Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sunday's 21 miles

SO Sunday's 21 miles, as I said, was a nightmare.

The whole first half was really fun--I met up with Lisa and we did 11 together at a pretty decent pace, while talking, so it flew by.  Then I met sam for (what was supposed to be) the last 11.  I continued feeling awesome right up until mile 16.  As soon as I hit mile 16 my knee started hurting really bad; I stopped and stretched, and pushed on... made it to mile 18 where the pain was basically unbearable.  Not only that, but when I stopped there were just waves of pain throughout my entire lower body.  The knee pain was so bad there were a couple of times I had to blink a little to focus my eyes.  I don't think I've ever had pain that bad before, which is a bit scary.  I kept trying to push on, but the knee would buckle under me and I almost faceplanted a few times.  I ran/walked until mile 21 and then walked my 22nd mile home (which hurt quite a lot in and of itself).  This is my last long run before the marathon so I was a hot mess, crying from pain, then crying from fear that I won't finish the race, etc.  The frustrating thing was that I felt great cardio-wise... my body just wouldn't freaking cooperate.

The pain was on the outside of my left knee.  People on the internet seem to think that means it's an IT band issue.  I need to get a foam roller and see what I can do to help things.  For the past couple days I just haven't even wanted to THINK about running, so I haven't been attending much to the knee which is bad.  I guess I'm supposed to run 5 miles, 6 miles, 5 miles, 12 miles this week as week 1 of the taper, but I ... ugh.

I checked and OSU no longer offers free athletic training services so I'm on my own if I get an injury or need help, which is frustrating.

The thing I just don't get is WHY two weeks ago I did 20 miles in worse circumstances (alone, while fearful) and it was fine... yet this week I could hardly do more than 16-18 with the worst pain ever.  If I don't know why this run was so much worse, it's going to be hard to predict what will keep the marathon from going that direction.  The only things I can think of that were different are:
1)stress this past week (ive heard it can make you more prone to injury? or is that something stressed people say to themselves? haha)
2)i ate like crap this past week (don't know if diet can make you more prone to injury?  I didn't feel as if I were lacking energy... if I did, I could see how that would lead to bad form and then to pain, but I felt energized enough)

So yeah I don't know.  I hope I can do this race.

Monday, September 27, 2010


This morning's exchange with my brother:
Him:  Um... aren't you hurting your body? With this 20 mile run bullshit?
Me:  Where'd that come from?
Him: ffs you're almost 30

Thanks a lot... just the support I needed after a craptastic and demoralizing 21 mile run yesterday (which I will write about later).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Last long run!

So tomorrow morning is my last big long run!  I'm scheduled for doing another 20 miler, but I'm going to make it 22--I know it won't make much difference, but I want to know, mentally, that I can only have to add 4 miles more to finish the marathon.  6.2 more sounds like a lot--10ks are hard--but 4.2 sounds like something I can do.

I was supposed to do this run this morning, but have had some personal crap going on and spent most of Thursday and Friday being a waste of space and not eating.  I have so much trouble making myself eat food if I'm upset.  Friday I only had 1 sandwich all day, which I nursed for 4 hours before finally finishing it.  When I woke up this morning at 645 to get ready to run, I just felt awful like my body had been punched all over, and my eyes hurt and I had a headache.  So I decided to wait until tomorrow and to try to make myself eat more today.  I still did kind of a halfass job though... I skipped breakfast, and had indian buffet food and some fruit around 3:00, and some juice and rice chips this evening ... not really a good dinner.  I just don't feel like eating.  Blargh.  Hopefully all of the indian that I ate will be enough to get me by.

One of my running buddies, Lisa, is meeting me (unexpectedly! yay!) at 7:15 and we'll do 11 together, then I'm meeting Sam to do the last 11.  So I'll have buddies on this run.  I'm not as scared of it as I was of the last 20, but for some reason 20 was just a big distance hurdle for me.  We'll see how tomorrow goes!

Hard to believe that I've made it this far and training is almost over... just the taper left after this...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Make yer' own trail mix!

I've never really been a fan of trail mix because I'm kind of "meh" about dried fruit.  I like salty things more than sweet.  But I think I also just wasn't that into the premade combinations or something, because I've been making my own combinations and all I want to do is graze on trail mix all day now.  Which is actually kind of good because I'm not buying as many Clif bars and I'm getting more calories by snacking.

SO here's what I've been putting in my trail mix:

  • raw cashews
  • roasted salted peanuts (I just can't bear the raw ones.. and I like the saltiness)
  • dried mixed berries (trader joe's has bags that have cherries, blueberries, and strawberries... yummy)
  • dried cranberries
  • dried banana chips (I thought I always hated these but actually I guess I don't. Hm.)
Now, the stuff that makes it even tastier:
  • pretzels
  • chocolate covered cranberries (vegan ones of course--trader joe's has them)
  • sometimes a little caramel corn (trader joe's brand is vegan by accident! heck yeah!)
So I have this amazing huge tupperware full of salty and sweet deliciousness that has some carbs and some protein and I keep it by the couch (probably a mistake.. haha).  I don't go too crazy with the special goodies, so it's mostly healthy.  I realize noshing down on pretzels may not be the healthiest but as my training has increased I've been eating less raw than I was because I'm so freaking hungry all the time... and I guess as foods go pretzels aren't THAT bad.

I put my dried fruits and nuts separately in quart and pint sized canning jars to stay fresh so whenever I need more trail mix I just pour more of everything into the tupperware.  It is awesome.  And for the record Trader Joes is hands down the best place to pick up dried fruits and nuts... it's all a little expensive but it's better than most stores, and definitely a huge selection.

In which I go to a gym..

Reason #9283049823 that running is awesome:  it liberates me from having to go to a place like this for my workouts.

I'd never been to a non-university-based gym before, and last night I went into an Urban Active.  This is a gym chain that's around here... and all of the locations are these HUGE mass-produced glass suburban monstrosities of buildings....if a gym could feel like a fancy wal-mart or any other cookie-cutter style thing, these certainly do.  They generally represent most of what I hate about suburban sprawl.

The people inside were what really sealed it for me though... everyone in there was clearly there to see and be seen.  If this is how gyms are, no WONDER America has such an obesity problem... even at my size I felt self-conscious in there and I'm even pretty slim now, thanks to training.  There's no WAY I would want to go there to work out if I were even a little overweight.  There were all these rail-skinny girls wearing next to nothing and (unattractive) bulked-up men wearing Under Armour, etc.  I thought a gym would be full of friendly awesome runner-esque people working out but instead it was like ...where all of the former "cool kid" frat/sorority types end up.  And even beyond the meat-markety feel, the focus didn't actually seem to be on health and fitness... the gym has a ton of tanning beds and most people were really orange and/or made up and eating all kinds of processed junk.

So yeah, running is for me.  I'll take the trail and friendly runners any day.  Plus running seems so much hardcore than stair-machining away while wearing mascara.

Anyway, the facility itself was pretty awesome, once I got over my culture shock.  It had a saltwater pool for lane swimming.  My friend has guest privileges and started teaching me how to do flip-turns so soon I'll be lap-swimmin' like a pro!  I'm excited about that.  I was terrified of trying to do flipturns because I thought I'd end up with a bunch of water in my nose, but it really wasn't that bad.  I'm not quite doing them right yet, though, but you gotta start somewhere.

So I'm not too good for Urban Active, nor can I fully profess to hate it if I liked their pool.  Salt water was nice.  But .. yikes.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fun Facts

In the last 10 months I've run just over 600 miles (on the garmin...there were runs without it too).  This includes some time when I was being lazy and not running much (from late January to late March-ish I was having that shin injury thing and then I was lazy).

600 miles.
That's the distance from Columbus, OH to Savannah, GA.

In marathon training since June I've run 302 miles.
That's the distance from Columbus, OH to Chicago, IL.

That's kind of awesome.
(Distances mapped using the "walking" feature on Google Maps.)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brooks Giveaway!

There's a super-sweet Brooks shoe and shorts giveaway going on over at Goals For The Week ... I haven't tried Brooks shoes before, but I run in their shorts :o)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Quinoa salad for dinner!

Quinoa is good for runners... it has lots of iron (more iron than any other grain) and protein, and is one of the healthiest grains you can eat.  I try to eat quinoa instead of rice whenever I can because it's so packed with nutrition.

Little-known fact is my secret love of light salads with grains in them--especially tabouleh, quinoa salads, and bean salads.  We have this health food store called Raisin Rack in town and all summer I was eating the grain salads off of their salad bar--a really awesome variety, all kinds of things.  I don't like really vinegary ones, though... and I haven't really tried making any grain salads at home, beyond a pilaf of sorts that I made a few months ago.  Not that they seem particularly complex... I just never seem to have ingredients on hand.

Tonight I was digging around for something to eat and came across this recipe over at Susan V's Fat Free Vegan.  This beautiful photo is hers, to entice you to visit her blog (everything she makes is amazing):
My version of the recipe:
  1. Cook 1 1/2c. dry quinoa in a rice cooker with 1 clove crushed garlic (Make it raw by using sprouted quinoa... this would be awesome, but I didn't plan ahead)
  2. Chop these veggies into a bowl: 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
    2 medium-large tomatoes, finely chopped
    kernels of 2 ears of cooked corn (about 1 cup) (make it raw with uncooked)
    1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and diced (meh.. I leave seeds in because I want it as spicy as possible)
    1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (I used black beans bc I got back from the store and was out of chickpeas..)
    1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
    2/3 cup parsley — minced
    1/3 cup fresh mint — minced
    1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
  3. Stir quinoa into bowl; pour on 1/4c lime juice, 3 T water, and several huge dashes of chipotle powder and/or smoked spanish paprika; salt to taste
  4. eat eat eat
This is so simple and yummy.  You should make it, seriously.

Running and stress...

So while most people are able to use running or working out to de-stress, I find that I simply have awful runs or want to skip runs when I'm feeling really stressed out.  I wish this weren't the case.  If I have a lot to do or a lot on my mind, going for a run doesn't relieve me.  Instead I spend the whole run thinking about all of the other things I should be doing, feeling distracted, tense, etc, and I end up having an awful run.  Or I don't run at all because I've already burned up all of my energy on stress and am exhausted.  I really need to get better at stress management.

Last week was very tough for me because I'm starting a job search (for next year...but in my field you have to start this early), and I'm also behind where I'd like to be with my writing.  I spent most of the week feeling really highstrung and engaging in some less-healthy patterns like eating junk and having a ton of coffee (eek.)  Unfortunately my training reflected this....

So here's what my runs ended up looking like last week:
Saturday = 20
Sunday = biking, no runs
Monday = no runs (legs really sore)
Tuesday = 5 miles fast (this was a good run)
Wednesday = no runs (lazy, too much coffee while writing all day)
Thursday = 1.5 mile run (headed out without eating first, no energy and grumpy, turned back)
Friday = no runs (had a morning meeting and evening plans, and only 3 hours in the afternoon to squeeze in a run, ended up taking a nap by accident because I was exhausted)
Saturday = 6 miles (went to park here called Sharon Woods, ran midday when it was quite hot, trail was very hilly, did first 2 miles in vibrams)
Sunday = fml, my legs are SO SO sore from that hilly trail and vibram running... I need to do 12 but have so much to do today and it's going to thunderstorm this afternoon...arg...

This was the laziest run week ever... I feel really bad about it.  It was a cutback week like I said so I was only supposed to do three 5 milers anyhow, but I ended up doing one 5 miler and a 6 miler and that's basically it.  And I had back-to-back days with no runs which I really try to avoid.

This upcoming week I start teaching again so I have to start thinking about how runs will fit around a more rigid work schedule... I'm not sure I want to do an 8 miler on a day I have to work.  Teaching will REALLY put a crunch on my time, and I haven't had to deal with that in about 3.5 months.  I've been getting used to my flexibility.  The tentative plan unless I change for work:
Monday: rest or xtrain
Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 8 miles tempo
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: rest
Saturday: 20 or 22 (last run this long before marathon!)

I guess if I don't do the 12 miles today and end up doing them tomorrow, I'll just have to miss the rest day on Monday and make Tuesday's 5 an easy kind of recovery 5.  Hopefully doing 12 on Monday won't affect my 20 on Saturday, if it comes to that.

I'm getting worried about how my training will go in the next month now that I'll be looking for jobs, trying to write, AND teaching.  The good thing is that it's almost taper time... so I won't have to do as many miles/week anyhow...but the bad news is that I really enjoyed the past month of running and it is going to make me really sad if I can't manage stress well enough to still get good, focused runs into my daily life--taper or not.  I'm so bad at managing stress.

And in addition to stress affecting my training, it also affects my ability to recover--I need to be getting good rest, eating well, all that, and when I'm really stressed I just don't want to eat, and I get restless sleep.  I need to find a way to chill the hell out, and to be more productive so that can happen.  Adding to my stress is the fact that my apartment is in a state of constant disarray, because when I'm trying to get work done AND get runs in AND sometimes have some semblance of a social life, I'm not spending much time here to clean it or I feel too tired to clean it or I don't want to spend time on cleaning.  And I feel so anxious in disordered environments.

Also on days I have to go to teach, I usually completely fail at planning meals... no matter what time I teach and what time I get up, I still manage to be running late and to bustle out of here in a frenzy, with no breakfast or no packed lunch.  And it's not exactly easy to acquire vegan meals on or near campus.  The classes I teach are 2 hours long and I usually go directly from them to office hours, which means I'll have about a 5 hour block with no chance to pick anything up to eat anyhow, and if you add in my commute both ways thats like 6 hours of no food if I forget to take anything with me.  I'm going to have to think about this and try to plan ahead with packed things, and then somehow remember to TAKE the packed things with me.  (seriously even if I put packed meals next to the door I somehow always manage to forget to take them... sigh).  If I also miss breakfast this could mean that I have days where I don't eat until 3 or 4 in the afternoon...which has happened in the past, but REALLY can't happen while I'm in marathon training.  I'm so hungry all the time.

How. On earth. Am i going to manage. The next month. And still run a marathon.  Omg.
I guess for starters I should stop blogging and start getting some stuff done....sigh...

Friday, September 17, 2010

ug..running fail

I'm really having trouble getting my training in this week.  It's supposed to be a "rest" week, where I was supposed to get in three 5 milers and then 12 tomorrow.  I did a really solid, quality 5 miler on Tuesday, did nothing on Wednesday, did like 1.5 miles and walked home yesterday (I forgot to eat first, it was really humid, raining a ton, felt awful), and now today... I just can't seem to drag my ass out the door.  I had an early morning meeting that kept me from running this morning, and I have evening plans tonight that will get me home well after it's already dark.  So I basically have to get out there and be running in the next 2 hours if I'm going to get this 5 miles in.

And frankly, I just want to sit on the couch.  I don't know why my running motivation is so low this week.  I'm tired, and there's been a lot of work and life stress.  Maybe it's just that.

Thinking about just doing 5 tomorrow and moving the 12 to Sunday.  That still means I should get out there to do 5 today though :\  Really want to skip it....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

heartrates and fitness

So after all this beating myself up about pace, I realized something on last night's 5 miler:  I have to be running an 8 minute-ish mile for my heart rate to even go above 180 (into zone 4 for me) lately.  It used to be difficult to keep my heart rate under 185 on a long run at about an 11-minute pace, and now it stays steadily between 165 and 175 (about zone 3 for me) at that same pace.

I think this means I'm getting more fit, right?

I just can't maintain that 8 minute pace for very long because my muscles start burning like crazy... it's like my cardio is more fit than my muscles can keep up with.  Kinda wished I'd noticed this sooner so I could've made sure I was challenging myself enough on mid-week workouts, instead of lingering in low-heartrate comfort zone.  At some point I started focusing more on mileage and not on heart rate, with the exception of long runs where I'd still try to maintain a steady heartrate in zone 3.  At least last week I started running harder, and I'm continuing that this week too.  I want to be doing mid-week training in zones 4-5 if I can handle it.

If this means I magically somehow got more fit and didn't notice, that's pretty awesome.  Not quite sure what to do with this observation.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Last year's race results
So it looks like if I'm anywhere in the 4:30 to 5:00 range I'll still be in the biggest 3 bars of female finishers, if this year is similar to last--not solidly in the middle but it looks like I'll have a lot of company.  This makes me feel a lot better.  I thought that range would be more like the 5:00 to 5:30 bar looks.  For this particular race 5:00 could still be respectable and lower-end of the middle-range of women, at least.

Last post of the night, I swear.  Sleep now :o)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sunday's adventures in biking!

On Sunday, the day after the long run, I was feeling pretty good (not very sore at all, aside from those first few moments just out of bed).  D. has been helping me get my bike into better shape and I bought a new really nice seat for it, which he put on for me in the morning.  And I went out for a bike ride with him!  He's a really hardcore cyclist so he had on his whole team suit and matchy-match bike etc etc, and then me in my borrowed helmet and 10 year old bike and half marathon shirt... heh.  But it was fun!  I haven't been on a bike to RIDE one in quite a long time.  He was being insistent on not letting me take a normal sized ride, which I thought was ridiculous... we headed out and I thought when he said a "short" ride he meant 15-25 miles and I had sunscreen and water and everything, but apparently his idea of short for me was 2 miles.  Ridiculous!  He's all saying it's for my own good and I can't get into it too fast and get hurt and blah blah... but Sundays are legit cross training days on my training program, and I know my limits.  My heartrate didn't even go over 150 on the 2 mile bike ride (when I'm running it's usually between 175-200).  And weirdly biking was using completely different muscles, as in, not my sore ones.  But anyway he went out for the rest of his training ride and I put my bike up on the trainer and rode inside even though it was a beautiful day, and did about 30 minutes.  The fact is that I don't know how to ride in city traffic and he's going to try to teach me that and some maneuvering, and then maybe the longer rides can begin.

To give you an idea of my bike, here's a photo of it when I first got it from some lady on craigslist a couple years ago:
It's a Giant Kronos from about 1999 or 2000--an entry-level road bike at the time.  So it's not great, but it could be a lot worse.  D and I took off a lot of the extra crap that's on it, the nonfunctional lights and stuff, and D showed me how to do a tune-up.  I got a good deal on a Specialized Jett seat so that's what I got to replace the oversized gel monstrosity that was hurting my butt.  The plan is to gradually get some nicer components that I can then transfer onto a better bike if I eventually am into riding enough to care to get one and if I have the money.  D. also tilted my handlebars up a little and we're going to put some new bar tape on.  So this is silly, but any color suggestions for the bar tape??  I gotta say, green is definitely not my color of choice for a bike, especially THIS color green...  all that seems to match it is yellow, white, and black.  And the hideous seat before (under that seat cover) was yellow, and I'm just not that into the idea of yellow.  I want it to feel like MY bike.  But the colors I like (blues, purples, pinks, reds) don't seem to really go with green, right?  Decisions, decisions.

Also those toe cages are eventually going to have to go.  I can't stand them.  They cause me to pedal weird, like in a jerky motion, and I nearly fall every time I have to come to a stop or get back on the bike.  So after bar tape, if I keep riding, my next purchase is probably going to have to be pedals and legit cycling shoes--and learning that will be an adventure in and of itself! 

I have a long and sordid history with biking, which apparently you'd never guess from my lack of riding skillz (D. commented, "You've never ridden much with other people, have you?"  haha... apparently I don't ride at a very even pace).  

I grew up on a farm, about half an hour by car from the nearest small city, and about 8 miles from the nearest town.  I didn't get a car or get use of a car when I was in high school, so if I wanted to get out of my parents' house, I'd go for a really long bike ride, sometimes with my brother along.  We'd tear maps out of the back of the phone book and just go riding around exploring, sometimes on pretty long rides for kids (there was a "backroads" way to get to my grandma's that was about 18 miles, for instance).  These areas where I was used to biking were country roads.  You'd get passed by maybe 1-5 cars on the whole ride, sometimes.  The bigger fear was huge untethered farm dogs who'd chase us.  From the time I was about 13 I was riding my mom's men's 1980 Fuji Sport 12 road bike... a heavy steel 12 speed bike that was in awesome condition and really sweet for an older bike, just really heavy.   (this is a photo of what appears to be the exact same bike, but this isn't my photo...also the corner lies, it's a sport 12, it has 12 speeds):

The bike had original everything, the same seat as in the photo, same pedals, original bar tape.  And it was also somewhat too big for me.  This is the bike I took with me to college and then took with me to central Indiana where I did my master's degree.  And that was when I started really biking my face off.  Believe it or not I was an obsessive biker before I was a runner.  But "obsessive biker" doesn't mean "cool biker" or "know what I'm doing biker" or even "bikes really far biker" or "trains for stuff biker."  I'd just get up at 5:30 about 4-5 days a week and go for a 30-40 mile ride on the rails-to-trails trail (that no one really used--it was a really nice ride actually).  I was unhappy and I turned to biking as a mood enhancer to replace, well, drinking and partying, which I knew was bad for me.  It was a pretty solid life choice and got me outdoors quite a bit.  I would've gone further than 40 miles but I had no tire patch kit, no air pump on my bike, no padded shorts, and no cell phone, and whenever I was about 20 miles from my apartment I'd start worrying a little about something malfunctioning.  (In case you haven't noticed yet, I'll get anxious about nearly anything.  Ha.)  

So after awhile I wanted some friends to ride with and I saw that the town I was in had a cycling club, so I joined, and I showed up at a group ride that said it welcomed new and beginning riders.  It took a lot of guts for me to do that because I was really, really shy at the time, and didn't often do things out of my comfort zone.  I went for one ride with them, and it was a really negative experience... awkward, and they were making snide and/or critical comments about my bike much of the time.   Yes, I get that it was an uncool bike.  But at the time I was living on $8000 a year in grad school, it wasn't like I could just bust out for all the new equipment.  I was working with what I had, and I REALLY wanted to ride.  Their attitude toward my bike, and by extension toward me, gave me a really negative impression of cyclists.  I didn't go again, and once I finished my degree I lost my enthusiasm for riding, and still couldn't afford a better bike.

Then began Columbus and watching the Tour de France with Sam and my complete love affair with watching pro cycling.  Once I was a runner, I became a cycling watcher and not a cycling participator.  

The old Fuji is back with my mom again.  She likes to remind me that she got fitted for that bike when she was 8 months preggers with me, and my dad has a matching one, and given its amount of sentimental value to her I feel a little bad that it was my adventuring bike for so long.  But it hasn't a single scratch on it still, and now she rides it again.  And that bike makes me all sentimental too... that bike and I had lots of adventures together, and it really felt like *my* bike, which I can't really say about the green one yet.

I got the green bike in Columbus about 3 years ago thinking that I'd like to start riding again, but I'm pretty nervous about riding in city traffic.  Sam has been hit by a car, a couple of my other friends have been hit by cars.  I don't really know the rules of the road, and there's hostility toward cyclists here (D. has had all kinds of things thrown out of cars at him).  But I think I'm ready to conquer this.  After all, I started learning how to swim in January and I was MUCH more scared of water than I am of biking in traffic.  And now I have D to help me along with learning how to ride aggressively on the streets.

Plus, there's that triathlon someday.

So, the 20 miler...

Thanks for your supportive comments, guys.  I read them just before my run Saturday morning, and it made me feel better.  And I headed out there scared but feeling positive.

Started the run around 6:45 am.  It was a nice cool morning.  The first 5 miles felt really long... I kept the music off during this part of the run because early morning is my favorite time to run and it was nice and quiet.  As the run progressed, though, there were mobs of MIT runners out (like literally mobs... I don't think I've ever seen so many runners out at once when it wasn't a race).  Everyone around here must have their training peaking for the marathon.

I tried really hard to make it a negative-split run, but I just couldn't do it.  What seemed to happen is that during the last part (like miles 15-20) I was cooking along at a pretty good pace for me (9:45ish...and I was going at about an 11-11:30 min pace during the first part of the run) but I'm looking at my watch the whole time and then as soon as it's the start of a new mile, I stop to walk for a bit because everything on me hurts.  Then I resume running.  And this is destroying my splits because I don't get "credit" for running a 9:45 mile if I then walk and agonize for a full minute, which reduces my average pace.  It was like I could mentally force myself along for a mile increment and then I would have to crumple mentally for a second before resuming.  I'm going to try to work on that for the next 20 miler.

I felt pretty good from miles 5-15ish, and then the hurting started.  My legs were just aching.  My knees, my hips, the bottoms of my feet, everything hurt.  It wasn't unmanageable though, and once I hit mile 18 it was sort of like... meh, this hurts, but it's not that bad... like I was at the point where the pain wasn't bugging me that much.  The last 2 miles were mostly ok.  Not pleasant, but mostly ok, and I ran them.  I definitely had several moments of thinking "Wait a minute... I do this for *FUN*??"  The killer was that I got back to the entrance to my apartment complex at 19.5 miles so I had to pass it (agh! I could see my car, even!) and then run .25 and come back.  Talk about taking willpower.

I did my usual post-long-run routine (come in, make massive portion of steel cut oats with protein powder, bananas, blueberries, and soy yogurt, get in cool bath, eat and soak while watching some awful reality tv on hulu, then shower) and then I crashed into bed, wet hair and all, and napped for an hour or so.  I felt ok for the rest of the day... tired legs, not so good on stairs, but for running 20 miles I was in pretty decent shape I'd say.  I was still fully functional, went to the store.  And I think I only threw one pity party for myself and it was right after the whole ordeal and pre-bath... my legs were aching so much, I can only think to compare it to how I feel when I have the flu or something, and I just wanted to call my mommy and have someone taking care of me and getting my food and treating me like a little kid.  It was kind of a ridiculous meltdown.  But I was fine once I got some food.

So as far as running far by myself goes.  I know I can do it now, which is good.  And somehow I ran for 4 hours and it didn't feel as long as that sounds, which is also good.  In fact, my memory of it is kind of blurred because I think there were parts of the run where I just kinda mentally checked out.  I know I spent a lot of time thinking about how much further it was until I could have a gel (I was so hungry! in spite of my pre-run banana), and about various problems in my dissertation I was trying to solve, and about things I wanted to eat later, and about things I wanted to do later, and about how it's kind of starting to feel like fall, and about how I might feel at mile x of the marathon, and about how much i hate OSU football culture (game day--lots of jerks out).  And I put some new music and some old on my ipod, along with the 2 Flight of the Conchords albums; I've been watching those shows lately and some of the songs made me smile while running when I thought about the episodes they were from, which was really goofy.  But it helped, a LOT. haha.

But this run made me realize something really important:  I think i have a habit of, when something feels overwhelming, becoming completely paralyzed with fear, feeling that it's hopeless to even start, feeling like it's larger than life and completely insurmountable.  The first few miles of this 20 miler were so tough for that reason.  It was just like... omg this isn't even a SCRATCH in the surface of how far I have to run.  And whenever I perceive that I'm working hard and not getting far relative to the overall overwhelming thing I'm trying to do, it really makes me want to give up.  So, why is this so important, you might ask?  This is exactly what happens to me with my dissertation work.  It was weird around mile 10 or so to realize that this is EXACTLY the problem I've been fighting against for the past 6 months.  Little steps don't feel like progress to me when the whole overall thing I have to do is so daunting, and it makes me get scared into not wanting to do anything.  But I started that 20 miler and it may have taken me 4 hours but I finished the damn thing, one step at a time.  I need to remember that every day when I'm facing work.

Marathon Training:  always more lessons to be had. Haha.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Facing the big 20-miler...eek.

I'm seriously intimidated by this 20 mile run in the morning.  I know it's only 2 miles more than the 18 miler I did 2 weeks ago, but 2 weeks seems so long ago and 20 miles seems so much LONGER than 18.  I'm kind of dreading this, and I'm afraid if I don't get myself mentally into it and enthusiastic really soon, it's going to be a bad run.  Attitude matters so much for these long hauls.

And I'm always comforted by dogmatic adherence to routine when it comes to running, and Sam not being here to run the last half with me is really making me nervous.  I have to somehow plan a water refill for around mile 10, which means I basically have to run 5miles north and 5 back to my car or apartment, then repeat the same run... so I'll be running the same stretch of trail 4x.  And if I just leave from my apartment, it's the same stretch of trail I run CONSTANTLY, which is finally starting to get really boring.  If I didn't have to backtrack for water it would be perfect; I'd just do one really long out and back.  But I can't seem to find a way around the backtracking.  There's nowhere to refill water along the trail.  D. was going to meet me while biking, but now he's going to Cincinnati so may or may not even be around in the morning.  I could drive my car to a point a bit further north on the trail so at least the part I'm running 4x is a part that's slightly less familiar and thus more interesting, but then I have to wake up even earlier than i already am, and I have to drive home when I may or may not be fully coherent after the 20.  Not sure what to do.  Going to the Dublin group run solves nothing because I'll still run out of water--they only provide water on the course at about 2.5 miles out.

Anyway though it's like I have pre-race nerves and this isn't even the race.  I've had 2 weeks to sit around contemplating the big 20, which has made it into this huge dramatic serious thing.  I'm afraid the last 5 or so miles will be really really bad and I won't have anyone there with me and also won't have my cell phone (it's too big to fit in my fuelbelt).

Tonight's thoughts:

  • What if I can't finish and I'm too far away from home? (I guess if I'm forced into running loops, I'm only 5 miles away at the furthest point..)
  • What if I get some kind of serious problem?  (who knows? never done a run this long.. I've always thought Road IDs were dumb, but maybe this is why people have them..)
  • What if this blister issue on my right foot becomes ENORMOUS and crippling? (I guess it's good practice for what will likely happen at the marathon..?)
  • What if the whole thing is discouraging and I can't do it and I have a complete breakdown?  Seriously, I'm so scared that I might not be able to do it.  What if I can't do it???  (and I'll have to cope with that disappointment on my own, all alone...)
  • What if I've been depending too much on Sam's encouraging words during those last few miles?  What if I can't be tough enough and strong enough without that?
  • What if I somehow screw up with my water planning and run out?
  • What if this run is so so much harder than the 18 because I don't have it neatly broken into parts?  (usually I try to run 8-9 miles by 8am and then meet Sam... which makes me really stay focused on getting the mileage in before 8 since I know he'll be waiting around, and prevents me from getting a discouraged or negative attitude right out of the gate..)
  • What if I get injured because I'm not ready for this, and then I can't do the race? (Gah, seriously.  SERIOUSLY! my knees hurt a little tonight and it's making me's probably inconsequential and I'm probably magnifying it but still...)

I just had to make a special trip to the store just for bananas since I know I can eat one before the run and nothing else will ever stay down, really.  I guess I'm going to wash my running clothes and lay them out, and maybe fill the fuelbelt.  I'm going to take 3 gels along, and 1 nuun tab that I can use to make more sports drink when I refill the fuelbelt.  I also need some new music for the ipod because I'm getting really bored with the playlist that's been on there for a couple weeks, and I should charge it.  And I should probably charge the garmin since I'll need it to last at least 4 hours. This takes so much planning.  I remember when running used to be simple.

Omg I'm a nervous wreck.
I'm planning to head out around 645 or so, because I'm afraid if I sleep much later the run will only seem that much longer.  This way I can be done and home before noon.
How is it possible that 18 seemed so achievable and this seems so daunting?  Gah.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Great Speed Experiment: Tempo Run

So I had an 8 miler scheduled for today and I took Debbie's advice from my last post and did this one as a kind of tempo run:  1 mile warmup, 6 miles at half marathon pace, 1 mile cooldown.  Or, well, that was the ideal...but I think I'm kind of terrible at staying on pace when I'm going faster than normal.  I set my garmin to beep if I was running slower than 10:25, thinking that my half marathon pace was somewhere around 10:15 or 10:10.  But whenever I set the garmin, I end up running way too fast out of a desire to keep the garmin from beeping.  Haha.  So what ended up happening was more like "run way too fast like 5k pace or faster for a mile--slow way down omg dying for 20 seconds--speed back up omg for another mile--slow way down again omg that was way too fast" etc etc.  Ok well it wasn't QUITE that dramatic, but I did have a few slower points during the 6 miles, and I was running way too fast (between 8:30 and 9:15) during much of it. Garmin data shows 5 drops in my heartrate during that 6 mile span where I was running slow or walking and having water for a second before continuing on.  Which isn't supposed to happen on a tempo run, obviously.

So this wasn't a total success as a tempo run, since tempo runs are supposed to help you run steadily at a faster pace.  The next time I do this I'm going to have to find a way to run slower and steadier instead of randomly sprinting along for a mile at a time.

BUT... I've never run that fast for that far before, even if there were a couple breaks.  I felt simultaneously awful and also badass.  My legs are very tired.  But honestly I didn't feel as awful as I expected I would at that pace, nor did I feel as bad as I did at the 5k, even.  Once I was at about mile 4 of the fast running I kind of hit my stride and felt pretty smooth and energized.  So even if it wasn't a perfect tempo run maybe all that fast running will count for SOMETHING in my training... after all, run faster to get faster, right?

A weird thing is happening where I keep getting a really runny nose during runs.  It first happened at the end of my 15 miler, then again at the end of my 18 miler, and now today on this run.  I don't particularly have allergies, either.  It's kind of weird that it never happened before and now is.

Some guy on a bike on the trail tonight was riding toward me and he gawked at me and said "Meeee-Owwww!" this an acceptable come-on line among men now?  Meow? Really?

Sam isn't here to do part of my 20 miler with me on Saturday like we normally do, so my choices are to go to the Cbus Pacers run in Dublin (not sure I want to get up that early, drive that far, run in an area I'm not familiar with, run with strangers when I'm not sure how my legs will do, etc) or run 10 miles alone and then meet D, who will be biking... and he said he would loop back now and then to make sure I'm still alive and moving along for the last 10.  I don't know how I feel about intermittent bike greetings vs. having people actually running along with me, but it's probably better than nothing.  We'll see.  I have to do something to break up the 20 mentally, though, or I'll never make it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

What was your finishing time for your very first marathon?

..I just took my 5k pace from Sunday and worked backward to get my "magic mile" pace, then entered it into Galloway's calculator.

If I'm running a 28:03 5k, it says I'm capable of:
a 1:00:36 10k; (this is 4 minutes better than the 10k I ran in June, but I wasn't training much then)
a 2:13:37 half marathon (10:12 min/mile) (my PR from January is 2:15; this estimate seems reasonable)
and a 4:49:31 marathon (11:03 min/mile)

Says I should be training at 13:03 min/mile on long runs (which is about 1.5 or 2 minutes slower than I usually run for training).

So, yikes.  I was hoping to finish this marathon in 4:30ish, maybe up to 4:40 if things were going badly... but I've really not thought very much about goal times or pacing or how fast I'd actually have to run each mile to finish better than 4:30.  People I know from my pace group @my running group have finished fulls in 4:30 so I thought it was reasonable for me, maybe, without really considering the details.  One girl in my group just did a full at a 10:40/mile pace.

I'm feeling kinda bad about this possible outlook--about maybe finishing a marathon closer to 5 hours rather than 4:30.  I know I should just be happy to finish it, if I do finish it.  And I really want to be proud of finishing a marathon instead of being really self-critical about how slow I was doing it.

This is also making it really obvious that I have no clue at all how to pace myself for a goal time in a race of this distance.  And it's also making me wish that I'd been doing more speed training than I have been.  I've just been really tired on my mid-week runs after doing a really long run on Saturdays.  Maybe I'll make tonight's 5 a fartlek run or something.  In any case I'm already starting to accumulate ways I'd change up my program and training strategy if I ever do another marathon, so at least NEXT TIME i'll know what I'm doing.

My original "plan" for long term running goals was to work on speed and make damn sure that I could finish a full in 4:00 before ever attempting one....but somewhere along the way the allure of finishing a full marathon completely suckered me in, and well, here I am, all slow and low-self-esteemy about it.

If you've done a marathon before, what were your time goals at your first race?  Did you meet them/were they realistic?  Did you finish feeling proud even if you were slower than you wanted to be?

I'm getting quite scared about a) finishing and whether or not I can do it, b) marathon deaths (someone please make me stop reading about this!  apparently 1 in 50,000 marathoners drop dead on the course, regardless of fitness level and training??), c) finishing with a time I can be halfway satisfied with after logging all of these training hours (which realistically may not happen, apparently), and d) everything really.  Seriously, everything.  I have race nerves and the race is still 6 weeks away!  Agh!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mini-Race-Report: My second 5k!

Last fall I did my first 5k ever (I ran several halfs before doing a 5k...backwards, I know) and I immediately decided that I didn't like them.  I didn't like running for 3 miles at top speed; it's uncomfortable, and I'm still not fast even when I'm running as fast as I can, which is disheartening and makes me feel like my training is ineffective.  Last year I also messed up with the pacing and went out at a 7:30 pace in the first mile and then completely blew up and had to walk a little by mile 3.  I felt awful, and nothing about the experience was particularly fun.  My time was 28:53.

I guess I shouldn't complain about how much I hate running fast since I guess the point of racing is to go as fast as you can, but I much prefer the nice steady plod of a longer-distance race.  You can run it steady, or you can have some lower paced parts and still have time to correct with faster miles.  That and finishing a longer race is satisfying in and of itself, even if I'm not superman with the speed.  And I like the strategy involved in a longer distance.  5ks around here seem to always have a healthy dose of high school xc runners and people who make 5ks their race of choice, which leaves me in the dust completely.

BUT this morning I did a 5k (the same one I did last year, with a slightly different course) and it went a lot better.  I'm sort of wondering if I misjudged the whole 5k race distance and maybe they aren't as awful as I thought.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually had a lot of fun today.

D. talked to me last night when I was already getting grumpy about having to run fast this morning (I guess I just knew I wasn't going to be very fast, which is and always will be disappointing until I do something about it), and was saying that I should just run it to run it and not worry about speed so much since I'm training for a marathon.  And that if anyone harassed me about my time I could just be like "I'm training for a marathon, so there."  It's funny how much better that made me feel, not that anyone cares about my time anyhow other than me.  But I arrived there with a positive attitude, and I didn't go out all crazy fast when the race started.

The course had some gradual uphill parts (and I do mean gradual--the fact that I noticed them as uphills is probably evidence that the hills on the marathon course will destroy me).  I think I kept my pace in the 10-minute or under range the entire time, averaging around 9:03/mile and peaking at 7:35/mile.  I tried to focus on form and on keeping my feet under my hips/not heelstriking/keeping my stride shorter, all that stuff, because I'm really paranoid about introducing too much speed running at this point in my marathon program, since my mileage has been up-up-up.

Getting myself to keep going at a (for me) high pace wasn't easy, but I did it.  Honestly my muscles were more tired than anything... I wasn't feeling especially winded, just my legs were killing me.  And for a change it was tired muscles instead of "omg all of my joints and the bottoms of my feet hurt" like it was on that 18 miler last week.

I have a new max HR:  212.  Seriously, I thought my max was 206, then I discovered it was 208, and then I had it up to 210 at one point...but now apparently it's actually 212.  I guess I should recalculate my heart rate zones?  Sam doubts the accuracy of my garmin's heart rate function because I have such a high max, but it seems to be accurate--I don't know why it wouldn't be accurate.  The charts say for my age my max should be 193, but I guess not everyone fits with the charts.

So here's what was great:

  • The shirts for this race were SUPER-SWEET this year--there were women's-fit shirts! So rare.  So I will actually be able to use and train in this shirt.  It's fabulous.  Also I got a free water bottle, which is perfect for taking water in the car to my group runs.  So yay.
  • I actually really care about this charity, so it was pretty awesome to be like... wow, for my $30, I not only got this sweet shirt and a bottle AND a chip-timed race AND water AND snacks, but also I know what's happening to my money and it's something I want to happen with my money.  It's kind of amazing that I can not only get a race/race experience/shirt, but also give money to charity.  Half the time I don't know what happens to my race fee, which is disappointing.  I might actively start seeking out races that make it clearer that your money is going somewhere good.  In fact I wish I'd planned a bit better because I'd consider doing fundraising for my marathon...but I have a lot going on in the next 5 weeks that might make it difficult to get a late start on that now.
  • It was fun to hang out before and after the race with Sam and his friend, and I saw some others I know there, too.  And we got food afterward.
  • I see the merits of running a 5k, because you finish the race and you don't feel like a corpse. I mean, I was winded and felt nauseous for a few minutes, but I got home and had a shower and it's not like my whole day was done in as it is with longer races.  My ankles/knees/hips all feel fine.  My muscles feel like I used them, but not like I shredded them.  I was expecting to do my usual post-race recovery routine but I don't really need to.  I ran a race, and can get on with my day.  Kind of amazing.  Also I finished running and didn't feel the need to eat everything I could get my hands on--rare these days.
  • People there seemed to be having fun and socializing a lot more than at a big race.  Probably because 5ks don't have the tense pre-race port-a-potty lineup and pre-race-routines and post-race-routines and pain and feeling like death at the finish.  Running a race strictly for fun and to socialize is sort of a new concept.  Somehow even though I'm not a fast runner I've never really been like "Oh, I'm going to do this race just for fun!"  And well, it was fun.
Did you hear me?  IT WAS FUN.  I am actually saying a 5k was fun.  What the what?

So I might start introducing a shorter race to my training now and then.  There's an Oktoberfest 4 miler in late September and a nighttime 5 miler and some other ones.  I didn't get to fit in a half in August like I wanted (ironically, there was one today that would have fit in perfectly with my training, but I chose to do this 5k), so maybe I'll just do a couple shorter races in the meantime.  Maybe an added benefit will be that this will help me get faster, since I can't seem to make myself do effective speed training on my own.

I took almost a minute--not quite--off my PR, finishing in 28:03.  If I knew I was that close to the 27 minute range I would've run a little harder for those 3 seconds!  In spite of my slow time, though, I still came in 5th in my age group which is the FIRST TIME EVER that I've been close to the top of the pile.  If I would've finished 30 sec faster I would've gotten a sweet prize.  So this has introduced a whole new concept to me:  Wow, I could actually RUN TO WIN FREE THINGS (and bragging rights).  There weren't really many fast people in my age group at this race, obviously. Heh.  But still.  Maybe someday.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My runs are all narratives...

...and I think that's one of the reasons I love running so much.  With each step you build a story; you see more things and think about more things and experience more things.  Each mile becomes part of the bigger narrative of my journey and my thoughts.

Saturday's 18 miles was pretty good overall.  I made one major mistake; I always eat a banana before my run in the morning, and I was out of bananas so I had a Larabar.  My thought process was something like:  "Larabars are just made of dates and stuff... dates are fruit, close enough."  I've had half a clif bar before a run before and been fine.  But this Larabar completely tore me up.  I thought I was going to throw up for the first 4 miles, and then started getting lower stomach cramps.  This is really the unpleasant side of running... I was hoping and praying for a port-a-potty at Antrim Park where I was going to end up after 5.75 miles, and sure enough there was one and I started feeling better after that.  Runners' trots...gotta love it.

So no more Larabars, ug.

So I passed by Antrim Park around 6 miles and kept going north to add another 1 mile, then turned back to meet Sam at Antrim.  At that point I had around 8 miles done.  We headed north again all the way to the end of the trail (around where the trail meets the 270 freeway--the outer "loop" of Columbus).  And then we turned back again.  I was feeling pretty rockstar once my stomach was settled, and when we got back to Antrim I was at exactly 15 miles completed.  And that's where the pain started.

I had bandaged that pesky blister from last week beforehand, but somehow the bandage didn't do much.  And my lower back was hurting, and my hips were hurting, and overall I just felt kinda dreadful and exhausted.  The last 3 miles were purely mental for me, which I guess was a good test run for how the end of the marathon will likely be.  I just kept plodding onward, trying to ignore the pain and trying to stand tall even though I was exhausted.  Somewhere around mile 16 I had to tell Sam that I couldn't talk to him any more because I just needed to go inside myself to some kind of hyperfocused happy zone where I wouldn't feel so awful.  I ran the last mile pretty quickly (a 9something pace) because I was hurting so much and just wanted it to be over.

When I finished last week's 15.4 I still had some energy left in the tank and my body didn't feel like it had completely fallen apart, but this 18 took it to a whole new level.  Yikes.  I'm hoping those miles would've gone better if I hadn't started the run with stomach drama and if I had taken a second clif shot, but I'm not sure.  In any case, recovery went relatively smoothly--after 18 miles that morning, I was still able to go that very evening to Easton and walk all around shopping with D.  And on Sunday I was only a little sore.  I'm hoping this is a good sign that my training is just about perfect.  I was definitely still feeling it on Monday's run though--my 5 miles were kinda sloppy and my knees hurt--but I pushed through it.  Last night my lower back was twinging a little bit on the right side and I cut my run short (the first one I've cut short in a really long time).  Tonight I'll do 5, and this is a cut-back week so I'm only scheduled for 13 on Saturday, with a 5k on Sunday.

Next time I want to post about some things I've read about the mental side of marathoning, but for now I should get some work done.