30 April 2012

Week 17: 16 miles

I was really tired this week. My vision was a little off. I kept wishing I felt better a week before the marathon. But on Saturday night, my energy picked up and I started to feel good. Sunday was great. I hope I can stop worrying about that now. Phew!

After my IT band was such a problem last week, I didn't think I'd be able to run much this week, but after two days off and cross training on Monday, I ran 4 miles without incident on Tuesday. I could hardly walk last Saturday, so that's great progress! I read that weak glutes are often the cause of IT band problems, so I started going nuts doing butt exercises. Then I realized my quads were getting destroyed, so I slowed down on that. On Wednesday I saw the chiropractor and he Grastoned the heck out of it, giving me a giant bruise where my thigh used to be.

Then I ran my long run this week, with Kat. It's great running with her; our paces are sort of close and we have a good time chatting or not chatting. We decided to start the marathon together and see what happens. I think she's faster, but we have equal uncertainty about how our bodies will hold up. Towards the end of our long run, my IT band started acting up. Afterwards I did lots of ice and foam rolling and worrying and combing the internet for things like "help IT band before race." I didn't like what I saw very much. I think I am in for a world of hurt, but I'm not going to let it stop me.

Everyone seems to have their race day outfits picked out, but I really wasn't sure what to wear. So Sunday I bought a new outfit: crops and a tank. Those crops have crazy pockets to hold all my gels. Instead of my typical pink, I'm going to be in all black. Fitting, since I may have to attend my own funeral after.

I realized on Saturday that I didn't really have a nutrition strategy. During training runs I've underfueled because my stomach hates to deal with food while I'm running. So I bought a load of gels and styngers, and I'll attempt to take something every 5 miles or so, and something caffeinated at around mile 22. I usually only drink green tea, so the caffeine works like gangbusters. I don't like to carry fluids, so I'll just use the water stops.

It's too early to say for sure, but will I run any more marathons? I think I probably will. Everyone says your second training cycle is easier than your first, and I want to see if that's true. I want the chance to run a marathon with more confidence. I want to race instead of just run. I've felt for a year or so (since I started running again) that I need more time than most people to increase my mileage, so I think my next marathon will be easier on my body.

When I started training for this thing, I wondered/doubted if I'd get through the training. I did! I'm so proud of that. Maybe it'd be smarter to sit out the actual race (as I sit here with ice on my knee), but I'm not that smart. You never know what life is going to throw at you, and I've learned to be really aware of that uncertainty since I live with MS. I've got to run this race now.

Pace range for this week: 9:12 to 9:56
Temperature range: 40 - 50 degrees

Details for Week 17 (Apr 23 - Apr 29):
Monday: 30 mins elliptical
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 30 mins elliptical
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: off
Sunday: 8 miles

27 April 2012

Week 16: 31 miles

This update is a little late huh? Week 16 was solid. I was tired a lot of the time; it takes me a while to get over being sick. Maybe because I have MS, sometimes it takes weeks to get back to normal after being sick.

I was puzzled about how to rearrange my training because this was supposed to be the first week of my taper. But since I hadn't done my 20-miler, I wanted to get that in too. Looking back on it, maybe it would have been better to just skip the 20 and start the taper, but instead I reduced the mileage a bit during the week and got the 20 in on Friday. That long run was a shit show and my IT band really didn't cooperate, but I'm not going to dwell on it too much. Call it thinking positive, call it denial, but I am going to run this marathon no matter what my IT band has to say about it. I have spent almost a week freaking out that this will keep me from running the marathon, and that attitude is not doing anything for me.

With my MS, denial has served me pretty well. I mostly try not to think about having MS. I probably would never have considered running a marathon without a little bit of denial. It's not a perfect approach, because when I do experience MS symptoms, it's difficult to accept that I have the stupid disease all over again. And truthfully, while training for this marathon, I haven't been able to pretend like I don't have MS as much as I'd like. MS has always been there, just a few steps behind me. But I'm going to win this one.

During Week 16, our family volunteered at the Boston Marathon.


We were stationed at the 20k mark, and our job was to watch a big digital clock to make sure that no one messed with it. The job was pretty easy and we got to cheer for lots of runners.

After the race ended, Maple and I hopped in the car and drove 8 hours to my parents' house. It took me a day to recover from the drive (I'm such an old lady), but it was really nice to be there and to relax. I got to run in their beautiful rural neighborhood and my dad cooked most of my food. I felt like I was detoxing for most of the week because of my new diet (more about that later), but it was so great to be able to do it there instead of at work.

Pace range for this week: 8:46 to 11:22
Temperature range: 56 - 72 degrees

Details for Week 16 (Apr 16 - Apr 22):
Monday: 2 miles
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles @ MP
Thursday: off
Friday: 20 miles (4 miles limping!)
Saturday: off
Sunday: off

19 April 2012

Week 15: 8 miles

This was supposed to be the peak week of my training cycle for this marathon, but I got sick. I thought I had skated through winter without having a really horrendous winter cold/flu/whatever, but it hit me on Monday of this week. I knew it was not going to be an ideal week, but I had no idea how not-ideal it would be. I tried to start running on Wednesday but I felt terrible after my 5-miler on Friday and might have set myself back by trying to get out there too soon. I rested for the remainder of the week, preferring to save my strength for volunteering at the Boston Marathon on Monday of Week 16.

I had the usual panic and anxiety about being sick (I'm always concerned it will bring on MS stuff) but nothing big happened. I'm a bit more tired than I think is normal after being sick, but all my critical systems are still working. Week 16 is already going very well and I'm back on schedule - more on that in a few days.

Pace range for this week: to 9:54 to 10:41
Temperature range: 35 - 43 degrees

Details for Week 15 (Apr 9 - Apr 15):
Monday: sick
Tuesday: sick
Wednesday: 1 mile
Thursday: 2 miles
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: sick
Sunday: sick

14 April 2012

Full of Grace

Today, I am too tired to chew. I'm supposed to be out running 20 miles right now, and instead I'm in bed. For the past few days, I've been dealing with my illness (and the stress of getting sick during the peak weak of marathon training) in some really grown up ways...

I ran one mile on Wednesday, two miles on Thursday, and yesterday I ran five miles, which might have been a tad ambitious. I'm scared that I'll lose too much fitness if I give in to being sick (as if I have a choice) and I'm also scared of having an MS relapse if I take too many days off. Yes, I realize how stupid that sounds, but the last time I took time off for an injury, I had a relapse. This obviously implies causation and therefore if I take more than two days off in a row, I will die.

Aside from torturing myself, I've been torturing my family too. Sean says I am wearing my "sad tiara", which is his funny way of calling me out for being a drama queen. It's not enough that I feel like crap, I need to project my awful to everyone around me. I'm a walking bad vibe with a megaphone. I'm like a skunk, spraying the air with my "life sucks" perfume. You get the idea.

I don't have too many twitter followers, but I didn't want them to miss out, so I spent a significant amount of energy yesterday doing passive-aggressive angry birthday tweets. Sure, I tried to be upbeat (no one likes downer tweets), but really I just wanted everyone to know how shitty I felt and have a great big birthday pity party for me. Surprisingly, this did not make me feel better.

On top of being sick and tired, I've just been told that a) my thyroid is not working as well as it should, and b) I'm allergic to all the foods I love: wheat, gluten, dairy, soy, sesame. I'm also slightly allergic to all nuts and some beans. How am I supposed to be a pseudo-vegan with those limitations? Well, princess, you do everything you did before, but you eat different food.

Yesterday, my mom texted me "Sunday's child is full of grace." I was born on a Sunday so this was a cute birthday-related message. Unfortunately my mother is misinformed (or else she was just trying to be uplifting). It's Tuesday's child who is full of grace. Sunday's child is supposedly "bonny and blithe and good and gay." That's not accurate either. I'm more like Thursday's child, who has far to go. 26.2 miles, to be exact. Ba dum bum.

What have I learned this week? I need to accept life's little slings and arrows with grace, not with angry tweets. Although I'm missing my 20-miler today, I can do it later this week. I can still run the marathon. So I have to change my diet; I've done that before. I'm getting over being sick and I'll have energy again soon. The worst thing I've experienced in the past week is my own bad attitude. But I am going to try to be more like Tuesday's child. I'm going to rest when I need to rest. I'm going to shop for some new food and live without pizza. I'm going to be a better role model for my kid! A better partner for my man! I will be graceful! And a lot less constipated.

11 April 2012

Week 14: 25 miles and... sidelined

First, my Week 14 recap. I had to trade one mid-week run for cross training because - get this - I laced my shoe too tight on last week's long run and I guess the top of my foot got bruised or something. After my 8-miler on Wednesday I had shooting pains and knew I'd have to take some time off. But I conquered the bike for a 50-minute workout on Friday and did my 12-miler (pain-free) on Saturday. And I took my first ice bath. Wow. An ice bath on top of runner's high is like very good drugs.

Pace range for this week: 9:33 to 9:55
Temperature range: 33 - 45 degrees

Details for Week 14 (Apr 2 - Apr 8):
Monday: off
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles (ouch!)
Thursday: off
Friday: 50 minutes cross (bike)
Saturday: 12 miles
Sunday: off

Week 14 went pretty well, but on Sunday afternoon, Maple got sick. Really sick. Our scanning thermometer is stupid (well, often wrong) but at one point it read 107.2. When she gets sick, Maple always has REALLY high fevers. The pediatric night nurse advised us to go to the ER, but when I went to wake Maple up, her temp was down to 99, so we let her sleep. The next day she was diagnosed with strep, the flu, and pneumonia. And I got sick too. My doctor didn't do any tests since I didn't have a fever, but she said my right lung was weak and that I probably have a touch of bronchitis or flu or pneumonia. She gave me a massive IV dose of Vitamin C and put me on a strict regimen of an inhaler (the kind used for asthma) and multiple supplements. As much as I worry about the overuse of antibiotics, I really wanted them, but I agreed to see what happened in 24 hours. If I got worse, she'd prescribe them. But I started getting better on Tuesday.

I usually run on Tuesday, but I didn't. When Wednesday came around, I was feeling a little better and wanted to exert myself to avoid the dreaded MS relapse. I jogged one mile. My lungs burned a little and I almost had an anxiety attack, but it felt good to do something. I'm hoping I can run a bit more tomorrow (Thursday), but I'm pretty sure my 20-miler is not going to happen on Saturday. That's the bad news. The good news is that my legs feel awesome after 3+ days off.

The question now is, what the heck do I do? I feel like the 20-miler is really important, but so is the taper. My current thought is that I'll replace this:

Week 15: rest, 5, 5 @MP, 5, rest, 20, rest (35 miles)
Week 16: rest, 5, 4 @MP, 5, rest, 12, rest (First taper week - 26 miles)

with this:

Week 15: rest/sick, rest/sick, 1, 3, 5, rest, 5 (14 miles of sick)
Week 16: rest, 5, 20, rest, 4@MP, 5, rest (34 miles)

This shortens my taper by half a week, but gets the 20-miler in. Maple and I will be visiting my folks from Tuesday to Sunday, which is what will allow me to do the mid-week 20-miler. I'll miss the long run in Week 16, but since it's the start of the taper, maybe that's okay. I don't think I have any hope of doing two longs runs during this week and next.

Anyone have any thoughts about that?

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm running "the marathon", which around here means Boston. I always say "I'm running a marathon, not the marathon." But I'm excited to volunteer at the Marathon on Monday. Sean and I will be minding the clock at the 20k mark and wearing earplugs to mitigate the effects of the Wellesley scream tunnel.

01 April 2012

Week 13: 35 miles

My legs felt good this week. I think sticking to the Ravennas is the right thing for now; every time I try to change my footwear, I am sorry. My mid-week "semi-long" pace runs started to taper this week, and I had an amazing 5-miler at 8:34 pace. My long run this week was slower (10:45) than my recent long runs. I have to trust that the magic of the taper will allow me to run 26.2 miles faster than I can run 19 right now.

I go into every long run with some fear, which makes sense because I've never had a lot of trust in my body. I've always been scared of seeing what my limits are. When I was younger, I remember attempting new tricks in gymnastics, or new dives when I was on the diving team. If it was too scary, I'd just refuse to do them, like a horse who refuses a jump and sends the rider flying. I put myself out there and seemed to be trying, but in my heart I knew I was refusing. It applied to running too. I ran intermittently in high school and college, but I was always a slow runner. When it got too tough, I slowed down.

And now, because of my MS, I have an even better excuse. About six years ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with a migraine (I've never had one before or since). I spent the next six hours throwing up, and I completely lost my equilibrium. It felt like I was in a fun house, falling into the walls and crashing into things, with the whole world spinning uncontrollably. After a week in the hospital and countless pharmaceuticals, I got better, but I haven't gotten over it. I'm scared my body will betray me again, especially if I push it too hard. I spend a lot of time worrying about losing some critical bodily function, like walking or controlling my bladder. I anticipate the next breakdown. But my husband reminds me that it's not happening now, and he's right I need to focus on what's happening in this moment and not worry about what might be.

My tempo/pace runs, speedwork, long runs, they are all tinged with fear. Training for this marathon has helped; I'm doing distances that I never thought I'd do, and pushing myself in ways I haven't before. But I think there's more...

Pace range for this week: 8:34 to 10:45
Temperature range: 27 - 43 degrees

Details for Week 13 (Mar 26 - Apr 1):
Monday: off
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 5 miles (8:34 pace!)
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: 19 miles
Sunday: 1 mile with Maple