Monday, January 25, 2016

This is Life

This blog has been dedicated to my running adventures for seven years now. In those 7 years, I have gone from being a somewhat fast runner to an Olympic Trials Qualifier and Marathon Winner. This blog was an important part of that journey for me. Regardless of whether people were actually reading, I felt like I was connected to a larger community cheering me on toward my goals. I am very grateful for that support and truly believe it helped me achieve my goals. Thank you! I have also met some wonderful people both virtually and now in person as a result of posting about my running here.

Over those 7 years, I have posted much less about my life, especially recently. I started a small business 2 years ago in the ecological consulting field and that currently occupies more of my time than I should probably admit. Self employment has so many wonderful benefits, but my gosh it is a lot of work. My business has really taken off and work-life balance has been a big challenge. I consider myself lucky to marry my passion with my work, so it is a labor of love.

Running is a big part of my life. While I continue to dream and set big goals, I have less time to devote to it, which includes time I can spend writing about it. The story of my running continues on but it is something I will likely share mostly with my friends and family. If you want to follow the nuts and bolts of my running, I am active on Strava. Give me a follow. I am not saying that this is the last you'll see of me and this blog, but I wanted to explain why you might not see posts from me very often. I am always open to questions via email/Facebook messenger/skywriting, so feel free to drop me a line.

Keep running your hearts out.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Movin' on up

I have some exciting news! I am planning to run my first ultramarathon! This will be a road 50k where I will shoot for the Masters' national record. I will attempt this at the Jed Smith 50k in February. I have actually been talking about this goal for a long time, but I wasn't sure I was ready to let go of the Olympic Trials qualifier goal. Now, I am.

Rewind 6 weeks--My training was going fine for CIM. I was running consistent, higher mileage and doing some races here and there. I was putting in the work and waiting for my workout times to fall. They didn't. The problem is not my fitness level, but my biomechanics at this point. For as long as recent memory allows, I have had a hitch in my left side. It wanders but is typically pain/weakness in my lower left leg. This leads to a lack of power in that leg. I notice it most when trying to hop on one leg. No push off. So, I am not able to propel myself forward fast during workouts when half my body lacks power. This became more than just an annoyance a couple of weeks ago when I felt my left glute/high hamstring tighten up during the Clarksburg Half Marathon. That tightness turned into a stabbing pain in my ass, literally--the old piriformis acting up again. I knew if I was smart I would still be able to run CIM, but any hope of a super fast time was out the window.

I was also lacking the belly fire needed to achieve the OTQ goal. This entire training cycle--well this entire year--I was waiting for that fire that would ignite the same drive I had to qualify for the 2012 Trials. That fire never even became a spark. I loved having the hairy goal out there to push toward. I truly believe in setting those for myself because they make me work harder and push myself farther than I would without them. It wasn't really that I didn't believe I could achieve it but that I didn't want it bad enough to make the sacrifices to achieve it.

SO, I am running CIM. As with all of my marathon races, I have A, B and C goals for this one. The A goal was always to run fast, relatively speaking. The B/C goal is to make it to the start and finish lines, which will lock in my Pacific Association USATF Masters Long Series title for the year. This last one is big for me. First, I haven't raced a marathon in almost 3 years. The last one was the Eugene Marathon in 2013. Winning the PA Series is kind of a points game since you can win or place well just by showing up to the races and placing fairly high at each race. For me, however, it means that I raced consistently all throughout the year. With a year of significant health issues keeping me from racing last year and a couple of years of injury before that, consistently racing is a big deal.

With the 50k on the horizon, my focus for CIM has changed a bit. I will be looking to run a fairly hard race but I'm not going to jeopardize a finish nor run so hard that I require a long recovery. I have no idea what that will look like on the clock on race day, but I am looking forward to seeing how it unfolds. This pain in the butt I've had is clearing up with some activation exercises prescribed by the ever-capable Dr. Lau at Elite Spinal and Sports Care and acupuncture treatment from Bradley at ProActive Acupuncture in Midtown. The acupuncture is blowing my mind with how well it works. I do have a long row to hoe with this dysfunction, but I'm on the right track.

The 50k is a short 8 weeks from CIM, so I will need to come out of the marathon healthy and turn around the fitness I have built to be able to run at a good clip for a longer distance than I ever have in my life. That is an exciting goal for me! As for my future in ultra racing, I really don't like running on trails enough to commit to any trail ultras.  But, I didn't like running at all for the first 36 years of my life, so I have learned to never say never!

Good luck to everyone running CIM. I will be dedicating my race to my dear friend Jane Inouye.

Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that I set the American 5k record a couple of weeks back. NBD.
Beat The Blerch 5J Results

Friday, October 16, 2015

There's an App for that!

One of my favorite readers, Heather, asked a very good question about the slogging of marathon training. Instead of responding in a comment, I decided to write a post instead. Here's her question:

"how much fatigue and slogging is an acceptable level for you? Or do you not feel sloggy that often, but simply a bit tired? I have a really hard time determining if I should push through sloggy dead legged phases, or back off before I overreach/overtrain. You've written about being a fan of large amounts of running data, do you use that data to determine if you're recovering properly? Is there an app for that?"

There IS an app for that! I use it every day, and it's called ithlete. This is an app that, coupled with a bluetooth heart rate monitor, measures your heart rate variability (HRV). I've posted briefly about it before, but I wanted to spend a bit more time with it since I have really begun to rely on it as a training tool. I have also been reading more and more research about what an impressive measure HRV is for a number of different things in addition to training.

First off, there are a lot of apps that measure HRV. At one point, I was trying to evaluate a few of them simultaneously which required taking my HRV using 3-4 different apps every morning and that was really not tenable. I quickly zeroed in on ithlete because of the ease of use, the user interface and mostly because of the fact that it interprets the data in a way that I can use. Having an HRV number was really not very helpful for me. Let me show you what I mean.

You'll want to click on the image so you can get a closer look, but what you see here is my HRV data for the past 9 months or so. The green, yellow and red dots connected by the light blue line at the top of the chart are the daily HRV values. You can see I took a break in August. The black bars are showing my training intensity. I enter that data for my workouts basically scoring them from easiest (1) to hardest (9). The red dots in the middle of the chart are my resting heart rate values. I mentioned in a previous post how my resting HR had gone down over the past year and this really shows that drop nicely. Here's a closer look at my HRV for this marathon cycle.

You might notice a pattern in this chart of a drop in HRV (usually shown as a red or yellow dot) after a hard workout (tall black bar) followed by a rebound back to the pre-workout value. This is what you want to see. Also notice that there are a lot of other things I could add to this chart (sleep, fatigue, soreness, etc.). These are qualitative ratings you input every time you take your HRV. The idea is that you can look for correlations between HRV and these factors. It can get kind of messy, so I usually just use training load. One really interesting thing to note, for those of you who use resting heart rate as an indicator of fatigue and overtraining is that it is really not very sensitive. My HRV is scooting all over the place in response to training, sleep, and life stress but my RHR is staying pretty darn steady. It makes me wonder if RHR is really a good measure for telling you when you've gone over the edge, but it can't really help you know when you're getting close to the edge. This may be peculiar to me, but worth a few thoughts.

These charts shown above are screenshots from their website but are also included in the app. 

What I find the most useful for day-to-day decision making is this chart, which is only available on their website and you have to have a "pro" subscription ($5/month) to get access.
It plots your daily recovery and activation to give you an idea how recovered you are and how much energy you have. It plots these data on the chart based on your values from the last 30 days. It also gives recommendations for training that day. I almost never act on the low activation recommendation. I find it correlates strongly with a low RHR and I think my RHR is falling due to training and not necessarily because I am burning out. I do act on the high activation data. I have found that higher activation levels occur when I am stressed out. If that is coupled with a low recovery, I generally take an extra recovery day. With the higher volume training I am doing right now, I find I am needing more recovery between workouts in general (3 days rather than 2). The timeline chart actually shows that really nicely with the interval of tall and short bars. 

One thing I would like you to take away from this post is that recovery is your best friend. It isn't a necessary evil. You should love your recovery days. Marathoner Kim Jones, drove this point home for me during a podcast interview on Runner's Connect. Kim Jones obviously had a lot of talent, but she also was super smart about her training. She said she loved her recovery days and when Benji Durdan, her coach, told her to take another recovery day instead of doing a hard workout she really looked forward to it. She said she knew that those days were the days that allowed her body to absorb the training and that's why she loved them. She said she just didn't understand why athletes were so against taking recovery days, so much so that they might even hide how they were feeling from their coach out of fear that they might have to skip a workout. Your body can only absorb so much work.

So, back to Heather's question: I use the daily HRV readings to help make decisions about my training and adjust on the fly. I have a general (slightly ambitious) schedule, but I made a pact with myself when I wrote it that I would be a good self coach and move stuff around based on how I felt and what the HRV data said. I am prioritizing high volume right now, so I am just embracing the tired leg feeling I have most days. My workouts are at slower paces than I would typically run and I am at peace with that too. I am not tapering for races but am instead using them as opportunities to get used to running on tired legs. 

When would I back off? If I saw that my HRV values were remaining low for multiple days without recovering or the overall average was dropping precipitously, I would take some down time. The blue line in the middle chart is the average HRV value and while it is slightly lower than a couple of months ago, it's going up and down just fine for now. I am still 7 weeks out from CIM, so it will be interesting to see what happens to it. 

Obviously, you don't need this app and the website to help you figure out when to back off, but I like having a little corroboration when I am feeling tired in training. I find that some days I will have a sloggy running day with a high HRV value or a good run with a relatively low HRV value. It's really more about the trend over time and being able to manage training so you don't push yourself over the edge. I find having this data really helps me. The other useful application is in trying out new training tools like supplements or adding more sleep to your routine, etc. You can see whether your recovery is enhanced by these new things after you start using them. I'm doing that right now with some new supplements that were recommended by a former coach (and elite masters runner). I am excited to see whether I am able to fit in more training while keeping my HRV steady over the next 7 weeks.    

One last thought: I have found that life stress, lack of sleep and strength training can have pretty large effects on my HRV values, even more so than my running. So, I would have to back off of my running training if one of those factors caused my HRV to plummet.

Thanks for the comment, Heather! I hope I answered your questions:)  

Monday, October 12, 2015

Deep fried frog legs

In case you're not following me on Strava (note the convenient link on the right of this post), here's what I've been up to.

Lots of miles. Lots of slow miles, actually and about 2 fast/long workouts per week. My body is still adjusting to the volume. I do get a glimmer now and again that the miles are sinking in and I am becoming stronger.

It is really amazing how training is such a huge leap of faith. We train through some pretty brutal workouts, niggling injuries, life drama, and utter fatigue; all with the hope that the stress we put our bodies through will eventually lead us to achieve our goals whether they be running a fast time, running a longer distance than ever before or just challenging ourselves to stay fit and focused on good health. One of my goals is to challenge my body in a new way through higher mileage and (so far) my body seems to tolerate it fine. I had lost my confidence in being able to run high mileage but I think I just needed to slow everything down to tolerate the volume. I call my slow easy runs "mitochondriacal runs" to remind myself that slow running serves an important purpose too. I *heart* mitochondria! New t-shirt logo?

Lately, I have been feeling less fatigued in my runs and, even though my running is not very fast, I know it will be soon enough. In the past, my fitness gains have come in giant steps. I am waiting to grow my frog legs and take that giant leap forward. I don't know when it will happen, but I will look back on all of this work and remind myself that it was good old fashioned slogging and hard work that got me there, with a side of trust in the process.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

All the Miles

I recently discovered I have the same disconnect as the poor runner in this meme regarding my vision of myself as a "high mileage" runner versus what I actually have been doing for the last 5 years. Forcing myself to be honest and actually look at my running log over that time period made me realize I have been anything but a consistently high mileage runner. I've done a bunch of workouts and had some high mileage weeks (and a couple of good races), but there's been nothing consistent about it. Thinking of myself in these terms has led to inconsistency in my running due to my repeated attempt to jump back into my *usual* high mileage regimen while also maintaining a hard workout schedule.

Lesson: don't let where you think you should be get in the way of where you need to be.

I needed to hit the reset button and allow my body to adapt to consistent running again. I think there is probably a window of opportunity that we have when we are forced to take a break from our usual training where we can jump back into training at our typical volume and intensity, but I have a feeling the timeframe is not 5 years. I actually haven't seen much good information on this subject because most is focused on the very short term, like taking a few months down versus years. Nonetheless, I decided I needed to view this more as starting from scratch and listen to how my body responded to training. That's always the best bet, but it is super tough when you have visions of yourself as Lolo Jones in your head.

I mentioned in my last post that I have been indulging in podcasts during my runs and have now listened to probably 30-40. The information becomes a bit garbled when listening to that many in a short time period in that I am not really able to attribute what piece of sage advice came from which coach or athlete. Aside from realizing that there are a million different ways to train to improve performance, I have been able to pick out the common themes from the many episodes I've listened to. Here are a few:

1. Volume is king. Nearly every single coach and athlete has said this is the bread and butter for improvement. Some say you can get away with aerobic XTing some of the workouts, but for the most part you just have to run more. People are afraid of adding volume because they think they will get injured. I am starting to change my view of this. I believe people get injured from increased volume because they are also maintaining or increasing their intensity along with it. Some can do this but most cannot. This is why I am trying a stepwise approach to increasing my volume. I am trying to let my body adapt to the higher volume first, whilst maintaining some basic speed and speed endurance workouts before I ramp up my intensity. A couple of interesting things have happened over the past month or more of doing this. My average resting heart rate has decreased by 5-10 bpm. That is huge!!! Plus, I'm able to run faster at a lower HR. That is adaptation in action!      

Lesson: Everything builds from that strong aerobic base.

2. It takes at least 2 years of consistent training at a high level to start to see the benefits of that training. I know this to be true from my own experience but it was interesting to listen to athletes and coaches discuss this. Only a couple actually recognized this as a "rule", McMillan being the most vocal. His rule that you have to train the athlete, so they can train to be able to train to achieve their goals is an outgrowth of this. This was one of the epic moments of podcast listening for me. It's when I realized I really just need to build a base of training so I could train to achieve my goals. Brilliant.

Lesson: Patience is a virtue. Give yourself a 2 year goal and be viciously consistent about training.

3. Strength training is secondary to running, but it can provide another adaptation to help you become a better runner. So many of the athletes/coaches I listened to, most notably Steve Spence, attributed their best performances to times when they had both running and strength training programs dialed. I believe there is a huge amount of trial and error associated with getting this right. I am still working it out myself and always believe it is good to try new things as long as you're willing to fail and let the thing go if it's not working. Oh, and a HUGE mind blower for me from one of the Magness podcasts was the realization that one of the primary benefits of lifting heavy is the increase in a little hormone called testosterone. Yep, lifting heavy is a natural way to increase your T!

Lesson: Play around with strength training and find what works for you. Bonus lesson: planks are not the best core work for runners!

Finally, to stick with my long term goals, I decided to opt out of the Chicago Marathon in favor of extending my base training. I am currently planning to run CIM as a goal marathon race. You may have also noticed that I added my strava log to the sidebar in my blog so you can keep up with what I am doing. I just started logging my workouts in Strava this week, so you won't find a lot of history, but I will keep that updated daily. So check back on my blog to see how my running is going or give me a follow on Strava!            

Here are links to the podcasts I listen to. Check them out in iTunes:

Runners Connect. Be sure to listen to the interviews with Greg Lehman (mind blown), Deena Kastor, Steve Spence, Steve Magness and Stan Beecham.

Runner Academy. Be sure to listen to the interviews with Ian Sharman, Deena Kastor, Alex Hutchinson, Tim Noakes, and Matt Fitzgerald on 80/20 running.

The Science of Running. This one is fairly new and is more of a conversation between 2 run coach geeks, but it has some nuggets in there including episode 3 on strength training and 4 on training/life balance.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Somehow, this blog got away from me these past few months. Sorry for that (if there are any of you out there still following along). I have changed a lot of things about my training these past few months and they all seem to be paying off. Before I get into that, I will offer a quick update on my last few months of running and my future race plans.

March--injury averted: I was really happy with my decision to abandon ship at the Napa Valley Marathon. This may have been one of the smartest decisions I've made in my running career. I spent the month working on the niggles that plagued me during the race and successfully ended the month with pain free running without having to take time off.

April--we can rebuild her: I ran as much as I could this month despite lots of work commitments. Working as an ecologist in California, spring is my busiest time of year. I ran a couple of 'races' (a 10 miler and a 12k) just to keep the wheels greased.

RnR SD. The calm before the storm.
You can get these ridiculously cute shorts here
May--racing fun: I had been focused on 10k training and a fast 10k on Memorial Day when I saw that the Masters 1/2 Marathon Championship race was being held in San Diego. I made a quick call to my Mom asking if she wanted to go, and the decision was made. My brother and sister-in-law joined too. This wasn't my best race as far as time, but it was a lot of fun. I love Rock-n-Roll events and was happy to get the chance to run this one.

June--mo miles: Marathon base building was THE focus. My goal for this month was to get my mileage consistently in the 70-80 mpw range. I was successful.    

Race plans

I have decided to run the Chicago Marathon in October as my goal marathon race. This is where I qualified for the 2012 Olympic Trials. I really enjoy the city and the course and am hoping for a fast finish under the 2:43 qualifying mark.

I also have a few other races lined up between now and then:

18 July: Eppie's Great Race 5.82 mile run (filling in for a friend; tempo workout within an 18 miler)
26 July: SF Half Marathon (2nd Half). Not the fastest course, but a good check in on my fitness.
22 August: The Giants 1/2 Marathon. Looking for a check in 8 weeks out from my goal race.  


After my abandoned marathon race in March, I thought long and hard about how my training had gone and how my lifestyle affected my running. This is something I do after every major race, but in this case, I needed a lot more soul searching. When I started working with Coach Jack Daniels, I was a bit of a mess. I had become injured in a build up to a marathon and was just coming out of it. I remained a mess as health issues took me down in 2014, but throughout the time I worked with him, he took a conservative approach to building back my mileage adding about 10 miles per week every 6 months. I started with 40-50 mpw in Nov 2013 and ended up at ~70 mpw by March 2015. This was so important for me. I remained injury free that entire time and now have a great base that I am building upon.

For this next marathon, I decided to try my hand at self coaching again with the help of a book called "The Science of Running" by Steve Magness. I am pretty sure very few people knew who he was (except those geeks like me who have followed his blog and writing for years) until the whole Salazar doping scandal emerged. I highly recommend reading this book as there are a lot of really great insights in it and a good summary of the latest science and research related to training.

I am loosely following his marathon training plan right now with modifications to fit my mileage limits and the areas I need to focus on. I am just finishing the base phase of training (roughly 6-7 weeks) with my main focus on getting in a solid base of mileage. I have prioritized building volume over all else in this phase and will be ending the phase at 92 miles this week. This is higher than I've been in a long, long time and I feel good. When I have felt tired during the build up, I have abandoned intensity in favor of just getting the miles in. I have been listening to a ton of podcasts (Runner's Connect, Runner Academy) and the common thread among all of the athletes and coaches I've listened to is that volume is king. The more the better, as long as your body can handle it.          

Rethinking all the other stuff long as your body can handle it. When I dropped out of the Napa Marathon because I was worried about becoming injured, I initially thought this was because I wasn't doing the rehab work that I should have been. I now believe that I was overtrained from doing too much "extra stuff" in addition to running. This is a pattern I have seen in athletes I coach and now myself. I was constrained in how much running I could do, as I mentioned before, so I had time to add in extra stuff like strength classes and other cross training. The thing is, we only have one body. Injuries occur because tissue gets stressed beyond its capacity to repair itself and I was stressing that tissue in everything I was doing, not just in running. Sure, you use muscles differently in other activities and some are even low impact, but they all stress your body and require repair. I loved the group training I was doing, but when I took a hard look at it, maybe 30-40% was supportive of my running and the rest was just extra energy spent that should have been spent running.

After Napa, I stopped doing all added cross training and non-running-specific strength work. This decision was somewhat influenced by the Magness book, but mostly I wanted to see how I felt just running. The results have been good so far. Magness writes that a little goes a long way in that you don't have to do a ton of strength work to get a big benefit. Strength work takes many different forms for runners, from weight training to hill running. I have steered my strength program to the more running specific side with hill sprints, plyometrics and some limited weighted and body weight work focused on the core. I like the way Magness applies strength training based on what phase of running you are in: with heavier weights and hill sprints during the base phase followed by a focus on explosive strength exercises like plyos during the pre-competition phase and then tapering off in the competition phase. Core work is important throughout the training phases, but not a lot of that is needed. I do about 20-30 minutes per week now and sometimes none when I'm feeling pretty tired.

I strongly believe this refocusing of all my energy back to running has been the key to handling the higher mileage without injury (knock on wood).

Rethinking thinking

After the Napa Marathon, I also entered a low point mentally. The training leading up to the marathon was tough for me. I was spending a lot of mental energy worrying about how my workouts would go and ultimately did not enjoy them. In fact, I wasn't really enjoying my running in general. When I was being honest with myself, I had to admit this had been going on for a while. I knew I needed to turn this around.

I was placing pretty high expectations on my workouts since I had a specific time goal and was forcing myself to hit paces that I probably wasn't ready for. I had to ask myself some tough questions. Why am I trying to qualify for the 2016 Trials? Is it that important? For one, I am already an Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier and will be for the rest of my life. This came to me when I recalled a conversation I had with a colleague at The Nature Conservancy back in 2009 or so. She qualified and ran in the 2008 Trials and I asked her if she was training to qualify for 2012. She looked at me sideways and said, "why would I do that? I have already achieved the goal of running in the Trials." Excellent point.

The reason I want to shoot for that goal is because it is lofty and slightly out of my reach. This is how I achieved the OTQ in 2012. I started working toward it before I even broke 3 hours for the marathon and barely had 3 years of running under my belt. I like the challenge of having a lofty goal and will do everything I can to get fit enough to run it. Having such a lofty goal also means sacrifice. I need to spend a lot of time and energy focused on running and especially on recovery. So, I am trying to arrange my work and life this summer to allow for this. I see Chicago as my first attempt at the time but I will keep trying if I fall short. I would love to PR in the marathon at least and can definitely see myself doing that.    

I am enjoying my running much more now and have worked hard to run workouts at an effort level that is commensurate with my fitness level. Trying to shoehorn my workouts into paces that I think I should be running just harshes my world. I want to have fun running and let the fitness come as I build mileage, confidence and mitochondria.

My journey to Chicago is underway. I promise to bring you regular updates along the way. And, as always, thanks for reading!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Knowing when to fold 'em

I dropped out of a marathon yesterday. It wasn't an easy decision and took me six miles to make. Of all distances to DNF (did not finish), I think the marathon is the toughest decision of all. So much work goes into preparing for 26.2 miles and to not get to test your fitness after months of hard work is very disappointing.

I have dropped out of exactly three races in my career including yesterday's Napa Valley Marathon. I have also finished races that I probably should have dropped out of or not even started. The decision to stay or go is always a personal one and has to be one that you can live with.

When I first started running, finishing every race was my main goal and I powered through lots of bad days to earn the finisher's medal. For better or worse, I became a competitive runner with a concomitant change in my perspective on racing. My lofty goals required a much more measured approach to these decisions about when to stay or go in a race. It wasn't until I became really, really injured that I understood the gravity of this decision when damaged body parts were on the line.

Right after I qualified for the Olympic Trials at the Chicago Marathon in 2010, I was high as a kite and scheduled to run the Athens Marathon as part of the US Military Marathon Team only three weeks after Chicago. I had always been able to parlay my marathon fitness into multiple marathons without doing damage in the past and expected this to be no different. Two weeks post-Chicago, I was on a training run and started to feel a stabbing pain in my outer knee that was absolutely debilitating. I could not run. I kept trying, but this problem would not resolve. I decided that I would not miss the opportunity to run in Greece and represent the US in a World Championship race, and went ahead and ran Athens.

The Athens course is brutal. Lots of uphill, but worse, the last 10k is all downhill. My knee was hurting from the first step and eventually went numb as I pounded downhill to the finish in the ancient Panathenaikos Stadium. My performance led the US team to a Gold medal and I absolutely cherish every bit of that experience. However, I had no way of knowing the cost of running that race injured. I paid for it with over 6 months of no running due to this injury. In some ways, I think that prolonged injury also set me up for a cycle of similar and serious injuries over the next several years as I came back (probably too quickly) to running only to get sidelined over and over.
I got to meet Joanie in Athens!

Gold Medal Team USA!

So, back to yesterday's race. I went into the race with nothing seriously wrong with my body. I made it through the heaviest training I had done in over 5 years and was actually patting myself on the back for keeping all the niggles that had popped up at bay. For over a year, I have had a constant and very active exchange of power going on between my left foot/leg and my right hamstring/glute. Sometimes, they both hurt, but most often one or the other is getting my attention. I have successfully trained through this with a combo of massage, rolling and targeted strength training. When it is really getting my attention, I am much more diligent about my treatment regimen. In this training cycle I was very aggressive early on in treating the imbalance and actually had both problems resolve completely. So, what did I do? I stopped doing my rehab. Yes, I know. This was stupid and contradicts what I tell the athletes that I coach. I am human too.

My left foot was getting my attention more and more the last couple of weeks. I didn't pay much attention given that I was starting my taper and thought I'd have plenty of time to work it out before the marathon. That didn't really happen. I just hobbled around when I woke up and forgot about it as it loosened up throughout the day.

So, yesterday, I was feeling good at the start. Everything had really gone very well aside from some unnecessary negative energy during race week that I couldn't seem to brush off. From the gun, I felt fine running with the lead women's pack: a couple of runners whom I really respect and was excited to race. I think it was around the two or three mile mark when my right leg started to feel weird. It was a soreness that ran from the glute down the outside to the lower leg. I thought this was just a stupid muscle tweak that is pretty typical early in a race. I thought it would go away. Instead, I started to lose power in that leg. I couldn't seem to push off. It became more and more work to keep up the pace and I started to drop back from the pack. I figured I would give this thing a few more miles and just see how it played out. It did not resolve and instead got worse. At this point, I started running through the decision tree of pros/cons and if/then scenarios. I had set goals for myself to make it to the starting line of this race and accomplished that. I had also set a goal to make it to the finish. How badly did I want that? Not enough to risk injury that would possibly sideline me for months and ruin any additional shot at qualifying for the Olympic Trials. Not worth the cost.

Maybe even harder, was thinking of disappointing an entire group of runners that I had convinced to run the marathon and train with me as their coach, many of them running their first. While I could have "gutted it out" and made them proud of my courage through adversity, I decided I would rather show strength in character and make what for me was a harder decision to let this one go in favor of a bigger goal. I think this latter perspective is one that gets less play in a world where "no guts, no glory" reigns supreme. I want my athletes to push themselves while having respect for their bodies. Learning when to push hard and when to pull back requires maturity and wisdom. I can't ask this of my athletes if I am unwilling to set the example myself.

As I hobbled out of bed this morning and felt like I had been hit by a Mack truck despite only having run 9 of the 26.2 miles yesterday, I knew my decision was the right one. I'll get back into my rehab regimen and be back on the roads in a few days. I haven't quite figured out what is next on my dance card but will certainly post about it as soon as I have a plan.

Congratulations to all of the RunAwayFast and P2O Hot Pilates runners who completed the Napa Marathon yesterday. It was an amazing thrill to watch you accomplish your goals. I am so proud of all of you and grateful for having had the opportunity to train with you.