Thursday, May 9, 2013

Could it be the shoes I trained in?

Prior to adios, I was always running in trainers>15 oz or so. I ran 2012 Boston in Mizuno enigma which were pretty heavy! I was laughed at after the marathon when my friends found out. These shoes were awesome trainers (no doubt I never got injured in my training), but not racing shoes.
Having gained more experience after my second marathon, I decided to play with shoes. I bought asics racing flats for my track workouts and 5K-10K races. They were good. I did not train in them for long. Although my coach wanted me to go minimal by training in shoes that had less toe-heel drop. The asics were too low to be a training shoe.
end of August I was done with most of short distance races and in September I was beginning to train for a fall half-marathon. On Sep 1, I bought my first adios. I have owned 3 pairs since then. They are all Red. So... I was told that these are great half-marathon to marathon racing shoes. Many people have also trained in them. I looked up online reviews and a friend of mine had also worn these a few years ago. But another model! Which we both realised very recently and much late, as the damage was done
I started training for half in them. I had a pretty good half (1:26) wearing those. I gave them the credit.
Soon after, my left hamstring issue started getting more and more obvious. All that time, I never thought of replacing the shoe. really Dumb! I was too confident that it wasn't the shoe that was causing it. Well, together with other asymmetries, I am sure there was something that the shoes add to it as well.
I started training for Boston on Dec 1 and all the time during the training I was never once an absolutely injury free person. I was not injured but there were underlying issues. I was testing my leg, the pull on the connecting tissue, stretching the muscle and all those little tweaks that a runner does  sub-consciously at all times.
By the end of March, with maximum mileage, my lower leg issues begin to get exposed. There were times I would think of wearing the old mizuno for a run but I was too afraid to make any change. I bought the final adios for the marathon and any run done in those felt better than the one's in the older adidas. The old shoes had miles on them but not enough for them to be acting up on me.
After all that post-marathon pondering as to what went wrong, and some discussion with Mark (who recently tried these shoes and gave up), we have a sort of hypothesis as to what went wrong.
Adios are great for racing but not training. They are light and do not offer much cushioning or stability. yes, I am a neutral runner and they are meant for neutral runners but you can wear these shoes once or twice a week and last them for a long time rather than for longer miles.

I was almost saved from having a stress fracture.
Again, this is only my hypothesis. Who knows what went wrong.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


My sister's company last 3 weeks kept me pretty occupied. I had 0 down time. I would feel "sad" every now and then but not enough to make me cry that I can't run.
Last week happened the much dreaded MRI. It did not report any stress fracture, to which I am very surprised. Having run over 35 miles since I was diagnosed of a stress reaction, I still did not develop a fracture! Woohoo. On a bright side, my bone density is good! No fracture does not mean all is good. I do have the same stress reaction in the same location. FOUR weeks is the word. Which puts me in for June 2-3 date to go for my first run.
I have started spinning and regular lifting like good old days when I had not tasted the road. My goal is to keep working on the upper body strength with more focused lower body in the last two weeks before I start running. The spinning puts my quads and hams in a good place, but I am afraid to let my calves sit ideal for that long.
There is an awkward feeling now that I belong to a club. I have told a few girls that I won't be running for a while, but I hesitate telling coach Tom. My relationship with the club is new and is kind of jinxed as I have not been to any practice since January. Things were never stable for this marathon training and now I am decommissioned for a few more weeks. Even when I begin running, I could only be with the club for practice but not necessarily train with them. Uff... me just thinking out loud.

In the mean time, I am catching up with things that I had neglected for a while, which does not include work as I never took a break from that.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

117th Boston Marathon and beyond

Since my last post things have changed, quite a bit. Both for me and the world.
What could have been one of the worst setbacks for me by not being able to run Boston this year, turned out to be one of the most horrifying stories in the running world. Something that will always remind us of the black clouds that came over the finish line at 2:50 PM on Marathon Monday.
The decision to still run the marathon was made Friday, before the marathon Monday, when I ran easy 5 miles and realised that the lower leg pain had subsided quite a bit. My decision was solely based on the fact that the intensity of pain(which was only an ache by now)was not big enough to drop out from a race, let alone Boston.

The weekend - I went to the expo on Friday with Sarah. we decided to use that time to discuss the race strategy since things had changed for me. i had to be prepared to run a smart race and not get emotionally carried away by the adrenaline high on top of Boston. The goal was to take mile by mile just how I was taking day by day for the last 10 days due to my stress in calf. It was hard truth but it was. At this point my honest goal was to atleast run 3:19 to keep with my last time.
My sister had arrived from New Delhi a night before the marathon to witness her sister finish the world's oldest marathon with a brilliant history. We slept early after a light pasta dinner. I do not rely solely on this meal for my carbohydrates. I eat regular meals every 2 hours two days before the marathon and drink atleast 4 litres of water through out the day. My easy snack usually is cliff bar.

Marathon Monday morning- I took the paid bus with other runners from MIT. I did not take the free buses as on bad weather days the paid shuttles can be useful as they allow you to remain seated till the race start. I felt lonely on the bus. I knew the only way to get home will be to run back from Hopkinton. I distracted myself by talking to co-passenger, a lady from Texas. It was nice to interact. I realized that I am not the only one who is going this race with a lingering issue. Atleast there was no pain! It is interesting to see everyone staring at each others bib numbers. In Boston marathon bib numbers indicate how fast you are. It's a mutual respect- jealousy thing among runners.
I proceed out of the bus to go look for teammates and also to introduce my body to the temperature.

Weather: It was a close to ideal weather for marathon. Start like was low 40s with only a slight -5 mph wind from east/SE... Which means slight head wind.
Clothing: I was wearing the GBTC singlet, shorts which have tons of pockets, simple wool gloves that I wouldn't cry for if I threw them. I had 7 GU gels.. All lemon
Warm up gear was long pants, lucky shirt and hoodie. I left the pants and hoodie in the bag.I threw the shirt at the start line. This shirt was picked by my mother in law at the start line of my first marathon which I kept since it said "Lucky"... I guess somewhere I felt it's time to part with this.

Start Line- I met GBTC teammates Anna and Allison at the village and we walked to the start line. On our way there, they were talking about how long was their last long run and I just kept quiet, reciting my prayers! I had not run for more than 10 miles in the two weeks leading to the marathon. I felt I was not ready. I felt insecure and lonely. Until this point I believed that all my training was with me and I knew it will take me somewhere. But this moment walking to the starting was making me weak. I thought about all those days I went out running in conditions which were almost impossible. I remembered Michael's smiling face. I thought about the sigh of relief after every long run that brought me closer to the marathon.

The three of us got separated in the rush and I crossed the line at 10:20:07. I heart cried and I asked my imaginary Boston marathon goddess which I believe is really the mother of marathons to bless me and said ".all I need is my legs and shoes and Boston- here I come"...
... only t find out later that innocent people lost their legs in this tragedy that shall never be forgotten or sunk in.

The first mile was usual... Just heart beating faster than usual.. Not because of breathing but the anticipating getting out of this rush of the runners. I stay calm and remind myself of the goal of mile by mile and the downhills are critical in the first 10K.
I was passing people but not a lot. This was a good sign. My splits were near 7 which was good and I tried to slow down too as I was not aiming to beat my original goal of low 3 os. I was comfortable. Mile 7- I saw Navin. He ran a few steps with me and that really helped me. That was my internal first check point. I felt a low point around mile 8.5-10 that went away in no time. I was expecting to see Alexis around mile 10 so that was helping me to stay focused. I never saw her but I was on track. Mile 12 was almost going to feel low again until I heard the wellsley girls. Some of them made me smile and I love that excitement. Now j know not to speed when you see them. I stayed mostly in the middle of the road.
There was a girl who often crossed paths with me as we were probably nearing same pace.. Sometimes I slowed down for water and GU and sometimes she did. I noticed she was left handed so we always chose opposite water stops. Anyway by half way we exchanged a few words and the bib numbers so we could see each other's times.
The downhill of wellsley came and I was feeling good. All this time I had not thought about my injury even once. It helped! I knew the route so well that this downhill did not help:) I knew the hills were only a mile away. But thinking about how in the training runs I was helped by the tail wind, I have a slight head wind now. But it was keeping me cool. I still had my gloves on.
This was the first time for me as a GBTCer running in a big race and the name carried me though the race. Every few minutes I heard “Go Greater Boston” or “Go GBTC” … where the latter one emphasized someone’s familiarity with the team and a sense of team spirit for me. I was so proud to be there running for the team.

Came the first hill. I had slowed down as Sarah had warned me of the hills and even though I could maintain the pace I slowed down. I saw the other girl take the lead and go away. I stayed calm. Came the fire station and trust me.. I did not feel as great as I did last year. Before I started to worry, I reminded myself that I am running atleast 30 seconds faster every mile today.

I was anticipating seeing someone I know on the hills and I did not. But that helped me as I reminded myself of that nice form that I should keep and that this is home stretch. Can't even count the number of times I have run on this road and every time the hills feel different. They felt normal that day. Nothing was killing me.

Suddenly my left calf started to beat fast. There were pulses felt! Never felt this before. I did some modified drills of heel kicks while running to loosen up that calf. I have never done this in a race! It helped.. Atleast that's what I felt.
We turned to Beacon street and the cross were only getting bigger. I remembered the sign i had seen earlier -"Pain is temporary, pride lasts forever"

I kept going and my pace had dropped into 7:15s. I knew Team will be around mile 23 and seeing them was great! Another friend Raka cheered me on around Washington square. Then came the last bridge to Kenmore and I saw Sarah walking. She must have pulled get ham... That was my instinct. I got her to run along and knowing my coach was behind me watching me finish the Boston marathon was something I had never thought of. She helped me and I helped her in the last mile... There is something that goes unsaid about this.

I finished the race pretty in 3:07:06... satisfied. Not on top of the world but contended. There was still something missing. I was only happy to beat my previous time. We moved ourselves to the family area where I was greeted by Michael, Sabina, Rusha and Trupti!

When I first saw the blasts on TV, I was not even aware of what had happened. Assuming it was only an electrical fault or a mishap caused by fireworks planned for some runner. When I did realise what had happened, I had nothing to say but to only think about the pain the runners were going through and to witness this on top; I was unaware that it were the spectators who were there to only support us were injured. What started as a bright, picture perfect day for the runners and their families turned out to be the biggest horror story in the world of marathon. We felt helpless to do anything, except to inform the family and friends that we were safe.  For days after the marathon, I did not even know how to recognize and realise that I have achieved a goal. I only wished "bombing" will be disconnected from "Boston marathon". There was no sigh of relief that one would usually feel after a mission is accomplished. I felt awkward telling that I ran the marathon... oh yes the marathon where people were killed and nobody should have been there. I would feel terrible and cry driving into work and listening to the stories of the effected on NPR. Never have I seen Boston so shaken.

But things have changed. It has only been a few days but feels like people have come into acceptance with some truth. There are things every individual has realised with this, either personal or at a macro level. The fearless marathoners continue to be fearless except they have been joined by a team of other people who have witnessed this pain and want to be a part of it. Boston has come out as a strong city amidst all this. One week changed many things for us.

I was fortunate to recieve an email from a teammate who was looking for shoes for a photo shoot for a cover of Boston magazine as a tribute to the ones affected on Marathon Monday. Below is the cover... I am only a little red shoe in this sea of runners.

There is no possible explanation for why this even happened, but it does make me realise that time is not as infinite. We should get out and do what we want to do before it's too late-  Life cannot be replaced

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Almost there and almost over...C'est la vie

I have a tibial stress reaction in left leg. Just found out yesterday. I have been having tight right calf for the last couple of weeks and there was always a spot tight deep inside. We worked with massage on it on Monday and Tuesday run did not feel the same. There are two kinds of pain- there is a dull pain and there is a sharp pain. Dull pain is normal, which usually disappears as you run and warn up. What I experienced on Tuesday for 6 miles was a sharp pain that became dull gradually. I listen too well! Even to my body. I let Sarah know right away how I felt and we decided to do aqua jog this week while giving my leg time to heal.
Tapering is also the time when your body is healing from the damage you have done during the last several weeks of training. With less mileage the body gets time to heal and that gives you pain here and there. I was hoping it was just that. But I did not want to take a chance and took appointment with ortho. She is a runner herself and although diagnosed me with this, she did lay it out on the table that I could run the marathon but have to listen to my body for any signs during the race and stop. I have to be willing to stop.
So this is it.

I was emotional. But there are many things going on in my mind. I am also a stronger athlete now. Both mentally and physically. I don't think all my training, dedication in winter was a waste. I still gained from it and it is still a part of me. My last long run last weekend was still as good as my first long run of the season. I never limped and never had to stop during a run because of pain. I completed a 20 mile race pretty well and earned my reward. So I feel that it's good to stop at a good note rather than quitting in the race and taking the bus home from Hopkinton (where Boston marathon starts)
Boston ... I have to let you go this year. I enjoyed you last year in that heat...I am glad I ran it and did not defer. I will qualify again and run you again. Next time I will be even stronger and ready to withstand you.

It is a tough decision...

Monday, April 1, 2013

April is here

I have not been here in a few weeks now. It was due. Here is what I have been up to - Weekly mileage in March was high. I peaked at 60 miles for this marathon training and started tapering last week. The mileage for the month of March has been highest for my records - 230 miles.
My longest run was 23 miles on March 24th.

Monthly mileage for 2013 so far...
I named this run- 23 on 24. Last weekend was interesting as I started to see early symptoms of a cold that could have brought me down. I started overdosing myself on day time cold fighting over the counter syrups and Vitamin C. My extreme was putting emergence-E in OJ. Saturday was a drag and then I had to be out on Sunday mentally preparing myself to run for almost 3 hours. I kept this run flat and easy. I must have averaged 7:28 and felt OK. No body issues or aches. Only medication effect that was making me in a dreamy mood for more than half of my run. There was nothing eventful about my longest run. All this time in my training, I was thinking of doing something interesting for this run but I guess by now I am tired. yes, I am. Not so much physically but the uncertainty of anything screaming in my body that could be a sign of injury. Now that the hamstrings have been fine for a few weeks, my calf has been the area of attention. It is again the left leg. It is all related. I know! But it is hard to nail down one thing that is causing all this and putting me off balance. if it were an IT band issue, I would have been able to resolve it by now. But this darn thing is unknown! I have inherited my calves from my dad. They are big, very well shaped... just like a gigantic drum stick. My shin bone does not seem narrow for that sized calf. But my calf is prone to getting these knots of damaged muscle fibres that get stubborn over time. This has been my major cause of annoyance last 2-3 weeks. If you have been reading earlier entries of my blog, you would have noticed that this training has not been a smooth ride. It is almost over and when I do look back, I think time has flown by. But it still feels to be a long training. Weird!

Work front - I have been still busy at work. More responsibilities and more challenges. I am enjoying it. Keeps me occupied.

Social Life - I do manage to see friends at least once in a weekend. sometimes a week night meeting here or there. Since the tapering, I decided to escape Boston and went to New York this past weekend to see friends- Letitia (from London) and Kinjal, who lives in Jersey city. It was a nice escape. I left after my long run on Saturday on a bus. This trip was mainly catching up and of course any catch up is around gastronomic activity and so was this weekend. A wine bar and over dosing on cheeses, wine and charcuterie made it all a nice full belly on Saturday. A nice cozy brunch with Kinjal on Sunday while it was drizzling out in a prefect setting of a West village cafe made for a perfect easy afternoon.

Running- Since last week I have been running my week day runs in the evening. I am tired of cold mornings and running in the evening just lets me enjoy sun more. Another change is a new place to run. Minuteman bike path runs close to the city. I have parked my car on my way back home and trailed down the path a few times this week. That gave me a nice change and also see a new neighborhood. The bike path is pretty. The houses are staggered around the path in no particular order so gives it a character and not the stereotypical americano suburbia. The terrain is varied and you see roads crossing over a bridge running under a bike path, kids playing in a park, rear entrance of interesting looking buildings, some body's landscaping dig, a cute waterfall and quietness.

I will keep you posted on how the calf turns out to be. At this point I am refraining from being overly zealous and optimistic

Happy April

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Too tired to run?

Last few weeks have been mainly focused around keeping the training healthy by not getting into any injury traps. We noticed some red flags last week that kept me concerned most of the week but also helped me stay focused and on top of my self care. There is nothing called too-much foam rolling. Anyway I have logged 30 miles in 4 days this week. 3 more days to go and I think I can handle it. My body feels tired. But I know it is more in my mind. This is what marathon training is about... dedication, trusting your body, trusting the training and all those miles I have logged in even before most of the city wakes up, testing your body and unless you go to an extreme how do you know what is the limit.

On Tuesday of this week I did a 13 miles tempo (650ish pace) run on the Charles. It was one of those high 40s days with no head band, no mittens and only a layer of shirt. I was flying and the legs felt good.
This morning I woke up in Cambridge. I stayed at a friend's place after attending a birthday party last night. It was a good change to start the run on an absolutely flat road as compared to the hill within a few yards from my home that I see pretty much every time I head out. This morning I headed on Mass ave straight to the river and it was still dark. It felt strange. I did not think or feel I was awake. Even when I finished I did not feel tired. I felt like I could go on for a few more miles. But I could feel the fatigue crawling up my body. This is new to me. I can use some sleep and more food. Is this what the runners feel about running. Do we ever get tired of running? Does it not feel like it is body's natural way to move forward just like a river. There are days when an easy run feels harder than a hard workout and there are days when I look forward to even a long easy run.

While the training is going on in the background (and foreground;) ), I don't forget that I have a life too. Yes! I have a darling husband who gives me immense strength. I have been more responsible in my domestic life in the last few weeks than ever. That means I am taking more responsibility of cooking dinner, making lunches, laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping. We also rent out a space as a B&B and that has picked up again as winter is behind us. That is my little business and I like to stay on top of it. Work has been extremely busy and that is rewarding too. So hey, things are looking good overall!

Monday, March 11, 2013

T-minus 5 weeks

5 weeks from today I should be beyond the finish line and hopefully way beyond. I should be home in an ice bath or probably getting some beers in a pub.
As the mileage has been building up, little aches and pains are becoming more prominent. I tend to just tell my brain to shut up and not listen to them. My mother in law once told me to think of these as small bodies which are working together in a concentrated area in your body and helping it heal. I am sure I am not 100% correct in what she said but this is my interpretation and so what if I am wrong, it still helps me. I don't think particularly it is the mileage that is making me more tired or just the frequency of going out and hitting the roads. I think I am ready for good weather. The spring seems to be just around the corner. I have already started feeling good when the head wind cools me off, the shoulders feel relaxed, runners are smiling, the sweat dripping down my pants (which never happens when it is cold outside!), the temperature in the house is warmer than the set temperature on thermostat and the weather forecast is ranging between 35 and 50. This time of the year has started to have a special meaning in my life. Although this is only my second Boston, I feel connected to this moment of time when the winter and spring shake hands leaving all of us confused. The sun light, the rising sun, the dawn, the air, the humidity and many other things are different.. they have been changing gradually but they are.
Friends and co-workers are checking on me as the date is approaching. It feels good to know people are thinking about you. I want to do well. One thing I have changed about this year is to let people know about my training. I have always been a superstitious kid and never desired to share my experiences with others. Now that I am documenting my training, I feel this moral support I get from my friends and family is valuable part of training. I go out and think about things that people have said to me about training and I find a way to motivate myself using their words. I guess that's what you do when you just want to find god in all things.
Long runs have been feeling good and strong. The tempo runs still need some work. I think I am thinking too much about the pace when doing tempo. I notice that if I am not thinking about a pace, I easily switch into an easy-moderate zone. So I have decided that for 13 miles tempo run tomorrow morning (yes Tuesday morning before work), I am going to follow that rule. No thinking about the number. Just making sure that the breathing dictates my momentum and it will feel slightly touch in the beginning but it only gets better if you are not exerting more. Makes sense!
I have been feeling more hungry and thirsty too. I am making sure to eat well and watching fats and NOT putting anything and everything into my mouth. Shadi ( my dear friend) has always been very careful close to the marathon about not getting any infection from others and mostly through shared foods. I think I will start following that. Chocolate milk is still the best drink after the long run. I had an ice bath this past weekend following the long run as it also included some hill efforts.

Here is a quick healthy snack that I came up with at work - Kiwi, cheerios, wheat biscuit cereal and strawberry yogurt