31 January 2012

Week 4: 27 miles

I'm almost 25% done with my training! Week 4 was great. I felt good and ran well.  This was also my highest mileage week ever. I did find a big knot in my calf on Friday, but it doesn't seem to affect my running or walking. I've been trying to work it out with The Stick, but I'm pretty wimpy when it comes to that kind of pain.

My pace run this week was 6 miles, and I hit 9:02 pace—close enough! My pace range for the week was 9:02 (pace run) - 10:44 (hill repeats). Temps were between 28 and 46, and I ran in one crazy downpour (fortunately on a shorter run).

I should mention what I'm wearing on my feet. Right now I'm running in Brooks Ravenna 2 shoes with Sole insoles. I experimented with minimalist and low-drop shoes last fall during my training for the half, and that didn't work out so well. I love how those kinds of shoes feel, but I'm not sure they will ever work for me. I found out when I injured my ankle last fall that my right leg is kind of funny and I run on the inside of my right foot. My left leg is normal and my arches are normal, but my gait is strange and slightly lopsided. The physical therapist gave me insoles but they didn't work very well, so I did some research and found these. I'm so glad I did, because my ankle healed and I feel great. I think I'm one of those insole people now.

Although I love the insoles, I'm not as sure about the shoes. I'm thinking of either trying Brooks Adrenalines, or going back to Asics. I ran in Asics all of my life until last year, when I had two pair in a row that gave me bad blisters (Nimbus and Kayano). But since I'm running with insoles now, I think I might be okay in Asics. I like the Ravennas okay, but I'm not in love with the fit. I've also recently run in Brooks Trance 10s (nice but kind of heavy and stiff), Brooks Pure Cadence (really comfortable but my ankle tendon got sore), and Salomon Crossmax (they rubbed my ankle bones). I am a little tired of thinking about shoes so I'm glad the Ravennas are working for now.

Here are the details for Week 4 (Jan 23 - Jan 29):
Monday: 3 miles
Tuesday: 3.5 miles
Wednesday: 6 miles (pace)
Thursday: off
Friday: 3.5 miles
Saturday: off
Sunday: 11 miles

Next up: Trails vs. roads.

29 January 2012

Week 3: 18 miles

This was my first "cutback" week. Every third week, Hal suggests a shorter long run, which is like a mini-taper. It makes the next week feel really nice because you're well rested. The high point of this week was that I ran my 5-mile pace run on Wednesday at 8:56 pace. That felt kind of amazing. I don't run with a GPS watch so I'm still amazed when I hit the pace I set out to do. (I did run with Sean's Garmin for a while but it made me crazy because it was always saying the wrong pace and I was always either speeding up or slowing down and I couldn't stop looking at my wrist.)

During Week 2, I'd been getting myself pretty worked up about my MS. I emailed my neurologist and told her I thought I had been having more fatigue than usual and that I didn't think I'd really recovered from my last relapse in the fall. She wrote back and told me that my symptoms didn't sound alarming and that she didn't feel she needed to see me, but if I wanted to come in I could. When I arrived on Tuesday of Week 3, I tentatively told her I was planning to run a marathon in May. I was really worried she'd tell me not to do it, but she was excited. She said that my recent fatigue probably had more to do with training for my first marathon than MS. I felt so good after talking to her that I walked out of there like Woody Allen after he finds out he doesn't have a brain tumor. I was cured. I don't think I've had any fatigue since then.

Part of the reason I got worked up was that I went off my MS medication almost two years ago. I did it with my doctor's cautious blessing, but now that I'm training for a marathon, I wonder if I should be back on the meds. I was thinking that maybe they would protect me from the ups and downs of training and the physical stress I'd be under. She told me not to worry, that exercise doesn't exacerbate MS, and to wait until my next appointment this summer, when we'd do an MRI and see what's going on inside my head.

My pace range this week was 8:56 - 10:00. I ran my long run in a pretty major (for this year) snowstorm. I used Yaktrax for the first time on this run and it worked out better than I thought it would. When I started out, the snow was just starting to come down, and by the time I was done there were over three inches on the ground (in one hour!). My eyelashes froze together at the corners of my eyes. I felt pretty tough!

Here are the details for Week 3 (Jan 16 - Jan 22):
Monday: off
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: 7 miles
Sunday: off

Next up: Week 4 recap and footwear.

28 January 2012

Week 2: 20 miles

Since I started running seriously last year, I've committed nearly every rookie mistake. I've tried to increase speed and distance at the same time. I haven't listened to my body. I've tried to transition too fast into minimalist footwear. These three foibles cost me my half-marathon last year. I think I'm getting marginally smarter now, but I'm still worried about two things: first, accepting when I need to take a day off that I'm not going to make up. I haven't had to face that yet, but I should be mentally ready for it. An extra day or two off won't kill me (or make me unable to run the race in May). The second thing I'm worried about is committing more rookie mistakes...

Since this is my first marathon, I'm not supposed to have a time goal... but I'm a bit obsessed with pace. Don't let me give you the wrong impression—I'm not very fast. I am training as if I will run this marathon between 9:00 and 10:00 pace, so I'm doing my "pace" runs at 9:00 and my other runs between 9:15 and 10:30. Even though I have a loose idea of what I want to do, I really have no idea what will happen, and I'm trying not to be too attached to anything. I hereby define success as lining up at the start and running 26.2 miles. (Now I just need to remind myself of that every hour or so.)

I'm following Hal Higdon's Novice 2 training plan. When I started toying with marathon training back in December, I thought I'd do the Intermediate 1 plan. I actually did about 3 weeks of that program before starting my official training in January. And although it felt comfortable, my intermittent fatigue made me think I should step it down. Plus, Hal Higdon suggests either of the Novice plans for newbies, and the Intermediate plan is intended for folks who've run at least one marathon before. Better to give myself the best shot to actually make it to the starting line! Feeling decent in Week 3 doesn't mean I'm going to stay injury-free (or relapse-free) for 18 weeks.

Week 2 of training was solid. I only ran 4 times (as the training plan suggests). I had a few moments of fatigue, and was incredibly tired after my long run on Saturday. In fact I spent most of Sunday in bed, only dragging my ass out to do 30 minutes of cross training. My loathing of any cardiovascular activity that's not running is only bested by my loathing of taking two days off in a row, hence the bike. If I'm lucky, I won't be doing too many days of cross training. But when it gets closer to marathon day, I might be more inclined to stay off my feet. We'll see.

Pace range for this week was 9:26 - 10:04.

Here are the details for Week 2 (Jan 9 - Jan 15):
Monday: off
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 5 miles
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: 9 miles
Sunday: cross (stationary bike)

Next up: Week 3 recap, my very fun neurologist appointment, and what I wear on my feet.

26 January 2012

Week 1: 26.5 Miles

I registered for the Providence Marathon on December 31st, under a tiny cloud of MS symptoms. I had a real relapse back in September; the first one I'd had in almost six years. I had been training for a half-marathon in mid-November when I hurt a tendon in my ankle and was forced to take two weeks off. After about a week, I woke up and realized that something was wrong with my vision. I couldn't see well out of one eye. I'd never had optic neuritis before that, and it was pretty scary. I had to drive Sean to the start of his 50-miler that day, which was a little scary in the dark, in a strange place, with one-and-a-half eyes. But it turned out okay. The relapse wasn't major. The bulk of it lasted three weeks, and although I've had some minor flareups since then, overall I'm on the mend now. But my half-marathon didn't happen. (Sean's ultra did, and he got officially bit by the ultra bug. So cool.)

I waded through the storm (I love a mixed metaphor) of various symptoms throughout the fall and early winter: optic neuritis, fatigue, and a mild disorientation that made me ever so slightly nauseous all the time. I still ran 4-5 days (20-25 miles) a week. In the middle of a particularly obnoxious bout of fatigue on New Year's Eve,  I had a "I'd better do this marathon thing before it's too late" moment, and registered for the race. Since I wasn't feeling great, I had no idea (and still don't) if I'd make it to race day in good health.

I started training on January second. Overall, week 1 was a little rough; I had some fatigue and my vision was a little off, which I think led to the mild disorientation. But the runs felt fine, and I ran between 9:40 and 10:30 pace. I was supposed to do a 5-mile pace run on Wednesday, but either the treadmill was miscalibrated (too fast) or I was too tired, so I ended up running 10:00 pace. I felt great after my long run, but I ran it pretty slow (10:28).

The temperature range for Week 1 was 25 to 40 degrees, and I didn't run in any rain or snow. I did most of these runs in my winter running duds: Ibex Long Janes and Woolie top, my Patagonia rain pants (swish swish) and my Nano Puff pullover. I also wear an Ibex wool cap and gloves, along with my trusty Lululemon running hat. The Ibex wool stuff is great because I can wear it all week and just let it dry between runs, then wash it on the weekend. I recently added a pair of sporty sunglasses to the uniform, and they've been great. They aren't really dark but they help my eyes, which are pretty sensitive to the sun after my relapse.

Here are the details for Week 1 (Jan 2 - Jan 8):
Monday: 3.5 miles
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 5.5 miles (supposed to be a pace run, but didn't work out)
Thursday: 3 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: 8 miles
Sunday: 3.5 miles (s l o w)

Next up: Week 2 recap.

25 January 2012

Is this thing on?

I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2004. Seven years later, I decided to run a 5k, then a half-marathon (which I didn't get to run), and now I'm training for a marathon. I have no idea if I'll make it through the 18 week training program, but I'm giving it my best shot. I'm in week 4 now; so far, so good.

I've run on and off for my whole life, sometimes competitively, mostly not. When I found out I had MS, I didn't think I'd ever run again. I wasn't sad about it; in fact I wasn't thinking about running at all. Once I recovered from my first relapse, I was able to walk, but I wasn't sure how long it would last. Most of what I learned about MS indicated that I'd be lucky to walk at all, let alone run. But after having this disease for a few years and not experiencing a significant decline in my health (my symptoms are only noticeable to me and don't affect my ability to move), I started to wonder if I should push myself. I started to wonder if I could fulfill my old dream of running a marathon. And because MS is all about uncertainty, I decided I should try now, before it's too late. 

I was a blogger way back in 1999, but I stopped writing online in 2002. When my daughter was born in 2005, I started a blog to keep track of her life; sort of a modern baby book. I still write there—mostly for her future self, but I find myself wanting to write about me and about running, and that blog isn't the place for it. So I'm going to see how this goes.

The world probably doesn't need yet another running blog, but a blog about a middle-aged runner with multiple sclerosis? We'll see.