Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Normally I would have given you the finger

When I was on my 10 minute drive to the Greenway this morning, my thoughts were in a terrible funk.  I was contemplating how I could write a blog about my failures in life that didn't make me sound like a whiny brat.  We all face tremendous hurdles in life--loss, illness, injury, heartache, financial issues, family issues, etc.  I was in a particular funk about work and annoyed about the poor choices I made 10 years ago.  I feel as though I haven't figured out what I want to be when I grow up and it really wears on me that I feel like I should be doing bigger and better things.

But then I went for a run and everything was put into perspective.

I realized that I should stop being so focused on 'what-could-have-been' and focus on 'enjoy-the-moment'.  I spend way too much time thinking about the past or the future, but so little time stopping to appreciate all the awesome I have in my life.  I get so envious (shoot me, I'm human) of things that I don't have and yet, I have so much to appreciate.  No one has the perfect life and if they did, it would so ridiculously boring. 

So for this moment in time, I will stop wishing

-To have a few more square feet of house and be thankful that I don't have any more inches to vacuum, mop, dust, declutter.

-To have a normal 9-5, M-F work schedule and be thankful that I can gallivant through the woods on a random Wednesday.  Plus, I'm employed.  I really should shut my mouth.

-To be a faster runner and be thankful that I able and capable of training for my 5th marathon.

-To have less cellulite and be thankful that I never have to worry about where my next meal is coming from.

-To have dogs that behaved properly and be thankful that those clowns make me laugh every day.

-To stop sofa surfing with Adam every night and be thankful that we get to spend a few happy hours in each other's company every night.

-To have a less dysfunctional family and be thankful that my brother, sister, and I have a good enough relationship in our late 20's/early 30's to vacation together every year.

There are so many more examples, but I think I've made my point.  What really set this off was the black cloud of lingering injury that had been following me around for about 2 weeks.  I have a really sore left shin and I was getting very afraid that I was going to completely choke on this training run.  This fear of failure was intensified by the very real possibility that my big training run was going to go terribly and/or DNF.  I taped my leg up, took 2 aspirin (I'm pretty sure this is no-no), and went out easy.

I don't think that I've ever had a 20 miler that started out 'eh' and ended with euphoria.  I just kept feeling better with every mile.  The weather was perfect, my pace felt very comfortable, I was listening to Pandora's hip-hop/pop fitness station, and trying to smile the biggest goofball grin at the very few people on the Greenway on a Wednesday morning.  Today was definitely a day I needed to get honked and hollered at when I crossed the intersection...thank you, random stranger.  Normally I would have given you the finger, but today I just waved wildly.

I'm not sure what race day will be like with this shin, but I have some new found confidence after today.  Here are the splits: 8:33, 8:27, 8:24, 8:20, 8:26, 8:28, 8:22, 8:31, 8:30, 8:23, 8:15, 8:19, 8:21, 8:18, 8:11, 8:15, 8:11, 8:10, 8:06, 7:47.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

<--This lush had a weekend off (pics)

Thursday, I skipped out of work 30 minutes early to get a run in before sunset.  I don't punch a clock, but in the retail world, it is kind of important to make sure that there is always adequate coverage at any given time.  I felt a smidge guilty, but remembered that I had been there way early 2 days so it wasn't like I was cheating my time.

I did a Clark Kent/Superman change in the far end of the parking lot and headed out.  My left shin was still sore (still is) and my right calf was tight from over-compensating.  It was a weird run.  I lost an earbud (later found in my car), I had GI issues (helloooo, Porty-Potty!), and it was getting darker and darker as I ran.  But I had some decent splits and I was pacing about 6:00 min/mile on my final .2.  8:04, 8:06, 7:42, 7:42, 8:05, 8:10.

Friday, I was supposed to run 6, but I felt like c-r-a-p when I woke up.  I put my gear on and plodded out 3 miles on the treadmill.  I wore my compression socks which I cannot decide are a good idea or not while running.  It was the kind of run that never got near any sort of happy place.
Saturday morning, Adam and I began our fun weekend off together.  We got donuts at my favorite donut shop, Dutch Monkey Donuts.  I had a caramel apple fritter and a dutch monkey--filled with dulce de leche custard, topped with bananas and chocolate ganache.

We headed to the mountains about an hour away for a wine cave tour and tasting.  It was foggy and cool, but we were comfortable trekking around the property in our coats.

Inside the cave, we tried 3 different varietals that were not yet for sale to the public. A cabernet franc, a red blend, and a sweet white dessert wine. 

Then we drove 10 miles to their tasting room/shop where we sampled 7 more varieties.  We ended up really like a number of them and came home with 3 reds, a white, and a wine club 'membership'.  The membership really just is a promise that we will buy from them again in the fall and the spring......oh...if I have to ;)

I was feeling like the wino I am so we stopped at a shop next door that you can paint wooden toys.  I decided an hour of painting sounded like a fantastic idea after all that morning drinking.  I chose a gator puzzle and painted it orange and blue.  Adam supervised.  The lady that owned the shop (her husband made all the wooden toys) was truly a crazy cat lady.  She had 16 of them and proceeded to tell us about each one.... Good thing I drank all that wine.

After my BAC was back to zero, we headed back towards our neck of the woods and stopped at our favorite BBQ restaurant for a very late lunch.  I proceeded to come home and take a fantastic nap in my chair.  The perfect end to a perfect day? Watching silly movies late into the night with Adam.
I decided to try the running thing again this morning--this marathon business is in 3 weeks! 

Fortunately, it went better.  It was shorts and t-shirts kind of running and I felt pretty good save for the nagging pain in my left shin.  I had 7 on the schedule, but decided to do 8 as I was feeling better.  After looking over my splits, I realize that my easy run was actually a full tempo run.  Oops.  8:01, 7:56, 7:44, 7:47, 7:55, 7:49, 7:44, 7:29.

I got cleaned up and some friends came over to our house.  The group of us decided to go bowling.  I am usually pretty terrible at bowling (my average score is about a 50), but I did okay today.  I scored a 114 and a 117.  Adam kicked all of our patooties.  He bought a bowling ball, a bag, and shoes today as part of a package and apparently was inspired with his new gear.  I can relate....

The 3 extra pins I knocked down in the second game are attributed to the half pitcher of Bud Light that was in my system at that point.  Adam didn't drink, but Jeff and I did!

The day wasn't over yet though.  2 of our 3 dogs are adopted so we don't know when their official birthdays are. Therefore, they all get treats on Luxy's birthday--the one date we actually know.  She turned 11 day and enjoyed her ritualistic hamburger from McDonald's. 

Lastly, I am plugging my own article on about charity racing here.  You should read it if you are curious about the world of charity racing.  There are a lot of ways to give back with your running and who knows, you might be inspired!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

She's dumb sometimes, but she can cook (pics)

When your running goes not as planned, it becomes really hard to read or write about running.  Hence, my mini-hiatus from blogging.  I had a really bad and stupid 20-miler on Valentine's Day.  All my uppity talk about training smart went right out the window. 

I was sore from an intense strength training workout and some mega hills from Tuesday.  I should have let my DOMS subside before I tackled 20, but I was dumb and I thought the stiffness would subside once I warmed up.  Instead, I just got more sore and crampy.  If you've ever bonked on a long run or a race, I felt that way for about 15 of the 20 miles I ran.  The silver lining is that I did complete the run.  Also, this type of run is something that will come in handy on race day if I start to feel like poopy pants.

The weather was ridiculously perfect which is a shame that I didn't feel 100%. 

Blue skies on my Greenway:

I stopped for a few last minute Valentine's groceries and a bag of ice.  I continued my torturous day with an extra long session in the ice bath.

Since my run sucked, I turned to my other hobby which thankfully treated me kinder.  I made a cute cake earlier for a coworker's first Valentine's with his new girlfriend.

So you know that Valentine's dinner for Adam and me had to top that!  I opened a bottle of wine from our favorite vineyard (Mollydooker) once Adam got home.

Then we had a green salad for fiber's sake.  The main course was osso buco (or awesome buco as we call it) with creamy risotto.  I have this thing for the marrow of the veal shank--it makes my toes curl.  Adam is sweet enough (re: thinks it's weird that I even eat it) to let me have his!

It's an insanely savory dish.  The rich flavors are just so intense.  Definitely one of my top 5 recipes. 
After dinner, we watched a little tv while enjoying chocolate molten lava cakes with salted caramel ice cream.

Forget the compression socks for my legs, I needed 'em for my heart!

I rested Friday and Saturday, ran 3 e-a-s-y miles on Sunday (instead of a scheduled tempo) and got myself some KT tape on my way home from work yesterday.

I watched some awesome instructional videos on the manufacturer's website to help me understand how to put it on.  About 30 minutes before I went running, I put strips over my knee and on my pesky bunion area.  My poor left bottom half was covered in tape.

Captain Crazypants (aka Torrance the BT) 'helped' by licking the tape and me as I tried to put it on. 
I definitely could tell that the rest and/or the tape was a huge help.  I flew today.  My step was boingy and my left leg didn't feel quite so achy.  I was supposed to do 6 easy, but I just decided to run semi-naked.  I didn't look at my watch except where I neared the halfway point to turn around.  It ended up being a perfect progressive 10K.  8:06, 7:45, 7:34, 7:31, 7:26, 7:21, and the last .2 at a 6:25 pace.  Definitely way too fast.  But I think my other runs this week will be on the dreadmill so I will forcibly make myself slow down.

One more big 20 miler is on the books, but I am definitely in the homestretch now.  With less than 4 weeks 'til race day, I am getting antsy about toeing the starting line.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mile repeats, like a boss

I'm beginning to think that sticking to the training plan is a good thing.  I have been very diligent about trying to stay as close to the times, mileage, and my two side goals (hills and strength training).  After my not-so-wonderful 18-miler, I am pleased as punch that I killed my speed workout.  I was worried that because my 8:20/pace on my 18-miler felt so yuck, that I was going to struggle with pushing myself with mile repeats.

Instead, I kicked @ss.
Well, for me.  You know, it's all relative when it comes to your own personal speed.  My goal was to do my mile repeats around 7:30 and I hit them in 7:10, 7:02, and 6:46.  Woot!  The best part was that I felt good about doing it.  Normally I feel like I'm going to puke when I am on my last mile, but this was not the case.

Today, I had 2 miles (WTH?) on my training schedule.  I do have a 20 miler on Thursday so I stuck to the plan even though it felt absolutely silly to waste a perfectly clean running outfit on 2 stupid miles.  I chose the hilliest course I know--the one right outside my front door and throughout my neighborhood.  2 miles and 347 feet of elevation climb.  It might have been 2 miles, but I tried to make it the toughest 16ish minutes I could.  In years past, I always ran 3 miles when the schedule said 2, but I am trying really hard to train smart and save my gusto for race day. 

When I finished, I decided that since I was already wasting this running outfit, I might as well do a serious strength training session.  Hopefully it will help me run a few seconds faster on marathon day.  With my PR being 3:50 and change, I am gunning for a sub-3:50.  But, after my really fun half-marathon experience a few months ago, I am just going to try to judge it based on how I feel on race day.  Of course I want to PR (duh!!!!!), but I also learned that racing can be a lot of fun if you aren't so focused on that whole 'race' part.  Ha!

Adam, who signed up to the walk the 5K that coincides with my marathon, went to Fleet Feet yesterday to get new shoes.  I'm not sure how long or how well new gear will motivate him, but I remain optimistic that these are steps in the right direction. 

He saw a new neurologist yesterday after we switched insurance plans with new jobs.  The new doc said that because it had been a few years without any issues that he had the choice whether or not to keep taking injections.  He absolutely despises needles so it is a huge effort on his part to take a daily shot.  So far, he hasn't decided whether or not to stop--I think he is waiting for one opinion to sway him one way or the other.  So little is known on how MS progresses in each person that it's impossible to know if the drug really is doing any good.  I'm just hoping that I can help him continue the path to a healthy lifestyle which will hopefully be beneficial should he have a relapse.  Everything else is out our hands so we just have to be thankful that the hurdles have been minimal thus far.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

My friendly foe: The 18 miler

I do love the long run.  Even the bad ones.  They make me feel so accomplished.  They produce the greatest naps.  They make me feel not as guilty for reaching for that 5th cookie or 3rd bowl of cereal. They allow me time to really sort out my feelings about any and everything.  They put all my fancy running gear to really good use.

But 18 miler, I just don't know about you.  16 is good.  20 is good.  But that 18 miler gets me every time.  I even did all the right things.  I hydrated with water and Gatorade like a fiend the day before.  I made sure to eat healthy (re: no bar food) the day before.  I ran between 8:20-8:30 per mile (okay, still a little fast, but I felt like I was trotting).  The weather was absolutely perfect--about 50 degrees.  I was comfortable in capris and a short sleeved shirt.

I went out and back on the Greenway which is 13.5 miles and then I ran out 2.25 miles and back to complete the 18 miler.  I really only paused twice which was good preparation for race day.  I just never really got any little tinges of euphoria like I normally do on long runs.  It wasn't super terrible, but I was happy when it was over.

I did run 16 miles on Saturday and did this 18 miler on Wednesday so it wasn't a full week's rest.  I'm hoping this was the main cause for my lead legs feeling.  I was in a good place mentally and excited about going out to do my long run.  I felt the energy and the mojo, but my legs just didn't feel cooperative. 

I took an ice bath afterwards and then wore compression socks for about 4 hours.  I'm not sure how much good it did, but I figure it couldn't hurt.  I ran a hilly (yay!) 3 miles yesterday that was pretty decent.  I ran after a crazy sweaty day at work so I was a little more body-weary that usual.  Tomorrow I will be tackling some mile repeats (blech!) in the morning so I am hoping that my body decides to cooperate.

I have 20 miles to tackle on Valentine's Day.  Seems appropriate to do good things for my heart.  Hopefully my post long run nap won't interfere with my dinner plans.  Good thing Adam won't love me any less if I decide we are going to have frozen pizza for Valentine's dinner!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Food porn and baby steps

First, my Super Bowl party food shots:

Deviled egg footballs:

My sister made these cute individual 7-layer dips in little glasses:

The kiddie cooler:

Drinks for the big kids:

Muddy buddies/puppy chow/Chex Mix with peanut butter & chocolate:

Cocoa Krispie footballs:

Not to toot my own horn, but I think the food was the highlight over the game and the commercials.  Just sayin'....

In running news, I am excited to announce that I have persuaded Adam, my non-running better half, into walking the 5K that coincides with my marathon.  I start running at 7am and he will walk the 5K at 7:30am.  I realize he may never become a runner, but I am soooooooooo excited that he is doing the 5K. 

A few months after he was diagnosed with MS, we took an Alaskan cruise with both of our families.  They had a 5K walk aboard the ship that raised money for cancer.  He was taking a new drug that actually exacerbated some of his more annoying symptoms (balance, dizziness) and the 5K was an absolute disaster.  I felt absolutely helpless that he couldn't walk a straight line.  After we walked about 2.5 miles, we finally called it quits.  While it was painful for me to watch, I knew he was beyond frustrated with his body.

I'm sure he's not thinking of it as a redemption walk, but I hope that it might encourage him to at least do a 5K every once in awhile.  As I said in Loopville, baby steps, baby steps.  And after the disastrous cruise walk, I am just thankful that the current drugs he is taking seem to make life relatively normal. Woot!

My 16 miler went okay.  It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either.  I struggled to find a decent cadence and definitely still was going too fast.  I think my average pace was 8:14 and according to Smart Coach it should be around 9:30.  The last 2 miles I started to have that weird I've-been-running-long-and-feel-like-Gumby experience.  I didn't realize I had 18 on the docket this week which I will be running tomorrow thanks to my wacky retail schedule.  I'm awesome, but there is no way I will be running 18 miles before or after work. 

I ran outside last week, but my hills were pretty minimal.  However, I did have multiple strength training sessions thanks to my family room home gym.  Unfortunately, Adam thought it would be fun to see what Torrance, our youngest Boston terrier would do when presented with the stability ball.  It was hilarious.  Here is the link to watch Captain Crazypants--fast forward to 46 seconds.  But now she wants to play with it every time I start using it.  I suppose pushing her off adds an extra layer of fitness.  Just not one that I really wanted.