Sunday, April 22, 2012

Alter G and Me

I had a couple of bloggers ask me for more information about the Alter G after I mentioned it in my last post, so here goes.

First of all, the Alter G is an anti-gravity treadmill. I first read about it in Runner's World, and I believe the article featured a picture of a very pregnant Kara Goucher using one.

Last summer, I was sidelined by an undiagnosed injury. By undiagnosed, I mean Navy Medicine did not want to spend the money for me to have an MRI and an X-Ray of my right leg showed nothing. Considering my 8 week time frame for recovery, I believe it to have been a tibial stress reaction, something that doesn't show up on an X-Ray.

The story behind Alter G: I set out one Sunday morning in July to do a 14-mile run (after having several days of painful running), took about 7 steps and said, "NOPE." I turned around, walked home and then got into my car to go to the gym to begin elliptical hell. When I walked into the gym, however, it was like:

Complete with music

I could not believe that the semi-crappy Marine Corps base gym had scored not one but TWO Alter Gs.
Apparently one of the Marines on base is a member of the All-Marine Marathon Team, and somehow he got the money allocated for it. SWEET!

And so began 8 (or 7?) solid weeks of 5 days per week on it!

To be completely honest, SUAR has THE BEST POST on it. She actually took pictures of herself and included a video. While I considered doing it for my blog, I felt like a tool asking someone to take my picture at the gym. From what I understand, SUAR was invited to a physical therapy clinic or something to try the Alter G.

This week I spent Tuesday-Friday on the AG. Saturday was pool running. Today, I managed to eek out a grandma-paced 10 miles outside, so I'm optimistic that my Alter G time has ended. I plan on continuing EASY miles until this back issue clears up. As Pasadena is now 28 days away... it doesn't look good. At this point, I'm hoping to downgrade to the half marathon and use it as an easy-paced training run for a possible late summer half marathon. Time will tell.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This Bimbo is in Limbo

Ha to bimbo! I couldn't think of anything else that rhymed.

So anyway, here I am on the injury train. Boo boo!! (I'm on a roll!)

I'm actually in pretty good spirits all things considered. It is what it is, and truth be told, I did it to myself. My coach was going back over my training log and looking for training errors, but honestly, I attribute this to lack of strength/core training. Something was bound to give, and with my weak abs, it was my back.

I know my abs are weak because I got back into the gym this morning for lower body/core work and did some ab exercises that were fairly easy a couple of months ago. Today? Not so much.

What a bonehead move on my part neglecting ab work. Even elites do it.

Well hello there, Kara Goucher! If you're doing weighted sit ups, I sure as hell should be doing them too. (source)

One thing that has kept my spirits high is this GEM.

I love you, Alter G, even though you give me Camel T at 50% of my body weight. Luckily, I'm hanging in there at 70-80% bw these days.

Can you believe that I get M-F 0600-1800 FREE access to this thing?!? Me neither. So I will shut up all whining because I know I am lucky as all get out.

Before you start hatin' though, check this out.

That's really all that I can say about this.

So looks like I take the good with the bad these days. 

Chiropractor X 3 weekly, Alter G, and tons of strength/core with a side of pool running and yoga, here I come!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Expect the Unexpected

My title is a bit of a misnomer, as you'll see in a bit.

So it appears that I am facing an injury.

Yesterday, I set out for an easy-paced (9:00P) 22-miler. I felt really good and was actually shooting for 8:59P (Ha! I like seeing 8s as much as possible.). I decided to go on a more adventurous route and run across the Colorado River into California. As I crossed a bridge and crested a hill at mile 11, my lower back started hurting. I was caught a little off guard but thought maybe it was just a kink. You know how all of us distance runners get kinks during runs that seem to eventually work themselves out.

Except this wasn't working itself out.

I stopped to stretch at mile 12. Then I started back up and discovered it wasn't getting better. I began to consider an alternative. Maybe I could shoot for 20 and call it a day. I kept on but started doing the thing where I look down at my Garmin every 2 seconds. I saw my pace slowing. Uh oh. I realized I was in the 9:20s and starting to hurt more. I got to 15.57 and something in my mind said, "STOP." So I did. Then I walked 2 miles to a nearby Chevron and called my husband to come pick me up.


While this certainly was unexpected in a sense, in another sense, I've seen it coming.

Signing up for marathons within 4 months of one another was a big leap of faith for me. I did not plan on BQing at Carlsbad, so Pasadena was primarily my A-goal race where I would run sub-3:40. Being the Type-A that I am, once I got that BQ I realized that I wanted to shift to sub-3:35 to help increase my chances of actually getting into the Boston Marathon with the new strict registration process.

While I could maintain the intensity of training for Carlsbad fairly easily, it's been tough to keep hanging on for Pasadena. My runs have been solid and exactly where I want them to be, but the things that I need to be doing off the pavement? Not good.

Things I have NEGLECTED:

  • strength/core work-It's been about 5-6 weeks since I've been to the gym... yikes
  • sleep-I don't get enough. Period. I really should be getting a solid 7-8 hours per night.
  • diet/hydration-My diet has not been that great for a while. I'm in busy mom mode and haven't been feeding myself the *best* quality foods that I should be eating. Also, I live in a constant state of dehydration.
  • yoga-Yeah right! Like I have time for that.
Neglecting some of these things has simply come down to how I bit off more than I can chew. Running sub-3:35 has meant an increase in mileage, which has been incredibly hard for me to balance given my family responsibilities, part-time job, and grad school studies. Oh yeah, and then balancing stuff like spring break and this:

Poor guy fell asleep on our back patio yesterday. I swear, I'm wondering if he brought home the Ebola virus from school. 

So here I am, not sure what's going to happen in the next 34 days. The good news is that my back feels better than it did yesterday. Yesterday I was hobbling around like a 90 year-old woman. It is still most definitely unrun-worthy, however. My plans today include a lot of sitting on the couch with the boys, listening to them cough/hack, but selfishly, I will be dragging them to the chiropractor's office so I can start re-hab ASAP. They are ill but not DEATHLY ill, so it's all good. And I know they'll be up for a little good behavior bribery in the form of Starbucks cake pops. 

Oh, and of course today I'm going to be tracking my Boston girls! YAY! 

Friday, April 13, 2012


It was bound to happen sooner or later, right? 

Well now it's here, and I'm trying to deal with it as best as I can.

I'm in a rut. 

Cheesy stock photo of a smouldering fire. Sort of where I'm at mentally/physcially right now.

It's been rough bouncing back from spring break. It got me out of my routine. I'm sure you've been there. Add two sick kids to the mix and voila. I'm actually sitting here with my youngest two while one is Lego-ing it up (stayed home from school with a fever) and the other is watching Dora--hacking and coughing like he has TB.  I have a headache, need to eat, and need to figure out when I will be able to fit in 11 miles today. I knew I should have done it yesterday, but I wanted a break.

Pasadena is 5 weeks from Sunday. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it. Trying to hold on to my A goal, which is to go under 3:35 so I can register in the 3rd wave for Boston 2013. My coach-twice-has mentioned the possibility of me going under 3:30 with the numbers I've been posting on my runs. While it thrills me, I have to admit... The mental part of the equation isn't quite there yet. Mentally, my mind is programmed right now to see 8:00-8:10 on my Garmin during the marathon. That's what I've been thinking about as the days tick by. Not to mention my thoughts on how it's a late May marathon in inland CA (WARM) and it's once again, like Carlsbad, a bit of a hilly course. So yeah... All things in due time, and I think that a sub-3:30 marathon falls into that category.  

Speaking of the mental hurdles that accompany faster race paces, I read an interesting article earlier this week. It discussed the mental barriers that we often impose on ourselves when we succumb to the intimidation factor of picking up the paces in our race.

My favorite part of the article was strategy #2 on the last page.

2. Take it step-by-step.

Runners who have an ambitious goal (qualifying for Boston is the most common), but aren’t anywhere near their qualifying time, need to break down their overall progression and perception of their paces into smaller chunks. If you’re a 3:45 marathoner and need to run 3:20 to qualify for Boston, you can’t expect your mind to be comfortable with going from 8:35 pace to 7:38 pace in one giant swoop.
This is a strategy that I have apparently been using all along. Baby steps for me. I ran an 8:21P marathon in January, and I'm comfortable with switching gears to 8:10P for Pasadena. Only an 11 second difference. What's 11 seconds, right?

How do you tackle mental hurdles when you want to get faster?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Spring Break, SLOTH, and Six Weeks!

Should be grading papers, doing my homework, doing my son's homework (Ha! It's a shark research project... you know how that kind of thing goes... Who ends up doing most of the work?), but I thought I'd check in quickly and let you know what I'm up to.

Last week was spring break. We went to Naples, FL to visit the in-laws and stay in their beautiful condo.

Check out this ocean view... Gorgeous.

I had a 55-mile week planned. My long run of 20-miles was first up on Sunday (we arrived Sat. night).


This girl is *not* used to that anymore. While I've lived in high humidity places before (Ohio River Valley, Florida, Texas), I have long forgotten what it's like, nor did I train for marathons in these places.

It was hard to breath when I started. The air was so thick and moist! I didn't think I was going to make it those first couple of miles. I settled into my groove, took in the beautiful scenery and ended up completing my run around 8:47P, which is pretty much what I had planned to do. My long run goal pace for this cycle is 8:40-8:45ish. Or pretty much anything below 9:00P works, really.

By Thursday, I was DONE. I did easy on Monday, a solid speed workout on Tuesday (2 X 2 miles), easy on Wed. and then I woke up Thursday morning and both my body and mind said, "11 miles is NOT happening today. Sorry." 

Could it be because of this the day prior?

Yes. That is 3 pounds of ice cream topped with peanut butter sauce and a ramekin of hot fudge on the side. I ate 90% of it. My husband ate the other 10%. I am DISGUSTING.

The combination of the world's largest sundae, the heat/humidity, and 4 nights of sharing a bed with 2 little munchkins who kicked me and screamed out at all hours of the night (3-bedroom condo) finally did me in. I skipped my first run of this training cycle. Felt guilty but it is what it is, and my coach actually gave me a, "Good for you!" so I felt better when all was said and done.

Pasadena is 6 weeks away, and I'm feeling a bit tired already. I did have a pretty solid long run today (18.55 miles @ 8:36P), so I'm feeling encouraged that my body is going to be able to hold up for 42 more days. I DEFINITELY need to get back to the gym, however, because I do notice that I'm feeling rickety (knees, hips). I have completely neglected weight training for a good month now.

I also need to really watch my diet (no more Chevy Suburban-sized sundaes) and start logging more hours in the sack. This next week will have me peaking at my highest mileage ever--60 miles! Yikes!

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter today. We made it through Mass with no major behavior issues and even managed to have a decent family photo taken before we walked into church. SCORE!!!

Betcha didn't know I was wearing compression shorts underneath my dress. Now you do! Bahahaha!