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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The 2019 Power Mile

After my experience at Greek Fest, I knew a PR was out of the question for the Power Mile. My club puts this race on, and this year we moved it up to the first of June. We were hoping for cooler temperatures compared to the end of July, and maybe more crowds, but actually we just ended up with a less-acclimated field!
There were other changes this year, too: a new double-loop course on Carrollton Avenue, which omitted the sharp right turn at the finish that the old course had, and an afterparty at Rock 'n Bowl (a bowling lane/bar). I'd worked packet stuffing and early packet pick up the week leading up to the race, and on race day arrived early for day-of packet pick-up. I knew it wasn't going to be a good day for me. That morning, since I wasn't running early, I suggested to David that we go on a leisurely walk with our morning coffee. And I felt terrible. I was weak and faint and had to sit down. We cut our walk short, and I went to bed for some of the day. By the time the race rolled around, I was very happy it was only a mile!

The race has several heats, and I decided that it would be fun to pace David for the open mile. He wanted to run 7:00 and I was happy to help before my race started. Not something I would do before a real race, but totally ok under the circumstances of being 10 weeks pregnant and having been sick ALL day.
Sub-7:00 was kind of a lofty goal... and David wimped out, resulting in some on-course dramatics from the two of us hams.

Anyway, he pulled off a 7:10, which was still a huge PR, and we certainly had fun!

After the open race, I had a break before the "elite" heat. I jogged a little more to stay warmed up before scooting back into the starting corral. I politely got in a back row - I'm a little bitter about it, but I've accepted that I'm no front-packer these days.
I do love a good mile race! I knew I had to temper my expectations, but still - there was another runner I know who moved ahead of me by the first 400m, and I knew I should be faster than her, even pregnant. I ran the first quarter in 1:24 and told myself to hang on to that and I'd be ok. I rounded the corner at the halfway point and heard my split: 2:48. Great! I could sense I was slowing, though. I ran the next quarter in 1:25, and finally eased past my "competition", but struggled to hold the pace. I couldn't really find an extra gear, and ended up running 5:49 gun time. At first, I was disappointed. I ran 5:38 last year, and promised myself sub-5:30 this year. But I knew I couldn't compare and quickly shrugged it off.
Not as fast...but clearly working pretty hard nonetheless! 

The best part about this race was that I felt pretty good afterward, and could actually eat the race food with no ill effects. We had a great time at the after party! We're not sure if this race will live for another year, but I think the runners really enjoyed Rock 'n Bowl, and it was great to have an all-inclusive venue that took care of drinks, food, and music for us. It did increase the registration price - $45 for day-of registration, which is so high for a mile! - but I think it was worth it for a race, all-you-can-eat food, all-you-can-drink beer and wine, live music, and a race. Hopefully we can put this race on again next year, because we had a lot of fun!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Getting some distance back

I am still coming off a long break, slowly working back to some running distance. Oof, July really took it out of me. Pregnancy complications and treatments for them made the "easy" second trimester start out pretty hard, and I took a while to recover. One of my problems lead to an electrolyte imbalance, with hypokalemia. This made me very weak, and it got worse because my blood volume suddenly expanded (normal in the second trimester). I spent a lot of July tired, with anemia and floppy muscles. Not to mention the catheter for part of the month...can't run like that! So there was a lot of not just missed running in July, there was also a lot of just feeling crappy.
THEN I was super slow when I could run, so altogether there just hasn't been a lot of distance over here.

Once I was feeling well enough to run again, and didn't have any crippling hamstring injuries, I stupidly jumped in the long run after just a week back. Not smart! Thirteen miles exhausted me, and I felt insanely sore, like I'd lifted heavy weights. I used the next week to build mileage gradually before attempting any distance again. The following week wasn't as bad. I did 14 miles, and I actually had a slightly better pace from the week prior. Still slow - I'm running mid-9's now. But the distance didn't beat me up like the week before.
Super glad I bought a few bigger tops and sports bras that somewhat fit!

Last week, I decided to throw in a midweek semi-long run. I think midweek longs are so important for a successful weekend long run: I try to always run at least half my weekend distance at some point during the week (usually Thursday). I was a little worried about joining a group due to my newfound slowness, but I met a bunch of ladies for about ten, and it ended up being fine. They were taking it easy, too, and I actually ran sub-9 average...this is so rare now!

I'll try to keep the mid-week distance up a little, but the limiting factor is time. Adding 10 or 15 minutes to my run due to slower pace does mean I have to plan a little better, get up when my alarm goes off, and not dawdle at the water fountain. Not a big deal overall, but just something to be aware of. Long runs, meanwhile, are still on the table for now, just done smartly and with some pre-planning!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Race recap: Greek Fest 2019

I signed up for the Greek Fest 5k in a moment of delusion, thinking that I'd somehow use the adrenaline of the starting line to rally for a good race, and hey - maybe even PR the 5k! While nine weeks pregnant and routinely barfing all day. Sure. Makes perfect sense.

The race is a Friday night race before Memorial Day weekend, and it looked to be a slow one, as it was one of our first warm and humid races for the year. This was an unusually long and pleasant spring for us in NOLA, so when summer temperatures hit, we weren't ready! By race day, it was quite clear to me that PRing was not at all going to happen, even though I'd had a surprisingly good workout that Tuesday. But Friday was not a good day. I took a gel to the start, hoping that 100 calories of sugar gel would make up for throwing up any solid food I'd eaten all day. Right.

(Insert race photo here, except the NOTC's facebook page got hacked and now it's a disorganized mess missing tons of information. But for a few hours, you could get addiction treatment for cheap, in Arabic!)

I warmed up for about two miles, and started the race actually not feeling too bad. But I quickly learned not to rely on pre-pregnancy pace assumptions. I ran the first mile in 6:06, only to rapidly fall apart. I just felt weak and slow all of a sudden. The race is an out-and-back and I saw I was in fourth place at the turn around. On a better day I could have maybe tried to catch up to third, but definitely not this time. I felt terrible, sick and exhausted, and my pace was around 6:30 for the last two miles. I ran 19:59 for fourth female. And then I got Greek food at the festival, and now I can never eat Greek food again.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Running: the past few months

Just to quickly let you know how running is going, here's a recap of what I've been doing during my long hiatus:

Terrible track workout the week I
found out I was pregnant!
May: The week of my scheduled surgery I had two TERRIBLE workouts. Tuesday on the track I felt horribly lethargic and slow, but I didn't know why, and I was honestly freaked out. I thought that maybe I didn't take off enough time after Boston and was showing signs of training fatigue. But I reminded myself that I was about to take off two weeks post-op, so I'd have plenty of time to recover. With that in mind, I moved Friday's tempo to Thursday morning - the morning of my noon surgery. Last workout before a ton of time off! But I felt SO bad. It wasn't because I was fasting; I never eat before I run (and I totally drank water - it was five hours before my surgery. I'm a little cheater like that). I actually stopped between my last two 1.5-mile reps and sat on a bench with my head down, feeling dizzy and nauseated. Well, a few hours later I found out why I felt so bad! And after that, I just started gradually slowing down more and more.
I was able to participate in all my workouts in May, even though I usually showed up minutes after pulling over to throw up! And for a few weeks, I even hung with my old pace group. My day-to-day running didn't change, either: I felt my best while running, and in May I hit 286 miles!

June: I kept it up in June, despite persistent nausea and poor (terrible) nutrition. I dared not skip a day running: it was the only activity that kept the vomiting at bay. Something about drawing blood flow away from the stomach really relieved my sickness. But alas, pregnant bodies don't work like non-pregnant bodies. Toward the end of June, I started having tendon and ligament pain that made some old injuries flare - specifically my left biceps femoris tendon. This is the exact same nagging injury that plagued me in the Boston build-up, except it was my right leg. I ran my last real long run on June 16th, a 15-mile progression run, completed at 7:34 pace. Right after that, I ended up taking most of the rest of the month off, trying to let my tendons and ligaments heal.
Early June: running with a baby bump! 

July: July was not a good month for me at all! It began with a week of almost no exercise at all. I started the month with an emergency room visit that left me wearing a catheter bag for the first week of the month, which obviously is not at all conducive to exercise.
This is how I spent July.
Once I was back to normal, I tried some test runs, but I was obviously limping, and I took another two weeks off. I ended up somewhere around 90 miles for the month.

August: So here we are in August. I gradually started to run again, but it was a huge shock after taking a few weeks off. I got much slower during that time! I knew I'd slow down, but I assumed it would mostly be related to weight and fluid gain later in pregnancy stressing the cardiovascular system. Nope. I've definitely gained a lot of weight (I can cram myself into a pair or two of my running shorts, and I've been in larger bras since May), but clearly something else is going on. My stride is incredibly awkward and uncoordinated, and I tire easily. I simply have no speed in my legs at all. I went out for my first long run in almost a month this week, and I ran 9:25's! Obviously, I'm going by feel now, but I have been wearing a watch or Garmin to keep an eye on the time - I am slowing down so much day by day that I might accidentally make myself late for work!

Suddenly slow and clearly preggers in August 
For now, I'm running some, at very slow paces, which are determined by feel. To give my ligaments and tendons a break, I cross train on some kind of low-impact machine on Mondays. I am still attending group workouts, but with modifications: like walking or standing rest when needed (and skipping reps - I don't have all night!). I think any type of exercise during pregnancy requires common sense; I know what's hurting me and what's not, and my body is making sure I know exactly my limitations!