Monday, October 28, 2013

Today I Ran

Today I ran. I don't know how far or how fast. All I know is that I ran with no pain.

I don't think I've ever been more nervous about a run before. As much as I didn't want to admit it I was pretty sure that if the pain was there right from the beginning I would pull out of this weekend's marathon. I'm prepared to deal with some pain throughout the race but starting 26.2 miles already hurting is just not worth it to me. I'm still nervous that today was a fluke but I'm going to take my chances on this one.

I went over to my school's track to run on a softer surface and so that if it did hurt I would only be a short walk away from my car. Nothing is worse than hobbling a few miles injured and defeated. I started walking with no pain so I slowly switched to jogging. With no pain jogging, I slowly switched to running. No pain again! I kept everything super easy and relaxed and alternated running with walking and jogging. This was not about testing my leg with anything close to speed but more of a benchmark with how things are.

It's certainly not ideal but it's better than it was last week. At this point all I can ask for is progress. I now have a little more confidence that I can make it to the finish line in one piece and even more importantly, smiling. I'm trying to treat this race as the celebration that its known to be. What better way to celebrate an awesome year of racing than 26.2 miles through the streets of New York City with millions of spectators cheering you on!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

One Week Away: NYCM

The New York City Marathon is in exactly one week and my last run was almost two weeks ago. My last true long run was a month ago. All of this means I'm at a really awkward spot going into this marathon. I have spent the last week and a half trying my best to maintain my fitness by swimming and biking with the hope that my knee will be ready to run 26.2 miles on November 3.

After not having the best buildup for this race a part of me just wants to run it for fun and not worry one little bit about pace or going hard. Just finish in one piece. After the year I've had though the other part of me wants to race. This year I've discovered how much actually racing and not just participating matters to me. I know I'm capable of a good marathon its just dependent on how my knee holds up and if my cross training will translate well.

I know going out and trying to run a sub 4 hour marathon is just dumb but when I think about just running the marathon for fun I lose some of my excitement. With the Marine Corps Marathon this morning my heart and head are at even more of a cross roads. It's really hard to see so many people running great races and setting PRs and then think about me not getting my chance.

I'm also starting to get really nervous about pacing and nutrition because I didn't get a whole lot of practice with either this training cycle. I'm trying not to think about those things and just get excited for race day. I truly believe that the New York City Marathon is a magical race and whatever happens it will still be an amazing day that I've been looking forward to for years.

Tomorrow I'm going to test my knee out with a little jog to see where I stand. While I'm really excited to get to run I'm also terrified that the pain will still be there. I would much rather know how things are going before race day so I'm more mentally prepared but I'm so nervous. I'm trying my best not to go crazy from the lack of running and all the nerves about race day so a pain free run would really be nice. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Accepting What Is: NYCM

One week ago I ran pain free, confident that I would have enough time to rebound before the New York City Marathon. On Thursday during a recovery run with the Lululemon run club I started feeling twinges in my knee again. I slowed down but soon enough my knee just flat out hurt. I tried running again on Friday with KT tape on with no luck. I spent the rest of the weekend having panic attacks about what I was going to do.

I bounced ideas off of everyone I could find, trying to figure out what to do. I so badly want to run this marathon but my training hasn't exactly been ideal. My midweek runs have been really solid but it's the long runs that have left me less than confident. I'm not going to sugarcoat things. I've only done an 18 miler as my true long run. Between being sick for a couple weeks and just going through a really hard time in my life lately I missed a run here or there. It wasn't a big deal and I had full confidence that with another couple long runs I would be prepared to tackle 26.2 miles.

Then this knee thing happened. I'm in denial about this being an injury, in case you were wondering. To be honest, if this were any other race I would likely take the DNS. But this is New York and this has long been a dream of mine. Plus $255 is a lot of money to just toss down the toilet.

So after much deliberation and talk with my coach Mike, my parents, and my best friend I am going to try to run the New York City Marathon. My last run was on Friday and it was only around 10 minutes. Between now and the marathon I am going to be doing biking, swimming and aqua jogging to stay in shape. I don't know if I will run at all before the marathon but my hope is that by staying off of it I will be able to run on November 3.

Before the NYC Marathon last year.. before it was cancelled

I know this may not be the smartest idea but I'm at least going to give it a shot. At this point my only goal going into this marathon is to have a great experience that leaves me wanting to run another marathon. I am going to play everything by ear and if at any point during the marathon the pain escalates I will not hesitate to pull out of the race.

So there it is. The New York City Marathon is a go. It may not be pretty but hopefully it will at least be fun.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

So Far, So Good

Since I last posted I have run twice, both times wearing the knee strap I got to help with the knee pain I was having. I wore it all day on Monday and could tell a difference but was still apprehensive about going for a run. For five days I felt the New York City Marathon slipping away from me and was so scared that even the strap wouldn't relieve the pain and discomfort.

I went for my first run on Tuesday morning expecting to have to turn around with my tail between my legs and go back to my apartment. I started jogging, not even running and was shocked when there was no pain at all. I figured it was only a matter of time before it started up again. I was extra cautious running downhill, certain that my knee would buckle and give out.

Instead, I ran completely pain free. For 38 glorious minutes. The longer I ran the more I started to become hopeful that I wasn't out of the game just yet. At the same time I thought it was too good to be true and my body was just playing a trick on me and any minute the pain would return.

When I was done running I stretched, foam rolled, and iced. I want to do everything possible to stay as pain free before November 3. After my run I came home and found out that start times and waves are up for the New York City Marathon. It's a good thing my run went well because if it still hurt and then I got the marathon info I would have been so sad.

Bib 30396
Orange Wave #2
10:05 start

Yesterday I went for my second run, which was much more of a test to how my knee is holding up. On the schedule was hill repeats at marathon race effort followed by a quick acceleration after cresting the hill. Although this was not a very hard workout it was my first attempt at some harder efforts with the knee strap.

Once again I kept the warm up and warm down as easy as possible. I didn't push that that hard even on the repeats. As much as I want to have a huge PR in New York and reach those goals I set for myself months ago, it is more important to me right now to get to Staten Island healthy and able to run a marathon to the best of my ability. So as of now, things are going well but I'm taking it a day at a time.

Are you running the New York City Marathon?
What wave are you?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Training Update

After how amazing of a summer I had I'm not super surprised that the wheels have started to fall off some. After the Nike Women's Half Marathon (which seems like forever ago!) I had a little bit of hip pain that required a week of no running but besides that I haven't really had any training snafus. I came into this marathon training cycle with high hopes of what I could achieve based on how far I had come over the summer.

The first few weeks of training went well and even a few of the not-so-stellar weeks weren't that bad, plagued with an eye infection and a short but nasty head cold. After each hiccup I was determined to hit the next week hard but it seemed like by the middle of the week something else had derailed training.

Last week was the worst. Something in my personal life happened that left me unable to eat for three days and sleeping just about as little. I tried desperately to keep up with training but my body had other plans. I took it as a cutback week hoping to nail the last two weeks of training before the taper.

Wednesday morning I went to the track ready to put in some work. I floated through my warm up, amazed at how great I felt. My legs felt fresh and ready to run. I started noticing that the back of my right knee felt a little off but since it didn't actually hurt I finished my warm up. I started my first mile repeat feeling good but the feeling quickly faded. By three quarters of a mile my knee felt really wrong and before I could even stop my knee buckled.

I stopped immediately, stretched, walked around for a few minutes and then tried jogging with no luck. With a serious sad face I packed up and headed home. I tried running again on Thursday with no luck and knew it was time to get it looked at. I've had little training injuries before but this just felt like something more. I took the entire weekend off except for a swim on Friday. I knew I would be told to rest my knee so I figured I'd get a head start on that.

So where am I now? Well I went to the doctor this morning and he confirmed my suspicions that I have a case of runner's knee plus some IT Band issues. My entire life I've always had loose kneecaps and it seems that my right one isn't tracking correctly which was causing my leg to give out. I was fitted for a patellar strap to support my knee both when I'm running and just in everyday use. I can run as long as I can tolerate the pain.

Hopefully between the strap, a few days rest, stretching, ice and taking ibuprofen I shouldn't be in too much pain. I'm not sure what all this means for the New York City Marathon, which is in less than three weeks, other than I should be able to at least complete it. I had big goals for this race, and I'm not giving up on them but I want to be realistic and not overdo things with my knee.

So there you go. I'm down but I'm not out. I've been wearing the strap since I saw the doctor this morning and my knee feels better but the real test will be how it feels while running. I'll report back soon with how my first few runs back go and hopefully it will be good news. After all of the incredible racing this weekend I'm ready for my turn and am going to do everything possible to get to Staten Island healthy.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The New Rules of Marathon & Half Marathon Nutrition

I want to start this post by saying that I rarely read books about nutrition. There are many different diets out there and the point of this post is not to hate on any one type. This is not a sponsored post. I just really liked this book.

I ordered this book back in August and read it while I was on vacation in Florida but just finished reading it a second time. The first time I read it I just wanted to get a general idea of what it was about. The second time I took notes on what I thought would be helpful and what I wanted to start incorporate into my training. I thought the information in this book was worth sharing, but I definitely recommend reading the book also.

The book is broken up into three sections
  • The Two-Rule Diet
  • Performance Nutrition from Day 1 to Race Day
  • Nutrition Training Synergy
I personally found the second of the three sections the most helpful as that is the section that discusses how to fuel your workouts, what to eat during the taper, and what to eat before, during, and after a race.

Meeting Your Carbohydrate Needs
One of my favorite things about this book is that it explains why athletes need to eat both carbohydrates and fats. So many people are afraid of eating carbs but this book goes into detail about why and how many carbs you need to be eating to maximize your athletic performance. 

The Diet Quality Continuum
There are ten categories of food (veggies, fruits, nuts, fish/meats, whole grains, dairy, refined grains, fatty meats, sweets, fried foods) and each is allowed in your diet. The foods are listed in the order they are ranked and the gist is to eat the foods at the top of the list more than the ones at the bottom. Essentially this means that as long as you are eating more veggies and fruits than there is no reason to feel guilty about eating sweets or fried food. I think it is a common misconception that these foods are "bad" and by eating them you've ruined your diet. While they certainly aren't good for you, there's no need to never indulge.

Fueling Your Workouts
This was the section I personally enjoyed the most. Instead of trying to summarize things I'm just going to bullet point some of the things that I highlighted. I highly recommend reading this book to get the full value of all of this.
  • Water consumption actually does not so much enhance running performance as it prevents the decline in performance that results from dehydration
  • If a run is long or fast enough to leave you more than moderately fatigued at the end, then carbohydrate intake would make a difference
    • You need 30g of carbohydrate per hour to attain a measurable performance increase
  • It is recommended to consume carbs in roughly half of your runs lasting between one and two hours and consume carbs in all runs lasting longer than two hours
Taper Training Guidelines
I think the most interesting thing is this book for me was how long it is recommended you taper. The book says that your taper is more dependent on how many miles you peaked at, not what distance race you are running. For example, if your peak week includes 41 to 80 miles of running then only a two week taper is necessary for a half marathon or a marathon. Less than 40 miles warrants a one week taper, while more than 80 warrants a three week taper.

Nutrition During the Taper Period
Just like you need to alter the amount and intensity of your running, in order to make the most out of your taper it is also recommended that you reduce calorie intake, fat load, caffeine fast, and carb load. The fat load was a new-to-me concept that I can't decide my opinions on. It is not a necessary part of the taper but essentially means eating high-fat, low-carb foods for a few days before doing the carb load.

  • Switch to a 65% fat diet two weeks before race day [if you are tapering for at least two weeks].
  • Remove all caffeine from your diet one week before race day
  • Switch to a 70% carb diet for the last three days before your race
Prerace Nutrition
"The final twelve hours before a marathon or half marathon are the most nutritionally important period in the entire race preparation process."
  • Dinner the night before your race should be low in fat, protein, and fiber, with the main purpose being finishing off your carb loading. 
  • Breakfast should be eaten between 2-4 hours before your race and should be primarily carbs