Hey y’all! I’m back from my vacation, which was Wonderful and very relaxing. It kicked off with a girls’ weekend in Guerneville, CA to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of AJ & CR. I hung out with a fantastic group of ladies, spending the weekend being lazy on the Russian River, hot tubbing, eating, drinking, and being generally not-very-bachelorette-party-ish, which is the very best kind of bachelorette party, IMHO.
Then, I was home for about 12 hours before taking off for the East Coast, splitting 10 days between the Outer Banks and Maryland. I had such a great time hanging out with friends and family, eating lots of delicious food, and just relaxing. Here are some of highlights (as seen on my Instagram/Facebook feeds):
I got back Thursday night. The best way to kill the relaxed vacation buzz is a too-quick return to work, so I was very glad that I had decided in advance to take Friday off. I spent the long weekend slowly adjusting to life at home, taking care of small projects around the house, cooking, reading, hiking (more on that later), and binge watching Orphan Black. It was so nice to get away, but I’m also glad to be back.
However, this is a running blog, not a vacation blog, so let’s catch up on my recent mileage, shall we? For the month of June, I’ve run only 4.5 miles, which I ran on June 4th – also the date of my last run. I continued to cross train (swim, bike, & elliptical) through the 2nd week of June, but my aches and pains hadn’t completely subsided. As such, I decided to take a true break from exercise during my trip and hoped for the best. Minus a few tiny bouts of activity — splashing around in the ocean and pool, and chasing my friends’ kids around — I really committed to being as physically lazy as possible.
Unfortunately, a week into my trip, I was still feeling some lingering aches and pains in my hips and also in my low back — which I now suspect as being a co-conspirator, if not the main culprit, behind my ailments. Since rest didn’t seem to be helping, I decided to slowly ramp up physical activity to see how my body would respond. Also, being that I’m supposed to run the San Francisco 1st Half Marathon (SF1HM) at the end of July, I didn’t have much more time to play wait-and-see. My plan was to start slowly, i.e., with walking. Here’s how that went:
Monday (6/23): Walked 3 miles. After the first mile, my hips and low back were not very happy. I stopped to stretch, which seemed to help some, and kept going with only mild discomfort. I made sure to stretch afterwards, and to my surprise, felt really good for the rest of the day.
Tuesday: Walked 3 miles. Less aches than the day before. Progress!
Wednesday: Walked 2 x 2 miles (first walk was with my sister to breakfast; second walk was solo). Actually felt pretty strong.
Thursday: (Travel day. Rest.)
Friday: (Errand day. Rest.)
Saturday: Hiked 9.5 miles at Lake Chabot with the Gypsy Runner. I know, this sounds like a crazy jump, but here’s what happened: the GR needed to train for an upcoming backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail, so he wanted to hike around Lake Chabot with a loaded backpack. Even though I haven’t run in almost a month, I’ve still got my sights set on a trail marathon in the fall. And since I felt significant improvement from the walks earlier in the week, I thought – hey, why not go on a crazy long hike? It turned out great. I didn’t feel fatigued until after ~7.5 miles, and the worst “pain” I felt was my 2nd right toe smushing up against the front of my shoe (oddly, I never feel that when I’m running). It was the first time that I went clockwise around the Lake, which made it a completely new (and fun) experience. Plus, there’s just something about taking long walks that generates really cool conversations. After the hike, I felt tired and the first inkling of soreness, but no significant hip or low back pain.
Sunday: Feeling a bit sore, but generally okay, I headed to the gym for an hour on the bike. I chose the recumbent bike to give my back a rest. My goal was to do an easy to moderate spin, keeping it at ~80-90 rpm. After the bike, I did some strengthening exercises (e.g., single leg squats, lunges, clamshells, planks, alternating “superman”) followed by stretching. Not surprisingly, my ability to hold a plank (both regular and side) has taken a nose-dive in just 2 weeks. Good thing it won’t take long to ramp back up again.
The great thing about this last vacation is that I had a lot of time to think about goals and priorities. As far as running goes, my plan is to slowly ramp up mileage over the next 4 weeks for SF1HM, while also doing some easy trail running to prepare myself for a potential trail marathon in the fall. Since SF1HM was never an “A” race for me, the focus of my training will simply be to get to the starting line injury-free and fit enough to complete the race. So, if this means walking instead of running some of the time, so be it!
To make things slightly more complicated, the trail marathon I’m considering is in mid-October, only 15 weeks away. Since Hal Higdon’s novice 1 marathon training plan is pretty lightweight in terms of mileage and days spent running, I’ve decided to start with week 4 of the plan and see how it goes. Tomorrow will be my first run in 4 weeks, which fills me with excitement and trepidation. I hope it goes okay!