Marine Corps Marathon Training – Week 1

I got into Marine Corps through the 2018 lottery. After running the Green River Marathon from Vermont to Massachusetts last August, I sustained a bizarre pelvic injury. I actually ran the entire marathon feeling like I was in early labor with a massive pressure bearing down on my pelvis. Needless to say it was not my best marathon. I had felt it a little the week before, but didn’t really think anything of it. I continued to train for Marine Corps until the third week of September when I finally identified that the pressure and dull pain only occurred when running. Three doctors were unable to diagnose a specific cause for what I was feeling. I was basically told to just rest and let it heal. Thankfully I was able to defer my entry to Marine Corps to 2019.

A week prior to the Green River Marathon, on a whim my husband and I went to an open house around the corner from where we lived in a nice quiet neighborhood we have always loved. Two weeks later we sold our house and less than four weeks after that we moved! Talk about a whirlwind.

In the midst of our move my son started 6th grade in a new school and I began another graduate class. My job began shifting into high gear as well. I was working from early in the morning until it was time to go to the library in the evening to do school work.

I went from a 20 mile training run in mid-September to zero! It was devastating, but it had all become just too much and something had to give. The injury (or whatever it was) was a clear sign that I would have to give up the intense training. Without dwelling on my regrets at this juncture, I just want to say I really wish I had not completely abandoned all physical activity. Inevitably I gained weight, lost flexibility and endurance over the course of the next 6 months. What is done is done.

By mid-winter I was feeling better and ready to move again. My running partner was also coming out of a lengthy running hiatus due to illness. We started slow, really really slow with walks. By early spring we were running again, a little bit, but building up to more regular runs and eventually a 10K in early June. We ran the Amica Iron Horse 10K in Simsbury, CT. It was a beautiful day, quaint area, and a really well organized race. Oh and cute medal! In all honesty, I felt like crap. I am out of shape. But I have the best running partner in the world. She does not care how fast (or slow) we go. She talked me through some of the challenging parts of the race and we ran and talked the entire way.

I wish I could say I have taken the bull by the horns, jump out of bed every morning at 3:30AM ready to workout, make my green juice, and tackle the hard road ahead. April threw a massive wrench into my plans. These aren’t excuses just reality. I work in the private health insurance industry for a senior care plan that is essentially overseen by my state’s Medicaid program. Long story short, the state needs to save money. We were required to remediate charts and revise entire sections of documentation from February on by the end of April while still doing our current work. We also endured multiple trainings at our headquarters out near Boston to learn new assessments and how to complete current assessments to comply with state requirements. In order to arrive for the 9AM start time, I had to leave my house by 6AM because the traffic is ridiculous the closer you get to Boston. We were not mandated, but strongly encouraged, to work overtime to get our work done. I was working almost around the clock between my job and another graduate course.

I was losing my mind and I was joined by every nurse case manager in my company across the state. Some of the nurses quit and I am sure there will be more as more changes continue to be made almost on a weekly basis. I wanted to quit and cried almost daily. Let’s be real though. I have a mortgage to pay, bills to pay, and a child to care for. I would love to follow my dreams and passions (this certainly isn’t my dream job), but I also have responsibilities and obligations. This job may not be ideal, but I work from home and therefore I get to be present in my son’s life. He can enjoy summer at home hanging out at our pool with his friends while I type away from the patio or our beautiful granite topped island in my kitchen that overlooks our backyard. This is what kept me hanging on my the remaining shreds of fingernails I managed not to bite off during the intense upheaval of my professional life.

Days went by and my training plan got pushed further and further out. My plans to lose that winter snowsuit were overshadowed by emotional eating. Oh dear god it’s like a vicious cycle. Through the chaos I tried to move as much as possible even if it was just a walk or a short run. But I was exhausted (and if you know me you know this is not a word I use – ask my husband and son). On a couple of occasions when my son slept at a friend’s house in the first couple weeks of his summer vacation, I could not bear the thought of waking up and getting out of bed to face my work computer. I ignored the alarm. I tried to shut off my brain. I buried myself under the blanket. Finally at the latest possible moment, I would get out of bed feeling the heaviness on my body and mind. I was depressed (another word I do not use lightly).

No time to wallow though. There was a ticking deadline that I could not ignore. I have already paid far too much money for the Marine Corps Marathon between the entry fee and deferral fee. Plus I want to run again and having a lofty goal like a marathon is probably exactly what I need to get my rear in gear. I knew that as of July 1, 2019 training had to officially begin, but until then I would give myself some freedom to do, feel, think, and eat however I pleased.

I have started reducing the overtime at work over the last few weeks. I am taking a break from graduate school for the summer. I am trying to be more mindful of what I eat and have started tracking my food again on My Fitness Pal.

My Marine Corps Marathon goals are:

  • to have fun and enjoy running
  • to forget about pace
  • run by time rather than miles
  • return to a vegan diet for the training cycle
  • incorporate stretching, yoga, hills, speed work, and a variety of activity to keep my body moving

Below is my plan and what I really did for the first week:

PLANREALITY
Monday 7/1 – 30 minute run 

Tuesday 7/2 – Strength, Cross
training (bike, walk, hike), Stretch 

Wednesday 7/3 – Speed workout (2×400, 2×800, 2×400, 1×800, 1×400) 

Thursday 7/4 – 45 minute run 

Friday 7/5 – Yoga, Stretch, Core, move (12,000 steps) 

Saturday 7/6 – long run 

Sunday 7/7 – Core, Move (12-15,000 steps minimum), Stretch
7/1 – Pre-run stretch, 5 minute
walk, 35 minute run with cool down walk – Total 4+ miles 

7/2 – Walk, HIIT video, Groin
stretch 

7/3 – 45 minute run 

7/4 – Walk, rest 

7/5 – Walked just over 15,000
steps, groin stretch, yoga for
neck/shoulders video, Barre core 
video

7/6 Rest 

7/7 – 60 minute run

So the groin stretches are for another weird issue. One morning over a month ago, I woke up and my right leg shot up in the air spontaneously. I felt a shooting pain in the groin area and have felt it the tightness radiating to the knee ever since. I consulted two physical therapists and was given some exercises to do. I was told it should heal over time. It does not bother me at all when running and does not feel worse after a run. My running is slow and I have been trying to keep up with the stretches as often as possible.

I would say all in all I feel good about how the week went. I think week two will be even better.

9/1/14

New month. Carlos is officially back to school. Time to get back on track. No back pedaling. No looking in the rear views mirror of life. No regrets. What’s done is done. I’m future focused and excited for the month ahead.

Three things I’m thankful for:

  • My good health
  • A healed Achilles
  • My son’s renewed enthusiasm for school

Thought of the day:

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” Steve Maraboli (click on Steve’s name to read a fitting post if you are determined to move forward starting now)

What’s making me happy today:

An early run after work at my happy place.

Looking forward to spending this Labor Day with my husband and son.

Getting organized for the week ahead

Carlos and I bagged snacks and filled containers with applesauce and yogurt for school lunch.

I wrote out a weekly meal plan for dinners and a grocery list.

I have a workout plan for the week that includes some running, strength and yoga.

________________________________________________________________________________

With that said I think it’s time to mention running again. Without going backwards I will just say that my Achilles took almost 3 months to heal. When I finally started running again in mid-July my runs were slow and short. My busy summer schedule made it challenging to find time to run long enough to train for the Vermont 50 Ultramarathon I had signed up to run at the end of September. Still I clung to the hope that somehow I might be able to muddle through. Deep down I knew the timing was wrong. The Vermont City marathon at the end of May was intended to be the halfway point of my ultra marathon training.  Then from there I was to build up my mileage, endurance and tweak my nutrition for the course.  As August began to fly by with little increase in my mileage I finally accepted that running an ultra marathon post injury with incomplete training was not only dangerous, but also very unwise. I would never advise a fellow runner to go through with it so why did I think I should attempt it? Pride. Fear of feeling like a failure. Frustration.

The exact moment I made the decision to drop out of the Vermont 50, I felt an enormous sense of relief. The next day I went for a run. No headphones, no Garmin, no Map My Run, no watch. It was freeing. I ran slowly and comfortably. I focused on keeping my breathing even and unlabored. I ran only as long as I wanted to and stopped when I didn’t feel like running anymore with no concern about pace, time or mileage.

I’ve been going along like this for a couple of weeks and it’s just what I need to get myself back into running. It is the first time since I began running that I have run simply because I love to run and not because I’m training for something. However, I miss training. I miss the schedule, preparing for a race off in the distance and having a goal, but I’m not quite ready to set my sights on anything to daunting.

My next running goal is actually not about me at all. It’s about my friend Kate. On October 19, 2014 I will be running the Baystate Half Marathon alongside Kate as she completes her first half marathon. I am going to train with her over the next 6 weeks. On top of running we have also been meeting once a week for a boot camp style workout where we do a variety of strength training and core strengthening exercises.

Kate has an awesome story to tell and I’m hoping she’ll let me share it here. I’m super excited for her. I think this is going to be an unforgettable experience for us both. The truth is, I am starting all over again only this time with the knowledge I’ve gained from all the miles I’ve run over the last 5 years. There’s no looking back…

 

The road ahead
My eyes are on the road ahead

 

 

Why Me?

If you had known me back in my younger years this whole running thing would come as a surprise to you. It still surprises me. I believed that I was not, nor was I capable of becoming athletic. I sat on the bleachers during high school gym class because I refused to play football. I nearly failed my junior year for lack of gym participation. I managed to slide under the radar somehow and passed by the skin of my teeth because I told the male gym teacher I had really bad PMS cramps!

This injury is a real bummer, but don’t think for one minute I’m sitting here with a box a tissues whimpering Why Me when I have a marathon coming up in a couple of weeks. Running has taught me so many things and I’m not about to let those lessons fly right out the window because of an injury. Running has made me a stronger, more adaptable person. I will run again and there will be other marathons.

I think the most important thing you can do when you are injured is try to understand how the injury happened so you can avoid re-injury in the future. So how did this happen to my foot? Even without a definitive diagnosis I have reflected on my training this winter and the activities during the week of injury. I did a lot of my training indoors this winter. I have never trained for a late spring marathon and training outdoors in the frigid temperatures with ice and snow on the ground wasn’t possible. I ran a lot of my speed work and tempo runs on the treadmill. I also ran in the same running shoes I’ve had since before the Montreal Marathon in September. I bought a new pair, but stupidly only wore them a few times in the two weeks before the injury because I kept telling myself I would wait until I was outdoors more often. How silly! Three days before the injury I did P90X Plyometrics. I used to do this workout a lot, but hadn’t done it quite sometime. It involves a lot of jumping and dynamic moves. I can’t be sure, but it’s possible that a combination of overuse, speedy treadmill workouts, maybe landing the wrong way during Plyometrics and old shoes are what caused this foot injury.

I continue to do whatever I can to stay active without the risk of worsening my foot. Yesterday I joined the YMCA for a month mainly so I can use the pool to swim laps. I love swimming, always have. In fact I was actually a pretty decent swimmer back in the day. We used to spend summers at a local lake and I would be in the water from early morning to dusk. My mom was constantly yelling for me to swim closer to the dock, but I always managed to swim my way out towards the middle of the lake. Water has always been a source of peace for me. It was so refreshing and soothing to swim quietly for 45 minutes this morning after an extremely hectic night at work.

I will undoubtedly learn from this experience and take those lessons on the road with me when I start running again. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder. A break from running always reminds me how much I love to run simply for the sake of running and not just a race. Although this swimming thing did get me thinking about what a triathlon might be like. I am a good swimmer and I know I can handle the running. Now I just have to get a bike. Orlando if you’re reading this Mother’s Day is on Sunday and there is still plenty of time to go to the bike shop!

 

 

Injured

I’m inured. It’s my Achilles. It happened last week. I felt a little discomfort after my run on Tuesday, but it went away so I ran again on Wednesday. Both of those were treadmill runs because Carlos was on school vacation and I had to run late in the evening. It also happened to be raining both nights making outdoor runs even less. My schedule was upside down due to the school vacation and it just so happened to be my biggest mileage week for marathon training. My sister said she could watch Carlos on Thursday so I could attempt my 22 mile run. I was psyched to have the opportunity to do such a long run on an entirely new to me trail. I really welcomed the change of scenery.

About a mile in the discomfort crept up and I slowed down a bit contemplating what I should do. It didn’t hurt at that point, it was simply a nuisance. By mile 4 I stopped at a dock overlooking the Charles River. I burst into tears before turning back. I was in pain. I hobbled and limped back to my sister’s place. I was frustrated, angry and worried.

Cut to today. It’s not much better despite all of the interventions I have tried. Here is the list:

RICE (minus the R)

  • icing
  • compression
  • elevating

Medicine

  • Ibuprofen (not helpful)
  • Aleve (just started taking yesterday and I do feel some relief with it)
  • Homeopathic herbal supplements like Arnica, MSM, Magnesium and Bone & Tissue Support (I would like to believe that the injury would be much more painful still without these supplements, but there’s no way to know.

Other therapies

  • Icy hot (just because I had it in the medicine cabinet)
  • Epsom salt soaks
  • Shoe inserts made to relieve heel pain (I’m returning them! Horrible, no relief what so ever)
  • A slip on ankle sleeve (soothing, but not life changing)
  • Sports massage (I just had it done today. No immediate relief, but perhaps I will notice a difference in the morning.)
  • Stretching (I’m reading conflicting viewpoints on stretching with an Achilles injury. Some doctors I’ve read online say stretching is key, other

I have an appointment next Thursday with a Sports Medicine doctor. He was a Pentathlon athlete in the XXI Olympics and continues to compete in triathlons. I was told he will be empathetic to my situation.

The massage therapist I went to is a runner and used to do triathlons. She was not very optimistic about my plan to run the Vermont City Marathon in 3 weeks. She asked me if I had resolved myself to the fact that I may not be able to run. I lied and said yes. Truthfully I haven’t given up hope. The only intervention that isn’t on the bullet list is rest. Life goes on and my life is active with or without the training. Since the injury occurred I also worked almost every night except for Sunday and last night. I’m off again tonight and tomorrow night. My plan is to take the next two nights to actually rest as much as humanly possibly. Carlos is sleeping at my mom’s tonight. Orlando just ran out to pick up dinner. I’m lying on the sofa with my left leg elevated on a bag of ice. Friday nights sure have changed!!

I welcome any advice, words of wisdom or stories to commiserate with me.

Sitting Out

I always try to show a positive attitude here. I’m blessed with health, family and a good job. So rather than write a long paragraph justifying my right to feel like crap once in a while I’m just going to say it…I can’t run and it hurts physically and emotionally. I hate it! I mad, sad, frustrated and annoyed.

I ran my longest long run last week, 22 miles. It went quite well or so I thought. Two days later I felt a twinge of an ache above my ankle on the back side of my leg. I stopped running. I haven’t run since Sunday. The area is sore and the soreness increases to pain whenever I increase my activity. I couldn’t pin point the location so I wasn’t sure it was my Achilles again. I was feeling great today so I decided to take advantage of my afternoon alone and go for a slow stroll at the college. When I say slow I’m talking I walked at a very leisurely pace. I read blogs on my phone and drank tea. Little by little the pain behind my leg just above my ankle increased. Upon returning to my car I had to walk uphill and that’s when I knew it was my Achilles.

All signs point to Achilles tendonitis. I will try to write a more detailed post later as I learn more, but essentially running is a really horrible idea right now. I’m writing this to reach out to my blog friends. I need some words of wisdom and support. I am mad as hell. I have worked so hard training for this marathon and I’ll be damned if I can’t run it. Having dealt with this back in late spring I’m certain with proper care that I will be able to run the marathon which is a month away on 11/18.

I know there are much bigger problems in the world. I don’t mean to be unnecessarily dramatic. I just never imagined not being able to run would break my heart this way. I was passed by no less than 20 runners on my walk and my heart surged every time they ran by. I wasn’t jealous. I felt sad. These injuries have made me realize how much running has become an integral part of my life both for my physical health and my mental well being.

I need to stay active without risking further injury. I need to watch my diet very carefully because stress = emotional eating for me which obviously leads to weight gain. If I’m going to run this marathon without the last couple weeks of training then I need to be wise. Please offer up any advice from your own experience or that of your family or friends.

Summer Races: Lake Wyola Road Race

Back in April I announced my plans to run the Philadelphia Marathon in November. Despite the fact that I haven’t written a single post about marathon training I have been training since July. My training came to a screeching halt early on thanks to a sore hamstring followed by a stretched Achilles. I am happy to report that both issues have since resolved. Marathon training is going well despite some bumps in the road, scheduling challenges and a serious lack of time. I have competed in 3 races that I have yet to write about. Two were repeat races that I hope to make an annual tradition and the most recent was a new race in a new place.

Lake Wyola Road Race

On June 10, 2012 I ran this local race for the second time. This was the 32nd running of the Lake Wyola Road Race. Carlos and I frequent the lake all summer. The small beach is a part of the Massachusetts State Parks system. It is a hidden gem about 40 minutes away from home. Race proceeds benefit the Lake Wyola Association.

The website describes the course perfectly. “This scenic 4.8 mile race starts at the Lake Wyola Association Hall and runs counter clockwise around the lake on mostly tree-canopied country roads. The first half of the course is paved with a challenging uphill climb. The second half is dirt roads with a small bit of pavement at the finish line.” 

The uphill climb in this race is a great precursor to another race I run each summer. I love this race because it is extremely well organized, very family friendly and the course is picturesque. The pre and post race offerings are among the best of any race I’ve run. The volunteers go above and beyond to make everyone feel welcome and at home in the community of Lake Wyola.

Lake Wyola Road Race 2012

Going into this race I assumed I would do better than last year. However, it didn’t turn out to be one of my best races or even a great run. I broke some cardinal rules which led to a near disaster. I worked the night before which I try very hard not to do before a race. I ate nothing at work and then instead of my usual peanut butter toast and banana I ate only the banana and peanut butter before we left for the race which was a little too early to have eaten. I was not well hydrated despite the heat. Training had been sporadic due to the shin splint I got from ice skating in the spring.

I ran more of the uphill portion this year than I did last year so I felt strong going out. However, on the back half of the course I felt shaky, sluggish and I knew I was slowing down. It was hot and there were no water stations for the last mile and a half or so.

I wrote about last year’s road race here. I had a great experience last year. Below are my times for both races.

Lake Wyola Road Race – 47:22
Shutesbury, MA – June 10, 2012

Lake Wyola Road Race – 46:35
Shutesbury, MA – June 18, 2011

At first read it probably sounds like I’m making excuses for my poor performance this year. I admit I was a little disappointed when I crossed the finish line. As with any “bad” run I used this experience as an opportunity to learn something about myself and how to train better.

Having just started back at Weight Watchers about a month before the race I was still navigating the points system and how the program would work best with my level of activity. At that time I was backing away from bread and grains because of their high points value. This race taught me that I needed to find a way to incorporate grains back into my diet or marathon training would be a nightmare. I did not fuel properly before this race and I felt the effects especially during the last half of the race. I now use my extra weekly points to be able to eat a healthy amount of whole grain foods. Funny thing is that once I began eating the grains again I began losing more weight.

This race proved to me why I don’t typically run races after working all night. Sure I can run a training run after working all night because I’m not pushing myself to beat my last time.

Despite the fact that I knew it was going to be hot I didn’t hydrate myself properly in the hours before the race. Since I was at work I also drank a couple cups of coffee which didn’t help my hydration.

Silly Carlos

No matter how a race turns out it is still a great excuse to be with my family, do something outdoors and be around other active people. Carlos and Orlando were there to cheer me on. I appreciate all of their support over the last couple of years. I realize that my commitment to running relies on their support. On days when I just don’t feel like going out for a training run my husband is always ready to boot me out the door. When I need to wake up at the crack of dawn to workout because that’s my only opportunity for the day, again my husband will make sure I get out of bed and go. As much as I run these races and workout almost everyday for my health and well being, I also do it for that little guy in the photo above. He is my world and I try to do everything on my part to make sure I will be here to drive him crazy see him grow up.

Lake Wyola I’ll be back next year and looking for a personal record!

A Clearing

20120731-105216.jpg

I’ve listened to my body telling me to stop before the injury gets worse. First my shin, then my hamstring and most recently my Achilles. I waited patiently doing all that I could to help myself heal completely. Now that I’m healed it feels like I’m starting over. The run is slower, harder both mentally and physically. I won’t quit though. I’ll get back to the place I was at once before and just when it starts to feel the slightest bit easy again I will challenge myself to push further.

The trail may be the same but the run is always different, ever changing. I needed to stop for a moment today to remind myself that I run for more than just physical fitness. I run as much with my mind and heart as I do with my legs. My speed may have slowed down but my love of running is as strong as ever.