Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Virtual Success!! Pittsburgh Marathon Steel Challenge Achieved!

I received entry into the Dicks Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Half Marathon as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out BibRave.com to read and write race reviews. 

So this weekend, finally, all my long planning paid off! Despite a one week delay (see here for details of why: https://runnerdgirl.blogspot.com/2020/05/change-of-plans_3.html) I completed my Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend Steel Challenge! My race weekend consisted of a 5K on Saturday and a Half Marathon on Sunday. And while I am still super bummed that I couldn't travel to Pittsburgh for my actual races, the Pittsburgh Marathon race team did an awesome job keeping participants pumped and excited through email and social media. Again, I hate that the race had to go virtual, but this was really one of the best virtual race experiences I have had. 

So here's how things went. First up on Saturday was the 5K. I decided that even though I was fresh off an injury, I was going to try to push my pace a bit for this one. I mapped out a nice flatish course from my house and took off running. I felt pretty good, so I pushed the pace a bit more. And while I am never able to recreate the excitement of a proper race day and the speed boosts that I can manage when trying to pass others, this was one of my fastest 5K times. My current 5K PR is from this past October of 24:18 and on Saturday I ran my 5K in 25:35. So I was pretty darn pleased with that time for sure! It was a bit cool, especially for May in SC which may have contributed a bit to my pace. Heck I wore long sleeves even! 

Next up, Sunday morning it was time for the Half Marathon. I didn't want to push hard again, not with my knee still being a bit out of sorts, so I decided to focus more on the miles than the time. My Half and Half Half Marathon Plan (see here for the planning: https://runnerdgirl.blogspot.com/2020/04/the-half-and-half-virtual-half.html) would be perfect for this since trail miles are always slower and more about the view than the pace. 

Best Aid Station EVER
First, I had to make arrangements for my aid station. Since half was to be on road and the other half on trail, I wanted to switch out my shoes. Luckily, right at the trail head is one of my favorite hangouts, The Grapevine Riverwalk. The Grapevine is used to hosting us crazy runners, especially on Sunday mornings where my Fast Feet Run Club has Sunday Funday runs at 7:30 am each Sunday on the Riverwalk Trail. Then after, we usually hang out for coffee, mimosas or whatever. So I sent a message to my friend and owner and explained my crazy plan and asked if she'd be cool with me stashing a bag with shoes and extra water there for a few hours. "No problem!" she said. So first thing Sunday morning, I dropped my gear and told Leslie, the Sunday morning bartender, I'd see her soon. 

I returned back home, grabbed my last minute gear (Aftershokz, Honey Stinger gels and a water bottle) and set off from my house towards The Grapevine. I was a bit nervous about crossing though the part of the Highway that leads onto the Interstate, but traffic was pretty light, so it was no problem. A short 5K later and I was back at The Grapevine for a quick shoe change and off towards the Founders Trail for the next 6.5 mile section. 

To get to the trail, I had to run up and over the Hwy 21 bridge over the Catawba River. I planned this intentionally since I was supposed to be doing this race in Pittsburgh and running over some of the awesome bridges there, I wanted to run over at least one bridge. It's not quite the West End Bridge over the Ohio River, but hey, it was the best that I could pull off in Rock Hill, SC. Once you cross the bridge, it is a quick hop over the guardrail to descend under the bridge to access the Founders Trail.

I love the Founders Trail. I haven't run in a few weeks because I was wanting to rest my knee but let me tell you, I grinned like a fool when I first stepped on to the trail. It was pretty cool out, and a bit early still so the trail was pretty empty. The trail is basically an out and back along the Catawba River with an option about 2 miles in to follow a loop into a quarry for an extra mile. I had my route planned for the Half Marathon distance so I just did the basic Carolina Thread Trail route. When I got to the turn around point at 3.25 miles in, I stopped on the rocks for a moment to soak in my surroundings and also to take one of my Honey Stinger gels. I could have sat out there all morning, but I was only halfway through my race. 

The Turn Around Spot. Can you blame me for lingering?
After my quick stop and refuel, I made my way back up the river trail and back over the bridge. Another quick stop at The Grapevine to change shoes and then just 3.5 miles back to my house to finish up. I was slowing down a bit, but feeling pretty good and finished the 13.1 miles pretty much right at my doorstep. The Half and Half Half Marathon was a rousing success! It was in no way my fastest, but it was one of my most fun!

Now all I have left to do is to wait for my awesome swag! Since I ran both races for the Steel Challenge, I will be getting 2 shirts, 3 medals and a pair of custom Pittsburgh Marathon Knockaround Sunglasses. 
These will be shipped out by the race as soon as it is safe enough to gather together a team to get everything out. Additionally, the Pittsburgh Marathon team has said that they hope to host a finisher party on location when they are able to. The hope is to set up a finish line for photo ops and a celebratory festival. I really hope that whenever that is scheduled for, that I can make it. I really hate that I missed out on a trip to Pittsburgh. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Change of Plans

I received entry into the Dicks Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Half Marathon as a part of being a BibRave Pro. Check out BibRave.com to read and write race reviews. 

So today, May 3, I was supposed to run my Epic Half and Half Half Marathon as my Virtual Pittsburgh Half Marathon (see here for the master plan: https://runnerdgirl.blogspot.com/2020/04/the-half-and-half-virtual-half.html. And while I was still a bit disappointed that I would not be going to Pittsburgh and running the races live, I had done my best to change my expectations and make the weekend be something fun. And the Pittsburgh Marathon peeps had been pumping us up in emails and on socials, it was the best that it could be.

I had made my plans. I had done my training. I was ready to go. 

But then, my crap knee decided that it wasn't getting nearly enough attention so it decided to throw a tantrum of sorts. I've written about how bad my knees suck in the past. I'm a long-term sufferer of dodgy knees. The technical term for what my issues is actually Osteoarthritis, which I was diagnosed with about 15 years ago. Basically, I've got no cartilage left in my knees. I've done all kinds of things in the past to deal including various Kinesiology tape configurations, braces, and flat out denial. But about 2 weeks ago, something seemed seriously not right. My left knee would totally just kind of give out on me all together. And things were hurting, like a lot more than usual. I could barely run or bend or well, even stand great.

So, I made an appointment with an Ortho to get it checked out. Turns out, at least according to the doctor, your knee caps are supposed to be in the MIDDLE of your knee (see pic). Huh? Mine aren't, plus I've no real cartilage left so my knees are bone on bone. 

My Knee X-Ray

But this isn't a terribly new problem as that doesn't happen overnight so while this is a contributing factor to a lot of my pain, it's not what is causing my new issues. 

Doctor thinks there is a new tear to the meniscus on the left side which is causing the sudden weakness, knee failure and intense pain. It was too swollen to tell though so I was given a cortisone shot (OMG that hurts) under the knee cap on the left side. The surrounding tissue was so damaged he could barely get the shot in 😳.

But the real kicker is that I was benched from running the whole weekend, until Monday. Which means I had to miss my Pittsburgh Marathon Virtual Runs. I am super super disappointed about this turn of events, but there is a silver lining. Turns out, I have until May 15th to submit results, so I am hoping that if I am a good little patient and do my PT and keep icing and rest my knees a bit, then I will be in well enough shape to still do the Half and Half Half Marathon before the deadline. I really really really REALLY want to EARN that sweet bling. And my especially my sweet custom Steel City Knockaround Sunglasses (seriously, these things are SWEET!) 

So in the mean time, I've been taking some walks (allowed) and have done some upper body workouts that do not involve my knees in any way. I've been being a good girl, because while I am stubborn and can make some really terrible decisions (seriously, I'm amazing at getting involved into some crazy dumb situations), I know that if I don't play this right, I could lose even more running time, and I've got some Fall goals that I am not willing to compromise on.

So stay tuned. I may have to reduce my miles for a bit, and I may get a bit slower, but I am totally shooting for the long term. 

Just you wait. 

And be sure to check back before May 14th. Cause I'm doing this, even if I have to walk it!