I am hoping this will be the first of many posts after my almost year-long disappearance from the “blogging grid”. I’m still not even sure if anyone out there even reads any of this but my fingers are crossed that maybe one day someone will stumble upon my blog. I have so much to write about and a month left of summer vacation to blog my little heart out.
My first (and quite easily my last) half marathon was in Annapolis, MD and sponsored by Zooma Women Race Series. Before running the race, the farthest I’ve ever run was maybe ten miles or so. And for all of you that don’t know, a half marathon measures out to be 13.1 miles. As you also know (if you have indulged yourself in my prior posts), I have a lot of physical ailments. Note to all: playing a competitive sport in college will deteriorate your body. After three years I have PFPS (patella femoral pain syndrome aka runner’s knee) in both of my knees, CECS (chronic exertional compartment syndrome) in four compartments in my shins AND because of these first two ailments, I have weak and inflexible hips. Lastly, and unrelated to the previous three issues, I also have plantar fasciitis.
Given all of this background information, it is very safe o say that completing this half marathon was far from a walk in the park (literally about twelve miles farther). Luckily I ran the race with my sister who is about a year and a half younger than me. We kept each other company and tried to keep our morale high. Here’s a quick play-by-play on how the race went: The first two miles were the best; everyone was happy, energetic and my body and spirits were in a good place. After the second mile, the 5k runners turned away from the rest of the racers to head back and complete their race. Fast forward to around the 4.5 mile mark (I wore my Garmin Forerunner 15 to track my heart rate, our distance and pace and I watched that damn watch every tenth of a mile – counting down until the finish line), around now I’m jealously watching every 10k runner happily turning around, knowing that their pain is almost over. Lucky for us we aren’t even halfway through our misery. At around mile seven let’s just say we both needed one of three very necessary porta-pot pit stops. Miles six through twelve are all a blur but once we hit the twelfth mile marker (as measured by the official race markers – angrily, my GPS watch read 12.2 miles), we ran (very slow jog) by a police officer, thanked him for stopping traffic and allowing us to pass, and proceded to ask how the last mile looked. To our great disappointment he explained “Way to go! You girls just have to turn the corner, go straight and finish up the final uphill.” In case you didn’t digest that last part, let me repeat to you, HE SAID THERE WAS ANOTHER UPHILL??!? If I hadn’t died yet this far into the race, this was the sole comment that drained any and all morale I had left in me. Long story short though, we finished our half marathon!! Proudest and one of the more painful moments in my life thus far.
Rewind again back to before I grew bitter about the 10k runners. Now I’ll describe to you how my body broke down within the first half of my race. My arches began aching at first; this was a manageable pain and I could easily ignore it as we trekked through the streets of Historic Annapolis. Next up was my knees. Every step was more and more painful. Walking helped but when this pain was brought on at around the seventh mile, I couldn’t make my sister walk with me for the last six miles, so I continued to keep running. Just within the seventh mile, I started to heel strike my strides to reduce the impact on my knees. If you don’t know anything about running form, then I’ll be happy to inform you that heel-striking causes an extremely quick onset of my CECS symptoms. By now you’re probably all rereading the beginning of my post to see what else could possibly go wrong, pain-wise, with my body. Feet, check. Knees, check. Shins, check. So finally, my hips. Simply put, once my shins flare up (literally the small muscles in my shins get extremely swollen), my hips take a beating too.
Pro-tips for any half marathon virgins out there reading this: train before the race, foam roll your legs the night after your race and hydrate during the race. Training is essential to best prepare your body for exerting itself for three hours (give or take) straight. Foam rolling will reduce fatigue in your muscles and will help with recovery. Lastly I’m glad I drank two cups of water and one cup of Gatorade at every rest station. On my race day, it was very hot and I needed to consume liquids to replenish all lost fluids through sweating (and crying; just kidding, no tears were actually shed.) Advil was also essential during the hours after my race, which helped me physically move up from the couch to my bed. You might think I’m kidding but I’m 100% not; ask my sister.
All in all, I’m very proud of myself for completing the race (even if my GPS watch measured it to be 13.6 miles and not 13.1 miles) and maybe for the future I’ll possibly consider another half but definitely 5k and 10k length races.
I’m assuming no matter where you are (in the Northern Hemisphere) the temperatures rose significantly within the past week. Down in Virginia (in particular, where I am) the humidity percentages are crazy high and no matter what I do, even if I just take out the trash, I’m guaranteed to break a sweat. Because of this, I try to run, on the very few days that I actually do run, either early in the morning or later in the evening. SInce tomorrow is Monday, I have an exam in my Intro to the Human Body/Human Biology class and I spend all morning and early afternoon reviewing the material, watching online lecture videos and rereading the chapters in the book. By the time I felt comfortable enough to stop reviewing, it was (a) storming outside and (b) the temperatures were then at their daily peaks. When the dining hall opened at five, I walked over, filled up on vegetables, fruit (bananas in particular), and protein before heading over to the vacant field hockey turf. (NOTE: no carbs nor dairy – I’m whole30-ing it for the time being and it will be the topic for Monday’s post!)
I haven’t been too fond of my few, recent experiences with running; I can only physically run for so long before the swelling spreads and forces me to cut my workout short. *Please hold this against me: by the end of this week I WILL have a game plan on how to best manage my CECS and be (my version of 100%) by preseason in the beginning of August.* As any athlete of fit person can relate, when you are injured, or coming back from a break or illness, I find that it is extremely difficult to not compare where I am now to where I was at my peak or at my old “normal”. And once the swelling in my compartments builds, first causing pain, then causing me to limp a little, and finally after limp/running for long enough, causing my to stop running altogether and sit down, I begin to mentally breakdown. WHICH IS CURRENTLY WHAT I’M WORKING ON FIXING 🙂 I need to remind myself that everything will work out in the end and that my legs will get better – at least that I will be able to run for longer or at a faster pace. POSITIVITY IS KEY!
Keeping that little background paragraph in mind, I was dreadfully walking down to the field not looking forward to running at all, mostly in fear that I wouldn’t be able to run as far or as fast as my previous workouts. God slash the Universe slash a great force must have heard my negative thoughts and wanted to help me cheer up.
Another bit of background information essential for describing the current situation: To enter the field while it’s locked, and it usually is, I have to walk around the outside of a fence, to get to a shed, unlock the shed to get the key, and then use the key to unlock the gate/fence that I previously just walked the perimeter of.
Back to the thrilling story: So here I am, turning the corner of the fence after walking along the outside edge of it to get to the sheds. I’m mostly looking down at my feet and where I’m walking to avoid rolling my ankle and even further injuring myself. I see a fairly large dark mass in the middle of the sidewalk. Let me tell you, it scared me so much! It’s like when you walk into a room and just mind your own business and then suddenly you realize someone else was in the room with you all along! I realized it was a turtle, took a deep breath of relief and looked up to see a deer staring right at me. Keep in mind, for a college kid living in a town which helps construct the “Historic Triangle” (Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown) I don’t interact with too many animals, especially all at once, and even more so, not ever on campus. Of course I took some pictures, and also later found two more decently large turtles, along with a few small, black frogs.
Thank you to the greater force for looking out for me and lightening my mood before my workout. And for those of you who are particularly interested in my run, I ran a warm up, stretched, and then completed two one-mile repeats before stopping, while doing core circuits in the break time. I happily used my new and improved Garmin Forerunner (HUGE thanks to Garmin once again) – read more about my “new” watch here! And ran the first mile in 7:15 with the swelling beginning around the 5:30 mark. For mile repeats, I run a mile and rest in the same amount of time I ran before running another mile, resting for the second mile’s time and so on. During my 7 minute “rest” I completed an intense core circuit (because why not?) and began my second mile. The second mile was much more painful, however I surprisingly managed to finish it in 8:18, which is MUCH faster than I felt like I was shuffling along. While finishing up the tail end of my second mile I decided against pushing through a third mile to avoid building up an unnecessary amount of swelling if I had just stopped running.
Stay tuned for updates later this week on my summer running game plan, my Whole30 experiences, and more adventures, workouts and healthy eating!
<<<< How I felt after completing my run this evening! As a wonderful Pinterest quote I recently found says, “things don’t get easier, you just get stronger.” This is always something great to keep in mind! #strongandsmiling #positivity #happiness
P.S. if you click on any pictures in my blog, they will get bigger – and you can also pin them on pinterest, share them with your friends or just admire them as larger images!
Back in 2011, my mom got me the Garmin Forerunner 10 Watch (in green – my favorite color!) and I’ve worn it consistently since then until about a week ago. If you follow my account on Instagram, or pay attention to the Instagram pictures that are posted on the homepage of my blog, you’ll already know that my watch strap sadly broke apart. See here for the picture I posted previously on Instagram.
Because I loved my Forerunner, and didn’t feel the need to upgrade to the newer Forerunner 15, I sent Garmin a courteous email stating that I’ve always been a big fan of Garmin products and I have loved and used my watch for over four years. The customer service people reached out to me within minutes and asked for a few details about the watch and the best way to contact me. Once the weekend ended, I received another email on Monday morning tell me thank you for my patience, and that they would send me a new wristband replacement kit, COMPLETELY FREE. It definitely made my day.
Tonight I played field hockey with my friends on our field and returned home around 8:30 to a package at the door. Currently I am living here with only two other subletters for the summer and was trying to mentally guess which one of the two girls I most expected to receive a package. I was honestly so surprised to see it was from me, and after opening it up inside the house, I was ecstatic to learn that I can repair my watch (which took maybe two minutes tops) and be able to wear it again starting tomorrow for my daily workouts.
Here is the repair package which came in the mail earlier today:
My good, old, trusty watch now has newer and stronger bands keeping it together and hopefully I can get a couple more years out of it before having to buy a new watch all together.
Overall, I am very pleased and impressed with the outstanding service that Garmin has provided me regarding my broken watch band. It is very rare for such a large company to respond to emails within the same day and have the entire problem cleared up within a week. Because of this, I hope if you are ever looking for a dependable running or fitness watch to purchase, I hope your consider Garmin and all of their products.
Be on the look out later this weekend and next week on posts about healthy eating, weight-lifting, field hockey, and my experiences and journey with living with and managing my chronic exertional compartment syndrome.
Sorry this blog is super short, but look out for even more blog posts and Instagram picture posts this weekend and later this week!