The Blonde Runs

Colorado lovin'


…on Boston

I have wanted to write about the Boston tragedy since I found out that Monday afternoon, nearly two weeks ago. Anything that I came up with was a muddled mess in my head, and seemed so insignificant to what others have written. But I also didn’t feel as though I could say nothing. Letting this awful event fade away without sharing how heartbroken I am. Especially since the Boston Marathon has been a huge part of my life on two separate occasions.

I don’t think you need to have run Boston, or even be a runner, to have felt an overwhelming sadness for what happened at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. You just need to be human.


I was shocked when during my lunch hour I pulled up the news, innocently checking the snowy Colorado weather forecast, to see that two bombs had gone off at the Boston Marathon finish line. I wasn’t able to research much, as I was on my way to pick up my littles from Music and follow up with an afternoon of Math and Social Studies. My thoughts were jumbled, thinking of what possibly could have happened, and of the 10+ people I knew (either personally or through blogging/Twitter/IG) were okay. I couldn’t think straight and quite possibly was the worst teacher ever that afternoon. For the rest of the afternoon/evening, I was overwhelmed with text messages, emails, phone calls, and PM’s of people who felt prompted to check on my well-being.

Tell me you aren’t in Boston…
I saw what happened. Are you okay?
I’m so glad you didn’t run Boston this year.

See, last year was “Hot Boston.” The high was around 90 with humidity around 80%. All runners were allowed to defer to 2013 if we chose to not take on the heat. I went through with the race (more of a hassle to cancel flights, hotels, family spectators, training, etc) and ended up running my worst and slowest marathon. While I am, now, so grateful that I ran Hot Boston, I know that what I suffered through pales in comparison to what so many suffered through (and are still suffering through) due to the events of this years race. Mentally, physically, emotionally. And of course I wondered how many took BAA’s offer to defer and were running the race this year, instead of last…


I have been deeply heartbroken by the bombings. Such an innocent event that celebrates hard work and dedication was marred by hatred and selfishness. But the runners, the heart of all of this, have shown true resiliency. While I didn’t think for a moment that this would get us down, the confirmation came from within, in these past two weeks. The runners. The meet ups. The #runforboston jaunts. Short and long. The yellow, the blue, and the rainbow of others colors representing Boston race years.

Because we won’t stop running. We won’t stop doing what we love.

I am proud of us.



…week 7: Greenland Trail 50k Training

This was the week I almost quit.

Luckily, it didn’t happen until right before my long run, so I only had to deal with this feeling for a few days. And, since this was over a week ago, I’m totally okay talking about this now.

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This was a cut-back week, and I ended up taking a little bit more advantage of this because of parent/teacher conferences, report cards, and my dad’s 60th birthday bash.

Monday: off day
Conference prep

Tuesday: off day

Wednesday: 7 miles
Just a little run, not because I wanted to, but because I felt I had to. Looking back, I guess my “I quit” feelings started here.

Thursday: off day
Dad’s 60th birthday party

Friday: 5.35 miles
Really frustrated with this run. Was going for a trail but turned around after .25 miles when I realized it was all going to be a slushy, icy, snowy, muddy, wet mess of a run. I stuck to clear sidewalks instead.

Saturday: 16 miles
This is when it hit the fan; that “I quit” feeling. I was dreading this run…A) the trails were still a mess from the off and on storms we’ve had B) this was the 2nd long run in a row where I couldn’t hit the trails C) I felt guilty for not being gung-ho about toughing it out and trudging through the slush, icy, snow, mud, and wet messy trails D) I didn’t want to run city bike paths E) I felt guilty for not running much during the week F) I am so tired of running in the WIND G) I just wanted to stay home because working 75 minutes from home and training for a 50k was slowly catching up with me.

Trials of Miles, Miles of Trials…

This was also the day I actually/finally REGISTERED for the 50k. So, I think I was just overcome with a ton of stress on a ton of different levels. But, I ran anyway. Because I refused to give in. Did I cry during the run? You bet I did. Was it probably because I was listening to Country music? I’d like to think so. Did I cry in the shower after my run? Absolutely. Was it probably because I was listening to Country music in the bathroom? Absolutely not. No, seriously, I wasn’t listening to Country music then. A few hours later, I was over it.

Sunday: 7.4 miles
After a downer of a Saturday, I was feeling much more positive about my training and my choice to attempt a new distance. I actually saw a photo on IG, posted by Jay_Funkysocks, that said “Remember why you started!” As simple as it was, and as silly as it sounds, it was just what I needed at just the right time. I know that in the fall of 2011, I ran a marathon that inspired me to run a 50k. Circumstances prevented me from attempting that in 2012 and this is the right time for it. If I don’t do it now, I may never do it.

I’m halfway through training, and I’m not throwing in the towel. So, there…



…in the clear

I’ve taken these past 6 weeks to visit with a fantastic PT, an in-tune sports massage therapist, and increase my mileage. This from 6 weeks of nothing. But I’m definitely feeling better than I have, well, all year! In retrospect, it’s somewhat a shame I put off seeking “professional help” until recently. However, like any season of running, I’ve learned from this too.

While it can take up to 18 weeks to fully heal the remains of scar tissue, and I should continue to heat before EVERY run during that time, I can run and add simple speedwork as normal.

Despite the hurts-so-good excruciating pain during PT sessions, I realize in these past few weeks that I’d almost forgotten what it was like to run pain free. But I want to continue to run pain free. Or at least, as best I can.

So, how will I know, next time, when to run through pain and when to seek help?

I asked this exact question of Heather. She said there was no definitive answer, but to follow these steps:

1.  See a massage therapist to work out the top layers
2.  Notice whether or not the pain subsides over the next week
3.  Cut back on distance and speed, giving the injury time to heal itself
4.  Finally, if there is still pain or the pain increases, see a PT

Seems pretty reasonable to me. And since I plan to run FOREVER, I need to follow these steps to a tee.

So, now, I continue to build up mileage and increase my long runs.  I’m voraciously shopping for a Turkey Trot.  I was advised that it must be a 10k or longer; any shorter and it will take longer for my hamstring to heal.  I’m not hoping for a PR or anything.  Just the feeling of flying again…



…to a PT

I visited a PT earlier this week, on the recommendation of the lovely and talented Courtney. It wasn’t so much that I thought I needed a lot of work done as it was just wanted to check to make sure I was on the right track. Because as good as I’ve been feeling this past month of buildup, I want to be confident there is nothing else going on that I need to be addressing.

So, when I visited Heather North of Boulder, I was anxious yet excited. Can you be excited about PT? Well, I was. Turns out next time, I won’t be. Not for the poor diagnosis (there wasn’t one) but for the pain I had to endure.

While I sat and talked to Heather North of Boulder, going over every little detail of the past year’s running; Rim Rock marathon, the hamstring tweak I felt a few weeks before that race, the cutback, the Boston training, the miserable Boston 2012, the summer trail running, the back to back halves, 6 weeks off, the gradual buildup; she was able to make some interesting connections that, of course, I hadn’t considered.

It all boiled down to the fact that runners run through pain. Truth.

I had felt something off in my hamstring before a marathon almost a year ago. But hoped that through cutting back on training, I’d be fine. And while I really was mostly fine, I wasn’t great. I felt a dull ache in that hamstring all through Boston training. So I eased up, stuck to trails, and threw in some hip conditioning. But it never truly healed. Not when I keep pushing through and run back to back halves. So I took time off.

I thought it was my hip rotators, all in a cluster, and the pain was running into my hamstring. Turns out, the pain in my hamstring, is really just my hamstring.

Luckily, “it’s not as bad as you think”, Heather North of Boulder said. She stated I had scar tissue in my hamstring; because I had run through the pain, like most do. No guilt. No judgement. Just truth. But when she bore down on my hamstring, breaking up the scar tissue, I clinched my teeth, my upper body contracted, and my eyes watered. I may be 31, but I’m not beneath crying. It happened in the dentist chair not too long ago…

She worked on my hamstring for about 10 minutes; just breaking it all up. It had to happen in order for it to properly repair. You see, scar tissue is just a way for your body to repair itself when there has been an injury. The cross fibers stabilize the affected area and it will restrict motion. By breaking up the cross fibers, you restore normal function to the damaged tissue.

Afterward, a pinching round of acupuncture, and finally electrical stimulation.

An hour and half later, I’m out. But with the assurance that I should be running “an easy long run each week and also a simple speed workout.” Um….okay! Gotta love when your PT is also a distance runner, with a professional runner husband, who GETS IT.

So, it looks like I am on the right track after all. And I can increase my workouts. I need to be diligent with heating my hamstring before every run and doing the hamstring exercises I was given. Piece of cake.

See you in two weeks Heather North of Boulder! Hopefully, for the last time.



…injury: 7 Stages of Grief

A running injury feels like the 7 stages of grief. Hear me out.

While it was several months ago that I noticed the pain in my lateral hamstring, I was shocked that I was feeling a tightness and brushed it off as overuse, since I was training for a marathon. I figured that the 4-6 weeks that I backed off of running after that marathon would do the trick. Then, I started training for Boston this spring and while I was able to ward off the intensity of the pain, I could still feel the strain on my left leg, especially on my highest mileage weeks or my toughest speed days. I saw a massage therapist a few weeks before Boston and she confirmed that the 6 deep external hip rotator muscles were all in a cluster. She worked them out a smidge, but I ran that hot mess of a marathon anyway. Afterwards, I continued my (1) state of denial and switched up my training to primarily trails. I cut back on long runs and any sort of training plan. I wanted to run when I felt like it and however I felt at the time. I foam rolled, tennis balled, and iced as I normally would. When the pain began to intensify, I started to feel (2) guilty for not doing more to address the issue. So I began a series of hip conditioning exercises that a PT would typically give someone like me for rehab. After a few weeks, I really did start to feel better! There were many runs where I had little to no pain! Yes! I was beating this! Then, I ran those back-to-back races. Two races that weren’t exactly easy. That’s when I knew.

Even though I cut back significantly after that weekend and I resumed my hip exercises, it seemed that every run was such an effort. I could feel my form change significantly after just a few miles into a run. And I would wince in pain every time I stretched. I got (3) angry and started bargaining with myself. If you keep up with the exercises, you’ll be fine. If you see that chiropractor, you’ll be fine. If you stick to trails, it’s less impact, you’ll be fine. But when I saw my chiro, felt good for about two days (sans running), then felt the pain come back, I knew this was a bigger problem than something I could just “run through” and brush off. I wouldn’t dare mention the I word.

I know it’s not a good hurt when I decide to put myself on running restrictions, without the prompting of my doctor. I’ve (4) pouted a lot in those weeks. Running is my addiction. My drug. When I’ve had a bad day, I’m only one run away from a good mood. When I’ve had a great day, a run only enhances the feeling. I connect to my dearest friends when running. A run becomes my therapy session, and those friends my therapists. I was already feeling so lonely and left out, after only a few days!

I reached an (5) upward turn, though, when I started working. I’m a 3rd grade teacher, and the beginning of the school year always requires me to put in extra hours. By throwing myself back into work, I was able to focus my attention on something else. After a few weeks, I could see some changes. I was able to move my leg in positions that used to hurt. I could put my foot on the edge of the tub and shave my legs without pain! Little things. Maybe this “time off” thing wasn’t so bad.

When I began running again several weeks ago, I was nervous. After taking 6 weeks off, I wanted to notice a difference. And although those first few runs weren’t pain free, they was significantly less strain than I had felt before. This was/is my (6) reconstruction and working through it stage. As I gradually add more mileage each week, I don’t want to overdo it with speed and distance. I want to come back healthy and strong.

I think the final stage, (7) acceptance and hope, is coupled with the previous stage. They have seemed to go hand in hand for me, as I see my hip holding up on each run. And in each run, there seems to be less and less pain. While my left side feels weak and tender, there is no distinct pain! This feels good! I want to continue to be diligent with my before and after exercises, see my massage therapist more regularly, and take great precautions as I build up again.

Of course it’s when I’m on restriction that I have a strong desire to train and race! It didn’t help that I gave in to some race shopping a few weeks ago. Just perusing, though. At least I know where my heart lies and what I want to accomplish once I’m feeling healthy again.

I’ll be working on gradual build-up through the next few months. I am hoping for a Turkey Trot and a holiday race in December. And then, big dreams for 2013!!



…making her way back

You may have noted my reference to some hip pain in the last few months. You may have seen a drop in my mileage via DailyMile last month. But, after 6 weeks of time off to let my hip heal, I’m making my way back.

It’s never easy to admit that you have an injury. And given the fact that I’ve been running for over 20 years, I feel fortunate to say that I can count on one hand the number of injuries I’ve had in that time. But, when you feel that nagging ache that just doesn’t seem to go away, you have to re-evaluate. In considering my next 20 years of running, I had to take care of me now. I think it’s worth it to sacrifice a few weeks off now to ensure that I can run for many more years to come.

I know I pushed my body a little too much this past summer. I ran those back-to-back races. Two races that weren’t exactly easy. And even though I was only in a little bit of pain at that point, the doubles put me over the edge. I tried to just cut back in July, do a lot of hip conditioning, and stick to trails, but by the end of July, I knew I had to take more drastic measures.

August probably ended up being the best month to take off, as I was starting the school year again with my 3rd graders, moving houses, and adjusting to a longer commute. Honestly, there wouldn’t have been a ton of run-time anyway. At least I didn’t have the pressure of training or maintaining during those weeks.

But now, I’ve been taking the past month to slowly ease back into it. I’d rather take it easy and not re-injure myself. I’ve been incorporating so much extra body work before and after running. I continue with hip conditioning, foam rolling, tennis balling, and stretching. It seems like I spend more time preparing and doing post-run exercises than the actual run!

Overall, those 6 weeks I took off had me really thinking about running injuries; specifically in relation to the 7 stages of grief! I’ll post on that later.

I will tell you, it just feels good to run!