Friday, April 15, 2011

Run club!

The first rule of run club is, don't talk about run club.

Ok, not really, but wouldn't that be kind of cool?  Some kind of secret hard core running club, where you come home with the soles peeling off your running shoes, your Garmin smoking, and an odd aura of accomplishment emanating from you?  Yeah, that would be cool.

My running club is cool, too.  I've been running a couple of times with a group organized by the lululemon showroom here in Pittsburgh, and the best part has been getting to run with people.  I do almost all of my runs alone, and it gets a little lonely.  I mean, I see the same cast of characters where I usually do my runs, and it's nice to get a friendly wave from Glowing Zipper Guy and his pal Scary Home-Made Face Mask Guy, Friendly Mullet Guy, Camo Guy, and the Friendly Old Italian Guys, but it's *really* nice to be able to have a conversation with someone over the course of a few miles.  I found that it keeps my pace in check, too, which is something I definitely need.  We finished our five mile loop and I got the impression that the other runners were a bit disappointed with our 10:42 pace, but I personally felt like it was fabulous.  That's what a nice easy run should be.  If I could find someone to do my long runs with, who I could chat with, maybe I could reel in the pace a bit, which would only be good.

On the subject of my long run pace, I've known for a while that my long run pace is a bit faster than it should be, but I've been unable to slow it down.  It sounds stupid, but I get into a good pace, I feel good, and it feels unnatural to pull it back.  In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that I got injured during my 20 miler because I was trying so hard to keep the pace slower that my gait got all messed up and I ended up stressing myself in a way I hadn't before.  But, anyway, I sought the advice of the experts on Runners World Online in the Marathon Race Training forum, and at least one person suggested that perhaps it's not that big of a deal that my long runs end up very close to or a bit faster than marathon pace.  He (or she, I can't remember now) said that as a newer runner, it makes a bit of sense that my runs would be in that pace range, since there isn't going to be a huge difference right now between my marathon pace and my regular easy pace, since I'm still not really "racing" a marathon as much as just surviving it.  That made a lot of sense to me and it comforts me a bit to think that being a bit faster than I should be doesn't necessarily mean I'm going to crash and burn during this marathon, which is exactly one month from today.  I'm going to do my last long run, 20 miles, on Sunday, and then I'm going to take a long taper and hopefully kill this thing on May 15.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Marathon countdown and injury conquered (hopefully)

Yeah, I've been a bad blogger, once again.  Big surprise there.  I get on the wagon, I fall off.  Lather.  Rinse.  Repeat.  The good news is that I've been plugging away with the training program, dutifully putting in my time and doing well.  The bad news is that I tweaked my knee during my 20 miler 3 weeks ago and have had to take it a bit easier than I had been.

The bad part of being injured is obviously that you're injured.  There's anxiety, there's uncertainty, and if you're me, there's full on panic and a lot of melodramatic "Why, god, why?" and some tears.  I had to miss the Just a Short Run half marathon that I was planning, which should have been an easy PR for me.  I sat in the kitchen crying on the morning of the race and my 5 year old, in a fit of sympathy that's utterly uncharacteristic of him, put his arms around me, gave me a kiss, and said, "Mommy, you look crestfallen."  Crestfallen, indeed (and, props to public school, that's good vocab for a kindergartener!).

The upside of an injury is that I get to visit my sports medicine doctor, who I shall henceforth refer to as Dr. Hottie.  Dr. Hottie is not only a fab sports medicine doc, but, as the pseudonym implies, he's hot.  HOT.  Not as hot as my husband, obviously, but still, if you're going to wait for over an hour after your appointment time to spend a few minutes in a cold office in your shorts, it might as be with someone attractive.  Dr. Hottie manhandled my knee, made me bend and stretch and flex and all that, and then assured me it was probably just overuse and made a followup for me in two weeks.  So I rested, I varied my route (I had been running in the same direction on a canted road, which is all kinds of dumb.  Bad runner!  Bad!), dutifully did the PT exercises he'd given me, and things looked very good at my follow up.  Apparently my IT band is *extremely* tight, according to Dr. Hottie (interestingly, it was NOT my IT band that hurt, but good to know), but if I'm smart about things, it should all be fine.

And in the spirit of that, my training is now back on track.  I came back with a 12 miler, then a 16 miler last week, and this week I'm supposed to do 20, and we'll see how that goes.  Worse comes to worse, I can always switch to the half marathon at the expo, but I'm confidant that things will go well, and I'll at least be able to finish.