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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Mile Time Trial

 After a long, hot summer of training, we finally ran our mile time trial and it was slooooow. I have oh-so-many good excuses. 

  1. It was hot, feels-like-100 at race time (although I've raced miles in worse weather).
  2. It was windy! With tropical storm Marco just retreating, and hurricane Laura heading in, we had a very breezy day. 
  3. I just wasn't in shape, thanks to the hamstring pull. I was able to ease back into running over the last few weeks, but only got in one mile speed session in the month prior to the time trial. I tried to do a few of the workouts, but re-pulled my hamstring. 
  4. I brilliantly started a diet, which is wreaking havoc on my running. 
So the race! Er, time trial. Time trial on the track with (non-certified) tape markings and stop watches and the rest of my team! Outdoor exercise without a mask is permitted and outdoor groups of 25 and below are permitted, so while we can't run regular races, this worked and was legal! We did a two mile warm-up and some strides and then spread out for a waterfall start. I lined up all the way out, since I am one of the slowest in the group. 

With a casual, "Go!" we were off, and I felt bad AT ONCE. I planned to sprint out of the gate to get into position, then settle into my pace, but I never could settle in. My chest was burning immediately. And it didn't help that we turned that first corner into a wild headwind. My first lap was my fastest, but it was still several seconds off my planned pace. The plan had been 1:22 for the first lap, 1:21s after that, and then GO on the last one. HAHA. None of my laps were even close to my goal. My first lap was 1:27 (including the extra 9m).

I didn't DIE die in the second lap, but I was hurting a lot. The wind was really challenging: the track has woods blocking the slightest tailwind on one side, but wide open fields allowing hard headwind on the other. You can't win. I knew I was slowing down, but I was slightly cheered that I was not falling too far back off my teammate Jeff (although he was pretty far in front - he just wasn't getting even farther in front). But the third lap was a total struggle fest. My hamstring was making itself known in that "if you push me, I'll pop" manner, my gait was inhibited, and I couldn't breath at all. As soon as we got into the last lap, Sara passed me, and even her encouragement couldn't get me to sprint. I was just in slow motion. 5:43 finish with almost zero sprint. I absolutely couldn't stretch my stride out. My hamstring isn't there yet. And my fitness clearly suffered from the injury, as well. 

I should have kept up with my laps during the race to see exactly where and how I fell apart, but I didn't remember to do that, and I couldn't hear people calling splits after the first one. Probably because of the blood pounding in my ears! I think I could run under 5:30 if I was in better shape, and I am planning a time trial do-over: maybe after my upcoming relay, and once my hamstring is really recovered. I was happy to pseudo-race, but I am not happy with my time! 

Friday, August 21, 2020


 "Currently" is a blog post theme some of my favorites have been using for a while, and I decided to hop on board! 

Currently eating: Peaches, sirloin pork chops, and tofu! I got some amazing peaches for $0.78 per lb, so I stocked up. I'm mostly eating them plain as a snack, but I plan to make some panna cotta with peaches next week. I also got some sirloin pork chops at the grocery. I prefer that cut to loin cut as it is much more flavorful! And lastly - I bought homemade tofu from our Asian market a few weeks ago and oh my word, it is so much better than store bought. I was at the Asian market buying a huge bag of random Asian foods for my sister for her birthday: this kind of gift is right up her alley, as she loves Asian foods and doesn't have a specialty store near her. 

Related story: I also bought myself a bunch of produce from the Asian grocery, much of which did not have a label in English. When I got home, I Googled the names of the items off my receipt. Turns out that I bought a loofah! I threw it into a curry and it was just fine - like a mix of eggplant and summer squash in texture. I resisted the urge to make a bunch of "wash your mouth out with soap" and similar jokes. 

Currently reading: Lithium, by Walter Brown. It's the history of how lithium came to be used in bipolar disorder. It's actually less interesting than I expected it to be. 

Currently drinking: Old vine zinfandel. I don't know what's going on in California (besides there being no power), but the old vine is CHEAP these days. I am taking full advantage. After the baby goes to bed I get a glass of wine and read my boring book and I'm very happy. Old vine zinfandel is one of my favorite wines to drink on its own. 

Currently running: While our mile time trial is next week, I've had to keep my workouts tame to avoid aggravating my hamstring. I did 8x30 second accelerations today - from easy to mile pace - and was not thrilled that my legs feel heavy and I'm moving pretty slowly. 

Currently wearing: I bought these pink mirrored sunglasses and I'm loving the reflective look! Between these and my mask - you can't see me at all ;-)

Also loving these beaded earrings I made this week. 

Currently watching:
I really haven't been watching much at all. We sometimes watch something on Sunday night; it would generally be sports, but with the Pelicans out of the playoffs, I haven't been that interested in the rest of the NBA season. I did watch an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, which was fun, even though OBVIOUSLY THE HUSBAND DID IT OMG. 

Currently waiting for: The inner tubes I ordered for my bike to come in so I can get back on Snow White, my little single speed road bike. I got a flat when I hit a major pothole I misjudged, and my bike takes weird tubes with 60mm Presta valves. None of the local bike shops carry them (and actually, most bike shops have been sold out of nearly everything or only services current customers, ie you bought your bike from them, since the pandemic started). 

Currently loving: Our city counsel just voted to change the name of "Jefferson Davis Parkway" to "Norman C Francis Parkway" and I couldn't be happier to see the name of the president of the confederacy removed from our street signs. These Jim Crow era monuments are a blight on our city.

Currently hating: Politics. Oh, my word, I am so tired of it all! 

Monday, August 17, 2020

The Speed Project DIY

The PowerMilers are racing: a relay! We had signed up for The Speed Project, a crazy Santa-Monica-to-Vegas relay, before all the COVID cancellations. The replacement event is called "TSPDIY", and we've adapted. We're running a route of our own concoction for 31 hours. It's a set time, so we're going for distance!

The Speed Project doesn't have a lot of rules for a relay: you can read some really fun (and anxiety-inducing) recaps over at You make your own route, your relay legs can be any distance, and your team is basically on its own. It's even loser this year, as we're just running for time, and in fact your team doesn't even have to be in the same city. 

We have eleven studs running for our team. And I'm one of them. Because you know what? 

Yeah, there's a pandemic. 

Yeah, I have a baby. 

Yeah, I already did one relay and it sucked. 

Yeah, my hamstring is iffy. 

But I am ready to RACE, this sitting around doing nothing is getting old! I haven't run a race since Thanksgiving of last year, and I was running that one easy (highly pregnant and highly injured). My last real race was the Jazz Half in October, when I lumbered across the line in 1:39:xx, which felt like a victory at almost seven months pregnant. I'm looking forward to running for a reason, and it's been years enough since my last relay for me to be able to look back at it through rose-colored glasses. I guess it wasn't the WORST experience of my life. And this should be slightly less horrible: when I get a chance to sleep, it can be in my own bed, and I can take a shower, too. Of course, the relay is in early September, so we should still expect temperatures in the 90s and even overnight in the 80s, so that won't be ideal. Hopefully we are heat acclimated enough to deal with it for an estimated 290 miles: what our team predicts if everyone performs according to fitness!

Relay starts September 5th. I'll be ready! 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Training log - pausing

 Everything is on pause right now as far as training goes. There are three reasons for this: 

1. My hamstring still isn't 100%. It is fine for moderate to easy pace, but even just tempo pace hurt. I am actually taking time totally off right now to speed healing. 

2. And I need my hamstring to be much better because I am signed up for The Speed Project in early September! More to come, but it's a 31 hour relay and clearly I can't be limping for 31 hours (at our projected pace, we'll run an average of 26.2 miles each on my team...although as the slowest member, I will probably run less). 

3. And lastly, my symptoms from the uterine mass have simply gotten too severe to run. This is the worst it has ever been, so unless I can find a way to temporarily improve them before I have my procedure, all training and racing is in jeopardy. 

Meanwhile, here is how last week went: 

Monday: Easy run, but skipped strides to protect hamstring. 7.2 miles.

Tuesday: I was feeling good enough that I thought I could do the workout, which was 10x500. The very first rep warned me not to! I opted for an easy run instead, talking with Jonathon about the ultra he had just run over the weekend; it was good to hear an actual race report! I'd started the day with an easy 3 with the baby, so I got 10.25 miles for the day. 

Wednesday: Hamstring felt fine; 7 easy. 

Thursday: Still felt fine. 6.65 easy. Baby slept in ;-)

Friday: Cheerfully headed out for an easy 3x3 minutes at tempo pace, but re-pulled my hamstring in the first rep. I was very annoyed. It was just as bad as the initial pull. What a setback! I hobbled home with just 3.77 miles. 

Saturday: I took the stroller for 6 easy miles, but I could feel the old hammy. 

Sunday: We had guests, so I didn't want to leave for the long run, plus my hamstring was still hurting. I tried five easy and even that hurt, so I shut it down. I haven't run since then. 

About 45 miles last week. Probably too close to the mile time trial to salvage it, but maybe time off will heal me up! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Health updates: maybe a plan

 So much is going on, yet...I am posting so little. I've been really busy! 

I have been going back and forth with my doctor about my uterine mass. We were hoping that blood flow to the mass would decrease once pregnancy hormones settled down, which would not only potentially shrink the mass, but would also make surgery safer (the area was inoperable right after birth due to risk of hemorrhage from the extensive perfusion). However, that unfortunately did not happen, and I am once again experiencing severe symptoms. 

The short story is that I need a hysterectomy. It's the safest surgical option and the most definitive. Hormonal treatments don't work because part of the symptoms are due to the location, size, and damage in the area. I'm not a candidate for a hysteroscopy or myomectomy for the same reasons, and because of the risk of bleeding due to all the blood vessels feeding the mass. However, I don't want to do a hysterectomy yet. It's a major surgery with long recovery, and it seems so...extreme! Instead, we are buying time with a uterine artery embolization. This will reduce blood supply to the area and potentially shrink the mass, which will reduce symptoms, plus make any operation we might schedule a little safer. 

None of my options here are ideal. I don't want to take hormones (which aren't actually effective anyway). I don't want major surgery. I don't want multiple minor surgeries and procedures that drag out over time. And I don't want my current symptoms! But some things in life are like that! No good options, so you just have to pick the best of the bad bunch.

I'm waiting on my insurance to approve the procedure, and then I will have the exciting prospect of scheduling this around my work and life. But I'm really, really ready to be done feeling so crappy. Even a small improvement will make me happy for now. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Shortened training week - injury!

Last Sunday, our monsoon weather made for very unstable footing during the long run. As has happened to me many times before, wet running strained my hamstring a little. It wasn't injured Sunday, but I was aware that it was under stress. I've actually torn it mildly during rainy runs before, most notably the Bar-A-Thon, where I almost certainly gave up a podium position and basically got 6-beer-drunk for no reason. 

St Charles Ave running
Monday: I subbed "accelerations" for strides this week due to the sore hamstring residual from Monday, but the muscle still felt tight. I could feel a slight hitch in my step. 7.2 miles.
Tuesday: I went into this with trepidation: It was 300s at mile pace. Sure enough, pop! The exact same spot I always injure tore on the fourth rep. I tend to get a tiny little tear right in the belly of the muscle. If all is well, it heals quickly and I can usually run through it, recruiting the rest of the muscle fibers. But a worse tear can take many months to heal, especially if I strain the distal end of the muscle trying to spare the hurt area. The little tear heals, but the compensating strain is worse! This happened to me last year during Boston training, and it sucked. So this time, I totally shut the run down. I mean, I couldn't run anyway - I could barely walk! 5.4 miles. 
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Off.
Friday: Having taken 2 days off and worn a compression wrap around the clock, and FOR ONCE keeping my hands/massage tool/foam roll OFF the injured muscle, I felt good enough to test the injury with an easy stroller run. And it felt ok! Really, almost better! 3 miles. One thing I check after these runs is for fresh bruising. The reason I know this is a tear, not a strain, is that as soon as I felt the POP a red bruise showed up. It darkened to blue, and then yellow, so any new bleeding and bruising would be obvious. And a warning flag to stop at once! New damage! All looked good, and felt good, so I was safe. 
Saturday: Another stroller easy run to check progress. I wanted to know if a long run on Sunday would be a totally terrible idea. I started to feel the hamstring at about 6 miles, but it was definitely on the mend. 6.65 miles.
Sunday: I risked it and went for the long run. I questioned my decision when I realized we were doing 15 (we have two training groups right now: the regular old group, and the "pre-marathon conditioning" group, who are getting into marathon-training shape. They are running longer, but I usually jump in with them because the COVID-era water stops are at their houses! They have kindly provided tiny water bottles in coolers since most of our old stopping spots aren't available anymore). But actually, my hamstring felt better and better as we ran, and I actually felt good for the whole run, probably because it was an unseasonably cool day. The temperature was only 80F when we started at six, and even though it was sunny, it just didn't feel like it got really hot. 15 miles at a surprising 7:39 pace (it didn't feel like effort). 

So just 37 miles this week, but I am grateful I dodged a bullet with this hamstring. I am not sure I will do the workout on Tuesday: if it's another mile pace workout, I might sub an aerobic run or tempo intervals instead. Or skip altogether if there is residual pain. But I'm clearly heading in the right direction, and I think our mile time trial is still a go for me! 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Bring your baby to work day

It finally happened - I had to bring the baby to work. I know many parents have been doing this for months, but somehow I escaped. This time, we had no choice. The daycare abruptly closed the infant room when an infant tested positive for COVID, and all babies were quarantined for fourteen days since the last day the sick baby was in the center.

The sick baby, by the way, is fine and was only tested because his grandma tested positive. But anyway, my baby was suddenly without care! Baby sitters are a no-no because he was in quarantine: because of his risk of exposure, we couldn't allow someone else into our circle. I couldn't get any time off on short notice, so I dragged him along with me to work. We - well, David! - had done "work from home" with the baby before, but it's a little more complicated to bring a baby to your busy pharmacy. But he's over 6 months now, so I figured he would be able to handle it. I dragged a little travel bed and some toys with me, and we gave it a go.

My counseling room/nursery
I handled naps by putting him down in my separate counseling room. I could turn off the lights, but light streams in through glass windows in two doors, plus it's adjacent to our lobby, with people walking in and out (and the chime that rings whenever the door opens!). So his naps weren't great. He goes to sleep on his own, but he needs his nap routine to recognize it's nap time. I was worried about recreating that at work, but I read him a book, sang him his song, and he went right to sleep.He did wake up early, though, but he got in two solid naps both days I kept him, plus a third in the morning before, so I felt good about that.

Entertaining him was another kettle of fish. He is mobile, I had no playpen or way to restrict him, and the pharmacy is nothing but wires, outlets, heavy shelving, and toxic chemicals. Somehow I managed to keep him occupied, but he did interrupt a few calls with loud talking! He's a chatty one these days! Day two was tougher, as he was getting really bored, but we survived. He was a big hit with my coworkers, but he was happy to go home.
Ways I entertained him:

  • Making silly faces while discussing very serious things with patients over the phone
  • Allowing him phone cord privileges
  • Stretching his lunch out over an entire hour...very slowly flying roast beef toward his mouth. His "airplane" was clearly a prop plane instead of a jet.
  • Putting him in an empty box. This occupied him for almost an hour, until I realized he was eating the paper tape off one flap.
  • Taping his toys to the wall and letting him pick at the tape with his teeny little fingers until he finally succeeded in tearing them off
  • Playing music on my phone and dancing with him while on a conference call
  • Giving him wrapped plastic utensils and letting him figure that out
Luckily, I only had to cover two days at work: David kept him two other days, and next week I took off until he gets to go back to daycare. I'm really hoping this is a rare occurrence. For one thing, we have a department of defense childcare subsidy, but they only reimburse for days he actually attends. For another, daycare does NOT reduce our rates for time they are closed. And most importantly, figuring out the childcare solution is hard!