Tag: Running

10 Things I Have learned 1-Year Post Hamstring Surgery

It’s My One Year Hami-versery Y’all

I know – hard to believe but 1 year ago today I had hamstring surgery to repair my partially torn (and very scar tissue laden) right hamstring.

Although from the outside it might look like recovery has occurred without any blips – that was not the case. Recovery from hamstring surgery has been filled with highs and lows, with some days being much, much better than others. What I kept telling myself was that I just needed to stick to the plan (I love a good plan). After a couple of weeks I started stringing more good than bad days together and that kept my outlook upbeat.

My surgeon was very conservative and I did not even lace up my sneakers until Feb 2021. I tried to “beat” the time line but my surgeon held fast. I was lucky to be allowed to crutch around the neighborhood (what a workout) and finally start biking in December.

My first run I felt (and probably looked) like a Pheobe on Friends.

Return to Running (Thus Far)

Coach James took my “Return to Running” very conservatively. All of my first runs were intervals of more walking than running. I still felt at the end of those runs like I ran a marathon.

I got stronger, my runs got longer, and a bit by bit I have built my mileage back 40-45 miles a week. I do understand the significance of this and look back on the last 8ish months at where I was and where I am now.

Do I want to be faster – hell yes!!! But during a run last weekend I realized I need to give myself grace. I’ve come far and at this point I am exactly where I need to be in my running journey.

So – when I line up to run the Hartford Half Marathon next weekend – it won’t be a PR BUT it will be a PR of where I was last year and that was NOT running.

One of the things that’s been great over the past year is how many other people in similar situations have reached out to me. They wanted to thank me for my post hamstring surgery posts because (as I found out) there is not a lot of information on the interwebs. I did learn a lot from several Facebook Groups which got very dark as I was trying to recover. I ended up having to distance myself from them because it turned out that the majority of the posts were from individuals whose surgery did not go well.

So I wanted to end this post with an update on 10 things I learned while recovering from hamstring surgery. Hopefully some of these tips will help you on your recovery journey.

10 Things I Have Learned While Recovering From Hamstring Surgery (1 Year Later)

  • Recovery is not a straight line – be prepared to have bad days.
  • Bad days does not mean the surgery “did not work”. It just means you need to take it easy or scale back what you are doing.
  • Listen to your doctor – don’t try to beat the recovery time line.
  • There will be days 3,6,9 and even at 12 months where you are sore. Don’ freak out! Continue to stretch and back of of activity if you need to.
  • When you are cleared for exercises – DON”T try to do all the things. You will regret it the next day.
  • Invest in a good ice pack that you can sit on or wrap around your leg. I love this one.
  • When you are discharged from PT – CONTINUE TO DO THE BORING EXERCISES. There is a reason why you got stronger so don’t let these fall by the wayside.
  • When you start being active again – give yourself grace. You have been immobile and/or inactive for some period of time. Regardless of how fit you “were” – you need to get strong again.
  • Do not compare yourself to our “prior surgical self”. Remember this is major surgery and you (whether you like it or not) have changed – again give yourself grace.
  • And Finally – remember how far you have come and that every day (with everything you do) you are getting just a bit stronger!!!

Hop River 10k Recap- Make an Effort not an Excuse

The Warm Up

I did the math and it’s been about 20 months since my last race and recap. So bear with me as I document yesterday’s Hop River 5k/10k in Andover, CT.

Workouts have been going fairly well and my easy run pace has slowly been getting a bit faster. This I think is due in large part to my slow build back AND cross training with the Peloton. So when I broached the idea of a 10k with coach he was agreeable. It would be a good way to see where I was fitness wise AND remind me what it was like to participate in a race.

This was by no means to be an time trial as my quality sessions (IMO) did not put me in a position for that.

I should also point out that last week I started feeling “niggles” in my right hamstring. You know, the one I had surgery on last September. Since I have been more consistent with strength, a quick check of my shoes revealed the root cause of the niggles. As a heel striker I have to be more vigilant checking on the wear and tear of my shoes. Unfortunately I did not check them soon enough and was running on some pretty worn down shoes.

Running Wearhouse to the rescue! Their 2 day shipping is a god send!

On top of that, I have been running my quality session in my “everyday” running shoes. I just had not gotten around to buying a pair. So I did what you ARE NOT supposed to do – buy a pair of “racing” shoes the day before a race AND use them.

So with new shoes and a plan – I headed to Andover Saturday morning.

The Work Out

So here was the plan for the Hop River 10k- 2 mile warm up; 1.5m (8:15 speed limit); finish the race based on how I was feeling; 2 mile cool down. Seems simple enough – right?

First off I left the house for the race AND…forgot my watch and headphones. Rookie mistake. That put me in a panic but I made it to the race with time to spare. I picked up my bib and headed to the trail for my warm up. The route was shaded, which was great as the start time was 9am and the temp was in the mid 70s. For someone who gets up at the ass crack of dawn – this was not ideal.

The Hope River 10k route was also on a trail and although looked flat was what I call a “false flat”. Meaning it had an ever so slight incline for half of the route (which did I mention was out and back 2x).

Warm up complete I headed to the port o potty but realizing that the line was NOT moving – decided to head to the start.

Here’s where things went a bit (ok a lot) side ways. The “gun” went off and I headed out with the 10kers – we headed to the trail and then my GPS went wonky – I could not get an even pace. Per the watch – one minute I was running 9:00 and then it was between 8-8:30. It really messed with my head. In hindsight I really WAS running too fast and came through a blazing 7:57. Definitely NOT an 8:15 mile. 2nd mile was about 8:15 and 3rd mile was an 8:13 – so better.

BUT that’s when the heat and my mind started to get to me – to the point (I’m ashamed to admit) I walked for a bit to catch my breath and feel less panicked. Let’s just say that the back half of the race – was not my finest hour.

I ended up finishing (YEAH) and headed back out for a cool down ( I know who am I). I ended up doing a mile (instead of the 2 prescribed) because I was so done at that point. Luckily I did randomly see my friend Jessica W. on the path doing a “leisurely” 30 mile bike ride. She was definitely a boost of motivation!

The Cool Down

So – it was definitely not the outcome I was hoping for but as with any race there are always pros/cons/lessons learned.


  • I ran my first race in 20 months! That is a win. It’s been a lot of hard work to get to where I would even get to a start line (even as a workout) so I know I can improve from here.
  • The “new” racers actually did not cause me any problems. I know there is supposed to be “nothing new on race day” but as this was a workout – it felt good to wear something lighter and more responsive.
  • My stomach/GI cooperated! There is a future blog post coming on how the COVID Vaccine and my IBD have not been playing nice with each other, so to not have to find a tree on the course was a welcome treat.


  • I have to realize that I do not really perform well in hot weather regardless of how “shaded” it is and have to adapt a bit better. Again – I have been out of the Summer running game for a bit so this will take some practice.
  • I need to continue to work on my mental game – in the spring it was to stop “trotting” in between intervals. Now I need to work on quieting those voices that got very loud yesterday.
  • I need to keep calm when my GPS gets a bit wonky on me. To be honest I did feel that my effort was much faster than what my watch was showing me in the moment. By going out too fast – I think I dug myself a hole I could not get out of.

So What’s Next?

I’m not giving up by any stretch of the imagination.

I did make an effort out there yesterday but I also let my mind take over. It’s not an excuse of what happened. Maybe I am being too hard on myself BUT it’s something I need to continue to work on and realize that I’m not going to die and that being uncomfortable is not the end of the world.

Today’s a rest day BUT I will be back on the roads tomorrow.

I mean the Hartford Half Marathon in October isn’t going to run itself.

The Past 30 Days & My Top 5 Post-Op Essentials

Hip Labrum Post op

As you are reading this I am officially 30 days post-op. After my hip labrum repair, after 30 days I was told by my surgeon that I could cease using crutches and was able to start a course of PT where I not only worked on not only ROM but strengthening my hip.

Hip Labrum Repair

Recovery from Proximal Hamstring Surgery is a bit different. As I cross this 30 day mark I am still living the #crutchlife. On the positive side – I do not have to wear my brace at home and have started to sit in a regular chair and therefore transitioning back to the work bunker. On the negative side – I still have to wear the hip brace at night with a bent knee and dealt with swollen legs from the lack of movement.

With the exception of doctor appointments and an exciting trip to CVS and Starbucks this past weekend, I pretty much have been sequestered to the house. Mark still is the lifeblood of the household, a true Rockstar. I don’t know how recovery would be going if I had to do this alone or with an un-supportive spouse. Mark’s been able to work from home, but has transitioned back to 1/2 days in the office.

This past Friday was the first day that I was actually home alone for the ENTIRE DAY. He did leave me breakfast but it was up to me to make lunch. I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself. Nothing fancy and it was easy enough to crutch my way back to the work bunker.

BUT it’s all about baby steps forward. It’s a sprint not a marathon, and I keep telling my self each morning when I wake up that I’m one day farther from my surgery and one day further in my recovery journey.

What’s Next On the Recovery Agenda

BUT -excitement abounds in the Ciccio household this week, however, as I get to start Physical Therapy on Monday! This means not only getting out of the house, but my surgeon wants my therapist to start weaning me off my crutches and brace! Unfortunately it does not mean strengthening until at least 8 weeks post-op. In all the reading I have done prior to my surgery, this is the standard protocol.

And in all honestly – I really need to work on just moving and massaging my right leg. My right leg has atrophied so any attempts at strengthening my hamstring would not be helpful.

To be honest I am excited and a bit nervous to start weaning off crutches at this point. I mean, I have not put any pressure on it in 30 days, so I know I am going to be pretty cautious for a while. As Mark said -I am going to have to re-learn to walk comfortably and will probably be tired as I start this new phase in my recovery.

BUT – I have followed my doctor’s instructions up until this point so now it’s time to start engaging those hamstring muscles and continue moving (literally) forward!

12 Things I Have Learned Thus Far

  • You will have to learn to rely on other people. This was (and still is) so hard for me. Your recovery depends a large part on not moving so that you can heal. Having a support system in place before surgery is imperative.
  • Remember recovery from hamstring surgery is long – it’s a marathon and not a sprint. DO NOT OVERDO IT! I cannot express this enough because remember – anything “extra” that “feels” good now MIGHT set you back more than you realize.
  • You won’t be hungry for the first couple of days BUT it’s important. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way after my last surgery, so Mark made sure I had food at all times.
  • Try and wean yourself off the narcotics as soon as you are able. Yes- you will be in pain/sore but I found that after the first couple of days I was able to wean myself off them, taking Tylenol as necessary. One caveat – if you are in pain – take the pain medication, that’s what it’s there fore but don’t use it as a crutch. You just had major surgery and it’s going to hurt!
  • There is no getting around it but sleeping will be uncomfortable. You just have to get used to it and learn to “love” sleeping on your back. I am a stomach sleeper so it has been quite a turn of events. Luckily I have eventually been able to lay on my side (with the brace still on) as long as I keep a pillow between my legs.
  • If you can – a hand held grabber is a game-changer. This really helped me because until you master the one-legged crane squat, picking up things you drop is hard.
  • Even with a brace, I highly recommend putting one or two pillows under your knee. This will ensure that it stays bent (thereby keeping your hamstring relaxed at all times) and helps with swelling.
  • Showering is a challenge – a hand held shower head was helpful as sitting was hard.
  • Related – showering everyday is probably not feasible because it takes a lot of effort and a lot of time. Invest in shower wipes (see below).
  • I’m not going to lie but using the toilet is also hard. I did start out using a raised toilet seat. This works for some, but for me it presented more problems. I learned through trial and error to “hover” and was eventually able to sit (not comfortably) “deadlegged” on the toilet.
  • Recovering from hamstring surgery will make you tired – naps are your friend!
  • And lastly – make sure you have some good books and movies to help you pass the time.

My Top 5 Post-Op Essentials

  • Extra Wide Adjustable Laptop Stand – I was lucky to be able to take 2 weeks off after my surgery. Unfortunately, when I returned to work, I was still unable to sit in a chair. This “desk” was a lifesaver!
  • Comfy Stretch Pants – Face it, you’re going to be lounging for the foreseeable future after surgery. They are stylish, stretchy enough to pull on and off (carefully) yourself, and will fit under the bulky brace. What more can you ask for.
  • Body Wipes – As mentioned above, it will initially be challenging to shower after hamstring surgery. These were great to help me feel (and be) fresh day in and day out.
  • Crutch Pads – Another little thing to make your life easier. You are going using crutches for a while, so why not make what limited mobility you have a bit easier.
  • An Elevated Toilet Seat – Although this did not work for me, I have seen many others rave about this product. If you can find out that fits to your toilet it can be a game changer.

And Two More (Just Because)

Recovering From A Proximal Hamstring Injury – Surgery Was The Easy Part

Promixal Hamstring Surgery – 1 Week Prior

In August I scheduled my surgery to repair my hamstring injury. I chose a date toward the end of September because 1) Mark had a pre-arranged golf trip in early September and 2) I wanted to enjoy as much time as I could outside before I was sequestered to my “recovery room”.

Being the Type A (and also wanting to be active in my recovery as much as I could be), I did a lot of internet searching on what to expect before, during and after hamstring surgery. I found a lot of good (but generic) information from the medical community (hospitals/orthopedics/surgical centers), I had a hard time finding any personal experiences on anyone who had recovered from proximal hamstring surgery.

I was lucky two have found two blogs which were a huge resource for me as the date of my surgery drew closer. Fueled and Focused, as well as this guide really helped me not only wrap my head around not only what to expect but also gave rough idea of how long it would be until I might be able to do X, Y or Z. I re-read blogs quite a lot and I have to say, up until this point, my recovery has been pretty similar.

Had my surgery not been scheduled during a Pandemic I would have spent my last week/weekend with friends and family BUT that was not the case. Instead, I had my brace fitting AND a COVID test. Then it was back home to self quarantine. Thankfully the test was negative or I would have been pissed.

I spent the weekend before deep cleaning the house, baking these, and making sure I had everything in my Recovery Room ready to go. I also purchased several items to make my post op life easier. Some of them were awesome (crutch pads for the win) and some were just a good idea in theory (tear away pants anyone??). I will write a separate post on these items soon.

Surgery Day

I was fortunate that I was Dr. Kuhn’s first surgery for the day BUT was not pleased that it would take place at 11:30am. SIGH! So that morning I did some puttering around the house until it was time to go.

In pre-COVID times, Mark would have been able to come into the surgery center and wait for me. Unfortunately, that was not the case. He dropped me off and was told that once I was “ready to go” (aka surgery was complete) he could swing back and collect me.

Pre-Op was pretty straight forward and what I remembered from my labrum repair 3 years ago. The only difference was more masks and hand washing. After I scrubbed my surgical area and they started an IV, things happened pretty fast.

Funny side story – when Mark dropped me off he asked of the brace box needed to come with me. I told him – no – what remained were “extra pieces”. Apparently I was wrong. The actual brace was actually in the box and Mark ended up taking it back home with him. After a mini melt down, I got a hold of Mark who rushed it back to the surgery center. In the meantime I walked down to the surgery room, where the last thing I remember is talking to the “team” about running.

Unlike my prior surgery, I did not have nerve block because of where the surgery was located (hello nerves) but they numbed it up good. The anesthesiologist also placed an anti-nausea patch behind my ear. The medication in it lasted 3 days and worked wonders. After my last surgery I had an adverse reaction, but luckily that was not the case this go around.

I woke up less then an hour later with the brace firmly attached and a slight cough/sore throat because I was intubated. Something about not eating for 14 hours made those post-op graham crackers and ginger ale delicious. Pretty soon, Mark picked me up, grabbed my prescriptions and a well-deserved Poke bowl and headed home.

I’m not sure how I did it but I made it upstairs where I have pretty much stayed thus far.

Hamstring Post Op – The 1st Two Weeks

For these first 2 weeks I have used my vacation time to take some time off. The first week I was in no condition to do anything, but last week I did do some work. I am glad I did – it will definitely keep my stress level in check. Mid day power naps have been glorious, especially as my sleep pattern has been inconsistent.

By the end of the first weekend, I weaned myself off the Oxycontin and now only take Tylenol as needed. I have had mostly soreness and discomfort at the incision area. I am not moving a lot (the brace definitely helps with that) and am very conscious of keeping my knee bent AT ALL TIMES. The one time that I did contract my hamstring (by accident) it hurt like hell.

The brace is defiantly doing it’s job of immobilizing me and needless to say it is cumbersome and uncomfortable. I cannot sit up straight in bed and sleeping has been a challenge as my knee has to remain bent. I am a huge stomach sleeper so its been a challenge to sleep on my back. The only times that I have felt comfortable taking it off is when I use my ice machine. My knee however is still in a bent position.

As for going to the bathroom – this might be a little TMI but the first week was a struggle. I was (and still am) numb in that area and could not (and honestly still cannot) sit on the toilet. I did try a raised toilet seat (FAIL) but at the end of the day just had to hover. It was only recently that I have been able to sit (with my right side being dead weight) somewhat. It’s also a pain because every time I go to the bathroom I have to take off the brace and then put it back on. Needless to say I am almost a pro at the one-legged Karate Kid crane.

The memory foam pads (linked above) for my crutches have been life savers as I think that I am going to be using them for the next 6 weeks.

As I mentioned I have pretty much stayed in the Recovery Room since my hamstring surgery. I kind of feel like Rapunzel. Luckily I can get in/out of the bed, maneuver to the bathroom when I want/need to, and should “make it work” working remotely. I cannot sit up (or in a chair for that matter) so it will be trial and error to get my Recovery Room turned into a comfortable work space.

Lastly – being pretty much immobile also means that I am highly (like 99.9% reliant) on Mark. He has been awesome, bringing me my meals as well as taking care of the house, working, and making sure Harley does not starve. It’s a big ask of him to do all this and he has (so far) had no complaints. I will keep you posted 😉

Tuesday – First Post Op Appointment

I’m pretty excited for Tuesday for two reasons. 1) I get to leave the house and go outside for the first time in 2 weeks! and 2) I have my first post op appointment!!!

To be honest I am not sure what to expect. I know that there might not be much that will change BUT I am hoping to maybe be able to start Physical Therapy (for stretching) and maybe he will change the position of my brace to give me a bit more “wiggle room” for sitting.

I will keep you posted!

Oops I Did It Again (or Why 2020 Continues To Be a Giant Dumpster Fire)

“There is an uphill for every downhill, and a downhill for every uphill.”

Turkish Proverb

Life Lately

Is it me or does it feel like 2020 is roaring past us at lightening speed and other days it feels like it’s moving at the pace of a sloth.

Since my last blog post things “life” wise have been pretty stable. Most days I work remotely with my trusty co-worker, and *knock on wood* my ulcerative colitis seems to be under control. So much so that I FINALLY tapered off prednisone for the 4th time in a little over a year. Yeah me!

Don’t get me wrong, being quarantined has had its daily/weekly/monthly ups and down ({People- it’s not hard people wear a mask in public!) but the one thing that, until recently, has kept my stress at bay was running and training for a Fall marathon.

Running Toward a Fall Marathon

With a dearth of Spring races, McKirdy Trained put on an awesome (and free) McKirdy Mile race series. Mark even signed up! I loved our treks to Old Wethersfield to run like hell for 7ish minutes knowing at the end of the workout our reward would be a well-deserved fresh pressed juice at Comstock Farre.

If you will recall during my 2nd McKirdy Mile (recap here), I had to run my timed mile a 2nd time as I did not hit “start” hard enough on my Garmin the first time. My time was respectable, but what I did not mention was about 2/3-3/4 of the way through, I felt a sharp pain shoot up my right leg into my butt.

I finished the mile but once I stopped everything, and I mean everything, on the right side cramped up. I believe I told Mark that I think I stepped wrong and brushed it off. However, during my next quality workout the pain continued to the point where my legs would not just turn over.

It wasn’t due to a lack of fitness, and then I reminded myself that I had been dealing with a right hamstring strain off and on from around September of last year. I also knew that as I was tapering off Prednisone it’s anti-inflammatory capabilities were also wearing off, meaning if the strain had not fully resolved, my body was now screaming this information to me.

Running Toward An Answer

So (freaking out as runners do) I researched my injury, but I also made an appointment with Dr. Kuhn (my “hip guy”). At the appointment I cut to the chase and told him what I needed – a referral for PT. The thought was that I PT would provide me with some relief and I would be back on the roads in no time. My therapist, thought that the pain was coming from my back (sciatica to be specific) but after 2 weeks I was still not getting any long term relief. Meaning I would get relief while in my PT session, but soon after I left (sitting in the car) I would be almost back to square one.

In addition, while sitting, I began to feel a constant burning/soreness (and sometimes shooting pain) at the hamstring insertion point. When I attempted to run that soreness turned to pain which eventually (depending on how long I could handle it) would “run” down the back of my leg to my knee. I could only make it a mile or 2 before I would have to hobble home defeated.

He agreed that I needed an MRI.

I tried to “read” the MRI but it was impossible, so until my follow up with Dr. Kuhn I continued to google my symptoms and go down the Web MD rabbit hole (which I do not recommend for any sane person). Thanks to technology logged onto Jefferson Radiology’s online portal and read my results which were

Abnormal findings in the right common hamstring tendon origin, from mild to moderate tendinosis and probably component of partial tearing

Jefferson Radiology – June 5, 2020

Within 2 minutes of reading the report, the running czar (aka Mark) told me I had to “shut it down” until I saw the doctor

Side Lined (& Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy – PRP)

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I had already self diagnosed myself so the MRI result was the icing on the “injury” cake for me. Dr. Kuhn confirmed the results and pin pointed my tear within moments of pulling up the images.

My tear, he indicated, was “in the spectrum between a strain and a full tear”. Great! My options were – do nothing (aka no more running); have a cortisone injection; undergo a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy; or have surgery.

The cortisone injection is palliative in that it would “calm down” the inflamed area so that the body can start healing itself. PRP therapy has had some great results (yes I did my research). Basically the doctor takes a vial of your blood and spins it down separating the good (platelets) from the rest of the blood. Your platelets are then injected into the injured area and the hope is that the platelets break down and release growth factors to trigger your body’s healing process by helping the injured cells repair and renew. On the downside, I have to pay for this therapy out of pocket. The last, and most invasive option, is surgery. Recovery time is long and I would have to be on crutches AND an immobilizer for a considerable period of time.

I did undergo a cortisone injection but after 3 weeks of no relief I headed back to Dr.Kuhn. He agreed that if I did not feel any relief after 3 weeks, an additional injection would not be helpful. So, as I am really, really trying to avoid surgery, I decided to try PRP therapy.

Moving Forward…

As I write this blog post I have actually undergone my first PRP injection. I plan to document my progress since it was hard to find personal testimonies on how they fared.

So that’s it in a nutshell – I have not run in about 45 days and now that I have undergone my first PRP injection I have been told, with the exception of walking, there is to be NO EXERCISE for at least 3 weeks. UGH

BUT if PRP therapy it helps me heal my hamstring and therefore avoid surgery its a small price to pay.

Some well meaning people have told me that maybe I should find a new activity and that may be true but at this point I just want to sit down and run a couple of easy miles without any pain or discomfort.

Stay Tuned!

McKirdy Mile #2 – Recap & A HUGE Rookie Mistake

…The Story Thus Far…

This past weekend Mark (aka The Running Czar) and I tackled our 2nd 1 mile time trial as part McKirdy Mile race series. Two weeks ago (recap here) we completed our first 1 mile time trial and since then my quality workouts have been focused on developing a bit more “pop” in my step. My easy run have hovered around 50-ish minutes and my quality workout have centered around quick bursts of speed inter-disbursed with recovery. As someone who is used to longer distances that focus on a specific pace – I dare say that these workouts have been “fun”.

I’m still feeling good (yeah Remicade) so I have also taken these past two weeks to be more “watch cognizant “. Meaning – instead of going balls to the ball – actually looking at my watch to hone on the prescribed paces. I admit it’s still a work in progress.

The running czar has also been upping his mileage (up to 3x per week). He’s found (I think) it to be a good stress reliever breaking up the day when he works from home. He’s not doing any speed work per se but he has definitely gotten more consistent.

The 1 Mile Time Trial (McKirdy Mile #2)

So heading out to the race course (aka Old Wethersfield), we both felt pretty good. Actually – Mark was find and I was a bundle of nerves. At the end of the day I am only racing myself but I still find that when I have to “perform” II get nervous.

We parked at our usual spot and did our 2 mile warm up, active stretching and striders. The night before Mark had suggested starting before me, so that he could be my “rabbit”. I chuckled but did not think that was a bad idea.

The plan was to NOT RUN LIKE A HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMAN (coaches words not mine). To run at a controlled 7ish pace for the first 1/2 mile to have gas in the tank for the back 1/2 mile. He also had me change my lap splits to a 1/4 mile to pace myself better and again not run like a high school freshman.

After a bit of procrastination (i.e. a pee break) Mark headed off and I soon afterwards. The weather was a bit warmer but just as breezy as 2 weeks ago. By “trying” to listen to coach I checked my watch and read between a 6:55 and 7ish – so I was right on pace.

My lungs burned but not as bad as they did two weeks ago so I pushed on.

Coming down the back half of the mile I held off looking at my watch until I about about 3/4 mile in. When I did I did a double take because what my appeared on my watch face was the time of day NOT the time/pace I was running.


Many expletives were shouted both in my mind and out loud as I crossed the “finish line”. After an explanation to Mark as to what happened his first words to me were “Let’s Do It Again”.

Really – Again. FML

BUT being a Type A (wanting my time to count) – I did the slow walk of shame to run it again. In the end – not too shabby. As you can see from my splits I had a questionable 1/4 mile where my mind wandered a bit.

I ended the day with a respectable 7:08. That’s pretty good in my book considering I ran a hard mile less than 20 minutes before.

So What Did We (I) Learn From McKirdy Mile #2

Well first and foremost – MAKE SURE YOU START YOUR DAMN WATCH. I am amazed at what happened. Although in hindsight IF I realized I had not started prior to when I did, I probably would have just stopped running. So kudos for “just running”.

Second – if you don’t start your watch, make sure you run the time trial by yourself. If not, you will probably have to do it again. Seriously though – thanks to Mark for gently pushing me to do it again, AND also for running it again himself. Little did he know what he was getting himself into with this race series.

Third – my workouts are making a difference. If I was able to (I think) run a sub-7 minute mile AND then run a 7:08 for my 2nd one mile time trial – wow!

And Fourth (and seriously NOT least) – always plan your race routes somewhere to have some good sips and eats afterwards. I was honestly dreaming of re-hydrating with Comstock Faire’s “Red Juice” during both mile repeats.

So there you have it my recap in a nutshell. The outcome was unexpected, but I’m not mad at it. I am realizing that is one of the cool things about the mile. In those 7ish minutes there is a lot that can be learned.

Onward we go!

Mornings, Motivation & Marathons

My morning runs this week have been all over the place. Not in terms of pace (those are getting somewhat consistent) but the spaces to which my mind has traveled. As a runner who typically runs to pulsing music, in an effort to both wake up and pound the pavement , I find myself gravitating more toward the monotone voices of non-fiction podcasts. Whereas before music podcasts would take up the majority of space my iTunes Library, they now fighting for listening time. More often than not, I head out the door pressing play on The Daily (NYTimes Podcast) or Work, Play, Love (Running Podcast).

The problem is quarantine life limits attempts to have intellectual conversations. Social media is great but sometimes putting ones opinions out for the world can lead to more stress. My constant companion, Harley is a good co- worker but not a good conversationalist.

So, I have turned a bit inward during this past week letting my mind wander . One would think that in having conversations with myself would be a win-win. I have quickly learned, however, that is not always the case.

This week my thoughts turned to running but not for the reasons you might think. On Friday I was scheduled (and did) have a Remicade infusion. As an avid reader, you will know that starting past week the dosage and frequency of Remicade was increased. I have been doing well (health and running wise) for the past month. These glimmers of hope have allowed me to dream of the 45th Marine Corps Marathon this fall.

BUT I also know that the world is currently in the middle of a pandemic. Spring racing has been cancelled but there is still a huge question about Fall races. I try to be an optimistic but I am also a realist. There are many moving parts before moving forward with races is even a thought in anyone’s mind. First and foremost, I also have to think of my personal safety.

As someone who has Ulcerative Colitis, both the disease and medication has placed me in the high risk category. I have done a lot of thinking, especially this past week, about this. Right now, I do not know how safe I would feel in October if safe guards were not enacted. To be honest, not knowing if the person I am standing next to is a carrier is a scary thought.

Keeping dry!

These are things that even 6 months ago would not have even crossed my mind. Am I the only one but anyone else think of life as BC (Before Coronavirus) and AC (After Coronavirus)? Six months ago – the only thing I was thinking of was would there ever be a day when I would be able to run without having to worry about whether my stomach would betray me. My how times have changed.

So that leaves me in a bit of a pickle.

Running has been a part of my life for 10 or so years. Whether I was injured or not, the fact remained that I was always training for SOMETHING on the horizon. Yes – I have signed up for the 45th Marine Corps Marathon, but will it happen. If it does – will safeguards be put in place? What will the safeguards be? Will the safeguards put in place be enough? As you can see it’s an endless rabbit hole that can veer in many directions.

And one of those other directions it lead me too this week was the question of MOTIVATION. Many blogs and social media posts most often post diatribes on this with the heading “What Is Your Why?”. I think I know what my “Why” is but for the time being I think delving in to my “Motivation” is more appropriate. If races are cancelled for the foreseeable future – that is many months of running for the sake of running.

Yes – sometimes I run “just to run” over the years I have developed deeper reasons – especially in 2020. Health, sanity, reflection, the challenge, and new adventures) are all reasons I head out the door. Over the past year, however, the goal being able to run consistently while battling Ulcerative Colitis has been at the forefront.

Feeling better over these last 2 months has definitely helped me mentally. Yes – even at my sickest, I still put on my running shoes every morning. I wished for the day that I the only thing I would have to worry about was something as trivial as over dressing or my iPod dying.

So I think that is my motivation – running because I can and knowing that one day races will be back on my calendar and on the horizon. It does help that things like signing up for the McKirdy Mile have been added to my calendar. My next mile “race” is this weekend and I am hoping that some of the work I have been doing will translate into an improved time.

Until then I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other so that I will be ready for the day when I can line up once again for a medal and a shirt!

Onward we go!

2019 Marine Corps Marathon – Race Recap

I have started this Marine Corps Marathon race recap several times, but I have erased it each time. It’s been hard to put into words the thoughts that have been swirling through my head but I now think I am ready to put “pen to paper”.

If someone were to ask how long I had been training for the Marine Corps Marathon, I would have honestly told them that it began as soon as I crossed the finish line of the 17.75K Race in March. Once I was “Granted Access” on that bright, windy and cold Saturday morning, I knew that the training I did would get me to the start line of the 44th Marine Corps Marathon.

Little did I know that between the finish of that race and the start of the Marine Corps Marathon, I would not only have to deal with 2 major stressors in my life – a pretty debilitating Ulcerative Colitis recurrence (which I am still trying to get under control) and the loss of my dad almost a year and a half after losing my mom.

To say that that training this Summer has been challenging would be an understatement (and a topic for a separate blog post) but regardless of how I was feeling (or knew how I would feel during some point in my run), I put on my running shoes almost every morning.

Some had told me that continuing to train this Summer was foolish – stressing my body out more when all it needed was rest and self-care. That may be true but to me, running was/is my outlet, and as strange as it might seem my version of self-care. My daily miles allowed me to think, to daydream, and ultimately to grieve. The silent grief that no one might have seen from the sunny disposition I might have exuded.

It’s not that I was hurting (physically and emotionally) but that I made a commitment and nothing – not even my body rebelling against me was going to stop me from getting to the start line. If my body was saying “F” you then running was my sick way of saying “F” you back.

My workouts in September, boosted my confidence, as I was able to complete several important marathon quality session with minimal GI issues. I credit this to changing my diet and also with the help of Featherstone Nutrition. Meghann – a badass runner herself – helped me to not only eat more but find things that did not make my stomach go haywire.

However, it was during an easy run in late September – one of the first cold mornings of the Fall – that I might have tweaked my right hamstring. I did not think that much of it at the time and told my coach who modified my workouts to try and calm it down.

All taped up

Unfortunately – although it did not get progressively worse it did not improve. With 3 weeks to go, I went to the chiropractor, physical therapy, my orthopedist (who smartly would not give me a cortisone shot), and my massage therapist to try and get some relief. Honestly – it was exhausting to have an appointment scheduled for every night after work.

Heal thyself

Self-doubt and the “I don’t deserve to run the marathon” crept into my mind, and let’s just say there were a lot of hugs from Mark during the month of October.

On top of that – the weather that had looked so great at the beginning of the week of the marathon slowly and progressively got worse. By Thursday it was a foregone conclusion that it was going to be a wet and warm marathon.

Regardless we headed down to DC and tried to make the best of the situation that was going to be a reality on Sunday morning. Coach and I spoke about our race plan earlier in the week and had believed that what he had set out for me was doable, even with the weather forecast.

I had hoped that this would be the one time that the weathermen got it wrong but when I woke up at 4am that morning it was downpouring. Sleep did not come easy the night before,(Hello Migraine) and it took I could muster to get 1 plain bagel down.

Thankfully, Mark (who ran 10k) was able to drop me at the shuttle before hopping on the DC Metro to his start line. Once I got to the Runners Village, I quickly headed to the “Church” tent and hunkered down to wait and keep as dry as possible.

As I crossed the start line, it was still raining, but it was not as heavy as it had been when I first entered the Runners Village. The temperatures, which were in the low 60s did not feel that bad, which I equate to the rain.

Keeping dry!

Soon enough it was time to use the port a potty one last time and put on dry socks and shoes. In contrast to last year, I made it to the start prior to the race actually starting.

For those who have never run the Marine Corps Marathon, the first couple of miles are uphill and with all those “I’m running a marathon” runners, there can be a lot of bobbing and weaving. I was feeling pretty good at that point, checking in with myself but also cursing my playlist (that I had spent a long time one) that was set on shuffle.

Just prior to the 2nd mile, however, that that “old’ feeling hit me and before I knew it I was scanning the course for the closest porta potty. I think all of the Imodium and food that I had eaten up to that point decided that it was done being inside me. Luckily it was a quick pit stop. Back on the course, I checked my watch only to realize that I did not hit “Start” when I crossed the start line. This messed with my head a bit.

I headed into Georgeotown and was pleasantly surprised to see the number of spectators lining the streets despite the weather – it gave me a boost but I still did not have that pop in my step that I had felt during this training cycle, and the pace on my watch confirmed these concerns.

It was in the middle of the first “lollipop loop in Georgetown that (I wish I was making this up) a 2nd familiar feeling – soreness running all the up the back of my outer hamstring – returned. Feeling defeated again I knew that the goals that Coach and I set for myself were slipping away but I was not going to give up and was determined to do all I could to get myself to the finish.

Heading out of Georgetown, the marathon route begins to run parallel to the Potomac River. Once I hit this stretch, not only did the first down pour begin, but I also started to battle wind gusts that were not only coming across the Potomac but toward me as well. For the next several miles battling these conditions took a lot out of me. I tried to take a moment pay my respects as I ran through the Blue Mile, but it was all I could do to my head down and get away from the river as soon as possible.

As I headed to the Smithsonian, the rain subsided somewhat, BUT by that point, there has been so much rain that it had nowhere to go. Many cautious steps were taken to avoid potholes that I knew were hidden beneath the puddles. A sprained ankle was the last thing I needed.

Soggy and waterlogged I made my way up to the Smithsonian when I encountered a second bout of torrential rain that shorted out my headphones for the final time. I did take some stops at this point to stretch out my hamstring, but I was pretty much over the race at that point. I mean I run in pretty much any weather condition but this was just too much.

Over the bridge and back into Crystal City, I looked over the horizon and saw a break in the clouds. Most might have been happy that it appeared that we would not be hit with a third deluge of rain but in the back of my mind, I was not feeling so confident.

However, as luck would have it rain was the least of my concerns as the sun decided to show up and the temperatures soared. My soggy and waterlogged body dried and was replaced with salty sweat. The crowds were awesome, but I continued to focus on putting one foot in front of the other toward the finish line.

I did link up with another fellow Connecticut runner around mile 23. We commiserated for a bit – each commenting on whose grand idea it was to run a marathon – but ultimately continued to run our own race.

Mile 24 that “old” feeling started to creep up again and I wish I could have taken a huge poop in front of the Abortion protestors who had set up shop along the course. I did not think it was the time or the place for that non-sense. Of all the places they could have protested mile 24 of a marathon, in my book, is a poor choice.

Mark was at the finish line and told me afterward that I looked like I was “done” when I crossed and he was absolutely correct.

10k and Marathon finishers!

I met up with Mark and we made our way back to the hotel, each sharing our war stories about our respective races. A long bath and some rest were the order of the afternoon before heading out for post-race libations at Blue Jacket – which I highly recommend.

Burgers and Beers and Blue Jacket

In contrast to last year, we stayed in DC an extra day to sleep in and do some sightseeing

I receive many messages of “Congratulation” and “job well done” after I finished but to be honest I am extremely disappointed at how things played out that day.

Tacos Tuesday – on a Monday

At the beginning of the race, the announcer told us that less than 1% of people run a marathon – a pretty cool statistic. To my non-runner friends, completing a marathon, regardless of time, is an accomplishment. It’s something they cannot even wrap their heads around. BUT to me, someone who has run 8 of them, I want the weeks and months of work tto pay off. Yes- my marathon time is only one factor of what makes me a runner BUT it is one of the main things that runner want to improve. Some might consider it whining but I don’t care.

In addition, this marathon was also my slowest one. I have not looked at the results yet, I can’t bring myself to, but I know I crossed the finish after the 4 hour mark.

I have asked myself many times- what could I have done differently both in this training cycle and in the weeks leading up to the marathon. My workous and paces showed I was in great shape BUT I also know that I can’t honestly count on 1 hand the number of runs I had since June were I did not have to stop due to some type of GI issue. This might have had some bearing on my endurance.

As for my hamstring strain – again I don’t know what else I could have done to get me to the start line except maybe manage it better when I first felt that niggle. It’s frustrating that I had been pretty much injury free for 2019 and JUST before the Marine Corps Marathon I developed this strain. Sort of reminds me of 2017 when I tore my labrum during the New Jersey Marathon.

So that’s where I am at after running the Marine Corps Marathon. At the time of this blog post, I have taken 2 weeks off from running to let things try and settle. I am back at the gym, but the only cardio I have been doing has been the elliptical and bike.

Two treadmill runs took place over the weekend and I have come to the conclusion that maybe my insoles might be part of my hamstring problem. To that end, I will be trying a couple of runs without them. I have also returned to Yoga, which helped me mentally and physically last spring.

As for what to focus on for the rest of the year and into 2020 – I’m not sure yet. I have toyed with training for a Spring Marathon or a Half, but I keep changing my mind.

I think for now it is time to re-group. In contrast to last year, I am taking this time to get my body back in order. It has been through a lot this year and I am trying to give it grace and respect that it deserves. That’s not to say that I won’t be running (that would be silly) I just need time to figure out what those goals will be.


Marine Corps Marathon Training Log – Week Ending 9/22/19

Marine Corps Marathon Training

This week training for the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon has brought me my second 20 miler of this training cycle, a couple of days of managing my running and Harley, and getting a little bit frustrated/down in the dumps about my illness.

Running wise I am handling the marathon mileage as well as can be expected. Mark and I are taking a Yoga for Runners class on Sunday evenings which has helped and I have been religious about going to the chiropractor to stay “aligned”. Some niggles have started to pop up in my right IT band and shin but I have been managing it by stretching/rolling and doing my PT exercises.

As for how training for a marathon with an active IBD has been going – it has its good days and bad days. I had hoped that the first infusion of Entivyo would be the fix that made all my problems go away but alas that has not been the case. There are good days and bad days, but at this point I need more good than bad.

I am managing it the best I can and trying to have a positive attitude but in all honesty, IT SUCKS! I trying to do what I need to do and I just want my body to cooperate. It’s frustrating. No one really understands what I am going through or honestly asks me how I am doing or how I feel about heading into this marathon if I can’t get my GI to calm down.

To be honest – mental doubt has started creeping in. Some days I wonder why I am still training and whether I can actually run the Marine Corps Marathon to the best of my ability while still dealing with this literal crap.

I have another infusion this week, and I am hopeful that I just need a couple under my belt before I start feeling better ( at least that is what I have read).

I am not throwing in the towel – so without further ado…

The Workouts

Monday (7miles easy) – Not sure what was going on this morning but I was not feeling this run. Maybe it was DOMS from Saturday but I felt clunky and my right shin got really tight. Luckily I was able to head to the chiropractor after work (as well as some foam rolling and stretching throughout the day to hopefully relieve the soreness).

Tuesday (Quality Session – 1x35minutes at threshold (7:39); 4min rest; 6x30sec (6:39) – Coach labeled this in the notes as a “Big Session” which always makes me nervous. On top of that I was up uber early as Mark left for his annual Golf trip – so that meant I did not even get to see the sunrise – BOO!

Wednesday/Thursday/Friday – (7.5 miles + dog walk x2) – With Mark in PA for his golf trip, my mornings for the rest of the week were very organized (leaving little room for futzing around). Up at 4:30 am to run, which left me just enough time to get back, take Harley on his walk, and make it work on time (with a quick stop at Starbucks). Luckily the weather cooperated a bit too much with temps dipping down to the 40s – meaning a quick scramble to dig up gloves, headband and jacket. It definitely woke me up but I am so not ready to start adding layers!

Saturday (20miles easy) – So if your Garmin dies during your 20 miler does the run still count??? That was dilemma that I faced on Saturday. I charged everything I needed EXCEPT my watch – rookie mistake! Luckily I mapped out my run before I left so I know that even with a dead watch I got my 20 miles in! The run was pretty uneventful but I did have some stomach issues and that definitely upset me and caused me some concern.

Good Eats

I guess Central Connecticut is a bit behind on the Poke revolution that is the hot, new food trend but luckily we are catching up! By the time this post is published – Pokeworks will finally open its first Connecticut location (next to a Shake Shake no less). I had the opportunity to be one of the first to attend a private event AND my first poke bowl this week. Let me tell you I am a big fan of this fully customizable, healthy meal.

New week = New Treats in the way of Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

Celebrating National Cheeseburger Day with a side of my homemade sweet potato fries.

Another day – Another Picky Bar!

What’s Entertaining Me This Week

As someone with IBD I have been limited my dairy consumption (although I do love my fro-yo and a slice of pizza now and then.  As someone always looking for a cheezie alternative I have considered trying some dairy-free cheese like Daiya until I read this post from Andrew Kornfield. Really eye-opening “healthy” is not always truly healthy.

The Rich Roll Podcast with Gwen Jorgensen – This was perfect to listen to during my long run.  Loved hearing that she has realized that more is not better and to look at the bigger picture. Improvement happens on a daily basis and to look at the bigger picture. I have to keep that in mind as my Marine Corps Marathon Training continues.

Rambling Runner Podcast with Aly Groft – A truly inspiring podcast.  Especially loved her super positive mindset of Patience, Commitment and Determination.

Koala Clip Lux Pre-Order – This might be one of my favorite running products, especially I don’t like to wear a lot of “stuff” during my runs.  It’s survived every type of weather condition imaginable, AND on top of that Mark feels a bit better now that I have a phone on me.  I am loving the Brillant Feathers color and might have to purchase this one so I have “options”.

That’s all for this week.

Onward we go!

Marine Corps Marathon Training Roundup – (40 Days to Go)

It’s beginning to look a lot like jacket weather!

We are getting down to the nitty-gritty of training for the 2019 Marine Corps Marathon – this week I saw my highest mileage EVER come across my Vdot AND my first EVER 20 miler while being coached by McKirdy Trained. I knew the key to keeping myself as loose as possible was quality rest, healthy fueling, and a lot of rolling/stretching.

The weather has been cooperating over the past week or so and I was lucky that the weather continued this week – especially on Saturday where I was able to complete my workout under cool and cloudy conditions.

Also – my health insurance finally got their SHIT together and approved my doctor’s request to undergo Intivio injections to treat my Ulcerative Colitis!!! It also comes on the heels of having some good (i.e. poop-free) runs. Things seem to be coming together at this the right time (*knocks on wood*).

Keeping it classy for my Entyvio selfie

I had my first infusion of Entyvio on Wednesday and I am hoping (fingers crossed) that this is what I need to start feeling more like myself.

So without further ado.

The Workouts

Monday – (7 miles easy) I did not want to get up this morning. A combination of yesterday’s “race” and falling back asleep right before my alarm went off at 5am made for a rough start. I got out and was rewarded with a gorgeous sunrise (which of course I forgot to capture).

Tuesday – (8 miles easy plus striders) I really felt some DOMS this morning e even with my Sunday Yoga Class and an appointment with my chiropractor yesterday. However – pace did not suck (9:02). The only downside – my streak of poopless runs (3) ended. BOO!

Wednesday – (2m WU; 8x1m @ 7:39; 1m CD) I had to chuckle as Coach’s notes for this work out was that I could do it on the track (YES) but to “not push the pace”. Also – I have done mile repeats before but 8 – that was a new one for me. But as I stated on the ol’ IG – we are getting down to the wire and each Quality Session is important. So head down and headphones on – I hit the track and came away with some confidence-boosting mileage (7:35; 7:26 (oops); 7:38; 7:31; 7:34; 7:26 (oops); 7:33; 7:40).

The return of workouts powered by ALL THE REFLECTIVE GEAR

Thursday -(7.63 miles)

Friday – (7.77 miles) Cool weather and speedy feet for the win. I had to get up early(er) than usual to get my run in and take Harley for his morning constitutional as Mark was out of town.

Saturday (5mile WU; 8m @marathon; 1.5m jog; 4.5m @marathon; CD =20 miles) WOW. Just wow. I have been with McKirdy Trained since James started and he has never given me a 20 miler as his philosophy is more a time on feet/quality workout mentality than the general “you have to run a 20 miler in marathon training” mentality. AND even though I ran 20 miles – notice was not an “easy” run – there was definitely “work” in the workout. I headed to Sperry Park in Avon – the perfect location to lay down this workout. Fueling is getting better (up to 3 gels!). I did have some stomach issues but at least it was not during the workout portion of the run.

Sunday (5.75) After feeling super sore before I went to bed last night, I woke up well-rested (guess that is what 10 hours of sleep will do) and not really that sore.

The Eats

When I saw my workouts and mileage for the week I knew that I needed to be fueled properly. So I whipped up not only some Mini Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (which have become my go-to mid-day snack) and some Pumpkin Blender Bread.

Some of my lunch bag staples – Mini Chocolate Zucchini Muffins and Pumpkin Blender Bread.

Upping mileage has also meant upping calories – something I am still working on. I sometimes get pulled in a couple of different directions at work, and before I know it I have missed my “snack” window. So I have been trying to “front-load” calories in the morning by making sure I a fairly substantial breakfast (right get to work) and mid-morning snack with a fair amount of carbs and fat (I never have a problem getting my protein in :)). It has been a learning curve as I have always been the person to “save” breakfast until 10am. That does not seem to be a problem now as I am pretty “hangry” as soon as I turn my computer on.

My lunch bag is getting so full I can’t even close it!

I’ve also been upping my carbs throughout every meal – it’s been super helpful and I know one of the reasons why my run went well on Saturday. I will continue this for the rest of this training cycle as I have been told “barring any weird injury” my mileage is going remain in the mid-60’s (which as I write this excites me – I have never put in a 60-mile week let alone a string of them).

I know going forward I am going to have to keep up this increased food fueling so that my body keeps doing what it needs to do to get me to the start line.

High mileage perk – PHO!

What’s I’m Reading This Week

Fast Women Newsletter – I am a big fan of the Rambling Runner PodCast and he recently had on Alison the author behind the Fast Women Newsletter. If you love running, especially Women’s Professional Running, I highly recommend subscribing to this weekly newsletter

You Know You Are in Marathon Training – Very accurate for me at this moment

Let Your Mind Run: A Memoir of Thinking My Way To Victory (Deena Kastor) I am so excited to start reading this book that I just got from the local library! Deena is one of my favorite female runners, so I can’t wait to see what knowledge she drops in her autobiography.

Onward we go!