Week in Review 11.19.18 to 11.25.18

All aboard the HalloweenThanksgivingChristmasValentine’s Day Express…

Monday: 7-mile tempo run. 4 by 5 minutes at tempo with 1 minute between.

(I love this workout because the benefit is the same as a 20-minute continuous tempo but somehow is mentally much more approachable)

Tuesday: 4-mile recovery run. Found a decent option for dark winter nights that isn’t the treadmill. Carrier Park has lights on until 10 pm and I fashioned a 13-minute loop. Not glamorous, but I suspect I’ll be there a lot to save myself from death by treadmill.

Wednesday: Intended to do a shakeout run but unfortunately, operated until 8 pm. Came home and crashed instead.

Thursday: Greenville Turkey Trot 8K. Full race report on Instagram.

Friday: 4 easy miles. Felt pretty darn good after the race, which was encouraging.

Saturday: First real efficiency run back! Jogged to the track then 5 by 200 at R pace. I’m SURE I wasn’t moving as fast as I thought in my head, but I worked hard. Total 5.25 miles.

Sunday: Slow paced 10 miles at the Biltmore. With two workouts and a race in a week, thought I’d better entice myself to take this very slowly so opted for the Biltmore where the gravel roads naturally slow me down.

Total Miles: 38.3. 

Starting to get into a rhythm, which is reassuring. I’m also starting to notice that my stride feels more like my stride than it has in a while. Still struggling a bit with frustration that things aren’t coming back as fast as I want them to, but working to remind myself that I haven’t been fast (for me) since 2015 so I need to be patient in this build up.

One more week up at my current normal workload then a cutback week and another crack at the 8K!

Race Report: Rock’n’Roll Savannah

Short Version

9th female (what?!?!) (also was 10th until they finalized results)

Long Version

This race was one of those great ideas I had about ten minutes after tearing my MCL. I am blessed to have three incredible girlfriends that I met in Chapel Hill and we have worked tirelessly to maintain our friendship over the past decade. I ran my first marathon because of these women and have done countless half and full marathons since then with them. So with half a knee, I convinced KC to register for the half with me. Emily and Lindsey were, as always, up to spectate and come play in Savannah for the weekend.

The last month before this race was really fantastic. My knee started to feel almost 100%, my stride felt normal for me again and I finally experienced a glimpse of past fitness. Despite this, I was nervous about any kind of race because I’d done only early season workouts and my longest long run was 10 miles. Going in, my goal was to be under 1:35 and to run a smart, smooth race.

Travel to Savannah was a breeze. Lindsey flew into Asheville on Thursday night and then we started our journey to Savannah on Friday morning after a Trader Joes stop. The drive flew by as we solved all the world’s problems AND listened to Dirty John. We grabbed KC at the airport, picked up the keys to our rental house and unpacked all our groceries and clothes. KC and I had initially planned to run to the expo but it was raining HARD so we drove instead and did our shakeout run after. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that my legs felt amazing. Forgot about the sea level effect!

Before and After.

As luck would have it, our house was a quick jog from the start line so we got up at 6, ate breakfast and had some caffeine then jogged over a little before 7. The weather was PERFECT. I wore a throwaway jacket and gloves and jogged around the corrals until about 7:10. This was the first place I noticed that Competitor has done a LOT to improve their starts. If you remember my Las Vegas experience where I couldn’t warm up OR get to my corral without crying to an official, this was the complete opposite. The start was a BREEZE and next year, I would leave our house even later.

The first mile of the race was mentally hard. People went out fast and I felt like half the field passed me. I was resolute to not go out too fast and just kept backing off. Even with a bridge and fairly significant climb, my first mile was a 7:24. Despite this, it felt like a jog so I didn’t fight it. Once we were over the bridge, I just tried to settle in until mile 6. The course was mostly flat but I did try to pay attention to not pressing too hard over the back of hills or getting caught up in racing.

At about mile 6, we got back into town and the crowds picked up. I started to use some tactics here as there were some windy stretches and I didn’t want to just work alone on this. There were also people coming back to me here so I started picking off people ahead of me one by one. I took my first gel a little before 8 and despite some awkwardness at the water stop, got the gel down without too much of a mess.

After 8, we wound our way out of the historic district towards a neighborhood to the east. With 5 miles to go, I wanted to pick it up and see how fast I could close but this is exactly where my knee started to smart. I don’t know if it was just the time on my feet or trying to push my pace, but it definitely didn’t seem worth it to get injured for 10 seconds a mile in a non-goal race. I was frustrated but focused on just holding on to my pace for the last few miles.

I actually found the last mile the hardest of all of them from a topographic perspective. The previous 12 miles had been reasonably flat but the last mile had some legitimate rollers back to the turn towards the fitness and it was hard to keep momentum. I did pass a woman during this mile, which apparently took me from 10th to 9th. We rounded the corner towards the finish and I saw the clock at about 1:32 and pushed enough to get in under 1:33 by a hair.


1: 724
2: 717
3: 708
4: 705
5: 705
6: 705
7: 655
8: 702
9: 658
10: 704
11: 709
12: 701
13: 711
0.1: 630

Overall, I couldn’t ask for more from this race. The organization and course was incredible, the weather was optimal and I had an even and solid performance as my first race back from my MCL. In comparison to other Rock N Roll events, this one was a very reasonable size and was easy to navigate as a runner and as a spectator. I had such a good experience that I already registered for 2019! I registered for the full marathon because I think the course is that fast, but we’ll see what the next few months bring.

Weeks in Review 10.23.18 to 11.4.18

Last two weeks going into Savannah…

10/23: Fartlek workout. 5 by 2 minutes on, 2 minutes off plus stabilizer legs. 7 miles total.

10/24: Early AM 3 mile recovery run.

10/25: 5-mile regular run plus PT.

10/26: AM tempo run with 2 miles continuous at tempo effort. 6 miles total.

10/27: No run, romping around the State Meet.

10/28: Last long run on the Thermal Rail Trail. 65 minutes. Very excited to find this resource. It will definitely feature prominently in my build-up for Grandma’s!

10/29: 2 miles easy with core.

10/30: Last workout. 1 mile at half marathon pace then 5 by 1 minute on, 1 minute off. 4 miles total.

10/31: Off day.

11/1: 2 miles in the pouring rain with striders built in.

11/2: 2.5 mile run through Savannah with KC.

11/3: RockNRoll Savannah Half Marathon. Full race report coming, but Gun 1:33:00, Chip 1:32:56 good enough for 10th overall.

11/4: Core and stretching only.

Training definitely kicked up over the last couple of weeks and in the week before my mini-taper, I was starting to feel like my old self. Now that I see what my race effort came out to be and the equivalent VDot (49), I have some paces to aim for as I move forward through my transition season and onto the San Diego Half.


Week in Review 10.15.18 to 10.21.18

Monday: 4 early am recovery miles plus back strength training.

Tuesday: Interval workout in the rain (for which I was totally unprepared). 10 by 1 on, 1 off for 5.25 miles total.

Wednesday: 5 miles easy plus PT.

Thursday: Much needed rest day with some core.

Friday: Early am tempo run. 4 by 5 minutes at tempo pace. 6-mile tempo. Arms strength training.

Saturday: Easy 5 miles run plus core.

Sunday: 11-mile long run in absolutely perfect running weather.

Total Miles: 36.3

Grateful to have another good week of running in the bank. Both of my workouts and long run went well and I did a reasonable job of getting my strength workouts in. Best of all, I’m starting to feel a tiny bit like my old self when I’m running. The beginning of this next week will be the same volume and intensity and then it’s on to taper for the ten days before RockNRoll Savannah.

Filling the Balloon

I saw an Instagram post by Kyle Merber the other day that talked about regaining fitness being akin to blowing up a balloon. The first time you do it, it’s extremely difficult but after a balloon has been inflated the first time, the subsequent efforts aren’t as hard. His point was that if you’ve been fit once, getting back there the second, third and tenth times aren’t as bad.

While I don’t entirely agree (aging, for example, makes for a worn out balloon more prone to pop than expand), I found his analogy comforting. It has been extremely humbling over the past couple of years to find myself considerably slower than before. Thinking of this as a temporary situation rather than a new normal has helped enormously. Overall, I would say that my acceptance of this setback has been way better than in years past. I have been generally positive and although I’ve had runs where I’ve wished to be back at my normal fitness level, I haven’t really given into beating myself up for slower paces. For this, I am incredibly proud. I don’t know if it’s age or experience, but I’ll take it!

Continuing with the balloon imagery, I feel like the last few weeks have been a proverbial exhale and expansion of the balloon. I’ve had workouts that, although slow, have been smooth and strong. This morning, for example, I floated through 4 by 5 minutes at tempo with 1 minute rest at paces that were difficult two weeks ago.

What do you think about the balloon analogy? How else do you conceptualize the return to fitness?

Gulp. I Chose a Spring Marathon.

I know I’m getting back in shape anytime I find myself daydreaming about my next big race on a run. For a couple of weeks, I’ve been toying with the idea of a spring marathon. There are a couple of reasons for this crazy line of thinking. First, I don’t want to have all my eggs in one basket for a fall marathon when I essentially took a year off from racing. Second, I need to have a realistic fitness check before setting fall goals. Finally, scheduling in residency is bananas. We plan 6 months to a year ahead for even a weekend off, so if I was going to run a spring marathon, I needed to commit now.

Choosing a spring marathon was a whole other ordeal. At this point, there is no “safe” time of year for good weather but I could pretty much guarantee that anything after April in the South was a bad idea. Furthermore, I doubted by ability to be ready for an early spring marathon, so needed something in late May or June. Finally, I wanted a reasonably fast course. After much searching around, I settled on Grandma’s Marathon in late June in Duluth.

Grandma’s is point to point and has a reputation of being flat and fast. They’ve had their share of tough weather in the last few years but by late June, warm weather won’t be a shock to my NC system. Lodging in Duluth proved to be a bit more of a challenge; hotels anywhere near the area were already completely sold out for the weekend. I got very lucky and found an AirBnB in the area with two hosts who often have Grandma’s runners.

Obviously time is on my side for this race, despite still working actively on healing my knee. I’ll essentially train for the San Diego Half and Grandma’s independently, as there are 14 weeks between the two races. This allows me to work on speed through most of the winter and switch to a more endurance/marathon focus for Grandma’s AND have a week off after the San Diego Half.

I’m going into the whole thing with a light heart and my plan FROM Grandma’s to Fall 2019 is an epic “if-then” map. For example, if training doesn’t go well or I’m not able to put together a race faster then 3 hours, then I’ll reconsider my trajectory for fall. As long as my outcome is under 3, I’ll plan to register for Boston (ensuring a Spring 2020 goal race) but still likely plan a fall attempt at the OTQ.

Anyone else run Grandma’s? I keep hearing amazing things!

Week in Review 10.8.18 to 10.14.18

Back at “full” volume for the last few weeks heading into Savannah. This was another great week of training, helped by the arrival (FINALLY) of cooler temperatures. It’s hard not to hammer when the temperatures feel great so I spent some time in the second half of the week reminding myself to go easy on easy days. I also registered for a spring marathon! More on that coming tomorrow…

Monday: Had to do this on a treadmill because of scheduling and unfortunately, there was no wifi so I had to just zone out and run. Did a wave tempo with a one-mile warmup then 3 by (1 mile at T, 1 mile easy). Arms afterward.

Tuesday: Not my intended day off this week but got stuck in the OR until 9 pm so no run this day. Core workout when I got home.

Wednesday: Easy 5 mile recovery run. PT after which left me sore for the remainder of the week.

Thursday: Easy 4 miler. Very sore calf muscles!

Friday: Fartlek workout. Warmup then 3 by (30, 60, 90 at 5K effort with equal recovery). Felt good thanks to cooler weather but decided not to push it for a fourth set. 18 minutes of hard effort is enough right now.

Saturday: 4 recovery miles.

Sunday: 10-mile long run. Happy to get another one of these in but a bit humbled that this still isn’t “easy” by any means.

Total Miles: 36

I’ll take a similar approach to the next two weeks, with a goal of 30 to 35 miles with two workouts and a long run in each. Because of some scheduling conflicts, I am unfortunately on call next weekend as well which makes me a bit anxious about getting in my long run so I’ll just have to keep my eyes open for any opportunity towards the end of the week to do that.

Running Tips: Just Do 10 Minutes

I certainly don’t do everything right when it comes to running but one of my best qualities is my ability to get out the door when I don’t want to or my available time is short. When I am confronted with a day when I am exhausted or when my schedule gets messed up, I make myself a promise: just do 10 minutes. When I’m exhausted, this guarantees me at least a shakeout run, but 95% of the time, I end up doing more than the ten minutes. I recently shared this with a co-resident and she has fallen in love with the approach because it gets her out the door but also lessens the omnipresent guilt of residency to “do more.”

I’ve started to apply my “just 10 minutes” philosophy to other components of my life as well. As a resident, my time is exceedingly limited but I still have tons of commitments in addition to an 80 hour work week. For work, I have research requirements, ABSITE studying (our in-service exam that prepares us for our Boards) and administrative tasks (logging cases and hours). Beyond that, I have a house that can’t totally fall into the earth, two dogs, a husband, a sister, and parents. Needless to say, some days feel a bit thin on time. In general, I keep a regimented calendar and I have a task from each “category” for each day. Sometimes, I nail these things and even get a little bit ahead (we’re talking a load of laundry…) And sometimes, I fall behind. When I do, instead of getting overwhelmed, I apply the same 10-minute rule. 10 minutes of studying or cleaning or a dog walk is better than zero.

What are your tricks for consistent running? Have you ever tried a 10-minute rule or something similar when time is crunched?

Week in Review: 10.1.18 to 10.7.18

First cutback week in a while, which was much needed. Per usual, I spent the first few days of my cutback week feeling awful. This was exacerbated by a flu shot that wiped me out (no regrets, better than the actual flu!). By the end of the week, however, I was feeling rested and ready to tackle a full volume week. Last push towards Savannah!

Monday: 25 minutes easy plus arms. (Still on the online video train, btw. This was the one I did this week.)

Tuesday: Hill workout. Warmed up for 20 minutes then 6 by 45 second hills hard. Cooldown after for total of 45 minutes. Legs after.

Wednesday: 25 minutes easy plus PT. Moving into the part of PT where I am recovered enough to remember how terrible my balance is…

Thursday: Planned rest day.

Friday: Early, early morning workout. Fridays are always pandemonium and I had a concert on Friday night, so figured 3:15 am was safer than pretending I’d get it in after work. Progression run on the treadmill ending with 10 minutes continuous at tempo pace. Kettlebell legs after with the curtsey lunges that always kill me.

Saturday: 25 minutes easy on sore, sore legs courtesy of above.

Sunday: Easy 60 minute run plus striders and core.

Total Miles: 25 

How DO You Get Back to Running After Injury?

Short Version: Slowly, methodically and with no glamour.

May: Almost no activity besides PT and surviving the day

Early June: Light recumbent biking, PT

Late June: Light elliptical, biking, and PT

July: Elliptical, Walk Jogging, and PT

August: Walk-Jog to Continuous Jog 3 to 4 days a week

September: Building up to 5 days a week, initiation of basic workouts

October: 5 to 6 days a week, building to 35 miles per week, base phase workouts

Longer Version:

Tearing my MCL was my first “surprise” running injury and as result, my recovery from my MCL was different from my fasciotomy and tarsal tunnel release. Because of the extent of damage to my knee and because the MCL is the “gatekeeper” of the knee joint, I was in a big, clunky immobilizer for almost 10 weeks. At first, I had to wear it any time I wasn’t sleeping or laying on the couch. This was because without an MCL, my knee was vulnerable to additional injury with any twisting or extension. After a few weeks, I graduated to only wearing it when I was going to be at work or walking around but could have it off for PT or around the house. Around this time, I started biking again with the immobilizer in place. This was essentially only to get blood flow through the knee. I assure you, there were minimal cardiovascular benefits. By the end of June (6 weeks out), I was on the elliptical for 30 minutes of very easy effort.

On July 3rd, I went for my very first “run.” The rules were strict: no pivoting, flat surface only, no more than a few seconds at a time. As this was my first walk without my brace with the exception of PT, suffice to say, I was very tentative. As I was starting to wean off my brace at work (12+ hours with stairs, elevators, standing and twisting), I took it easy with any additional exercise. Throughout the rest of July, I slowly built up my running with a run-walk approach. When I got to a point where I could run for 5 minutes before a break, I switched a continuous short run instead.

August was where I really started to run regularly again. I was still restricted to no pivoting so spent a huge amount of time on the bike path down by the river. I transitioned to slow, continuous running and built up to 20 minutes 3 to 4 times a week. By the end of August, I started adding drills back in. I started with just stretching drills first and finally added dynamic drills at the end of the month.

September was the first month where I felt like I might actually be able to recover from my injury, a full 4 months later. I built my runs to 30 minutes, added in a long run, started very simple workouts and finally, got back to 5 to 6 days of running a week. My last week in September was as follows:

Monday: Tempo Effort with 2 by mile at Tempo Pace, 5 miles total. Legs after.

Tuesday: 50 minute easy group run

Wednesday: Off day.

Thursday: 32 minute run

Friday: 30 minute run with 6 by 1 on, 1 off.

Saturday: 35 minute easy run

Sunday: 90 minute long run.

As you’ll notice, essentially all of my runs are time based. I did that intentionally to avoid any comparison trap for myself as I come back. Prior to my injury, I certainly wasn’t in peak shape but my mile pace was my usual 8:00 to 8:15 for easy runs. Afterwards, it took me anywhere from 10 to 11 minutes to run a mile and I wanted to avoid the temptation to push myself before I was ready.

I am a long way from where I want/need to be but I am also feeling well and have no knee pain. Even better, I have an endpoint to my MCL which means that things are coming back together. I still can’t pivot or run on other surfaces but I am slowly, slowly making forward progress.