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Return to the Real World

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Returning from vacation is brutal; I'm not ready to give up relaxing days with good friends. With having no more serious goals than to decide where to sight see next and what we would have for dinner or what the next moves at backgammon should be.

We spent two glorious days in Quebec City, Canada. It is a marvelous city for walking. Beautiful gardens and flowers everywhere. Summer is such a short season that every building is decked out in colorful flowers. So much history it can't possibly all be seen in two days. We will definitely return in a few years for an extended visit. And by then we will have learned some French. DH could converse a bit, but I remembered so little from jr. high French class that I rarely attempted the language.

Then on to the little village of Escumanic on the Gaspe Peninsula. The drive along the coastline of the St. Lawrence River was beautiful. I was impressed with how clean the highways and country roads are--almost no litter and few billboards. We could really enjoy the scenery without distraction.

While DH & his friend fished in various rivers,

S. and I rode our bikes,

visited the beautiful Matise Gardens, and Perce.

We are refreshed, but not quite ready to return to work, but we're going anyhow. Tomorrow is sure to be a long day. I took one peek at my email today and there are close to 70 messages waiting for me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JHOLLNAGEL 8/13/2009 11:37AM

  Thanks for sharing .... yes the worst day of vacation is the first day back ...dreaded e-mails. To me the second worst day is the last day of work prior to leaving. You are running around trying to tie up loose ends.

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MOONKEE2 8/12/2009 11:12PM

  I love Quebec City. It has been years since I went there. Thanks for the wonderful memories.

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Week 11 Marathon Training: Still Going Strong

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This week I got back on track with the training schedule. Tuesday’s run, just 3.1 miles, felt much longer. I started out right after work and had hoped to set a PR for a training run. Instead, it turned out to be one of my longest—about 31 minutes and some change. I was hurting more than usual—hips, thighs, and ankles. After the run, I spent a good deal of time stretching. For a short while after the stretches, I felt great. But by the time I got home 30 minutes later, everything was hurting again. I got some dinner, grabbed a bag of ice, and spent most of the evening moving the ice from point to point. I should have just sat in an ice bath.

On Wednesday, I did some strength training at the gym for 45 minutes, then headed to the chiropractor.

Thursday I took an extra day of rest. I have been icing my aching legs twice a day and popping aspirin. And taking stretch breaks throughout the day. The stretching does help, if only for a few hours.

Friday morning I walked 43 minutes before going to work to make up for Thursday. Ice packs again at work. After work, I ran 3 one-mile repeats. Between the milers, I walked 1 ¾ laps and stretched. I was pleased with my times: 9:13, 9:09 and 9:23. If only I could run that fast out on the road. I had to take a bathroom break between miles 2 and 3 and discovered I had my shorts on inside out. Maybe that’s the trick for a faster pace.

Saturday was my rest day—at least from exercise. But there was plenty of work to do to prepare for our vacation. I surveyed the fridge to determine what we would be eating for the next couple of days so that nothing perishable would be left. I warned DH that we were probably going to have some strange meal combinations. He said he was game. Then I made my packing list: clothes, toiletries, food, bikes and gear, books, books on CD/tapes, games, ice chest, electronics and chargers. Why can’t there be a uniform design for chargers? And a list of do’s and don’ts for the house/dog sitter. And a list of things that have to be done before we leave: stop the mail, pick produce from the garden and distribute to neighbors, stop at the bank, pay some bills, buy some groceries, and on and on. There is always a list of last minute projects that make the time leading up to vacation hectic.

I love that feeling when V-day is here and we get into the car and start driving down the road and let out a collective sigh that vacation has officially begun. We both feel lighter at that very moment. I’ve noticed that we’re more talkative and the conversation is lighter, too. Gone are the conversations about our frustrations at work or the troubled economy or national issues or talks about how or when we’re going to sink some more money into the house to fix the driveway or the roof or the deck. It’s only happy talk when we’re on vacation.

Saturday’s run was in new territory—14 miles. The longest run so far had been 13.1 back in March. Knowing that I was about to cross another benchmark was both exciting and scary. This was going to be more a mental challenge than a physical one. So to make sure I wouldn’t have any excuses, I got all my gear ready to go Saturday evening. Filled the Camelbak bladder with Gatorade—2 cups regular, 2 cups low cal, and 1 cup water—then put in the fridge. Filled an extra water bottle half full and placed it in the freezer. Laid out my clothes and packed the ShotBloks, a ClifBar, and a ball cap in my gym bag. Everything was ready to go. DH was getting up early to go into the office and I told him if I didn’t jump out of bed with him, to please kick my sorry a*#@ out of bed. I wanted to run first thing before it got hot.

I got up about 5:30 a.m., had breakfast, walked the dog, and loaded up the car. It was an overcast morning and on the cool side, but still humid. Yesterday was miserably hot and humid in the afternoon. By 7:15 a.m. I was at the trail and on my way. I had the trail all to myself.

The run started at mile marker 5. It was an easy run and I was enjoying the sounds of nature, the crunch of my shoes on the gravel, and the rhythmic sound of my breath. It must have rained early in the morning, because I could hear water dripping from the leaves. There was a little mist over the river, too. The filtered light was very pretty and everything was so green. Around mile three, a bird’s song caught my ear, and I looked up to see if I could find it and saw the coolest spider webs—maybe 8 or 9 of them, woven between the branches of a dead tree. They looked like they were just floating in the sky. Wish I would have had my camera.

At mile marker 1 I turned around and headed back up the trail. I deliberately left my ipod at home. I wanted to focus on the trail, my running form, and enjoy the quiet. Just past mile marker 2, a slight drizzle began. I heard more than felt the intensity of the rain increasing. There was enough coverage from the trees that not until it started to pour did I feel the full force of the rain. It was refreshing and felt better than running in the threat of rain. But it only lasted about 20 minutes.

Along the trail I kept my eyes out for some deer or turkeys, but I didn’t see anything other than the ubiquitous groundhogs, chipmunks and squirrels. There is never a shortage of them.

The original plan was to run four miles down the trail and back, then three up the trail and back for a total of 14. At mile 10 the aches in my right buttock and thigh were becoming intense. So I started counting my steps as I ran (about 1100-1200 in 8 minutes), planning dinner, anything to distract me from the discomfort. I was re-considering my running plan—not to cut it short—but to build in a cool down at the end that wouldn’t have me back-tracking to my car. I figured I could run 4 miles up the trail and 3 miles back and walk the last mile to the car for my cool down. At the time, it sounded like a brilliant plan. It wasn’t, but I didn’t realize that until I had finished the 14 miles. From mile marker 5, I ran to mile marker 9—another 4 miles bringing the total to 12. Then I headed back. At mile marker 8 (13 miles), I checked the watch to compare my time to the half marathon—I was about 8 minutes slower, but felt that I had plenty of energy left for the last mile. Instead of feeling like I wanted to collapse, I felt energized and exhilarated knowing I had conquered the mental and physical hurdles. I was about to run farther than I had ever gone before. So I lifted my knees a bit higher and ran the last mile in just over 10 minutes, and still I hadn’t reached the point of exhaustion. It was wonderful!! Total time: 2:40:14, ending at mile marker 7. I couldn’t wait to get home and call DH.

Just a few minutes into my cool down walk I spotted raspberries and blackberries along the side of the trail. Nice treat! The raspberries were good, but the black berries needed to ripen a bit. They were big and black, but not real sweet. Many times during the walk I stopped to stretch, but the bugs were eating me alive anytime I stopped, so the stretches didn’t last too long.

Just as I came up on mile marker 6, the light bulb went on. My car was parked at mile marker 5. I had run too far up the trail before turning around. Oh, well, this would be a really long cool down; no harm in that. By now, a few cyclists were on the trail. What a site I must have been. Hair was still soaked from the rain and it curls and frizzes like crazy; clothes were soaked, too. And my shoes, socks, and even my legs had streaks of mud on them. I wanted to shout—I’m okay, I just ran 14 miles! But I didn’t. I probably looked crazy enough without confirming it for them.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NIKNAKPATTYMAC 7/27/2009 11:57PM

    Run Crazy Girl, Run!!! I love to hear about your accomplishments

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MOONKEE2 7/27/2009 9:29PM

  I often wonder what the walkers and runners think when they see me with my hair sticking out of my helmet every which way, and my legs streaked with grease from my chain. Now I know they are wondering what I think. What a great job you have done!

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HARRINGTON5 7/26/2009 9:40PM

    Congratulations! Nice re-telling, it felt like I was there.

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DRAGONFLY1974 7/26/2009 9:02PM

    Sounds like a beautiful run!! Minus the pain of course! I have yet to run in the rain.

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BEACHDREAMS 7/26/2009 5:07PM

    Good heavens!! I think I am exhausted just from hearing aobut it!! ;)

It's exciting to work for a new goal--I'm glad for you.

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Week 10: Marathon Training

Sunday, July 19, 2009

This was a difficult week; several days I really did not want to run. Tuesday's Indians were fun, but for the rest of the week everything felt like a chore. Today's 6-miler turned into a 5.75 miler. Last Sunday's 12-miler felt better than tonight. When I have days like this I question whether I have it in me to run a marathon.

Sleep has been alluding me most of the week. I toss and turn and when I finally get out of bed and check the clock it is often only midnight or around 2 a.m. The pain in my buttock & hip when I lie down or sit is probably the culprit. It's either the piriformis or sciatica acting up again. Or it could be the stress level at work. Another 10 days or so and I'll be on vacation for 2 weeks. emoticon Maybe that will improve my outlook. I made one trip to the chiropractor last week and go again this coming week. I should take time to ice it and spend more time stretching. Could someone please give me a couple of extra hours to work everything in?

Okay, enough griping. Monday is a chance for a fresh start; I'd better make the most of it.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DRAGONFLY1974 7/20/2009 12:13PM

    Are you stretching your hip after runs? Since I started stretching that area I'm having way less issues.

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MICHARM 7/20/2009 7:24AM

    I believe running is 80% mental and 20 % body. but your body has to be injury free. Look after yourself and if you think you can do a run, -you can!!!

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DARBABY4 7/19/2009 10:21PM

    Be careful with the pain that you've been getting. Could be your body's way of saying something's going on! Hope you feel better :)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When I arrived at the Beginners' Running Group last night, the rumor was we'd be running "Indians" for 30 minutes. There was lots of chatter, but no one was explaining what they were. I had a feeling I was in for a big surprise.

Coach finally arrived and described our drill for the evening. We would line up single file and start out at a slow pace. Then the last person in line would sprint to the front of the line and continue the slow pace. This was repeated endlessly for 30 minutes. It was a constant shuffling of positions. I have no idea why they call these Indians and no one had an explanation. It turned out to be a lot of fun. The line is supposed to be tight--everyone closely following the person in front, but sometimes we got strung out. Sprinting was hard work when that happened--you might have to sprint for double the distance. By the end of the 30 minutes I was having a hard time with the sprints and I sounded like a steam engine chugging up a steep incline.

I've been through a good bit of diversity training at work and was a bit uncomfortable calling the drill "Indians." I'll have to come up with a new name for it -- yo-yo's? slinkies? It's going to be hard to sell it to Coach.

Next week we are doing hills--we're going to a park known for it's steep sled riding hill and run repeats for half an hour. This will not be fun. The difficulty will be amped up because we'll be running on grass.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KEAKMAN 7/18/2009 10:40AM

    I like "Slinkies" Good visual image.

Sounds like a tough but fun workout. Made me wish I was there!

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Week 9: Marathon Training

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday I dragged my sorry butt out for the scheduled 12-mile run. By the time I talked myself into going, it was almost 11 a.m. and 69 emoticon. I should have been finishing, not starting.

This week was very short on training. Tuesday was the only day I ran and it was less than 2 miles. The motivation to run just wasn't there. Training was beginning to feel like a chore, like something I was being forced to do. And when that happens in almost any part of my life, I rebel. " I'll show you who's the boss around here," is my attitude when I'm being told to do something--even when I'm the one doing the telling.

First I had to find a route. I didn't want to run on the rails-to-trails. It was about time I took the long runs to the streets. I tried the SparkPeople's mapping program for the first time. The out-and-back route came in at 11.59 miles. When I measured the route by car, it came to 12.1 miles. Better to have the run go long than fall short.

Leg cramps are always a problem on long runs, so I filled my Camelbak about 3/4 full (it holds 2 liters) with ice water and carried a small bottle of Gatorade and a baggy with a Luna bar, Shot Blocks, and Sports Beans. The Cambelbak felt a little heavy, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to finish the run if I wasn't hydrated.

I followed the 8:1 run/walk pattern for the entire run except about the last 1/2 mile--that was a full out run all downhill. emoticon Hydrating on the run was great; I could really tell a difference in my energy level. But mid-way on the back road, I had to pee. There was plenty of woods on either side, but it was level with the road and most of the trees had poison ivy climbing their trunks. I continued running, trying not to bounce too much. Finally an area that looked like it would provide enough cover came up and I took the desperately needed break. When I got back on the road, my ankles began to itch, then my calves, then my arms, etc. But within a few minutes all of the phantom itching went away. I did not have poison ivy. But I was sweating it for awhile.

There is a long, straight stretch of road that is almost level leading up to the turn around point. Seeing the signal light at the intersection gave me a tremendous boost of energy. Almost half way there and I was still going strong. I figured it would be just another one or two 8:1 intervals and I'd be there. Distance can be so deceiving--it was more like 3-4 intervals. That was one long stretch of road. When I reached the half-way point, I realized I was almost out of water.

I passed a restaurant featuring pizza and ice cream less than a quarter mile before the turn around point, so on the way back I stopped in and bought some Gatorade and poured it in the Cambelbak. Then I asked if I could top it off with some water. The guy was so nice--he took me over to the soda machine and said I could fill it with ice or the ice water--as much as I needed. He asked what I was doing and I told him I was training for a marathon. He thought that was great and wished me luck.

The heat was getting to me a bit on the way back. A couple of times I felt like I was having hot flashes. Huge waves of heat would roll off me and then I'd be chilled for a moment. Chafing was also starting to be a problem. The inside of my upper arm occasionally rubbed against the Camelbak and it rubbed against my neck a bit. Next time I'll wear short-sleeves or buy another vest for the bladder. Nathan makes a light-weight running vest that will hold a small bladder. The vest has pockets in the front which would make it a lot easier to reach the food.

For awhile, around mile 11, I was barely shuffling my feet up the inclines. When I reached the crest of the last hill I practically danced like Cloris Leachman on Dancing with the Stars. emoticon . I stretched out my legs and let gravity pull me down the 1/2 mile hill. What a rush!!! I finished up at 2:11:48 (10.92 pace) and continued with a 15 minute cool-down walk. The soles of my feet were sore and my hip was aching, too. I drank almost 4 liters of water/Gatorade on the run and ate the Luna bar, SportsBeans and half the ShotBlocks with no stomach distress. Carrying the extra weight of water was worth it. Not a single leg cramp.

The attempt at a post-run ice bath failed miserably. You start out with cool water and gradually add ice until you're up to your naval in ice water. Then you sit and shiver for 20 minutes while drinking a cup of tea or hot chocolate. It's not pleasant, but it does make my legs and hips feel much better (is it because I can't feel anything?). Well, I started out with the water a little too warm, so I added more cold water and began adding ice. The ice melted quickly, but wasn't cooling the water enough. So I dumped the entire bin of ice in and stirred--kinda like making a martini in the bathtub. Had the water been high enough, the girls could have floated and been the olives. The water never got ice cold; just cold enough to make me uncomfortable. I stayed in the tub for about 5 minutes, but finally gave up.

Looking back on the week, I feel like a kid that got away with playing hooky from school. I had not kept up with the training during the week, yet still had a great run. But I know that if I keep that up, I will get caught. So today I'm back on track with a 50-minute walk and tomorrow I will do the 30-45 min. run.

You can bet I'm looking forward to this Sunday's run--it's only 6 miles. I'm trying to decide if I should extend it to 6.2 miles and run it as if I was racing or if I should just enjoy the shorter mileage and run it as usual. If I run it as a race, I can use the time to project what my half marathon and marathon times might be. I'll just have to wait to see how I feel next Sunday.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KEAKMAN 7/15/2009 8:59AM

    That guy at the store deserves a medal for being such a support and encourager - I am sure his good wishes and comments gave you the energy to go a bit more.

I have wondered about balancing water intake with potty breaks - I'll need to keep your lesson in mind. Not sure there are any places I could safely take a break around here...

Enjoy the 6 miles. Rest weeks are built into your training for a reason.

Good luck!

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NOEILAND 7/14/2009 5:09PM

    A very inspiring blog, thanks.

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JEM0622 7/14/2009 10:16AM

    Way to complete the LSD! I wait until an hour before sundown to get my short runs in during the week. The last mile or two as you extend will definitely challenge you. Take your walk breaks. Good job! emoticon

I can attest to the shorter run. No, do not extend it. Appreciate it for all its goodness! I had the best short run ever after that shorter 'long' run! emoticon


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DRAGONFLY1974 7/14/2009 9:46AM

    Good luck!! I wish I could be training right now!! It's been in the mid 100s since I got here, FL heat will actually be a relief!!

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ELISEL 7/14/2009 8:06AM

    Great training report. I'm glad you didn't have poison ivy. :)

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