December 8, 2012
For those of you who have spent the past 17 months anxiously refreshing your browsers every 15 seconds (like me the night the iPhone 5 went on sale) hoping that there would be a new willrunforbiscuits post, rejoice! Your prayers have been answered. At fleeting moments over the last year or so, I have felt an urge to resurrect the blog, but it was not until a dear friend facetiously offered to buy me a box of Bojangles Cajun Filet biscuits that I decided it was time to jump back into the world of airing my dirty laundry in cyberspace. Who are we kidding? That’s what I do on Facebook 19.3 times per day.
In all seriousness, I am well aware that on my Facebook page, there is an overabundance of baby cuteness, talk about lululemon, discussion/photos of my latest carb fests, and posts about my workouts which SuperDad cannot decipher because he ran cross country for 2 years and only understands a running workout that goes like this: “hey you, skinny kid, go run really far then turn around and come back.” While I am sure my many
adoring fans friends enjoy seeing my gigantisaurus rex of a baby and reading about the hilarious and incredibly inappropriate things his sister says, I need a place where I can really throw up all my feelings about trying to be a better runner.
This is not a mommy blog. This is not a shopping blog. This is not a “I’m sooooo great because I ran 17 miles with ankle weights while pushing a double stroller and dictating a brief with the sweet Dragon software on my phone” blog. There are already a ton of those blogs out there and like the good liberal arts major I was, I really am not trying to be the best at any one thing. I just want to dabble. If only my super Asian Tiger Mom had known this before she pretty much took out a second mortgage to send me to college. Just kidding!
This is just a blog that will hopefully give me some accountability as I train for my next marathon. I will definitely talk about my kids because what kind of mother that overshares doesn’t talk about her kids? I will also tell you about clothes/shoes/gear that I love and probably (more likely) things that I hate. Because I’m not really an “everything is sunshines and roses and puppy dogs and I love everyone” type of person. I am obviously an air quotes type of person, and I also don’t know how to edit, according to SuperDad. Finally, I can already foresee a post about running while pregnant. Because I have done it twice, and it is not that awesome. But it’s doable. And the two books out there that are allegedly about running or exercising while pregnant are also terrible. The worst. So bad that I am going to take out a loan, go to med school, become an expert in exercise medicine, and write a book about running while pregnant. I cannot guarantee that will actually happen. Any of it.
Well kiddies, it’s time for me to tuck in and watch some
Real Housewives Breaking Bad with SuperDad. As you can see, there’s a lot of excitement going on here. Two kids + 11 mile run tomorrow + generally being lazy = in bed long before I was even ready to put on my makeup back in the day. You have to use an accent and say “BACK in the day-uh” when you say it. If you’re lucky I will tell you about my new training plan tomorrow. But it will most likely be in a week.
July 20, 2011
It’s been two weeks since my second shoulder surgery. I had a ton of scar tissue so it’s a good thing I had the surgery, or I would be a decrepit old woman with no range of motion within a couple years. The doctor didn’t tell me that, but this is what I surmise. The recovery went really well- I was back to work within a day and hit the gym three days later. I mistakenly thought I could just dive right in and go for a run. I tallied an impressive 1/2 mile. If by “impressive,” you mean “really really ridiculously low.” But instead of pushing myself and impeding my recovery, I hopped on the elliptical for 45 minutes. I have been building back up since then. It’s certainly been quicker than the first time around, but I still know my limits. Like, when I go to Power Hour (which henceforth will be called Athletic Conditioning, because that is what the Y is now calling it) and the class is centered pretty much entirely on pushups, burpees, weighted burpees (aka The Death move), and shoulder presses, I run some sprints on the track and do squats instead. So basically, I should not have even gone to class. But I have friends there. And I also savor the opportunity to a) check to see if one of those friends is going to do something stupid and blog-worthy and b) show off my giant purple bruise. No seriously, it is gross. Here is a picture.
Last Saturday, I did my first long-ish run in months. I know that when I start ramping my mileage up (you know, from 1/2 – 12 miles per week), I start getting shin splints. It is a tried and true theory, regardless of whether I am heel striking or running in a more natural form. So earlier in the week, I contacted my good friend at Body Helix, who hooked me up with the brand new Body Helix full calf sleeve. That’s a picture of me in the silver sleeve. It is awesome. It feels so smooth in fact, it feels like you aren’t wearing anything, although you can tell it is providing nice compression. You know I love me some compression gear. I have worn Body Helix in the past for my shin splints, and had good results. I think I am going to love these even more though because, being a full sleeve, you get an even greater area of compression.
Anyway, the Body Helix sleeve was only part of what made the run so great. Another wonderful part of the run was that I got to take sweet Riley running with me. She is our hound dog and she loves to run. Rain, shine, hot, cold. She will run in any weather, unlike me. Here she is. The one on the left in the pink collar. The others are kind of useless for longer runs. Griffin, in the middle, will trot at a 10:00 pace for approximately 3/4 of a mile. Then he tries to make his way home or to the car. There is someone in my house who is fairly similar but I won’t name names. Dylan, on the right, is a decent sprinter and can do about 3 miles if it is precisely 63 degrees and he has not had too much to eat. We are very much alike. Riley is the natural born runner, kind of like Shalane Flanagan. Both are my running idols. Unfortunately, between the baby, two other dogs, and the heat, Riley doesn’t get as much exercise as she should. It’s certainly possible I train for marathons simply out of guilt, because she will go on training runs with me a lot. Riley is really fun to run with now that all of the dogs had training at the Dog Wizard last December. She no longer pulls on the lead, which she was terrible about in the past. She still stops like 5 times to poop (though it’s usually only productive once or twice) but I just sip some water while she does her business. Afterwards, Riley almost had a coronary. I told you, it’s been a while since we last ran.
Additionally, the weather was incredible. I despise running in the heat. I am pretty sure I have mentioned this many many times. Here in North Carolina, the weather has been horrendous. So hot and humid. It is like living on the surface of the sun, after a hurricane. Oftentimes, I blame my inactivity on the weather. I think that’s a valid excuse, but I need to deal with it because hello, it’s July, and it’s not likely the heat is going away anytime soon. But on Saturday, the temp was a brisk 79 when I left the house. I felt like I needed some earmuffs or something, given how much cooler it was. The cool temperature tricked my body into thinking it was winter and thus, that I was in some sort of shape. My goal was to run about 3-4 miles. I started getting a little tired but felt all right, so I decided to push us. I ended up running 5 miles with Riley and then dropped her off to pick up the other two for another mile. We won’t discuss what pace I kept. That’s not what my goal was.
Which brings me to my next point. It’s HOT AGAIN. So hot. Tonight, I went to Athletic Conditioning. We went outside onto the track, which is not abnormal. What was abnormal was the humidity. I swear it was not just me. We did a decent amount of running, but somehow it felt like I sprinted a 10k with a backpack full of weights in it. I really wanted to run fast and run hard. That’s just how I am when I am in a group setting. But I just couldn’t go as fast or as hard as I wanted to. Then, when I realized I couldn’t go as fast or as hard as I wanted to, I wanted to quit. But I stuck it out. I kept running, slower of course. I cut off about .01 of a mile off, but I kept going. I figured out, not surprisingly, that I am not yet capable of running full steam in this kind of heat. I could have pushed harder- but what would I have accomplished? A headache, maybe some vomitus, and what else? The point is to get better every day, and enjoy myself. Physical ailments like shin splints and IT band issues I can deal with, but making myself sick? That’s not what running and exercising are about to me. At least not anymore. I know my limit, and for the time being, I am not going to push myself to the brink of sheer exhaustion. Now that I am a mom and have long term goals like another half marathon and marathon in the next 6 months, maybe another Super Baby, and an Ironman, I can’t risk being out of the game again due to illness or injury. For now, I just want to have fun and work on increasing my mileage every week. The really hard stuff will come soon enough…
June 26, 2011
As you know, I am trying to make my triumphant return to running. My literal first steps towards this goal culminated in a one mile run. My most recent efforts have included a 38 minute run at an average pace of 7.4 mph. The hotel treadmill inexplicably displayed my total mileage as 3.1, but I’m pretty good at math and I don’t think that adds up. Anyway, I have primarily been going to Power Hour because it’s so hot outside, I can’t stomach a run outdoors after work, and my fuse is too short from my lack of stamina and speed that I cannot deal with the people on the indoor track who openly defy track etiquette. A few weeks ago, I jogged about 3 laps on the indoor track, and a tween walking around the track with his older sister/babysitter dared walk on the inside of the track for a protracted period of time. When I said “excuse me,” Carrot Top said, ne, commanded, that the inner lanes are for walkers!!! I calmly screamed “look at the sign!” and gave up in defeat shortly thereafter. I have not returned to the indoor track, the former home of my winter 18 or 20 milers, since that incident. I don’t foresee a trip back to the track until I can tune up my anger management techniques. Maybe I will take a yoga class…
But I digress. I have been torturing myself with Power Hour, a class which offers ample running, hill work, and strength work to make me feel like less of a sloth when I sit on the couch watching Real Housewives of New Jersey later in the evening. It also exposes my shoulder scars to enough UV rays to guarantee I will be branded with these imperfections until I am 80 and the rest of my body resembles an old leather briefcase. Power Hour has introduced me to some people who I find fascinating, because they too enjoy masochism. On Friday night, some of my Power Hour friends and “real” friends joined me for Happy- not Power- Hour. This was an excellent way to kiss goodbye one full week without alcohol. I must say, taking a week off of social drinking was remarkable. I saved probably $12 in cheap wine and staved off SuperBaby learning the term “Mommy Juice” for at least another week. Seriously though, I feel marginally more energized and think I will make a habit of not drinking during the work week. Granted, I’m not a booze hound. I may typically consume 3 or 4 glasses of wine total from Sunday-Thursday, but it’s the principle that counts. I also have cut out virtually all caffeine and processed flour, so I am feeling rather superior these days. After consuming two glasses of delicious wine, the name of which I cannot recall, I returned home with my friend Erin and we started talking about running. We thought it would be really fun to pick a race in the fall to do. We decided to choose a half marathon, since Erin is still nursing a back injury and I will be recovering from a second shoulder surgery. Instead of thinking our choice through in a sober state of mind, we voted on the inaugural Savannah Rock n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon & Marathon on November 5. I even found a coupon code to get $10 off registration! We immediately registered online, texted a few friends from Power Hour to harass them into signing up also, and patted ourselves on the backs for our foresight to register early and save $10.
The next morning I see a confirmation email from Active.com congratulating me on registering for the race. My first thought was “Race, what race?!” My second thought was “Wow, my brain hurts. Wine has a lot of sugar in it.” Great, I roped myself into another race without having even built back up to a solid 10 mile per week base. And by solid, I mean pathetic. And by pathetic, I mean “I’m not judging you if you consider yourself a runner and all you run is 10 miles per week. It’s just that you can’t exactly race 13.1 miles at once if you are running/jogging 2 or 3 miles at a time a few times each week.” Plus, given I am likely having repeat shoulder surgery very soon, I won’t be running until early August at best. My negative, super sarcastic brain (which typically wins) laughs at me maniacally, telling me I am shooting for a world record for signing up for races I cannot attend/complete. See, e.g., Myrtle Beach Marathon (not enough time to recover from Kiawah), Corporate Cup 1/2 Marathon (too much pain 5 days before surgery), Providence Marathon (registered before I realized I would need surgery), and The Scream Half Marathon (wedding that weekend). My positive brain, which is a rookie, is all about promoting good Qi and making sure I get back into the running that I love. This part of my brain has decided that Savannah is going to be the one race all year that I fully train for and that I can use to accomplish a PR (under 1:38). So I mapping out my training schedule, just like I have done in the past. Here is a sampling of my goals for the next month of training, which will probably take closer to 6 or 7 weeks because of my recovery from surgery:
Mondays/Wednesdays: Power Hour
Tuesdays: 30 minute run at HMP + 10%, 10 cycles of Tabata Sprints (30 seconds sprint, 15 seconds walk)
Thursdays: Intervals (4×800, 8×400, 10×200)
Saturdays: Start with a 6 mile run at half marathon pace + 20% this Saturday (on the treadmill at the Aria hotel in VEGAS!!!), add 1 mile per week for three weeks, then back down 2 miles on week 4.
Sundays: Easy 2-3 mile jog
Not too daunting, certainly not like marathon training. If anyone has any suggestions which one may consider constructive, please send them my way. Happy running, and don’t sign up for any races in the immediate afterglow of Happy Hour!
June 20, 2011
As you know, it’s been a while since my last post. I’ve found I haven’t had motivation to post, mainly because I haven’t had motivation to run or even exercise all that much. I never realized how easy it is to get out of the exercise routine. It’s just as easy as getting obsessive about working out, planning out interval work, and making sure I get at least one chicken biscuit a week. I am three months post surgery and unfortunately, not making much progress with my range of motion. It is looking like I’ll need another surgery to remove a bunch of scar tissue. Supposedly, the recovery isn’t supposed to be as bad. This isn’t surprising to me, given that I don’t think any recovery from a relatively “minor” surgery could be worse. I know I didn’t have a hip replacement like my dad, or get hit by a bus and have to learn how to walk again like that firefighter in New York, Matt Long, that ended up doing a freaking Iron Man a few years after he almost died and was told he’d never walk again. But still, I’m not used to being laid up. I didn’t even take off that much time off (5 full weeks) when I was with child or after I had Superbaby. It’s not easy, but I think I’ve finally found my motivation again.
My motivation is twofold: cute exercise clothes, and doing an Ironman one day. So, the only thing bad about these workout clothes is that they are likely going to lead to my filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy. However, I find that I can make room in my bank account by eliminating other things, like food and work clothes. I’ll just wear the same black shift dress to work every day and drink tap water. I never drink enough water. Maybe I can throw in a few free Splenda packets from the coffee machine at work. Just kidding, I like Sugar in the Raw. So what are these wonderful clothes that caused me to break free of my DVR and Kindle-reading cocoon? None other than lululemon. I’d heard about this gift from the textile gods before, but didn’t really shop there until last summer when I won a tank top in a pushup competition (seriously) and then bought another online. But when lululemon opened a store in the nearby mall last month, I figured I would pop in because I had a $25 gift card. Mind you, you can only buy two headbands or a water bottle for $25 there. I knew this going in. I walked away with a couple pairs of their split shorts and scoop neck tanks. Let me tell you people, these things are LIFE CHANGING. Not just because you may not be able to make your car payment if you buy four articles of clothing there, but because of the comfort. I felt like I was naked when I ran in these things. In the good way, not in the “oh crap I got on the school bus naked” in your dream kind of way. No hint of chafing in sight. Granted, I didn’t run 16 miles but I usually get some chafing in the summer due to my biscuit thighs. As for the tops, they somehow managed to minimize my super large upper body and make me feel like I looked good (even if I didn’t). And the built-in bra provided good support to someone of my (maybe) above average chest stature. So needless to say, I was hooked.
I decided I needed to take every opportunity possible to model my new ensembles. And purchase more ensembles. I began reducing the number of meals I ate out, and generally have tried to reduce my overall caloric intake. This has produced three miraculous results: 1) I lost a couple of those pesky post-surgery pounds, 2) I look better in those glorious scoop neck tanks, and 3) I haven’t bounced any checks despite buying $54 scoopneck tanks. I also feel healthier overall, and better fueled to tackle my workouts. I have since purchased a few other goodies, all of which I love. I just can’t get enough.
I also have a legitimate, non-vain source of motivation for getting back into running. I eventually would like to do an Ironman (well, probably just a half Ironman). Or maybe what’s happened is my friend Sherman (the Shermanator- he just did his first Ironman at the age of… we’ll just say, he’s not 25) is just strong-arming me into thinking I can do one. I’ll never have the bone strength to do an ultramarathon, but I think with my swimming background I could kill some triathlons. The only problem is that I don’t have a bike and I’m deathly afraid of falling off the bike. Oh, and I can’t really swim right now because of my jacked up shoulder. Well, I’m not going to let that stop me. At some point in the future, I should be able to move my shoulder more than 15 degrees in any direction. And Superbaby will probably get better at gift giving, meaning I can probably score a tri bike from her. Triathlon bikes are expensive! I guess I could try riding a Huffy from my childhood days, but I have a feeling my legs would fall off or I’d miss the cut-off time for the Ironman bike leg. So in the mean time, I just need to get myself back into fighting shape with spin classes, running a lot, and Power Hour. If I need to have another surgery, I am not sitting on my butt for five weeks eating chicken biscuits. I’ll run and eat my biscuits.
April 28, 2011
I’m baaaaack. Did you miss me? It has been almost 2 months since my last post. It has been about 7 weeks since my last 5+ mile run. And only about 4 days since my last Bojangles chicken biscuit. The reason is that I had arthroscopic surgery on my right shoulder on March 18. After surgery, it has been a long, uphill battle. SuperDad has effectively become a single parent. I could not change a diaper for over 4 weeks because I was in a sling 24/7. Not going to complain about that one. I planned on working out on the bike or elliptical within a week or two or surgery, but my deep-rooted desire to be a couch potato bubbled to the surface, leaving me with plenty of excuses to forego the gym. I have to work hard to fight those couch potato urges, and it took me a full five weeks to conquer my lazy evil twin. During which time I forbade myself from consuming any chicken biscuits. Seriously.
So on Saturday, less than 24 hours after consumingy first post-surgical biscuit, I went out for just over a 3 mile jog/walk with the dogs and SuperDad. It was brutal, almost as if I had had surgery on both legs and my spine as opposed to an extremity I previously thought played a very small role in running. But I made it through, and in the process got schooled by SuperDad and produced enough endorphins to make me foolishly think I would be ready for another half marathon in 12 weeks!
Since Saturday, I have gone to Power Hour twice, which has proven interesting considering I cannot lift ANYTHING more than a biscuit with my right arm. Needless to say, I did a lot of squats and lunges in lieu of pushups or other upper body activities. I will probably have great difficulty getting any decent running in, but I don’t really mind. It feels good to sweat hard, almost go into cardia arrest, and face the new challenge of completely starting over again. What doesn’t feel good is the 156% humidity and 80 degree temperatures. When did spring finally decide to show up? Sheesh.
Friday morning I set out to conquer my second non-human nemesis: the hill near Myers Park High School that appears at mile 8 of the Corporate Cup half marathon. I surprised both myself and SuperDad by actually waking up at 6am, bundling up in my cold weather gear, and running over to the hill, approximately 2.5 miles from our house. I ran that darn hill 6 times, and by the 6th time, it was no easier than the first. I was moving at about an 8:20 pace up that hill, which is not great. I figure if I can keep a 7:25 pace for the first 6 flat miles of the course, I can afford to run the hills in 7:40 or so. Not 8:20. Nevertheless, I was pleased that a) I woke up at 6 am, b) I actually did repeats on that hill, as opposed to doing it once and crying the whole way home, and c) I didn’t get hit by a teenager turning his brand new 2011 Yukon into the parking lot. It’s sad that one day, SuperBaby will be the “poor kid” at that high school.
Sunday I planned to do a 10 mile run at 7am. Instead, I slept 12 hours, waking at 9. Yep, I went to bed during the Duke-Carolina game because Duke was losing and I knew they were not going to pull through. I think I was depressed in my sleep about the game, and that’s why I slept so long. When I got up, I had no motivation to run. It was pouring ran and there was no end in sight. So naturally, I took two naps with SuperBaby and worked a few hours. Around 5 it cleared up. I decided to sack up and take Riley on the run. Big mistake. Huge mistake. Riley has OCD. And she thinks she has IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). She literally stopped 15 times during 10 miles. For you non-math majors out there, that is 1.5 times per mile. There was approximately 1.7 poops and 1 pee (total) generated in those 15 stops. Riley thinks she has to go but there’s nothing there. But people walking or driving by think she is going #2, and give me the stink eye when I don’t clean up. Sorry, can’t clean up a phantom poop.
Also, because I didn’t want to carry my water bottle, along with the doggie poop bags, remote control for her collar, and my Iphone, I did an out-and-back course twice. Meaning, I mapped out 2.5 miles from the house and ran to that point and back twice. I put the water around mile 1.5 so I could have water at least every 3 miles. This way, I was always under street lights as well. The problem with that course is that it goes along a busy road with many stop lights. Naturally, as it goes when I drive, I hit almost every red light. I think I had to stop about 23 or 24 times, even if only briefly. This made me quite angry. SuperDad thought this was funny, because he thinks it is absurd that I choose to run on such busy roads. Whatever. The run was 4 x 2.5 miles at HMP + 20% (about 8:45), HMP + 10% (8:15), HMP (actually, ended up being about 7:40), then HMP + 20%. All of the stopping and starting messed up my splits, but then again, I guess it gave me time to rest as well. I was not at all happy with Riley afterward, and the worst part is that I cannot shame her with this blog because she doesn’t read and lacks the opposable thumbs to pull up the site!
I am hoping my shoulder makes it through this last week of taper and the race on Saturday. If you don’t hear from me before Saturday, it is because I am spending my free time visualizing the race and the pain I will endure on the multiple hills. I am afraid that all my weeks of avoiding hills on my long runs is really going to come back and bite me. I am going to do one last hill workout tonight in the hopes of drumming up some semblance of fitness before Saturday.
March 2, 2011
Naturally, because I proclaimed in my last post that I am completely against wasting all my training on a hilly race, the fates would force me into a situation where my only choices would be to either not run any races this season, or run a hilly race. Unfortunately, as a result of my blue weight episode a while back, I tore the posterior labrum in my right shoulder. It has gotten progressively worse, to the point where my 15 mile run (ok, 14 miles in 2:04, 1 mile jog/walk) on Sunday was excruciatingly painful. It didn’t help that I was exhausted and running on unfamiliar terrain. But my shoulder is what really made the run brutal. After that, I knew my MRI had to show something terrible was a brewing in my shoulder. Sure enough, my doctor confirmed this yesterday. He basically destroyed my hopes of qualifying for Boston or New York this season. But, I think I have enough training under my belt to eek out a semi-decent run at the Corporate Cup half marathon in Charlotte on March 12. The Corporate Cup being yet another in the willrunforbiscuit’s dubbed Charlotte Hill Series.
Last night I did a set of mile repeats. Even though the weather was glorious (i.e., in the 50′s), I had to run at the Y so SuperDad could work late. I was in fairly good spirits, despite the news about my shoulder, as I embarked up the stairs towards the track. Then, I laid eyes on the 70 year old man wearing jorts (that’s jean shorts) and a fanny pack, which held his CASSETTE Walkman. That’s cool, he can walk in the outside lane. Oh wait, what’s that? Someone removed ALL of the signs lining the walls that say “Runners use inside lane, walkers use outside lane.” Seriously, someone who works at the Y must read my blog and hate me. But who could it be? Perhaps one of the older ladies I bumped shoulders with was actually a daytime employee? Oh dear, this would not bode well for me. Luckily, Mr. Jorts only did a couple laps in the inside lane, then headed off for supper. Ok, that was fine. Until Zumba started. I forgot what day and time it was. The gym, and accordingly, the track, was filled with the blaring tunes of Lil Jon and Lady Gaga. I had to rupture my eardrums blasting my beloved Adam Carolla podcast through my iPhone earbuds. I don’t care how loud it is- I am not going to cave in and listen to something I wouldn’t allow on my car radio. With my iPhone volume adequately amplified, I did a 1/2 mile warmup, 6 x 1 mile at half marathon pace with 1:00 recoveries, and a 1 mile cooldown. My splits were: 7:33, 7:17, 7:15, 7:12, 7:12, and 7:11. On the last mile, this guy got on the track and started going exactly one second faster or slower than me. We ran side-by-side for about 6 laps. I would pull ahead, then he would pull ahead. It was so annoying. How could he not find this annoying? As the gentleman, you would have thought he’s either pick up the pace considerably, drop off the pace, or stop and let me get ahead quite a bit, then continue on at his chosen pace. I of course could not back down- I had a workout to stick to. Luckily, after about 2/3 of a mile, he stopped. Completely stopped. So he raced me for less than 5 minutes, then just packed it up and finished his workout. I finished shortly thereafter, and was happy with the effort. My perceived level of exertion was low, which presumably means I am getting fitter. Who knows? Anyway, I was looking for some good blog fodder after last week, and I surely got it. I might have to make my own “runners use the inside lane” signs over the weekend.
The half marathon I am doing next weekend is deceptively brutal. The first six miles are pretty much all flat or downhill. Not bad. I will probably look at my watch at the 10k split and think I am going to run a 1:35. Between mile 6 and 7 there is a long, fairly steep hill. Miles 7-8 are fine, I run those roads frequently. Mile 8-8.5 is basically straight uphill. It is awful. I hate that hill with the burning hot passion of a thousand suns because it is ALWAYS around mile 8 of every half marathon in Charlotte. Miles 9-11.5 are okay, with several small rolling hills. Then we have the nail in the coffin- miles 11.5 through 12.5 are pretty much completely uphill. Just a slow, gradual climb. Exactly like the end of the Dowd YMCA half marathon, which ate me alive in November, as it has eaten me alive every time I have run it. Your tank is pretty much spent, you are getting excited because you only have about 2 miles to go, then you get this demoralizing subtle hill. Fortunately, the last 1/2 mile or so is flat. Joy.
Today I did an easy 4.5 mile jog/walk with SuperBaby, SuperDad, and the dogs. This was to prepare me for tomorrow’s hill repeats at my second non-human nemesis: the Mile 8-8.5 hill. The only way I am going to conquer my hatred/fear of those hills is to face them a couple of times before the race. I will not be happy with myself if I don’t finish under 1:40, but I know that it is going to be an uphill battle. Hahaha.
February 25, 2011
So initially this blog started out as my half marathon training plan for a half marathon on March 20. Unfortunately, and par for the course, I forgot to register for this race and I found out this week that the race is already sold out. This is not surprising, as the same thing has happened to me with the Marine Corps Marathon and the Chicago Marathon in years past. I am too cheap to part with the registration fee six months in advance, so I wait until one or two months out and by then, it’s too late. The thing is, if the race isn’t sold out, I end up paying more for the registration fee, and the hotels are usually sold out. Go figure. I spent hours trying to find another flat half marathon in March or April. I looked at various race reviews and people were going on and on about how awesome these super hilly courses were. They ask “who wants to run an easy marathon?” or half marathon, but my answer is “ME!” I want to run fast. I know it’s going to hurt, but if it’s going to hurt, I want to run fast. I don’t want to hurt only to flop over the finish line in a 1:45. I can do that here in Charlotte at any of a number of the races our fair city hosts. By the way, all of the races follow pretty much the same course. So annoying. I don’t run marathons for the experience, the crowds, the bands, the scenery, etc. I run to beat my prior times. If I don’t, but I can blame it on things like the weather, the unexpected hills, the annoying man in the skin tight purple shorts that kept tailgating me, then that’s okay. But otherwise, if I set my sights on running a certain time and running it on a flat course, that’s what I need to do. The only flat one I could find was in Kansas. I don’t have the funds or desire to run any race in Kansas, unless it is a race for biscuits and Bojangles is sponsoring me. So once I stopped beating myself up over my failure, once again, to plan ahead, I decided to refocus and settle on running a marathon in May. If I’m going to train that much longer, I might as well do a full marathon and try to qualify for Boston, right?
One good thing about doing a race on May 1 is that my mom will be able to train for the half that the race weekend has to offer. She has not run a race since November and has had a lot of back problems, plus she is a CPA so she is going to be working 16 hour days from here until April 15. If she finds time to train, then I will never ever have an excuse for not squeezing a run in on a day when I only work 8 or 9 hours. The bad thing about running a race on May 1 is that I am playing Russian roulette with my heat sensitivity. The race we are doing, the Providence Marathon (and half), is a super flat course in Rhode Island. I’ve never been to Rhode Island, but I know a few things about it from my days in elementary school. One: it’s very small, so maybe we’ll actually run into another state during the race. No? Oh well. Two: No one really wants to go there, so the hotels are super cheap and airfare is actually cheap too. Guess that’s how the Rhode Island travel bureau gets people to visit. Three: It’s in New England, so I would assume the weather there will be cooler than it is here, south of the Mason-Dixon line. Well, one out of three isn’t bad. Two years ago, it was cool (40′s) and rainy on race day. My kind of weather. Last year, it was in the 90′s! What? Preposterous. I know, why would I sign up for this race if there’s a chance Mother Nature will smite me and cause me to overheat to the point where I add an hour to my PR and traumatize the residents of Rhode Island with all of the expletives I am going to hurl at them while they are just trying to cheer me on? Well, it’s not likely the temps will be in the 90′s and if they are, I will have a good story to tell, after I am bailed out of jail for causing a public disturbance.
Another good thing about switching my focus to training for a marathon is that my marathon pace feels really slow now. I was training based off of my half marathon pace, which is a good 45-50 seconds slower per mile than my marathon pace. Tonight I did a workout of 1/2 mile warmup jog, 3 x 2 miles at marathon pace (with 1/2 mile recovery jogs between), then 1 mile cooldown – total of 8.5 miles. My 2 mile splits were 16:10, 16:04, and 15:56. It was not an easy effort but those splits were well below my goal marathon pace of 8:14, which would put me at a 3:35. So as you can see, the speed work definitely pays off because it lowers your perceived level of exertion when you are training at your goal race pace.
I am going to continue doing speed work, hill work, and specific endurance runs, they will just be a bit longer now. I will be getting up to just over 50 miles a week. This week, because I took two off days, I am only going to hit 42. My long run tomorrow is 15 miles at about marathon pace + 30-40 seconds. Sunday will be my recovery run.
The final good thing about marathon training is that I can take in more calories, i.e., more biscuits. But not too many. I have fallen into the “I’m training for a marathon so I can eat whatever I want” trap before and it resulted in Super Dad saying “Isn’t it weird how people don’t lose weight when they are training for a marathon?” He said he wasn’t referring to me. Um, how many people does he hang with that are training for a marathon? Yeah, I thought so. He’s never gonna live that one down.
February 21, 2011
Here in Charlotte, the weather has been warm, and the sun has been shining. Some may call this weather “beautiful.” Those people are not me. I know, I must sound crazy. But I overheat very easily. When I am running and the temperature rises above 54 degrees, I shut down. That’s why I don’t run races between May and October. I complain about the ice and the cold keeping me from running outdoors, but in actuality, if there is no rain or ice out there, I am fine to run outdoors in 20 degree temps. I have plenty of gear for cold weather running. Maybe not for January in Boston running, but good enough for North Carolina winters. What I can’t do is run naked when it’s 70 or 75 degrees. There’s no way to get cooler when you overheat and are wearing next to nothing. You can put on more stuff when it’s cold, but it’s never the other way around.
On Saturday, I did 13.1 miles at 7am. It was perfect, but I did my cooldown a little faster than necessary because my human thermometer skills were telling me that the temperature was creeping precariously close to 54 degrees, so I needed to finish the run and get indoors. The rest of the day was ideal for sitting outdoors having a beer with family and friends, but for running- too hot. I saw tons of people running all over our neighborhood all weekend, basking in the 70 degree temperatures. I actually saw some lady wearing long sleeves. Now that is crazy. Maybe she has the exact opposite problem I do.
This evening I did my ladder run indoors. Yep, all that complaining I have been doing about the indoor track, and I choose to run there when everyone else is running outside. That was the upside to me. Fewer people on the track + the air conditioner blasting = happy me. One lady came really close to ruining my good mood by walking the OPPOSITE way on the track in the INNER lane. I gave her the stink eye and luckily, she only did that one lap. I did a 2.5 mile warmup, the ladder run (1-2-3-2-1-2-3-2-1 minutes at 5k pace with 60 second jogs in between- total of about 3.5 miles) then picked up Super Baby from the child care center and went outside to do another mile or so with the Power Hour crew. I have basically had to forego Power Hour because of my shoulder, which will have a diagnosis in 8 days woohoo! By the time we went outside, the temperature had dipped back into the low 50′s so it was all good. Super Baby hung out in the middle of the track with crazy Becky, the retired cheerleader/slave driver/over achieving runner/cyclist. She screamed out drills and forced everyone to sprint until they hurled, while Super Baby watched on in awe/fear.
It’s amazing how little tolerance for heat I have. Maybe it has something to do with my allergy to extreme changes in body temperature. No really, I am dead serious. When I was 10, I got mono. After that, perhaps coincidentally, I developed an allergy wherein I would develop hives when I got really hot or really cold. This made swimming in Florida in the winter somewhat difficult. Within a couple minutes of starting a workout, I would be hot and would break out in hives. After practice, we would hop out of the pool and into the frigid (for Florida- 50 degrees) night air. So I would break out in hives again. It took a few months but a specialist a couple hours away figured out my problem. I guess that 12 or 13 people in the country have it. I never grew out of it, but I take some magic pill that keeps me from getting hives, and in turn, allows me to exercise for more than 6 minutes at a time. Nonetheless, I think I have some lingering inability to withstand heat when I am physically exerting myself. It’s a good thing one of my dreams has never been to marathon in Missouri in July.
Tomorrow’s workout is 6 miles then some hill sprints. I will probably do a 5-6 mile recovery jog on Wednesday, take Thursday off, do a 6-8 mile tempo run (uncomfortable pace) on Friday, a 5 mile jog with a couple sprints on Saturday, and a 12 mile run on Sunday. We are just under four weeks out from the Quintilles half marathon and I am starting to get nervous. Only two more weeks of really hard training left. Let’s hope the weather stops being so “beautiful,” or I will be running inside a lot.
February 17, 2011
About a month back, I lifted a weight that was way too heavy for me during Power Hour. There were so many people in class, and I was late, as usual, so the yellow or green weights I typically use were all gone. Instead of taking a wimpy orange weight, I took a blue weight. Guys use blue weights. Some guys, like Kevin, use green weights – just kidding! Really strong girls, like my friend Mary who was teaching the class, or me in my swimming prime (read: LARGE back/shoulders) use the blue weights. However, I put a lot of effort into shrinking my upper body, so I cannot use the blue weights anymore. I haven’t been all that successful at shrinking my arms or shoulders, but if you could have seen my upper body 10 years ago- yikes. So I figured, “eh, I could have lifted two blue weights with one hand back in the day,” and swung it over my head with way too much momentum and zero control. Exactly the opposite of what you are supposed to do. I felt an immediate pain in my clavicle (bone between your neck and shoulder, right?) and I can’t recall if it popped, I just know it hurt. Like, drop my weight on the floor hurt. So I did what anyone else in my situation would do- I continued using the blue weight once the pain dulled from a 10 to a 9. After that day, I don’t think I’ve really done any upper body work, as I have mainly only had time to run and again, want my upper body to shrink. Thus, it didn’t bother me too much until a couple weeks ago. That’s when the trapezius gristle/rock ball started popping up. I assumed it was my neck, or just general tightness from running with bad form. But then I realized that I run with perfect form, relaxed shoulders, arms down, textbook style. Could it be my job? Not really, I use the mouse with my other hand and have spent a great deal of time making my work station ergonomically correct. Plus, I use my dictaphone a lot and don’t type nearly as much as I used to, except when blogging or writing nasty emails to opposing counsel. Well, the weekly massages have not been helping – my shoulder/neck/gristle ball OR my wallet. The chiropractor hasn’t helped. And my shoulder has started aching and feeling weak, popping out of joint, generally making my life less enjoyable. So much so that running has become more difficult. This confused me, because I assume that you really just need healthy legs to run, right? Wrong.
Yesterday, I did some push-ups and ran about 3.5 miles during Power Hour and afterwards. Oops. I just thought I had tight or weak muscles and needed to strengthen them. Anyway, I broke down and went to the doctor today because if weekly massages and chiropractic visits don’t do the job, then something must legitimately be wrong. Our new insurance plan almost convinced me to just deal with the pain or cut off my arm, but I look better in long-sleeved shirts than sleeveless tops, and besides, part of my back near my scapula hurts too, so that wouldn’t solve the problem. I figured I should just be a responsible adult and pay the piper. The doctor said that it could very well be my neck, but because I am having a hard time running, and because of a host of other tests and what not, it’s most likely a tear in my labrum, part of the shoulder. I was puzzled, until I remembered the blue weight episode. Ah, light bulb! All the pieces suddenly fit together. After the doctor has a chance to look at my MRI on March 1 (yes, I have to wait that long for a return visit. Man, this guy must be good), I will know what’s wrong with my arm, shoulder, neck, whatever. He did not specifically restrict me from doing anything, probably because I’m not on workers’ comp, so I assumed that meant I could keep running.
Tonight I ran a little over 6 miles with Riley. We went at a comfortable 7:50 pace and sprinkled in some hill sprints here and there. It was comfortable from an aerobic standpoint, but not so much in the shoulder department. Am I really that mental? Has being told that I might have a torn labrum (and that those typically hurt when you run) made me instantly become some wimp whose shoulder hurts during a 47 minute run? Or have I been so focused on my IT band, shins, and the rock/gristle ball in my trap that I didn’t notice the weakness and aching in my shoulder? Either way, I realized that it’s not easy to run without the full use of your upper body. That’s probably why you don’t see to many double-arm amputees out there doing marathons. Well, that’s probably not the only reason they don’t do marathons. So people, go do some pushups and military presses and whatever else Runner’s World tells runners to do to strengthen their upper bodies. I used to laugh when I saw those little articles with the pictorial demonstrations of “dips,” side rows, flys, etc, because they were child’s play compared to the legitimate lifting that we swimmers did, but now it’s not so funny is it? If I had heeded the advice of the editors at Runner’s World, I would have had no problem with the blue weights. Now the joke’s on me I guess. Is this my payback for making fun of the guy in the Vibrams? No, I was hurting before that post.
Fear not, I will continue to run. If there is something wrong with my labrum and they need to operate on it, I might as well go down in a blaze of glory and make them work for their money. Like someone eating a 10,000 calorie meal right before going in for gastric bypass. Speaking of which, I have actually reduced my Bojangles intake to once a week! I will let you know how that plan is working out after my 13-miler on Saturday. I may need to do some serious cajun filet biscuit refueling.