Sunday, June 22, 2014

Will you risk going too far?

This week was supposed to be 27 miles. 5 easy, 6 speed, 4 easy, 12 long. I ended up with 40 miles.

12 long became 14 long (The end of the trail is at 6.75 and 13.5 needs to round to 14) Tuesday

See previous post for the nitty-gritty details
5 easy became 6 easy (it felt easy!) Wednesday

 I work on my kinks:
I eat carbs:
I try to not feel too guilty about rest:
4 easy became 5 easy (I was with Flying Tomato and what's one extra mile among friends?) Friday 
Then I pile in the car with Adam and our friend Megan to head to the lake. We stop for unnaturally colored high fructose corn syrup in a semi-frozen state:
Head out on the water:
Take refuge on an island during a pop-up thunderstorm and build rock piles:
And enjoy a few hours of life that makes me forget about the usual daily grind:

6 speed became 15 long (due to scheduling issues this upcoming week) Sunday

I don't spring out of bed. I'm tired. It's early and I feel creaky. And a bit cranky. I drink half a cup of watered down refrigerator coffee and a tiny bagel with peanut butter. I stand in front of the pantry trying to decide if I want more to eat.

I see a few likes of my T.S. Eliot tweet: Only those who risk going too far can possibly risk finding out how far one can go.

It is hovering near 70* which actually feels cool when I start. There is quite a bit of cloud cover and I am relieved to not have to worry about the death rays of summer this morning. I don't look at Penelope when she beeps at mile 1. I ignore her loud chirp interrupting one of the songs from my new (55 songs for $9.99!) Power Workout playlist at mile 2.

Just putting in the miles today.

I make a pit stop at the 3.5 mile marker. Sweat is dripping from my shoulders and elbows.
I carry on. Just running miles and miles. The sky is still cloudy when I get to the open section. I notice the path start to swell with walkers, bikers, and fellow runners. Lots of Ironman hats today. A few with calf sleeves and hydration belts. Runners that mean business. Runners chatting with their running partners. Runners I give a wave to and smile to as we pass. Some acknowledge my presence.

I suck down a Mandarin Orange Gu at mile 7ish and refill my water bottles. I chug 10 ounces on the spot and refill it once more.

The calories and hydration help. I feel a bit better for a few miles. I know I am running out of steam, but I lean my body forward and try to make my legs catch up. I look at one of the splits finally a see a 7 in the minute space.

I push through until I hear the 14th mile beep and slow down gently to a stop.

I smack a huge mosquito snacking on my bicep. I start walking back to the parking lot and decide I cannot let 39 miles go. I run up, up, up past the parking lot, beyond the Wendy's and Shell station and down the concrete jungle. When I reach .60 miles, I pivot purposefully and run back to my car.
I stop at the Citgo station on the way home for an Intense Vanilla Pro Muscle Milk. The man behind the counter puts his phone down to take my $4.28. I drink it all in the 3 giant swigs on the 3 miles back home.

I take a warm shower and climb into a bath tub of ice. It melts quickly and I sit there until the water is almost room temperature. Like an addict, I climb into bed and read a few chapters of Running Away.
I can't wait to do it all again.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Just one more

This is going to be hard work. But I love a new challenge. I've trained for my last 9 marathons in the fall/winter/spring, but never in the summer. Part of me feels a little nutty for trying to do 20 milers in late July when the overnight lows might drop down into the 70s. Part of me feels a little refreshed that I am still capable of having good runs despite the oppressive weather.

Whether you are a longtime reader (who are you?) or a newb, it is important to know that I'm all about gathering inspiration however I can get it. If you're lucky, a little might ooze out of my bloops and make you want to run.  

I was hesitant to post this video the last time because A) it's a commercial and B) I rarely every click away from a bloop myself to read something else or watch something else.

But I'll post it anyway, because I love the message:
It makes me think of that passage in Once A Runner where he runs the 3X20X200. Just one more, just one more, just one more. 

It's often my mind that wants to quit first, but not my heart or my body. As usual... more on this in a bit....

I ran 5 glorious miles with my favorite Tomato on Friday morning. We met up in the parking lot only to discover we had both just purchased the exact same handheld (mine in pink, his in black).
(Still not sold on the handheld versus the fanny pack, but it might be okay for short summer runs)

We spoke pretty much nonstop for 5 miles and despite the muggy conditions, I kind of wished we had a few more miles to run. Such is running with Loopsters, I 'spose.
When I got home, instead of cleaning up, I proceeded to get dirtier. I mowed the lawn, edged the curb/driveway/flower beds, trimmed the evergreens, and weeded. 3 hours later, I was filthy and tired.
I made a nice cold smoothie before maybe showering off...

But wait! Adam gets home and decides he wants to take the jet ski out on the lake and so I throw on my swimsuit. We are out there for less than an hour before an impending storm sent us back to the shore.
I slept well Friday night...

Saturday was a fairly physical day at work. We are undergoing a remodel and the floors are being ripped out this week. 20,000 square feet of merchandise and fixtures had to be squeezed into about 14,000 square feet. Small staff=everyone is helping schlep the stuff.

Sunday, I have a tempo on the schedule. I am admittedly full of nerves. I have been trying to take things a bit more seriously this week. Drinking a little less beer and eating more roughage. Besides the fact that summer dinner salads are super easy:

But I still haven't done a lick of real speed work since March. I'm nervous that my legs just operate at just one speed now. And it is hot and sunny even at 8am. My "goal" is 6 miles with 4@7:48. I'm shooting for 7:30 in my head.
It was definitely more effort than a tempo (4@7:17 pace), but I needed to see those speeds to feel confident again.

I stretched out on the balance ball Sunday night because my quads and hips felt really tight. I hate stretching. I rarely do it unless things are feeling wonky. But this actually felt pretty good. Luxy wondered why I was invading her territory:
Everything was puppies and unicorns at work on Monday and the excitement I had for my "early morning" long run grew palpable as the day grew on. I made coffee last night to stick in the fridge (mmm, iced coffee!) and laid out my clothes and fuel belt. No excuses to not get going before it got disgustingly hot!!

Fortunately, I was excited when I woke up (WTH is the matter with me?) and raring to get it done.
Once I got situated at the Greenway, I decided to just run the first mile by feel. My right quad was feeling achy and I was a bit worried that 13.5 miles was going to make it worse. So I tried to stay loose and enjoy the ride, but my confidence was waning. This didn't feel easy.

Should I even go for another BQ in Jackson Hole?

Who am I thinking I can gender place in a frickin' marathon?

Is this a twinge or something more serious?

But I pushed away the negative self talk. Just go for one more. Then see what happens. Let that iced coffee do its thing. Let Marky Mark put a smile on your face. Just another mile.

I started to relax by mile 3 and then the pace started to pick up. I still had 10ish more miles left so I tried to keep that in mind as my turnover increased. The quad was still a little iffy, but wasn't changing my gait so I mushed on.

I made a pit stop at the turnaround, refilled my water, and sucked down an espresso Gu. Something worked because all of sudden a wave of endorphins rushed over me and I was running high! Chasing down my shadow with the sun to my back, I felt amazing.

I love the feeling of my body running faster than what my mind expects. I knew that if I could just do one more I could use the last few miles as a cool down.

But I know that my body is stronger than my mind. Just keep pushing the pace past the realm of comfort, knowing I have just enough gas left to complete the task.

As I came upon the last 2 miles, I was relieved that while the end of the training run was near, I knew I had a little more in me. So I decided to round my 12 miles-that-was-really-going-to-be-13.5-miles to 14 miles. Just do one more.

It was a hard effort for a training run, but I needed it.

I'm hoping this sweat pays off:


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Why I'm racing marathon #10 with guts

When I run, I often have grandiose monologues running through my brain. They are full of poignancy, realism, and are incredibly motivating.

Then I get to the computer and they spill out of the backside of my brain.

Little snippets weave their way through my words, but nothing ever matches my endorphin-riddled thoughts. What's left is often things I cannot describe well--which is kind of pertinent to my bloop today.

But first, let's go back a few days.

Adam took me to see The Edge of Tommorow on Saturday night after my hot and schweaty 13.5 mile run.  We ate sandwiches at Which Wich and I ate but one bite shared cookie cake. It was like a high school date in the best possible way:

I'm kind of eh on action movies. Call me a girl, but I just kind of zone out after more than a minute of shooting/fighting/explosions. This one had a little bit of that, but I thought the story was pretty interesting and even though Tom Cruise has morphed into a weird dude in his personal life, he was actually kind of funny at times.

I worked Sunday and then realized that with marathon training week starting in less than 24 hours, I might need to write down said training plan. So I scribble my plan on some Post-Its and shove them into my day planner:

Very formal, right? I will pushing my body hard to get through these workouts in the summer. I'm not sure what the sweet reward will be at Jackson Hole. I might be exhausted from a week of HTC and traveling through Yellowstone or refreshed that I'm running in temperatures not upwards of triple digits.  Either way, I'm not going to lie about my excitement when I see the top 3 women from last year ran it in 3:34, 3:37, and 3:44. Nevermind the ridiculously small field... or the fact that it is 6500' elevation. I'm bringing my guts game.

I almost ran Sunday night after work, but I decided to save my energy for Day 1 of marathon #10 training.

It was 88* when I started after a 10 hour day at work. But I was jazzed about getting back into training again.

Last night, after wining and dining:
I really should have done like these two and headed to bed:
But the Braves were playing in Colorado, Boundless came on at 10pm (thanks RunningNole for getting me addicted), and I just had to read a chapter in the new running book I'm reading:
So when Adam nudged me awake at 9:37am this morning on his way out the door, I was like, doh!
What 32 year old is still sleeping until 9:37am?!?!?!

I make coffee, eat some Cheerios and frozen waffles with peanut butter, and head to my local Fleet Feet to find new shoes.

After trying on a too-stiff Saucony and a I really-wanted-to-love-them-but-didn't Mizuno Sayonara, I tried on Adidas Boosts. The heel is a little cushier than I'm used to and the heel drop is about 10mm, but they were suuuuuuuuuuuper comfy.

I was also in the market for a handheld as I want to see if it might be a comfier option for the cup-free thing. I have a hydration belt, but I'm not sure which one will annoy me more for 26.2 miles. So I'm practicing.
Then I go run 10 miles in my new Smurf shoes.

The first few miles are brutal. I feel awful. It's stupid humid (like 80+%), my legs feel like bricks, I'm having phantom pains, my left ear bud doesn't want to stay in, the shoes aren't my Wave Elixirs, and this stupid handheld is annoying the heck out of me. I had my hair in pigtails and one my rubberbands just randomly falls out around mile 1.5--I have to stop to put my hot mess of a hair in a ponytail.

Really not ready for a summer of awful running.

But I plod on and tell myself to JFR. It's hard. I care about my pace and use it to measure the possibility of my future performance. I pull back to make it easier and then get caught back up working hard again. I actually think about turning around at mile 3 and doing 10 another day this week.

At just past mile 4 and entering the mile long unshaded portion of the Greenway, I tell myself to pull up my big girl skirt. Practicing what I preach, I smile like the idiot that I am.  That'll teach you to sleep until 9:37am dummy!  I take a moment to compose myself at mile 5 before I turn to head back to the start.

Lose Yourself by Eminem starts and I hate that he's asking me to capture the moment. I'm trying, I'm really, really trying. 

Then something weird happens. I start thinking about things that are not directly involved with how terrible I'm feeling.

I think about the store opening we are doing at work, the hot dog bar that I need to create a menu for, ideas for articles I am going to write, how I really should stop at the grocery store to pick up dog treats and cereal, how I really should have bought new shoes for work and not spent so much on shoes for running, how this Jason Derulo song will forever remind me of running behind that dude in the clown wig at The Pig, how this handheld really isn't too annoying when there isn't any water left, how I really need to clean the kitchen desk when I get home (those arm warmers lying there in June are just embarrassing):

Back to reality... I actually feel stronger on the last 4 miles. My leg motion feels more fluid and I know I'm running faster, but it hurts less.  I push the pace harder and faster and it feels good. Really good. I know it's not the paces that I was running in January/February, but since it is 40* higher, I'm satisfied with the effort.

Those things I cannot describe well that I was mentioning at the beginning of this bloop? Those were all those wild, happy, and free thoughts I started having around mile 7. This random 10 mile training run is the epitome of why I run. To conquer those negative thoughts, to feel my body move faster by the mile, to overcome a workout that others might have thrown in the towel. 

As I walked up the gravel path back to my car, salty sweat stung my eyes. It's impossible to explain why that pain felt good to someone who isn't an athlete. It's the reason I continue to lace up, it's the reason I push my body out of the comfort zone, it's the reason I'm going to race my next race with guts.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Awesomely Awful

Last I wrote, I was ferociously exhausted by a mountain run. Tired and a bit sore, but thrilled to spend half the day playing in the woods.

Then the DOMS set in. I hadn't hurt this bad since my last hard effort marathon in December. My Maniac-qualifying hilly Atlanta marathon paled in comparison.

The good news was that I hadn't injured myself nor had I been mistaken for a bear snack. The bad news was that stairs hurt, squatting hurt, and even walking hurt.

So smart runners give themselves a few days off--especially because there is no training schedule yet! Dumb runners go running again.

It was just 3 miles though...

The first 100 feet had me questioning my own sanity. Why oh why am I out here??! But then my quads loosened up a little bit and it actually felt better than walking around my store all day. So I stuck to the bare-minimum-of-getting-my-running-clothes-sweaty: 3 miles.

Unfortunately, the looseness didn't stay and I still felt stiff and sore Wednesday. Luxy was all like, just come lay over here with me mom:
I consoled myself with wine and sunsets:
Thursday morning, I could feel the stiffness abating. Oh, it was still there, but I didn't need the handrails to pee at least. Being on my feet all day might have helped loosen me up or contributed to my tiredness. Runner logic is that I can attribute my 8-hours-on-my-feet job to both hurting or helping when necessary.

I walk out to my car around 7:30pm and see ominous clouds in the sky. Eh, looks like a pop-up shower.

I drive for a few minutes and it begins to sprinkle.

I get to the trail head at the Greenway and it's inching closer to raining. Whatever. I'm doing this.

I click Penelope on, pop in my ear buds, and head off into the woods. Quads are still burning, but my gait is feeling natural enough so I figure I just need to warm up.

Then the sky opens up.

And I'm getting further away from my car and getting wetter. The tree cover helps a bit, but by mile 2, I'm drenched. My shoes are squirting water everywhere and I hear thunder booming over the LMFAO blasting in my ears. The angel and devil are quarreling fiercely on other shoulder. Burning quads in a thunderstorm?? But, but, but I feel so strong for being out here!

I took at out ear buds at about mile 3 and listened to the gushing creek and roaring thunder as I headed back to my car.  I ran right down the middle of the Greenway sopping wet with a smile on my face like a crazy person. Only another runner can understand how awesomely awful it was.

By the time I got back to my car, it had pretty much lightened back up to a sprinkle. Great timing QC...
I took a warm shower, had Adam feed me, and settled on the sofa:
This morning, I slept in like I usually do on a day off. And then cursed myself because it was only getting warmer out. With a paltry 8 miles on the board for my M-Sun running calendar, I was feeling kind of like a slacker. So I stuffed a gel in my hydration belt and had my head telling me no more than 10 and my heart telling me no more than 16.

It was hot (re: 83* with a Real Feel of 92*) and I was feeling lead-legged. But I tried not to care too much about my pace and actually got really lost in my thoughts for about a mile. It was frightening--QC's brain is a strange, strange place.

I ran 6.75 miles straight before I hit the turnaround and made a pit stop. Then I stopped once at the stoplight coming back and once to refill my water bottles at mile 11.5. I stayed about a tenth of a mile behind a guy for the last 2 miles who unknowingly paced me.
13.5 at GMPish in the 80's after a heckuva week of DOMS? I try not to think about it too much. Instead, I drink a Pro Muscle Milk right outside the Citgo station and head for the ice bath with leftover lasagna:
So I guess I start official marathon training this upcoming week. I was looking at Pfitzinger's 12/55, but decided that it was a bit too much for me since Jackson Hole isn't a goal race and I typically only reach into the upper 30s in mileage. So I went with a modified plan of what I did for Shamrock and will try to add a little extra mileage to prep me for fall if possible. I obviously want to race well in JH, but with HTC the week before and traveling through Yellowstone in between is likely not going to have me feeling my freshest.

Summer running in Georgia is not for the girl who likes sleeping in so I'm being realistic in my expectations. Those long runs are going to be the ultimate test. 

In other weekly news, I finally hung up the poster that Steve (RunningPlaces) sent me a bajillion months ago along with my framed bibs in the lady cave:

I got a case of the giggles when I read "The Oatmeal" in this month's Runner's World (seriously hilarious, go read it!):
And emailed my boss letting him know asking him to be cleared for a 48 hour jaunt to Poughkeepsie in October for a wedding, a 3-day road trip of epic proportions to Marshall, and a hazy weekend in Rehoboth.  *Crossing my fingers*