Diagnosis meets Prognosis

The jury is in! Aside from (or maybe in accordance with) a torn meniscus, physical therapy is going swimmingly well. Torn is a bit of a general term when the meniscus is already healed. Luckily, my body did what the body does and indeed it healed. That’s the good news. The gray news (I’m not using the word “bad” because it’s not really terrible) is I have a lot of work to do in order to correct the resulting lack of strength and balance due to said injury. My left knee/hamstring/hip/calf are all very tight while also very weak. My balance is off because I don’t have a lot of confidence and am afraid of hurting myself more. All this being said, I’m the most enthusiastic PT patient I ever met!

been awhile since I used these

In approximately 5 weeks, I will have completed 15 therapy sessions and everyone seems to have high hopes I can return to running in a normal fashion. Praise the Maker! Perhaps this was my wake-up call. I’ve known for some time – ahem, years – you can’t expect the body to perform at peak condition if you’re not giving it an opportunity to ever be at peak. In my case, I devote all my time to running during a training cycle, then return to strength training during the “off season”. Never have I been able to (i.e. made time for) strength training, flexibility, and running. Together. So here we are.

these are demonic torture devices, so I bought my own

Currently I’m ramping up my collection of therapeutic tools, like these nifty cloth bands that make my outer thigh burn like fire, and a weight bench for step-ups, supermans, and full body dumbbell exercises. Among other things. Put those gym management skills to use, Kel! I want to be strong AND healthy enough to run. Since my powerhouse of strength is seriously degraded right now, I fully understand this will take time. Most importantly, it will take discipline to continue what I’m learning in PT. I don’t know if you know this by now but I’m an extremely stubborn and dedicated person. Shocking, I bet. Surely I can devote my time to the exercises that will ensure I am able to run for years to come.

There’s probably many who are shouting “I told you so”. Trust me, I told me so, too. Sometimes we get into the groove of same old, same old…status quo…whatever the word du jour is. But until there’s several people with fancy titles and notepads asking you to stand on one foot – until that very moment – you (I) will continue to say everything is fine. Even when it isn’t. Even when a simple task like standing on one foot was once so incredibly easy yet somehow is now not. I remember running my first race after the traumatic DNF. I needed that run to regain confidence, to remind myself I’m capable of finishing, to prove my body and mind are okay. It was hard. The entire time I ran I was examining every symptom I experienced, wondering if I was hydrated enough, did I eat enough the past week, what if I pass out again, and the list goes on. How dramatic I sound right now I know not! All I know is this is real life to me.

On the bright side, the rehab facility is easily located and I’m thankful I have a position where I can attend therapy as much as needed to get me back in fighting shape. As long as I can outrun an enemy, hopefully it won’t matter if I can’t beat them up. But I’ll try!

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I ask you –

Have you ever had a torn meniscus?

Do you have any favorite “PT-style” accessories?

Tell me something interesting about your week!

Reach for the Stars

I recently caught myself using the phrase “I may never run again”. The weight of that short statement was not so obviously downtrodden until it was the time of year where my favorite shoe company releases a new iteration of my go-to shoe style.

If you’ll recall (new readers may not know this), I won a contest in 2020 titled the 20 Year Drop. Essentially, Brooks Running supplies with me a free pair of shoes each year for 20 years. Wow, right?! This is my only claim to fame, but I’m claiming it forever! My favorite shoe is the Adrenaline GTS. Each year, I receive a new pair as the contest winner. However, pandemic and supply chain issues have caused a slight problem with my ability to locate the newly released Adrenaline GTS 22’s. They were advertised online, but out of stock at my local Academy and even on the Brooks Running website, as well as Amazon. Figures. I had resigned myself to not needing any new shoes because I’m doing a whole lot of no running right now.

And then this happened.

L: 22 R: 21

I was wandering around an Academy in a different part of the world (not exactly) and stumbled upon these. Two pairs of shoes flew into my cart. The rest is history. Ok, not exactly. But kind of. I successfully located my size in the new 22’s; then, I found my size in a pair of 21’s. Stars: aligned. Thank goodness for shoe money. The fun part of this whole expedition is, unbeknownst to me, the 21’s were nearly half price at checkout. I don’t question these things! Stars, remember?!

So allow me to land this plane. As I slipped my feet into the Adrenaline GTS 22’s, I felt the SPARK. You know…the one where you dream big and see yourself in front of millions of people singing on a stage! No? Really? Too far? Oh right, the plane. I felt that tingle of remembrance on what it feels like to run just to be running. Just because I can.

And I thought…Kel, you may never race again, but you will definitely run. And it can’t come soon enough!

______________________

I ask you –

Have you ever won a contest? Or lottery?

Where do you typically purchase shoes?

Name something you thought you’d never do but have been able to!

Year in Review

So as 2021 will be closing out in just a few days and I will be on my way to retrieve mini from her holiday, today is my – surely anticipated – year in review!

In actively trying to remember how many races I’ve run, I returned to admiring my medal and race bib holder. There’s a lot of jingle on that wall! Pre-pandemic, I was accustomed to training for and scheduling at least 2-3 half marathons per year. Since then, I’ve been extremely lucky to complete one per year. 2021 was a wash/rinse/repeat of 2020, but I don’t let it get to me. Sure, I could blame the lack of events for my injury (which makes no sense and still doesn’t make me feel better); however, one is more than none! Knowing I run much better in the cold, a December race just works for me. I tried to establish a base through the summer, but between the heat and the dreadmill, it sucked. Not only did my base not get built, in retrospect, perhaps I should have used that time to ensure I wasn’t dealing with an injury before I started fall training. One day I’ll learn the lesson the first time!

10 – is how many half marathons I’ve run. Technically, I only completed 9. But I’m still proudly saying 10! Never did get around to counting the assorted 5k and 10k medals. Instead, I took a trip down memory lane. It was fabulous! I have made some amazing friends who also run. I’ve talked to people from different areas and connected with them solely online. I even get super excited when they complete a race because sharing in another’s accomplishment is such a rush of emotion! There are people whom I still refer to as my running buddy, my coach, my mentor – life brings with it different seasons but those people stay in my heart. I imagine for forever. Running just does something wonderful for me.

Ok, moving on…

I love when an app puts numbers together for me! Sometimes I don’t number well on my own. What can I say? – I’m a writer, I like words! Since I won’t be running much (any) anytime soon, I shall live vicariously through my previous endeavors and your stories! Give me all the stories! Disclaimer: for 2021, I only started using Strava in April so this doesn’t include any miles I ran January – March.

thank you, Strava

Being uncertain of which of the past years have been my favorite, I am extremely grateful I chose running! Or maybe it chose me. There’s joy in the adventure running brings to me. It is a huge sense of accomplishment when you complete a run, no matter how fast or slow it was. Running gives back tenfold what you put into it. I want other sports to BE that for me; alas, I don’t know if it’s in the cards for the dream to ever be a reality. Time will tell. Some days I’m rushing to know; others are a slow crawl. Guess it just depends on the mood of the day. I’m anxious to ditch the brace and lace up my trusty running shoes, but I know it can’t happen. Yet.

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I ask you –

Anybody else love looking at their year’s stats?

Are you following me on Strava? Share your ID so I can follow you!

Goal time! Tell me what you have planned for 2022!

Reflections of a Training Cycle

This one has been tough – not on time, but on my body.

From start to finish (16 weeks), I only gained 6 lbs but the inflammation is very pronounced. I have failed to disclose previously I’m under orders to stop running for 6 weeks. Ooof. Due to a probable hamstring sprain/strain bordering on a tear, instructions were given to rest/ice/heat/medicate and a whole list of other things for no less than 4 weeks. Instead, I continued to run and train for several weeks to make it to race day. So what does that mean now? It means I’m very lucky to have made it through the race and now I will be following doctor’s orders for the remainder of the month and partially into January. Not exactly the plan I had, but here we are. Surely I realize the scope of my decision to train regardless of pain, etc; however, once I finally received a diagnosis, it was exactly 10 days until R-Day. Many people much smarter than I have decided not to compete in events incredibly significant, i.e. the Olympics, for injury prevention reasons. Alas, my measly race pales in comparison yet I continued to train despite the bruising, pain, and swelling. I don’t say this to brag; rather I say it to reemphasize what not to do and how little I use my brain cells. Please learn from my mistakes.

If anyone needs me, I’ll just be ambling around chained to an ice pack alternating with heating pad and taking copious amounts of muscle relaxers to release the muscle from its confines of tension with the ultimate goal of running sans pain in the very near future! Speaking this into existence! Also, it seems I’ll definitely need to make an update to my eating habits for the duration. Can’t be imbibing in everything my heart desires if movement is limited. Don’t misunderstand – I don’t run so I can eat. It’s taken a long time to get to a place where food is fuel. I eat so I may run. I eat to enjoy the little things in life, like fresh baked cookies. But the donuts and croutons and extra pie need to take a back burner to getting myself well again. They will be there when I’m ready.

16 weeks is a bit too lengthy for me. Garmin told me I “peaked” around 14 weeks and instructed me to race soon as my fitness would start to decrease. So I proceeded to continue running as prescribed because what were my other options?! Then the reported VO2 max kept increasing so was I really peaking? Was the peak an early symptom of the highest VO2 max I’ve ever accomplished? Who knows. Let’s be honest…I have never considered my VO2 max as any number worth being concerned over and I’m not starting now. But it was awesome to see the message ‘Superior’! haHA! Superior! Anyway, previously I said (wrote) I wanted to focus more on the 10k distance in 2022; I think my plan is solid even if it won’t start as early as I’d hoped for due to mandatory rest. Seems like every single time I have a great running base something comes up. Oh well.

_______________________

I ask you –

What is your typical training cycle length?

Have you ever continued to train for an event despite a recommendation to stop?

Tell me the stat you like to track!

BMW Dallas Half Marathon Recap!

Let’s start off with the good stuff, shall we, on this edition of the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Yes, I met my goal of a 2:10 half marathon! Specifically, I ran 2:10:45 with an avg 9:58 pace. I asked my feet to fly and they did what I’d trained for with an 8 min PR! It was a lovely 35° at the start line – I met the most awesome people! My 2:10 pace crew also seemed nice.

Now the bad. Allow me to be a bit dramatic. My pacers were pushing us 20-30 seconds faster than what we were told we’d be running. I was able to stay with them the first 5 miles, then I dropped back. I don’t train to run non-stop. In fact, only one time have I ever run an entire half marathon without walking. It’s just not me. I’m super proud for holding on for 5 miles! But that wasn’t the plan. After the race was over, I remembered hearing pacers talk about this course “running long”, no pun intended, which means in order for pacers to lead their runners across the finish line in their prescribed time, the pacers were going to have to run faster. My unofficial course time was 2:12, but Garmin showed I ran my 13.1 in 2:10. Thank you, Garmin! Finally! I reject the course time.

So here’s the ugly. Because I spent the first almost half of the race running faster than I had trained for, miles 6-11 were brutal. The walking increased, even though I was still mostly holding on to a 9:45 pace. I began to favor my left hip/leg/hamstring/knee which caused a lot of pain in my right foot. So glad I decided to put BCAAs in my CamelBak and fuel with jelly beans. Even then, those middle miles felt awful.

pre-race injury treatment – long story for another day

Overall, course support was amazing! There were people giving out donuts, beer, mixed drinks, extra energy bars, and who knows what else. The water stops – though I used my own hydration – were frequent and plentiful. The bands on nearly every other street corner were more entertaining than anything I’ve seen in a Rock n Roll event. And those events should be bursting with music! Finish line food was great: pizza, tacos, bananas, enrrgy bars, more Gatorade, tons of chocolate milk, sweets; it was all incredible!

Morgan from Oregon kicked butt out there! She, too, dealt with the disappointment of a long course and too-fast pacers, but I think she rocked it! She’s got an upcoming 15k event and we’ve discussed a late summer run nearer to her so we’ll see.

At this moment, I’m retiring from the half marathon. Remind me next time I tell you all I want to race again!

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I ask you –

How was your weekend? Anything exciting?

Runners, do you write motivational things on your pace band, arm, etc?

Chance I’ll stay “retired”: 60/40

It’s Race Week!

Disclaimer: I didn’t bring my laptop to edit posts so I’m sure the photos below are not centered and are probably so large everyone in space can see them. Apologies.

Garmin conveniently says I’m in Recovery mode, but on Monday, it felt like anything but. The wind was 90,000 mph with a wind chill of 30-something°. I opted out of the optional 10 mins on the end of the run which gave me a solid 2.48 miles.

the gloves in my reflection saved my life!

More “recovery” work, even at a tempo pace. Seriously, Garmin, I don’t understand you. I suppose working harder than what is expected during the race could be considered a recovery. In some worlds maybe.

Final run before race day was as expected…I don’t know what I mean by that because I had no expectations. My hamstring was really bothering me, even with the medicinal regimen, but my plan is to power through it all and reach my goal. I’ll keep you posted.

Beautiful day!!

Tomorrow morning is the big day! I didn’t sleep well last night due to a comedy of hotel errors but tonight my plan is to get to bed early and rest up. I’m excited about an actual, real life expo because I realized I haven’t been to one of those since Morgan from Oregon and I ran NOLA in 2019! Time flies when you’re having fun (that’s my mantra for tomorrow!)

Hotel life

Final call: You can track me using this link (find my name – Kelly Atwell):  https://rtrt.me/ulink/RRSA/RRS-DALLAS-2021/tracker/RBRE5GLH/focus

Hope you all have an amazing day!

Race Weekend is Upon Us! + Track Me!

You can track me using this link (find my name – Kelly Atwell): https://rtrt.me/ulink/RRSA/RRS-DALLAS-2021/tracker/RBRE5GLH/focus

I love races with real time tracking! There’s many cool things about tracking race participants, notably finding out if they finished, but also being able to receive real time stats (that’s my favorite!). And who doesn’t love a good stalker app. It’s literally permission to stalk someone. So weird.

So I don’t have a “real” post for today – this might be the only time I’ve ever said that. I’m really excited to race and then take an extended, forced break. More on that later. On Sunday afternoon’s drive home, I’ll re-cap the race, load photos, and give you all the ins/outs of racing the BMW Dallas Half Marathon for Monday’s post. I’ve tried to take it easy this week – doubling down on low stress, stretching religiously, eating well, and sleeping more to ensure I can meet my goal.

It may not be much to anyone else, but to me this goal is doable and a long time coming. I’ve really put my body to the test during this cycle – never before have I been so cognizant of tempo runs, cadence workouts, strides, and progression runs. Some of those have become dirty words in my vocabulary!

Wish me luck!

___________________

I ask you –

What are you currently training for?

How often do you use tempo and progression runs in your training?

Give me some words to use when it gets hard!

Wk 14, HM Training

Officially on the next-to-last week! My goals are to survive two full days of training mid-week, begin a successful taper, and end the week with a long conference.

Garmin says Monday’s 4 miles is just maintaining, so whatever. I think it was a solid effort!

Since the two days of training got cancelled, I went back outside for a tempo run on Tuesday. At first, I was disappointed because I only ran 2 miles, but then I realized it wasn’t so much about the miles…it was about the pace (avg 9:15-9:35). Duh, tempo run.

And THIS! 48 VO2 max!!

Did some cadence work on Thursday, then my final long run Friday! I had to shorten it by 30 mins due to lunch time constraints vs after work when I usually complete my long run. 5.84 miles with some tempo training toward the end. It was incredibly hot out.

“Chaos Coordinator”

Still stalking next weekend’s forecast. Hoping for mid-30s on the overnight! Trust me, I’ve never said that before.

Wk 13, HM Training

Clearly this week’s schedule doesn’t think I have a job. Sheesh. I know it’s Thanksgiving, but that’s doesn’t mean I have the week off. Anyway, I did have several days at home so I made do.

Typically my VO2 max is 45. One day it was 46. Honestly I don’t pay much attention to it, until Monday, when it reached 47! No idea what this means, but whoohoo. Garmin also said my training was peaking, so there’s that, too.

Funny not funny story: this training cycle has resulted in some strange chafing situations. And by strange I mean incredibly painful in places one would never wish to be chafed.

For Tuesday’s goal pace run, I went to the track so I wouldn’t have to think about crossing roads. But when the headwind hit me, I had a hard time sticking with it. My legs were seriously struggling but I managed to stay on track (pun intended).

haHA! Check out that 9:12! Learning I really don’t like progression runs but I do rather well at them so there’s that good moment. Considering it was pre-turkey, pre-stuffing, pre-pie…and extremely windy…

Long run completed! Super early, super cold (real feel 15°), and super long! I started with 23 layers, a hat, gloves, and a whole lot else, but I made it.

Lucky #13 (week) done. Just a few more remaining!

Race Ideas

Brainstorming future race ideas led me to this one: the inaugural Rock n Roll Atlantic City event!

I’ve only ever seen New Jersey as I raced through it on the way to Connecticut, though I do vaguely remember vast toll areas. Perhaps that was a different state, like Oklahoma. Nonetheless, I’d like to enjoy a proper visit and run a little race!

Credit: #myfavoriterun via Instagram

I’m also very interested in the Blue Bell runs in Brenham, TX. Held annually in April, the finish line party includes Blue Bell ice cream, which is my most favorite ice cream of all time. Pecan Pralines ‘n Cream anyone? I want to explore more 10k distances so why not start there?!

Credit: #bluebellfunrun via Instagram

I’m about over this training plan stuff. 15-16 week plans are just too long for me. Week 8 is about my cutoff. Maybe 10 if I’m feeling generous. Never before have I ever given a moment’s thought to running a virtual half marathon just so I can say I did the run and be done with it. A few weeks back – I hit that point. And I know that particular week was kind of a struggle, but I don’t feel like my fitness has increased much since. If I didn’t know that Morgan from Oregon was traversing the plains to attend, I probably would have called it quits awhile back. Alas, she has been training so I’m self-motivating to make it to the start line. My Garmin goal meter says it’s very confident I will reach it. My internal doubter has serious reservations. All I can do is run the race laid out before me knowing I’ve put in work to the best of my abilities.

break in an emergency

Now, with all that said, I just want it to be over. Thankfully start line emotions are a very real phenomenon and 10 mins after I’m done I’ll be kissing strangers and hugging babies. Jokes, lots of jokes. To keep myself on track I’ve been brainstorming things I want to do post-race. For example…

Short Term –

  • Take a long nap
  • Eat copious amounts of Mexican food, specifically tortilla chips
  • Lay on the ground contemplating my life choices
  • Call everyone I know with the great news I have a shiny new PR

Long Term –

  • January run streak?
  • Train for a March/April half marathon
  • Train for a March/April 10k unrelated to the above half marathon
  • Resume keto
  • Survive the winter months
  • Fantasize about vacation

Surely I’m missing many additions to my listing endeavors. I’ll keep thinking and update you all soon.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving – filled with turkey and ham and as many rolls as you can stuff in your mouth at one time. And pie!!!

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I ask you –

Anyone have an upcoming race or race potential near northern Texas?

How often do you make lists?

Please share some thing(s) on your short/long term list!