Posted by: Fran | May 16, 2010

Happy Anniversary, let’s run a half-marathon!

Been a few weeks since my last update. So much has happened the past few weeks. Most importantly, May first Rick and I celebrated our sixth anniversary : ) He continues to be the best man I have ever met and I am so proud to be his wife.

On May second, we ran a half-marathon together! Yes, together. In one of his earliest posts, Rick talked about training to run a marathon and realizing that running “together” was not necessarily going to be the case because of our obvious physical differences and abilities. Well, I beg to differ. We may be physically different, but we are so similar in other ways.

Running Avenue of the Giants was our intended event with Team in Training, originally. After we decided to switch our event to San Diego Rock ‘n Roll, we registered for Avenue as individual participants. If for nothing else but to have a “trial run” event to prepare us for the big one. We committed to this event together. We ran this event together. We crossed the finish line (almost) together; I crossed the finish only about 30 minutes before Rick. We completed this half-marathon together : )

Traveling up to Humboldt from Santa Cruz was an adventure in and of itself. A couple of friends of ours, Terri and Tracy, are mentors for TNT in other areas of California. The four of us rented an RV and headed north. I have to say it was pretty damn cool to travel to my first official run event with mentors that weren’t my mentors. Those ladies are crazy funny and I have some of THE BEST memories of that weekend thanks to them.

How was the run? It was great! I got in a good stretch thanks to my physical therapist for showing me the right stretches for my protesting body parts. So, I had absolutely no major issues during my run. We had some of our Santa Cruz run team-mates AND our mentor, Heather, was there.

Rick and I ran the first four or so miles together. We rooted our distant TNT cousins on with countless “Go Team!” cheers and received many more in return. Team spirit within TNT is absolutely infectious, inspiring, and motivating. Giving the team shout-out was some of the best motivation for us during those first few miles. Initially we ran for ourselves, trying to find a comfortable slower-than-slow pace to reserve energy for the finish. We ran for Brendan, our cousin, finding that motivation to keep our feet moving similarly to how he finds the strength to endure his treatments. We ran for Greg, our friend, digging deep to get closer to the finish line as he begins a second fight in the cancer ring.

Crossing the finish line was an amazing sense of accomplishment. The training and the updates about our honorees, keeping tabs on Brendan and Greg, and doing this with my husband was one of the best experiences of my life. We could not have asked for a better weekend to commemorate our anniversary. I love you Rick, and I look forward to seeing you at the finish line in San Diego next month.

REMINDER: If you haven’t yet made a donation to LLS for our Team In Training run, please consider doing so. Rick and I aren’t just doing this for our own health, but to raise money for a great cause - we’re ONLY $400 AWAY FROM OUR FUNDRAISING GOAL, and we need your help! It’s fast and easy, tax-deductible, and helps fund development of a cure for blood cancers!

DONATE NOW – please?

Posted by: Rick | May 7, 2010

Avenue of the Giants – Half Marathon!

Originally, when Fran and I first decided to train for and run a half marathon with Team In Training, we chose Avenue of the Giants as our event. Tracey and Terri, a couple of friends from way back in college – also TNTers! – had told us they were running Avenue too, and the stories of the beautiful course through the HUGE redwood forest, home to “8th, 6th, 4th, and 2nd tallest trees, and the “Champion Coast Redwood” at 370 feet tall!”

We began training with the team, built up some miles on our feet and confidence in our heads, and a few weeks into our training, Coach Ed started encouraging those of us training for the Avenue half to consider training for a full marathon instead – Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego, that the majority of the team was training for. Eventually, most of us switched to San Diego, and most of us agreed to do the full marathon instead of the half.

When we made the decision to do San Diego, we decided we still wanted to run the Avenue of the Giants half, but we’d just run it as a part of our training for the full marathon, and we’d register for it on our own, rather than as an “official” TNT event for us.

During our training leading up to the event, both Fran and I struggled with some injuries (which you may have read about in recent blog posts), and the week before the race, I was going to be in Colorado all week for work. That week, Fran was fantastic, and got all our gear packed and ready to go, while I was away doing the work thing.

I flew back Friday morning, Fran picked me up, we loaded the car, and we drove up to Livermore to Terri’s place (and her husband Marc and boys Alex and Harrison!), where Tracey met us and we were all to spend the night. We went out for a pasta dinner, Tracey and Terri told us stories of past races and tips for our upcoming race, and we all settled in to sleep.

Early the next morning, we all loaded our gear into a big rented RV, ready to drive up to Humboldt. We were slowed slightly by the smell of propane from the RV, which we discovered was due to the rental person forgetting to turn off the fridge, emptying the reservoir of propane. A fuel and propane fill up later, and we were on the road!

The road to Humboldt is beautiful, but long, and 5 or so hours later, with Tracey and I taking shifts at driving the RV, we passed the race start and registration area, and checked in at our campsite, where we met up with Marc, who was able to join us due to last minute luck and parents that were able to watch the kids for the weekend. A quick trip back to the race start to check in and gather our race numbers, t-shirts, and goody bags, and it was naptime.

Fran and I borrowed Marc’s car (a sexy zoomy Mustang GT!) to drive up to Fortuna for the official TNT pasta feed, which Jenner had given us her tickets for (thanks, Jenner!). We arrived and met up with mentors Heather and Bill, waited for a while in the breeze outside while the previous seating had their turn, and had a very tasty pasta dinner. I won’t spoil the details of the pasta feed, but it was definitely motivational, and we left dinner not just fueled up with carbs, but with lots of emotional sustenance in the motivation tank, too.

Race start on Sunday morning was 7am for the full marathon, and 9am for the half-marathon (runners and walkers started at the same time), but we were clued in that we should arrive before 7am for parking. I set my alarm for 6am to wake everyone in the RV and give us time for coffee, breakfast, and plenty of time to poop before driving to the parking area and race time.

My phone alarm decided to play a little joke on us – the already excited and twitchy racers – by going off 2 hours early at 4am instead. After a couple minutes of confusion by all and apologies by me, we went back to sleep for a couple hours and got up (again) at 6am to do coffee, breakfast, poop, and all those things.

At the race site, we met up with Heather and Bill, as well as our teammate Dorie and her brother Brendan, and Andrew and other teammates of Tracey and Terri. We used the porta-potties a few times more, to reduce the need to wait in lines for them later during the race on the course, and excitedly shuffled toward the starting gate. Fran and I positioned ourselves a ways back in the pack, knowing that we weren’t going to be finishing first, and leaving room for the speedsters.

A few days before the  race, Fran had decided that she’d run the start of the race with me at my pace, both to warm into things more slowly (remember we were both coming off injuries), and to be able to have some of the race experience with me, since my pace is much slower than hers. So we’d be starting and running together for a while this morning.

Around came 9am, and the starting horn sounded, and we were off!

The huge mass of bodies shifted and moved forward, and us along with it. We heeded the advice of our friends, mentors, coaches, and others, and made sure to start off SLOWLY, and not get carried away with the excitement of the start, as so many people do, then end up burning out quickly.

Even with the slow start, the first 3 miles were a bit rough for me. Not having run for a couple weeks prior, while trying to rest and heal, my muscles were a little stiff, and I needed to stop and stretch a couple times and Fran made a porta-potty stop. I confess that I worried more than once during this time whether I’d be able to finish the race, or whether my feet would behave and do like they were supposed to. Once we hit mile three (not unlike our longer runs while training), things started to loosen up for me a bit.

We dedicated miles 3 through 6 to my cousin Brendan, who just underwent his bone marrow transplant for Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma, and thought of him while we ran through the strong, tall, healthy trees. It was in this section that we started to see the first of the full marathon runners coming the other direction, having already reached the 6.5 mile turnaround, and come most of the way back on the hockey stick-shaped double out-and-back course. Fran and I enjoyed cheering and clapping for the runners as they ran towards us, and (most of them) seemed to really appreciate the added boost of a quick “good job, way to go” as they sped toward the middle of the hockey stick before their second half.

Somewhere between 3.5 and 4 miles, Fran was ready to run at her usual pace, so she started to pull away, and I gave her a wave and a “you go, honey!” and watched her cute little butt disappear into the distance. I think I saw her pass by in the other direction just before mile 6, when I got a quick kiss as we cheered each other on.

At mile 6, I was relieved and surprised at how easily the previous three miles had gone by, and dedicated miles 6 through 9 to our TNT honoree Greg, who had received his bone marrow transplant a year ago, but sadly had just suffered a relapse of his cancer and is fighting a hard battle to drive it back into remission. The race path at this point was a sunny patch and a bridge over a beautiful river, and I thought warm, powerful, thoughts toward Greg, and thought of him bridging this obstacle too, just as he has in his past six years of fighting his cancer.

After the bridge, I was really ready to see the turnaround, and the half mile from 6 to the turnabout felt like a really long way. A funny thing happened though… once I turned and ran over the return gate (a rubber speed bump with sensors in it to pick up the signal from the chip in our race bibs) everything changed… suddenly, it was a lot easier to look at the race as halfway done, rather than 6 miles to go, and before I knew it I saw the mile 7 marker.

I nearly lost it.

I thought of how far I’d come in my training – from my comfy couch and my “ugh, no thanks – I’m not a fan of running” to the fact that I’d just finished half of my first half marathon, my legs felt fine, and I knew I was going to finish this race. Rather than start sniffling and crying with joy, I choked back my emotion, lifted my head up high, and ran through mile 9 really appreciating the race.

It was about this time that I started to see our Walk Team coming the other direction (remember, we’d doubled back), and we cheered each other onward with the customary TNT cheer of “GO TEAM!” and I got a quick hug from walk mentor Mary Ann that was perfect timing and exactly what I needed right then.

I dedicated miles 9-12 to my longtime friend Gregorio, who’d been diagnosed over a year ago with his own blood cancer, thankfully only Stage 1, and had recently been declared free of cancer cells, and in remission. I thought of how strong Greg was through it all, and what a bright and shining person he is, and drew encouragement from that, ready to tackle the rest of the race.

Mile 9 was good, but at mile 10, it really started to get tough. I mixed in some walking with my running, and walked the uphill portions of the path. My feet began to hurt – a constant, sore, “get off of me” hurt – and walking only helped so much. Around this time, I also realized that I’d already seen the last of the walkers going the other direction, and realized that the cheering I was doing for everyone wasn’t just helping them, but it had been helping keep me positive and upbeat. Once it was just me (and those who I passed or passed me), I had to rely almost entirely on myself to keep going, and that was definitely harder.

I got to mile 11, and tried to pick up my pace a bit, with mixed success – that mile was a mix of running and walking, and I started to notice a spot on my right forefoot heating up. It didn’t feel like anything I’d be able to fix by doing anything but getting off my feet, and there was no way in hell I was going to do that, so I paused a minute to stretch a little, and got moving again.

At mile 12, I decided that the last 1.1 miles were for ME. I’d come a long way, I’d hauled my fat ass 12 miles, and I was just going to think positively about what I’d accomplished, and finish out strong.

That worked for about half a mile, until the uphill.

It wasn’t really that steep a hill, but after 12.5 miles, it sure FELT like a steep hill. Worse, it was nearly 12:30 in the afternoon, and the sun was out and the heat was increasing – something I’m particularly sensitive to. I was determined to finish strong though, so I alternated bursts of running with fast walking, and though I was pretty winded, I knew that it was only a bit further to push on.

Just around mile 13, I saw Heather and Bill. They were waiting alongside the road, cheering me on, and dropped in alongside me to run me up to the finish cones. I can’t express how fantastic it was to see them there, helping me finish what they’d help me start three months ago when I’d begun my training. I nearly lost it again, (I’m misting up now, while I type this) and enjoyed my last push to the finish gate. Bill gave me a great tip that the finish was deceiving, but to keep running through until the third gate with the balloons, then Heather said, “This is all you – we’re going to let you go the last bit on your own”, and I pushed through the last few strides, and crossed the finish line.

I heard them call my name out, but didn’t notice or remember my finish time, and frankly didn’t care. The guy handing out finisher’s medals had to tap me on the shoulder to give me mine. Like I said, I didn’t care. Fran was waiting for me, smiling and proud of me, and I’d finished the race – one of the hardest physical things I’ve ever done – and that was enough.

I walked a bit, working to get my breath back, and asked Fran to point me toward shade… the last stretch was in the open sun, and I was HOT. We found a shady spot, I laid down to cool off, and gathered back up with the rest of our group. I was pleased to learn that I’d run my half marathon in 3 hours, 46 minutes, and some-odd seconds, nearly half an hour better than we’d expected. Not fast, by any stretch, but I was just happy to be under 4 hours, and around to talk about it.

There are lots of other stories to tell about the camping, the fun, the girls and their active bowels… but I’ll save that for later. Guess what? I finished my first half marathon! :)

-Rick

REMINDER: If you haven’t yet made a donation to LLS for our Team In Training run, please consider doing so. Fran and I aren’t just doing this for our own health, but to raise money for a great cause - we’re 85% of the way toward our fundraising goal, and we need your help! It’s fast and easy, tax-deductible, and helps fund development of a cure for blood cancers!

DONATE NOW – please?

Posted by: Rick | April 23, 2010

Trails & Ocean & Lions, Oh My! (Wilder Ranch 14mi)

Our team 14 mi run (about 3 weeks ago now… ahem) was just north of Santa Cruz, starting at the back entrance of Natural Bridges park, going north paralleling Hwy 1, into Wilder Ranch and our first water stop, through some beautiful trails, past the water stop going toward the ocean and the Bluffs, to the turnaround, BACK through Wilder Ranch to do the trail loop again, and back out to the parking area.

It was a beautiful morning, though a bit brisk, and we were lucky to have dry trails to run on, as it had POURED rain for a couple days straight earlier in the week, and there was some question as to if the rangers would close the trails for fear of being too muddy. I was solo again in “Wave 1″, as my usual speed-challenged compatriots were still dealing with injuries. I started off accompanied by Heather and Brandy, with Brandy marking the trail with chalk along the way. Eventually, we reached the water stop… which was conspicuously absent, so Brandy stayed behind to direct traffic and retrieve the chalk marking powder which was going to be waiting at the water stop.

Heather and I continued on through some beautiful green hills and trails, chatting about this and that, and how the team like to make sure we were running with a buddy through this area, because of frequent mountain lion sightings. When we hit the left turn at the trail loop, Brandy hadn’t caught up to us yet, so Heather stayed at the turn to direct people after me, and I kept on going on the trail return loop.

Of course, that all makes it sound much easier than it was.

The first third or so of the trail portion was essentially one long gentle uphill. I alternated running with walking up the steeper bits, but really didn’t make very good time through the uphill area. On the return trip, a lot of it was downhill… but so rutted by the runoff rain from the prior days and weeks, that for much of it I was basically single-tracking through narrow ridges, doing my best to stay balanced, and not go slipping and sliding down the muddy ridges.

At some point on the downhill, Brandy came up to mark the trail and Heather caught up… and we caught up to a teammate on who looked a bit pale, and was going the wrong way. We soon learned that the mountain lion warnings were for good reason, as she’d come around a corner to see a mountain lion much too close to the trail for her comfort, and decided to wait for it to go into the trees, then turned back around to find someone to run with through that area! She paired off with Heather, and off I went on my own again.

I passed the water stop (self-sufficient with hydration belt, of course!), ran through Wilder Ranch itself, a neat little working “showcase” ranch, where workers dress the part of old-time ranchers and demonstrate real ranch/farm skills to visitors. A short water-reclamation (pee) stop later, and I started off along the Bluffs trail toward the ocean.

This is where my tendon issue decided to flare up again.

I just got going up toward the Bluffs, and felt a twinge of the old pain. I thought to myself, “Self, let’s just slow down a little bit, and see if the pain eases up a little – we’re nearly to the 7mi turnaround point!”. So I tried that.

It didn’t work.

As with past experience with my peroneal tendon issue, the pain just built up steadily until it was uncomfortable to even walk. Being as close as I was to the turnaround point though, I wasn’t about to stop yet. I figured, “I’ll just get to the 7mi, then walk it in to the water stop, and if I need to, I can get a ride back to the cars”.

I walked to the water stop (about 8 miles into the outing, now), stretched out a lot (I’d been stretching during the walk back from the turnaround, too), and chatted with a few people as they passed the stop in either direction. A couple of the ladies from the Walk Team were heading back toward the finish, so I figured I’d just walk back in with them, and just take it slow so as not to injure things any further.

It was painful, but eventually turned into a dull background hurt, rather than the flaring ouch it’d been while running, and I focused on keeping good form so that I wouldn’t limp.

Total mileage for Rick: 11 miles, probably 4 of it walking.

It was a definite bummer for me, as I was really looking forward to being able to say, “I ran over a half-marathon distance already!”, but it just wasn’t going to happen that day.

-Rick

Posted by: Rick | April 23, 2010

No news is… no news

So… I’ve been extremely lax in updating for the past few weeks.<div xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" about="http://www.flickr.com/photos/brook/152979368/"><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/brook/">http://www.flickr.com/photos/brook/</a> / <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">CC BY 2.0</a></div>

Partly because of all the usual busy life reasons, and partly because I’ve been frustrated, and wasn’t as motivated to blog about cranky-pants stuff. Nevertheless, Fran and I wanted this blog to be an honest record of our experiences training for our race, so it really was just a matter of when – not if – I’d get back around to spreading some words on the page.

What did you miss?

  • We had our team 14-mile run at up at Wilder Ranch.
  • We had a buddy run that Fran and I missed do to “irrational exuberance” in our sparse social calendar the night before.
  • We had our team 16-mile run through Seaside, Monterey, and Pacific Grove, on the most beautiful day along the coast that we’d seen in a long time.
  • Plus a few track nights sprinkled in-between, and a fund-raising update for Fran and I.

So as not to dump everything into one huge mega-post that would collapse under its own word count and become a black hole (that the LHC let us down and *didn’t* create), I’ll split this up into a few posts following this one (and because I’m techno-OCD like that, I’ll probably go back and link those posts to the bullets above, for posterity).

I promise!

-Rick

Two weeks ago, I ran 14 miles along Highway 1 North, Wilder Ranch and the bluffs along the ocean. What an amazing thing to say! I am forever impressed with the beauty of where I now live. It is amazing to run a mile up a trail, round the bend and be staring at hills, trees, farmland and ocean simultaneously. And then to run to where the land meets the ocean and look back at where I’ve just come from. This is just a couple of miles from our house!!

The run itself went fairly well…until about mile 10. I had this pain in my left hip area that had teased me some during my mid-week runs. Well, it came on full strength on this day. Oy vey, that was friggin’ painful!! I was feeling that for a couple of days after the run.

I took it easy the following couple days, allowing my body a legitimate chance to recover. During a 6-mile run the following Tuesday, it flared up again.  I missed track practice last week due to a school commitment and we missed the 8-mile run on Saturday because we enjoyed ourselves a li’l too much the night before (oops!). So, I haven’t really been running *sad face* which has given my body some more time to recuperate.

I went to my doctor’s office. I was again referred to physical therapy. Ugh.

This recent retaliation by my body has me frustrated. I understand I am placing a heavy demand on muscles I haven’t used in years, but sheesh, must I have back-to-back issues?! The knee is coming along…lots of focused PT exercises and core strengthening is starting to pay off. Still hurts when I do run, but it’s not debilitating and it is getting better. Now this hip stuff has me worried.

I had a PT evaluation this afternoon and thankfully it is not referred pain from my back muscles, nor is it anything to do with my IT band. It’s everything to do with the trochanter bursa (fluid-filled sac in between the hip-joint). It is not bursitis, thankfully. It’s just irritated with the demands of running longer distances.

All in all I am pretty lucky in that both of my injuries are very treatable with lots of exercise (core strengthening, here I come!) and the right stretches. However, having pain while running is just not fun. It’s not motivating. It’s frustrating as heck!!

And then I am reminded of the much bigger picture of what I am doing and why I am doing it. Greg, one of our honorees in Team in Training, very recently relapsed. He has started chemotherapy again and is confined to a bed in a hospital room. What Greg is going through is so much worse than some knee and hip pain. He is a handsome young man with a lot to live for and has a team of people rooting and raising money for his health (and the health of so many more going through similar treatments).

As nervous as I am for a long run for the first time since I started training, I will have Greg in my thoughts as a reminder of why I decided to do this crazy running thing in the first place. My body and I will work it out. Greg and his body will work it out too.

REMINDER: If you haven’t yet made a donation to LLS for our Team In Training run, please consider doing so. Rick and I aren’t just doing this for our own health, but to raise money for a great cause - we’re 68% of the way toward our fundraising goal, and we need your help! It’s fast and easy, tax-deductible, and helps fund development of a cure for blood cancers!

Posted by: Fran | April 14, 2010

Results are in…

In one of my first posts to this blog, I had just ventured into this running a marathon business and paid $100 to take part in a friendly weight-loss challenge with a few other women. A few women turned out to be 13 of us in total. The winning pot was $1,200 for first place and runner-up would get their investment back. The results were calculated as percentage of weight loss from January 10th to April 12th.

I lost 18.5 lbs (10.66%) in that time! :-) Sadly, it wasn’t enough to take first place, but I did get my $100 back. The woman who did win lost a total of 23.5 lbs (13.ish%). She teaches Zumba and other aerobic classes multiple times per week and gave up alcohol for the entire time. My training for a marathon was, and continues to be, intense, BUT I was not willing to give up alcohol and my monthly cravings for chocolate, chips and steak or an occasional glass of wine while watching TV at home or sharing a bottle of sake with my husband at our favorite sushi restaurant or a glass of beer with pizza after Thursday night track training. To sum it up, I was not as strict with my diet as my competitor. And I’m okay with that – I LOST 18.5 LBS!! (I say it’s 20 lbs, cuz that’s what my home scale said 2 days before our last weigh-in!)

Also in that earlier post, I revealed my measurements. Here’s the comparison of then and now:

Then (Jan 10) – Ht: 5′ Wt: 173.5# Bust: 43″ Waist: 40″ Hips: 47.5″ Thigh: 24.5″ Calf: 16″ Bicep: 13″

Now (Apr 11) – Ht: still 5’ Wt: 155# Bust: 40” Waist: 36.5” Hips: 45.5” Thigh: 24.5” Calf: 15.5″ Bicep: 13″

Total inches lost SO FAR = 9.25!!

Weight-training and core strengthening will be my next focus. Counting calories has gone by the wayside, mostly because I feel confident in recognizing what is right. With that said, I will pick up counting them again more diligently. It does help keep an overall focus while trying to drop the weight – I have another 20 lbs to lose!

Posted by: Rick | April 2, 2010

April Fool’s Track, and 400m Speed Intervals

Last night was Team In Training track night, and for once, the weather and the high school track gods were all in alignment, allowing us to run at the Soquel High School track as planned.

Calf abrasion

After a few warm up laps, we did some interesting drills using hurdles… first doing slow steps over the hurdles, then sideways, kinda like fan-kicks, and later like Can-Can dancing… during one of which I managed to drop my leg too soon and smack my calf right into the fiberglass edge of the hurdle (Yowch!). I finished them out, but I knew instantly that I was going to have a nice deep bruise afterward.

Eventually, it was time to run again, but this time, we were going to run 400 meter speed intervals. My group, the Cheetahs, was going to run 4 intervals, starting with about 80% of our speed, then run the remaining three faster and faster. (At least, that’s how it was supposed to work)

Off we went on our first interval, and I was feeling pretty good. I was really appreciating the fact that my peroneal tendon wasn’t acting up at all, and I was able to just run (though my calf was throbbing a little bit at this point, it was mostly good for keeping me warm!). I got into the mindset of “This is only one lap – I can turn on a bit of speed here, since I don’t have to save my energy for 10 more miles!” and I poured it on…

Okay, okay, I’m slow.

My version of pouring on the speed compared to most people is probably a lot like trying to pour cold syrup on your hot, buttery pancakes in the morning, and just watching and waiting for the damn syrup to reach the pancakes.

Image copyright Tammy Green -  http://www.flickr.com/photos/zesmerelda/4015092872/ Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 License

My speed...

For me, it was fast. I ran my 400m in 2:17 (that’s minutes:seconds, not hours:minutes, wiseacre!)

It felt pretty good, though the last 1/4 of it, my breathing sounded and felt like a wheezing rhinoceros, or some other suitably large and ungainly beast.

After the fact, I realized that I’d made an unfortunate error… I hadn’t really run at 80% of my fastest speed – that was probably a lot closer to full-out for my sorry butt. Something I quickly realized after our short breather and Coach lined us up for our next interval, and told us to speed it up…

Off we went again, and I tried pushing just a little bit harder, figuring that I’d really gun it on the last stretch. My breathing turned to wheezing a bit earlier, and when I trampled across the line, I’d come in at 2:18 – a full second slower than my first lap. Damn.

At this point, I was starting to feel just the hint of a stitch in my side starting to come on, and was breathing pretty hard during my recovery walk. We were supposed to go faster, still? I wasn’t even faster my second time! (Though mostly because of my own irrational exuberance, and not holding a little back on the first interval)

Again, we dashed off, and I did my best to at least keep pace with my earlier laps, but the wheezing came around even sooner, at the halfway mark, and I crossed the line at 2:33, happy to have pushed as strongly as I could, but disappointed that I’d lost so many seconds from my earlier two laps.

For our final lap, I was determined to try smoothing out my breathing, and just seeing if I could even things out and come in somewhere near the other three laps. Something I did seemed to help, because my lungs didn’t start gasping and flopping about until the start of the final straightaway (like on the second lap), and I crossed the line in 2:25, 8 seconds faster than my third lap!

Thankfully, that was it for the night, because it had started to get cold and breezy, and my calf was responding appropriately by tightening up.

We finished the night, as always, with our team pizza and beer outing at the nearby pizza joint, and I iced the heck out of my leg when I got home.

Saturday’s long run is 14 miles, possibly in the rain, most likely in the mud. I’m hoping to do the full distance, but both Coach and PT said to listen to my body and scale back if I need to, since it’s been a month since I did a long run.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

REMINDER: If you haven’t yet made a donation to LLS for our Team In Training run, please consider doing so. Rick and I aren’t just doing this for our own health, but to raise money for a great cause - we’re 55% of the way toward our fundraising goal, and we need your help! It’s fast and easy, tax-deductible, and helps fund development of a cure for blood cancers!

DONATE NOW – please?

Posted by: Fran | April 1, 2010

The Knee Report

Yesterday, I had my first physical therapy appointment with Kristen. She’s a very straightforward woman and did not hold back when describing all that was wrong with my recent knee issue. Seems my entire lower right leg is out of whack.

My patella does not glide nice and orderly over my knee-joint, instead it swerves a li’l to the left. This is why I have pain. As Kristen moved my leg around, had me flex my leg muscles and walk away and toward her, she noticed a couple other contributing factors to my patella tracking problem.

First, the vastus medialis (she referred to it as the VMO) muscle is very weak. This particular muscle helps the patella track properly. She gave me a couple exercises to help strengthen it – it should look like a football when flexed, mine is a deflated football now.

Second, the plantar fascia is tight, compensating for all the other issues going on above. Kristen gave me exercises for this too.

In summary, the VMO is weak which has left the patella unattended. Running has forced my quadriceps and gastrocnemius (calf muscle) to try to compensate which has put more pressure on my foot, thus the tight fascia.

Thankfully, all of this is remedied with a series of about 10 focused exercises which I have to be diligent about doing 2x/day for the next couple weeks. Great, one more thing on my already way-too-long to-do list. I’m feeling a little defeated, but very grateful there is nothing seriously wrong that will prevent me from training and running.

Kristen was very optimistic too which helped ease some of my frustration and fear. I have PT 2x/week this week and next and then another evaluation. Stay tuned…

REMINDER: If you haven’t yet made a donation to LLS for our Team In Training run, please consider doing so. Rick and I aren’t just doing this for our own health, but to raise money for a great cause - we’re 55% of the way toward our fundraising goal, and we need your help! It’s fast and easy, tax-deductible, and helps fund development of a cure for blood cancers!

DONATE NOW – please?

Posted by: Rick | March 31, 2010

We’re famous! (Sorta)

I have some fun news to share!

Last week, Fran and I were approached by Kristen from the Silicon Valley and Monterey Bay chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, asking if we’d like to guest blog on their “Mission: Possible” blog, and we said yes!

Today, as a part of the Mission: Possible blog’s “Wellness Wednesday”, is our first guest blog post – featuring a “He Said/She Said” of our first posts here at FeatForFourFeet.com, about our first steps on our journey from couch potatoes to marathoners!

It’s really neat to look back on how we were feeling just over two months ago before we started our training, and see again our mixture of trepidation and excitement. In the coming weeks, we’ll be doing more guest posts over there. Fran and I are honored to be a part of this, and looking forward to sharing our experiences with an even wider audience through the LLS blog.

Go check out the Mission: Possible site, see our guest post, and check out all the other great posts with info about LLS projects, inspiring interviews with blood cancer patients and endurance athletes, health tips, and lots of other great stuff!

Have no fear, we’ll continue to blog here about our adventures in training, running, fundraising, and our races… we’ll just be guest blogging over at Mission: Possible, too!

REMINDER: If you haven’t yet made a donation to LLS for our Team In Training run, please consider doing so. Fran and I aren’t just doing this for our own health, but to raise money for a great cause - we’re 55% of the way toward our fundraising goal, and we need your help! It’s fast and easy, tax-deductible, and helps fund development of a cure for blood cancers!

DONATE NOW – please?

Posted by: Fran | March 29, 2010

8 days

Is a wicked long time when I am not running! Well, with school and trying to keep up with life in general, it is not really that long, but I was having serious withdrawals and moments of serious grouchiness!!

Why no running? It would seem that it is my turn for an injury. After a glorious 12-mile run (mmhmmm, that’s right, I said 12-miles – the longest I have ever run!!) two Saturdays ago in the Pogonip Park (I think it was the Spring Trail) my right knee was really sore. Some of the downhills on the return trip were steep enough that I had to travel them backwards! Thank you mentor Angela and fellow runner Brooke for helping me through this part cuz I really just wanted to curl up and cry! It was the last 2 miles and I was determined to finish so I pushed through it…probably not the best choice.

I had a visit with Michelle Keeley, a PA, at Palo Alto Medical Foundation last Thursday because my knee was STILL sore. Turns out my right patella (knee-cap) does not glide over my knee-joint in a straight line like it should. It deviates slightly to the left because both the patella tendon (connects patella to tibia) and my quadriceps are weak. Poo. So, it is time for physical therapy for me. My first appointment is this Wednesday – I see leg exercises in my future.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment…I had Michelle take a look at my left foot because I have had intermittent sharp pains near the ball of my foot when I step a certain way. I thought it was related to how my Vibram Five Fingers fit. Thankfully, it was not. I have plantar warts. Ew. One of them was pretty big/deep which was causing the pain when I stepped on it that oh-so-special way. Treatment involved cutting some of it out with a scalpel (not painful at all since the skin around the wart is mostly callused) and then freezing it with liquid nitrogen (this part hurt as she applied it). It is the latter part that resulted in some delayed throbbing pain later in the day.

Needless to say, I was not able to take part in track practice that night :( No pizza ‘n beer for me. I had a salad.

Today I ran! Not a long run, but roughly 2-miles around the neighborhood. It felt really good to get out there again (even though Rick convinced me to wear the new running shorts he bought for me which resulted in some chaffing! Note to self, coach and husband: Fran does NOT wear shorts!). My knee is sore again, though not nearly as much as it was last week. Ice to the rescue!

REMINDER: If you haven’t yet made a donation to LLS for our Team In Training run, please consider doing so. Rick and I aren’t just doing this for our own health, but to raise money for a great cause - we’re 55% of the way toward our fundraising goal, and we need your help! It’s fast and easy, tax-deductible, and helps fund development of a cure for blood cancers!

DONATE NOW – please?

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