Friday, September 30, 2011

Top Gun

It's getting easier, running that is.  The soreness and stiffness after runs, when I get out of bed and just in general has minimized.  I'm feeling more rested too.  I know aerobic changes can take 6-9 weeks, so hopefully I've finally adapted a little. 

I ran a nice 16+ miles tonight in the rain.  I had hoped I might catch a break from the down pour, but nothing doing.  I thought the run would be rough too, seeing as how I went out and had 2 glasses of malbec wine and 2 more beers when I came home  last night.  (side note: I am not a bum, but I don't really go out anymore, unless you count me leaving the house for work or to go running). 

I've come to terms with my performance at Akron and I'm moving on.  No I take that back, I am using that race as motivation to train smarter and harder (and not run like that again).  I am egocentric.  I have always appreciated each and every opportunity to share a running (or triathlon or basketball) experience with whomever it is, but I am a competitive junkie at heart.  When I am the slowest person or the least talented person, of course I am going to kill myself to be the best.  The clock and the scoreboard don't reflect my effort, they just show how close or how far I am from the better opponent.  It's like Iceman says in "Top
Gun" -- "No points for second place boys." 

I am my own worst critic.  I have been characterized as overly analytical more times than I can count.  However, I am a realist and while I will never be Kara Goucher,  I still have more milestones and PRs to attain.  I just gotta "watch the hardeck" and maybe, just maybe I'll be able to "buzz the tower" soon. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Round 7 -- Already???

I can't believe I'm half way through my training block and I've only had (IMO) one crappy week of training.  While I didn't always have the most stellar runs, the mileage has remained steadfast and I have become a woman on fire diligently trying to get in every run.  In fact, this week I took my very first day of paid time off (PTO) for my birthday, just to ensure my mileage goal was met.  I got paid for 4 days and only worked 3 and that extra day off yielded quite the mileage windfall to my delight.  Sometimes, I wish I worked three 12's, but with the 4 rotating shifts I do have the opportunity to hit some mega OT (and I need the $$$) and I like that a whole lot come pay day...

Mon: 4 miles (9:04/mile - roads, tight and sore)
Tues: 2 miles (10:00/mile - easy on the TM in the AM after work) and 6 miles (speedwork 6 x 400 meteres @ 6:50/mile with 400 meter RI @ 10:00/mile and 2 x 200 meters @ 6: 45/mile with 200 meter RI @ 10:00) mile on TM to wake up the 3 fast twitch muscle fibers I have in PM  after some sleep) -- also strength training for core and upper body PM
Wed: 5 miles (9:24/mile - roads, easy, still tight and sore) then ice bath -- brrrrrrr!!
Thur: OFF
Fri: 2.50 miles (No watch - easy shake out run before race with 4 x 100 meter strides)
Sat: 13.05 miles (2.5 mile warm-up, Akron Relay Leg, and 7.75 cool-down) 
Sun: 20+ miles (9:13/mile - long run, roads, Garmin refused to come on)

Total Miles: 52.55 miles

Monday, September 26, 2011

Arkon Marathon Relay (Four Fast Freaky Females) 2011

As most of you know the Akron Marathon relay is for 5 people and my team name is "Four Fast Freaky Females," so either

a) my team did not count me as fast
b) we were short a runner and someone had to run two legs

While the more believable answer is a) the truth is b).

I was to run the 2.8 mile leg through Sand Run.  I had never done the 5-person relay before, but having run the full and the 2 person relay one time each, I have ALWAYS run this section.  It is in my opinion the worst section of the course.  It is boring like the towpath and mostly uphill.  There is nothing exciting going on and it comes between mile 15.5 and 18.3 (which completely sucks for the marathoners).  If you survive this section the course is awesome to the finish, not easy, but way more exciting!!

I was the only teammate not in bun huggers.  I want to wear tight shorts, but I'm too smooshy and too slow (it's more the smooshiness that I defer from the bun huggers than the slowness).  Anyway, my mom was nice enough to get up at 5:00am to haul me down to the start and then to the relay point.  We were able to watch the start of the race and see e-speed come through at HER pedestrian pace (which is still a pace, many of us can only dream to run for one mile).  We screamed and cheered for her as she ran down High Street before jumping in the car and heading out to my relay point. 

My legs had felt pretty good the night before on my shake out run.  I had taken an ice bath on Thursday and only worked 3 days leading up to the race.  The plan was to run for fun, but the girls fun pace is still faster than my "shit your pants pace," so I still felt I had to run as hard as I could. 

I ran about 2.5 miles easy for a warm-up and felt pretty good.  It was overcast and cool.  I wasn't certain how fast we would be but I figured worst case scenario daisy would be in at 1:45:30 (that's 7:00/mile).  Impressive huh?  I jogged down the hill backwards to try and stay warm and loose and as I turned to jog back I saw a woman coming that looked an awful lot like, yep you guessed it....DAISY!! 

Oh boy!  Game time.  I ran back up to the hill and jumped just a few steps in front of the mat.  Daisy was almost to me when one of the race people started yelling at me to get back behind the line, runners were coming.  All I could think was "Look ya crazy broad!!  This is my teammate and she is the only one here!!!"  I took one step and she kept yelling, but I ignored her.  Daisy had to run up the hill to me and was probably exhausted and as far as I was concerned once she crossed the mat her job was done.  I grabbed the snap bracelet out of her hand and took off.  I secured the bracelet to my wrist and then started my garmin.  I felt good and knew I probably wouldnn't catch anybody, but hopefully I wouldn't get passed by too many.  The first mile felt awesome (it should have it was downhill or flat).  I dont' look at my Garmin when I run, but after reviewing my splits it came back at 6:52. 

Mile 2 started okay, but between the hills, the inclines and the curvy road I started to slow.  I kept thinking "you're not dead yet, run dammit, run!!"  I felt like I had run a 5k by the end of mile 2 and I was breathing heavy.  I felt like I was in quicksand.  I tried to keep pushing myself.  "Just 0.8 miles, Hang on!!"  I kept telling myself.  My garmin split 7:42 (what the hell, just happened?).

Salty said she would run back about a half mile to meet me, but when my watch beeped she wasn't there.  I know I started my garmin late, so I was well passed 2.5 miles and I didn't see the relay point either.  Oh shit!!  Was this course long?  As I rounded a bend to the right, there she was just up ahead running toward me (Thank you Jesus!!).  She did a U-turn and I could feel her trying to pull me along up to her, but she was too fast and I could see the gap getting bigger.  No women in the relay had passed me until that point and then it happened.  A significantly faster chick ran me down.  I figured Salty was faster, but what about the girl Salty had to run against?  Had I just cost us a spot?  I hung on as best I could and ran for the mat.  

I crossed the mat, relieved to be done, or so I thought.  Salty was running away from me and the race people kept telling us to keep coming!!  What the hell, not again, except now I was on the other end of it and hurting.  Finally got the snap bracelet into Salty's hand and stopped my Garmin.  It had 0.9  at 6:55, yuck!!  I figure starting my garmin late and still being over the distance put me close to 3 miles insteasd of 2.8 -- SHIT!!

I bent over disgusted with the way my leg of the race had gone.  I was bent over and spitting in the grass, trying to decided if I needed to puke or not.

I hoped I hadn't cost my teammates too much time.  I think my official time was 21:23 (suck it!!)

Turns out that girl that had passed me was on a mixed relay team, and Salty ran the last girl down anyway.  We finished in 2:53:57.  We were 3rd overall and missed 2nd by a mere 23 seconds.  All, I had to do was run 8.5 seconds per mile faster and I couldn't do it.  Who knows had I run under 7:00/mile like the rest of my team, perhaps I would have set Salty up for a fighting chance at the line with the first place team.  Damn, my slowness!!!! 

I do feel I let them down and I am embarassed.  I trained as best I could leading up to the race and ran as hard as I could, yet I am still disappointed.  I don't want to end this on a bad note because everything else about the day was awesome.

E-speed was like Tigger on speed bouncing around from the start of the day until the finish.  Daisy was her usual matter of fact self, all business, changing hats from relay team leader to party captain without missing a beat and Salty taking it all in stride, enjoying a little free time with friends, smiling from ear to ear like the cheshire cat before heading home to share her day with the mini-salties. 

As for me, I'm glad they let me run on their team, drink a few alcoholic beverages and share in the moment.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Round 6 (almost half way)

This post reminds me quite a bit of my running and by that I mean -- Behind!!  I can't help it, but that's how I feel.  It's been six weeks since I started trying to run more than 15 miles a week and I am just not seeing the time progressions in my races like I used to or had hoped to.  Although, I am not training harder than normal, I am definitely tired than in the past training cycles with all this work mixed in.  I guess I am still trying to cope with being older and being slower, and just when I thought I had the ability to get faster too, after my anemia was fixed a few years ago, arrggghhh!!! 

Mon: OFF
Tues: 4.25 (8:46/mile - attempted long run gone bad, legs were sluggish)
Wed: OFF
Thurs:17.39 (8:39/mile - went out for 8 miles after work and weather was so perfect, forgot to come back - long run)
Fri: OFF
Sat: 9.92 (9:05/mile - quads sore from Thursday)
Sun: 4.74 (warm-up and cooldown for race) and 5K race (7:25/mile)

Total: 39.43 miles

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium 5k

I had a strange request for my 34th birthday.  I wanted my family to run/walk a 5k.  Everyone was game, even my sister-in-law who was 4 months pregnant and who would be pushing my 18 month old niece.  Whoo Hoo!! 

It seemed after lots of trash talking amongst certain family members, only my little brother and I would be running.  My little brother is by far the best runner in the family (he ran a marathon when he was 15, because he is nuts), but after dislocating his knee cap a few times over the past 10+ years his leg just doesn't handle the repetitive pounding that running provides.

My legs were trashed from the 17+ miles I had run after work on Thursday.  It had been such a nice evening when I had gotten home from work the scheduled 8 miles, somehow transformed into 17.  I thought maybe a 3 mile warm-up would help workout some of the stiffness, but all throughout the warm-up, I felt fatigued and tight.  I stretched and did a few dynamic exercises along with some striders -- nothing seemed to help. 

My brother and I started somewhere in the middle, which was still too far back.  We had to run around people and it took us a few seconds to just cross the starting line.  My brother's plan was to try and run with me (and then probably move in for the kill at the end) for as long as possible.  My plan was to run steady effort throughout and not fade, like last time. 

The course was not flat.  It was rolling, but shaded.  There were a lot more women in front of me than I had hoped.  I hoped some of them would start coming back to me as the miles wore on and to my delight a few did by the first mile.  I felt good and on cruise control.  Mile 1 was 7:20 and although I felt good, it was slower than the last race and knowing there were more rollers coming I had low expectations. 

Mile 2 seemed to take forever and I was able to get a few more girls, so I think I passed about 6 at this point.  I had lost my brother almost immediately and hoped he was just a few steps behind me.  I was breathing well, but my legs were dead.  I split 7:27.

At the start of the last mile, I had been focused on this brunette in a long sleeve white tee and black capris.  I had worked my way up to her over the last two miles.  She had faded pretty hard, but I had the feeling that if I passed her she would be one of those that will fight you to the end, even if she has to sprint, back-off, sprint and back-off -- you know the kind I'm talking about.  I don't usually strategize in a foot race.  I am too slow.  I just run my best to the finish, but for some reason with her, I felt if I passed her I would have to pick-it up and give her the impression that I had started off slow and was now just getting up to a pace that she shouldn't even bother trying to hang on to.

Apparently, I am a bad actress.  I opened my stride up and took off as I passed her.  I know I gapped her, I could feel it as I ran hard for about 200 meters.  I had also managed to close the gap on two women up ahead of me.  I tried to focus on catching them, but I had the feeling that the girl behind me was more of a threat than the two in front of me.  I surged again as I caught and passed each girl.  I was definitely beat at this point and with 500 meters to go I hit the last hill before the finish and then it happened.  The girl I had passed and suspected would be a threat at the finish passed me!   Crap!!  I picked up the pace and stayed with her to the 3rd mile marker and split 7:29. 

As always, when you hit that 3 mile marker in a race the last .1 feels infinitely longer than when you run it in a warm-up.  I was gassed.  She picked it up and started pulling away.  I half-ass tried, but my body and my heart had nothing.  I couldn't get my legs moving faster than a 6:55/mile pace.  I hit the line in 23:13 (garmin).  I  don't know the official results, the website is "under construction." 

My garmin said 3.14 and avg pace was 7:25/mile, which was about the same as the last 5k.  Uuugghhh!!  I am so not progressing as fast as I would like to. 

My little brother finished in 24:37 (7:55/mile).  He said could see me up until the last mile and then I "took off."  We laughed about that, because he admittedly faded pretty hard that last mile and ran 8:45. 

My parents finished holding hands (my dad was listed first in the results, so of course he razzed my mom, who will probably never finish a race with him again, haha!).  My preggo sister finished by running into the finish and my niece started screaming bloody murder at the 2 mile marker so my brother had to pick her up (she gets a DNF!!). 

Here is the video to the finish.  I think I am somewhere afte 7 mins and my brother is about 8:30 - 9:00 minutes in. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

An Unnecessary Thank You

In my last post I mentioned I had received a letter from a family member of a cancer patient thanking me for my "help." As I also mentioned I don't feel I did anything extraordinary, but I did what I do, and will ALWAYS do for my patients. This is why I chose oncology and why I can be an oncology nurse.

Yes, it tears me apart when a patient and his wife get discharged after just being told to go to the beach, spend time with your loved ones because all avenues of treatment have been exhausted and goodbyes are less than a year away, like I did on Friday last week. I shed a few tears of my own with them and hugged them goodbye, really pissed off there wasn't anything else I could do for him, angry that this stupd disease existed.

This stupid disease can scare even the strongest and bravest at any moment, even those with very promising outcomes, like my other patient. He needed 3 cycles of chemo and had tolerated the first cycle just fine, but this second round he was hit with chemo-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV), and it scared him so badly he wanted me to stop his infusion pumps and discharge him at that instant. We talked (and I don't consider myself funny, but for some reason others do and my sense of humor has become an asset in oncology) and laughed, even left the building for a little bit. In the end, he survived his second round of chemotherapy and gave me a huge bear hug before he left the unit to go home upon discharge.

I am always touched by the large and small gestures of cancer patients and their families. It reminds me even for those who I can't help save, perhaps the support and care I gave them helped ease their mind and pain for just one second.

Anyway, here are the letters I received from the family...

"I would like to acknowledge Beth for being such a kind,compassionate and informative nurse. She has provided patient X, who has cancer and is struggling with this, has renewed my hope in our profession. The time, care and true understanding of a pt's needs made me proud to have met her."

and (same family, different person)

"I wanted to thank you for going above and beyond, showing sincere compassion for patient X when he needed it. You are an incredible nurse, and my family is thankful he was in your hands."

and the letter they wrote to my boss...

"Dear (ElizaBeth's Boss),
I wanted to thank you for being kind to patient X, although I know you treat everyone like that-I would just like to recognize your thoughtfulness.

Also your nurse Elizabeth Hxxxx, (I hope I spelled it correctly), showed patient X empathy, warmth, and understanding during a difficult time. Despite having other work to attend to, she took time to destress patient X by walking him outside, which made all the difference. She had to stay late to chart and never complained about it, instead she held patient X's hand and talked with my family. She admitted she is a newer nurse, but one would not be able to tell. Her thoroughness, motivation and skills preceded her. She is your best asset and thought you should know how wonderful one of your own has done.
On behalf of patient X, my family and myself-thank you!"
It was extremely kind of this family and unnecessary for them to recognize me like this and I appreciate their kind words more than they will ever know.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Round 5....

was in my opinion a fail!  Monday started off well with the race and some additional running, but then Tuesday I was asked to work over, Wednesday I was scheduled 12, Thursday I tried to get back on the horse, but by Friday I got bucked off.  Friday I had my first float shift to a leukemia floor (and no it's not the same stuff as on my floor) for 8 hours only to have the boss call and ask if I could stay over for a total of 12 and then with the full moon Saturday and Sunday the patient's went crazy!!  When it was all said and done I worked 63 hours.

Although, running was not the focus of my time for the week I feel the work I put in with my patients was well worth the trade (I'll even share a letter I got from a patient's family in another post).  I don't feel I went above and beyond or did anything I wouldn't normally do. 

Mon AM: 12.3 (0.73 mile warm-up, 5k race, 3.42 mile cool-down)
Mon PM: 5.05 (8:33/mile a little bit harder than an easy run)
Tues: OFF
Wed: OFF
Thur: 11.62 (8:40/mile - long run)
Fri: OFF
Sat: OFF
Sun: OFF (very glad, but tired this work marathon was over for 2 days)

Total: 23.92 miles

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Round 4

I have been following this SmartCoach training plan from Runner's World.  It has me running 3 times a week (one long run and one tempo or speedwork and then an easy 3-6 miler). I have been able to run those workouts and then squeeze in easy miles around the two (hard) workouts the best I can. I have managed to cover about 10-15 miles more than this plan calls for which makes me feel a lot better than picking a more intense, harder program would have.  I believe the latter would just frustate me because of my ever changing work schedule.  The additional mileage has come by doing doubles on my days off and on days when it seems pretty much silly to suit up to run but I have jumped on the treadmill to get in a mere 2 miles at a poker's pace, just to say ... "I ran."

Mon: OFF
Tues: 2 miles (treadmill easy - 10:00/mile)
Wed: OFF
Thur: 15.25 miles (roads - 8:34/mile - skies opened up and lightening tried to strike this turtle down!!)
Sat: 4.1 miles (roads easy - 9:00/mile)
Sun: 11.1 (SERC run - 8:29 - quads felt beat-up)

Total: 32.45 miles

Each week there are days I really just don't want to do the mileage to break 30 or even 10 miles, but when I type this up I'm glad I did.  I think this running is also really helping keep my head about me at work.  I had my second code blue (in retrospect, the patient never truly lost a pulse ) at work yesterday and was the second responder, never left the room and took it all in stride.  Also, had a patient who wanted to stop treatment in the middle of his chemo bags and leave due to severe chemotherapy induced nausea vomiting and a PCNA that was to say the least not very helpful yesterday.  I think I punched out at 9:30ish last night for another 14 hour day and I'm ready to go at it all over again -- after I enjoy my day off today ;o)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Aurora Labor Day 5k - The Fade Away

The last time I ran this race was 2006 or 2007.  Let's just say it had been awhile. 

Anyway, this week called for a 3 mile tempo at 8:00/mile.  I had just done that a week or so ago, but the idea of running it on the treadmill did not appeal to me -- at all and the weather was 65F and overcast (a near perfect day in my book to race), so at 8:14am this morning, I made the executive decision to hit up the race that started at 9:00am. 

Registration and packet pick-up were efficient and quick.  I even had time to hit the porta-john twice before the race.  I only managed 0.75 miles for my warm-up.  My legs, specifically my quads were tight and a little sore from yesterday's run.  I kept reminding myself, this is going to cover your tempo workout this week and be way easier, if you're racing.  I did a few striders and lined up.  I planned to run my hardest and hoped it would be in the 7:30s. 

I had been guessing my fitness level based on my long runs and treadmill workouts, but with the relay coming up in a few weeks I need to know how close to 7:00/miles I would be.  Obviously, I am hoping for sub-7s (as I'm sure my teammates are too). So, I needed a fix.  I needed a race, not only to see where I was physically, but mentally. 

I started too far back, on purpose in hopes of going out conservative and picking it up each mile.  It would ultimately cost me at the end, but alas  I wasn't out to win the race (not that I ever would be).

The race is two laps around the park.  There is one little incline in the first .25 miles and then a small but steep hill right before mile 1. 

The horn sounded and it seemed a lot of people didn't move.  "What are they doing?"  I thought.  The race was only chipped at the finish, not the start.  I immediately ran by a bunch of people.  I didn't see any fast chicks at the race and new I would more than likely be toward the front.  I assumed some high school ringer might blow the field away, but that wasn't the case (duh!! cross country season is in full swing).  I followed a blonde through the mile 1 and split 7:16 (garmin - 7:18).  That was a lot better than I thought it would be.  I felt good too, but I didn't want to die at 1.5, so I tried to rein it in and stay under control as I passed the blonde and took advantage of the nice little decline back to the entrance of the park.

We had to make a handful of sharp turns back at the entrance to the park before heading out for lap 2, which definitley wasn't helping me.  My breathing was good, but my legs were fatigued and my stomach was a little off.  You know how you poop before a race and then you get that crampy, either you're gonna crap your pants or your uterus is gonna fall out feeling?  Well, I had a mild case of that as I neared the 2 mile marker.  The timer called out 13:2x and I was glad I had my garmin on.  It was undoubtedly short.  I ran and ran and no beep.  Crap!!  It finally beeped, but I didn't care what the split showed and just kept running.  Mile 2 split (per Garmin) 7:25. 

I was hoping at this point, I would feel good and be able to pull out my fastest mile here at the end.  I finally saw a girl about .5 miles ahead and she looked like she was fading.  I tried to focus on her and close the gap.  I wondered if she would look back to see if anyone was behind her.  She never did.  We passed the water stop and I heard someone call out 4th woman as I went by.  I managed to work my way up to her with a little at a time.  As we came out of the woods to the front of the park where the finish was I wasn't exactly sure if we cut through the grass to the finish or had to go around on the path.  It didn't matter.  GD saw me and yelled "Come on ElizaBeth!!!" 

Now, I have never seen a girl jump like that in my life, but apparently that woke her up and just like that she straightened up her form and picked up the pace.  "Darn It!"  I hadn't planned on trying to kill myself yet.  Oh well, I took off and remarkably closed the gap on her!  I was almost on her shoulder.  I yelled "Come on girl!!  I'm coming!!  Go!!  You can do this!!"  to her.  She picked up the pace and I matched her, running right off her shoulders.  I yelled again.  "I'm still coming!!" or something like that and she found another gear and so did I.  She crossed the finish banner one step in front of me, but the mats were 2 steps after that.  I had once made the stupid mistake of stopping too soon, so I went to the mat.  Mile 3, 7:35.  (That song, "Sail Away" popped in my head, but I changed the lyrics to "Fade Away, Fade Away --- Booooo!!!)  And the last 451ft., 31.5 seconds.

I felt great at the finish, except for my stomach, which was a little wonky.  I knew I had to hit the bathroom asap.  I shook hands with the girl and congratulated her.  She definitely didn't look too good at the finish.  I asked if she was okay, before leaving her and she nodded.  I ran to the bathroom and felt better after I did my business. 

At the awards ceremony, they had me as 3rd female overall, because the girl had stopped after she crossed the banner and walked to the mat, but I explained to the RD what had happened and pointed out the girl that should be 3rd overall.  She was super nice about it and I told her it was a training run for me to gauge where my fitness was at.  She said the same for her.  I suppose, to the mat I beat her.  Had I started up farther in the beginning of the race perhaps I would have never had this happen.  Either way, it is a shoulda, coulda, woulda, such as this I think, that makes runners even more neurotic and overly analytical than they already are.  I'm not sure what was in the little box the top overalls got, but I'm okay with not having it whatever it is.  My official time was 22:49.  Avg Pace: 7:24.

In basketball, the fade away is a sweet shot (Michael Jordan did it best, in my opinion), but in running there's nothing sweet about it.