Friday, May 10, 2013

Blogger On Hiatus


Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Yesterday I participated in a charity run for Boston held at Running Central. I heard about the event through Facebook and knew that I wanted to take part. To show my respect. Along with several hundred others I gathered in the parking lot for a 3 mile fun run, absolutely floored by the turnout. Running Central had only ordered 160 shirts, not anticipating what a caring community Peoria really can be and not expecting this many people to show up. A minute of silence was held before the run began followed by the owner of Running Central asking those who were in Boston that day to please raise their hands. The woman next to me raised her hand and started crying at the though of the horror that she was so close to last week. Everybody around her offered support and together we took off down the road - runners for Boston. We may run alone and for our own times and our own goals but running is ultimately a team sport. We can't do it without each other. And we won't let anybody take it away from us.
Me with my friend Sarah at the Runners For Boston Charity Run

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sweatin' Beers Here

So, I've been slacking. Not just in the blog posting which I have absolutely been slacking at, but in the running/working out department as well. This past week it has either been raining (which shouldn't be an excuse since I still could have gone to the gym) or I have felt sick. I have some blood tests coming up in the morning which the results of should hopefully help with the feeling sick part, but the not working out is all me.

No excuses, play like a champion.

With that mantra in mind I got my butt out and ran today before playing softball. On any other day this would have been an easy 3.5 mile run but I struggled a little which I attribute to the dehydration and the fact that what I was sweating out was more than likely beer from Saturday night...Although one could argue that I got my cardio in on Saturday night on the dance floor at Crusen's listening to one of my favorite bands!

No real purpose to my post here except to say that I'm done slacking on the posting and on the working out. I have some lofty goals to accomplish this year and laying around on my couch isn't going to help me accomplish them. Just thinking about them isn't going to help me achieve them. Here's hoping that my blood test helps to solve whatever it is that is going wrong inside of me so I can take that excuse away as well!

No excuses, play like a champion.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Brace Yourself...Or Don't

Most people who know me as a runner know that a knee brace is one of my usual accessories...
This comes courtesy of an overuse injury first sustained in the summer of 2010 and then worsened over that winter. I got to a point where I couldn't stand for long periods of time without a stabilizing brace. I wore that for about a month and then did some physical therapy exercises and cycling and it got better. I didn't need to wear the stabilizing brace to walk anymore and I could finally use stairs without my knee buckling again but it still didn't feel the same. I was nervous to do anything on it. I used the elliptical and bikes at the gym and tried step class but my fear was making me more uncoordinated than usual (and that's really saying something!)

I felt like such a wimp.

I started with a personal trainer in January of 2012 and got a knee sleeve to wear while I built the strength back up. It was nice to feel like I had the extra support and then I finally got up the nerve to start running with Building Steam. Always with the knee brace though. If I didn't have it I felt certain that I was going to injure myself worse. I relied on it so heavily. And still did up until last week. Finally my CrossFit trainer called me on it and said that he had seen me with the knee brace for a really long time but said he didn't even think I actually needed it anymore. He said that he sees lots of people that just end up hiding behind the knee brace.

...People like me. I started to realize how heavily I was relying on the knee brace to perform. And how I was using it as an excuse for some of my failures. How ridiculous is that? My knee hasn't really hurt me for a long time and my left knee was almost starting to hurt because I was putting more pressure on it by favoring my right knee. I made the decision to ease off the knee brace. I took it off and ran 3 miles last Saturday without it. Knee didn't hurt. I did 3 test WODs at CrossFit on Monday without it, some of which included box jumps. Knee didn't hurt.

I don't need the knee brace. It was a great help to me last year when I was regaining the strength but running on it for so long has made it strong and I can live without it now.

I'm sure there's a universal lesson to be learned here about how if you rely on something for so long it's good to try to live without it - yadda, yadda. But to me...I took the knee brace off and did a 1 mile time trial in 7:36 without expending my full to me losing the knee brace is going to gain me a whole lot more confidence to perform and hopefully surpass my goals. No more excuses.

Friday, April 5, 2013

WOD What?!?

So this week I rejoined my CrossFit gym. I missed how strong I felt when I was regularly attending. I pretty much used to be a complete badass. Oh how a few months of getting soft can change you...

At first I thought I was doing great. I went back on Monday April 1 and was challenged to find my 3 rep maximum in back squat, shoulder press, and dead lift. I set a new PR for myself in all three events (no fooling!) with a 105 lb back squat (previously 95 lb), 55 lb shoulder press (previously 45 lb) and 165 lb dead lift (previously 145). Not too shabby for my first day back. I knew I would probably be sore but I don't mind a little post workout burn. It makes me feel like I really accomplished something.

Oh boy, did I burn. I hurt so bad the next day I was walking a little bit as if somebody had stuck something up my "where the sun don't shine" place. I elicited some teasing from coworkers who I assured I would have revenge on as soon as I could walk again.

Wednesday was my visit to the chiropractor for the results of my consult a couple of weeks ago. I have been experiencing a whole gambit of body issues lately that I won't go into great detail about but among them includes headaches, insomnia, and fatigue. All things that "Dr. Dan" fully believes we can remedy through natural treatments as I prefer not to take any medications. It came as a complete surprise to me that this "results" session also included my very first adjustment. Man did it feel good! It definitely helped relieve some of the soreness I had been experiencing and left me feeling optimistic about the treatment plan and my CrossFit workout that afternoon.

However, I was wrong to feel overly optimistic about the CrossFit workout. I almost got my first DNF (did not finish) which would have been devastating to my fragile albeit somewhat enlarged ego. I finished the 15 minute time capped workout in 14:52. This workout consisted of 5 rounds of 10 hand release push ups, 15 kettlebell swings (using a 30 lb kettlebell - big mistake!) and a 200 m run. I made it through the first two rounds just fine but the last three felt like pure torture. I couldn't catch my breath and my legs felt like they weighed at least 1000 lbs each on the run. 

Pure. Torture.

Really I should be pleased that I finished at all and I am glad that I started up at CrossFit Peoria again. Although Thursday went by in a blur of limping and wincing prompting me to add another rest day into my week. I need to ease back into the intense workouts. But the important thing is, I'm back! And today I am feeling optimistic again. I woke up a lot less sore, a lot more mobile and very determined to get my body back to being healthy and pain free. And one of my problems might be solved - it is quite possible that I have a food allergy to an ingredient in Fiber One bars. I will be keeping a close food journal to see but at least that would check one of my health issues off the list!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Just Breathe

So, I realize that I'm a little behind in posting. There's a really good reason for that - last week I fell victim to the "too busy" excuse and completely ditched my training plan. Despite having signed up for the Interplanetary 5K at the Peoria Riverfront Museum for March 23. Not my best idea. I figured that maybe I would just have super fresh legs come race day from the week of rest. And since I had been training so hard before I knew that I could at least get through it and probably not have to walk much.

Now comes race day. I woke up with the worst stomachache in the world. I seriously considered throwing in the towel but I had promised my friend Troy I'd run the race with him and I knew he was going to pick me up at 8:00am to go down there so I decided to suck it up. If I had to walk, I had to walk. I had a little time to start reading the latest edition of Runner's World (I'll spare you the details of why I had this time pre-race...) and I was reading the editor @DWilleyRW's letter and he talked about a breathing technique where you use a 3:2 variation and match your breathing to your strides - 3 steps inhale, 2 steps exhale. I thought that sounded like an interesting idea to try when training since I never focused much on my breathing before. I notice other people's breathing and the fact that some people sound like they are about to keel over when they run yet somehow finish ahead of me (I'm not bitter...) but I never really focus on my own breathing or my own body.

I was plenty focused on my body on Saturday. Focused on how not to toss my cookies on the way to the race and how I was possibly going to finish the 3.1 miles. I felt a little better once we got to the race site and I started running into some of my coworkers who also run a lot of the same races I do. I knew I would at least make it through the race and the excitement and nerves at the beginning of a race are infectious. I started focusing less on my stomach and got caught up in what was going on around me. The gun went off and I started running.

Not even a half mile in I started feeling a little winded. I knew I needed to take it easy but my legs felt fine so I decided that this was the perfect time to put that new breathing technique into play. 1-2-3 1-2. 1-2-3 1-2. I did this over and over again until I felt a great influx of oxygen coursing through my body. It was so rhythmic to be counting my breaths that when I got to the first mile marker the timer yelled my time to me 8:32. "Really?" I asked him - he assured me he wouldn't lie to me. I was excited to be making such good time. I continued along with my regulated breathing and made it past the "goose loop" (luckily devoid of geese - I have been hissed at many a time on the Peoria Riverfront). Mile 2 time was yelled out to me as being 17:10. I thought to myself, even if I ended up having to walk a little I might beat my PR from last week. That seemed completely out of reach.

1-2-3 1-2. 1-2-3 1-2. I kept chugging along and finally the clock tower came into view. I was pushing myself to my limit and not quite sure if I could keep up my current pace. Just then the older gentleman next to me yelled to me "Go! You've got this! Go!" My body kicked it into higher gear. I rounded the curve and headed straight for that finish line. 26:43. A new PR! After a week of not training and a PR the previous week. I couldn't believe it. When I started my day I thought I'd be lucky to finish it in 30 minutes but instead a new PR!

I made sure to find the older runner after the race and thank him for his encouragement. We had a nice chat about running and PRs and about the different courses there were to do in Peoria. It helped remind me why I run. It's not to beat other people - it's for the camaraderie. It's to share with other people this crazy thing that we love. So the big lesson here - if it feels a little overwhelming and like you might not quite make it, just breathe. You might even PR...

...and get your picture taken with Boba Fett like I did at the after party!

(I also assured the Storm Troopers that were wandering around that these were not the droids they were looking for...)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Blitzed My Way To A New PR!

Sarah, Me and Jake ready to go before the race!
WHAT A RACE! Not only did I feel good (and look great...) but I set a new PR for myself. I completely was not expecting to do as well as I did but my finishing chip time was 27:14! This not only beat what I was thinking for the day (I would have been happy in the 28 minute range) but it also beats the goals that I set for myself for this summer of 27:30 5Ks...guess I'll need to do a little re-evaluating.

I contribute this personal victory to a few different things. First, as I focused on in my previous post, I listened to my body. I was able to adjust my training this week in order to compensate for some soreness and cramping and I came into this race very well rested. There were also physical therapists from Accelerated Therapy there that lead us in a dynamic warm-up (I have a new pre-race ritual) and helped stretch us out afterwards. (Funny moment from that - my brother felt that the guy stretching me out was taking a little too long and came over and stood near the table.)

Me with my brother after the race
Second, great support system. I love running races with Sarah and Jake because they have my same fun-loving spirit as it comes to the costumes and just going out to have a good time. My previous PR was from the Jingle Bell Run where I was dressed up like an elf with them. Running races with my brother is also a great motivator. This race I made it my mission to stay with him the entire time. There was a point towards the end of the race where he lengthened his stride and I thought I was going to fall behind but I stayed determined and then was able to surge past him at the end and beat him for the first time ever in a 5K (disclaimer: only by a couple of seconds...I'm not bragging, just excited! His running ability, considering that he started at the same time as me, has been a source of inspiration for me because he is so naturally gifted at it. He got a sub 26 minute time and placed in 2 races last year. He also didn't really train for this race - I'm sure he will get me next time!)

Third, my training. I was sticking pretty close to the training plan that I set for myself and even though I didn't want to do it some days, it has obviously paid off. I feel that continued training and altering my diet will fuel me to an even better PR by the end of the racing season. This race has left me so excited with the prospect of training and getting better I wish I could start right now!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everybody and for strength training day tomorrow...well, I just hope those 12 oz. weights don't get too heavy for me!

Can't Catch Me Lucky Charms!