Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Unicorns and Big Ugly Critters

The Boston Marathon was Monday morning. No other sporting event carries the magnitude as that race does with me. Maybe because I've sat on a curb in Brookline at Mile 23 and was one of the first to know that the course record was broken that day. Maybe because one side of my family originates from that amazing city. Maybe because it's a large sporting event that I am capable of participating in. Whatever it is, Patriots Day admittedly does some weird things to my emotions: every year I get that familiar combination of excitement for friends and teammates running combined with restlessness and some level of disappointment in the fact that I am not there. Fortunately this year brought less negative feelings than previous ones-hey, I just may be making progress here!

My friends and teammates threw down some impressive performances in conditions that were threatening rain and had a nice little headwind heading towards Copley Square. If you haven't had the pleasure of racing into a headwind, lucky you-as they tend to suck. I smile when I think of those who have made comebacks, hit a milestone for the first time, or just got through the training it takes to run a marathon-you all are awesome!

So my relationship with this race tends to be complicated. Like I said, I have the ability, motivation, and on most days the mental toughness it takes to qualify for and finish the race. I have mostly sworn off the 26.2 distance because of difficulty training for it and the fact that I do believe shorter races are nothing to scoff at if ran to one's true ability. 

How do I see things? Well, let's begin with an over-dramatized and perhaps overrated early 2000's action film "Gone in 60 Seconds". Any of y'all remember that one? Nic Cage's character could steal basically any car successfully, except one; and it wasn't even the most exotic one featured in the film, "Eleanor" the Shelby Mustang. They called it his 'Unicorn'-the one thing that he was after that eluded him, as obtainable as it was-I mean, he was like a professional car thief and stole cars all the time. Note: Just so you know I have no intentions of stealing any cars at the time of this post.... 

For those of different generations, how about a more current example. I first have to confess to occasionally reading Nicholas Sparks books (even though I don't really have a romantic bone in my body). Ok I said it, now let's move on..."The Longest Ride", now a movie as well, features some ridiculously good-looking cowboy who is making a bull-riding comeback after his career and life nearly being ended by a bull named 'Big Ugly Critter". Not to give too much away, but he can't seem to fully move on until he successfully rides this bull. He is able to, but afraid and it is a big risk doing so. And there is some love story in the background, but not the purpose of this post! 

So what's stealing cars and riding bulls have to do with running? Not much, really, except Boston seems to be my unicorn or Big Ugly Critter. Unlike the movies, of course, my life goes on successfully even without ever making it out Northeast to race, but dang it-part of me wants to find a way to go after it. 

Yeah it's kinda like that... only safer!

And in case you haven't seen either of these movies, of course Nic Cage drives the Mustang away and cowboy Luke finally rides Big Ugly Critter. Adrienne has a way to go and goals to hit before giving herself permission for even seriously entertaining training for the marathon again, but wow, does the third Monday in April do some weird things to me.

First step, finish out my 12-month goal or longer. Congratulations goes out to all who raced and finished in this year's event! 

Stay the course. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

LP Run 2015: A First on a Few Levels

The track at the distinguished Rice University.
It's been a few months since I've raced. Finally the desire to do so returned earlier this month much to my own relief. Best place to start? How about this old and quirky little race in Houston called the LP Run. Someone actually had to explain to me why it as called that and why it was an event timed at 33 and 1/3 minutes and placement was based on distance covered-the race is 48 years old, and back then LP records were the thing, turning at 33 and 1/3 revolutions. Hello, generation gap! This was my first time running LP but may stick it on the schedule next year too.

A little background for those not familiar, it is one of the oldest running events in Houston put on by the Terlingua Track Club. It's run on the Rice University track, which felt like it would be fast if the humidity was not 150%! We all had to recruit a lap counter (something I didn't think about beforehand but worked out well) and I found it as low key as they come: music was playing, everyone was very friendly. I enjoyed running on the college track.

Another first for this race is a pretty big one for me: I was not ready to go out and compete. I honestly just felt about 75%-80% but that was fine for my plan. Just weeks ago I was feeling drained and I was good just getting any kind of run in for the day. Those who know me well know I will prepare to death for something and wait until the "conditions are just right" to go out and perform. Luckily, at this stage I have decided that that may be kinda stupid and should just go challenge and enjoy myself.  And I am more and more becoming a believer that the best way to become a better racer (and get fitter) is to race. I also don't have to treat all events with equal importance.

I decided to play it safe and treat is more like an uptempo training day, I needed about 5 miles that day anyway, why not rock my Oiselle kit with My New Balance 1400s and do it festively? I really wanted to work on negative splitting, but changed my mind after the first mile and just held steady. The event was set up beautifully for that.

So I won't bore you all with the details of running in a circle for 33 minutes and change. I did feel like I started and finished strong with a little loss of focus in the middle-the more I expose myself to these situations and paces, the easier it will get.  The conditions weren't that great on top of a lack of fitness but complaining won't do any good and it will only make me tougher.  but I came out with a few takeaways from the event.

The Objective Stuff: 2nd AG (pleasantly surprised with that with a lot of fasties in the field), distance covered about 4.5 miles.  The race shirts were tie-dyed. See I told you this was an old-school race! Only second event of 2015.

All the Other Stuff:

  • I enjoyed reconnecting with the Houston Running Community a bit, I didn't realize that I have been largely absent in a racing sense, and it was nice to do a HARRA event again. 
  • I challenged myself without doing anything stupid. Always a plus. And I may get fitter from this. 
  • I walked away feeling like I put in a good day's work and got out of my "little ego's comfort zone" and ran smart. 
  • Although I would have liked to crank out a faster overall pace, considering the difficulty this Spring has brought, I kept it pretty steady throughout. 
  • I kind of like the feel of the track for racing, a nice change from the usual...except the last 10 minutes or so...
  • Got a nice little mental workout staying motivated and focused in an event with no real  definite 'end point'.
  • Terlingua Track Club did a great job putting on the event and seem like a good bunch.
  • Iron is good for you.
There you have it. Quite the fun evening!

Stay the course. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why I Voluntarily Get Stabbed in the Leg Sometimes: A Follow Up Post on Graston Technique

Yes, you read that correctly. And I figured the title would get your attention.

Friday I had another Graston Treatment done by Dr. Derrick Raymer at Athletic Republic.  As many of you know, I have been getting treated every week or two in my quest to a. stay on the roads and b. maintain a major injury-free streak of 12 months or more. I have proven again and again that I cannot do either very well without help!

So cue the most recent foray on the table. After getting some familiar and (oddly) non-painful treatments on the lower legs a couple months ago with successful results, I have come up with a theory that there is a spider somewhere in my legs that likes to put webbing on my joints. Ok not really, but you get the picture....

Being a girl who has the tendency to overthink-especially in things dealing with running, sometimes a simple, often stupid answer works best and then and you just let the pros do their job. So anyway, the 'leg spider', as I am calling it- or more like the spoils of repetitive motion- managed to spin a nice web in my right hip as of lately. Perfectly 'runnable', yet perfectly annoying and takes away from both a smooth stride and my enjoyment of however many miles are prescribed that day.

Tearing down the web today, I'll be honest, did not feel too good.  The good news about this technique is that previously treated parts can adapt to the discomfort (notice I didn't call it 'pain'; there is a difference).  According to the Doc I had 'ropes' inhibiting my movement in my upper leg and hip range of motion. Basically myofascial growth and maybe some gross inflammation to go with it. Sounds lovely, doesn't it?!

After today's round of treatment, I quickly noticed a big increase in ease of movement and much less discomfort. There will likely be some initial soreness over the weekend, as the procedure does involve some scraping and ART-type work. The end result I feel is worth it. Range of motion is often a deciding factor in performance and injury prevention.

Based on research on the web, GT and myofascial  release techniques are not necessarily new, but is becoming more mainstream in sports med treatment.

The key benefits according to the GT website are as follows:
  • Decreases overall time of treatment
  • Fosters faster rehabilitation/recovery
  • Reduces need for anti-inflammatory medication
  • Resolves chronic conditions thought to be permanent
Don't like pills? This is a good option. Don't like to be a slave to treatments? This is worth a shot.  I also use it merely as a recovery method to prevent future complications. That and it is really nice having joints that move the way they are supposed to, even after all the pounding I give them. 

Obviously I recommend this for serious athletes who haven't responded well to more traditional work and I of course highly recommend the always charming Dr. Derrick! 

So there you have it, getting stabbed in the leg doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. Just have it done by a trained professional! 

Stay the course. I'm off to run again.