April/ spring look-back

The past couple days, we have been experiencing crazy weather here in Raleigh (like, flash-flood warning Mon-Thursday, and tornado warnings and watches, with eery skies).

That means two things-

1. It’s not a time to test out longer distances outside
2. Everyone and their mom were in the gym this week (as in 5 of 6 treadmills, 3 of 4 ellipticals, and all 3 bike machines ocupado).

I went to the gym yesterday for a killer circuit workout (killed my legs a month ago, but was okay this week): 3x 0.2mile sprint, 20 calf raises (8 lb weight), 20 overhead presses (8 lb weight), 20 jump squats (8 lb weight… yes this was the hardest part), 20 back-kick leg extensions on each leg (no weight necessary), in case you were wondering…

And I am at ~59 miles for the month, and a few thoughts immediately followed–

I cannot believe I am only logging 16-20 miles per week, mixed with Holy crap! I am so glad I am finally logging 16-20 miles per week!
How many miles did I log each month? Was April more or less? So, here is my look-back on the beginning of 2014.

In January

I averaged about 8-10 miles per week, with lots of effort. Anywhere from a 9:30 to 12:30 pace. The 9:30 pace runs, were usually 2-3 miles, while the 11:30-12:30 pace were long runs which required me to walk (as I would feel pain). My longest run in January was a 7.85 miler with Sheryl, in which we got insanely lost due to a detour, and my horrible directional skills.
Total= 42.25 miles, 4 strength-training, and 1 yoga sesh

In February

I started to feel strong again, and began pushing my limits. In Feb, I ran my first 10 miler since Palmetto (April 2013). And I followed it up with another longest run since January 2013- 14.5 miles with Sheryl. Average pace was around 10:30 (11:00 on long runs, and 10-10:30 on shorter runs). I ran about 10-18 miles per week. All in all, February was brutally cold, I was crazy busy with work, but pushing for those extra miles made me feel strong again.
Total= 60 miles, 1 strength training (but various sprint workouts), 1 yoga sesh

In March

This has been my peak month for sure… I started getting my speed back, and felt great! The weather started to cooperate, and pushed me to be outside, or at least active. Oh, and Daylight Savings… I love the later sunny nights!
Total= 81 miles, 3 strength training

In April

It’s officially been a year- since I was “healthy” and strong. A year since my ab pain started interfering with seemingly everything. And I am finally getting back to where I was 2-3 years ago. It’s taken less time than I thought, but I’m getting there… April marked my return to half marathons, and racing, in general. It also marked my return to “speed” (as speedy as I can currently be).
Total= 58.9 miles, 2 strength training, 1 yoga sesh

Let me put something real quick into perspective… Here are my numbers for May- Dec 2013:

May, 2013: 1.5 miles ran, 4 miles walked (mostly laid up in bed for days after a run or walk)

June, 2013: 12 miles ran/walked (with lots of pain and ignored re-injury)

July, 2013: 13.5 miles ran, 4 miles walked (again, with pain)

August, 2013: 8 miles ran (finally got serious about rehabbing my ab)

September, 2013: 10 miles ran

October, 2013: 17 miles ran

November, 2013: 14 miles ran

December, 2013: 32 miles ran (this is when I consider myself starting to “come back” as I convinced myself it was okay to run very slowly, 11:00-12:00 minute pace to get my mileage up, with occasional walk breaks).

This is all not a pity party, but the opposite. I am so excited to finally get my life back. I get so mad sometimes that I cannot maintain a 8:30 for 8 miles like I used to, but I forget about how far I have come. And how much I have struggled (physically and emotionally) to push through the pain and get to where I am today.

I reset my garmin in December, because I was tired of not reaching “new records” even though I was getting faster. I pushed myself in November and December to reach a 30-minute 5K speed, with all-my-freaking-might. Last week, with Dan, I managed to go sub-29-minutes. And, actually it didn’t feel that hard. It was actually during a 4-mile run. I “ran” my first return 10K speed through run/walking in 1:10 in November, and ran my fastest 10K during the Rock n Roll half in 1:00:40… That’s something to be proud of.

We beat ourselves up, and expect change so quickly, that we sometimes forget all the change that has already taken place. I am doing phenomenal, and I think I sometimes forget that.

I also feel the need to thank everyone who stood with me. I had several identity ‘failures’ we’ll say, where I wasn’t sure who I was without some form of exercise, and had pent up energy I just couldn’t release as I wanted. Dan really stood by me, trusting that I would eventually become the happy and active girl he fell for.

my review of run/walking

Here’s a hint: it sucks

I took Friday afternoon off. It was beautiful weather- 75 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze, so I took a ‘hike’ with running intervals. I want to keep up my endurance while I’m injured. I ended up using my iPhone, setting ‘slow’ intervals of 12-minutes, ‘fast’ intervals of 4-minutes.

Once I started, I decided 12-minutes slow was too long, so generally walked 10, ran 6. Which I was proud of šŸ™‚

My goal was to keep around a 12:30 pace. I chose Umstead for my hike, but didn’t think about all the hills.

My first ‘run’ intervals started a little way before a massive 400ft elevation gain over 0.5 miles. I dread that hill. It’s always brutal. But I managed to keep a 10:08 pace. And dropped to a walk at the top.

It was a great warm-up, and being able to run up that hill was a confidence booster. I hit that same hill (downward) at the end of a run interval. So I coasted, running the hill and finished the mile in a 9:11 (Woo! Likely with some walking)

Even walking was nice. It was pretty out there. And the biggest struggle I’ve had with my injury is learning to breathe normally again. I used my hand over my abdomen to ‘coach’ my body some. The last mile of this route is uphill as well, about a 200-300ft gain. I walked as fast I could, and finally had to run, and struggled to keep a 11:00 pace while running. But my body was tired. When I dropped to a walk, it was a 15:00 pace.

I totaled 6.12 or 10K in 1:15. Not too bad. I was really tired after. No, that’s fucking awesome! It’s the most I’ve ran/moved in more than 2 months! And my legs and lungs still work well!

On another note, my hair is getting light highlights from all my time outdoors, and my shoulders are getting nice and tan.

I’m tired today. I’ve also decided to call my hurt abdomen ‘Bob’. Bob woke me up around 530 this morning, very angry. But I took a muscle relaxer and wanting Bob to Pipe the FUCK down! (Jenna Marbles shout out)

Today is a drag queen derby race in Raleigh, with an Alice in Wonderland theme. I am excited for it. And hoping I can drown Bob before he butts in with his rudeness to ruin the day.

Happy weekend everyone (and Good morning)

getting it back! (plus a tribute to dad)

This weekend was awesome! Friday ended up being a spontaneous date night. Saturday was fun with friends, and we managed to fit in a lot of stuff in the day. And Sunday was a great, family-fun-filled-with-the-Quigleys Fathers Day.

I was coordinating everything. My sister-in-law and I planned to do a grilling party for my dad.I started it off with an early trip to the Farmer’s Market (9:30 is apparently the time to go– it’s not hot yet, and no one is really there). They were just setting up, but I managed to get a squash and zucchini from a lady who apparently had a long Saturday night out; and saw eggplant that caught my eye. I talked to the farmer a bit, and decided on a Ghostbuster eggplant (it’s white, and apparently sweeter. We decided it tasted like a cross between a portabello mushroom and squash). The same farmer also had nice looking tomatoes and onions (fixins’ for the burgers). I walked out the door, spending $6. Then, I headed to target for last minute items, and decided I needed another onion, lettuce, and peppers. $6 at Target.

no filter used

I felt so great, I decided to go for a real run. First one since my injury in April. As in, outside! I was scared, to say the least, but didn’t tell anyone; as I might have to turn back after 0.5mi, and I didn’t want to injure my pride as well.

I went as slow as I humanly could, to allow my stomach to ease into it. I figured a mile out-and-back would be perfect. And ran 1.0mi in 10:30something; turned around, ran another minute or so, then had to drop to a walk, as I could feel my abdomen tightening up (precursor to injury/pain). I walked a couple minutes, then ran a few minutes. My legs were fine, my lungs were fine. I just never realized how hard it is to breathe when your abdomen is injured. I got my breathing back to easy again in my abdomen, and ran for about 5 minutes, before dropping to a walk, with a final a sprint, then walked a bit more. My second mile was 12:00 or so. Which I will take. Hey, it’s the most I’ve ran in two months, If I increase a mile or so each run, I’ll be back to normal by August/September.

So, shower, and back to putting together all the plans for Dad (btw, he’s the best dad if you haven’t gotten that. He is so much a part of me I think I know what he is thinking or feeling). So, we put together a beer/ice bucket of items for Father’s Day. I figured this was the best way for everyone to contribute as much or as little as they wanted. Here’s my first day of finds… (I didn’t get a final picture, but my brother and I had to wrap the apron and tie it up to keep everything from falling out)

The first day of finds... (I didn't get a final picture, but my brother and I had to wrap the apron and tie it up to keep everything from falling out)

We added and added– marinades, rubs, even a pepper and onion, a skewer holder (see picture below), LED thermometer (a “pager” goes off when your meat is at the desired temperature), cedar planks, pork chops, chicken and beef for kebobs, PLUS we brought the food and prepared all the food for the day. And, Dan wanted to contribute, so we grabbed a 6-pack of Mother’s Weeping Willow Wit (which was a crowd pleaser) and his Bocce ball set.

Dan and I got there about 4pm, and my dad proudly showed off their new patio area, including a fire pit (they recently landscaped/renovated their back yard. It was a three-month project of chaos and mayhem. It prompted my Let’s plan something outside, as it was completed about 2 weeks ago). My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew showed up a little later, around 5pm. Mason had a little crying fit when he first got there, but once we took off his onesie, he was much more happy and comfortable.Ā Aren’t we all happy when we’re naked? Everyone joked, telling Dan he needed to keep his shirt on… Not sure where that joke started, but it hasn’t ended yet šŸ™‚

We presented our gift, and quickly lit up the grill, and Dan and I got things kicked off. My dad didn’t want to do a thing for the day (despite the awesome BBQ apron which declared he was “Just Chillin & BBQ Grillin”).

zucchini and squash (marinated in a basil vinegarette), onion, and peppers.

zucchini and squash (marinated in a basil vinegarette), onion, and peppers.

Dan and I put the veggies on skewers inside with my brother. We didn’t realize how sharp the skewers were, and decided this was not kid friendly. Notice the black “box” the skewers are on? It holds the skewers so they don’t get stuck to the grill, and burnt on one side/ raw on the other. You just slowly turn them, above the flame (we set the grill on low and it took about 20 minutes). Best under $10 gift I’ve gotten!

we're so cute ;)

we’re so cute šŸ˜‰ Grilled ghostbusters for appetizer!

Dan has been deemed “Grill King”, and will have to grill every time he is over now šŸ™‚ Burgers were Perfect! And this is coming from a girl who doesn’t eat burgers.

fathersdayspread

The Quigley spread, complete with a half naked Quigley because that’s just how we roll…

I guess we were all starving. We started eating the burgers before even getting to our chairs… Again, it’s just the way my family is. After dinner, we played with Mason. He’s only 4 months old, but is basically the size of a 9-month-old (no exaggeration; he’s 29″ in length, and almost 19 lbs). He wants so badly to run. Every time you hold him, he kicks his legs, like hey! let me loose! We finally managed to get a (grainy) picture of me and the little guy.

love this little guy

love this little guy

finally functioning!

It has been a long time. And as much as a lot has happened. Most of this was me like this–

sleep

And heavily medicated on muscle relaxers. I essentially pulled (possible tore?) my abdominal muscle, which put me out for like 3 weeks, where I basically was lying down as often as possible. And working a 8-hour day was difficult. For 2-3 weeks, I was either in pain or medicated and in a daze.

I didn’t see friends. I don’t remember much of the first couple of weeks of my injury. It’s kind of all a blur.

My doctor cleared me to run, and I wasn’t sure about it, but I wanted to run. So I ran. The first time was successful. I took more muscle relaxers (in case my body spasmed again) for the next couple days and tried again. Try #2 was painful. In fact, I think I re-injured myself and had to start from scratch.

So, I just stopped moving all together. I told myself I’d wait until I had no pain for a week or two before trying again.

And this month has been busy. When I haven’t been working, I’ve been sleeping. Pretty much.

Saturday, I went father’s day shopping. And was just feeling great. My apartment complex got new gym equipment (3 new ellipticals, that looked nice and a new treadmill that I tested out and I like). So, I decided to go elliptical style at the gym; 20 minutes. If I felt good, I’d jump on the treadmill. So I did 20 minutes on the elliptical with 50% workload, then feeling great, hopped on the treadmill.

I did 0.5 miles in about 4:00 (starting at a 8:30 pace, and knocking down to a 7:00 pace), all feeling like I could do for another 3-4 miles. But, I didn’t. I know I will be coming back slow. No worries šŸ™‚

And I may try it again tonight (or maybe tomorrow, since I work til 8 tonight).

But, still alive. Kicking. Literally, and metaphorically; and making my comeback (though a marathon may be out of reach in 5 months…)

rest period. (or rest, period)

There are so many great reasons to keep a running log. Injuries are easy to track with a log. Miles on shoes are also easy to track. You are also able to reward yourself, by comparing month-month analyses of mileage/speed, etc.

I have kept a running log since 2008.

Yes that is a little obsessive. Yes, I am aware of the CRAZY factor. However, when I was injured in 2011, it was a lifesaver- I could say exactly when the problem occurred and what I had been doing the weeks before that lead up to it (a hilly 16-miler, two 10-milers back to back, hill repeats (4-5 miles), and trail running). I actually had kept a running log from 2007-2009, but when I switched computers, I forgot to transfer the file before my ex, who took my old computer, wiped it clean. I am not a hoarder of real things, but I am a digital hoarder. At work, I keep old versions of things and put them in a folder marked “old ____” because I am afraid I might decide I need the older version. Crazy? Yes, I know. But I digress…

My excel file tracks:

Daily Tab- date, miles ran, total time, average split time
Weekly Tab- week dates, miles per week, average split times of runs
Monthly Tab- last date ran, total number of runs, total miles per month, and any goals. This tab also includes a chart of month-to-month progress (miles per month)
The weekly tab has room for “notes” about each run. Generally this is blank, but if I was dehydrated (and could feel it), if I experienced any pain, went particularly fast, had a race, etc, I note it.

In looking back over my log, I noticed my abdominal “cramp” started in early March. Approximately a week after being sick (and still running, while sick. Remember this? Well, the verdict is in: it’sĀ  stupid).

So it took 6 weeks of a progressively more and more painful feeling to decide there was something wrong with me. I’d like to add the pain would only happen occasionally at first; then it was every run between mile 2-3 and would go away during the run; then it was every 1-2 miles during every run.

Last Tuesday was the worst pain yet. I was running with Dave and Sarah, and I was trying to fight through the pain to finish our simple 4 miles. We were probably 2.5-3 miles into the run, so I kept thinking I can make it to 4 miles. Sarah finally told me to stop running, as she could see the pain on my face. I stopped, defeated, and keeled over, grabbing my stomach in pain. We walked a bit, then I convinced myself the pain had subsided and I picked up to an easy jog. The pain was still there, but I wanted to get back to our end quicker.

This time, when I stopped running, the pain didn’t go away. It was a dull pain, but still a 5-6 on the pain scale (1-10). I went back home, showered, and it still hurt. I could barely get through two slices of pizza. I hardly slept because every position was slightly painful. I rolled onto my stomach at one point and it hurt a lot. I thought it felt swollen, but also thought that might have been just my hypochondria kicking in… šŸ™‚ I made an appointment for the first available time- Saturday morning. It still hurt Saturday morning, though the pain was getting more and more dull.

And the diagnosis was pretty simple- that pain is an abdominal spasm, most likely due to a pulled/strained tranverse abdominus muscle (it’s a muscle below your “6-pack” abs that kind of cushions your organs) or part of my diaphragm, such that heavy breathing causes the muscle to spasm (as I would experience when running). It is more common for people get these in their back than their abdomen.

The doctor sent me on my way, with a prescription for muscle relaxants and 800mg ibuprofen. Exciting right? I scheduled to follow up with her this Friday, and she will do an ultrasound, xray, and general follow-up to ensure there is no hernia or anything internally wrong with my stomach/diaphragm/ribs that could be restricting my airways.

I decided for myself that I am not doing any physical activity for 2 weeks after the pain is gone. The doctor agreed that is a good idea. So, for the first time in 5 years, I am going to take 2+ weeks off. It might put me behind in my training for Richmond, but I am waiting til July to see how off I am from where I’d like to be.

My body wants rest. It needs rest. So, I am taking a rest, period.