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Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 races

I put up a page of my 2017 races, and, fittingly, there are 17 of them. It's the most I've raced in years, and one of my fastest years, too.

I started running with the Power Miler Track Club this year, which made a huge difference. Initially, I may have slowed down, as the new, heavy workout load exhausted me. But by the summer, I was seeing results, and they continued through most of the race-heavy fall.

By the numbers:

17 - races I ran; 18 if you count the Greek Fest as two events (I ran the mile race as a warm up)
9 - placement in top three women
7 - bib number at Bar-a-thon, which basically qualifies me as an elite beer drinker
6 - place at RnR New Orleans marathon, my highest placement in this race ever, although not my fastest time
5 - years since I'd PR'd when I PR'd at Blue Doo in October
4 - PRs: the two mile, the half marathon, the ten mile, and the five mile
4 - 5ks, mostly disappointing
4 - Number of times I've been second in my age group at RnR New Orleans, including this year once again!
3 - 10ks, all of which were not very fast
2 - marathons, neither a PR
2 - overall female wins (10k and 2 mile races)
2 - months with zero races (August and September)
2 - months with three races (April and November, my two busiest race months)
1 - race after July of this year that was not a PR

How was your running year?

Friday, December 29, 2017

Breaking with tradition

Hope you are all enjoying this holiday week! I'm loving the the short weeks, and our volume has been a little lower, too, which has been a welcome break.

I thought I'd recap our Christmas celebration a little. We usually have three celebrations: Christmas Eve with David's parents, Christmas morning for us, and Christmas night with David's extended family. In years past, I've dreaded Christmas Eve a little, because our nephews kind of kill it for all the adults. Their behavior has been less than adorable, and a four-hour extended multi-child tantrum isn't my idea of holly and jolly. But as the kids have grown older, the tantrums have lessened, and this year wasn't half-bad. Only two huge meltdowns and zero shouting matches! The toy of the night was this little cheap helicopter office toy - that thing captivated the kids (and grownups!) zooming all over the living room. Meanwhile, the adults did a secret Santa. My wish list included a lidded salt cellar, and my Santa gave me one, along with a nice set of Himalayan sea salts.

For some reason, on Christmas morning, I felt like changing things up. Maybe it is because we already couldn't do our Christmas morning run, thanks to my foot, but I didn't think a brunch for just the two of us sounded fun. We walked to church that morning, and ran into good friends. We started chatting about Christmas day as an adult, and long story short, ended up inviting them over. A few quick texts yielded four guests for a casual brunch! I'd already planned on bagels and cream cheese with lox and capers for our breakfast; I added ruby red grapefruit, scrambled eggs, bacon, and a loaf of stollen I'd made weeks earlier. David made mimosas, we played Christmas music, and had a truly lovely morning with good friends! I've never had a get-together on Christmas day, but we had such an enjoyable time. Everyone was happy to have something to do, and we shared stories from childhood Christmases. Brunch was delicious - the homemade bagels were especially good - and the company a joy. It was one of the most fun Christmas celebrations we've had in years.

Usually I'm a stickler for tradition, but we had so much fun on Christmas morning that I let it slide this time!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017


I was so happy to have a three-day weekend this Christmas. Nothing is worse than a Christmas on a weekend, when you don't get any extra days off; three-day weekends are the best-case scenario. I'd finished all my Christmas preparations early, so I was able to just enjoy the holiday for the most part.
Unfortunately, on Christmas Eve, we got "birded".
This awful thing

"Birding" is an extremely annoying tradition in my church. Someone gave this terrifying, molting stuffed pheasant to my pastor one year, and he left it on another parishioner's porch as a re-gift. And since then, it's made the rounds. A set of rigid rules developed, including that you can't regift the bird to the same family more than once a year, and that whoever is stuck with the bird at midnight on Christmas Eve has to keep it until next year, when it "takes flight" again on Christmas Eve. Passing the bird must be done secretly, as you must keep the bird if you are caught.

I remember that the first time we got birded, we were attempting to binge watch Making a Murderer, but were interrupted by this dumb bird, requiring us to gallivant all over the city to find another recipient. This year, we got the bird right before church on Sunday morning, and we tag-teamed it. I went to church, and surreptitiously texted him names of people safely ensconced in their pews. Meanwhile, he crept to their homes and eventually left it on the porch of a house without a locked gate!
David leaving the bird to another lucky recipient

Phew. Safe until next year. Although I really am a little over this tradition. Nothing says "holiday season" like creeping around like a burglar...

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A British Christmas

Apparently, I've started a tradition of travel-related Christmas gifts. Last year, when we went to China on vacation, we used fortune cookies as "bubble wrap" in our gift boxes, and our Christmas card imitated Chinese paper cutting. This year, our gift boxes are all things British!
Packing the boxes

We always send far-away friends and family boxes of edibles every year. This year, we stocked up on typically-British treats while in London. I added two different types of homemade fruitcake (although I didn't include traditional boiled English fruitcake, just because I like my own recipe so much more; I considered it, though, since it would have been much more appropriate!).

Our boxes contained:
- Jaffa cakes
- Scottish shortbread
- Prawn crisps
- Branston pickle
- Tea
- Several Cadbury chocolate boxes or bags

The Christmas card is supposed to evoke London streets, more or less...I was pressed for time, so it's not my best, but I think the card itself came out really well this year. Last year the printing quality was really poor, so I am much more pleased with this year's card.
The painting
The finished card
 Painting our Christmas card is actually one of my favorite Christmas activities, which is why we'll probably never drop the Christmas card tradition!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

But, why?

I'm feeling a little "Why me?" today, as my husband recovers from a half marathon he ran all by his lonesome on Sunday while I sat at home and sulked. Really, why did I end up with a stress fracture?

The fracture is in my second metatarsal, and I can pinpoint exactly where: not only did it swell and bruise right over the spot, it is incredibly painful to the touch, to the point that I'll see stars if I press on it (I don't sit around pressing on it for fun, that was just diagnostic). This is a common site of stress fractures in the feet, and are especially vulnerable in runners with bunions, which I have.

Honestly, I don't know how I could have prevented this fracture except by modifying my training plan. It's not due to bone density problems. If you've been reading forever, you may recall the really cool DEXA scan I got for free back when I had my last stress fracture. My bone density looked excellent, and I doubt that in a few years it made a sudden and unprovoked swing into osteopenia territory. Plus, I am not in a risk category for fractures due to bone mineral loss. I am not post-menopausal, I am not underweight or overweight, I eat a healthy diet, and I even take a supplement called "Bone-up"!
All this goodness, every single day.

I eat generally quite well: I like to cook, and almost everything we eat is from scratch, with very few processed foods (except I do love spicy chips and cheese crackers as a snack, but we're talking on top of healthy foods, not instead of). We have a lot of raw fruits and vegetables in our diet, plus cooked vegetables twice a day as well. We probably eat an average amount of meat. It's rarely the focal point of the meal, a holdover from my hungry and miserable vegetarian childhood, but I think I get enough to have all the main nutrients in abundant supply. I've never had blood work that revealed any sort of nutritional deficiency.

During this training cycle, I did try to do all the "little things" - stretch, strengthen, foam roll on occasion. Before each run I did my hip exercises, and after each run I either stretched or fit in one of Coach Jay Johnson's post-run routines (per our group coach, we were supposed to do these every day, but they are time-consuming). I did a weights routine once or twice a week and core once or twice a week. I definitely could have done better, especially in the post-run routine category, but I did more than I usually do. The one thing I didn't do well on was recovery, especially sleep. I've been extremely busy this fall, and I started sleeping less and less. I never get a lot of sleep - six hours is fine for me, over seven and I'd feel groggy and ill - but now I was maxing out at five. Weirdly, I wasn't tired at all, and in retrospect that might have been the cortisol talking: I could have been producing a lot of cortisol in response to stress, maybe due to overtraining. That could negatively impact bone strength, too, but all of this is just guesswork.

The point is, the only reason I fractured my foot was good old fashioned overuse. I ran too many miles, too fast, too soon for my body. I loved every minute of the process, but it was more than I could handle. I don't regret it, though. Sometimes you have to push your body to find out your limits: limits of ability, and limits of strength. I guess I found my break-down point, but in the process I ran several PRs and felt progress for the first time in years, since before I had my hip surgeries. I might feel different a few weeks from now when I'm itching to run and bored out of my mind, but for now, I don't regret a thing.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Treatment plan

I can hardly believe that two weeks ago I ran a 19 miler with 15 tempo miles at 6:54 thrown in there like it was no big deal. And this was capping off a 72 mile week, the most I've ever run, and the week after a 4-week stretch that included four races (three of which were PRs).
Hm, I can't imaging why I'm injured! Really, that's a recipe for overuse injury, and I think that's exactly what I have.
I don't have an official diagnosis, but I am 100% sure this is a stress fracture. I have textbook symptoms, and my recent running history also points to the likelihood of this being a fracture. Maybe it's not a bad one - I definitely caught it early; I saw my doctor the day after it started to hurt, and no fracture was visible on the x-ray, so it was too early for any osseous changes to show. But I will probably never get an official diagnosis.

Why? Well, my doctor, who obstinately refuses to think this is a stress fracture, has asked me to get a confirmatory MRI. Totally understand that - you need proof before you can go willy-nilly prescribing walking boots, etc. But with my schedule, holidays and end of the year, the schedule of the imaging center, and the fact that I am changing insurance January first (and restarting a jumbo deductible!), I probably won't be able to get one until the first week of January. And at that point...well, I'd be four weeks out and probably out of the boot, anyway.
Walking boot, the perfect holiday accessory!

So I think I'm just going to go ahead and not get the MRI, and self-treat. Please, someone, when I lose use of my left foot, remind me that I wrote these words. But really, I think it's ok. One of my dear friends is lending me her walking boot (oh, runners!), and I don't intend to wear it long, anyway. I see the value in protecting the tender bone from impact until a callous starts to form, but then I need to start stimulating bone growth, and that happens with impact. I guess I'm thinking about a week or three in a boot, then three more bootless, then see how it feels? I know healing times vary hugely for stress fractures, so I'll have to play it by pain!

Monday, December 11, 2017


Saturday's test run was decidedly a disaster.
I think that's a broken bone...

NOPE. I limped home in pain with a bruise developing across my foot. I am suspicious of that bruise. It points to a stress fracture, no matter what my doctor says! I placed a call to his office Monday morning to report, but I haven't heard back. Meanwhile, I think my winter running is over!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Progress stalled

Mystery foot pain has me temporarily off the marathon training this week: hopefully for only this week! On Saturday, we had a really tough workout on schedule: 18 miles with 15 miles at marathon pace in the middle. This was on day 6 of a 72 mile week, the most I've ever can see where this is heading. Increase in intensity PLUS increase in mileage = injury!
Saturday's run was obviously hard, and I ended up with 19.5 including running to and from the meeting place; plus it was a humid morning with a slick surface to the levee. We planned to meet as a group, jog over to the levee, and do a 7.5-mile out-and-back at marathon pace. The levee is topped with a paved bike/pedestrian path, and there are no vehicles, so it's ideal for this type of tempo workout when you absolutely don't want to have to stop. I was lucky enough to have a large group to run with: myself, plus three other guys. We were also lucky to have a not-too-windy day; often, there is a heavy headwind off the river on the way back, but it wasn't bad on Saturday. Our group was shooting for 6:57 pace, and for the first few miles, it was conversational. We held together pretty tightly, with the only time our pack spread out being during a brief off-road episode due to construction on the levee. But we were still together at the super-tight hairpin turn to head back. By mile ten or so, I was getting tired. We had some water from a group member biking around with bottles, but not much - he was toting bottles for all fifteen of us out there, so we were just sharing sips. And like usual, we had no fuel, although our coach posted that we could take one or two gels if we wanted to test them on our stomach. I didn't, because I didn't think there was enough water to manage it, but I did chew two salt tablets. We ended up with a little over 15 at 6:54 pace, and I was immediately sore when I got home. I was happy with our pace and the workout, and happy that we were able to finish pretty strong (we didn't slow on the second half, even with the mild headwind).
Long run group

But foot started to hurt. That night, the top of my foot ached, but it was ok when I woke up, so I headed out for eight miles. It hurt so much that I cut it short at 7.5 and walked back. By Monday morning, I called my doctor, and went in for an x-ray. I was happy that there was no sign of a fracture, but I have a ton of inflammation between the metatarsals, and a bone bruise. Apparently there was just too much pounding during the long run. I am taking time off until it doesn't hurt, and taking some NSAIDS. I'm glad it's not fractured, but concerned that it will be slow-healing: it still hurts to walk on it! I'm hoping some time off doesn't totally derail my race!