April 30, 2010


Week 1 & 2 graphed against 2 marathon training guides - Nike Marathon Coach and Portland Fit...

Week 1
Vertical Axis: Miles Horizontal Axis: Day
You can see that over the next couple of weeks that the two programs have a repetitive schedule, with slight mileage increases per week. I was definitely not on target for week one - even though I did most of the mileage. 

Week 2

This week I put in more miles but still off target. It's not always easy to run every day assigned and run the exact mileage when I have to do a "warm up" run with the dog first. Hopefully I'll start getting into more of a pattern over the next couple of weeks. I do think the important part is the long distance run on Saturdays. Tomorrow is the 2nd 8-mile run... going to pick a different route so as to keep things interesting.

April 27, 2010


My first non-running related injury!

I've suffered some pretty good knee bruises as a result of volleyball (no, I don't wear the knee pads and yes, a select number of my pants have holes burned thru the fabric), but tonight I landed oddly right below the knee - for what seems to be the patellar tendon and upper tibia. It was a great save and thankfully we won the point, but fuck it hurts (sorry, language). So I took a photo pre-bruise. Mind you, this happened about 30 minutes ago. I bruise easily so I am just waiting for a good black and blue to shine through. Walking is a bit painful right now, but I've noticed after a warm up, the pain lessens. 

No running today as my volleyball schedule didn't accommodate it, so I'll have to pack on some extra miles tomorrow.

8 and onwards

 On Saturday I ran the longest distance I've ever run. Eight miles is probably a small number to most, but for a recreational runner, it's a distance I could never be bothered with before. My 10k run around the neighborhood is a great easy flat run - so I decided for my first 8 miler I would simply tack on 2 more miles. It was a great run - I started out at my normal pace at first but reminded myself to take it easy as it would be a longer run. It wasn't until the last mile that my legs - specifically the outer upper muscles of both legs - started to ache. Clearly my body is not used to anything above a 6.2! Regardless, I pushed through and finished strong - totaling around 8.5 miles. As I continue this training regime, I know I need to listen carefully to my body, it's limits and it's weaknesses. I don't want to run the risk of an injury nor do I want any lasting pains like many of my runner friends. I'm not training to get a great time, I'm training to finish. I need to keep that in mind as I push further with my weekend runs.

Today I had to endure what I hate most about running - running in the rain. I've never liked it for some reason, though today gave me reason to adjust my views. Having biked home, I was already wet, so I grabbed a baseball cap, tied my house key to my shoelaces, grabbed the leash and the dog and set out. Running with Dogan is frustrating and I try my best to be patient - he has been inside sleeping all day after all. I can tell when Dogan is struggling because he'll suddenly stop, look up at me and pretend to sniff some bushes. At that, I decided to turn around and head back home. Once he knew of our general direction (e.g. towards dinner), he was more than happy to pick up the pace. Once he was dried, fed and watered, I set back out for a real run.

I have loads of thoughts run through my head when I run...how pretty the leaves are, what a great house, what a dump, wonder what I should make for dinner tonight, this is easy breathing!, wonder if I should tack on some more blocks to increase distance - want to hit the hill on 18th, I like this top a lot - its so soft, that smells good - wonder who's coming to dinner, volleyball tomorrow - wonder when I'll fit in a run, perhaps after? And so on.

I realize that running is perhaps the most exemplary case of individual sport ever. Every person has such a unique running style - the way they strike their foot, the way they hold their arms, the clothes they prefer to wear, the time of day they prefer to run, the type of weather they won't run in, the music they listen to as motivation... really all runners have in common is a forward propulsion towards a distance goal.

Running in the rain does have a few benefits - namely, fewer runners are out for their evening jog. Don't get me wrong, I like runners - but I also like having the road to myself. And besides, I feel way more hardcore being one of the few in the rain. Yeah, that's all I can think of!

April 26, 2010

8 miles up ahead...

So it’s been a long week. My legs have had that dull ache to them all week – never seeming to fully recover. I commute by bike to work, so in essence, I am cross-training by default. It’s an easy ride in, but I usually push hard on the ride home and it’s mainly uphill. So the biking in combination with the daily runs has exhausted me. I took today off to rest before I do my first 8-miler tomorrow. I’ve never run more than 6.2 on my normal runs, so tomorrow it will be interesting to see how my body reacts the added mileage. I have noticed in the past my knees and feet start to get sore towards the end of the 6.2, so this will be the first of many physical challenges I will have to learn to deal with.
I’ve heard from people who have trained with groups before that marathon training takes away the frills of Friday night. Rather than be out on the town, you catch up on needed zzz’s so that you can wake up and run long distances at insane morning hours. Though I probably won’t start running till 9 or so, I am headed to bed early as the long week has worn me out both physically and mentally. Not to mention the list of about 20 things I need to cross off tomorrow.
To bed!

Falling In Step

Tonight was one of those nights were I could have easily made an excuse to not run. Legs were tired, busy day, dog needs attention… ugh – do I really want to lace up and run? There are a few motivational thoughts that go through my head if I am teetering back and forth – and they usually are enough to kick my ass out the door. The first is the physical benefit… yes, I want legs like Fergie, yes I want to feel fit, yes – I want to be in amazing shape. The second is, what else are you going to do? Watch tv? Nap? Lame. Don’t be lame Beth. Lastly, I think of all the ways I am keeping track of my running – this blog, my excel spreadsheet that graphs my runs compared to training programs and a far-reaching goal my sister set for herself that I am trying to keep up with (320 miles in 23 weeks). I have such pride when I open up the excel spreadsheet and put my number from the day before in… the overall total goes up, the distance remaining goes down. It’s a small satisfaction, but it’s a big part of my motivation. Besides, I’d be lame if I had a running blog and didn’t run!
My run was in 2 parts today – the first with my dog who makes frequent piss stops but does speed up when he spots a cat in the distance. The distance was 2.8 miles and it was a great warm up. The weather was overcast, cooler (high 50′s?) and windy. The second part was solo with a distance of 3.55 miles (days total 6.35). There was a moment between dropping Dogan (the dog) off at the house and before going for my run that all those excuses could have come into play. And if I didn’t have such far-reaching goals myself, those excuses probably would have won out. In a marathon coaching book that I read, one thing stuck out in particular and that is that there can’t be any excuses. Regardless of the conditions, state of mind, physical being – anything – it simply does not matter. So what? It’s raining… can I not run in the rain? My legs are sore – but don’t I like that feeling of a good workout? I’m tired – so what?
And the 2nd run was great. I got into that state where my legs found a rhythm, my breathing fell into a steady pattern – my body was functioning perfectly and at that moment, my mind is left to wander at it’s content. The thoughts that go through my head are as sporadic as they are weird. “It’s time to take this necklace off”, “Remember to write her back”, “That house is funky”, “Where the hell is that chocolate chip cookie scent coming from?!”. It’s a beautiful state of mind and partially why I think people get addicted to running – it helps clear all those thoughts.
After my run, I did some wall-sits to help strengthen my quads, drank water, enjoyed dinner and am now about to pass out to do it all over again. I feel great :)

Personal Best (so far!)

My race results came in! I ran an 8:08 minute mile, finished 88th out of 1310 and finished 4th in my age group! Kinda proud of myself, ain’t gonna lie!

Runner's Knee

Running is a high impact sport. Every time my feet strike the ground, my body absorbs a force about 3-5 times my body weight. That’s a lot of impact considering I am increasing mileage every week. Today as I started my 4-mile run, I noticed my right knee was feeling a bit “off”. I can best describe it as discomfort… nothing sharp, nothing major and it slowly went away with the distance. I started to take note of how I was striking the ground and I adjusted my stride so that it didn’t feel as uncomfortable. It got me thinking though – there are going to be various injuries / physical ailments that I am sure to encounter as I start training for a marathon. In the book, “The Non Runner’s Marathon Trainer” by David Whitsett et al, he says that the reason for slowly increasing distances is to allow the body time to adjust to the impact (much like allowing your body to acclimate to higher altitudes). Makes sense. I graduated in Biology for undergrad – my brain just naturally tends towards the side of science. So as my knee started to ache, I thought – I need to include injury analysis in my blog. It starts with runner’s knee.
Runner’s knee (also known as chondromalacia patellae or patellofemoral stress syndrome) is when the kneecap starts to rub against its sides due to one of two factors: weak quadriceps and improper footwear. Running strengthens the hamstrings more than it does the quads, so when the two are out of balance, it can be enough for the kneecap to pull and twist to the side.
You know the song, “the hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone…”? Well, it’s kinda true. Through a series of connections, the knee will end up where the calcaneus is when the foot strikes the ground. Here’s a step-by-step visual of the problem: your foot strikes the ground > you pronate (flatten your arch) > the lower leg below the knee internally rotates > the upper leg externally rotates > this causes a twisting pressure on the knee > the kneecap (patellae) become irritated and painful. It’s a biomechanical problem and luckily it has biomechanical solutions.
The shoes I currently use are Brooks. I was given the 5-step test by an athletic store that watched my stride and matched me with a shoe accordingly. That said, after reading “Born to Run” by David Whitsett I am curious to attempt running in shoes that don’t overly-cushion. Many of my friends have invested in the “barefoot” shoes – little rubber sock things that look like Avatar feet. The concept is that our modern day shoe has actually destroyed our natural stride and increased the probability for injury. I don’t think I’m ready to run barefoot, but perhaps I should re-evaluate my shoe to ensure I’m not over compensating in either direction. I also think that perhaps some quick quad exercises immediately following a run could help lessen the disparity between my hamstrings and quads.
Problem: Discomfort and irritation behind or around kneecap.
Diagnosis: Runner’s knee
  1. Ice knees for 15 minutes directly after running
  2. Take an anti-inflammatory but only with a meal and never before a run
  3. Before bed, put a heating pad on your knees for 15 minutes
  4. Ensure you have the proper footwear
  5. Be conscientious of how you strike
  6. Do not overdue it on the runs. Rule of thumb is you don’t increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% and the longest run of the week should not be any more than 50% more than your longest run in the week
  7. Run slower and on softer surfaces
  8. Warm up and stretch before your run, especially the quad and ITB using a stick or foam roller to massage and elongate those tissues

Bridge to Brews

26.2 miles is a daunting distance for someone who hasn’t run over 6. There are heaps of training resources (see links) and groups that assist with training the body to endure the impact that a marathon entails, but I am hesitant to join the most popular Portland Fit group simply because they run early on Saturday mornings. I am not a morning runner. Not at all. Don’t
PDX from the sky
get me wrong, once I get going I really do appreciate the quieter streets, watching the sun rise, feeling the morning heat up and having the bulk of my exercise for the day behind me so early… but it is SO hard for me to get out bed in the morning.
Fist race during marathon training
I mean trying to give up smoking kinda hard (for smokers). I also enjoy running in the evenings – seeing the sun turn to a bright orange behind the hills, the scents of the flowers, the cooler air slowly creeping in… anyway, I’m getting off the point. The point being is that I want to test myself to see if I’m able to train myself to do a marathon – of course with some guidance from books, online resources and friends.  
I started running to the Nike Marathon training schedule; however, this week has thrown some of the distances off for me and I feel as thought I haven’t started properly. I did, however, accumulate around 17 miles last week and started this week with an 8k race called Bridge to Brews. I don’t know my time yet – but I felt good throughout the entire race. I started closer to the start in the chute and was able to keep ahead of the main field the entire way. The start of the course had a few little hills but the actual bridge was a small incline and easily run (not to mention the beautiful views). The B2B race is unique in that it’s the only PDX race that you can run over the Fremont bridge, a multi-level / lane highway that connect NE to NW neighborhoods. Coming down off the bridge was easy and I loved running past all those cars that were probably like, “what the fuck?”. After coming off the bridge, it was around a couple of blocks in PDX before heading up Broadway bridge. At some point, the 8k and the 10k merged and I started passing more and more people. The last leg included one sneaky little hill right before turning into
Running the Fremont Bridge
a downhill finish. The entire time I was running some older guy who looked like Mr. Miyagi from the Karate kid. You don’t get much more inspiration than that! Finial time yet to be posted. 
At this point, running 2 miles to me is kinda pointless – that’s just when I start getting warmed up and into my run… so I might extend that to 3 -3.5. Eight miles will be my first 8-miler and I think I need to plan out a route to ensure I cover the entire distance.

April 16, 2010

"Submit" to Commit

It was around 11 o'clock at night. My friend Becca just sent me an email with a discount code for the PDX marathon. Due to the "register before the code expires!" text, I filled in all my information. Then I sat there starring at the "submit" button. Thinking, do I really want to do this? Can I even physically run 26.2 miles?

I had been toying with the prospect of running the Portland Marathon for a few weeks now. In 2009, my dear friend Becca ran it (though she was already a hard-core runner) and truth be told, I was inspired. My only glitch is that I've never run over 7 miles at one time. And when I do, I can't possibly fathom running an additional 19.2 miles. That said, when I see older, fatter people run the marathon the instant thought that goes through my head is, "well shit, if they can do - I surely can!". I mean, come on - Ophra ran the NY marathon. How hard can it be?

Becca recently said in conversation that she doesn't know why someone would run when they hate running. A lot of people hate running. I love running - I just hate certain aspects of running. For instance, I dislike running in the rain and severe cold. I disklike running in groups or with other people. I also don't like being timed. So why would I sign up for a timed marathon with thousands of other people in October? Good freaking question.

As I sat there and starred at the submit button, I finally thought of the real reason behind my hesitation - fear. I feared that I physically would not be able to run 26.2 miles. And then I hit the submit button. It would be one thing if I didn't actually want to run a marathon - but I do. It's another thing entirely when fear is the one factor preventing me. I do not want to live any part of my life in fear. And so with a single action and minus $120 bucks later, I committed to facing my fear head on (with running shoes).

I am keeping this blog for one of two reasons - first being I find it a consistent and helpful way to track my progress (as recently noted with my cleanse diet) and second - I need help, support and motivation from friends who will be training for a marathon as well. If you will be going through a training session or group training, I'd love to have you enter in posts on helpful tips, motivation, diet, whatever. Anything and everything. No detail is too small. Let me know and I'll add you as a contributor! Your friends and family can follow your progress as well!

Commitment made. Now it's time to train.