Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Town's Half Marathon 2014

Three race recaps in a row.... all part of my mission to become Arkansas Runner Mom (Tia can race a LOT, and very well, when she is in fighting shape!)

The Town's Half Marathon in Oakland took place on Saturday August 16, 2014.  I became interested in running it just a few weeks beforehand since Facebook is very clever and knows that the best ads to put on my stream are race ads.

I signed up for it the day I posted the race giveaway -- last Monday.  Definitely not a "goal" race (as if I can remember the last time I raced a half marathon having really prepared for a PR) but racing sounded appealing after the San Francisco half three weeks prior.  I was itching to try and run a little better and harder.  And most importantly, finish strong.  I was disappointed in finishing a half marathon with a 7:20 mile on a flat road, since I kind of feel like at this point a sub-7:00 pace should be an easy target to reel in for a strong finish even if I haven't been speed training.  Maybe that feeling is misguided, but it's there.

During the 3 weeks between the SF Half and this race I practiced finishing strong 2-3 times a week.  No idea why I haven't done this before because I am loving it.  Who doesn't want to finish their run thinking "Boo-Yah! Did you see THAT neighbors!?"

Three weeks, of course, is not long enough for any serious magic to happen.  But it was long enough for me to not finish with a 7:20 mile, and to run almost 3 minutes faster overall.

This race had all the qualities of my ideal race:

  • Overcast (I LOVE overcast weather - I get headaches when I run in the sun)
  • Small field (1500ish runners)
  • Not dead flat the whole time, but not constant hills either
  • Loop (as opposed to out-and-back or point-to-point)
  • 7:00 a.m. start (less likely to get to warm!)
  • Super easy to park near the start
  • The race fees went towards things more novel than a band every few miles (I personally find bands at races...forgettable, and gain nothing from hearing them play for 4 seconds before it fades behind me).
Those novel things? There was a "minimal waste" theme, such that at the finish instead of handing out water bottles all racers received a Brita-filter water bottle that could be filled up at a number of water barrels.  Another new race trend that I am loving is free race photographs.  I would gladly pay $10 more per race for free photos. 

Speaking of photos.



Lake Merritt WHYYYYY DID YOU LEAVE ME COME BACK.  Oakland makes me wistful. 
I loved the race route.  Nothing fancy, just a nice tour of some of my favorite parts of Oakland, but on the road instead of the sidewalk where I am normally delegated to for a run.

The weather was still not ideal despite being overcast - about 63 degrees at the start and pretty humid.  Perfect race temps, to me, means I am wearing a throwaway sweatshirt at the start and shivering.  Anything less is too warm.


70% good job to this photographer

My left leg was bitter as always but I'm learning to live with it, develop some improvements, and continue to try and understand it.  I felt the urge to stop and stretch it out as it was locking up at mile 2, but since I didn't have to until mile 4.5 at the SF Half, I mentally refused to stop/stretch before mile 4.  I stretched right around the mile 4 marker, and decided to take quick stretch breaks at every water stop.  I ended up stopping to stretch at water stops 3 times.  Bonus: I was able to hydrate fairly well!

Right from the start I was in 2nd place for women, and I stayed that way throughout.  I played leap frog with the same 5-10 guys or so but was often kind of lonely.  The volunteers were extra fun and supportive.

The mile markers were off by about 0.2 miles until the last 2 miles, but I went through the halfway mark by my watch (~ mile 6.55) at 44 minutes.  I decided to try my freaking hardest to negative split and finish under 1:28.



Juuuuust missed it.  1:28:04.  6:44 pace.  2nd place woman of 768.

I was still happy to even-split.  That's not something I do often.  Especially given the hills were in the second half of the course.

I didn't finish with my fastest miles, but they weren't my slowest either, and they didn't start with a "7." 6:42 and 6:50.  I was content with that.


One of the quietest finish lines ever.  Except for Mayor Quan, who was jumping and cheering and gave me handshake

I stuck around for over an hour after finishing to chat with friends I hadn't known would be there and to collect a nice prize of a Brita pitcher and a good month's supply of Vega Sport products.  Anyone have any thoughts, good or bad, on Vega? It appears to be plant based protein foods that support an athlete's diet.  Sounds good to me so far, but tastes like you would think plant based protein would taste.  Chocolate flavored grass.


Afterwards I had my perfect Saturday.  A visit from my sister, niece and nephew, and a night out in SF with two stellar friends I hadn't seen in too long.  My cheeks burned from laughing by the end of the day.

Admiring the race medal
Next up is a 5k in a few weeks, so I am hesitantly going to test out the track in the next week or two.  Still trying to balance the line between not aggravating my left leg while physical therapy is proving to bring some degree of improvement to my leg; and getting back into running hard and preparing for CIM.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

My First 5k and a HALF-MARATHON GIVEAWAY

After years of being too afraid and too attached to longer distances, I ran my first 5k on July 4.

I walked into a running store a couple weeks before the race and they were promoting the race with a $30.00 registration.  I rationalized it was the perfect time to run my first 5k.  It was conveniently located; I needed something to jumpstart running faster after a long period of taking it easy; I could test out the progress of my ART/Graston/training treatment; and I had no pressure to run anything spectacular, so my automatic PR would set a nice high bar to allow the opportunity to knock out new PRs if it turned out I enjoyed this whole 5k thing.

Plan: go out at a 6:00 pace, hang on to that pace.

Actual: 5:58; 6:02; 6:21 (this is approximate based on my memory; it has been over a month after all).

The course is officially a 3.22 course, which is almost spot on with what my Garmin clocked me at.  Official finish time 19:43, 6:07 pace, 2nd place woman.

From the course website

It turned out to be one of the most economical races of my life.  For $30.00, I was lucky enough to get a 2nd place-women prize of a $100.00 gift card to Sports Basement, a store we were already hooked on.  We've been there all summer, and we bought our bikes there, so I was ecstatic to cash in for some new camping gear before we went to Lassen.


before the race. my eyes stay sleep-squinty until I run

The course wasn't particularly easy; there were a couple decent humps to climb, and some cars parked in inner-tangents to maneuver around.

I saw a girl with a sponsor tattooed on her six-pack at the starting line, and thought to myself, "second place will do."  She did indeed win, and was lovely to talk to after the race. 

 You can see her up front in the photo below; and you can see me with a look of terrified despair at how to run a 6:00 pace in a clump of arm swings, far right of photo in the same pink/red shirt I have worn for my last 3 races, I now realize.



I knew that a 5k would hurt, and specifically it started hurting right around mile 1.5.  It was a pure, grunt and sweat countdown from there.

I learned that a 6:00 minute mile is reasonable for 2 miles, but impossible for 3.

I learned my treatment wasn't a miracle yet; in the last half mile or so my left calf was angry and tangly, further substantiating that this cramping issue isn't electrolyte related.  I mean it was hot, but it was mile 3.

With no speed/track work under my belt, my leg turnover felt sloppy rather than snappy, as it does after a few weeks at the track.  I'm excited to run a 5k later this year after some track work to see how much better I can do.


The last 0.22 of pure pain

kick

One thing I loved about this race is that it was presented by the local police association, benefiting crisis centers.  Uniformed cops running the bib pick-up and race course? Yes, yes, and thank you.

That's about all I've got for a 5k recap.  It was over right after it began.  I think that made it my husband's favorite race so far; he got a coffee after the start, and then there I was back at the finish.  He rode his bike to/from the race with me while I jogged there (4 miles each way) which also made it a really fun morning for me.

**********

AND NOW my favorite kind of giveaway: a race entry!

The only things most runners really "need" are shoes, shorts, a sports bra (women), and an occasional race.  Come jump for your chance to get one of those essentials.

I apologize in advance for making you act fast, because the race is THIS SATURDAY.  It is in Oakland, my very favorite city in the whole wide world (depending on my mood).

I'm feeling particularly wistful for Oakland lately so I really, badly wanted to run this brand new race that mimics my old running routes, which I stomped over hundreds of times over the course of 6 years.  So badly that I contacted the race director, and here we are.  Me and one of y'all get to run it in just a few days.



The race: The Town's Half-Marathon.

The descriptionThe Town’s Half Marathon—Run 13.1 miles throughout the best of Oakland.  Start at Tribune Tower, wind your way through uptown, downtown, Jack London Square, around glistening Lake Merritt and finish to a concert on the steps of City Hall!  Join us at this hyper-local event and stay for the RunOak local wine and beer festival.

To enter: leave a comment here, or on one of my forthcoming tweets about the giveaway.

If you enter and do not win, or if you want to bypass the giveaway, use this 10% off code: THETOWNSROSERUN at this link.  It is good through August 15, 2014. 

I will contact the winner by the end of Wednesday, since odds are 100% I won't be putting up a blog post by then to announce a winner.  If you don't comment with your blog or twitter name, leave me your email in your comment. 

There will be a few more half-marathon race entry giveaways in the next year, and next time I promise to post them with more advance time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

San Francisco Marathon - 2nd Half Marathon


Race satisfaction is all about expectations.

I didn't run anywhere near a personal best at the San Francisco Marathon "Second Half-Marathon," but I finished more content than I have at a race in a while.  I've had a lot of disappointments with races the past year, primarily attributable to feeling strong in my training but having issues ("injuries") with respect to my left leg that leave me unable to give it my all when the heat is on.

Without speed or hill training, and with months of low mileage (for me), I expected this race to hurt and to generally be disappointing.

Instead, I finished right at my "wishful thinking" time (1:30) and for the first time in a LONG time, I finished without feeling like my bad leg had been put through a meat grinder.

All was not perfect, but seriously.  My leg didn't feel abused.  That's a good thing.

Free race photos! Huge perk

The first half of the race was through Golden Gate Park, overcast, and I clung to my cheap, fog-attracting sunglasses since I thought they would fall off my head.  Oakley, call me.  (Or tell me what running sunglasses you recommend, I'm in the market).

It was far more humid than any weather I've run in this summer, because race day always brings weather obstacles.  Once the sun came out, the humidity felt extra special.

The first mile was downhill, and fast.  Somewhere around 6:15 for me.  After that, the race was steady up, up, up, DOWN SO STEEP SO SHORT, up, up, up.  At least that's how it felt to me.  The downhill portions were harsh!  Feet-slapping downhills.  The kind where you worry your quads will pay for that soon.


This photographer.  With his clever close ups. 
Even though this is one of the hilliest road half-marathons I've run, the most challenging part of the race was not the hills, but the mental exhaustion of weaving around marathoners.

The second half marathon throws runners into a stream of marathoners that are hitting their halfway point on pace to a 4.5-to-5 hour marathon.  

This is both cool, and very, very bad.  The cool part is that it is motivating to reel past other runners; it makes you feel strong as you pick other people off.  It is cool because marathoners might get a burst of energy from seeing all the fresh half-marathoners pulling them along.

It is bad because it is a mental challenge to constantly be alert and focused on how to pass all these runners.  So much weaving, so much running on the farthest tangent, so many water stops missed.  I ran a 13.32 according to Sir Garmin, and I'm sure this was partially attributed to all the weaving.  I also think I settled for a pace that felt fast, comparatively, because in some strange way the marathoners' pace was messing with my inner metronome. 

On the same note, it sucks for the marathoners who are probably thinking "shut it halfers.  I've been trucking for 2 hours and you and your spritely legs can go ahead and run the long tangent because I'm tired and have 2.5 hours to go."

This start schedule also meant I experienced what it is like to be in the caboose of a race in terms of water stops and volunteers....and it's rough.  Volunteers seemed to be running out of steam and few were handing out drinks.  The roads were a mess of cups.  People slowed and crowded to a stop for water, and I couldn't summon the energy to wedge my way in there (or otherwise failed to find a cup when I made an attempt).

Without any hydration, and the extra dose of humidity, I became overheated and/or dehydrated and boy did I feel it during the last mile. 

Miles 2-12 were all around 6:45-6:50.  Mile 13? 7:20.  I was hanging on for dear life.

6:49 garmin pace for 13.32 miles; 6:55 official pace; 1:30:52. 

I finished feeling pretty sick.  I drank everything in the world (water; coconut water; kombucha; a green drink) and couldn't eat food for several hours.  I felt so drained and needed to lie down with my eyes closed during a birthday barbecue we went to that afternoon. 

Things had been feeling ok until that last mile!  It was a flat mile, but exposed and shadeless.  I was just toast.




I felt the alarm bells of a potential calf "tangle" cramp, and the associated stiffening/locking of my knee, at the fourth mile; so I stopped and stretched at mile 4.5.  I stopped again near mile 8.  This method--stop at the first sign of a problem and stretch -- seemed to really work for me.  My leg issues didn't become a bigger problem like they have in past races.  I really wanted to stretch again during the last 3 miles, but I knew it wouldn't be worth it to find the impossible energy to start again at the same speed after coming to a dead stop.

I'm going to continue to subscribe to the running plan I've been on -- namely, no serious speed work.  My leg is feeling better, and I feel I'm on this precipice where I could slide backwards and lose these gains so easily.  I'm afraid of speedwork because of this.

I will be avoiding the track for a while (sad. I like it there) and focusing on continued but decreased treatment with my sports therapist, throwing in some comfortable tempo miles (7:00-ish pace) and some fast-finishes, something that seems so key and that I have never done.

Never done.

I also never finish fast in races.  Huh.

That's my new goal.  Stop finishing like the fading positive splitter that I am.  Finish strong.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a breathtaking little secret.

We got a generous dose of nature's medicine over the course of 6 days in the truly North part of Northern California.

Lassen is about 4 hours north of the Bay Area, an hour east of Redding, and the least visited National Park (I think that is a true statistic but don't hold me to it.)

I don't mind if it stays that way....but it is confounding why it is the case.  I have only been to Yosemite once and was underwhelmed, partially because of the high expectations but mostly because of the crowds.  I can't understand why Yosemite is 10000000x more popular than Lassen.

I'll let the pictures do the talking.



Our first campsite was in the center of Lassen at Summit Lake.  The lake was serene and the campsite is one I would definitely return to because of the convenient location near great trails, some of which start right at the campsite.  However if you want to avoid kids, this isn't your spot.  They play in the lake all day.  And avoid spot C11.  We were too close to the primitive toilets for the comfort of our noses.

Nice and early before the kids take over

We pulled off 5 mostly comfortable nights in a small backpacking tent.  The secret is to lay out a thick comforter, and then use your sleeping bags on top.

Our first hike was 8.5 miles from Bumpass Hell parking lot to Kings Creek.  That's pronounced "Bump-iss," unfortunately.

Lake Helen
We hiked by Lake Helen on the way in and out, and I dunked into it as we approached the end of our miles.  It was a hot 90 degrees out and I was dreaming of this reward.  Lake Helen, it turns out, is snow melt and I later learned is the coldest lake in the park.  I might have screamed while dunking in.  Genius pick on my part.



As the park name implies, Lassen consists of several volcanoes, one if which was so massive that when it blew, it left a ragged outline of mountain peaks and a huge valley of geothermal activity in its wake.  The geothermal activity is a nice preview of what Yellowstone has to offer.

Bumpass Hell is the most exciting geothermal attraction.  It hissed so loudly with steaming sulphur that you could hear it from a mile away.  The attraction is named after a guide who lost his leg after stepping onto a loose layer that collapsed into a boiling mud pot.







The rest of the hike towards King's Creek was silent, empty, and full of gorgeous meadows, flowers, animals and lakes.  We saw some unique birds, beavers, a ton of chipmunks, and thankfully no bears.  Lassen is bear country, which is the one reason that national parks are not perfect.  Bears scare the balls out of me and I wouldn't be sad at all if we could sprinkle magical bear food on the ground that turns all bears into cartoon-ish Winnie the Poohs or Yogi Bears.




We didn't see this coming since our hike was hot and dry....but somehow during our 8 hours away from camp, our campsite got rained on.  It's July so we reasonably didn't put our rain tarp over our tent.  

Our sleeping gear was soaked.

We had about 1 hour of sunlight left to lay out everything to dry in the sun.  It worked? ish? Lesson learned -- always put your rain tarp up!


Another day, another hike.  12 mile "lake" loop from our campsite, past the Twin Lakes, the Bear Lakes, back to our site.


We took a dip in one of the Twin Lakes.


The rest of this hike was creepy and depressing.  We tried hard to find something to appreciate in the acres and acres of blackened trees (from a 2012 fire).  After all, fire is an essential part of the life cycle of the wilderness. But we failed to appreciate it.  No shade = extra hot.  About 4 miles of fire graveyard.


At the end of this day it was time to head over to our second campsite, at Butte Lake.  This was a good 1.5 hour drive from our first campsite, to give you an idea of the size of Lassen.

We passed through Lake Manzanitas, which is a major entryway for everyone coming from Redding, and thus more crowded than it deserves to be.  We filled up on an ice cream cone, fire wood, and ice for our cooler.

We also stopped by this "book exchange" on the side of the road because I forgot to bring any reading material.  The options were slim, very slim, and I reluctantly picked John Grisham's "The Firm."  What a fantastic pick.  It is (accidentally) the funniest book ever, EVER, for the modern lawyer at least.  It is so silly and dated and not-quite-accurate.  Two small examples: it repeatedly refers to "flunking" the Bar exam, which is something I've never heard.  You pass or you fail. You don't "flunk."  Another is the constant reference to how billables are a uniquely big deal at this firm.  "It's all about the billables."  Newsflash: that's every private firm in the country. I'm going to start a new blog where I go page-by-page and discuss hilarious findings.  It's such a bad book.

When we got to our site at Butte Lake, it was raining again.  We stalled and stalled before setting up camp, hoping the rain would stop, but it didn't.  We unpacked and made a quick meal and I stole the Gentleman's raincoat since he brought one.  I had wisely declared it would be 90 degrees the whole time, and therefore brought nothing warm or waterproof.



Our Butte Lake site had access to one of the parks most memorable trails: the Cinder Cone trail.  You pass by miles of solidified lava chunks that flowed from the Cinder Cone volcano about 350 years ago.  Then you hike straight up the Cone itself.


Presenting, lava!!

First glimpse
If you take a good look at the picture below, you can see the small specks of two people hiking up the trail.  It is so, so steep and challenging.  My legs were shaky with fatigue just halfway up.  The entire volcano consists of cinder, so it is a steep hike up earth that is the consistency of sand and pebble.  A lot of people don't make it to the top.  It seems to never end.

But once you reach the top, the reward is so very worth it.




Straight up Cinder Cone


Looking into the mouth of Cinder Cone 


A view of the miles of  solidified lava flow

Painted dunes and more lava flow

Mount Lassen yonder.  The trail to the peak was closed for maintenance/improvements, so we missed out.



RUNNING

During our 6 day trip, I ran on days 3, 5, and 6 (4 miles, 5 miles, and 8 miles respectively).  I mostly ran in circles around the campsites because I'm not a fan of running by myself in bear country.  

I was not the only weirdo running.  Our neighbors at one site were 4 young runners who seemingly did nothing but run.  I woke up and saw them running; we started our fire at sundown and saw them running.  I tried to make friends with them, but quickly learned they were incompatibly younger than me based on the degree of valley girl accent.

I'm running a half marathon in San Francisco tomorrow (Sunday July 27).  It's probably going to be really uncomfortable for me.

My doctor never officially lifted his "no speedwork, no hill work" stay on my running, and I never officially dove back in to hard work.  The extent of my speed work since the Boston Marathon, three months ago, is one fast mile (at 5:50); a 5k (to be discussed later); and a 9 mile "effort" run at about 7:15 pace.  I haven't done anything more strenuous because, quite simply, I'm not done with all the work required to fix my leg.  Something is still not quite right, despite some improvement.

I'm trying to make my brain understand that it is more eager than my fitness would allow.  I should go out tomorrow at a 7:15 pace, and just try to hold that, or speed up.  But I won't.  I'll probably fall into old habits and start at a 6:30 pace, then totally die after 4 miles.  That sounds ok though.  I'd rather at least freaking try.

And maybe, just maybe, the FueledByLolz training plan of "no speed work at all, ever, except occasional 5ks" will magically work, and I can pull off something close to a 1:30.    

****

Who has been to Lassen?

What's your favorite National Park? I spend a lot of time debating this in my mind.  I think my list goes: Grand Canyon; Zion; Yellowstone.  I am DYING to go to Glacier National Park next.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Oiselle Runners World Article

What's ablaze!?

Last week it was an article in Runners World about Oiselle -- specifically, how it strives to be a "different" bird in the running apparel world.

Secret: I knew this article was coming, kind of, and was also quoted in it.

I had no idea what the article would be about.  I was contacted by the journalist for an interview about Oiselle, which I was happy to oblige.  The interview was a solid hour, and although I almost saw it coming I was mostly blindsided by questions about a very, very ancient post I wrote about the Oiselle Olympic Track Trials contest.

Because it was stale to me, I didn't have a lot to say during the interview.  I did discuss, in general, the various reasons why people like me in this online running community are rubbed the wrong way by the company.  Including the way they feast on pretty girls with a compulsion to engage in social media to pimp their brand, without any compensation in return other than a faux feeling of "belonging" or....superiority.

For a small demographic of "thoughtful" consumers who see through the company's hypocritical, vulture-like tactics, the marketing turns me off.  And it's impossible to escape.  I get an email weekly from Oiselle (which I haven't unsubscribed to purely out of fascination with the ridiculous bubbly girl-time tone), or from Twitter asking me if I'd like to follow Oiselle.

Anyway.  I basically ended up in the article as "the loser of a Oiselle contest, to the cute and self-deprecating winner and leading woman of the article."

(Not to mention the month+ old quote attributed to me doesn't make sense now that virtually anyone can join the flock if they cough up $100 fast enough.)

If you can't find my quote, search the article for "Caitlin."  That's me.

My other reactions to the article beyond celebrating my loser-status:

1) Girlfriend threw away all of her Lululemon gear in exchange for a singlet and a 30% off code?! That's crazy.

I honestly don't have anything else to say about this other than it was eye-opening, especially as the lead to the story.  Pure crazy.

It's a terrible deal for everyone but Oiselle. Why not negotiate for a hot second to reach an agreement where the flock members get to keep their old running clothes like the normal people they are.

And it's probably a case of too many selfies on the internet if you have to throw away non-sponsored clothes at risk of being seen in another brand.

2) This women power shit is so disingenuous.

As intelligently discussed here.

If Oiselle truly wanted to build a camaraderie among women runners, how about start by selling your singlet for a normal price without requiring membership or a label.  They have built their marketing scheme on a platform of exclusivity.  The Flock.  The Team.  It's bogus to then promote it as a company for all women.

Don't listen to Oiselle.  Just run without worrying about whether you belong to a cool club or not.  One of my favorite things about running in many ways is how lonely it is.  Of course some would turn running into a clique.

3) It's Not Too Late To Turn Your Reputation Around

Case in point: I voluntarily bought some Nuun last week.

 I purchased Tangerine Lime


With these hotter summers than I'm used to (microclimates -- it is way, way hotter in my new city than it was in Oakland), I have been fading hard during weekend late-morning runs.  Grabbing a couple tablets, and carrying my small handheld water bottle, sounds like a good solution (haven't tried it yet so can't confirm).  We are also going to be hiking during 90-100 degree days in Lassen, and I think they will help enhance our water.

Point being, I was finally able to see the product in the store without recoiling.  I saw it for the first time as a useful product that solves a real problem.  They've kept themselves disassociated with desperate blog shillers (at least on my blogroll) for a long enough period of time that I no longer distrusted the brand.

4) In conclusion....

The article and author produced a commendable attempt at a "fair" presentation of the company status.  The fact that it acknowledged the naysayers on a big platform like Runners World is pretty cool.  The voices of the annoyed consumers are heard.

I especially enjoyed the ribbing at the relatively small ripple Oiselle has made in the real, non-runner-online-community world: "I am not very familiar with that company. Sorry I can't help." -- retail analyst.

The $$ numbers also add up to a sort of anticlimactic story.  Oiselle is gossiped about at a much greater proportion than one would imagine for a truly "small" company based on sales.  Not all publicity is good publicity y'all.  Clearly some approaches to marketing are failing.  All this talking isn't corresponding to dollars in the bank.

And you know what? Maybe my thighs are just getting too strong (i.e. wide) for the pretty Oiselle crowd, but my much-adored Distance shorts are starting to really suck.  I'm chafing even in my fresh pairs.  They don't have me hooked at all anymore.

Time to share YOUR thoughts.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

You're Still Talking About Boston?

Ha cha cha, blog post!

Did you miss me-slash-us??
When RunnersKitchen has been  blogging more than you, you know you're slacking.

I'll tell you where I've been since Boston.  Focused on fixing my body and the legendary leg-lock.  Very focused.  More than I've ever been.

Continuing to blog while trying to fix an "ailment" (notice I am not committed to using the word "injury") would be wise to document, both for me and readers.  However it's not something I have wanted to do.  Instead, I committed to weeks and months of proactive recovery, in the hopes that I will be able to share true progress reports.  Or share an affirmative "I'm fucked forever" report.

I've been working with Precision Sports Medicine for several months.  Treatment began about 5-6 weeks before the Boston marathon, and I've stuck with it since.  One day a week of treatment (graston, ART) and two days a week of physical therapy (TRX, bosu balancing, medicine balls, all of it).

The value there is fantastic -- for almost a full hour of treatment, I pay the same amount I used to pay for 15 minutes of ART at a competing business.  And I love my docs.  They are patient, encouraging, determined, and understanding (of things like runners wanting to, you know, run.)

I'm sturdy as shit now, too.  I'm breaking world records at the one-leg balance on a bosu ball. 40 seconds.  Call me, Guinness book of whatever.

I'm hoping to cut back soon, for the sake of my wallet and the stress of fitting this all in between work hours.  It has been tricky to pull off.

Treatment won't completely stop anytime soon though.  I've seen improvements in my running, I feel sturdy and strong and less uneven or "crooked".  But I am not confident the improvements are permanent yet, or that they won't slip slide backwards as soon as I try and race again.  I mean I have certainly had demoralizing runs mixed in with the encouraging ones these past 2 months.

Along the way, I got an x-ray of my left hip and an MRI of my back.  The orthopedic I was referred to straight up refused an MRI of my hip because he was positive, based on my 30 second description of my symptoms, that it was not a hip issue -- and that if it was a labral tear, well who cares because 50%+ of the population has a labral tear.  Oooookkkaayyyyy.

Anyway good news, nothing wrong based on those images.  My sports therapist has continued to treat me as though a number of potential things could be wrong, so the results of a hip MRI probably wouldn't change our course much.  No one seems too concerned (or concerned enough to call running off altogether) since I can technically run 10+ miles (so long as I'm not racing it) without problem.

I was prescribed less mileage after Boston.  I rocked 40 miles/week forever, and have recently worked my way up to about 60.  I was also prescribed no speed work, no hills, only soft surfaces, so that has been boring as shit.

I plan to dip my toe back into speed work any minute now, which is part of why I thought I should get back to blogging.  First, to see how my body reacts to faster speeds with the treatment and strength training; and Second, because....

I'm signed up for THREE races! 2 out of 3 are complimentary entries, thanks to leaning on the crutch of some of my old fast times. (sub 1:28 half allows free entry for these races).  San Francisco Marathon "second half," Berkeley half, and CIM! Love CIM.  So sad I had to miss it last year.  Sorry to everyone planning to run it, but now that I have signed up, the forecast will be a monsoon or 85 degrees or 4 degrees.

Not to bring up Boston, which is old news, but I had intended to share some other fun photos and moments from the trip but then I was kidnapped and denied access to my blog.

Traveling with my mom was a major highlight.  I don't think I've had the luck to do so since I was 16!

We played tourist all over the Freedom Trail
The coolest photo to make it out of Boston with us.  Captured by the Gentleman around mile 17

Ze Boston Public Library, like all good libraries, had a room of stinky homeless people

With time passed, my feelings towards the trip are still conflicted.  Great experience, bummer experience.  I'm pretty sure I won't be running it again in 2015, or even 2016.  It was for sure worth doing in 2014, of all years, and that will tide me over for a few years I think.  I can't justify that expense again in the near future for a 3-day "vacation."   We are leaving shortly for a 5-day summer vacation to Lassen National Park, and the whole trip so far adds up to about $300, gas and food included, so it's not cool for me to be like "HEY let's multiply that cost by 15, and spend it on a 3 day trip all about ME and my hobby that I can do virtually ANYWHERE."  So....California marathons it is for the foreseeable future.

Am I level headed or am I missing something? Traveling across state lines for races every year, or multiple times a year, is whack to me (for the non-professional runner).  Even if your family claims to be 1000% supportive of devoting vacation funds to your races, it's unfair to them.  Unless you're just dripping with extra money and free time...

Also in reflection, the memory of the last few miles at Boston still stings.  I appreciate the electrolyte and pickle juice advice I received in my last post, but I know my body.  The dreadful calf cramp that threatened to end my race at the 26th mile was related to my leg-lock symptoms.  I had the same tangle cramp at all of the most recent races I ran, even a 50-degree half-marathon.  The only difference is in those races, I didn't have another 15 miles to run on the tangle cramp, so I survived without much issue.  Frustratingly, not even my sports therapist understood.  When I told him what happened, he thought it was great I got to finish, and blamed it on electrolytes.  Nah.  Most patients may be a matter of "doc, just help me get to the finish line!" but that's not me.  I didn't need his help to get to the finish line.  I've run sub 3:10 marathons on this mess of a leg.  I needed help to get strong and healed so I could focus on my race and normal marathon pain, instead of leg-lock problems.  Well, I wasn't strong or healed, since I gave the poor doc 5 weeks to fix a 2.5 year old injury.

You runners are the dictionary definition of insane.
Regardless, I am now feeling strong on my leg formerly known as the bad leg-lock leg, and only time and a race will tell how it holds up.

Hopeful. 
I'm planning to turn that photo into an inspirational poster.  "When you feel like you've reached the end of your rope, climb into a bird home and hang on."

In addition to pumping some medicine balls and TRX cords, the Gentleman and I have been spinning wheels.  We bought bikes!

I'm not great at getting ON the bike.  Or off.  It's messy.

We have been going for "short" rides every weekend, and occasionally after work (TGI-Summer).  Haven't gone farther than about 15 miles on any given excursion, which is just about all my crotch and back can handle.  Flabbergasted as to how any of y'all can stay in that position for 100+ miles.

Please be advised I'm a big bike wimp.  I hate riding on roads with cars; I hate sharp turns; I hate going fast downhill; I hate that I can't hear anything because of the wind whipping around my ears.  I sometimes forget how un-athletic I am until I try something that isn't running.  (see: swimming.)

As another supplement to "cross-training," we occasionally go for a hike from our front door.  Can you believe that the hike to this photo view is exactly one mile (almost all straight up) from our home? I still can't.  I'm handling suburbia quite well.

Our "backyard."

Aaaand, using a teapot to water the one non-weed plant in our real "backyard."

I'm back! Say hi to me so I remember how this works, and I'll come again soon.