Monday, September 30, 2013

"Bandaid the problem"... aka KT Tape

After my hip flexor strain, I was desperate for any solution other than the prescribed “no running for two weeks” option. I know, I know, you are supposed to heal an injury rather than just bandaid the problem. I took a whole 5 days off of running. FIVE. After the miserable 5 days of walks and really easy and boring elliptical minutes, I headed back to Google for another option… 

Enter my new love… KT Tape

Apparently if I would have gone to Instagram earlier and searched the hashtag runnersproblems, I would have seen this earlier. I’ve seen volleyball players wear it, and I had seen it on a runner or two at prior races, but it didn’t really dawn on me that this could help my hip flexor. The KT Tape official website has a video on how to apply almost anywhere. YouTube has several as well. 

Check out the WHAT IT IS section of the official KT Tape website..explains a lot..
I watched a few videos on hip flexor application, but I march to the beat of my own drum, and figured out what worked best for me, a pretty simple odd shaped X. The pain point is a good place to start like they indicate in the video. Two strips at a time does the trick for me. Obviously, depending on the area you may need more, or you can rip one in half. It’s not cheap stuff ($12.99 for 20 strips) BUT it’s worth every dime in my opinion. I’ve been wearing it on EVERY run for over a month now. I would say running wise, my hip is mostly healed, and I probably wouldn’t NEED to tape every run, but right now I’m almost afraid for the first run without it. KT Tape can be purchased online or at most sporting goods stores. I buy mine at our local Hibbett Sports

-Obviously make sure you are OK to be running, don’t use it as a bandaid unless you are sure you don’t have a major issue going on! (Do as I say, not as I did) 
-Use soap and water to clean the area of skin you will be applying the tape to. Dry thoroughly. 
-I read a tip online that I always follow, and that is to use hairspray. Spray the area of clean skin wear the tape will go before application. Let it dry, and then apply the tape. It helps it stay on especially if you get super sweaty. -Wear compression shorts or socks. If you tape your calves or shins, I would recommend wearing a compression sock or sleeve to help keep the tape in place. I wore compression shorts to help my hip tape stay, and it helped with support and circulation. 
-Do your research. Watch the instructional videos, make sure you are applying it correctly. It’s pretty expensive, and you want to make sure you are actually getting the full benefit of it. I’ve personally never been professionally taped, but it is my understanding at some races or race expos, KT Tape has a booth and they will actually tape you up. Sounds sweet.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Week Workout Recap 9/23 - 9/29

My weeks are Monday - Sunday.  I was pretty sore from last Sunday's half marathon.  I normally ALWAYS take a complete rest day the day after a race.  This week, I decided to just go for it.  Yeah, wasn't the smartest decision ever, but luckily by Wednesday all of my soreness had subsided. 

Yeah I know it's only Saturday, but Sunday workouts are usually minimal.  I'm thinking a walk and maybe a few minutes of weights.  Nothing heart rate raising ;)

Monday - Spin class 45 minutes.  Lots of stretching before and after.  Kept this spin easy.  I hadn't been to class in over 5 weeks!  I typically take a spin class at least twice a week.  Back when I started dealing with my hip issues, I took a break from all group fitness classes to focus on rehabbing and running.

Tuesday - 6 miles.  Easy pace.  Legs felt like lead.  Shoulder workout on my lunch break.

Wednesday - 45 minutes elliptical.  I follow the Hill Climb preset, finished with some additional resistance.  15 minutes abs/core.

Thursday - 6 miles.  Easy pace.  WINDY.  Yikes.  Lifted chest and back at lunch.

Friday - REST.  Finally.  Definitely was ready for this one.

Saturday - 12 miles.  Abs and core.  Windy again.  The temps felt amazing.  And I refueled with some delicious chocolate milk!

Sunday - Walk .  Weights at the Y.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The 26.2 that wasn't...the injury story

2013 was going to be my year.  My goal was three half marathons in three months.  Check.  Then my plan was finally tackling the 26.2 in September in Sioux Falls.  I questioned whether or not my body would hold up through training.  I've dealt with overuse injuries in the past.  Of course the good ol shin splints, foot issues, random muscle aches that leave me immobile.  But I found a novice plan online and went for it...

I signed up for the race in the middle of June.  Race day September 8th...  I was coming off a half marathon in Norfolk in the middle of June.  Distance wise, I had a base.  I felt recovered and ready to start the long runs.  In reality, it was a pretty crammed and condensed plan.  I obsessed over every weekend, ensuring that I had the ability to get the long run in.  Luckily, I was able to, for the most part.  

Setback number one came in July.  Second week, my scheduled vacation days from work, I got sick... I went to the doctor and finally get some antibiotics and the confirmation that I had strep throat.  Lovely.  I missed a 5K I had registered for just for fun, and also missed a longer run that week. 

August approached and I reached cloud nine!  My second 18 mile run my average pace was in the high 8s!  I was so thrilled, this felt EASY!  My marathon goal pace was a 9 minute mile.  I was holding this pace consistently in all of my long runs.  Then 20!  It felt amazing to say I'd ran 20 miles!  My pace was on point, everything felt great.  Then it all ended...

The week following my 20, I took my usual two days off running and got back into mileage on Tuesday.  The Saturday following was a scheduled 18.  I took off just like usual, but something didn't feel right.  My right hip starting nagging early.  Like mile 2 early... Instead of stopping, I kept going.  I went all the way down to my turnaround point, which was mile 7, and by this time I was in serious pain.  I kept stopping for walking and stretching breaks, thinking my hip would loosen up.  It didn't.  Ever.  I kept running with the intention now of just getting home.  I knew I wouldn't make my loop for 18, JUST GET HOME.  I made it back into town which was about 11 miles.  It was all over.  I started walking, phoneless, limping in extreme pain by this point... gimped roughly 3 miles back home, cutting through every side street and alley I could find to shorten the route.  I remember crying a couple different times out of pain and frustration.  By the time I made it home, I bawled...sobbed.. for a solid 20 minutes.  I knew whatever I had done to my hip, that was it.

I finally went to the doctor the following Friday, and fortunately did not have a fracture.  The pain continued to worsen throughout the week, especially sitting in my office chair at work.  He diagnosed it as a hip flexor strain.  Based on my recovery time, I would safely say there was no tear, just strain.  At the time, he said no running for two weeks.  And don't run a marathon.... I went back to work, bawled my eyes out to my co-workers, and tried to mentally cope with it all.

Hands down worst day ever...

Omaha Half Marathon Sept 2013 - 1:44:05 Current PR

PERFECT day!  Temps were in the 50s at the start, little breeze, overall perfect running conditions.  I had every intention of breaking my 1:47 PR today, and I did just that!  

This was my first time running Omaha.  This was also the first year that the Omaha Marathon was put on by HITS Endurance.  The route was brand new for 2013, and was labeled fast and flat.  In prior years, the Omaha course was infamous for being hilly.  This year the course started and finished at the TD Ameritrade Ballpark.  Runners actually ran the outfield on the last maybe half mile to loop back out of the park to the finish line on the street.

My thoughts on the event.  Um, pricey.  Maybe not worth the $$.  I don't know, of course every race is worth it, especially PRs.  But this half (I signed up late too) was $85.  Plus the processing fee at the checkout put this in the $90 price range.  For a HALF.  In the past the race wasn't as expensive.  They plan to grow this race over the next few years.  I think they have several kinks to work out before this can happen.  And they should look at the price... So for the price, you didn't even get a packet bag.  Just your shirt and bib.  I was really bummed, my shirt was hella small.  They offered both men's and women's sizes... oops.  Pasta dinner I believe was extra... (not positive)  Parking was not free.  There were some major issues at the starting line as well, getting everyone lined up.

ANYWHO, onto MY race!  I lined up with a 1:45 pacer.  I ended up ahead of him the whole race.  I decided to make sure I went with my pace once I got in the groove.  I felt great, took a GU at 7.5 only because I made myself.  I carried my beloved hand held Nathan shot bottle this race.  I missed it dearly in Sioux Falls when I went without it.  I didn't stop at any aid stations, which helped my pace, as I always have to stop to drink my water out of the cup, otherwise it's on my shirt and not in my mouth.

Heading to the starting line!
Mentally and physically I felt strong all race.  There was good crowd support and entertainment along the route.  The course was an out and back.  I personally was thrilled about this.  All of my training runs at home are outs and backs, mentally that is how I run best.  The loop through the stadium was cool, but I was huffing pretty hard by this point and just wanted to get out to the finish line! 

Waving to Mom in the stands!
I was pretty darn happy with this race, in the PR sense.  I worked hard all of 2013 to fall short of the marathon.  This was my fifth half of 2013, and I finally had something to show for it!  I am more driven than ever to a) get faster and b) burn down that spring marathon.

Posing with my awesome glass finisher's medal!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

RiverRat Half Marathon - April 2013 - 1:47:14

2013 meant a big year of 13.1!  I signed up for three races in three months.  The first race was in Yankton, SD at the end of April.  The RiverRat Marathon, Half Marathon, Bike Ride, and 5K start and end at the river front area of the Missouri River in Yankton.  My cousin Michele ran this race last year, and I decided to give it a try.

My mom and I drove up on Friday night to pick up my packet and eat a pre-race meal of Pizza Hut!  I find that hand-tossed supreme pizza is a good pre-race meal.  I also indulged on the salad bar!  Packet pick up was easy at the Ace Hardware store.  They handed out shirts, race maps, and other information in a well organized fashion.

Race morning weather was PERFECT!  It was absolutely ideal.  I think every runner would agree.  It was in the 50s, no wind, and the sun was shining.  I got up and went through my pre-race ritual.  At this point my standard breakfast was Peanut Butter Cheerios and a banana.  I also had a Gu with me for right before the race.
My FAVORITE flavor!
Drinking a Celsius for some energy!
The half marathon route was an out and back, starting at the riverfront, out to the marina, and back.  This course is great, with one exception.  This MASSIVE hill at mile 10.  The fun part is going down the hill at mile 3!  It is a long, steep, hill.  For the marathoners, it falls at mile 20 in the course.  Talk about a wall.  I knew about this hill, knew exactly where it would be and how I would need to handle it.  I gauged my pace at the beginning of the race based on the energy I would need at the end.  Overall, I felt like I ran a smart race.  I had enough to get me up the hill and finish strong.

Taking off!

Finish line!  The 5K finished at the same place, hence the sad boy...

I was so thrilled with my time!  1:47:14 was over a 10 minute PR from last September!  I was very emotional during this race.  Maybe the beautiful weather, I don't know, but I started crying at mile 3!  I cried for a second at the finish.  They were definitely tears of joy!

The best part was finishing and seeing my good friends finish the 5K!  Angela and Eric and their family ran, as well as Rachel and Sarah.

I decided to check the results on my phone while we were standing around, and to my SHOCK, I placed 2nd in my age group!  I was 20th overall out of 144 total runners.

Runner's high!
This race will always have a special place in my heart.  The weather was perfect and it was so awesome being surrounded by my mom and friends at the finish.  I would do this race again, since it's small and close to home.  My only issue is the finisher dog tags... really.  Dog tags.  I wish they were actual medals.  The full marathon only had 56 runners.  I hope they are able to grow that race.

YMCA Running Bunny 5K - April 2013 - 21:39

Second race of 2013, local, YMCA sponsored, fun.  Oh yeah, wait for it, it was cold.  It was spitting rain that morning as well, but otherwise pretty ideal running weather as there was little wind.

I layered a tank, long-sleeved UA shirt, and my Lincoln Marathon t-shirt.  I wore purple Nike tempo shorts with my black Pro Compression socks.

It was the standard out and back of Ta Ha.  I finished first place female and got a new PR of 21:39.

Here's the thing.  I don't like running 5Ks.  They hurt.  I would rather run more miles.  I don't see a 3 mile run as a workout, and end up at the Y for more.  Today, this was my workout, and I was spent!  I was happy that I pushed myself, but it was definitely the last 5K I had the desire to do for a while.

The BEST part about the race... getting to hang out with my dear friend Heidi!  She is a rockstar and got second place in her age group!  I love getting to hang out with her, especially at races!

Wisner Fire & EMS Leprechaun 5 Mile Run - March 2013 - 39:35

After a long winter of boring treadmill running, lots of group cycling, and the standard elliptical, it was time to race again!  The first race of 2013 was a 5 mile race in Wisner, NE.  Wisner is about 25 miles from Norfolk, and the race didn't start until noon.  It was in conjunction with their big St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Well, you guessed it, it's March.  It's Nebraska.  It was FREEZING.  The temp around noon was hovering right around 35 degrees.  And probably 18-20 MPH winds.  Brutal.

I layered a tank, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, and Under Armour hoodie.  I wore capris because I didn't feel like wearing running tights.  The race started and ended in front of the fire hall.  Inside the fire hall was packet and t-shirt pick up, and the bathrooms.  There is a 5K race along with the 5 mile.  Everyone starts at once, and the course is an out and back on a paved county road.  The out was cold, but not so bad.  The back, was a slap in the face.  The wind hit me like a brick.  It was the most difficult race I've ever ran.  I was convinced my fingers were going to fall off, and snot was running down my face (you're welcome).  My lungs hurt.  I really wanted to quit, and really wasn't sure why I decided to do this race.  I really wanted to do well, but my pace tanked hard the second half.  Official results 39:35 (7:55 pace)

My outfit and bib with medal!
My Nike watch wasn't accurate because I had the shoe pod on, which was conflicting with the GPS.  Oops.  Took me a while to figure that out!  I placed 2nd in the female 20-30 division.  I was pretty happy with that considering the conditions!

YMCA Turkey Trot 5K - November 2012 - 23:44

This race was a BLAST!  I was so excited I'd finally convinced Ben to RUN!  I pressured him into signing up with me and my co-worker/BFF Angela.  Her husband Eric was running with her, so I told Ben it was the manly thing to do.

The race started at 10AM at Ta Ha Zouka park.  It was sponsored by the YMCA.  The top male and female finishers win a turkey!  I did a 1.5 warm up run on my treadmill at home, and then we headed out.

Eric, Angela, Ben, and I before the race

The route is an out and back.  My goal was to run fast to stay warm.  I finished second place female (just missed that turkey!)

I was EXTREMELY proud of Ben for running his first 5K!  Without training of course.  He will be the first to tell you, it was a one and done deal.  He finished in 29 minutes! 

Harvest Hustle 5K - October 2012 - 23:55

Another local race sponsored by one of the Lutheran churches here in town.  It was their 2nd annual Harvest Hustle, they offered both a 5K and 10K and I believe a kid's run.  I decided to run the 5K since I hadn't ran a single 5K race in 2012.  

It was the end of October.  In Nebraska.  It was COLD.  The race starts and ends at the Lutheran High School, which is really nice, somewhere WARM to go to the bathroom, stretch, get your bib on, the whole 9 yards.  There was a nice turn-out of total runners despite the chilly temps.  I don't remember how cold it was, I'm thinking low 40's, but it was really windy.  Lovely.

This course is hilly.  Really hilly.  I was warned of this, but I didn't really care, I was up for the challenge.  I wore capris, and layered tops, and last layer was a sweatshirt.  I don't think I felt my legs the entire time.  They were completely numb.

I ended up first place female in the 5K!  23:55 again, not blazing, but it was a new 5K PR!  The only picture I have from this race was my lovely medal.  I dashed to my car after the race, and headed to the YMCA to continue my workout!

Race2Cure Cancer 10K - August 2012 - 51:48

My second 10K in August was pretty exciting.  This race is put on by some awesome gals in town, with the proceeds going to cancer research.  This was personal at this point, as the month before Ben's uncle lost his battle with cancer.  The race starts and ends at Northeast Community College where I work, so of course, I had to participate!  There was a 5K, 10K, 1/2 mile kid's run, and a 2 mile walk.  Ben's mom participated in the walk.  

They had some timing issues with the mats, so the race didn't start on time.  For an August morning, it was surprisingly chilly, but refreshing to run in.  The 5K route was an out and back, the 10K was a loop out of town, same roads at the Laugh and a Half.  This was a small race, the majority of the runners ran the 5K.  I ran a 51:48 (8:21 pace) which was good enough for 5th overall and first place female!  I know this is not blazing fast by any means, but this was my first win.  It sparked an intense competitive passion in me!

Who doesn't love a TROPHY?!

Firecracker 10K - July 4, 2012

My first 10K race put on by the Norfolk YMCA on the 4th of July.  I don't remember my exact time for this race, but I was second place female overall.  It.was.HOT.  It was pushing 90 degrees already at the start.  I think the race started around 7 or 7:30.

This day was kind of an emotional blur for me.  Ben's uncle had passed away, and his funeral was that morning.  My mentality for the race was run as fast as you can, then get home to get on with what was coming up that day.

The YMCA sponsors a few races a year, and this was their first ever 10K.  The holiday made the turn out not as great as they maybe expected.  And of course the dang heat.  The course started and ended at the Ta Ha Zouka Park south of Norfolk.  The park has a sidewalk trail leading out about 3 miles, then it turns into the gravel Cowboy Trail.  The course was an out and back, and there was a water station half way.

I came home with a medal and a sweet t-shirt.  I love to support the events sponsored by the YMCA.  They didn't repeat this race in 2013.  They opted to do an obstacle course style race at Skyview Lake.  Maybe someday I'll flip some tires for fun.

Sioux Falls Half Marathon - September 2012 - 1:57:41

A little over a year after I ran my first 5K... I ran my THIRD half marathon!  I decided after Norfolk, I wanted to run one more half in 2012.  My training leading up to Sioux Falls had gone well, until this ...

Excuse the nasty toenails...
One week before the race, I had a foot that looked like this.  It was really swollen.  I think it was due to my beloved Ruby Wave Riders being worn out.  I did go into a sports medicine doc for an x-ray to rule out a fracture.  I didn't get a 10+ mile training run in before Sioux Falls.  So, the last time I'd ran 13.1 miles was June, this was September.  I was a little nervous.

The BEST part of this race, was it was a special race.  My friend Missey was running it as her final "single lady" race before her wedding!  It was so fun to get to hang out with her and all of the other YMCA girls before and after the race.

AWESOME ladies before the race!
Start of the race on the track at Howard Wood Field!

It was a chilly morning, but PERFECT race weather.  (Note our coats and long sleeves!)  This race starts at Howard Wood Field, winds through the falls park, and ends at Sertoma Park.  Sioux Falls is a GORGEOUS town.   I love going there, mostly for the shopping, and all of the years I'd been there, I'd never actually seen the falls.  Crazy right.  Running through a town is definitely the best way to see it!  The race begins on the track, it's rather congested, and makes for a difficult start.  The gun goes off and everyone makes a full loop of the track, crossing the start mat at some point, and then heading out into the parking lot toward the street. The race ends way on the other end of town from where it starts.  They have a shuttle system for people who don't have awesome Rachel's to be there to drive them!

Rachel and I at the finish
This course is hilly.  Funny thing is I kind of forgot about it.  I told everyone racing in 2013 that it was flat.  Oops.  The beginning is full of rolling hills as you wind through downtown and then into the falls park.  The last half is pretty much entirely flat.  The aid stations along the way featured some people in costumes.  There was music and entertainment, and good crowd support.  The beautiful weather helped!

Missey, Steph, and I at the finish
I had a BLAST at this race.  It was by far my favorite of 2012.  The course was beautiful, the weekend was fun, the people I went with rock.  I was shocked I ended up with a PR considering my lack of training.  But I'm not lying, I was SO SORE for a solid week after this race!  No pain, no gain?

Laugh and a Half Marathon - June 2012 - 1:57:59

Year two of the Laugh and a Half Marathon in conjunction with the Great American Comedy Festival.  I was originally signed up for the 5K like last year.  I ran my first half in Lincoln, and decided I would give this another try.  What the heck.

The week leading up the to race, I was in Colorado for work.  Summer Institute training is basically like financial aid school.  Golden, CO was absolutely stunning... and I found a nice trail to run on!

Our accommodations however, not so much...

Yup, dorm style.  All week.  Needless to say, I was going into the Saturday race on little sleep.  Angie and I had driven home from Golden on Friday.

But I really can't complain, the race is in my town, so I could sleep in my bed the night before, and I live about a mile from the starting line!  I was really excited about all of my friends running this race, either the 5K or the half.  I hadn't seen any of them for a whole week, so I was pretty excited!

Angela and I before her FIRST 5K!
Rachel, Sarah, and I before their 5K
Deb, Missey, and I at the starting line
The 5K route stays in town, the half route does not.  The loop takes you out of town, and then back down to loop through Norfolk Ave (aka our main drag) and back by Johnny Carson Theatre.  The real kicker is, you have to do it twice.  I wasn't sure how I would do with that mentally, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been.

All smiles!

My mom was my official photographer!
The weather was good, it was a little humid, but nothing terrible.  I remember at one point on the first loop telling my mom I need to go to the Rocky Mountains before every race!  I tried to exercise every day while we were in CO, and I did feel stronger running my first day back in lower altitude.  Guess that's why all the elites do it!  I was so happy to cross the finish line and see my time, 1:57:59!  I broke 2 hours!! I was so excited!  I didn't have a specific goal for this race, but breaking 2 had crossed my mind.  I just ran for fun, and I really had a blast!  Nothing better than getting to run a well organized half marathon right in your town!

Sarah and I at the finish line! 
See those clouds forming?  Yeah it started raining soon after I was done.  My mom drove me to Casey's for Gatorade, home to shower, and then a celebration lunch at Runza! (Nebraska thing!)  Little did I know, had I stayed for the awards, I actually placed in my age division!  I received a huge 2nd place medal in the mail about a month later!

Lincoln Half Marathon - May 2012 - FIRST 13.1 - 2:08:57

Flashback to December 2011.  My friend Sarah (the rockstar who ran her first half in Norfolk) and I had ran a fun little 5K together back in August...

And decided it was time to think about a half.  13.1 miles.  What?!  Sarah had already accomplished this, she knew exactly what she was in for.  I had NO CLUE.  

The Lincoln Marathon is a BIG DEAL.  It is the largest marathon in Nebraska.  It always sells out, they cap out at 10,000 total runners (although rumor is this will be increased in 2014?)  If you want in, you have to sign up early.  Like December early.  I remember the night I submitted my registration.  I sat in my apartment, entered all of my info, paid my dollaz, and then instantly wanted to puke.

Spring race training in Nebraska can be tricky.  Luckily, this was a fairly mild spring, I trained my little tail off, and was ready to go.  The sense of accomplishment after completing my first 10 mile run was incredible!

Onto the RACE!

Sarah and I at the expo
The race expo is held in downtown Lincoln.  We sported our Husker gear of course.  The expo is big, and I really had no clue what to expect.  Packet pick up was very organized, we buzzed through with ease and were soon carrying our official bibs in our bags!  We walked around, did some shopping, and then headed to supper to do some awesome carb loading!

Looking very awake and ready to go!
Sarah's sister, and my good friend, Rachel went with us to be our driver, official picture taker, moral supporter, bag holder... the list goes on.  I'm SO grateful that she did that for us!  She loved the bright and early wake up call.  We stayed at the Super 8.  Standard joke remains about this awful stay.

Rachel and I at the finish

All done!

The coolest part about the Lincoln Marathon is the finish.  You finish by running into Memorial Stadium, and your lovely sweaty face is plastered on the big screen.  This was my first half, and I was still a bit of a running virgin, if you will... I saw this time on the clock (2:33)

Yeah, gun time Brittnee, not your chip time.  I was pretty happy when I realized my actual time was 2:08:57!  My goal was under 2:10.  I really just wanted to finish.  I'd never ran 13.1 miles before, I really had no clue what to expect.  This race was an unbelievable experience.  Crowd support, music, great aid stations.  I was so shocked by the scenery and support.  I really enjoyed the course.  Finishing in the stadium is amazing.  The post-race food was amazing.  It was pretty congested of course, but I managed to find a banana and some water and make my way back outside to find Ben.  

We hung around at the finish and took lots of pictures.  By the time we walked back to the pickup, I was done for.  I still couldn't believe I'd actually ran my first half!  I told everyone it was a one and done deal. HA...