Fall racing season is on!

 

So this past weekend I ran the Fox valley marathon again. I have fond memories of this race because the first time I ran in in 2015 I was just a few weeks out of ketosis with no real training past the half distance and no real hope I would be faster than 5h  because of I don’t know, losing a substantial amount of weight? Not remembering my last good race? 2015 surprised me with cool weather and a really unexpected 4h 30min and 38s. With no training? That’s a really solid time.

This year about in June I was already looking forward to this race because I was, in my humble opinion probably in the best shape of my life. Sure not fast enough to BQ, but darn close to 4 h compared to the 5h times from 2014. LOL until june when some unexpert xray reading of basically no symptoms of a stress fracture whatsoever was pushing me to go to specialty medicine an toss money for an MRI. No thanks, I took the 6 weeks off anyway doing exercises for anterior tibialis strengthening, and general shin splint stretching and I got all better.

Well, until I started running again. I kept getting this weird burning pains on the outside of my shins but they never really got worse with running, or better with rest. After a few weeks those stopped. Then I got some outer ankle pain on my left side. My sweetheart PT said that she doesn’t know why the problem is relaying all over my shins, but it’s very likely not compartment syndrome because the symptoms would be getting really bad really fast. She asked me how much time I took off from running probably because she was going to tell me to take more time off, and I said :”really I took 6 weeks off I was going out of my mind. please no.”

But as I was continuing to run through small aches and pains that honestly were just mere nuisances that never actually felt serious but once someone scares the shoes off of you by telling you you have a stress fracture (when logically you probably didn’t because 3 days of physical therapy don’t already start to improve a stress fracture…) you get scared from everything small out of the ordinary… I started to notice something. I would clock really smooth solid runs (some even under 9min mile average..) on some nights when the temperature was looming at 70 or below, that was encouraging me to run on consecutive days for the first time since june (this was about mid august). Then I’d go out on some other nights when the temperature and humidity was still in burning hell range (like 80+ at 11pm…seriously?) I would run 3 miles and then the tiny aches and pains would manifest again. Ok that’s weird… so it’s probably not speed….because I was running faster in the cooler weather so logically my peroneals / anterior tibs would’ve hurt a bit if faster = worse. but no hotter=worse…. I went to the gym. I an 7:03 min miles (for 0.5 miles with 1 min walk breaks in between)…. nothing hurt. The gym is cooler than 80 isn’t it… Well considering the Arc at UIUC is a deep hellhole that smells like feet and armpits most of the time, THAT gym isn’t cooler than 80 but I always tried to catch it not very crowded. weird. Some weird version of shin splints on the exterior of the leg that flares up in hot runs…

I bit the bullet and did the Mahomet half marathon again. It started pouring at mile 7 and although it was humid hot and brutal until then I finished in 2:05 with the impression that I had a phenomenal run. Except my IT band and knee hurt but I guess I deserve that since I kind of neglected them for the shin exercises. I even came out 3rd in F25-29, that’s how small the race is. I love this race. you run around a corn blot and you might even get a cute extra medal because the competition isn’t thousands of people… But the week after that my left hip (same side with knee pain, IT band trouble, and outer ankle irritated peroneals started hurting) started hurting. It was so tender to touch / massage that I ALMOST went to sports medicine myself. Then I thought. Meh, that’s going to be another waste of money to see Dr. Asshole I will just to some rigorous hip stretches for 5 days before the Batavia Half madness on Aug 28 and not run. And guess what… I was right.

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Longest race streak: 4years & The first race in the Midwest to tell me not all of IL is a flat pancake. #halfmadness

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The problem went away. Batavia also marked the return to my now favorite and greatest of all time saucony Kinvara 7… I even thought I could have sub2’ed on this course which is surprisingly hard for a midwest course but I had some sort of panic /  breathing attack because somehow town officials thought freshly paving about 3 miles of the course would make for some really tasty air. Despite needing to mentally breathe into a paper bag I finished in 2:06:56…about 1 min faster than 2013 (my previously thought best shape of my life), and about 19 min faster than 2014 and 2015. My IT band hurt a little bit during the race so I thought that maybe the shoes were getting worn out. These aren’t my main training shoes but maybe wearing them in about 4 marathons and doing 2 week tune ups before each race in them would be enough damage since I’m not exactly 100 pounds… so I bought new Kinvaras after this race.

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The mandatory post race selfie that I take when the world stops spinning… winter can't come soon enough… #halfmadness

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Then I had 2 weeks of absolutely beautiful running. (also kind of unnaturally cold weather for this time) until…. I fell on my knees, the Sunday before Fox valley marathon. Like I’ve said befoe how much I hate the shitstate of Champaign Urbana towns. Cracked, destroyed sidewalks everywhere except like 1 mile campus radius (maybe some other rich neighborhoods too which are too far to run to…at night) , some potholes on the roads in which your car could lose a wheel etc. This was probably the worst trip I’ve ever had. My knee cap got a bone bruise…. It turned yellow within a day. I think the hammering made things bleed in my knee because the whole knee had a purple line countour… I walked back 2 blocks and I couldn’t control my crying, or bend my left knee. At all.

Obviously this proved the excuse for a perfect one week taper for the Fox valley marathon on Sunday. I said if my knee gains more than 50% range of motion by Thursday, which was the last day I could cancel the hotel, that I would run the race. I tried to use rock tape on my knee to see if I could help circulation/ligament pain and whatever else Rock tape hopes to improve… Whenever I did that I had a HUGE amount of fluid accumulate between the tapa strips. Ugh tears or regret…. I could’ve not run one day and trip on that particular sidewalk. On Monday I could kind of walk but bending my knee was a no no. elevator up and down all day… I purified protein. I wanted to leave so badly by 10 pm I don’t know how I jerked my knee getting in the car, made me scream. 3 days for the knee to improve. On Tuesday I did some of my PT exercises. Anything that required bending the knee was just…oh so bad. But I figured I can put a little bit of stretch in and around my “runner’s knee” ligaments and hope they relax a little? On Wednesday I could almost go down the stairs. Did the PT stuff again. On Thursday I could go down the stairs a little better…. Well. I guess I should at least go…I can always turn in with the 13 mile people and walk since the half has the same time cut-off as the full.

The next two days I the PT stretches again. Slept like a rock before the race. Don’t get me wrong I was scared shitless but 50% feeling like I would turn in at the half point was kind of hinting at how pointless my nerves were. … This race has cool gear. good to sleep in for good vibes 😛

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I went to the Blue Goose market parking garage at like 5 am since last year I went at 6 and found no spots. I realized how ridiculously early that was so I brought nail polish to paint my nails. Maybe if I do this race next year I will go at 5:30. Ha. Got out of the car at like 5:50 and stretched a little next to some spiders and against a fire hydrant. Then carefully times my pee break to end around 6:40 (for race starting at 7).

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This is the first time in a race when I can’t hear the national anthem. I don’t know if the person who was supposed to sing it never showed up or if the microphone was that crappy, but no one around me heard it either.

Then we started running… oh the knee was stiff…. And it wasn’t really bending the whole way. But it wasn’t really hurting too much either. I definitely started off too much too fast, maybe I shouldn’t have done that but it was nice to push a little bit and see the knee take it… then we started hitting some hills and got into the Japanese gardens (?) my knee was not tolerating the downhills and I was trying very very hard to unevenly load my other side to make it easier. But the bad downhills were over too…. Then I just kept running…. And somewhere between mile 4 and mile 15 I stopped thinking about the stupid god damn stiff knee. And a bit after mile 15 I realized the knee really doesn’t hurt anymore?… maybe it was the increased blood circulation that soothed it a little bit?

I also learned another thing. Sometimes running a marathon with only 13 miles in training is a problem because of the song you’re going to get stuck in your head. And running the fox valley marathon runs the risk of letting you listen to remixes of “what does the fox say” for about 2h. but it does have a really good beat for anywhere between a 9:30 and a 10:30 min mile.

At mile 18 my wheels started to fall off. I wasn’t quite knocked out tired in the true sense of how I was during the Illinois marathon when I pushed a sub 4h pace up until mile 20… I started to get hot, IT STARTED TO GET HOT. The day started at 60F, oh after 2h and 54 min it was not feeling good to be outside. I also realized something. The 18 mile mark is when you cross a bridge (literal bridge not figurative), then you start running closer to the river than you were before… that thing reflects heat…..

 

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After some torture last 8 mile I somehow ended up in 4:29:00. It was so god damn hot, I couldn’t cool down. I was hot for hours after the race. (about 9 h to be exact); I just had to keep drinking cold water continuously to prevent my head from probably going into heat stroke. If you run this race in consecutive years, you get extra medals, I got a second medal for just being a 2nd timer. Feels nice to have participation appreciated. Also, having run a marathon so well with so little training after being told that

  1. you might have a stress fracture just because you’re a woman and you ran 2 long distances
  2. I had shin splints or some weird version thereof on the anterior tibialis (that got fixed by stretching and vigorous foam rolling)
  3. Kept having weird small muscle burns in the peroneals that also get fixed with rolling
  4. Barely having gotten a 4 week sort of training for the marathon

Feels kind of good.

 

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YAY MARATHON #10 and my only long run before Chicago :P. What a great place to run it #foxvalleymarathon !!

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It also feels good to actually use a physical race as an excuse to claim the Beat the Blerch medal

Small victories forward to Chicago!AND NEW YORK!

 

PS: look at this cool fox.

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A long overdue post with lots of races and injuries!

Let’s talk about injuries!!!!!

Why am i so excited and why has the hiatus of posting anything been so long? BECAUSE I AM NOT A REAL BLOGGER!!! Regardless I’m hoping people googling various running injuries will get a kick out of the last 12 months of my life.

Summer 2015 was a blast. I did the brave thing of getting on a ketogenic diet. To be honest of everyone who’s afraid of it: this diet really does not suck as much as you expect especially after the first couple of weeks if you do it right! First of all, I know what some are going to think: OMG your cholesterol. I did the weird thing of going to the student health center and asking them for a pretty comprehensive blood panel. Nothing was really different compared to eating a carb containing diet. Not even cholesterol! Imagine that. I spent almost 4 months frying everything in butter and having bacon for breakfast 3 times a week and no health stat really budged. Plus you know the added benefit that I fell from 170 to 150 pounds (i’m like 5 4 or 5 5 tall) almost  instantly (well not instantly – in like 4 weeks). Then I kind of stopped losing any weight and gave up on the diet (yeah i really wanted some sweets damn it). but sweets are not why i gave up on the diet. no. running was. although after the first week i had a million metric tons of energy (it’s weird what happens to your body when it’s raiding all of your fat stores), running was so hard. I thought either my heart was going to explode or I was going to incinerate from the inside. Not like “oh the weather is hot, i feel hot” hotness. No, it’s like a different kind of hotness that very much resembles hot flashes upon google searching. yep, while most people feel cold in ketosis i was burning up from the inside every time i was making an effort. Other googling and not primary research literature suggested it might be a thing for women because it is apparently possible to store estrogen along with fat and water. so now it makes sense. But really really really…hard to run. The first time i ran actually, only 3 miles. i threw up at mile 2.5. Your first time in ketosis your aerobic limit is gonna plummet really low. I even ran a half in ketosis. It really didn’t suck as much as you’d think. Sure it was 80 F and 90% humid but I did finish it in 2:33 with no fuel (only some 3 minutes slower than any other half i did before that one on a carb diet. cause i was well. heavy…and out of shape). So yeah ketosis and running need a bit of time to get along. but i promise you they will (and pounds are gonna drop off in an unbelievable way). But what happened when i quit the diet?

Photo from the Mahomet half course below:

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I decided to kick the ketosis bucket 1 day before the Mahomet half marathon (august, IL, HOT). so i did that in style, went to Red Lobster and gobbled carbs enough to compensate for 1 of the 4 months of ketosis maybe. Then I ran the next day. Mind you, I had absolutely no distance buildup for a half other than the 5 miles every other day that I was able to do on no carbs, so what happened that unbelievably cool august morning (don’t think it went over 75F)  kind of blew my mind. I ran a 2:11. I hadn’t run a 2:11 in like 1.5 years. with no specific training. My running had kicked itself back into gear with…ketosis? Seeing that, I got so excited that I decided to do a marathon before the Chicago marathon, as training for the Chicago marathon…. And I did the Fox Valley Marathon. I DID IT in 4:30 – with my only “long” distance being the Mahomet half….

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21 days after that I ran Chicago in 4:22. I wanted to cry when alerts texted me my time. It was 3 min faster than my Empire State marathon in 2013.

 

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7 days after Chicago I ran Empire State half marathon in Syracuse NY (my first love). I beat my halftime in Chicago by 4 min to score a 2:00:48. Just 48 s after the 2h mark. Kind of pissed me off…

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Then I said “man, we’re on a roll let’s do a 3rd one maybe it’ll be under 4:20.” So I signed up for Naperville. Which was a great race as well! But the hill massacre that the course was only let me run a 4:44. Oh well.

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Then I had prelim (where gradschool decides if they kick you out or let you finish your PhD), then I said:”OH LOOK A 50K IN LIBERTYVILLE IL LET’S DO IT, IF I FAIL PRELIM I WILL ULTRA-RUN MY FRUSTRATION AWAY, IF I PASS I WILL ULTRA-CELEBRATE RUNNING.”

 

 

The people organizing The Arctic Frog Endurance run 50k (no, I’m not kidding this is the actual name) may be some of the most competent organizers ever, for the sole reason of “there are so few of them, and so many runners.” Everything was impeccable, maybe except that the aid stations were a bit too far apart and I was kind of sorry I only had 5 gels with me and no water bottle. but I survived. And I learned things. 1) On a trail / limestone…. do not try to keep the same pace you do on asphalt, there’s a reason you’re running slower at the same heart rate. The energy return out of a trail is shitty. Just go with the slow. 2) if you like marathons and you ran 3 of them in the 3 months before you will probably suffer from the marathon distance mental shut down – oy 26.2 let me take off my shoes. So after I reached that distance in the 50 k in some 4h 34min I just kind of gave up and the last 8k was a really long walk for me… 3) if anything this race showed me exactly where both my IT bands were. oh my god. by 45 k whenever my foot hit the ground i felt lightning strikes going up from my knees on the outside of my leg toward my hip. That’s gonna be bad man. (this iwas also part of the reason the last 8k were mostly done walking). Finished in 6:33. Hey you know NOT BAD CONSIDERING IT FELT LIKE I WAS GOING TO DIE. Sat down in the car and drove back for about 2.5 h. I could not lift my left knee out of the car. It was bad. So while i dragged one leg completely straight to get into the apartment and into bed (my knee absolutely seared with pain when i got into bed) i was thinking how bad this would be and cared so much that I fell asleep for some 2h. Then I woke up craving wings like crazy so I tried to order wings online because i was so tired i didn’t want to open my mouth to talk to another human being. I ate 36 wings by myself that evening and IT WAS GLORIOUS. Noticed when i went to open the door for the wings to fly in that my knee pain had relieved. YEAH I CAN DO HOT CHOCOLATE ST LOUIS NEXT WEEKEND.

 

 

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IMG_6301.JPGThen I ran 9.3 miles on the surprisingly hilly course 8 days after the 50k and PRed my CHicago hot Choco 15k time by 50 s . My 15k was 1:24:06 and my marathon was down to 4:22. and my knee hurt a little bit (ok it hurt more than a  little bit after the first 6 miles in st louis but I dealt with it and did well). Then I took a glorious 5 weeks off from running. I lied. I tried to run once in those 5 weeks and that outside of knee pain and slightly above knee pain returned after 0.7 miles. so i stopped.

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In January 2016 I finally bought myself a foam roller. I have been running for some 9 years, uninjured, without a foam roller, without a stretching or strengthening routine. I just ran. But apparently everyone’s body has a breaking point. I don’t know if my lack of cross training or age or just the fact that I had a continuously improving racing season caught up with me but it was time! it was time to include everything else. I rolled for about 2 weeks before I could get an appointment with a physical therapist. the IT band pain went away (mostly) just with that. I ran the hilliest 15k I know of in the midwest on Feb 6, 2016 in 1:26:16. NOT bad. The front of my knees was still hurting sort of, so I did the race with those Mueller runner’s knee straps. Those things kept most of the pain away.

I went to a great physical therapist at the (UIUC) McKinley health center with my “runner’s knee” and IT band issues. Her name is Michelle Haselhorst and she’s amazing. If anything I wish she took before and after pictures from when I first went to her to 6 months later to see how much more jacked my legs are! The exercises and stretches she gave me sort of fixed my knee. One of the quad exercises seemed to make the quad attachment to the left knee hurt but after many weeks of stretching that problem ameliorated too. My first appointment was on Feb 11. My first race after that first appointment was on St Patti’s day in Chicago (Get lucky half marathon). Like any normal professional athletic trainer she asked me if i was confident about the distance and my answer like my answer about most of my other training is “i never run the full distance before, If i can do 7, I can do 13 miles too, I will live.” I ran that race too. IT WAS FRIGID COLD. my knee was trying to hurt the entire time. I ran a 1:54:53.Also look at those cool pants I got from Fabletics!IMG_7874.JPG

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well. Where did that come from?…. I was barely running 15 miles a week to give my knees sort of a break… but what was I actually doing 7 days a week? The physical therapy exercises: 1) wall sits with my toes pointed out to strengthen inner quads 2) foam rolling my IT band http://www.runnersworld.com/training-video/foam-roller-it-band  3) foam rolling my butt (professionals call butts glutes: http://thefitnessfocus.com/fitness-tips/foam-rolling-for-tight-and-sore-muscles ) 4) this standing stretch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbyJlxY79Is 5) and another piriformis stretch that consisted of sitting on the floor, the exact version of which I can not find on google. These stretches and minimal mileage cranked my half marathon PR from 1:57:06 at Empire state half in 2012 to 1:54:53 (and the 1:54… was not as flat as the 1:57). Yeah. Do some stretches and wall sits….because now it was really obviousl running wasn’t doing enough anymore (other than injuries). Also my knees hurt for about 30 min after I stopped running. My PT told  me to buy rock tape and just wear it. I did the taping for runner’s knee for the next marathon. It worked for the knee.

Some day between that half and the St louis Go marathon I ran 15 miles. On a treadmill. Without rock tape. My knees were upset again. Some other day I got a new quad exercise from my PT that consisted in me pulling an elastic band that i would latch in a closed door with my knee. That upset top part of my left knee intermittently. Then I ran the Go! St Louis marathon. GORGEOUS course btw. That quad attachment started giving me burning hell at about mile 7 ( I WAS FLYING AROUND 8:30 MIN MILES BEFORE THAT) so i realized I had to chill the pace a little. I chilled. That didn’t help the quad. Then I went on and did one quad stretch pause every mile. I stopped 18 times. Finished in 4:21:50. Hey a PR is a PR even by a few seconds. That course is so hilly too, can almost compare portions of it with Naperville. NOT EASY. It was April and I had already achieved the things I set in my mind on new years (I want a sub 9 mm half and a sub 10 mm full-hehe the full was 9:59). How on earth was I doing all of this injured. Maybe I should get injured more often?

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Illinois marathon comes around. I hate this race. This race is a metaphor of my time as a grad student at this university. It either gets cancelled and people get left out on the course (I’m looking at you, 2015) or it lives under the threat of being cancelled (I’m looking at you 2016) for weather or apparently (others have told me about past years) for insufficient volunteers. Like seriously. … Why does this happen here? Because I was now under quad pain I rock taped for quad tendinitis at the knee attachment too. I preventively did both knees. Because there was pouring rain forecasted, I bought the brooks LSD waterproof super light jacket (purple – cool) and a cap to put on my head so water doesn’t pour in my eyes for 4h+. And because YOLO, I also did the 5k to get a 3rd medal. I was going to not show up to the marathon because i didn’t want to put my body through torture to just get left out on the course in the rain and get a DNF just like last year. But then I ran the 5k…. My fastest mile was 7:37 and I finished at an 8:00 pace overall (24 min 54 s) – I was 15th in the F25-29 age group somehow…and in the top 3% overall. I don’t like 5ks i can’t even feel like I’m running by the time i reach 3 miles. HOW DID I DO SO WELL? Maybe I should get injured more often. seeing that time. Man, I can’t not run the full….it seems like I’m in good shape….).

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So i ran the full…. with the same excessive taping all over my knees. Nothing hurt. Not the quads or the knees. I now tape my knees preventively for runs longer than 5 miles. because. why not? It rained the entire time, and it was cold and it was perfect running weather…. the hat/cap i had on kept water out of my eyes. i got my ipod wet so i didn’thave music for the first 15 miles ….. i went at a sub 4:00 pace ( 9:11 min mile average at mile 20- I was actually sub 9 a lot of the time, but around mile 18 i kind of wanted to throw up a little bit and then the 4:00 pacer passed me, i got upset then I realized I wanted to vomit again so I started focusing more on that than on running sub 9 because a barf and dizziness would affect the time more than a constant slower pace)…. my wheels kind of fell off at mile 23 but i did the struggle shuffle and finished in a 4:08:28. A PR by 13 min…Are you kidding me? You know when you run for many years and PRs just never come again. I PRed in a race I hated (the course is pretty and I guess organizers do their best and everything is overall fine but this race and I …have a lot of negative history). I PRed in a race when I ran for the fear of being as close to the finish as possible when they decide to stop the clocks. My pulse was elevated at the start out of fear. Somehow I came up a little bit faster than the middle of the pack and then I sat in the stadium shivering and watching people come in for about 45 min, I should do this more often. The whole thing kind of made me want to cry. It was an odd feeling. See the excessive knee taping below.

 

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Returning to apartment and taking the tape off I discovered I should have left it on. But my knees were indeed better. You know that pointy sharp pain that runner’s knee is? My knees just hurt diffusely like 2 fuzzy balls of pain… which I guess is normal for a 9:29 min mile marathon after you’ve been injured for some 4 months.

PS: that brooks LSD jacket…totally worth the 90$. Kept me dry for at least 3h out of the 4 i ran.

Having such a successful spring racing season, I decided dropping a few more pounds would make me even faster, so I did ketosis again. Went from 148 to 140 in 1 week. Having a really miserable month of May at work, I felt like I needed another marathon to shake it off. So I signed up for the Minneapolis marathon. LOL, cancelled because they couldn’t get the road permit. (I think this marathon cancellation horror will now follow me forever). So now i Signed up for the Med City marathon in Rochester MN. Another really good and competent organization crew.

 

Since I knew from the fall that my 3rd marathon in a streak will probably not go faster than my second I didn’t try hard. But when I got on the course and realized the first 6 miles were some pretty decent inclines and downhills I decided to try hard as training for the Boilermaker 15 k road race in Utica, NY in July. So I did the first 9.3 miles in about 1:25 according to my watch. YEAH, 1:25 at the Boilermaker where previous year I did 1:39? That would be awesome. Then I quickly realized what a big mistake registering for a race at the end of May was. After the first 9.3 miles it started getting warm (it was already humid, but I didn’t perceive it as a big problem because I wasn’t feeling hot; oh it was really a problem now!)…. So the last 17 miles of the race? Oh god what a struggle. I was hoping that my period would hold off just enough for me to finish the race? Wrong. Worst cramps started when I had like 8 miles to go. When I had 6 miles to go it felt like I was going to vomit. Practiced some decent walking to avoid the 2 people who fainted and fell backward in front of me in 2 spots on the course…. and again did the struggle shuffle to finish in 4:34. WHAT A DIFFERENCE CAN HEAT MAKE! I stood still after getting the medal for quite some time because I had stars circling my field of vision, but it didn’t take long to start feeling quasi-normal again. Maybe some 30 min walk to my car (I should’ve parked closer, I was stupid, I left the car at Brentwood on 2nd- 20 something min walk from Bus pick up area/finish line.) This course was also really beautiful by the way! Highly recommend. Also, props to everyone behind the race walls who accommodated so many people from the Minneapolis marathon on such a short notice! (enough medals and shirts too, really good last week hustle to have that ready! if it wasn’t they told us they’d be mailed to us).Look how pretty Byron, MN (where the start line was) looked in the morning…

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Later that week I went on what was going to be a short hot shake out run but because I wasn’t even sore since I ran kind of slow for that level of fitness, that run went to about 9 miles. Then I got too hot and walked a lot to get back to civilization. Slept like a baby that night, when I got out of the car the next morning to get to lab I noticed my right shin hurts on the front but not the bone, the muscle that is the anterior tibialis…I ran the day before in some 4mm drop shoes close to the ground (Brooks pure flow4). Are the shoes ever the reason for pains? Not usually. So I got back to the student health center to get another referral for PT. Doctor dude presses my tibia and finds a spot that was (I thought) a bit painful. Now I know that if he had real brains he would have compared to the other leg (see, this is the struggle of your medical insurance only covering student health center care as first option and then referrals only  if said service are not available at the student health center. Guy sends me to the basement to get an xray front and lateral of tibia and fibula on the right, but writes on the sheet “ look for stress fracture.” I was like:”oh please I don’t have a stress fracture….” A few hours later some nurse calls me panicked to give me crutches on the remaining 22min before the health center closed because my xray showed a stress fracture or “signs of healing stress fracture.” Now you know, because at some point in my life I wanted to go to medschool, I looked at my xrays. There was nothing visibly wrong. Again, why not take an xray of the leg that does not hurt for comparison? xray film is probably 5$. Because although med school is expensive. not all doctors are scientists. What is textbook normal on many sedentary people isn’t going to be textbook normal on someone who runs 40 miles a week. Are you kidding me. I showed the xrays to 2 people who are past their first two years of medschool:”yeah man I don’t see anything wrong, you’re gonna be fine.” Do i need to say HOW ANNOYING IT WAS TO WALK AROUND WITH CRUTCHES OFR 3 DAYS POINTLESSLY BECAUSE IT DIDN’T HURT TO WALK. AT ALL? I could hardly dispense soap cause my wrists hurt so much… after those 3 days I went to sports medicine at Christie clinic. Obviously there I found probably a story that is going to stick with me for decades.

I wait a decent amount past my appointment time but you know ok. Doctors can be late, person before me probbaly required more attention. After the nurse asks me questions like :”was your leg swollen?” you know I don’t think so but maybe it was a little bit when the pain started. “does it hurt # on scale from 0 to 10” right now? 0, but it was probably a 3 the day it hurt…. etc. Doctor comes in, sees I was wearing my Chicago shirt and starts ranting:”oh you ran 2 races in the last 6 months? You’re a female, you’re gonna have a stress fracture.” At this point I decided I should just shut up about how many races I had actually run. If he really cared he could search me on athlinks and create panic, but after I left his office. “do you diet.” Right now? or did i ever diet? I eat meat wrapped in bacon, eggs and ALL THE DAIRY IN THE WORLD. “how’s your calcium level?”…normal?…. “what does do you wear, don’t wear flip flops and sandals, wear good supportive shoes and eat.” do i really look like I’m starving myself? Dr. looks at the xray “yeah, I don’t see anything but sometimes stress fractures aren’t visible, it doesn’t even look like a healing stress fracture because that is normally a bump where the bone is covering up with new bone.” ok but do you see anything abnormal or what that “periosteal thickening” mentioned in the xray report is? “yeah, this edge here is maybe one tiny hint thicker than this other edge here, but this isn’t a stress fracture, also this is not where you say it hurts…” THEN WHY ARE YOU TELLING ME I’M NOT EATING ENOUGH. He then proceeds to bump my heel with his fist while holding my knee, that didn’t hurt. Puts a tuning fork in like 3 spots on my tibia. doesn’t hurt. (supposedly a tuning fork is accurate in like 70% of the cases of stress fractures. meaning if it doesn’t hurt when your tibia is touched with a tuning fork chances are 70% you don’t have a stress fracture….Bottom line :”don’t run for 3-6 weeks, get an MRI if you want, get a bone scan if you want come back for a follow up.” ok so you’re telling me it’s not a stress fracture, then why should i get a expensive imaging tests that are only 80% covered by insurance, to reveal what you 70% already know. Why can’t I just do my free student health center provided FREE physical therapy? I begrudgingly tell the front desk to schedule the MRI and they tell me they’re gonna fax the order to Presence Healthcare and they are gonna call me by the end of the week (next 4 days) to schedule it. This appointment was on June 4th. It is now August 1st and I never got the call for the MRI. LOL what good services. I started doing the physical therapy exercises and didn’t run the whole month of June. (need I say what torture this was for me?) Even if i did have a stress fracture that would have been long enough for it to heal according to most google searches. I did do other stupid things the month of July like Bielmann poses on a balance ball to see if i could actually break my ankle to have a real reason for getting expensive imaging done (just kidding….i was just really really bored). Or wearing my TCS NYC marathon training shirt to compensate for  the fact that I wasn’t training .

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I started running again on July 2nd…2 miles. no hurt.  July 4th – 5 k race 27:21. (it was so hot and humid I wanted to throw up since mile 0.5). no hurt. July 7th – 5 miles no hurt.  July 10th Boilermaker 9.3 miles PR 1:23:33 – no hurt (REALLY HILLY AND KIND OF COOL FOR A SUMMER RUN THERE. AWESOME). Lots of beer at the finish line – no burp. See again the excessive knee taping done preventively….

 

Then I ran 2x a week 5 miles until like July 27, when my other anterior tibialis (left) started hurting, but just a lil’bit. During this time I had been doing toe drops. Back against the wall, heels propped in the floor some 1 ft in front of me (maybe more). Drop toes without touching the floor. Done with toes in, out and straight ahead. Also walking on my toes. with toes, in, out and straight ahead. How do I have weak calves when I run so much? Isn’t this a mystery. Probably because they are so tight? Tight = weak as well cause other muscles have to compensate? Vigorous calf foam rolling on all sides of my calves, vigorous gastroc stretching, soleus stretching toes dug in the floor stretching… http://athletestreatingathletes.com/stretching-pt-8-shinouter-ankle/ mostly these exercises. Now I feel like my peroneals are a little irritated by all of this, but not all the time. Like they’re not irritated after a 9 mile run but they sometimes get irritated after a 5 mile run. (I think I go from excessively no stretching to excessively stretching) Can heat make this sort of inflammation worse? Can I run the Peapod half madness in Batavia IL on August 28th? (It’s now called Verizon half madness) I probably shouldn’t but I think this new problem will be fixed enough that I will PR that course too (it’s hard!).

Then I’m gonna PR Fox Valley marathon and then Chicago. Can’t wait. Did i mention I got in the TCS New York city marathon as well? Yeah. it’s going to be …legendary!!

 

Oh and I may want to do that 50k in Libertyville again because now I know what to expect…. But i’ll wait to see if I break anything by then.

Bottom line. Do some minimal strength training and you will see your speed improve without even trying.

 

Have a great fall racing season everyone! and consult google for PT exercises if you don’t have time to go see someone like the great Michelle Haselhorst!

 

PS: My cat seems really concerned when I do all of these weird activities with stretching foam rolling and weird walking around the apartment:

Many things that having a human loving cat that no one told you about:

One year ago a post doc from our lab who had recently had a baby was moving out of state to a new job and this meow was going to be given up for adoption at the local humane society. However I somehow ended up taking the cat so I’d have something furry to cuddle every night and I got my pet deposit paid by ex-owner. Well, at least that part was convenient.

You get the meow (his name is Badger by the way). The cat meow and MOWS (the desperate version of meow) while being stuffed in his carrier. You drive the meow to your apartment. It’s only like 5 minutes and you pray the cat doesn’t pee in the car.

You get to apartment, cat still MOWing but at least he didn’t pee in the car. You get cat in apartment and free him. He walks all over investigating everything. and meows (normally) a lot.

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You force cuddle cat on the couch to stop the meowing. It works for a little while. You attempt to sleep. Cat meows all night because he’s lonely in a new place. You let cat in bed with you. He farts atomic farts…seems uncontrollable. You kick cat out.

You feed cat the generic food ex-owner tells you the cat likes. after a few days of eating that food the cat keeps throwing up furballs or no furballs.You google if people have had this problem, you find lots of people who have had good luck with Royal canin. you switch Royal canin is expensive.

Whatever you love your cat.

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Cat likes to climb in bed with human. You kick him out because you’re afraid of him throwing up on you. in bed. whatever. After enough royal canin eating time has passed, the cat is allowed in bed again.

Cat keeps throwing up. Mostly hair. You google again you ask friend. You come to the conclusion that maybe you should wash and brush your cat to remove a lot of excess, close to falling fur. You remove two toilets worth of fur. flush multiple times pray it doesn’t clog. the toilet survives. you free cat who was desperate and MOWing during the whole process. Cat continues licking himself for probably an hour. The next day cat throws up hair  profusely. At least he’s  not throwing up food, Royal canin is working. You allow cat in bed for the foreseeable future. Cat is cuddly, cat flops and cuddles upside down.

Cat poops a tiny bit of blood once. You google and you freak out about feline colon cancer. He doesn’t poop anything bloody again for months. You reason the cat was probably constipated. you calm down about your cat and death.

Cat is no longer new to the apartment. Cat now chatters and sings when he wants his expensive brand wet/dry food. he also dances. Cat also likes egg and sausage. He prances over every time you sit to have breakfast. He inevitably gets some sausage and eggs. Licks his face for 10 straight minutes.

Every time you go to the store you study the cat aisle carefully to see if your cat would like anything You get him one cat bed. You go to petsmart in a few months and see a more expensive cat bed. You buy it, the cat loves it, you take many pictures of cat and upload them to facebook.

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Actually you take pictures of the cat doing cute things constantly and post them to facebook. This is what your wall has become now.

You get tired after 4 months of constantly cleaning the litterbox and the bathroom of the dust that raises from the litterbox. You google. then you go on amazon and buy a Scoop free litterbox with fancy blue crystals that apparently dry everything up. And that you literally don’t have to touch for 3 weeks at a time and then you just change the litter bottom with a new litter bottom and clean under the box. Takes about 20 min cleaning the whole bathroom floor. You’re constantly amazed that that thing doesn’t raise any dust and doesn’t make everything in the bathroom dirty. The cat slowly acclimates to it after being terrified of the rake for a few days. I’m still wondering how he peed in that time. You then clean the litter box with lavender Windex so your cat enjoys fresh pleasant smells.

You look forward to having dinner with your cat. Your cat will probably ignore you and sleep while your eating but whatever. cat is adorable when he sleeps. it’s like he works hard all day.

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Cat sometimes cuddles with you then all of a sudden meows very urgently and leaves like he has to get to a meeting. At this point he probably poops and stinks up the whole house while you’re waiting for the rake to sweep the poop into the poop trap.

You watch TV shows with cat. Cat plops on the side and sleeps.

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Cat climbs on shoulders when you hug him, rubs your face then wants down.

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You leave for Christmas for 3 weeks and leave the cat alone with 3 huge bowls of food and 3 huge bowls of water and a self cleaning litter box. Cat survives with 2 visits from a friend. Friend probably had more work to do watering the plants than interacting with cat because cat was probably having deep emotional breakdowns from being alone for so long and hides in the closet. Cat abuses human when human returns from break, cat follows human everywhere and is very sticky. Cat meows differently with slight note of urgency and desperation. Cat sleeps on human and molests human’s face with rubs and extremely loud purrs. Human finds it difficult to sleep. Separation anxiety kind of goes away after a week.
Cat is the best. Cat does hard work from home

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The thought process of running a half marathon

Short post, but this gets me through every race no matter my crappy fitness:

1. At the start. meh 13 miles, it’s not the first time, i ran for 2 hours before. can’t be bad

2. at mile 3 in like 30 something min. well you have 15k left, 15k is your favorite race distance, you don’t even need to eat in a 15k, it takes you like 1.5 h it’s easy

3. at 10k. ah it’s halfway . -___- it took 1:10 instead of 1:03 i hate this. 10k more. i have to run for double this horrible time i just got. i can run 8 k every day 10 k is just a little more than that

4. at 9.2 miles (15k) you only have like 5k left (lie to yourself that it’s not 6), you don’t even go to 5ks because you think it’s too short to even warm up, you’re already warmed up this is going to be easy

5. at mile 11. I THOUGHT THIS WAS MILE 12 I NEED TO RUN FOR MORE THAN 20 MIN

6. at mile 12. 10 more minutes 10 more minutes, it’s like 2 songs

7. at mile 13 while you still don’t see the finish line: if i take a short walk break and cross the finish running like i never walked one second 8. at mile 13.05. omg i’m running so hard i’m going to vomit

9. at mile 13.1 – yay i didn’t vomit

How going to grad school sucks and First EVER Marathon

There is a reason why you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get into grad school and maybe the jumping is for your own good. People sitting in positions relatively of power want to have some 10% guarantee that investing in you will not be a bad idea AND THAT YOU WILL NOT PERISH.

You will get to your first choice school and you’ll be excited till you start meeting people. There’s a reason why some programs are top programs and some are not. Top programs admit predominantly non human beings. Not as top programs find enough humans to let in. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a few normal people and the fact that they are normal within a bunch of socially inapt others. But that is not the predominant population of a good program.

You’re going to  be mentally fine till you get to the first exam. You might have had a few homework sets till then and always promised you’re going to up your game up to the test worth 20% of your grade. The upping of the game is never going to be as substantial no matter how hard you try. Why? Because your pants are shaking on you of fear of doing worse and potentially failing, potentially be put on probation, potentially get kicked out of the program if you can’t get out of the probation, potentially not getting into a group because every professor has access to your grades. No one wants a dumb ass working for them.

Dwelling with the stress you’re going to need a way to escape maybe for something like an hour a day from all the recurring thoughts of quitting, switching departments, or potentially switching schools in a painful process of reapplying for the same unrealistic hard nonsense, because hey, you’re not going to go to undergrad again….for a computer science degree. That could potentially get you a good paying job in a city that you’ve always hoped you can live in. For me that escape was running. I moved into a humid cornfield which was a train wreck on my running. So I’d go out every single day for the same 5.47 mile run anytime between 7-10pm because I always failed at waking up to do the run.  I’d run and I’d sweat like shit and I wanted to cry. I constantly wanted to cry in the first 3 miles. Then something funny would happen and My brain would silence about the quitting, about the pain, about the suffocating and the being drenched in sweat. I often got home looking like I showered when in fact I just poured sweat continuously for an hour. This one hour window during the day during which my stupid brain would just  shut up gave me hope and will to try as hard as I could the other 23 hours of the day. I used to wake up 3 hours before my first class to reread for that class. I used to drink industrial amounts of coffee and take adderex to be at maximum focus for as long as possible. Adderex is a weird thing. It doesn’t explicitly make you focus. But it takes the tiredness out of your brain. While the rest of your body might be breaking of lack of sleep and overrunning, your brain is just clear. All you need is will after adderex. I have never done that in my life. I alway thought that whatever my brain could do was good enough. I mean hell, it was good enough till now right?

I was desperate with the running. I would just run like there was no tomorrow. As a friend said:”you’re like a sponge being squeezed, I feel like you’re almost out of water and about to rip”. which was very very very true.

I registered at the beginning of september, shortly after getting a car for the Empire State Half Marathon in Syracuse NY. It was the same race I had run 366 days before right when I was starting to apply for grad school so a good window  to remind me of who I was and make me that more relaxed person again. the person who wasn’t the almost dry sponge. The friend I was running with kind of jumped on her ankle in a mudder sort of race so two weeks before she was still waiting for her ankle to feel a little more normal. And while I had been running like I was insane all of that time I emailed the race organizers to ask if it was still possible to switch from the half into the full. Ha, the request most runners have usually goes the other way because they don’t feel ready. My training for this marathon went from August 15th to October 20th with 5.47 miles every single day, 2 or 3 11 mile runs and only one 20 miler. By any training time frame. DAMN THAT’S SOME SHORT TRAINING SCHEDULE. So hell, no I wasn’t ready but if I didn’t have the will to put myself through an extremely difficult run (note:Syracuse is one hilly city) how would I make it through gradschool? Your body will always give up before your head does, so I needed some sort of proof that my head was capable of making an epic effort. So I drove up 12 hours to upstate NY, hit a deer just when I reached my destination but luck had it that the deer bumped forward instead of going over the hood of the car. so I took no damage after about a 30 mph collision ( there was fur on my license plate after that). Picked up race packets on Saturday. Tried to go to sleep early after drinking a ton of water. Running was my one and only opportunity to relax since I started my shitty grad program and right now I had butterflies in my stomach ready to fly out of my face of the nervousness of lining up to start with a whole bunch of people who had trained more than me by far and who were probably not running their very first marathon. I was an untrained noob. with a lot of fear of failing grad school while I was still only taking courses and TAing. Everything would go to crap if I couldn’t handle those responsibilities, once I joined a lab (if anyone wanted me).

Butterflies, butterflies…. i eventually fell asleep. It was probably past 2.

like 3 alarms went off at 5:30 am. My friend and I rushed to dress and lightly carb load (ate oatmeal while driving – this I think had become our signature move). She almost ran over a deer and I almost drove into the back of her car … At 6 am I thought that was funny. As we were driving to Syracuse it looked like we were driving into a thunderstorm. Hell, that’s one epic thing to do: run a marathon in a thunderstorm… (nothing eventful weather wise happened, other than the cold… it was around freezing only slightly above). We were wearing shorts and the veins on our legs were purple from the cold. We shivered about 40 minutes before starting, peed twice (or once? I can’t remember anything past my ass freezing). I lined to start (my friend was doing the half after all, so she had a long time to wait for me). Left at 7:30 on the dot, to a real gun start because New York shoots actual guns at races, and that’s what everyone should do… To Eminem – lose yourself which set a really good pace for me pace that lasted till like mile 16…so really a good pace, that I have not been able to find since then (possibly faster than a 9min mile which for me is really really unusual). I passed the 13.1 marker in 1:58, only one minute slower than the 2012 edition of the same half. I was still the same person. the exact same person. To me, the pace I run says a lot about everything else. I was happy the entire time, it was the longest time my brain had been quiet till then, it was bliss. At mile 16 I started getting hungry so I started drinking the mio energy/glutamine/salt mixes on my waist and somehow started flying again. My friend texted:”how are you doing” and I texted back:” over 18 mi and 3h in.” I was pretty much in the awesome area… So I just kept going … I remember getting a text at mile 20 from another friend who gathered from my fb half time post that i only did the half. Reply was:”yo yo I’m at mile 20.” She texted:”go girl” sO i went back to no distractions. I was absolutely fine till the mile 22 marker when my walk breaks increased in number but they were really short walk breaks. So I started dedicating each of the remaining miles to someone. Eminem, my parents, my awesome undergrad advisors, my friend running the half who was basically there for me for everything since sophomore year of college…. so on.

Some very weird things happened to me in the last 4 miles. Even though I was physically tired but not dead tired, my brain started talking. Some way it never did before. I started thinking of all the choices I ever made in my life. of people I let down and how I let them down, of people who had let me down, dumped me from long distance relationships after reuniting, heart breaks, leaving the college that had basically become family to me, moving so far away from college and friends, not finding a way to stay in Australia, how would I ever get back to Australia, it was the last place I was literally happy and blissed even though my heart was run over by a train. The last 4 miles I wanted to cry for everything I had ever done wrong, people I hurt and for being hurt. Then at mile 25 my body remembered that I had just gotten my period that morning. the 2.4 g of ibuprofen had worn off. I wanted to sit down and scream of pain. I walked for a really long time (or seemed like it) and texts of encouragement from my friend. It’s really weird thinking that you’ve ran for so long with no problem and all of a sudden hemorrhagic cramps would bring you down like being hit over the head with a hammer! So I ran the last 0.4 miles, got to the finish line with tears down my face from the cramps NOT EVEN FROM THE PAIN IN MY LEGS. THE PAIN OF RUNNING 26.2 MILES WAS TURNED TO NOTHING IN THE PAIN OF MY UTERUS LINING RIPPING INTO A MILLION PIECES. You know when you’re running for a while and you start sweating when your stop because there’s no wind current going past you anymore?. I started pouring sweat in the cold from that combined with the pain. Hid in the toilet probably for 10 min, inhaled 1 more g of ibuprofen and was back to normal in an hour. I didn’t really even have the problem of not walking normally up until later. It felt like the effort I had made wasn’t really that bad. … We ate at Dinosaur bbq, then I went on the epic drive back. Well, the gas stop I made like 8 hours in I had to pull myself into a standing position out of the car using my arms and the roof of the car. That must have been how Barney Stinson from “how I met your mother” felt like when he impromptu ran the NYC marathon and then couldn’t get off thesubway for a few hours. Totally relatable …

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After this race it was all downhill. I ran the 15k hot chocolate race in Chicago in 1h24 min then with finals and more horrible thoughts of failing I basically stopped running until finals. Then a 14 mile Chicago polar dash in 2:40. Horrible, terribly cold, couldn’t feel my feet for the last 30 min, could barely walk because of the cold. One race I doubt I will ever do again.Then it was negative a million degrees outside so I basically stopped running till like April. I ran the Syracuse half Marathon in March in some other incredible cold in 2:30 (no training run since like November..)…Then I ran the Christie Clinic Illinois marathon, with like 10 days of training… in 5h14 min. None of the butterflies, nerves or regrets of anything in my life repeated in this race. However, I was sick as shit starting right the day before – fever, throat and nose acting up and having a show of their own. So I packed potato skins in pure ethanol from lab, had those wrapped on my neck all of friday … and magically woke up better Saturday morning.  I needed to pee 5 miles in…it took me 15 minutes to pee! JEEZ, NEVER OVERHYDRATE, STOP DRINKING EXCESSIVELY 10 HOURS BEFORE RUNNING. covered the first 20 miles in 3hours 46 min (i like to tell myself that it’s more like 3:30 because of the pee break) and the last 6 in 1.5 hours….. it got hot…it got really hot… I was seeing stars… walked a significant stretch of those 6 miles. The one good thing about october marathons in upstate NY. COLD. COLD IS YOUR FRIEND. COLD WILL KEEP YOU FROM GETTING DEHYDRATED… So with this I also proved myself I could do a marathon with no training and no long runs.

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Then finals, round 2, finished classes that I had to take and started working more …and running less and less till I got to 0. Then I ran the Michelob Chicago Half marathon in 2:20; the Boilermaker in Utica NY, 1h 39 min for a 15k, the Sunset half marathon in Hoffman Estates IL in 2:23… not terrible… but much worse than I used to be.

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Here’s to hoping that once the cool comes again running will be again as easy as it was, I also have some stressful requirements again first semester to fuel the running… I miss the blissed person I used to be and not running makes me get mad and upset at things that would not even bother me if I could run as much as my mental health needed me to.

Screw being busy, and screw grad school… while you work really hard to get though it…  While this whole getting an advanced degree is slowly going to eat at your soul making you a completely different and sadder person..

On superhumans or everyone who does races longer than marathons or extreme triathlons – IRONMAN)

The cover image for this post comes from the Oatmeal (there’s a link somewhere below – definitely a comic every runner should read!)

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This post is coming almost right after the 5th edition of Marathon 7500. If you run mountains and you feel like you can run 45 km for the “Hobby” route or 90 km for the “Elite” route and yo’re anywhere close to the Bucegi Mountains in Romania, maybe you’ll want to try this race. You can only run this race in a team of 2.

I’m writing this not because I ran this race (I would’ve died) but because I am constantly amazed by how many people compete in such superhuman competitions.

Here are details about the race and results. The winners finished in about 19 hours. Holy heavens? 19 hours of mountain running when some of the roads weren’t even lit? You are super humans AND YOU RUN WITH FLASHLIGHTS ON YOUR HEADS!!

http://www.marathon7500.ro/?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=5&Itemid=7&lang=en

Then there’s this amazing guy, the Creator of The Oatmeal! Wrote this treasure chest of truth about long distance running. He runs the 50 mile White River race (also a mountain run). Wow! I thought I was going to start crawling in an 18 mile mountain run but turns out all the distances I run are short compared to those “flown” by these other really awesome runners! Congrats!

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running

See the notes from the author after the last page too (for some good reads and links) http://theoatmeal.com/comics/running6

The other type of race I wanted to mention are Half IRONMAN, IRONMAN and Double IRONMAN. Double Ironman is 7.6km swim, 360 km bike and 84.4 km run… How do these people not die in about 35 hours of continuous effort? I don’t even think they know for sure other than to never stop moving. You are my heroes!!! Best of luck in future competitions because once you get to this level you won’t find an easy reason to stop.

Congratulations to all you beasts and keep the inner beast in shape for more endurance! This is good, more must be better!

To many blissful miles – run, biked or swam!

Sydney – can we all just move to Australia already?

I was going to do this while traveling, but turns out, I was too busy for about the next year and a half, so I’m doing it now. (the picture below isn’t mine 🙂 )

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Sydney is a freakin beautiful city and about the first clue that  I would move to live/work in Australia in no more than a heartbeat. I got there on February 5th,2012 and was picked up at the airport by a cab sent by University of Wollongong (where I was studying abroad from abroad – see I’m already studying in the US, then I went abroad from there), got to Wollongong, got rid of most of my luggage by abandoning it in the room, bought some power adaptors for my laptop, passed out, then the next morning, I went back to Sydney (train – by the way, trains are awesome in Australia, I mean seriously, trains in Queensland have wifi – yea yea I know the US does too but the ones in Queensland actually have WORKING wifi). 

Stayed at the Highfield hotel for 12 nights for 700 something dollars (I can’t quite remember, but I thought that it was an OK price for the pretty good location). This hotel is about a 2minute walk away from Kings Cross station. Really good, if you’re traveling by train. Yes, I know you’re probably thinking why I picked a hotel in the “going out” district. See it wasn’t that bad, probably because it’s on Victoria street pretty close to William St/Kings Cross Rd. and I think most clubs are about one street over (Darlingurst and beyond), but this hotel was definitely not in the middle of the yells of party people. Could I hear a little noise at night? Yes. Could I sleep over it? Yes, no problem. and, no I wasn’t killed by jetlag all 12 days so that was not how I could always fall asleep over the faint noise of people enjoying themselves. Speaking of clubs, the only one I was out in was Candy’s apartment and that was pretty sweet, music wise and fun-wise. I walked EVERYWHERE, so I know exactly nothing about transportation in Sydney except for the ferries to Manly and Taronga Zoo. 

I had breakfast every morning at Joe’s Cafe. Such a cute little place, and one of the girls working there looks almost exactly like Victoria from How I Met Your Mother. Good prices, Tasty food. Nice and quiet in the mornings (closed in the evenings by 9pm when I was usually back in Kings Cross)

http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/70/1457421/restaurant/Kings-Cross/Joes-Deluxe-Cafe-Sydney

Ok, this might just be Romania, but in Australia, cards from Romania whose numbers were not in relief, had trouble being accepted in about half the places, but worked fine at NAB ATMs for withdrawals. For car rentals, you definitely need a card with the numbers popped up. I know this isn’t a problem on most of the planet, but just thought I’d mention it. 🙂 Alright, now this won’t be a real travel log. I’m just going to enumerate things I saw in Sydney and consider awesome enough for other people to go and see (AND THROW MONEY ON!-no, really…everything is worth it) .

1. The Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb. Can cost anything from 208 to 268 dollars (268 is sunrise, sunset and night). The whole business takes about 3 hours and a little, you can’t take anything with you…so, unfortunately no cameras, phones or anything you could use to NOT buy their pictures (which are 26$ for the first picture and 10$ for each additional photo – you can get them print/ or cd for the same price which is good, you also get the group picture taken on the highest point of the bridge). You can find the descriptions for the different climbs at the link below. I did the one on the outer arch at sunset and it was pretty damn amazing. The weather was somewhere on the verge of starting to pour before I entered the Bridge headquarters. There’s about a one hour long getting dressed, and training session. There’s replicas of the bridge stairs and railings inside, to teach you how to yank your cable in case you got stuck in a turn and how to go up and down the pretty narrow steps. No worries, though, not dangerous at all. It’s expensive, but it’s not like you’ll have the second visit in your head when you do your first. So…it’s a one time thing.

They also do marriage proposals, you have to let them know a couple of days in advance (phone call). You can book your climb online if you wish, or you can book it at the bridge. I booked mine a week in advance, but they had open spots for closer dates even. Don’t take that for granted though. A week in advance should be solid for February-ish, guide books advise 1 month in advance…Don’t go on February 14th if you don’t want to see a marriage proposal. There will definitely be a marriage proposal on the Bridge every Valentine’s day since …um, it’s about the most romantic way you could pull a ring from your pocket… (which will be tied on a little rope so you don’t drop it off the bridge during the grand moment – now, that would be funny)

http://www.bridgeclimb.com/The-Climbs/3-Ways-To-The-Top/ 

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2. Skydive the Beach – Sydney. HA, joke, the skydive actually leaves from Wollongong which is about a 1hr drive away and a shuttle is included in the price of your booking. Their cheapest skydive is Wednesdays during the day 255$. You will never be happier that you chose to do this. Please don’t do it, though, if you have heart problems. All worries and things that upset you will go poof the moment the chute opens. Also, the video and photos? Totally worth it. Who wouldn’t want to see their face being stretched while falling from 14000 ft at about 55m/s? By the way, here’s my skydive video too, but don’t be fooled. I was only that calm because it was my second time jumping out of a plane…because that is the only way of properly traveling on a small plane 🙂 You can book, online, phone..or just go there if you live in Wollongong. The headquarters are at the city-end of Puckey’s estate.

http://www.skydivethebeach.com.au/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXAY88OyoMc

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Yes, that is me.

3. The Australian Open of Surfing @ Manly Beach. Starts around February 10th and you can literally be within feet of super famous surfing stars….sport that I knew nothing about when I went there ….so I found out after… that I stood right next to Kelly Slater. Yeah, badass. Especially when you have no idea what you’re doing. BRING SUNSCREEN. like 50 SPF sunscreen if you plan on being there a couple of hours because the sun BURNS in Aussie. + Sunglasses…if you’re not like me with your eye in the camera all the time …. if you are like me…well then your eyes will hurt like hell at the end of the day. Worth it? yes. You don’t have to go there for the open of surfing, you could just go there to laze around and be a lizard in the sun. SUNSCREEN. USE IT.(can you tell by now I got a really bad sunburn using 30SPF the first day I was there?)

4. The Sydney Opera House. You should do the backstage tour too. ~60$ and includes the House tour. I regret not doing the backstage tour, they take you through costumes and a lot of awesome things you don’t see in the small tour (~30$). The tours are really good and I thought the history of the Opera House was pretty good for someone who didn’t know anything in advance. For example did you know that the tiles on the shells are not white? Duh, you’d go blind looking at them… They also self clean…My windows don’t self clean. Unfortunately, you can only take pictures where the guide people say you’re allowed to. After you do your tour, you have a 30 or 60$ off on the next ticket you buy for a show at the House. I went to see La Soiree, and paid only 30$ (had 30$ off a 60$ standing ticket-yea yea I’m stingy) – show was about 2hr long in the Playhouse. Super entertaining. 10$/glass of wine. You can be fancy and go to a classical music sort of thingy (the cheapest seats are about 100-120)… I was in the mood for something fun 🙂 

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5. Australian Museum of Natural History. Well, I’m a nerd. I liked it. Awesome Wildlife photography. LOTS of small children. There were also some screens that you could touch and random underwater monsters would eat your fingers. (not really). Not quite as big as the one in New York, but still pretty good. + You have the benefit of seeing a lot of odd Australian animals after all. 

http://australianmuseum.net.au/whatson

6. Taronga Zoo. 33$ entrance fee with a student ID when I went, unfortunately it is not one of the zoos that let you hold koalas in Australia…they will let you get close to one though. Lots of crazy Australian animals, fluffy red pandas doing stupid stuff & others, by the way, the giraffes at this zoo have the best view on the planet. You should time your visit so you make the shows listed in the link below. I saw the seals and they can do some pretty cool stuff.

http://taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo/daily-talks-encounters/daily-timetable

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btadlrQD3Ts

This is the giraffes’ view. All day, every day. 

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http://taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo/daily-talks-encounters/daily-timetable

7. Darling Harbour & The Chinese Garden of Friendship. Both pretty. Darling Harbour is also a sweet picture place with tons of restaurants…. You should get on one of those 3 hours dinner cruises. I for one had a lot of fun on one of those, but it was a campus-organized event. you get to see the pretty Sydney Opera house and Harbour Bridge close to sunset… beautyyyy. There’s also a pretty fun park for kids, but don’t worry the climbing and swiging things hold adults too… Don’t judge. That’s one of my friends 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=4173026929147&set=vb.1388497872&type=3&theater

8. Walk on the Sydney Harbour Bridge over to the other side. Luna Park for a little fun. but walk on Olympic drive Jeffrey St. Wharf and that little walkway along the water. You will see million dollar homes, and awesome views of the Sydney opera house from across the water. Good picture spot is also Kirribilli Wharf. The streets around that area are beautiful and the neighbourhood is pretty wealthy and good looking. Pretty sure World’s Best Homes on Fine Living Channel should film there.

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9. The Botanical Gardens are pure awesome, that is all. There is also an outdoor cinema there. I can’t find those pictures. Sorry…go lie in the sun there and take it in.

10. George Street shopping….oooor walking. Everything’s fancy, everyone’s suited up. It reminds me of Fifth Avenue in New York. 

11. Sydney Tower Eye. 309m. I now wish I went there because I have a thing for heights.

http://www.sydneytowereye.com.au/ do it

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12. Hyde Park. Really pretty. 

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13. St Mary’s Church right across the street from Hyde Park. Some awesome reflections of it in the fountains on the William Street side. Good spot for a nightshoot.

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14. Sydney Harbour at night. FAN-FREAKIN-TASTIC.

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15. Australian Maritime Museum. Lots of pride. Awesome guides. you can see everything in about 2 hours, but save more time if you want to see the vessels..parked right in front of the museum (it’s at Darling Harbour)

http://www.anmm.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=1206

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16. Sydney Observatory. Pretty walk up to it, even if you don’t get to see the stars.

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Ok, I am tired but I will keep adding if I remember anything.

Arm yourselves with a lot of chattiness because the tourists and the locals I ran into were in the mood to talk a lot once they found out how I got there. 😀