Beat the Bridge race recap

This race recap is pretty uneventful.

I ran with friends. We beat the bridge. The weather was perfect (cloudy, but not cold). My knee felt wonky.

But, to go into a little more detail … this is how it all played out two Saturdays ago at the Beat the Bridge 8K.

Bryce kindly drove Joanna and I to Husky Stadium where we met up with Phyllis and Andrew shortly after 7:30 am. Our race was to start at 8:30. Luckily, it wasn’t too crowded yet as we got our bibs from packet pickup. (Yup, none of us had done packet pickup the day before!)

Then, it was just a lot of waiting around.

Phyllis and Andrew did a warm-up but Joanna and I proceeded to just hang around inside the stadium. Maybe a little stretching occurred? I figured the first mile of the race would be my warm up.

We waited until maybe 5-10 minutes until the race start to make our way to the starting line. It was really crowded and because there was a barricade along the start, the only way to “get in line” was through the start line, where all the elite runners stood, or all the way in the back … which, from where we were standing, was nowhere in sight.

We opted to just hover near the start line so that we could squeeze into the crowd once the gun went off. It worked.

While the three of us made no real pact to stick together, we ran together. Joanna was fighting a cold. Phyllis had a wonky-knee thing. You all know my deal.

We waved at Bryce as he stood on an overpass walking bridge, taking our photos — our own personal paparazzi.

At the beginning we were running steadily at 8:10 pace. Not gonna lie. This felt fast and slightly uncomfortable for me. But, I was running with my friends so, oh well!

We made it across the University Bridge, with plenty of time to spare, and continued up a steady incline. We chatted off and on.

Joanna pointed out a young kid, probably around 12 or 13, who kept sprinting and then walking. “He better not beat us!” she said.

I held the same thought but didn’t really care that much.

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We rounded our way back to the stadium and spotted Bryce again on the overpass bridge, cheering us on and taking photos. Even though we were outside Husky Stadium, we still had a mile or so, including an out and back, before the finish.

Our pace steadily slowed down. I wasn’t paying much attention to my watch. All I can say is that I didn’t feel too horrible since I had Joanna and Phyllis by my side.

Joanna finished one second before me and Phyllis a few seconds behind me. I don’t even remember my finish time but I think we averaged around 8:30 pace.

How do I feel? Meh — because the knee pain still persists.  Glad I got to run with friends though.

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Back to racing: Tenacious 10K

I couldn’t have asked for better weather. I couldn’t have wished for better company. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better race result.

For those of you who do not read this blog religiously, I signed up for a 10K just two days before the race, without any real 10K training.

Sure, I’ve been running again. I now have about two months worth of running under my belt. This means running anywhere from three to five times a week. But, prior to the race, my longest run had been about five miles. My plan all along had been for the Beat the Bridge 8K in May to be my “comeback” road race.

But, I got anxious and antsy. I was also getting major FOMO as the excitement of race week built for Tenacious Ten. I wasn’t going to miss out this year like I did list year (due to my knee injury).

My Oiselle teammate and friend, Rebecca, and I carpooled together to Gas Works Park early on race morning. I was feeling super excited. A little tired, but super excited. It was cold and windy while we waited for the race to start. But, I ran into some other teammates, whom I haven’t seen in quite some time so that was fun!

Even though I wasn’t planning to “full on race the thing,” I still wore my Oiselle singlet and shorts. As I waited in the crowd of runners waiting for the race to officially start, I was questioning my wardrobe choice. I was cold.

Once we started running, my legs felt light. I had a huge sense of warmth and happiness: I was road racing! After nearly two long and hard years since my last road race, I was back again!

Although I was wearing my GPS watch, I paid no attention to it. (Also, I haven’t figured out all the settings on my “new” Suunto so it doesn’t beep at mile marks, which I guess is a good thing for now). I trotted along, with lots of smiling runners around me. Or, I was smiling so I just figured everyone else was too!

But then some thoughts started popping in my head.

This feels a little slow. 

I started making my way past other runners as we ran up a short incline to get on the University Bridge. It was from that point on that I continued passing runners … for the duration of the race.

Every time I’d settle into another pack of runners and feel like I was at a good pace, I’d think to myself “I can go faster.” So, I did.

My knee felt off-and-on achy but nothing new and nothing painful. I kept on running. In the final two miles, I really started picking up the pace. Even though I wasn’t racing for time, now I wanted to definitely beat one hour.

(At one short point, I was running 7:27 pace!)

Within the last mile, I looked at my watch and told myself I had a good chance of breaking 55 minutes.

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After crossing the Fremont Bridge, I dug deep. I started breathing harder.

I’m actually racing now!

The sun was shining brightly. Since I hit that part of racing where things are feeling uncomfortable, I even had a moment of “When will this be over?”

Once I was back at Gas Works Park and about to leave the Burke Gilman Trail, it was all or nothing. I saw a handful of people in front of me, and I began chipped away at them.

I full-on sprinted into the finish — so fast and mindless, might I add, that I didn’t even notice Lauren Fleshman or Sally giving high-fives to finishers.

I did it!

Rebecca greeted me right at the finish line and said, “OK, ready to go?” (I had told her earlier that I wouldn’t have time to hang out after the race since I had a bridal shower to go to. Actually, I had my bridal shower to go to).

I reached for a cowbell medal from a nearby table, since I also somehow managed to sprint right by the volunteers handing them out.  I also grabbed a water bottle. Despite half the race thinking I had to pee, now I no longer had to and was extremely thirsty.

My official time was 54:21.

I couldn’t be happier.

Last-minute tenacity

I’m not sure what overcame me. Maybe I was still riding off a high from the Boston Marathon. Maybe I didn’t want FOMO because it was all abuzz on social media. Maybe it’s because the weather is actually supposed to be nice this weekend.

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But, whatever the reason, I registered for a 10K yesterday after work. The race is tomorrow.

I kept seeing post after post about how everyone is excited for the Tenacious 10 — a race presented by Oiselle. So, clearly a lot of friends and teammates will be there. I had registered for the 10K last year when the race was brand new. Unfortunately, due to my injury, I couldn’t participate. Last year I was too sad to even go and cheer or volunteer. I forget what I did but I avoided the race all together.

This year is different.

I obviously have not been training for a 10K these last two-ish months I have been running. But, I have been running so I know I can at least jog a 10K. (Although to be clear I think the longest I have run is five-ish miles). Time won’t be the game plan for this race. I just want to go out there and absorb all the wonderful energy and see smiling familiar faces — and run.

I’m a little bit nervous. But, mostly excited! There shouldn’t be much pressure when the only goal is to have fun, right??

Motivated by Boston

When I arrived at work Monday morning, I frantically searched for a free live-steam of the Boston Marathon. Nothing was working. I either needed to have a TV provider log-in or pay for a subscription of this or that. I was ready to give up and just read the live-Tweets of the race when a friend responded to my  “urgent” text and gave me his log-in info for an account that had access to view the race.

Des was making moves.

At first I watched with no sound. I am at work after all, and I have two monitors so I was trying to get through my emails while keeping an eye on the race. Eventually I plugged my headphones in to hear the commentary.

She had placed second at Boston in 2011 by a mere TWO SECONDS. Earlier in this race, she slowed down and “waited” for her U.S. teammate, Shalane, to use the porta-potty!

Who is this kind, badass, determined runner?

When she crossed the finish line with no other runners in sight, I felt the sense of accomplishment as if I did something to contribute to this momentous moment. 

Not only did Des Linden come in first at the Boston Marathon for the first time, she was the first American woman to do so in 30+ years!

Her time was now. In the pouring, windy Boston weather, she did it.

All the years, and she never gave up. The commentators called her a “blue collar runner” which I guess is a compliment since she worked hard and won the whole thing.

It makes me feel inspired to one day face the road marathon again. My goal has always been to break four hours at the marathon. I was so close at Eugene but ever since being out of commission from running for more than a year, my goal started diminishing.

Maybe I’m not cut out to run road marathons. Maybe I should just focus on “running for fun.” Maybe I should convert to solely being a trail runner. 

These have been my thoughts for the last six months to year.

But, let’s backtrack a bit …

In December 2015, as that year came to a close, I started setting goals for the new year. I used Year Compass — a free goal-setting booklet — that not only opens up your mind for goal setting for the new year, but also beyond.

There was a section in that booklet that prompted you to dream big. I had written “Boston?”

As a current 4:01 marathoner, I’d need to cut at least 30-35-minutes from my marathon time to qualify for Boston. This seems outrageous. And, just because I’m hyped and inspired by Des, does not mean I am going to go immediately chase this goal.

However, I am ready to start thinking about tackling a road marathon again. I’m not saying I will run one this year. Because, mentally and physically — and just with my I’m-so-busy-because-I’m-getting-married schedule — I’m not prepared to train and race a marathon this year.

Next year? Probably.

Boston? Who knows.

Maybe one day.

New year, same injury?

I know, I know, it’s the 15th day into the new year and you haven’t heard a single peep from me! Where have I been? How am I feeling? What are my new year resolutions? What’s up with my running injury?

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I rang in the new year with my family in Japan and came back home last week. We visited my grandma and it was a nice, relaxing vacation. So, that’s why there has been no blogging from yours truly.

And, of course when you are away from home for more than a week, there is always all the laundry and grocery shopping that needs to be done upon your return. Not to mention, the added jet lag when coming back from Japan!

So, here I am, trying to catch up on my life.

I went in for my MRI — this time with contrast — last Thursday morning. Getting the injection for the contrast into my knee was a little more uncomfortable than I expected it to be. My hands were sweating profusely as I waited for the doctor to prepare. But, it was over quickly and I guess it didn’t hurt that much now looking back on it.

The MRI part was the same as back when I had my first one in August. This time I was smart and decided to listen to music when the tech offered. I opted for classical music because it seemed like the type of music they would play in the movies when the lead actor is going in for a medical procedure — and yes, I understand that mine wasn’t “a procedure” but a mere MRI, but I run this show here!

I felt more relaxed this time (probably because of the calming music!) and know so because my quads were not sore the next day like they were after the first MRI!

I’m scheduled to see my doctor Tuesday to go over the results from this MRI. I really hope I have concrete answers that are along the lines of, “Kristin, it looks like your stress fracture will take one more month to heal. The pain you have been experiencing is just phantom pain. In another month, you can ease into jogging and then running again.”

That one month I threw out is just arbitrary. I’d like to be able to run sooner but my whole desire at this point is that I want a concrete timeline. If I know it will be one month or even three months until I can run again, at least I will know and can mentally plan and prepare for what’s next.

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However, if I am given news that the stress fracture is worse than we thought and that I have to have surgery, well, I’m not sure how I will handle that news. So, I’m not going to worry and stress about that until I absolutely must.

It’s a new year and I’m hoping with all my heart that my injury is a thing of the past. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed. 2017, give me something good to talk about!

2016 Running Year In Review

This year’s Running Year in Review is quite different from last year’s post.

Seeing that I spent more months this year being injured than actually running, maybe I should rename this post to “2016 (Not) Running Year In Review” …

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Anyway, let’s take a look at what happened in 2016.

This year I completed:

My first ultra marathon, a 50K!
1 marathon
1 10K
Yup, that’s it for racing …

It’s pretty hard to reflect (and be happy) on a year where I was at my highest of highs (AKA running my first ultra marathon!!) to being at my lowest of lows (getting a stress fracture and not running at all).

The ultra was in March. I went from that major accomplishment to training for the Anchorage Marathon with Joanna and Team In Training while fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was great training with a group of dedicated people who were all working towards a common goal, helping blood cancer patients and cancer research.

But, my last healthy run was the last weekend in May, while training for the marathon.

I quickly altered my training and tapered a week early. I thought I had an IT band injury. (Note: I have had an IT band injury before and it felt the same). I started going to physical therapy and ran the marathon in June (still thinking it was my IT band). It was my eighth marathon and slowest time to date, but I was proud to just finish. Little did I know that two months later, I would learn I had a stress fracture on my knee.

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So, yes, I basically ran a marathon with a stress fracture. I guess I have a high tolerance for pain.

August to present day have been not-so-great.

I’ve literally been running since I was 14 years old doing cross country in high school. I am now 29 and this is the first time I have been out from running for an extended period of time.

It sucks.

I’ve gained six pounds and am worried I will gain more weight. People say they can’t tell but I know they are lying. My mom said I looked like I’ve gained weight and moms don’t lie.

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I miss run commuting home. I miss running with friends. I miss my time alone when all I hear are my foot steps.

It’s also difficult to be around your friends and teammates who are going on fun running adventures. It’s hard to put a smile on your face when they tell you they had a great race. It’s hard to hold back and not yell at them when they complain about not wanting to run in the rain or cold. It’s hard to scroll through your newsfeed and realize everyone you know runs — except for you (right now).

I’m mad that this injury has overshadowed my big accomplishment of the year, completing the Chuckanut 50K.

Deep down in my heart, I do want to break 4 hours at the road marathon. And, seven month ago, I thought it would be easily attainable. Now, I waver back and forth if I want to even try again. Will I just keep getting injured now?

Let’s just see what next year holds.

 

The comeback I’m too scared to talk about

I went in to see my orthopedic doctor hoping for “good news.” Maybe he would say that my knee pain is just runner’s knee (I know, despite not running) and that I just need to work on strengthening specific muscles again. Maybe he would tell me to rest another month and then I would be good to go on running.

He told me that he is concerned that I am experiencing pain now when I hadn’t been prior to a month ago. He wants me to get another MRI — this time with contrast so that he will be able to tell exactly how much longer my injury will take to heal or if it is something more significant that will need “screws put in.”

And, of course this visit was Thursday morning and the MRI office didn’t get authorization from my insurance to schedule the appointment until later that afternoon. Now I have to wait until after the new year to get the MRI done because I will soon be out of town.

The wait continues.

More doubt ensues.

What if I’m not healthy enough to run my “comeback race” that I registered for a month ago?

Yes, I had signed up for The Tenacious Ten. 

The race is being put on in partnership with Oiselle, so, how could I not knowing many of my teammates and friends would be getting their race on together on April 22?

Now, this race seems like a long shot.

I have no idea when my comeback will be.

I’m too scared to talk about it.