September 15, 2012 § 4 Comments
I went to yoga this morning.
Sweaty, tough, beautiful vinyasa.
The sun salutations were plenty. One legged chaturangas, too. So many utkatasanas (chair pose), core cultivation, crescent lunging, crow (side crow is beyond me; watch superstar Kathryn Budig’s unbelievable video below) and twists.
My arms, back and sides were awaken. They are sleeping again now, but will probably scream at me tomorrow morning after a long night’s rest.
I walked out knowing that the addition of weekly guided vinyasa is going to help me build strength in areas that running alone can’t provide.
Will I have the stamina for both? This remains to be seen.
On the schedule tomorrow is any easy 6-8 miles. Compared to this morning’s yoga class it will be like a good old walk in the park!
Tell me running friends…. Do you incorporate yoga and/or strength training to improve performance?
September 6, 2012 § 6 Comments
The whole purpose of beginning this blog was to document my marathon training while living this crazy place called Mommyland.
It’s with relief that I am now coming full circle as training for race number two officially begins on September 24th.
In the space between the last marathon and now I have worked and re-worked the plan making educated and experience based substantive decisions, which I will do my best to follow.
1. I will again be following Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 schedule, but instead of three-day mid-week runs, I will be combining the mileage to run only two. This will mean that those mid-week runs will be longer, but I’ll have more days in between to rest and recover. I am hoping that exhaustion from too many successive runs in a row (which was an issue last time) will be resolved with this plan. I will also use the Galloway system of strategized walking, as I do believe it works and will help me go farther with more control.
2. I’ve agreed to help out my most favorite yoga instructor on Saturday mornings by checking in her students in return for a free pass to her phenomenal class. Last marathoning go around I was so consumed by the run that I neglected my yoga, neglected a huge piece of what grounds me to my life. Agreeing to be at the studio every Saturday will ensure that my yoga practice is built into the schedule. It will also give me an opportunity to re-build the dusty resume and re-establish the fact that I am consistent and committed and pretty competent at tasks in which I’m given.
3. Long runs, then, will have to happen on Sundays or Mondays (last year I ran long on Saturdays). The most gratifying runs are the long ones, for me. I am looking forward to those hours and hours on the road, out there on my own two feet, floating alone inside my own busy brain.
4. I’ve been off of sugar for twelve whole days, off of Diet Coke a week longer, and I’ve been much more careful about the overall contents of things like cereal and yogurt and so-called healthy snack bars and drink supplements. An ongoing process, I am sure there will be much more written about my emotional connectedness to food as it’s the one part that I still haven’t fully figured out. I should mention another change, too. I will NOT be getting on the scale anytime in the near future. More about that to come.
And so I am ready to go.
The last factor (of which I have no control) is with mother nature.
Yes there will be days in the next months that I will have no choice but run in the drizzle and/or rain and/or the early morning freezing cold. I can handle all that. It’s part of the challenge.
This heat, though, needs to go.
September marks a new beginning for me in so many ways and the muggy humid air has gotten very very old.
What races are you running? What will your training plan look like?
March 10, 2012 § 8 Comments
I have taper brain. I’m scattered, anxious, nervous, tired, hungry and unable to make too many decisions.
It would be wonderful to be able to write something substantial describing the past few days, but it’s too much of a challenge.
All I want to do is run. I dreamed of the race last night.
It was sunny with a sideways drizzle and I realized I needed the long running pants I tried at Lululemon on Thursday. I didn’t buy them, because of taper brain; the making decisions part. I’m going back today to complete the arsenal of race day gear.
It’s early now, but I think it best to dress and go.
Eight miles are on the agenda for this Saturday before the Expo.
The kids will be with Peach today. The husband and I have a date.
I hope we don’t kill each other. The last time we tried to enjoy each other’s company ended in a yelling match. He thinks I love the marathon more than him. I tried to explain taper brain, but it’s hard for people to understand who haven’t experienced it. It’s hard for me to explain and I’m going through it.
Nine days to go.
I can’t think in a straight line, but one thing is clear. I haven’t been this excited for anything in a long long time!
February 25, 2012 § 9 Comments
Yesterday, Mother Nature played a trick by sending temperatures soaring near eighty with a high and hard humidity. This on a late February Winter day! My scheduled five-mile run was cut short when my panting and sweating evoked a pained and attitudinal me. I like running in the heat about as much as I enjoy Bikram, which I’ve suffered through twice. I know that people love it, but I am bothered that it’s called yoga when it doesn’t stand for anything that my yoga means to me. Both times I went, I left convinced that it’s really a form of torture that should be saved as punishment for the very worst of the human race.
Having just returned from an absolutely frigid yet sunny and bright six miles, I am reminded of why I love Winter running. When the air is cold and you breathe it in it fills and expands the lungs better than anything else can. The sweat that is produced by the movement of the body doesn’t drip into your eyes or fog up your glasses. It evaporates more quickly and the salt works as a heating element, protecting places like a forehead or a neck from the cold. Extremities, mine which are always more hot than the rest of me, don’t mind the sting of the air. As long as a person is dressed properly, running in the cold is about as good as it gets.
As I rounded the final street corner before heading home I noticed three men in hooded sweatshirts walking up ahead of me. I had a choice, either cut across the grass to avoid them or shoot by and hope their eyes wouldn’t become fixed on my rear end as it raced by. I reminded myself that I’m a tough chick who doesn’t need to be intimidated by the hooded backs of strange men sauntering along the road. I pulled my long sleeve Swiftly down tight around my hips and cruised past them on the right.
Once back at the computer, with iCal pulled up, I counted the twenty-two squares until death or glory.
It’s time to figure some things out and attend to the calendar.
1. I must make an appointment for Katniss nails. I don’t know if I should schedule one for my toes to be worked on too, but it may be a good idea should I decide to have a massage after the race. I can only imagine the horror of pulling off my socks after 26.2 and asking some poor soul to rub my soles. Once upon a time I had pretty feet, but all of the running has made it necessary for my toe nails to be cut much too short to avoid any chance of them falling right off. Calluses and bits of toughness have replaced any softness; the price one pays for hours of stomping pavement, often without a good covering of Aquaphor first (sometimes I’m just too busy).
2. The hope that the CW-X pants would be my race go-to’s has been shattered. I don’t love them, I’ve decided. As sad as it makes me to give something a bad review, I’ve been spoiled by Luxtreme and have a nagging itch to head to Lululemon for new race day pants. This is ridiculous as I don’t need another pair of pants. My Dash tights have brought me this far and in a way I do feel a loyalty to them. A loyalty to my pants? Yes, an actual and real loyalty.
3. I’ve got to place an order for more GU. I must not forget!
4. An issue, of sorts, is where to carry my phone. At the beginning of training I was an iTouch arm band listener, but the twisting of the band to adjust my music became a time issue and I’d more often than not mess it up and have to slow down to fix the thing. Since Christmas, my iPhone has lived happily in the front pocket of the vest or jacket choice for the day. This leads to the question, what will race day weather be like and how will that affect the place I stash my phone? I can hope for weather like this morning, and in that case I’d wear my vest or even my LLL Essential Jacket (which I am loyal to like my pants). If the weather is warm I could still wear my vest with a short run swiftly and probably be alright. My Fuel Belt doesn’t have room for my phone, which is crazy I think. I may have to look into an extra waist belt, but I’d really love to stay away from any more gear purchases if it can be managed.
4. My hair is being colored on the twelfth. I’m not actually coloring my hair for the race, because that would be nuts. I’m pretty “light” already and have relegated hair coloring to only twice a year. Any more than that becomes too time consuming and I honestly don’t care all that much. I pretty much got talked into another coloring by the girl that I saw for my last cut. Once you get hair girls talking about color, their enthusiasm sucks me right in. I guess in a way I deserve a little pampering; a little gift to myself for all this hard work that’s been put toward the cause? I really want a big red streak, but I’ll probably go for what we talked about; a bunch of bleachy highlight like Grace with some strawberry thrown in for Soph.
The rest of the planning will have to wait until it’s closer, because it concerns the other people in my life.
My Peach has decided to spend the night so that I can leave early in the morning and she can bring the girls later to meet me at pit stops along the way. I told the littles that they will have to wave and shout with all their might, “Run, Mom, Run!” I’m unsure if they will be able to grasp what I’m doing, but hope that they’ll have a memory I can explain later (when they are bigger).
I had asked Brian to drive me the morning of, because I don’t really want to be alone, but he isn’t a morning person and might be happier going later with the rest of the family. This will be up in the air until the last minute, I am sure. I might need to focus before the race anyway and fussing with my sleepy husband about his speed on the road or parking ability might not be the way to go.
Next up are twenty miles on schedule for Monday.
I’m not great at math, but I like numbers and find certain combinations of them interesting, like the date 12/02/2012 or how there are exactly five twelve-minute miles in an hour.
It hasn’t gone unnoticed that I will run twenty miles with twenty days to go.
It feels like a good sign, but fingers are (as always) tightly crossed.
February 19, 2012 § 9 Comments
Yesterday was gorgeous and sunny and Peach offered to take the girls even though she was feeling rough. I took her up on her offer and am glad I did, because today is cold and rainy and it’s my turn to feel rough. All my recent tiredness was indeed the pre-cursor to a brand new cold virus. I should have known.
Thankfully, I can report that I have no fever or closed up throat, and had I not run yesterday I would have missed week fourteen’s long run and been unable to review the CW-X Pro pant that came in the mail last week.
Everyone knows how I love my Lululemon. It’s not just that there is thought behind the design; the stuff performs. But still, I’ve had trouble with my hips and couldn’t resist the urge to try out a pair of compression pants to (hopefully) reduce the pain. I will certainly continue to run long distances once the marathon is over, since I am hooked, so I was hoping I could add them to my arsenal of gear goodies.
After a visit to Raleigh Running Outfitters a few weeks ago, where I invested in a pretty pink and painful foam roller, one of the running geniuses (sincerely) confirmed what I had learned through my research regarding compression gear; they are helpful to some and could aid in quicker recovery. CW-X seemed to be the ones to try and the Pro is made to help stabilize the hips and flexors.
I wore them yesterday and had high hopes. I wanted to love them, but I’m on the fence.
The good news is that the do what they are meant to do; they compress!
From the waist through the legs and to the calves they are tight with very little stretch. It took a while to wiggle myself in and get the placement just right to avoid any chaffing. The bands that act like Kinesio tape, used by sports doctors and trainers to help stabilize and protect the muscles, are made from a material that I could only compare to the sails on boats; rough and hard.
I did notice less pain in my hips while on the road, which was my main goal. My legs didn’t feel lighter or springier, but the compression made for less bouncing, which is always a good thing.
There were things I didn’t love, though.
For starters, the compression around my waist was sort of painful. I bought a medium, since my height and weight fell in the section of the size medium graph, but the tightness left a red mark on my skin long after the pants came off. I usually like a higher waisted running pant (it helps me stay focused on form) but the elastic on these dug into me so much that and I had to gradually move them down as the miles continued on. It took about forty five minutes to feel comfortable enough to quit fussing with them and I was seriously debating a pit stop at home to switch them out for my Dash tights. I missed the stretch and snap of my Lululemon’s, the softness of their luxtreme, but like I said, no hip pain was my motivator so in that sense, job well done.
When I got back to pick up the girls, I hung out on Peachie’s porch and watched the crazies running and falling the tall grass, creating huge stains on their knees. I also watched the salt evaporate through my new pants.
I have never noticed any of my running pants do this before and I had no idea I had such sweaty knees. I suppose this could be viewed as a positive, the wicking properties were working, but who wants to walk around with their pants covered in chalky whiteness, remnants of their workout? I don’t know why, but this grossed me out worse than that stripe of wetness that the lower back and rear end gets from a good sweaty workout.
It was time to go. I collected the kids’ stuff, buckled them in the car and drove home for tubbies all around.
I didn’t have time for a good epsom soak, so I worried that there would be pain today, but I’m happy to say that I’m feeling fine in the lower extremities. Maybe the pants worked after all?
I’ll try them next Saturday as I set out for the tip top of the marathon training mountain; the final twenty miler. I still have hope that they’ll be useful, so I’ll give them another go.
For now and the next day or two, the only running that’s happening is occurring in my sinus cavities.
If only they made compression pants for my nose.
February 18, 2012 § 5 Comments
The past few weeks of running, including my nineteen miler, were done without audio books. I finished the last chapter of Dead Until Dark a few weeks back, while sitting in my car at Whole Foods, eating kale salad before going to pick up the kids. I knew how it was going to end, since I’d watched it play out on t.v., but even so I was sad to say, “Goodbye,” to the book version of Sookie.
Yesterday I downloaded the second book in the Hunger Games series; Catching Fire. It started little ahead of where the last book finished, but I was pulled right back in and excited to see where we would go. I feel a sort of kinship with Katniss, Girl on Fire. It isn’t logical, but she did get me through some of my very first long runs, while at the same time running for her own life in the games. As I’ve mentioned, I’ll be channeling her with flaming fingernails on March 18th, so it was appropriate that she would be my choice for heroine du jour during these final weeks of training.
Those few weeks without stories made me realize that I’ve got to have one (or two) going at all times. I had checked out When Margaret was Young, by my favorite author Jane Hamilton, but could never figure out how to get it to import to my phone. In a way I was glad, though, because what if I didn’t like it? Could Jane Hamilton be my favorite author anymore if I couldn’t connect with her book? I returned it without listening, but will try to go back to it later, when I have less on my plate. I would hate to be disappointed by my book of choice at this juncture.
After my lunch date with Sookie, which turned out to be a surprisingly calm and enjoyable addition to my schedule, I decided that I needed a car read. While at the library, waiting for the girls to fill their “library purses,” I hunted down the audio book for Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.
I’ve often wondered what it was about that book that kept me so entranced as a young girl in the sixth grade, reading it for the very first time. I figured that it would be good research as I ponder the kind of books I myself want to write, and at the same time, be my companion as I eat my lunch. It probably sounds like a pretty nerdy and isolationist thing to do, but it is very hard to get quiet these days, and it’s less sad than eating alone absolute silence.
As a side note, I have returned to the land of exhaustion. After writing about Sweet Sleep, where I felt recovered from the overwhelming tiredness that had been plaguing me, it took one night of a past eight p.m. bedtime to fall back into the realm of six p.m. crashing and burning.
I wonder if it’s this point of marathon training and part of recovery? Maybe I’m coming down with something?
With only twenty-nine days until the race, my most important goal is to stay healthy. Peach called me yesterday with another cold and cough, my girls have been blowing their own little noses, and I watched a coughing boy at pre-school wipe his hand down the entire banister as he descended the stairs, surely on his way to the doctor. Germs are everywhere!
It is my biggest fear that I’ll get sick within days of the race and be unable to compete. That scenario has occurred two other times in my racing history. There’s nothing worse than being ill with a deep lung cough and cold at the same time that hundreds of people are running your race.
Fear aside, books in place, continued rest, one more big run, and quiet car lunches are on the menu until tapering begins.
Tapering. The final stage of this journey. I can barely believe it’s almost here.
February 2, 2012 § 1 Comment
The weather has been perfect for running, but I am tired and need a break. My hips are sore and my left toe joint is flaring. If training for a marathon took up a lot of time before, it’s using even more lately as I have to stop to ice the old bones a few times a day, making it hard to do my job; kids, clean, kids, clean, clean kids, clean.
The first sign that rest is needed, after feeling old injuries coming on, is lackluster running. In truth the only thing that kept me going for yesterday’s eight miler was the extended description of Sookie and Bill’s first time. At least I had a smile on my face.
When I dozed off yesterday afternoon, leaving my kids to their own devices, I realized I needed to switch up the plan.
When I woke, both girls had emptied their piggy banks onto the bedroom floor and made a long circular path of coins for their princesses to walk upon. Surprisingly, they were playing nicely and unlike the last time I fell asleep in the middle of the day, no one had cut their own bangs. I couldn’t help thinking they were like those dogs you hear about whose owners have died and then stay close for comfort. For this I was grateful, though I don’t really like being the dog owner in that scenario. The reality is that (indeed) I was (and am) dead tired.
I am choosing not to run tomorrow’s five miler in an effort to give myself an extra day of rest. By Saturday I am sure I’ll be itching to hit the road.
Until then I’ll ice, take ibuprofen, and rest.
Nothing’s ever sounded so good!
January 30, 2012 § 5 Comments
I debated long and hard before I hit the publish button after completing yesterday’s post. In the end I decided that what I wrote was the truth and if a certain someone was angry with me, well then, tough cookies!
The reality is that it turned out to be a good thing. Not only did I get amazingly positive and supportive emails (and comments) from my bloggy friends and family alike, the hubby was awfully nice for the rest of the day. He actually took Sophie to the grocery store on a Sunday (this never happens) and worked hard in the kitchen making the most beautiful sushi for our dinner.
Even though the truth hurts sometimes, it’s always better to speak it than hide behind the fear. Plus, if we shared our common experiences more, wouldn’t we feel a lot less the less alone in the world?
I think so.
An unfortunate truth about running long distances is the effect that the duration of exercise can have on the gastrointestinal tract.
It’s common knowledge among long distance runners that the depletion of glycogen stores in the muscles (that happens about every forty-five minutes to an hour into exercise) must be replenished to boost energy and aid in recovery. It’s also widely understood that any experimentation with how to manage carbohydrate and glucose replenishment should be practiced during training, never during a race, to ensure no unfortunate G.I. Issues (before, during, or after).
At the of start of my adventure in longer distanced running I played with different flavors of Gu (a sticky gel like substance). It has a funny texture, which is why a lot of people don’t like it, but one of my marathoning heroines (the amazing M.M.) turned me onto the Vanilla Bean flavor, which I love. Once a Gu is taken, it is important to drink a good amount of water to get it into the system. Soon after sucking it down I can feel the legs pick up steam, and the caffeine (in it) perks me up like a good shot of coffee would.
It was working fine, but I was curious about the Cliff Shot Bloks, which are like big square gummies with carbs and electrolytes, and so recently began rotating them in; Gu and then Bloks at about every five miles. I started to miss the caffeine, though, so I moved back to my Gu with a few Bloks thrown in when needed. I also filled two of my four Fuel Belt bottles with watered down Gatorade, a tip I received from the nice guy at the running store.
The strategy had thus far been successful, but in an effort to promote even better and faster recovery (or push my luck as I have been known to do), I decided to experiment even further.
I’d read that Gatorade (as fluid/electrolyte replacement) was better than drinking plain water after a long run, so soon after I got home on Saturday I started to guzzle the stuff.
This is when (I am convinced) the experiment went awry.
By awry, I mean that my G.I. tract revolted.
By revolted, I mean, it was revolting!
I tried to think of a good title for a post about an unhappy gastrointestinal tract; G.I. Jane, or G.I Martha, or Don’t Drink The Hatorade?
Whatever the title, my more important goal was to share this little piece of information with the hope that another runner might know and benefit from my disastrous test.
It’s always better to know than to wonder.
Ain’t that the truth.