Sunday, March 16, 2014

Shamrock 4-Miler - March 15, 2014

Wendy, Amelia, and I had a great time at the Shamrock 4-Miler.  Because Wendy had only a couple weeks of running in her post-surgery pocket, and my mileage was still low due to my tender, shin-splinted leg, we decided not to "race."  Instead, we planned to just enjoy a themed run with one another.

The Shamrock 4-Miler has long been a favorite of mine.  It starts at a little church on Indy's Monument Circle, and winds around the downtown area before finishing back on the Circle.  It's flat, and there's a lot to see.  Folks dress up in wild costumes to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  It seems silly to drive a 150-mile round trip to run only four miles, especially when one is not "racing."  However, this race is about more than a run.  It's become a tradition for me to enjoy the Shamrock 4-Miler with friends and family.

Wendy and I have a fun tradition of always matching our clothes when running races.  This time, Amelia joined us, so we decided to be triplets.  We wore our green "FREEkin' Awesome" shirts (a nod to the Nike Free shoes we wear when we run), with black sleeves and black shorts.  To satisfy yet another tradition, we clipped flowers in our ponytails for the race.  Amelia wore deep blue, Wendy wore orange, and I wore green.

Flowers in our hair, flowers everywhere
The race began a little hectically with over a thousand folks battling for space.  After the crowd thinned a bit, we were able to chat and run tangents easily.  The first mile clicked off in 9:04.  Amelia gradually accelerated during the second mile.  At one point, she asked me how fast we were going.  "Do you really want to know?" I asked.  "No, you're right," she said.  We ran that mile in 8:45, and it featured a course change that I hadn't anticipated, but it didn't throw off our race... since we weren't racing. :o)

The first water station was at the beginning of the third mile. Amelia threw water over her head instead of drinking.  Wendy and I had removed our arm warmers, but Amelia had on a full shirt.  The water helped cool her.  We finished our third mile in 8:35, much faster than we planned.  However, the real fun was about to start.

Running into Kathryn at the finish
Amelia started spotting folks she wanted to pass.  Little by little she reeled in folks who had started too quickly.  She did this while talking, singing, laughing, clapping, telling cross country stories, etc.  I was starting to have trouble talking, so I just listened and enjoyed the front row seat.  On the last mile, I saw three friends, two who had finished (Aaron and Douglas), and one who was running (Kathryn).  It always gives me a boost of energy to see friends while running.

When we rounded the corner, the finish line was a mere 100 meters away.  Amelia kicked hard.  I tried to join her, but I couldn't maintain her pace.  She passed three men on that short 100 meters to the finish line, and Wendy and I finished a few seconds behind her.  The final mile was 8:04, and Amelia won her age group. 

Here are the statistics from the race:

Name: Shamrock Run
Date: March 15, 2014
Distance: 4 mi.
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Course: Fairly flat
Time: 34:27
Pace: 8:36
Place: 307 of 1448
Division: 23 of 170
Results: Click here.
Weather: 9 mph WNW wind, Humidity 65%, 39°

Thanks to Ed for accompanying us and taking photographs!

Getting our hair ready for our pic...

Post-finish pic

Monday, March 10, 2014

I'm a racer. I'm racing. I RACE.

Wendy & Jo on Opening Night
(Yes, we do things besides running.)
My extracurricular life just became a lot more calm.  Ed's season with the BNL basketballers ended on Friday, so there are no more practices or games to attend.  The show in which I was performing, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Little Theatre of Bedford, closed on Saturday.  Wendy was in that show, too.  Now that our time is unencumbered by seasonal activities, Wendy's tumor is no longer in her foot, and my leg is getting better, it's time to sharpen the focus on our running.

One of the great joys of running is racing. It's exciting to put a race on a calendar, make a race plan, and execute that race plan.  Though I usually have no trouble finding an impetus to train, having a race on my horizon makes me even more excited about running.  It also gives my training a focus as I prepare my body for the task at hand.

Here is a list of the races for which I've registered for 2014.

Shamrock Run
When? March 15
Where? Indy
Distance? 4 mi.
With Whom? Wendy and Amelia
Have you run this race before? Yes
How did you do? 2007, 46:07. (It was 5 mi. in 2007.)  2008, 36:22.  2010, 37:35.  2011, 33:19.  2012, 33:05.  2013, 32:48.
Are you actually racing this time? No
What's the goal? To have fun.  Originally, I was going to try to PR (which would be about an 8-min./mi. pace), but with both Wendy and I healing from "injuries," we decided to make it a "run for fun" day.  That will be no problem.  This race is always a riot.  It starts and finishes on Monument Circle, has registration at the Columbia Club, and features MANY costumed runners.  Ed, Mom, and I have enjoyed attending this race nearly every year since 2007.  Also, Wendy, Amelia, and I have some super fly green tops to wear.

500 Festival Training Series 15K
When? April 5
Where? Indy
Distance? 9.3 mi.
With Whom? Wendy
Have you run this race before? Yes
How did you do? 2012, 1:19:02.
Are you actually racing this time? Sort of
What's the goal? To run the whole race at half marathon race pace.  One of my annual goals is to PR in the 500 Festival Mini (under 1:54:19, 8:43 pace), and another is to break 1:50 (an 8:23 pace).  Those are both completely doable, but with the shin splint trouble I've been having, I haven't been able to train the way I'd like.  This race will be a good chance for me to try to hold half marathon pace and see how it affects me.

Derby Festival miniMarathon
When? April 19
Where? Louisville
Distance? 13.1 mi.
With Whom? Wendy and Amelia
Have you run this race before? No
Are you actually racing? No
What's the goal? To cross the finish line with Amelia.  This one is all about her.  I'm just along for the ride!

500 Festival Mini Marathon
When? May 3
Where? Indy
Distance? 13.1 mi.
With Whom? Wendy
Have you run this race before? Yes
How did you do? 2007, 2:18:22.  2009, 2:15:39.  2010, 2:08:48.  2011, 2:15:16.  2013, 1:58:55.
Are you actually racing this time? Yes, that's the plan.
What's the goal? To PR (break 1:54:19) and to run 1:4x:xx.  If my leg stabilizes well over the next few weeks, I will absolutely start training to reach these goals.  If not, Wendy and I will just run it for fun.  Mini Day is my favorite day of the year.  You can't understand until you have experienced it yourself.  It is two hours (or less) of solid energy and fun.  Many people would add here, "...and you get to run a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."  Instead, I add, "...and you have to run a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway." :-)

When? May 16
Where? Bedford
Distance? 3.1 mi.
With Whom? All the students at BMS
Have you run this race before? Yes
How did you do? 2008, 28:35.  2009, 27:48.  2013, 24:29.
Are you actually racing this time? Yes, that's the plan.
What's the goal? To watch my students succeed, and to beat my boss.  BMS 5K Day is the best day of the school year.  I love to watch my students push themselves to do their very best.  It's inspiring.  Many students are more successful than they ever imagined.  I've run it three times and volunteered three times.  This year, I plan to run.  The BMS 5K is poorly positioned (right after the Mini), for me to be in good 5K shape, but I usually do well.  Last year I beat my boss by 17 seconds.  I'd like to smear him again, but I hear he's been training this year...

Monumental Mile
When? June 5
Where? Indy
Distance? 1 mi.
With Whom? Wendy and Amelia
Have you run this race before? No
Are you actually racing? Yes
What's the goal? To run a mile as fast as I can.  This is a "kick-off" event for the Monumental Marathon, to be held on Nov. 1.  They are promoting it by saying, "If you can run a mile, you can run a marathon in five months!" Smart.  However, they are also encouraging seasoned distance runners to race a hard mile by advertising the course as flat and fast with minimal turns.  I've never run a race this short, but I'm intrigued by the challenge.  It seems a little silly to drive a 150-mi. round trip to run one mile, but being part of an inaugural event is fun.

Red Eye Relay
When? July 19-20
Where? Bloomington
Distance? 100 mi. relay
With Whom? Wendy, Tim, and others
Have you run this race before? Yes
How did you do? 2013, 14:21:01, 103.92 mi. with Team Embrace The Chaos
Are you actually racing this time? Sort of
What's the goal? To have a blast running while staying up all night.  The premise of the Red Eye Relay is simple: seven-member teams run 21 sections totaling (slightly more than) 100 miles as fast as they can in the dark, sticky night on the back roads of Monroe County.  We start at 5:00 P.M.  Each member runs three legs.  Last year, I ran a total of 12.4 miles in my three legs.  Of course, we want to do the best we can, but the primary goal is to have fun.  That's easy to do at such a fun event.  I should also note that the Red Eye Relay is sponsored by Upland Brewery. :-)

Bedford Half Marathon
When? October 4
Where? Bedford
Distance? 13.1 mi.
With Whom? Solo, though I'll find buddies.
Have you run this race before? No
Are you actually racing? No
What's the goal? To participate in my hometown's inaugural half marathon.  Wendy is going to race this one as an elite, and I'm going to run it as a pace run.  I won't actually race, but it'll be faster than a typical training long run.  There are so many people that are going to do the Bedford Half as their first half marathons.  I'm so excited for all of them!  It will be a great fall day.

Monumental Marathon
When? November 1
Where? Indy
Distance? 26.2 mi.
With Whom? Wendy
Have you run this race before? Yes
How did you do? 2012, 1:54:19 (half).  2013, 5:26:56 (full).
Are you actually racing? Yes
What's the goal? To run the whole thing without passing out, and finish under 4:30.  I was prepared to do just that in November 2013, and I was thwarted by a bad day (see blog post).  Training for this race will include many highway runs and oh-dark-thirty runs, all with Wendy.  Monumental is THE race of 2014 for me.  All the others will be fun, but they are merely stepping stones to this race.  All roads lead to Monumental!

Those are the races for which I'm registered in 2014.  (Technically, I'm not registered for Red Eye, but Wendy will register us as soon as the window opens.)  I'm sure I'll run some other races this year, too, like the Limestone 5K (July), and the Give Thanks 4-Miler (November, duh).  Last year, I raced 102.9 miles.  If all goes well, I'll probably race about the same mileage this year.  Hooray, 2014!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Worrier's Mind And A Shin Splint

Something I do that I should not do, is worry.  I worry a lot.  A LOT.  I worry about my family, my friends, my students, my running, my health, my finances, etc.  The other day, one of my friends posted the following quote:
"I have 99 problems, and 86 of them are completely made up scenarios in my head that I'm stressing about for absolutely no logical reason."   
I could've penned that line myself, only the 86 would be closer to 96.  Another worry quote I remember is from Matthew 6:28-29 in the English Standard Version of the Bible:
"And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
That verse used to (and still does) frustrate me, because why am I being compared to a lily?  A lily doesn't have family, friends, a career, bills, etc.  It may have health, but it doesn't know it.  No wonder lilies don't worry.  THEY'RE PLANTS.

It's possible that the annual goal that topped my list, to remain injury free, has already been defeated.  I have shin splints, or rather, a shin splint (singular).  I used to think shin splints meant "sore shins."  Nay.  The calf muscle in my left leg is slowly pulling away from my tibia (the bigger of the two lower leg bones).  I have reduced my running mileage--reluctantly, but smartly.  I am doing lots of elliptical work--reluctantly, but smartly.  I am getting Graston, ultrasound, and exercise therapy on it twice a week--not reluctantly, but I would really rather be doing something else... like RUNNING.  It's a bummer.  A minor bummer.

The Worrier's Mind
Let me share with you what the worrier's mind has done to this "minor bummer" of a shin splint:

Completely rational thoughts: Man, shin splints suck.  I'm going to have to reduce my mileage significantly.  A mileage reduction will affect training for my goal races.  It will also affect my annual mileage goal.  That's OK, though.  Health is more important than mileage or times.  I'll get the painful treatment and make sure my leg is healthy.  That's the priority.  I don't want to make it worse.

Slightly irrational thoughts: Oh, man.  This shin splint is close to a bone.  Maybe it's another stress fracture.  Maybe I won't be able to run all summer.  I've lost almost all my goals.  People will think I'm weak if I don't reach my goals.  Also, if I don't run, I'll have no way to control my Crohn's pain, and I'll hurt ALL THE TIME.  How am I going to cope until 2016, which is surely how long this mystery injury will take to heal?

Off one's rocker, completely irrational thoughts: OH MY GOD.  My leg is seriously injured.  What if, when I wake up, the bone has spontaneously shattered because it's so weak, and shards of it and my shredded muscles are lying in a bloody pool OUTSIDE OF MY BODY when I wake up in the morning?  OH MY GOD.  I'LL NEVER RUN AGAIN.

These thoughts have all been in my head at some point, and all of them have been considered legitimate scenarios for my situation.  Perhaps this explains why I run so much in the first place.  Running quiets the "off one's rocker" thoughts and makes me think a lot more clearly.

So, what am I doing?  As mentioned above, I'm getting therapy on it.  I also do stretching, foam rolling, and icing at home.  I use Biofreeze and Voltaren Gel on it, which are likely psychological fixes, but whatever.  It makes me feel like I'm doing something.

Tuning Fork Stress Relief
Wendy is running again (Yay!), so I'm assuming her "comeback" plan with her, which consists of very short runs (like, 1-2 miles), every other day.  We barely break a sweat, but it's better than no running.  We also work out on ellipticals at oh-dark-thirty and do strength workouts with our trainer, Sam.

Finally, when I start imagining my leg spontaneously exploding into bits of bone and muscle tissue, Wendy eases my fears.  Today, she used a tuning fork to prove to me that the tibia has no fractures.  I mean, really: #GoodFriend :-)

The month started strongly, but ended weakly (much like January), as I began noticing the recurrence of the leg pain.  I enjoyed lots of fun runs with Amelia, which were the running highlights of the month.  Here are the stats for the second month of 2014:

Miles Run: 65.57
Runs: 8
Hours Run: 10.97
Average Run Distance: 8.20 mi.
Average Run Pace: 10:02.3
Average Run Duration: 1:22:16.3
Average Temperature: 20.8°F
Longest Run: 11.00 mi., February 15
Shortest Run: 6.00 mi., February 3, 10, and 12
Favorite Run: February 1, 10.01 mi.
Total Lifetime Mileage: 3,077.60

March will bring a healthier leg (that's The Optimist trumping The Worrier), a successful Shamrock 4-Miler in Indy, a fun Spring Break, and warmer weather!  Here's to all that coming true.