Tagged: health

Time to Celebrate

Yesterday was my birthday and I have a lot to celebrate. I’m cancer-free, running again, and life has returned to some semblance of normalcy. Oh, and something I wrote is going to be published this month!

A few months ago, in the middle of chemo, I found out that a race report I wrote on my first 50K trail race in Palo Duro would be published in the running magazine Marathon & Beyond.  I was thrilled, of course, but it was tough trying to do some minor editing and send off photos when all I really wanted to do was curl up in a little ball and sleep. Trying to make my brain stay focused and my fingers work on the keyboard was a challenge, not to mention the continually strong urge to vomit.

The editors were patient and kind with me, however, and the article will be appearing in the March/April edition–which means any day now it should be in the mail. If you don’t subscribe to Marathon & Beyond, you should. It really is the best running magazine out there. Almost all of the articles are written by real runners, people like you and me, who tell their stories about training, racing, and running. It’s a magazine that’s more like a small book, written by people who love running crazy long distances. That’s us, y’all! (And no one coerced me or paid me into saying any of this. It really is a great magazine, and not just because they published my race report.)

I haven’t written much lately. It’s taken me a while to settle back into routines and transition back to a regular life, whatever that is. I can’t play the cancer card anymore when it comes to housework or cooking, the kids have come and gone, and I’ve been putting a lot of work into the knitting business. And I have to admit, coming back to running after almost six months of surgery and chemo was much harder than I thought it would be. MUCH harder.

Cross country skiing in New Mexico. Much more fun than running, but just as hard.

Those first few runs after my last chemo session were pretty rough. I could barely run ten steps before I was out of breath. I’m not exaggerating. I used to tell everyone I was starting back at ZERO with my running, but the reality is I started back at NEGATIVE 25. Chemo takes a lot out of you, and the fatigue has taken months to recover from.

So I started with walking. At first, it was only a few blocks with the dogs, then I felt strong enough to push it to three miles, then four. I added in small running segments, and celebrated when I was able to run one whole block without stopping, then two blocks. It wasn’t much, but it was monumental, all at the same time.

I decided four miles was the ideal distance for me, and my goal was to keep walking/jogging (AKA wogging) four miles until I could run the distance without any walk breaks. Interestingly, when I started running again, I picked right back up at my old pace. The problem, of course, was that my legs and heart weren’t conditioned for that pace, hence the fact that I was out of breath after ten steps. I needed to make myself slow down. I had to reteach my brain to slow down to a pace that I could more comfortably run. You would think this would happen automatically after such a long layoff, but it didn’t for me. I think this proves just how stubborn my brain truly is.

Running with my son’s girlfriend, Nicole, helped tremendously. She had never run before, and didn’t have any former running paces to mess with her brain. She naturally ran a pace that was comfortable for her, and it forced me to relearn how it felt when I first started running eight years ago–to slow down in order to run farther. This is all Running 101, but I told you I was stubborn. They say running is 90% mental, and this proves it (at least for me).

What also helped: the treadmill. Yes, doing the thing that makes me want to slit my wrists–running on the treadmill–helped the most to reprogram my brain to find the right pace. I set the speed to a very comfortable pace and ran TWO MILES without stopping. For me, this was huge. Just knowing I could run that far without having to stop and walk let my brain know that if I would just slow down, I could go farther. Duh.

After that mental breakthrough, it was Game On. Running was still hard, and I still had to take lots of walk breaks, but at least I was out there again. I ran only for time, noting each week how long it took me to cover the four mile distance. I decided to wear my Garmin one day just to see what my actual pace was, and of course it was a miserable run. Immediately, I got caught back up in my speed and trying to run faster than the last time. I ditched the Garmin afterwards and went back to the Timex. Eventually, a run/walk that used to take me 1:17:00 only took 51:00, including walk breaks. I wasn’t going to break any speed records, but that was unimportant. I was running again!

Showing off the new runner-friendly ‘do after a run.

Now that I’m four months out from chemo, I’m still taking walk breaks. I’m walking less and less each week, and I’m slowly getting stronger. Yes, I’m frustrated that I’m still walking on a four mile run, but I vowed I wouldn’t beat myself up over this. Building up all the muscles and tendons in my legs again, not to mention making my heart stronger and more conditioned, just takes time. There’s no hurry. And some days, running four miles still makes me feel as tired as if I ran a half marathon.

I try to do yoga at least five days a week, and like before, I swear it makes me a stronger runner. I can’t recommend yoga enough. No matter what else happens with staying fit as I get older, I plan to keep doing yoga well into my 100’s (or longer).

My only goal for the entire year is to run at least four days per week. No races, just base building for an entire year. I haven’t always met my goal of consistency. Some days I use the cold temps as an excuse, other days the wind, some days I’m lazy, and a lot of days I just can’t get motivated to run alone. Running is hard now, and it used to be easy. Building up to my previous level of conditioning is going to take a long time, and I promised myself I would be patient. Running is definitely much harder when you’re just starting out, and I haven’t reached the point where it feels “easy” again. But I will.

Of course, my running buddies are all much faster than me now, and I hate holding others back, but they have been great about meeting for an occasional “wog” during the week. I’m also doing a long run every Saturday again, and my closest running friends have been nice enough to run with me. I’m up to 7 miles, and in a couple of weeks I plan on running my first post-chemo nine mile loop around the lake. It will be hard, but I can’t wait.

Most importantly, I’M ALIVE, and that’s the best thing of all to celebrate this birthday!

white rock lake runner

White Rock Lake, I’m coming for you!

The Slow Comeback

It’s time to rewind. A blog that used to be filled with stories of 20 milers, long trail runs, and 60 mile training weeks is going to look very different for a while.

Chemo is over. It’s time to run.

I have been “wogging” (I can’t honestly call this running) 4 miles most days of the week. My plan is to stay at 4 miles and increase the time I run until I’m running the entire distance.

Once again I’m reminded of how great “just” walking is. I walked as often as I could during chemo, but it wasn’t far because of the extreme fatigue. It’s taken me two full months to run half a mile without stopping, but all those weeks of walking have made me strong enough to even attempt it.

26.2 stickers

Yes, I’m one of THOSE runners with all the stickers. Hate me if you must.

Since I finished chemo I’ve been very impatient, expecting to get back into shape within a few weeks and pick up right where I left off. It’s not going to happen. This body was beaten down pretty hard and it’s taken longer than I thought it would to return to running.

I’m okay with that. There’s no hurry. Really. I’m happy just to be moving again. Right now I don’t feel that old urge to push myself further and further. Maybe it will return one day, but for now there’s no training spreadsheet or running log calling my name.

My  first goal is to run a mile without stopping. One mile seems like a million right now, but at least I’m halfway there. My next goal will be to run the full 4 miles of my daily distance, and within the next two months I hope to loop White Rock Lake (9 miles) with some walk breaks included.

Christmas Lights Run

Runners in our front yard for our annual Christmas Lights Run.

Though I feel stronger every time I run, it is very, very hard to come back from being sedentary for six months. And I wasn’t just sedentary, I was being poisoned two weeks out of three from chemo drugs.  It’s a serious understatement, but I’m glad that’s all over with.

One thing I noticed right off the bat when I first started running again was that I was keeping my old pace on my short run segments. I could only run for about a block before I was completely out of breath and wanted to die, but I wasn’t shuffling along. Alas, the brain remembers but the legs doth protest. It took me a few tries, but I finally figured out–just like when I first started running eight years ago–that I have to slow down to build up my distance and work on endurance first. Speed comes of its own accord.

Speaking of speed, my husband told me the other day that I have to start all over with my PR’s, as in “pre-cancer PRs” and “post-cancer PRs.” I cry foul! Nobody else has a cancer-imposed PR moratorium to deal with, so why should I? Husbands can be so irritating.

Christmas Lights Run

I walked, hence the jeans.

I almost always have marathon dreams a few weeks before a race. During those long months of chemo I inexplicably had recurring dreams of running in the snow. I could hear the crunch of the snow underfoot, feel the cold air on my face, and taste the overwhelming freedom of running. I have no idea why it was always snowing in those dreams, but I loved feeling that I could still run, if only in my dreams.

Now that we’re having an unusually cold winter here in north Texas (and I LOVE it), the snow has disappeared from my dreams, though I still have dreams of running effortlessly, breathing easily and without pain. Kind of like I used to.

I’m looking forward to running that way again, in real life. Soon. Very Soon.

A New Chapter

My life has undergone a huge change these past three weeks. Running has taken a backseat for the time being, though I hope to be running again within the next two or three weeks. As a friend said, “This is more than just a broken toe!” Indeed.

In the meantime, I walk. Yesterday I managed my longest distance: one mile. All things considered, it’s quite a milestone for me.

I’ll be writing more here on Run Nature once I’m up and running again. Until then, if you’re interested, you can follow my story on my other blog, Mind Margins.

Thanks for reading each week and for all your support these past two years here on the blog. It means the world to me.

Angela

Strength

And Here I Thought I Was Saving My Life

Last year, after running my sixth marathon — in Death Valley of all places — my doctor gave me a sobering look during my annual physical and asked how many more marathons I planned on running. I told him maybe a few more and he proceeded to tell me about a study he had recently read that was undertaken by a doctor and his son, both marathon runners. They loved running and wanted to study how running a marathon effected runners’ hearts.

They were surprised by their findings. Apparently, at least in the people they studied, in the days following a marathon the runners’ hearts showed just as much damage as if they had suffered a heart attack. Sobering findings indeed. Even worse, people who had run ten or more marathons showed increased blockage and calcification in their arteries. My doctor, who has known me for 22 years, quietly told me he hoped I wasn’t planning on running that many marathons.

I laughed and agreed. I had, after all, just run 26.2 miles in Death Valley! In the back of my mind, however, I was rolling my eyes and thinking there was no way running could be bad for you. Data can be manipulated.

Bold in the Cold 2012

At one of the few races I ran this year, Bold in the Cold, with my friend, Hari.

Today a friend posted a link to an article in The Wall Street Journal about two new studies on the effects of running, especially in older athletes.  The news is, once again, not very good. Here’s the part that stood out the most to me:

What the new research suggests is that the benefits of running may come to a hard stop later in life. In a study involving 52,600 people followed for three decades, the runners in the group had a 19% lower death rate than nonrunners, according to the Heart editorial. But among the running cohort, those who ran a lot—more than 20 to 25 miles a week—lost that mortality advantage.

It’s that last sentence, emphasized by me, that makes me cringe. In my circle of running friends, 20 to 25 miles a week is small potatoes. Especially now that I’m training for a 50 mile race in nine weeks, and regularly hit weekly mileage of 50-60 miles, I often run 20 to 25 miles in one run.

This sentence from the article calmed me down somewhat:

Meanwhile, according to the Heart editorial, another large study found no mortality benefit for those who ran faster than 8 miles per hour, while those who ran slower reaped significant mortality benefits.

It would take about a 7:30 minute pace to run 8 miles per hour, and I’m far from ever achieving that pace for longer than, oh, ten seconds, maybe? I’m a solid middle of the pack runner. I like an occasional good, fast tempo run, or a race where everything comes together and I surprise myself with a faster than expected pace, but I don’t train for speed. If it’s a byproduct of hills and distance, all the better, but it’s just not that important to me anymore. I guess I’m starting to mellow in my old age.

I’m all about distance. Nothing makes me happier than spending a few hours on a Saturday morning running a 20 mile route around the city with my friends. Even better, spending five or six hours on a trail, pushing just hard enough to enjoy the experience and still have enough energy to make it back to the car and the drive home, is what fills me with the deepest sense of accomplishment I’ve ever known. Nothing else in my life has ever made me feel as satisfied with myself as running.

Palo Duro Trail Run 2012

At the Palo Duro 50K Trail Run last month.

I like to think I run intuitively and listen to my body. I’m pretty good about taking rest days and not being a slave to the training plan. I don’t race half as much as others I run with, and I don’t push myself as hard either, especially on long runs.

It seems like common sense that running really hard, day in and day out, over fairly long distances, will eventually wear out your heart faster than if you did nothing but sit on the couch. Moderation is the key. Maybe speed is the culprit, and the studies don’t give us all the variables.

I have a deep down feeling that our bodies were made to run. The only thing more natural than running would be walking, something I plan on doing more of when I get much older. And I don’t intuitively feel that running long distances, at a comfortable, conversational speed, can really be the same — or worse than — doing nothing at all. Someone will need to show me the data on that to make me a believer.

For me, at this point in time, I’m in the best shape of my life. It took me 52 years to get here, and nothing beats the feeling of power and strength I’ve gained from running these past seven years. I love being able to go out for a 10 mile run on a cold autumn morning and have it feel easy. I feel energized the rest of the day, it keeps me in a great mood, and I sleep better and deeper than when I’m not running.

But, honestly, if I had to, I could be happy with 20 to 25 miles a week. If someone could prove to me that I would be able to have an extra five or ten years of running if I cut my current mileage in half, and have the same physical and psychological benefits I garner with 50 mile weeks, I could do it.

Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Being healthy and staying alive, and being able to appreciate the gift of running — even if it’s “only” 25 miles per week.

Besides, we all know that anything done to excess can be bad for you, and that includes something as healthy as running. Just keep it simple, and listen to your heart.

Here’s a great rebuttal published by Runner’s World on the studies mentioned.

Palo Duro Trail Run 2012: Race Photos

For anyone who ran the race last weekend, or is interested in seeing what it was like, here is the link to all the photos Michael took. He has photos of the 20K, 50K, and 50M runners on various places on the course.

Palo Duro Trail Run 2012

Click here to view the full collection of Palo Duro Trail Run 2012 photos.

You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks

I ran for three years before I had any desire to run a marathon. I thought people who ran 26 miles were crazy. I couldn’t for the life of me understand why anyone would want to put themselves through that much pain.

Six marathons later, I’m training for a 50K.

Training for a marathon and a 50K trail race are similar, but there are differences. I’m new to trail running, and it’s definitely not the same as running on pavement. Other than the obvious difference of concrete versus dirt (and roots, rocks, and stumps), I’ve been surprised to discover a few things I’ve never experienced in marathon training.

Lake Grapevine

Run, don’t walk:

The biggest surprise happened this past Sunday, when my friend Hari and I ran 23 miles on trails. We started slower than usual. Complete darkness, no moon, and huge spiderwebs–with spiders–spanning the trail forced us to slow down. Later on we took walk breaks and walked the steeper uphills. The last few miles of the run, when I was bone tired, I was surprised to discover something I had never experienced before.

For the first time ever, even when I was exhausted and ready to be done, running actually felt easier and less painful than walking.

This was huge. My brain normally begs me to walk those last few miles of a 22 miler or a marathon–and walking feels good. This time I was not only able to start running again, it actually felt physically better. I’ve read about this from ultra-distance runners but never experienced it myself before Sunday.

Hari at Grapevine

Something salty, please:

I alternate drinking water and Gatorade in a race, but only because it’s there. I’ve never craved Gatorade in a race, even when it’s humid and warm, and I’ve never noticed it having any effect on my performance. On the trail, however, especially this summer in the extreme heat, Gatorade is like an elixir that brings me back to life. I keep it in a cooler with ice, and crave it’s salty sweetness until I get back to the car. It seems to make a difference in my running and energy level, so it must be replenishing my salt levels. Potato chips after a run are good, too, but not like an ice, cold Gatorade.

I’ll take dolmas with that pizza:

My stomach tends to shut down on both very long runs and marathons. I completely lose my appetite, so figuring out what to eat is a big concern of mine. On the trails, I’ve discovered that real food gives me much more energy, before and after the run, than GU’s, gels, and Honey Waffle Stingers. My best run so far was when I bought dolmas at the Greek pizzeria the night before and brought them on the run. They were easily digestible, tasted delicious, and seemed to give me much more energy. I had a sandwich after the run (my friend Susan’s post-run meal of choice) and felt great the rest of the evening.

Last week I didn’t bring real food and had the opposite experience. I ate only chocolate GU’s and Honey Waffle Stingers and could barely choke them down by the end of the run. I brought a sandwich for afterwards and barely made it through the first bite. Not eating enough made me feel sluggish and spent the rest of the day and evening.

Eating real food seems to give me the most energy, but it’s hard to force myself to eat when my appetite is gone. Maybe I should try pizza next time.

Rockledge Park, Lake Grapevine

Rainy days and trail runs always get me down:

I never “zone out” on my long trail runs like I do on the streets. I focus so intently on the trail, and on not tripping, that it’s mentally exhausting. My legs feel amazingly great the day after my Sunday long trail runs, but my mind seems to take a beating. My Mondays, and sometimes Tuesdays, too, can be kind of gloomy. I feel like I have nothing left in the tank. My first run on the road after a long trail run always feels so easy, mainly because I don’t have to concentrate so hard.

I have to wonder if this is also tied in with figuring out the best nutrition for these long runs, or if it’s nothing more than extreme tiredness. I know it’s common to feel somewhat down after a marathon, so I’m wondering if it’s a similar syndrome. Any post-marathon depression I might have experienced in the past was merely a result of accomplishing a goal, and feeling somewhat aimless until I jumped into training for the next race.

Running is running, right? One foot in front of the other and just keep moving. Not quite. It’s not that simple, and moving up to a new level is teaching me that this old dog still has a lot of new tricks to learn.

Trail Running at Grapevine

50K Training, Week 12: Longest Training Run Ever

 My highest mileage week ever, with a 23 mile trail run on Sunday–which was also my longest training run ever. Daunting. Thankfully, the midweek temps were unseasonably cool for August, and reminded us what a difference cooler weather makes in our speed and overall enjoyment of running. Ended the week with the return of hot, humid weather.

Lake Grapevine

Lake Grapevine

MON: Running rest day – I must have done something right last week because my left calf, which was sore all week, feels 95% better today–even after an easy 3 mile run last night. Of course I’m very tempted to get out and run a few miles, knowing last week’s mileage was a little low, but I won’t. I will trust the training plan. And as my friend Hari said, don’t look back, it’s in the past. I’m thrilled that it turned out to be nothing serious. Did 20:00 of yoga (standing poses), and am actually looking forward (???) to tomorrow’s  core/strength workout with the group. Sick, I know.

TUE: Run – 4 mi, core/strength,Yoga (standing poses) – 20:00 – Got up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 to meet Mike F for a 4 mile run before our core/strength workout. The temp was in the mid 70’s and it even drizzled slightly during the workout. My leg felt 100% better and I was surprised to see we had run about 30 seconds faster than I’ve been running–and it felt comfortable. Came home and did an upper body workout with weights, some squats, and yoga. It’s good to be back on track with my training.

WED: Run – 10 mi, Yoga (twists) – 20:00 – GREAT run this morning. The temperature was 67 degrees, which is the coolest morning we’ve had since spring. There was a little fog at the lake, the wind was still, and the stars were out when we started. It’s runs like this that make me appreciate the gift of running–especially with good friends.

Morning at White Rock Lake

White Rock Lake

THU: Run – 4 mi – A little warmer than yesterday’s early morning run, but still very pleasant. Ran with Mike and Hari, and kept up a faster pace than I wanted/expected–which is good. Looking forward to a day off tomorrow in preparation for the weekend long runs.

FRI: Running rest day –  Yoga (back bends) – 20:00 – Noticed my back was stiff yesterday while cleaning the bathroom (yuck) so I decided to focus on back bends in yoga in the evening. Warm temperatures are back, as is the humidity.

SAT: Run – 10 mi, Yoga (forward bends) – 20:00 – Ran with the group on a very warm, very humid morning. The weather is certainly back to normal for this time of year. The run itself was uneventful, just a regular 10 mile run. I worked on keeping the pace slower than two weeks ago to try and save my legs for tomorrow’s extra long run. Did some forward bends yoga afterwards to stretch out the legs.

SUN: Run – 23 mi – My longest trail run ever–and my longest training run ever. Kept the run slow and easy, walking a lot of the uphills and taking breaks for food and water refills. It was incredibly warm (77 deg at 6am) and humid (87%), but we were lucky to have overcast skies most of the day. It even sprinkled the last two miles of the run. Ran two 8.25 mile loops to Rockledge Park and back, then did the loop to the MADD shelter and back–which was actually one mile shorter than we expected. Hari and I were both more than satisfied with running 23 miles instead of the planned 24, and called it a day, bone tired and happy the running week was done. Even better, I didn’t fall once!

Lake Grapevine

Almost half way done

STATS for WEEK 12: Run – 51.2 miles, 1 strength/core workout, Yoga – 1 :20:00

Surprising Myself

I don’t recognize the woman I’ve turned into this summer. I look in the mirror and see a faintly familiar face reflected there, but it can’t be me. Who is this dedicated night owl who gets up at 4:30am to run ridiculous miles in the Texas summer heat? I hardly know myself anymore.

Two mornings in a row I’ve set the alarm for 4:20am. The first time was for a run followed by a core/strength workout, the second for a ten mile run at the lake. The runs and workouts are not surprising, only the time on the clock.

But then again, who gets up at 4:30am for a core workout?

Anyone can change. Even me.

White Rock Lake Sky

I’m always amazed that other people are out and about at 5:15am when I drive the ten minutes to the lake. Do people really have jobs that early in the morning? I park my car in the dark parking lot and worry about the car getting broken into while I’m gone.

My friends arrive and we spray ourselves with DEET-laced mosquito repellent, a new necessity because of West Nile. Setting our Garmins, we trudge down the hill, legs slow and stiff at first, then fluid and smooth as we run along the edge of the water.

Sometimes the conversation flows, and can veer off into a myriad of diverse topics. Other times we run silently, alone with our own thoughts, sharing a common bond of friendship and movement.

After these early morning runs the traffic is heavy and flows ten miles per hour faster. People tailgate, anxious to get to work. I’m feeling relaxed and satisfied from the run, and take a slower route through the neighborhood.

I pull into my driveway and the porch light is still on. Michael sleeps, and I feel a fleeting sense of regret that I got up so early.

The run has me pumped, and I contemplate doing some yoga before I shower. I need to use up all this energy before the inevitable mid-afternoon wave of sleepiness hits me.

I used to do all my runs alone. I thought I loved it. Sometimes I would listen to music. Mostly I listened to the birds and my thoughts.

Now it’s practically a requirement that I run with someone else. Running alone is not half as much fun when I have only myself to keep me company.

Change is good.

50K Training, Week 11

Before training for Palo Duro, my highest mileage week was 42 miles–and that was in 2010. Last week I made it to 48 miles for the first time ever, and one of my legs let me know it wasn’t happy about it. I took an extra rest day, foam rolled like crazy, and enjoyed the easy week. Best thing about this week, other than stepping back on the mileage: we got lots of rain!

Big Umbrella

You can run, but you can’t hide.

MON: Running rest day – Though my left leg feels better today, the calf muscle is still very sore and stiff. Bought a foam roller at Target and am continuing RICE. Hopefully it will be okay enough to get in a few miles tomorrow, but it’s looking doubtful. I’m pretty sure it’s not a full-blown injury, but I certainly stressed a tendon or muscle in that lower leg.

TUE: Rest – My leg is still sore and stiff, though it does feel better than yesterday. After a lot of thought (and sighing and groaning), I decided I needed to rest it another day. I really, really hate not being able to stick to the training plan. I also haven’t been doing yoga because of a freak thing that happened. I may have possibly cracked a rib or some cartilage in my breastplate the other day after twisting around to hug Michael on the couch. We both heard a “pop!” and I felt a sharp pain, and it’s been sore ever since. It feels just like when I cracked a few ribs on a trail run a few summers ago. I’m definitely feeling a little beat up at the moment . . .

WED: Run – 4 mi – Went to the gym and ran 4 very slow miles on the treadmill, interspersed with walk breaks. Leg does feel better, but still tight and sore. There’s no pain, just a lot of stiffness. Kept the pace between 11:00 and 12:00, except for a quarter mile at 10:00 pace. The run didn’t seem to make my leg calf muscles any more sore, and I made sure to wear my compression sleeves and foam rolled the leg really well before I went to bed.

THU: Run – 9 mi – Met Hari and Liz for a 9 mile loop around the lake at 5:45am. My leg felt much better this morning, though still tight. It’s strange to run with one strong leg and one that hurts with each step. Kept the pace a little slower than usual, but all in all a good run. Foam rolled the calf, which helped tremendously, and Michael massaged the knots out before I went to bed later in the evening, which made a huge difference.

FRI: Running rest day –  Yoga – 20:00 – My leg felt much, much better this morning. Decided to do some yoga, even though some poses were a little uncomfortable (because of the freak rib pop the other night). Going to take a complete running rest day and hopefully be good to go for Saturday’s 10 miler. Very excited about the cooler temps this weekend!

SAT: Run – 10 mi – My leg felt about 90% better this morning, with just a small twinge of  stiffness. The run itself was great, with those much cooler temps, as promised. My leg definitely started to stiffen up again after mile 4, but I worked hard not to change my gait in any way, hoping this would keep me from developing some type of overuse injury. Because of the long trail runs, it felt good to find myself thinking: it’s “only” 10 miles. I’m going to foam roll and massage the leg to be ready for tomorrow’s trail run (only 6 miles!!!!). We’re going to run a new trail, Cedar Ridge, which should be a steep, challenging trail run. Biggest bonus: tomorrow is supposed to be even cooler than today.

Runner in the Rain

A runner gets caught in the storm on the Katy Trail.

SUN: Run – 3 mi – Trails rained out – After yesterday afternoon’s deluge of rain (3.5 inches in less than an hour) we knew the trails would be a muddy mess. I decided to take an extra day off to help my calf muscles get an extra day of recovery, but of course I felt antsy all day and went for an easy 3 mile run with Michael and the dogs in the evening. It was the first evening run I’ve done in months, and it was pleasantly cool and not humid. My leg felt great, with just a slight twinge around the ankle. It was one of those runs where you feel happy to be alive, and know how fortunate you are to be strong and healthy.

STATS for WEEK 11: Run – 26 miles, Yoga – 20:00

50K Training, Week 10

Halfway through the training plan! The stomach virus that made last week’s trail run so tough hung on for most of the week, but by the weekend I felt great. It was a good running week, and we were rewarded with especially cool temperatures on Saturday.

MON: REST DAY – I am so glad it’s a rest day. Yesterday’s 20 mile trail run was the toughest run yet. Stomach virus continues to hang on. Quads and calves very sore today.

TUE: Run – 4 mi/treadmill – I seriously considered taking another rest day because of my sore muscles, but decided to run on the treadmill at the gym and stick with the training plan. I kept the pace very slow and easy, and took a few short walking breaks. I think it actually helped. My legs felt less sore by the afternoon. I was still feeling weak and tired from the stomach virus and did no strength or yoga workouts.

WED: Run – 9 mi, Strength (upper body) – 20:00, Yoga (forward bends and twists) – 40:00 – Ran a loop around the lake with Hari, who was also feeling sore from Sunday’s trail run. It was incredibly warm and humid at 5:30am (84 deg with 65% humidity) and was a tough run. It’s getting harder and harder to stay positive about the heat. Felt good enough to do some arm weights, then later in the afternoon two short yoga sessions–which felt great. Still feeling tired from the stomach virus, though a two hour nap in the afternoon helped.

THU: Run – 3 mi/hills, Yoga (back bends)- 20:00 – After some rain last night, the temperature was 12 degrees warmer this morning than yesterday. What a treat! It was still very humid, but it’s good to be reminded what a difference running when it’s in the 70’s can be. I was starting to feel disheartened from the heat. Did 20:00 of yoga later in the day.

FRI: Yoga (back bends) – 20:00 – Running rest day – I always look forward to my Friday rest day! Did some easy yoga in the morning and enjoyed the rest of the day off. Looks like it may be nice and cool for tomorrow’s 10 miler. Sunday is another story, however . . .

SAT: Run – 10.5 mi – 74 degrees at the start and it remained cool the entire run. What a great run! Kept a 9:12 pace, which is the best I’ve run all season. I may pay the price on tomorrow’s 22 miler, but today I felt great. I needed a good run!

Legacy Parks

Hari, me, and Susan after the first of three loops

SUN: Trail Run -21.5 mi – River Legacy, Arlington – Another brutally hot, long trail run. Started out at 84 degrees at 6am, with 41% humidity (it felt more humid), and was around 99 degrees when we finished. Hari fell for the first time ever on the trails, but did no damage. Susan and I both fell twice. We loved the flatness of the trail, but there were a lot of stumps that tripped us up.

I definitely felt the effects of running too fast the day before, and what started out as a small nagging hurt around my left achilles traveled up my calf and turned into pain bad enough to cause me to limp by the end of the run. I hope it’s nothing more than a little tendonitis and will apply RICE this afternoon and tomorrow. I made the executive decision to not take the last loop and cut the run short by .5 miles. Since I ran an extra half mile the day before, I was fine with that. I’m just hoping I haven’t sabotaged the rest of this week’s training by not stopping earlier.

Except for the pain in my leg, I feel much less fatigued than in the past after a long trail run. I think drinking Gatorade on our breaks and eating real food immediately after the run (half a salami and cheese sandwich and a few dolmas) made a huge difference. Had two brisket tacos and some rice for lunch, then quinoa with stir-fried veggies and ground pork, and I felt much less fuzzy-headed than in the past.

And it only took me six years to figure this out!

Fun Town

STATS for Week 10: Run – 48 miles, Strength – 1 upper body workout, Yoga – 3 workouts @ 1:20:00