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/
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!