Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Road To Steamtown: Weeks 8-15 (?!?!?!)

First and foremost, I am still alive and I am still training for the marathon.

Running miles logged so far: 489.45
STLY: 469.85

So, what on Earth happened to me back in July?

Where do I even begin...


The week after I wrote my last update, I took it easy. After a 30 mile week, I dropped to 14.5 miles. No speed work, an "easy" test run of 4.5 miles mid week, and a scheduled 13 mile long run that was cut short thanks to a giant thunder/lightening storm. I am still shocked that MTT allowed us to go out at all that morning - it was storming when we arrived and even though it stopped briefly, we knew thanks to radar that another round was coming. We were 5 miles in, running next to a golf course, when a huge thunder clap came out of nowhere and warning sirens on the golf course went off. We opted to seek shelter on the University of Richmond campus and made it to a student commons building just as things really opened up. After the worst went through, we decided to run back the way we came because hey - there was no other way to get back. It was absolutely pouring the entire way back. Not fun.

The following week (also my last week on my previous job... more on that later), my anxiety about my foot hit the limit. I went to Dr. Cutter on July 30  at 9 am for X-Rays. The X-Rays revealed that my pesky 4th metatarsal was fine, but there was clouding on the 5th that concerned him. Next stop? An MRI that afternoon. More later on what to expect from an MRI. Let's just say I was clueless and ended up being surprised by the process.

And the bill.

Anywho, I got my MRI at 3 pm and was back in Dr. Cutter's office looking at the oh-so-fascinating images of my foot bones and such by 4 pm. The verdict? My bones looks beautiful (thank God) but there was a lot of swelling and fluid in the ball of my foot, indicating a slight sprain.

But Doctor, can I still run?

Yes, I could. Woo hoo!

Surprise MRI: $550
Peace of mind: Priceless.


Started nicely. I started my new job on August 4th, which was a stressful but happy change.

Husband and I were in Baltimore for the Cardinals vs. O's series the weekend of Aug 9 -10, so I took the opportunity to run with the Baltimore Pacemakers group, as I had before. It was a very nice run and a great chance to catch up with my instant-friend, Barbara, who I met and clicked with at last year's Shakeout Run with Bart Yasso before the marathon. (I took a photo with Barbara but apparently when I did the new iPhone update it ate all of my pictures and I can't find it...awesome.) She has me nearly convinced to try a triathlon next year.

The week of August 18th, Greg, Kit, and I were doing our Wednesday longish run - a mix of roads and trails. During the trail portion I kept stepping wrong and my ankle would wobble a bit. And then I bit it - big time. I actually just sat there for a few minutes as the pain flooded through my left foot, thinking that this was it - I was done. The irony is that I fell not on the actual trail but on a little cut through of beat down grass and dirt that is perfectly root-and-obstacle free.

The guys sprang into action, offering for one to run back and fetch a car and for one to stay with me. I told them to just wait a minute. They pulled me up after I collected myself (I did not cry, though I came close), and I walked it off for a few minutes. Bleeding EVERYWHERE from a cut on my knee and covered with dirt. Being the boneheaded girl that I am, I insisted we run back to the Y. Which we did.

Running it back on the 9th Street bridge after biting it.

Bad ass trail runner.

My twisted/sprained foot was tender to the touch and ugly as all get out, but it didn't hurt to run. So... I kept running and logged a total of 26 miles that week and 30 the following.

Aside from getting a new job in August, Husband I also finally sold our house out in the country and were in the process of purchasing our new home (inspections, addendums, appraisals, mortgages... oh my!), which is in Richmond proper. As anyone who has ever gone through the process of purchasing a home knows, it is one of the most stressful life events. Throw in a demanding new job and the peak of marathon training on top and you can imagine what kind of stress I was under.

And unfortunately for us, things were not smooth. Our intended move in date (Labor Day weekend) had to be delayed because of shenanigans with our buyers' USDA-backed loan, which didn't clear the process until ten full business days AFTER the original closing date. We were living out of suitcases at my in-laws house for a week because our previous residence was fully packed and unlivable. My anxiety was so high that I was sick to my stomach (literally), which caused missed training runs, I wasn't sleeping well, and had no appetite. Basically I was a walking ball of stress from September 1 through out closing date, September 11.

The reschedule also meant that I was going to miss an 18 mile training run on September 6th. It turns out that was lucky for me, as it went down as THE WORST RUN IN THE HISTORY OF MTT thanks to extremely high temperatures and humidity. We were moving that day, so I still got plenty of exercise. But a week that was supposed to include 33 miles had just 15... 5 of which were a casual jaunt with Marcey on our first ever KBP + HMR Labor Day Run.

Which brings us up to last week (whew!)... and my first 20 miler of the training cycle. To say I was more than a little worried about my ability to pull of 20 is an understatement. But, thankfully, things went absolutely beautifully. The weather cooperated (overcast, in the high 60s). The route was challenging but one that I don't mind. I ended up getting separated from the main posse, but grinding out the hills of Riverside Drive and tackling the Lee Bridge by myself wasn't so bad. I finished in under 3 hours, feeling quite accomplished. Nothing hurt except my feet - which I expected. I knew my shoes were done but hadn't yet been able to locate my new pair (still in a box somewhere...).

Feeling on top of the world, I met a bunch of Team Midnight at the local dessert restaurant, Shyndigz, where we all ate cake for dinner.

For reference, the cup behind the cake is a pint glass.
(Meaning, this cake is HUGE)

Then that night, the shit hit the fan - literally. At 8 pm, I sent Husband downstairs to switch out laundry. He came back up to our bedroom, where I was organizing the closet, to inform me that the bathroom had, in his words, "Exploded."

The main sewer line into the house had backed up and there was literally sewage in my house. At 8 pm on a Saturday night.


Cue frantic calls to emergency plumbers, home warranty company (completely unhelpful, in case you're wondering), and real estate agent. The plumber arrived at 9 pm and left at 2 am ($165/hour... you do the math), having cleared the blockage for the night but informing us that we had root infestation in the main line and that it would have to be replaced. Oh and guess what? NONE OF IT is covered by home owners insurance, home warranties, or the municipal government. That means we are possibly looking at thousands of dollars worth of repairs. After having just spent thousands of dollars to move.

So... it's been fun.

But the good news is that our new home is located in a prime spot for runners. I have easy access to the James River Trail system and Riverside Drive, which is probably the most picturesque place in all of Richmond to run. So much so that it is on the marathon route and 75% of the photos that you see accompanying articles about the Richmond Marathon are ones taken on Riverside Drive.

Like this one.

Easy access means that this is less than a mile away from my door step.

Kit and I have embarked upon two runs from my house thus far. We always be sure to run east on Riverside, just as the sun is coming up over the river. It is absolutely breathtaking - and it reminds me that all of the stress and anxiety have been worth it.

Three Weeks to Steamtown

This brings us to today. September 18.

So far this week, I PR'd the crap out of a 5k on Tuesday night with a 23:04. That's 2 minutes off of my previous PR and on a hilly course too. I finished 10th out of 431 females, 6th in my age group, and 68th overall. I'm pretty proud of that.

Then yesterday morning, my lame foot gave out again during my run with Kit. I didn't fall, but there was that searing pain (same as August) and I had to stop then walk it off. Truly, I have no idea what even set it off... the trails are very flat and relatively obstruction free in Pony Pasture. The lovely bruising is back, but again, being me, I am running on it all the same. We finished that run and then last night I did 3 more with Marcey at the Sports Backer's open house celebration. My self-diagnosis is that the ligaments are just so loose that where a normal person's foot would recover after hitting something uneven, mine just decides to roll completely. I'm going to try to track down some strengthening exercises but other wise am carrying on.

Teresa and I are running the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half this weekend.

Then there's a 20 miler. Then a 12 miler.

And then the marathon on October 13.

I'm feeling confident at this point, especially after last week's 20. That evening I was having a bit of piriformis pain but it was gone on Sunday. No residual soreness what-so-ever. I guess that means I'm doing something right, even though I feel like this training cycle has been less than ideal.

But through all of this craziness, I am more thankful than ever for the run. It was the only constant in my life throughout the past 6 weeks. No matter what was happening, I knew one thing would be there for me, unchanged. And it was.

So onward we go... 24 days til Steamtown.

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