Friday, May 29, 2015

All dolled up and 26.2 miles to go!

I'll admit it, I sometimes judge people by their running clothes. Now don't get me wrong, I am so excited when I see people out running, and I never judge them by their pace, or what their form looks like, or whether or not they want to say "hi" to me as we pass, no...that's all good. But I do often times look at someone and envy their cute running skirt, or covet their fancy florescent shoes. On the flip side, I often see people running in cotton T-shirts and think..."good lord, what is this 1979?!?" This week I even saw a woman wearing...wait for it...JEAN SHORTS! Yes, there was a woman out on the trails on Wednesday, one of the hottest days of the week, wearing jorts, while running. And she wasn't running for the bus or to catch up with a friend, she was legitimately out for a run. She was also sporting one of my other running-don'ts...the long, free flowing hair. I mean, my hair barely brushes my chin and I have to pull it back, I just don't get how she was managing with a thick mane of curly hair swinging willy-nilly behind her. I was so sweaty, my SWEAT was sticking to my neck, I couldn't imagine having hair out there in the mix too!

Eventually I got over it, I mean, to each her own. Besides, I am certainly not some fashion plate sporting the latest get ups from Lulu, Lucy, or any of those other fancy-pants places. Trust me, I am intimately familiar with the entire line of active wear from both Target and Walmart, and it's not bad! Sure, it might not hold up as long as the name brand stuff, but it wicks, it breathes, and it doesn't require me to get a second mortgage on my house to buy it. And really, who cares what your running clothes look like? You are going to be sweaty and disgusting at the end of your run anyway, so what does it matter if your headband perfectly matches the stripe down the side of your tights? If it's clean, dry and weather-appropriate, I'm wearing it, end of story.

That said, I have been finding myself completely and totally obsessed with my outfit for the marathon. I don't know why, but for some reason I have it in my head that how I look that day is going to have an effect on the race. I have no idea if it's going to be cold, hot, rainy...snowy...but I don't care, I just want to look cute. Maybe it's because over the four or five (six) hours it's going to take me to finish this thing, thousands of people are going to see me...which is dumb because it's not like any of them are going to be looking at me in particular. Or maybe it's because I am sure I will look so horrific when it's over that at least my clothes should look good. I don't know, but it had become all consuming, until last week. Last week I attended the Another Mother Runner party and I saw this:

It's like the heavens opened up and rained clarity down on me. Yes, I am a Badass Mother Runner, and I MUST wear this shirt for the marathon. And no matter if it is hot, snowy, or raining cats and dogs, I will be at the start line in my totally awesome shirt, staring down those 26.2 miles daring them to beat me. Then, when I cross that finish line in 2,431st place, I will kneel down, rip that thing off and celebrate like like I just won the world cup, because that's what badasses do! And seriously at that point, I won't give a rip about what I'm wearing...just get me to the after party stat!

After the race I will undoubtedly go back to not caring what I look like while I'm running as long as my hair is pulled back and there is no cotton touching my skin. But until then, I am on a quest to find a matching headband and socks, and nothing can stop me until I do!

Monday, May 25, 2015

My words for the week

Marathon Training Week 16 Recap

I am rarely at a loss for words, but for some reason I've been staring at this blank page for a half hour trying to figure out what to say about this week. This week was awesome running-wise. This week was amazing socially, and this week was surprisingly satisfying work-wise, so why do I have writers block? Maybe it's the rain, maybe it's because I have a Monday off work, or maybe it's just because...Monday. Oh well, instead of day to day, I'm going to recap this week with words that have been repeating themselves quite often lately.

I've written several times on this blog about my directional ineptitude. It's comical to some, but it actually really frustrates me sometimes. I don't like running in new places because I'm sure I'll get lost. On Tuesday I needed to run four miles. I also needed to meet up with my friend Jenn that day to get her the jersey I picked up for her at the Duathlon last week (she had the flu and couldn't compete). I devised what seemed like the perfect plan, I would take the train from my office to the Twins stadium, I'd meet her near her office and then run the 4 miles back to campus. Well, the "getting on the train to the stadium" part worked great, but from there my inability to navigate myself out of a paper bag kicked in and I took a mini-tour of downtown Minneapolis before finally figuring out I walked in the opposite direction from her office. I finally found her 15 minutes later, about 20 steps from where I got off the train in the first place. We walked back towards her office (in the right direction) and she pointed me toward the river, which if I was lucky, was going to connect me to the path that goes directly back to Dinkytown. It did, eventually, I only had to ask one person for directions! I finally got my bearings and had a nice speedy run, even if it was a little chilly. My apologies to Jenn if you didn't have time to eat lunch before having to go back to work! As for me, I will live to get lost another day, and at least I got a selfie with Rod Carew out of the deal:

Wednesday I met with my PT for possibly the last time (at least for my current issues). When I first made an appointment with her for my knee and ankle pain over a month ago I was in a really bad place mentally. I had just come off a horrible long run where I pulled a hamstring and had persistant pain in my right knee and ankle. I was sure that my marathon training was over.  Thankfully Catherine has the patience of a saint and the understanding of a runner. She immediately concurred that I had been training way too hard, and told me my form, cadence and glute strength needed a lot of work, but that all was not lost. She gave me an easy to follow and easy to manage plan to get myself back from the brink and I'm happy to say that at my appointment this week she was confident that I am on the right track to be able to enjoy a lifetime of running (barring any stupidity on my part!) I skipped my 9 miler that day, mostly because I ran out of time, but also because I didn't feel like I needed it. I've come a long way from the rule-follower that was the old me!

I don't know that this is the appropriate word to describe what I felt on Thursday, but since words are not coming very easily to me today, I'm gonna stick with it. Thursday would have been my Dad's 88th birthday. It's been just over three years since he passed, and I think about him often, especially now as I close in on running my first marathon. I think about how proud he was of all my accomplishments, but maybe more so of my athletic ones, and how I would love to be able to share this milestone with him. My mom, sister, best friend from college, Michelle, and I were planning to celebrate his life that evening, but first, a run. I wanted to meet up with the lunch group at Mill City running, but got a late start from my office. I ran there as fast as I could, but I just missed the group. The clerk in the store said "They just left, you can catch them", I just smiled and said "Okay, sure" as I ran out of the store, knowing full well I'm not a "catch up with the group" kind of runner. I did actually see them, stopped at a light a few blocks ahead of me, so I decided I would follow them and see what happened (you know this is a big step for me if you read the "Lost" paragraph above). They ran a couple more blocks through Nord East, and then turned on to the pathway at St. Anthony Main, an area I actually am sort-of familiar with. The weather was absolutely perfect and there were a TON of people out on the trails. I lost sight of the group shortly after that, but I didn't care. This was the first time in a long time that I was just content to run. I didn't have my ear buds in, so I had no idea of my pace or distance. I didn't have music to keep me company, but I was enjoying the sounds of birds and the wind in the trees, and hearing snippets of other people's conversations, trying to imagine what they were talking about. Normally not knowing how far or how fast I'm going makes me a little crazy, but today it was freeing, just running, not thinking about my plan, or the marathon, or catching up to anybody or running away from anything. It was perfect. After the run I got back to my office and got ready to meet up with some women from the Maple Grove MRTT group for dinner and then the Another Mother Runner party at Mill City Running. I discovered Another Mother Runner about a year ago when I had looked up "women's running books" at the library. The book "Run Like a Mother" was on the top of the list, so I figured I'd give it a try. It was eye-opening, inspiring, and so on the money, I couldn't put it down. I followed that by going out and buying "Train Like a Mother" and devoured that one as well. The authors, Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowall were just like me, women who weren't born to be runners but discovered that even though their lives are crazy-busy, they just HAVE to fit running in. They get it, that parenting, working, running, racing, it can all be a piece of the puzzle, even if you sometimes have to cram those pieces together! Dimity was going to be at Mill City tonight to meet the AMR "tribe" and sign copies of their new book, "Tales from Another Mother Runner". I couldn't wait to meet her and just be surrounded by the amazing energy that comes from being in a group of women runners. We met for dinner at Ginger Hop (go there right now and get the Yellow Curry, you can thank me later). This was my first time meeting many of the women from the Maple Grove MRTT and we made fast friends, the connection of parenting and training, and juggling it all is a strong bond. And even though I was so excited to get to the party, I admit that I could have lingered over dinner all night with these ladies. Alas, we did have to get to the store, so we settled our tabs and headed out. The place was already pretty packed when we got there. I connected with a couple of my Strava friends (women I follow on my running app) and even got to chat for a bit with Olympian Carrie Tollefson about Grandma's Marathon (she'll be filming her show there in June). The atmosphere was wonderful and by the time Dimity came out to sign books and take pictures, I felt I had already gotten a lifetime of inspiration from the other women in the room. As she started speaking to the group I realized the time, I still needed to meet up with my family for my Dad's celebration, so I stayed for a few minutes more and then quietly snuck out the back. It was an uplifting day, topped off by spending time honoring my Dad with my favorite women and a lot of laughs!

The Maple Grove MRTT contingent with Dimity, hard to miss her, she is one tall drink of water!

The "Tony T-Shirt" crew, celebrating my Dad wearing some of his favorite T-shirts!

Friday I headed to the Y to swim while Kayley had practice. I had planned on just duplicating my workout from last week since I was a little mentally exhausted from the day before. But when I got there Coach Carole (Kayley's coach who also happens to be a good friend) introduced me to Dave, a guy she does Masters with who also happened to be in for a swim tonight. Dave convinced me to do a workout with him and we were joined by another Masters swimmer, Tom. Carole assured me that they were "my pace" even though I figured they'd have to really dog it for me to keep up with them. We started with a 300 warm up, then did 12 x 50 kick/swim, swim/kick. The first four were on 1:00, second four on :55, last four on :50. Then we did 4 sets of 100 pull, 50 swim 50 swim. The 100's were on 1:35 (FAST) and the 50's were on :50. Then we finished with 10 x 50, the first 5 were "five-breath" the second five were "four-breath". I made most of the five breath ones, but only made one four breath lung capacity ain't what it used to be. Part way through this set Kayley stopped and looked over at us and started trash talking me to the guys. "My Mom is so fast, she's going to totally beat you!" I had to smile, she has a lot of guts talking me up to two pretty beefy guys. But, it definitely seemed as if they were losing a bit of steam so I put my head down and went for it. Now, I am guessing maybe they held back on those last few 50's but I did beat them....can't disappoint my kid you know! I finished up with a 100 cool down for 2300 total yards. It ended up being a lot of fun...I will never doubt Coach Carole again!

Saturday I got up early once again to meet the MRTT group out at Elm Creek for my long run. I had 14 miles on the plan today and there was a group meeting at 6 who were willing to do 12 of them with me! I have started to get used to getting up at the crack of dawn for these runs, but I still don't know that I necessarily "like" it. Thankfully, Sara, Jen and Jennifer made it worth my while. We started out in the chilly dawn and fell into an easy pace, talking about our upcoming races (Sara and Jen are doing the half marathon at Grandma's and Jennifer is doing a half IRONMAN in July!) and our future goals. Sara said this was her summer to learn to be a "duathlete" and next year she wants to become a "triathlete" even though she is not a great swimmer. I told her about my friend Brandi who was deathly afraid of open water but overcame it to do her first triathlon last year and that I was confident she could do the same. Before we knew it, we were a loop down . We decided to wait at the parking area for the rest of the group who were coming at 7 and picked up Sherry for our second loop (the rest of the group were running at a faster pace, so we fell in behind them). We opted for the 7 mile loop this go around since Sara and Jen wanted to do 12 and Jennifer wanted to do 11 (Sherry just wanted to run :) I was glad to be running with women so confident in their sense of direction or I never would have attempted to go a different way. I continued to feel strong even though this loop seemed significantly more hilly to me. I fueled up at mile 8 and slowed down a bit. Sara and Jen pulled ahead a little and Sherry and Jennifer stayed back with me. We hit the 11 mile mark and Jennifer told us she was going to walk it in. Sherry and I made it back to the chalet and saw part of the other group was in the parking area. I said good bye to Sherry and kept going, determined to get that last 2.5 miles in before calling it a day. As I was just rounding out of the parking area, Sherry called "Linda, come back" I ran back and she called out, "They are going out for more, join them". I thought, she must be crazy, I'm 11.5 miles in, I'm not going to keep up with them! But Morgan, who is 17-weeks pregnant, assured me she wanted to run SLOW! So I headed back out with this little band of women, who started out at a 9:15 pace. Morgan and I quickly decided to slow down and fall back and finished our last 2 miles with lots of talk about babies and how Morgan is still planning to race Grandma's half marathon with her doctor's okay even though her husband thought she should skip it. I mean, between Morgan and her determination to run through her pregnancy, Jennifer's determination to run a half Ironman before she's even run a half marathon, and Sara's determination to become a triathlete some day, I just can't help but be inspired and humbled by these women. I got back in the car, not necessarily excited for the rest of the day. We had planned a lot of outdoor-sy things for the first day of the long weekend and rain seemed to be inevitable. But, I shook that feeling off quickly...there was no way this day was going to be anything but awesome after the amazing start it had!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Sometimes I wonder what the heck I am "Du"ing!

Marathon Training Week 15 Recap

I started writing this recap on Monday and I walked away from it for a work meeting, now all of a sudden it's Wednesday! If this is any indication of how fast my summer is going to fly by, I might was well not even pack away my hats and mittens (which, by the way, I've had to wear the last two mornings on my walks with the dog!) Anyway, here's the low down on a pretty exciting training week!

Monday my anti-yoga demons reared their ugly heads as usual and I decided to skip my lunch-time class. I was planning on doing all my PT exercises after I got home, so I made myself promise that I would incorporate some yoga at the end. I am starting to feel much stronger with my PT now, and can get through the exercises pretty quickly, however, today the kids wanted to do them with was actually pretty entertaining watching them try to do Monster Walks with the therapy bands, and their acrobatic antics on the one-legged box jumps were comedy gold! What wasn't so cute was trying to relax in my yoga poses with Logan trying to climb on me and Kayley making tooting noises the whole time. But we got it done, I should probably plan on doing these at work next week!

Tuesday I had a 4 miler on the plan and took off at lunch time for my regular route to the Stone Arch bridge and back. It was a little chilly out, so I had a light jacket and capris. I warmed up quickly, but I didn't want to stop, so the jacket stayed on. I took the run out pretty fast and figured I'd lose a ton of steam on the way back, but I managed to hold my pace and felt really great the whole time. I did a little foam rolling when I got back to campus since my hamstrings have been feeling tight...I tend to forget how awesome foam rolling is until I do it, I MUST remember to keep this up....however, considering that I can barely remember my name these days, I'll shoot for remembering next week.

Wednesday was a little less hectic at work, so I was excited to get my 9-miler in. It was so beautiful out, mid-60's with full sun.  I went for an out and back on East River Parkway, the route that my run sucked so hard on two weeks ago...I figured it was time to give it another go. I rocketed out of campus, and was surprised to hear the pace of my first mile, 8:34! I slowed down, relaxed my shoulders and reminded myself I had 8 more miles to go. There were a ton of people out on the trail today, so I got to share a lot of smiles and nods. There was an older gentleman who must have been doing some interval work because he kept flying by me and then a few steps past, he would stop and walk and I'd fly* by him. We did this for a mile or so until I apparently passed him for good...he shouted "keep it up runner" to me and I didn't see him again. I took a quick potty and energy gel break at the start of mile seven. I hated stopping with only two miles to go, but my bladder was not going to make it back to campus. I felt renewed after that though and ended the run strong and fast.

*fly=amble slightly faster than his walking pace

Thursday the weather was the pits. After such a gloriously awesome day on Wednesday, this was a real disappointment. I had a super busy day planned too...meetings in the morning and our staff appreciation event in the afternoon. I was supposed to run 5, but the rain and time constraints just weren't going to let that happen so I got on the spin bike for a quick 10 miles. I considered this a good alternative since I was planning on attempting a duathlon on Sunday! Friday was swim day and I did 2000 yards at the Y during Kayley's swim practice. My shoulder is still feeling a little tweaky...I hate the thought of putting another thing on my PT's plate, but I might need to consider talking to her about it soon. I did a 500 warm up, then 5 x 100 on 1:45, 4 x 100 on 1:40, 3 x 100 on 1:35, 2 x 100 on 1:30 (this was basically a 200 straight ;), and then a 100 cool down. I finished just in time to see Kayley do her first successful dive from the starting block...she was super excited!

Saturday I woke up at 5:00, all set to attempt my longest run to date, 18 miles. I had what I felt like was a pretty solid plan for getting this done. I was meeting the Maple Grove MRTT group at Elm Creek park reserve for 4 loops of the inner trail (4.5 miles each). Now, before you get all "loops suck" on me, hear me out. I had planned to get there at 6:15 and get one loop in solo before the rest of the group showed up at 7:00. Then, I would run two loops with the group to keep me company, and finally finish with another single loop by myself (which was perfect since I could then cry and walk and curse myself without bothering anyone else). When I mentioned on the group page that I was going to do a loop at 6:00, another mother, Andrea, offered to meet me since she had to leave earlier than the rest of the group. Perfect...three loops with running buddies, one on my own, this was going to be a piece of cake! I arrived right at 6 and met Andrea. We hadn't discussed pace in our messages, but I knew she was around a 9-minute miler. I asked if she was good going at a 10-minute pace, and of course she was. It was a little chilly when we started the loop but the humidity creeped up fast. We made easy conversation and I didn't pay much attention to our pace. Much to my surprise (and horror) we ran the first loop holding a 9:40 pace. Yikes...I had 13.5 miles left to legs were gonna be toast! The upside was it was only 6:45, so we had a nice break waiting on the rest of the group to show up. Once they got there we quickly figured out we had two distinct groups, one that wanted to run 9-10 miles at about a 9:30 pace, and one that was going to run/walk a loop or two. I knew I couldn't do two more loops that fast, so I started thinking I was going to be running three loops solo. Thankfully one of the other women, Sherry, said she wanted to run at a 10-minute pace, but she was only going to do one loop. Fine by original plan was to do two loops by myself anyway, so away we went. I felt really strong on this loop and Sherry and I seemed natural running buddies. She has three very active kids, so we had no lack of conversation material. We finished that loop holding just over 10-mile miles. I took a bathroom break and said good bye, then set off for my final two loops feeling confident that I was going to finish strong.

Now, given my directional ineptitude, I probably should have been paying more attention to the route of the loops on the first two go-arounds, but really, how hard is it to figure out how to run in a loop? Apparently for me, it's impossible. There is one part of the "inner" loop at Elm Creek where you have to cross over the main road. Well, I missed it and ignorantly plodded along for a half mile before I started thinking I was not on the right path. Did I really miss the cross-over? No, I couldn't I kept going. Once I had run a full mile, I started seeing totally unfamiliar scenery on the trail and I realized I was most definitely not in Kansas anymore.  Crap! I had 8 miles left to go and I was going in the wrong direction! I thought for a second about turning around and just heading back, but I figured if I missed the cross over going in the direction I was used to going, there was no way I was going to find it going in the opposite direction. So, I plugged on. I did some mental math (also not one of my strong suits) and figured I just needed to run in a straight line until Strava-lady said I had done 13.5 miles, then I would turn around and go back. Of course, this meant the trail had to continue in a straight line, which of course it didn't. Thankfully, it came to a "T" so all I had to remember was to turn left on my way back (if I had hit a "Y" or god-forbid a three way split I would have been doomed!) Around mile 12 I really started to feel the effects of my speedy start to the day and decided to walk up the pretty significant hill I encountered. I took some energy gel and sipped some water and ran through to mile 13.5, my turn around point. I stopped and stretched a bit and was feeling pretty good. I started up and enjoyed the downhill I had just climbed and got back to the"T" in the trail, thankfully I remembered to turn left, and saw the sign that indicated 2.5 miles to the Chalet, where my car seats were waiting for my tired ass to sit in them! I'm not gonna lie, this last 2.5 miles was BRUTAL! I had nearly nothing left in my tank. My legs were shaky, my water was almost gone, and I was sure that I was never going to catch up to the woman with a giant stroller and two dogs walking ahead of me. When I finally did pass her at mile 16 I gave the kiddos a little wave and told myself "this is it, every step from now on is a PDR!". I took one more quick walk break right before mile 17 and then put my head down and plowed through the last hill to the chalet. As I was rounding on the parking lot, I was waiting for Strava-lady to say "Distance: 18-miles", and man it seemed to take foever. When I finally heard it I said "thank god" and stopped immediately.  I headed to the bathroom and thought for a second my legs were not going to function enough to allow me to actually sit on the toilet. Then, once I sat down, I was sure they were not going to stand me back up. But they did. I got back to my car and slammed down the water in the bottle I had stowed. I was so glad to be done, and was pretty darn proud of myself. I called my friend Jill to share my glory with her...she's an Ironman and has given me some invaluable support along the way...she did not disappoint with her kudos for my run. We chatted my whole drive home until I finally had to say good bye and get myself some breakfast!

*In case you are wondering "Strava-lady" is the voice on my mileage app, she can make for good company when I like what she's telling me.

The MRTT support system is awesome! That's me in the yellow, Sherry, my second loop partner in the coral shirt, and Andrea my speed-demon first loop buddy in the pink arm warmers!
I woke up Sunday with a conundrum. I was signed up to do the Esprit de She Duathlon in Lakeville with my BRF Brandi and some other friends. I signed up for this race before I signed up for the marathon, so it didn't dawn on me until a couple weeks ago that the race was going to take place the day after an 18-mile training run. I had advice on both sides of the coin, "don't do it" and "do it, but take it easy", I really didn't know which way to turn. I woke up on Sunday and my legs felt surprisingly good. So, since I'm super stinking competitive (and I really like free t-shirts) I decided to go for it. The weather was less than ideal, drizzly rain and nasty winds. I figured if there was ever going to be a test of my mental toughness, this was it. Lakeville is about a 45-minute drive from my house and the race started at 7:00am...which meant I had to get up at 4:30 to get ready to leave the house by 5:15 so I would have enough time to pick up my packet and get my transition area set up. However, Logan apparently had other plans, as he decided to wet the bed at 3:30 and got me up to change his sheets. I told him to just get in bed with Dad since there was no way I was going to risk going back to sleep at this point. I stripped his bed and started going about my morning routine. Since I had extra time, I took the dog for a walk...he was in heaven...a walk at 4:30 in the morning! He better not get used to that! I had everything ready to go by 4:45 and figured I'd leave a little early and not be so rushed with set up. Of course, that's when Logan decided he was going to get back up and want breakfast. I finally convinced him to go back to sleep and got out of the house at 5:15, just like I had planned ;) The drizzle kept up my whole drive, but thankfully it seemed that we weren't going to get hit with a thunderstorm like some predictions indicated. I waited in the way-too-long line for packet pick up (note to self, try to get to Lakeville for early packet pick up next year). I found Brandi right before the transition area was going to close and we got things set up. She headed for the start line and I headed for the porta-potty line, which was thankfully short. What wasn't short however, was the walk to the start line. I figured out why they wanted to close down transition 30 minutes before the race, because it took almost that long to walk to the start area. I found the corral for the 40-44 age group, but snuck into the 35-39 wave so I could start with my younger, more talented friends. The race started with a moment of silence for Penny Verdeck, the triathlete and mother of two who was killed a few weeks ago when she was struck by a car during a training ride. We all teared up thinking about her, but were hopeful when her family was introduced, they there to cheer us on in her honor. I think everyone in that start corral was inspired to run that race to the best of their abilities since Penny was not here to race with us. The first run was pretty easy, winding through a neighborhood, up a couple small hills and back to the transition area. I had no idea of my pace as I had forgot to start my watch. I had covered my helmet and bike shoes with my rain jacket to try to keep them dry, so my transition time was not the fastest, but I didn't care, I was taking this race "easy" right?!? The bike ride was no picnic. Lots of hills and a nasty side wind that kept threatening to blow me off the road. I was happy for the break from pounding the pavement it gave me though, and I ended up finishing the 10.9 miles at about a 14.5 mph pace, not too shabby. I again took my time in transition, sucking down some Nuun but skipping my energy gel. I headed out for the final 2 miles feeling tired, but determined. As I turned the corner into the finish shoot I could see Brandi standing at the finish line cheering her lungs out for me. "You ran 18 miles yesterday, you are AWESOME!!!" I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face...exhausted, but feeling pretty darn badass!

32.9 miles  with those legs in two days, not too bad!

When I finally had a chance to check my results, I found out my first two run miles were in 18:52, a 9:35 pace and my second two miles were in 17:52, a 9:05 pace. So much for taking it easy! I found Brandi and the rest of our group and we headed to the finishers celebration where I scarfed down way too many mini muffins and two glasses of mimosa. The weather may have sucked, but all in all, I was so glad I decided to do the race. Hanging out with these women is so fun and inspiring....I only wish I could have them all by my side on June 20th, cheering me on with shouts of "You just ran a MARATHON, you are AWESOME!!!". But I'll settle for knowing they are there with me in spirit!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The week that wasn't!

Marathon Training Week 14 Recap

This week was the beginning of a LONG, crazy summer season at work. Between May 9th and August 9th we have only TWO weekends without events going on. Now, don't get me wrong, we love's what our facility was made for, and frankly, my job would be kind of boring without them...but it means that my work days and my weekend days become much less flexible than they have been since I started marathon training. This, compounded with the fact that my mid-week runs are getting longer, means I either need to get creative, or I will start missing workouts, which is exactly what happened this week.

Monday was rest day since I had my long run on Sunday last week. I did not do yoga (again...bad runner!) but I did get all my PT exercises in, so I'm considering this my most productive day of the week. Tuesday I was leading a group run for MRTT on the Rice Creek Trail near my house. I was supposed to do 4-miles today, but rain clouds were hanging over us threatening to open up at any second so we did a quick 3.5 mile loop around the park and called it good. Of course, in true Murphy's Law fashion, it never rained...I could have squeezed in that extra half mile anyway. I didn't necessarily feel bad on this run, my legs were solid and our pace was good, but for some reason I was dragging. I think that evening runs might not be my thing. I just feel heavy or something. I didn't eat dinner before I went, but maybe all the other food I had that day caught up with me. I don't know, but the run left me feeling unsatisfied in some way.

Wednesday was insane at work. Every year my department hosts a huge "appreciation" picnic where we invite all the different people we work with throughout the year. From facility maintenance workers, to architects, product reps, coaches, our student staff and more, we generally feed over a thousand people in two hours. I have found myself in charge of this event for the last three years, and it is no small task. In addition to the regular stuff I needed to do today I had to spend two hours at Restaurant Depot buying all the brats, hamburgers, and potato salad they had in stock. Those were unfortunately the two hours I had for running, so my 8-miler didn't happen. I know that this is not the end of the world, but it kind of felt like it. I was really bummed. Mostly because my 8-miler last week was so terrible I wanted some redemption, also because I wanted to test my theory that maybe evening runs are just not my cup of tea by seeing if I felt any better this afternoon. However, since I needed to take the kids to swimming and wouldn't be able to get the run in that evening, redemption and theoretical discovery were going to have to wait for another day.

Thursday was the day of the picnic, so I was already resigned to the fact that my 5-miler was not going to be happening during my work day today. I figured I was going to have to give evening running another go and just get out after Bill got home from his softball game at 7:00. Working the picnic was non-stop craziness, and by the time I left work I had already put in 21,000 steps on the old Fitbit. My legs were killing me, I was tired and cranky and just wanted to sit on my couch and pout. My mood brightened a bit when I got home and found that the new shoes I had ordered had arrived. Last fall my friend Cheryl wrote about switching to Newton running shoes and how they pretty much cured all her running ailments. They have "lugs" on the bottom of the shoe at mid-foot that kind of force you to run with out a heel strike, and in turn, supposedly help alleviate all kinds of running issues. I had tried a pair on right after she raved about them, but alas, I stuck with my tried and true Sauconys since I was afraid to move away from a stability shoe. Well, my PT has been having me change up my cadence so I run more on the balls of feet and she and I talked about shoes. She mentioned that it might be time for me to try out a pair of more neutral shoes since stability shoes almost encourage heel-striking with all their support. So, with her blessing (and a screaming deal from Active Gear Up) I ordered myself a pair of Newton Energy NR.
Yes Mom, they are pink. I was bound to wear this color some day!
Now, considering the fact that my feet are super wide, I have been buying men's shoes for running, since they are cut larger than women's. This means my color choices have been pretty banal. Newtons are really roomy in the toe box though, so I was able to get them in a women's size...and I didn't hold back. I pretty much bought the "girly-est" style I could find, which really isn't very me but I figured "what the heck". I was now both nervous and excited for my run that night. Excited to try out my new shoes, and nervous that I was going to hate them, or worse that I was going to hurt myself running in them. My neighbor Jen texted after dinner to see if I wanted to head out for an "easy three" at 7:30, and even though I had 5 on the schedule, I figured that would be perfect. I'd run short and easy on my new kicks, and if I tripped and broke my ankle in the process, I'd have someone to carry me home! Right after that, the weather started to take a turn for the worst and at about 6:15 a short torrential down pour started. It was over almost as quickly as it started, so I wasn't too worried about it ruining the run, but what I didn't take into consideration was that it was going to delay the softball game. 7:30 came and went and I had to text Jen to go without me. Bill got home a little before 8 and helped me get the kids into bed. Even though the sky had cleared, it was now 8:30 and was starting to get a little too dark for me to consider more than just a short out and back. I got laced up and took off down our trail for a run up to the "light and back", exactly 2 miles. The new shoes felt great, they were more cushiony than I remember and really made my stride seem effortless. I didn't wear my headphones, so I had no idea what kind of pace I was running, but I didn't care....I was running, finally! By the time I turned around to head home the sun was gone and I was running by street light. I'm not a fan of not being able to see where I'm going, so I slowed down a little and stepped more carefully...imagine my surprise when I checked my pace after I got home to find I ran under 9:30's for both miles! The new shoes were a success and I had felt good on an evening run...the craziest day of the week ended on a good note.

I got a lazy swim in on Friday. The whole family had come out to the Y tonight. Kayley had swim team practice, Bill wanted to sit in the hot tub and Logan wanted to play in the shallow pool. So I did a quick and easy 2000 yards, four sets of my old-standby...200 swim, 100 kick, 200 pull. My left shoulder has really been bothering me lately...not really sure what it's all about, I think I may just be sleeping on it strangely. Anyway, it was fine. After swimming, we all went to the open climb in the gym where Kayley put all other climbers to shame by tackling the wall's overhang three times in a row! That kid is a serious rock star!

This week was a step back week for my long run so I only had 12-miles on the schedule for Saturday. I did an out and back from home along Lexington Avenue and the Rice Creek Trail. It was a little chilly starting out, so I had my arm sleeves on. I could see my breath and worried that I was underdressed. I felt really strong starting out though and held a nice and steady pace for the first four miles. The trail comes out into the town of Circle Pines at this point and I hit several intersections so I had to wait at quite a few stop lights. At one point I passed by a very busy McDonalds where I admittedly felt a little superior running by the drive thru line looking all fit and stuff. At the six mile mark I ate some of my homemade energy gel, got passed by a woman running with her dog, and turned around to head back home. I felt just as strong on this leg, and even managed a couple sub 10-minute miles. Around mile 8 I finally warmed up enough to shed my arm sleeves and tucked them into my water belt for the rest of the run. I made it home and felt great, like I definitely had a lot left in the tank. I'm sure part of the reason it felt so good was that I skipped or shortened all other runs this week, but I'll take it nonetheless.

Sunday was rest day, but I was excited to get up early so the kids and I could do the Race for the Cure 5K walk with my Mom. This year she celebrates 25-year cancer free. The rain held off and as usual it was an inspiring morning walking along with 50,000 of our closest friends. After all the disappointments and crankiness of this week, I couldn't have ended it on a better note!

Group Hug!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Frustration Friday

Normally I try to post a "Friday Fun Run" where I have come across a meme or quote during the week about running that makes me laugh, or that pokes fun at runners and their quirks in some way. But today, I just need to vent about how frustrated I am. The problem is, I don't really know what I am so frustrated about in the first place! Here is a short list of the reasons I can think of as to why I am in such a horrible mood:

1. Work is super busy right now and I am completely overwhelmed with extra stuff I need to get done because of another person's complete ineptitude. This person no longer works here, so I have no choice but to have this on my plate.

2. Logan has not been sleeping very well for the past month. First he was sick and waking up because he would cough so much, then he decided he didn't want wear Pull Ups to bed anymore, which is great, but also means he has accidents every few Bill and I are both exhausted and cranky pretty much every day.

3. Because of #1 I have missed out on two of my runs this week. And while I realize in the big picture of marathon training missing two shorter runs isn't going to ruin everything, I kind of feel like I have ruined everything.

4. My hair is really bugging me right now. It's either too short or too long, I can't really put my finger on which, but it's also been extra stringy and oily looking lately...which I blame on either over washing or my hormones going crazy since I'm pretty sure I have entered peri-menopause. (<Frustrating Thing #4.5)

5. I have gained 7 pounds in the last three months. None of my summer clothes fit me.

I decided to try to put these things into perspective:

1. I have a job, that I normally love, that keeps a roof over my family's head and food on our table. Yes, it is hard to pick up someone else's pieces, but I am really helping some folks out with the extra stuff I am dong.

2. My kids are happy and healthy and loved. They are good kids, funny, energetic, and have a zest for life that I admire. They make me laugh harder than anyone, and can put a smile on my face even when I'm in the darkest of places.

3. I have been training really hard for the past 14 weeks and still have 6 weeks to go before my marathon. I am lucky that I have had so many opportunities to do my runs during my work day so I don't miss out on family time, and I am also lucky that my husband and kids are so supportive of my training that they are cool with me getting runs in from home when I have to.

4. My hair is naturally blond, so it is hard to see all the grays that have started cropping up in there. (Sorry, positive perspective on my hair is hard to find!)

5. My body has changed in an incredible way over the past year and a half. I am stronger, leaner, and so much more fit than I have been since I can remember. In fact, I am in better shape now than I was in my 20's. I am eating right, exercising, and setting a good example for my kids. Those 7 extra pounds are inconsequential.

Eventually this feeling of frustration will pass. Things will settle down at work, Logan will start being able to make it through the night without an accident, marathon training will taper down, my hair will grow long enough to put in a pony tail and I'll either sweat off those extra pounds or use them as an excuse to get some new summer clothes. In the meantime, I will try to remember...

I hope you all have a frustration-free weekend full of relaxing time where you don't have to think about work and your hair looks super-luxurious!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Putting it into perspective

Marathon Training Week 13 Recap

This week was full of ups and downs training-wise. It was a busy, emotionally draining week work-wise, and a sleep-deprived, physically exhausting week parenting-wise, so I guess it's no surprise that training wasn't all sunshine and rainbows.

Monday was rest day since I had both a long run and a triathlon to end last week. I probably COULD have done yoga...but I really just wanted to do nothing. Work kind of sucked today though. I've been picking up some pieces of things that other people should have dealt with, which irritates me to no end. So I should have probably gotten my "Namaste" on, I was a grumpy Gus all day long!

Tuesday was another busy, frustrating day at work, compounded by the fact that Logan still isn't feeling well and has been waking up several times a night. I knew getting a work-day run in wasn't going to happen, so I posted in the Mom's Run This Town group to see if anyone was up for an evening run. Thankfully my neighbor Jen was...she also has a sick kiddo at home and really needed to get out of the house. We met up for a nice four miler up to Turtle Lake and back. This was my first time running with her, so I'm was a little nervous about things, "am I too slow, am I too fast, what if I have to fart, is my headband on straight?" you know, all the normal stuff you think about when running with other people. But, we just started running and chatting and not worrying about pace (or bodily functions). The weather was just perfect and it felt good to have my mind on something other than work or family (although we talked about both). When I got home I checked my Strava App and noticed we held just over 9 minute fastest run in awhile. Never underestimate how much a running buddy can push you to achieve great things!

Wednesday was my most frustrating day at work. I was tired (see the Logan scenario from above) and grumpy (see the Monday scenario from above), and really needed a run to clear my head...but I was also totally unmotivated. I had 8 on the plan, it was sunny out, I had a free afternoon, but I just couldn't get excited about it. I forced myself to change into my running clothes hoping that would get me into the spirit, and it sort of did, so I headed out. It really was glorious; sunny, warm, not too crowded, perfect conditions. I headed down for an out and back on East River Parkway, thinking a change of direction from my normal Wednesday route might spark some excitement for the run. But, after about a mile in I still felt horrible. My feet hurt, my knee hurt, I was grumpier than ever. I stopped and took a swig of water, and noticed how beautiful the river looked in the bright sun...I mean seriously, I needed to snap out of it, I was outside running on an awesome spring day, what could possibly be stopping me from enjoying this?!? I took a picture of the river since it was too pretty not to share and got back on my way. I managed to hold a steady pace until about the three and a half mile mark, then I started to cramp up and decided to turn around a little earlier than I planned. At this point I figured any mileage was going to be a victory. As I've done on runs past, I started making deals with myself, "just run to the lamp post, then you can walk to the park bench". I did this for the next three miles until I got to the stoplight that stands about a mile from my office. I told myself, "you're running this last mile if it kills you". Well, it came close, but I made it back alive. As with all runs, I was glad I had gotten out to do it, even though pretty much every step of it sucked. I still felt like I had accomplished something the "old me" would have given up on before even getting out the door.

View of the Mississippi and the Franklin Avenue Bridge from the East River Parkway Trail. The view was the best part of this run today!
Thursday I met with my Physical Therapist again. I had really been looking forward to seeing her, but my excitement was tempered after the horrible run of the previous day. We chatted a bit about how things were going and I told her all about my successful long run-into-triathlon transition from last weekend, that I had a nice fast run on Tuesday, and that I totally screwed the pooch on my run yesterday. She smiled and said she wasn't surprised. She said that after all the adrenaline from the long run and racing, partnered with the fast run on Tuesday, added to the fact that I was sleep deprived and work-stressed, it was no wonder I had an off day. She told me she was happy I made it through the run and that I stopped and walked when I needed instead of trying to push through it and potentially injure myself.  We worked a little more on my cadence and she added some lunging and jumping exercises to my routine. I told her that I had four miles on my plan today and she suggested I either skip it, or just take it super easy, and maybe only do 2-3 miles instead. This was great to hear as I still feel a little wary when I go "off-script" from my training plan. I know I need to listen to my body and do what is best for me, but it is nice to get "professional" validation sometimes as well. So, instead of a 4-miler, I got home and suggested to Kayley that we do a training run for her upcoming 5K. We ran to the park, which is exactly one mile from our house, played for a bit and ran back. She was a trooper and ran the whole time for both miles. I forgot to time the first one, but we did the second one in 11:19. She wanted to "race" at the end of the run. She kept telling me "Mom, when we get to our street we need to run as fast as we can". So we did, and she beat me...I knew she was dogging it a bit that whole time! It was good to end a run with a smile on my face, a perfect respite from my bad running mood!
The cutest running buddy around!
Friday I kind of blew off my training plan again. I was supposed to swim, but I got busy with work, and we had Wisconsin in town for a dual meet, so by the time I even thought about getting my swim in, the meet was starting. I hate the feeling of deliberately skipping a workout...I need to read this every time I think about bailing and remember how bad it makes me feel! I know that I need breaks every now and again, but skipping swimming is kind of inexcusable since it makes me feel so good! I think it was especially bad knowing that I wasn't going to be doing any exercise the next day either. Saturday the kids and I had planned to head up to Avon to hang out with my Mom, her sisters and some of my cousins at their annual garage sale. So my long run was postponed a day. I quickly got over my pity-party about the week and the skipped workouts though. It was so much fun reconnecting with family and seeing my kids make fast friends with my cousins' kids. Afterwards, we checked out the pool at the Andover YMCA. One of the swim team moms told me it was really fun there, and she was right. We had a blast splashing around in the leisure pool and going down slides. Until some kid pooped in the pool and we had to get out :( Oh well, after we got dressed we discovered that the Y had a community garage sale going on, so we check it out and found a pair of roller blades for Kayley...calling it a win!

I woke up early Sunday actually looking forward to my long run. I was admittedly nervous about the 16 miles I had in front of me, but the break from strict training the last few days had renewed my energy and I was ready to see what these miles had in store for me. I mapped out a long loop route thinking that I'd rather do that then the smaller double loop I tried last weekend. I strategically planned it so I would pass by a park or a gas station about every 4-5 miles, so I could take a potty break or fill up my water bottle. The weather was perfect. I was wearing my new Saucony Bullet capris, since I wanted to store some of the new homemade energy gel Kayley and I had whipped up on Thursday, and I also wanted to try to pack a PB & J after it fueled me so well last week. The first 10 miles were really strong. I took some energy gel at mile 5. It is really tasty and while it didn't provide the same kind of insta-kick I get from the Clif Shot Gel, I definitely noticed a subtle boost in my step. It didn't bother my stomach either. I put it in a snack-sized Ziploc and just bit a small hole in a corner of the bag and sucked it out. It worked pretty slick. If you are interested in trying  it out for yourself, you can find the recipe here. I substituted 8 ounces of raspberries for the pineapple. I also used it as the Jelly on my PB & J. This jar is approximately 10 servings!

Can't beat homemade energy gel...yummy and cheap!

I took a potty break at mile 10. I was shooting for the gas station I had strategically placed at mile 12, but couldn't hold out. Thankfully I happened upon some ball fields equipped with porta-potties and drinking fountains. I ate my PB & J and headed back to the trail. I felt good for a couple more, but miles 12-15 were a bit of a struggle. I took several short walking breaks, and maybe cried a little bit at mile 14. I hit a pretty good hill right before mile 15 and forced myself to run up it. I was happy I managed to dig deep and find a store of energy to push through and finished that last mile feeling  strong. A second PDR in as many weeks. I was tired and sore, but feeling really accomplished. When I got home the kids were playing and Kayley asked me how many miles I ran. I told her 16 and she said "That's good Mommy, you only have to do (counting her fingers) 10 more for your marathon!". I just smiled and said "Yep, that's right honey, only 10 more". It kind of put the whole week into perspective for me. No matter how I slice it, this horrible week put me that much closer to my new mantra moving forward is "Only 10 more Mommy!" Whether that's 10 more miles, minutes or steps, it works. Kids have an amazing way of making even seemingly insurmountable goals seem easily do-able.