Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Summer

Today was 61 degrees and sunny. January 31. In Cleveland. Really! Normally, in honor of such an occasion I would strip down to a sports bra and shorts and run run run! Of course I couldn't do that. No running until my ART appointment tomorrow at the earliest. Please let my appointment go well and get the all clear to start back up!

Instead of the near-naked run-a-thon the kids and I had a great day. We met JenC and WC for some swinging at the playground and a chaotic lunch (can a lunch with 3 tots be anything but?) and then came home and ran around without our coats and enjoyed a snack on our bikes. Well, they did. I just kind of stood there, smiled and watched how cute they were. And then after their naps we played on the swingset and in the dirt. We took the pedal tractor out for a spin. We toured the garden and checked out the cover crop and the bluebird houses with daddy. It was a little taste of summer in the dead of winter. And even with no run today, it was a great day. Tomorrow it's supposed to cool off a bit, but it might be  great day too if I can get a few miles in.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Injury Gift

As I sit on my un-runned-today butt it's easy to get down on myself and start to wonder if this year is going to be a bust. It's easy, but it ain't happening. This injury has been a gift. I learned that I have had a condition holding me back for a long time. I can now address it and move on from it. I also have extra time. Before I was injured, this time would be spent running and trying to plan when I can run next. Now, in between pt exercise sets I can contemplate the extra things that I can do to ensure I reach my goals this year:

< 18:00 5k
< 30:00 5m
< 1:20:00 hm

I will achieve these goals by listening to Coach G and old-fashioned hard work, but I also know I need to do the following:
  1. Abs every day (e.g. planks). Hard abs 2-3 x per week (e.g. 15 min. ab circuit).
  2. Maintenance strength training 2-3 x per week (e.g. squats, lunges, calf raises, clams, etc.)
  3. Early treatment of minor injuries as needed (i.e. ART, pt, massage, etc.) No more of this ignoring and accepting pain stuff.
  4. Stretch daily. Stretching isn't for everyone, but it helps me and I always feel better when I do it daily.
  5. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Running around taking care of kids all day leaves me thirsty far too often. 
  6. Run easy days at an easy pace.
  7. Iron supplements. I need to switch to an iron-free prenatal vitamin and get a good food-based iron supplement. 
  8. Relaxation. I must spend time at the end of the day doing a formal relaxation exercise. 
  9. Visualization. I can spend time visualizing myself achieving my goals after my relaxation exercises. Convenient!
  10. Affirmations. Remind myself that I am capable of meeting these goals.
And along those lines, this year is going to be my fastest yet!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Elite Little Me

I mentioned my friend Liz's new blog last post. It's a great read and it just so happens she's also dealing with a pesky injury right now. It helps to have someone who can relate to stuff like feeling like a psycho going bonkers on the elliptical at the gym trying to get your heart rate up to something close to a tempo run. There is something she wrote that I love and am stealing:

I set another resolution for 2012, which is to act like the sub-elite elite athlete that I am. It may sound pompous, but I hope that it will help me to be more conscious of the decisions I make when I am not running (nutrition, recovery, sleep, strength training...) I imagine it will still take persistent questioning to get me to fess up to my race times unless you're my husband , teammate, or training partner.

Her times are better than mine! But I love this idea. Fake it until you make it, as they say. I think this kind of mentality will help me tremendously.

E-speed was just telling me how I need to have more confidence in myself, "you have just as much ability as me and NC," she said. My first reaction is to scoff. Me? The same ability as a 2:49 and a 2:39 marathoner? Ha! Did she see how the two of them completely and utterly dusted me the last time the three of us raced together? (I think they ran 6 and 4 minutes faster than me in a 10 mile race!) But. But. Butt! My butt! And my brain too. Now that I'm fixing my butt I should be much faster. And then if I fix my brain a little bit and infuse it with the sense of confidence that comes from embodying an elite runner, whoa.

Taking on an elite attitude might sound pompous, but it has nothing to do with anyone else. It's not saying I or Liz or anybody is better than anybody else. It just says, "Hey self. You are worth treating like the kick ass athlete you are." And if the word "elite" is what gets the mind to do that, then that shall be the word I use. So I too resolve to treat myself like an elite athlete. So with that, I shall get up from this chair, close the laptop and do some pt! Thanks, Liz!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lower Crossed Syndrome

My butt hurt and my hammy was tight. That's all I thought it was. I didn't connect the dull ache in my lower abdomen, the fact that my abs stick out to the extent it looks like I'm in the early stages of pregnancy when I don't keep up with my core exercises and the tight calves. But once I mentioned to Dr. TK that my psoas was bugging me the light bulb went off and it suddenly made sense why I didn't feel better yet despite all the seemingly successful work he had done on my hamstring, piriformis and gamellas (tiny ancillary butt muscles).

Lower crossed syndrome. It's a condition in which the psoas or other hip flexor is tight and po'd. The tightness in the psoas causes the glutes to relax and more or less shut off. This in turn cases the hamstrings and supporting butt muscles like the piriformis to do more work. It also cases tightness in the lower back which is offset by slacking abs--hence the 2 months pregnant look I was sporting over the fall when I stopped doing core workout because my psoas was hurting. Vicious cycle!

LCS is often caused by sitting for long periods of time at work, but is also somewhat common in runners. For me, though, the culprit was the high level of training after the two pregnancies weakened my abs which then caused my lower back to do too much work and strained my psoas which then turned my glues off which then overworked my piriformis when I run and so on and so forth. This has been going on for a loooong time.

It's really good news. It removes the gray. Once we get rid of the adhesions in my psoas and lower back muscles, which we probably took care of today (ooooooeeeeeeee that hurt!) and I retrain my glutes to fire, I'll be good to go! I have a few pt exercises to do daily along with continuing to work on my core and I can't run until Wednesday to allow the psoas to heal up and not reknot itself. Then we will see whether I need any more ART treatments of it and I might the get the green light to train again! TK said 2 weeks, tops! YES!

But now everything makes sense. Yes it does. My right glute has not been working for a long time. As Coach G says it's like I've been running on 5 cylinders instead of 6. No wonder I underperformed in the longer races. As my body became more tired, my poor overworked hammy and piriformis struggled to keep up and caused me to experience pain way early on in these races--like by mile 4! Also, I just didn't have the power in my legs to really give it what I had. It was so frustrating to know that my body was limiting me somehow and now I feel like I know what was up.

So, the moral of the story is look out because salty's fixing her engine and will be operating at full capacity in 2012!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Routine Procedures

* Last Wednesday I saw Dr. TK and received the go-ahead to test out the butt. I ran 22 miles last week from Wednesday to Sunday. I felt sluggish and way out-of-shape on my first run back and each run got progressively better in that regard. Yesterday's run felt smooth and easy and that's the first time I could say that since I started running again.

That's the good news. The bad news is that my right leg still feels like doo-doo. It's tight and stiff in the whole upper hammy, butt, hip, lower back region. It isn't the acute pain I was experiencing right after my New Year's Eve injury and it's not that chronic spasmy weirdness I was feeling for the past 6 or so months either. It's different, but it's still there and annoying. It almost feels like how everything feels during marathon-taper times 10. I think it's healing and the healing process takes time. I just don't want to impede the healing process by running--whether that be too much, too soon or at all. I hate that it's such a gray injury and the best I can do is guess whether I'm ready to go back to training or not (of course TK can help me guess, but it's still just a guess).

But then I wonder if maybe something else is going on that TK and I haven't addressed. Maybe there is some other muscle other than the upper hammy, piriformis and gamellas that we've neglected. I go back on Thursday to assess.

In the meantime, I miss my training routine so much. I have been having trouble sleeping and my appetite and energy levels are all out of whack. I might be a little extra cranky too (sorry mrp and kids!) I know I'm being a whiner. But I suppose if it's ever ok to whine about not training it's on one's own running blog :)

When I can't do what I want to do it always helps me to do stuff that will help do those things later. That's a bit vague. Specifically, I am getting through this time when I can't really train to do things that will support my training in (the hopefully near) future:

- Creating a strength training routine. I have been really bad about all the ancillary stuff since the marathon and I'm sure that contributed to my break down. But over the past few weeks I have started to do whole body strengthening 2-3 times a week. Peanut is 3 now and he no longer needs me to attend his gym and swim or soccer classes. So I can drop him off for those and then hit the gym and do a strength circuit. It's been great! I can already feel a big difference, especially in my core. Score!

- Focusing on nutrition. My friend Liz has a new blog: check it out! She's always posting links to interesting recipes on facebook. I have a bad sweet tooth and have been experimenting with lots of healthy alternatives to the usual treats I like to indulge in. And I have been very careful to try to pack in as many nutrients as I can in every meal to aid in healing and to make it a habit now while I am not prone to eating every thing in sight as I am when running higher mileage. I have never been an unhealthy eater by any stretch, but there is always room for improvement!

- Spending time promoting my new team! All of us training with Coach G have formed a new racing team: Cleveland Elite Development. This is my baby and something I have wanted for a long time. I always wanted to be part of a close-knit training and racing team and now I am! I consider each teammate a good friend and I couldn't be happier to spend some of my free time working as Communications Director (I gave myself that title :) for the team.

- Spending time on my super-secret website project. I hate to be all mysterious, but this project is not ready for prime-time yet. I can say it is going to be a running site (naturally!) and will fill a much-neglected niche. I am looking super forward to getting it up and running. But it's been slow going. I have been trying to learn the technical side of creating and operating a website while being a bit tech-challenged. But I am stubborn. I want to try to learn as much as I can before waving the white flag and paying for a web designer.

- Spending time with friends (like the two EH hooligans in the photo). I've been spending lots of quality time with E that doesn't involve running! She's been popping over for dinner and just general hanging out quite often and it's been fun. Plus, the kids LOVE her! I also got out for a much needed girls night out. Of course #2 was wide awake at midnight when I got home because in her words, "no daddy. I want mommy!" While flattering it does make it a bit hard to get out and have some fun on my own. Even so, I still had a great time whooping it up with the girls celebrating NC's amazing trials performance!

- Changing my schedule. Finally, I am slowly adjusting to an early to bed, early to rise schedule. For a while now I have been going to bed around 11-11:30 and allowing the kids to pry me out of bed around 7:30. With middle of the night wake-ups and what-not it's often hard to wake up even at 7:30. Last night I was in bed by 10:30 and mrp woke me up at 6:30. I eventually want to be in bed by 10 and up at 5:30 to run on my easy days. I am happiest when I have some productive alone time before the kids wake up and before I start my day. Plus, a used to be able to rely in nap time to get in a solid 60-75 minute run, but now that peanut is 3 and in a big boy bed he has been waking up mid-run. He's good about watching me while playing, but it's not ideal. I'd rather just get it done uninterrupted in the morning and I'll be happier. And even better, I can sneak in a little nap when the kids nap!

So, it helps to feel like I'm doing lots to support my future training and general happiness during this bump in the road. That said, I'm looking forward to my next appointment with TK on Thursday. Hoping for some good news!

* My handsome big boy, peanut.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Live from the DL: My 2012 Goals!

That (photo) was me yesterday. After working on the adhesions that have parked in my rear, the fab Dr. TK had me reposition myself just a touch and then ...


I felt a big jolt and heard a loud crack. That, my friends, is a pelvis adjustment. Apparently, running on a broken butt for 6 months can cause some weird stuff to happen to you, like one leg shrinking a full inch shorter than the other. Actually, it can cause overcompensating which can then cause your pelvis to tilt up an inch causing the leg on the tilted up side to appear shorter, but whose counting?

The good news was that the treatment of the muscles was much easier this time. They are definitely improving. The bad news is with the pelvis as jacked-up (real word) as it is no running until my next appointment on Wednesday. Since I've been full on injured I only ran 30 miles. (It's funny how one's "only" can become so out of whack with reality!) So in my world as of late, that really is not running much anyway. And 30 miles in pain isn't all that enjoyable either.

Just the night before I went in to see the good doc I met e-speed for a short run in the rain. She's coming back from an injury that was much more severe than mine. She also suggested I needed to really rest for a few days. She's so smart, that one! But more importantly we talked 2012 goals.

Yes, 2012 goals. These are what keep me from crying in my oatmeal as I sit on my broken butt. I still need to run them by coach, but I have a feeling he will like them. He's always getting on my case for not believing in myself enough and being too tentative. Well, not anymore! Ha!

Without further delay, my tentative goals for 2012:

5k: 17:xx

5 miles: 29:xx

half-marathon (and this is the crrrrrazy one): 1:19:xx

The first two make sense. I'm fairly close to those goals already. The last one is the really exciting one. Here's why I think it's possible.

My plan is to focus on the short races until the summer. Possibly focus on the track in the spring before hitting the road scene. I'd love to crush my favorite summer 5 miler and finally place in the $$ there (on my running bucket list!)

Then, I will switch focus to the half. No full this year. No siree. Just the half. And the beauty of the half is that I can run several and really work on my mental game in the process. No doubt if my fitness gets me to this goal it will be just enough to make it. I will need to bring my mental A game and I think it will take 2 or 3 races to get there.

Now, jumping from a super high 1:25 (1:25:59.59 to be exact!) PR to a 1:19:59.99 is admittedly a very big jump. But last year while nursing a baby\toddler and chasing after another I managed to pr in almost every distance. My longer races were a bit disappointing, but I think at least part of that was my broken butt holding me back. I think once I fix my butt, quit nursing in a few months (Apparently I am a crunchy granola hippie mom for still nursing my 18 month old) and get a quality summer of training in I can go for it with a straight face.

And the beauty of it is, even if I miss my targets I am sure to learn a lot and have a heckuva good time in the process!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Mommy's Not Running

* So I am officially injured. I haven't actually been injured to the extent I could not run for more than a day or two for YEARS. It's been 6 years. The last time I was injured I wasn't even training for anything and hadn't really raced anything yet. It's tougher now that I have actual running goals and a team relying on me and running dates that make me happy. It's so hard to feel like all my hard work is swirling down the toilet bowl. It's hard not to feel like I need to surmount Mt. Everest just to get back to where I left off. It's hard to not be able to get out with my friends. These days running is so much a part of my life, it's so disorienting to not be able to do it.

At the same time, my injury strangely lined up with peanut getting very sick. He had a super high fever for three days. The pinnacle of his illness came on Wednesday night (Thursday morning). He woke up at 2 a.m. It was not surprising as his motrin should have worn off around 1:30 so his fever was probably spiking. I heard him open his door and then I heard him yell, "MOMMY! I'M BIG! I'M BIG!" Not sure why he kept saying that every time his medicine wore off, but he did. Maybe he was delerious? Anyway, I got up and as I was walking up the stairs I heard him gag and then he yelled, "I PUKED!" I wasn't surprised, except I knew his stomach was empty and the vomit was a dark blotch on the carpet. I took him in and gave him some more motrin. Mrp came up and saw the vomit and said, "Salty, that looks like blood." We got out a flashlight and checked it out. Sure enough, it was bright red and mucousy. "HOLY SH*T!" Mrp and I were freaked out and super worried. We quickly pow-wowed and decided mrp would take peanut to the ER and I would stay with #2 and bring her up if necessary in the morning. I was frantic. They left and I put every phone right next to me in bed. I couldn't sleep. I so wanted to check the internet for reasons for vomiting blood, but I knew better. I just waited.

Finally, I got a text. A bloody nose. I think my sigh of relief was audible through the whole neighborhood. He was ok! Apparently a bloody nose in a sleeping little boy with an empty irritated belly can cause bloody vomit. You learn something new everyday.

But I have to say it was nice to not have to worry about when I was going to squeeze in my tempo or weekend miles when my family needed me. It is possible to train at a high level and be a good mom. Of course it is! But, so often I feel conflicted about getting out for an hour or two and meeting the needs of my family and that's when everything is going hunky-dory in the household. It was nice to not even have to worry about any of that and just dedicate myself to helping my little peanut feel better during this rough week.

I really am trying to see the opportunity in this setback. Before I was sidelined, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed by my training load and sometimes dreading runs. But this week when I could barely run a step, I felt myself really miss the opportunity to attempt my tough workouts. I also realized that sometimes I am overly rigid about getting my runs in and put too much pressure on myself to nail the training goals every single day. As a mom who takes my role as a mom very seriously I have to accept that I WILL miss workouts and goal paces, etc. if I am going to perform my primary job well. It's just a fact. I think accepting that can help with those conflicted feelings I so often feel. I also firmly believe--and this one is tough for a type-a person like me--that if I can achieve 90% of my training goals I will still be one heck of a runner and still see awesome race times. I can let go a little and still do just fine. In fact, it might be better and I won't run myself so ragged.

This injury is my body trying to tell me something. I am starting to understand what she's saying, but there's a lot more left to understand.

*My employers

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

My Broken Butt Sits on the DL (2,996.19*)

Well, here I am writing my first blog post of the year from the DL. My piriformis that has been bugging me on and off for years became very very angry with me as I surged down a hill trying to catch up to my friends about mid-way through my long run. First, I shouldn't have been running in the low 7:1x's, especially on the very hilly course. Second, I had added a few extra miles during the week because I happened to notice I was really close to logging 3000 miles for the year. Third, I moved up my long run from Saturday to Sunday which I needed to do to log 3,000.09 for the year! Fourth, I didn't listen to mrp. He told me to stay with him instead of turning around to run with my friends since I told him I was pretty sure they'd be running faster than I needed to go. Ugh. As usual, he was right.

On top of all that, we had our first snow accumulation of the year on Tuesday right in the middle of my hard workout. I called it quits when I started slipping and sliding and I thought I did so before I hurt my butt, but I think that set the stage for Saturday. So, extra miles on slipper roads and running faster than necessary all lead to one thing: ouch. I'm lucky it's nothing worse. I feel like it is improving quickly. I still can't run at three days post-injury: I tried today, but it pulls so much I can't open my stride past-shuffle. I have an appointment with the fabulous TK, ART Doctor extraordinaire on Friday so I just plan to elliptical (if it doesn't hurt) until then. Oh well. I haven't been on the sidelines due to injury in a loooooong time, so I can ride it out. We'll see how I'm doing by this weekend, though!

In the meantime, I am busy getting myself ready to take on 2012. I have a lot of exciting things in the works. Stay tuned!


*I managed 2,996.19 miles with my 11.1 on Saturday (2 of which consisted of shivering and walking\shuffling in pain, but luckily with good friends and mrp by my side!) I am not upset as 3000 was never a goal of mine,it just so happened I was close by year's end. It's not worth hurting to get there. Plus, 2,996 and my biggest mileage year ever ain't bad for a mother of two toddlers!