Beth Runs!

After sitting on my butt all winter, knitting and watching Craig Ferguson into the wee hours, it's time to get up, get out, and move!!!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Faster than ever!

I DID run faster than 10:40/mile. I actually ran 10:21/mile, my fastest time EVER! (Previously, my fastest 1 mile was 10:24 on the treadmill, and I couldn't keep up the pace after the first mile.) Here are the Official race results:

San Francisco Marathon 5K Official Results

Click here to see all the results of the Marathon races yesterday.

My inside right shin hurts this morning. Well, it's been hurting for weeks. So far, my knee has been just fine. I wish I knew what was going on with my shin. I tried to focus on landing on my midfoot yesterday, but maybe I'm still coming down too far forward. Or maybe there's really something torn and I need X-rays.

Another thing about yesterday: I forgot to smile. Usually, if I'm having a sucky time running, I'll smile, and somehow that fools my brain into thinking that I'm actually having fun. I forgot to do that yesterday. Through the whole run, I just wanted it to be over. I was soooo not in the moment!

Leaving tomorrow morning for Maryland. I'll need to get in 3 runs while I'm there. Hope the humidity doesn't get me!

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Consolation Prize

SF Progressive Marathon Finisher's Medal Side 1

SF Progressive Marathon Finisher's Medal Side 2

Well, it's not a Marathon Finisher's medal, and it's not a Half Marathon Finisher's medal, but it is a real medal, it's pretty, and I won it, and it's mine. Progressive Marathon means that I ran 23.1 miles on my own over several days and the final 3.1 miles at a 5K race during the marathon today.

The 5K was much harder than I expected. My legs and knees were fine (hallelujah!) but I was breathing really hard from the start and felt like I was going to throw up. The difficulty was surprising, as I've run 3 miles or more many times in the last few months. Then, I got home and looked up my unofficial finish time. I was running 10:40/mile: the fastest 3.1 miles I've run so far. In fact, my time may have been faster than 10:40. The results page says that the gun time was 8:01:02, but the chip on my shoe was timing from 8:00:00. See below.
SF Progressive Marathon Unofficial Results

I credit the increased speed to 2 factors: the forward lean of the ChiRunning style, which causes you to run faster or fall on your face, and the race atmosphere itself. I just can't stand being passed by so many people. Hey, I was in the top 25% of my age group! That's something!

Oh, there is one other factor: Michael running alongside me to spur me on. He got up for me at 5:30a.m. on his day off. I couldn't let him down!

Today, I focused on 3 things: maintaining the lean, relaxing my lower legs and ankles, and increasing my stride rate. I didn't bring the metronome I just got, as I thought its constant cheep might annoy other runners. But I did concentrate on taking smaller, faster steps.

The Full Marathoners started at 5:30a.m., and we were able to see some of the first finishers cross the line just after 8a.m., as we were running our 3.1 miles. They looked awesome... energized and fit and smiling. We didn't stay to see the slower runners cross the line. I think I was afraid to see what I might look like when I finally run my marathon. I'd like to keep imagining myself as an eagle, even though I'm really a penguin, as John Bingham calls those of us who are slow but stubborn.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Just like starting over...

Wow. I have so much to catch up on. I lost momentum. Being unable to run, I felt lost. I had no program to follow. It was difficult to get to the gym when I had so little motivation. And it was difficult to bring myself to write about it when I felt so disoriented.

But help is on the way in the form of Matt Sheehy, my physical therapist at Kaiser. I had my appointment with him this past Friday. Matt is a runner himself and his specialty is sports rehab. Not only did he examine my body, but he put me on the treadmill and observed my running form, noting 4 things I'm doing wrong which are contributing to knee problems:

1) Holding my posture straight up. Instead, I should lean forward from the ankles, like a skier. This prevents the next thing...

2) Landing on my heels. I should be landing on my midfoot. Landing on the heels is like putting on the brakes. It causes a lot of impact on the knees. Leaning forward will help me land correctly.

3) Allowing my right foot to turn outward. I already knew this was a problem. Matt says I can correct it by doing hip adduction exercises (squeezing in with the thigh) as well as simply focusing on keeping that leg straight at all times, especially when running. It feels really strange to keep it straight. He says if I am diligent, I should be able to correct it myself within a month. And after examining me, he feels that my muscles are strong enough that there should be no reason they can't hold my leg straight with practice. It's just a weird habit that has developed over time rather than an actual defect in my body.

4) Low stride rate. He counted 78 strides per minute. I should be running 85 strides per minute, taking quicker, shorter strides. This will help me land with less impact. He wants me to purchase a clip-on metronome to help me learn to run at the correct rate.

Some other things he wants me to do:

1) Read the book, ChiRunning, by Danny Dreyer, and learn to run using the form described in the book, which is based on principles of Tai Chi. This form includes the forward lean, landing on the midfoot, relaxing the lower leg and ankle and using more of the core muscles to run, and picking up the feet. Matt says that all his running patients cleared up their knee problems by adopting this running style. And he was able to demonstrate it for me himself; so as strange as it feels, I know it can be done.

2) Switch to soft Bio-foam insoles. He thinks Superfeet insoles, which I have been using, are too hard for running. And he agrees with Dr. Augé that I should be wearing well-cushioned neutral shoes rather than the heavy motion control shoes I was wearing.

3) Use a different stretch for my quads after each run that is less stressful on my knees.

4) Run 3-4 times per week, only 1-2 miles each time, focusing on improving my form rather than on speed or distance. Then, come back to him in 3 weeks for evaluation.

So, I purchased the book as soon as I left his office and have done 2 runs since then. So far, no knee pain whatsoever. The form feels very strange, but I'm actually able to run faster than I ever have before. Yesterday, I ran a 10:24 mile on the treadmill: my fastest yet. The forward lean is like a gas pedal, according to Dreyer. The more you lean, the longer your stride has to be to keep you from falling, and if you maintain your stride rate, you will go faster.

The only pain I'm having now is the soreness in the left side of my right shin. Dreyer says that shin pain is caused by overusing the lower legs and also landing on the toes and balls of the feet rather than the midfoot. I do think that I have been overcompensating for the heel strike by landing on the balls instead. My next run, I'll focus on picking up my feet and landing flat-footed.

So, new plan: I still have an opportunity to participate in the San Francisco Marathon. I found out today that they have a Progressive Marathon. You fill out a sheet showing runs you've done in the last few months adding up to 23.1 miles and then complete the final 3.1 miles in a 5K race during the SF Marathon. You can run or walk the 5K, so I can still do it even though I'm not supposed to run more than 2 miles. Then, you end up with a medal and a T-shirt. It will be nice to salvage something from my previous plan!

As far as the Nike Women's Marathon: Matt thinks I should switch to the 1/2 Marathon on October 22, which agrees with Dr. Augé's opinion. I'll see how I do in the next few weeks before I make that decision.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Thank you

Alanis Morissette has a song called, "Thank You." The refrain goes:

Thank you India
Thank you terror
Thank you disillusionment
Thank you frailty
Thank you consequence
Thank you thank you silence

Here's my version. I think the sentiment is the same:

Thank you injury
Thank you anger
Thank you disappointment
Thank you weak knee
Thank you hopelessness
Thank you thank you descent

It's looking more and more like I won't be doing the 1/2 marathon on the 30th. I saw Dr. Augé yesterday. She thinks the knee problem is being caused by a rigid hip flexor combined with a deformed right foot. Well, she never actually used the word "deformed." But she did say my feet are unusual. She gave me a series of exercises to do and then worked on my right leg all the way from the bottom of the foot to the top of the hip. What she did hurt like hell. But when it was over, my leg felt looser and freer than it ever has. And the foot pointed forward instead of to the right.

Dr. Augé said she couldn't guarantee that I'd be able to do the 1/2 marathon on the 30th. When I asked when I could start running again, she said I could try whenever the knee felt better but to not overdo it.

So tonight I tried. I mapped out a 1-mile loop around Aunt Ann's and planned to run it 3 times. As I approached the office after the 1st loop, feeling pretty sure that I'd be able to do it again, BANG! There was the pain again. CRAP!!!! I limped to the back door and came inside.

So what can I do? My pride and my ego have taken a beating this week. I spent Sunday consoling myself with huge bowls of angel hair pasta and chocolate pudding. Now I have to get real. I'm not giving up. I just have to change my strategy. I've learned that I can create a plan and stick to it. Now, I need another plan. This one will not be as exciting, but I'll do it.

I've got exercises to do several times a day; and I'll do them. I need to find an alternative type of cardio workout to keep my heart and lungs in shape while I'm healing my leg. (Swimming? Can I do the elliptical trainer without pain?) And I have an appointment with a physical therapist at Kaiser in a week and a half (less than that if Dr. Augé can get them to fit me in sooner.)

So why the Thank You song? Because the real goal here is not to run a 1/2 marathon or marathon. Those are just targets to get me moving. The real goal is learning. Learning to listen to my body and give it what it needs. Learning to make a plan and stick to it, but also learning to be flexible when circumstances cause the plan to be changed. Learning not to give up in frustration in the face of disappointment. Basically, growing up and learning how to deal. I don't have kids to teach me these things. I've got to learn them myself.

I still plan to run a 1/2 marathon and marathon. I just don't know when they will happen. Anyway, the title of this blog is "Beth Runs!" Not "Beth Runs 26.2 Miles!" So it's definitely not over yet!


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Here I sit, broken hearted...

I went to bed last night with a throbbing headache from crying all day.

Yesterday, I got up early with an aching knee to make it to an 8AM event at the little Marina Green in San Francisco, kicking off the 15-week Nike Marathon training program. It was really just a day to sign up and get more info about the program. Oh, and have Nike try to sell us some new shoes. But they also had all the participants do a 1-mile "getting started" run, which I sat out because of my knee. My little big huge ego was shouting, "Hey everybody! You don't know me, but I just ran 8 miles last Sunday! I could do your stupid 1-mile baby run if my knee wasn't hurting from all the training I've ALREADY been doing!"

But this was not why I cried all day.

All along the green were vendor booths: Nike (of course), Jamba Juice, Luna Bar, See Jane Run, as well as Dr. Nancy Augé, a sports therapist, who looked at my new frankenstein running shoes and said, "Wow. I think you are severely over-corrected in those shoes." Great! This is my third pair of shoes! Am I soon to be purchasing a fourth??? I told her about the pain I'm having and made an appointment to see her Monday at noon.

I had to walk about a half mile along Marina Blvd to get back to the bus stop to go home. That is when my knee REALLY started hurting. Not a constant ache, but a sharp pain every time I stepped on or off a curb or did some other random thing I still haven't figured out. All I could think about was my scheduled 10-mile run the next day. I'd walk 20 feet without pain and start getting hopeful. Then, just as I thought, "Maybe I can run tomorrow if I wear my knee brace," the pain would shoot through again and go, "No! No you are not running, you idiot! What makes you think you can run? Mu ha ha ha ha ha!!!"

Still, I did not cry.

I got to the bus stop, rode to BART, descended into the BART station one very slow step at a time, and found a bench. That's when Michael called. And that's when the tears began. I cried all the way home on BART. I cried all over Michael when he met me at the station with my knee brace. I limped and cried all the way home with Michael. And when I got home, I sat on the couch and just cried for an hour.

All day, I cried until I was dehydrated. Then, I ate some food and drank some water and cried some more. Drink, cry, drink, cry. I watched 3 DVDs. After each one was over, I'd cry again.

I cried because I was so afriad of having to give up my dream. And I cried because I didn't know what to do. Should I try and run tomorrow? Should I just give up this week altogether? Would I still be ready for the 1/2 marathon if I missed one of my long training runs? What if the knee is ruined and never gets better? I finally understood how Michael felt when he broke his collarbone. Plus, I was having PMS, which doesn't create sad feelings, but certainly magnifies the ones that are already there.

Finally, some sense worked its way into my emotion-clouded brain and told me that I should not do anything involving my knees until Monday when I see the doctor. I've trained for 12 weeks. I'm not going to lose what I've developed by taking a couple of days off. But I could lose everything by overdoing it.

And for a bit of insurance, I took 2 valiums before going to bed. Valium knocks me out and leaves me hungover the next day. It strips me of most of my drive and motivation. This is usually an undesirable effect, which is why I've managed to save almost a whole bottle for a year. But in this case, I was worried that drive and motivation might cloud my judgment in the morning and cause me to do something I shouldn't. I wasn't going to take any chances.

Today, I feel fine about my decision not to run. But that's probably just the lingering effects of valium. Plus I started my period this morning, so the PMS flood has subsided. I need to go water my plants now. They've been neglected, as have most other aspects of my life that are not related to running. Obsession is a powerful thing.


Friday, July 07, 2006

Damned Right Leg!

Argh! My right knee is killing me! Okay, it's not killing me. But I don't think it's supposed to feel the way it's been feeling for the last 2 days. And on top of that, well actually below it, the left side of my shin is hurting too. Ever since I got out of bed yesterday morning.

Then, to add anxiety to injury, I was reading a new book on BART yesterday called Marathoning For Mortals in which the author emphasizes going slow and stopping training when something hurts. He's all full of scary warnings about how your legs will fall off and you'll be stuck in a wheelchair eating through a tube in your nose and no one will ever love you if you run when your legs hurt. I know! I know! But I just want to do this Half Marathon! I really want to do it! Can't I just wash down some pills with a big glass of tasty denial juice and keep going???

So I didn't run my 3 miles today on the road. I used my new Aqua Jogger for the first time at Temescal pool. (No, that's not me in the picture. Just imagine a navy blue bathing suit and maybe 15 more pounds. And no, I'm not posting a photo of me in a bathing suit on the web!)

I was starving, so I had a big hummus sandwich on the way to the pool: just the thing your mother tells you not to do. I didn't get a cramp and drown, but with the Aqua Jogger belt tight around my middle, I felt like I was going to barf.

Anyway, Temescal pool is much nicer than the gym's. The pool is big and outdoors and goes to 10 feet deep. I hung out in the deep end and ran in place for 35 minutes. It took a few minutes to get the hang of the rhythm of underwater running without looking like a spaz, but soon I was chugging right along. I just hope that doing this today gave my knee enough of a rest and the rest of me enough of a workout to do my 10 miles on Sunday!

Other things I have learned from Marathoning For Mortals that will be goals for the coming weeks:

1) Add 10 minutes to EVERY SINGLE run to warm up and cool down. That means, walk for 5 minutes before running and then walk for 5 minutes afterwards.

2) Add more time after the run to fully stretch all the relevant muscle groups. (This one is actually in my training manual, with illustrations, but I have been lax. Not stretching enough is probably part of the reason for my pain now.)

3) Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

8 Mile

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo

Yes! One more mile! I was dreading this run because I'd have to do it while visiting my brother's family in Coalinga, CA, where the temperature is 105F during the day. I started at 5:45am to beat the heat. Will helped me map out a 4-mile loop, so I could come back to the house and rehydrate after the first 4 miles. I left a bottle of Gatorade in the driveway and chugged half of it down between loops.

The run was flat and mainly uneventful except for a couple of little yappy dogs that chased me home both times I entered my brother's housing development. They were cute but I had to slow down so as not to squish them under foot.

The air in the morning was cool and dry, perfect conditions for running. Afterwards, I stretched really well and then sat in the hot tub. I wasn't sore at all afterwards!

And speaking of water therapy, I'm going to try Deep Water Running. I bought an Aqua Jogger Friday but haven't had a chance to try it out. I'm hoping that running under water will help me strengthen my legs without excess soreness. Thursday, I ran in the pool at the gym, but I don't think it was as useful running on the bottom of the pool as it will be to run in deep water without touching the bottom. We'll see.

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