Saturday, August 21, 2010

Never give up!

It's been a long time since I've posted and a lot has happened this training. This summer was way busier than I anticipated with daily activities with the kids and keeping up with my runs. That's no excuse really, but the time I did have to get on the computer was so little and I just didn't have the energy to write all about what I was doing. I'll recap for anyone interested.

In mid-June I started training for the Quad Cities marathon. I decided to go all out with this training in an attempt to get in the best shape of my life and hopefully requalify for Boston in my new age group and time division. During the first weeks of training, I radically changed my diet. I had gone from allowing myself to eat whatever I wanted to being very strict about what I put in my mouth. I stayed within these guidelines - no sweets, no excessivly salty foods, no fried foods, and little red meat. I cut off eating after 9:00 and was in bed no later than 11:00. I drank only water and the occasional juice with my breakfast. No coffee, no caffeine. For a couple of weeks, I did really well. The next few weeks, I slid just a little, but only to accomodate celebrating my mom's and son's birthday.

My running started tentatively because I was still nursing a sore ankle from my 1/2 marathon training in May. I figured I had a few weeks before speed work started, so no need to push the pace right off the bat. I kept to my weekly miles and kept the pace comfortable and relaxed. Finally, speed sessions started in early July. We did our first 2 mile time trial in unbearable heat - it was the first summer day in the 90's with high humidity. I didn't quite hit my goal of 14 minutes, but didn't do terribly either. I ran 14:21 and my ankle held up okay. Little by little, I did more goal pace miles on my Thursday runs and saw my chiropractor and massage therapist regularly to help with the tendonitis in my ankle. I knew I wasn't running at 100%, but did the best I could and felt blessed that I was still able to push hard and meet most of my daily goals.

The "diet" started paying off after a couple of weeks and I finally started noticing some weight loss and definition in my abs and arms. I added in core and upper body strength training on my off days. I was feeling good about my running and eating and felt right on track to hit my racing goals in August and September. I had wanted to do the Freedom Run 5K, but decided against it to give my ankle more time to heal. Plus, the time trial was a good indicator of my starting point anyway.

With things running smoothly and feeling like I was getting stronger, I finally felt confident enough to sign up for the marathon the first week of August. My ankle was still getting tight after my runs, but it didn't really bother once I was warmed up and running. I knew it was something I would have to keep addressing during this training, but didn't feel like it was stopping me from reaching my goal.

Then, we went on vacation. I guess I didn't think about how it might be a challenge to do my runs while away from home. I just thought I'd find a place and get it done somehow, someway. We drove to Chicago to visit my sister-in-law and her family and take the kids around downtown. I had talked with my nutritionist before I left and shared my concerns about not eating well while on vacation. She advised me on healthy snack foods for the car and reminded me to stay hydrated. I think I did pretty well on the drive, even though we stopped for ice cream by the end of the evening. I had run 15 miles that morning, so I didn't feel too guilty. Little did I know, that was the beginning of my downfall.

This was specifically the reason I wasn't going to allow myself any sweets. Once I start "cheating" on my diet, it makes it easier to cheat again and again. The next day, my sister-in-law took us to IKEA. I have always heard great things about that store and have never gone. After shopping a couple of hours, we worked up a little appetite. If you know anything about IKEA, you know their stores have a dining area and their specialty is Swedish meatballs. I couldn't resist trying them! I was on vacation, after all. That night, Eladio and I went to a movie and I scarfed down most of a dark chocolate candy bar I had bought at IKEA earlier. I was already up to 3 strikes against my diet and there wasn't any turning back from that point. The rest of the trip, I indulged in flautas, Haagen-Daaz ice cream, and IKEA's cinnamon rolls, among several other off-limit items.

Even with all this gluttony, I still got in 2 quality runs. I did my speed workout on Tuesday and ran goal pace on Wednesday night. By the time we got back on Thursday, I felt bloated and just knew I had gained several pounds. On Friday, I went right back into my core/upper body exercises with full force. I did more crunches than I normally do and focused heavily on the reverse crunches to try to help with the new pooch I had formed on vacation. The next day, I did my 22 mile long run with goal pace miles. It was a tough run!! I was tired still from vacation and sitting in the car a long time. I was dehydrated and just not ready for a long run in the heat. It was a relatively cool summer day, only in the 80's, but there was little shade on the rolling course. I made it through, but it didn't leave me feeling very confident about my marathon goal. On Sunday, we got up to go to church and everything seemed fine. I was a little tired, but nothing hurt out of the ordinary. At the end of the church service, I bent over to fix my shoe and when I got back up, my lower back was extremely tight. It felt like it just locked up on me. I could barely walk and definitely couldn't bend over to pick anything up.

I was like that the rest of the day and woke up on Monday not feeling much better. I called my chiropractor and saw him that afternoon. He examined me and took an x-ray. The news was not good. I've had lower back problems before, so I wasn't really suprised by what he found - disk degeneration and compression, and slight curve in my spine. I've been told all that before, but it's never really affected my running. I thought, I still have 24 hours before my speed workout Tuesday night, hopefully I'll be better by then and can still go. I went back to the doctor on Tuesday for a treatment/adjustment. He did his thing and my back was gradually feeling less tight and painful. I was about to leave his office without talking about my running plans, but then decided I should at least tell him what I was wanting to do and hope he went along with it. He did not. Instead,what he told me next floored me - no running this week. What?!! No way! I have to run this week. I'm in the middle, almost end, of training for my marathon. Every workout counts!! I can't miss a speed workout, I can't miss a goal pace run and long run this weekend. Plus, I had a 5K race scheduled on Sunday. Nontheless, he didn't want me running. I left the office after agreeing to hold off on the speed session that night, but secretly planning to run the next morning if I felt okay.

I came home defeated. A part of me was ready to just give up and call it quits. Thankfully, Eladio and some good friends talked me off the ledge and I decided to try to remain hopeful and take it one day at a time. Not wanting to miss a workout, I went for a swim. That helped a little. Against my doctor's recommendation, I went for a short, easy run on Wednesday. My back didn't hurt, at least not any worse than when I was just standing. I took it easy the rest of the day and iced and stretched like my doctor said. I saw my chiropractor again on Thursday and my back was feeling much better. Not 100%, but still about 80% better. After he worked on me, I went for a short run around his office. The only pain/tightness I noticed was in my ankle. Same as it has been, maybe a little more. I came back to the office and he worked on that too. Finally, he said I could run again and could possibly even do the 5K. I would just have to listen to my body and stop if I felt pain. Yesterday, I was able to run 8 miles with 2 at goal pace. It wasn't perfect, but I had no back issues and just some tightness in my ankle. I can tell my cardio and heat acclimation has been weakened some by my lack of running this week, but at least I'm not giving up on my goal just yet. I have this 5K tomorrow and I'm going to see how my body responds. I don't expect I'll set a PR or even come close, but if I can run a sub 23, I'll feel pretty good.

I'll try to do better at updating this blog. I no longer think I need to post all my goals and aspects of my training to help keep myself accountable. Even though I haven't done absolutely everything I had hoped to this training, I'm proud of what I've done so far. I'm not perfect, but I'll keep trying. One of my favorite sayings - "Fall down seven times, get up eight."