Taking a Leap

I’ve taken lots of leaps this year–personally and professionally–but one of the biggest leaps I’m taking this year is saying goodbye to a city that I’ve called home for the past four years.

One week from today, my running shoes and I will be taking our miles to Madison, Wisconsin.

use this oneWisconsin State Capitol. Photo Credit: Greg Larson

I’m extremely eager to explore a new city by foot but leaving the District will be challenging in more ways than one. Not only do I have to say bye to friends that I consider family, but I also have to part with my favorite trails, races and a running community that has stuck with me through the thick and thin.

If I numerically measured my time in D.C., it’d look like this: I’ve covered 20 races; written 10 magazine articles; competed in 15 races in the area, four of which were marathons; visited 10 different yoga studios and swam in six different pools (some awesome, some not); ran thousands of miles; and discovered at least a dozen trails.

But the numbers don’t sum up my life for the past four years in the least. There’s no measuring my experience of learning about every angle of this city by foot (I can still remember the day I was running north from Dupont Circle and discovered Adams Morgan was right next door–I had no idea). There’s no measuring the interviewees that have given me goosebumps by just listening to their stories. And I can’t begin to measure the amount of bagel sandwiches I’ve consumed even if it I tried.

I started this blog a few years ago to share my unique running experience in the District. I thought my only niche was running in the District specifically, so I was worried about what would happen with my writing when I made the decision to move. But as it turns out, my niche is actually much bigger than that: it’s my appreciation for a running community.

Through the many stories I’ve written and miles I’ve run, I’ve discovered that our running community is large, but it’s also small. We share miles and miles of trails. We drink from same fountains. We pee in all the same places. We see all the same monuments.

Moving will not take away this appreciation for a running community. In fact, moving will give me the exciting opportunity to discover a new one. I will always cherish my D.C. memories, and can’t wait to lace up my running shoes to create new ones in the Badger State.

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Starting Over

photo(My first “runfie” since returning to running after two months off)

Nearly eight weeks ago, I was told that I couldn’t run anymore due to a hip injury. I vented on this blog about losing out on marathon entry fees and walked you through the crazy emotional roller coaster I dealt with. Today, however, I’m excited to write that I’m running again.

I have a long road ahead of me. Taking nearly two months off of running from this injury put me back to square zero. It’s going to take a long time to get back to 60-mile weeks. And I don’t plan on putting any marathons in the queue anytime soon. But with all that said, having the opportunity to start all over isn’t actually all that bad.

The bad was when I couldn’t run. The bad was when I just wanted to give up on exercise all together. The bad was when I was constantly on verge of tears from the time I woke up to the time I fell asleep. The bad is now finally over. And now that I got through the bad, I can finally enjoy the good again.

In my 20 years of running, I’ve never actually started from scratch like this before. I will be given a unique opportunity to re-envision my running all together. I will set new goals and take a different approach to this sport.

Below are some  guidelines I’ll follow along the way:

Think Gradual

Just because I can run again, doesn’t mean I can run every single day and pick back up from where I left off. The first few runs were a walk/run combination. The next few runs were just trying to run without walking. Right now I’ve reached an every other day schedule and will work up to back-to-back days of running further down the road. Most importantly, I’ll follow the rule of thumb that I learned in my RRCA coaching certification: the 10-percent rule. In a nutshell, the rule is to NOT increase mileage more than 10 percent every week. That means I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but I know the patience will be key in avoiding injury again.

Find a New Routine

Prior to getting injured, I ran six days a week. Some strengthening exercises. Little stretching. And ZERO cross-training. But now I’ve returned to running with a new routine: Swimming. Biking. Arms and back workouts. Yoga. All of these regiments will continue to find a place in my new exercise routine as I continue to build my mileage gradually. I’ve learned from this injury that I can’t pound my body running six days a week, so I really don’t have any choice other than to find a new routine that will keep working different muscles and will make me a stronger and healthier runner.

Start (& Keep) Good Habits

One good choice leads to another. And same goes with bad choices. That’s why starting and sticking to good habits, like stretching and foam rolling, are crucial for me in these first few weeks. The more I keep practicing good habits, the more I won’t be tempted to skip those good habits down the road. Part of the reason I was injured was because some good habits faded away in my training. Another reason I got injured, according to my doctor, was my form. As I continue to build back up to decent mileage again, I will also be practicing good form every step along the way.

Readjust Goals, Not Giving Them Up

Readjusting goals shouldn’t be seen as throwing them away all together. Chicago may be put on hold for another year or so but I’ve got numerous short-term goals that I’m going to conquer as long as I stay healthy. And that’s my main goal. I want to enjoy the good from here on out. In the meantime, as I mentioned in my last post, biking and swimming will be a priority to prepare myself for an ironman in a few years. Until 2016, triathlons will be added to the short-term goals!


My Injury Prevention Survival Kit

These are the items that got me through my injury. But these items will also be essential in preventing injuries.

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Foam Roller: I had no idea how to use a foam roller until my physical therapist showed me how but I’m so grateful she did. This affordable item may be the solution to all your aches and pains. They work out the kinks in ways you didn’t know were even possible!

Thera-bands: Putting on some resistance to strengthening exercises makes them harder, essentially making you stronger. My go-to exercises I use them for are clam shells and sidesteps. Note: the different colors represent different levels of resistance. Purchase each color mindfully.

Yoga Band: There are dozens of stretches you can do with a yoga band. Lots of these stretches are actually safer and more effective when using the band.

Yoga Mat: I use my mat nearly every single day. No, I don’t practice yoga every day. With hardwood floors in my apartment, it’s been useful when stretching and completing exercises where I’m laying on my back. Feel free to splurge on one you love. Who knows, that may give you a reason to use it more often.

Goggles/Bathing Suit: As I mentioned earlier in my post, swimming will be in my training to help me prepare for future triathlons and the Ironman down the road. In addition, swimming is also an excellent cardio activity that doesn’t require any pounding on the legs! If you’re not a swimmer, purchase a buoyancy belt and go for a pool-run. If you’re new to pool running, check out my Active Life DC article on how to get started.

 

How have you dealt with coming back from an injury? Are there any other items you’d add to either of these lists?

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Marathon Refund Policy

A month ago, when I realized I probably wasn’t going to be running for several weeks, I looked into the transfer and refund policies of the Chicago Marathon and realized there weren’t many options. I could defer my spot in the lottery race for 2015 but I wouldn’t be refunded my money this year and would still have to pay next year’s registration fee.

I was angry, sad and annoyed all at that same time. So that got me thinking, what if I had signed up for another race? Would I have gotten at least some of my money back? For the races I’m interested in running in the near future, the answer is mostly no.

Bank of America Chicago Marathon: No refund or transfer; Allows deferment of your spot in the race (you still have to pay another registration fee) 

From the marathon website: “Per our official event rules: Sale and/or transfer of race entries/bib numbers is strictly prohibited and will result in the disqualification and/or banning of any individuals involved from future events. All entry fees are non-refundable…There are no exceptions. Please refer to our event rules for more information.”

Deferment policy: “With the new lottery registration system, participants are allowed to defer their entry to the 2015 Marathon. Please note, however, that participants who registered with a guaranteed charity or tour group entry cannot defer their entry to 2015. If a lottery participant or guaranteed legacy finisher or time qualifier wishes to defer his or her entry, he or she must notify the Chicago Marathon office prior to the September 8 deadline. An entry can only be deferred one year; all 2014 deferments will expire after the 2015 race. Participants who defer will not be refunded their 2014 entry fee, and will be required to claim their entry and pay the full registration fee for the 2015 race.”

TCS New York City Marathon: No refund, deferment, or transfer

From the marathon website: “Your application will be processed upon submission along with the processing fee (US $11), which is non-refundable under any and all circumstances. Entry fees will be processed only if and when you are accepted into the Marathon. Your entry is non-transferable under any and all circumstances, and the entry fee is non-refundable if you cancel your participation or do not use your entry for any reason whatsoever.”

Boston Marathon: No refund, deferment, or transfer

From the marathon website: “Numbers and entry fees are non-refundable, non-deferrable and non-transferable. You may NOT give your number to someone else.”

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series: No refund, deferment, or transfer

From the Rock ‘n’ Roll series website: “All registrations are non-refundable and non-transferable. Once we receive and accept your entry, you will not receive a refund. If you cannot participate, you may not give or sell your number to anyone else and entry fees will not be transferred from year to year.”

Walt Disney World Marathon: No refund, deferment and transfer from participant to participant; Can transfer to another Walt Disney World race within the same weekend.

From the Walt Disney World Marathon website: “Entry for The Walt Disney World® Marathon Events, Commemorative Items, or any other Walt Disney World® Marathon Weekend related purchases are non-refundable….All races are non-transferable from participant to participant… If you are currently registered for The Walt Disney World® Marathon in 2015 you may transfer your registration to one of the other races, from one race to another, within this same weekend, subject to availability or until capacity in the category you are trying to transfer to is reached, on or before October 10, 2014.”

Asics Los Angeles Marathon: No refund, deferment, or transfer

From the Los Angeles Marathon website: “The sale and/or transfer of race entries/bib numbers is strictly prohibited. All registration fees and ancillary purchases are nonrefundable.”

Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon: No refund, deferment, or transfer

From the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon website: “All registrations are non-refundable and non-transferable. Once we receive and accept your entry, you will not receive a refund. If you cannot participate, you may not give or sell your number to anyone else and entry fees will not be transferred from year to year…We do not offer deferments or refunds.”

Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon: No transfer (no deferment or refund implied)

From the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon website: “TCM does not allow the selling or trading of Race Numbers and will take necessary action to prevent these transactions. If TCM Officials become aware of an individual involved in the buying or selling of an Official Race Number, the individuals involved may be banned from participating in future TCM events.”

Note: the website does not state whether or not deferments or refunds are allowed but does state the race reserves the right to cancel the race without refunds or race credits

 

 

Wait, I’m missing a race…

 

Marine Corps Marathon: Allows Deferment and Transfer

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There’s a freaking reason why MCM is and always will be my favorite marathon. The course is in my backyard. The people are awesome. The Marines are literally the most well organized race officials on the planet. And they offer runners a “things-happen” deal!

“Things happen-injuries, business trips, and unforeseeable conflicts and the deferment and transfer policies allow runners to delay a year or give someone else the chance to run in their place,” says MCM Race Director Rick Nealis. “The goal is to enable as many runners as possible the opportunity to be a part of the Marine Corps Marathon.”

 Deferment policy from the MCM website: “The MCM makes available to runners the option to defer their original registration to the next year’s marathon. Deferring an entry guarantees a spot to re-register in the following year’s MCM by forgoing participation in that year’s marathon. Runners may defer the original registration only once for a fee of $60.”

Transfer policy from the MCM website: “After registering for the MCM, some runners ultimately decide they are unable to participate in a marathon. These runners may opt to transfer their entry to a non-registered runner through the event’s unique Transfer Program. Only runners currently registered for the MCM may transfer an entry to another runner for a fee of $40. The MCM does not participate in this part of the process. Runners often find transfer partners on the MCM Facebook page. When transferring an entry, runners do not receive a refund on registration fees from the MCM. Any such monetary transactions must be handled directly between the transferring runners. Further, entries may not be transferred more than once. Additionally, the transfer program is ONLY available for the MCM and not any other MCM event. The runner currently registered for the MCM must complete the online form after clicking on the transfer link from this website. Access to this form requires the MCM Registration account log in set up during registration or select personal information. A webpage with a customized link will be unlocked enabling the runner to initiate the transfer. Runners will input the name and email of the individual receiving the entry for Runner-to-Runner transfers or verify their own contact info for a Marathon-to-10K transfer. An email will be sent to the transfer recipient with an individualized link. The new runner must complete the form and pay the fee to finalize the transaction. There are no fees for the runner initiating the transfer or for a Marathon-to-10K transfer. Once submitted, the transfer cannot be cancelled. There are no transfer or deferment programs for the Historic Half or MCM10K.”

NOTE: Transfers and deferments for the 2014 MCM is now closed

Photo Credit: Filckr user mtngirl9999. License.


Let me know if you guys have any race recommendations that has a customer-friendly transfer/refund policy!

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Emotional Roller Coaster


As I mentioned in my last post, I won’t be able to run for a while. Abruptly getting sidelined in the middle of marathon training is less than ideal, which has really played around with my emotions. In general, I like to think of myself as a happy person. But since this injury has occurred, smiling is an anomaly. There’s days I’m on the verge of tears from the time I wake up to the time I fall asleep. If I’m really being honest, the first few days of this injury were mostly spent on the couch, pouring a bag of chocolate chips in my mouth, feeling absolutely pathetic.

But then there’s been days where I’ve perfected a yoga pose I haven’t been able to maneuver since my last yoga kick three years ago. Or other days where I opt for 10 needles in my leg and realized I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. Some mornings I’ve shot right out of bed at 5 a.m. to hit the pool for several hours and was reminded how lucky I am that I’m still in good health overall and have have many other reasons to be grateful.

Six Emotions Experienced During The Last Three Weeks

Impatient: I was never given an estimated period of time how long it would take to heal–which makes it really challenging because I’ve become so impatient wondering when I’ll be able to run again. I keep thinking and hoping every morning I get out of bed that the pain will magically go away and so far it hasn’t.

Determined: I want to come back to running stronger than I was before this injury. While I may lose all of my endurance and speed that I built up to before the injury, I’m working on becoming stronger in my arms, core and other areas of my body that I know will help me down the road.

Useless: I can’t help but feel useless when I hobble to the grocery store in pain or discover I can’t take Raven on walks because she pulls me too hard. Relying on others to help out isn’t something I do willingly so that’s been extra challenging.

Courageous: I’m not sure what’s more bad ass–when I originally said yes to dry needling and didn’t know what to expect or when I said yes again to dry needling two days later after I knew how painful putting 10 needles in my leg actually was.

Regretful: I only have myself to blame when it comes to this injury. If I could go back in time two months ago, there’s so much I would do so much different. I just can’t help but feel regret when it comes to the entire situation.

Optimistic: Despite all the negative emotions I’ve experienced during these last three weeks, I’m optimistic that I’ll still be able to run Chicago and even if I can’t, I know I’ll be able to run a marathon sometime in the near future. And I may even be faster and stronger because of this experience.

Six Ways to Combat the Sad Emotions

Be Social: My instructor in a yoga class the other day had us introduce ourselves to the person next to us. As it turned out, the person next to me was also dealing with similar injury. After class we chatted some more about ways we’ve been dealing with it and shared advice to one another. Interacting with others who are going through a similar challenge is a reminder that you don’t have to go through an injury alone.

Embrace the Happy Emotions: I can’t think of a better time to embrace the small victories. Even if has nothing to do with fitness, allow yourself to be happy as much as you can during this difficult time.

Be Kind to Yourself and Others: It’s okay to be angry but there’s no good that comes out of beating yourself up over the injury. Be nice to yourself and channel that negative energy into positive ideas on what you’ll do differently next time. It’s much more productive and more beneficial to your well being. I’ve also noticed that going out of my way to help others has made me in a better mood, which has helped combat the angry and sad emotions I’ve felt.

Don’t Eat Away the Pain: I mentioned earlier that I spent the first few days of my injury throwing down a bag of chocolate chips in my mouth. And then when I got a stomach ache from all the terrible food I ate, I felt even worse! Eating healthier during this difficult time will actually make you feel better. You’ll have more energy and it won’t be so easy to feel sorry for yourself.

#ChallengeYoSelf: Remember this mantra a few months ago? There are so many ways to challengeyoself outside of running and taking on new challenges has helped take my mind off of the fact that I can’t run. And speaking of challenging myself, that leads me to my next point and a very big announcement…

Set New Goals: All the biking and swimming I’ve done during these past few weeks reminded me how much I enjoyed training for a triathlon four years ago. And with all the excitement from last week’s Nation’s Tri, I couldn’t help set my sight on a new goal. One that I’ve had my eyes on since college but put it off because I caught the marathon bug.

ironman-logo

That’s right, the biking and swimming instagram updates aren’t going away even when my IT Band gets better. In 2016, I’m going to complete an Ironman: a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run in less than 17 hours (the official time limit for an Ironman to actually count).

Why not 2015?  I’ve got lots of money to save to afford a new bike that’s capable of riding 112 miles (My road bike was stolen back in June) and I still want to qualify for Boston this year or next. But in the meantime, I’m happy to have finally found the silver lining in this ordeal.

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No Running, Lots of Foam Rolling

As much as I’d love to ignore my doctor this time around, the fact is I can’t run for a while. And I’m going crazy.

According to my physical therapist, my IT Band is extremely tight and was most likely from the heavy mileage combined with the lack of stretching. My orders were no running, lots of foam rolling along with several strengthening and stretching exercises.

Since talking with the doctor and a suffering through a few painful sessions of physical therapy, my IT Band still hasn’t loosened up. At the very least, I’m looking at two weeks of no running—the longest I’ve gone without running in more than five years.

Let’s back up to earlier this summer. I used to warm-up, stretch and even complete cool-down exercises on a fairly regular basis. But when my weekly mileage surpassed 50 miles, I could hardly find the time to complete the mileage let alone find time for stretching and strengthening.

As a certified coach, I know these two components are essential for a healthy and successful training plan so it’s not a complete surprise to me that I’m dealing with an injury but that doesn’t make going without running that much easier. In fact, it makes it that much harder because I only have myself to blame.

The first few days of this injury, I was sad, angry and mad at the world. I treated my disappointment with several bags of chocolate chips and numerous bagels. But after a few days, I needed to move on. I wanted to take matters in my own hands. I dug up my swimsuit that was buried at the bottom of my drawer, dusted off my yoga mat and got to work.

Having a Plan

While I had to put my marathon-training plan on hold, I created a new plan to get me through the next few weeks. From yoga to swimming and biking, I can workout as much as I want as long as it doesn’t strain my hip. While I’ve been crazy with no running, these items below have prevented me from going even crazier.

-Cardio 60 Minutes a Day: Mentally, it’s critical I get nice sweat going nearly every day. This will also ensure that I’ll still be in the shape by the time I can run again. So far I’ve biked, swam, done a few workout DVD’s and have also completed a few yoga sessions.

-Foam Rolling: If I’m being completely honest with you guys, my foam roller has sat untouched in the corner of my apartment for at least 6 months. Okay maybe a year. But luckily, I learned several different exercises on the foam roller that feels great (but painful) on my IT Band.

-Physical Therapy Twice a Week: In addition to giving myself a massage every day through my foam roller, I’m going into physical therapy twice a week for strengthening exercises, ESTIM, and deep tissue massages. Later this week we are also going to try dry needling…eeeek.

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I’m trying to stay optimistic about the path I’m on but I only have a few more weeks to decide if this injury is going to stop me from competing in Chicago on October 12. Considering I’m having issues just with walking, the outlook is looking pretty grim as of right now.

How do you stay sane and cope with an injury that takes you out of running? Any tips or recommendations? 

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Weekend {Running} Happenings Around the District (8/15-8/17)

Snip20140813_20Photo Credit: November Project

NOVEMBER PROJECT’S BETTER THAN BED TIME

What: “Mass mob running the streets of DC and running to an undisclosed location to cheers and show the world how strong the #NP17 community is.”

Date: 8/17

Time: 5 p.m.

Location: Jefferson Memorial

Description: “NOAH’S ARK: They Came In 2′s. You can interpret this how you like. Examples include dressing like someone else (twins), dressing as an animal with a partner, etc. GO BIG. The photos will be epic. (more details here)”

LEESBURG 20K/5K

Date: 8/27

Time: 7:30 (20K); 7:45 (5K)

Location: Market Station at 203 Harrison Street SE in downtown Leesburg, Virginia.

Price $50 (20K); $40 (5K)

Description from the Race Website: “Join us on Sunday, August 17, 2014 for the 26th Running of the NOVA Plastic Surgery Leesburg 20K/5K presented by Harris Teeter! Run through scenic, historical Leesburg – Enjoy a rare opportunity to run a longer race during August – 7:30 AM (20k), 7:45 AM (5k), and 7:50 AM (kids’ fun run) start times will help beat the heat! See where your summer training has brought your 5k time — or, test your fitness and stamina in the 20k! This duo event is a great opportunity to race or simply use as a training run as you prepare for a 10 miler or half or full marathon.”

More Information

GROUP RUNS

Name/Location: DC Road Runners, Iwo Jima Memorial (membership encouraged)
Date/Time: 8/16 at 7 a.m.
Distance: 13 miles

Name/Location: DC Capital Striders, Lincoln Park
Date/Time: 8/16 at 9 a.m.
Distance: 6-7 Miles (varies)

Name/Location: DC Capital Striders, Dupont Circle
Date/Time: 8/16 at 8 a.m.
Distance: 10-20 Miles

Name/Location: DC Front Runners, 23rd and P Street NW (membership encouraged)
Date/Time: 8/16 at 9 a.m.
Distance: 3, 4, or 6 Mile Fun Run

Name/Location: Washington Running Club, 3300 Block of M Street NW
Date/Time: 8/17 at 7 a.m.
Distance: (varies)

Name/Location: DC Front Runners, 23rd and P Street NW (membership encouraged)
Date/Time: 8/17 at 9 a.m. (Start time may vary due to weather or race conflicts. To confirm, e-mail info@dcfrontrunners.org)
Distance: 10+ Miles

Note: Some of these groups may encourage/require club membership prior to group runs. I strongly recommend checking out the club’s website prior to showing up.

Articles of Note:

Hundreds of Miles Against Hunger (RunWashington)

2015 Boston Marathon Will Likely Have Field of 30,000

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