Tuesday, March 31, 2015

New perspective, new plan, new pants :)

Marathon Training Week Eight Recap

So, I didn't anticipate writing a marathon training recap that didn't involve running, but I found myself at a bit of a crossroads at the end of last week. I started this week as usual...with rest day, which was a good thing considering I had a really horrible run to end the previous week. I also spent the day seeking advice from friends about how to proceed...see I was pretty sure that I needed to switch things up. I felt like I was running way too much, way to far and that I was getting burned out and on the verge of an injury. After talking to a couple friends who have been there/done that, I was lead to the conclusion that I was severely over-training. My marathon plan had me running 5 days a week, with very little recovery built in. I was so blinded by my need to follow all directions to a "T" that I couldn't understand that I didn't need to be pushing myself so hard. All the joy had been sucked out of my running, and to get it back I had to start with a new perspective: Running a marathon doesn't have to mean running all the time. I have to give myself permission to take a day off here and there, to listen to my body instead of blindly following a plan, that sometimes, it's okay to (gasp) WALK during a long run! I was so focused on pounding out these miles and making sure I ran a certain pace that I didn't ever stop to think about how I really felt. And I felt horrible!

So I needed a new plan. I am not an experienced enough runner to just do a marathon without some guidance, so I picked a new training plan, one that was a little more forgiving and one that had a lot of flexibility and recovery built in. I also decided that I was not going to run at all during this week. The new training plan emphasized that cross-training is just as important, so I figured it would do me a world of good to let my body tackle some other kinds of exercise. Monday I hit the spin bike. My first Triathlon will be an indoor race on April 26th, so I need to kick my biking up a notch anyway. I also wanted an excuse to watch my new favorite show, "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" on Netflix. It is really hard not to laugh out loud sometimes during these episodes, which makes it impossible not to be in a good mood no matter what you are doing while you are watching. 16 miles flew by in just 40 short minutes. I can't wait until my next bike session to watch more! I did a little bit of core work after, some planks and push ups...my arms need some serious work! Tuesday I needed to meet with our Master Swim group to discuss some upcoming changes to the team, so I decided to get in a practice with them afterwards. Let me tell you, nothing will wake you up like a 6:00 am swim practice with a bunch of crazy masters swimmers. We did 2500 yards, which is a lot more than I have been doing lately. It was nice though to have company and a coach, and I actually swam some butterfly and backstroke (which I never do by myself). I admittedly crashed at about 2:00 that day, but the rest of my morning was super productive!

Wednesday morning I stayed home with Logan since Bill had some appointments. I decided to take advantage of not being at work to take a morning class at the Y (plus Logan loves going to the child care center there, where I swear it was like Cheers...as soon as he walked in all the teachers and kids yelled "Logan!"). I picked a class called RIPPED, it's apparently an acronym for something, but let me tell you, no one's getting ripped in here. I read the little blurb about it on the website, which stated "R.I.P.P.E.D. is an active workout that combines resistance, intervals, power, plyometrics, and endurance. Great for people with intermediate and advanced fitness levels." Sounds great, right?!? Well, I guess our instructor didn't get that memo. We did some Zumba-esque dancy stuff to warm up (I am way too uncoordinated to deal with learning Zumba at 9:00 in the morning), then we did some sort of kick boxing routine, which I would normally enjoy, but she put so many steps together that I just ended up looking like I was trying to swat at a bug or something. We finally got to the weight portion of class which consisted solely of shoulder presses and arm circles. Back to more aerobic dancing stuff, then a quick 5 minutes of abs that included more punching...I quickly just decided to do my own thing here to salvage some sort of workout. The instructor was very sweet and came up to me after to see how I liked it (I was very clearly a newbie in a room full of regulars), and I told her that I felt a little lost most of the time and that I was hoping for a little more weight work. She said, "oh, we like to switch it up, you'll get used to it the more you come". I just smiled and nodded, but this is definitely not going into the regular rotation. Thursday was busy with meetings, so I ran into the Y for a quick turn on the elliptical and some core work on my way home. Friday I got back into the pool with the Masters group. I hopped in a little late so I only eeked out 1800 yards today. But we did a set of 100's on the 1:40 that felt really good. I definitely need to make a habit of trying to get to at least one Masters practice a week from now on.

Finally it was Saturday...running day! My new plan called for a 7 mile long run this week, which should have seemed like a breeze compared to the 13/14/14 mile long runs of the previous three weeks. But I was a little nervous. I hadn't run all week and my hamstring and knee still had moments of soreness that I was dealing with after last week's run. But I geared up and headed out. It was a lovely day, sun was out and temps were in the upper-30's. I had on a t-shirt, arm warmers and light pullover on top, power core tights on bottom. I started out with mittens, but shed them after a few minutes. I planned to focus on maintaining an easy pace, between 10-10:30 per mile. As usual, my first mile was much faster, clocking a 9:40. I really felt like I was going slow. I didn't wear my pace watch because I wanted to run more on feeling this time, but clearly I need something to keep me on the right path. I slowed down even more and ran the second mile in...9:28, yep, faster than the first. Seriously, I apparently suck at pacing myself. So, I ran what I felt was just a little faster than a walk, and clocked mile three in 10:25...there! Now, I just had to run the next four miles exactly the same way. This worked for the next two miles, I felt good and ran nice and steady. Then during mile six I started to feel my hamstrings start to tighten up, so I did something that the "old me" would have never considered...I walked. I was right next to the lake, so I walked down and went out on the beach...the lake is still half frozen and there were tons of ducks sitting on the edge of the ice, likely feasting on the tiny fish swimming in the open water.

I took a potty break, ate some Clif Bloks (strawberry, yummy!) had a little water and walked back up to the trail. I had about a mile and a half left and I started to run again. I was definitely a little stiff, and the wind had kicked up quite a bit, so I was starting to get chilled. I ran the last bit to home holding about a 10:40 pace, and it felt good. I had done it, I had survived a week without running during marathon training! I'm still a little concerned about my knee and hamstrings, so I am going to go see my Physical Therapist next week and check in, but I'm back on the wagon with my eye on the prize. I have four runs planned for this week with some yoga, swimming and biking mixed in...but we'll just see where the wind takes me!

Oh! I almost forgot, in the post title I promised you new pants! A month or so ago I read a race recap by Sarah Bowen Shea, of Another Mother Runner. She ran the Victoria Marathon and raved about her Saucony Bullet running capris. She talked about how comfortable they were and how the back and side pockets were perfect for holding the five packs of energy gel she carried during the race. I had been wondering about how I was going to carry my gels along the route since I don't want to wear my hydration belt during the marathon (there are water stops every mile!) Anyway, long story short, I ordered the same capris, and of course they arrived during my Week Without Running! I decided it couldn't hurt to try them on since it was too cold to run in capris anyway last week:

She was right, these things feel like BUTTAH! I cannot wait to try them on my long run next week. Never underestimate the power of new gear to make you feel like you can conquer the world :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Fun Run: Not Running Sucks

I decided not to run this week. At least, not until Saturday. I saw a picture of this shirt on Monday and that's when it hit me, I realized how hard not running was going to be for me, so I complied this list of ways to survive without running!

How to Survive a Week without Running

Do: Find an alternative form of exercise like swimming or biking

Do Not: Go to Zumba class

Do: Spend sometime going through your massive collection of running gear and get rid of stuff that doesn't fit or is worn out

Do Not: Buy cute new running capris and try them on, prompting you to want to road test them
(yes, that is me, and yes, I actually did this)

Do: Go to the park with your kids and kick around a soccer ball

Do Not: Let them talk you into a little "race" that you will dominate and then do a victory dance in their faces

Do: Keep your eye on the prize, and remind yourself that while not running might be hard, the mental and physical recovery you get from taking some time off is well worth it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Midweek Motivation: It takes a village

This week I almost quit running. See I do my long runs by myself and I am not always good company. Last week's long run was horrible. The kind of run that made me question what on earth made me decide that running a marathon was something I'd enjoy doing. I ended that day thinking, that's it. I'm done. I don't want to run anymore, I certainly can't run a marathon, I might as well give up. Thankfully I slept on it, and thankfully I woke up the next day remembering that I hadn't gotten to this place in my running journey by myself. In fact, there is NO WAY I would be where I am without the support and encouragement of others. You may be able to argue whether or not it takes a village to raise a child, but there is no denying, it definitely takes a village to raise a runner. No matter if you are the type of runner who does all of your runs solo or not, at some point you've been in a race, at some point you went into a running store for a fitting or gear, at some point you asked someone else their opinion on training or shoes or fuel or something! Running is a village, a village full of the most helpful and understanding people, who want to see you succeed, who want you to keep running!

The day after my disastrous long run I went to my village. I told my people how I was feeling, and they rallied. They validated me in a way I needed, not telling me I was stupid, or wrong, but giving me advice I didn't know I needed. Encouraging me in a way that made sense. That is what they are there for, to make you believe that you can do what you set your mind to, there just might be a better way to do it. I was returned to my senses thanks to these folks, and I can guarantee that without my village, I'd be making different plans for the weekend of June 20th, because the marathon would be off.

I hope if you are reading this you are someone that has a village around you. I hope you know that when you are in a place where there seems like no other alternative than to quit that you have someone to shine a light on a different option.  Because no matter if you think you can do this all by yourself, no one can go this road alone. It is well traveled and there are companions on every corner waiting for you. If you can't find them, look at your local running store, or an online running group, or ask me...I'd be happy to be your village.

I want to send special thanks to some people who really put things into perspective for me, to Jill for knowing me like the back of your hand and giving me just the right advice, to Carole for being an example of everything I want to accomplish, to Suzanne for just getting it, and to my Facebook "groups",  it is amazing that in a real world where we are strangers, you have become such an important part of my life. I don't know what I would do without you!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Ho Hum....

Marathon Training Weeks Six & Seven Recap

Work has been insanely busy lately which has left me with little time to think about recapping a relatively routine couple weeks of training. I guess the fact that I've managed to keep up with my plan given I've been at work 12 hours a day for pretty much the last three weeks straight should count for something, so here's the quick and dirty!

Week six started with a cold. I felt it coming on and was pounding Zicam like candy to try to stave it off. It hit me hardest on Monday when I decided the only thing that was going to be running that day was my nose. I felt better by that evening, but decided the extra day of rest was the best thing for me.  Tuesday was an incredible day. 66-degrees with full sunshine. I left work early and did my run from home. I have a great six mile loop on the trails around our house, I felt really strong and fast. Wednesday was TRX day, but also a super busy work day, so I had to cut class a little short. I am starting to believe my TRX trainer is psychic though and knew I was going to leave early because she planned burpees FIRST THING, apparently the universe is determined to make me like those damn things!

Thursday I was back to running in short sleeves. It was a little windy out, but still nice and warm. I had tempo intervals on tap. Did a warm up mile at 9:30, then a tempo mile at 8:40, recovery mile at 9:20, another tempo mile at 8:30, and then a cool down mile at 9:30. I felt awesome holding those paces, but in retrospect, may have been partly to blame for the mental block that happened this past Saturday, more on that later in the recap. Friday was supposed to be swim day, but it was also the start of our big weekend event, and the day just got away from me, no really good excuses, I just didn't make it in the pool. On Saturday, I had 13 miles on tap, and it was a gorgeous day for it. Third run of the week in short sleeves and I was excited to try out my new Balega socks. I started out fast, as usual, but got into a good pace by mile 2. I took some energy gel at mile 4 (Clif Shot Gel-Strawberry) and that's when Strava decided to stop talking to me, so I was "running blind" when it came to knowing where my turn around point was. I ran what I thought was a little past were I turned around on my 12 mile last week, and checked my phone. 6.9 miles...I shrugged and decided, well, guess I'm running 14 today. I fueled again at mile 8 and still felt strong. At mile 10 the wind picked up and I knew my pace had slowed down pretty significantly, but since Strava wasn't talking to me, I didn't really know what I was running. At mile 11 I fueled again because I was starting to fade. That carried me a little past mile 12, where I very nearly hit the wall. My legs were done, and my brain wasn't far behind. I encountered the hill that marks one mile to my office and started repeating "kill this hill, kill this hill". I told myself I could walk when I got over it. I hit the top and kept running. I knew I only had 3/4 of a mile left, and I powered through it. I know I shouldn't be worried about my pace right now, but I wasn't happy with how I ended that run. Still, it was a PDR and I'm pretty proud nonetheless! I celebrated with a very decadent cupcake :)

Week 7 started off with a nice little "Threesy" (my new favorite running term, meaning "three easy") on the treadmill at the Y followed by push ups, planks, and lots more core work! I love core work, I need core work, I am going to commit to making Mondays "Core Days" from now on! Tuesday I had seven on the plan, but another busy day at work meant I had time for 5. I did negative split them, 2/2/1. It was a nice day on campus, much colder than last week, but the sun was shining, so no complaints from me. Wednesday: TRX DAY! Psyche...it's spring break, no TRX this week, boo! I could have gone to the "replacement class" some sort of Butt and Guts toning class, but I figured I was too disappointed that it wasn't TRX that I would probably half-ass it. So instead I hopped on the spin bike and turned out 15 miles while watching the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. If you are on Netflix and aren't watching this show, what are you waiting for?!? It is so fun that it almost made up for missing my beloved class!

Thursday I got away for a nice 6 miler. The temp was still dropping, so I broke my running hat out of storage. It wasn't bad though and I warmed up quickly. I don't have a regular 6 mile route on campus, so I improvised...not the best idea, since my new route was mostly uphill. But I embraced them and brought out my new mantra "kill this hill" several times. Friday I managed to get back into the pool, but an unscheduled meeting popped up. so I didn't have time to do the whole workout I planned. I managed 1800 yards, which isn't too shabby. 500 yard warm up, 5 x 100 yards on 1:45, 200 yard kick, 5 x 100 yards on 1:30 (super hard!) and 100 yards cool down. Felt great to get it in, my April Triathlon is going to sneak up on me really fast!

Saturday again, long run day again, 14 miles again. I had to squeeze this in during a break in our event. Which was fine, I had the time. I just didn't have the same enthusiasm for it today as I have the last few long runs. It was colder than it had been the last couple weeks, and even though I was layered up properly, I just wasn't looking forward to it. I headed out though, determined to make the best of it. I mean, I did 14 miles last week, why should it seem so daunting this week? As usual, I started out way too fast. I really try to start my runs slower, but I honestly don't know how. A runner friend suggested trying to run by Heart Rate, which I think I will try. Anyway, I felt pretty good to start. The sun was out, my legs were fine, and I felt really well hydrated. I normally would have taken some energy gel at mile 4, but I didn't feel like I needed it, so I kept going. By mile 5 I was tiring a bit, so I took my first fuel. Tried a new flavor of my favorite brand today, Huma Lemonade. Man those things taste good. This definitely gave me a boost and I held miles 6 & 7 at a nice steady pace. I rested a bit at the turn around point, stretched a little and drank some water, I was starting to feel a little stiffness in my right hamstring, but nothing too serious. I headed back and fueled again at mile 8. I was still holding around 10 minute miles, and the extra energy from the gel  helped get me through mile 10. But at mile 11 the run fell apart. My hamstrings, knee and foot on my right leg started to really hurt. I am no stranger to my foot hurting, I have a massive bunion on that foot, and it usually hurts after about 6 miles, but it's manageable. However, with the tight hammie, and my knee bothering me, it just made the foot pain all the worse. Add that to the fact that my pace had dropped to 11 minutes per mile, and my mental strength was going out the window too. I don't know why I am so hung up on pace. I mean, I've only been running for a year and a half, I know that pace isn't what is important right now, yet, I can't help but obsess over it. My brain kept telling me, "you ran a half marathon last year holding 9:33 per mile, why are you bonking at 11 miles when you are running 11 minute miles?!?" I tried to ignore everything and just focus on landmarks, get to that light post and you can stop for a minute, get to that bolder and you can walk. I made it to 12 miles and that was it. I stopped, I walked, and I almost started crying (okay, maybe I actually cried a little bit). I took my last pouch of energy gel and finished off my water, resigned to the fact that I was just going to walk the last two miles back to my office. I started questioning why on earth I decided to train for a marathon, started wondering who on earth thinks this is fun? Of course, I wasn't aided by the fact that the sun had gone behind thick clouds and I was sweaty and cold and shivering. I checked my watch to see that I was walking at 2.5 miles per hour, which is slower than my cool down walks on the treadmill. I got really mad at myself. I was almost to the stop light and hill that marks 1 mile back to my office. I took a deep breath and told myself that I could walk like this to the stop light, then I was going to run the rest of the way back. I got to the light, and it immediately turned green, I guess the universe also wanted me to start running. I began with a slow hobble, and eventually got a rhythm going. I made it up the hill and was almost convinced I would need to walk after that, but I plugged on, not daring to look at my pace on my watch. I turned down the street to my office and tried, unsuccessfully, to pick up my stride a little, finally saying to myself "just finish this, however you can, just finish it". I did finish, my last mile was at 11:47. Which is a time that I would have been thrilled with a year ago. Never mind the fact that a year ago I would have never imagined running 14 miles at any pace.

So, as I begin Week 8 of this journey, my plan is to not time any of my runs. I am going to try to run slow and easy, I want to focus on feeling good, and steady and strong. I have 15 miles on tap on Saturday and  I want to be able to finish that run and think, "okay, that wasn't so bad, I could probably turn out 11 more." Because in just 3 short months, I'm going to have to do that, and no one in that race is going to care if I'm running 9:30 miles or 11:30 miles, they are only going to care that I'm running.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Fun Run: Cupcakes

I have a lot of fun perks to my job, but there is one that I have actually kind of come to dread over the past year...the abundance of free food that is available at swim meets. During major events we are generally locked in the pool for 12-16 hours a day. With little time to head out to grab food, most meet hosts provide a hospitality room for coaches and staff. As you might imagine, feeding 100-plus people for 16 hours a day over three days is quite an undertaking...meaning there is a lot of easy "grab and go" stuff, like bags of chips, trail mix, bagels, and sweets...lots and lots of sweets. I can usually say "no" to prepackaged cookies and muffins, or industrial-bakery items like mini cinnamon rolls or brownie bites. However, there are two things that are going to get me every time...I just have no will power against them...Rice Krispy treats and mini-Bundt cakes. Yes, I said mini-Bundt cakes. If you have not yet had the opportunity to experience the mini-Bundt cake, I'm sorry. Or, maybe I should say "good for you", because they are evil! Pure evil wrapped in shiny paper and drizzled with sweet frosting. One of the parents on a local swim team owns a bakery called Nothing Bundt Cake and they donate limitless mini-Bundt cakes to almost every meet. I think most folks in the Minnesota swimming community have become addicted to them. It's like everyone in the pool knows the sound of the bundt cake box opening and makes a collective rush to get into the hospitality room to get one before they are gone...evil I tell you!

They may look sweet and innocent, but one bite and you will be addicted!
Now, many of you will say, "Linda, you run, so who cares about eating a little cupcake". Here's the problem with that, I can't just stop at one....I want to try them all, Red Velvet, Vanilla, Lemon, Chocolate, Mocha, Strawberry Cream....oh man, I can't even think about it...they are SO.STINKING.GOOD. But I do run, so I was happy to find this handy chart to help ease a little bit of my Bundt-fueled guilt:

Now, today is swim day, so I will have to try to pace myself when it comes to mini-cake consumption. But tomorrow is long run day and I have 13-miles on tap...so rest assured, I will not stop until I have crammed 11 of those little pieces of Heaven in my mouth. Unfortunately, Sunday is rest day, no running or working out of any kind. I am so screwed!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Mid-Week Motivation: Spring

Need some help getting over the hump? Here's your Mid-Week Motivation!

I have had many doubts over the past five weeks of marathon training. Most of them start with "why on EARTH did I decide to train for a marathon in the winter?!?" Winter running in Minnesota is hard. You are either bundled up waddling through your run trying to avoid black ice and snow piles on your route, or you are mindlessly slogging out your miles on the treadmill wondering who in their right mind finds this kind of thing entertaining? But, somehow I have found the will to do one or the other over the past month and yesterday, it paid off big time. Yesterday I had a 6 mile run on the plan, and yesterday it was 60 FREAKING DEGREES outside. I felt incredible, I felt like I had been freed from my shackles, I felt like I could have run forever! This was my reward for forcing myself to run in the frigid, ice speckled streets of Minneapolis for the last month, for not smashing the treadmill to pieces with a kettlebell like I wanted to so many times. This was redemption for all those frozen eyelashes and chafed cheeks, the sun on my bare arms was HEAVEN!

So, if you haven't been outside for a run yet, what are you waiting for?!? This is Minnesota afterall, sub-zeros are always just a low-pressure weather system away. Don't forget your SPF!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Extra rest day = REDEMPTION!

Marathon Training Week Five Recap

I am a quarter way through my training plan. Five weeks seems like a long time, until I realize that I have 15 weeks left to go. After last week, I briefly contemplated having zero weeks left to go and just scrapping this marathon idea all together. I am guessing I'll have at least one or two more weeks like that, but as long as they are followed by a week like this, I think I'll be okay.

Monday I had an easy three miles on the plan. I also had a really busy morning. I was helping to host a site visit for the potential of bringing a pretty major event to Minneapolis in 2020. The event would be held in the yet-to-be-completed Vikings Stadium, so the meeting was in the "preview center" at the Vikings headquarters. As a life-long (and long-suffering) Vikings fan, I was totally geeked to get to have a behind the scenes look at this state of the art venue. And I wasn't disappointed. This place is amazing. We toured through virtual suites, got to see what views from all areas of the stadium will look like, and if that wasn't cool enough, I found out that one of my fellow Graduate Assistants at Ball State is the new General Manager of the stadium! It really is a small world. If you ask me, we knocked the presentation out of the park! Now we just wait and see as they won't award the event until next summer. Anyway, I brought my gear to work figuring I'd hop on a treadmill after the meeting. But by the time I got back to the office, I knew I didn't have the energy for it. I also thought back to how horrible I felt about my training last week and figured maybe one more rest day would do me and my attitude some good. So, even though I felt pretty guilty about it, I skipped the run and went home. The guilt kept eating at me and I almost went to the Y after the kids went to bed, but I convinced myself this was what I needed. I really need to work on giving myself a break more often.

Tuesday was another frigid day. I had already planned to do my run inside, but I packed outside clothes just in case. As soon as I stepped out the door I was smacked in the face with the white, fluffy stuff, so to the treadmill I went. I had five miles on the plan. The last two weeks my five milers have been less than stellar, and I admit my attitude wasn't great heading into the Rec Center. I was supposed to do 1 mile warm up, 3 miles tempo, 1 mile cool down. I decided rather than push my pace for three miles, that I would do 1 mile intervals instead. This was a good call. I did my warm up mile at 6.0 mph, then I did a mile at 6.5 mph, the middle mile was 6.2 mph, and the third mile was back up at 6.5 mph. I was pretty proud of myself when I finished that fourth mile...it had been a long time since I felt strong going that speed. I finished off with a mile cool down at 5.5 mph. I actually struggled to put the speed down that far...I have been able to hold my treadmill runs above a 10-minute mile pace for so long now that I never even consider going below 6 mph. But I was totally wiped after that fourth mile, and I really wanted to run the whole thing, so down to 5.5 I went. Again, I need to practice giving myself a break on this stuff!

Cross training day was next. I was able to make it back to TRX on Wednesday and much to my excitement, my BRF was able to make it too. We haven't been able to connect for a run, or anything, for several weeks because of crazy work schedules, so I was so happy to see her! It was a good workout, but I admittedly didn't push as hard as I usually do because I was busy getting caught up on what had been going on in Brandi's world. The trainer even called us out for laughing during a core set. I argued that laughing helped work our abs harder. Of course there were burpees, and mountain climbers (we didn't laugh during those). After class I actually considered going down to the free weight area and doing a few more things since I didn't feel like I got my best sweat on, but I decided it was okay. Maybe this was my subconscious giving myself that break I've been talking about :)

Thursday was cold. Not necessarily "run inside" cold, but cold nonetheless. I brought gear for both the TM and trail, but was pretty sure I was going to head to the treadmill. We started a big event at work, and it was going to be a busy afternoon, so I figured I'd just run over to the Rec at noon and get it over with. That didn't happen. The day got busier than I planned and before I knew it, it was 3:30 (this was going to be the only day of the event I'd be able to make it home for dinner, so I was hoping to get this done over the lunch hour). Now, at 3:30 I was thinking I was going to bag it. I called home for advice, even though this is futile. My husband is such a strong supporter of me doing this marathon, that even when I call him hoping he'll give me an excuse to skip my workout, he always says "just go do it, dinner can wait". I hemmed and hawed a little longer. I had 6 miles planned, and even though I had a successful TM run on Tuesday, I just couldn't handle the thought of slogging it out on the treadmill for the next hour. Then I remembered that the Y had gotten new treadmills, equipped with media players and WiFi and all kinds of cool features. I thought if I could find a show to watch that I just might be able to manage. I got to the Y by 4:30 and luckily found a new machine open (the only one...lucky!) I got to the queue of "On Demand" programming and chose the finale of the latest season of the Amazing Race. I used to watch that show religiously, but lost track of it a couple years ago. I always dreamed of competing on it one day and figured it would make for good motivation during the run. I was to do the 6 miles negative split, 2, 2, 2. I started easy with the first 2 at 6.0 mph, then ramped up to 6.2 for the next two, and finished off the last 2 at 6.4 mph. I had brought along some fruit punch flavored Jelly Belly Sport Beans to try for fuel today. I ate a couple after each set of 2 miles. They were really yummy, but I don't know that I noticed any sort of energy surge with them. I will say though, I felt super strong the whole time, so who knows, maybe they did help a little. In the middle of my run an older woman got on the treadmill beside me. I had worn my new 2015 Mileage Challenge shirt today (a Facebook running group I belong to), and as I was leaving she said "Wow, you were really running! With that bright shirt, you looked like a flash of lightening!" I had to smile...I'm pretty sure I looked like a sweaty mess (see below) but it was a nice way to end a great run.
Lightening? More like a drizzly rain shower at this point.

Someday you will read one of these recaps and I'll write "Wow, I had such an amazing swim workout!" But, today is not that day. We had prelims of the Boys State Swimming & Diving Championships all day and it was crazy. I managed to get away for about 20 minutes and basically jumped in the pool and jumped back out. I got in 1500 yards by doing three sets of 200 swim, 100 kick, 200 pull. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't great. I didn't really care though, I seriously was glad to have gotten it done....just in time to go back to my other pool and sit at a swim meet for the rest of the night!

I can't believe I've made it this far into my post without mentioning that something amazing happened this week....SPRING ARRIVED! I am not even sure which day it officially got "warm", but I could not wait for Saturday to get here so I could go out on my long run in the sun with a SINGLE LAYER of clothes on! The meet was still going on Saturday, but I had a good plan worked out. I would get to the pool for the start of the Class A finals, and as long as the meet started without a hitch, I would leave to go for my run, getting back in time for the end of the first meet, and more importantly, lunch! I had 11 miles on the plan. I decided since I was supposed to do 12 last weekend and barely manged to eek out 10, that I would try to redeem myself with a 12 mile out and back today. This time I headed in the opposite direction than I had last week (that route backfired on me only giving me 4.5 mile of trail when I needed 6). I didn't know far the trail went this way, but I also knew that I could figure out a loop back on campus to get me to 12 if I needed it. I had on a short sleeve shirt and a light jacket along with my tights and a head band. After about a mile in I actually thought I might shed my jacket, but I decided just to unzip it a bit (the right call). The sun felt so good and once my legs stretched out a bit, I felt really strong. I took the first two miles out faster than I wanted to. I really need to work on my pacing early on in these runs. At the 2.5 mile mark, I passed under the bridge that would normally serve as the cross over of the 5-mile loop I do quite often, and I was in virgin territory. I crossed my fingers that the trail would continue on in a straight line, with no "Ts", "Ys", or any other letters to confuse me. So far so good. I made it to mile 4 and found myself in a nice little park right along the Mississippi river. Duh, I was on the River Parkway trail...as far as I knew, this trail would let me run to New Orleans if I wanted. So, I quit worrying about my route and decided to try my first fuel of the day. This week I went back to energy gel. After two not super-successful weeks with chews, it seemed like the best idea. I had two packs, so I planned to take one at 4 miles and one at 8 miles. The first one was Clif Shot Gel, strawberry, with caffeine:

Flavor-wise, this was good. Not too sweet, but not super delicious. It went down smoothly and I took a small sip of water after. Boost-wise, let me just say, this stuff was like rocket fuel! I immediately felt a jolt of strength and energy, and actually ran mile five faster than the previous four. I sustained the energy, if not the speed for the next few miles. This is definitely a winner, although I might try some other flavors on future runs. At mile six I found myself at another park, which made for a great turn around point. I stopped for a minute to take a few more sips of water and to bask in the sunshine before heading back. My feet were a little tired, but I felt pretty confident that I was going to finish strong.

At mile eight, I still felt energized, but decided to stick with my plan and fuel again. On tap this time was Honey Stinger Gel in fruit smoothie flavor.

I was a little wary of trying this after my gut-busting experience with the Honey Stinger chews last weekend, but I also figured this was all organic with no caffeine, so it might sit better this time. The flavor was pretty blah, but the gel was really smooth. I didn't feel like I needed water after taking it, but sipped a little anyway. I was hoping for another jolt like I had with the first gel, but it didn't happen. It actually never really happened. I didn't feel much of anything after taking this, and by mile 10 I was really starting to fade. My splits had creeped over the 10-minute mile mark at about mile 8. Since I was on this "giving myself a break" kick this week, I tried to convince myself that this was okay, I needed to just get the mileage done and not worry about my time at this point. But there was also this little voice in the back of my head telling me "you ran a half marathon at a 9:33 per mile pace, what is wrong with you?!?" By mile 10.5 I felt like I was crawling. I told myself, "you can do this, you have one hill and 1 and a half miles, then you can eat!" I tackled the hill pretty well, but that was literally all I had left. I stumbled through the last mile at an 11-minute per mile pace. I know, that really isn't bad, but I felt kind of defeated by it. I will say though, I was so thankful to get back to my office that the pity party didn't last long. I had made it back in time to see the end of the meet, and to load up a huge plate of pasta from the hospitality room. When I went and looked at my splits from the run I realized I had taken the first few miles out SUPER fast, which I'm sure had a lot to do with my major slag at the end. My lessons learned from this week, are not only to give myself a break every once and awhile, but also to stop starting my long runs like a bat out of hell! Now, bring on Rest Day!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Fun Run: Facebook

Fridays are my swim days. I need swim days, I need to take a break from running every once in a while. But man, for some reason every time I try to get myself motivated to go to the pool all I can think about is "it would be much easier to just go for a run". So, every Friday I'm going to try to write a "fun run" post in the hopes that it will fill the void of actually going on a real run.

I've had people tell me they were going to "unfriend me" since all I do is post about my runs on Facebook. Which is totally not true. I also post a lot of pictures of my kids doing super-cute stuff (which I realize annoys some folks equally). Anyway, I've been told that my running posts inspire some people, which in turn, inspires me to keep doing it. And really, if no one ever bragged about their accomplishments on Facebook, the world would probably stop turning or something. If you want to unfriend me on Facebook because of running posts, it's pretty likely you won't want to be my friend in real life either since pretty much all I talk about these days is running. Wait, that's not true, I also talk about all the super-cute stuff my kids do. Like going to fun runs with me:

Okay, I get it now. I probably need a hobby.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This is not promising!

Marathon Training Week Four Recap

This week was not good. No, scratch that. This week was fine, my attitude about this week was not good. We actually had semi-decent weather (re: windchills above zero), and I had time in my schedule to get all my workouts in without too much effort. Monday I had an easy three planned.  I was all ready to head to the TM when my BRF posted a picture of her outdoor run, complete with icicles on her eyelashes. I knew then I had to go outside. It was chilly, but I ran fast. Kept an 8:40 pace! I should have felt really good about this, but I kept bitching about the cold. Seriously, it's been cold forever, I've run when it's been colder, I don't know why I had such a bad attitude about the weather today, but it clouded the run, and set a bad tone for the rest of the week.

Tuesday was the birthday of one of my staff, so I stopped on my way in and got donuts for everyone in the office to share. I knew I had 5 miles on the schedule today, so I managed to hold off on eating any during our morning staff meeting. But, I have a very weak level of resistance to sweets, and in addition to the donuts I brought, someone else had brought cookies, and someone else had brought candies, and...well, you get the point...it was a veritable sugar fest in our office and I indulged completely. I didn't have high hopes for my run after that, but the windchill was in double digits (19-heat wave!) and the sun was shining. I decided to do an out an back rather than my normal 5-mile loop on campus. That might not have been the right call as the tail wind I had going out turned into a brutal head wind coming back. I powered through and manged to keep the pace I was going for, sub 9:30 for each mile. Again, I was so focused on how cold it was that I didn't even celebrate the fact that I had just eaten my weight in donuts and managed not to puke it all up in the middle of my run! Bad attitude strikes again.

Wednesday, TRX day, today had to be better, right? Wrong. I had a last minute lunch meeting thrown at me. I know, boo hoo, a lunch meeting...but seriously, this week was just messing with my mojo left and right! So, I had to skip TRX and settle for the "express toning" class instead. It was okay, but my hopes for a good battery recharge with a killer workout were dashed.

Thursday had a 6 mile interval run on the plan. But a busy morning full of meetings and sub-zero windchills meant that I wasn't getting it done during my work hours. So, I headed to the indoor dome track at 7:30. I really don't like exercising at night, so this run was kind of doomed from the start. When I got there it was FREEZING inside! Granted, I know it's not really heated in there, so I dressed for the temps, but it was so freaking cold, I just wanted to pack it up and go home! There were a ton of people on the track, including a bunch of chatty teenage girls running 3-4 wide that made things worse. I had found out earlier that some women from the local Mom's Run This Town group were going to be there, and figured maybe if I could connect with someone other than my own bad attitude it would be okay. After about 3 miles I hadn't noticed any other "mom" type people on the track and was kind of over it. But then I suddenly saw two women running just in front of me that seemed like they could be from the group. I sped up and asked, "Are you from Mom's Run This Town?" and they said "Yes!" I was right, connecting with them was all I needed to get a few more miles in. I hit 5 and a half and decided to call it a night. I was ready for bed! 

Another Friday swim day, another Friday of not wanting to swim. Man, it's been impossible to get myself motivated for swimming. I really don't know why either. I like swimming, I always feel great once I'm in the water, but man, getting myself poolside is like torture! But, I did get there, my workout was nothing to write home about, I managed 1800 yards when all was said and done. I am considering hooking up with a local masters group for a workout here and there. Thinking this might be what I need to get into a swimming groove.

Finally, it's Saturday, long run day. New fuel day. New attitude day! Yes, I started Saturday with the thought that I was going to be excited about my run, that all the negativity of the week was over, I was going to have a great run and then work at a cool event the rest of the afternoon! I stuck with that theory until mile 4 of the 12 I had planned. That's when the headwind hit me, that's when I tried the first taste of my new fuel (more on that later), that's when I realized that the 6 mile trail I had planned my out and back on was closed at mile 4.5. That's when my attitude went in the crapper. I guess should have known that I was going to have issues from the moment I got dressed. I forgot my base layer shirt. Like it was an omen for things to come "you aren't even dressed properly, how are you going to run 12 miles". For some reason, I brought two top layers. The windchill was 5, so I knew that one layer wasn't going to cut it, so I put on both jackets. I felt a little stiff, but figured I'd deal with it. I actually was happy for the extra warmth when I started as the wind bit a little harder than I thought it was going to. I set off for what I believed would be a nice flat run in a straight line, and that's what I had for 4 miles. Then I tried the fuel I brought along for the day...Cherry Cola Honey Stinger chews.

I was excited to try these since they are all natural and contain caffeine (from white tea), and I definitely needed a bit of a boost. The flavor wasn't necessarily bad, it's just that the cola taste lingered long after I ate them, which wasn't necessarily pleasant. They were a little easier to chew than last week's Gu Chomps, but it still felt awkward trying to chew them while breathing hard. I drank a lot of water to try to wash away the cola aftertaste. I didn't feel any instantaneous energy boost, but I did almost immediately feel kind of sick to my stomach. I don't know if it was the chews, or the large amount of water I consumed, but I knew right away that the rest of this run was going have problems. I kept running, hoping my gut would settle down and that the energy would kick in soon. Neither happened. In fact, I started to think that I was going to need to find a porta potty. That is when I noticed that the trail in front of me was ending. I was only 4 and a half miles in. Bummer. I didn't have a back up plan for my route, I was just supposed to run 6 miles in a straight line and back. Now what?!?

Given my directional ineptitude, I had no choice but to turn around and head back the way I came. I figured if I even made 9 miles before needing to get to a bathroom that it was going to be a victory of epic proportions. As soon as I reversed course, the wind hit me like a ton of bricks. My legs were so heavy. I looked down at my watch and saw I was still running at about a 10:10/mile pace, but I felt like I was crawling. This did not do wonders for my mental state. At this point I was just willing myself to get back to campus without calling my husband to come pick me up. My stomach was gurgling, my music decided to keep cutting in and out and my nose was running like a faucet. I was a mess. I finally made it back to where the trail I was on connects with the trail to campus, about a mile and a half from my office. I decided to try to take another chance on the chews since I figured I couldn't feel much worse, and I really needed something to help get me back. This time I only took a small sip of water with them and just lived with the sickeningly sweet cola taste lingering around. And although my stomach still felt gross, I did notice a small burst of energy this time. Enough that I hit the 9 mile mark and thought to myself "hey, maybe I can get to 12". But, like the rest of the morning had gone, that positivity only lasted another 1/2 mile before my mind and body decided they had had enough. I turned around and headed back to my office. I hit the door at exactly 10 miles. I decided that getting to double digits was a small victory considering what a horrible run it had been. Then I proceeded to the bathroom, where I'll spare you the details.

I had to work the rest of the day at our annual indoor Triathlon. I was in such a bad mood that I kind of thought of bailing on it since I didn't think being around people having awesome endurance sport victories was a good idea. But I am glad I stuck it out. It really does inspire me to see people of all ages, shapes and abilities embracing the sport I love. It reminded me why I'm doing this, because I believe in the body's ability to do amazing things. I told myself that one bad run is not going to define my training, or my journey to the finish line. I even had a few people ask me why I wasn't doing the triathlon and when I told them I had a long run on my marathon plan today instead, they told me how impressed they were....THEM, people who had just done a triathlon were impressed by MY crappy 10-mile run. So, I closed the chapter on Week Four. Next week is a new beginning, and it was already looking more promising than the last!