Week 30: Santa Cruz is pretty too I guess

Warning: There is a gross picture at the bottom of what my screwed up feet look like after all this racing. I was just going to post it at the top here because #realtalk, but trigger warning, you guys.

I raced Santa Cruz 70.3 (formerly Big Kahuna) yesterday, mostly because Steve was racing it and I’d already be there and I needed to get a big weekend in for Louisville in five weeks. But holy shit I wasn’t excited about it.

Continue reading “Week 30: Santa Cruz is pretty too I guess”

Marin Memorial Day 10K: A Race Report

Short version: I ran a 10K and it was not even close to the slowest I have ever run a 10K. Win.

Long version: The Marin Memorial Day Races are awesome. The women’s course record in the 10K is 33:03. The men’s is 28:45. That’s some fast shit. (Not that the course is actually fast. It’s fine, whatever. But, the people are fast. Stupid fast.) And, it’s 15′ away from my house. So, I’ve basically done it every year we lived here, except last year when I was coming off the stupid bone spur injury and a 10K sounded awful and running shitty and slow and getting my ass kicked sounded really awful.

This year, I wanted to do it because 1. why not and 2. it’s time to get my ass kicked into remembering how to run fast before Alcatraz this weekend. I wasn’t optimistic about it not sucking, though, since the grand total number of miles I’ve run at 10K pace or faster in the last three months is: one. And, also, Ironman training, etc. But, Thursday I ran some 1000s at 10K pace and I actually finished them all, so clearly that training would totally take effect in three days and I would be awesome. No worries.

I didn’t wear a watch for the race because, really, I didn’t need to know. Knowing wasn’t going to change anything. Anyway, usually, they have clocks or people yelling times at the mile markers, but this year they didn’t. So, it was totally blind running. Blind, except Steve was running with me, so he kept up a commentary about how fast I was going v. should be going. For the first mile he and I ran with Ilyce and I knew she was probably running in the low 6:20s. It is hard to describe how much that first mile felt like a full-on, all-out death sprint. 1200m into the race I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Near the end of the second mile, I fell a few seconds off her and was lost in contemplation of pain. So much pain.

After that, it actually sort of settled. Steve ran with me, which was good. I don’t know if I’d have finished or, at least, finished well without him running with me. And, slowing down just 10 seconds/mile made it go from feeling like a wheezing blind foray through a field of knives to just a normal sustainable level of hurt. By the time we hit the halfway point, I actually knew I was going to be ok. I was still rolling up on people and not getting passed by the girls who usually pass me — which meant either I wasn’t doing that badly or everyone else was doing worse. The fourth and fifth miles were long. I would guess I was running high 6:30s/low 6:40s and it felt really hard, definitely not Ironman pace (or at least if I could run that in an Ironman, I would win), but it also felt like I vaguely remember being able to run this speed all the time. Every time I tried to pick it up, though, it wasn’t happening. The last mile, people started passing me and I tried to push. Knowing the area definitely does not help, since the last mile is one long shot and all I could think is ‘this is so far until we get back.’

When we came around the track in the last 100m, I finally saw a clock and it said 39:52 (plus the fact that I started 10″ back) and I kicked to get under 40′. I was ecstatic. Fastest 10K I’ve ever run. Ironman training for the win. Then, I was like, ‘Everyone get out of my way’ and I rushed over to a trashcan to throw up for a bit. Good times.

Of course, it turns out that the clock was a minute off and I really ran a 40:58, not a 39:58. Ah well. Ironman training for the ok, more-or-less what was expected 42nd place?

Oh, look, here’s a picture of me running with terrible form with Steve and a high school kid from Nate’s class:

From Pam Wendell
From Pam Wendell

Boston, Blah, Blah

I leave for Boston on Saturday morning. I haven’t checked the weather. I haven’t looked at the race info. I haven’t written my obligatory facebook and blog posts about what it all means to me. I just am having a hard time getting excited. Partially, sure, it’s because I can’t (or, rather, shouldn’t) run the race. And, I was looking forward to actually getting to run the whole course this year and enjoy the atmosphere/excitement and hang out with every person on the planet who is doing it. I wanted to finish. Since I can’t do any of those things, I’ll basically just be a hanger-on, a fan, which is fun too — but not the same as actually being inside the locker room. Partially, though, I’m having a hard time whipping up a frenzy of emotion because everyone else is doing such a good job getting all whipped up on their own.

There are people who have very real connections to this race. There are people for whom it means a great deal or who genuinely struggled to deal with what happened last year. And, I’m not begrudging them their feelings. But, does it automatically mean a great deal to everyone or, if we’re honest, aren’t some people jumping on an emotional bandwagon that isn’t theirs to hijack?

I was reading some article about Jeff Bauman — probably in Runner’s World, though really there have been so many about him — and in it his fiance talked about how, with all the press tours and visits and interviews, he wasn’t keeping up with his physical therapy that he actually needed to get better from his injuries. She said that she definitely would not be running the marathon this year, maybe again some day, because they had gotten overextended and needed to focus on their own lives again. And, then, I read the story in our local paper about local runners going back to run Boston this year — of which I am sure there are lots of similar stories in lots of similar papers — and the article kept calling all of us who were there last year “survivors.” And, we’re not. I’m not. It wasn’t ours to survive. And, it’s not our right now to trot out the truly injured and make them our symbols of survival.

I have a hard time whenever a spectacle is made of what is, at a base level, very individual pain for the individual people who suffered. I hope those individuals are getting whatever they need — whether it is emotional support or money for medical bills or simply being left to rebuild. And, I know that if it was me whose life and loved ones had actually been affected by the bombs at the finish line, I wouldn’t want my suffering to stand for anything or mean anything larger to everyone. I would be a little pissed if people kept telling me we all run together, because we don’t. We run near each other and next to each other. We run shoulder-to-shoulder, but we run alone. We can only ever run on our own.

Ironman Training Week 16: April 7-13

People keep asking if I’ve gotten back to training yet and being shocked that I’m riding my bike already. And, I keep being all: Do you know how unlikely it is that you’d knock your teeth out falling off a bike? I’m not that worried about it happening again.

I am worried about everything else though. But, I sort of just figured if I already feel shitty and in pain, I might as well be training.

This philosophy sort of worked last week. Some days I just needed to curl up in a ball on the couch. Some days I could ride hard and long. On the whole I actually got in a decent amount of training (the most since Arizona) and started running again — both big perks — but I also had to skip the first race of the year, had crazy night sweats while I worried about accidental acetaminophen overdose, and waddled around on my torn foot muscle that still doesn’t really feel so great.

So, week 16 is what it is. Not really good, but better than week 15.

Monday

Ran 2.75 miles ridiculously slowly. Yay running!

Biked 1:20 easy on the time trial bike just to shake it out, get used to the bike, etc.

Did about 15′ of light PT and core work.

Tuesday

Swam 4,000 yards in the morning with the main set as 4 x 50 descend, 400 steady, 3 x 50 descend, 300 steady, etc. (I made that workout up all by myself.) I didn’t swim amazing, but I didn’t swim terrible either. The 50s at the end were barely under 40″ and the steady pace was mostly in the low-mid 1:20s, which is ok, fine. Then, I did some band and pulling work. I can’t tell if I just feel exhausted and terrible swimming or if I’m getting better. I also had to assume that what felt like training fatigue was NOT training fatigue (since I hadn’t been training much since the accident) and was really just general fatigue.

Crossfit in the evening. During which the instructor asked ‘yo, what was up with my face.’ And, when I told him he was super shocked, because I looked almost normal. Almost. But not really.

Wednesday

Ran 5.5 miles. This was really supposed to be a 30-35′ run, but it turns out that 1. I’m running really fucking slow right now and 2. the loop was longer than I remembered. Like many things this week, it didn’t quite hurt, but it didn’t quite feel good either.

Biked 1:40 with 10′ at 170W tempo, then 2 x hill repeats up Lucas Valley. Interesting fact: the fastest I’d ever done this before was around 6:50, which I knew wasn’t all out, but thought was still quite fast. Then, I finally got on the Strava and realized all these women were doing it in like 5:10. So, I decided why not. Why not at least go significantly harder. Still not quite race hard, falling over, because STRAVA IS NOT A RACE and I don’t believe in fucking yourself up that hard unless there are road closures, etc. But, still, I did it in 5:50-something. So. Strava: good or bad? Then, did 5′ tempo and 5′ at IM pace, which, seriously, could someone tell me what IM pace is.

15-20′ of yoga routine and PT.

Thursday

Swam 2,000 yards easy. The dentist in the morning sort of wiped me out. Basically, I had about 4-5 good hours/day last week and they got used up on Thursday.

Friday

Rode the 14 miles easy to and from a job/office.

15-20′ of core, PT, yoga poses, etc.

Saturday

The big day to see if I was back up to things again.

TRX in the morning, during which I may have 1. been a bitch and 2. done too many squats because the instructor pissed me off. But, for realz, I am going for a 5 hour ride after this, I do not need to jump up and down for fake “cardio” work in between strength exercises.

Rode 60 miles as over to Mill Valley, straight up Mt. Tam, down to Stinson Beach, back up the mountain, down/up/down into Fairfax and through town to home. It was supposed to be 5 hours, but was only 4:40 and the last 20′ were really shit. I’m finally riding hard enough right now that going through town kills me. It does provide bakery stops, though. Mostly, I just tried to have a hard ride overall, pushing the climbs somewhat and getting over being terrified of the descents.

Swam 800 yards in our pool in our complex, which was supposed to be more but I was cold and tired and it was already after 4 p.m.

Sunday

Ran another 2.75 miles easy, but slightly faster this time. Boston Strong. My quads were killing me and I suspected that TRX instructor may have really gotten the last laugh here.

Swam 3,200 yards with Ilyce. And, I guarantee I would have done none of it if she hadn’t been there. Did the same set from Tuesday at about the same pace, but it felt slightly more like I was on top of things? Maybe. Maybe it was just in my head.

TOTAL: 16:10

This is actually the most volume I’ve done in awhile. And, Steve commented that I must be riding a lot because there are so many bike shorts in the laundry. (Hah, the joke’s on him. I actually just put them in the laundry to make myself feel accomplished.) So, I am getting fit. There’s no question about that. It’s just going to be a question of if I can come back from all these injuries, get running again, and actually translate that fitness to race speed.

One of the days I was at the pool, maybe Thursday, I was thinking about the other girls in my age group at IM Canada. Because when it comes down to it I don’t care about all the other people racing or training or posting faster times than me on the internet. All I really care about is maybe 4-5 girls in the 25-29 age group racing in Whistler. And, if you wanted, if you had the information, if you put together a a scouting report, you could name those girls. It’s not a secret, most likely. So, who are they? What were they doing right at that second I wanted to get out of the pool and call the workout? Were they trying to recover from smashed-in teeth? Were they bailing on a swim workout? Probably not. What were they thinking? Doing? Planning? And, I started wondering about them. In a very real and practical way, I wanted to know who they are and what they do and if they’ve been having injury problems too. For some reason, thinking about those girls as actual individual people made me finish the swim workout. I imagined those 4-5 girls in Canada, gutting it out and knowing that they had done more than I had, that they were better prepared. And, I was like SCREW YOU IMAGINARY REAL PEOPLE, I CAN DEAL WITH PAIN. So, there’s that.

It’s All In Your Head

The photos from CIM came out today — not that Steve didn’t take a few on his phone. What is interesting about the pictures and the ones Steve took, including a video (which I just can’t get off his phone because he is not here and I am being the hugest bum in the world this week) is that I don’t look like I’m in the most pain I’ve ever been in. I don’t look like I’m basically walking and like I’m positive I won’t be able to finish. For the most part, I look the same as when I was running well. Eventually, I look like I’m about to die in the pictures. But, long before it shows up on film, I was already falling apart. The thing is: it’s not visible to anyone else.

This is right where things started to go really bad, because I remember that guy. And I remember the photographer. And, I remember thinking my legs are failing and I am in excruciating pain:

cim1

Crossing this bridge was probably the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time. It was about four miles to go. Four miles. How was I possibly ever going to make it four miles?

cim2

OK, this is where I finally look like I’m about to fall over. Because I am. The people at the finish line started yelling at me right after this to keep moving and I almost punched them in the face:

cim3

And, yes, for the record, it got really cold after I slowed down. I took the long sleeve off around six miles in and was totally fine while I was moving. But, when I slowed down 2’/mile my core temperature dropped too. I think it screwed me up permanently because I basically didn’t warm up for two or three days.

Just remember, though, no one else can tell how much it hurts.

An Incomplete List of Current Injuries and Things That Hurt

  • Bone spur on the base of my big left toe — which hasn’t actually been hurting much lately, just sore after hard things, long things and races
  • Still really cut up, swollen, possibly broken or sprained pinky toe on my right foot from Pacific Grove — but can you sprain a toe?
  • Bruised bone on my left heel from running on concrete the half-mile to transition at Santa Cruz (evidently, all that stuff about how if you run barefoot you naturally won’t land in such a way to hurt yourself didn’t work so much)
  • General cuts from my shorts, sports bra and wetsuit
  • Cuts from Tupac the Cat
  • Carpal tunnel in my right wrist — unrelated to sports, for the most part
  • Screwed up upper back — possibly unrelated to sports, likely related to having scoliosis for like 15 years
  • My quads