Monday, March 11, 2013

What goes up must come down

"Did you see all that blood in the snow?" my husband asked me when he got off the chairlift and caught up to where I was waiting with our 4 year-old daughter, Mia.

"No, I must have missed it." I answered with disappointment because blood in the snow sounds somewhat exciting, for some sick reason.  Oh well, I thought and down the mountain we started once again with our little one practicing making her french fries and pizza shapes with her skis.  We were going to finish this run and then head into the lodge for some hot chocolate.


Going back about ten days, my life has been quite a roller coaster.  Two weekends ago, I flew with my 12 year-old son, Ian, to North Carolina for the weekend to visit my college campus and take him to a Duke basketball game.  That weekend is deserving of a post all its own so I won't say too much about it now except to say it was one of the best weekends I can remember.  Some of the highlights were an amazing Duke win over Miami, a gorgeous morning run on my favorite running trail near Duke and, best of all, quality time with Ian.

Ian and I heading into the Duke basketball stadium
although it is flat in this picture, the total elevation gain of 2,300 feet in 10 miles of this trail about killed me
I came home from the weekend full of energy and ready to tackle my last few weeks of hard training before heading to Mexico for spring break and beginning my tapering for Boston.  I felt strong and confident.

I recently switched my running schedule around so that I would do all my long runs on Thursday mornings instead of Saturdays.  This allows me enough time to get in a long run plus a quick shower before picking up my little ones from preschool.  This change also frees up my weekend a little so that I can be available to take kids to ballet lessons and soccer games and my husband can play his soccer games, too.  

I woke up last Thursday to a beautiful, clear day and temperatures hovering in the low 40's.  Absolutely perfect running weather.  After dropping the three kids off, I drove back home and immediately set out on my run.  My run took me down to Portland's waterfront where there is a trail right along the river and no street crossings or traffic to slow me down.  I simply got in the groove and kept going.  

My right IT band started hurting a little around mile 15 and I was getting fatigued by the end but overall, it was a great run.  In fact, I finished my 20 miles faster than my goal marathon pace.  

[To be honest, I haven't really determined my goal for Boston yet but one of my main goals is to run a sub-3:30, which would be a 5 minute PR for me.  Although I now think I am capable of running a 3:25 or faster, I may still run Boston a little more conservatively and save a little energy for the Newport Marathon, which I am running on June 1st with one of my favorite new blogger friends, Kate, from So Cal Runner Gal.  Kate and I are targeting similar goals and this will be both of our first time running back-to-back marathons.  (Other things we have in common: Boston and Newport will be both of our 7th and 8th marathons, we both have a PR of 3:35, we are vegetarians, we are from Chicago, we have identical lists of favorite books...just to name a few!)]

I was feeling so confident after this run and was looking forward to the 15K Shamrock Run on March 17th to help determine my goal race pace.  Just about a month ago, I had to miss a half-marathon due to coming down with strep throat on the day of the race.  As disappointed as I was to miss that race, I knew I at least had the Shamrock Run to help me gauge my fitness.

All this brings me back to yesterday morning on Mt. Hood.  My brother and his fiance had offered to watch our 2 year-old daughter and bring Ian home from his soccer game while we took the Mia up to the mountain to ski.  I never thought once about getting injured while skiing as I have been skiing since I was 2 years-old without a single skiing-related injury.  Besides, we were skiing with our daughter -- what could possibly go wrong?!

John and Mia on the chairlift
On our very first run down the mountain, Mia needed a little more help than usual so I had her skiing between my legs.  I was bent over and holding her up while we made big, wide turns on the bunny slope.  Suddenly, she got her skis crossed and somehow she fell down and I fell on top of her.  I felt a sharp pain in my lower right leg as I landed on the sharp metal edge of her ski.  Although it hurt like hell, I focused on getting her back upright and didn't want to make a big deal about falling.  But, damn, that really hurt my leg for a few minutes!  

An hour later, we were on our fourth run of the day when my husband mentioned the blood he had seen.  We skied down to the lodge and as we were taking off our skis, I said excitedly "Look!  There's some blood in the snow right there!"  And I took another step and suddenly a much bigger pool of blood appeared in the snow.  "What the...??" I murmured as I looked down to see I was dripping blood off my ski boot.  I slowly pulled up jut my ski pants and was greeted with an awful sight.  

Okay...most runners I know have a fairly strong stomach.  And if you are also a mom, then you have seen your share of gross things as well so I'm going to go ahead and post the picture of my leg...

Apparently, the sharp edge of Mia's ski had cut completely through two layers of ski pants, my winter running tights and my thick wool ski sock before cutting into my leg.  I had lost a good amount of blood by this point...both in my ski boot and then all over my clothes and the outside of the boot.  I had two major questions when I saw my leg -- how was this going to affect my training and how in the hell did I ski with my leg like this for the past hour?!

After getting medical attention on the mountain and then in the ER back in Portland for stitches, I have my answers.  Supposedly, I can run as soon as I feel up to it but that definitely won't be today or likely tomorrow.  Which means I'm taking almost a full week off with no running after last week's long run.  And I'm not sure what it means for my race this weekend or for my Boston training.  As for the second question, all I can say is that I'm a woman and a mom.  I think that automatically makes me tough.

I seem a little too happy here
the doc who stitched me up specialized in plastic surgery so he was able to do mostly internal stitches

leaving the ER
In all my "toughness", I declined the vicodin that they recommended I take for sleeping last night.  Not my best decision as I woke up in a lot of pain but I'm hoping it gets better quickly and I can run again soon.  Besides not running, I am most upset about ruining my favorite pair of lululemon running tights -- those things are not cheap!! Here's hoping everything takes a turn for the better once again this week.

Have you run back-to-back marathons?  If so, how did they go?
Have any non-running injuries sidelined you?
Ever had stitches?  This was my first time!

- Kristen


  1. Ouch! I can't believe you skied on that either, but it's probably because you were so focused on Mia and the adrenaline was pumping.

    I have had a ligament tear for as long as I can remember that sidelined me several times. I got it jumping out of a truck.

    I had stitches on my chin from when I was little. But that's it...I hope.

    1. Ugh. A ligament tear from jumping out of a truck?! That is the type of random injury that would happen to me...and is so frustrating because it could have been so easily avoided!

      I guess kids probably get the majority of stitches but I can't imagine being a mom and seeing the amount of blood that was probably pouring out of your chin at the time. Fingers crossed that you have no more stitches. ;)

  2. Don't hate me but I actually laughed out loud as I read this. I was picturing you so excited to see blood in the snow and pointing it out to your husband only to realize, it was YOUR blood! Kristen, you just amaze me.

    Maybe this crazy skiing accident is the universe's way of slowing you down. You mentioned having ITB issues and maybe you would have run through them. I know your training will be perfectly fine. You've already put in so much hard work and it's not going anywhere with a little bit of rest.

    You are a beautiful writer! I started reading this at work but I stopped because I wanted to wait until I got home and was all cozy in bed to fully enjoy this tale of Kristen's gashed leg. :)

    Oh, and by the way, you gave me way too much credit. We do have almost EVERYTHING in common but these will only be my 3rd and 4th marathons since I was injured for basically every other marathon I trained for, sadly. I BQed at my first marathon and my last was a bust. Boston and Newport are my redemption races.

    Rest up, friend. Just bask in the glory of that incredible 20 miler last week.

    And once again, my comment is a blog post in itself.

    1. Ha! I'm sure you did laugh out loud. The whole thing with the blood was so crazy because it just seems insane that I would not know I had blood dripping off my ski boot!

      You are right about the IT band issues. After skipping my run on Saturday, I had been trying to figure out how I could make up for the miles I missed. And then when I saw my cutback week that was on the schedule, I was already planning on doing more than my coach had scheduled for me. But what I really needed was to stop and slow down! In a lot of ways, this ski "injury" came at the perfect time for me to rest for a little while...even though it is killing me to rest just 5 weeks before Boston!

      I love that you waited to read this until you got home. Not exactly my best writing and more like a nightmare than anything else. Ha!

      For some reason, I was convinced that we had run the same number of marathons! Oh well, I'm sure you will soon have run more than me. :) So excited for our races, Kate, and to meet you for real in a month. xo

  3. Tough woman!! And heck, that story ended better than it could have. When someone says "ski", I think "knee injury". I've never had one, but the physics of attaching such a long lever onto the foot just seems dangerous, for a klutz like me.

    But hopefully the extra days off will make sure your IT band is all set for the rest of your training. And you even managed to come out of the whole thing with...well, a really good story! Heal well, and try to relax for a rest day (or two).

    I can't rival that stitches story, but...I did cut my finger while washing glassware in lab a few years back. I didn't hit anything major, but I did nick an artery - and I got to see my first arterial spray (like, pumping and flying out of my finger). Exciting! I also managed to cut a nerve, so half my pinky doesn't really have much feeling anymore. I guess this is exciting? I find it pretty fascinating, but might be boring to everyone else. :)

    Maybe you can crop the tights into capris...? :)

    1. Gosh, Holly, when you describing skiing as "the physics of attaching a long lever onto the foot" it does sound dangerous! And you are so right that it ended better than it could have.

      I've never seen an arterial spray -- blood pumping and flying out of your finger?! What is wrong with me that I wish I could see that, too? (Hopefully on someone else's finger, though.) Yes, that is exciting and fascinating. :)

      Good suggestion on cropping the tights. And then I'll just have to go buy another pair of long ones, right?

  4. ugggh, ouch ouch. My stomach is churning at these pics. One tough woman indeed! Crazy that you had just gone about your skiing.
    GREAT training run. I think you are surely capable of a sub 3:25! Boston and Napa will be my 7th and8th too! Funny. Yes, I've done all back to back except my first 2. It was Newport/Sauvie then Boston/Sauvie and now Napa/Boston. One training cycle. One bad marathon and then one redemption marathon but still not entirely what I had hoped. So hoping Boston is decent but honestly, I'm all about just enjoying it. Whether it is a 3:30 or a 3:45 or a3:55 or a 3:25 or....I'm just wanting to finish smiling (yes smiling!) :)
    Back to back can be fun but don't hold back on purpose at Boston advice would be to run your race on that given day. You never know what life is going to throw your way. Run what you can when you can. You'd kick yourself if you held back on purpose and then Newport came and you couldn't run or didn't have as much energy as you do at Boston , or if it is 80 degrees like it was when I did it....not saying that any of this will happen and not trying to jinx you but just strongly suggesting that you run your race in Boston and then still enjoy Newport as it comes. :)

    1. I guess this shows I don't do well at "listening to my body", huh?!

      Ahh, Amanda, thank you so much for your encouraging words. And I love to hear from others who have run back to back. Seems to make so much sense, assuming your body can handle it. Can't wait to see you smiling at the finish -- it is going to be a FUN weekend!

      Love your advice about not holding back, too. I have done no hill training at all and am worried about how difficult the course is at Boston so I suppose that is why I am thinking of holding back a little. You are so right that I can't see the future and who knows what will happen between Boston and Newport.

      Can't believe this is your last week in Portland. You will be missed!!!!!

  5. Oh, holy cow! I can't believe you were skiing all that time and didn't realize! Yah, that's some serious pain tolerance right there.

    Most of the hay is in the barn for Boston anyhow, so don't panic on that. And if your plan was to be a bit conservative there and go all out in May, then so much the better.

    Speedy healing!

    1. Let's hope I have enough hay in the barn for Boston! It is so hard not to panic but you are right that it won't hurt me for Newport marathon to have this extra time off right now. :)

  6. Ouch!!!! One tough woman is right!! Can't believe you skied for an hour without noticing!!! Crazy crazy!! I hope it doesn't affect your training too much and you get back up soon!

    That weekend with your son sounds like it was awesome!!!

    1. Well, I ended up taking just one day off from running after getting the stitches. I confirmed with my doctor and my dad (also a doctor) and they both said I couldn't hurt the stitches by running...only that my leg might actually be in pain while running. So I headed up to the trails yesterday with no goal in mind and ended up running a glorious 10 miles!!

  7. That is CRAZY!!! I'm glad you're ok... seemed like a lot of blood loss! You are one tough mama ;)

    I loved reading about your trip with your son. I love my one-on-one time with my son, but we've never gone on a trip together. It sounds like you had a really wonderful bonding time. I'm inspired to plan a trip for myself and my son!

    And AWESOME 20 miler! You were speedy! Doesn't it feel soooo good to be able to run at goal pace at the end of a long run?! I am so excited for you and your marathons. No bloddy leg is going to stop you! Newport was one that I've looked at... I'll wait to hear how you and Kate like it then maybe I'll run it next year :)

    1. I really need to write a post about the trip I took with my son. I can't say enough how great it was to spend that time with him, especially since he will be a teenager next month and soon won't want to be seen with me. ;)

      You definitely should consider running Newport! I ran it last year, too, and thought it was a great race. It is known for being fast and flat...and it may turn out to be a perfect race for you to BQ (since I know you have that in you!)

  8. Holy crap! That's crazy but typically Mommy Mode scenario - disregard your pain and keep going! Needless to say I think your pain threshold must be pretty high. :)

    I've never run a marathon (yet - in training now!) but I think you'll be good. You've got 5 weeks still...fingers crossed!

    1. Angela, you are so right that I was just in "mommy mode" where I am last on the list and the kids are always first. It really was all just so funny that I didn't know the blood in the snow was mine!

      Good luck with your marathon training -- I'll start following your progress! :)

  9. I can't believe it! That's awful - poor you! I think with an attitude like that this marathon PR will be a doozy - pain clearly doesn't faze you!

    I think at this point in training - 5 weeks out - a little more time off than scheduled - particularly if you're running fast in training - is a good thing. You'll rest, won't injure yourself (further!) and you'll be hungry to nail your final workouts when you can get out there again. So excited for you that you can go and run with Kate - jealous AND excited. Have a wonderful time.

    1. Ha! Yes, I guess pain doesn't faze me but I'm starting to think that isn't always a good thing. And maybe I need to "listen to my body" a little more. :)

      I can't wait to meet Kate in Boston and then to see her again for Newport. Boston will be crazy busy but Newport will be just a fun weekend with a little marathon running thrown in, too. We are both planning to run aggressive at Newport but it is a small race (900 runners) and the perfect environment for a low stress marathon.

  10. I still can't get over this! wow! Tough cookie! So glad you have met a great friend who you can pace with and have so much in common with. Priceless! Your times are amazing. I hope you feel better soon and can get back out there.
    I did have stitches twice. I was playing like I was a ghost with a blanket over my head and ran straight into the edge of a fireplace. That put a scar in my right eyebrow. The other time my mom snatched me up to spank me and I hit my head on the coffee table. That put a scar right above my right eyebrow. She said she'd never spank me again. I used that for guilt the next time she spanked me ;)!

    1. I haven't actually "met" Kate yet as she lives in San Diego and I'm in Portland but we are kindred spirits and thought meeting for a marathon at the Oregon coast sounded like fun.

      I can't believe you got stitches from your mom picking you up to spank you -- although I'm sure you did something to deserve it, I bet she felt so guilty!

  11. Yikes! You are one strong woman! I'm glad it was not worse. Reading this reminded me about my college XC coach. He had a rule- No skiing during XC or track season. I was always too scared of what would happen if I went but a few others on my team were sneaky and did it. He usually found out and it was not good!

    Anyway, glad you are ok. I love all the pictures from your trip!!

    1. Your coach was probably right to ban skiing during XC and track season. However, I have to say that I have been skiing hard and fast since I first could walk and this is my first injury! But so many things can go wrong when you strap skis to boots and plummet down a snow-covered hill... :)

      Hope you are back in training now, Tia, and looking forward to Boston!

  12. Just came across your blog and holy crap!!! I can't believe you continued to ski for an hour like that! I totally agree about reasons for not knowing...a woman AND a mom. Superwoman!

    Hope you're feeling better!

    1. Thanks, Kristin. Thankfully, I am feeling MUCH better. As crazy as it sounds, I know I'm not the only woman who would have ignored the pain in that situation. (Although, clearly, I didn't know that I was hurt that badly! Ooops!)

  13. Wow. You are a tough cookie! I agree with some others that you have put in the work for the race. What a great time for the 20 miler!!! I would have a hard time not trying to run, though. I hope the stitches can come out soon. Regardless, you will have a super race at Boston, and even better at Newport :) Just stay AWAY from the ski slopes!

    1. Raina, I ended up taking only one day off after getting the stitches in. I ran a beautiful 10 miles on my favorite trail just two days after my ski "injury". The stitches are still in my leg but they come out in two days -- can't wait to see what kind of a scar gets left behind as a reminder. Ha! And I am going to take your advice and give up skiing for the rest of the spring. (Sigh.)