Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ramblings before Rehoboth

I have been loving the little resurgence of The Loop, but I am now having a tough time keeping up! Trying to read blogs I've read for years and giving hurrahs to all the new kids on the street along with marathon training, working (at a place that does not allow for random Loop stalking), and um, living life is kind of hard to squeeze in. But I try!

Hard to believe that a year ago this week I was preparing myself for The Race. I have no such expectations this time around--just to have fun and see what happens. My "training" in the 5 weeks between marathons has been 0 days of speedwork (well, tempo-ish pace runs, but nothing short n' fast), one 20 miler and one 14 miler with a smattering of 3-10 milers in between.

I picked up some tulle to make a purple tutu for Rehoboth. You know, in my free time. The tutu is mostly to make sure I keep it fun. The hip has been kind of wonky off and on and I want to go into Boston training unscathed. But is it weird that I don't really have any ambitions for Boston? Right now, I'm thinking that it'll be just be a fun experience. Maybe I'll change my mind?


Last Wednesday, I went out for 14 miles after my favorite pre-run meal the night before.

I ran 10 by myself at a 7:41 pace and then finished the last 4ish miles with my RB. I like having a friend for the last few miles. Makes it impossible not to cut the run short and gives me something to look forward to while running.
Later, I began prep on Thanksgiving dinner. It had been a few years since I had been in charge of hosting, so I had fun digging into recipes. I made brine for the turkey:

And begin soaking the wood chips since I was smoking the bird:
There was no turkey trot for me in the morning. I ran my first ever marathon on Thanksgiving Day in 2009 and I my first ever half on Turkey Day 2012. But with impeding Rehoboth, a $75 registration fee (for the half because you know how 5Ks and 10Ks scare me), and hosting dinner, I decided it was best to just do my long run the day before. Soothe my temptations.

I got up early to begin smoking the turkey:
And watched the parade with the dogs alternating spots in front of the fire:

Eventually, I got up and started making bread:
And checked on the turkey:
As I got all the sides going, I put the finishing touches on the grill:
And by 3:00p.m., the crew had convened with their yummy dishes to share and we feasted:
The day was over too fast and soon I was faced with the worst work day of the year in retail: Black Friday.

We were doing 75% off the entire store from 10:00am-noon. So while I was saved from working on Thanksgiving and scary early morning hours, I was not saved from the atrocious bum rush of people acting a fool for material goods. But hey, these people put a roof over my head so I tried to make the most of it. I survived.

I came home and ran 3 miles and it was the best 3 miles I had run in a loooooooong time. There was an impromptu dance party on the treadmill. And lots of messed-up-lyrics sung breathlessly and out of key. It was fun.

This morning, I wanted to punch the alarm clock across the room. So I harumphed for a short while before dragging myself upright. An hour later, while mid-run, I scolded myself for being so mean to that alarm clock. See how much better it is when we get up to run before work?

Those last lil' 8 miles are in the books.
And now Rehoboth, it's time for a victory lap!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Why I Run

There are two types of people. Those that run and those that ask why do you run? 

If you have to ask, you just don't get it yet.

And that's okay. Plenty of people have other things that they really love. Maybe you are into amazing craft projects like my sister or Atlanta Braves baseball like my husband. My friend Megan loooves The Little Mermaid and my mom could quite literally spend the entire day in her garden.

And while I love running, it's not always perfect.

There are days that I just don't feel like it before I even start. I have experienced shin splits, lead legs, sore calves, tight hamstrings, blistered feet, missing toenails, stiff quads, and a horrific spectrum of chafing. I've run through thunderstorms, snow, ice, 100+ degrees, and 100% humidity. I've run 20 miles on a treadmill. I've had grief punch me across the face mid-run, leaving my face soaked with tears and sweat. I've run to sort out my anger. I've run to calm myself down.

There is no way to describe how the euphoria of a great run counterbalances all the dull aches.

It is wildly freeing to get lost in a tempo run. My quads make a right angle with my torso. My breathing is steady, controlled, and comfortable. The best feeling is when I feel as though my legs are going faster than the rest of my body--it's as though they are bringing the rest of me along for an exhilarating adventure.

I love the lung-searing pain of speed work. My heart pounds hard after each repetition. Just when I think I cannot go for one more rep, one more minute, one more second, I find another gear and dig deeper. When I finally finish, I can taste the salty sweat dripping down my face.

And the long run is a category unto itself. Lost in my own thoughts for hours, it is always incredibly more mentally challenging than the physical prowess it requires. A good one will exhaust me for hours afterwards. A bad one will have me seeking redemption after I'm done licking my wounds.

I run because it's a habit. I run because it has and continues to change my life for the better. I run because I love the challenge. I run because it sheds light on so many other aspects of life. I run because I miss it when I'm not running. I run for those that can't.

I run because I can.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Let's go funning!

I'm 16 days post-Marshall and 18 days away from Rehoboth.

I did a week of reverse taper (re: 14? miles) and then had a week that got a bit jumbled with life, but managed to get in 27 miles (two 3 milers, a 10 miler, and a 11 miler) last week.

I knew I was working from 9a-10p on Thursday for a holiday event which meant that I had to leave around 8a and got home at 10:30p. If I wasn't such a snooze button fiend, I would have gotten up early to get in a few miles. In retrospect, it was probably best that I just didn't run anyway since I was on my feet for 11ish hours. I did get a little break in the middle of the day to indulge in some coffee:
Friday, I had grandiose plans to run after work, but old friends were heading to dinner and running seemed less important. The belly laughs were good for the soul and my body appreciated the rest.

So Saturday night I finally ran. Everything seemed to be peachy keen for my boring 3 miles on the treadmill. Wore my Kinvaras.

I got up to run 10 miles before work on Sunday. Wore my Kinvaras. Immediately, I noticed my toes felt squished so I had to stop and adjust my laces. Then my calf felt mildly achy. So I tried to ease up on my speed. I wasn't looking at Penelope so I thought I was maybe running around a 8:05 pace.

By mile 6, I started to feel looser and stronger. So I ran whatever damn pace felt good. There were 2 guys running behind me (about 2/10ths of a mile back) at this point and ended up going past me at mile 7.5. I glanced at Penelope to see I was at about a 7:35 pace when they went by. The space between us grew ever so slightly, but as I came around the curve around the 8.2 mark, they were stopped and stretching. Hmmph!

It was enough fuel in my fire to keep me going to the end.
Everything was fine until I got out of my car and my right hip was so tight that I was hobbling. Whaaaa? How was I just running mere minutes ago? It lasted about 10 minutes and then eased up. After I took a shower, it was completely gone.

Needless to say, I was a bit concerned. I know I could finish Rehoboth without doing a long run between marathons, but 5 weeks with barely scraping double digits was not ideal.

So I rested Monday and spent the day with hanging out with Adam. We picked up some Maroon 5 concert tickets he had won from a radio contest downtown and ate lunch at one of our favorite burger places, The Vortex. We swung by the LRS on the way home for some long run fuel and by Target for a few other necessities.
I knew I was in for the type of run that was going to test all sorts of my guts today. Cranky hip, extreme cold (for ATL), and barely 2 weeks out from a marathon PR. The conditions were wrought for terribleness.
I decided to wear my much-more-stable Brooks' Ravennas and bundled up like I was headed to the Arctic Circle.
When I got to the Greenway, there was exactly 1 car in the parking lot and it was the park ranger. I start questioning if I am dumb or dedicated...
Put an espresso Gu and caramel macchiato Gu in my pockets and left a water and Gatorade chillaxing with a salted watermelon Gu at the trailhead.

Holy brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr pants!!!!

I didn't really feel my fingers or toes until mile 3. It was kind of distracting to warm up for the first few miles so I just tried to relax. By the time I warmed up, I noticed my left calf was achy again. I was prepared to pull the plug at any point as I really didn't want to bust myself up.

But by the time I got to miles 6-7, it loosened up and I felt much better. As I neared the turnaround point, I knew I was going to feel much better once I could chug that Gatorade. I was feeling thirsty and tired and was only halfway to my goal of 20 miles.

I decided to take a few minutes at the turnaround point. Normally I don't dawdle if I have to stop, but I was on the fence about continuing. Soon, I was back on the path wishing I had kept my gloves with me when I shed my vest.

I started dreaming of hot cocoa and promised myself a treat if I just finished this stupid run. I still wasn't looking at my watch so I just tried to put one foot in front of the other as relaxed as I could. Miles 11-15 were a bit rough, but I knew once I got to 15 that I had no choice to finish.

I realized in the last 5 miles that the Ravennas must have been the better choice because my feet felt happy and my achy calf/hip were barely worth mentioning. Things were feeling stiffer towards the end, but I recognized it more to be the tired legs of 2.5 hours of running rather than twinges.

After I stopped my watch and walked towards my car, I was pretty happy to discover the results.

Honestly, I have no plans for my time in Rehoboth. I figure things will shake out the week of as people who have real ambitions let their goals be known. I would prefer to just run it relaxed and maybe enjoy 26.2 with a friend or two. I'll be funning (you know, fun running). I might wear a tutu, I might pace a buddy, I might do a cartwheel mid-race.

Sure, I love to PR and test my limits. The amazing feeling of self-accomplishment with your own body cannot be duplicated. But I also love balance. And fun. 


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Race, Rest, Recovery, Retrain, Repeat!

I rested for 2 days after Marshall. I had a little bit of the Frankenstein walk on Monday and Tuesday, but I was surprisingly ready to run by Wednesday. So I took to the treadmill for a nice easy 4 miles. Maybe it was because I was expecting the worst that it actually felt great?

I gave myself a week to eat/drink more garbage than usual.

But as the week wore on, the but I ran a marathon Sunday! excuse seemed to wear a bit thin, even for me. I was putting in a few 11 hours days of sweating type work at work (re: evil Christmas tree sale) and so I decided to just wait to run again Sunday.

Rest, recovery, and sleep made me feel sooooooo good. The dogs were like, duuuuuuuuuh. We do it all the time!
 It was a crisp morning and I was ready to get back out there.

I didn't look at Penelope (my Garmin) at all! I just ran by feel and knew I was pushing the pace, but I felt strong and comfortable. The only thing that felt a bit off was my left calf and right hip towards the end. They both felt a little sore over the next few hours.

Yesterday, Adam and I both had the day off.  We ate sandwiches at Which Wich and saw an afternoon movie--Interstellar. So I sat on my butt for 3 hours and then came home to sit on my butt for another few hours watching TV. Calf and hip didn't mutter a peep.

So I went out this morning and the hip seems to be fine, but the calf is still tight. I felt it the worst in the middle miles, but then it didn't seem to bother me at the end. Weird. I'll stick and foam roll and try to take it slower  see what happens over the next few days.

I didn't look at my watch again today, but I didn't feel very good. I am pretty sure it was because I didn't really have much of a dinner last night and too much coffee this morning. I was surprised it was the same pace as Sunday's run.

It was a really, really beautiful morning to run though and I went back to my car to take a few pictures of the Greenway. Which is kind of the brown/yellow-way right now.

I didn't really have much I had to do today so I actually just laid down in the leaves for a few minutes and listened to my iPod. It was pretty zen.

I don't have any goals at this point in Rehoboth so it's all about maintenance at this point. I'll know closer to race day if I feel like donning a tutu and galloping around the beach or if I feel like I still might have a little gusto left in my sails. With Boston training just around the corner, I think it'd be wiser to just enjoy 26.2 with some of my internet buddies.