Tuesday, October 25, 2011

It's the Great Pumpkin

This past weekend I ran The Great Pumpkin Challenge 5K, which benefits the Saratoga Bridges Foundation. It has now become an important race for me. Last year in 2010, The Great Pumpkin 5K was the first 5K I ever walk/ran. I completed it in 53 minutes. This year, I completed it in 46 minutes.

I was excited about the race because of a few factors. 1. I already knew the race route. I run in the park a lot, so I am really comfortable with knowing how much further I had to do. 2. I had my GymBoss timer and was testing out a run 7 minutes, walk 1 minute, run 7 minutes game plan. 3. I like the costumes people wear. 4. I knew there were going to be a few people from BeRunning there. 5. This race marked one full year of racing.

The race was chip timed so my time wouldn't start until I crossed the mats at the start line. So I let everyone start out and be all run & stop & start. The 10K racers start alongside the 5K racers so it can be intimidating and I tend to start out too fast. I ran into "Fantastic George" at the start line. We chatted while other participants started. His goal was the 10K in under or close to an hour. Mine, was to finish pain free.

I started out and I firmly believe I am an Iron Eagle. What does this mean? Well in Iron Eagle, music isn't allowed in the fighter jet cockpits. This kid knows he can fly and his mentor (CHAPPY!) knows he can fly, he just fly's with music...it helps him focus. When he is reprimanded and the music is taken away, he just doesn't perform well. When he goes in to save his dad against all odds, he puts his tape in his walkman and fly's like you'd never believe.

See, that's me. When I have music & a tempo I can pace myself better. I know how I'm supposed to keep time with the music. Keeping time without my music, I often run too fast and end up cramping early. It helps me not be distracted, it helps me focus on breathing. In the 10K, I can't wear headphones. I'm nervous about running for an hour & a half without music.

At the Great Pumpkin race I started out well. I was burning/killing past so many people. I kept a steady pace as small children tried the sprint & stop to keep catching up to me. Other runners with a slow pace were doing a 3:1 ratio. So we ended up playing tag a lot. The two women I enjoyed playing tag with were the ones that I got stuck behind a stroller with. If you run in 5K's you'll sometimes see them. These mom's with jogging strollers. Well, sometimes those mom's are wicked fast. Other times, they are super slow and take up space on a path. So it became my goal...to pass a stroller. I kicked up my pace and jumped past them, then I slowed my pace back down and kept steady. Eventually, I hear my tag friends coming up behind me. It was awesome. Since I heard these women I knew that the stroller was way behind. I effectively passed a stroller mom.

I tried to set my sights further down the race route. As I saw the water stop approach my sight lines I saw my new goal. BUNSEN & BEAKER. Two people were dressed as Bunsen Honeydew & Beaker from The Muppets. I was close enough to catch up with them if I kept my pace. (which my Nike + app said I was at a 12 min pace, later I found out it was really a 14 min pace - still better than my average 16 minute pace) Yet, each time I started running Bunsen & Beaker started running. Each time I walked, they walked. I just couldn't catch up to them. Towards the last mile there was a group of 5 women that we were playing leapfrog. As I passed the woman who was part of the stroller pass crew I shouted to her "I know they arn't beating me technically, but hell I wanted to pass Bunsen & Beaker so badly"

I rounded  the area where I knew the finish line was. It was at this point that I don't remember who was around me. I knew to keep to the right because 10K runners were finishing on the left. I saw the finish line and I sprinted, full on sprinted, heart pumping going to fall out of my chest sprinted. As I sprinted to the finish line I heard Mary (a BeRunner mentor I ran with on Wednesday night) shout out "Yeah Hollie" and then over the speaker I heard "Hollie Miller coming in fast". It was neat.

I walked, got my half bagel & water, stretched and then walked back towards my car. While walking back I saw George entering the finish line area. I shouted for him and looked at the clock, it was about an hour & 5 minutes on the race clock but I know he started like I did, so his net time was probably an hour. Then I ran into Ed & Kate and some other BeRunner mentors, chatted a bit, and then I walked back to the car.

It was a great race. I had a good beer (Ten Penny Ale) as my reward and my legs were tired and just normal sore. My foot didn't go numb and my shin & ankle didn't seize up. Overall, I felt good.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Please come support me

Dear Friends,
I know that several of you have been keeping track of my running season and have been supporting me online as I face my challenges. I have been working with a group called BeRunning and have been training for the past eight weeks with them in preparation to run my first official 10K (6.2 miles) We found out the race route the other day and I was kind of excited that we'd be finishing on the track at Shenendehowa High School. This means bleachers. This is a request to help fill those bleachers.

But Hollie, I don't want to get up early.
Here's the thing, it will take me about 1hr 30mins to run the race. So if you get to the bleachers by 10-10:15am you are pretty much guaranteed to see me cross the finish line.

But Hollie, what will I do while I wait for you to hit the finish line.
You, my friends are a creative bunch. My suggestion is to bring blankets & hot cider. I mean, if that cider is spiked with brandy I won't tell anyone. Just make sure you have a designated driver.

But Hollie, you run all the time. I'll catch another race. It's cold.
I get it, I understand. It's cold, it's early. Bundle up, I'll be running in shorts. But here's why I want you there. We all have things in our life that are challenges to us. When we overcome those challenges, we want our loved ones to be part of that experience. I can't tell you what it does for a runner when you hear your name being cheered out as your approach & cross the finish line. A mentor cheered for me this weekend when I crossed at The Great Pumpkin 5K. It made me smile & push faster the last 25/50 yards.

But Hollie, I don't even live near you anymore.
I'll take care of a place to stay if you really want to come up (or down) for it. If you're randomly up for the weekend, well this would be a little early morning adventure. Perhaps we'll all go get some pancakes after.

But Hollie, I run all the time too and I want to run it with you.
O.K., all the race information is below.
SO my friends, please just promise me you'll think about coming and sitting in the bleachers to cheer me on. I know we all have busy lives and it seems really silly to have people come out early in the morning just to watch people run past you. But you can't blame a girl for trying.

To Benefit the Albany Medical Center Children's Hospital
Sunday, November 6, 2011 - 9am at Shenendehowa High School, Clifton Park, NY
The newest road race to hit the Capital District will be a mega-experience that you will one day gladly say you were there for the first! The course barely has 5 turns and features an epic finish on the Shen HS track! We'll be pulling out all the stops with technological fun, so come on down and see what we've been up to back in the lab! There will also be ample refreshments for you along with a live band and a true party atmosphere!

Here's the event website: http://fallfrun10.com/

Thursday, October 20, 2011

heatwraps & snacks

Right now I've got a Thermacare heat wrap on my shin. It's just starting it's warming feature. It's cause I am attempting heat. Last night after my group run I iced my whole shin. It's annoying because I am in a good amount of pain after I run. However, when I run it doesn't hurt until I slow down or walk. Also, my foot has gone numb in the past two runs and my ankle seizes and makes my foot slap into the pavement.

Did I mention that the bruise/bump that I had concerns about way back when I started running last year has increased by two inches?

So let's review. Raised bump & bruise on mid shin. Pins & Needles that run from my big toe to the bottom of my butt. Throbbing on the top of the foot near a raised vein. Throbbing in shin coincides with throbbing on shin. All of this is occurring only on one leg. My left leg. Running about 1.4 miles is what agitates it. 30 minutes later the pain goes away. There is a dead leg throb that remains but it is nothing like the pain while running.

My podiatrist adjusted my insert to stop the front of my foot from pronating. Then he referred me to a vascular specialist. He wants to rule out a vein & circulation issue before moving on to testing for compartment syndrome. Both items have their scary aspects.

Vascular - it could be Deep Vein Thrombosis which my vein could clog and the blood clot could go to my lungs or brain and I die. Yes, it's dramatic and the worst case scenario. Best case is it is just the vein and I have surgery to burn & kill the vein and reroute to other veins. It might help the pins & needles and it might even help my headaches. Still, there is surgery involved. Well surgery & blood thinners, which will make me kiss alcohol goodbye.

Compartment Syndrome - muscles have these sheaths around them that expand & contract along with the muscle. Sometimes when you become very muscular the sheath does not stretch with the muscle, instead it contracts on the muscle and can pinch off veins & nerves. The pain is often misdiagnosed as shin splints. Shin splint pain stays for two to three weeks and does not get better when you stop the activity. For compartment syndrome they stick your muscle with a  pressure measurement tool, patch you up with a sterile dressing, and then ask you to perform the activity that irritates the muscle. Then they measure you 1 minute after stopping and 5 minutes after stopping. If the pressure is abnormal, then they perform surgery. What do they do? Oh, they cut the sheath that surrounds your muscle and if needed place a skin graph on your leg.

Still, my podiatrist is letting me run. Telling me, if it hurts than stop. I went out too fast with a different mentor the other night and I think that kicked my leg a bit too much. Today at work it's been dead & throbbing. Hence the heat wrap. And while I know yoga would be a good thing to help stretch it...i'm just not motivated today.

The health things that have been kicking my ass the past 3 weeks and the fact I've put on 13 pounds...well it sucks the life out of me. Honestly, I think I prefer running on my own. I prefer music. I prefer changing my schedule around. I prefer it to be a want to not a have to.

I'm running the Great Pumpkin 5K this weekend. Last year it was (technically) the first 5K I ever ran. So it's the first race that I know the whole route to already. After that, Nov 6th is my 10K. My last race of the season will be the Troy Turkey Trot (if my friend tells me she registered). In my head I know I ran the boilermaker off of 7 weeks of training and had to rest the two weeks prior to the race. I know I can do the distance, I just want it to be fun again. I want to end my season on some high notes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

half way & half assed

Last week in my running group we had a 5 week in timed 5K again. How did I do? 50 minutes. that's right, i put 3 additional minutes onto my time.

we all have bad runs. bad races. it just majorly sucked that I did so poorly. What were my factors in "failure".
Well, I've half assed my training program. I just got into a yoga class 2 weeks ago. I rarely get my cross training in and my long runs on the weekend have been non-existent because of a lot of excuses.

It is hard to think about this group training, if I like it or not. The people are awesome but they are a lot faster than me. I mean, a lot faster. I know, I know...it's OK to be a turtle. (you bet your sweet bippy ass it is!) it just does something to your motivation when week after week a group of people are waiting for you to finish.

During the timed 5K, I ran the first 14 minutes. No walking. Which really, that is what killed me. My leg tightened up, my hip ached, my head was pounding. So one of the mentors I ran with started timing 7 minutes running, 1 minute walking for me. She talked to me the entire time, which made the long time fly by, but it kept me from focusing on the rhythm of my breath, foot fall, and mental game I play.

I crossed the finish line and felt OK. proud that i completed it. but when i heard my time. that is when i wanted to get away from the group. I was angry at myself. Yes, there were things occurring that I couldn't change. Still, I was angry & disappointed. Another participant reminded me that it was OK and that we all have bad runs.

That night after the group run was one of the worst nights. So what's my big "excuse" - my IIH is acting up again. Stress does a number to the body. It's why my doctors want me to exercise, want me to loose weight. Stress, my body weight, and chemistry cause something very frustrating to happen in my brain. It sends messages to my brain to swell. That swelling causes an extreme amount of pressure & pain in my eyes and head. At best I am always working with a headache that never goes away. At worst, the throbbing is deafening and the sudden sharp pains that flash cause me to loose a bit of my cognitive skills. 

The night of the run I had been having what I call "lightening bolt" pain for the past week. I had missed a few days of work. I needed dark lighting and cool spaces. I wasn't sure how the blood pumping activity of running was going to affect my already blood pumping pressure. I had told our leader George, told him where my emergency information was, and I started the run. With that mentor that I was running with, we talked a lot. She commented on how I've lived a lot of life. I said that I had to. That's all it took for me. I started thinking about dying. I know it's a hard thing to read here but I started to think about it, get scared, and started hyperventilating.

I still want to beat my original 10K time of 10K in 1:38:28 - hell i don't care if i only beat it by one minute.
I still say I'm "Iron Eagle" and often just want to shout out CHAPPY. I run better with music. it lets me run for fun. it lets me run for me and it doesn't make me feel guilty.

I'm running a 5K this Saturday. this one is for me. this one is headphones on. this one is to prove that i can be better.