Thursday, September 26, 2013


I'm going to be honest - overall I consider myself to be relatively bad ass. Obviously I have the same types of insecurities as anyone else, but I like to push myself to the absolute max of whatever I think (or know) I'm capable. Running makes me feel invincible. I've blogged about this before, but when I'm running I feel like I'm the best version of myself. I feel normal

Training for a marathon can bring out the best and worst in a person. Some weeks on a long run I feel like I can conquer the world, and some weeks I wonder why in the world I think I'm prepared to run another marathon.  Running is a fickle mistress for sure. These days after a long run, there are definitely dents in my personal bad ass perception.

Running is indeed a temperamental activity.  I've had days where the miles I've logged that day feel amazing. I can't imagine anything feeling better. I've had days where I've struggled running just a few miles, and I wonder how I'm going to get through the next race. 

I think we all have that doubt in life. We're not smart enough; we're not attractive enough; if we're runners we're not fast enough; we're just not ENOUGH. Even in our best moments we may have doubt, but it's how we push through that doubt that makes us who we are.  It's those moments of our biggest self doubt that can make or break us. We can either let doubt rule us or we can rule the doubt.

Last weekend I ran two eight mile loops during my 16 mile long run. It was a struggle, and I found myself wondering how I'd make it through the entire run. I stopped at home for water halfway through, and I wanted to stop. My body felt fantastic, but my mind just wasn't having it. I was really struggling to finish the run. My husband gave me a pep talk, and I pushed through the final eight miles. It was slow. It was sluggish, but it's another long run in the books.

When the normal doubt of life creeps in, I have to continually remind myself that I can do this. Not Crohn's or bronchitis or my own self doubt can keep me from pushing through another training schedule. In the late stages of training my IT band has held its own (knock on wood), and if my mind would just cooperate these could be an exciting last few weeks.

Thomas Carlyle said: "Doubt, of whatever kind, can be ended by action alone."  On that note my doubts can shove it. I've got 18 miles to run this weekend, and that is totally bad ass.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Detroit Rock City

Earlier this year I resolved to spend more time in Detroit in 2013, and I must admit that I've failed miserably.  While we've been to the D a few times for Tigers games, visiting the Detroit Institute of Art and work, overall my presence in Detroit has been spotty at best. I have a few months to change that, and I've got work to do.

Detroit made national headlines earlier this summer for being the largest municipality to ever file for bankruptcy.  A lot of talk about the City of Detroit has been negative, but the vibe in the city couldn't be more positive.  Businesses and entrepreneurs are flocking to Detroit to take advantage of all the city has to offer. Sure, there are issues, but all of it is overshadowed by promise and ingenuity. I could not love Detroit more, and I love that it is gritty and scrappy with a chip on its shoulder. It should have one, and I am so excited for Detroit to prove the naysayers wrong.

So you can imagine I was thrilled last week that my work's annual convention was in Detroit for four gorgeous fall days. We got there on Tuesday to the Renaissance Center, home of General Motors, where the conference was being held. After a late afternoon board meeting we headed out on the town which was really the best part of this conference. We often hold our events in a hotel somewhere and there have been times when I haven't even gone outside for days. This conference was all over the City, and it was awesome. Following our afternoon meetings we headed to dinner at Cliff Bell's jazz club for dinner, cocktails and jazz. Is there anything better than that?

Posing with the Joe Lewis fist after an evening at Cliff Bell's
On Wednesday morning I headed out for a quick run along the river. It was a perfect morning. There were a number of other runners out, and I was impressed by the energy on the riverfront. There were Adirondack and lounge chairs along the path.  The river trail threads through William G. Milliken State Park (named for a former Michigan governor). The topography is beautiful, and there's even a lighthouse. Yes, a lighthouse on the Detroit River.
Lighthouse on the Detroit River
Gorgeous morning view of the Ren Cen
After a packed day of awesome placemaking sessions I boarded a bus to head to downtown Detroit's gorgeous Belle Isle Park. We attended a reception at the Detroit Historical Society's newly renovated Dossin Great Lakes Museum.  The reception ended early (as work receptions tend to do), and I headed with a few of my co-workers to Green Dot Stables, one of my favorite places to eat in Detroit.  There can't be a lot of places where one can enjoy delicious cocktails (Moscow mules for the lady) and an eclectic mix of sliders including a Korean (with peanut butter!), cat fish and quinoa. 

I was only able to squeeze in one run in Detroit which was disappointing, but the remainder of the week was just so busy. Thursday was filled with sessions, and we used our lunch break to swing by the incomparable Guardian Building and eat lunch outside at Fountain Bistro in gorgeous Campus Martius Park.  

A beach in Downtown Detroit at Campus Marius Park
While I was exhausted on Friday, I was still inspired by the moxie and strength of the City of Detroit.  Yes, Detroit is in bankruptcy. Things aren't perfect, but there is a promise and passion that drives me and should drive all Michiganders.  The passion of cities like Detroit is why I do what I do.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's fall! That means it's Capital City River Run time!

I don't run many races more than once. There are a lot of races to be run, and in general I don't see the point of doing one repeatedly. The obvious exception, however, is Lansing's Capital City River Run (CCRR). I love this race, and this is the fourth year I've run it.

The CCRR has several really good things going for it. First off it's right downtown Lansing, so I can actually park at my office and walk over to the Lansing Center for the start. Very convenient. Second it takes place mostly on the Lansing River Trail, and that's where I do many of my long training runs. It feels very comfortable to run this race. Third (and perhaps most importantly) it has great swag. I wear all of my CCRR shirts all the time. They are my favorite long-sleeved running shirts. This year's shirt is no exception - a perfectly fitting, long-sleeved blue t-shirt that I know I'll wear frequently.  In addition to the awesome shirt is the fantastic medal. I love adding the CCRR medals to my collection.

On race morning I did something I rarely do - I waited until the last minute to get moving. We live only about 3 miles from the race start, so I found myself moving slowly. By the time my husband and I got downtown the race was only about 15 minutes from the start, which is entirely unlike me. Usually I'm waiting around for 30-45 minutes. Being that I'm quite anal I was anxious about running late, but everything worked out perfectly.

I resolved myself to stay with the 9:30 pacer who turned out to be a friend of mine. Of course when we started I did what I always did and thought that pace was too slow. So I took off onto the course thinking I could just end with the 9:30 pacer. Fat chance. I felt great for much for the race. The weather was perfect - 50s and overcast. I was moving along nicely until around mile seven when I found myself slowing down.

After the race with rock star pacer Lainie
Just before mile nine I heard my name and knew the 9:30 pace group was catching up to me. I ran solidly with the group until around mile 11.  I was starting to struggle and knew I just wasn't going to be able to keep that pace. I was also having some pain in my toe, and I knew I was at that very moment losing one of my toenails. Ah the joys of marathon training.

I ended up finishing in 2:09:38.  While I was disappointed, it is only the third time in 13 half marathons that I have broken 2:10.  In the past I've done quite well while training for a full, but given that I was on the tail end of bronchitis and just wasn't having a good day, it wasn't going to happen.

Finishing strongish.
The one complaint I have about this race is the water situation after the race. There is never anyone there with water, and I find myself having to go in search of water once the race is finished. I was handed a bottle of chocolate milk, but that wasn't going to cut it. Fortunately I brought my own water in the car, and that was the only water I found handily.

Despite my dehydration, I'll do the CCRR again next fall. It's one of my favorite running events, and for me it truly marks the beginning of fall racing season.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Marathons Hate Me.

When I first started running over seven years ago, I decided, without having run any appreciable distance in my life, that I should run a marathon. My training was going well (even in my two-year-old Nike Shox tennis shoes...ouch) until I reached an eight-mile long run.  That was when my IT band decided it didn't want to play this game anymore, and I ran the Nike Women's Half Marathon in San Francisco instead of the full marathon.

I went to a sports medicine doctor, PT for a few months, got some new shoes and started running anew. It would be four more years before I decided to attempt another full marathon, this time the Detroit Marathon in 2010.  Once again training was going rather well until my 18-mile run. By the time you get to an 18-mile training run, you're rather far along in your training. After my 18-miler I could barely walk. My old friend the IT band injury was back. I never ran my final long run, the all-important 20-miler.  The week before the marathon I could barely run two miles, so it's amazing that I made it through 26.2 (admittedly with walking most of the last four miles). It was the beginning of my second stint in PT.

In 2012 I decided to run the Green Bay Marathon. For the first time I was starting to get a handle on the IT band. For me successful training means shorter runs during the week, cross training, and using my foam roller regularly.  Despite my IT band's cooperation, my Crohn's wasn't quite as accommodating. I missed my 18-mile run because of some significant Crohn's issues, but I was able to complete my 20-miler a few weeks later (although later in the taper process than I should've done it). I felt great during the race despite the nearly 100 degree heat, but the race was canceled when I crossed the 15-mile marker due to the aforementioned heat.

Fast forward to this year, and I thought well, why not? Actually I had zero intention of running another marathon. When I decided I wanted to raise money for Alex's Lemonade Stand, the only race that really called to me was the Marine Corps Marathon, and here we go again. I am so inspired by Alex Scott and all of the incredible patients who have been helped by Alex's Lemonade Stand. The very least I can do is run a marathon.

At the 16-mile training marker, my IT band is hanging in there (knock on wood). What I didn't expect was to contract acute bronchitis. I got a sore throat and runny nose just over two weeks ago, and I just took regular cold medicine trying to knock it out. After a few days the sore throat/runny nose combination was joined by a cough. I was able to keep the cough under control for a week or so, but it just wouldn't go away. While I was running last week, my lungs were on fire. Every run, even my short ones, were brutal.

Despite that I took off for my 16-miler on Saturday, and it didn't go well. I ended up bending over coughing violently multiple times, and it just wasn't happening. I only got through four miles, and each and every one was brutal. The following day I decided it was necessary for me to go to Urgent Care if only to reclaim my training schedule.

My chest x-ray showed inflammation that the doctor diagnosed as acute bronchitis. He said he could hear fluid in my right lung, and he was very concerned about me contracting pneumonia with my Crohn's. So he decided I needed a steroid shot and a week of steroids, as well as an inhaler for a week.  And for what it's worth the steroid shot hurt. A LOT. 

I asked him if I could run, and he said, "You runners are crazy. I know you'll do it anyway, but just listen to your body and stop if you have to". All I heard was yes, although I am still coughing so much that I haven't gone for another run.

Because of my training challenges in the past I've built in some extra weeks in case I need it. I'm confident that I'll log all the miles necessary to reach my goal of breaking a 5-hour marathon. I've already reached my fundraising goal for Alex's Lemonade Stand, but I really want to shatter the goal. There's still plenty of time to donate, so please visit my page and donate for this amazing cause.

This weekend I'll log 13.1 miles in the Capital City River Run, one of my favorite races every year. I think I'll take my new inhaler along for the ride.   

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Back Bends and Abdominal Surgeries Don't Mix

I'm at that stage in marathon training where it starts to get real.  The first few weeks of training are essentially a honeymoon phase. The long runs aren't that long, and I don't find myself getting up at the crack of dawn to run for more than two hours. This week I ran 14 miles, and my general rule of thumb is anything more than a half marathon is when it starts to get crazy.

It was a long weekend, and I decided to do my long run on Friday morning to get it out of the way.  Friday happened to be a muggy and horribly hot. In addition to the weather we'd attended a concert (Alabama - awesome) the night before. We didn't eat dinner, and I didn't drink any water. I woke up in the humid morning, starving, ready to somehow push through 14 miles. Before I left my husband said, "I'm just going to say this once, but I don't think you're prepared for a long run. I'm worried that you aren't ready this morning." Being my stubborn self I shook it off, but he was right. Do you see that honey? I put that in writing - you were right. You're welcome.

I got about two miles in before I realized it wasn't going to happen. I was so hot and dehydrated (not to mention hungry), and I began seeing spots in front of my eyes. I turned around and walked a good portion of the way back thinking there was no way I could run a marathon in 70 days.

On Monday I decided to give it another shot. It was a beautiful morning in the low 60s, and I rocked 14 miles like it was nobody's business. I felt great the entire run, and it was one of those runs that reminds me why I am a runner.

Somehow today my legs are on fire, and I am so I've never run before in my life. I decided tonight would be a good night to do some yoga and stretch out my sore muscles. I pulled out a DVD Jillian Michael's Yoga Meltdown from my extensive collection of Jillian DVDs. Jillian's yoga meltdown is like regular yoga but more intense - you don't hold poses but, in her words, "rep them out". It seemed like a good idea at the time.

In the end of the workout the pose is a back bend in the advanced version. I was a cheerleader in high school, and I used to rock back handsprings effortlessly. Doing a back bend was simple. Since high school I've had four abdominal surgeries, complete with copious amounts of scar tissue, and I haven't done a back handspring (or a back bend) in 15 years.

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea, while working out my sore muscles, to do a few back bends. It felt like high school...with a few additional pounds and four abdominal surgeries. Note to self: while I think I'm invincible, my Achilles heel is too much abdominal work. It hurts. Not in the way normal muscle soreness hurts, but in the way that would probably make my doctor yell at me.

I'm not 15 anymore (I know this is surprising), and as much as I don't like to admit it I do have limits. It turns out back bends are one of them. Ah the surprising things I find out when I think I can do anything. It turns out I'm not invincible, but still think I'm pretty close. Now onto 16 miles this weekend.