Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Wrap Up: Styling and Etiquette for Runners

I was home sick yesterday after being up all night on Sunday with a horrible stomach ache, no doubt a result of drinking a two gallon strawberry milkshake on Sunday afternoon (I considered it "refueling" after Saturday's long run). Since I was run down, but not acutely ill, my day involved a lot of watching Ina Garten, talking to Dorito, cleaning my apartment, making dinner, and trying out a variety of hairstyles (and yes, it was as lovely as it sounds; I asked TG if being a stay-at-home girlfriend was "a thing," but sadly, he says no). One of my pursuits of the day involved French braiding my own hair for the first time in my life, which definitely counts as cross training. I took my French braid to the track this morning for speed work, and oh my god, this is the best hairstyle ever invented. I mean, yes, I look like a 7th grader at a bat mitzvah (I know this because I actually wore my hair in a French braid to Liza's bat mitzvah), but the thing stayed in place and out of my face and off my sticky, sweaty back for a full set of 800s, plus warm up and cool down. This is amazing. Thank God I wasn't at work using my brain yesterday, otherwise I never would have discovered this!

/Googles "running, French braid," sees I'm definitely not the first person to discover this...

In other news, after the aforementioned track workout this morning, I went into Dunkin Donuts for an iced coffee, as I do many mornings. I have a bit of a history with this place; one morning recently, I went in after my run and the woman behind the counter said to me "oh it's raining already?" I was confused, and then realized she was asking because my shirt was completely soaked through with sweat. Yeah, it's raining, but just under my boobs and on my stomach...

Anyway, this morning I was being helped my the same woman, and was similarly sweat-soaked, when she said to me "you run a lot." People say that to me from time to time. Never before has someone said it in this tone. It was as if the "you disgusting beast" was audible at the end of the sentence. I stammered something about it being really humid out today, paid for my coffee, and beat a hasty retreat. But I ask you: am I a disgusting beast for going into Dunkin Donuts in my sweaty running clothes? I'm not sitting and staying awhile. But do I need to at least put on a dry shirt before I interact with humans? Even though I have a classy French braid?

Number of Miles Run Last Week: 51. By Saturday afternoon, I'd run 64 miles in a seven-day span. That's a lot. The strawberry milkshake derailed my running plans on Sunday, but I regret nothing.

Number of Beers Consumed Last Week: Believe it or not, just 2, despite the fact that I went out every night last week. I guess I've been hitting the vino lately. I'm sorry.

Types of Beers Consumed Last Week: Bud Light. The old standby.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wednesday Wrap Up: VERT Race Series Trail Master Killah

Things are picking up steam with respect to training: I’m on target for 56 miles this week and a record high 60 miles next week.  I’m also on pace for setting a record on the calorie consumption front, if Monday night’s picnic in Central Park is any indication.  “Two-bite brownies” are so named because you’re meant to consume two in each bite, right?  Right?!

Last week was a step back week, which I gladly accepted.

Number of Miles Run Last Week: 42, including an 8 mile GMP workout, a hilly as f*ck trail 5k (more below), and a “long” run of 13 miles, which I completed before 8:45am Sunday, which literally never happens because I need at least 90 minutes to drink coffee, go to the bathroom, and generally procrastinate and psyche myself up for running.  While I was so proud of myself and my time management skills on Sunday morning, it all came back to bite me in the ass Sunday night, when I was so tired the prospect of picking what to have for dinner brought me to tears.  Cool.

Number of Beers Consumed Last Week: 6.

Types of Beers Consumed Last Week: Beer blogger fail – I drank an IPA and what was pitched as an “IPL” from SingleCut and Gun Hill, but I don’t know which was which.  I also enjoyed a Sixpoint Sweet Action, and a Fire Island Lighthouse Ale, rounding out my New York beer sampling (#drinklocal).  Allegedly I had two Sierra Nevadas somewhere along the line, but I don’t really know when or where that was.

Now, as for that hilly as f*ck trail 5k…

On Saturday, I made good on my promise to check out Van Cortlandt Park for the inaugural VERT Race Series Trail Master Killah.  This voyage was not made easy.

On Friday, I received a travel advisory email from the VERT people, informing me that the 1 train would not be running north of 96th Street.  

In full disclosure, if my race entry had not been comped, and had I not demanded TG shell out a race fee himself in the name of supporting me and “OMG it will be so funnnnnn!” I probably would have been deterred.  I hear the expression “free shuttle service” and I’m like “more like free time to NOT do whatever it was I was planning to do that is now inaccessible by subway.”  In the MTA’s defense, the free shuttle service is the same thing as the subway, but above ground on buses.  They make it as easy as humanly possible to not change your plans.  And yet…

But, I had indeed committed to this event, and the VERT people generously comped my registration, so I collected TG and we took the D to the A to the E to the free shuttle service to Van Cortlandt Park.  And thank goodness we did, because it turned out to be totally awesome (not necessary the free shuttle service part, though that wasn’t objectively bad either…)

Pre-Race:  The free shuttle service let us off directly outside Van Cortlandt Park.  Directions indicated that the registration would be at the Tortoise and the Hare statue in the Park, but having never been there, I had no idea where this was.  Fortunately, TG did, and also, there were people milling about with bibs on, which is generally a good sign when you're looking for a race start.  We followed the crowds and walked along a gravel track, skirting a huge field filled with cricket players, until we reached registration.  We picked up bibs and t-shirts (quick note: the shirts are AWESOME.  I'm not someone who goes all crazy about unisex versus gendered sizing, mostly because at approximately 40 feet tall, men's t-shirts fit me better anyway, but the unisex small fits really well and is super soft cotton.  The design it pretty rad too, and I'm psyched I have non-tech shirt to add to my arsenal) and dropped bags with no wait whatsoever.  I switched into trail shoes and felt a little embarrassed about doing so, but truthfully, I have so few opportunities to wear them that I wanted to take 'em out for a spin.  We hung about talking and stretching and running a few warm up laps on the aforementioned track (okay, technically I ran a few warm up steps, but other people were running laps, and in the interest of writing a thorough race report, I'm sharing that to paint a more full picture of the scene.  It's a literary technique.  I took one creative writing class in 2004.  I know what I'm doing here.).  

While we were hanging out, TG asked someone to take our picture, because he's ALWAYS taking pictures and putting them on social media and it's so annoying (just kidding; it's me who does that).  Lo and behold, the girl he asked was Pamela, and she and her husband Monojeet recognized me from this here blog!  TG was not especially impressed that I am FAMOUS on the INTERNET, but I was too busy being impressed with myself to notice.  

A couple minutes before the 11am start time, the announcer encouraged us to head to the starting area and self-seed.  TG and I hung in the back third of the pack, not entirely sure what we were up against with respect to the allegedly hilly course.  Right on time, we took off.

The race: The first half-mile or so took us around the cricket fields on the gravel track.  Not quite singletrack but not nearly a full six lanes, the track was about wide enough to handle the estimated 300-ish runners, baring a few instances I had to step to the outside grass to pass.  TG and I started out together, and I thought to myself "these people are crazy if they think this is hilly."  

Soon enough, though, we made a right off the track and into the woods, where TG and I separated.  The shade from the thick trees overhead was a welcome change at 11am in August.  The hills were not.

This course was tough!  The hill at about 1.25 miles was super steep, and from then on, it was basically uphill for a mile.  The descents were no picnic either.  The path through the woods was the same loose, small gravel that made up the track, and as I was barreling down the hills, I thought to myself "holy hell I am so glad I thought to put on these trail shoes." 

That's me in the orange, hurdling over a water bar trying not to eat it. Photo

That said, I thought the course was also super fun!  Normally I sort of dread 5ks, and speed work in general, but this was one of the first times I felt like "I can push the pace here, it's only 3.1 miles," and scrambling up and down the hills on loose footing did make me feel pretty bad ass.  Well, at least until I looked at my Garmin and saw I was only 1.5 miles in...

Miraculously, I took no tumbles and avoided the puke threshold, and found myself with less than a mile to go exiting the woods and heading back to the gravel path.  I'd been in hot pursuit of the guy in front of me for close to two miles, so when we hit the track, I tried to make a move.  This was foolish, since I'd used up any gas I might have had for making moves hauling myself up hill for the last 2.5 miles.  He held me off, and crossed a few seconds ahead of me.  I extended my congratulations and tried not to vomit on his shoes.

I grabbed a bottle of water at the finish and stood in the infield cheering on the runners and chatting with some other finishers, including a girl from Van Cordlandt Track Club, who told me I "zoomed" by her early on.  I told her she actually had the advantage, and had I known what was in store in Van Cortlandt, most certainly would have been a little more conservative.

Finish time: 24:38
Overall Place: 30
Gender Place: 5
AG Place: 3

Post race: Now on to the good stuff!

One of the selling points for this race for me, besides the opportunity to use those trail shoes, was the post-race party.  It did not disappoint.

The party was a short walk away at the Van Cortlandt Golf Course, which was a pretty venue overlooking a small pond. 

When we walked in, a fellow looked us up and down, decided what he'd call us, wrote those names on plastic cups, and handed them to us.  It was all very frat party, which naturally, I loved (my named was Shorty, because of course).

We took those cups directly to the kegs, which were provided by SingleCut and Gun Hill Brewing.  The beer was plentiful, the lines moved quickly, and best of all, the intoxicants were free.  We enjoyed a couple beers standing in the sunshine (me in my new t-shirt!) talking to Pamela and Monojeet, who were super fun and nice and also like beer and marathons, which is a deciding factor when I'm evaluating potential friendships.  You're in, guys.

While we imbibed, the DJ starting playing, and a few people hit the dance floor before the awards ceremony kicked off.  Much as I would have liked to stay long enough to consume enough beers to make me consider hitting the dance floor myself, I had a 4pm appointment in Chelsea, so TG and I took off for our voyage home.  The pics look awesome, though, so I'll make a note that for their next race, I should probably block off the whole day.

In conclusion: VERT Race Series' Trail Master Killah was a challenging but really fun course.  The number of runners was just about perfect considering the width of the trails in Van Cortlandt, and despite the subway snag, getting up there is so easy I might even return under my own volition.  The t-shirt is solid, and the post-race party was among the best, and certainly the most boozy, I've attended.  Sounds like you missed out on a solid time, eh?

As a reminder, VERT Race Series comped my entry for this race.  These opinions are my own.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Some Running Updates

Thanks for your patience and understanding regarding the lack of running-related content of late. Despite my silence on the matter, plenty has been going on.

My hip: I went to see Dr. Metzl on Monday, August 4th. He had me stand on one foot and hop, lie down and press my extended leg against his hand, and summarily dismissed all my concerns of labral tears as being an issue of weakness. "Here's your problem, as a Walsh," he began, which could really go in any number of ways. "Irish people have lower bone density." I actually already knew this, because my dentist told me when I was feeling self conscious about having 700 cavities. It's not the Diet Coke, it's my heritage! In any event, in order to help my bones carry me for long distances, I have to make sure the muscles surrounding those bones are strong too, so they can take on some of the load (the load being myself). In this case, the muscles around my hip (butt, hammy, adductors or abductors, I can never remember which is which) are trying to take on that load (again, me), but aren't strong enough to do that, putting the burden back on the old bones. Having already experienced one stress fracture, I'm not too keen to repeat the process with my hip, so I've been a squatting, lunging, lateral leg lifting machine. I also (finally) attended one of Dr. Metzl's IronStrength workouts, which he'd "prescribed" for me back when my foot was broken, but of course I didn't go because I know better than a trained medical professional and also I don't particularly like the prospect of having to make friends in fitness classes. The good news is, IronStrength was awesome, I didn't have to make friends or interact with anyone (but I did!), and I was crazy sore afterwards. We did about 30 minutes of hill repeats, including skipping, which was alarmingly difficult, and then 30 minutes of plyometrics, which was laughably impossible for me. The next workout is August 27th and you should come!

Training: After my accidental return to running, things have been going well. My weekly mileage in hovering around 50, my long run is up to 18 miles, and I had a solid GMP workout (8 miles with 6 @ 7:30) this week. The next couple of weeks really start to bulk up, mileage wise, but I'm feeling pretty comfortable with that, provided the hip continues to hold up.

Racing: Tomorrow, I'm headed to the Bronx for my first foray into Van Cordlandt Park and the VERT Race Series Trail Master Killah 5k. It doesn't start until 11am, so even if you're hungover, you can still make it. Plus, there's beer there, and a little hair of the dog never hurt anyone.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Thank you

Thank you so much for your kind words and condolences on my last post. None of you knew Maddy, but if there was one thing she loved, it was making friends with strangers, so I think she'd really appreciate the outreach on her behalf.

I'd be remiss if I didn't share a link to the Norris Cancer Center at USC, where Maddy was treated.  Her case of metastatic melanoma was a particularly tricky one, as she'd grown resistant to the BRAF immunotherapy she had been receiving.  USC Norris is using Maddy's cancer cells today to help develop treatments for those like her who develop this resistance, and you can support that research by making a donation in her name here.  It seems like a cruel irony that Maddy isn't still with us, but her cancer cells are, but since they are, I hope Dr. Wong's lab at USC Norris can make good use of them.

Maddy was my friend even though I wear my running clothes everywhere.

P.S. Maddy was diligent about protecting her skin, but now seems like as good a time as any to point out that everyone should wear sunscreen, everyday, and go to the dermatologist for regular screenings.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

My Friend Maddy

Last week, July 30th, my friend and college roommate passed away. Maddy left behind a husband, two parents, a brother and two sisters-in-law, a nephew, two grandparents, and hundreds of friends. Maddy also never met a dog she didn't like, so probably lots of those miss her too. Maddy was 30.

I found out almost as soon as I sat down at my desk on Wednesday morning, and promptly got up and left for the day. When I got home, though, I realized I didn't want to be in my apartment either. I didn't know what else to do, so I went for a run.

I don't remember what happened after that. My Garmin says I ran for about 13 miles, down the East River and back up the West Side Highway, but that only sounds vaguely familiar. Grief is a weird thing I guess.

Anyway, it feels dumb and shallow to be like "I said I wasn't going to run last week but then my friend died and I didn't know how to process emotions without running, so instead of not running, I've been doing it nonstop," but that's the truth.

With Maddy and her husband Ryan and friend Megan after the Surf City Marathon, 2010

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday Wrap Up: The Worst Kind of Update

It's been awhile, and mostly that's because the news ain't good - I'm waving the white flag on this hip thing and taking a(nother) full week off from running.

To recap (and this is as much for me to take to the doctor as it is to bring you up to speed): the first week in June, my hip locked up in a 90 degree angle for a few seconds (which seemed like hours) and it did not feel awesome. I took 8 days off from running, and then was able to run a half marathon without pain the last weekend in June. Pretty much since then, though, while I have seldom experienced overt pain, there is a periodic pinching in my left hip joint, both while running and while walking. Twisting motions reliably produce this sensation. This has increased in frequency over the past several weeks, though there seems to be no connection between speed or distance and the pinching.

To combat it, I've been doing squats and reverse lunges, as well as some cross training (SoulCycle and yoga). It is unclear what if any effect this has had, though I better be getting a nice ass out of this.

Symptoms seem consistent with hip impingement or acetabular labrum tear. Both are manageable with PT and rest (according to the internet), and while I'm extraordinarily bullheaded when it comes to these kinds of things, I'd rather bail on Chicago, or have a fun, easy run in a city I love, than grind my hip cartilage to a pulp in the name of racing Chicago, only to wind up with arthritis as a 31 year old.

I'll be reaching out to my old pal Dr. Jordan Metzl today to see if he can see me in the coming days. To that end, this might be the last weekly mileage wrap up you'll see for awhile...

Number of Miles Run Last Week: 21. I was traveling for work again last week, and these miles were a mix of treadmill and Charles River runs. I bailed on a long run last week, because by Saturday, it was pretty clear that my hip was not getting any better. Neither was my hangover, but there's more on that below...

Number of Beers Consumed Last Week: Just 4. Oh god but I had a tequila shot on Saturday night (yes, on a business trip...) and it was horrible. I was hungover until Sunday night from that. Never again.

Types of Beers Consumed Last Week: Lagunitas IPA, Shipyard IPA, and something else whose name escapes me.

Any experience with hip impingement or acetabular tear? Any recommendations for how to heal this shit ASAP and still enjoy the Chicago Marathon, 10 weeks from now?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Join Me in the Bronx

My mom, native Washington Heightsian that she is, read that title and promptly got in the car to drive down from Connecticut and ask me what, exactly, I plan to do in the Bronx.  Hear me out, Mom.  And the rest of you reading should listen up too.

The Bronx is known for several things.  The Yankees, of course.  Fordham University, alma mater of my parents and, ipso facto, the reason I am here on this earth (vague sex reference involving my parents - barf).  Jennifer Lopez.  Imperial, the liquor store conveniently located off I-95 that sold beer and wine coolers to 16 year old girls in the early 2000s, and where one kind and friendly fellow produced a slim jim from his pants after one of the aforementioned 16 year old girls locked her keys in her Jeep (I swear I was at home studying when that happened, Mom; the girls just told me about it.  Also I never drank before I was 21).  And also, Van Cortlandt Park.  But I wouldn't know, because I have never been there.

I know; that's kind of embarrassing, actually.  Van Cortlandt is known among runners in New York as the closest point of trail access around, and someone who once went all the way to Colorado just to do a little trail running, I should be taking advantage of trails that are just a subway ride away (well, technically 3 subway rides away, since I live on the East Side).

This is taken from behind because I'm sure I was crying. 
So when the folks at VERT Race Series reached out to me about joining them in Van Cortlandt Park on August 16th for the Trail Master Killah 5k trail race, I jumped at the chance.  The VERT Race Series is designed for folks who don't have a ton of trail experience, so you don't have to be a badass trail runner who summits 14ers like I did in Colorado (momentarily I'll get a call from my buddy Rafter, reminding me that on that trip, I made it about 10 minutes into our first run before I begged for a walk break and also asked if maybe I could have his water bottle because I'd already finished mine.  Badass indeed...).  I hear Van Cortlandt is pretty hilly, but it's only 5k, so even if it's the hardest thing ever, at least it'll be over soon (that's what she said).  If that doesn't sound appealing, you can enter as a team.  Or sandbag the race and save your strength for the post-race dance off, for which prizes will also be awarded.

Best of all, registration includes free beer at the finish.  You're welcome.

The folks at VERT hooked me up with a free registration, but they'll give you $10 off if you register by August 10th using this code: WILLRUNFORBEER (bonus points for creativity, VERT people).  That's $28 for a tshirt, a race, and beers that are free.  I drank $28 in beers alone for breakfast this morning (just kidding, employer!).  If you sign up, tell me, and then we'll have beers together afterwards (again, they're free!).

Who's with me?