Back to the irregular schedule

After recovering from my stress reaction, I got back to running…and immediately got derailed by my left IT band.

What is this??? First a mutiny in my right tibia and then my left knee joins in the fun?

It took ten weeks of acupuncture on my left hip and knee to get me back to feeling good. My acupuncturist (Jimi Smith at Crescent City Acupuncture) is amazing. He is an excellent runner and coached me through running the entire way, mapping out how often and how far I should be running. I still get bothered in my left hip some and I’ve found that my hips are incredibly tight.

During my ten weeks working with Jimi, we had a conversation at one point that went like this:

Me: I’m thinking of taking some time off from triathlon this year.

Him: That’s the smartest thing I’ve heard you say.

Well ok then. Maybe my body isn’t where it needs to be to compete in three sports at once right now. I had lost my running base, I barely had a cycling base to begin with, and although I had a strong swim base, that’s not enough to carry you through the bike and run. My hips were tight and weak and being crouched over my road bike wasn’t going to fix it. I really enjoyed the weight training I did during my stress reaction induced running hiatus.

So now, don’t laugh, I joined Crossfit. My cousin loves it. I follow a lot of bloggers who love it. And there is a Crossfit gym down the street from my house that I can walk to.

At this point I finished my fundamentals class. The coaches worked with me a lot to address my tight hips and I saw Jimi again for a bit. I am getting back into yoga to work on it as well. And although I haven’t been swimming lately, I’m heart rate monitor running 2-4x a week. So I’m doing strength, cardio, and mobility. I’m hoping this will keep me well and get me fit enough for a half marathon in December.

We’ll see.

Ogden drops a big one

“Six weeks? Six weeks no running?”

It certainly could have been worse. I knew the nagging pain in my ankle that had dogged me run after run this past fall was something to be taken seriously. I had taken time off from running in the hopes of eking out one last triathlon for the year. Between the cold water and air, my legs were so numb on the run leg of my last race for 2015, I had fooled myself into thinking that the pain was in my head. But it wasn’t.

I had taken two solid weeks off from running to try and let it evaporate while I sought recommendations for orthopedists. I was seeing Dr. Ogden, the ankle guy to see, according to my triathlon team. He diagnosed me as having a stress reactions in my right tibia, which unknowingly caused me to change my running gait, which is why I was feeling pain in my ankle and not my tibia. The change in running gait he said, had protected the stress reaction from becoming a full blown stress fracture.

And all I had to do was take six more weeks of running off.

It was a blessing and a curse. As I would later find out, passively taking time off of running and filling it with other activities was almost like a vacation. A boring one albeit, one that left me curled up on the floor holding my running shoes in self-mockery.

But it was at least essentially free.

Long Hiatus

So.

It’s been almost two years to the day that I last blogged.

Many things have happened.

I fell deeply in love with triathlon.

I started experimenting with food, cutting out most gluten, grains, and sugars.

Our oldest cat Koko died.

Our oven also died and we went without an oven for 10 months.

I started grad school in Special Education and changed positions within my school.

I became an aunt. And a godmother.

I swam 100 miles in 1 year.

I developed a stress reaction in my right tibia and had to stop running for 6 weeks.

I started lifting weights to compensate for not running.

I developed IT band issues as soon as I was cleared to run.

I started acupuncture. My acupuncturist told me to lay off the weights. We worked together for about 10 weeks to solve my IT band issues.

I’m slowly rebuilding my running. Still happily married to the same man. Still happily residing in New Orleans.

But since I’m in a new place and since the search for “sweating girl” too often brought people to my site not interested in fitness, a new blog title was in order.

So here I am. The same but different.

 

Quick Check In

I’m so behind on race recaps so those are forthcoming (Gulf Coast Interstate Relay III, New Orleans HIM Relay, and Crescent City Classic 10k) but I wanted to drop by and say hi.

Hi.

This past weekend was my first swim since the Half Ironman Relay on April 13 and last. It was my first practice with Coach C since the relay too. We did a down and dirty quick 1000 that included 6×50 yard intervals. I was a little worried that I would blow them, but the rest paid off apparently because I nailed it.

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It was only January when I was able to hit ONE 50 yard interval in under 1:00, so breaking :50 was a BIG deal for me. Brian was killing it too, staying 2-3 seconds ahead of me.

Five Weeks to Indian Creek Triathlon!

Gulf Coast Intestate Relay Part II

For the first half of the GCIR, check out my previous post.

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just hanging out at Walgreens

Saturday morning we were ready to meet Van 1 at the next major transition, a luxurious Walgreens parking lot. It was actually great because there was a bathroom and we could pick up water and snacks. More and more vans were showing up, meaning the faster runners who had started behind us were starting to catch us. Some people were even sleeping in sleeping bags on the sidewalk. Valerie showed Mo and Kevin how to use KT tape on their legs, which turned out to be a life saver. Eve knocked out a fast 3.81 miles before needing to leave town and passed the baton to Kevin.

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halfway there!

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Eve to Kevin and Kevin to Fallon

Once Kevin handed off to Fallon, we went to grab some food. Balancing when to eat a real meal was pretty tricky, since no one wants to eat a full meal until they have finished their leg, but there can be a 5-8 hour stretch over the course of legs. The temperature had also dropped quite a bit and I hadn’t packed anything except tanks, so I ducked into a Mobile, Alabama Winn Dixie and was faced with an LSU alum’s worst nightmare.

The only sweatshirts were Alabama and Auburn.

I had talked myself into buying an Alabama one, flipping it inside out, and gifting it to my dear dad (an Alabama alum) when the store manager, also an LSU fan, found one lone little boy’s plain navy blue hoodie. I wore that thing like a security blanket for the rest of the trip.

Fallon ran into an issue about 4 miles into her leg and I ended up picking up the last 6 miles. Since my first leg had been along the Mississippi beach in the middle of the night, I was appreciating the daylight. The area was pretty blandly suburban but there were some gigantic hills along the way. At least gigantic to a New Orleans runner. I used to really like running hills so that was an adventure. By this point though, after pounding 9.73 miles primarily on sidewalk and then another 6 that included quite a few downhills on sidewalk, my quads were talking to me.

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We kept going. Valerie’s leg was mostly through suburban traffic with lots of stops and starts at traffic lights before hitting a nice stretch of neighborhood. She handed off her baton to Mo right in front of Dreamland BBQ, one of our favorite restaurants. Mo’s run was one of the more scenic ones of the trip, through old Mobile neighborhoods and finally through downtown.  We were waiting for him at one particularly tricky turn and he showed up carrying a bouquet of flowers for me!

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Fallon was pretty bummed she had to miss part of her run, and I was a bit nervous since I had an 8.25 mile leg scheduled for later in the same Van rotation so we tossed around some ideas about splitting it up. Mo ended up running an extra mile at the end of his/start of mine and Kevin picked up the last 2 miles of that leg so that I was down to about 5.25 miles. Fallon was also jealous because originally that leg was supposed to be go through the Mobile tunnel.

But it didn’t.

Ladies and gentlemen, what ensued on that 5.25 mile leg was some of the most ridiculous area I’ve ever run. It started in a boring deserted railroad yard and then trailed through some seemingly abandoned and yet… not abandoned houses. I kept thinking, “I sure hope this isn’t the scenic side of Mobile.” There was a really cool cemetery I would have liked to have seen, but I hadn’t stopped during a leg yet so I wasn’t going to start now. I turned the corner to be met with the biggest bridge I’ve ever seen in my life.

I should have stopped in my tracks.

I promise you that nobody had cycled or run over that bridge before putting it on this relay course.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I grew up in Tuscaloosa Alabama. For a year, my dad And I ran regularly over the Black Warrior River. Even living in Monroe, I ran over the Ouachita River without a second thought. Prior to GCIR, I’d raced bridges at least 6 times. Done right, bridge racing is exhilarating.

The Cochrane-Africatown Bridge (it wasn’t labeled on the map, but I’m pretty sure that was it based on my extensive googling skills) in Mobile Alabama is not a bridge for runners or cyclists. I didn’t know how bad it was going to be until I was about 1/3 of the way up. There was no walk way, only a shoulder and the guardrail was maybe hip high for about 2/3 of it. I had opted to run against traffic, which seemed safer, so given the option between the side of the bridge and the traffic, I ran closer to the cars. Honestly, I wanted to stop and call my van to pick me up, but any movement other than the foot-past-foot and arm swinging felt dangerous. At least continuously moving hadn’t gotten me hurt yet.

I wanted off that bridge so bad.

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obviously can’t take credit for this one, but Brian brought a great camera and took all the nice pics

My van met me at the bottom to make sure I was ok to keep going for the last mile of my leg before Kevin picked it up. Getting off that bridge felt so great I was fine to keep going. Kevin knocked out the last 2 miles of that leg and Brian picked it up right before it started to get dark. He ran several bridges, opted not to pick up the bag of weed he found on the side of the road, and endured an epic rain storm before we pulled into Transition 24 and handed off the baton to Van 1 to start their last set of legs.

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Gulf Coast Interstate Relay Part I

Well hello there.

I survived my spring funk and have many tales to tell of adventures therein.

The last two springs have been tough for me. Last spring there was a fair share of family issues going on, but this spring, I got no excuses. I just tucked my head down and slogged through whatever funk I was in. Straight into a hurtling mass of chaos otherwise known as Gulf Coast Interstate Relay.

My bestie Fallon likes to joke (I think) about how I’m the friend that talks her into doing crazy stuff. Entirely possible. But I did not expect to be captaining the very first relay I ever ran. I felt a little bad that I could only answer some of our runners’ questions based on other people’s experiences in relays, but that is how it goes.

Our final team ended up being: LB, Eve, Jordan, Jacque, Brandi, Keli (Van 1), Val, Me, Brian Fallon, Mo, and Kevin (Van 2). We made up Team Buck It.

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van selfies

So just to back up a bit: GCIR is a relay race. You can cycle it or run it. It spans four states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida). One of the teams told us that it is the longest running relay race in America at 263 miles (but I don’t know that for sure).

If you aren’t familiar with relay racing, each member is assigned legs of the race and the Van 1 starts off with the first six runners. They drop off their first runner, drive to transition and wait for that runner to finish and drops off the next runner. They continue this until all six runners have finished and they meet Van 2 at the point where the sixth runner finishes so that the second van can continue on with runners seven through twelve. Runners pass a baton as they complete their legs (our baton was a slap bracelet). When your van is inactive, you can sleep, eat, hang out. But mostly sleep.

Since GCIR is longer than typical relays, which are between 100 and 200 miles, the legs were longer, so it was hard to find 12 people who could make that commitment. We had a total of 6 members who had signed up at one point and then later dropped out for various reasons. I was pretty stressed over the last week making last minute arrangements securing volunteers (we were supposed to provide 3 but the logistics of volunteering was fuzzy), getting our van (my friend LB rented a van for her half of the team and Fallon seriously came through on borrowing a 15 person passenger van), and filling empty places. We even had a last minute drop out on Thursday (although she had a good reason) and had to find someone literally the night before. Big shout out to the Alexandria running community for in general awesomeness!!!

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at the start

So Friday morning comes. We have 12 runners, 2 vans, and a ton of bottled water. All is good. I make it to the captain’s meeting, for which I felt woefully unprepared, as everyone else had color coded binders with the handbooks and transitions printed out. The race director, Nino, was giving details about each transition.

“So when you are approaching transition 19 there is a patch of gravel right before the sandwich board so you are going to want to hop on the sidewalk but avoid the purple fire hydrant and before you get to the transition you are going to want to slow to a jog, spin on one foot, and sprinkle the blood of three red head virgins on the ground.”

I leaned over and joked to someone, “Am I supposed to remember all this?” To which the man replied, “You aren’t recording this?” So I knew we were in trouble. It was great that there was so much detail, especially for cyclists, but bad because we were fresh out of red head virgins.

Our team was a mix of fast experienced runners and newbies, which was pretty cool. We had signed up as having a 10 minute mile average got the earliest wave time, 1:00, along with the only ultra team: Ultra Moms on a Mission.

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Moms on a Mission and Team Buck It at the start

LB started us off. Van 1 hung around to watch her as she looped back by the starting line and Van 2 left in search of food. We followed the route and hung around at Turtle Landing (restaurant/bar), narrowly missing the alligator that was chilling behind our van, and safely arriving at Transition 6 to watch Eve hand off to Kevin around 7:30.

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Turtle Landing Alligator right behind our van

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Van 2 hanging out, Kevin ready to run, and Turtle Landing Cow

Our six legs were interrupted by an hour long thunder and lightning storm that the Ultra Moms powered through and we chose to wait out. Val ran a speedy 5 miles once the storm stopped. Mo’s first leg went over the Biloxi Bridge around 11 pm and my first leg started right at midnight. I didn’t end up taking any pictures because I was so ready to just get moving! Those 9.75 miles along the beach in the middle of the night were pretty cool though. It would have been even cooler if I could have actually seen the water, but I sure felt the sand. In some unexpected places. Poor Brian had been waiting about 12 hours to run his first leg and by that point, everyone was out of steam.

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Fallon before her first leg looking fierce

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LB starts her second leg while Mo shivers looking on

Van 1 crashed at a Motel 6 near our exchange and we grabbed their hotel key so we could catch a couple of hours of sleep sans van but got up bright and early Saturday morning. Once I had some coffee I was bright eyed and having the best time though. We were ready to meet Van 2 at the halfway mark!

Tough Decisions

Mardi Gras was fun, don’t get me wrong. But it also warranted some serious recovery time and I was grateful to have the entire week off to get back into the swing.

Unfortunately, I did not train much during the two weeks of Mardi Gras. And then I got sick.

The result? I’m dropping out of the New Orleans 5150 Triathlon.

I am disappointed. However, I’m not ready. I’ve spent a lot of time on the trainer, but not much on the road. Gulf Coast Interstate Relay is April 4-6 and Half Ironman NOLA is April 13. Those are both team events and I feel like that is where my commitment needs to go.

I learned a couple of things.

1. I committed to too much in the spring, too many races too fast. The New Orleans Triathlon is normally at the end of May so I had that in mind, and when it got pushed up to the end of March, I didn’t think much of it. But spring for a teacher and fall for a teacher are two very different seasons.

2. I’ve also had March and April fill up with professional commitments that I didn’t see coming.  I learned I need to save major triathlon training for the fall, after I’ve had a restful summer and don’t have standardized tests looming over me. I know there are people that could train through all of this and do all three races, but I’ve reached my limit.

I am SO excited for both GCIR and Half Ironman though.

GCIR will be awesome for the experience of a relay race. I’ve been reading about relay races for a couple of years and have really wanted to do one. What sounds better than being in a van with five other sweaty friends for 48 hours and running a ton of miles? The weather should be beautiful and the company can’t be beat.

And I’ve really developed a love of swimming in the past year. I’m by no means great, but I’ve been putting in the yards and seeing some improvements. I’m a little stressed about swimming in the cold lake and I don’t want to let my relay team down. I’m on a team with a great cyclist and a great runner so I’ve got to pull my weight!

So here’s to live and learn.