Thursday, March 29, 2012

First Quarter Report

I can't figure out how it happened, but March has (almost) come and gone. Realizing that the first Quarter of 2012 had come and gone, I thought about the goals that I'd set only 3 short months ago.
Run a Marathon

- Derby Festival Marathon April 28 2012 - 29 days away! Registered and ready to go
- Create a training plan and post it on the fridge (DONE!)
   This has been a HUGE help! I see it every morning when I wake up (and every time I go to the fridge to get ice
- Find a running group/partner to complete long runs
     I've largely abandoned this one and for the long runs, I don't mind the long runs alone, and it would've made
     things more difficult. I HAVE been running with Josh during the week, so I'm counting that!
- Run at least one 20 miler
- Use the blog & daily mile to keep me accountable for my training
   I've made positive gains in this category, with room for improvement. I don't blog enough - which I hope will
   change the minute most of my major obligations drop off here in 2 weeks. Dailymile is a GREAT tool for this
   though, and I really think it's kept me on track!

Healthy Body for the Wedding
(Best way I could think of to say 'lose weight' without actually saying it)
- Maintain free lifetime Weight Watchers membership in 2012 
   Still free through March 2012 AND I've actually LOST more than 1/2lb for the first time in years. 
- Try new vegetables and recipes! Add good finds to the blog
   We've been trying new recipes for sure. I haven't had much of a chance to comment on or play with them, so
   this is one I want to keep working on
- Take stock of what I'm eating, how I feel, & how it effects me 
   Completed the 30 day food journal challenge in January and it was a GREAT start to this goal! I also
   (finally) broke down and saw the Gastroenterologist, so I think I'm on the right track here
- Continue my effort to take the word "Fat" out of my vocabulary
   Huge leaps! I don't know if it's the endorphins or just general joy of training, but my self-confidence has been
   great and my ability to deal with those feelings of self doubt have gotten better.

Keep the Apartment Clean
(this one is my adult goal, mostly because having a messy apartment stresses me out!)
- Start from a "clean" slate by floor to ceiling scrub down (Done!)
- Bi-weekly cleaning on Sundays   - needs improvement.... 
- Empty sink at night (no dirty dishes in the sink overnight!) - Room for work, but better than in 2011

Overall  - I'm happy with how things are going! I need to start setting some fitness goals for after the Derby Marathon in April. I'm really really really thinking Triathlon, but the lack of bike seems to make that difficult (but not impossible!).  

Bring it on, April! 

Do you keep track of your goals throughout your year? 
Are there any goals or resolutions that you've decided to abandon?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The End is in Sight!

This week has been a whirlwind. I guess maybe if I posted more than once a week, I wouldn't have mammoth posts about the million things that have been going on. But that's not the way life is (right now) so lets see.....

First and foremost, it is an amazing time to be in the bluegrass. While it may not be a huge deal to many (most) of you, Louisville is in the Final Four of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Not only that, but Louisville is playing arch rival, mortal enemy and number one seeded Kentucky. I can't explain Bluegrass basketball to you in this paragraph, but it's something special. 2012 is such a special year to me for so many other reasons (graduating law school, taking/passing the bar, getting married, apocalyptic birthday, etc.) but  being able to add "University of Louisville goes to Final Four" is something truly special.
Secondly, I went out for my longest long run since my 2009 Flying Pig marathon on Sunday! I'm happy to report it was one million times better than last week's 10 miler. The weather was much cooler and nicely overcast. I set out with a vague idea of where I needed to go to get in all my miles, and ended up spending almost all 17 miles within 2 miles of the river
Yep - I went through three different cities and 2 different states. Something about that always just tickles me. Heading out on long-runs like these Josh tends to get a little nervous. He (rightly) insists I take a cell phone in case of emergency and lately I've been sending him photos along the way. Though I do it to ease his fears, I love that I have something to share from my beautiful morning!
I guess I got too tired after 10 to keep taking pictures!
oh and the last one is taken in front of the KFC Yum! Center, i'm bad at cropping
Because I know you're super attentive readers you may have noticed my long run was on a Sunday rather than my usual Saturday. Excellent explanation - fun happened. Friday night was our "Barristers Ball" which is essentially Prom for law students. Saturday morning I was so tired and sore from all the fun I'd had - there was dancing, there was good food, there was an open bar - I just knew I couldn't run. There are seldom excuses as great as this one to move a very important run. 
If being awkward was a job, we would be fully employed
After such a great weekend Monday was a horrible dose of the reality that is the next three weeks. My 20 miler is scheduled for Saturday, but alas, so is the major event I'm in charge of throwing. Sunday is the opener for my summer sand Vball league, so I think i'll just have to risk playing really horribly in order to get in my 20. Which brings me to...
Depending on which calender I look at, I'm about [ ] close to tapering! I planned it so that I could get my 20 miles in this weekend or next weekend, depending on how the schedule fell. Depending on how this weekend goes, I may or may not do another one. So my wish for the week is to plan my taper! I want to make it fun and yet keep it challenging so I'm fresh but strong on race day.

Happy Running!

Monday, March 19, 2012

And then there's Summer

Thanks for all of your input, sympathy and advice about this week's long run. I decided to go the 'make it up as I go along' route and just let my body dictate everything. I didn't end up running Saturday but I did manage to get a lot crossed of my to-do list. Saturday I went out for a 10 miler around 10am. Almost every single step- save maybe the middle two miles - were awful. C'est la vie - I did it, it's over and I'm stronger for it.

The biggest difference between this run and all of the others? The weather. We here in the Bluegrass have lucked into a very mild winter (more of an extended fall, really). Temperatures have averaged around 40 since November. Most weekends I would wait until around 10 or 11 a.m. to head out on my long run.  Not anymore.
Almost overnight we switched from winter(fall) to summer! When I headed out on Saturday I wasn't expecting the temperatures to be quite so warm, and was totally unprepared. Time to clean out the running bag - my favorite old ASICS backpack - and reconnect with all of my warm weather running stuff!

Here are a few of my "must-have" warm weather items

1. BodyGlide
     I'm not ashamed to admit it, I love and depend on BodyGlide in the hot summer months. Heck I slather it on in the winter too. This stuff does what regular vaseline can't - it protects all your delicate skin from chafing and blistering despite gallons of sweat. If it's raining or particularly hot I'll coat my feet in it to keep from getting blisters. If you have anything that rubs, sticks, or itches when you run this stuff will save your life.

2. Bondi Bands
     Now I love my Active Bands - they're cute, they keep my hair back, and they fit great. But when it's hot and I'm sweating so much that I no longer look like a human being, this is my go-to headgear. I'll even wear it under my hat/visor so that when I take it on and off my wispy little hairs stay back and out of my face. Or dunk them in water and just wear them around my neck. Amazing.

3. Nuun
    I became a Nuun convert during the last of my hot summer training in the run up to the Chicago Half Marathon last year. What I love is that it has absolutely zero sugar. Sugar seems to be the trigger for my mid-run GI distress so finding this little gem was particularly awesome. Easy to use, lots of electrolytes and has just a fain taste. We all know how awesome yellow-powdered gatorade mix tastes round about mile 25. Yeah, not good. Tri-Berry is my fave, citrus is not my fave, and if my kroger doesn't start carrying Tropical I might have to order it online. yummm.

4. A good solid everyday waterbottle
    A good daily waterbottle is something all runners and athletes should have and carry with them, but in the summer time it's a must. If your schedule is anything like mine, sometimes you just have to get a run in at a minutes notice. Since that makes it hard to plan for fuel and hydration, it's important to stay hydrated all day. Find a waterbottle that suits you - it sounds stupid, but don't get a big 64oz Nalgene if it's too big to put in your purse. Better to get something small that you can always keep with you, even if you have to refill often. Personally? I'm in love with my Camelbak Eddy.

5. Sunscreen (no, seriously)
    This is one of those things I'm making an effort to keep in my bag this year. Not just because my wedding dress is strapless, but because I know limiting exposure to harmful UVA/UVB rays is good for me. I like to keep a generic sweat-proof spray on around because it's so easy. May not be the best coverage, but it's better than nothing (which is my current alternative).
lets be honest though, it's all because I want to avoid this
6.  Hat/Visor
    I hate wearing sunglasses while running. Anything that bounces, rubs, moves, or does anything like that annoys the crap out of me and I spend the whole run - no matter how long - thinking about it. Thus, a visor. I won an Asics Everyday II Run Visor at a volleyball competition (runners up got a giant bag of swag, including visor, winners got a volleyball. Suckers). It's light, it fits my dainty lady head, and effortlessly protects my eyes from the gallons of sweat seeping out of my forehead. Sold.

7. Cheapo Beach Towel from the dollar store
    Have you not picked up that I sweat like a 400lb dude? If it's over 75 degrees I need something to put between me and my upholstered interior lest I permanently dampen the seat. I keep these cheapo towels in my car like Kleenex.

These are just some of the things that make summer running tolerable down here in Kentucky. Before we know it, I'll be reminiscing about 80 degree days and talking about how I've got the vapers and what not in the 70% humidity and 110 degree heat. Until then, whew, pass the ice water!

What are your hot/warm-weather must haves? What changes do you make to your training when the temperatures start to climb?

To everyone who raced this weekend - YOU ROCK! I've loved looking at all of the pictures and seeing you in all of your green-glory.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Other-Other F Word

It happens to the best of us, and usually hits like a freight train carrying a whole load of acme anvils. The flu. No, I'm not talking about the cold/flu viral sinus thing (I was lucky enough to kick that sucker back in January). No, I'm talking about the other Flu. You know.

Sunday I was riding the high of my Saturday run and excited to start a week of "spring break" wherein I would be responsible for one class and no work instead of 3 classes, work, and an externship. I made a fabulous recipe I'd been DYING to try, and some ridiculously gluttonous Oreo-Chocolate Chip cookies. perfection.

And then Monday morning I woke up and got so sick I thought my insides were going to be on the outside. I threw up for 5 hours straight, took phenergan, then threw up for another hour before finally my innards finally gave up their siege. Needless to say - it was not what I had planned for Monday. By the time Tuesday rolled around I'd survived entirely on Gatorade and stubbornness. Tuesday was lost to recovery.

Wednesday I was feeling a lot stronger and got so far as to eat some fruit snacks (YES!) without any issue. Excited by my progress but not quite ready to run, Josh and I took a nice long walk. I was famished. I turned to my favorite sure-fire "easy belly" meal - a plain white bread sandwich with turkey only. It tasted amazing.

This morning as I packed my running bag for a nice after school run....well, I thought Monday might repeat itself. I felt nauseous, my stomach cramped, my arms and legs were heavy. I searched the pantry for anything that sounded or looked appetizing. Fruit loops? Nope. Granola bar? Nope. Et tu, applesauce? Yeah...definitely not. In short,  today has been a big step back. Back on the hydration train so hopefully the guts get what they need to start chugging along the solid-food highway again.

So here's my question to you!

I have to competing interests/feelings at the moment:
  1. I've accepted the fact that there's absolutely no way that I will be getting my 35-38 miles in this week; BUT
  2. I have a 17 mile long run scheduled saturday and I don't want to "lose my fitness"
Of course I'm aware that missing one long run won't screw me out of 11 weeks of relatively good training. On the other hand, there's only 6 more weeks of training and this 17-18mi long run is a big step to getting me to my goal of 20 pre-marathon miles. Some options I've considered:
  • Do it - Do the 17 and don't worry at all about how long it takes. Stop when you need to, drink lots of water, and walk if you have to
  • Spread out the mileage - do 9ish on Saturday and 9ish on Sunday
  • Maximize Minutes - Don't worry about mileage, focus on minutes. 17-18 miles would take me roughly 3.5 hours. Rather than get in "miles", focus on spending 3.5 hours doing some kind of cardio
  • Get over it - After a week of not running at all, trying to get in 3.5 hours of cardio of any kind is kind of stupid. Do what you can, worry about the rest next week. 
  • Move the step-down - Next week is a "step-down" week with a goal of 14mile long run. Move that up to this week and do 17 next week. 
I'm thinking some kind of combo of Move the step down and doing the cardio rather than all running. But I want to hear from you! What's your gut reaction?

Throw it out there (or up there, har har) and let me know what you think!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Looking Up

What a difference a week makes!

First and foremost, thanks for your kind words and encouragement. When family gives me that kind of pep talk, I manage to ignore most of it. But when a group of (almost) complete strangers says it, voila! Inspiration. The interweb is a mysterious place.

Anyway, this week definitely far better than it began. The weather certainly turned around. After a couple days of gross, cold, raininess it's finally looking like spring in the bluegrass. Despite the insufferable allergies and general schizophrenia of temperatures there is no better time to be in Louisville Kentucky than March, April, and that first week in May. Of course, this is always possible:

Thursday I managed to get in my best week-day run in a long time: a 7 mile tempo run with the tempo @ marathon pace. I was ecstatic! Add in the extra mile I walked (UofL vs. Seton Hall in the BET...can't get off treadmill) and I hit a high for weekday mileage. Not to mention it felt pretty good the whole way through.

Fast forward to Saturday morning and I wasn't quite prepared for my long run. We'd been up late Friday night to watch Louisville beat/crush Notre Dame and stayed in bed a lot longer than I'd anticipated. I was in full-on avoidance mode. 15 miles? Yikes. After having only run 5k the weekend before, I'd forgotten that I was capable of that kinda thing. I told Josh "I haven't run this far since 2009." "Ok," he said, "so you've done it before then. There ya go." and then he kicked me out the door.

I'm a firm believer that mental toughness is almost as important (if not more so) than physical training. You can have the strongest legs out there but if you can't talk yourself through a cramp, or a boring stretch of road, or the dreaded 'wall', then you aren't going to accomplish anything. I try to practice this in every workout, but long runs especially when it's just you and the road for hours at a time. I set up a route that kept me around people and places I liked - capping off with my favorite trek over the bridge and back. Lots of flats but some hills throughout to keep the legs fresh.

The first few miles were rough - my head and chest were not cooperating and I felt totally congested. I had to make an uncharacteristic bathroom stop and needed a lot more positive reinforcement early on. But then I had the magical moment where I just kept going. Every once in awhile the thought of Josh having to come get me crept into my head but I just pushed it out.

Just before mile 11 I was on the bridge over the Ohio river. The concrete was killing my feet and I started to feel the miles. I imagined the Gu I'd taken was seeping into my legs, building them up. I mentally described the feeling of getting stronger from my hips all the way to my toes, joint by joint. It made such a HUGE difference. I physically felt stronger and before I knew it, I was off of the bridge and back onto the nice cushy asphalt.

I got home and felt exhilarated. I also felt exhausted. I curled up in an armchair and passed out the minute I got out of the shower. Josh took a sympathy nap (which lasted 3 hours. geeze!) Ended the night with Sushi and beer while watching Louisville win the Big East Tournament. Perfection? Pretty close!

Is my stomach better? No, not really. But I got the guts up to schedule my procedure and I've found a random combination of foods that seem to be Ok.  Are there going to be hard weeks ahead? Absolutely. But hopefully when I start thinking that they're too much to handle, or feeling overwhelmed, I can come back and look at this and remind myself what I'm capable of.
And then, there's always all of you random "strangers" :)

Happy Running!

Are you a "mental" runner? Any tips or tricks you use to get through tough workouts?
What about schizophrenic weather? How is mother nature treating you this March?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hello! My name is Negative Nancy

While I am 100% aware that "you are in charge of your reactions/emotions/feelings," there is a subconsciously negative drag on my emotions lately. Maybe it's the weather - the constant back and forth between 75 & 35 degrees - or the stress of trying to do 850,000 things all at once. Whatever it is, I've had my negative nancy costume on for the last couple of days and I'm headed straight to Debbie Downerville.

Saturday after running a 5k with Josh I set out on a search for a dress for this gala we're going to. I know, fancy right? Who would've thought that at 25 I wouldn't have a little black dress for this kind of crap. Well, believe it. I know why, though - because after 6 hours, two malls, and a million stores I hadn't found ANYTHING to wear that didn't cost a kidney. Worse yet, I was in pain. My right foot, right knee, right glute had had enough.

Sunday I'd planned on getting in some extra miles to compensate for such a short Saturday run and to celebrate Jamie @From Couch To Ironwoman's birthday. That was not to be. My right leg mounted a coup against me. Refusing to submit to the prospect of a "0" day - and mount my own resistance against my warring limb - I went to a Piyo class at the Y. It was every bit as challenging as I thought it would be, but not all that bad.

Have you noticed that I pretty much constantly complain about my knee? Don't worry, I've noticed it too. I want nothing more than to head straight into my doc's office and get some answers about what makes my knee such a pain in my ass (literally, sometimes). Unfortunately, my knee is low on the priority list at the moment in terms of health care, which leads me to the primary source of negativity right now!

I may have mentioned that last year my gallbladder and I ended our tumultuous 24 year long relationship. It was a less than amicable breakup, to say the least. Even after I had the thing removed it still played rough. It enlisted my pancreas to exact its revenge and finally after 4 days in the hospital without food or water, I was "cured."

Fast forward a year and I still have trouble eating and digesting just about anything. Particularly: whole grains, peanut butter, nuts, fats, fried food, or spicy foods. If you're relatively healthy or training for anything I dare you to try to find a protein bar or "healthy" food that doesn't have one of these in it. Spoiler Alert: you can't find one. So I have to go back and have another endoscopy, which I can tell you I'm not that excited about. I cried when they told me and poor Josh, he's such a trooper. If you find a man who demands to go with you to appointments where 99% of the conversation is about your bowel movements and menstrual cycle, hang on tight.

So that's where I am with that. Constantly stressing because I feel like crap or simply because this isn't something I can control. When my workouts suck, I can look at the problem and fix it. When my weight goes up, I can look at what I'm eating/doing and fix it. I have no real control over this (right now, at least) and it's K I L L I N G M E.  Oh yeah, and I got this in my email the other day:

I'm all for starting early, but how about you let me graduate from law school before you start getting me "pumped" for an exam that's in July mmmmkay?

But it's not all bad. Saturday was the Anthem 5k, the first leg of the Louisville Triple Crown of Running.    It was my second race with Josh and since he had been having some back trouble all week we were running just to finish. It was a really nice experience to be out there running a race for him and not for me. I wasn't concerned with my garmin or my stride, just being with him doing something I love. Our clock times even read the exact same - 31:43. Can't beat that!
I'm 99% sure he would absolutely not love me for posting this :) 
One thing that has kept me positive is reading all of your blogs! I love how everyone is going through different things at different times - there's always someone I feel like I can relate to, and someone who is inspirational. We all take our turns, I think. Don't get frustrated if I become an uber-commenter during my time of negativity. It's my coping mechanism.

Happy Running!