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 months...as 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!