Monday, November 30, 2009


Sounds fancy, doesn't it? The less glamorous truth is that a very common condition known more widely as Runner's Knee has brought me to a grinding halt.

If you're unlucky to have found this page through a Google search, then try here, here, or if you really want to be depressed, here for more informed explanations. Otherwise, let's just say it:
  • Is one of the most common injuries among runners
  • Often strikes as runners approach forty miles per week for the first time
  • Affects twice as many women as men (yeah, we have wider hips, relative to our knees).
So on the physical side, I predict rest, ice, thigh-strengthening exercises and probably some anti-inflammatories will be top of mind for the next few days. Good job I still have some of those kick-ass pain killers from when I got my teeth done. :)

But more interesting, I think, will be the mental fight. What will Struggler do now? Will she just give up? Cry? Bitch and moan about how bloomin' unfair it is, when she was doing everything right and diligently following the plan? Or will she just quietly freak out about how on earth to get from 18 miles to 26.2, with 14 weeks and only one good leg?

We'll see.

Photo thanks: Colin Brough

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Now I'm scared

First, let's look at the glass being half-full: yesterday I went out for a long-slow-distance run with Beloved Husband and covered 18 miles without serious trouble. Sure, by the end, I was pretty fed up and more than ready to stop, and yes, my pace (keeping heart-rate deliberately low) was mind-numbingly slow, but we covered the distance without me ever feeling at all doubtful that I could finish it.

And now the half-empty. Afterwards, my right knee (yes, the same villain from our long run 2 weeks ago) was seriously painful. Not that good, been-out-for-a-trot-and-loved-it kind of ache that runners know and love. More of the hurts-to-walk-round-the-grocery-store and how-the-heck-will-I-run-tomorrow kind of painful.

Up until now, I'd been foolishly assuming that as long as I followed the plan, forced myself to train even when I didn't feel like it, and stuck with the program, then a marathon would be well within my reach. Now I'm having to face the thought that something outside my control might have the final say.

I'm disappointed, scared, and tired.

Photo thanks: Simona Dumitru

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Others training for Napa?

On Monday night as I watched it getting dark and contemplated the 7 miles ahead of me, I figured I can't be the only fruitcake training through the winter and that surely there would be some others signed up for Napa who were also heading out for an evening run.

That thought made me feel somewhat better so I did a Google blog search and found these valiant souls who look like they'll also be cantering through wine country in March:
Now, clearly, there will be more than just 5 of us running the race. But I'll enjoy checking in to see how others are getting on and getting a taste of how training feels for them.

Photo thanks: Pcuoco

Monday, November 23, 2009

Highs and lows

One of the things I need to get used to about a multi-month training program is that it's not all going to be a steady, cheerful climb to the top.

After Saturday's enjoyable run when I felt strong and, ooh, let's be honest, showed off just a little for the last couple of miles, it was a bit of a disappointment to go out yesterday for a five mile trot and find myself so sluggish. Logic, of course, says that's the whole point of the Sunday run - to go out when you're already tired and ask your body for a bit more. But I was quite shocked how hard it was and how un-zippy I felt. What's more, today there is another 7 miles to be done, after work, in the dark and cold. Oh joy. Getting out the front door is going to require some willpower.

To pep myself up a bit, I have booked a hotel in Napa for the marathon, and spent a few minutes thinking about women like Kathrine Switzer who fought for the right to run the Boston Marathon in the 1960s... back when everyone believed a woman couldn't possibly achieve 26 miles. Incredible, but true, and all the more reason to get my running shoes on this evening.

Photo thanks: Asif Akbar

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Still some gas in the tank

Thank you for the kind comments and encouragement regarding whether to listen to my wimp of a body or whether to just keep on runnin'. After discussing the matter with Chief Coach (aka Beloved Husband), we decided that since I wasn't feeling absolutely horrible, I should do just a quick trot on Friday morning.

That was accomplished and we then headed out for 9 miles 'at pace' today. The idea of a pace run is that you figure out your hoped for pace to do the whole 26 miles, and get used to running at that speed. Having pondered the topic and used a few online calculators, I'm hoping somewhere around the 10 mins 30 per mile mark is about right.

Happily, that felt great, and I was feeling strong enough that we sped up for the last bit. Granted, that got harder, but was still very do-able, and my last couple of miles were just over and then just under 9 minute miles.

There was definitely still some gas in the tank when I finished - maybe all that gruesome speed work is actually helping? :)

Photo thanks: Juliane Riedl

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is it Friday yet?

Let's start with the positive: I'm pretty happy with how the training is going and my knees have been playing nicely. I found a marathon training plan which starts at 16 weeks and since that's the time I have left, I should be in good shape.

... But I'm feeling awfully tired. So far this week, I've done:
  • Monday: 7 miles, pace
  • Tuesday: Body Sculpt class
  • Wednesday: 5 miles, speedwork
  • Thursday: Body Sculpt class
In theory, tomorrow holds a very short, easy run, followed by pace on Saturday, and a short recovery run on Sunday. Typing this out makes me see why maybe I'm feeling tired! I've also been trying to eat a bit better and my body is perhaps missing all the sugar and junky bits it previously 'enjoyed'.

So, the big question is, do I listen to the fatigue, and take a rest day, or do I gamble on the running junkie endorphins pulling me through?

Photo thanks: Nadia Jasmine

Monday, November 16, 2009

15 miles!

Today I owe a big warm thank you to Beloved Husband who somehow endured the boredom of three hours of 12-minute-miles to accompany me on a 15 mile run on Saturday. What's more, it rained on us so I felt even more guilty at being the impetuous one, responsible for signing up for a spring marathon.

I just checked back on the 14 miles achieved at the end of August and am a bit concerned to see a mention of complaining knees in that post. On Saturday, my right knee wasn't just complaining, it was yelling at me. We're hopeful that the grade (camber) of the path was a factor, and in fact when I switched sides it did improve, but for a couple of miles I was in serious pain. Thankfully, it now feels absolutely fine, so I'll be heading out again this evening to see if I can put a few more miles on the clock.

Beloved Husband has drafted a plan in which I add 2 miles every other week from now until February. I hope my knees are listening.

Photo thanks: Billy Alexander

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hot-footing it in Hawaii

No rest for the wicked, even on vacation in Hawaii. Beloved Husband, aka chief coach, decreed that even while we enjoyed sun, sea, sand (oh yes, and rain) in Kauai, we would still be doing some running.

To be honest, that was just fine by me, although it was surprisingly hard work in such hot and humid conditions, even though we hit the road shortly after dawn to catch the coolest part of the day. We found we needed about 40 oz of water even for the 5 mile runs and were delighted to discover a drinking fountain at our halfway point. Anyone else thinking of running in Hawaii would be well advised to double your expected liquids.

Tuesday: 5 miles - Kiahuna Plantation to Spouting Horn and back.
Thursday: 8 miles - Kiahuna Plantation, east along Poipu road, west to Spouting Horn and back.
Saturday: 9 miles - Kiahuna Plantation, east along Poipu road, shameless sticky-beaking through the Grand Hyatt, west to Spouting Horn and back.
Monday: 5 miles - Kiahuna Plantation to Spouting Horn and back.

Add to this our 8 miles of hiking during the week including a lovely trail in Kokee State Park, and I feel like we covered a respectable distance. Hopefully, returning home to run in the cool Bay Area air will feel like a treat for the feet!

Photo thanks: Sheri Steffenhagen, Andre Schaer
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