Stress and Injury

I wrote this a week ago and sent it out for submission. Having not heard back I’m chalking it up to Written Rejection and am moving on, choosing to post it here instead.

I should be heading out for six miles tomorrow morning according to my marathon training plan. But since writing this piece, I’ve pinched a nerve in my left scapula, which kept me from Saturday yoga, woke this morning with a pulled muscle in my neck and have a faint, but still there, soreness in my quad.

I am, in physical terms, a big old mess!

Maybe it’s time to hang up the hopes for a January marathon. Maybe running to meet a time and distance goals should not be my focus right now. Maybe at this phase of my life I should run for pleasure and freedom and stress relief.

No decisions must be made today.

Acknowledging the thoughts……


Stress and Injury

Being plagued by a tremendous amount of stress recently I woke up ready to go for a run, but had momentarily forgotten about the right quadracept injury that had forced me to put my marathon training on hold. If that wasn’t irritating enough, as I stepped down from my bed I felt a muscular pull up the backside of my right calf; curious as I haven’t done any running or worn new and different shoes since I’d allowed myself this little break to heal from the nagging pain in my thigh.

As I hobbled down the stairs I wondered if the mental stress I’ve been under lately is causing my body to react in a way that is purely physical; both slowing me down and creating pains in places where there shouldn’t be any. It isn’t just common sense that stress can cause illness and injury, in April 2012 a Scientific study at Carnegie Mellon University found proof that mental stress can cause harm on a cellular level; real and actual inflammation can (and does) form in the face of stress.

Two weeks ago I was on a running/yogic/healthy lifestyle roll. Marathon training was in its first week, my consistency in yoga attendance was helping me gain strength and focus, and my food struggles seemed a thing of the past (quitting sugar helped). I was pushing my limits much as I had a year ago at this time, but my circumstances are currently quite different.

Forget that my divorce mediation is nearing closer by the day, the fact that my mother is a week out from surgery from a skin cancer or that my daughters have been acting out to the point that I’ve called a child psychologist for help. Forget that I’m still living with my soon to be ex, that as a stay at home mom I am at the mercy of my husband’s financial choices or that I haven’t worked in six years, since before my twins were born. I have no idea how I’ll support myself after the divorce.

On Tuesday, when a life threatening illness of a loved one rang in my phone, it dawned on me the enormous amounts of life stressers that have plagued what I am coming closer to christening, “Terrible 2012.”

I have a list of things I want to do. I want to run my second marathon in Miami (in January). I want to find meaningful work that will monetarily add to the lives of myself and my children. I want to eat right and attend yoga and fit in my closet full of clothes all presently too tight. I want to feel happy about the chores that keep my house running. I want my family to be healthy. I want to spend time with friends and hear about the wonderful things happening in their lives. I want. I want. I want.

But now may not be the time for the things that I want.

Now might be the time to step back and allow the universe to deliver to me what it thinks I need.

Am I ready to hang up the dream of Miami? Not yet.

Am I going to beat myself up for eating more than my share of the pumpkin pie? Nope.

Will I attend yoga tomorrow morning as I have been for the past few weeks? Yes, because I know it is good for me (my intention, however, will be to remain mindful and without pressure to perform).

What I am not going to do is allow the stress to creep up and cause me pain and frustration and worry.

Sometimes a person needs to be able to choose between what they need and what they want on a minute by minute basis. Knowing when not to do the thing(s) that they want becomes the only decision; the grown up decision to say, “I can’t right now,” knowing that they’ve saved themselves from a stressed out illness or unfortunate injury.

Have you ever pushed through stress and injury for a race? How did you do?


It’s not funny how badly I want another one of these and the experience to go along with it.

The Modified Marathon Plan

Monday is the big kickoff to my 18 weeks of marathon training. Instead of doing too much running this week, I am instead mentally preparing for what is to come and also giving myself a tiny break before the big works begins.

I have modified Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 to suit my needs.

Here we go…

Week Mon. Tues. Wed. Thur. Fri. Sat. Sun.
1 Rest 6 Rest 5 Rest yoga 8
2 Rest 6 Rest 5 Rest yoga 9
3 Rest 6 Rest 6 Rest yoga 6
4 Rest 6 Rest 6 Rest yoga 11
5 Rest 6 Rest 6 Rest yoga 12
6 Rest 6 Rest 6 Rest yoga 9
7 Rest 8 Rest 7 Rest ? half
8 Rest 6 Rest 9 Rest yoga 15
9 Rest 6 Rest 9 Rest yoga 13
10 Rest 8 Rest Thanks! 6-8 Rest 17
11 Rest 9 Rest 9 Rest Rest 18
12 Rest 9 Rest 9 Rest Rest 13
13 Rest 5 5 5 Rest Rest 19
14 Rest 5 8 5 Rest Rest 12
15 Rest 8 Rest 7 Rest Rest 20
16 Rest 7 Rest 7 Rest Rest 12
17 Rest 5 Rest 6 Rest yoga 8
18 Rest Rest 5 Rest Rest 2 RACE!

After filling out the tables on my plan I am surprised at the massive mileage I will be expected to run over the course of the next eighteen weeks (even though I’ve done it before).

Of course, I will constantly be checking in, giving myself breaks when needed and/or modifying based on schedules and sick kids and all the other life issues that infringe on my running time.

Note that I have accounted for  the City of Oaks Half marathon (week seven), Thanksgiving (week 10) and also for the final weeks of training when I have a feeling I will want to run shorter mid-week distances more often (weeks 13 and 14 for sure, 11 and 12 are tentative).

Are you in training? What does your plan look like?

Anyone running Miami and feel like being a virtual buddy? 


My bib from marathon #1. Can’t wait for Miami’s.

The Hansons’ MarathonTraining Plan

Running is important to me, keeps me sane and levels my pre-diabetic blood sugar.

I am in no way a professional, rather a mere mama who likes to run, likes to learn, appreciates a good challenge and crossed the finish line at her first marathon (less than six months ago) feeling both elated and defeated simultaneously.

Having signed up for my next marathon, Miami 2013 ( Jan. 27), I continue to run and learn and hope that I can strategize differently (better) for a faster time and more consistent race (less tired/more energy at the twenty-mile marker).

My training for Tobacco Road was strictly running, little cross training, following the Novice 2 plan by Hal Higdon. The Higdon plan is pretty straightforward consisting of a four-day run week with the long run exertion at an easy comfortable pace. Walk breaks are acceptable, especially through water stations, though I worked hard to run without them.

In the months between my two races, there has been the time and opportunity to test out different theories, the latest being the Galloway method using the run/walk/run ratio.

I like Galloway. I like running with my 10:30 pace group (although our walk/run speed is closer to 12:30).

But my problem with the plan that has nothing to do with running and everything to do with what goes on in my head.

For starters, none of the Olympic marathoners I watched this summer stopped to walk. If they didn’t stop to walk then running an entire 26.2 can be done. So shouldn’t we try?

Unfortunately, I am not an Olympian and my ability to keep a pace that results in a happy finish time requires walking. Strategizing walk breaks, then, would be a good way to go for the next race. If I could just get my head to accept it’s okay.

Having just received the current Runner’s World magazine in my mailbox, I came across an article by Alex Hutchinson about the Hansons; brothers who run marathons and train Olympic runners.

Their philosophy is in, “cumulative fatigue,” teaching your body to run fast on tired legs and “push recovery,” meaning that if your hard runs are easy, then your preceding runs were not hard enough.”

This makes sense, but how can the average mama bear use this strategy in her isolated/no trainer on the payroll training?

By putting mileage on your legs and going out with a little bit of fatigue, you can prepare your body for going farther distances. This makes sense to me.

Push Recovery doesn’t seem as clear.

The Hansons’ plan calls for a “nine-day hard-easy-easy cycle.” What does that mean? Does that suggest you run for a total of nine days and rest for the next two? That your runs should be hard, then easy, then easy, repeated for a total of nine days?

So here I am, constantly learning and testing the strategies with the hope that I finish Miami strong and happy with my performance. Not a professional in any way, but a lover of the game completely!

Are you in training? What does your training plan look like? Do you know anything about the Hansons’ plan? Share!

I took Grace for a run with me this summer. I tried to teach her the run/walk method in the hope we would go a couple of miles. She was having none of it and ran full force until she was too tired (complaining of hurt feet) and wanted to go home. There’s time, and I see track and field in this kid’s future!

Miami Marathon 2013

As soon as the girls were asleep I hopped online to check the New York City Marathon 2012 lottery results.

When it was clear that my New York hopes had been dashed I scooted over to Twitter to find lots of friends in the same boat.

Run to Munch wrote a great post about her own shattered dream. I saw it pop into my mailbox as I typed tweety responses to my new friends in the blogosphere.

The running community was busy. It was almost as exciting as the learning the lottery results themselves.

As if the clouds had lifted, the possibilities and choices opened up and the options became limitless.

I had figured I’d run the City of Oaks Marathon should I be Out of New York, but after seeing the hoopla surrounding NYC 2011 (and Boston, oh my) I knew that my next race needed to be bigger than little old Raleigh could provide for me.

Miami 2013 is far enough away that I have time to dream and train, run half marathons as practice, worry, hope and write!

It will be my first weekend away from the children who by then will have just turned five. Time to fly the coop I think. They will be fine, right?

Joanna is in. My great friend Sandra is strongly considering it. Who else? Who else!

I’m dreaming of crossing the finish line already!

Is there anything more exciting than a new dream?

The Loews Miami Beach Hotel. We stayed here when I ran the Miami 2010 Half Marathon. It's a gorgeous hotel!
Grace and Minnie by the pool.
Sophie beach running.


Recovering from my next marathon would be much more effective/productive/delicious happening here. To the right of the pool is an umbrella with my name on it! I also foresee a fruity cocktail and lunch brought on a tray!

And The Video

I still haven’t decided if I should kiss or clobber my husband for hiding behind me and Flip video taping the last minutes of the marathon.

I’ve been conflicted about posting it.

I wished I had made better time. I wished I looked faster, lighter, leaner, meaner.

I decided to post it, however, because despite all of those feelings I really am proud of myself.

It was such a happy day and I’m glad that my grandkids will be able to see that I really did run a marathon once upon a time.

Maybe when I’m old and grey I won’t care about my time or that I wasn’t faster, lighter, leaner and meaner.

Maybe one day I’ll see it for what it was.

A really fun ending to a lot of hard work!

Adrenaline Wakey Wakey

I knew there wouldn’t be much sleep the night before the race, but the adrenaline has already kicked in, which surprises me a little.

I’d already been up to pee at least five times during the night (hydrating, et al.) and it was so hot in the girls room (where I slept) that Grace tossed and turned until eleven. I was up before five when I gave in (or gave up, depending how you look at it).

Only a hormone being excreted from my adrenals could be responsible for my alertness at this hour. I am, after all, heading out for my first marathon in exactly twenty-four. Adrenaline combined with mixed emotions packs a powerful punch.

Hope to rest tonight, but it’s looking bleak.

Off to drink something green!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Green juice and race nails. The girl at the nail place ixnayed red flames. I settled for bright pink as a base with ombre lines, but she ended up convincing me the lines wouldn't show up and so we went pale. Sometimes you just have to go with the artist's vision. As Grace says, "SOmetimes you just get what you get!" We may paint them over red today.....





Two Days Until Twenty Six Point Two

I’ve always liked the number thirteen, primarily because it’s been given such a hard time. Friday the thirteenth has never done me wrong. The thirteenth day of most months (when I pay attention to the calendar) is usually just fine.

But the number two has played an interesting role in my life and deserves it’s moment to shine.

My first address in my own San Francisco apartment: 2222 22nd Avenue

The first baby I ever loved (Marcus my nephew) born: 11/22

My daughters’ birthday: 11/22 (God’s work that they were born on the same date, nine years apart)

Number of siblings I grew up with: two

Number of birth siblings I discovered last year: two

Days until race: two

Marathon: Twenty six point two

Two is on the line for numero uno in my heart.

Let’s hope that last point two doesn’t mess it all up considering the state I’ll (surely) be in with the finish line in sight.

Only thirteen is hoping otherwise.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 by Dr. Suess
Black Number 2 - Graphic - Wall Decor - 15 inches - Two
Black Number Two by Dime Store Vintage on Etsy
Marcus with his two birthday sharers.