Monday, October 8, 2012

San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon

Nobody bought my San Jose RnR half marathon bib.  You guysssss-ah!

So I ran the thing, which I deeply wanted to, especially after not running all week.  I was excited about the big field (approximately 12,000 runners) which meant it had the vibe and energy I am used to finding in full marathons (LA marathon, Eugene, CIM).

Reading a running blog which is all about injuries/body issues is NOT INTERESTING, so I'm going to try and limit that aspect to just one or two paragraphs and give you the choice of skipping on by.  Warning: that paragraph is the next one.

The backdrop to Sunday's half marathon was that I had not run a single yard at faster than an 8:45 minute pace in 2.5 weeks.  If anyone knows something I don't, please share, but I'm pretty sure that after 2.5 weeks of running slow, your body doesn't really remember how to go fast.  I had also run about zero miles in the seven days leading up to the race.  Every time I went out the door to try and run, I found myself "limp-running" due to a sharp pain in the front of my right hip.  I don't know who's keeping track, but let me recap one more time: I have a chronic (one-year now!!) left leg buttcrease pain that is easy to run through but becomes vicious while running races/tempos because it causes my leg to lock up.  And for a little over 2 weeks I have had a new pain in the front of my right hip.  I thought it was a femoral neck stress fracture because it didn't feel like it originated in a muscle/tendon, but my chiropractor thought otherwise.  I still don't know.


Saturday night, I had also sorts of stress issues about how to get into San Jose and find parking before the race in my style (which is to show up at 3.4 minutes before the race starts).  I have never driven to a race the morning of this far away (one hour away) and for stress-relief purposes I prefer to stay in a hotel or friend's home for races an hour+ away.  I solved this issue by not sleeping at all (join the club), getting up at 5:50, leaving the house at 6:07, and parking a few blocks from the start at 6:58.  The race started at 8:00 a.m.  Do you know what this means? I WAS SO BORED.

I have never been even CLOSE to this early to a race.  The nearest runner-up might be a time that I was 12 minutes early to a race.  How early was I!??  I was so early that all the port-a-potties were empty and unused.  So I used all of them.  Just kidding, but I did go to the bathroom twice out of boredom.

Know what else happened because I was so early?? I got hungry.  And thirsty.  And so that is how I started the race.  Right after finding these suckers at like 7:54, who I had been searching for like crazy the entire hour prior.

Me, Dennis, Katie, Jessica.  I was about to striptease my throwaway shirt.
 I had three options:
1) start very safe and slow, check how butt and hip were feeling, then take it from there.
2) Run the entire race conservatively as an easy fun run
3) start out at race pace, and see if I can hang on.

I jogged maybe about a mile in total before the race to warm up and stave off my boredom.  My buttcrease was feeling tight.  My front-hip issue was feeling encouragingly mild.

I chose option number 3.  I guess I still live under the delusion that my current race pace is 6:30, despite the fact that my body hasn't let me train to make that a reality in weeks.  And so, my "race pace" didn't last very long.

Mile 1: 6:36
Mile 2: 6:26
Mile 3: 6:31
Mile 4: 6:39
Mile 5: 6:36
Mile 6: 6:42

It was exactly mile 5.6 when my buttcrease pain began to spread and cause the leg-lock feeling.  I remember looking at my watch and thinking, ugh.  We're not even halfway.  So I told myself to get to the half-way point (6.6 ish) and then I could stop and stretch out my hip so that I could run a little more comfortably, and hopefully keep up a decent pace.

I ended up stopping just after the mile 7 sign, for the quickest stretch I could manage.  I'd guess about 15 seconds.

Mile 7: 6:48
Mile 8: 6:46
Mile 9: 6:55
Mile 10: 6:42

I suffered through the last 6.3 miles. That's all I remember.  Surely there was fun energy with the live music and some beautiful neighborhoods, but it was mostly uncomfortable for me.  My body sux.  I let myself take another stretch break during the beginning of mile 11, probably another 15 seconds, and focused on my stride (thinking maybe shorter strides don't aggravate the buttcrease).

I mentioned that I started the race hungry and thirsty.  I had a Gu in my pocket, but I just could not bring myself to eat it.  Some days, I really cannot-will-not eat while running.  I did my best by grabbing only Gatorade over water when it was available (3x I think?), and slowing down enough to actually get some down my throat instead of in my hair, etc.  I faded a little, but I'm blaming this on my body issues, and not on my fueling.

Mile 11: 6:56
Mile 12: 6:50
Mile 13: 6:38
0.29: 1:49 (6:20 pace)

By my watch: 1:29:01 for 13.29 miles = avg pace 6:42.

Pace liar
Main screen

Officially 1:29:27, 6:50 pace.

I have a confession.  I actually don't think I know what it means to "run the tangents."  When there is a turn, I run near the inside of the curve.  I try to aim towards more of a straight line than a C-shaped curve.  But every single race I have run, I end up about 0.05-0.10 farther than most of my friends (most of them clocked about a 13.24 yesterday, to my 13.29).  Not a big deal of course, but I really wonder what I am doing wrong?


I met with some friends who had AMAZING races*, sat on the grass, and ate my free Jamba Juice smoothie and Snickers Marathon bar.  And stretched a lot.  My upper hamstring/buttcrease was mad at me.

Naomi, Dennis, Me, Katie, Jessica, Sesa

*Dennis ran a 1:30 after having run THREE marathons the prior weekend.  Read that again.  He ran almost 80 miles in three days, in altitude, took 6 days off, then ran a 1:30 half marathon.  Jessica dropped her PR from 1:35 down to a 1:30, and is about to drop another huge PR in New York for the marathon.  Sesa killed it again with another PR with a 1:51.  Katie ran her butt off in 1:39 despite running a marathon the week prior and hanging out in the port-o-potties for 8 minutes during the race. And my friend Amber (not pictured) ran a PR despite shin pain and the absence of her normal running buddy.

I stalked some strollers hoping to find Janae and her cute babe (ahem, Brooke not Billy), but it was chaos there (18,000 runners and their family members) and, by golly, I hadn't expected to look for her right on my tail with an uber-fast post-pregnancy race debut!

In sum, I have decided that my new training plan is to get pregnant, and run 3 marathons the week before my next half marathon.  Seems to be working for everyone else.

I drove home, and put a water bottle under each of my buttcreases because it hurt too much to sit in the car for a full hour.  Once home, I met up with the Gentleman and we went to a sports bar to watch the 49ers game, where I still could not sit.  Then I passed out (remember, no sleep that night) and despite my strongest urges NOT to share this embarrassment with you, it makes me laugh too hard not to.

It's true.  I often sleep with the pillow on the wrong side of my head.


I had fun.  Rock 'n Roll may be expensive, but the race was fantastic.  Very organized and punctual, thousands of really spectacular volunteers.  The course was crazy-flat and easy; this should be a PR course for anyone, unless you are me and your body slows you down by the month.

I am not happy with a 1:29 in the least.  I know that I can't expect anything better given the dead halt in my running the weeks prior, and the pain that persists when I try to run faster.  But just a few months earlier this year, I was running in the low 1:27s, and I expect only to improve.  Isn't that a huge part of what makes running so addicting? I expected to be running a 1:25 by this point in the year.

Running in and of itself will always be enough to please me, no matter how hard or what speed.  But when it comes to putting down the money to run a race, I don't have the patience to remain stagnant.  1:29 is not only standing still at this point; it is moving backwards.  This is basically the half marathon pace I was running in early 2011 on accident, without working for it.

I suppose I will be meeting with a doctor again this week, finally getting some x-rays/bone scans/MRI/MRA done.  If someone would just TELL ME WHAT TO DO to make my body better, I would do it.  I have spent time and money on three professionals who have all told me to continue running, while voicing optimism that my running issues would be fixed.  1) a Kaiser physical therapist who told me to stretch more, stand more (advice taken).  2) an out of plan PT who told me to do glute strengthening exercises (advice taken, except kettleball classes were rejected due to hating it).  3) a sports chiropractor who gave me confidence that I would be feeling great within 3 sessions of ART.

The saga continues. 


  1. I know the feeling (on a much, much lesser level - I've gone from 1:30 through sheer luck and elite levels of body fat to training my ass off and struggling for 1:34s) - your paragraphs about running being satisfying, yet not wanting to race unless there is progress, sum up my feelings about half marathons this year. I've made some marathon improvement, but have started going backwards at that distance as well for no good reason other than hauling around too much mass (not your problem, obviously!)

    I really do hope there is an answer for you to all of this - my buttcrease issues come and go, and at the moment I'm just having to go with them because I have no other option. It is frustrating for me as a low level runner, so I cannot imagine how irritating it must be when you're far higher up the scale of running talent.


  2. are super fast even when injured. I know it's not 1:25 but that's still an awesome time, especially considering you're injured. I hope your injury resolves itself soon as I know it must be so frustrating. Glad you got to experience the race though and still bang out a great time and place!

  3. I know how you feel. I have this chronic groin injury that neither doctor I saw nor the PTs have helped. I finally concluded that not running was just as painful as running, so I just started running again and am hoping for the best. Honestly I think it's better for me to just consistently run, since what seems to aggravate the injury is increasing mileage/speed. Once I get there, I can tolerate it. But if I take a break or take it easy, working back up to where I was is agony.
    As far as tangents go, I do usually do an OK job there. For this year's RnR New Orleans marathon I was under 26.3, and that to me is good given how crowded the course was this year. I practice in the park as something to do when I'm running multiple loops. I try to see how short I can make the loop - it's about 1.8 but I've gotten it down to 1.75 ;-) The things we do during 20 mile runs...
    Congratulations on a fast race even with injury. You'll be at 1:25 as soon as you're healthy.

    1. this is the frustrating part. I have a hunch that if I take my two weeks off, nothing will change. When i take 3-5 days off, I kind of feel worse.

  4. I hear you on the injury thing. My stupid leg thing-that-still-never-really-got-diagnosed lingered from January to June, during which time I saw a D.O. at my primary care practice, a sports medicine doctor, a physical therapist, and an out-of-network podiatrist, none of whom I actually believe fixed me, and got X-rays and an MRI (insurance-covered, thank goodness) that showed absolutely nothing. I don't know WHAT fixed me. Time? (Though I do think glute exercises and orthotics helped, in my case, I don't think there was some magic bullet.) It's so annoying to have one of those injuries that's just like, "um, well, not running isn't really changing anything, so I guess I'll just run kinda shittily forever? I guess?" So: good luck on getting some workable answers soon!

    In other news, that picture of you sleeping reminds me of gloworm. As in this guy:

    1. lol. I don't see the resemblance...? But gloworm is adorable.

      I always thought Time would be the thing that would fix the buttcrease. Different parts of this year, it did seem to disappear. I'm so glad your leg thing is gone, hope it never comes back.

  5. Are we allowed to call you an idiot? The buttercream (yeah, sorry, still read buttcrease as buttercream) injury is one thing, but the change your gait front pain, come on now...
    Also - could it be your garmin? Maybe it is a little off compared to everyone else's.

    Hope you heal up quickly.

    1. Yep, I'm not a smart runner. I did take all last week off running, and noticed day-by-day improvements in the new front pain after some ART. My Chiropractor made me (possibly falsely) feel confident that it was just some wound-up tendons. Luckily, I don't remember it bothering me during the race, but today I can tell it isn't gone.

    2. I'm not a smart runner either. Which is why I usually don't feel bad (but do feel totally hypocritical) calling other people idiots when they run injured.

  6. Stupid hip. I hope you find a solution soon.

  7. The picture of you sleeping on the sofa is cuter than any pictures of my kids. Really. And my kids are really cute.

    If I were a religious person I'd probably say that this is part of God's Plan. I think the "run three marathons in a single weekend and get pregnant" idea sounds like as good a training plan as any!

    If you want me to do free fake ART on you just let me know.

  8. I have nothing to contribute except, dude, your ass hates you, apparently.

    1. I'm going to win my ass over with kindness

  9. I second Rose on that...your ass does not agree with you on anything!

  10. Freaking frustrated for you!

    Staring at the bottom of a pool, lap swimming, makes you want to poke your eyes out - BUT I swear the pool is a miracle healer. Worth a shot?..

  11. I've posted this before but I had very similar pain a couple of months ago. I had upper hamstring/glute pain on my left side and hip flexor pain on my right. The pain on my left actually kept me from running for a week and the right hip flexor pain was managable but would exhibit itself at about 8-10 miles into a run.

    After doing some research I fixed the problem. Everyone has a dominant hand/eye/ and LEG. I realized that my right hip flexor was doing more work than my left hip flexor and that my left hamstring was doing more than my right causing premature fatigue in both areas. Basically my left was doing more of the push off and my right was doing more of the lift part of my stride. When I really paid attention to it I realized that my right leg was more dominant and the left was just kind of along for the ride except when I went to push off.

    So I did some hip flexor strengthening on both sides but more on the left side and I would concentrate on using my left leg which was enough to even it out with the right. The result was running :15-20 seconds per mile faster instantly and absolutely no more pain on either side at any distance (up to 19 miles, the farthest I've run) or any speed/effort level within a week. My left leg muscles are also noticably smaller than my right and one legged exercises also highlight the issue.

    I'm no doctor or PT but I say strengthen your non dominant side and really focus on using both legs equally. Hope this helps.

    1. Good reminder for me to keep up the hip flexor strengthening. I'm sure my left leg is weaker than my right, makes sense. Glad you fixed yourself!

  12. Yo, what are are describing is exactly running the tangents. Basically shelby put it best when she drew a curvy course (like an s) and drew a straight line through it. Basically touching the tangent of each curve. Or "curb" in this situation.

    Come to LA and I'll draw you a diagram. It'll be awesome.

    Take comfort in the fact that you will improve when you're not injured. Running is weird, and you can't always improve when you want, but there's almost always room for improvement. And you will.

    Is it worth all the pain and hours though? Not sure :). Lately I've been thinking sleep and cheeseburgers are a hell of a lot more fun.

  13. Love that photo, hate the fact that your hip/butt continues to ail you. Hoping for a helpful doctors visit this week. Keep us posted.

  14. Gah. How freaking frustrating this must be. There is no sarcasm there. I can't imagine trying at least three professionals' (and I'm sure countless normal)advice and it STILL not getting you anywhere. And at the least you could get a rough timetable, because when they say "you'll be fine" maybe they mean in 18 months...but who knows?! Sorry, that probably didn't help. *whistles*

    Also, 1:29 is still not shabby, even though not in your goal range.

  15. do you think maybe you should go see someone else? before I found my NMT/TP therapist I saw a sports med doc and chiro... both which did not help me. I actually think I was treated for the wrong thing in the spring. finding the source of the problem is the hardest part. hope you figure it out soon...a year is a LONG time! feel for ya.

    glad you enjoyed the RnR as they have a mixed rep. I've loved both the races I've done of theirs... not cheap. but many aren't, not just theirs.

  16. your plan to get faster sounds kinda like just start pumping out babes. hopefully it works, i'll let you know ;)

    i've gotten quite a bit slower this year too. i know that for me it's because i should have taken more time off back in april when shit started getting rocky but i instead took 2 days off and tried to continue on like things were all good and normal. it's actually taken me until about a month ago to feel like i'm starting to get back on track, but i know that the sub 1:25 half that i've been pining for all year is still light years away. but i think it's normal to sometimes take one step forward and two steps back. the body is so complicated and can't always meet our demands, so don't give up hope girl! that 1:25 is in those legs, it just may not be in the time line you want.

    do you cycle your training? build ups and recoveries for peaks?

    1. My cycle is build up....feel a pre-injury.....forced recovery. No planned cycles. Thank you for the encouragement!

  17. Glad that you did RNR SJ, I've only done that race once but loved it. Flat and fast, and just the right amount of people so I didn't feel overwhelmed.

    Sounds like you had a good race considering you haven't been able to run as much recently.

    I have no idea what to suggest on your buttcrease pain. Joseph H's comment above sounds like the best advice I've heard so far. Have you ever had a video tape stride analysis done by a doctor? (not a running store). Maybe they can help pinpoint what is going on.

    And it sounds like everyone killed it out there on the course, no surprise given the course and conditions.

  18. I can't believe you ran so fast while in pain!! You are a maniac woman! Congrats on another awesome race!

  19. Great job on the race, notwithstanding the injury! Have you thought about having your gait analyzed? There might be a form issue that is causing a misalignment somewhere. Kristen

  20. If I were you, I would 1. do the X-ray/MRI/whatever and then 2. take a week off work and go see Dr. John Ball in Arizona. He fixes runners...apparently. I know this from reading blogs, including Lauren Fleshman, Susan Loken, and Meggie @ The thinks I can think ( Good luck!!!

    1. Dr. John Ball? Never heard of him. Fix me Dr. Ball!!

  21. I seriously have no idea how you run so fast INJURED. I am so sorry you are dealing with this and it makes me wonder how fast you could have ran it without the pain and stretching! I really wish I could have found you especially since you were there so early... we could have hung out for a long time! So what are our plans for this weekend? How about we learn how to run the tangents together!

    1. Maybe we can meet in SF on Saturday since you will be there for the Nike expo?

  22. I thought I was the only person in the world that slept with a pillow on my head. That makes my day.

    Also, I think running 10 miles in 1:30 is impressive, so a half in that time? Not too shabby.

  23. First of all, thanks for the kind words on my blog. The PF was a hard fought battle, especially since I'm not trained for a 6+ hour marathon. Props to those back of the pack people. It's not easy.

    Second, how the hell do you run so fast injured? Where do you get your confidence from? I need to grow a pair. I was too far comfy in my goal marathon a few weeks ago "waiting" for my ankle to explode and subsequently missed my goal by 5 minutes. Now after 3 weeks of bliss from a 25 minute PR, I'm starting to get pissed.

    I can understand your dissapointment. It absolutely sucks to be injured. I hope you get back to 100% before your marathon. I love RnR San jose- if I wasn't slogging through the Chicago marathon with my man I would have been out there following in your speedy footsteps!

    1. I agree, I think running for longer than 4 hour sounds so much harder than a BQ time. Props indeed!

      It's a good question how I have "confidence" to race while injured...I sure don't feel like I have that confidence. I start almost every race unsure if my body will make me stop like it sometimes does during a fun run. I think it is race day adrenaline and "tapering" that just makes me feel ok during a race and I don't think too much about the pain.

  24. Dude. I totally get how frustrated you are. Trust me. I've been there for two solid months this training cycle. But you HAVE TO REST. If you don't it won't get any better. Resting doesn't have to mean sitting on your ass doing nothing, but it's not going to get any better if you keep running. Tough love.


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