Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: ...Lookin' Back

Happy 2011As promised, the misty-eyed, run-spirational, disgustingly sentimental end-of-calendar-year reflection.

Just kidding. That kind of stuff makes me ill. Also, can we declare a moratorium on the word "run-spiration"? Cuz damn.

Still, given where I was a year ago, this has been a pretty awesome year running-wise. I spent most of 2010 dealing with hip pain that got worse and worse and worse until any amount of running at all became almost unbearable. My goal had been to break 1:40 at SJ RNR '10, but by mid-September I knew there was no way it was going to happen. It nearly became my first DNS, but in the end I ran & finished it (PW, btw) in near excruciating pain. After that, I stopped running entirely. Long story short, I saw a sports medicine guy in December '10 who grimaced a bit at my symptoms & sent me to physical therapy. For some reason I decided that signing up for a 5K PR attempt in February seemed like a FABULOUS idea. (Yeah, I know. Facepalm.) Average weekly mileage for the last three months of 2010 = approximately nothing.

January '11:.
  • PT 3x weekly for "hip dysfunction, not otherwise specified," meaning "otherwise specified as everything," where "everything" included a tilted pelvis, weak glute meds, strength imbalance in the hip abductors, leg bones that don't line up properly, one leg shorter than the other, hypermobile hips & ankles, muscle adhesions in the piriformis, etc etc etc.
  • The prognosis: "You have a lot of problems, which have led to other problems, some of which may be fixable."
  • The hard sell: "It took you a long time to get this hurt, so it's going to take a long time to get unhurt. Be patient."
  • The goal: Be able to run pain-free for short distances at some point later this year.
  • The program: ART, ultrasound, & a near-obscene amount of strength work for hips, core, & posterior kinetic chain. To quote one of my PTs, "I'd say 75% of all running injuries we see are the result of a lack of consistent strength training for the core & pelvic stability muscles [hips, glutes, & transverse abs]." Also, no running for at least a few weeks.

You can imagine how disheartening this was. You can also imagine how I continued to run anyway because of the stupid 5K I'd signed up for, and how my PTs continued to give me the stink eye for it. (This is probably why I was in PT for 4 months instead of, say, 2.5) Still, I was in enough pain that I couldn't run much anyway, so average weekly mileage = < 10.

  • Still in physical therapy, 2x weekly.KP 5K 2011
  • Kaiser Permanente 5K. 22:19, 5th in A/G, & only 19 seconds over my PR -- not bad for having not trained & not having functional hip muscles. :)
  • Hip pain continues unabated (shocking)
  • Average weekly mileage: ~15

I still hadn't been cleared to run regularly. This seemed like a small matter, though, compared to getting that 1:40 monkey off my back, which I was determined to do this year after the sufferfest that had been SJ RNR '10. The advice from a better runner than I? "If you want to get faster at the half, work on your 10K."

I was pretty unexcited about this advice. I liked the 5K because, although you run ridiculously hard, it's over before you know it. I liked the half because, even though you run for 90+ minutes, all but the last few miles are reasonably comfortable. To me, the 10K seemed to be the worst of both worlds: twice as long as the 5K and only a slightly slower pace. But I believed her, so I started plotting my 2011 10K Summer Tour, starting with Santa Cruz 10K in April. You can guess how excited my PTs were to hear about that.

  • Still in physical therapy, down to weekly. More ART, more ultrasound, more strength work.
  • PTs still giving the stink eye for running more than a few miles a week
  • Still having hip pain, but slightly less bad
  • Shin splints beginning to flare up
  • Average weekly mileage: ~18

  • PT every 2 weeks; still doing tons of strength work on my own.
  • Hip pain gradually getting better
  • Santa Cruz 10K. 44:24, 5th in A/G (though I later learned the course was short by .2, so realistically my 7:24 pace should've resulted in a time more like ~45:50)
  • Fear of the 10K: vanquished
  • Average weekly mileage: ~18ish pre-SC 10K & < 10 after (I took it easy for a couple of weeks to give my hip a chance to really heal

  • Discharged from PT!!!! (& instructed to continue strength exercises. Another PT quote: "You, especially, cannot afford to ignore strength work. Ever.")
  • Hip pain still present, but gradually going away
  • Shin splints getting worse
  • Continue plotting 2011 10K Summer Tour: PrideRun 10K, Bad Bass 10K, & Summer Breeze 10K.
  • Discover run-blogging is a thing
  • Start reading running blogs
  • Start run-blogging
  • Fret about which fall half marathon to run.
  • Toy with idea of registering for CIM.
  • Average weekly mileage: ~16
PrideRun 10K 2011
  • Hip pain still present, but still getting better
  • Shin splints still sucking
  • Register for Clarksburg Half Marathon
  • Toy with idea of registering for CIM.
  • PrideRun 10K. 45:22, 3rd A/G. Not an official PR, but still faster than Santa Cruz in terms of average pace (7:19)
  • Average weekly mileage: ~23

October: Clarksburg 2011 Bloggers
  • Fret about marathon.
  • Cal International Marathon. 3:47:04 (completely respectable, even with a mid-race asthma attack)
  • Marathon uncertainty: vanquished.
CIM 2011

So no, I didn't get my 1:39:xx, but still not a bad year. Not a bad year at all.

  • I got the hip pain dealt with & maintained a reasonably good strength routine (hips, glutes, hamstrings, core) for most of the year.
  • I averaged 50 miles a week for two months with virtually no hip pain.
  • I conquered my fear of the 10K & PR'd twice.
  • I ran my first trail race.
  • I ran my first marathon & had a fantastic experience.
  • I haven't been tracking cumulative mileage for the year, but out of curiosity, I decided to add up all my weekly totals for 2011. Considering how little I was able to run during the first half of the year, I was kind of stunned to see that I still broke 1,000 miles! Not a mind-blowing number by any stretch, but under the circumstances it still surprised me. (I finished out the year right around 1,320.)
  • I've found a fantastic & supportive community of runners in the Bay Area & in San Francisco that approach running a lot like I do -- they enjoy training hard, getting faster, and gunning for PRs, but they're passionate about other things as well and don't pin their self-worth to their recent race results.

Honestly, if I'd accomplished nothing other than being able to run again at all even remotely pain-free, I would've been happy, so realistically this year was kind of a home run. (I'd call it Grand Slam, but where would that leave me next year?)

A few things I'm still working on:
  • I didn't reach my goal of running a sub-1:40 half marathon, so that's still on the table.
  • Although I think I was in shape to do it around August / September, I didn't PR in the 5K. Then again my only 5K this year was with two gimpy hips & followed four months of little or no running.

So plenty of goal-fodder for next year. Still, it's hard to complain about that first list.

Happy holidays & see you in 2012!


  1. I am loving your September entries, one in particular! What a strong year for you -- can't wait to see what 2012 holds!

    (By the way, your blogger profile section that says "My Web Page" is still linking to your old Tumblr account... I updated my reader, but you may want to update that for all your other raving fans!)

  2. Great recap, this post must have taken a long time to do! You had a great year, from all the races you ran to your first marathon.

    That Stanford loss was super painful to experience, I thought we had them...