Half-marathon...squeaking through it!

I ran the two halfs this past winter that I promised myself. Here is the picture of me and my hubby after the PF Chang's race.
Hubby, me and my Dad
The Rock and Roll race is really fun! The support is amazing and the crowds really get you through the tough times.
After that race I was super done with running. But I couldn't rest because I had another race to do.

I laced up and kept going until race number two was done.

Number two was harder. Smaller race. Virtually no crowds. Just me and the miles. This was much harder, but again, I made a promise to myself to get it done. So I did. My dad was at the finish again.

Neither race was fast by any stretch, just over three hours for both. But I did it.

I dedicated both races to those who for whatever reason can't run themselves.



This was a lifesaver. There were times when I felt like I couldn't go on and I just looked down at my arm. It's really easy for me to run for someone else. I just told myself, "Well, you can run one mile for Amy." And I did. 


Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

That's what it feels like around here. I would like to say that I have been remaining positive and not letting it get me down, but that just isn't the truth.
Shortly after the last two races I ran, my knee started bugging me. I just couldn't run anymore. I self-prescribed some physical therapy, which I swear was as if I was asking to be given some freaking morphine. The physical therapist asked me about my schedule. I told him I was running 4 days a week, hiking one day and working out with a physical trainer another day. He said that was too much. It didn't feel like too much. It just felt like I was hanging out with my friends.

I got into that place that always spells trouble for me. I think, "Other people can do it, why can't I?"

I was off for three weeks. Here's the low down of those weeks.

Week 1: Pissed off at my body for not being able to do what I want it to do. So I abused it in the form of eating and drinking crap. What I got in return, 2 lbs.

Week 2: Pity party. Why can't I? It's not fair. I am going to do it anyway. Oh crud, that hurts. Yadda, yadda, yadda. (I hate that I go there, but it's the truth.) What I got in return, 3 more lbs. and a half day in bed.

Week 3: Crap! You are about to blow it. Let's get this train moving in the right direction. Enter the all-powerful and amazing elliptical machine! I had a great workout and realized this was only temporary. My PT banned me from running one more week. I made it 6 days but I had already signed up for a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot. I figured I would run it and walk if I needed to. I was able to run most of the time and only added around 3 minutes to my best time. Not horrible considering the three weeks off.

I went back to my training group on Saturday and one of the trainers was wonderful enough to sacrifice half of his run to run with me. He helped me realize that walking was not a sign of weakness and when I was struggling we walked together. I was able to run/walk 6 miles that day.

The past weekend I became a bit more disciplined about it and finished 8 miles. (I ran 5 minutes and walked 1 minute.) That only puts me a week or so behind the rest of the group.

Someday I will get to the point where I can do what so many other people can do. It's just going to take a little longer for me to get there. Some days I am ok with that, other days it irritates the crap out of me. Luckily today is a day I am ok with it.

Racing and Training

Great news, I got a new PR at my race a few weekends back! For all you speedy runners, it will seem painfully slow, but I am super proud. 39:00 on the dot. I was hoping to get 37:30, but I am happy with the time. It is over 6 minutes off last year's time, so can I really complain?

The following weekend I did the Komen run with my hubby. My family was there walking, so we ran and then walked back to where they were. My goal for this race was to start slow and not let the excitement of the day make me run faster than 13:00 a mile. I want to finish my half-marathon in January strong, so I am thinking early pacing will be key. Yep that didn't happen. The Runkeeper lady voice kept telling me I was going faster than that. *Sigh* I'll just have to sign up for another race to practice! :-)

Training has been going well. I am sticking pretty closely to my Phoenix Fit training. Some weeks I have to do my long runs with my hubby instead of the club which is kind of a bummer. But it's usually because I get to watch my daughter race in her cross country meets. That is a good thing, so it all balances out.

This past Saturday morning's run was 6 miles at South Mountain. Yup, hills. I was so nervous all week long. I even bit my fingernails. A bad habit I hadn't done in years!

The elevation gain was 550 ft total. The hills were pretty rolling and at one point, I am pretty sure I was running backwards! But I finished the workout in 1:24:01. That was 2:39 faster than the previous week's 6 mile run that only had an total elevation gain of 203 ft. So I call that a win.

Even more impressive is that I was running late on Saturday morning and forgot to take my medication. I am not going to lie, I panicked a bit when I realized this. Once I got running though, I was fine. I took it when I got home because Lyrica is one of those medicines you aren't supposed to skip.



Getting Ready for a Run

This weekend I will be running in a 5K race. It is the same race that I ran last year as my first 5K. My time last year was 45:29. Since then, I have run a 5K in 39:16. So my goal is 37:30.

I have so many emotions. I am excited about the prospect of setting a new PR. I am scared about not doing better than last year's time. I am nervous about my body behaving properly. I am anxious because right after my run, I have to jump in my car and drive to my daughter's cross country race 1/2 way across town.

I am trying to calm myself down but nothing is working. I added some new music to my running playlist. I have been hydrating up. I am eating only healthy foods. My clothes are washed. My shoes are broken in.

I keep telling my brain I am ready, but for some reason my stomach is not getting the message.

Neither are my shaking legs.

Sigh.

New Shoes

I bit the bullet and bought my new shoes this weekend. I know the recommendations for buying new shoes is based on mileage, but who keeps track? Even though I kind of keep track, I know my numbers are skewed because they are based on tiny runners under 150 lbs. I've had these shoes since March. Yikes!

I went to my local specialty running store: Runner's Den. We made it just in time and I was afraid we'd be rushed since it was 30 minutes to closing. But the gentleman who helped us was amazing! He confirmed what I thought. My shoes were toast and may legs were wobbling all over the place. Now I know where all that knee pain was coming from.

I thought I could get away from a non-stability shoe. (Stability shoe is one that keeps your feet from wobbling all over the place to help you strike the ground flat.) But he smiled kindly at me and said, no you need the stability.
My New Shoe
Sunday was the first time I ran with them. I was reminded of when Forrest Gump saw Lt. Dan at his wedding.


Forrest: You got new legs. New legs!

That is what it felt like. I was able to run a full 4 miles. Holy cow, that is the farthest I have ever run.

I know new shoes when running are just another expense. But I can really attest to the fact that it makes a huge difference.

Getting My Runs In

My schedule preparing for this race is pretty easy. We do our long runs on Saturday morning and maintenance runs through the week. Right now it's three times a week for about 30 minutes a pop. Easy right?

It seems like it would be a no-brainer. However, in reality, it is proving harder than I thought.

I used to run indoors at the community center where I took my first running class. Even though the track is lined in Nike Grind, lately it's been killing my knees. I have been taking to the great outdoors.

For those of you in more temperate climates, you are thinking "What's the problem?" I don't live in a temperate climate for 9 months out of the year. I live in the scorching desert. Which means runs have to happen early in the morning or after dark. Early in the morning is my preferred time, but I don't like running alone before 6:00 AM. Night is equally difficult because of my kids sports.

Sigh.

I have been taking to the treadmill. Probably not the most taxing workout, but it doesn't have the sharp turns and jarring surface. This makes the knees happy. j

Treadmills do have one horrible feature: the clock. Ugg, I hate knowing how long I have been working out. I like it to be a nice surprise that it's over. Today I will take a towel to drape over the clock. And hopefully something good will be on TBS.

I haven't skipped any runs yet. Hopefully the treadmill will keep me going long enough to get to cooler temperatures.

Do I Love Running?

Today I had a doctor's appointment with my rheumatologist. I used to dread going to see her because it seemed like she always wanted to focus on my flare-ups and I had already lived through them. I didn't want to rehash them. Now that flare-ups are few and far between (knock on wood) or very mild, I see now that she just uses that as a gauge to see how I am doing.

She first asked if I was flaring because of the weather. Arizona is generally really dry and hot. During this time of the year, it is humid and hot. Normally that causes issues, but I kind of cocked my head and thought, "Hmm, actually, no I am not." She was really happy to hear that I was doing well.

She then asked about the new dry mouth medicine. Busted! I fessed up that I hadn't used it. I promised her I'd use it before next appointment.

I asked her if knee issues were common among her other runners with Sjogren's. She said that normally knee issues are due to wear and tear vs. Sjogren's related. Then she said, "There are better exercise options like swimming that won't put that wear and tear on your knees, but I am not going to ask you to stop doing what you love."

I was dumbfounded. Just yesterday I told someone how much I hated running. I confessed that I only do it because most contact sports are out of the question for me and my arm. It didn't realize until it was about to be taken away from me that I really do love it.

Hopefully the knee x-ray will show no signs of damage and I can continue to run. Because I now know that I love it.