Monthly Archives: May 2012

Rest Week = Good Reads

Everyone has Fat Days; I’m having a Fat Week. I took a Rest Day after the Portland RnR Half Marathon and then was scheduled to go on a short run. But my knee was still feeling off so I opted for a 30-min workout on a stationary bike (first time in years) followed by a simple 30-minute Circuit Training workout.

There were a couple of takeaways:

1. I was sore for 3-days after that simple circuit. No bueno.
2. My knee felt worse – probably from doing lunges for the first time in months.

So I took the rest of the week off and my activities were limited to walking Chip. Since I was still on vacation (stayed in Portland until last night), I had all this extra time on my hands to eat (not good when you’re not working out) and read.

During the week I was able to read 3 whole books. Two of them were really good, and the third one was…interesting…still trying to figure out how I feel about it.

The first 2 books that I thoroughly enjoyed were:

1. The Running Dream.

This book showed up on my “Amazon Recommended” list and I’m so glad that it did. It’s about a high school girl who ran track and had a very promising future. But she gets into a car accident and has to have both legs amputated. The author takes you through her journey of grief, struggles, acceptance and survival. It’s inspirational for obvious reasons but also very relatable in terms of dealing with loss, pain, loneliness and ultimately finding joy and gratitude. It’s a quick read and I was sad when it ended.

2. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

Recommended to me by my nutritionist, I found it more educational than her other book on marathon nutrition that I mentioned in a previous post.

This book walks you through building a balanced food plan to fuel your workouts for optimal performance. The author not only discusses what to eat, but also when to eat (including double workout days). She breaks down each vitamin, mineral, carbs, proteins, fats, etc and explains what they are, why they are important and how much of each you need for the type of athlete that you are. But what I liked best were the simple, quick and easy recipes that are included at the end of the book.

I used those recipes to create my food menu for coming the week, compiled a grocery list and went to the grocery store this morning to stock up! Having a Fat Week was motivation enough for me to get back on schedule with my nutrition. Although I wasn’t eating bad, I was eating too much which was perfectly fine since up until 2 weeks ago I was in marathon training mode. Now that I’m not, I need to rein things in and eat a more balanced (i.e., not so carb-heavy) diet. I’m gonna start tracking calories again to make sure I’m getting enough protein and healthy fats and not so much carbs.

3. The book I’m not quite sure how I feel about yet is The Mindbody Prescription by John Sarno

After complaining about lower back tightness in a Bikram Yoga class a couple of months ago, one of my yoga instructors recommended this book to me and I finally got around to reading it.

It’s the second book I’ve read on the Mind-Body connection (the first being Run by Matt Fitzgerald) and I actually buy into the Mind-Body Connection theory quite a bit. The gist of this book is that body pain – like back/neck/shoulder etc, migraine, repetitive-stress – is caused by stress due to repressed emotions. While I do believe this to be true, I still think you can also have pain from muscle imbalances and incorrect form, being at a computer for too long, etc.

It’s an interesting read and I do get what he’s saying, but I guess I’m not a whole believer. I guess that’s why my IT Band / Hip / Knee issues weren’t miraculously solved…yet. If anyone else has read this one, I’d be interested in your take on it.

Although I’m looking forward to getting back on my regular routine, I’m happy I had this down-time to catch up on these good reads.

Portland Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon

I registered for this race a year ago, just a few hours after finishing the Vancouver Marathon. My cousin Lauren had just run her first half marathon in Vancouver as well, and after that race, we were updating her family on how she did. There was a 1-day special price for $50 so we all (Lauren, me and her parents) decided to take advantage of it and registered for the race. Shortly thereafter, Aunty Mila, also decided to fly up from SoCal and join us at the race.

Four months later, when I was looking at the Ogden Marathon, I mistakenly thought that the Portland Half was the week before Ogden. I thought it could be a last training run for Ogden. A few weeks after committing to Ogden I realized my error. But still wanting to support the family, I made my travel plans to fly to Portland and spectate the race after Ogden. Well plans changed and I ended up running it – I guess everything worked out the way it was supposed to.

I flew in Saturday evening after the expo closed so on Sunday morning, we got to the race early so that I could pick up my bib at the Solutions Tent.

(Tip: Rock ‘n Roll race organizers will say race day pick-up is absolutely not allowed, but it really is. I had inquired about this months earlier and got a nasty email about it saying they are only making this exception for me, but I knew they allowed it because I have had friends who did this at previous Rock ‘n Roll races and there was also a line of other people at the Solutions Tent that morning.)

{Aunty Delta, me, Aunty Mila, Lauren}

We met up with Aunty Mila at the Start corrals and as usual, the corrals were too small and jam-packed.

{We are trying to figure out why our bibs are blue and Aunty Mila’s is green}

This race was supposed to be a showdown between Rich and Lauren. Lauren had beat her Dad’s half marathon time in Vancouver so this was supposed be the race to see who was faster. Unfortunately, injuries happened things didn’t quite go as planned. In fact, you could kinda call us the walking wounded. I had my bad hip / knee / IT Band. Aunty Delta was just coming off some serious medical issues, which interrupted her training for several weeks, and Lauren had spent the previous 4 weeks in a boot with a broken foot (and hadn’t yet received medical clearance to run the race). You could say we aren’t the smartest people.

About a mile into the race, Lauren and I lost Aunty Delta and Rich so it was just the 2 of us for the rest of the race. This is the longest race that I’ve run with another person. I had my iPod shuffle, but Lauren’s iPod was dead so I didn’t use it. So it was also my first race, and longest distance, running music-free.

Lauren is a former Division I track athlete so she kept coaching me along the way. At first I kept rolling my eyes at all the advice she was feeding me, but they actually turned out to be quite helpful and I really appreciated it.

We had planned to do a lot of walking and for the first half of the race we did it rather sporadically. We ran for as long as we felt like we could, then walked so as not to over do it. Between her broken foot and my knee hurting on the down hills (it was quite a hilly course!) we ended up walking quite a bit.

About half way through the race we decided to put some kind of structure to our run/walk pace. At first we tried alternating .25-run/.25 walk but it wasn’t enough running time. Eventually we settled on running 1-mile and walking for .25 miles. Sometimes we ran longer, sometimes it was shorter, depending on what our legs allowed.

Even though the walking was taking forever, having Lauren there with me made the miles fly by. We chatted about running, life and pretty much everything under the sun. It was nice to have catch-up time with her.

As we neared the end of the race we said that we would finish side-by-side, yet we would still sprint at the end. I don’t know why in the world I thought this was possible given that she is a Sprinter. During the last mile we came upon overhead photographers and heard a lady say, “This is it!” so we started sprinting but then realized that the Finish Line was still about a half mile away.

I yelled to Lauren, “I’m going to slow down” to which she responded, “No! We’re almost there, don’t slow down now. Start pumping your arms, it will help your legs to keep moving!” Had she not been there I would have slowed down or even walked. But I kept going.

When the Finish Line finally came into view she said, “Okay, let’s kick!” And with that, she took off and left me in her dust.

When I crossed the Finish Line she stood there waiting for me and said, “I thought we were going to kick?” Uh, I did…

After we made our way through the Finish area, I kicked myself for not packing dry clothes and slippers. It was a second rainy Portland race and I was freezing. I should have known better. We picked up our race shirts at the Solutions Tent and I quickly put it on. We found a relatively dry spot under a tree to wait for Aunty Delta and Rich. They finished about 20-minutes after us. Aunty Delta’s first half marathon!

Then we met up with Aunty Mila (who ran a kick ass race!) and Bob and headed to Rockbottom Brewery to refuel and recap our race experience.

For an inaugural, let alone a Rock ‘n Roll race, it was surprisingly well organized. The course took us to different parts of the City than I ran in the Portland Marathon, but I still loved it. It was hilly but nothing too strenuous.

As expected, my race time was a personal worst (2:34) but I’m actually quite proud of that time considering all the walking we did. I thought we’d finish closer to 3 hours. In terms of overall race experience, it was one of the best race experiences that I’ve had because of the company. I had so much fun and was thrilled to share the experience with my family. I’m already looking forward to the next race that we all run together. I even told Lauren that we have to run a race where we are both healthy for so that she can pace me to a PR.

And even though he wasn’t allowed to run the race, I can’t forget to mention Chippy. He trained hard for this race too!

Plans Changed

It’s been a few days since this past weekend’s race and I’m still trying to gather my thoughts on how I feel about it. You see, it wasn’t the race I trained to run. For the past several months I trained for the Ogden Marathon. And if you’ve read my posts from the last couple of months you’ll remember how I struggled through it.

Well just as I can gaining my confidence back, my knee started to feel weird. You go through as many injuries as I have and you get to know your body pretty well and I knew I was starting to have IT Band problems. It started about 3 weeks before the race, the week of my 22-mile run. I foam-rolled and stretch incessantly and went on feel pretty darn good during the 22-miler. But a few days after the 22-miler the dull ache returned. Not only that, my quads were thrashed from that long run – both not good for a downhill race.

I kept stretching and foam rolling hoping it would just work itself out, like a lot of these nagging aches and pains do. The week before the race I ran a 6-mile Tempo run. Although I hit my paces, I felt awful. I had to run wearing a compression knee brace, which I absolutely hate. I was frustrated and I could feel the anxiety that I had worked so hard to conquer creeping back. That Saturday I did a 10-miler run and it was one of the most awful runs I ever had. Although my leg did not feel any worse (it still felt the same), I had this mental battle in my head that left me in tears.

That afternoon I went to see The Avengers with my cousins and friends. As we sat in the theatre one of my cousins turned to me and said, “You are sitting in a movie theatre with an ice pack on your leg. Are you seriously still planning to run a marathon next Saturday?” And with that question, the battle that had taken place in my head was just verbalized. Defiantly I said, “Yes, I’ll be fine by then” but deep down, I just didn’t know.

In my head, I knew what the right thing to do was, but I just couldn’t bring myself to make the decision. Despite all the struggles I had this training cycle, I still worked hard and hated to see it go to waste. It wasn’t until the Monday of the race that my Coach suggested I not run it. My first reaction was, “I didn’t do a 22-mile run for nothing!” but honestly? As soon as he said the words, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted of my shoulders. That evening I went out for a 7-mile run and felt the same dull pain again just a few miles into the run and knew that there wasn’t anyway I could run a 26.2-mile race the way I wanted to. And although I was disappointed, surprisingly, I was at peace with the decision.

It just so happened that I was registered to run the inaugural Rock ‘n Roll Portland Half Marathon the day after Ogden. I had registered a year in advance but had gotten race dates mixed up. I had thought it fell the week before Ogden and that I could have run it as a last training run for it. Turns out it was the day after Ogden and I had plans to spectate my relatives who were running it.

My Coach suggested flip-flopping the races so I could still run the Portland Half. Since I would be with my family, if anything injury-wise happened during the race, I would have people to support me after the race.

I still went to Ogden to support my dear friend Alyssa. We had registered for the race and made travel plans together and I wasn’t about to let her travel out to Utah alone. My friend Aaron, who lives in Salt Lake City, was also running the half-marathon, his very first one, so I wanted to be there to support the both of them.

I was so glad that I did. The race was so charming. The expo was held in an old train station. There were live music and vendor booths both inside and outside of the train station. It was small and had such a “homely” feel to it. The race itself was so well organized and the Finish Line was spectator-friendly. The streets were lined with people clear up to the Finishing Chute and there were even grandstands at the Finish Line that were packed with spectators.

Many runners had friends and family members pace them down the final mile. From where I stood, I could hear the emotional final words being spoken before they tailed off and let their runner kick down to the finish solo. I got to see both Aaron and Alyssa finish amazing races. I am so proud of the both of them.

I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I made the right call not to run Ogden, but I left there excited and inspired to run it next year.

As for the Portland Half, that was an experience in and of itself and deserves it’s own race report – coming soon!