time was 1:17:01 (PR of 2:24)
  • Run 1:42 half-marathon - Done, Race for the Roses, 1:41:04 (PR by 5:54)

Making it Count

I am a goal-oriented person. I need something on the horizon to keep me moving and motivated. Whether it is a race, a new distance, a new trail run - something to keep me excited so I get myself out the door. I've spent a lot of time thinking about what my goals are for 2012. Should they be distance? PR's? Coming back from foot surgery, I'm not sure if there are going to be PR's in the cards - especially not for the early part of the year. I want to take a bit of pressure off for a bit and not worry so much about time. It's so easy to feel the pressure of performing well. Comparing yourself to what you did the previous year, comparing yourself to what others are doing - you can get lost in all the comparing and forget why you are out there.

This year, I've decided that my goal is to make each workout to count. So each one will have a purpose. For running and cardio those purposes are: speed, tempo, distance, time and...FUN! As I look at training plans and schedules it is starting to stress me out. This run needs to be done at this speed, and I need to be on my feet for so many hours on this day, blah, blah, blah. I can do all of that, as long as I get to keep my fun runs. Some folks and  training plans might call these junk miles. Those runs where you go out without any purposes, you don't work on your speed, maybe you zone out and just let your mind wander. You simply head out because your body wants to run. I love running trails and long distances. I want to head out to Forest Park or the Gorge and run until my body decides that it can't go anymore. These runs may not get me a PR in Boston, or a half-marathon PR at Race for the Roses, but what they will do is feed my soul and keep me sane. Training plans be damned.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Recap of 2011

The end of 2011 was a bit of a disappointment. I wanted to run 80 miles over Thanksgiving weekend and finish the year strong. Severely strained hamstrings just before Thanskgiving and foot surgery the week after put a crimp in those plans. Regardless, the year was a good one running wise. I ran almost 1000 more miles than 2010, ran my first 50k and 50 miler, dropped my marathon time by 8 minutes, and requalified for Boston. Overall, I can’t complain.

Hagg Lake 50k (road) - February 19: 5:50:53
Gorge 50k (road) - March 12: 7:01:35
Race for the Roses Half marathon - April 3: 1:41:04
Avenue of the Giants Marathon (road) - May 1: 3:43:45
Ridgeline Ramble (trail) - May 28: 4:26:24
Beacon Rock 50k (road) - June: 7:00:12
Vancouver Marathon (road) - June 19: 3:35:25
Fueled by Fine Wine Half Marathon (road/gravel) - July 10: 1:57:35 
Mt. Hood 50 Mile (trail) - July 39: 9:54:25
Cascade Lakes Relay (road/trail/gravel) - August 2 & 3: 5 legs - 36 miles
Autumn Leave 50 Mile (road/trail) - October 29: 8:24:35
Red Baron Half Marathon - November 6: 1:46:27

Total miles run:  2345.69
Total number of runs: 254
Time: 376:28:01 hh:mm:ss 
Avg Speed: 6.2 mph
Avg HR: 145