Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hermes 10 Miler: Boom--ShackaLacka--Boom

Running consistently this spring had been my hope, my dream, but as the semester has worn on the new schedule that started 5 weeks ago is not working for working out.  I finally said to hell with it and signed up for the Hermes 10 miler earlier in the week.  I hadn't raced a 10-miler since my anemia had been fixed and a PR was pretty much guaranteed, even if I had the worst day of running in 2010. 

I had managed four runs this week before the race and of all the things to happen after missing a week of running due to the stomach flu, my bad hamstring had now decided to act up.  I mean it was a tweaky, nagging "I am gonna mess your whole fucking day up if you mess with me" type of pain.  I had paid for the race so I couldn't drop.  It was suggested I do it as a "training" run/race, but I don't do that.  I know many people do, but I don't.  It's a race you race.  You run the best race you can.  Running a "training" run just sets me up to fail or gives me an excuse to ease up, plus I believe my body needs to always understand in a race if it hurts that's okay it's supposed to, but it has to keep going.  Also, it's not as important, but I am not going to spend money pussyfooting to just jog.  I can do that at home -- for free. 

I got to the race a little after 7:00am, so I could find a parking spot and get in a good warm-up for my leg.  I decided I wasn't going to wear my watch, so I wouldn't get upset at my splits if my hamstring started bothering me and right there it was.  I was setting myself up to fail!  I do that a lot.  I fret I will fail myself and not meet the goals I set.  My mom calls it wasted energy.  I call it a bad habit.  I pondered my situation and my forethoughts about racing that day and concluded that I would wear the watch, take my splits, run a good pace through the first 5 miles, see how the leg was feeling and go from there.  I didn't plan to look at my watch the entire race.  Just run what felt "right." I resolved to do the best I could, even if that meant I wasn't happy at the outcome of my race.

The race had sold out with over about 2,000 people and it was a very tight start.  I saw GP with her awesome pink socks that would go so well with my racing outfit just before the start, but couldn't find Salty, E-speed or Red.  I searched for about :35 before I decided I should get a move on. 

The first mile was really tight and I did have to run around lots of people.  Not a big deal.  It helped hold me back from going too fast and blowing myself up.  The first mile seemed to take the longest for some reason that day.  Looking back at my first mile it was 7:36.

I settled in fairly quickly, maybe too quickly as mile 2 was 7:20, but I didn't know because I wasn't looking at my watch.  It felt fine so I just went with it.  The hamstring was doing okay.  Nothing unmanageable, but I definitely was running cautiously.  Had I had a marathon today, I would not have toed the line.  I would never have been able to run the whole thing, but 10 miles was doable. 

On my way to mile 3 I was focusing on a girl just a bit ahead of me who looked very sharp in her running gear.  I closed the gap until I finally passed her and then she said "Hi Beth!"  I turned and saw it was AS!!  I hadn't seen her or her hubby in forever.  She looked great.  She was getting ready to run the Cleveland marathon again this spring.  I said "hi" back and asked if she was prepping for the Cleveland marathon.   She nodded and I told her good luck and moved on.  There were some mats down, but no mile marker.  I split my watch anyway.  It said 6:50, but :35 later I saw the 3 mile marker. 

Mile 4 was somewhere near th e unlikable hairpin turnaround.  I would have preferred looping a block, but a big orange cone was all I got.  I counted about 47 girls in front of me, so perhaps to 50.  I hoped that would improve as the race went on and it did ...  for a little bit.  I finally saw e-speed and salty running together and I had a big smile on my face as I frantically waved to them.  I missed the mile marker for 4, but saw 5 at the relay point.  Total together it was 15:13.  I was at 37:34 at the half.  That was about what I had hoped for the first half with my leg.  The original goal was as close to 1:14:00 as possible, but I added 2 minutes to the goal for the bum leg. 

Mile 6 had me struggling a bit.  The wind may have acted up a hair and I felt sluggish and unfocused all at once it seemed.  I tried to run behind a bigger gentleman for a bit, but it was too much of a struggle to run behind him and stay relaxed.  I was wondering if maybe I went out too fast or if it was maybe a false flat or a small headwind, maybe a combination.  Either way I ran 7:43 for that mile.

It seemed I got picked up by a co-ed pack at this time and we were all running fairly well together and the thought that I might be able to run this race even up crossed my mind, but then about a half mile in I felt a twinge of pain.  Immediately, I was bummed.  I became keenly more alert of my leg from that point on.  I slowed and tried to shorten my already short stride even more.  I acknowledged my pain and the fact that I was going to slow down, but I reminded myself if it was okay and my body would still be able to run through it, just a bit slower now.  Mile 7 was 7:57.  Looking back, I am so glad I didn't look at my splits.  It would not have put me in a good state of mind. 

The pain had not been that sharp intense searing pain like last year when I tore it.  I have run with tweaky hammys before so after a few minutes I tried to regain some of my speed, however right before mile 8, I reached a little too far out in front of me with my leg and BAM!  I felt a short stabbing pain down my hamstring.  I stumbled a little bit, but regained my balance with the next step.  I had made it 8 miles before my hammy had started to deteriorate on me.  I wasn't happy, but I wan't too sad.  I knew something like this might happen.  Mile 8 was 7:48.

I couldn't really extend my leg too far in front of me or lift it very high at all after that.  I took tons and tons of babysteps as fast as I could.  I couldn't get them to turnover fast enough.  I looked like Bill Murray in the movie "Stripes" with his squad on graduation day doing their "boom-shacklacka--boom" march, except I didn't have anybody yelling "why did the chicken cross the road?" or "Hoo--Rah!!"  Mile 9 was never ending.  My breathing was way too easy and I felt like I was moving so slow.  I thought for sure it would be a 9:00 minute mile.  It was 7:55. 

Just as I was passing the 9 mile marker 2 girls passed me and so did this guy with a red dri-fit shirt on that said "You just got rocked!!"  I was all pissed off then.  I thought "Rock this mother*&^#$!!!"  I had all this end of race energy and anger and I couldn't run.  I had tried to run through it last year, but it had ripped and then I didn't run again for 3 months, so, I just kept boom-shackalacka-booming my way to through the last mile.  The race wound down a bike path and into the lower edge of the park where it loops around to finish by the concession stand, avoiding the hill to the top.  I managed to pick up a few seconds on the downhill and as I came around to the finish I kept the pace steady, no kick needed.  I had controlled myself as best I could, but I knew if it came down to the finsih and a girl tried to run by me I would take the bait and go.  My pride would not tolerate a rundown at the line.  Thankfully, that didn't happen though and I gingerly trotted to a last mile of 7:22.  I asked GP if her garmin said the last mile was short and she said yes about .06 -- I knew it! 

My total time was 1:16:22.  A 6-minute PR.  GP also got a PR and Salty should have had a video of her finish made as she blew by runner after runner with her 32+ preggo belly coming down the last couple hundred meters.  I know runners had to be groaning as she passed them....hahaha...good for her!!!  She would certainly win olympic gold if they had some preggers track and field events!

E-speed was kind enough to give me her jacket afte the race since I was freezing for the first time ever and then GP drove me back up to my truck so I didn't have to walk.  Gotta love the GFs!!  All in all the day could have gone much worse.  My hamstring could have stopped me dead in my tracks and the boom-shackalacka-boom, could have just been a big caboom, followed by a walk-shackalacka-walk to the finish.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Deep Breath and Exhale

Reading this article I had to laugh.  It seems someone is always out there to "rexamine" or blow holes in someone elses theories.  While, I am trying to keep an open-mind and see both sides of this, I have to think that this researcher is looking for an excuse to not do any core stability training and hit up the local McDonal's in London, or he was just looking for something to write about! 

The Myth of Core Stability

While core muscles, specifically the transverse abdominal muscles may not directly be responsible for lower back pain and other maladies, it is undeniable that there is some type of relationship.  Muscles either work for you or against you, hence the agonist/antagonist action.  If you have a weak core and are overcompensating with your hamstrings will that not have an effect on your lower back?  A good number of mucles including the hamstrings and glutes attach to the ishial tuberosity and parts of the iliac, when the bones are moved during pregnancy, does that not affect the muscle position and lenght?  And don't tell me that movement of those bones and muscles has never been enough to compress a nerve.  Has no one ever heard of sciatica?  What about the obturator?

What about the general value of core strength?  Increased core strenght allows for a longer torso and more upright position, which in turn increase the amount of space the diaphragm has to expand not only transversely, but longitudinally.  This increase will allow the lungs increase in surface area upon inhalation.  Deep breathing opens up the alveoli decreasing any chance for atelectasis or bacterial build-up, promoting efficiency with each breathe in the exchange of O2 and even more importantly CO2 expulsion.  This benefits the entire body by transporting nutrients and removing wastes to cells and tissues, especially those that are inflammed and irritated, i.e., the lower back muscles.  But what do I know. 

People may lood symmetrical, but they aren't.  Having a weak core only allows a person to overcompensate with other muscles causing misalignment of the axial skeleton that may otherwise be minimized by a STABLE and STRONG core!  Resulting in lower back pain from overcompensation.

And another thing... one of the reasons women may recover faster postpartum is because they are supercharged!  They have increased amounts of relxin to help relax joints and muscles throughout the body and they have a huge increase hematocrit and hemoglobin, RBCs and WBCs.  Not to mention platelet count must increase to decrease the bleeding and platelets carry serotonin, which provides that "happy feeling."  They are about as close to invincible as a person can get!  Obese people do not have those reactions to with the jelly belly, but they do overcompensate with posture to minimize pain and lack of core strenght for stability and don't tell me overweight  (>25% Body Fat) and obese (>30% body fat)  don't have more musculoskeletal issues than non-big people! 

Core stability regarding strength is not bullshit either.  When a person complains of knee problems, often it is due to decrease strength in other areas, in pubescent girls it is often due to the rapid growth in bone, not met by the same amount of muscle increase, especially in the quads.  However, once the girl is prescribed strength exercises her knee tends to feel better....amazing!  Is this not a parallel for back pain and CS???  Okay, I am done.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boston Marathon Report: A Tribute

It was Monday, the day of the 2010 Boston Marathon. I was stoked. I had my running shorts on and a comfy t-shirt, but I wasn't in a starting corral in Boston. I was sitting on my bed with pages of powerpoint slides spread out around me covering narcotics, endocrine drugs and antibiotics. I had a 50 question exam later that day that would take about one hour that I knew would in some ways be more painful than 26.2 miles of running.

Thanks to a classmate from Boston he hooked me up with a free website that would be broadcasting the race live on the internet. I should have known at that moment studying was going to be impossible. I pulled up the BIB numbers of some of the SERC members on another screen and began clicking back and forth between the pros and my pals. I was especially interested in BIB numbers 3896 and 11414.

Amazing things happen all the time they just don't always get noticed, but I knew from the last couple months I could at least track it on-line. I remember how incredibly bad I had wanted to BQ someday and how much heart and effort I had put into my training in 2008, so much in fact when I crossed that damn line I was screaming and crying. It had not come as easy for me as it had for some of my friends and it might be the best I would ever get, but dammit I had done it. I felt some of those same jitters and emotions come back to me as I thought about my friends and the goals they were striving for today.

I was vocalizing my "come ons" and "you can do this" and "keep your ass moving" and "holy sh*ts!! they are doing so awesome!!" at my computer screen for a good 3 hours. I was tracking a few other friends and it looked like everybody was having a great first half and I was "wooting" for them, like it was ALL my doing. Of course, a half marathon doesn't mean jack in a marathon, especially this paritcular marathon in which it seems the second half is notorious for unraveling runners on their way to a PR.

As I watched the elite men run down and pass elite women who had slowed, I was just in awe at how graceful a sub-5:00 mile looked. It was effortless. It was flawless. It was beautiful and although I knew my friends weren't running those times, I hoped that's how they were feeling. "Be a Kenyan," I thought. I had a huge smirk on my face when the Robert Cheruiyot crossed the line in 2:05:52 to set the new course record. What a crock of bull that people have referred to this course as too easy because of the negative downhill. I have yet to hear a friend come home after racing the course and not have taken one helluva beating!! I was a little bummed to see Ryan and Meb finish out of the top 3, but happy to see two Americans run so well (4th and 5th overall).

The women's race broke open somewhere around 16, when Erkesso opened up a about a 2-minute gap on the women. I thought it was going to be a repeat of Tomescu-Dita at the Olympics in '08, but with about four or so miles to go Pushkareva closed that gap significantly! So much in fact, I thought she was gonna take the lead, but Erkesso as many of you know held on and not so gracefully as she started her breakaway managed to flail to the finish (probably still looks better than my form) and win by 4 measely seconds. I didn't really care who won, but I always like excitement and crazy comeback moments. One of the commentators mentioned how these women were running with everything they had, that they were "scraping the bottom of their souls for that finish line." I thought "come on guys, scrape YOUR souls!!!"

Getting back to the many locals I was following, I saw many were somewhere nearing or passed the 30k marker. They were in the hills!!!! I was so antsy, I was refreshing my computer every 10 minutes knowing it took them longer than that to run to the next 5k, but unable to help myself. I remember reading how 3896 always trashes, thrashes or destroys her quads in a race like this and I was hoping they were holding for her. She once pointed out that we were what she called "quad runners" as mine hurt something fierce after Philly and I could only gingerly descend stairs sideways for the seven days after my marathon. Runner 11414, started out at a slower pace than her average projected time and all I could think was "inhuman." She was doing that thing you see on ESPN in the highlights, where non-professional athlete are shown doing amazing things. A few of my friends really fell off the pace and were on their way to finishing about a thirty minutes behind their PR's. It seemed they had started out with a race effort, but maybe pulled the plug and decided today was not their day and to just enjoy it. Others were right around their average marathon time give or take five minutes, but runner 3896's splits came back indicating she was in for the fight all the way to the line, for better or for worse. Her 30k split showed she was holding steady. 

I couldn't take it!!  I was so eager to see the next splits.  I tried to discern the difference between aminoglycosides, cephalosporins, penacillin... oh, who cares!!!  I couldn't believe the college of nursing scheduled a pharmacology exam on Boston Marathon Monday!  It was a holiday.  Classes should have been canceled, well at least for runners!!  Although not an official religion, I have heard people say that before and I am definitely a patron ;)  I was too busy worshipping to study...hehehe.

Finally, the chuck wagon had arrived and the dinner bell was ringing!!!  I don't know why I wanted this sooooo bad for my friends, maybe it was because I had focused more on running and hanging with them this past winter than in the past and the talks or blogs about their running goals had infected me. I really wanted them to accomplish their goals.  Maybe, that's why I felt I had to post an entry about their day.

My first friend finished around 2:49.  Then a few more before the three hour marker.  The clocked ticked and tocked closer to the 3:00 marker and I could see my friend was a tad on the plus side of her goal.  I was literally bouncing on the bed.  Normally, my heart would have dropped in my stomach as I know most of my friends, once they fall off the pace, they don't get it back, but this one, this girl, this hardworking motherf*cker has a hammer like no other and I impatiently willed her to "get it back" to "put her hammer down" like she does so often and close her race like a "rockstar!!"  I had followed her blogging and chatted with her on and off all winter and probably wanted this almost as bad as she did.  I knew she had a sub-3 hour marathon in her.  I would've bet my life on it, but as she neared the markers the predicted time moved just a hair farther in the wrong direction, until finally it flashed her finish time.  I wasn't devastated by her time, but I was disappointed.  I was disappointed because I know she is a sub-3 marathoner (just not on paper yet E).  Don't get me wrong I am sooo proud of her, but I was a little shocked because I KNOW she can do it and I was anticipating throwing my arms in the air and screaming "YES!! YES!! YES!!" at my computer.  The way I feel just reasserts my belief she really is THAT fast.  I hear runners and triathletes say I am gonna do this and do that all the time, but they are full of shit and I pay them no attention.  She on the other hand is a do'er.  She does what she says she will.  My heart went out to her because she had undeniably worked her ass off training, redefining the term dedicated runner.  I flashed back to my Cleveland Marathon when I had "missed" by 9+ minutes, but PR'd by and hour.  It had been bittersweet.  I got a PR, but I missed my goal.  She had PR'd for the course by ten minutes and run her second best marathon so far.  She had run a time I couldn't even fathom.  I was sad.  I knew my friend had fought tooth and nail to bring it home, never giving up.  I know there were many people thinking of her and willing her fast feet that day, but it just wasn't to be on April 19, 2010.  I am so proud of her though and I am already excited for her next marathon when she will go sub-3.  I know it!  I would bet on it!!!!!!!!!!!

Runner 11414 was still out there though and steady as a rock, through the hills.  She was right around her teammates projected time.  This masters (over 40) team was blowing the field away all posting projected 3:20-something times.  My mom always likes to point out that she is 21 years older than me and that's why she can't run as fast as me.  Thanks to runner 11414 who is 60 and 2244 who is 54 and AD who is 50, I can call "bullshit" on her...hehehe.  Turns out they were the 4th team overall and 11414 ran a 3:20!!!  A 3:20.  So many people spend their lives thinking they can't run a marthon,  those who do hope to break the 4-hour barrier, and the very few special anomalies like 11414, they go 3:20!!!  If I was the B.A.A.  I might ask for an offical birth certificate from this woman, the driver's license could be a fake!!!!!  Just kidding :)

Another amazing friend managed an unthinkable comeback from blood clots in his lungs last fall.  He pulled off a 3:05.  A freakin' 3:05!!  What the hell are my friends eating???? 

Congratulations to all my running buddies.  Wow!!  Amazing and Inspiring you certainly are. 

"Those who can truly be accounted brave are those who best know the meaning of what is sweet in life & what is terrible, & then go out undeterred, to meet what is to come...."


Friday, April 16, 2010

Bucket Begone!

I was able to blog a lot more often while on break, but now that things are back in full swing my schedule is jam packed agai.  It will stay steady for the next four weeks until the semester ends at which point I will have 2 whole days of break before the next set of undesirable classes begin. 

Other than that things have been consistent except for one thing.  I was feeling a little off this past weeked and I had a sneaking suspicion what might be going on.  I felt nauseated and extremely tired and opted to take both Saturday and Sunday off from running and get a little extra rest, but it didn't matter.  Sunday night it was in full swing.  I was running for the toilet for one reason or another and begging my mom to get me a bucket.  I had the stomach flu again for the third year in a row. 

The first time I got it I was sick for over two weeks.  Last year it only lasted for two days, but this year it hung on until today (fingers crossed).  I haven't been able to eat a normal meal for almost five days now.  I managed some french onion broth and crackers at work last night and an egg on a piece of toast the other night, but mostly it has just been crackers and gingerale or gatorade.  My lips are very dry and chapped and I have a really raspy cough.  I am even having a few nice twitches and cramps in my lats and my hamstrings.  All signs that I have a nice little bout of dehydration, but I am thinking I am on the up and up and passed the worst of it.

I am feeling a little bit better today and I managed to run 4 miles easy.  I had a little bit of tightness in my hamstrings with the tiny sensation that a cramp was possible if I thought about attempting to run any harder, but it was nice to get back to some normalcy. 

I suppose it makes me feel better knowing I am not running Boston on Moday as this stomach flu would have really caused some havoc on my mental and physical game had I decided to go.  Right now, I will just settle for making the short walk down to the garage to put the bucket away....finally.