Welcome to Taper Town (again)

I’m not going to lie, Hal Higdon had thoroughly kicked my butt with this training schedule!  I’ve used Higdon before but this is my first time with his Intermediate 2 plan and the higher mileage plus mid-week speed work has really put me to the test!  I think it’s paying off, though.  Sunday’s long run was split into parts (more on that later) but the first part had me with 8 miles at a 9:45 average  pace, with walk breaks.  That’s pretty phenomenal for me, especially on super tired legs.

It feels like the past few weeks, I’ve done nothing but run.

I’ve run at 3:55 am (ugh!)

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Yes, I bring my coffee in my shower with me. Don’t you??

I’ve run when it was so hot and humid that I felt like my eyeballs were melting and with tights and gloves, all in the same week.

 

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Getting silly on the Wilson Bridge
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Sharing the “Love of the Run” ❤

I’ve run up a million hills.

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This was just cruel

I’ve run while evading alligators and “swamp people” while visiting my parents in FL.

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I was sweating my buns off but the people walking their dogs thought I was crazy for wearing a short sleeve top and shorts!
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I was a little disappointed to not see any wildlife except birds.  I was hoping for at least a turtle.

I didn’t run when I had to bail on my Saturday long run due to an unrelenting migraine (thanks, allergies! Also, I’m so lucky to have running friends who not only understand but run me back to my car so I don’t get hit or fall in my somewhat altered state!  I really don’t remember much from that morning and I came home and slept almost all day)

I ran a “progressive” 20 miler – solo, 1 partner, 5 partners, egg hunt, treadmill – in order to get it all done and still be there for my family (I’m so lucky that they are so understanding and supportive)

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And, done!

And each month I say “Man, I ran more this month than I ever have before!” — I’m looking at over 170 miles this month…

But, I survived to see the taper!  Uncle Hal’s taper is a bit stingy and I’m not sure how I feel about that yet — I still have a 4 am run scheduled for tomorrow which feels very, very wrong — but I am positive that I am a much stronger runner now than I was 16 weeks ago.  I still don’t know what Blue Ridge has in store for us but, whatever happens, we can honestly say that we have given this our all!

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On Pins and Needles

I have been having hamstring issues for a very long time.  It was an intermittent problem until RnR DC last year when my knee went wonky.  At the time, I thought it was a new problem with my IT band but it has become clear that it’s just a continuation of my hamstring problem.  Since I’m training for a very hilly race, and running as many hills as I can find – plus dedicated speedwork and hill repeats every week – the problem has intensified.

My first 20 miler of this training plan was cut at 16 because I literally couldn’t lift my right leg any more to get up the hills. Not good!

I’ve been trying to find a chiropractor that I like and that I can see with my goofy schedule and I kept striking out.  The two I had before both left the area.  I had been eyeing a third for a bit and finally decided to see him last Monday.

He confirmed that my hamstring was the culprit but there were no tears or major damage.  He used dry needling plus TENS stimulation, some Graston therapy, and manual manipulation, and then taped up my hammie with 4″ Rock Tape.  It worked wonders!  I ran pain free for most of the week and my leg didn’t really bother me until mile 18 of the 20 miler.

Here’s a little description of the different therapies:

Dry Needling is when the therapist uses acupuncture needles to stimulate the muscle.  In my case, he did it in my upper thigh (lower butt) and lower on the back of my thigh.  The first time, he just inserted the needles for a few minutes and then used a TENS machine to briefly “zap” each part of the muscle – it doesn’t hurt but I did feel a bit like a dissected frog! (I won’t gross you out but google “dissected frog muscle twitch” if you don’t know what I mean). The second time, he “dug” a little deeper to really activate the muscles.  I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t a lot of fun.  It wasn’t unbearable but I wouldn’t want to do it for more than a few minutes at a time.

Graston Technique is when a metal tool is used on soft tissue to break down scar tissue.  The back of my thigh is riddled with scar tissue.  It almost feels like a sheet of braille, with all of the bumps!  Breaking up the adhesions will help eliminate muscle constriction and improve function.

Graston
grastontechnique.com/WhatisSoftTissue.html

Manual manipulation basically consisted of his assistant moving my leg though a series of motions while he applied pressure to various parts of the hamstring.  At the treatment yesterday, I was able to feel the muscle dramatically release at one point – it was pretty awesome!

The final step is to tape the hamstring to provide extra support.  This step is optional and will depend on my training plan for the week.  Since I was facing a heavy week and he was booked for the rest of the week, taping last Monday was a good call! The tape is super adhesive and I was able to wear it through Friday with no rolling or pulling away from the skin.

My plan to see the same practitioner twice a week until the marathon.  In addition to this, I am also working on my unilateral leg strength (bridges, single leg deadlifts, Bulgarian split squats, etc) and trying to be more mindful of my stretching and rolling.  I noticed today that the pain is significantly reduced and I am pretty positive that I will be able to keep it in check through the rest of my training.

What therapies have you used to keep on the road? Would you consider more invasive alternative therapies?

 

Race Report: St. Pat’s Double

This weekend, I needed about 12 miles for my long run and it just happened to coincide with two great races.  I ran the Reston Ten Miler last year so I decided to go with the St. Pat’s Double (plus a few extra) this year.

As a bonus, a friend who is coming back from some health issues asked if I would pace her for a 10/10:30 pace for the 5K.  Normally, I can’t pace for crap but I thought I could keep her pretty close and readily agreed.

I decided to go in to DC early so I could get a good parking spot and pick up my bib plus run my extra miles.  I was able to park right on Constitution Ave., so that was perfect.

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I then ran 3 easy miles, to get my yayas out before meeting up with my friend.  It was a gorgeous morning and I was feeling great as I ran down the Mall to the start!

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I ran up the Lincoln steps. And barely managed to stop myself from accidentally blowing a snot rocket at the memorial.  So classy!

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I rolled back in about 15 minutes before the start.  Quickly found my friend, plus a couple more who wanted to come along for the ride, and we confirmed our place in the corral.

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Ready to go!
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He was the cutest dog on the course!

As we were running, I kept an eagle eye on my watch and pulled the group back a bit when ever we started speeding up.  I also tried to encourage them on the hills at the end of the course.  One of the group was clearly struggling but she did not give up!  All three pushed hard to the finish and we had an average pace of 10:01!

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BOOM!
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2 PRs and 3 crushed goals!

I tell you, I was riding high after this!  I grabbed some water and ate a food packet before lining up for the 10K.  I went out a bit faster than I probably should have with the 10K (9:30s) and, at mile 3, I decided to drop out of the group I was in and go my own pace.  I saw some of my super speedy friends out on the course and that was a lot of fun!  At mile 5 (11.5 for the day), my hamstring really started to hurt and I was starting to feel discouraged.  Right then, I looked left and saw “my girls” on the other side of the course and gave a shout out.  They hollered back and that was the encouragement I needed to keep pushing on.  They didn’t quit so I didn’t either!   I finished with a 10:11 average, which was really where I needed to be.

After crossing the finish, I went to get my medals only to find there was a very long line.  I’m not sure why, there were plenty of volunteers, but we were back up into the finishers chute.

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I then went to get some food.  They had (tiny) cups of hot coffee – fantastic! – as well as bananas, granola bars, and Costco blueberry muffins (less than fantastic. I didn’t look up how many calories are in one of those until I shoved it in my mouth.  Over 600!!!)

By that time, I was freezing and ready to go home so I left without tracking down my other friends.  Sorry, ladies, but I was shivering!

Overall, this was a great race!  I loved the fact that they had corrals (Pacers races often don’t).  The medals were cute.  The race shirt was okay (sorry, no picture).  There were plenty of portajohns.  I give this race a solid A- (the lines for the medals and food could have been handled better).

BUT!  The best part of this was my pacing duties.  I absolutely LOVED doing it!  I definitely want to pace more 5K and 10K groups, maybe even longer with some practice.  This, combined with thoughts of my upcoming RRCA certification, is making me think about a lot of things.  I definitely feel a calling for a service role but never found my place.  Maybe I have now?