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Confession Time

Guys, it’s time to talk.

….

Wow, that sounded serious, didn’t it? Whenever someone says some variation of “we need to talk,” it’s never going to be good. While this isn’t an exception, it isn’t as bad as it could be. Basically, it’s time to lay it all out there. And this post isn’t going to have pictures, so if you make it through, I applaud you.

Remember all of the problems I had been having with my knee? They were so bad that I was really nervous about not being able to run the marathon in April? But then I got great news because I saw a bunch of doctors and was told that I hadn’t torn anything. In fact, I found out that I have a case of tendonitis with built up scar tissue in my left knee, which happens to be the knee that has a repaired ACL and MCL, and still-torn meniscus. Doc told me I could continue training for the marathon and that I shouldn’t have to do much other than take an anti-inflammatory, ice and elevate after I run. I was ecstatic.

After every workout for the past month, I dutifully wrapped my knee in an ice brace, elevated and took naproxen. Sometimes I’d alternate ice and heat. Then I got compression socks to help with my varicose vein and I started wearing my knee brace during runs again, which helped with tendonitis back when I was originally coming back from my reconstruction surgery.

But it didn’t help.

My body felt great after my weekday workouts. Spinning: great. Yoga: great. Speed work: great. Lifting: great. I’d get so amped up for my long runs on the weekend, convinced that I was going to have a glorious run. I’d imagine myself running happily, kind of like Marshall does on HIMYM. The miles would tick by and I’d be that much closer to reaching the 26.2 distance. Sure, I was prepared for some tough times, but overall I was ready for some stellar doses of weekend sweat.

Yeah, that never happened.

Every single week, my knee would end up hurting like hell. So much that my knee would simply give out. Sometimes it would happen after I reached the assigned mileage, sometimes it was way before. But each time, I wouldn’t be able to walk for the rest of the day. My afternoons would be spent in bed watching TV because walking up and down the stairs to my third-floor apartment hurt like hell. The only time I did leave was when my family was in town and I wanted to show them around. Otherwise, my butt was firmly planted to the bed.

Last week, I was a wreck. Coach Abby assigned 15 miles and I was really excited because it was going to be my new PDR. Once again, my workouts all week were phenomenal. I set myself up for a great run. Killer playlist, perfect outfit, nice weather, favorite fuel, fresh running route, full water bottle, etc. Miles 1-5 were a little tight, but then I found my groove and it was amazing. Miles 5-10 ticked by and I finally thought this was going to be it. I hit mile 10 and thought, “Only 5 more miles? Psshh, I got this.”

And then the universe decided that I was being a bit too cocky. Around 10.5 miles, my knee decided to say, “Eff you, Sam. You’re done.”

I tried to fight it, I really did. I kept running, hoping it would fade like it’s done before. No dice. So I slowed my pace slightly. Still no change. I walked a little. Much better….until I tried to run again. That’s when my knee started giving out completely. I couldn’t run more than a few steps — and by that, I mean about 5 or 6 — before I had to walk again. I looked at my watch and saw just over 13 miles and knew it was time to call it quits.

I cried right there in Central Park.

I was so angry because I knew that I could do this. 15 miles was this small number, just slightly above 13.1, but I couldn’t reach it. My whole body felt great and it wanted to keep going, but my knee simply wouldn’t let me. So what did I do? What any logical person would do…I went home and drowned my sorrows in food. Duh.

The next day, I met up with Coach Abby and cried some more out of sheer frustration. She told me that was a good thing; it shows I care. That made me feel less like a chump. After a lot of talking me off a ledge, she convinced me to take this week off from exercise, to help reduce the inflammation in my knee. I thought I was going to go crazy a few times and had to email Abby for support, but it gave me a lot of time to think.

I started thinking about why I was so determined to run this marathon in the first place. Yes, I wanted to do it in Nashville because I wanted my dad to see it. But that was really my only reason. Sure, I signed up for the race last June, so the anticipation was definitely built high as the date kept inching closer. But is that a real reason? Not so much.

Then I started thinking about everything that I’ve gone through in the past few months. All of the doctors appointments (and expensive co-pays), non-musculature pain, frustration, anger, tears, doubt, shame, fear. I had been on such a downward spiral and was so stubborn to let my dream of running 26.2 go. Even though it was extremely painful and completely destroying any confidence I had in my running, I wanted to keep going. I thought that if I didn’t do this specific marathon, then I was a failure.

I started visualizing April 28, playing out the entire race. Not once did I see myself having a glorious race where I triumphantly crossed the finish line with my hands in the air. No, I saw myself limping, hours after I had planned on finishing, crying and begging for the race to be over. I saw my dad on the sidelines, his face creased with worry, asking me to stop doing this to myself. I saw Dustin trying his best to encourage me because he knew I wasn’t going to give up, but his eyes showed nothing but fear. And then a voice finally crept inside my head. Is it worth it? 

In a word: no.

I don’t want to finish my first marathon like that. And I don’t want to ruin the rest of my running career because I’m being stupid and stubborn. I have more to talk about, and I need to explain how today’s run went, but I’m going to save that for tomorrow’s post because this one has gotten quite long. If you’ve read this whole thing, thanks so much for sticking around. Fingers crossed you’re coming back tomorrow. Until then…

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Fifth Avenue Mile Race Recap & Long Run Disaster

I know you all have been worried the last few days, wondering how I would fare in this extremely important one-mile race that occurred yesterday. 😉

Rest assured, my friends, all is well!

The race went really well and it was a ton of fun! My co-workers and I got together about a half-hour early before our heat began (we raced in the media heat) to do some dynamic stretching and just chat about stuff that didn’t revolve around work. Then we ventured down to the corrals, where we realized there were awards for best team outfits, etc! We had no idea! Unfortunately, we came unprepared for these fun categories, but we’re already prepping for next year. At least we had “Team Fitness” rockin’ on our sleeves. We looked pretty nifty, if I do say so myself.

I called out for advice on this race and basically a lot of people just told me to relax, have fun and run fast. Noted.

I also tried my best to follow this outline from Jess, which proved to be really helpful.

Going into the race, my plan was to run the:

  •  First 400 meters at 85% effort
  • Second 400 meters at 75% effort to catch my breath
  • Third 400 meters at 100% effort….just run.
  • Final 400 meters at 110% effort…aka run like the wind, bullseye!

However, I didn’t follow the plan exactly. Oops.

Our heat was small because it was only the media organizations racing, and somehow I found myself at the very front toeing the starting line. I have never been able to actually toe the starting line before a race, making me one of the first people to pounce when the horn sounds. Standing on that line caused a lot of excitement and pressure. I wanted to run hard and I wanted to run fast. Soon, the horn blasted and I flew!

Before I knew it, we hit the quarter-mile mark and when I looked at my Garmin, I was pacing a 4:00-minute mile –woooooahhhhh Sam, simmer down. You cannot run that fast for very long. At all. So I reigned it in quite a bit until I was running at about a 7:00-minute mile. Phew.

Once I hit the half-way point, all bets were off. I kicked it up into high gear, tagging one of my teammates (who’s faster than me and actually does speed workouts) so I would forget about time and just run. The final quarter-mile arrived and I gave it everything I had. I angled my head down a little more, pumped my arms as much as I could, and sprinted. I planted my foot on the finish line at 7:19.

This race was a completely different experience for me, but it was so fun. My body kept trying to tell me to calm down so that I could run for a long time, but then my mind was screaming, “You’re almost done! Motivate yo booty!” So I think I landed somewhere in between, but closer to the motivate yo booty realm. After all, I haven’t ever run a mile that fast before. I think if I had followed the race plan closer, I would’ve run faster, but I’m not complaining 🙂

Running the race with all of my co-workers made it even more fun. We’re all passionate about fitness and well, we’re all just a lot of fun, so it was great hanging out with them for a little while outside of work. Yay for Team FITNESS!

I was supposed to high-tail it out of there right away to head upstate to my parent’s house, but Dustin ended up being called into work and knew he wouldn’t get out until at least 12:30. My race was over by 9:00a.m., so that meant more time for running! I decided to finish my long run, especially because I needed to log some miles after being sick for two days.

The first 4.5 miles went great. I maintained a steady 9:10 pace in Central Park and although my legs felt tight, they felt strong. Then I ventured out to see what was going on with the race, and it all went downhill from there. I was jogging on the cobblestone because the racers were on the pavement (not fun) and out of nowhere, a little dog pounced and latched onto my right thigh! I was shocked and screamed, but luckily the dog didn’t pierce my skin. There’s a lovely hole in my favorite capri pants though now. I was extremely irritated though because the dog’s owner, who watched it all happen, didn’t even ask me if I was alright! She saw me, yanked on the dog’s leash, and high-tailed it out of there. I find that to be incredibly rude and inconsiderate. Am I overreacting?

I ended up running back toward the Met, which makes me happy. I can’t help but think of Gossip Girl every time I see it. Does that show off my generation, or what? 🙂

Anyway, after the dog bite, my stomach went into crap-mode. Literally. (Sorry if I’m sharing too much) For the last 3.5 miles, I ended up stopping at three porta-potties, and running with an insanely painful side stitch. My pace slowed way down, but I was determined to finish. My splits weren’t fantastic, but at that point I didn’t care. I just wanted to be done.

I think my problems were with fueling, so I’ll be making some adjustments on the next long run to see how I fare. I’ve never had a bad long run before, so I’m glad that I now know I can power through it. I was also happy to know that I could immediately slurp down this delicious smoothie in a bowl.

Raspberries, cocoa powder, peanut butter and almond milk. Yum.

Did you run the Fifth Avenue Mile? How was it? And how do you deal with bad long runs? 

Workout Windup: Half-Marathon Training Week 2

Another week, come and gone! I don’t know about you, but time seems to be flying by faster and faster. We were hit with a cold front this week and I think it’s safe to say fall is officially here. Woohoo! Fall is my favorite season, by far. It’s so pretty, the temperatures are perfect, the fashion is fabulous and the surroundings just provide a ton of inspiration.

But I’m getting off topic…let’s get to the workouts of the week!

Goals:

  • 1 strength workout
  • 1 yoga session
  • 1 spin class
  • Run 15 miles
  • 7 planks

How I fared:

Monday: Ran 3 miles

Tuesday: Spin with FITNESS staff and Biggest Loser girls, Hannah and Olivia

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Ran 5 miles

I’m really proud of this run. I hadn’t gotten in this many miles before work yet, and my mind was constantly going back and forth about backing out of the last mile, but I told myself to suck it up and just do it. I did and it ended up being a great run!

Friday: Ran 4 miles + CoreFusion strength class

Funny story: I went through my whole work day thinking I was going to yoga in the evening with Libby. I walked through the door and the instructor looked at me funny, asking “why do you have a yoga mat?” Oops. Turns out Libby signed us up for a CoreFusion class, which incorporates components from yoga, but is mostly strength training with a lot of planks. Oh well, at least I got that workout out of the way.

Saturday: FITNESS Mind, Body, Spirit Games 4.1-mile run

I snagged a PR! It felt really good to get out in Central Park and face some more hills. I’m going to try to get one run in a week over there from now on.

Sunday: Yoga + Meeting Lance Armstrong

Tested out a new DVD at home and was pleasantly surprised! It’s great for beginners and I got a great stretch in. I still prefer going to a studio because of the atmosphere, but this is definitely handy for when I can’t make class.

Oh yeah, and I met Lance Armstrong. It was his birthday and he hosted a 4-mile run to celebrate that and his 15-year anniversary since his cancer diagnosis. I didn’t run for multiple reasons, but I went and met Lance and wished him a happy birthday. Unfortunately, it was crazy busy so no pictures were taken.  He’s a really nice guy though, in case you all were wondering 😉

Totals: 

Miles run (this week): 16

Miles run (total): 29

Strength workouts: 1

Yoga sessions: 1

Spin classes: 1

Planks: Who knows (Only from CoreFusion..failed doing these on my own)

Celebrity meetings: 3 🙂

I call this week a success! I’m really happy with all of my workouts and my body is feeling it. Doing my best to pay attention to it and make sure I don’t injure myself. I see yoga happening more frequently in my future!

Oh, and I have some stuff in the works for a new race…when details are confirmed I’ll let you know!

How did your workouts go this week? 

First Race = Complete!

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Best. Race. Ever.

I’m pretty much on cloud nine right now.

I probably should've flipped the blanket out. Oops!

The MORE/FITNESS half-marathon today in Central Park really was phenomenal. It was well-organized, clearly marked and stress-free. Not to mention the weather was absolutely gorgeous! Perfect running weather for a perfect first half.

But let’s rewind a bit.

I woke up bright and early this morning at 5:00 to fuel up for the race and give myself plenty of time to go to the bathroom before jetting off to the starting line.

I'm more excited than I look, I swear.

For breakfast, I gnawed on half of a huge cinnamon-raisin bagel with peanut butter and a sliced banana on top. Yum! I enjoyed some water on the side, as I’m not a coffee-drinker. I spent the rest of the morning getting ready, catching up on blogs and having fun with my camera.

What's she looking at?

Alright, I'll be serious.

Oh, and if you’re wondering what I’m wearing, I realized this morning that it’s all Nike: my sneaks are Nike LunarGlide +2’s, and all of my clothing is Nike — sports bra, T-shirt, long-sleeved top, capris and socks. Maybe they’ll sponsor me next time?

Anyway, Nina and I headed out to grab the N train to Central Park, then made our way to my grey corral. Before parting ways, we made sure everyone had their necessary belongings, including the sign she made me!

Isn't she cute?

Standing around all of the people with cameras prompted a quick pre-race photo shoot outside of the corral.

My lucky number 9 in the bib!

Nina gave me a quick hug goodbye and good luck, then made her way out to mile three, where we planned on seeing each other first. I moved into the corral and waited for the gun to sound. Before I knew it, we were off and running!

The first few miles zoomed by and I saw Nina at mile three sooner than I expected. I planned on walking a little around mile five, but never needed to. In fact, I didn’t walk at all! I ran the entire race, stopping briefly to chug down water three times at the water stations. I haven’t mastered the “run while drinking” trick yet — I tried it at the first stop, but ended up dumping nearly the entire thing down the front of my shirt. Whoops!

I had one ear bud in to listen to my iPod, but ended up zoning out a lot. Occasionally, I tuned into a song I really enjoyed, but I spent most of the race paying attention to how awesome my body felt and soaking in the scenery. Seriously, running in Central Park is amazing.

I'm on the right in the black capris and black top!

I drank water for most of the race, choosing Gatorade only twice because it made my stomach feel a little funky. I popped in a Clif shot blok at mile six and another one right before mile 12. Once I saw that 12-mile marker, I high-tailed it to the end. I finished my last mile at a 9:10 pace, crossing the finish line at 2:16:02! I finished in 3,725th place out of more than 10,000 runners, and 378th out of my age group of 20-24-year-old women 🙂

Own it.

They gave me this awesome medal at the end, too.

I rocked this race, yo.

Close up action.

And the other side.

Just so you know, I met all three of the goals that I set for myself when I signed up for this race:

  1. Train the best you can without getting an injury.
  2. Finish the race.
  3. Cross the finish line before 2:30:00.

Yay!

The sponsors had a festival at the end of the race, so I met up with Nina there and roamed around the various tents in an attempt to shake out the pain that hit my legs after I stopped running.

Love this girl!

I also met up with my old boss, FITNESS editor-in-chief Betty Wong, and chatted about the race for a bit.

Betty = amazing.

By then I was starving, so Nina and I headed out and grabbed some lunch at a random diner. I can’t remember the name, but I had a Santa Fe wrap: grilled chicken, roasted peppers and veggies on a whole wheat wrap.

It hit the spot.

I was craving something sweet after, so Nina and I searched for a Pinkberry for some fro-yo. Instead, we stumbled upon a 16 Handles. I’ve heard great things about this place, so we opted for it instead. We were impressed! I had a medium mix of peanut butter, chocolate and berry medley with an assortment of fruit, brownie bites and Reese’s Pieces on top.

Mine's the bigger one, of course.

It hit the spot.

Now I’m back at Nina’s apartment, relaxing for another hour or so before I have to catch a bus back to upstate New York. I’m still on cloud nine, so I’m not sure how much homework I’m going to get finished. But hey, at least I have a shiny medal. Don’t be surprised if I sport it all week long.

Did anyone else run the race this weekend? What did you think?

Run through Central Park

In honor of sticking to both of my online and fitness resolutions, I thought I’d share my first experience of running in the cold with y’all!

I’ve blogged about tips for running in the cold based on interviews and research that I did with various people and resources. However, I’ve never done it myself because simply put, I dislike basically everything about winter. It doesn’t make any sense because I grew up at the base of the Adirondacks and I go to school in upstate New York where my campus resides literally right next to Lake Ontario. But me and snow, well, we just don’t mix. I’ll take cuddling in my blankets with a good book and steaming cup of tea over a day of snowball fights any day.

Yummy chai tea latte.

But since I need to train for my half-marathon (and I don’t have a gym membership here), I decided to run through Central Park today, especially because that’s where the race will take place. So I bundled up and hit the pavement. On a side note, kudos to all the exercisers in the park today! It was downright cold, but there were a ton of people out!

Ready to hit the pavement!

The views alone were worth braving the winter cold. I couldn’t help but smile as I moved along, taking in all the beautiful sights that New York has to offer and being so happy that I finally checked something off of my crazy-long bucket list.

Running in the cold is really different and my lungs were not ready for the impact of cold air. I didn’t run as fast as I would have liked because my chest needs to get used to this temperature change, but I’m proud of myself for completing my run. I kept pushing and finished five miles in 53:37!

I did receive quite a few crazy looks from fellow joggers, though. I don’t own a pair of full-length jogging pants because I can’t find a pair that doesn’t make me too hot. So I was running with cropped pants.

Brrrrr.

Needless to say, my legs were freezing by the end and I couldn’t wait for a long, hot shower!

Do you like running in the cold? What tips do you have for pushing through the freezing temps?