Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Grandma's Marathon Experience

Hey guys.  Wow that was quite an eventful weekend, maybe too eventful.  It certainly didn't go how I had planned but after having a few days to think back over everything that has taken place I am ready to learn all I can about my experience and decided the best course of action for the future.

Getting to Duluth from Charlotte on Thursday wasn't that bad especially considering all the other crazy delays other athletes had to deal with.  My dad and I were only delayed an hour on our flight to Minneapolis trying to avoid some storms, however that caused us to go over Nebraska… definitely a roundabout way to get there lol.  Then the rental company accidentally gave us the wrong car but that’s okay because they upgraded us to a Dodge Charger, so I’m not complaining haha.  It was so nice once we got to the hotel though and it was 50 degrees outside, so much cooler than the 90 degree temps we left in Charlotte.

Friday was so much fun!! I was invited to be a part of the women’s press conference for the Grandma’s Marathon, which was absolutely amazing!! I feel honored that out of all the women’s field I was one of the six chosen.  It was a very exciting experience to be up there answering whatever questions I happened to get asked.  It also made me glad I have no problem talking in front of people haha. :)  I also had the privilege of meeting Dick Beardsley on Friday and got to talk to him a little, which was very nice.  I enjoy talking to long time marathon runners and hearing their take on the distance.

At the Press Conference

Saturday morning I woke up in a great mood to 50 degree foggy weather, which was just perfect weather for racing a marathon.  I listened to my music on the bus ride to the starting line and had this calm mentality knowing I had my game plan ready and had faith in my training.  I ended up walking to the starting line with some fellow Charlotte runners and that helped to maintain my happy attitude.  I felt really good during my warm up and as I took of my sweats and placed my bag into the elite vehicle my calm mentality slowly turned into excitement and those last 5 minutes seemed so long waiting for the gun to go off.

Once the gun went off and the race started I got right into a nice smooth groove and went right into my pace.  Now I didn't feel the greatest once I got started but I locked into my pace so I wasn't very worried as I knew I was strong enough where that didn't really matter.  My goal for the race going in was to get under 2:40, I was hoping for 2:37- 2:38 and planned on hitting 6:00- 6:05 per mile.  I came through 10 miles in 60:03, right on pace and I was super happy.  However that’s when things started to get rough.  After 10 miles I started to feel a little tightness in my right hamstring.  As the miles went on the tightness got worse and moved to my hip then my pace started to slip off.  Every time my pace slipped off I pushed harder to get back in it, but that just caused the tightness to continue to get tighter.  It was incredibly frustrating after such a great beginning to the race, mentally I kept trying to push myself to go harder and faster but my body just couldn't do it. 

Right before the 19 mile point my right hip seized up and caused me to start limping.  I decided to go off to the medical tent at 19 miles to get it checked out with the intention of getting it stretched out and heading back out to finish the best that I could.  After talking and working with the PT at the medical tent I was even more frustrated.  While she told me it was all strictly muscular and I wouldn't need to see a doctor about it but she didn't recommend continuing on due to the pain I was feeling just sitting and standing.  So with a heavy heart I had to make the decision to drop out of the race, while I wanted to at least finish the race I couldn't take the risk of severely hurting myself.

The next day on the drive from Duluth to Minneapolis my dad and I took the time to break apart my race now that enough time had passed to be able to look at this race and take aside the emotion.  There is just so much to figure out now; what caused this to happen, what am I going to do to get it healed up, when should I start up training, what races am I going to do now.  So many questions came from this race.  Now I needed to start working on the answers.  It’s cases like this that makes me so happy that my dad is also my coach, I found it easy to tell him exactly what happened and he has the knowledge to help me the best way he can.

Going into this race I was hoping to have a great race and that would help me to see my options for races in the fall.  Now that I don’t have race to show for the amazing shape that this past training cycle put me in, my dad and I are currently looking at all possible options to find the one that makes the most sense for me. 

Now to get to the main problem, my right hip, I previously had a problem with it getting tight before in a couple track workouts.  However I was able to stretch it out and do some repeats going the opposite way and it let me finish one workout and get a few more repeats of another.  We figured it was the turns on track that caused the tightness so I stopped doing my speed on the track and went to doing them on the road and I never had a problem with the tightness while running on the road.  Now that it acted up so severely during Grandma’s Marathon we took a closer look at everything I do in training to try to figure what is the real reason behind the tightness.  The possible reasons we have found are ones that can be fairly easily fixed for future training. 

One reason is not focusing as much as I should have on ancillary training, such as my core.  I have unintentionally neglected working out the lower abs making them a weak link,  the lower abs are extremely important in helping to lift the hips up when running especially in distance running where you want to remain running tall.  Another possibility is constantly running on the same loop but almost always in the same direction.  As I run through neighborhoods, the roads slightly tilt down to the curb and could cause one leg to have to work harder than the other.  Another reason is not being as flexible as I should be, that is always something I have struggled with and could definitely cause some tightness.  The last reason is not stretching and loosening my legs enough after the travel to Duluth from Charlotte.   

All these reasons could be nothing by themselves but have them all together could be the cause of my tightness, so while there is no telling which of these things actually caused the tightness I think the best option in to get rid of all the above possibilities. My dad and I have added some exercises to my core circuit to work out the lower abs, hip flexors, and hamstrings; that should help with strengthening the weak areas and cause them to not be as susceptible to injury or tightness.  One simple thing I am starting to do now is switching up what direction I run my loop in now so that was an easy fix.  I am also going to start taking my stretching very seriously and work on increasing my flexibility.  I am now on a level where all the small things matter in training not just the workouts and I need to make sure that I have all of them covered as this just shows me how important they are.  I have also started making contact with a sports clinic in my area as my dad and I feel it is an important contact to have in the future as this experience at Grandma’s has shown, in case things happen and I need some work done on my legs or maybe even upper body.

Currently my right hip feels so much better after taking an ice bath on Saturday and icing it on Sunday, as well as using all my different rollers.  After taking Sunday and Monday off I was able to start running on Tuesday and will continue to do easy running for the next week to salvage the great shape I was in and try to get back into training shortly.  I plan on going to get my hips worked on this next week at a sports clinic to help make sure the tightness stays gone and check for any other hidden causes.

I want to thank you guys for all your support and well wishes as I greatly appreciate it.  I will keep you updated on how training is going and on any future news as I decide on my summer and fall racing plans.  Have an amazing week!!

~Alana :)     

Sunday, June 8, 2014

June 8th Update

Hey guys, I’m back!  Sorry for not checking in last week, I’ve been super busy with studying for finals lately.  Luckily I only have one more final which is tomorrow in Anatomy, after that I will be officially done with my junior year of high school!

It’s crazy to think that Grandma’s Marathon is in 13 days now!  I’m on my final countdown, only 1 more full hard workout left in this awesome training cycle.

May 26th – June 1st

Wednesday: 2 mile warm up, 4 x mile w/ 2:30 recovery, 2 mile cool down- started off pretty good but ended up having tightness in my right hip from the turns on the track.  Tried switching directions to help the tightness but it didn’t help so I had to cut my repeats down to 4.  I guess my legs have decided I belong on the road not the track lol :)

Saturday: 24 mile easy paced long run- felt really good on my run but had to deal with unexpected rain most of the way which made the trail very slippery over the board walk sections.  Still was a good run even if my dad and I got a little muddy ;)

Drill Circuit

A little muddy after my long run

June 2nd – 8th

Monday: 2 mile warm up, 16 x 600m w/ 1:30 jog recovery, 2 mile cool down- did my 600s on the road and felt really strong. 

Thursday: 2 mile warm up, 6 mile tempo, 3 mile cool down- was warmer and more humid than normal but still had a good tempo.  Makes me look forward to the cooler temps of Duluth I get to race in.

Sunday: 5 mile warm up, 10 mile tempo, 3.5 mile cool down- great last long run before the marathon.  Was a rough workout having to deal with stomach issues and cramps but I toughed it out and had a really good negative split run in the end! Sometimes being a female runner can suck though lol :P
16 x 600m on the road

Hot 6 mile tempo

FUN FACT: in the last 8 weeks since my half marathon I have run 888 miles!! I feel so strong and ready for this marathon! Bring it on!!!!