Friday, August 31, 2012

August 2012 in Review

What a freaking crazy month. Broke my hand, got sun poisoning, and now I have a terrible case of contact dermatitis all over my right arm after swipping a tree on my ride to work Monday. I've got to tell you, I'm so ready for September and (hopefully) a fresh start.

Mileage Recap

A year ago - August 2011: 172.62
January: 181.21
February: 86.84
March: 6
April: 89.59
May: 128.43
June: 137.72
July: 200.1
August: 177.48

I'm kind of pissed at that number. I really should have been north of 200 like July, but things happen like terrible sun poisoning that keeps you from sweating at all for a few days. Oh well. C'est la vie.

Cross Training Recap

176.3 miles road cyling
1000 m swam
3 Pilates classes
2 Boxing classes

What went well

Despite all of the unhappy stuff that happened this month some pretty sweet stuff went on too like a 25 mile training run that wasn't really difficult at all. It makes me very optimistic and excited to push ahead with JFK training!
What didn't go well

Umm I think I mentioned all of the crappy things that happened. This poison whatever-I-have on my right arm is a real bitch and I can't even bend at the elbow. Not to mention it's freaking disgusting. I look forward to a month when I will have full use of both arms for the entire 30 days.

September 2012 Goals

I don't know that I'll continue doing Pilates on a regular basis because 1) it's expensive and 2) classes start next week and who knows if I'll have the time. What this means is that I really need to do my PT exercises on my own every other night since I won't be able to rely on Pilates to work those muscles for me.

After having to take the spring off from racing because of injury and opting to take the summer off as well, I'm absolutely stoked for fall racing season! I have 1-2 races every month through Thanksgiving so my calendar is laying out nicely. First up: Tough Mudder next Saturday!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The New Death Part

Any runner will tell you that running is not only physical, but largely mental as well. Whether your racing or just on a training run, finding the mental strength to push through can be tough.

In my day to day running I find that the greatest mental problem I encounter is boredom. Specifically route boredom. Some routes I fall in love with and could run over and over. Others I dread running, which brings me to the topic of today's post.

When we lived in Center City there was as stretch of road on West River Drive that I so labeled the "Death Part" because I found it so impossibly boring that no music or company could quell my hatred of it. Basically, I felt like dying every time I ran on it, even in races. deathy
It's just a boring sidewalk next to a road and bland wall. There are no trees, which means nothing pretty to look at AND no shade (which means I would inevitably end up running there on the hottest, sunniest day of the year without a hat). I avoided this area as much as I could, but I would occassionally end up running through it in order to get to the nice, beautiful, tree-lined part of West River Drive and not have to take the long way around.

When we moved out of Center City I was super happy to say goodbye to that horrible stretch of road. Now I can get to the nice part of West River without having to cut through there. Unfortunately, there is a new not-quite-as-deathy-but-pretty-deathy death part, and this time I can't avoid it as much. There are only two ways I can get to the river path from my house and I'm getting pretty sick of both of them.

Courtesy of Google Maps: The New Death Part. At least this one has trees
Every time I run here it seems endless, yet it's only a half mile stretch. I tell myself every time that it's only 5 minutes or less of agony. No big deal. But I still hate it and dread it. Every. Single. Time. Unfortunately, unless I want to stop running the river path completely, looks like I'm stuck with it.

Is there one stretch of road that you can't stand in your neighborhood? What mental tricks do you use to get through it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back in Action

I feel like I've been in a coma for the last two weeks and have just woken up. Between breaking my hand, going on vacay for a few days, and the unfortunate consequences of both of those things, I have been feeling totally out of whack.

Running in the humidity in Bermuda with my swamp arm totally killed my love of the run and it was really hard to regain after returning to the states. I also didn't mention the terrible sunburn I got over there, which after days of dormancy, turned into sun poisoning last Thursday. I had forced myself out for a short run and when I returned I found hundreds of little bubbles all over my chest and arms. They went away by the next morning, but after Friday evening's run they quickly reemerged within a mile.

I don't know whether it was the heat and humidity or my sweat that caused them, but either way I was really hesitant to run again until the area was healed. And when I woke up Saturday morning in intense pain from the burn, which began to look like someone had actually stuck a hot poker directly on my skin, I couldn't even fathom running in the heat. Hence Saturday's long run was abandoned. Between the arm and the burn I felt like absolute crap, not to mention just straight up gross. What a week, eh?

To my delight, however, the burn healed up nice enough for me to run a quick 10 on Sunday evening with minimal discomfort (and minimal bubbling...seriously, ew) and the weather really cooled off so the swamp thing wasn't as bad. Then on Tuesday I went to the orthopaedist to receive the fantastic news that my hand was no longer broken less than two weeks after the accident! I walked out of that office spewing optimism and smiles.

I also walked out with a new removeable splint that I can wear at my own discretion
After not having use of my left hand for nearly two weeks I was thrilled. I didn't realize how difficult simple things where (like tying shoes or taking off a sports bra) with only one hand. Oddly the first thing I looked forward to doing were the dishes. Strange I know, but I haven't been able to do them because the cast would get wet and I am a neat freak who likes to do them while I cook dinner so that everything is clean by the time the food is ready. Of course, there were other things I was stoked to do now that I had regained use of both hands:

Oh how I missed you
I biked to work this morning and it felt fantastic. I hope to re-add swimming and pilates next week and hopefully boxing the week after that. I am so ready to get back into my routine!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What this Bermuda Vacation Was Made Of

I've been coming to Bermuda since I was just a baby. It's nice coming back to a place every year where you know what to expect. And while I've seen most of the island by this point (its only 21 square miles), I still get to experience new things every time I come and my old favorites as well.

This year I:

Enjoyed a much needed nap upon arrival

Followed by a short run to the beach

In which my sister and I both drowned in sweat

Took a stroll down to the square in St. George's

And played around on the replicas

Tried to accessorize with my cast

Enjoyed a meal at one of our favorite restaurants

Spent half the day at my favorite beach in the world, Achilles Bay

Ate muesli with greek yogurt and fruit every morning

Re-read some of my favorite dystopian fiction

Explored, for the first time, the Bermuda Railway Trail

Experienced, for the first time, having to bag my cast because of the rain

Curled up on the couch in a coffee house to enjoy some tea and more reading

Had dinner in the capital

Had a blast with my sister

Missed my husband

Returned home to a picture perfect summer day in Philadelphia

Planned to return again next year to do it all over again (expect without the cast)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Swamp Thing and the Long Run

Remember when I fell while running on Wednesday night and broke the fall with my left hand? Well it didn't hurt much at all when I went to bed, but then I was up every hour of the night in excruciating pain and couldn't move it at all by the next morning. I quickly realized that I was actually going to have to take a trip to ER since I was in extreme pain when I wasn't even moving my left hand and wrist.

So off to the emergency room I went and two and a half hours later the doctor informed me that despite not having much swelling or black and blues, I had in fact broken my left hand. The scaphoid bone to be exact.

Letter A is the scaphoid bone
And as if that wasn't awesome news enough, he also informed me that I would be rocking a hard cast for the next 4-6 weeks until it healed. Clearly I know how to win in life.

Example of extreme winning-ness
So for at least the next month I will not be boxing nor doing a select set of Pilates moves which require a bend in the wrist. I probably won't be biking either, but I'm not entirely ruling that out. Two days later and much of the pain is going away, even though I haven't taken any of the drugs they gave me (I think running has improved my tolerance to pain), so perhaps when I'm feeling 100% I can maneuver my hands around the bike handles. I'm extremely grateful that I can keep up with the running, since that is whats most important.

I've never had a cast like this before. I sort of feel like I'm 10 years old, except I have to do real life adult stuff that is more difficult with only one hand. I should also mention that I'm headed to Bermuda for a few days tomorrow, so not being able to get my left forearm wet is going to make swimming in the ocean a tad difficult.

Probably the biggest annoyance so far though, has been the serious case of swamp arm that I develop on a run. Being put in a cast in the middle of August is less than ideal since the humidity is still raging. This morning Mike and I headed out for a long run that was thoroughly enjoyable for all parts of me except from my left elbow down.

We are in DC to celebrate my granddad's 90th birthday tonight so we got to run on the Capital Crescent Trail and through Rock Creek Park. We spent several miles on the Valley Trail through Rock Creek, which is really nice and I never knew existed before!

Yay trails!
Mike split off around mile 20 because his ankle was bothering him. I continued on and ended up finishing with just over 25 miles, making it not my longest run ever, but certainly my longest training run ever.

I was definitely feeling some muscle cramping in my hips and IT band from mile 21 or 22 on. By the end of the run, however, I felt no worse than I did after my 20 miler a few weeks ago. This is a good sign. I stuck my cast and left hand in the freezer for awhile when I got back and tried to cool it down. Looks like I will have to tolerate the swamp arm for a little while longer however. At least until the humidity cools down!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Last night after dinner Mike and I headed out for a quick run. All was fine until about the 3 mile mark, when my mind started drifting. All of a sudden, in what was likely a combination of a serious foot shuffle on my part and a slight rise in the sidewalk to meet it, my right foot skidded instead of lifting straight off the ground and I started fly forward. I usually catch myself pretty quickly, but this time I couldn't seem to get a handle on it and I flung effortlessly forward more and more.

In the two seconds between the skid and me hitting the ground calculations started flying through my head. I could see it all playing out before me: my left leg trips my right, I hear the ankle crack, and then I'm on the ground. Only one thought screamed in my head: "Don't break you freaking ankle!"

And so, during those never-ending 2 seconds, when I knew I was going down no matter what, I instinctively somehow threw my legs out from under me, protecting what is most important, and caught myself with my left hand. Not even the right, because, let's face it, of the four limbs I have, I use two for running and one for writing and if one has got to go, it's gonna be lefty.

Of course I cried like a baby, 40% from pain and 60% from shock. My left hand was throbbing and I gashed it pretty good on the cement. I calmed down after a few minutes, dusted myself off and, throbbing hand included, finished the run.

By the time we got home the hand required immediate ice, but I gave it a thumbs up anyway, because guess what? My feet and ankles and legs are feeling just fine. :)

Ever taken a nasty fall on a run? I only have once before, during PHUNT 50k when I tripped and stubbed two of my toes. Seven months later and they still don't bend all the way. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Call It a Cutback

After two weeks of mileage build with an emphasis on Saturday long runs (20 and 18 respectfully), I was excited and ready to have a little cutback week. I don't think I've ever actually let myself have an honest cutback week anytime I used a training plan, but now that I'm older and wiser I realize its a most wonderful and most necessary thing ever.

I went into the week with a goal of running only about 40 miles instead of the 45/46s I've been hitting. More importantly though, no matter what the weekdays brought, the weekEND would not bring me a real long run.

After being utterly exhausted all of the previous week, I actually began to feel stronger and more rested as this week went on. I even skipped a whole day of cycling to work and hopped a ride in the car instead. By the time the weekend rolled around I felt more rested than I had in all of July and I even slept in both Saturday and Sunday (can't remember the last time that happened).

Saturday evening I headed out for 10 miles. They went pretty smoothly except that the humidity made me super dehydrated, even though I stopped for water 3 times.

The perfect post-run set up: Sparkling water, ice, Bliss socks, and the Olympics

Post run yummies - grilled sweet potato fries
Sunday consisted of me in front of my computer all day with my final paper for my summer class on one side of the screen and on the other side. It was a great weekend for running in London. Between Mo Farah's 10,000 m victory and the insane match up in Sunday's men's 100 m I was on the edge of my seat!

The most exhilerating 9.63 seconds ever
After nine hours of paper writing, just as my head was about to explode, I darted out for another 10 mile run. Around mile 5 I got caught in a torrential downpour. Cars kept pulling over and asking if I wanted a ride, but to tell you the truth after so much sun and humidity the rain felt fantastic. It felt less fantastic when the lightening started, but luckily my husband tracked me down with the GPS on my phone and came to rescue me. I considered going out again for the last 3 miles, but then I thought "embrace the cutback!" and so I did.

So, to sum up, cutback weeks are awesome and I feel ready and refreshed to take on another two weeks of heavy mileage!