Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What I Will Never Understand... A Post About Running Shoes and the General Weirdness of Runners

I cannot understand why people are so obsessed with having cute running shoes.  I know people who buy running shoes only because they like how they look, or they spend significantly more for the same shoe with a different color when they could get the same shoe on sale.  I guess I could understand if the shoe was really ugly (there are some that really do look ridiculous), but come on - functionality over looks here people!

Granted, this is coming from someone who has a running-shoe addiction, because I can never seem to find the PERFECT shoe, so finding good deals is essential to keeping up my addiction without sending myself broke (yay for RunningWarehouse.com and JoesNewBalanceOutlet.com for fueling my addiction!).  I thought I had (Saucony Grid Type A4), but I'm afraid they were too tight...  I think the tendinitis on the top of my foot was caused by that, and my toes got all bloody from them rubbing together (though that didn't really hurt), oh, and I can't wear them on trails because they have drainage holes in them, which also means rock holes (haha).  Oh well, they were made for roads not trails.  I should say that I'm not completely impervious to looks - if there are two identical pairs of shoes (minus the color) and I can choose from both of them in my size, and they are on sale, I will take the ones with the color I like best :)

Of course, I can understand buying a dress shoe for the purpose of looks.  Isn't that purpose of dress shoes - to look good?  This makes perfect sense to me, though if I'm out dancing or something, I still make sure that my shoes are comfortable enough I can stand in them for a couple of hours.  I can always walk back barefoot - as I have done before :)  But if you're someone who runs for long periods of time, functionality is really important!  If I could just pick up barefoot running, I think I would be best off, but I don't have the patience to start from scratch (which you pretty much have to do).  *Sigh*.  I do love my Vibram Five Fingers, but again, I always overdo it.  Speaking of not caring how my shoes look... those are pretty ridiculous, but functionality over looks here!  Which is why I don't understand why the military (well, Army) cares so much about them.   I guess a lot of people go out and do too much (*cough* guilty) and end up hurt but they can do that when they aren't in uniform, and they get hurt in regular shoes too.  I also dislike when people comment on bright colored shoes in uniform.  I know, for one, if I can get a good deal on a pair of running shoes I love, and they happen to be bright pink, I will wear them.  Not because I want to make a statement, but because they are good shoes that I got for a good deal!

In retrospect though, I am also the weirdo running chick who will walk around barefoot for a mile if my shoes become uncomfortable (got lots of weird looks when I did that).  Or run back and forth next to my building because there is an awesome, smooth straightaway of about 200 meters that nobody is allowed to drive on except emergency vehicles.  Great for end-of-run strides and some barefoot running :)  Everyone who lives here is used to me by now, so I've stopped getting weird looks when I walk out of my place with my purple running fanny pack (woohoo - stylin!) and my Camelbak-esque running pack (okay, I don't wear those together).  For those of us who aren't very fast, we need to bring lots of water on twenty mile runs, or we will dehydrate and die.  Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I do feel pretty crappy when I don't bring water since there are around zero drinking fountains in this place (I guess they figure it gets too cold here in the winter - or we can just put some snow in our mouths when we need water).

In the realm of runners, I'm really not strange at all, and I really don't run as much as everyone thinks I do, but in the realm of non-runner people (or military people who run when they have to and not on their spare time), I am the strange running chick, and that means wearing shoes that might be ugly, walking around barefoot, and running with random straps on to help prevent/heal injuries while still training.  "Why don't you just stop?"  is something I hear frequently, but my addiction fuels me to keep going... Even if there are weeks where I can only do short distances.  Or zero distances.  It's always about getting back, despite the pain of joints, muscles, blisters, all sorts of random chafing that I didn't even know was possible until I step into the shower after a long run.  For some reason, there is something addicting about putting myself through the misery.  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Typical Good and Bad News Post - mostly exercise related!

I have good news and bad news.  The good news first:  my knee is completely pain free, and my medium-long runs really do just feel medium.  Ten miles is no issue - meaning I'm finally back into pretty decent shape.  I guess after doing runs of 18 and twenty miles, ten miles really is pretty short.

Okay, now the bad news.  There seems to always be bad news.  I seem to have developed pain on the top of my foot after a ten-mile run on Wednesday with a 10k tempo run in the middle.  I felt pretty good, and I REALLY like my Saucony Grid Type A4 racing flats (though I can see why they are meant just for racing - the bottom is wearing out super quick!)  However, I think they contributed to this pain, as they fit rather tightly, and one cause of this injury is shoes that are too tight on the top that rub on the tendon. I also think it has a bit to do with changing my stride without doing it perfectly.  It helped my knee (a lot), but I wasn't doing a very good job of relaxing my calves, and I was probably running too much on my toes.  I noticed my calves being tenser than they should have been, and tight calves tend to cause this problem as well by pulling on the tendon.  This does not surprise me one bit as I've had a few different types of tendinitis in my foot due to my calves being too tight (particularly after switching to minimal shoes, but I've been running in them for quite some time).  Plus stretching and rolling my calves seem to help the pain.  I've had some pain on the top of my foot before, and I usually gave it a few days rest and it eventually went away.  This time is a little different, but there is no pain when I press anywhere on my foot, just when I flex it (particularly the big toe), which, based on my internet research, makes me think it's extensor tendinitis, and not a stress fracture.  Anyway, it wasn't feeling too bad yesterday after a couple of days off, so I did 10.5 miles.  Terrible idea.  It was hurting pretty bad yesterday, so today is another off day, and tomorrow I'm sure, and probably the day after that.

 The ONE time I probably won't want to run, we actually have mandatory PT (physical training) on Thursday.  Most of these people are here because they have all sorts of issues.  They are making people either walk or run for an hour, in circles (gah!!!)  depending on their injury.  Well, if this isn't better, I'll be walking!  I'm sure everyone will be surprised as they all know me as the crazy lieutenant who is always out running.  I don't run THAT much, but I run regularly, and most people here can't run, so I guess in comparison, I run a LOT.  Anyway, maybe by then it will be better and I'll get my run for the day out of the way.  I'm just gonna keep my laces super loose and keep dousing my foot in DMSO and other assorted anti-inflammatories, as well as staying off my feet as much as possible.  Looks like I'll be doing some cycling the next few days!  I will tell you that DMSO works pretty well.  I've put it on my foot several times in the past twelve hours and the pain has decreased a LOT.  I also have other anti-inflammatory topical solutions from my knee, one of which actually contains DMSO - not a high percentage of it, like 11 percent, but it's there, along with Diflucenac, an NSAID.  Goodness, I feel like an expert on injuries.  I should've gone for a degree in sports medicine or something.  At this rate, I'll be an expert on all running-related injuries in the next six months.  Okay, maybe not - my terrible memory probably wouldn't lend itself well to all the anatomy pieces I would need to remember.

Anyways I was REALLY hoping to avoid injuries as much as possible in the next two months so I could actually get a decent amount of training and maybe run a decent time on this marathon.  I guess if it comes down to it, resting and MAKING it to the starting line is probably more important than a good time, seeing as I've raised one thousand dollars for charity and I all ready got my sister a ticket to Philadelphia for the race weekend.  I guess in the grand scheme of things, I still have about a month before I'd start my taper, and if I have to take another week or so off or easy to let this thing heal, I still have plenty of time to do a couple more long runs.  Just less speed work I suppose.  We shall see.  I will try to play this by ear, and not freak out too much, or get too hopeful.  Restraint is so hard for me... In the meanwhile, cycling is good cardio, and I do have a nice bike, plus we have like three spinning classes a week right upstairs, and now that my knee isn't bothering me, I can take place in those (with ITBS, cycling tends to irritate it).  Let's hope I can keep that at bay as much as possible...

UPDATE:  After dousing my feet in DMSO off and on since I woke up (only like three hours ago), putting cotton balls between my toes, and putting on some stiff sole shoes (so I don't push off too much), I have zero pain.  None.  Of course, I'm still not going to run, but this is a very good sign.  Cotton balls helped last time I had top of foot pain as well.  I don't know why, but I think it has something to do with stretching the tendons.

On another note (I commend those of you who read my whole blog entries - I know they are long-winded!) I have managed to lose more weight.  At least... I don't really weigh myself often, but in my full uniform last week I was 111 pounds.  The uniform adds a decent amount of weight.  And this was after I ate... I just put on a pair of jeans I wore a month or so ago that fit and they are now loose.  It is very strange that I used to try and try to lose weight and couldn't do it, and in the past few months I have continued to lose weight without putting in much effort, besides switching to eating mostly natural type foods.

Sure, I still go out to eat, and I eat some ice cream sometimes, and chocolate (mmmm), but for the most part, my diet has changed significantly.  Breakfast usually consists of Better Oats Chai Spiced hot cereal with various types of healthy stuff (flax, buckwheat, etc.), chia seeds, walnuts, pecans and brown sugar/cinnamon (I put all that other stuff in there).  That keeps me full for awhile.  Lunch is usually a giant salad with avocado, more chia seeds, kale, spinach, feta cheese, olive oil, some seasonings, and whatever other random veggies I can find lying around in my fridge.  Dinner varies (I love Amy's organic black bean enchiladas), and I do still eat my Shin Cup noodles, lol.  Not the healthiest of meals, but I don't know if I could give them up completely!  Other random foods throughout the day include my organic English Muffins with butter (regular butter, though sometimes I use butter spread with olive oil), different types of fruits, cinnamon pecans (yummm!), and again, random stuff I have lying around.  I don't really buy junk food though, so that's not a problem for the most part.  I also don't really drink anymore, and I used to have a couple of glasses of wine a night (before deployment), though I sometimes just cut out dessert when I was doing that, so I don't know that that made a huge difference.  Anyway, it's been a slow weight loss... Maybe a pound or two a month, but it adds up, especially when you're not even 61 inches tall!  Yes, I'm quite short :)  I guess running more has also made a difference, but not a significant one, as I also eat more.  When not running a lot, I eat less carbs (consciously, because I don't need them as much), and don't really drink any calories.  I drink a Vegan protein shake after some runs, as well as other assorted recovery drinks because I have a hard time EATING right after runs, but you need to get something in you.   I also take in food during my long runs, and I eat more before my long runs, so while marathon training has probably played somewhat of a role in my weight loss, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference.

As for my medications and stuff, they seem to be doing the job for the most part.  Not much in the way of seizure activity lately.  I've had a few partial seizure type things, but they are shorter and less in frequency than they were.  The side effects also seem to be improving.  My dreams are no longer terrible (did I post that on here?) though they're still quite vivid, which is kind of annoying.  Last night I dreamt I was back at West Point, but as an officer, with my old roommate (hi Vanessa!) and we were getting inspected.  Weird.  Probably had something to do with the fact we're doing an in-ranks inspection here in our Army Service Uniforms  (which might be kinda interesting to see with all these people in crutches and boots, but such is life in the Army I guess).

Alas, that is my update on life for now.  There is more, of course, which is actually probably more interesting, but these were my thoughts for today... Probably because it's kind of hard to ignore foot pain and jeans that don't fit anymore... Both things that were pertinent to today!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What Can Happen in a Year?

So I've been thinking about how much can change in just one year.  It's crazy - a year ago I had no idea what the next year would bring. At the time I didn't know if I was going to deploy, didn't even know where I was going to live.  I CERTAINLY didn't expect to deploy then return within two months.  I had no idea I would end up on the floor in my office and end up being diagnosed with epilepsy.  Heck, I had no idea that would happen within a day of it happening.

Now here I am, uncertain of what the next year will bring.  Will I still be HERE, or will I be somewhere else?  I may end up closer to home, or somewhere else.  I have no idea.  I kind of wish that I did have some idea.  I'm almost giving up on the whole transferring thing... It's one more thing that is adding to all of the other uncertainty.  I still don't even know when I will be "returned to duty" (aka, not in this transition unit).  It's sometime between October and February, and that's about all I know!  Of course if I am here until February, I will be assigned here, which means I'll be able to choose where I want to go next.  I'm almost at the six month mark here, and at that point, they have to assign me here (right now I'm merely attached - meaning I'm still on my original unit's roster, but where I am right now is responsible for me).  And who knows what else might change in the next year?  At least right now I pretty much know I'll be staying in the military, unless the medications I'm on don't do a good job of controlling the seizures, but right now they seem to be doing the trick, and my neurologist thinks I'll be good to return to duty after six months (from August).  That is where February is coming from.

Speaking of controlling seizures (sort of), I met my goal of raising $1,000 for the Epilepsy Therapy Project (ETP).  For those who haven't pieced it together from past posts, I am running the Philadelphia Marathon for Team ETP, which is a charity partner with the Philly Marathon.  By signing up to run with them, I committed to raising 1,000 dollars for the charity - and I did it!  Of course, not without the support of others!  I was really concerned because for awhile I was having issues meeting the goal, but once I contacted people personally, I got a decent amount of donations.  Some from my girl friends and a decent amount from family, plus some from other people who knew what I was doing.  One less thing I need to worry about :)

And speaking of running - I did my first twenty-miler in awhile on Sunday!  The knee is giving me a bit of trouble, but it's not too bad.  I am hoping to get in a few twenty-milers before this marathon - unlike the last one, where I was in the midst of deploying and could only get in one twenty miler, so my endurance was kind of sucking come race day.  I had a decent speed going for awhile!  The fact that I can hold an 8:05 minute pace for the half marathon, but can't hold it for the marathon tells me that I'm not lacking in decent marathon speed (to me that's a good pace to hold for a marathon - maybe not for a shorter race or a world class marathoner!), it has more to do with my aerobic fitness and endurance.  I think with more endurance training and hopefully less knee pain (hoping, hoping), I should be able to at least break 3:50.  To me that's a fairly modest goal, and I'd like to go faster.  My last marathon was in 4:03, and that included several stops, and a lack of real endurance training.

Anyways, I always get so off topic.  I should work on some homework and then go upstairs and run on the treadmill (I'm not keen on running in thunderstorms!)  Happy Tuesday!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Pose running! And how it's actually helping!

I'm going to post on this topic because I'm excited.  I sure hope I'm not getting too excited too soon!

Anyways, I've been working with a POSE coach online.  Pose technique, for those unfamiliar (though I think most runners are familiar), is basically this: "Pose, fall, pull" and repeat.  Your body should be aligned a certain way - the foot landing under the center of mass on the forefoot, and the back foot should be "pulled" immediately upon falling, and it should be pulled under the center of mass (not behind your body).  Basically, you're keeping your feet under your center of mass.  You also use gravity to help you "fall" forward, and the cadence is very quick.  I thought I had the technique, but I did not.

I've been working really hard at the drills and focusing a lot on form, and I'll tell you what: it seems to be working.  My knee feels the best right now that it has since April, and I haven't stopped running.  I cut back when I saw other injuries coming on, but now that those are gone, I've kept running.  After talking to the coach, I realized how much I've been doing wrong.  I put my foot out too far in front of me when I land, I pull up on my foot too late and allow my back leg to go straight, and I put it behind my body.  It's a lot to think about, honestly, which is why you do the drills, so it comes naturally.  I did several drills yesterday morning, then went for a short run in my Vibram five fingers, focusing a lot on form.  I didn't wear my IT Band strap, which I have been wearing for the past month or so, or any type of "assistance" and I ran the whole distance (of only 2.5 miles, but still) completely pain free.  I've also been focusing on how I walk.  The coach found all sorts of things with that, and told me to try to pay attention to how I walk as well.  It's felt kinda awkward, but I'm getting the hang of it, and that ALSO seems to be helping.  As soon as I start straightening/locking out my legs, the pain comes back, but if I focus on not straightening my leg, nothing hurts.  At all.

I'm sure there were other factors at play here.  I've been using anti-inflammatory creams and working a lot on strength.  But if you read anything about Pose, they do stress having overall strength because the whole body has to work together.  I've gotten stronger, and I've used stuff to help make the pain go away, and it wasn't getting worse, but it wasn't getting better either, so I knew there was something wrong.  And whenever I notice pain on runs, I pay attention to my form and can tell when I'm locking out my knees.  Even though I don't heel strike, I put my foot way out in front of me, and that totally disrupts everything.  I notice when I do it, my knee hurts again.  When my form is good, nothing hurts.

So, maybe I'm getting excited too soon.  I hope I don't have to post how everything hurts again.  I'll probably still use the IT band strap on my longer runs because I don't think I have the technique down well enough to maintain it for long periods of time (yet), and I DO need to do the longer runs because, well, I have a marathon in about two months!   I plan on doing twenty this weekend.  I did the 18.12 mile race without too many issues, I was sore for a few days, but was back to running pretty quick.  Anyways, I plan to walk-run the 20 this weekend.  One mile run, one minute walk.  Hopefully the mini-breaks will help me maintain my focus for that distance, and of course help me recover quicker.  I did the walk-run method for my last marathon and kept up with the marathon veterans for awhile, and actually ran pretty quick, but due to lack of endurance training and struggling with this same injury, I kinda died around 20-miles, but averaged about an 8:30 minute mile for those first 20.  It also doesn't help when you have to stop and stretch your IT band every half a mile for the last six miles :)  I hope that I can make it through this next marathon with a much better base of endurance and minimal knee pain.  Marathons are gonna hurt regardless,  but I want muscle hurt, not actual pain.

All right, there is my testimony of the short time I've been doing this.  I sure hope I have positive things to report after this weekend's long run!  It would be AWESOME if I could actually get in a few 20-milers before the marathon so I can actually sort of aim for a goal instead of just surviving!

Oh, and not to brag or anything, but I outran all the guys in our mini triathlon we did here and averaged a 6:59 minute mile pace.  Though it was a short distance (like 1.15 miles, lol) and most of the people here are here because they're hurt.  I'm still proud of myself!  Someday I WILL break fourteen minutes on my two-mile run.  I think a little more speed work and I'll be there.  My eventual goal is to earn the maximum score on the guy's Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) run at thirteen minutes.  It's a 6:30 minute mile for two miles.  I think I could do it with more specific training.

Anyways, I shall end here as I have a paper due on Sunday that I need to work on :)


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keep Going/Get started: a message to those who are new to exercise!

I figure I have been posting a lot of blogs about things pertaining to the fun that is epilepsy.  Which, by the way, it's still kinda weird to think that I actually have something long-term to deal with.  But I guess nobody is really completely healthy forever, and we all have things we have to learn to deal with as we get older.  Anyways! Onto positive topics.

I figure I will write this blog entry about running (surprise!)  More specifically, why it makes me so happy to see people get out and run - or exercise in general - even if they are completely out of shape, obese, whatever.  Some people, particularly those who are fast and have run their entire lives, tend to judge others who aren't as fast, or complain about the culture of running these days - how everyone is just trying to run a marathon to say they did it, even if it takes them six hours to finish.  You know what I say to those people: screw you.  Okay, I'll say it more nicely...  it doesn't really matter what you think.  I mean, as much as I'd like to be really really fast and win races rather than merely place in my age group, it isn't necessary to be fast in order to use running to improve your life.  I specifically say running because that's what I do, and it doesn't really require special equipment (though I really like all my little gadgets, lol).

I think it's awesome when people push their limits and try to make themselves better - whether it is to lose weight or just to feel better, or even just to push limits.  I will probably never be a world class runner (the chance of that happening is probably like... less than 1%), but I love pushing my limits.  I prefer pushing distance over speed, maybe because I don't need to be super fast to keep running further and further.  My limits are probably different than someone who has just started.  For me three miles is an easy run, but for someone else, running a 5k is the ultimate goal.  For someone who has never run or who is carrying 200 pounds, running a 5k is pretty awesome.  I say keep going.  You are putting in the effort that most Americans wouldn't bother with.  We all have to start somewhere.  Heck, when I have had a long lay off, three miles isn't easy for me either.  It takes time and dedication to improve, whatever your level of fitness.  Just having that dedication to make yourself more fit generally translates into dedication in other areas.  When I was at West Point I used to keep telling myself (very eloquently I must say) that "everything that sucks eventually comes to an end."  I think running helped instill that mindset in me.  Every race, no matter how terrible I feel, eventually has an end.  I think I told myself that on my most recent race of 18.12 miles.  I wasn't really prepared for the distance, but it eventually was over, and I felt great knowing I pushed my limits.  It doesn't matter whether it's 18.12 miles or 3 or 4 or even 1 mile, working hard and accomplishing your goals is one of the best feelings and confidence boosters.

So here's what I will say to those of you who are thinking of starting an exercise program but are too intimidated because you're out of shape:  just do it.  There's a reason Nike took that up as their motto.  Even if you have to walk at first, or you have to cycle at the lowest gear.  It doesn't matter.  If your lower body won't let you do anything, but you want to get fitter, try lifting weights.  Lift the lightest weight if you have to.  Your body will eventually adapt, and you'll feel amazing when you realize that suddenly the weight you first struggled with becomes too easty.   Don't worry about what other people will think, because in fact, most people will admire you.  The ones who are judging you will judge regardless, but it doesn't matter what they think.  It's your health and your body.  You may not be able to control everything in your life, but take charge of what you can!  You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remaining Positive (or trying, anyway)

I cannot focus on my homework right now, so I figured I would blog.  First, I am trying to stay positive about things.  It is working better now than it was earlier, lol.  Positive of staying here in NY instead of going back to the West Coast would include being closer to my marathon and getting to enjoy the winter sports.  Oh yes, and I will be able to actually visit the college I am currently attending online (it's about an hour and a half from here).  Also, I am finally making some friends in the area.  It's difficult to find people to hang out with when you aren't in a regular unit - particularly women!  Fortunately, I've found some runner people and have also started hanging out more with one of my friends from West Point.  I ALSO have to remember that once I start driving again, things will be better.  I won't be stuck.  And since I have no problem doing things alone, even if my friends are busy with work/family, I will still get out and explore - just like I did last year!  So, there are positives.  Of course I would love to be close to my family again, and I miss the Pacific Northwest, but I can deal with being here.  As long as I can drive again soon!  :p  My neurologist better clear me to drive next month!

Speaking of the neurologist, I just called his office to discuss changing dosing schedules or something along these lines.  The new medications I'm on seem to be helping quite a bit with seizure control, but the medications have affected my sleep and moods quite a bit.  I've been having really vivid dreams since I started increasing the dose of Lamictal, and now they are turning into nightmares.  Last night's was an awful bloody nightmare that woke me up at two in the morning, and I can't get the image of it out of my head.  I guess that's what happens when you take medications that alter your brain chemistry... Anyways, I'm hoping changing the timing of my dosage, or something, might help this stop.  I like that I don't feel brain dead during the day (apparently a lot of seizure meds make it really hard to think), and I like that my weight has stayed pretty neutral, since a lot cause a lot of these medications also cause a huge amount of weight gain.  I guess I'm still trying to sort through everything and realize that this is something that isn't going to go away.  Once everything is stabilized, I think it will be better and not something I think so much about.  Currently, it is hard NOT to think about everything.  I'm sure the fact that this is the only reason I'm in the U.S. instead of Afghanistan is not helping me forget!  BUT, eventually things will be normal again.  I guess the positive is I have actually been able to see my family - I was able to see my sister's college graduation, I've been able to see my boyfriend a couple of times, and I have been safe.

Of course, if I had stayed deployed, I would be over halfway done with my deployment.  That still bothers me - that I would be so close to being done if I had been able to stay.  It almost feels as if I've wasted the past four months since I've returned in the states.  Of course I haven't.  But sometimes it seems that way.  I SHOULD be over it, seeing that I've been back stateside longer than I was deployed, but it's hard.  I've become more and more adjusted, but again - it's not as if I was able to come back and just go back to my life pre-deployment.  Instead I was put in a medical hold unit, with a lot of future uncertainty, and a new health diagnosis.  BUT, I am trying really hard to stay positive, as hard as it is with all of this uncertainty.  At least I'm lucky that I will most likely get to stay in the military because my seizures seem pretty controllable with medication.  There are people whose seizures can't be controlled with medication.

Alright, well, I suppose I should work some more on homework... At least I have something else to focus on  - school!  :)  I have my first paper due on Sunday.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Getting my Groove Back (or trying anyway)

My title is referring to my running for the most part!  I've finally been getting back into everything and it feels awesome.  For those who don't know, I was supposed to run a half marathon on Sunday.  I was undecided whether to run it or not because I was worried about my knee and making it worse.  I decided if I could find a ride I would do it, and I got a ride.  Once I got to the race I talked to someone who switched from the 18.12 miles to the half marathon.  Oh I forgot to mention, there was also an 18.12 mile race option in commemoration of the War of 1812, the race was actually called the 1812 challenge.  Anyway, one of my Dailymile friends- who I got to meet in person, yay!  - had told me her longest run in the past few months was only ten miles, and she was doing the 18-miler.  Being the person I am, and regretting that I had signed up for only the half marathon, I found someone 15 minutes before the start of the race and switched from the half marathon to the 18-miler!

  I was completely unprepared to run 18 miles, though I had carbo loaded the night before, and ate a decent amount before the race.  My longest run since the marathon in April had been 13.5 miles.  My reasoning was I had only run 20 miles before the marathon, and that's a difference of 6.2 miles.  If I could do that, then I could definitely tack on less than FIVE miles for an 18-miler.  Besides, I've run over 18 miles four times, though the only time it was at race pace was during the marathon!  Speed does add another dimension to it all.  Anyway, did the 18.12 miles, and actually felt pretty decent until somewhere between miles 14 and 15.  I tried to go out slow, and kept my average pace in the 8:20-8:50 minute miles.  My half marathon pace is usually in the 8:05 - 8:15 minute mile pace, depending on the day and how much I've trained, so I was running slower.  My half marathon time during the race was somewhere in the 1:54 range (my garmin was sort of jacked up, so I'm not sure what the exact time was), which is slower than my "average" half marathon pace by 5-6 minutes (my best time is 1:46:05, or something like that - I can't remember the EXACT seconds, but it's in the low 1:46 range, and I've run around there twice), so I was definitely slower than I could have been.  Nonetheless, my pace sorta plummeted - as in, slowed down, not went up - around mile 15.  My miles went from being in the 8-minute range to the 9-minute range until the last mile, where I managed to squeek an 8:56, and then kick in the finish.  How I managed to find any energy to put in a final kick, I'm not sure, but I did.  Apparently I looked pretty beat up when I stopped running too - I think I was staggering a bit - because they had me go to the medical tent, hahaha.  I ended up coming in third in my age group, which isn't too bad considering the fact that I was completely unprepared and untrained to race 18.12 miles!  I'm pretty optimistic about the fact I did it with little pain.  Granted, I used an IT Band strap (those things are amazing, by the way), along with compression shorts and tights.  There was some knee pain at points, but tightening the IT Band strap helped.  I stopped a couple of times to adjust, but since I wasn't out to win the race, I was okay with stopping.  I had planned on treating the run like a training run anyway (though anyone who knows me knows that my training pace for that distance is a LOT slower than what I ran!)

  I am glad I did the run though - now I got my 18 miles out of the way!  I won't be increasing my long run distance THIS week though!  I'm still in recovery mode, even though it's been like four days.  I managed five miles today, though I've been throwing in walking up/down hills so as to give my legs a break.  I think the longest distance I'm going to do this week is around eight miles, probably on Sunday.  But I'm not going to put anything in stone, because that's how I end up hurting myself.  And since I'm still recovering from this whole IT Band thing... yeah... gonna be careful :)  Also, the medications I'm on.  I think they dehydrate me.  I've always kinda been prone to getting dehydrated anyway, but every morning when I wake up my mouth feels like a desert.  

  I am going to post some pictures once they are all up!  

I started that yesterday and never posted... typical.  Two nights in a row of terrible sleep.  I woke up so many times.  I thought I was over not sleeping well at night - guess I was wrong!  I think I need to watch out for what time I do my runs.  I did my run yesterday around 5:30, which means I finished sometime around 6:30, and I laid down for bed around 9:30.  Hm, either that or I'm running too much, and my body has having a hard time slowing down.  I know, that's funny, considering I only ran 37 miles last week total, and I've hardly run at all this week (seven miles so far, though it's recovery for me after Sunday's race!)  Well, either way, my heart rate has been pretty high lately - like, in the 80's.  That's kinda high for someone who runs a decent amount.  Ideally, it should at least be in the 60's.  Usually when I'm in good running shape it's somewhere in the high 50's.  Either way, the 80s are high.  At least my blood pressure is low... 98/66 yesterday.  The nurse who took my blood pressure was concerned.  I told her it's always that low, but she insisted on doing the other arm, which was 100/66.  She asked if I get dizzy and if I am tired frequently.  Well, dizzy, yes.  ESPECIALLY now with my medications - but I got easily dizzy in the past as well.

Now I'm rambling, so I shall end this post.   The initial point, though, was that I am so happy that I'm getting back into running regularly.  Ideally, my knee will be good to go without an IT Band Strap, but if it means I can run regularly, I will deal with wearing the strap until it heals.    Have a wonderful day readers :)