Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cox Rhode Race Marathon

I did the marathon!

I visited the dr earlier in the week, and he confirmed there was no stress fracture. He basically told me even if there was one, he'd suggest running the marathon and then resting afterwards. So, the next night I did a 30 min practice run, very slowly (though after today my definition of VERY slowly may have changed) with tighter shoes, and had no pain. So, we all decided that the race was a go with no running in the meantime.

So, Saturday I did the appropriate carbo-loading (home made pasta yum!) and went to bed early, terrified of what to expect. My longest run had been mid march, my 2nd longest run was early april, and the last 3 weekends in april I failed to do the assigned distances, and hadn't run mid week. Not looking good, really, but I figured I did my 22 miler in March after skipping a few runs, so it should be ok?

I could barely eat in the morning, but I forced a half almond butter bagel down and skipped my banana (maybe that was a bad idea) and drank some water pre start. I was nervous about being hydrated enough, but I had to pee 2x before the race even started (and we only got there 45 min early) so I figured it was probably ok.

Eventually, we were off! Heidi and I settled into a comfortable pace, somewhere between 9:30-10:00 miles and were just jogging it out, looking around. We saw the crazy marathoner that Tracy met in the Wisconsin marathon on Saturday, who was also running our race, so we stopped to say hi, and then went on our way. The first few miles were fine with no pain. The first 6-7 miles were on the same road, and it was rolling hills, which was more hills than I had been led to believe were on this course. The worst part of this realization was that this road also corresponded to miles 21- the end, so we had to do it in reverse at the end of the run. Luckily, in the maze of miles 8-20 I temporarily forgot about that!

Around mile 8 or so, we ended up in a much more scenic area with a bike path which we did a large portion of the run on. We caught a group doing a VERY consistent 9:30 pace and hung with them for quite a while. The 'leader' of this group is training for an ultra in vibram five fingers, and was using this as a training run. She had a handful of marathon maniacs in her entourage (from what i understand the marathon maniacs do a lot of marathons in different places in short time periods and have a bit of a club). The pace felt great, and we were perfectly content aiming to stay with her for a 4:10 finish. We crossed the halfway point at 2:03, and were in great shape. Then we lost them at a slow water station, and by mile 16 it went a bit downhill.

I had started aching and asked heidi, is it normal to start marathon shuffling at mile 16?! I stopped to tie my shoe because my foot was starting to bother me a little, and heidi was having some IT band pain. She was walking it off, and said to go ahead, and I figured I'd be dropping back soon enough so I had better stay moving. So, we split off at this point and each did the hardest miles of the race alone. I felt bad that we couldn't continue together, but I think it was for the better. It is so difficult to try to maintain the same pace as someone else when you are both struggling, so I think we were better off doing our own races at this point.

I continued on, and every mile became slower and slower. It was the polar opposite from how the first 16 miles went and I was amazed at how long my splits were compared to how much effort I felt like I was exerting. Different muscles were starting to bother me, but I chugged along slowly. Some of the aid stations were out of cups, so I drank a few sips from whole gallons. I met a girl wearing a ram racing hat who was from IL! The run was quite nice in here, but it was getting really tough. I allowed myself a walk break at mile 20. After that, I bribed myself by saying that I could walk when it was X:X5 minutes, and I walked a little at 3:35. When it hit 3:45, I felt good so I kept going until the next uphill, and I ended up compromising to walk the water breaks and the scary looking uphills. (As I had been warned, even not very steep uphills are much scarier when you are in the 20+ miles!).

Around mile 23, my calves started getting really tight- charley horse style. I wasn't prepared for this or expecting this, so I tried to stretch them as I ran. We had to go up a very steep incline to a highway overpass, which was narrow and single file. I was passing people though, until I needed to stop to stretch the calves out. I continued onward and passed mile 25. Shortly after I stopped to stretch again and a kind spectator offered me a banana, which I gladly took, to hopefully ease the cramping.

It may have been too late, because around 25.4 or so, I had to stop again, and this time both calves seized up such that nothing I could do would stop it. I crumbled to the ground, let out a wail of pain (I am not proud of this!) and two guys, who I have been referring to as my guardian angels, came up to me and asked if I twisted something or if it was cramping. I replied cramping, and I don't know what to do, and they said good, get up you need to keep walking. They told me I was probably dehydrated and one guy ran to get me some water from a nearby pub. The other guy helped me walk along, joking that he had a date to the marathon. I told them both they could continue on, but they said they'd rather help a newbie, and that they had each done 20+ marathons and weren't concerned about their times. Shortly after this Heidi caught up to us, exclaiming "nobody walks mile 25!" (this is a joke- a technician in my lab volunteers at mile 11 of Boston and loves to shout that out to the runners). I was so happy to see her, and excited that we would ultimately finish the marathon together. The four of us run/walked to the end, with a band of police motorcycles right behind us that must have been escorting some sort of service man. Heidi and I ran ahead at the end, and my calves started cramping again and I couldn't quite catch her and finished 2 seconds behind her! Final time: 4:28:05!

After the race, we walked it off, got water and pizza and beer and relaxed. I thanked my guardian angels many times. I am not quite sure what would have happened if they didn't come by right then and I am so thankful for that. They really helped me achieve this goal. Who knew that a solo sport like marathon could really wind up being a team effort. I hope I can pay it forward to someone in a race some day.

Heidi and I spent a lot of time this afternoon discussing how insane marathons really are. No matter how well you train there are always things that come up. For example, I thought I would be sidelined by my foot injury, which turned out fine, and my calves nearly kept me from finishing. Also, the distance is just so long, and most people haven't run a full marathon before they do the marathon, so it's so hard to predict how much your body can handle. I don't know what I was thinking setting my initial "conservative" goal at 4 hours! Of course, I did have a very sporadic training month in April. Despite the fact that I didn't skip any bike or swim workouts, it is not the same in preparation for the pounding on your feet and how that affects all of the muscles in your legs. I am sure that played a role in the earlier onset of pain. My 22 mile training run felt a lot better than that part of this race!

Regardless of the time, the pain, and the mental barriers that had to be overcome in this race, I am super proud of my accomplishment! Earlier in the week I was considering pulling out, but I pushed through and made it to the end in one piece! I took an ice bath and I am hoping that walking won't be TOO painful tomorrow, but I know it'll be a war wound to be proud of! I am so happy to say that I have completed my first marathon!!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

1 week to go

Currently, I am one week out from the marathon that I have been diligently training for and getting injured from for the last 4 ish months. I spent the majority of the last week in France for work, with little time for running (and a lot of time for good eating!) so I took this as a much needed break (it's taper after all) from stressing about whether or not my foot was going to make it to May 6.

After my 21 hour travel day yesterday (with an unexpected 8 hour layover in Paris) I finally made it home around midnight last night and decided not to set an alarm for my hour run. The sun woke me up at 6 (thankfully not the cats!) and I decided I was rested enough and got ready to head to the treadmill. It would have been a nice day for an outdoor run, and had this pesky foot problem magically completely disappeared, I would have just done the 10k with the running group nearby, but I elected to keep it safe indoors.

I hadn't run for almost a week after my disastrous 2 hour turned 30 min run the previous weekend, and I hadn't exercised basically at all, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. I hopped on the treadmill at 6.0 mph and just took it easy. The first 9 min were totally fine, and then I started to notice a bit of pain. I stuck with my "keep it interesting" trend of increasing 0.1mph every 10 min, and the pain ebbed and flowed. Sometimes it got sharper, but then backed down. Around 44 min, it got excruciating, and I willed myself to just get to 45 and see if it got better. Somehow, it did (though my form must have looked awesome as I tried to avoid stepping on the painful part!) and I continued through the rest of the run, increasing by 0.1 mph every 5 min to end just under a 9 min mile, which at one point in time, was pretty much my goal pace. The pace changes didn't seem to affect the pain, and knowing I only had an hour scheduled for today helped me to mentally push through it. However, I am really not sure what to expect for Sunday- would I be able to push through for another few hours?

I got an x-ray right after the run in preparation for my doctor's appointment on Monday. I found a primary care/sports medicine doctor in my insurance plan nearby, so I am hoping he will give me good advice regarding a game plan. Again, if the race is in the cards, I will go out there and do my best. I have no idea what my pace can be since the last few weeks have been so sporadic with running. If we (dr, coach, me) decide running is a bad idea, then I will go spectate the heck out of the race for my running buddy, or if possible, run/walk the half instead. It's going to be tough mentally if I can't do this race with all of the anticipation and training that has gone into it, and I know that while I am trying to remain rational, I will probably be devastated if I can't run. But, all in all, I will know if that is what happens, I will get through it and push onward. I don't think this training will go to waste. I have learned to push myself to longer distances, and I have really enjoyed it. And, I am confident that I will complete a marathon- if not May 6, then another day!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


After not running since last Friday, and pool running on Wednesday, I decided it was ok to attempt the 2 hour run I had this weekend. I got 20 min in and had to roll with the golf ball. 10 more minutes in, it still hurt, so I called it at that, and walked back with my friend. Why is this happening. I am slowly kissing the marathon goodbye- knowing that while I have trained sufficiently and am physically ready, whatever the heck is going on with my foot is telling me this is a bad idea. I'd rather skip this race and be able to run the rest of the summer/fall. A co worker ran Boston this past week and ended up in the hospital with kidney failure. A lesson to all to not push too hard. If I can't do this race, it will suck, but I know that there will be other marathons. I have thoroughly enjoyed the training (minus injuries) and am totally willing and eager to do it again. I even have an October marathon in mind. I haven't thrown in the towel just yet, but I am preparing myself now for what may be the reality in two weeks. In the meantime, I'm going to take it easy, and go see a doctor...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

More Pain

Why does something I love so much (running) continually try and beat me down? I have been injured now 4 times in the last just over a year, and I have had enough!

After the 20 miler I did last weekend in conjunction with the Great Bay Half Marathon, where my arch started bothering me at mile 18, it has escalated into real pain. Monday night I tried to do my prescribed hill workout, but the pain got to be so bad on the last hill that I couldn't bear to jog the cool down and hobbled my way home. I have been taking extra good care of it since then (rolling, icing, not running) and when the next long run came (Friday due to special weekend guests!) I was terrified. For one thing it's getting super scary close to the marathon to have an injury (can I really not run for 3 weeks of taper and be able to do 26.2?) and I had already had a super stressful week with work and other things- all of which I am sure were exacerbated by this nagging injury and my worry about not hitting the last long run, or running at all! I knew that if I didn't do the long run Friday it couldn't possibly get done.

After conferring with the coach, we decided the game plan would be to do a longer brick workout in the morning with a possible 2nd workout in the afternoon. I woke up at 4 am on Friday (thanks kitties) and knitted the majority of the toe of the socks I owed one of my visitors, hit the bike, then hit the treadmill (who knew how bad the pain would be - better to be safe inside than stranded on the road!).

I tentatively started the treadmill at 6 mph and gradually increased by 0.1 mph every 10 min. I had taped and rolled before the run, and it seemed to be helping. There was virtually no pain, so I pushed to the assigned 45 min to an hour. If I didn't have to go to work, I would have pushed a little longer, because at that point, I felt good- only a slight notice of the pain that was so bad the few days before.

I emailed my coach happily saying, let's do more tonight! To which she replied do 1.5-2 hr, which felt totally doable at first. But throughout the course of the day, walking in steel toed shoes up and down stairs, in and out of the lab, it was getting worse. I hoped it was just the shoes and that when I tied up my asics, I'd be good to go.

I was wrong. The first 10 min or so were ok, with just noticeable pain, but as I progressed it got worse. I took a break at 30 min to massage it, and got back on for 20 more. At this point it hurt more significantly, so I took a bathroom break, and sat down to massage it, and ended up chatting with another girl in the gym for a little while. I should have just cut my losses and quit while I was ahead. but instead, when we stopped talking, I told myself, you can do 10 more minutes. Big mistake. It hurt at the beginning and the last minute was so painful I even considered stopping at 9:30. But, my stupid type A self continued and I was in serious pain as I hobbled (again) back to my apartment and rolled and iced and cried.

Coach told me I'll still be fine. I am kicking myself for pushing too hard. I'm upset I didn't hit my original plan of 3.5 hours.

It feels a lot better this morning. I am icing right now, and able to walk not on the outside edge of my left foot. I am going to take it easy, have an awesome weekend with some great friends, and hope that the next three weeks bring me to completing the race successfully...

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Great Bay Half Marathon

So my running partner had signed up for a half marathon for this weekend- only 5 weeks til the race. She had a lofty goal of doing 1 half marathon each month (Feb, March, April) and getting progressively faster at each one. She neglected to take into account that they went in the order of least hilly to most hilly...but that's besides the point. In any event, when I told her she should run my 3:10 with me, she was hemming and hawing about losing the money from the race, so I said I'd sign up too and we'd run 1 hour before the race and use it as a training run. I had read about people doing this, and it seemed like a good idea. First of all it forces you to finish your run. Secondly, you don't have to carry water. Thirdly, it's great practice for being in a race situation nearing your breaking point, which I am certain will happen in the actual marathon.

So, bright and early we headed the 1.5 hours to NH to the race, got our packets, sat in the car deciding what to wear (the weather was sunny and mid 40s). We had been chatting with the race director at packet pickup and he suggested a nice, not too hilly, long road that we could do our first hour as an out and back. So, around 9:45, we set out and enjoyed the slight rolling hills and gorgeous river and farm scenery. We turned around about 3 miles in and headed back to drop off stuff at the car (I had carried water for the first leg, and then we both decided long sleeves were too warm!). We hit the portapotties and jogged over to the race start, having already clocked just over an hour and a bit over 6 miles. We lined up with the 9:30 pacer, thinking we could stay with her to avoid going too fast and hit where we thought our goal pace would be.
And, we were off!

The first few miles were really beautiful- there wasn't anything too hilly and before we knew it we were at mile 3, staying either with the pacer or just ahead. Then we got to the dirt road section- hillier, rougher terrain with stones and pebbles everywhere, and I started to get a bad side cramp. Sigh. Well, luckily we weren't trying to PR this race! We chugged along hitting the water breaks and heading up and down the hills. After a few long miles, we were finally back on pavement, but the biggest hills were to come. We kept plugging along and trying not to think of the terrain as we enjoyed looking at the lavish houses near the sparkling water. It was truly a gorgeous morning for the race! There were some performers on the course as entertainment - including a roller blading-hula hooping- violinist, a little banjo related ensemble, and belly dancers! There were also bikers on the courses willing us up the hills saying, the worst is over. Not sure how many times we heard THAT on the course before we stopped believing it! But, all of these were welcome distractions and we kept plugging along.

At some point we got behind the pacer, but all decided she was running a VERY fast 9:30 pace because almost all of my mile splits were under 9:30 (although obviously the garmin clocks more mileage) was getting to the point where our "easy 9:30 half marathon training run" was getting quite difficult! The course was mostly a loop with a large lollipop between miles 9-12. I stopped to tie my shoe around mile 11 because my shins and ankles were starting to hurt, as well as a spot on the bottom of my foot. We finally got to the end of the lollipop and there was only 1 mile to go, which also had a couple irritating hills. The run passed the town hall which I remembered from our drive in so I knew we were close to the end. My friend zoomed ahead to the finish, but I was in a little pain so I just took it easy and picked it up for maybe the last 30 seconds. After finishing the race, I had about 4 min to go to hit my workout time, so I jogged around a parking lot til I hit 3:10 and exactly 20 miles for the day!

Post race, it had gotten overcast, and we were in tank tops and getting cold. We grabbed pizza, which turned out to be a less than good idea for our stomachs and hobbled back to the car to head back. We were chatting about how tough this race was but how good it was that we did it as a training run- it challenged us in many ways- we did not walk up a single hill, we kept a decent pace, we were in a position where we were forced to keep running to get to the end and couldn't cut the run short, and pushed ourselves on a very difficult training run. And - we got a medal and a tshirt bragging that we survived the hills of the great bay half. Despite the difficulty of the race, it was super well organized. There were accurate mile markers, pacers, plenty of water, entertainment, safety bikers, and a great post race party. I'm not sure I would want to tackle these hills again but I would definitely do more races through this organization.

One more LONG run to go!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Another run in the books

I set out for a 2:40 run yesterday. Despite the fact that last week the temperatures climbed into the 80s and I did plenty of running and even biking outside, it was supposed to snow early Saturday morning. I recalled the last snowy run I did in January, where it was in the 20s, windy, and we already had several inches, and I got worried. Then I realized, it was much warmer (mid 30s) and only flurries were expected and counted my blessings it wasn't going to be rain! I was out late the night before visiting with a friend, but my lovely cat woke me up at 530 anyway, so I was ready to start my run at 630. I headed out on the (paved) trail, and the first two miles just felt awful. I felt like I was dragging even though it was (slightly) downhill, and my fingers were cold which made me nervous. I told myself if they didn't warm up by the time I got back to my car (4.5 ish miles) I would stop at the car and get warmer gloves. Still, I felt sluggish and wondered how I was going to fill out the time! I told myself, don't think of it by miles, just think of it in chunks- just get back to the car and see how you feel. So, I did just that. Before I knew it I was at the turnaround heading back towards my car. I got to the car and felt the need to use the bathroom, but bribed myself to wait until about 8 o'clock, when the running group I had randomly bumped into on St Patrick's day would be starting their run. I looked at the time and calculated how far I should go forward on the trail before turning around to make sure I could run the last hour with them.
A little ways down the longer half of the trail, I started to feel great. Do I really have to turn around now or can I keep going? I turned around with just one mile to go, but knew that while it would be cool to do the entire length before heading back, it was more important for me to meet up with the other runners. At this point the snow had picked up a bit (only really flurries though) but I was warmed up and felt fine. I headed back towards the car again and still felt great! When I got back to the parking lot, I spotted the girl I met the last time- she was early and I said I was just running to the bathroom. I headed up to the Dunkin Donuts, then back and she said she'd run a little extra and we headed back on the trail. We did an extra 10 or so minutes in the opposite direction before turning around, past the cars again, and on to the 10k portion of the trail (that I had come close to finishing previously) and headed on. We didn't see anyone else from the run group, but they had probably already left. When we were a ways down we saw them coming back, and continued on our way to the actual end of the trail. We turned around and headed back- it was basically all downhill from here and the snow had basically stopped! Despite chatting constantly about running and triathlons, we were holding a pretty steady clip (faster even then I felt like I *should* be going, but I figured if we were able to chat it couldn't hurt!) and got back to the cars with 45 seconds to go- which we finished in the parking lot. I totally negative split this long run, finishing 17.44 miles in the alotted time.
We went to the dunkin donuts to meet up with the rest of the runners over some food and beverage and sat for a little while before heading home. I was super tired (mostly I think from not getting enough sleep) but I was so happy that I did the larger portion of the run before the other runners got there- I think it really helped make it go by quickly.
I sat around and relaxed for the rest of the morning before heading to my very first massage- I had bought a groupon and the day of a long run seemed like an appropriate time to use it. She did a good job, and I could really tell what my trouble spots were (shoulder, neck, calves) but after the massage, my calves in particular feel great!
Today I have a rest day, which I am using to do all sorts of free time things like knit, bake, cook, read and work on my recipe book. I just finished watching the Spirit of the Marathon, which I had received as a gift from my old officemate, and hadn't had time to watch. I got inspired to watch it based on TTT's post on FB about it- and it was truly inspirational. Not only did it make me super eager to get to my own marathon, but it also made me want to sign up for a Chicago marathon in the near future (and made me incredibly homesick!) Yay for running! Only 5 weeks to go!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring has sprung!

The weather could not have been more beautiful for the first week in spring. The last few days have had highs in the upper 70s/lower 80s, and we have been eating lunch outside, spending a little more time walking between buildings, and making conversations last longer when enjoying the great outdoors. In addition, I went on my very first lunchtime ride with my co workers today, and it was AMAZING. I haven't actually gotten my bike tuned up or really had anyone look at it after Austin, when I put it back together all by myself, but it seemed ok and I survived the bike ride. I pumped up my tires last night (which were VERY low) and got everything ready as I haven't done in months! I met the co workers outside just before noon, and we took off for our short lunchtime loop.
I tentatively started off, trying to remember how to clip in and out at our first stoplight, and heading up our first hill. Though I had been riding on the trainer with various resistances, it's still not the same as actual riding on hills. It was great to be out there though, enjoying the weather, going up and down the rollers, remembering how to adjust the gears accordingly, and just all around having a good time. Some of the roads were new to me, and some were familiar from my fall training rides. I was glad I remembered how to ride, and I felt cool and confident, staying near the front of the group, keeping up with the guys and even beating them up some hills. We finished our 16.4 mile ride in a little over an hour (my garmin said 1:08, but there was stoplight time, waiting for people to catch up time, and forgot to turn it off when we were done time factored in there!).
I'm normally not a fan of lunchtime rides (including getting ready and showering and finally eating, this was about a 2 hour lunch!) but it was so worth it to get out there and enjoy the weather in a group. I think I will try to make this a regular occurrence whenever my work schedule permits this spring/summer/fall. I remembered that I really do enjoy going for a fun ride outside and look forward to many more to come this year!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Longest run EVER!

Ok, that line is never going to get old! So, after being basically off running for the last 2 weeks, and getting new shoes with a new loose method of tying the laces, I was back in business with a 3.5 hour run to complete. I had to mentally prepare myself for this because my last few long runs had been on the treadmill (with no worry of where can i get more water, where can i go to the bathroom) or races, so it had been a while since I'd done anything outside for real. I packed several bottles of water, a few gus and some shot blocks, and drove over to a local rail trail that I had found while biking one day last fall, and figured would at least have a bathroom at the rite aid in the parking lot. So, I let myself sleep in and get ready when I was ready, and I ended up arriving around 8 AM. I had been wondering if I was going to be all alone on this path this morning, but I was pleasantly surprised to see about 20 runners dressed up for st patrick's day just about to start a run! They were from a local running group that I had never heard of, and they were doing a 10k run. I excitedly decided to join them for the first hour of my 3.5 hour trek, and it was wonderful. I ran at a comfortable pace in the back of the clump (I definitely didn't want to be swayed by faster runners as I knew that when they stopped I had at least 2.5 more hours to go...) and ended up chatting with a couple people. One of the girls has done a lot of marathons, and a half ironman, so we had a lot to talk about! The first hour of the run went really fast, and I said goodbye to them and continued on my way.

The nice things about paved trails are that, to me, they make you sort of forget where you are- in fact, at both ends of the trail, I honestly had no clue where I was, or how I would get there by car. They also had every half mile marked, which was how I remembered to drink. I nursed a gu for about 40 minutes after the first hour, and made my way through the path. I passed a lot of walkers, joggers, runners, and bikers, and it was nice to see people out and about, even on an overcast wintery day (which admittedly was great running weather- in the mid 40s and overcast). When I got back to my car, I shed my jacket, used the restroom, and continued on.

The last half hour was pretty tough. While my mini-injury-ankle wasn't hurting (thankfully!) I was getting regularly expected soreness in my knees and feet, which I am sure have to do with increasing my distance (my last run was only 2:50, and on the softer treadmill). The last leg towards my car was a slight, but long, uphill, so I told myself, just take your time! I eventually made it to my car, with 10 minutes to go. These last 10 minutes were pretty rough. I felt like I was barely moving, and I had to work really hard to keep going. I told myself, "You are so close, there's no quitting now!" I finally turned around and counted down the last couple of minutes until I hit 3:30, going 22.22 miles! I am so proud of my first > 20 miler!

I cooled down walking back towards the rite aid, and everything hurt. I got back in my car and headed home, showered, and iced my feet and knees. I'm exhausted. A friend of mine told me through her marathon training journeys that she just felt useless after these long runs and always needed a nap. So far, I couldn't say that I was that badly affected by them, but today, I just don't want to move off the couch! So here's to a relaxing day after a great new time/distance reached. I'm happy to be back in the running game!!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A couple of races and another mini-injury

The last couple of weeks have been really busy with work and other things, including 2 races. I did a half marathon 2 weeks ago and a 5k this past weekend.

The half marathon was a great race. It was chilly and windy (up to 25 mph winds!) but it warmed up while we were running. It was a beautiful course on cape cod, near the water. Very scenic and not too hilly. We started off in a clump and I paved a pathway on the left side to dodge around slower people and settled into a very comfortable pace. I often surprise myself in races as far as what feels "comfortable" and this time was no different. I hadn't done a half marathon since September, so I really wasn't sure how I would do, but I was pleasantly surprised to see my splits for the first few miles and hoped I could keep it up for the remainder of the race. Around mile 4 I caught up to my marathon buddy friend who has a tendency to run like a speed demon the first few miles and then slow down, so we chatted for a few seconds before parting ways.

At mile 8 there was a fairly big hill, and my split from that and the next mile showed that. Around mile 10, I was wondering if I was going to make it till the end. I was running with a woman who had her iphone running app telling her every half mile how far into the race she was, the total time, and her average pace. She was, like me, fairly consistent, so I was glad to be maintaining her speed and sticking with her, which definitely helped with motivation at this point in the race. We chatted for a little bit too, and she's running Boston!

Miles 11-12 became a lot easier- suddenly I felt great, like I could run forever. I kept going and gave it my best push at the very end, coming in only 1 second slower than my previous half (my PR)! I was super excited about that, especially since I had felt like this course was harder than my previous half (discussion on terrain and feel to come). Overall, it was a good race, and I had a great time. I would consider doing it again next year as long as we don't have snow!

The one downfall of the race, however, was that I think I tied my shoelaces too tightly during the race...I noticed some pressure during the race, but I figured I'd plow through and the pain would be relieved as soon as I untied them at the finish line. Turns out I was wrong- I sort of injured myself in the lamest of ways- with too tight shoes! For the next few days it hurt every time I had shoes with laces rubbing against the crick of my ankle in the front. I ran a couple of times (admittedly probably not the wisest decision) through the pain before realizing it was probably a bad idea, and taking off the next week from running.  I spent a lot of time icing, used my old anti-inflammatory patches from my Achilles' tendinitis last year, and visited my chiropractor. It started to feel fine when I was running around my apartment barefoot, but as soon as I put on shoes with laces, it hurt.

I ran a 5k this past weekend (slower than I would normally have) and for the first mile, I had the shoes really loose-figuring that may work, because barefoot was fine, and there was no pain! They gradually came untied, though, and when I tightened them a bit I definitely noticed the pain. I started to think of how I could remedy this, and figured I should try out some new shoes.

I went to a different running store this time (my friend and I think the most local running store has kind of jerky salespeople) and explained my situation. The really nice sales rep tied my ravennas in a different way that didn't hurt, and also sold me a pair of asics that are supposedly really similar, and tied them loosely as well. I went out for a short run after work today (spring seems to have sprung- it was about 70 and sunny at 6 PM!) and am happy to report that I only felt a small amount of pain. I am hopefully well on my way to being fully recovered, and am looking forward to tackling my 3.5 hour run this Saturday in the new loosely tied shoes!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Tonight is the first night of tri clinic, so says facebook. I got a little teary-eyed when I read it, knowing that clearly, I will not be there this year. This is aptly timed, as I just returned from my first trip back to Chicago since I moved away, and have been hit with the nostalgia bug. I have never had this sort of phenomenon occur to me until this particular move. After high school, I moved away to go to college, and so did all of my friends. Things didn't remain the same. In college, we moved on to get jobs, and visiting felt like a visit- so much had changed. But, this past weekend, I returned to Chicago for the long weekend to visit my boyfriend (who surprised me with lovely flowers and a lovely necklace!) and all of our friends, and nothing had changed. Life went on without me in exactly the same way. I fell right back into place, hanging out at the same restaurants with the same people talking about the same things. I went for an awesome run along the lake path I had frequented so many times. I met some of my favorite training friends and caught up on their progress. Everything just felt right, as though I still belonged. I do love that about good friends- time passes but it doesn't matter. However, that does make it harder to leave. And while I am very happy in my new life, I was reminded of how much I had in my "old" life- I feel blessed that I have such wonderful people in my life both near and far. So, to everyone who came out to see me that actually reads this, thank you. I miss you all a lot.

In training news, I seem to be having a mini-taper this week because there is a half marathon in my near future. The forecast looks awesome (sunny, high of 36) and it's supposed to be a nice flat course on the cape. I am really excited to see where I'm at right now and to go out and have a fun race with my marathon training buddy. Our fitness challenge began at work this week as well- I am wearing a pedometer to monitor steps and we also have to record weight change and exercising. I think the pedometer is going to be the most interesting- so far I had about 5000 steps for the workday and about 10k during my ~6 mile hill repeats workout. I'm interested to see how high I can get on non-running days and on long run days! Maybe I will start posting my weekly stats here as I upload them for our work challenge!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

worst swim ever...

There are good workout days and there are bad workout days. Today was the latter. I woke up at 3:45, well before my 5 AM alarm, and couldn't fall back asleep. I was starving, which is unusual, so I finally got up and ate my pre workout breakfast before heading to the pool. I hopped in and did the warm up, and it only went downhill from there. Every stroke felt like a struggle. I did not feel graceful and smooth as I had been feeling in recent swims. I felt out of breath, sloppy, and discombobulated. I had to take two pee breaks in my 65 min swim. I had been anticipating today being a busy stressful day, and it kind of was. I'm sure that had something to do with my poor workout performance. But, from the moment I began the workout, I couldn't wait for it to be over. I was just going through the motions, and I was so glad to finally be done! Here's hoping a good night's sleep tonight will make for a happy run tomorrow!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Longest run ever, but didn't go anywhere

So, the longest run ever should be happening a lot over the next few I was telling a friend the other night, one of the most exciting parts of tackling a new distance goal is achieving these 'longest' and 'furthest' milestones. I need to enjoy it now- after the marathon, it'll be a long time before this will happen again. And I have forgotten how fun it is!

Since there was threat of a large snow storm (note, threat), I decided to cut my losses early and mentally prepare myself for a LONG (2.5 hours long to be exact) treadmill run, so that the misery of my numb-hands-can't-feel-my-fingers-body-shut-down run two weeks ago would not be repeated.

I was expecting that this wasn't going to be the most fun 2.5 hours of my life, but I was psyching myself up mentally. Perks of an indoor run? No need to worry about where the bathroom is (like 10 feet away) and where I'll fill up my water (in the bathroom, 10 feet away) and if my new shoes I'm trying out are too small (old safe shoes right next to treadmill). I loaded my iphone with podcasts I'd been neglecting since my commute became basically nonexistent, chose the ones I had planned to listen to, and headed over to the apartment complex gym.  I felt slightly ridiculous with all of my food (extra nuun, 2 gu gels, a packet of shot blocks) but I figured better safe than sorry.

I started out my run at a conservative 6 mph and slowly increased 1 mph every 10 min to get myself warmed up, but the first 2 miles really had me worried- I started to think, can I really DO this? Am I going to survive this LONG time on this TREADMILL? However, the same thoughts (will I make it through >2 hours?) ran through my head last weekend on my outside long run too. Somehow, being only 2 miles in to a 2 hour+ run just seems so daunting. But, I kept going, knowing it would be OK.

I started out listening to Sound Opinions- an old one from last fall on REM (a band I am quite fond of) and the conversation combined with song excerpts definitely kept my interest. I kept drinking every 3 min and adjusting the mph every 10, and it passed the time. Before I knew it, the first hour was over, the treadmill shut down (stupid treadmill) and forced me to take a quick potty and water refill break.

I hopped back on and slowed the pace a bit because the pace I had been on felt too fast, and started up last weekend's This American Life, on Conventions. This episode was pretty funny actually (particularly the segment on dishwashers) and I found myself giggling from time to time (even though at this point there were a few other gym-goers). I continued with my pattern of adjusting 1 mph every 10 min and drinking every 3, had a couple shot blocks and a vanilla gu (which, as it turns out, is not as tasty as the clif vanilla gel! point to remember!). Soon enough, the 2nd hour had past, it was time for a water refill break as the treadmill reset, and I was energized- only 30 minutes to go!

I switched to The Sporkful for the remainder of the time. This is a podcast about food, and it is HILARIOUS. It's also short, which is why I saved it for the end. Knowing I had an hour of Sound Opinions and an hour of This American Life helped me stay focused for the longer portion, but now I had under 2 The Sporkful's to go left in the run. I started changing my pace every 5 min as I listened to them talk about chocolate chip cookies (mmmmm) and slowed to a more "cool down" pace for the last 10 min as they debated the virtues of apples and oranges.

I wanted to listen to the rest of the podcast, so I walked for 10 minutes, and took a little time stretching while refueling with a coconut chocolate clif bar (also yummy!) and added up my mileage: 15.99! If only I had known I was that close to 16 I would have kept going a little more!

This run was a huge milestone for me- not just my longest time and distance ever, which I am quite proud of, but I did the whole thing on the boring treadmill, and I felt awesome all day! I was a little sore (and even foam rollered my quads) but I didn't have a headache, so I know I was properly hydrated and nutrated (nutrated?) for the duration of the run. So, a valuable practice session for me. Oh, and I exchanged the shoes- they were too small after 16 miles.

I have been told that since I can run to podcasts, and don't need uplifting, fast paced, motivational music to get me through, that I just must "love running." I think that this is definitely true. I really do love it and I really didn't have a terrible time for 2.5 hours of running to nowhere. I wasn't even THAT mad when I walked out of the gym and noticed that the dusting of snow that happened before I woke up was gone and the snow storm was nowhere to be found.

So, contrary to the two recent blog posts I read that are anti-treadmill, I actually really enjoyed my LONG treadmill run this weekend. Don't get me wrong, I would still choose an outside run if the weather cooperates, but next time a snow storm hits, I will embrace the treadmill with open arms!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Treadmill Headaches

There was a period of time a few years ago where every time I ran, I had a headache afterwards. This happened over a summer, the year after my first half marathon, and made me nervous to even think about going over a 10k. I thought this was mainly dehydration, so I made sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after runs. In the fall when it was cooler, it was mostly ok, but when I switched to the treadmill in the winter, every time I ran before work, I would be greeted with a splitting headache by 1 or 2 PM, despite drinking enough to make me go to the bathroom every 20 minutes the entire morning. It got to the point where I was actually afraid to run- even though I loved it.

In the spring, I signed up for a 10 miler, and started training, running longer on Sunday afternoons when the weather was cooler, thinking that the weather was the prime suspect. During this time, I had joined the triathlon training at the Y, started to have more structured workouts, and be in contact with some really knowledegable and experienced people. It was then that I was asked the question, do you eat before hand? I never had (except for my Sunday afternoon long runs, I had always worked out first thing in the morning- I wasn't sure what food would do to my stomach immediately before running). It was suggested to me to try starting with a banana and taking some nutrition on the run, like Jelly Belly Sports Beans. After reviving my love for longer distance running with the success of this 10 miler, I took these suggestions and signed up for another half marathon for the fall. Every Saturday, I set out for my long run with a routine- eat banana, drink glass of water, carry smart water and jelly beans for the run. Over the last year or so I experimented with other nutrition (mostly shot blocks and protein bars for longer rides and runs) and I have mostly overcome my fear of long runs. I hadn't used the treadmill for the majority of that time because the Y had a long track and most of my runs were either long runs or with the run club.

When I moved to my new life, I had to get reacquainted with the treadmill, because it is too dark before and after work to run outside, and lunchtime isn't really long enough to do a serious workout. As soon as I started the treadmill runs, my headaches came back. A few times I attributed it to skipping my morning banana, but even after I made sure to eat it, it was to no avail. I didn't want to let running beat me, or to become scared of my favorite exercising activity as I did the last time, so I decided to think a little harder. It is rather hot in the cardio room at the gym, which is sort of surprising, and I'm always dripping with sweat before I even finish a warm up. This got me thinking that while I am drinking plenty of water, maybe I need to channel my electrolyte filled water days. I have read a ton about Nuun on many endurance blogs, and I saw it at EMS so I decided it was worth taking the plunge. I tried tri berry, and honestly it's not the best tasting stuff, but I have used it every treadmill run since then and the headaches are gone. Placebo, maybe, but I'm ok with sticking to a routine that works. I just ordered a variety pack on line and I am excited to spend my treadmill-filled workouts experimenting with different flavors. And, I hope this keeps the headaches away!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Running fuel

After reading Tracy's post about what runners eat, I decided I should throw my two cents in, because I too tried a gel product for the very first time in my long run this Saturday. My gel of choice was a vanilla clif shot. I was a little hesitant, because it's always a scary thought to try something new in an important long run (not that this long run was SUPER IMPORTANT, but they ALL are- I wouldn't want fuel to prohibit me from finishing part of my training successfully). So, I thought wisely about my plan, and figured I would try it when the run was "almost over". I had 2:10 on the docket, and I was incredibly nervous: I hadn't done a run over 2 hours since the half ironman, which was a totally separate entity, I was worried about fueling enough (I tend to get headaches if not properly hydrated and nutriated) and I was obsessing over how to make sure I found a bathroom if I had to pee as badly as I did in last weekend's only 1:50 run. I was at my parents house in NY for the run-all of my sister's bridesmaids were going dress shopping in the afternoon- so it was even more important for me to be on top of my game to enjoy the afternoon with the ladies and quality time with my family.

The weather couldn't have been better- mid 30s and sunny- as I set out for the run. As usual, the first couple of miles felt like they were dragging along, but I pushed through them, deciding I would go down every side street possible in the neighborhood. It was fun running in a "new to me" location (I don't run in NY that often) and it got easier as time went by. I had a sip of Nuun every mile (will discuss my new love of nuun a bit later) and had a shot block (safe, known quantity) at mile 4 and 7. When I hit mile 10, I had decided it was time for the clif gel. I was "almost done" with the run, and I was close enough to home that if I stopped weaving in and out of side streets I could be home fairly fast. I had no idea what to expect, but it tasted like vanilla pudding. I couldn't take the whole thing in one "shot" (I can't take whole alcoholic shots either) so I took "sips" and finished it over the course of a half mile. I of course dripped some on my gloves, and didn't want to get the goop on my jacket so I just held it in my hands for the remainder of the run. I'm sure I looked silly, but I didn't want to litter and I didn't want to get any more of it on me! Turns out it was delicious, did not upset my stomach, and kept me filled up and energized for the rest of the run (which, similarly to tracy, ended up about 30 s per mile faster than the first 10). Win!

A good long run, a good gel experience! 13 weeks to go!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Giving Yoga a Try...

So, many people seem pretty excited about yoga. I had generally had the opinion of "I'm a runner, I suck at yoga." Admittedly not the best attitude, but given that I am not flexible at all and I can't touch my toes, it seemed a good enough excuse to not go. However, in the past few months, I have given the thought of yoga a second chance and even bought a living social deal to a local studio in order to really test it out. I actually went to a non-deal drop in class with a friend and despite sucking at it (that part of my assumption is still true) I do remember coming out feeling relaxed and stretched out and thinking I'd want to do it again. The instructor, also a runner, was very good about paying attention to me and my inability to do many poses, and helping me, while still paying a lot of attention to the rest of the class. I had a good experience there and was really excited to finally go to the Tuesday night class my friends have been raving about.

So, tonight, I went to the living social-deal local yoga studio. I think we went to Power Yoga or something. Power flow maybe? Anyway, I am pretty sure power was in the title, and it was designed to keep you moving. And it was 95 degrees. I, being new at yoga, was unprepared: I was wearing pants, my water bottle was only half full, and I didn't bring a long towel to cover my brand new slippery mat. But, I was there and ready to give it a shot. The instructor moved quickly from pose to pose and I could only pathetically try to mimic the people around me who were clearly more experienced than I was (not surprising haha). The instructor only commented on my slippery new mat, not really helping me get the poses right. As class continued, I think I figured out some warrior poses, and did a lot of downward dogs. We were constantly moving, which I guess is fun if you know what you are doing, but it sort of reminded me of a kick boxing class I went to in grad school where the coordination and memorization was just as important as the workout! About 45 minutes in, I was wondering, how long exactly IS this class... Eventually we got to the part where we were just relaxing and laying on the mat. That was much appreciated after a long work day and an hour + of dripping sweat.

This class did not leave me the "yoga is fun!" fuzzy feeling that the other one did. It kind of left me frustrated, disgustingly sweaty, and wondering if maybe the 'power' yoga isn't for me. I guess I was looking forward to getting relaxed and stretched out after my hill run this morning, but instead, I was tired out and felt like I sweat more before we even got started moving in the class than I did on the treadmill in the AM! People said that I would enjoy the faster paced classes because I really enjoy all of these cardio activities like running, swimming and biking, but I guess because I spend so many hours a week being super active, I kind of wanted something a little more relaxing. I think I will have to do research into the other classes this studio offers, and what type of class I really enjoyed when I tagged along with my other friend, so that maybe the remaining 4 classes I have left will leave me feeling more satisfied and revive my "yoga is fun" attitude!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A few more runs

Again I have slacked off at writing, but to be fair, I was out of town in Florida at a conference with limited internet access and limited time (and limited workout options!) the last week. I picked a hotel that had a workout room so that I could do more than just run, but unfortunately for me, the fitness center didn't open until 930 AM (!?!?!?). I guess the majority of Daytona Beach snowbirds are not business people and can workout at their leisure! So, I was resigned to only running, which is actually ok, and in the dark, which also turned out to be OK because the streets were well lit. So, I did put forth my best effort, and while I only got 2 runs in while I was there, I did get two runs in, which is more than I had expected my first night in the hotel.

Prior to leaving for the conference, we got a snow storm. My marathon training buddy and I decided (against what may have been our best senses) to go out for our 1:30 run anyway. The previous week I had done about 10 miles in that same hour and a half, but this week, as we battled snow covered side walks and icy patches, we barely clocked in at 7. Not only was it a pitiful showing, distance-wise, it was also a horrific experience frost-bite wise. I have proper gear for every part of my body except my hands, and my fingers were so cold that when I got back to my place, I couldn't even negotiate the keys. Thankfully, my boyfriend was there to let us in, shivering, and I eventually warmed up. I also went out to get smart wool gloves and mittens that afternoon. And, I will never go out in that weather without some sort of extra handwarmers as well! This epic run convinced us that we CAN run in "extreme" circumstances, though I am hoping that our late February Cape Cod half marathon doesn't get hit with a snow storm, because 7 miles was more than enough!

Yesterday, however, I had a 1:50 run, which went a LOT better than the past week. I was a little nervous, because I hadn't been diligently workout out while in Florida, and I hadn't run 1:50 minutes except for the half ironman in almost a year, and the half ironman had a good amount of walking. So, I set out, determined to just go slow and steady. The weather was certainly cooperating, because it was in the mid 30s and super sunny- I was actually almost too warm, which was a welcome contrast to the previous weekend! The run was really great- I was really enjoying myself! The only problem I came up with was the lack of a bathroom on my route. There was a Honey Farms (some sort of 7-11 type convenience store) that I had hoped to patronize for their bathroom, but that didn't quite go as planned...

me: do you have a bathroom?
young looking boy working there: no
me: really? how do you go to the bathroom? (yes, a little snarky but i had to pee!)
young looking boy working there: I can't let anyone use it
me: ughhhhh
young looking boy working there: sorry...

so, I continued onward, tempting fate, drinking less, and willing my bladder to stay strong until I finally got home. I even chicked a guy (he didn't seem pleased) as I am sure I was running faster in the last few miles as I knew the bathroom was getting closer and closer! I'm going to have to figure out a better plan next time. I really like my route, but I think that the 1:50 was pushing my limit as far as bathroom-less runs goes. That's the one problem with running on suburban neighborhood streets. My next long run will be done from my parents house, so I am thinking of just doing some sort of double loop and stopping there for a break. What do normal people do? What if you live in an area where there aren't local businesses willing to let you take a pitstop? How do normal people refill water on long runs? I am open to suggestions that don't make me go back to my house in the middle of each run, because I can imagine in a 3.5 hour run, stopping home to use the bathroom, I would have to have a lot of will power to go back out again...

I did a trainer ride this afternoon while simultaneously cooking lunch. I cut up some veggies and got them ready to roast, then hopped on the trainer for 45 min. Then I started the roasting, started some quinoa cooking, and hopped off my bike periodically. I think this is a handy way to get a workout in, while multitasking, and being rewarded with a nice warm home cooked meal!

14 weeks to go!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Marathon Training Begins!

Happy New Year! I rang in the new year with my boyfriend in Vegas. We explored the strip, did a little gambling, and ate a lot of good food!

The one thing I didn't do over New Years weekend was exercise. (unless you count the hours of walking). The day I got there, New Year's Eve, I had been up for almost 24 hours by the time the festivities ended and it was finally bed time. I didn't sleep well, and I hadn't eaten very regularly or well, and I had inhaled tons of second hand smoke (ew). I elected not to run, and instead to just relax and enjoy my vacation, and get serious about working out upon my return!

I got my weekly progression of long runs leading up to the marathon the other day. It is SCARY. Now, I know I've done a half ironman, but I never have run more than 2:15 min or 15 miles. I have no concept of how slow to even start/finish runs in the 3-4 hour regime! My longest run in the plan is 4:30, and 3 weeks before the big day. I realize that I have a lot of time between now and then, but it is totally freaking me out. 4 and a half hours of running!? How can I carry enough water? Where will I go to the bathroom? Do I have to do loops by my house to stock up on supplies, or can I do a really long crazy route like where we go biking? Will I even be able to make it? So much to think about!

I had a talk with my friend at lunch today about getting into the unknown times/distances. She is just finishing a couch potato to 5k plan, and thinking about what to do next- how far to run, how to get faster, and how she has learned to 'slow down' for the longer run times in order to successfully run the whole thing. I feel like I am going to be back in that boat as I tackle the complete unfamiliarity of longer than 2.5 hour runs. Thinking ahead to the 4.5 hours is scary, but I know that is just because it is a long way from now- I have several months of slowly increasing long runs before I have to deal with that. I just have to be patient...

I decided (yet again) that I will attempt to be better at blogging this marathon journey. I'm going to try to do some weekly (at least) recaps of the workouts I'm doing. I'm planning to do some triathlons this summer, so I'm still going to keep track of swimming and biking progress too. So here goes. 17 weeks to go!

My flight from Vegas got in very late Monday night, so I ended up working out Tuesday afternoon instead of morning. I used to be pretty dead set on morning workouts, but lately I have embraced sleeping in a bit and working out before dinner. I did a trainer ride to some Felicity episodes as my first workout of 2012.

I had a swim on both Weds and Fri mornings, so I headed to the pool on the most frigid morning of the year so far (7 degree low! we are approaching chicago temperatures!) and was thankful to get into the warm water! I had 600s to do - broken into 1x600, 2x300, 3x200 and 6x100. I really enjoy these workouts because the longest chunk is over the earliest, and before you know it you're halfway done and have only small little chunks to go.

At lunch that day I went on a short 20 min run with my marathon training buddy. I haven't ever really been a fan of lunchtime workouts, but I do recognize their usefulness, especially in the dead of winter where that's the only time for sunlight and "warmer" temperatures. It was in the 20s when we headed out, and I totally overdressed. I was happy to be sweating, though, instead of shivering. It was a great pick me up- and a great way to socially spend the lunch hour and get off site. I guess I will have to start incorporating these more often!

Thursday I had another trainer ride, but I managed to do this one in the morning, as I had dinner plans that night. More Felicity. I'm breezing through the show with all these winter trainer rides!

Friday I had another swim. This one had looked extremely intimidating to me- both in volume and speed. I had a series of 15 200s- small chunks getting faster and faster, and a few all out fast! I have done "fast" 50s or 100s before, but the idea of holding a "fast" pace for 4 laps totally freaked me out. However, I plowed through, and despite my fear, ended up with consistent times from my first fast 200 to my last! I felt like that was a success- completing a "scary" workout with consistency.

Saturday I had a 2.5 hour training ride. I was extremely intimidated by this, because that is a LONG time to be on a stationary bike. Looking back on this, I realized I should have tried to do this outside- we had an unseasonably warm day - it got into the 50s! But, alas, too little too late. (I also wore my parka to an 11 am meeting I had, and felt extremely ridiculous because it was so warm!). I ended up switching my TV show loyalty and watched some of my so called life. It's fun to watch all these shows that I never watched when I was the appropriate age... Anyway, I got through the workout, and felt pretty accomplished, and set forth to the rest of the day.

Today I had the first of my series of long runs building towards the marathon! 1:20 min. I set out on my usual path and had a great time and completed about 9 miles. I kept it at a comfortable pace, but I also was thinking ahead to how I am going to have to be really careful to keep it slow as the times increase and increase!

So that's that. The new year is off to a great start!