Western States Training: Week 12, Getting Back on Track

If the saying about March is true, that it comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, then that pretty accurately describes the month of March for me.   Concussion, hamstring pull, big bruised knee and what turned out not to be a UTI, but complications of PMS–very lion like…roarrrrr…uuuggg!  My weekly mileage has looked roughly like this: 35, 25, 28, 73, 87.  March is finally leaving like a lamb, or maybe more like a mountain goat.  I jumped back into training and got just under 90 miles last week.

Monday started off easy with an hour in the woods.

Tuesday was back to some 10 minute intervals, and much to my happiness my hamstring was fine, uphill and downhill! YAY!

Wednesday was another easy hour, which of course I smacked my knee and irritated the fluid sac around my kneecap.  Nice black and blue, I guess March had to throw one last punch.  I cut an old compression sock that I don’t ever wear because the seems gave my toes blisters, and used it to compress my knee as I walked dogs the rest of the day.  By Friday most of the swelling would be gone.

Thursday was back to intervals, 12 minutes this time.  It was a pretty lack luster run, but I’m blaming it on my swollen knee, and the stress of having my WSER roommate drop out and shouldering the cost of the house.  Which by the way means I might have a room to rent! 😉

Friday was a recovery run.  This may not quite be training relevant, but it sort of is.  I met with a new doctor to discuss my Lioness March.  Afterwards I felt much better: keep doing vestibular PT, get some blood work, make an appointment to get an ultrasound of my uterus, and think about maybe getting a low dose IUD to help with all that.   I like to have a plan of action, it makes me feel better about things.  I don’t want to wait for things to happen to me, I want to happen to them…if you know what I mean.

After the doc visit I realized my schedule for Saturday was blank, so while at a photo event for Antarctica, I emailed my coach curious about what the next morning would bring.  It was about 7pm when I got an email response that said “run 40 miles.”   I re-read that sentence a few times in the dark at the back of the room, and started to sweat a bit.  I thought maybe it was a mistype, but as I continued to read it confirmed the 40 miles by saying, ” I know you have a 50 mile race next weekend, and this may seem counter intuitive as a taper, but…”  Fortunately we were right next to a grocery store, so at the conclusion of the presentation I hurried over to buy second dinner, and running snacks.

Saturday’s weather was perfect, cool in the morning, warming up to 60, and fortunately I have enough friends who are also training for 100 mile races that I easily got a group together to join me for half of my run.  Thank goodness for training friends!  The first 22 miles went by easily with company, for the last several I packed up my pack and ran out to trails as far away as I could find so I had no choice but to run back for the total distance.  I miscalculated and ended up with 36 so I had to loop around again, which brought me to 39..though my banged up knee was starting to stiffen, so I reasoned that one less mile on that knee was probably a good idea.  We ran a really casual effort, with lots of loops back to the parking lot to pick up and drop off people, I don’t pause my watch, so the time on my watch read 7:30, however, according to Strava actual moving time was 6:40 or so.  Not bad.

Sunday morning I woke up at 6 and the bottoms of my feet were quite sore, so I decided to get back into bed.  I slept and read until 9 am and then slowly rolled out.  Nothing hurt too much, ankles were a bit stiff, but after stretching and moving around they loosened up and I got in 10 more with Lynx and Drew before an Easter feast.

I am so glad for this bounce back, I am optimistic that this March hiccup is behind me and I am looking forward to Bull Run Run 50 this coming weekend.  Running 40 miles the weekend before a 50 may not be exactly the type of taper I would usually do, however, I do have to keep reminding myself BRR is really only a training run for WSER, and I need to run it as such…NO RACING!  If I can survive a build of 30, 40, 50 mile weekends and can continue to train after it will give me confidence going forward.


Western States Training: Week…I don’t even know anymore…

I want to start this post by saying, for all those non runners, this streak of injury I am having isn’t necessarily running related.  Mostly all of it is either something that I’d have anyway (endometriosis) or from hitting my head(concussion).  Don’t think that these things are due to running and let that stop any of you from putting on some running shoes and going for a run.

I haven’t been updating as per usual because getting back to running from my head trauma has been a frustratingly slow “two steps forward, one fall back,” and while I am in the midst of it I certainly don’t want to whine about it online.

I got a few days in of running, then pulled my hamstring.  Had a few days of running no more than 3 miles, got a massage, went to PT.  Did some more things to help get my body all back online.  If you’ve never fallen hard enough before, or gotten injured, one thing that can happen is that the trauma will often screw up some aspect of your movement patterns.  Especially if you injure something that connects to your glutes, your prime movers.  Falling on my hip, and side of my butt set me up for some movement issues, and my hamstring tried to compensate for the strange pattern.

I’m also slowly getting a diagnosis of endometriosis together, its not a cut and dry thing, but a side effect of it is the loss of a lot of blood, so I am trying to get my iron stores back up.   Of course, I also banged my knee really good and its swelled up like a purple Easter egg…see…not good for blog posting. (oh ya, and those days I peed blood for no apparent reason…and don’t get me started on my spring allergies…why, March, why?!)

I did get to run my first long run in a month on Saturday, that felt great–thanks for the company DJ!   The one thing all this injury has allowed me to do is read, a ton.  So I have gotten a good eating plan together, and was able to execute it really well during a 30 mile long run.   I never bonked, felt pretty good the whole way, even though I could tell about 22 miles in my leg muscles were just not quite there with my cardiovascular system.   Too much time resting in bed or on the couch, they’ve gotten lazy– I’m sure they will catch back up.

As of today, Wednesday, I have strung together 10 whole days of running, and even a workout yesterday.

It has been hard emotionally, while I totally trust that my Coach Meghan will get me as fit as she can around my injuries, I still get a little anxious when I look at all the big zeros on my training log.  However, I feel like if something is important enough, I just can’t throw in the towel, even after all these things that seem to get thrown at me.  Apparently just training for 100 miles is too easy, so obstacles to training must be thrown in, yea, that’s more interesting.  “Girl trains for 100 miles, while lying in bed. ” I know, I’ll start a bed to 100 mile training plan. The warning will read: Caution don’t ever try this, it sucks.

A week from this Saturday I am scheduled to run Bull Run Run 50.   Originally I had a goal to PR and run sub 8 hours, but after not having run the last month or so…I think my new goal is to finish strong, use it as a training run, not run hard enough that recovery takes too long, oh and NOT TO FALL!! :). Its still going to be hard to get out of my racing mentality–fun new challenge.

At least I am learning not to take myself too seriously.  I am super happy that its been sunny and warm the past few days–I’m so ready for spring!

Happy spring to you all!

Western States Week 10: the follow up to the concussion

If you missed the previous blog post, let me catch you up.  I fell down some steps and gave myself a concussion, and had to stop running completely for about 9 days.


During that time last week I spent quite a lot of time sleeping, reading, and researching traumatic brain injuries (tbi).  For those of you interested, I learned there are about 6 symptoms that are identified.  They are: cognitive fatigue, vestibular, ocular, post- concussion migraine, cervical, and mood.  One can experience any combination of the list, or only one, or all.

This week I have experienced cognitive fatigue: trying to edit a friend’s paper, not only did I have to read it aloud, but I also had to take some breaks.  Vestibular, which I addressed with Brian Beatty’s help at Balanced Movement Studio.  I have been practicing my vestibular exercises daily.  Finally cervical, however, mine was whiplash so rather than real pinching of a nerve causing a headache, it was really tight muscles in my shoulder, back, and neck that a massage helped greatly!

There are some local business that claim to help concussion or ADD brains with cognitive feedback.  However, the data to back up this claim just doesn’t exsist yet….and it’s unbelievably $$$, so I’m keeping it in mind to try later.  Hopefully health insurance will cover it some day after more studies can be concluded.

Anyway, by the 9th day of rest I decided that getting a little blood flow to the brain would be a good thing.  I’d been walking easy the previous few days, and finally it was time to test out a run. 4 miles was fine, the next day 8, then 14, and so on.

I’m finding my stride is a bit funky, and my ability to concentrate on harder efforts is more challenging than usual.  For instance, during pickups rather than being focused on the effort for the entire pickup, I find my mind wandering, and my pace faltering.   I expect it will get better again as time passes.  Being present is hard with a constantly wandering brain.  I’m hoping that with more meditation I can get that presence back.  I find it also happens during conversations, focusing on what someone’s saying is harder….to my friends…sorry I’ve seen preoccupied during conversations, I’m not. 🙂

Fortunately my husband and friends have been really wonderful helping out while I recover.

I’m positive I’ll be back to it soon.  Besides, sometimes it’s good to slow down for a moment–think positive: be positive!


Run happy friends!🏃

Western States Training Week 9: Sometimes it just feels like its an Uphill Battle

Week 9 started out swimmingly..and then went downhill from there. Monday’s run was great, nice and easy, then; maybe this is TMI for some of you but this month my period was painful!  Sorry folks, this is real life- real things that we women have to deal with.  Headaches, cramps, worrying about bleeding through tampons etc.  So, Tuesday the headache/brain fog and body ache—like from my diaphragm to my knees body ache started. (Oh and lets not forget the need to go #2 constantly too, ugh)  I put off my run till mid day hoping that walking a bit first early in the day would help.  It did, minimally, though my brain was ready to rock my body just wanted to procrastinate and go back to bed.  Ohh, bed..soft, comfy, warm bed.  Nope, put on those shoes and go.

To keep me on track I drove to the gym and ran from there.   If I get in a car and drive somewhere to run, the run WILL happen.  So I opted to do my workout on trail, so I ran off to the only runnable/non technical loop in town (also the only loop with a porta john).  Its an undulating 5 mile gravel loop near my gym.  The workout called for 3 efforts of 9 for 12 minutes.  The warm up was fine, and then zoom.  Thankfully the burning of my legs and lungs made it near impossible for me to feel any cramps…so there was that!   There’s always a positive to be found in everything, no?

Wednesday was find, Thursday went well…..well, to be exact Thursday until about 4 pm went well…until the TRX incident.  I should say, it was all due to user error, the TRX did not injure me on its own..

I’ll start with a little background: soccer.  I played a lot of soccer, all year ’round from elementary school until a forced stop junior year in high school due to a really bad concussion, that wasn’t treated correctly.  The theme of my young life was, “play hard, suck it up, shake off that head trauma.”   Had we known any better, my parents would have been much more vigilant about my recovery from all my concussions, but homework had to be done, sports had to be played etc. Back then if you didn’t pass out or throw up, or bleed, it was ok.  Long story, I am now quite susceptible to head traumas.  It seems like I am more likely to hurt my brain than bruise my knee when I fall now.

Anyway, back to the TRX, I had hung it on a door not thinking about the fact that the door swung out towards me, I’d used it there any number of times before with out a problem.  On this day I was doing a circuit workout going from my garage (5 steps down from the main house) back into the house to use the TRX.  Of course the TRX popped off the door, and I was flung across the hall…and down those steps onto the concrete basement floor…backwards.  And with that…so ended my training week, rather abruptly.  Amazingly I literally only have a nasty bruise on my arm from trying to grab the door frame.  I basically landed in a sort of plank position, flipping 180 degrees so I was face down. Call me cat woman–hopefully I haven’t used up all my lives.  Subsequently I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday tucked into bed sleeping or listening to the Serial podcasts.   Oh..side note, I loved those podcasts!  Yea, I consumed all 7 hours of those while I laid in bed all weekend.  (Much to my husbands chagrin…its no fun with your super active fun wife won’t/can’t get out of bed all weekend.)

As you can tell I’m feeling much better!  By Sunday I could feel that the swelling had gone down a lot; brain swelling to me feels like having cotton in your head.  Like you can feel your brain inside your head, touching the skull.   Today, my PT, Brian Beatty, did an assessment and also walked me though some vestibular reset exercises which has helped with the headaches immensely.  Its going to be a wait and see now.  Once I can hop around without feeling my brain moving in the back of my head I can resume running, until then its swimming, walking, or biking while being aware of how my head is feeling.



Western States Training: Week 8

…And then we rest.   I strongly believe that resting and recovering is just as important as hard training.  My mantra the past few years has been, “rest hard in order to train harder.”  Its taken me decades to beat this into my head.  Like many endurance athletes I love the feeling of running until my legs are toast…which is fun, well…type II fun.   If you’re reading this you are probably a big proponent of type II fun 😉

Week 8 would be another long week of work, but a nice easy week of running.  Still the same mileage, just no workouts, lots of sleep, foam rolling and good food.

I’m also reading two books dealing with the psychological side of endurance sports as well.  I couldn’t decide which one to start with, so I am reading both at the same time.  The Brave Athlete; Calm the F*ck Down, and Endure.   My favorite exercise thus far is from the Brave Athlete.   The exercise suggests that many athletes show up to the starting line less than confident, and one way to show up ready to rock is to imagine yourself as a “superhero” alter-ego.   Now I have a race, and hard workout alter-ego with a “backstory” and she has quotes.  So when I start to feel like an imposter, or my confidence waivers I have my super hero alter-ego who can step in.

Week 8:

  • Monday: my husband had the day off so we ran together, easy road loop. PM yoga
  • Tuesday: 8 easy trail miles
  • Wednesday: another easy 5 on the trails
  • Thursday: 8 trail miles with Erin
  • Friday: new to me trail exploring. Sometimes it’s nice just to take a map and run around a new place with no goal other than enjoying the sights of the trail and the sun on your face.
  • Met up with some faster friends. Ran 22 miles with 18-30 second pickups after a warm up. That was fun, actually. Took away some of the monotony of doing the same loops over and over. Lifted
  • 5 easy miles with Drew and the dog.




Western States Training: Catch-up on weeks 6 & 7

Oops, time sort of slipped away from me and I missed updating week 6 so I’m adding it in  with week 7.  Again, I’m writing this as a record for myself to look back on, and also as a way to share with you all, so many of the weeks are similar in structure.


Running downhill at South Mountain State Park


The 6th week of training started off pretty great.  The Tuesday workout was pretty typical, overall average pace of 7:50, but the Thursday workout I had a little mental breakthrough.  Running as hard as you can up a hill for 3 minutes hurts. I can get just under a half a mile uphill and on Thursday I was bumping up the number of repeats as well as having a busy week at work and pushing hard and knowing the pain is coming can be almost as much mental as it is physical.  Letting up on the gas is tempting, but at the same time I want each workout to be at least the same overall pace as the previous ones, if not faster.  The workouts are always the same distance in the end, but the speed in the middle gets longer, as the cool down at the end gets shorter. That Thursday I decided that I was just going to be in the moment, not think about the added repeats and how much more they were going to hurt and just run…and I had a much better workout.  My pace dropped to a 7:41 and I ended up with more repeats, and also an extra half mile at the end because I ran my usual cool down loop, forgetting I had added a mile to the hill repeats.  Obviously I should be getting fitter, but that jump was in no way all physical, and probably mostly mental.

That Saturday at the end of the week was also pretty good, it does seem that the pain I experience during the Tuesday and Thursday workouts translates over to my long runs.  Its like once you start to get used the acute fatigue of all out hill repeats, a long run doesn’t feel quite as hard.  I finished the last 5 miles of the long run faster than the previous 15.

Unfortunately I got a 48 hour something and stayed in bed from Saturday night until Monday morning.

Anyway the week looked like this

  • Monday Hour of Trail miles, PM yoga
  • Tuesday 3×3 hill repeats for a total of 8 miles followed by lifting; core and rotational mobility too
  • Wednesday 8 trail miles
  • Thursday 8.5 miles of 3×4 hill repeats, followed by lifting: core and rotational mobility
  • Friday, easy hour with friends
  • Saturday long run with last 5 miles faster
  • Sunday sick all day

Bleeding into

  • Monday sick all day
  • Tuesday, backing off of repeats to 3×3 while I recover from the virus; easy lift, more mobility
  • Wednesday 8 trail miles
  • Thursday 5×3 for 8 miles; lift
  • Friday hour easy run with friends while planning weekend miles
  • Saturday long run in South Mountains State park: 20 miles 4,5000 feet. Run comfortable, unless its a runnable downhill and then run it hard (don’t run the steep and terribly technical sections hard, not worth risking an ankle or leg injury) Finish with a 2 mile hike straight up a waterfall 🙂
  • Sunday, easy road miles with Drew and the dog.

So the take away from this two week block is to be more mindful of being present while running hill repeats.  The benefit of the workout isn’t just the pounding of the legs, or the burning of the lungs…its also training the mind and body to really get close to that edge of suffering, and realizing that its ok. (if you subscribe to the central governor theory, then your brain will cut you off long before you actually do any real damage to yourself by running hard.) I do think when left to my own devices I omit these types of workouts and opt for long slower slogs.  That seems to be the type of pain I enjoy, however, the short, intense training bouts is really what I have been missing.


Waterfalls and laughter with friends


Hope you all had a good few weeks of training!

Western States: Week 5


Just trying to find a little balance this week.

This week I was back to hill workouts.   After a week of rest, I was feeling fresh and ready to get back to training at the start of the week.  However, I picked up 7 more work hours(time on feet) so by the end of the week I was pretty worn out.  I also think because usually after my workouts I have an hour or two before getting back to any work, I am very good about refueling, but this Tuesday after my lunch run/lift I neglected to prepare for refueling properly, and the next few days my runs suffered.  (noted, and week 6 I am going into it with plenty of pre prepared foods and easy crock pot meals that will be ready for me to eat.)

My weeks have turned into a back and forth of early morning runs, and mid day lunch runs.  My body is getting into the habit of early-pop-out-of-bed wake ups, followed by leisurely morning wake ups every other day.  I’m hoping that if I take my time and stretch and eat and do some mobility my body will feel better on my vo2 max days.

  • Monday: Easy 5 trail miles
  • Tuesday: Vo2 max workout 4×3 minute hill repeats.  Tuesdays I had a lot of work as well as this workout, so I ate a big breakfast, did some mobility and then a few hours of work.  I took my lunch break and did my workout and felt amazing! Strava data can be found https://www.strava.com/activities/1383445372/embed/1ba0a9513e78a997dab97f8cf3763eb01aa1d9f5” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>here, It is a hill workout, not sure why my Suunto didn’t pick up the hill.  The hill data can be found https://www.strava.com/activities/1360480160/embed/c97b0dae708ea0a7df47432cf1f8f1b96e280bf4” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>here  from a previous workout.  Unfortunately I went right back to work after only having a very small snack.  By the time I got home at 6 pm I was too tired to make a good meal, and think that the next two days were a result of this silly mistake.
  • Wednesday: Easy-sleepy hour shake out run on trails
  • Thursday: Another lunchtime vo2 workout, but this time my legs were FLAT.  The second I started the first repeat I could tell my body wasn’t recovered.  Do you ever have that feeling of “hollow” legs, like there is no energy in them to contract your muscles.  I tried pushing harder, pumping my arms more, getting my legs to turn over faster…blah.  I just couldn’t move fast enough to get my HR up.  It was frustrating at first, but not every workout can be perfect or faster than the one previous, so as I made my way back to my car I looked back on what I ate and realized my Tuesday mistake.  DON’T FORGET TO EAT ENOUGH POST RUN!
  • Friday: Another easy hour.
  • Saturday: I joined a friend for 15 or so miles, we sort of mindlessly ran around our local trails.  The day was cold, and not really warming up, so after he left I decided to pick up the pace for my last few miles–I was ready to get home and warm up, so I completed the run on non technical trail and dropped my pace closer to a tempo pace to finish up. After I went to the gym and did some strength work.
  • Sunday: Family run day!  We opted to run an hour on the roads.  The steady rain had flooded all the trails, so we just did a slow recovery pace on roads close to home.


Also, Lily Trotters, the women’s compression socks I wear, shared one of my Balanced Movement workouts.  This one I do in the weeks leading up to events.  Its not for strength, its for muscle memory and foot quickness.  Its here.