Friday, July 17, 2015

After an extended recovery period post PGH marathon, I am back on the road!


Hey everyone! 

I have been away from my blog for far too long! After my awesome Pittsburgh Marathon blogger gig, I was hoping to step away from it for two weeks while I recovered and then to hop back on board when my training picked up. Unfortunately, a little nagging pain in my foot took me out for longer than I expected. But, after finishing up my third full week of running with two speedier runs, I am officially BACK IN THE GAME and prepping for some fall races! 

Here is a bit of a recap of what’s gone on in my life since the Pittsburgh Marathon; just to bring you all back up to speed: 

1.     Nagging foot thing! As you may have read in my post race blog, the course was SUPER hilly, and my calves told me so even a full week post race. My lower legs ached and the tightness in my calves caused a series of Achilles flare ups in a few different spots. But, nothing to fret about because Sam Lezon was my hero, with his death devices (grastin is literal torture), I was able to overcome a lot of the Achilles tightness. I slowly got back into running, not worrying about taking a day off completely  here and there so that I could let my legs sort themselves out. I even biked a bit, too. After sorting the biggest of upper Achilles pains out in my left leg, I started to notice that my left arch was cramping a lot, up towards my toes. I chalked it up to standing a lot at work (TC Running Company) and thought little of it. Three days passed and the cramping and pain persisted, moving toward my ankle and wrapping around the back of my anklebone. After seeing Sam about it, he figured it was likely tightness in my posterior tibia tendon that attaches from the navicular bone (mid foot) to a muscle in the calf. I gave it a few days off and then started to run again. No dice. The pain got more severe and continued to move around and then one evening it all started to zone in on one second (?) of my ankle: my tibia. First thought was stress fracture. GREAT. So I visited our awesome sponsors Twin Cities Orthopedic and got a speedy X-ray. I net with Dr. Langer to check in and we cleared the stress fracture notion up and decided it might just be some sort of reaction to the torsion strain on my tibia from wearing the wrong shoes. So, cross training it was. I completed 4 full weeks of cross training, some weeks trying to run every other day, some I completely stopped running for. To spare additional details, I got some SuperFeet inserts to assist my hard-working but rather droopy arches and stuck myself back into my Saucony Guides (moderate stability shoe), leaving my beloved but flimsy Kinvara’s (Kinvaras) and Zealots for casual wear. 

So again, I have spent another solid chunk of my time on the injured list, forcing me to constantly assess my ability, future, and potential. Thankfully, I had Jillian, Ryan, my teammates, and my awesome coach Dennis to motivate me to stay positive and see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am young, I am fit, and I have potential. Things will all work out. I am now joyfully jaunting again, thankful for every single pain free run. 

 Dining and watching a movie at the Alamo was cool! But subtitles make it tough
Breakfast we made at my brother's hour in Austin, enjoying the bread mountain's at the Central Market 

2.     I got to visit Austin, Texas with my mom during that whole injury period to visit my brother and his girlfriend. He just finished up his first year of his PhD in neuroscience and he was finally able to have us as guests and show us around the campus and city. I really miss my brother, but he loves Austin and I still get to see him on holidays. 




3.     Ryan and I went down to the farm where he grew up and stayed at the family’s new house (a few miles away) in southwest Minnesota. It was nice to finally meet the final and youngest of the four sisters and to meet his parents and see where he grew up. He taught me how to drive a giant tractor, too! We then continued on to Iowa to one of his college friend’s weddings. We arrived a day early, so I got to meet his whole group of friends back in their college town and I even got a tour of the campus. The ceremony was beautiful and the company was super fun. I will admit though, Iowa doesn’t have a whole lot goin’ on… 

5:45am workout time means hill repeats during sunrise! My marathon runners are tough

4.     I have recently been hired my LifeTime Fitness to coach the Twin Cities Marathon and 10 mile training group from their Chanhassen location! It's about 30 minutes (without traffic, or construction, thankfully) from my house in South Minneapolis, which is a bit of a ways, but I am really thrilled to be involved in the training build up of 35+ athletes! The runners range from goals to finish their first marathons to people trying to break 3 hours! I got to create training programs and hold practice Wednesday mornings as 5:45am and long runs on Saturday mornings! We did a hill workout this past Wednesday with 4-8 400m-hill climbs with downhill recovery and then 4-8 200m hill climbs. Everyone was working hard as the sun was rising behind us and I could feel the awesome effort everyone was putting in, despite the pain and early morning slog. I had a sub-3 hour marathoner say it was the hardest workout he’s ever done, and I had a newbie tell me he didn’t even think he was capable of finishing that workout; and he did, with flying colors! It is so rewarding to be to be a part of this awesome journey. 

SWEATY

5.     It is hot and humid here in Minnesota! I knew this previous to moving here, but I am still learning how to navigate through it. I have to get up early to run each day, usually in just a sports bra. I also have to chill 3 or 4 water bottles each night in my fridge to ensure that I have some cool water to mix my UCAN hydrate into when I finish each run. I notice I cannot stop or slow down during runs because sunscreen and salty, salty sweat falls into my eyes and renders them useless! I also have begun to appreciate showers for their duty more than for how refreshing it feels to clean myself. But, I haven’t figured out how to get into the shower after a hot run and not continue to sweat a bit once I get out. Cooling my body down is tough. Also, because if (of) the early mornings, I have had to adjust my nutrition. Because I don’t have time to get in a full meal before I run, or often even a solid snack, I have started using GENUCAN each morning for runs longer than 5 miles. I used to reserve it for workout days, but I have noticed a scoop in the morning before a hot run makes me feel unstoppable and really helps my energy levels. 



 The 5am starting line at Squaw Valley Resort
Stephanie at her aid station at 63 miles where Zach was able to jump in and pace her

6.     Lastly, I was able to head out to California with Ryan and Jillian for a week of fun. We started with two nights at my Mom’s (mom’s) house (where I was raised) and we got to explore Santa Clara and San Jose. We then packed up and headed to Squaw Valley to meet up with the Tholens' aunt and uncle and their cousin Stephanie Howe’s husband, crew, and friends for a pre Western States 100 mile race dinner. The race began Saturday morning at 5am and ran 100.2 miles to Auburn High School, so we were excited to get prepped to chase Stephanie around on her epic journey. The evening before, we camped out overnight in Ryan’s boss’ (boss’s) cabin in Tahoe that was in the midst of being completely gutted and renovated. I obviously was convinced there was a killer on the loose coming to get us in the night, so I probably slept about an hour before the 3:30am alarm clock. We packed up again, saw the breathtaking start up of the race (beginning with a 4 mile climb up the Squaw Valley mountains) and then booked it down to Auburn to catch Stephanie’s parents and head to a few of the aid stations where we got to watch and later help with crewing for her. At the aid stations they pick up food, water, and any other things they need to get through the long, long race. It was so cool to watch everyone with his or her different fueling habits and race plans. And what an exciting race it was! Stephanie worked so hard and kicked so much butt, I hope to some day accomplish just FINISHING a 100 miler. The atmosphere is so incredibly inspiring. I know I was sick of being awake by the time Stephanie dropping into the high school train to finish up her race in 3rd place just at 19 hours 32 minutes 58 seconds (yeah, hours) mark, so I cannot even imagine hiking and running for that long. We then got to spend the evening (after glorious showers) at Alex Wood’s humble abode (thanks girl, you da best) and finished off the weekend with Stephanie, Zach (husband), and a whole bunch of extended family. Jillian and I noted how hung over we felt just from being awake and active for 23 hours the day before, but Stephanie was walking (slowly, but gracefully) so we had little we could complain about. 

We spent the following week in San Mateo, where Ryan’s work is headquartered. Jillian and I explored San Jose one day, San Francisco another, and also spent some quality time shopping, too, while Ryan worked. Then in the evenings we were able to catch up with both of my parents for meals. One night we cooked my mom sweet potato and black bean tacos (yum) and had a great night in, and another we went to an awesome sushi spot in San Mateo with my Dad, his girlfriend, Jackie, and her daughter, Hannah. My friend Adam Krzesinski was able to make it too and it was so great to catch up with him. We finished our trip off with a half-day trip up to San Francisco walking around the mission district, getting delicious Mexican food from Gracias Madre (thanks, Isaac!) and finishing off with some interesting ice cream flavors from Henry Slocombe’s. Although being back in California was comforting, I found myself missing Minneapolis. This is my new home and I am so glad to be back in my life routine here. 

So what’s next? At this point, we just want to get me fit and working out consistently. I will be racing (right out of the gates) at the LifeTime Fitness Torchlight 5k in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday the 22nd! It’s an evening race that finishes up crossing a beautiful walking bridge on the Mississippi. It should be hot but it should also be a fun event. It is the USATF Minnesota 5k championships for 2015, so the sub-elite racing team members should be out and ready to roll. Then, hopefully more exciting races to come! I will keep you all posted. Thank you everyone for your continuous support in this incredible journey.

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