Triathlon/Duathlon Training

As triathlon season gets closer, I’ve started to gear some of my training days toward skills that I’ll need on race days. I just started doing a few bike/run bricks over the last couple weeks. I haven’t done any of those since my last triathlon in 2015. During the first one my hip abductors and shoulders were sore for the first mile of the run. The second time was more typical of how I usually feel – heavy legs to start the run and feeling like I’m crawling when my pace is actually faster than it feels. I had forgotten about that aspect of running off the bike. I was pleasantly surprised that I ran faster off the bike than I have during any of my runs since I’ve returned to running over this last month. My problem foot has been fine during all of my runs so far, which haven’t gone past four miles at a time yet. My foot still aches at times, especially if I’ve been on my feet a lot at work. It’s enough to still keep me on edge, but not enough to keep me from short runs every other day or so.

There’s a duathlon that’s on my radar in a few weeks, so today I decided I should try a run/bike/run workout. I’m not sure I’ve ever done that combo. I went to Stony Creek Metropark and it was a beautiful day. Warm enough but not hot, and luckily the wind wasn’t 15-25 mph like it has been the last couple times I’ve been out on my bike!

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I started by running a mile, rode just under 19 miles on the bike, then ran three more.

2017-04-23 - stony route

It kind of gave me some transition practice, but obviously I didn’t move very quickly since I took three to four minutes. It wasn’t exactly a race-specific kind of transition though. Of course I won’t have to get my stuff from the car and worry about getting my bike out of the bike rack or locking it back up. I took the first mile of running pretty easy, so I felt totally fine when I got on the bike. I’m still not thrilled with my cycling skills though. I had a new dilemma today. As I rode over a bridge and there was a transition in the pavement, my bike bumped just enough for my water bottle to go flying out of the cage. I was able to stop and go get it, but it happened again on a different bridge a few minutes later. Sorry to the woman hiking in that area who must have heard the f-bomb I shouted. Not so much luck that time – my poor Camelbak bottle went flying down into the creek. Part of the issue is that I’m so awkward on the bike that I’m afraid I’ll fall off if I reach down to my lower cage while I’m riding. I’m seriously uncoordinated and have terrible balance on the bike. So, I probably look like a dork with a cage mounted up by my handlebars. Having the bottle upright probably isn’t the most secure method. It works for me though, or at least it always has up until today. Luckily I had another bottle on me, and that one survived the rest of the ride. Maybe the one bottle has a tighter fit and I’ll have to stick with that. It was pretty frustrating but probably good to get out of the way during training. I sure hope I figure it out now so it never happens in a race! Aside from that, it was my typical ride. I don’t seem to ever improve beyond an average of 16-17 mph. I’m very aware that the bike is my weakness, especially when a big group of “real” cyclists flew past me. Stony is a good place for me to train because there are rolling hills and I need that kind of workout.

I had the heavy leg feeling as I started my second run, but nothing too bad. I did end up going much faster than I thought though, averaging close to an 8-minute pace. I’ve been doing a lot of 9-minute or slower miles lately as I’ve been cautious about my return to running, so that was much faster than I expected. It’s what came naturally, though I was breathing pretty heavily. Aside from the whole water bottle incident, it was a good workout that reassured me that I can pull off the duathlon in a few weeks as long as my foot cooperates between now and then.

In addition to training, I’ve also been picking up some new gear. My schedule of swimming at least three days a week has done a number on my swimsuit, so it was time for a new one of those.

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Can you believe the suit on the left used to have colors similar to the one on the right?!

I also ordered a pair of tri shorts from Coeur Sports recently. I follow several women, like the awesome Caitlin Constantine at Fit and Feminist, who are Coeur ambassadors and have nothing but great things to say about their products. Coeur’s shorts are known for the “seam-free chamois” that provide a comfortable, chafe-free fit. I saw that there was going to be a Coeur “trunk show” at Level Multisport in Birmingham, MI, so I went to that yesterday. The women were very friendly and knowledgeable, plus there was a 20% off sale and treats like fruit and cookies! I got another pair of shorts, ordered a new tri top, and was able to pick a free gift. A pair of compression socks were one of the options, and I was pleasantly surprised that they were free.

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2017-04-23 - couer socks

Between getting some new gear and having some productive training, I’m getting more and more anxious to get the season rolling.

– Janet
Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Approaching Triathlon Season

After a weekend that felt more like summer than spring, I feel energized and have been thinking about the upcoming triathlon season. This IS Michigan though, and I know we may not be totally in the clear weather-wise quite yet. I vividly remember being very annoyed that it snowed when I ran a 5K in mid-May last year.

However, the nice weather has become more frequent and I went for my first outside bike ride of the year last weekend. I’ve been riding 15-25 miles inside three times a week for a while now and was curious to see how I would do outside. I took my bike to the Macomb Orchard Trail, which is paved, flat, and runs 23.5 miles from one end to the other. I thought maybe I’d go for 30 miles, but as I rode along I decided maybe I should push all the way to 40. Beautiful weather and a lot of pretty scenery made it easy to keep going.

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The first 20 miles were really nice, but battling 15-25 mph winds on the way back made the second half of the ride more challenging. Still – I finished 40 miles which was the longest I’d ever ridden. That ride made me question if I’d want to tackle 56 miles on the bike for the half Ironman distance one day. We’ll see if I get that ambitious at some point.

In the meantime, running is the questionable factor. I’ve been thinking about doing some Olympic-distance triathlons and know I should be able to handle the nearly 25-mile bike distance for those races. I’ve got the swimming down since I’ve been swimming a mile three days a week. I’m used to running being my strength in the triathlon, so it’s a bit odd for that to be the weakness right now.

I’ve been very frustrated by lingering complications from the stress fracture in my foot. After reaggravating it in January, I took nine weeks off of running. I really didn’t want to get stuck in the boot again, so I took time off and hoped it would be enough. Week after week went by, and it took that long before my foot felt reasonable enough to try running again. I was still a bit weary, so I went to a sports medicine doctor and had x-rays taken. They didn’t show a thing. I don’t know if that’s reassuring though. X-rays don’t always show stress fractures, and the doctor couldn’t see any calcification or any sign that I’d even had one. I had gone to a podiatrist when I initially injured my foot, and both the fracture and beginning of the healing showed on those x-rays. I didn’t go back to that doctor because I didn’t like his approach of sending everyone out the door with Superfeet insoles. I think they might help some people, but I hated them when I tried them once in the past and I’m not convinced I need them. All I know is that my left foot still does not feel as normal as my right foot, and there are still occasional aches and feelings of discomfort. I did some run/walk intervals as I reintroduced running, and over the last week or two I’ve gotten back to continuous runs of up to four miles.

I’m going to be very cautious and my ultimate goal for now is simply to be able to run the 10K distance involved in Olympic triathlons. The sports medicine doctor talked about increasing endurance or speed but not both at once. Maybe that’s what did me in earlier this year. Right now my approach for the summer is to go out and have fun doing triathlons. I want to get back out there and enjoy the adventure of doing them rather than aiming to go as fast I can. I’m sure when I’m actually in the race environment I’ll want to push, but I’m not putting that pressure on myself going into them. I still haven’t registered for anything since I’ve just gotten back to running and need to see how that goes. I have plenty of races on my radar though. Sprints, Olympic…maybe even a duathlon before the water is warm enough for triathlons? I hope my foot will cooperate because I’m anxious to get out there!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

The Dreaded Injury Cycle

I really thought I was back on track. I thought I’d been smart about easing back into running after recovering from the summer’s metatarsal stress fracture. I tried to follow the “10% rule” of not increasing my mileage by much more than 10% per week. I still felt little tweaks in my foot now and then while I ran, but it wasn’t painful and I had been told that it was normal to feel something during the healing process. I gradually reintroduced a bit of speed, building up to 6×800 at 10K pace. I made it up to six miles at marathon pace, and a long run of 10 miles. I figured I should be in the clear since I’d run over 30 miles per week for a couple weeks and had built back up to running five or six days a week.

I typically ran outside a day or two a week, but spent most of my time on the treadmill to play it safe. That made it easy to bail if things went wrong. Of course things went wrong when I decided to venture outside for an 8-mile run and was four miles from home. I’d had a few cringe-worthy moments for a step here and there during some recent runs. They turned into swear-worthy moments during this particular run and I’m usually not much of a swearer. In between cursing my foot, I spent the second half of that run thinking about new goals. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run a spring marathon now. Instead of getting depressed, I knew it was more constructive to think of something else to aim for. Maybe I’d just run a shorter distance? If my foot was bad enough though, I knew it meant I’d have to take more time off of running. Feeling the pressure to follow a training plan for a specific race wouldn’t be smart. By the end of the run, I had decided that my new goal was to get back to doing triathlons.

I did some triathlons during the summers of 2013-2015. I didn’t do any in 2016 because I followed a pretty intense training schedule for a late spring marathon, then had planned to get back into similar training for a fall marathon (before I got injured). I had enjoyed concentrating solely on running for a while since it’s my strength, but I also like the challenge and variety of triathlons. I tried to view the setback with my foot as an opportunity to get back into tris.

I got into the pool the next day after not swimming at all for nearly a year and a half. I knew it might take some time to get back into the groove, but didn’t think that first swim would suck SO bad. It was all good for about four lengths, then I got pretty winded and my arms got really tired. I couldn’t swim freestyle for more than six lengths at a time without having to take a break. I had been used to swimming a mile non-stop in the past, so this was quite a blow to my confidence. The positive is that my stroke, breathing, and flip turns all came back to me naturally. I was motivated to get back into the pool to try again, knowing that I could do better. Luckily, things felt normal by the second swim and I swam 400m intervals without stopping. I guess that first swim had been a shock to my system!

I've traded the running shoes for swim gear recently

I’ve traded the running shoes for swim gear recently

Of course I still had to test my foot. I took six days off of running then tried an easy three miles, but it still wasn’t good. Now I’ve gone three weeks without running and don’t think I’ll be trying anytime real soon. I’ve been taking it easy and it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster the last few weeks. Sometimes it really worries me, and other times it seems fine. At first, my foot hurt enough that I limped while walking. I worried that I had refractured it and would need the boot again. It was even iffy at times in the pool, so I’d use the pull buoy more and avoid kicking. I REALLY didn’t want to use the boot again. I really didn’t want to go back to the doctor again if I could help it either. I haven’t found any specific painful spots like I could when I originally fractured my foot. Over the last week I’ve been a little more hopeful because it hasn’t bugged me as much. It hasn’t been painful, but when it’s uncomfortable and bothers me it’s pretty disconcerting.

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My view of the Paint Creek Trail from the last time I was able to run

No more “testing” my foot for now. I better lay off the running until it feels normal. Sometimes it’s even questionable for biking so I’m trying to be smart and cautious. In the meantime, I’m keeping busy by doing core/weights for 45 minutes two or three times a week, biking for an hour or so at least a couple days (if my foot is up for it), and I’ve been in the pool at least three days a week. I use the elliptical every now and then, but I don’t really enjoy it. I’m so used to running taking up the majority of my time, and it’s interesting to see how balanced things have looked in my training log this year. It’s kind of sad to see no running at all in February though.

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2017-02-12-february-workouts

I get excited to ride the bike because it means I’ll have some quality TV time while I ride in the basement at home. I’ve managed to catch up on the first two seasons of the show Schitt’s Creek, and I’m in love with it. I’m working on Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down a Dream documentary now and am looking forward to my next ride so I can keep watching it.

The pool gets a bit too busy for my taste if I go after work, so I’ve been dedicated (crazy?!) enough to hit the water at 5am during the week. When I think about how crazy it is, I look at the people who are there earlier than I am and think at least I’m not there as early as they are! It all comes down to going to bed early enough, so it’s not that unreasonable when I’m smart about getting to bed. During the week I give myself enough time to get a mile in, and I’ve done as much as a mile and a half on the weekend. I’ve never been a fast swimmer, but as an adult I now appreciate all of the years my parents put me through swim lessons and made me swim on the swim team. It’s still not my favorite thing to do, but I like the fact that I CAN do it, and I always feel accomplished after I’m done.

I hope I can get out of this injury cycle soon. Like I said, I thought I’d been smart, but I probably ended up pushing just a little too much. I’m familiar with the process of starting from scratch and know I can make a comeback like I have before. I just have to figure out that fine balance of volume and intensity when I start running again and hope this doesn’t happen all over again. Of course I’m really bummed that I can’t run since it’s what I want to do the most, but I’m looking forward to getting back to triathlons (assuming at some point I’ll be able to run). The best way to keep my spirits up is to remember to be adaptable. Rather than concentrating on what I can’t do, I’m excited to see how I can progress in new ways.

– Janet

Follow me on on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

 

 

2016 Recap

Reflecting on 2016, I agree with the general consensus that it was not a great year. When it comes to running, things didn’t go as I’d hoped. I only participated in five races. My previous low for a year was eight races in 2010, which was the year I started racing. This past year I ran one 5K and walked one 5K (due to injury), ran one 8K, one half, and one full marathon. No PRs for me, unless you count the 8K since I’ve never done one before. No triathlons in 2016 either.

The year started off great as I followed the Hansons Marathon Method for the first time to prepare for the Bayshore Marathon at the end of May. I peaked with a total of 244 miles for the month of April and felt extremely strong. Training went as well as I could have hoped and I really enjoyed the plan. When it was 70 degrees and extremely humid to start the marathon, I knew things weren’t going to pan out because I do not do well in the heat. My third marathon was my slowest yet, but I was happy to finish in less than four hours considering the conditions.

Not my best race, but I still finished my third marathon

Not my best race, but I still finished my third marathon

I took a couple weeks off then got back to training, with plans to run the Crim 10-mile race in August, the Brooksie Way Half Marathon in September, the Grand Rapids Half Marathon in October, and the Richmond Marathon in November. I didn’t get to do any of them thanks to a metatarsal stress fracture in my left foot, which was diagnosed in mid-August. That pretty much screwed up the rest of the year. I spent five weeks in a walking boot and did not run at all for about nine weeks. I basically started from scratch in mid-October, with a few ups and downs as I gauged what my foot could handle. I ended the year on a strong note, hitting 30 miles per week for the last couple weeks, and just recently reintroduced some speed and tempo runs.

A recent shot from Stony Creek Metropark

A recent shot from Stony Creek Metropark

While 2016 was not ideal, I like to approach things with a positive perspective. Although there were a few depressing stretches here and there, I typically try to go with the flow and adapt when things don’t go as planned. I’ve never had a stress fracture before and I viewed it as a learning experience. I’d been dealing with plantar fasciitis in the same foot since the start of the year, so maybe time in the boot was good for that too. It was interesting to walk a 5K rather than run it, something I hadn’t done since I was a kid when I participated in the March of Dimes and a Crop Walk. Doing it in a walking boot made it especially interesting! Since Matt still ran Crim, I got to take the race in as a spectator for a change. It was extremely inspiring and uplifting to watch a race of that size.

It was a great experience to watch this sea of people starting the Crim

It was a great experience to watch this sea of people starting the Crim

 

My stats for 2016

My stats for 2016

Despite the injury, I finished the year with 1,329 miles of running. I’d say that’s respectable enough! I biked 504 miles and also hit the weights quite a bit at the gym.

It’s fun to look back at the year and realize how many highlights there were. Our trip to Colorado in April was definitely a big one. I was fortunate enough to run in Denver, Boulder, and Colorado Springs during the trip.

Boulder Creek Path

Boulder Creek Path, where I was fine with the elevation, but the scenery took my breath away!

Little did we know that we’d get to see two of the USA’s Olympic marathoners at work when we took a tour of the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

I was pretty excited to see Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan during our Colorado trip

I was pretty excited to see Amy Cragg and Shalane Flanagan during our Colorado trip

I enjoyed having the opportunity to run around one of GM’s test tracks for a unique 5K in May.

Here I am (in blue) running around the test track in Milford, MI

Here I am (in blue) running around the test track in Milford, MI

Even though the stress fracture kept me from running the Richmond Marathon in November, I’d healed enough to pull off the 8K. Matt and I got to meet both Bart Yasso and Desi Linden during the trip!

 

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With Bart Yasso, “Chief Running Officer” of Runner’s World magazine

Despite living in the same area, it took a trip to Virginia for us to get a picture with Desi!

With Desi Linden, Olympian marathoner

My mileage was reduced for the second half of the year between marathon recovery and the injury, so I wasn’t tied down by a training schedule. That made it easier to get back to our habit of going to a lot of concerts, and we saw a ton of great ones last year.

Green Day in a theater (rather than their usual arena setting) was one of many great concerts we caught this year

Green Day in a theater (rather than their usual arena setting) was one of many great concerts we caught last year

We also made it to Las Vegas for the first time. I’m thankful that I was still able to cover a lot of ground despite being stuck in a walking boot.

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A few of the many sights we saw on the Vegas strip

When I look back at these highlights, 2016 sure had plenty of redeeming moments. Looking ahead, I’m hopeful that I’ll run my fourth marathon this spring. I had qualified for this year’s Boston marathon, but didn’t sign up this time around. I’m still being cautious as I build my mileage, and I’m not committing to anything too soon. I got burned by that last year when I paid for a bunch of races that I couldn’t run and had to eat the cost. I’m thankful that the Grand Rapids Marathon has a deferral option, so I’m signed up for that half in October.

Right now, I’m targeting the Glass City Marathon in Toledo, OH for my spring marathon. I won’t have to take time off of work because it’s close to home, it’s in April and temperatures should be cool, it offers a flat course, and I enjoyed the half when I ran there in 2015. My mileage isn’t high enough yet to jump into the advanced Hansons training plan, but I might consider using their beginner plan or adjust things to meet somewhere in between. I love how the plan worked for me last year and want to give it another shot. Maybe I can requalify for Boston and actually go in 2018?

Even if I don’t have certain goals set in stone, I have things I’d like to accomplish in 2017. I also know that sometimes it’s best to play it by ear. I need to make sure I stay injury-free and take it from there. Here’s hoping for a solid year with more races and fun adventures!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Anthem Richmond Marathon 8K Recap

When my hot and humid spring marathon didn’t go as planned, I was anxious to give it another shot and started looking for a fall marathon. I learned that Matt’s brother Dan had signed up for his first marathon – the Richmond Marathon. I was excited for him and was curious to learn more about the race. It is billed as “America’s Friendliest Marathon” and has a pretty flat course – two things that made it sound pretty appealing to me. It takes place on a Saturday and I realized I had that Friday off for Veterans Day. We would be able to travel and I wouldn’t miss any work. The mid-November race gave me enough time to recover from the last marathon and start a new training segment. We don’t see Dan very often and thought it would be nice to be there to support him. It sounded like the perfect race for so many reasons, so I signed up for the full and Matt signed up for the half. We booked one of the downtown hotels offering a race rate and booked the flight to Virginia.

Unfortunately, my plans for a fall marathon didn’t go as planned. One day in early July my ankle locked up after I pushed too hard between a fast bike ride and a fast walk. It was bad enough for me to take a couple weeks off. When I did try to run again, my ankle still wasn’t quite 100% and I swore my way though a couple miles. Although my ankle healed after that, I started to develop pain in my other foot. By overcompensating for the ankle issue, I ended up with a stress fracture in my other foot. I didn’t get it officially diagnosed until late August. I knew all hope was lost and I wouldn’t recover soon enough to run the marathon. I was pretty upset at first but knew I couldn’t do anything about it. We couldn’t get a refund on our flight, so at the very least I’d go cheer for Matt and his brother. The race also had an 8K option, so I was hopeful that I could recover enough to pull that off.

I spent five weeks in a walking boot and took three more weeks of recovery time after that. I eased back into running very slowly a month before the race. I’d lost most of my fitness and was very cautious because I didn’t want to risk re-injury. It wasn’t all smooth, but I reached a point where I could comfortably run three miles every other day. I dropped down to the 8K and felt reassured when I got through a four-mile run a few days before the race.

We flew from Detroit to Richmond on Thursday night, and a shuttle got us to our hotel by 10:00. We walked a few blocks to Capital Ale House for food since we didn’t have time for dinner before we left.

After only five and a half hours of sleep, we woke up early to head out for a run on Friday morning. I saw a tweet that Bart Yasso (Chief Running Officer of Runner’s World) was planning a shakeout run from the host hotel a few blocks away. It was definitely worth sacrificing some sleep. We met in the lobby with a handful of other runners and Bart took us out for a tour of some scenic spots along the canal that cuts through downtown.

Running with Bart Yasso (in the white shirt)

Running with Bart Yasso (in the white shirt)

We had a beautiful morning for our shakeout run

We had a beautiful morning for our shakeout run

We ran at a very easy, conversational pace. It was awesome getting to chat with Bart. I have sworn his name many times while doing his infamous Yasso 800s speed workouts, but he is the coolest guy and has a ton of great stories. Speaking of great stories, it was fun to meet and talk to the other runners as well. One woman had come all the way from New Zealand. I enjoyed chatting with Derek, a guy who is close to wrapping up 50 marathons in 50 states within the year. We stopped for group photos a couple times. When Bart takes a selfie with other runners, it is fondly referred to as a “Bartie.” We ran a little over three miles and it was a great way to kick off the race weekend.

Matt and I are in the back row of this

Matt and I are in the back row of this “Bartie” – courtesy of Bart Yasso

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After showering, we headed out to Virginia Commonwealth University. Matt has a high school friend who is an assistant coach of VCU’s women’s basketball team. Their season opener was that morning, so we walked the mile and half or so down Broad Street to the arena, which took us through the first chunk of the next day’s race route. I’m glad we had an excuse to visit VCU because I didn’t know anything about it and didn’t realize it was such a large school with over 30,000 students. A bunch of local schools had taken field trips to the game, so it was pretty amusing to see thousands of kids screaming for VCU.

VCU's women playing at Siegel Center

VCU’s women playing at Siegel Center

During our walk back after the game, we ran into Keith Hanson and his wife and talked to them for a few minutes. Keith is one of the coaches of the Hansons-Brooks team, a group of professional runners who train in the area where we live. One of their runners (an Olympian!), Desi Linden, was scheduled to speak at the expo and run the 8K the next morning. Matt and I took a shuttle to the expo and made it just in time to see Desi and Bart Yasso speak. They discussed the race and held a question and answer session. Someone asked Desi what her mantra is during a race. She says to herself, “Calm, calm, calm. Relax, relax, relax.” It’s a good one that I may have to try myself.

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Desi Linden and Bart Yasso speaking at the race expo

Despite living in the same area, it took a trip to Virginia for us to get a picture with Desi!

Despite living in the same area, it took a trip to Virginia for us to get a picture with Desi!

As the talk wrapped up, Matt’s brother Dan and his girlfriend Heather arrived. We walked through the expo together and bought a few things. I love the logo on the official race shirt, but I don’t like how it fits me so I bought another shirt that fits better.

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The official shirt

I love the logo on this shirt I bought at the expo

I love the logo on this shirt I bought at the expo

Dan and Heather had driven to the expo, so we all went back downtown together to find a place to eat. Of course that proved to be difficult because it was prime time. I went into Penny Lane Pub to put our name in and waited behind a group that was ahead of me. Several minutes later the old Irish owner came out. He said there wasn’t a table in the house. I couldn’t hear everything he said, but he didn’t take names and gave everyone a business card. It was very odd! We tried a couple other places but they had long wait times, so we went back to the car to try somewhere out of the downtown area. I thought maybe we should try Penny Lane again first since they didn’t seem to have a list! This time the owner said there would be a long wait and there were 100 people in front of us, but took us back to a table. We were very confused, but we finally got some dinner.

At some point there was a major blow-up between a customer and the old man. The customer had been sitting at the table next to us for a while. He was pissed that they couldn’t move people around so his group could all sit together. The owner yelled that the guy came in with 12 people and no reservation and couldn’t expect to sit together. The customer yelled back about how he’d pay for his drinks but not the food. There was plenty of swearing on both ends. A waitress tried to get the customer to talk to “the younger version” of the old man, but there was no reasoning with him. He continued to yell until he finally walked out. Eating there turned out to be quite an experience!

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We had an odd but very memorable experience at Penny Lane!

Matt and I walked back to our hotel and I was a bit concerned that my watch said I ended the day with 12.3 miles. We did a LOT more walking than we probably should have the day before a race.

The race times were staggered on Saturday morning, with mine starting first. The 8K started at 7:00 and I left the hotel about 20 minutes before that. Staying in a hotel near the start of a race is SO ideal. I didn’t have to stress about parking, porta-potty lines, etc. I had about a 10-minute walk, dropped my stuff off at the bag check, and weaseled my way up to the correct corral. It was a perfect morning for racing – in the mid-30s and clear, with a little wind but not enough to really bother me. I felt just right in shorts, a long sleeve shirt, and gloves.

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Lined up for the 8K

I had no idea how to approach this race since most of my recent runs had been slower than a nine-minute pace. I only looked at my watch when I hit the mile splits, taking it by feel. I started out jogging and gradually got faster because I felt okay. The route was a mixture of the downtown, some of VCU’s campus, and neighborhoods. It was a quiet run with very few spectators until we approached the finish. It was pretty and peaceful as we ran through the neighborhoods.

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A sample view of the course courtesy of Google Maps

Bart Yasso had taken us to the finish line during our shakeout run, where he showed us that we would finish downhill. We didn’t realize that the downhill stretch was so much longer than we could see. My pace had picked up quite a bit in the fourth mile, but I really flew for the last few minutes of the race. I used the momentum from that hill for all that it was worth.

A very helpful downhill finish

A very helpful downhill finish

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My splits

I was thrilled when I checked my watch and saw how much of a negative split I had run. Of course that’s a lot easier when I start out jogging and end down a major hill, but it was nice to see that I do still have those 7:00 and 8:00 miles in me after running so slowly for the last month.

I collected my medal and water then headed to the gear check.

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Gear check was kind of a disaster. The gear had been separated into trucks based on corral time. That meant that as everyone from the first corral finished, they all lined up at the same truck. Volunteers at the other trucks had nothing to do while one truck was completely swamped. Since it was in the 30s, people were anxious to get into their warm clothes. I appreciate the volunteers for their hard work, but I feel like things were poorly organized. Maybe gear should be separated based on last names to help distribute the crowd a little better?

It was around 7:45, meaning Dan was probably just about to start his marathon and Matt and Heather were about 15 minutes into the half. That meant I had a lot of time to kill. I went to the post-race area and got a bagel and muffin. I wandered around for a bit and heard some announcements. I was just in time to see the top five female winners receive their awards. Desi Linden and Cally Macumber from the Hansons-Brooks team had both placed.

Three of the top five women in the 8K

Three of the top five women in the 8K

Soon the wind started to bother me and I got really cold. My hands were freezing and I easily had an hour to kill before Matt and Heather finished, so I went back to the hotel room. I was thankful that it was a short walk from the finish area. I relaxed for a bit, had some more snacks, and put on warmer clothes. It was kind of cool that I could look out at the finish from our room.

Overlooking the final stretch of the race

Overlooking the final stretch of the race

Matt and I use the Find My Friends app, and it really comes in handy at races when we want to track each other. I followed Matt’s progress and headed out when I knew he was getting close.

This shows the hill pretty clearly as Matt flew to the finish

This shows the hill pretty clearly as Matt flew to the finish

Matt finished in an impressive 1:42. He hadn’t followed any structured training and didn’t do many longer runs yet still managed to finish with a great time. Races have been a struggle for the last couple years due to exercise-induced asthma, but it seems like Matt finally found the right doctor who got him on the right medicine. It was a relief that he didn’t have any breathing problems this time!

I was able to find Matt in line for the gear check, which was at least three times longer than it had been for me. Like I said before – kind of a disaster. He got some cool swag for finishing the half, including a finisher’s hat and fleece blanket.

Matt's wearing his cool new hat

Matt’s wearing his cool new hat

Soon we found Heather, who had finished with a speedy 1:50 despite battling an achilles injury. We decided that we should try to catch Dan at the 16-mile mark of his race, but we didn’t know exactly when to look for him. We realized after a few minutes that we were too late and he had already passed. Matt and Heather still had to get their post-race food, where pizza was now an option for them. It wasn’t there for the 8K runners, but I suppose I didn’t really need it at 7:45 in the morning anyway! Matt and I headed back to the hotel room for a little bit because we still had an hour or so before Dan would finish. Dan texted Heather a couple times so we had a better estimate. When we looked at the tracking results we saw that he kept getting faster!

Matt went out to find him a little further up the course so he could run with him briefly. I went out to the hill so I could catch him coming into the finish.

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Dan on the last stretch

Matt and I found Heather and Dan and congratulated him on finishing his first marathon. He finished in 3:40 and ran a negative split! That’s an awesome time and I still wish I could master the art of a negative split during a marathon. Of course he hurt, but he was in relatively good shape. We hung around the post-race area for a little bit before heading out for more substantial food.

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These dogs hanging out in the post-race area were the cutest things

It was a bit of a walk, but we made it to the Southern Railway Taphouse for a nice lunch. We went back to our hotels after that and relaxed for a while until we were ready for dinner. Rather than attempt to battle crowds downtown again, Matt was smart enough to suggest that we try the VCU area. Dan and Heather picked us up and we ended up at a small, laid-back place called 821 Cafe. We didn’t have to worry about any owner/customer fist-fights breaking out there! We parked just in time before an anti-Trump rally passed right in front of us. The VCU students had staged peaceful marches each of the three nights we had been in town.

VCU students protesting

VCU students protesting

When we got back to the hotel, I could barely keep my eyes open. I had only run five miles that day, but had walked seven on top of it. We’d had a great but long day.

We flew home on Sunday morning and talked about what a great trip we’d had. Despite my initial frustration that I couldn’t run the marathon, this turned out to be a perfect trip. We had a blast doing Bart Yasso’s shakeout run and seeing the sights of downtown Richmond, checking out a basketball game and VCU’s campus, hanging out with Dan and Heather, eating at a bunch of good restaurants, and taking in the whole experience of the race day. It’s nice to get away from home and see new places and pack so much fun into one long weekend.

Thanks for reading if you actually made it through this whole thing!

– Janet
Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

Hockeytown 5K Recap

When the Hockeytown 5K (on Saturday, September 10th) was initially announced, it grabbed my interest right away. The Detroit Red Wings will be moving to a newly constructed arena in 2017 and this event would be one of many events to honor the “Farewell Season at the Joe.” The 5K would start at the steps outside Joe Louis Arena, run along Detroit’s RiverWalk, through the doors of arena, and finish at center ice. There would be appearances from current and former players, autograph signings, a locker room tour, and more. I wasn’t so sure about paying $50 for a 5K, but ultimately decided that it would be a fun and unique experience.

An experience it was. Whether it was a good or bad one depends on who you talk to. On one hand, it was a fun environment to celebrate the Red Wings and show some love for the arena that has been around since 1979. On the other hand, it was a great idea with not-so-great execution. More about that later.

When I heard that the race sold out within a month and they capped the event at 6,000 participants, I realized just how big it was going to be. I also realized that it would likely be kind of crazy and knew I shouldn’t have high expectations about the “race” aspect. Probably not the kind of setting to aim for a PR.

Since I’ve been in a walking boot for a stress fracture, the PR aspect wasn’t even in the picture. As the event approached, I wondered if I’d even be capable of walking the 5K. We went to Las Vegas the weekend before the race and I knew it would be a good test to see if I could handle a lot of walking. I did plenty of walking in Vegas without a problem, so I knew I’d be okay to walk this one.

Packet pickup was available at the Hockeytown Authentics store in Troy the Thursday and Friday before the race. The store is between my work and home, so it worked perfectly for me to swing by. Anyone who didn’t get the packet there would have to pay an extra $5 to get the packet on race morning. I’m not sure I’ve participated in a race that charged extra for race morning pickup. I guess it’s a good way to help avoid a large crowd on the morning of the race. The packet included a very nice cotton shirt.

Very cool shirt

Very cool shirt

Butch Walker, one of my favorite musicians, had a show the night before at St. Andrew’s Hall. The venue is about a mile from the Joe. Matt and I decided to book a hotel downtown so we could avoid driving home late that night only to turn around and drive back early the next morning. It was a good decision because the show ended a little after midnight and we didn’t get to bed until around 1am.

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We saw a great show from Butch Walker the night before the race

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Our hotel was across the street from the RenCen, which is a cool sight at night

I was pretty worried about the weather because the forecast showed a possibility of storms the morning of the race. That’s really not ideal when stuck in a walking boot. It was raining when we woke up, but luckily things cleared up long enough to have nice weather for the race. We walked about a mile to the arena and got there about 20 minutes before the start.

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People lined up at the start

Despite the large crowd, somehow we happened to run into our friends Lindsay and Rich. I’m glad we did, because we had a lot of spare time to chat and catch up before we started. The race started at 8:00, but they released people in waves of around 100-200 people at a time because of the large crowd. It took more than half an hour for us to finally make it to the starting line.

A sea of Red Wings fans waiting to start

A sea of Red Wings fans waiting to start

As we waited, it was painfully clear to me that this race was going to be a total cluster. People were lined up based on when they got there. That meant that runners and walkers were all mixed together. Since I was walking, it really didn’t matter to me. Looking at it from the perspective of a runner though, this was a disaster. I knew it would be a mess for people who intended to run, so I made the best effort I could to work my way over to the right side of the road in hopes that I wouldn’t contribute to blocking any runners. The “slower traffic keep to the right” concept seems like common sense to me, but I guess it wasn’t really a concern for most of the people who were there to take a nice walk and celebrate the Wings. Walkers were spread across the whole road, sometimes in groups four wide. The road was pretty wide to start, but it did get a bit more narrow in spots.

A scenic route that went past Cobo and the RenCen on the way out, and came back along the RiverWalk

A scenic route that went past Cobo and the RenCen on the way out, and came back along the RiverWalk

Since I was walking, it was easy for me to snap pictures of the scenery along the way.

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Going under part of Cobo Hall at the start of the race

The RiverWalk portion was the most enjoyable part of the course. It was a pretty morning to look across the Detroit River and see Canada, and it’s always nice to see the RenCen standing out along the skyline.

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The RiverWalk with Windsor, Ontario across the Detroit River

Approaching the RenCen

Approaching the RenCen

The Detroit Princess Riverboat with the Ambassador Bridge in the background

The Detroit Princess Riverboat with the Ambassador Bridge in the background

As I came back to the Joe and turned the corner towards the finish, I encountered a complete standstill.

The backup getting into the arena

The backup getting into the arena

The line barely inched along and it took me over 10 minutes to get to the finish line from this point! Extremely frustrating. When I finally made it into the tunnel, tons of people stopped to take pictures of banners and other things. By the way, all of these pictures I took on the course were on the move, or when I was at a standstill wishing I could move!

I can finally see the finish, but it still took a couple more minutes to get there

I can finally see the finish, but it still took a couple more minutes to get there

They also stopped along the way to the finish line so they could have that in the background of pictures. I understand that it’s a cool and unique experience to gain access to spots you normally don’t get to see. I appreciated the people who at least pulled off to the side for their photos. Plenty of people stopped right in the middle though, which majorly contributed to the logjam. The pre-race emails specifically said that they would have free photographs so there would be no need to stop at the finish line to take pictures. That sure didn’t stop people. What a mess!

There I am in the blue hat after I FINALLY got to cross the finish line

There I am in the blue hat after I FINALLY got to cross the finish line

Note the bunched up carpet in the background. Somehow Matt managed to run a pretty good time for this race despite lots of weaving and dodging around walkers. As he was just feet away from crossing the finish line, everyone came to a dead stop. The carpet had become a trip hazard and they stopped people so they could try to fix it. Like I said…very clearly not the atmosphere to think about hitting a PR!

I got my medal after crossing the finish line, and it’s one of the coolest medals I’ve received.

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Hockeytown 5K medal

Back of the medal

Back of the medal

Then it was time to wait in line again for the post-race food. I was kind of surprised that they didn’t have water, but they had Powerade, bananas, granola bars, and containers of cherry tomatoes – something I’ve never seen for a post-race snack! Concession stands were also open in the concourse if people wanted to buy other snacks or drinks.

I found Matt and we took in the scenery from the stands for a few minutes. It was very cool getting the opportunity to hang out in the Joe without a game or concert going on.

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Looking down at the finish line

With Matt after the race

With Matt after the race

The post-race celebration included autograph signings, tours of the locker room and press box, and more. When we saw the crazy lines in the concourse, we decided we’d just head out. We still had to walk back to the hotel and check out, so we didn’t have a bunch of time to wait around. If I’d been able to run rather than walk, maybe we would have had more spare time.

We took the scenic route back along the RiverWalk and stopped for a couple pictures with Windsor in the background.

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To look on the positive side, this was a very cool event. I enjoyed walking along the scenic RiverWalk and getting to finish inside the Joe. The t-shirt and medal are pretty awesome. Some people got to meet with Red Wings players along the way or afterwards, though I never saw anyone myself. It was fun to see all of the love for the Red Wings. I’m relieved that I was still able to participate and clomp along through the 5K in my walking boot.

On the other hand, this event really needed better execution. I’ve participated in events with more than 6,000 people and they’ve been SO much smoother. The biggest problem was mixing up the runners and walkers. Bottom line – the runners should have started first. There was no attempt to place people according to pace. I never heard any talk about having walkers line up at the back to allow the faster people to go first. No recommendation for walkers to stay to the right to make room for the runners to get through. Simple things that you find at most races to help prevent many of the issues. With a crowd of 6,000 people, there ought to be some kind of organization to prevent it from turning into the total cluster that it became. Waiting over half an hour to make it to the start was bad enough, but it was especially frustrating to wait in line (at a standstill most of the time) for over 10 minutes just to get to the finish line. I know this was intended as a fun event and not a competitive kind of thing. It WAS chip timed with prizes for the top people though. I know it was the first 5K for many people, and a lot of people were there to celebrate the Red Wings rather than race. Still, there are simple steps that should have been taken that would have vastly improved the experience.

Although maybe not for all of the best reasons, at least it will be an experience that we’ll remember!

**Update**

I found a few photos of myself that the race provided for free, and this one is a real gem. My hat says “run happy” but I sure don’t look it. My excuse is that I was stuck walking when I’d rather be running. The woman behind me didn’t look too happy herself, haha.

This look might sum up how I felt about the race as a whole

This look might sum up how I felt about the race as a whole

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz

 

 

 

 

Injury Update

My last post pretty much explained my injury situation, but I’m writing an update because I received the official diagnosis when I visited the podiatrist last Friday. When the nurse asked what was wrong, I said I suspected I had a stress fracture in my fourth metatarsal. Unfortunately, that was totally accurate. I’ve heard that sometimes stress fractures don’t show in X-rays, but mine was pretty clear in one of them. My fears were confirmed – I’d be stuck in a boot. The doctor said I’ll probably need to wear it for a month, then maybe take a couple more weeks off before I try to run again.

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My stylin’ footwear for the next few weeks.

How’d I get here? I’m pretty sure compensating for one injury created a new one. When my right ankle locked up for a couple weeks after biking too hard, pain shot up my shin when I tried to run. I took time off and got that injury worked out, but I think that’s when the signs of the stress fracture started to appear. Before the ankle/shin pain was totally gone, I had a run where I got through the first mile okay, but my shin bugged me as I continued to run a couple more miles. The next day or two I noticed that the outside of my left foot was a little annoyed. After another run or two, it was a different story. I felt fine while running, but limped as soon as I finished. By compensating for the pain on my right side, I think I probably adjusted my form in a way that led to the stress fracture on my left side.

I probably had the fracture for a good three weeks before I made it in to see the doctor. During that time I had a pretty good idea what was going on and knew that I was going to be done with running for a while. Of course I’m bummed, but I saw it coming and came to accept it a few weeks ago. The boot makes things a bit awkward, but isn’t too bad for the most part. Stairs are difficult and I hobble around a bit, but at least I’m able to put my weight on it and still get around. I’m a bit concerned that the boot makes me a couple inches taller on my left side, and I wonder if it’s going to lead to hip pain or create other new issues.

I had a few brief throbbing pains when I first got the boot, probably because the straps compressed the injured area. That faded after a couple days. I took the boot off the other night and wore a slip-on shoe so I could go out in the rain and move my car quickly. Just bumping the top of my foot on the opening of the shoe was enough to leave me in pain the rest of the night. Aside from that, I really haven’t had any pain. Hopefully a month in this thing will be enough. One bonus is that I might also be able to take care of the plantar fasciitis in this foot once and for all.

I went through my training log from a couple years ago to reassure myself. When I was in a car accident in March of 2014, my back was so messed up I couldn’t do anything for a couple months. It took seven weeks before I attempted my first walk/run combo. I ran a couple times by the eighth week, and I was up to three times by the ninth week. I survived a couple months without running then and managed to bounce back, so I’m sure it will all work out again this time as well.

At this point I’m not really interested in trying to bike or do much of anything besides lift weights. I don’t want to do anything that will jeopardize my recovery. I want to get through this as quickly as I can!

We’re going to Vegas in a week and I’m not too excited to walk all over the place with this darn boot when it’s 100 degrees. To look on the positive side, I’ll be able to pack a lot lighter since I’ll have no need for four days’ worth of running gear!

I know injuries like these happen to runners all the time, so it was probably just a matter of time before I got to experience my first (and hopefully only?) stress fracture. To anyone who has been there before, please feel free to share if you have any advice for bouncing back!

– Janet

Follow me on Twitter @reidphotography and Instagram @janetboltz