Sunday, November 6, 2016

Jess Goes Running: The Last Two Months

Hi!  Well, here we are... two months after my last Chicago Marathon training run, two months after I deferred my marathon entry to 2017.  I am surprised at how quickly the time has flown by between then and now.  Undoubtedly, a lot has happened, too!  Both in my personal life and my running life.  That's part of why I've been so quiet around here--and I definitely have a lot to catch up on!  I think I've also been just trying to process the events of summer and training and the recurrence of my injury.

The exciting thing is, I feel like I'm coming out on the other side of this whole thing!  You see, after I deferred my marathon entry, I still had a few weeks before my scheduled ultrasound.  I definitely wasn't doing any running... and work was hard.  I was in pain despite everything I was doing to curb it and it was rough.  I knew I had made the right decision in stopping my training but it was still a difficult thing for me to deal with.  It was hard to go from being incredibly physically active to virtually doing nothing so... I bought a bike!  This is something that Tom has been wanting me to do for a while and I figured that I finally had the perfect opportunity.  I LOVE it and I'm so happy I made the purchase.  More on that later!

At the end of the month, I had my ultrasound.  This was scheduled for the day after the Chicago Half Marathon, which I had also signed up for and also had to skip.  I was really sad to not be participating in it, as I really love the race.  However, I was incredibly excited to go down and cheer on Tom, who was running his very first half marathon race, and my training buddy V. who was also running it in preparation for Chicago.  I will admit that I was a little sad after I said goodbye to Tom and headed over to my spot in the middle of Lake Shore Drive, right near mile 4/mile 13.  However, it ended up being a really beautiful day, and Tom ran a great race, and I really enjoyed the day!

The ultrasound the next day revealed that I have a chronic partial tear in my left plantar fascia.  Really bad plantar fasciitis.  I was a mess during the week and a half leading up to the doctor's appointment where I received this diagnosis, and I was both relieved that it wasn't something worse and upset and scared by the reality of having a chronic injury.  I was given two options for treating this injury and I went with the one that I thought was better for me--physical therapy.  I called and set up my first appointment at Atlhetico for two days after the Chicago Marathon.

That day, race day, arrived more quickly than I thought it would.  Initially I wasn't sure how I wanted to handle the day.  I was dealing with some serious sadness and regret that I couldn't be out there.  Part of me really wanted to stay home.  But Tom and I ended up riding our bikes to watch the race at mile 8, and I was so very glad that we did it.  It was a beautiful morning!  And really so inspiring to be there watching the runners.  It gave me hope for 2017 and my future as a runner.  We got donuts and coffee and watched the marathon pace tracker app to keep an eye on my friend V. and a few other fellow runner friends.  Being able to give V. a high five when she passed by and to cheer her on made everything worth it--I was so happy that I could be there and see her!

After a bit, we got back on our bikes and headed over to the Lakefront Trail.  It was SUCH a gorgeous day.  We wanted to watch some of the marathon on the south end of the course, near the end, but we were obstructed by an unfinished pedestrian bridge over LSD.  Instead, we continued to ride around, checked out Northerly Island, and eventually made our way up to Pizzeria Uno for deep dish pizza and beers.  I came home that day feeling totally at peace and ready for whatever might happen as I forged on.

I was prescribed to go to PT twice a week for three weeks.  I was nervous but excited to start... also perhaps a little skeptical that it would be enough time.  However, I knew I had to go into it with an open mind and a willingness to do the work.  My physical therapist O. and I determined two goals for my treatment: to be able to work without pain and to start running again.  Ultimately, I found PT to be incredibly beneficial in my recovery!  First off, I had a lot of work done on my foot by way of deep tissue massage and muscle scraping to promote healing.  She and I also determined that I have weaknesses in my hips and in my left leg in general--and all of these things are connected!  So I was given exercises to help strengthen all of these areas and to improve my foot as well.

At the end of three weeks, O. and I determined that I'd had an almost total recovery in my range of motion and in the strength of my foot.  I'll admit I was a little surprised by this revelation.  I had been able to tell over the three weeks of PT that I was improving, but I didn't really realize how much until O. gave me the okay to try some running.  I started off very slowly--we're talking five minutes on the treadmill--but it was something!  On the last day of October, five minutes turned into two miles and I ran for the first time since August 28th.

It certainly was not my fastest run.  I could tell that I have lost fitness since my training came to a halt.  But I did it, I got out there and I ran and I made it happen.  It felt good to be out there, feet hitting the pavement, to be doing something that I love so deeply.  I continued the trend by going for a three (yes, three!) mile run yesterday.  I also went to the gym today.  Best part is that I haven't been in any pain.  I have been sore, and I am taking it easy on myself and not pushing it too hard.  It is clear to me that I have and am accomplishing the goals I set out for myself in PT--to work without pain, which has been a reality of mine since about halfway through my treatment, and to run again.  

So as I was saying before, the end of the three weeks, O. released me from her care and I officially graduated from physical therapy!  Got a t-shirt and everything.  I saw my doctor in a follow-up appointment, and he was incredibly pleased with my progress and happy to see that PT had worked for me.  He told me to keep up with the exercises I had been given, and said that I will probably always have to be vigilant; plantar fasciitis, especially the degree to which I have been experiencing it, can pop up at any time.  It's very possible that I will go a long time without any issues.  However, if I do find myself experiencing pain and issues again, all I have to do is go back to my doctor and he'll send me back to PT.  

I am confident in myself and my abilities, and I will do the work to keep myself healthy.  I might not be able to push myself as hard as I could before in my running (at least not yet) but I can get out there and I can reclaim that part of myself.  I am planning on signing up for the Chicago Marathon for 2017, as I have a guaranteed entry and see no reason to try again especially as I know what I can do to have a stronger training session next year.  In the meantime, I have signed up for the Evanston Flying Turkey 5K, my first race since the 4th of July 5K in Lincolnshire.  So excited to have something to work towards!  I'm also looking at races and very, very tentatively starting to plan my race schedule.  In addition to this, I'm ready to start hitting the gym again, not only for cardio and strength training, but also for yoga!  Hoping that will keep me motivated over the winter.  I am feeling refocused and refreshed.  I am so much more aware of my abilities and what I need to do to keep myself healthy and strong.  It's good to be back!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training--Week 13

I got ready for my first run of week 13, laced up my new shoes (excited to take them on their inaugural run!), and headed downstairs.  I stretched out my legs and feet, especially my left foot.  Though it was still sore from Sunday, where I had become afflicted with pain during my long run that was, unfortunately, not going away, I felt sure that I could at least jog.  I would do it even if I had to run slow.  I didn't even make it to the end of the next block before I was turning around and walking back.  

I felt pretty certain even then that what I was dealing with was another plantar fasciitis flare up.  I had gone just over a month without any pain whatsoever--I felt so strong even during the toughest of runs!--now it was obviously back and obviously making itself at home.  The pain was mostly concentrated to my heel and my arch this time, not up through my whole leg (I credit all the stretching that I have been doing for that).  By Wednesday, it was apparent that the condition of my left foot was deteriorating more quickly than I would have liked.  I called my doctor and got the soonest appointment I could with him-Friday at 9:45am.

This is the point where I very seriously started considering the fact that I may have to defer my marathon entry to 2016.  In a way, it kind of felt like strike two... and I knew that strike three would not be good.  Not only did I have to consider my running career, but also my general livelihood.  I'm 28 years old, still plenty young enough to not spend the rest of my life in pain because of this.  I wanted it so badly, I wanted to run the Marathon more than I could put into words, but I also knew I might go into that appointment and be told it was more or less over.

I once again found myself faced with a familiar scene.  I had been doing everything the doctor told me to do on a regular basis (and still am doing now) and had even dialed back my running intensity a little bit.  I was incorporating more run/walk intervals than I had been previously in training, in an effort to save myself the risk of pain.  Unfortunately, even though I had been so very careful, the pain was back and it wasn't going away.

Fast forward to the Friday before last.  I opened at work, in a pretty fair amount of pain, and pushed through to my appointment at 9:45.  I got into the exam room relatively quickly and didn't have to wait long to see the doctor.  After he greeted me, he told me that he was hoping I would get more than a month out of the cortisone shot.  "You and me both," I said in reply.  He prescribed me a round of prednisone oral steroids and also told me that he wanted me to get an ultrasound to really see what's going on in my foot.

It could just be really bad plantar fasciitis, or it could be something degenerative, or it could be a tear.  In any case, an ultrasound will show these things.  He encouraged me to continue to stay active--biking, swimming, using the elliptical, doing upper body exercises, controlled walking, hiking--but advised me against running.  "Too much pounding when we don't know what's going on in there."  As I'm on my feet at work for 50+ hours a week, I am already putting myself and risk and running is too much at this point.  He seemed optimistic that I would get back to it at some point, but definitely didn't want me running until after we figure out what's going on.

Even then those marathon dreams of mine started fading away, but when I made the ultrasound appointment, I knew I was done.  At least for this year.  I left the doctors' office and went back to work.  To say I was upset was a bit of an understatement.  Here I was, being told I couldn't do the one thing I had been training for for the last couple of months.  I really wanted to run that marathon--this year.  I had poured so much of my heart and soul into it and for it to just suddenly be over like that was disorienting and, quite frankly, a little devastating.

I was so sad, but so grateful for all the support I got (and continue to get) from my husband, family, and coworkers.  Everyone in my life has been so supportive and encouraging to me even as I've struggled a little bit with accepting this new reality and I am definitely so fortunate to have so many wonderful folks in my life.  I started the Prednisone treatment, set to icing and stretching and resting, and officially deferred my marathon entry to 2017 the following Monday, on Labor Day.  And in that moment, marathon training officially came to an end.

So many good things came out of the 13 weeks I spent training.  It definitely sucks that I don't get to run 26.2 in October.  But!  I lost about 10 lbs. over the course of training and am in better shape than I was at the beginning of training.  I ran my furthest distance ever--16 miles!  I learned discipline in following a training plan and running set distances.  I feel stronger physically and mentally...  and I have learned the value of patience.  This has been such an important experience for me on so many levels and I am so lucky, so happy, to have had the journey of 13 weeks of training for the 2016 Chicago Marathon.

Here's to taking it easy, finding new ways of being active, and my ultrasound (and eventual, hopeful, diagnosis) at the end of the month.  Eventually, I'll start running again, and I'll come back even stronger, even more determined.  I will make it happen, I will run that marathon next year.  Until then, I'll keep getting better, keep improving myself.  Here's to being active and enjoying the last of Summer, fall in Chicago.  Here's to 2017, and wherever the road leads to get there!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training--Week 12

(Yes, wore the same running outfit for two weekly pics in a row.  With 18 weeks of training, it was bound to happen!  Anyway, these are some of my favorite and most comfortable pieces of running clothing.  The tank top is from Old Navy; the leggings are from TJ Maxx.)

Going into week 12 of marathon training, I was feeling ready and excited to run.  I was definitely still riding the runner's high of my 16 mile run for sure; I was seemingly invincible, strong and ready.  But then, I spent the better part of Tuesday morning feeling dehydrated and out of whack after waking up early with a few, ahem, intestinal issues.  I only needed to run 4 miles, but knowing that I'd have to go into work and be on my feet for 10 hours made it seem like a monumental task.  So... I opted to take the morning off.  By the afternoon I was feeling better, but I was glad I hadn't pushed it too much.

I figured I'd just run Wednesday before work, but it was raining way too hard, and I am still working on running in the rain.  Even if it hadn't been raining, I probably still wouldn't have gone out--I also woke up with some tightness in my right quads, lingering from work the night before.  Instead of running, I went for a walk instead, getting in about a mile in the pouring rain.  I walked close to 2 miles on my lunch break later on in the afternoon, managing to get in 3 miles total for the day.  The pain in my thigh sidelined me on Thursday as well, as I rolled it out with my massage muscle roller (seriously, this thing is awesome) and stretched and waited for it to feel less weird.  I mean, I tried to go on Thursday, but even just running halfway down the alley and back didn't really feel right to me.

I felt like I did a good job of staying positive despite the setbacks I had throughout the week, but truth be told, I was feeling a little discouraged about how the week was panning out.  Friday and Saturday, I was just exhausted after a long week of work on top of the running issues and my body probably wouldn't have run even if I wanted it to.

Look, I know these things are all excuses.  I know if I really wanted to, I probably could have gone out running on Wednesday in the rain, even though I would have been miserable.  But I also know that I needed to listen to my body, and my quads definitely did not seem to be up to the task.  I know that when it comes down to it on October 9th, I'm the one out there running 26.2; nobody else is gonna do it for me.  The marathon training thing can be monumentally difficult sometimes.  I have been challenged so many times.  But I am learning, and I am growing.  And I know I have the strength to do it.

So this morning, for my week 12 Sunday run, I was set to run 12 miles.  And I fully intended on it; mentally, I felt great about it and even though the humidity was so brutal, I was willing and working to push through it.  I did a ton of stretching and felt very limber and strong, despite the fact that I had only gone for a few walks during the week.  I went five miles down the Lakefront Trail and turned around.  Despite the humidity, it was a beautiful morning!  Unfortunately, somewhere around mile 6, my foot (the one afflicted with plantar fasciitis) started feeling tight.  It never really went away or got better.  I found myself faced with a dilemma in that moment.  Push to the end?  Or shift focus to a slower distance.

Before heading out, I had promised myself that I was going to reclaim my training plan, so to speak, that I was going to overcome the excuses and the doubts and make it happen, starting with this 12 mile run.  The practical part of my brain, though, kept telling me that I shouldn't play through the pain--because what if I made it worse?  So even though it kind of bummed me to do it, I called it at 10 miles.  10.2, to be exact.

Besides the issues with my foot, I felt great!  I was in a good spot, and would have been able to keep a slightly faster pace if it hadn't been so very humid out.  Running 12 miles didn't seem like a big deal to me.  I was excited, I was energized.  I was well prepared as far as fueling and hydration, though it almost felt impossible to keep up with all the sweating I was doing.  And I shaved 25 seconds off my time from my long run last week, which feels awesome!  Definite progress.  It was a great run, even if it wasn't quite the length I wanted.

This all leads me to tonight: here, on the verge of week 13 and another new month of training.  This is it.  As of right now, there are 41 days until the Chicago Marathon.  Excuses will not cut it; I need to listen to my body, of course, but I need to stop being scared to push it if everything feels fine.  I can and I will!  This is the time to make it happen.  I had a conversation with Tom the other night in which he asked me what I expected other than to be sore from marathon training... and he's right.  I am pushing my body to the limit--of course I am sore!  But I am also getting stronger.  And I know I have the tools and ability to succeed.  Even though it feels like I'm at the bottom of a roller coaster lift hill, slowly inching towards the top, I am excited for the next 41 days and whatever comes next.

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training--Week 11

We meet week 11 of training for the Chicago Marathon on a sunny 4 mile run by the Lake.  I took an extra day of rest, shifting everything forward to Wednesday.  The schedule looked like this: 4, 8, 4, 16.  Yes, you read that right.  Week 11's long run was scheduled for 16 miles.  I spent all week hyping myself up for it.  Especially after how poorly my half marathon attempt had gone a few weeks ago (in retrospect, probably my worst run of training), I felt like I really needed to work up the courage and the physical fortitude to get it done.

So Wednesday was 4 miles, and I took it a little slower as I was still dealing with a bit of tightness in my calf from the previous Sunday's running adventure.  I felt like I was really tuned into my rhythm and pace, and the tightness never really progressed into anything worse.  I would have preferred to run it a little faster.  I got it done, though, and felt really good about it!

On Thursday, after work, I set out for an 8 mile run.  I felt a little daunted by the distance, but knew I would be okay because I had already done 13.1 miles, 9 miles.  This was my first run with my new Garmin Forerunner 220, and I LOVED it!  I made the decision to purchase a GPS running watch knowing that from here on out, the distances get longer so better accuracy than my phone would be nice.  Plus, it just looked so cool, and I received a bonus at work and had a bit of Amazon credit so I got it at a pretty good price!  I've only taken it out a couple of times but it definitely seems worth the investment so far.

The run was challenging at times, but I got through it!  Actually ended up running a little over 8.  I ran by myself, singing loudly as the sun set and I ran down the Lakefront Trail.  I felt really good after that run, and I felt like I was in a good headspace post-run.  I ended up taking Friday off from running, even though I had initially been planning on running 4 miles.  My body needed the rest.  This leads us to Sunday morning, and the long run.

Not just any long run... but the longest run of training so far, and also, the farthest distance I have ever run--16 miles.  I set out a little later than I wanted and headed south on the Lakefront Trail.  It was a crowded morning on the path, even more so as I got closer to downtown.  After all, Sunday was the second day of the Air and Water Show.  So by the time I got down to around Fullerton Beach, it was almost impossible to do anything other than walk.

I took the opportunity to rehydrate and enjoy some of the places.  Pretty dang impressive what they can do!  I ended up turning around before Oak Street Beach, making it 7 miles before I went back up north.  I did the last 2 miles near home, definitely feeling it there at the end.  But when all was said and done, I did it!  My farthest run ever.  The longest distance.  I did it, I made it happen.  And now that I have, it's amazing the mental freedom I seem to have over those lengths.  Don't get me wrong--I have an impossibly large respect for the distance.  But I also know what I am capable of, and I know if I work hard and I put my mind to it, I can accomplish even more than this.  The sky is the limit!  I ended this week of training feeling positive and optimistic for the next one.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Recovery from Plantar Fasciitis

I suppose this could probably be classified as a Jess Goes Running post, but in addition to affecting my running life, plantar fasciitis has also had quite an impact on my work and home life over the last couple of weeks.  It has now been a few weeks since my diagnosis and the start of treatment.  I have gone back to my 50 hour workweeks with only slight soreness at the end of my shifts, and running longer distances with no problems at all.  I am lucky to be feeling great!  I figure it may be helpful for me to share what has worked for me over the last few weeks in relieving issues related to PF.  NOTE: I am not a doctor, and if you are concerned you should see one.  I am just a runner and human interested in helping others!

Stretching.  I have been stretching several times a day.  I find I get the most success when stretching not only my foot and heel, but my achilles' tendon and my calf as well.  Today, I felt really loose early on in my run which I contribute primarily to all of the stretching.  This website is a great resource for stretches and ways to relieve symptoms from PF.  I was pleased to find that I was already doing things on the list.  Don't forget to stretch out both legs; the doctor reminded me to do this so I didn't become unbalanced and potentially develop PF in my other foot.

Icing.  I have been icing my heel regularly since last Thursday.  It does a great job of relieving any slight soreness or tightness I might be experiencing.  I have an ice pack, but I have also been rolling a frozen water bottle under my foot.  This is probably my favorite way to deal with PF and I find it does a good job of both relieving any inflammation I may be having and helping me become stronger.  I highly recommend this!  (The same kind of principle of applying pressure and stretching out the fascia can be achieved with a tennis or lacrosse ball.  I have never tried these methods, but I presume it would feel quite similarly!)

Insoles.  Per the recommendation of my doctor, I went to Dick's Sporting Goods and picked up a pair of Superfeet Green insoles.  They were expensive, but worth it; I put them in the shoes I wear to work most often and though it took me a few days to adjust, there is a noticeable difference.  I'd recommend them!  I will probably get a pair of insoles for the pair of shoes I bought for work, but I may look for something a little less expensive but still high quality.  Arch support is key, especially if you have flat feet like I do.  Don't be afraid to do your research and find the ones that work for you!

Night Brace.  When I had been dealing with the pain for almost a week, I had started doing research and thought I might have PF.  In a way, it was a relief to have my assumption be confirmed with the very same diagnosis.  Knowing that I seemed to be more likely to have pain in the morning, I felt like even if it wasn't PF, I would be a good candidate for a night brace.  I found one at Target and have been wearing it ever since.  I definitely struggled with it in the beginning because I would wake up and find that I had taken it off (completely without recollection!) in the middle of the night.  I have gotten much better about leaving it on and my foot feels flexible and pain free when I wake up.  It may not be the most glamorous of additions to my sleep life but it definitely helps!

I also was given a cortisone shot at my doctor's appointment and I believe that helped to immediately relieve a lot of the inflammation in my heel (which was pretty bad according to the doctor).  I have been taking Aleve when I am concerned about inflammation but have generally been able to keep the pain and soreness under control without the use of medication.  Please, as I mentioned above, make an appointment to see a doctor if you are worried!  These are just things that have helped me to get back a pain free work and running and personal life.  As a runner training for her first marathon, I am grateful to have gotten this issue under control and am constantly listening to my body and monitoring my foot for the first sign of pain or concern.  I feel pretty great to be on what feels like the other side of this.  Here's to being healthy!

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training--Week 10

So I have to be up front--week 10 was a pretty quiet week for me.  Also pretty tough.  The mileages certainly weren't impossible for me, and I should have been able to meet my goals and get the distance in with little difficulty.  As you may remember from my last training recap, I ended up doing the half marathon training run from week 9 on the first day of this week.  It was as very challenging experience, but I did it and I survived.

Running on Monday meant that if I stuck to the plan, I wouldn't be able to get a rest day in before starting my 3 day stretch.  I made the decision to shift everything forward a day and make Tuesday one of rest, then run on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, after I woke up that morning feeling so exhausted and so worn down from my long run the day before.  In addition to that, I was also experiencing a milder version of the cramps I had on Sunday.  I felt pretty okay with my decision to wait.

And then on Wednesday morning, it was hot and I ended up having to take care of the car insurance and also had a dentist appointment before work.  It just didn't really happen for me.  I was also still feeling pretty worn down from 13.1 despite trying to hydrate and refuel to the best of my ability.  Thursday, when I was at work, I shifted wrong while I was sitting down in a meeting and pulled something in my thigh, which basically put me out of commission for running on Thursday and Friday.  By Saturday, I was feeling better and ready to run mentally and physically, but totally exhausted from an exciting morning at work where I had to deal with a temporary power outage.  This week was pretty rough on my body and I felt like it took me a few days to recover from all of that.

Which brings us to today.  The long run: 15 miles.  I got up and got ready, got breakfast, and picked up my friend and running buddy V. fot an adventure to the Skokie Lagoons and the Chicago Botanic Garden.  I was excited for the long run and feeling quite good about it!  We had a good pace going as we headed north along the trail.  Unfortunately, shortly after we got into the park, I found myself afflicted with a cramp in my lower left calf muscle--the same side that is affected by plantar fasciitis (which has not acted up in several weeks now, a true miracle!).  Though I really wanted to run, it really just wasn't in the cards for me.  V. was very encouraging of my need to walk, not wanting me to injure myself.

Besides that, the Chicago Botanic Garden was just stunning, and we found ourselves stopping to smell the flowers quite often, so to speak.  There was definitely more that we could have explored, but it was pretty crowded.  Ideally, I'd like to go there earlier, and maybe even during the week.  Eventually we made our way towards the south exit and back on the path on the other side of the lagoon.  All in all, we got in 9 miles total and I walked an additional 2 miles around the neighborhood with Tom after I got home, in an attempt to keep myself limber and stretch out my left leg.  I bought a muscle roller at Target and have also been icing it; just another way that I feel like a true runner.  And even though it was yet another week where things didn't go as I planned them to, I still made progress.

I am a runner.  There were a few times this last week where I struggled with that--it is such a huge part of who I am, but sometimes I don't feel like that's what I am.  Or that I don't think I can do it.  I need to remember that I am capable, that I am strong, that I can and I will if I set my mind to it.  The minor setbacks that I have faced over the last 10 weeks have made me into a better runner, little by little.  Fifty-five days until the marathon...and if I set my mind to it, I will make it happen.  This week, I am going at the very least attempt every run and try to get as close to my daily mileage goals as I can.  Feeling good for week 11!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training: Week 9

This week brought me to the halfway point.  As of today, there are 60 days until the Chicago Marathon.  Um, what?!  That seems absolutely crazy to me, but here we are.  I have to be honest--training has not necessarily gone how I planned.  And it's been hard, much harder than I anticipated it would be in the beginning.  But...  somehow I have stuck with this for 9 weeks, through injuries and changes in plans and bad weather and I'm here, starting week 10, feeling strong and confident.  I am so proud of myself for keeping with the plan and not quitting. 

When I ran the Chicago Half Marathon in 2014, I started out on a plan and gave up after only a few weeks.  I definitely was not as prepared as I could have been and it showed.  I didn't follow a plan in 2015 either, but I was running more regularly in general and felt much stronger.  I have known all along that having a plan in my best course of success for completing my goal--I just want to finish, I want to cross the finish line and know that I have earned every single one of those 26.2 miles.  I'm feeling more in tune with my body and I can tell that marathon training is getting me in the best shape of my life.  I am optimistic for the next 9 weeks and ready to improve even more as a runner!

I ran 3.17 miles to the pier on Tuesday.  Wednesday I ended up making a rest day, but I did go for a walk before work.  Thursday, I ran 4 miles after I got home from work; it was so hot, and other pedestrians were acting ridiculously, and I was happy when it was over with.  Friday, I went for a 3.36 mile run while I was waiting for Tom to get home from work.  I was supposed to go 7 miles, but considering the heat and the fact that I am still recovering (and was planning on running 13.1 miles on Sunday) I didn't want to push it too much.  It ended up being quite a nice run.

On Sunday, Tom and I were down in Kankakee.  He participated in the Two Rivers Century bike race, picking the double metric century route.  He ended up with 130 miles for the day!  I am super proud of him for accomplishing his goal and for all the work that he has done to become a healthier person.  It's pretty inspiring, to say the least!  While he was out, I was planning on going for a run at Kankakee River State Park.  I was excited to check out the park and I felt pretty well prepared to run 13.1 miles, my longest run of training so far.

Unfortunately for me, my body had other plans.  Almost immediately after beginning my run I found myself dealing with some pretty bad cramps that just wouldn't go away.  I was also having some chafing issues with my leggings, which was frustrating because they were something that I had worn before.  All in all, I was pretty damn miserable.  I pushed through as hard as I could, but at 2.5 miles in I gave up.  I cried and threw my water bottle and allowed myself a few minutes to freak out.  Then I collected myself, took a few deep breaths, and started the 2.5 mile walk back to the car.

I was very frustrated, but I told myself that I could try again.  I went back to the hotel and went swimming before picking up Tom from the finish of his race.  We enjoyed a nice evening at the hotel and then, yesterday morning, I dropped him off at work before coming back up to our apartment.  I got coffee with a new running friend, which was so very nice, and then later on the in the afternoon, I decided to attempt 13.1 again.

I'm not gonna lie... It was so hot, and I had a hard time getting my breathing under control, and I had to walk more than I wanted to.  But I got it done, and in a faster time than my previous two runs of that distance.  So even though I was just done by the end of it, it felt good to accomplish it.  Now I'm not so scared of the longer distances, too, because I know I can push my body that far.  I am super sore today and I imagine I will be asleep shortly after I get home from work tonight, but I am so happy I did it and so happy I pushed through.

Halfway through.  Week 10... here we go!