Wednesday, September 28, 2011

09/25/11: 36th Annual Omaha Half Marathon (race report)

More than 4200 runners turned up for this years event....and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. The temps hovered in the mid to lower 40's and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

Although, while preparing for the 7:00 am race start, you couldn't see anything in the sky except stars and the slightest fingernail moon.

Doug signed up to run the 10K and Inny and I were running the half together. It was her first, and she was pretty excited!

I'm not sure how long it took this guy to get out of the race staging area. But there were nothing but people shoulder to shoulder blocking his way.

Because of the severe flooding the region has experienced this year, the start was moved to the new TD Ameritrade ballpark (only a few blocks away from the original start).

As the sun came up, shivering runners waited for the starting gun.

Let's get this party started!!!

This woman ran with the garbage bag around her waste for AT LEAST the first 5-6 miles. Neither Inny or I could take the "swish swish swish" any longer and passed her by.

The support from cheering residents along the way was fun!

At around mile 8 there's a hill. A big hill. And it lasted for well over a mile. Inny was cheering because we'd hit the top.

We hadn't yet, as we would soon find out. :-)

Our time was pretty good considering it was her first (yeah!!!) and I wasn't wanting to push myself hard. The pain in my lower legs is finally 99% gone, and I didn't want it to come back.

Maybe I should have? My knee (of all things) ended up sending me to the doc and an MRI appointment the next day anyway. :-(

After I was done running, I jumped in my car and drove to mile 22 of the full marathon route? Why 22? That's where Mot was volunteering for the day as a human cone. (that's literally what his shirt says!!)

The put the "human cones" along the route to direct running (and non running) traffic. He was having a pretty good time. I stayed over there with him for an hour or two, then headed home for a shower.

The medals, for the second year in a row, are made from recycled glass. There is a glass studio in Downtown Omaha that does them for the event. At the end of the race, there was a line of Marines in full dress putting them around the necks of the runners.

13.1 miles, just over 2 hours 39 minutes, overall avg pace 11:58, 455 ft elevation gain, 1487 calories, 185 Max HR, 172 Avg HR

Monday, September 26, 2011

09/26/11: Do these crutches make my a** look fat?

I ran with my sister in her first ever half marathon this weekend (race report to come soon). She rocked it, and we both had a blast!

About 8-9 miles into the run, my knee started to catch. With each step, I could feel it pop. Nothing huge, nothing audible....but just a catching feeling on each step. It didn't hurt, but it was annoying.

Mainly it hurt because I knew that chances were it was GOING to start hurting.

It DID start hurting at about mile 11. We were running our 1:1 intervals, and the first 5 to 10 steps of each running interval hurt...then the pain would go away and I'd finish the minute without another thought about it. I babied it on for the last couple of miles, and by the time we hit the finish line, I'd stopped noticing it at all.

As we were standing around after the finish, I could feel my knee getting tight. Again, I really didn't think too much about it. I run put it through 13.1 miles....and, sure, there was a slight "hitch in my giddy-up" ***** for the last 4 or so of them, but it wasn't bad enough to make me think I should stop.

My tune changed later that evening. Being able to bend it at all was a thing of the past.

There was one point in the evening where Mot was grabbing his keys and wallet for a trip to the ER.

I decided against it....took some pain meds from from the medicine cabinet....and tried to go to bed.

Tried being the key word. Every little move hurt my knee. Pulled on my knee. Pushed on my knee.

And I want you all to take a second out of your day today, and try to sit on a toilet, then stand back up...while not bending your left knee at all.

At all!!!!

Thank goodness I've been taking quite a few yoga classes lately.....

Mot called the doctor first thing this morning. Doc had me lay down on the table and started manipulating my leg and knee a little....when "POP"!

I could hear it, I could feel like, the doc knew it immediately. He put my leg down and said "it's time for an might have a torn meniscus".

Well hell.

I bit the inside of my cheek and tried to not cry. My silence must have spoke volumes. Mot asked if I was OK. I said "yes, but St Louis is in 4 weeks."

"Oh" says doc "you won't be running."

Double hell.

They scheduled an MRI appointment for me later that afternoon, recommended crutches and we went home.

The MRI appointment was intense. Not only was it loud (louder than any other MRI I've ever had)....but about half way through, I had a total anxiety/vertigo attack. I actually had my thumb ON the call button at one time....but then my absolute stubbornness kicked in.

My nerves were frazzled. I've been dealing with this mysterious pain in both of my legs for months. I finally get rid of it...and BAM! I'm confident enough that I sign up for my first full marathon (for the second time)...and WHAM!

I took many deep breaths. I opened my eyes and looked around the room as much as I could without moving my body.

I was NOT going to puke, I was NOT going to pass out, I was NOT going to call someone in for help. I toughed the rest of it out....and then we went home again.

The doctor office called home a few hours later.

No rips, no tears (no surgery!!!)....but a definite bone contusion.

I didn't fall, I didn't hit it, and I didn't get hit.....but I have a mega bad deep knee contusion (bruise).

I have an appointment with the knee specialist tomorrow, and we'll see what happens next.

But I'm going to go everything I can to show my "you won't be running" doc that it's not that easy to keep me down! :-)

***** That reference was for you Liz!!! :-)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

09/22/11: What goes up, must come down....(and a request for advice)

I'm nearly done writing about my injured legs. I know reading about them probably gets old for all of you....but this blog is a way for me to talk about what I'm going through and experiencing. It's the way I can put what I'm thinking out there, without driving my hubby or friends nuts from hearing about it constantly. It's a way for me to track my progress, a place for me to go when I need a little mental boost. I can read about all the things I'm doing now, that I never thought I'd do. Ever!

I'm a runner. I'm not going to break any land speed records....I'm not going to win any awards (unless "sticking with it no matter what" is an competition). I'm much slower now than I was a year ago. Hills used to be my friend...and now they are a foe. Getting up early in the morning used to be easy, but now I struggle. I hope that as my confidence comes back, and the pain keeps going away, I'll find some of these things coming back to me.

But until then, I'm still a runner....just a much slower one. And, compared to what I've been going through this past year, I can deal with slow. Slow will work just fine for me.

I ran near my house this morning. There was no getting in my car and driving 15 minutes to a flat trail. Nope. I just threw my gear on, and walked out my front door.


And, even though my time wasn't anything to cheer about, the fact I was running up and down hills without excruciating pain was!!

Were my calves burning? Were my lungs screaming? Hell yeah! But they're supposed to do that...and I welcomed it with open arms.

Hmmm...OK, maybe not open arms. I mean, burning calves and screaming lungs aren't the same as staying in my comfy bed and getting an extra hour of sleep. Let's be honest. :-)

I was also reminded of how many streetlights the neighborhoods around my house DON'T have. I was running with my super dooper awesome headlamp.....but I was still finding myself not fully striding out. Potholes are like ninjas. They hide in the shadows and take you without notice. :-)

I've done 10K's, I've run hills, and I've done long runs over 8 miles....all without the pain of my injury in my legs. I'm not going to jinx anything by saying you wont' hear me mention it again.....but I will say that I feel I'm nearly to the end of this journey.

Thank goodness!!!!

So now, to finish up this post, I want to ask all of you a question.

I'm going to start training for my first full marathon once the half this weekend and the one in October are finished. The marathon is 30 weeks from my half in October....and the training plan I'd found to use was.....get this...exactly 30 weeks. Kizmet??

But, on to the question.....what are everyone's thoughts on the run less, run faster theory? My doc and PT's have me running, right now, three days a week. Two shorter runs during the week, and one long run on the weekend. No running two days in a row.....period.

The training plan I'd found says the exact same thing....but somehow the idea of training for a full marathon on only 3 days a week seems.....lacking? Don't get me wrong, only three days a week of pounding on my body sounds great. I'll fill in the other days with cross training and rest.

But can I actually complete a full marathon on only three days a week of training? Hal Higdon wants me to run at least 4....the leader of the running group I belong to wants me to do 5.......

Am I just asking for injury the more I run. Will using the shorter runs for "speed" and hills and long runs for stamina do what I need them to do?

I'm going into the full marathon with the same thoughts as my first half. No time limit. I'm doing it to finish....period. Normally, I'd say I'd be happy with a full finish in under 5 1/2 hours....but now I'm not sure what to expect. I guess I'll find out. :-)

3.01 "hilly-ish" miles, 37:33, 12:29 overall snail speed pace, 343 calories, 182 Max HR, 162 Avg HR

Sunday, September 18, 2011

09/18/11: Omaha Corporate Cup 10K

I went back and forth on whether I was going to run it again this year. I didn't get around to organizing a team at work (I've been swamped there with new duties), and I didn't want to register as an individual like last year. It's much more fun if you run on a team.

Oh, heck. It's cooler because you get a team t-shirt. Let's all be honest. :-)


Anyway, both Mot and I signed up to run/walk on the Omaha Fire Department team. Because he's still battling with his back and knee injuries, he opted to be good, and just watch from the sidelines, and I ended up running the 10K.

I was a little nervous, to be honest. I haven't run two days in a row since this spring when my doctor and PT's told me not to. But, it went fabulous!!!! I had to stop and stretch along the way during mile 2. The lower legs weren't screaming at me...but I could tell they were about ready to start. After a couple stops....they didn't give me any issues the rest of the event!!!!!

It wasn't a 10K PR by any stretch of the imagination (9:56 average pace last year)....but, I completed it, without pain, and a 11:06 min/mile average. To say I'm not upset by that is an understatement! I actually felt like I was able to stride out and run. It was great!!!!!!!


6.25 miles, 1:09:28, 11:07 overall average pace, 727 calories, 192 Max HR, 177 Avg HR

Saturday, September 17, 2011

09/17/11: Air Force Weather Agency Corn Man 10K

I happened upon the listing for the Corn Man 10K a month ago. I was already planning on running a 10K on Sunday of that weekend...but the premise of the Corn Man was too much to pass up.

When you register, you put in your expected finish time. They group everyone running into timed groups based on your entry. Then, the day of the event, each group gets a Corn Man....someone literally dressed up in an ear of corn costume. The idea is to beat the Corn Man from your group.


I told my sister and about it, and she entered as well. We thought it would be a hoot!!!

It was rainy and low 50's when we arrived at Lake Zorinsky. Perfect running weather!!!

This is the picture of one little finger of the lake.

Poor Inny had some issues with her legs while running. They were cramping up on her (I know exactly how she felt, and tried to be as encouraging as I could). We took it easy, stopped when needed so she could stretch. By the time we hit the end, they had loosened back up for her.

I probably drove her nuts along the route. She does like I do....she gets quiet and almost angry when things like this happen. Not "I'm going to rip your head off"'s that focused "I will make it through this if it's the last thing I do" angry.

As we ran, I sang songs. Yep...I was singing.

What? I was trying to cheer her up, get her mind off of it, bring the fun back into the event. :-)

All in all, it WAS fun! I'm sure we'll both be back next year for the 2nd annual race. The organizers did a great job.

Inny and I at the end, with our ear of corn! :-)

P.S. I'm happy to report that the full compression socks may actually be doing what I'd hoped. I ran the entire 10K without pain in my lower legs. It was magical, to say the least!!!!

6.2 miles, 1:22:00, 13:13 overall average pace, 712 calories, 181 Max HR, 162 Avg HR

Thursday, September 15, 2011

09/15/11: The Ides of September

Today was another two-fer day.

It started with my alarm going off at 4:34 am.

Why 4:34? Who knows. I was turning it back to 4:30, and that's where I stopped. I purposefully do things to make my OCD go nuts. It's a hobby. :-)

So anyway, it went off....I turned it off and got up. No snooze.

Yep, for those of you that know me.....I'll give you a second to let that process.

No. Snooze.

For real.

I had a 4.5 mile run on the schedule.....and I was bound and determined to get it in and done. Because I'm still trying to avoid hills as much as I can before these two half marathons coming up...I have to drive somewhere in the city that is flat.

For those of you who've never been to Omaha, Nebraska....and you've heard it's flat. You've been misinformed. I can't, anywhere near my house, run without going up and down them constantly. Very few flat stretches at all. The city trail that runs through town, runs along a it's where I've been heading lately.

I put on my spaghetti strap tank full compression socks (not just sleeves)....and off I went.

It wasn't until I got TO the trail that I noticed how chilly it was.

Compared to what it has been was downright cold actually. Mid 40's (about 7 or 8 C).

It's been a while that I've run when it's that temperature....and was reminded of a few things.
1) The area between the tops of my compression socks, and the bottom of my shorts (mainly my knees and some lower thigh) get cold. So cold that when I take a hot shower upon my return, the water bouncing off of my legs is freezing...even though it's hot coming out of the faucet.
2) I have a hard time seeing when I run. Not because it's dark...I have my headlamp. No, it's because I can see my breath. You know how it's hard to see when driving in the fog....and the higher beams actually make it worse? It's the same way with my breath in the light of my headlamp. I find myself breathing out of the side of my mouth. It must be completely attractive. :-)

So, the 4.5 miles went OK. The full socks actually helped some of the pain. But not as much as I was hoping. I've only used them once, so I'm still hopeful they'll make a difference in the long run. (no pun intended)

I made it to about 2 miles when I looked at my watch for the time. Between getting dressed and then driving to the place I was running.....I found I'd really be pushing it in time to get the full 4.5 miles in, get home,. showered and then back to work in time.

My pace from last year is nearly 2 minutes/mile slower. Frustrating does not even begin to describe my feelings on it. I was running slowly, and still running 10:30 I'm having to really push it to get faster then 12:30. A.N.N.O.Y.I.N.G. But.....I'm I can't complain toooooooo much. :-)

I'm happy to report I came in contact with zero skunks (THREE of them in one single 3 mile run last time I ran the same stretch).....and the only other people I saw were on bikes. One of them was extremely friendly...we passed each other twice. Both times we had a small chat while speeding past each other.

"good morning!!"
"good morning to you!"
"enjoy your run!!"
"have a great ride"


"hello again!"
(giggle) "hi!!!"
"how far are you going?"
"until I decide to go home"
"I'm jealous!!!"
"don't be...retirement is boring....HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!!"

(by then we're yelling because we've passed each other and are on our way done the trail in opposite directions)

After work I came home for a couple hours, then headed to yoga for an hour.

Yep, I'm addicted. 100% It's a workout and it's so relaxing all at the same time. :-)

Well....I'd better head to bed. Tomorrow is's about time!!!!!! (hehehehehe)

4.50, 56:05, 12:27 overall average pace, 513 calories, 180 Max HR, 158 Avg HR

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

09/13/11: A two-fer

I signed up for a monthly pass at the yoga studio where I took the 5 week Yoga for Runners workshop. I love the instructor, I love the atmosphere, and I really enjoy yoga. I can already see improvement in my flexibility and hope that some upper body strength isn't far behind.

For right now, I'm going two nights a week. Tuesday and Thursday. Last Thursday was my first official night as a student of the studio. There were only three of us in class then, but there were 9 or so of us tonight.

Mandy, the instructor, really takes time to think about what she's going to focus on in each class. She knew my name the first day I walked into the Y4R workshop, and calls me by name every time I see her. It's the simple things that really catch my attention.

Anyway, after an hour of yoga, I went to my car, put on my running shoes, etc....and took to the city trail near the studio for my 3 mile Tuesday run.

Neither Mot, nor I slept well last I ended up shutting off my alarm this morning. I slept until the absolute last possible minute then rushed around to get to work on time. Because I'm running in at least one 10K this weekend, if not two, I didn't want to push my two weekly runs to Wed and Fri. It would have me running three days in a row this weekend.

While I ran three days in a row every week last year (Tues/Wed/Thurs) PT's have told me to not do the same until we get the problems with my legs fixed.

So, speaking of my leg I was running today, I had an idea. A possible solution, or at least something that could help. I'm not going to say anything about it until I see if it works......but as I was running I tried to think about what was different between today and Sunday.

Sunday I ran 10 miles with no pain....and now 2 days later, ouch!!!!!

I also tried to compare my running this year, to my running last year. How I could train from May to October with no issues one season......but find it impossible to get through simple 3 mile runs the next??

I thought of something while I was out running...and tried to test my theory on the return trip to my car. It was something simple I hadn't thought of before. So "test" though only a small sample of my new master plan, gave me some relief in my legs, almost instantly.

Don't get me wrong, it still hurt.....but it hurt less.....and enough that I could tell a difference instantly.

If this is all it takes, I'm going to cry.

First in happiness....then in frustration. Nearly a full year of dealing with this.....different doc's and PT's....and something this simple................

I'll keep you posted.
3.01 miles, 35:17, 11:44 overall average pace, 348 calories, 184 Max HR, 167 Avg HR

Sunday, September 11, 2011

09/11/11: Wabash Trace

Sis and I got together this morning to participate in our own momentous run.

For her, it was her first double digit run since she's taken up running as a sport/hobby/obsession.

For me, it was my first double digit run since the Lincoln Half in May.

We were going to meet up at 9:00 am at the Wabash Trace trail head just outside Council Bluffs. I arrived a little early, as traffic wasn't as bad as I was expecting.

Although, it was a Sunday morning, I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting. I think I just wanted to give myself plenty of time to get there, as I wasn't exactly sure where the trail head was.

Because I had 30 minutes to waste before she got there, I decided to do a little pre-run stretching.

Yes, yes....I've had SOOO many people tell me that stretching before a run doesn't do much but create a situation where you can actually harm yourself, rather than helping things out. But, after my run on Wednesday (which I DID NOT post about - I had resigned myself to quit running forever after I hobbled back to my car - if that tells you anything)....I was feeling desperate.

I did as many of the usual runner's stretches that I could think of....trying to make them as non "static" as I could. Also, because I had plenty of time, I resorted to doing a little pre-run yoga in the parking lot.

Oh yeah, I'm sure there were people wondering what the h*ll I was doing....but, as I said before (and I'm sure I'll say again), I'm desperate to find something that will allow me to run again.

She got there right at 9:00, we strapped on our hydration belts, and took off down the trail.

Well...we walked down the trail for a little first. About 3/4 of a mile to be exact. :-)

But, we eventually got under way.

The Wabash Trace Nature Trail is a 62 mile railroad turned multi-use trail that goes from Council Bluffs, IA...through quite a few small towns along the way...ending just to the north of Blanchard, IA (population 61).

The run was great!!!! Yes, it kicked my butt. But in a good way. In a "holy cow, it's been a million years since I've run this far....and with no pain in my legs to boot!"

Yep, you heard me. The Nej "Leg Pain Saga" continues.

I don't know if it was the pre-run yoga, or just the craziness that IS my leg injury.....but I went the 10 miles without the infuriating pain.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the run hurt. But it hurt in my legs, my leg calves, my quads, my abs, my lungs.....all the places it's supposed to "hurt."

A good run.

Here is my milk chocolate truffle from The Chocolate Garden. A little post run celebration, so to speak.

If you are ever near Coloma, MI....or heck, even if you aren't (they'll ship them to you).....stop in. They are amazing!!!!!!!!!

So, there you have it. A good run, a good dessert. And now I'm going to be a lazy bum and lay on the couch all afternoon. soon as I can take back control of the tv from Mot, that is. :-)

Oh, and happy birthday Dad and Karen (MIL). Love you both!!!!!!


10.01 miles, 2:06.42, (first half uphill, second half back down), 12:39 overall average pace, running Inny's 1:1 intervals, 181 max HR, 162 avg HR, 1106 calories burned

Monday, September 5, 2011

09/04/11: Kal-Haven Trail Michigan

Mot, the Boys (Danny and Steve) and I all jumped in the car this weekend and headed to Michigan.  Steve's sister has cabin on a lake, and it was the perfect escape for a nice long weekend.

With a half marathon coming up in two weeks (and because I needed to make up for the double scoop of Saugatuk Mud ice cream on a visit to the Lake Michigan shore the day before - worth it?  yes!), I made sure to pack all my running gear and use it at least once.

The day before we left town, I got online and mapped a run that would take me my scheduled 8 miles within the area of the cabin.  But, on the drive there, I noticed our road kept crossing the Kal-Haven Trail.    I didn't know what it was...but I was intrigued.

That night, while sweating a couple of pounds away in our muggy tent (it was over 100 degree heat index that day - yuck!), I got the Nook out and searched online (via some stolen wifi signal from a neighbor a couple of houses down).

Apparently the trail is over 33 miles long on an abandoned railroad stretch from Kalamazoo to South Haven.  We were staying at a cabin a couple of miles from the halfway point.  Sweet!!!!!!!

So, Sunday morning, I got up before the group (a number of Steve's family were there as well) and headed for the trail.

After applying 17 gallons of bug spray (on a scale of 1 to 10 on the "effectiveness" scale - 17 gallons of bug spray would turn out to a rate a -3), putting on my Garmin, strapping on my go-go gadget hydration belt (Amphipod rocks!!!)....I left the safety of my Jeep for trails unknown.


The nearest trail head was in town a few miles away.  Bloomingdale, MI

The one and only remaining train depot building now serves as a museum for the trail and the area...and also an information center for the trail itself. 

Here's the view looking back at the depot from the trail as it crosses the highway.

I ran from mile 16 to 20...then back again.  From Bloomingdale to Gobles, then back. 

The trail was great....but the humidity and mosquitoes were ridiculous.  The trail was 100% enclosed by trees....making it a hot, humid, tunnel of zero air movement and a mosquito paradise.  I was the main course Sunday morning. 

My legs, as usual, were horrible.  The first half of the run I averaged a 13:30 min/mile pace.  The pain was outrageous...but, as usual, I pushed through it knowing that it would go away after 3 or 4 miles. 

And, as usual, it did.  I ended the run with a 12:30 (ish) I really made up some time that second half. 

I'd love to get on my bike and ride the trail from beginning to end.  There are a number of railroad bridges and blueberry fields (I didn't see any, even though the locals assure me I ran by at least one) along the way.  But running it in the summer is miserable.  I wouldn't recommend it. 

Unless you want to be a buffet for tiny flying vampires. 

It was, at least the second half, a great run though!!!  

(Later in the weekend, I fell down the second half a small flight of stairs off of the back deck of their cabin.  Besides some bruises, and a really, really, really sore calf muscle, I came away unscathed and lucky.) 

8 miles, 1:29:34, 12:25 overall average pace (first half did run/walk 1:1 intervals...second half did my usual 2:1), Max HR 187, Avg HR 161, 900 calories, 3 pints of blood donated