Injured

As a runner, being sidelined by injury isn’t fun, but if you run long enough, it will happen at some point. Some people are more prone to injury than others, but I’ve been pretty lucky. I’ve experienced IT Band issues, plantar fasciitis and a few aches and pains along the way, but nothing too serious.

At the end of my last race, I was experiencing a tight hamstring which quickly turned into a tight calf and excruciating pain in my Achilles tendon. At first I tried to run through the pain (we’ve all been there). As it got worse, I could no longer run. I took two weeks off before resorting to a chiropractor. The chiro gave me stretches and tried the Graston Technique to loosen my calf muscles.

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With no results, (other than finding out I bruise like a peach) I finally visited with my primary care physician. That’s when I got the news: micro tears in my Achilles tendon and no running for three weeks. That doesn’t seem so bad, and it could certainly be worse, but I immediately asked about what I COULD do during this time.  I planned on marathon training right now. What could I do to burn calories and clear my mind?

The doctor told me I could bike and swim in the meantime. I don’t have access to a pool, so I was down to biking. I assumed I could continue the Bikini Body Guide workouts I got from a friend and I have been doing for some time now as well.

On Saturday, I went on a 20-mile bike ride on an old rail trail. It’s just what I needed. It give me my alone time, gave me a place to listen to nature and the sounds of my own heavy breathing, all while sweating like crazy.

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It’s now been 8 weeks since my last long-ish run and it’s been 6 days without running. Last night I did a combo of the bike, rowing machine, and StairMaster. One of those things has my leg hurting today. I’m looking forward a walk with a friend tonight at my running club meet-up but I’m going to miss the run.

So, for those of you who have experienced injury, what did you do while you were sidelined to keep your endurance up? Please help!

Race Recap: Running with the Cows 2016

Running with the Cows is different than most half marathons/races. It takes place in the small community of Bucyrys, Kansas (pop 2,000) just 30 miles outside of Kansas City. It starts and finishes at Queen of the Holy Rosary and is a major fundraiser for their Catholic School. The race directors invite priests and seminarians of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas to run the race for free and seminarians can use the race to help them pay their non-educational expenses.

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The course is known for it’s rolling hills and out-and-back style. There were a good amount of water stops along the way that seemed to be well supported.

The weather has always been pretty good (at least the past 3 years that I’ve ran it) and this year was no different. In fact, of the three halves I did this spring, this weather was by far the best and you couldn’t ask for better running weather. It was sunny and cool (40’s maybe?). I ended up keeping my pull-over on for the whole race. There was a small portion before the turn around that was up hill and against the wind but I was just looking forward to the turn around!

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My friend Tiffany and I stayed together for the first half. It was just before the turn around that she began to pull away. I tried to keep up, but I just couldn’t.

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My times lately have been the worst so, my goal was to finish better than the other two in the series. Therefore, I was shooting for anything under 2:05 (Rock the Parkway).

At mile 10 my legs felt like I had bricks as feet and my stomach began to get upset. I was still ahead of the 2:00 pace group, so I pushed forward. By this time, Tiffany was out of sight. It was so awesome to see my parents again at this point. I was able to see them in a few different places along the route. They motivate me and make me smile with their cowbells and hilarious signs.

At mile 11 I heard a group coming up behind me chatting. My heart sunk a little. Without looking, I knew it had to be the 2 hour pace group. For a few strides they began to pass me but I just couldn’t let it happen. For the rest of the race I was focused on staying ahead of the group.

The last straight away of the course lasts FOR-EVER and EVER. I was ready to be done. There were some runners that had finished and come back to cheer on friends. They were awesome support towards the end of the race and it wasn’t long that I could hear the finish line announcer and the crowd. I pushed my legs as fast as they’d go, hoping I wouldn’t fall over. I felt like I was going super fast, but in reality, I wasn’t at all. My mom, dad and sister met me at the finish with hugs and water.

I finished in 1:59- a whole 6 minutes faster than Rock the Parkway this year and 8 minutes faster than the Garmin Marathon. Success! My runs have been slow, but I hope to continue to improve and get back to those 1:52 races!

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Along with running in a rural area- “with the cows,” this race has the best post-race food of any race I’ve been a part of. Folks, this is a church potluck on steroids! You won’t go hungry with a selection of pizza, cinnamon rolls, breakfast burritos, lasagna, cheese & crackers, sub sandwiches, tortilla chips & cheese/salsa, veggies & hummus, cookies, pies and MORE. Every time I turned around, there was something else!

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This was my third year completing the Heartland 39.3 Series, so I got a Nike track jacket! Woot!

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I got a tummy full of crackers (I couldn’t stomach much else) and a massage and then we headed off for wedding invitation shopping and maid of honor dress shopping with my sis.

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Dad and I

I enjoyed the Series this year and so appreciated my family coming to not one, but two of the races! Having support at a race makes it more enjoyable and I tend to run better when they are there. It was also awesome to run into so many friends I that I run with!

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I don’t know what’s next on my race schedule but right now I’m enjoying group runs and some time running alone. I’ve started working out twice a week with co-workers doing a lot of plyometrics and body weight lifting, which has been good for my muscles and my soul. I can feel the soreness after each workout- a constant reminder of the hard work I put in the progress I have yet to make.

Race Recap: Garmin Marathon 2016

The Garmin Marathon is the race I’ve ran more times than any other. I’ve completed the full twice and the half twice. This year, the race had a new route. After last year’s soggy, slick trail portion, I was looking forward to the new scenery.

This race route has always been full of rolling hills, and this year was no different. I HATE hills, but I actually found myself a lot more comfortable than I was the weekend before running Rock the Parkway on flat terrain.

I decided to run with my friends who I’ve trained with during the week. The first several miles were full of chatter and enjoyment.

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At mile three my stomach began to cramp. I grew quite and decided to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and gut it out. As the pain grew worse, I began to think about what could possibly have caused it in the first place. Dehydration. I had hardly drank anything the day before because of a busy/stressful work event the day prior. When I did, take in fluids, my drink of choice (after work) was Bud Light Lime. I was so tired the day before that I forgot to get some yogurt or supplies for my pre-race protein shake, so I had to swing by the gas station for a Nutrigrain bar on my way to the race. So, my lack of planning caught up to me.

At mile 10 or 11 my legs were feeling pretty good and my stomach pain was worse. I so badly wanted to be done, so I picked up the pace a bit. I finished 2 minutes slower than Rock the Parkway but I think a combination of hills and stomach cramps contributed to the extra time. My goal is to run Running with the Cows faster than Rock the Parkway. RWTC is my current half PR. While I won’t come remotely close to a 1:52 finish this year- I’d like to hit 2:03.

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After the race I walked back to my car to sit and take in some fluids. Once I started feeling better I changed into dry clothes, hopped on my bike and started riding the route backwards to look for my friends running the full marathon. I loved cheering them on and taking photos. Being a spectator is almost as much fun as running the race!

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Troy and Tiffany rocked it. Troy has been running a marathon each month this year and Tiffany completed her very first marathon! At mile 25 ran up a steep hill. Note to the race director- that was CRUEL! But they made it and I was so impressed.

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The Garmin marathon was well organized, well planned and well supported. I LOVED seeing people outside their homes cheering on runners. It’s awesome to see people cheering on their family and friends but there’s something about seeing people come outside their homes and cheer for people they don’t know. They could be annoyed that there’s a ruckus early in the morning, or that traffic around their house is backed up, but instead they are positive and some even brought treats- like candy and beer. That kind of encouragement makes a difference on race day!

Over the past week I can’t help but think about how badly I want to train for another full. I’ve been so burnt out on running but something about standing at the finish line and seeing the runners grit their teeth and push through the pain reminded me how much I truly love running marathons.

The Kansas City Marathon is coming up in October and I’ve never ran the marathon even though I live there. I haven’t even checked off Missouri from my list! Naturally, it seems like a good idea, but it’s the weekend before my wedding. The thought of training and wedding planning stresses me out a little but part of me thinks I can do it…. I’m still on the fence but will keep you posted!

Rock the Parkway 2016 Recap

Saturday’s race was my third time running Rock the Parkway. It’s not really my favorite- mostly because everyone raves about it and I just don’t think their’s anything super special about the race or sets it apart.

Regardless, it was an awesome morning. My parents came to Kansas City to cheer me on, I ran with friends, and the weather was perfect. It was my slowest half yet, but I tried not to let that get me down. I ran my slowest mile at mile 1 of the race- 10 min/mile and my fastest at mile 13- 8:45 min/mile. Overall, my pace was pretty consistent and I had friends pushing me. I could tell I gave it my all, because my hamstrings were on fire the rest of the day! I didn’t train like I should have and I’m still trying to get out of my running rut, so I’m proud that I:
a. Did the race. (I contemplated skipping it all together).
b. Was only 2 min or so off of my slowest (first) half marathon.
c. HAD FUN.

12417902_1595846760732190_4070320390991711967_nIt was a HUGE help to have my parents there. I saw them several times and they brought signs and cow bells. My friends thought it was pretty awesome that they got around and saw us during several mile markers. I’m very lucking to have such a supportive family.

Much of the course is an out and back format- which I often struggle with. For some reason, I’m better off not knowing what’s ahead. It’s also known as one of the flatter courses in town, but I felt like I was going up a gradual hill both ways. How is that even possible!?

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Post race: Beer and steak @ Texas Roadhouse

Rock the Parkway is always well supported and well managed. The water stops were great, the crowd was awesome and it was well put together overall. One of the best parts- there was no line for the porta-potty 30 minutes before the race!! AMAZING!

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My favorite wall of the house.

This weekend is the second race of the Heartland 39.3 Series: the Garmin Marathon! Again, it’s the day after my big work event, so I’m relieved I’m not running the full again this year.

 

Roasted Greek-Style Chicken & Vegetables

Spring is all about rebirth. On Easter Sunday, I couldn’t help but think about fresh starts and changing some of my behaviors. Lately, I’ve been barely running and my diet has been off. With my own wedding quickly approaching this fall (!!!), I’ve got some weight to lose.

I decided that I need to get back into a grocery shopping and meal prep routine and that I’m going to make a new recipe (or one I haven’t made in a long time) each week. Let’s be honest- I’ve hit the Hy-Vee salad bar a bit too frequently and haven’t been cooking.

So what HAVE I been doing? Wedding planning and working. Between the two, there hasn’t been any much time for other things.

Yesterday,I decided to make a recipe that I saved from Weight Watchers a while back. I had ripped it out of one of the Weekly collateral pieces and saved it in my “recipe folder.”

While I had every intention to follow the recipe, I got home to realize I had purchased a cucumber instead of zucchini. Just my luck! So, I tossed in some green and red bell peppers and called it a day. It was delicious and so easy to make (small steps).

ChickenGreek-Style Chicken with Roasted Vegetables
4 servings, 4 SmartPoints/serving

Chicken breasts, artichoke hearts, tomatoes and zucchini are seasoned with fresh lemon, oregano, garlic and olive oil and then roasted all at once.

Ingredients
2 spray(s)cooking spray
5 tsp olive oil, extra virgin, divided
3 clove(s)garlic clove(s), chopped
1 1⁄2 tsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest, divided
1⁄2 tsp table salt, or to taste
1⁄4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste
2 small uncooked zucchini, or 1 large, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cup(s)grape tomatoes, halved
14 oz canned artichoke hearts without oil, drained well and halved
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless skinless chicken breast(s)

Step 1
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Coat a large nonstick baking pan with cooking spray.
Step 2
In a large bowl, combine 4 teaspoons oil, garlic, oregano, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon zest, salt and pepper; add vegetables and toss to coat. Lift vegetables out of bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving some oil mixture in bowl. Place vegetables in an even layer on one side of prepared pan, leaving room for chicken. Add chicken to bowl and turn to coat; place on empty side of pan.
Step 3
Roast until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through, stirring vegetables once, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drizzle vegetables with remaining 1 teaspoon each oil and zest; toss to coat. Drizzle chicken with any pan juices. Yields about 3 ounces chicken and 1 cup vegetables per serving.

Additionally, I’m trying to refresh my half-marathon training plan. I have three half-marathons coming up and with only a few longer run under my belt, I’ve got some work to do. I’ve been dreading just about every run lately and hating it more with every stride.

Remember when I use to crave a long run? Remember when those runs were my alone time and time to reflect? While I’m not feeling that way right now, I’m determined to force myself back into the swing of things.

I’ve got a great running community near where I live and those group runs are the only thing getting me through. Yesterday was a start. 5 miles in the morning along with lifting and another 6 miles in the evening. I’ll do another 4-5 miles tonight and lift again and hopefully get a long run in tomorrow.

I’m determined to fuel my body correctly and get my mind and spirit back to a healthy place. Easter was just the fresh start I needed.

 

 

Race Recap: Marine Corps Marathon 2015

WHAT an experience! The Marine Corps Marathons is the most amazing race I’ve ever been a part of.

My brother and my mom arrived in Kansas City on Friday and we headed for the airport to fly to Washington D.C. Our flight was delayed twice but we really weren’t in any hurry so we just chatted catching up on life and talking about all the things we wanted to do in D.C.

We finally arrived to Reagan International and took the Metro to the stop near our hotel. We decided it was just less than an mile and that we could probably walk the the hotel. Bad idea. We each struggled carrying our luggage and reading Google maps on our phone. Finally, Hank led the way and mom and I followed. It was dark. I was frustrated. AND I wasn’t entirely sure we were going to make it.

When we arrived to the hotel, we realized they had a shuttle that picks people up and takes them to the Metro stop. Whoops! Good to know!

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On Saturday we traveled over to the Expo. It had a variety of great booths and I got myself I nice Brooks 1/3 zip pullover as a souvenir. We ate at a lovely restaurant that night and watched the Royals win another game of the World Series!

Sunday morning my alarm went off at 4:15 and I began my pre-race activities. Oatmeal for breakfast, applying lots of Vaseline, and packing my rain gear… and by rain gear, I mean a throw-away poncho.🙂

We were out of the hotel at 5:20 and on our way to the start line. We took the Metro and followed the giant mass of people walking. I stopped at a porta-potty where I spent over an hour waiting in line. Next, we had to get through security. There were only about 6 metal detectors for 30,000 runners PLUS spectators. It was chaotic and we were crammed in a tight space. The starting ceremony began while I waited in line. We saw the paratroopers with giant American flags. What a sight! The race started and I was still in line.

Some runners simply ran through security, until more guards were stationed in the area. While it’s stressful to not be where you’re supposed to, I refused to let this ruin my experience. Thousands of people were still behind me and my time wasn’t going to start until I crossed that start line. So, I took my time.

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I crossed the start line about 15 minutes after the official start. It was amazing to see the Marines lined up. Of course, I took pictures with them!

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One of them told me, “YOU’RE a Marine today!” Wow.

The energy was phenomenal. Patriotic. Loud. Positive. Runners carried full-sized American flags. Some ran in their full military gear. Some ran with photos of their fallen comrades on their backs. With every flag that passed, Marines paused, and saluted. I was in awe.

At mile 8 or 9 I decided I couldn’t pass another porta-potty, so I joined about 15 others waiting in line. Around mile 10 I got to see my mom and brother!MCM15

Mile 12-13 is the Wear Blue to Remember mile. The first portion was a tribute to fallen Marines. Photos and a little about them were displayed on signs on each side of the path.

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The whole route was pretty loud until we hit that mile. At that point, I could only hear the footsteps on the pavement. Chilling.

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The second portion featured the families, each holding an American flag and cheering for us. There was no holding back tears and I began to sob. I had to reign it in because it is VERY difficult to run, cry and breathe! I slowed down and took it all in. Truly amazing. unnamed

I was surrounded by runners the entire way and dodged slower runners for 26 miles. During other races, it often thins out at some point. I got to see my family two more times around miles 16 and 17. Seeing my mom always helps me to keep going. She’s always so positive, smiling and cheering loudly. LOVE IT.

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I wasn’t wearing my watch. I chose not to. Instead, I decided to take it all in and enjoy the race. I knew I was moving slowly but I felt good. My left foot was the only thing giving me problems. Mile 20-21 is the “Beat the Bridge” portion that everyone talks about. It’s a mile long bridge, with no spectators. Again, it grew quiet and more people started walking. After we crossed the bridge spirits were up and I was ready for donuts from Dunkin Donuts at mile 24. The last 1.2 miles felt forever long. Up until this point, I had only walked through the water stops but that last portion I stopped to walk twice before talking myself into finishing it.

In true Marine fashion, the finish line is up a steep incline. I felt it, but I didn’t even care. I was SO excited to almost be done. I pushed through and accepted my medal from a Marine and asked him for a photo.

finishfinsih2Walking through the food line after was pure torture. I just wanted to sit down. I saw my mom and started to cry. Every marathon finish- I cry. All I could say was, “I just want to sit down!” My brother took one look at me and pointed to the curb. He suggested I sit. And I did. I just needed a moment.

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After a bit I was able to walk towards the Metro station and go back to the hotel. That night we had some awesome pizza for dinner and reflected on the day. My mom said that she didn’t even notice people checking their watches like at other races. Everyone was there to BE in the moment and to enjoy the race.

The next three days my mom, brother, and I spent sight-seeing. We viewed Arlington Cemetery, the monuments, American History Museum, Air and Space Museum, Holocaust Museum, Union Station, the White House, a show at the Kennedy Center, the Capitol and more.

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Medal Monday!

Medal Monday!

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It was truly a fabulous trip and I am so happy that my mom and brother, Hank could enjoy it with me. THANK YOU for being the best cheerleaders!

What’s next?
The Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa is only another week and a half away!

Freaking Out

On Friday I leave for Washington, D.C with my mom and brother to run my eighth marathon- the Marine Corps Marathon. I’m nervous. Super nervous.

There are a variety of reasons for feeling this way:

a. It’s the first time I’m traveling this far to run a race. I’ve never flown to a race. I really enjoy traveling to see sights, but I don’t enjoy flying.

b. I’m not sure my knee will hold up. I’m about 60% sure that my IT Band won’t flare up during the race and I would HATE to get my first DNF after traveling so far and having my family there to cheer me on. I had IT Band issues during my first marathon but was to stubborn to quit. I probably should have to prevent further damage.

My boyfriend told me, “Athletes get hurt. You have to listen to your body.” I LOVE it when he calls me an athlete! And he’s right…

c. I’m not in the shape I was in for Chicago. That 4:06 time is looking pretty amazing to me right now. I’m not going to come close to that this time. I fear that I’ll be disappointed with my time. In fact, I’m thinking about not wearing my watch and instead run by feel and just enjoy the course and crowd without the added pressure of checking my pace/time.

Despite the early nerves that have me wound so tight, I’m so excited to check out D.C. (again) and this time with my mom and brother.

This is truly the hardest week of training for me. It’s the week that I have to get my mind right and overcome the nerves. When something is bothering me, I run… but not this week. This week is about resting, hydrating and fueling my body.

I’ve put in the miles. I can’t change the way I trained. I just have to do what I can with what I’ve got.

This winter I plan to work on speed so that I’m ready for some PRs in 2016! If you know of anyone (affordable) that can help coach me in KC, please let me know in the comments!