Wednesday, April 27, 2016


With my parents at a really cool rooftop restaurant we ate at our last night there.
Yeah, that didn't happen. While I packed my stuff, I honestly didn't expect to run at all. And I didn't. And that was okay. I got a solid two weeks off after the race and I think my legs needed it. Plus, the city I was in is pretty small and finding a running route would have been awkward. I could have ran on the beach, but their beach is pretty angled and it would have just been a bad idea. My dad tried it in this very same city a while back and pretty much injured himself for an entire year. So no gracias.

The trip was a lot of fun though! We went to the small town of Sayulita near Puerto Vallarta. It has become pretty touristy, but it also is a real city with locals and whatnot. So it is a fun way to experience another culture (sort of - again, not totally authentic Mexico). We went off the beaten path as much as we could to explore the city and get away from the more touristy areas. We had a couple really cool walks to nearby beaches, one was a walk through the jungle to this beautiful beach we ended up having all to ourselves.

One day we hired a guy to take us on his boat to the Marieta Islands. There we were able to snorkel, visit this really cool beach you had to access through a cave, observe the local Blue Footed Booby, etc. It was a lot of fun even though I got a little seasick. The biggest victory of the trip might have been not really getting burnt. Pink in a couple areas, yes, but I certainly avoided coming back looking like a lobster. Unfortunately, the only thing that was running in Mexico was my stool... and let's just leave it at that. :)

My first run back was Monday night at PRC and I'm happy to report it went well. Four miles at 9:30/mile pace. A little harder than it should have been, but I was surprised my cardio was still pretty decent. Legs felt great too. I'll try again tonight at PRC, and then tomorrow is the first Discovery Run of the season.

Friday, April 15, 2016


Just wanted to let you know there won't be much activity on the blog for at least a week. I'm off to Mexico on vacation starting tomorrow and I don't really plan to run. A true vacation! Looking forward to it and not really concerned at all about the running.

After the race on Sunday I felt like I had indeed ran a race. My legs felt more like they had just ran a hard half marathon, but they didn't feel weird or broken. I probably could have ran again yesterday, some tendons around my knees still feel a little tight, but I decided I'm just going to take some time off. Maybe I'll go on a light jog in Mexico, I'll pack my stuff, but I'm not going to commit to anything. I'm just going to keep stretching and trying to increase my flexibility and hopefully that will continue to keep the old man leg syndrome at bay.

I don't have a picture from last time I went to Mexico... somehow... I think I had a digital camera (lol, remember those?) and all the pictures are on my old laptop. Anyways, I just went on Facebook and found the picture closest to the date I went to Mexico (Christmas 2009). Turns out it's a picture of me and Laurel! Woot woot! I don't know why I look scared, I'm going to say it was cold outside. She was picking up her coffee table that she lent me for a number of years. Meanwhile, I was freshly employed out of college at Those were the days.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Gotta love these smaller, less competitive races! Also, almost broke myself trying to get up on that box with trashed legs.
Sunday I helped pace Katie from Runs for Cookies as she attempted to PR her 10k. I was actually pretty nervous before the race, which was weird since I was just pacing, but I was pretty worried about actually being able to pace her. Based on my runs recently I thought I could do the pace but it would be a challenge. My legs didn't feel the greatest, but they didn't feel terrible either. I was just ready to get the race over with already, something that I'm sure Katie was also feeling.

We had to wake up pretty early to leave for the race. I believe I woke up at 5:45am and we left for the race around 6:15am. As you are probably aware, I am not a morning person, but it wasn't too bad. I got a coffee to help myself wake up and then we blasted some motivational music on the way. We got to the race with a good 40 minutes or so to spare, so we were able to use the restroom and then stay warm in the car while we waited for the start. The marathon and half marathon went off before the 10k, so after those races started we meandered toward the start line.

Race Start!
MILE ONE (7:52)
Off we go! We lined up towards the front since we didn't want to have to do any weaving. There wasn't too much warning the race was going to start, all of a sudden it was 10... 9... 8... kind of liked it that way though! My focus when we started was not to allow us to run too fast... with the adrenaline pumping you feel good and it is very easy to do. I looked at my watch like a hawk during that first half mile or so and made sure we kept in the low 7:50s.

The pace didn't feel too hard yet, which was encouraging, although my legs felt kind of creaky. Pretty soon we settled into the pace and Katie mentioned that she felt good. That was encouraging to hear. The pace was definitely a challenge for me too, but I could tell my race pace would be a touch faster. This run was going to suck, a very hard speed work session for me, but I felt confident I could finish it. That was a relief given some of the recent developments!

MILE TWO (7:54)
Mile two contained a short out and back. No biggie there. Not much highlighted this portion of the course other than just settling into the pace. The excitement of the start was over, the turnaround was behind us, and now it was just flat, open road. My breathing was pretty labored (this was a hard workout!) but I tried not to do my normal hippo in labor routine. This portion of the course also had some really pungent manure smells wafting over it. They almost wanted to make me gag mid-run. This smell would hit once or twice more on the course, a price for running out in the country I guess!

Sometime during mile four.
More flat running until the first and only hill of any substance in the race. It wasn't very big at all, maybe thirty feet or so, but it was fairly steep. I saw Katie charge up, maybe I should have mentioned to take it easier before we hit it. I continued trying to sustain my same effort, which copious amounts of hill running has trained me to do. This means Katie was a good twenty feet or so ahead of me at the top of the hill. I slowly caught up as she struggled to catch her breath. Luckily she was able to recover and we finished this mile out strong. Feeling pretty confident at this point.

MILE FOUR (8:01)
I knew at some point we'd probably have a rough mile. It seems like just about any race you are giving 100% to will have one of these rough periods. The key is to just keep going and tough it out, eventually your body will seem to accept it's fate and get back into the groove. About halfway into this mile the race switched from pavement to a gravel road and Katie wasn't prepared for that. I've run on enough gravel that I really don't give a shit, but she's not used to it and I remember when it was new and annoying to me too.

Anyways, at some point Katie said she didn't think she could do it and she was going to slow down. Nope! Not acceptable! I knew she had the proper fitness to finish, she just needed to push through this rough spot mentally and get to the other side. I allowed us to slow down to 8:15 or so in the hopes she would catch her breath. I didn't want her to start trailing behind me too much because mentally that's tough to see someone pulling away. So I just kind of allowed a brief moment to catch our breath and then just slowly sped us back up to race pace.

Almost back on pavement at this point.
MILE FIVE (8:06)
Katie was now officially not having fun. I just kept trying to encourage her. I knew if I talked too much that would be annoying, but I also wanted to reassure her that she could do it and that we were well over halfway done. I also tried to frame the distance remaining as something not so bad. Who knows, maybe hearing it was only "ten more minutes" helped. The promise of the return to pavement was also a motivator.

At one point Katie asked me to be honest... could she PR? I think she was looking for a reason to quit! I looked at my watch... we were averaging 7:57/mile, right on PR pace. I assured her, despite the slower couple of miles, we were still on pace. The first two miles were a little quicker, so we were right on target. If we could maintain PR pace and then sprint into the finish, she could definitely PR. We kept running. I think it was around this moment she decided she could PR and was going to finish strong.

MILE SIX (7:54)
As you can see by the mile time, we were back on schedule. We finally hit the relief of pavement and Katie was charging ahead and looked determined. Luckily, it really didn't take much more encouragement, after getting through the mini-crisis shortly after mile four, there wasn't much complaining from her end. A couple checks to see if we were still on pace to PR, but otherwise just hitting PR pace and getting through that final mile. My legs were starting to tire and I was ready to be done too! I focused on just keeping us on pace so she could get a PR... it would be close, but we could do it.

Katie finishing, me behind.
After hitting the mile six marker, Katie took off a little bit after I told her it was going to be close and to speed up if she had it in her. I told her I was going to stay back and run 7:55/mile just in case she tired and fell off pace. I would then be the "last chance." Luckily, she didn't really slow down. By the time she rounded the corner to the finish line it was clear she would do it, so I matched her sprint into the finish. She was a good thirty yards ahead maybe and I looked at my watch right when she crossed the finish line... 49:05ish according to my calculations, a PR by about 20 seconds. Sweet! I crossed six seconds later.

I was exhausted when I finished and gulped multiple cups of Gatorade. Katie was pretty out of it too, she didn't even look happy at first. I think it took a while for the PR to sink in. Once she recovered a little bit and realized she had indeed accomplished her goal she was pretty happy. I was happy for her and also happy that I was able to pace her without falling apart. It required a really hard effort on my part, harder than I would have liked. Should I race a 10k, I think my race pace would be around 7:35-7:40ish for a mid-47 minute finish. So this effort wasn't too far from a race pace for me!

After catching our breath we headed to the beer garden to celebrate her PR. We both ended up placing in our age groups, so we hung around for the awards ceremony before heading back. Mission accomplished!

Official Time: 49:09, 7:56/mi. 15/316 overall, 9/69 male, 1/7 M25-29.

Thursday, April 07, 2016


Since dedicated myself to stretching on Monday my legs have felt much better. Whether or not it is actually correlated, who knows, but I've had two good runs since then.

Monday's run was fairly productive. I concluded I needed to "cram" for the 10k, so I decided I would run five miles... one warm up mile, three at race pace, and then a cool down mile. I'm happy to report it was a really good run. My legs felt fine and I was able to hit the pace. The pace was definitely a challenge though, I can't believe that was my marathon pace within the last two years, but it is what it is. I definitely could have gone further, if I needed to, but I didn't want to press it.

After some tedious stretching after that run (and copious amounts before) my legs felt pretty good on Tuesday. Pretty much like they used to feel when I ran. Slightly used, but fine. I wasn't limping around. On Wednesday I did four miles at an easy 9:20ish pace and it was fine. Again, like it used to feel. I stretched a bunch after that run too, and I felt fine today. So that's positive. I think I can get to the race without issue. I'll keep doing this and see if I continue to improve.

So the race Saturday. I'm actually looking forward to it. It will be far from my 6:59/mi PR, but it will feel good to run a race hard and hopefully help my friend achieve her goal. I think if I ran a 10k at my hardest right now I'd clock in around 7:35-7:40ish a mile. So this race at 7:50-7:55ish isn't going to be much easier. It will be a good test though and take a pretty hard effort.

Monday, April 04, 2016


Did you know that the "hamstring" is actually made up
of multiple muscles?
Alright, I've had some time this last week to think about my gimpy old self. You know how when one part of your body is hurting often times a totally unrelated part is to blame? I think that is the case here. While my knees are the main source of discomfort recently, they are not the issue (according to my theory). What is causing my issue is a tight/injured right hamstring. That injury is causing me to subliminally change my gait and the way I'm running to protect it, thus putting undue stress on my knees and all the little tendons around them.

I think this theory has some merit. The area first started bothering me two and a half years ago when I seemed to have initially pulled it. It healed up for the most part and I was able to forget about it for a long time, but I think it never really came back 100%. I ran pretty decently for a long time without issues. However, anytime I would get really tired, the first place I'd feel anything was my right hamstring. It seemed to be the weakest link. Hey, anybody remember that really terrible game show The Weakest Link? You are the weakest link, goodbye! Ha.

My recent issues seem to have started up about a year ago, when I had that terrible run with Coach Jim. Now, I don't remember specifically if it was my right hamstring, I don't think it bothering me much, but maybe it played a part. I never took a break really after the Portland Marathon that previous fall and eventually I felt more and more run down. Maybe my legs were tired, especially my right hammy (but I couldn't tell specifically because everywhere felt worn) and thus when I ran I was overcompensating or whatever. Anyways, I have never seemed to fully come back from that point.

Hey right hammy! Listen to this uptight British lady.
I took some time off and got back to it. Last year I was able to keep running and racing but I could tell my legs just weren't the same. I babied them a little bit and was able to get through a a decent slate of races. Exactly zero were PRs (except the beer mile... totally counting the beer mile). Anyways, I was surviving and still posting decent times. However, again, during this whole time... if you asked me what's the one muscle I didn't quite trust... right hammy. It's the muscle that would poop out first on long runs and would threaten to pull during speed work. It never actually flared out bad though.

What seemed to do it in was the double marathon this fall. I got through Portland alright and almost at my previous speed (only six minutes off). So things were going pretty well. However, as you probably know, Detroit two weeks later what not so great. While I had a fun time overall, at mile fourteen my right hamstring revolted. I said it was my glute, but looking back it was probably my hamstring. Considering the hamstring runs from the butt to the knee, there is a lot of places that could hurt and be that hamstring. Regardless of what it is, it was that "problem area" that was a slight irritation for two years at that point. I made it through the race, but that muscle was pissed.

After Detroit I took two weeks off, and the run a couple weeks before the Hot Buttered Half Marathon. And again the right hamstring/glute/whatever flares up. I keep it at bay during the race by slowing down a bit, but it is an issue. I take a month off after the race. When I come back my hamstring is not necessarily bothering me but my hamstrings and knees tend to get really sore if I "overdo it" (and overdoing it is what used to be considered a normal week). Fast forward to two weeks ago, when I go skiing. It's fun, but leaves my right hamstring a bit sore. Nothing terrible. I try to run on it a week after skiing and the result is not good.

I wish my thighs/ass looked that good in spandex. :(
Here I am a week later and my legs feel rested but I know not all is well. The same shit is going to keep happening. So while I hope to pace Katie through the 10k this weekend, I'm going to have to mix something up. For now, we are going to go with the theory that the right hamstring weakness is the root of most all the problems I've been having. It was injured at one point and never quite got well again. So part plan is to specifically stretch the area to increase flexibility. It is so tight it is ridiculous and frankly embarrassing if anyone were to watch. So in addition to increasing flexibility, I am going to do exercises to target it and build some strength. Move it in many more ways than running does. If there is scar tissue or something, really do a bunch of shit to try and break that up. And then finally, maybe I will ice it after runs, at least after long runs and speedwork.

So that's the plan. Will it work? Who knows! But even right now I can feel my right hammy burning a little bit. Probably because I've been stretching it like a mother fucker the last couple of days. I am going to try running tonight and afterward I will stretch and ice it. I'll start doing some research on some workouts I can do to help build it back up. After the race this weekend I'll concentrate on getting it back up and running again and hopefully this will solve a lot of the issues I've been having.

Friday, April 01, 2016


Quiet week on the running front. Last Saturday's long run wasn't hard, but my legs were a little sore afterward. Even though they felt a little weird Monday I went ahead and ran and the results were not good. Same extra sore/swollen knee feeling. I used to be able to run with sore muscles before, you'd just kind of "shake it off" during the run. However, recently...I can't get away with it. I did a test to see if I could, and I can't.

So nothing really has changed. I do feel like if I stretched, rolled my muscles out, and iced my legs after most runs I would be 100% fine. It's all muscular... I just don't have the motivation to do the hard work to fix it. Maybe getting more flexible in general would help. I just don't love running enough to make any drastic changes. Considering an ENTIRE month off didn't fix it... I don't know quite what to try. If I have to do a whole routine every time I run then I don't want to run.

Anyways, I haven't ran since Monday. At this point I want to be able to run the 10k next weekend with Katie, so I'm not going to do anything crazy. I'm going to be very conservative so I know I'll be able to run the race with her. My legs are getting better but they still feel a bit off today. I was going to run with Coach Jim tomorrow, but now I'm not sure that's the best idea. We'll see.