Sunday, June 30, 2013

Running & Racing, I Am Coming For You.

Friends, today is the last day of June. Which means tomorrow is the first day of July. And you know what I said was happening the first day of July.

Come tomorrow evening, it is on like Donkey Kong at Kezar Track. My only goal is to get around the track once, slowly, with nothing worse than a dull ache. If I have no pain at all, I may rest it for a few minutes & try one more lap, but .5 miles is definitely the cap for day 1.



First, a quick update:

  • I've been going up stairs with my strained (right) leg! Not 100% normally -- I can tell I'm still favoring it just a little, and there is some really really faint mild pain that wraps around from the crest of my hip through my TFL & into the inside / adductor part of my thigh, but I can do it without wincing & collapsing into a quivering ball of pain.
  • I can do some amount of eccentric loading (think single-leg squats) without holding on to something, maybe ~20° or so, which is a big change from a couple of weeks ago when any eccentric stuff wasn't even a glimmer on the horizon. If I go much farther than that, my TFL gets pretty unhappy, but I have definitely found that the more I squeeze my glutes, the further I can go without pain, which is the whole idea.
  • I've been doing a sort of ball-of-foot bounding gait down our hallway from time to time (so maybe 10-15 yards), which is pretty comfortable. I wouldn't call it running, because any amount of putting my weight forward still absolutely kills my hip, but there is in fact a brief moment of suspension, which again, was something I couldn't even dream about two weeks ago.
  • I've dropped into karate a couple of times and found that can actually do about 45 minutes or so of reasonably solid (if slow and not particularly snappy) basics & kata work. 90° turns are a breeze; past that, my hip still doesn't really have the stability for it yet. Supporting weight on the leg is the only really issue; actually kicking with it is totally fine.
  • I've managed some of the lunging motions in yoga that were giving me trouble last week. I can't hold them for as long as we're supposed to, but I can (usually) get in & out of the poses without hurting myself.
  • Still can't quite go down a step with the left leg (which requires the right leg to do most of the work), but I keep trying, every morning on my way out of the house.
  • Still can't do a flying axe kick (in case you were wondering).

So. I think it's safe to say that we're seeing steady progress, even if it's not particularly speedy progress. I do have to keep reminding myself to compare where I to where I was 1 / 2 / 3 weeks ago, not 1 / 2 /3 days ago, because the improvements are really too small to see from day to day. I see both my sports medicine doc & PT again this week, so it'll be interesting to see what they say.

In addition to buying shoes I can't yet use, I've also been perusing races I can't yet train for. Now, I am under no illusions that I will be a) doing anything that even remotely resembles actual "training" any time soon, b) in anything that remotely resembles good shape when I do get back to training, or c) setting any PRs for the rest of the year. That's fine. That is the price of running a marathon you really shouldn't have, and I knew blowing the next couple of months was a risk going into it.

But, as with the shoes, thinking about fall races means I have some optimism. I can conceive of finishing something longer than a mile within the next 4-6 months. I don't want to sink too much money or travel time into anything since I think it's unlikely I'll be in shape to really "race"-race, but once I'm back to running consistently again, I think it will do me good mentally to have some things on the calendar locally for later in the fall. In general I have a policy against spending money on races I'm not planning to actually race, but what better way could there be than crossing a finish line to draw a line in the sand & say, "Now, I am back. Now I am ready to train."

I think the smart money is on starting with a 10K. I wanted to run a sub-44 10K at some point this year once M2B was done (which I really think I could do if I buckled down & trained specifically for it), but I don't know if that's in the cards anymore since I will have lost so much base training & probably won't be up for serious speed work again for a good while. But I would still like to run one & use the time as a gauge of just how much ground I have to make up after all the hip drama.

I am not even kidding you that I was in the middle of stalking active.com for local fall 10Ks when this email arrived:

"A celebration of all that makes the 510 a great place to live and run, this race will start and finish at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley and runners will be able to finish on the "home stretch" of the race track itself!"

How much of the love do I have for Brazen races? ALL THE LOVE. October is far enough away that I feel pretty good about the odds of being able to run a solid race & finish strong. All I have to do is get our fall travel plans squared away & make sure I'll be in town for it.

I'd love to get another solid half in before the end of the year as well, and currently the Berkeley Half Marathon on 11/24 is looking pretty enticing (and as it happens, also inaugural, & also in Berkeley).

Depending on how quickly the recovery goes, I might be in shape to do something else before October, but these are the two I'm most excited about so far.

Bay Area peeps, have you heard about these races? Are you thinking about adding either one to your fall calendar? I hear there is a 10% discount for the 10K if you register together with someone (taking the price from $44 down to < $40).

Wish me luck as I head to the track tomorrow!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Shoe Review: Kinvara 3 vs Kinvara 4

If you keep up with Saucony, you might have heard that the Kinvara 4, the updated version of my beloved Kinvara 3s, was recently released.

Do I already have more running shoes than I realistically need right now (ie, more than zero) in the rotation? Maybe.

Are there already three fresh pairs waiting in boxes above my closest? Perhaps.

Am I not still at least a couple of weeks away from being able to do any activity that requires running shoes? Fair point.

But. The fact that my excitement over new running gear has returned is significant in terms of my mental health, kind of like when you've been sick for a while & finally get your appetite back. It signals that I'm feeling optimistic, that I can anticipate having some potential use for running gear in the next few weeks.

Any time a new version of one of my favorite shoes is released, I always face the same agonizing choice. Do I...

1) Get myself a super cheap pair (or two) of my old, tried-and-true favorites, or...

2) Accept that the times they are a-changing and try out the new version, reasoning that, if I hate them, better to know sooner than later?

I was feeling extra bold the other night, I guess, because after a little internet bargain hunting, I found myself rejecting the tyranny of the 'or' and embracing the genius of the 'and.'

BOOM.


Saucony Kinvara 3


Saucony Kinvara 4

(Sidenote: While I was writing this, I was like, "Oh, I'll just add a link to the blog post where I reviewed the Kinvara 3's & talked about how awesome they were & how much I loved them." Then I realized I never actually wrote that post. So....sorry. The 10 second story: They're light, comfy, awesome, & I love them.)

Having both pairs is exciting to me because I've rarely had two versions of the same shoe to compare to one another directly, and when I have, it's usually been a brand-new pair of the new release and an older, slightly beaten up pair of the old version. That makes it really hard to objectively compare the two.

Obviously, it's going to be a while before I can do a real, true comparison on the road, but let's get the basics out of the way now & know that I'll have a "field test" comparison for you once I'm up and running again.

Construction:

First, let's get something straight: The Kinvara is NOT a minimalist shoe. It's not. Stop calling it that. This is a minimalist shoe. This is a minimalist shoe. Even this is sort of a minimalist shoe. But nothing with a sole nearly an inch thick under heel is minimalist.

Yes, it's on the lighter side, and yes, it has a smaller-than-usual heel drop. That makes it a performance shoe, NOT a minimalist shoe. Case closed.

As shoe updates go, the construction seems freakishly similar. We have for both shoes...

  • Lightweight FlexFilm™ upper (if you've never touched a pair of Kinvaras, this stuff is actually pretty cool, like really really thin vinyl over really really thin mesh)
  • 4mm heel drop
  • Semicurved last (= perfect for the neutral supinators among us)
  • A high-abrasion EVA midsole with a pretty traditional thickness (high-abrasion EVA is a lightweight outsole alternative to heavy carbon rubber)
  • Outsoles of mostly blown rubber (white, lime), with a few tiny triangles of carbon rubber (pink, purple - for traction, maybe?)
  • Decoupled & beveled (forward-angled) heels
  • Memory foam heel pods (I don't know what this is, but supposedly they both have them)

Looking at them side by side makes the similarities even more obvious:

As for the differences:

  • While both have a 4mm heel drop, the K4 is 1mm closer to the ground (22mm heel / 18mm forefoot) vs the K3 (23mm heel / 19mm forefoot).
  • The beveling on the K4 is ever so slightly more dramatic
  • The K3 uses a material called ProGrid (which I think is what most of Saucony's shoes use) in the heel, while the K4 uses something called PowerGrid, which is supposed to be a bit lighter. According to the marketing copy, it also "offers even smoother transitions and an improved overall ride."

K4 comes in slightly lighter for size 7.5. Is this because of the PowerGrid / ProGrid difference? For what it's worth, this pair of K3s weigh in exactly the same as my older pair.

  • Re-designed upper (with the exception of the heel counter which I will discuss below, I think this was mostly just cosmetic)
  • A subtle difference in profile. This is the biggest visual difference I see. If you look at both from the side, you can see that the K4 curves upward through the forefoot / toe more dramatically than the K3.

I'm really curious about this change. Any shoe gurus out there have any theories?

Fit:

So obviously I can't run in these guys yet, but I did put one each foot & do a little walking / trotting up & down the hallway. As far as I can tell, the fit is identical. Not just "pretty close," but absolutely freaking the same. Both shoes are 7.5 & feel exactly the same size. The width feels the same through both the heel & toe box. The upper seems to fit the same way.

There was only one noticeable difference that I felt while walking around in them, and that was that the heel counter on the K3s felt slightly taller, which gave the sensation of my heel sitting slightly deeper in the shoe. A shot of both shoes from the back confirmed this.


A small but noticeable difference.

Feel:

I have read a few things here & there with people talking about the K4 being OMG soooooo much cushier or soooooo much stiffer or waaaaaah why did you ruin my K3s, but I have to say that as far as that goes I really could not feel a single difference in terms of how the shoes felt.

And I tried. I tried stepping different ways, flexing my foot different ways, landing on my heels, landing on my forefoot...There really just was no difference whatsoever in terms of cushion, stiffness/flexibility, or responsiveness. Of course I have the advantage here of comparing two brand-new shoes, side by side straight of the box, and I wonder how much of people's perceptions about this are influenced by 1) what they remember the K3 feeling like or 2) what their old, broken-in K3s feel like.

Granted, I haven't actually run in the K4s yet, so we'll see if that changes my mind in a few weeks. (Update - You can find part two of my Kinvara 3 / Kinvara 4 show-down here.)

  • Have you tried any version of Kinvaras? Thoughts?
  • If you're a die hard Kinvara fan, have you tried the 4s yet?
  • Has anyone else done an A / B comparison? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's Gettin' Hot In Herre...

This didn't happen in my class but part of me kind of wishes it had.
In college, when my roommate & I would get overwhelmed with writing papers about the plight of the migrant farm worker & the patriarchy, we would head to the on-campus dance club ("Tha 'Sco" = short for "Tha Discotheque") and dance horribly to Nelly's 2002 hit "Hot in Herre."

It's not that we found Nelly particularly aesthetically or lyrically pleasing; it's that we didn't have to freaking analyze it in its historical, sociological, & ethnomusicological contexts. When Nelly says "It's gettin hot in herre / so take off all your clothes," what he is in fact saying is, "It's gettin hot in herre / so take off all your clothes," and that's really as hard as your brain is expected to work while listening to it.

It is not about the plight of the migrant farm worker.

So, in a way, "Hot in Herre" is like a zen koan. Focusing on the words allows you to enter into the mushin "no-mind" state and, paradoxically, not focus on them.

Which means that, in a way, the fact that the lyrics to "Hot in Herre" were all I could think about during my first Bikram yoga class Monday night was....not entirely inappropriate?

After three different friends had recommended Bikram yoga as a way of helping to loosen up the muscles in my hip, I decided to give it a shot. I found a studio fairly close to my house with not-insane prices and really great reviews & decided I would try to go three straight days in a row. (Now, I don't think short muscle fibers is the entirety of my problem, so I'm combining this with a daily 20-minute smashing of my quads on the roller & some other mobility work for my hip capsules, but I'm open to the idea that it might help.)

I've only been once so far, so I'm not going to try to draw too many conclusions, but here are some observations from my first class:

1) After nine years in the Bay Area and five in Northern Ohio, I am a total heat wimp, so I was stunned to find that it didn't feel all that hot to me in the room. Yes, I was sweating buckets, but I didn't really have the sensation of feeling hot until maybe an hour in, and I never felt uncomfortably hot.

2) I never felt thirsty.

3) I am not amazing at yoga, but I no longer suck at it. I could do most of the poses at least as well as ~80% of the people in the room, with the exception of ones that require quad / hip flexibility & ones that required lunging / squatting on the right leg.

4) Eye make-up should be removed pre-Bikram, because, ew.

5) Post-Bikram, a seemingly ridiculous number of towels suddenly seems like about the right number of towels.

6) We are talking end-of-marathon, oops-I-just-fell-in-a-swimming-pool amounts of sweat here.

7) Breathing skizznillz for the win once more. After the class the instructor told me I did well for my first class & asked me what I thought. I mentioned how I hadn't noticed the heat almost at all for the first hour, & he said that was because I was breathing well. Again, I don't claim to be good at very much of yoga, but if there is one thing 11 years of martial arts teaches you, it's how to breathe.

8) French braid = good call.

9) Heat does surprising things to your heart rate, even when you're not exerting yourself all that hard. I'm really curious to know what ballpark mine was in, but I feel like wearing a heart rate monitor probably doesn't jive with the vibe.

10) In Bikram, modesty is not a thing. Next time I am going as close to naked as possible without making it weird.

  • Bikram: Love it / hate it / never done it / don't care?
  • Nelly / early 'aughts zen hip-hop: Love it / hate it / never heard it / don't care?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Spin Bike & Yoga

Spin bike accomplished
This week has been full of novel experiences. After my first swim in ten years Tuesday morning, I beat back my discomfort-zone anxiety & hunted out the spin bikes at my gym on the way home from work.

Now, it's been a long time since I've done much swimming, but I had NEVER been on a spin bike. I haven't even been on a regular bike since grad school some eight years ago. I had to ask the attendant how to turn it on. (Hint: You have to pedal first, then press "Quick Start". Also, you could read the place on the dashboard where it says "Pedal first, then press Quick Start.")

My PT had recommended I stick to ~25 minutes at a time, keeping a cadence that roughly matched my stride rate (so ~90/minute), and that I should make like a triathlete & do as much of the pedaling by pulling backwards with my hamstrings as possible in order to avoid activating my quads & protect my hip flexors. (Or....maybe this is just the way you're supposed to ride a bike.)

This all seemed simple enough until I realized that there are different resistance settings, which he'd said nothing about. The settings on this particular bike went from one to twenty, so I figured 10 was the most statistically sound choice. I quickly realized that there was no way I could keep up 90 RPM at that level, so I kept dropping it down until I got to 7, which made the cadence still challenging but do-able. (Weirdly, it seemed to get easier as I went--at first, I was having a hard time keeping it over 85, but then towards the end it kept sneaking up to ~95ish with what felt like about the same level of effort.)

I am VERY happy to report that the bike really didn't bother my hip at all, and had the added benefit of giving me a really good hamstrings workout (which, let's be honest, I need). On the other hand, my sitz bones are crazy sore.

As with swimming, I'm sort of curious if there's any kind of mileage equivalence with running. I don't really need to know; mostly it would just be nice to have vague idea of how much cardiovascular work I'm doing, and running mileage is the yard stick that makes the most sense to me. I've heard people say 3:1 is reasonably accurate, but then I've also heard people say that 100 miles is comparable to running a marathon. And, my theoretical 5.5ish miles on the spin bike (which, btw: real miles, true/false?) supposedly took ~130 calories, which makes it seem like that's roughly equivalent to 1.3 miles of running. I know there are formulas out there for "converting" between bike & run miles for training purposes, but I also think those tend to take into account the wind resistance involved in actual cycling, so I'm guessing those aren't really applicable to spin bikes.

What I'm saying is that I'm utterly clueless.

I've also started trying to go back to yoga. The main thing I've learned is that there are certain poses that work fine, others I have to very carefully work my way into, and others I just plain cannot do. For example, anything that involves a lunge just does not work on the right side. I did once find a way to get into right-foot-forward crescent pose that let me use my glutes & hamstrings rather than my hip flexor muscles, but by the time I got into it, it was pretty much time to move on to another pose. I couldn't quite get it the next time, so my right crescent was basically a right lunge with me supporting my weight on my hands.

For the most part, I know what kinds of things I'm likely to be able to do and what is going to cause me pain, but every now & then something surprises me & I'll grimace to myself, "Huh, who knew hip flexors were involved in that?" Since this was my first yoga class since before the marathon, I was very concerned that one of those things would sneak up on me. I moved pretty slowly & carefully overall, which, it turns out, makes yoga a LOT harder. (I definitely sweated more at this class than I ever have in yoga before.)

So, I guess the good news this week is that I'm Doing Stuff again -- real stuff, beyond planks & bridges & free weights. As always, part of me is incredibly impatient & really wants to start swimming & cycling miles & miles like NOW and go back to doing normal yoga like YESTERDAY, but the difference between 22 year old me & 32 year old me is that I have some measure of self-control on that front. I now actually believe all the talk about how pushing too hard too soon only makes the recovery take that much longer. (I will spare you the numerous stories which constitute what I believe they in the business would call my "learning the hard way.")

So believe me, although it probably sounds like I'm doing a lot right now between swimming and spinning and karate and yoga and strength training, none of it is very intense, and I am keeping a very close eye (nerve?) on how my hip responds. That's part of the reason why I haven't taken a single dose of painkiller of any kind since that first really excruciating night--because I trust the pain I'm still having as a measure of how good / bad whatever I'm doing is for the injury, and damping it down is only likely to cause me to make bad decisions.

More actual serious questions I need answers to:

  • Any advice about how to convert spinning mileage to running mileage? (Yes, I get that running miles are running miles and spinning miles are spinning miles and there's no real comparison; I'm just looking for a vaguely accurate way to roughly gauge the amount of cardiovascular work I'm doing. Please don't tell me I have to wear a heart rate monitor.)
  • What do you know about spin bike gears / settings?
  • Any other tips?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Getting In The Pool

Usually, when I decide I want or need to do something outside my comfort zone (read: most things I don't already do), it takes me several weeks or months to go from "I guess I should do x" to actually having accomplished it.

Take when I decided to join the gym near my office. First, I had to spend a few days stalking their website. Then I had to practice driving by it & getting comfortable knowing where it was. Then I had to drive there with the intention of going inside & then chicken out once or twice. Then I had to go in & ask some questions while insisting I was on a very tight schedule so as to avoid being dragged into the manager's office for the soft sale. Then I had to stew for a few days over whether the money would be money well-spent or not.

Finally, about a month after initially deciding that this was something I should probably do, I officially signed up & started going.

When my foot was hurt in December, I began this process with the pool running class at UCSF, but by the time I got anywhere close to actually going there my foot was healed & I was cleared to start running again. (I have a feeling this process might have taken even longer, as it would have also involved purchasing new equipment, some of which is clothes.)

So on Monday morning when my PT was like, "You gotta get in the pool," and I said to myself, "Self, we HAVE to get in the pool," the smart money would've been on my actually getting in the pool somewhere around July 1 at the earliest.

Then a funny thing happened. On my way home from work, I went by the Sports Authority to buy a Lacrosse ball & completely coincidentally ran across the swimsuit section. It occurred to me that if I was getting in the pool, I'd need one of these. (The last time I was swimming regularly was in college over a decade ago, and that poor suit had been stretched out & faded beyond all reason & tossed during my last move.) And....I found two (count 'em, TWO) in my size that weren't horrid within ten minutes. (This never happens. With anything.)

I also picked up some goggles & a swim cap. After karate (yes!! I went!! I couldn't do much, but 'not much' > nothing => progress) I stalked the hours & fees for the UCSF lap pool, then set my alarm for 5:30 & went to bed at a reasonable hour. (Again...this never happens.)

AND....I actually got up at 5:30, which deserves its own paragraph. (With the exception of races & unreasonable flights, this hasn't happened in YEARS.)

Friends, at 6:10 am, I was in the pool.


I have to admit, it's kind of hard to beat the rooftop pool at UCSF.

Like I said before, I haven't swum laps in at least 10 years. I did date a swimmer in college, which is how I learned a proper front crawl & bilateral breathing & all that, but I really had no idea how long it would take me to re-figure all that out & be able to properly swim laps again. Well, it turns out that swimming is a bit like riding a bike, and apparently your body just never forgets.

The only problem with all of this is that it all happened so fast. Half of me had kind of figured I'd need a few dry runs -- one day to set my alarm for 5:30 but not actually get up, one day to get up & drive to UCSF & locate the pool but not actually try to use it, one day to get to the pool but mostly just try to remember how to not suck water up my nose....etc.

Suddenly, I found myself in the pool with no real idea of what I was actually supposed to be doing. So I made stuff up. I found that I could swim about 100 yards pretty comfortably without stopping, and then I needed a little rest. My very very first swim workout since the early aughts ended up being 10 x 100 yards @ not-dying pace / 1:00 rest. Which is probably more of a swim "warm-up" than a proper workout, but the way I see it, just making it to the pool at all on the first try was a pretty huge success, so any exercise I managed to get out of it is gravy.

Angela: 1. Cardio-hole: 0.

Later I tried googling "swim workouts for runners" to see if the internet had any better ideas for non-swimmers than "swim as many 100's as you can until you're exhausted or run out of time."

From Livestrong.com:

"For Interval Training: Sprint 25 meters, rest 30 seconds, then repeat four to six times. Eventually increase your sprinting distance until you can do 50 meters six times.

For Stamina Training: Swim a brisk 100 meters, rest two minutes and repeat. Gradually work up to a 200-meter distance with the same two-minute rest in between sets."

From the Time Magazine Health & Family section:

"Warm-up: 10 x 50 yards easy, focusing on form and comfort,

Main Set: 5 x 150 yards. Swim 100 yards steady and 50 yards easy, maintaining similar effort across all of the repeats. Use each of the easy 50-yard swims for recovery, and take as much time as you need on the wall to rest between efforts."

From Runner's World:

"Swimming 100-yard repeats at a slightly faster pace will spike your heart rate and serve as lactate threshold training. For starters, try 6 x 100 at a comfortably hard pace with 30 seconds rest between each. Mix things up by swimming interval ladders (50-100-150-200-150-100-50) with a 30-second rest break in between."

And:

"The ideal pool workout should include 30 minutes of lap swimming and 30 minutes of pool running to ensure a full-body workout. For the running segment, perform one of the interval workouts below:

ENDURANCE-SPEED 3 x 5 minutes at perceived 10-K race pace. Jog two minutes between each.

SPEED 6 x 2 minutes at perceived 5-K race pace. Jog 60 seconds between each effort.

SPRINTS 10 x 60 seconds at perceived one-mile race pace. Jog 30 seconds between efforts."

I don't know how I feel about pool running but maybe I should try it. I think the UCSF pool is ~4 ft pretty much everywhere, though, so that might be too shallow.

Real questions I want answers to:

  • What should non-swimmer runners be doing in the pool for cross-training purposes?
  • Is there any legitimate mileage equivalence in terms of endurance training? I've read 4:1 in a few different places (ie, 100 yards swimming = 400 yards running), but I've also read a few things (mostly on letsrunourmouths.com, so who knows how legit) saying there is no equivalence so don't waste time thinking about it.
  • Any pool / swimming tips in general from those of you in the know? (Triathletes, I'm looking at you.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Pieces of Recovery

On Monday morning I was back in with my PT, who still seems pretty stunned by the difference in my level of pain doing normal things like walking (basically none) vs what I experience with eccentric loading (single-leg squat, stepping down, etc.; still pretty much 8-9 out of 10). At first I wondered if maybe he didn't actually believe me, so part of me was kind of glad when he tried to kill me by making me stand on a Bosu ball & gave the muscles a perfect opportunity to demonstrate exactly what I'd been dealing with.

"HAH!" I thought. "See?!?! I am TOTALLY still super hurt, so THERE."


It's not your imagination; this thing really is trying to kill you.

After some passive stretching, some alignment work, some pretty miserable ART, & another round of ionto, he asked me what kinds of activity I'd been doing. A good amount of walking, I told him, plus most of my regular core / hip strength work. He was glad to hear that, particularly that I'm still able to do my clam shells without any pain.

Then we had a conversation that went sort of like this:

PT: How about cardio?

Me: ...

PT: Have you tried swimming? Biking? Elliptical?

Me: Mostly I have tried not being in white-hot blazing pain, thnx. I find the couch is good for that.

PT: Look. It's been 3 weeks of no running. It will probably be around 3 weeks more. It's good that you're still able to do most of the strength work, but you really cannot afford any more time off from cardio or you are going to be digging yourself out of a MAJOR hole once your hip is strong enough for running. And by running, I mean like half a mile at a time.

Me: So....

PT: So it's time to pretend you're a triathlete. You've got to get on the bike. You've got to get in the pool.

Yes. I know this.

Now, if there is something I suck at, it is doing exercise I don't like and/or suck at and/or that involve logistical complications that I'm not used to, but I really am going to work hard at trying to bike & swim. There are stationary bikes at my gym, and I've heard rumors that UCSF has a pretty nice lap pool. So, Operation No Cardio-Hole, commence.

PT: You also can't ignore the eccentric work on the right side anymore. You're starting to lose strength which is only going to cause more problems once you're running again.

Me: Yes but white-hot blazing pain, remember? Or shall I leap onto the Bosu ball again?

It turns out that if you hold on to something & lean back a little, you can do eccentric exercises like single-leg squats without engaging your hip flexors. I still can't do much of it (maybe 10° on the right side as compared to 90° on the left), but it's something, and the glutes definitely feel it.


Basically he had me doing something like this (3 sets of 10 on each side).


Also these, except standing up straight.

I am also apparently to start rolling the SHIT out of it every day with a Lacrosse ball or similar. Question: Is this going to hurt? PT: Yes, it's going to hurt. It's good for you. (Why are people always saying that?)

The other piece I want to get in place is Bikram yoga, since I've now had three people recommend it for really nasty soft tissue stuff. It seems like there's a great place not too far from me where I can drop in occasionally for a reasonable fee. (The instructor is out of town this week so I'll probably get started on that next week.)

And, I've decided that on July 1st (barring any catastrophes), I'm going to try to run. Not very fast, and not very far; maybe 200 yards or so. Maybe just until my leg hurts. If at all possible, though, I want that to be The Day. I haven't tried getting on the elliptical yet to see how functional that is, but I'm hoping that I'll be able to start working it in in a week or so, & then be ready to do some amount of running on the ground a week after that.

Hip, let's do this.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

To Next Year

So this week has been different from my last few in that it involved activities at least tangentially related to running.

Usually on Wednesday nights I'm at karate, so the one upside of being too busted for that right now is that I was completely free this past Wednesday to go see Spirit of the Marathon II with A.

Takeaways:

1) Totally agree with Redhead Running that running a marathon with "Pizza Runner" would be awesome.

2) I could never ever ever ever EVER run a race with the purple shirt woman. She seems like a lovely person off of a race course, but honestly I think I would have strangled her by mile 4.

3) I could probably never be in a feel-good inspirational running movie because I have no Story.

I had to keep reminding myself that no, every person in the movie was not actually personally mocking me with their ability to run and no, hating them for it was not actually going to heal my leg faster.

Unrelated to running, Don & I went to one of our favorite SF cocktail bars Friday night with friends & had a great time, after which I came home & ate half of a giant al pastor Mission burrito mojado.


Drinking.


Eating. I may not be running right now but I can still fuel with the best of them.

Then on Saturday I dragged myself out of bed at 11:00am to head over the SF Marathon expo.

To be honest, for the last three weeks I've been secretly hoping some sort of miracle would happen, and I would wake up one morning before June 16 with my leg completely healed and able to get me to the finish of the "2nd Half" half marathon I've been looking forward to for months.

This has not happened. While it has been incredibly slowly but surely getting better (I can walk like a mile with no pain! I can get in & out of cars without my hip exploding!), I'm a loooooong way from anything that even resembles running (still can't go up/down steps or do a single-leg squat without insane pain).

Bum leg or not, however, I was still owed a shirt, sweat bag, & beer ticket, dammit, so off I want. (And of course, as is pretty much always the case with SFM, I have a bunch of friends running & wanted to drop by the meet-up that was happening and say hi to everyone.)

I also wanted my bib, for reasons I can't completely explain.

[WARNING: light to moderate melodrama ahead]

In general too much woe-is-me blog-wallowing is one of those things I just CANNOT abide, so I beg your indulgence for the next couple of paragraphs. I'll try to keep it brief.

This is my first "real" DNS, the only other being a relatively cheap 20 miler I was planning on running last fall as a supported training run & then decided at the last minute not to make the drive for. Obviously it's a bit of a bummer anytime you pay & plan for something & then aren't able to do it, but SF2HM '13 has had me a little more bummed out than I think I would've been otherwise, for a few reasons.

First, I have waited a long time to run this race. It's not a cheap one, and there's a sweet discount for sub-seeded runners, so I decided to put it off until I had a qualifying time. This was one of the reasons I was so excited to finally run a sub-1:40 last year, and I was looking forward to the experience. Second, the course covers most of the same terrain I've pounded day in & day out since I moved to SF in 2008 (it goes almost right by our house), and there's something kind of cool about racing on what is really, truly your home turf. (Er, except that part where you go east through Golden Gate Park. That is pretty much never cool.)

Up until the expo, I'd been doing a pretty good job of not moping & sticking to more of a "Sigh, maybe next year" level of mild disappointment. Walking around amidst people who've been training and tapering and fueling and hydrating & are getting ready to kill it tomorrow (or y'know, just have a really good time), though, I started to feel considerably worse. Every time I thought about the fact that I wouldn't be running, and couldn't even if I was absolutely determined to, I felt sick to my stomach over it.

Which I know is silly, but it's what my jerkbrain is doing right now. With stuff like this, I've learned over the years that I get over it faster if I just admit to myself, "Yes, this is a thing that is happening, that you can do nothing about, and it SUCKS. It's okay to feel crappy for a while so long as you keep it in check. You'll be over it by Monday."

So. I'm trying to keep telling myself "Next year!" and hope my 2014 plans cooperate.

[/melodramatics]

In the mean time, I will be spectating the SHIT out of this race Sunday morning! Cathryn is trying to get me to come dressed as a ninja........Votes?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tiny Rays of Hope?

This picture is here because REASONS. If you have a problem with it, then we cannot be friends.
Today I was supposed to get x-rays & see my sports medicine (read: running problem) doctor & find out whether he thought I had a stress fracture or not. I arrived a half hour before my appointment as instructed for said x-rays, only to be told that apparently the insurance company doesn't think my PT has "standing" to order x-rays (RUDE), and they would prefer that I see my running doctor first & find out if he thinks x-rays are really necessary. (Sidenote: Don't x-rays cost, like, 7¢ each these days? Because I totally would've just given them a quarter or whatever.)

So. I go in to see my doctor, very nearly trembling on account of he might ask me to do the things that give me the horrific, nauseating, eye-bleeding pain (bearing weight on my right leg with my knee bent, going up or down a step on my right leg, etc.) in order to show how bad it was. We talked for a few minutes about everything that had happened since I'd seen him in March, & then he got me up on the table for some examining.

At first he did a lot of the same things my PTs had done--passively moving my hip through extreme ranges of motion, tensing & flexing it & different ways, & "loading" it (ie, applying force) in different directions, none of which caused me any pain.

"This is VERY good," he assured me.

Then he had me do some things standing up--first just standing straight with my weight equally balanced on both legs, then standing on my right leg with my knee locked (which I can do with no pain), then squatting two-legged as far down as I could with my weight equally on both legs, which I could do basically all the way to the floor with no pain.

"Okay, how about a single-leg squat."

"AIN'T GO' HAPPEN."

"Give us a little hop?"

"NOPE."

I tried holding on to the side of the table, standing on my right leg, & very, very gingerly putting just the tiniest bit of weight on it to make the point, which is that it makes me feel like my leg is about to snap completely off right before I throw up. He had me walk normally up & down the hallway without the crutch, then walk sideways both directions, which, again, I could do as long as I locked my right knee & otherwise it is pain city.

"You really are moving quite well," he assured me.

Finally he had me lock my knees, stand on my toes, then on my heels, then stand on my toes & crash hard down onto my heels, none of which was the least bit painful.

"I don't see any evidence that this is a stress fracture," he said finally. "We loaded the joint pretty seriously in every direction & had you put it pretty well through its paces. If you had a stress fracture in your hip, I don't think you would've been able to do half the things I had you do." The standing on the toes with knees locked, then landing hard on the heels is particularly telling, he said, because if it were the bones in the femur / pelvis, locking the knees would not protect them from the force of that impact.

Me: "Soooooooo okay what's wrong with me then???"

If I understand & summarize him correctly, what he thinks is that the right side of my body was already massively fubar'd, which caused a TFL / sartorius / adductor strain that I didn't let completely heal before I ran a marathon on it, which greatly traumatized that entire complex of muscles & tendons (and maybe tore some things as well). In an effort to protect themselves while the tissue tries to heal, they have tightened up even further (which leads to the spasm-ing, the REALLY bad pain I feel, when I trip or try to go up/down stairs/etc.) Essentially, I have given my right hip/glute/adductor area PTSD.

Me: "But is there ANY chance it could be a stress fracture? Like a really bizarre, freakish one?"

Dr: "Yes, there is a nonzero possibility in the same way there is a nonzero possibility that dragons will quantum tunnel into this room. But no, I do not see anything that supports that diagnosis. Like, nothing."

Me: "But what if it is?"

Dr: "Then we are not messing around with x-rays & I will order an MRI right now if you want. But I don't see any reason to do that."

Me: "So what do we do now?"

Dr: "You take it easy for three weeks, try to CAREFULLY wean yourself off of the crutch, & avoid things that hurt. Whatever doesn't hurt is fine. If it's still this bad in three weeks then we MRI it. But honestly, I think it's just really, really angry with you right now & doesn't trust you not to hurt it again, hence the tightening / spasm-ing."

Which, in the immediate aftermath, had kind of a funny effect. Although I'm a little gun-shy from all the times I've tripped or stumbled or stepped wrong, I stopped using the crutch as soon as I left UCSF & just tried to walk really slowly & carefully. And, funnily enough, I think it did start to relax a little, & some of the little warning pains that I've gotten used to feeling when I step a certain way did disappear.

This makes me wonder if indeed there might be a little bit of a psychosomatic element to this. I wonder if the worst of the pain causes a feedback loop where my body is afraid of the pain => the muscles tense up & spasm when I step wrong => my body becomes even MORE gun-shy => muscles tense up to protect themselves => etc etc. So I'm working on trying to consciously undo as much of that as possible, if indeed it is the case.

Functionally, what you do in response to the worst case (stress fracture) & the best case (white-hot hip/glute ├╝ber hate) is really the same. But the tiny ray of hope I'm taking from this visit is that perhaps it will only be another two weeks or so until I'm able to run again, rather than the six-to-eight range I'd probably get for a stress fracture. So I'm trying to focus on that.

And...I'm also doing my best not to weep too much over SFM 2nd Half, which I've been looking forward to for months. :-/

Friday, June 7, 2013

Top Tips from Tom

Since I can't run or do martial arts right now, I spent Monday evening at Sports Basement where Coach Tom was giving a presentation for SF Tri Club called "Marathon 101." Now at this point I feel like I have graduated to at least Marathon 102, but I'm not used to having Monday nights free & being in the running store interacting with people and listening to people talk about running seemed like a better option that sitting at home on the couch drowning my sorrows in chardonnay & cookies & cream.

(Sidenote: I did make a pretty mean batch of cookies & cream this weekend. Oh my god. Incredible.)


Hi, my name is Angela and I will never be a food blogger

In addition to many of the things you'd expect to be covered in a talk called "Marathon 101," Tom shared a few things that I have never heard from a running coach before, so I am passing them on to you. (And just so you know he's not some rando off the street, Tom qualified for the Olympic Marathon Trials three times, trained with the Nike Farm Team (now the Oregon Tack Club Elite), then coached the Nike Farm Team, then coached 7 women to the Olympic Trials, including this awesome lady. So...y'know. He knows stuff.)

So what did he share that was news to me?

1) Don't worry about your form so much. At higher speeds it's worth paying more attention to because of the intensity of what you're putting your body through, but at marathon pace, he told us, however your body wants to run is probably more or less how you should be running. (The exception to this rule is if you're having injuries or persistent pain somewhere -- then it's worth looking at your form to see if it's the cause.) At marathon pace, your aerobic fitness is 99.9% of the game & for most people form just doesn't really come into it all that much.

This is totally what it's like when I hydrate.
2) Drinking a few ounces of fluid right before the gun can go a long way to helping you stay hydrated the whole way. I knew that once your heart rate goes up, the blood supply to your digestive system decreases in order to supply your muscles, but apparently once you're running, your digestive system shuts down almost completely. (Sidenote: Yes, we know that sometimes runners suffer from shall we say "gastrointestinal distress," but apparently this is most of the time due to movin' & shakin', not your digestive system actively doing anything.)

This is the difference, he told us, between having water five minutes before the gun & having it thirty seconds before the gun. Five minutes before, and it may go right through you in 10-20 minutes (particularly if you're already well-hydrated); 30 seconds before, and your stomach / kidneys / etc. basically go offline before they can absorb it & decide you don't need it, and instead you just get a "slow drip" of extra hydration. Tom referred to drinking almost immediately before the gun as "your first water station." I almost always drink right before a race, but usually several minutes before, not < 1 minute before, so this was good to know.

3) By the same logic, solid / gel fuel is probably not doing all that much for you. Because of the digestive system basically shutting down to divert blood supply to the muscles, you don't get those calories at anything close to the rate that you would be normally. They don't hurt anything (unless they actively upset your de-activated GI tract), and there is some benefit, but Tom's opinion seemed to be that endurance athletes worry about it probably more than they should. You may get more of the calories from a sports drink because your body has to do less to break that down than something in solid / gel form.

ur doin it wrong dude
4) SLEEP!! We learned that although people may disagree with this or that theory of physiology or this or that training plan or this or that nutrition philosophy, one thing we have unequivocal evidence about is how getting enough sleep (or not) effects endurance athletes. If nothing else, he told us, elite athletes around the world have one thing in common, and that's that they sleep 8-10 hours a day consistently, and it is one of the easiest ways to affect your performance, for better or worse. [File under: Things I Will Never Ever Ever Do Right.]

It turns out that deep sleep is when our bodies release human growth hormone, or HGH--yes, the same anabolic steriod that athletes are prohibited from using, because it improves healing, builds bone & muscle, & improves performance so dramatically that it makes competition unfair. Why are anabolic steroids so effective? Because they simulate deep sleep! (This article from ESPN does a great job of summarizing the science & going into more detail.) So if you want to dramatically improve your performance, you can start pumping yourself full of HGH, or you can get an extra couple of hours of sleep per night. (Sure, I'm about as likely to get 10 hours of sleep per night as I am to run 100+ miles a week, but still! Fascinating.)

Thoughts? Like I said, this was all news to me.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Crutch Confessional

Life since M2B has been....interesting. By which I mean deeply painful, and very inconvenient. Let's take it day by day, shall we?

Sunday 5/26: By the time I got to the airport Sunday, I could only walk in tiny, shuffling, extremely painful steps, & navigated my way around the rental car return mostly by clinging to anything I could use as a support to help avoid putting any weight on my right leg. This was made even more interesting by the fact that I was carrying three bags. When I got to the airport proper, the idea of continuing to walk on it was just laughable. Finally someone at the ticket counter took pity on me & ordered a wheel chair.

Back in SF, it took a solid five minutes & Don & my combined efforts to transport me from the car to the couch. There may or may not have been a lot of yelping. At this point, any amount of weight on my right leg was a 17 out of 10 on the pain scale. If I wanted to go from one room to another, I had to either hop on one leg or use a funny little crab shuffle I eventually figured out. I couldn't sleep because that night because, even just laying in bed not moving, the pain was still maybe 7 out of 10.

Monday 5/27: I can stand in one place with weight mostly on my good leg with basically no pain, & take very, very small hobbly steps, mostly leaning on things, & stay at ~2.5 out of 10. Stepping the wrong way, turning, or moving too quickly still 17 out of 10.

It's so tragic it's hilarious. I guess.
Tuesday 5/28: Still taking tiny steps at ~2-3 out of 10, but I can bear maybe just a little more weight. Still can't put on pants or shoes without sitting down. Still can't go up & down steps without holding on to something & going very very slowly. I had a massage on Tuesday morning, and for ~2-3 hours I was totally pain free as long as I stuck to my tiny little steps & went slowly. Then it came back.

Wednesday 5/29: I tried doing some martial arts just standing in one place, but it turns out that all the upper body stuff that uses your core still uses those lower hip flexor muscles, so after half an hour I gave up & just sat down.

Friday 5/31: Everything pretty much the same. Went to PT Friday morning, & the PT told me that because I only had pain with weight bearing & not with passive motion, it was likely just muscle & not connective tissue (which is good, because connective tissue has less of a blood supply & takes longer to heal). When I told her about how I couldn't put on pants or go up & down stairs with the bad leg, she said. "Yeah...That's really bad." She gave me a crutch, which made it so that I could take my slow little steps with more of a biomechanically normal gait, & with almost no pain.

Monday 6/3: Another massage in the morning, which again got rid of the pain for about 2 hours. Then it came back. Still on the crutch. Still can't weight bear. Still can't go up & down stairs. Saw my regular PT in the afternoon, who ruled out a bunch of stuff (bursitis, labral tears) & was still mystified as to why, a week after the fact, I still couldn't put weight on the leg without my knee locked. "To be honest, we've kind of ruled out everything but bone," he said. "It's not really presenting like bone, but even with the worst muscle strain in the world, you shouldn't need a crutch after a week." The decision was to do x-rays next Monday and confirm or rule out a femoral neck stress fracture.

Tuesday 6/4: I can walk almost normally without the crutch, with almost no pain. I can take bigger steps with almost no pain (most of the time) move my hip joint through the full range of motion in every direction with no pain. Turning my leg at the hip & then trying to step is still ~4 out of 10, and bearing weight on it with a bent knee or trying to go up & down steps is still 17 out of 10 (ie, I pretty much just collapse).

So....that is the story so far. I am deeply troubled by what basically amounts to complete & total healing of the muscle soreness combined with the equally complete & total inability to bear weight without debilitating pain. SF Second Half, we may have to reschedule sometime. :(

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Race Report: Mountains 2 Beach Marathon (logistical info)

This portion of the race report is the logistical parts & covers all the "nuts and bolts" information you might be interested in if you're thinking of running this race. If you want to read about how my race went, check out this post.

Location: Ojai & Ventura, CA

Date: Late May (Sunday, May 26, 2013 this year)

Price:

  • 5K - $30 before 12/1; $40 after.
  • Half Marathon - $50 before 12/1; $60 before 3/22; $65 before 5/24.
  • Full Marathon - $90 before 12/1; $105 before 3/22; $120 before 5/24.

In a world of ever more absurd race fees, it really just does not get much more reasonable than that.

Deadlines/sellout factor: I know the half & full marathons did completely sell out, but not until a few weeks before the race. Not sure about the 5K.

A couple of other relevant things to know:

  • There is a "last chance" race day sign up where any unclaimed bibs can be purchased the morning of the race.
  • You can defer your entry to the next year up until 1/1 and transfer it up until 4/20. (Not many races that do this, although it seems to be getting more popular.)

Field Size: On the small side. The marathon was advertised as being capped at 1,000, but there ended up being 1,250 finishers, and it looks like next year it will be 1,500. The half marathon had 1,206 finishers.

The Expo: I wouldn't say there was an expo so much as a packet pickup with a few sponsor tables. They had three different packet pickups on different days in different locations, rather than one huge ass expo the day before the race. This was a-okay by me. I don't need no stinkin' expo. (Also, it made it less crowded and MUCH faster to get your bib & shirt.)


This is literally about a third of the packet pickup area.

The Start:

Parking & Shuttles:

The start of the marathon was at 6 am at Nordhoff High School in Ojai, which you get to either by having someone drive you or by riding on a school bus. (There seemed to be plenty of parking there from what I can tell.) The shuttles pick up in downtown Ventura, where there are several free public lots & it's actually not that hard to park somewhere, though some lots were closer to the buses than others. In theory the earlier you signed up, the later shuttle you could get on, but I didn't see anyone checking -- the volunteers basically just asked you whether you were half or full, & pointed you to the right set of buses. Even though I signed up early & so was supposed to take a 5am bus, I drove over early & sat in my car for an hour because I didn't want to waste my hip walking to the bus from far-away parking.

Now, I have heard a lot of stories about marathon shuttle drivers getting lost or not knowing where they were going, but this is the first time it's actually happened to me. Our driver took the freeway exit for the half marathon start instead of the full, there wasn't an easy way to immediately get back on the freeway, and it seemed like on top of this she maybe didn't know that area so well so she didn't know how to get back. The road was too narrow for a school bus to turn around on, so she just had to keep going until she got to the half marathon start where they had to move all the mats so she could drive through the start & get directions back to the freeway.

Was I slightly nervous? Maybe a little. We were one of the later shuttles, we'd left Ventura maybe 10 minutes late as it was, and the detour took us another good 20 minutes. But some of the other people on the bus were having full-on MELT DOWNS. Jesus Christ, you would've thought we were being hunted by terrorists. On top of this, the poor woman driving the bus didn't speak much English, and I couldn't believe how the melt-downers were treating her (yelling at her, mocking her with fake Spanish, mockingly repeating the one guy on the bus who legitimately spoke Spanish and knew where we were going and was actually being helpful). Seriously. I have never seen people behave so horribly at a race. When we got to the start at ~5:45ish & filed off the bus, the driver was crying. I felt so terrible for her and was sure to say thank you (and was glad to see that several other people did to).

Seriously. What the eff is wrong with people?

Starting Area

Can anyone guess the downside of "getting" to take a later shuttle? You guessed it!! Standing in a 200 yard long port-a-pot line!!

This was the longest potty line I have seen at a race by a factor of maybe 20. And actually it was two lines feeding into the same honey pot village, so a factor of 40 maybe. We are talking about a quarter of a mile of potty line. This was what actually made me nervous. I don't know whether this was a matter of not ordering enough or several buses arriving all at once or what, but that is something I would look into if I were the race director. I think there were like 6 people behind me when I finally made it to the front at ~6:05am. (Thankfully, the start was delayed.)

Bag check was super easy (BYO), and no line because every single other person racing besides the six people behind me still in the port-o-pots had already been there / done that.

The Course:

I talked about this in more detail in a previous post, so I won't belabor it here, but just a quick-n-dirty recap of what you can learn from the website:

  • Mostly bike trails & the Ventura Promenade at the end, with a few stretches on roads with one lane closed. (The field was small enough that this was fine -- it never felt crowded or dangerous.)
  • 10K loop in Ojai starting at Nordhoff High School, then 14.8 miles very gently downhill to Ventura, then 5.2 out-and-back along the Promenade / Harbor Blvd.

After running the race I would add that in the later miles there is not a lot of shade, and although it never got hot, it was warm & sunny enough that after running 18-20 miles, I got VERY thirsty. I mentioned in my previous post about how although the aid stations were more or less every mile towards the end of the race, it still didn't feel like enough.

Parts of it and rather scenic and of course the end is beautiful (if you're still aware of your surroundings at that point), but be prepared for a kind of industrial stretch in the 17-21 neighborhood. The downhill was barely detectable & not the kind that destroys your knees & quads & has you cursing halfway, but my quads were quite sore by 21 & I wished I'd done more training on sustained, gradual downhills just to give them a little extra endurance in that way.


Elevation profile

And GAAAAAAH the out-and-back and the end. Jesus Christ. Why do races do this? It's morale death. Absolute & utter death. So be prepared, to the extent that you ever can be. I was really worried that because you get to the ocean at 21 the intuitive part of me would be going "Weeeee, almost done!" when in fact 21 is very far from done, and that is exactly what happened.

The Finish:

The finish line was by a big grassy area next to the Promenade where they set up tents for water, food, massages, bag check, beer garden, photos, results, etc etc. For the most part I think this was fine. I was so broken at that point that I didn't stay to take advantage of any of it, so I can't give you exhaustive details.

I do have two thoughts for the race director, though. 1) The finish chute area where all the water & Gatorade was got REALLY crowded by the time I finished at 3:36 -- I had to shove my way through throngs of people just to get to where the fluids were pretty aggressively, so I wonder if spreading this part out more might be a good idea. 2) All the fluids were in that one tiny area in the finish chute, which meant if, after you got your medal and enough fluids to not collapse & laid in the grass for a while & went to get your bag or a massage or whatever & got thirsty again, you had to fight your way back into the finish chute. So maybe a couple of smaller water tables in other key areas (say, at the bag check, the results table, & the massage area).

Swag:

A logo tech tee & a medal made from recycled materials, which I think is kind of awesome. No bag of free samples to go through. No flyers that are going to get tossed at the first opportunity without a second glance. No fancy fleece / jacket / what have you to jack up your race fee by $40.

(Okay, but because it has to be said.....*who* chose the color for that shirt??? Because.....really???? K done.)

Overall Assessment:

Sure, there may be a few things here & there would change, but by & large, I thought this was a great event.

I don't know about you but I am SO DAMN SICK & TIRED of race management organizations falling all over themselves to lure in the marathon-as-bucket-list-experience / running-as-amusement-park crowd with rock concerts & loyalty programs & fleeces & track jackets & super-dee-dooper-giant-glittery uber medals & wine tastings & VIP tents & health & wellness expos with keynote speakers and GOD DAMMIT CAN'T WE JUST FREAKING HAVE A RACE?!?!??

Because I don't give half a rat's ass about any of that, and I DEFINITELY am not interested in paying for it. So thank you, Mountains 2 Beach, for being a runners' race & not a dog-and-pony show. I will remember you the next time I am in the market for a spring destination marathon.