Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Everyone has to have a reason to run. My reasons are usually health related, the way I feel AFTER a good run, and so I can eat more. Seriously. But I'm not gonna lie and say that hot boys and cute dogs aren't also a good reason to run. And in my neighbourhood, there's a bunch of both of them. Nothing makes for a better early morning outing than running towards a sexy, shirtless, buffed runner - who then shoots you a mighty fine smile as you run past. Wait - was that actually a smile? Or just an over-exertion face contortion? I mean, these guys are always going about triple the speed that I am, so it happens fast, but I'm gonna go with the former - hehe.
But as much as I am a sucker for a sweet bod glistening in the summer sun, I am even more a fan of the adorable canines on my regular route. A happy dog face makes my day. Anywhere, any time. And when you smile, it gets easier to run. I promise. Try it if you don't believe me.
So I have decided that there are now definite pros to whichever route I choose to take. Neighbourhood runs are good for anything under 8 miles. Lots of stopping and starting, and running sidewalks that pose problems with differing levels - thus they're harder on the knees and hips. But there are more dogs :) Lakefront Trail runs are for those long-run days, give me the ability to run on gravel for a good portion of the trail, involve rolling hills instead of jarring elevation differences and are RIFE with delicious members of the opposite sex.
Like I said - everyone needs a reason to run. And when it's 100 degrees in the shade, I need a mind escape SOMEWHERE other than the hell in which I am exerting every last ounce of "poop" I have in me.
My favorite couple this week was on my 5-mile Friday run - I call them the Business Man and the Bulldog. This particular neighbourhood route has become somewhat of a regular Friday morning routine for me, but this week, rounding the bend of mile 4, I came across a man in business attire walking about a block ahead of the cutest, roly-poly bulldog I have ever seen. The man was clearly in a hurry to get to work, but the bulldog would have none of it - as bulldogs are known to do. The little guy was off-leash and meandering as fast as his attitude and the already warm temperature would let him. The business man would pause, look back, the bulldog would stop, sniff, and look at his owner dejectedly before continuing his slow saunter. I smiled at the man as I ran past, and as I came alongside the bulldog, he looked at me, and then plopped down on the sidewalk with a huff and just watched me run past as though to say "why on earth are you going so fast? Don't you know life is about waddling?" I had to laugh. That little dog made my day, and the rest of my run went by in a blur as I thought about that smushy little face and his utter lack of energy. I get it little guy - I know how you feel - I used to look just like you! Haha!
Technically my runs were good this week. But I am still procrastinating too much with my schedule which is bumping everything back until the absolute last minute, and as I have now found, messing up subsequent weeks. I need to be better about sticking to the daily schedule, but I'm still trying to be as kind to myself and my "drive" as I possibly can with so many other things on my plate.
7 miles on Tuesday night didn't happen until 9pm. A planned effort as it had been 94 degrees earlier in the day and I wanted to wait until the sun had set and it had cooled off a bit before heading out. A beautiful run around the park, I started feeling the heat and my leg muscles in about mile 4 and really had to push to get to those last few miles. Nothing I haven't done before, but I am finding new challenges recently that have been a real struggle. However, I do know that I am a better night runner than a morning runner, so I was well fueled and felt a good energy through the whole thing.
5 mile run was delayed to Friday morning because waking up and running early Thursday mornings after my Wednesday night swims just end up being too close to the realm of impossible. Swimming, though a great cross-training activity, works different muscle groups, and I always find that my legs are too fatigued on Thursday morning to have a "good" run. However, if I give myself the day on Thursday to recoup, runs on Thursday night or Friday morning are always really good after the swimming activity. Upping my miles again for the first time since my Half and vacation this week, so I still felt the pain of running a full 3 times this week, but it was worth it.
I was up way too late on Friday night to run on Saturday morning per the schedule, so ended up putting off my 8 mile run until Sunday night after our kayaking trip. Wow. What I didn't expect was how much my stabilizer muscles in my abs would give me trouble on this run. I am already having a bit of trouble with my right hip (I need new shoes ASAP which I will get this week), but add to that the stress of kayaking for 2 hours on my abs and upper body and then turning around and running 8 miles - I was feeling the burn! "The dogs were barking" as they say. I usually refer to my quads as my dogs - and they bark when I overwork them on a run, but this time it was absolutely my abs. I woke up yesterday morning and felt like I had been hit by a truck. So needless to say - despite a desired schedule of sticking to another 8 mile run yesterday evening, that didn't happen. I needed a day off.
That said - here's this week's schedule -
Week 15 Schedule (Completed):
Mon - Rest
Tue - 7 miles
Wed - Swim
Thu - Rest
Fri - 5 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - Kayaking & 8 miles
Total Weekly Miles: 20
Total Weekly Calories Burned: 3544
Weekly Friday Weigh-In: 185 (lessons in futility...)
Week 16 Schedule:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 4 miles
Wed - Swim OR 8 miles
Thu - Yoga
Fri - 10 miles
Sat - Rest - in Toronto for wedding
Sun - Rest - in Toronto for wedding
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
I can't drag my butt out of bed in the morning. I don't know if it's because of the heat, or because I'm working about 100 hours a week, or because maybe I'm a little depressed, or what's going on - but right now, my mortal enemy is the morning alarm. Which does not bode well for Mr. Marathon. Mr. Marathon thinks that I should rise, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 7am on a Saturday to run 14 miles. So Mr. Marathon and I are also on the outs right now. Damn him. And damn me for wanting to do this so badly, yet fighting with every fiber in my body just to keep going.
Now is when I start to get scared. I crossed the Half Marathon finish line with glee, but now that that milestone is past me, it's as though my spirit has quit caring. But I am not a quitter. I'm just having trouble remembering why I really wanted to do this in the first place. Everyone else thinks I'm crazy. And maybe this is the first time in my life that I'm actually doing something FOR ME, which ends up making it more complicated to stick to my guns for whatever reason.
I have to admit that I wanted this to be a BIG deal. I had visions of grandeur for my big marathon finish. Since it's the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, my hopes were that my whole extended family would come to Chicago for the holiday weekend since we usually all get together at my parent's place that weekend anyway. I had visions of everyone renting a large condo downtown, and celebrating together. Of seeing my friends and family as I ran past every mile marker. Of a triumphant finish running into the arms of 15 people who were all there for me. To see me succeed. And of collapsing on a couch and mowing down on a full turkey dinner to top off a perfect weekend and a timely finish.
But on my recent trip home, as proud as my family was with my running successes, they are not coming to Chicago to see me run. As much as they complain when we don't get together for Thanksgiving, they weren't willing to make the time or monetary commitment to set that weekend aside to come, even though they have all planned lavish holidays in other places around the world. With my family, it's not that they don't have the time or the money. I don't know what it is, but since moving down here 10 years ago, my parents are the only ones who visit me. My grandparents came once when they were able with my brothers. But that trip was over 5 years ago, and since then, no one has bothered to make the effort to come see me, but will complain persistently about me not coming home enough. My aunts and uncles have never even been to Chicago, but keep saying they want to come. So here I think I've given everyone the PERFECT opportunity to come, see the city and be together for the holiday weekend and no one wants to. And that makes me sad. And it's funny that all this came out just now as I've been writing it, because that would certainly explain my lack of desire to run and the depression that I've been feeling about the whole thing. (Side note - blogging is awesome and totally necessary for this reason alone).
However, my parents ARE coming, are wickedly proud of my accomplishments, have just laid out $882 for a hotel room for the weekend to see me do this thing, and I'm sure will make a HUGE deal about it - turkey or not. So I'm in it. I have to be now - the room is non-refundable. And that makes me anxious because my training has been suffering from a number of challenges. While I am doing this for myself, I still need support. And I'm not sure if a non-refundable room is support or pressure.
I tried a few different things this week to varying degrees of success. I'm trying to get out of the habit of trying something once, or for a week, feeling that I failed at it and giving it up before allowing it to have a chance to work. So even though I didn't see huge success from any of this stuff this week, I'm going to keep on it for at least another few weeks to see if it makes a difference.
#1 - The rule of 500.
I dropped my calorie intake again this week. I'm just so frustrated with not losing any more weight that something has to give. So I have done what worked for me when I joined Spark, which is to zero out my calorie burn every week on my Fitness Tracker and just eat what my body needs at the baseline assuming no exercise. That way it doesn't matter how much activity I get in or don't get in, my ticker should still move down based on the fact that monitoring food alone should allow me to lose. Throw in a bunch of physical activity on top of that and you have a bonus, which also enables me to go over my calorie limit for special occasions, or if I'm feeling super hungry, or if the day works out differently than I had planned (which happens all the time). Just make sure that you don't eat more additional calories than you burn in a day, and it should all even out. SHOULD. A week in and I definitely saw positive results from this - was back down to my all-time low of 182 on Thursday morning last week, but after an indulgent Sunday where I ended up eating pretty much every calorie I burned this week in a single day, I'm back up to 186 today. So frustrating that I can gain and lose 4 pounds of water weight in a single day.
So the rule of 500 is my easy way of dividing out my day. I get about 1500 calories a day at my baseline level. So if I plan a 500 calorie breakfast, 500 calorie lunch and 500 calorie dinner, it's easy to stick to. If I run over 5 miles and burn 500 calories, that gives me up to that to indulge in extra - but only if I really want to/need to because I'm hungry. The rule also means that even on days of BIG exercise burning over 1000 calories, I still don't get to eat more than 500 additional. Because even with added fueling calories, I shouldn't need to. We'll see if I can keep this up - before when I dropped my calories this low, I got scared about being hungry. But something in my brain has clicked this time and I'm not scared anymore about being hungry, even with the intense exercise. 1500 calories a day feels like an ok place for me to be, and at least that is a positive change.
#2 - Interval Training.
I tried my long run this week on a 5:1 interval. 5 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking, for 14 miles. I'm not going to give up on this method, but on this particular Friday, I made it 6 miles and had to stop which is going down in the books as a huge failure on my part. I was really bummed with myself.
The plan was to get up early and run before it got too hot outside. But I slept through my alarm (something that is becoming an all-too-regular occurrence) and didn't make it out on the roads until 11am. I had set my 14 mile route to take me along a major street to the Lakefront Trail, run the trail, and then bus it home in some AC. So I had my bus card with me. Which I have found that although safe, and a necessary evil, is my ticket out of doing anything that feels remotely hard. Since it was my first time running intervals, the constant walk breaks felt a little too good and a little too short, and running on a major street stopped my 5 minute runs a little too often for red lights. The sun was directly overhead and beating down on me at a hellish and humid 87 degrees and climbing. I made it to the Lakefront trail just in time for high noon and not a bit of a lake breeze and couldn't take it for one more second. I finished out mile 6 and walked, with my tail between my legs, to the nearest Starbucks for a Trenta Iced Tea and some self-loathing. I thought about trying to run/walk the 2.5 miles back home, making the 6 mile run into an 8.5 mile run, but I was just so disappointed with myself, and running out of time before I needed to report for work, that I just got on the bus, sat in my fuming state of sweaty mess, and rode home. And then I didn't run all weekend.
#3 - Moving Forward.
Since this is a training blog, and since I have focused mostly, so far, on my emotional journey getting me to certain points, I want to try to get a little more technical going forward for those actually interested in knowing what I'm eating, when I'm fueling, what I'm wearing, what the temperature was, how far I ran, and any challenges I faced along the way to those longer distances. I am determined to continue, no matter how my brain feels about it. But I have learned a few valuable things that will make a difference as I get into these last couple of months: my long runs HAVE to be on the Lakefront Trail so that I don't have to stop and start for stoplights. It gives me too many reasons to flake out when I have to slow down and wait, and it IS harder on the body to run long with constant interruptions; and as much as I'm loathing and fighting against the schedule right now, I need to stick to my training times like I stick to reporting for work on time. When I'm as busy and stressed as I am, now is not the time to rile against the structure that is keeping me sane. Being MORE structured will allow me more time to myself - believe it or not - and if I want that time to myself, I need to do the things that I have set out to do on time.
For those of you who are interested in comparing training plans, I started with Hal Higdon's book, threw in a little Jeff Galloway with the run/walk interval training, and am now abiding more by this schedule, published by the Bank of America Chicago Marathon: www.chicagomarathon.com/CMS400Min/up
It makes me feel better to see that I'm only technically on Week 4 this week and that it only involves 19 total miles with nothing run over 7 miles. I will be throwing in a longer run this week to keep myself closer to the 13 that I have already trained to, but I'm trying not to stress about the fact that I had planned to be running at least 15 by this point in the game.
Can someone up there just send us a respite from this heat? 97 degrees today and counting. For an outdoor-only runner, this is worse that slush and sleet in my books. Yuck.
Week 14 Schedule (Completed):
Mon - Rest
Tue - 5 miles
Wed - Swimming
Thu - Rest
Fri - 6 miles (5:1 intervals)
Sat - Lazy
Sun - Work: Blue Man Group Double
Total Weekly Miles: 11
Total Weekly Calories Burned: 1389
Weekly Friday Weigh-In: 183.2 (was 182.6 on Thursday)
Week 15 Schedule:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 7 miles
Wed - Swim
Thu - 5 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - 8 miles
Sun - Kayaking!
Monday, July 09, 2012
In a list of favorite "Canadian-isms" the term "Double Double" is close to the top of the list. It comes from Tim Horton's (our Canadian version of Dunkin' Donuts) and is a way in which you order your coffee - a double double comes with double cream, double sugar. In short - it's really bad for you.
"Double Double" pretty much sums up the last couple of weeks for me. 2 weeks of being away from Spark People after running my half marathon (most of which I was away on vacation), working doubles almost every day between my various jobs right now, and eating about double of what I'm supposed to be every day while using my "vacation from running" to double up on the unhealthy eat lots/exercise little syndrome. This is NOT a good mid-way point for marathon training. So this week, it's time to double-double up on the good habits and good training!
My trip home to celebrate Canada Day with my family was just what the doctor ordered. I was burnt out on a heavy schedule of training, work and more work and just really needed some time by the lake to recoup. But what I ended up getting was even more. I was greeted by a party of 70 people on Canada Day, some of whom haven't seen me in years. Needless to say, the comments were pretty incredible and a huge boost of self esteem. There was one person - I actually don't even remember who it was now because I tried to block the incident from my mind - who greeted me by saying "So how much do you have left to lose?" which I think is the absolute rudest thing you can say to a person and frankly is none of anyone's business - what if I'm perfectly happy where I am? And why would you assume that I'm going to lose anymore? (Even though I know I am). I had no idea what to even say, I was so taken aback by the ridiculous and insensitive question. But besides that, it was a pretty awesome day.
I followed that up by running twice while I was home - a nice, easy, terribly-hot, 4-miler one day and a 6-miler 2 days later - doing a 1K open water swim in record time, and WATER SKIING! Water skiing is a sacred sport in my family. I learned to ski when I was about 5 years old and would have been considered crazy not to venture out on the lake at least twice a day when we were on summer holidays. My father, until a recent skiing injury, was basically a pro, and such a beautiful skier, leaning in to the wake almost horizontally as he sliced the water back and forth behind the boat. My brothers followed suit and even began at one point to take up barefoot skiing. The only reason we couldn't continue in that vein was because we needed a bigger, faster boat to keep up with us! As I slowly started to put on pounds summer after summer, pulling myself up behind the boat got more and more difficult. Until one year, I just couldn't anymore. I remember trying 5 or 6 times, dragging myself in the water until I felt like my arms would fall off. The boat motor was not strong enough to pull my weight, and I was no longer strong enough to hang on through the force of sustained drag that it would take to get me up. I was devastated. And then I went away to school and was working summers and made enough other excuses not to get back in the water. But every time my brothers would go out and ski tandem behind the boat, a piece of me would long for that.
It's been over 10 years since I last pulled myself up out of the water. And after already completing a 6 mile run for the day, I strapped on 2 skis, yelled "Hit It!" and pulled myself effortlessly out of the water on the first shot. I'm crying writing this, it was such an amazing moment of pure accomplishment. Once around the lake on 2 skis and dad pulled the boat by the dock for the moment of truth. Without thinking twice, I dropped my balance ski and set in for another loop around the lake, slalom (skiing on one ski with your drag leg tucked behind you - it takes an IMMENSE amount of quad strength in your ski leg and upper body strength to hang on). And just like that, I was slicing back & forth across the wake like I did when I was 8 years old. A little shaky, but beaming proud none-the-less. My runner's legs doing what they do best - carrying me through the challenges I set out before them. By the dock again and as I let go of the tow rope and came in for a graceful, water-crested slide, I let out a "WHOOP!" that echoed off the whole lake. I did it. And I've said that a lot of times in this journey, but something about THIS "I Did It" is so sentimental and special to me it makes it to the top of the list. I have finally regained something that I thought was lost to me forever. And nothing feels better than that. (There are pictures of this momentous occasion that I don't have yet, but they will be posted as soon as I get them from my brother!)
My vacation concluded too soon, as they all do. And unfortunately both Nikhil and I brought home a nasty case of poison oak/ivy (the likes of which I also have not seen since I was 8). How we got it is another story in and of itself. Involves me trying to be a show-off on the ATV and setting out on an off-roading adventure that ended with my brother having to come rescue us from a ditch with the winch. A ditch full of poison oak & poison ivy. Yeah. I'm awesome. And because my body has been so stressed fighting off such a bad outbreak, the lowered immune system of being on vacation and the insane heat that is nothing but a petrie dish of breeding germs, I now have a terrible summer cold/sinus infection. So I'm quite literally a hot mess. Welcome back, huh?
I've been dealing with my depression about having to return to all the work and regular, non-vacation, life stress by eating. Eating, eating, eating - which started while I was away and just hasn't stopped since. I knew it was BAD when yesterday I consumed a half loaf of jalapeno cheddar bread and kefir for breakfast, a McDonald's grilled chicken and fries for lunch (seriously? I haven't been to McDonald's in over a year), and ordered out Thai food - pineapple cashew fried rice) for dinner. Followed that up with a binge on chocolate & wasabi almonds until I was so full I felt ill. It's been a rough weekend - in so many ways. But it's over now and it's time to re-focus and get back with the program. Vacation is over. Stress is part of life. And I need to get myself back to a good enough routine to be able to deal with it all.
13 weeks until the Marathon! Here I come!
Week 12 & 13 Schedule (Completed):
Mon - Rest
Tue - Rest
Wed - Rest
Thu - Rest
Fri - walking around Toronto - about 5 miles
Sat - 4 miles
Sun - Rest
Mon - 1K lake swim & waterskiing!
Tue - 6 miles & waterskiing
Wed - Rest
Thu - lazy slob :)
Fri - lazy slob :)
Sat - Zumba
Sun - yuck...
Total Weekly Miles: 10 (for both weeks)
Total Weekly Calories Burned: not enough. Ate so many more.
Weekly Weigh-In: the scale has been kind. After weighing in at 192 the day after I got back in town, I am down to 186.2 this morning. Whew.
Week 14 Schedule:
Mon - Rest (like I really need another day of rest, BUT I'm working a double)
Tue - 5 miles
Wed - Swimming
Thu - Rest
Fri - 14 miles...this is gonna hurt...
Sat - Zumba
Sun - Rest
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Well you guys - I DID IT! I'm half way there and I have the Finisher's Medal to prove it. I ran my first Half Marathon.
Start to finish, this couldn't have been a better race for me. I feel like I did everything right. And what's that you ask? Well - here's the breakdown:
The Inaugural Chicago Women's Half Marathon - June 24, 2012 - Official Race Report
Those of you who have been following my training blogs know that getting to this week hasn't been the easiest task for me. But I knew that I had done as much as I could, I went into my taper week confidently, put in exactly the miles that were prescribed and then behaved myself and stayed on schedule for the rest of my time before the big run.
In a 4-3-2-Rest-Rest pattern, I gave my legs and my energy a run for their money early in the week and actually awoke on Friday night with muscle twitches in my thighs - a good sign actually to say that my quick release fibers are firing rapidly and that my legs are craving the output that they usually get on my long-run weekends. I saw my chiropractor on Wednesday as per usual on my off-weeks and had her do a deep tissue quad stretch for me. Ohhh, so good. Since I had been having back issues of late, I have seen her more than usual, but I didn't want to miss seeing her this week because I wanted to make sure everything was in line for Sunday.
I had less sleep this week than I wanted, and I will say that the other stressors in my life boiled to a head on Friday night and I needed to come home and have a good cry to get it out of my system. Nerves plus stress plus lack of sleep is never a good thing leading up to something this big, but the catharsis helped immensely and my advice to anyone who is feeling that pre-race pressure is to just let it out. Rent a sad movie, talk to a friend, do what you need to do - the stress needs to go so you can focus on the task at hand.
Which for me was clearly eating :) I'd like to step out on a ledge here and say that my food choices for the weekend were pretty near PERFECT for my body's rate of fueling and metabolism and function. Friday I stuck to a lean protein diet - breakfast sandwich with ham, egg & cheese, tuna for lunch with veggies and fruit, and a falafel plate from my favorite Mediterranean restaurant for dinner to bulk up on that fibrous lentil protein. Saturday I focused more on meat and healthy fats with a breakfast of a berry smoothie and pretzel bread and cashew butter, a lunch of a footlong Subway grilled chicken sandwich with added avocado, and a dinner of steak, potatoes and a full bag of steamed spinach with butter (topped off with ONE beer of course for added carb benefit). Sunday's pre-race fuel was my "superstition breakfast" of loaded oatmeal (a mix of steal cut and rolled oats with chocolate almond milk, flax seed, coconut, cinnamon, and trail mix topper), coconut water and a banana. I couldn't eat all of the oatmeal - nervous stomach won over - but I felt confident that I had fueled sufficiently and had enough time to empty what was in me pre-race (haha! always something to consider!)
Nikhil graciously allowed me to stay at his place on Saturday night, and since he lives right beside the start line I was able to get some extra valuable sleep in on Sunday morning. At 6:15am I was out the door and walking up Columbus Drive, arriving at gear check by 6:25am. The one "improvement item" that I will say about running a race with 4000 women is that next year, they need more porta potties! At least double the number please. I ended up waiting in the potty line for about 25 minutes before heading over to check my gear. I know I was only staying 10 minutes away, but it's another superstition thing with me I suppose...or maybe just something mom engrained in me hard as a kid - gotta go pee before you set out to go anywhere. But once that was accomplished, I headed to the start line and immediately found the 2:45 pace group.
As they sang the National Anthem, I took a deep breath and looked around me. 4000 women all grouped together is an amazing site: #1 - because it's a racing event and it doesn't happen that often, and #2 - because we have DAMN CUTE tech gear. I think most of my time standing waiting for the gun to go off was spent chatting with the other girls around me about where we all got our cute clothes!
I had made a decision earlier in the week to do this race "naked". Not that naked - trust me, I had on some pretty cute gear myself, but without my Garmin, my heart monitor or my iPod. Just me and the road and 3999 other females celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX - the day that women were officially allowed to participate in "men's" sports. I was worried about whether I would be able to stay in my head that long without distractions, but I will tell you, it's the best decision I ever made. As the first wave of women started to run and the crowd surged forward, instead of listening to my warm-up tracks, I was listening to the whooping and cheering of the women around me and the men who came out to support us. I was listening to calls of "You got this girl!" and "Way to go Mom!" and "You can do it Ladies!" from everywhere around me. I have to admit - I got a little teary-eyed at the level of support I was feeling, even though I was running alone.
Before I knew it we were down the shoot and through the first bottleneck around Shedd Aquarium. I knew the Lakefront Trail well, I've run this section a few times before, and I KNEW where we were all going to slow down. But honestly, besides that one place right off the start, the rest of the path worked really well in both directions and once the crowds thinned out, I had the path to myself for a large part of the race.
Even though I was racing alone I never felt alone. I had no problems making running buddies along the way. A friend team that was running together sidled up beside me to comment on my running top and ended up staying with me for about 5 minutes. We chatted back and forth about my motivation to run a Half and that of them, one was also running her first, but her friend had already run about 6 and that's why they were doing it together. I had another, older friend team behind me who were doing a run/walk interval, and every time they would speed up an get behind me they'd say "there's that bright yellow shirt again that we love so much!" Around mile 5 I ran beside a girl who was labouring hard to breathe. We had just crested one of a number of hills on the trail and she seemed to be having a tough time of it already. I called out to her - "how are you doing girl? You're lookin good!" She replied by pulling out one earphone and saying, "I'm ok - just wish it weren't so hot!" We then exchanged a few pleasantries and she asked me where I was from. It was her first Half too. As I pulled ahead of her about a quarter of a mile later I realized that I was feeling REALLY great going into mile 6, and I had to smile to myself about how far I've come to even be able to run and carry on a conversation at the same time. Kinda blew myself away with that one - it was a proud moment. Meanwhile, I'm watching the clocks at every mile and I know that I have been maintaining a perfect 12/mile pace, which also makes me happy. I knew I didn't need my Garmin as long as I trusted my body - and sure enough, I was right.
One more big hill into the turn-around and at this point we're seeing the faster runners who went on to win the race on their way back. Another really lovely moment of everyone being supportive and cheering each other on. It was like a sound wave to hear those faster runners passing everyone on the way back. I could hear the women in front of me starting to cheer and yell about a minute up ahead and then my group all cheered as they went by and so on down the line behind me until it faded out in the distance. I can only imagine being that girl and having that constant support all the way home. Would make me want to run a 6:30/mile too!
I was happy to see the turn-around point. My knees had just started to tell me that they were getting tired, and I knew that there was a Gatorade stop coming up soon that I had planned to hit. So at mile 7 I got my first fuel boost and was definitely glad for it. At this point, the sun was out in FULL force and the temp had risen from 74 degrees at the start of the race to about 80 degrees with a warm lake breeze. Strategically placed misters along the way were a welcome oasis for sure, as were the shadier parts of the trail. A brief walk break through a particularly hard sun patch saw me into mile 9.3 and the 15K aid station for some more water that I poured most of down my back. I made a deal with myself to run full to mile 10 and then we could talk about more walk breaks.
I made it to mile 10 and another Gatorade station. It wasn't part of the plan to fuel twice, but my body was telling me it needed the push, so I went for it anyway, hoping that too much liquid in my stomach wouldn't bog me down. Between 10-11 miles was at least a .75 mile stretch of full on glaring sun which I paced myself through most of and then had to slow to a walk when I started feeling a little light-headed. Most everyone was walking at this point, so I followed suit and still managed to cross the 11 mile marker on schedule. I made up some ground on mile 12. Not exactly sure how since I ended up walking through the 12 mile marker as well, but at this point it's a bit of a blur. What I do know is that at this point my mantra was "DO NOT push" and every time I felt like my breathing was getting too fast or too laboured, I would slow myself down again to an easy jog. Everything in me just wanted to finish, but I knew I had to keep pacing myself through that last leg of the race, or it might mean having to walk over the finish line.
Despite NOT pushing, at mile 12 I made the deal with myself to run full out to the end. Which I did, for about .75 of a mile. Then "Heartbreak Hill" - an upswing on the path that leads from an underground tunnel up to street bridge level. Yeah. Not gonna happen. There were tons of people on the sidelines at this point cheering us on to "show this hill who's boss" - but I'm gonna be honest - at that point, the hill owned me, and I walked it shamelessly. Cause from that point out it was all downhill to the finish and I turned on the boosters and just DID IT. Aw yeah. I'm sure my Garmin would have clocked at least an 8 minute mile for that last .3 cause I knew I was gunning it home. The finish line was right there. And then - I was over it. And I had done it. And they were handing me an ice-cold towel and water and frozen kefir. Holy crap - I just ran a Half Marathon. And I felt GREAT!!!
I fought some nausea while standing in line for my finisher's photo, newly minted medal hanging around my neck. But the cold towel helped immensely and was definitely a nice touch. Once through the line, I found Nikhil in the crowd. He had been waiting at the finish line for me, but didn't see me cross because I came in faster than he thought I was going to...and faster than I thought I was going to!
My final time was 2:40:48. Perfect. My goal was to finish. My secret goal was to finish in under 2:45 and somewhere around a 12/mile pace. I ran 12:17/mile. I couldn't be happier. I know now that I can do the full. It's going to be hard work, but with that race pace and with continued training at this level, I can assume that I will finish the marathon in 5.5 hours.
After picking up my gear and receiving my souvenir yoga mat (great race packets with all kinds of goodies!) I collapsed for a bit on the grass and called my parents. Obviously they are proud. That makes me happy. My mom actually started to cry. You know - maybe someday I might get her to run a 5K with me...we'll see.
After lounging around on the lawn for a bit and hearing the top 3 winners announced we headed back home for a nice long shower and a nap, followed up by a lunch feast at Lou Malnati's (I never usually eat Chicago Pizza, so this, if anything, was a damn good excuse). And yes, I then had ice cream for dinner. I so earned it.
Next step? Back on the road. I'm taking a bit of a breather this week with a vacation home to Canada for the Canada Day/Independence Day long weekend. But I'll still be running and swimming and water skiing, so the hard work doesn't stop here. We've just passed the start of Chicago Marathon Training - it kicked off officially on June 18th. But I am well within my goal range to continue to take it slow and steady to get to those higher miles. Moving on up!
Week 11 Schedule (Completed):
Mon - Rest
Tue - 4 miles
Wed - 3 miles
Thu - 2 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - Rest
Sun - HALF Marathon, 13.1 miles, completed in 2:40:48
Total Weekly Miles: 22.1
Total Weekly Calories Burned: over 3500
Weekly Weigh-In: 185.2 (back up again, but today I was down to 182.2 again, so I'm gonna go with that)
Week 12 Schedule:
Mon - Rest
Tue - Rest
Wed - Rest
Thu - 3 miles
Fri - walking around Toronto
Sat - 5 miles & swim
Sun - Rest
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
I missed a Monday! Oops. Most of you know that my life is insane right now (I'm working 4 jobs and training for a Half) and this week is no exception even though I should be trying to take it easy before Sunday. No such luck.
But I have found a little zen as far as thinking about how Sunday's race is going to go: Basically, I have no real control over it. I have trained as hard as I can, I have put in the mileage, and I can't do a damn thing about the weather (which has decided this week to climb well into the high 90s with 50-60% humidity). I'm actually glad that I'm tapering this week, because running more than 4 miles in that heat is pretty much the definition of torture. I'm concerned about running the race, but I'm also concerned about my personal safety. And that means that you need to slow down and drink water and do what you need to do to keep cool, sane and functioning.
Last week was a great one for running mileage. I managed to complete a 15K on Tuesday night and was feeling pretty good about how I felt after my run and how I felt about tacking on more mileage to the end of the run. A 5 mile run Friday morning solidified for me that I can easily cover 5-7 miles before it starts to get hard. And then I closed out the week with an 11 mile long run (that I got up at 7am to accomplish before my day show at Blue Man Group). Boom! If that doesn't make you feel like you can do anything, I don't know what does.
I struggled towards the very end of the 11 miler. It had gone from a HUMID 70 degrees when I left the house to 82 degrees by the time I rounded in to the last mile. My plan was to only drink the 10 ounces of water that I brought with me, but I had to stop at a park fountain for a refill at mile 9.5 because the thirst I had was incredible. What I learned though is that I actually only need to DRINK about half of what I did. Dry-mouth can make you feel like you're thirsty, but drink too much mid-run and heavy stomach takes over and makes it harder, physically, to keep pushing. So my method for Sunday will be drink, spit, drink, spit. Keep the mouth flushed with fluids, but only actually consume about half of them. Hopefully that will help keep me hydrated and keep the water stomach cramps at bay.
Thankfully the weather for Sunday looks slightly cooler. We are expecting rain before the big day that should bring in a cold front, but what I don't want is the rain that makes it more humid. I can run in heat. But running in humidity is the energy socker.
On the weight-loss front, lots of running and being good about my caloric intake resulted in another loss on the scale! Woohoo! But here's how precise/wacky my internal calculator is - weighed in yesterday and had dropped again over the weekend (YES!), then worked an event last night at which I ended up skipping dinner and came in well under my calories for the day. Stepped on the scale this morning and I'm up 3 pounds. What gives!? So I retaliated with a piece of lemon cake at Starbucks this morning. Yeah, I know...but I'm human, I was pissed, and I'll run it off tonight.
Alright you guys - 13.1 Miles - here I come! Next time I blog, I'll be wearing a finisher's medal around my neck. Wish me luck!
Week 10 Schedule (Completed):
Mon - Rest
Tue - 15K
Wed - Rest
Thu - Rest
Fri - 5 miles
Sat - Rest
Sun - 11 miles
Total Weekly Miles: 25.3
Total Weekly Calories Burned: 3427
Weekly Weigh-In: 182.2
Week 11 Schedule:
Mon - Rest
Tue - 4 miles
Wed - 3 miles
Thu - 2 miles
Fri - Rest
Sat - Rest
Sun - HALF MARATHON!
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