Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Run

Last run of 2013 done and in the books. 

So long to you 2013. On the road together we have faced tough challenges and enjoyed many successes.  In the long run, it has been hard and exhausting and overwhelmingly joyous and strengthening. 2013, along the way you have taught me many life lessons and i thank you for it. Without having traveled this path with you, 2013, I would no doubt be less wise and less prepared for 2014 (I also might be a little less chafed, but that is no matter). I am thankful for you, 2013. I will not forget you. But, it is time now to focus on the trail laid out ahead of me.   Bring it on 2014!!!

Terrible at selfies. Reason no. 1 that one of my 2014 resolutions is find some running buddies. 

Running Resolutions

It's that time of year.  The time to look back on a year behind us and to set goals and expectations for the year ahead of us.  Running-wise, 2013 has been a pretty fun year.  I've stuck to a consistent running schedule and have spent the last few months training for a marathon.  I even started a blog about running (sort of)!  In 2014, I hope to run those 26.2 miles at my goal pace and to set a new marathon PR.  So, today on the eve of a new year, I'm sitting down and writing out my 2014 running resolutions. 

1.  Running With Water
This is how I feel when I try running with water.  Except slower and with my shirt on. 

I don't know why, but I just never have been able to carry water (or anything for that matter) while I run.  I just can't stand to have anything touching me or bothering me while I run.  I know this is weird, but it's just the truth.  That said, staying hydrated while you run is so important.  Did you know that you don't feel thirsty until after you are already dehydrated?  Did you know that trying to re-hydrate while you run after becoming dehydrated is significantly harder than staying hydrated?  Did you know that running while dehydrated can cause increased fatigue leading to a slower pace and possible muscle cramping?  Did you know that increased fatigue makes running a real pain in the a$$?  Okay, that one you probably did know.  So in 2014, I resolve to run with water. 
2. Running Buddies - In 2014 I would like to spend more time running with friends. 

3.  Hills - Okay, I know what you are thinking.  And, yes, I did already resolve to run hills once this year.  But, that's what new years are for right?  Attempting to do better than the previous year.  Hills are just so hard and so intimidating.  And, finding hills in Houston isn't the easiest.  But in 2014, I plan to make this my sign:

 4.  Foam Rolling and Stretching - I resolve to spend more time with these kids:

I can't tell you what a game changer the foam roller is for runners.  It is like getting a deep tissue massage at home whenever you want and for free.  You can actually feel your muscles loosening up as you roll.  Which, by the way, does not feel good.  I won't lie to you. Foam rolling can hurt like hell.  Which is why I have fallen off the rolling bandwagon lately.  Especially when it comes to rolling my IT band, which for a runner is probably the most important spot to roll.  But in 2014, I'm going to be better.  And, I'm going to be better with stretching.  I've written before about how important flexibility is.  But, I'm more of a do as I write not as I do kind of girl.  I swear, I'll be better.

5.  Races - In 2014 I'm going to enter more 5k and 10k races.  I have always thought running short and fun races was the perfect start to a weekend.  Paul and I used to enter all kinds of races around town and have so much fun running them (not together, of course.  He leaves me in the dust).  But, in 2013 our situation changed and we haven't had the same freedom of leaving the house as we used to.  So, instead of racing on my own, I gave up 5ks.  Not anymore.  In 2014, you're going to see me wearing a lot more bibs and drinking a lot more free after-race beers!

 6.  Sprints - Okay, this one is probably a lie.  I can't even really type it without knowing I won't keep this resolution.  I want to be better at running sprints.  I really do.  Running sprints isn't just great for you physically, but it also helps you increase your speed in distance running.  Watching me run sprints though, is a sad sad sight.  It's as if my arms are moving really quickly and my feet are stuck in slow-mo. 
 7.  Warming Up - Warming up is essential to good running.  It increases blood flow and allows you to run more efficiently and effectively.  Warming up increases your heart rate and loosens your muscles.  Warming up prepares your body for the task ahead.  I know all of this and yet, I suck at warming up.  I am too impatient to get started.  I also find myself being too busy and on such a tight schedule that I skip the important step of warming up.  How silly is that??  Warming up can actually increase my speed and yet, I don't think I have time for it.  In 2014, I'm going to spend more time warming up and looking cool doing it.
And, if I fail at this resolution, I'm just going to buy this t-shirt and roll with it.

8.  Rest - Now, this might seem like an odd resolution for a runner.  But, rest is my real weakness.  I am terrible at resting.  I am terrible at resting my mind, body, and spirit.  Rest is something that in 2014 I am going to work on.  Rest days are very important for runners in giving your body time to recuperate and prepare for the next run.  Rest days increase strength and reduce fatigue.  Remember what I said earlier about running fatigued?

9.  Enjoy Running - In 2014, I'm going to take more time to enjoy running just for running.  Because I've been in training for the last couple of months, I've lost those joy runs.  All of my runs are calculated specifically to produce the end goal I have in mind.  They are all training runs.  In 2014, I'm going to be resolved to take the Garmin off and to run free.  I want to again run just for the sake of enjoying the run. 
When I was looking for pictures related to enjoying running, this is what I found.  And, yeah, ENJOY!!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Long Run Exhaustion

I wish I was one of those people who could do their really long runs in the morning and not be affected by it at all for the rest of the day. I've never talked to one of these people, but I assume they are out there. Those real runners who put it all on the line for hours and hours and then leave it all out there. Dang those real runners. 

I just can't do it. I am utterly exhausted after my long runs. I always have such bold plans of the work,errands, and leisure I am going to accomplish after my runs. But, by the time I have finished running, cooling down, stretching, drinking, foam rolling, and eating all I want to do is shower and crawl into bed. Which, is usually exactly what I end up doing. I try to rebound in the evenings, but I have to be honest about the poor job of it I do. I am useless at being any kind of fun. I'm just too exhausted to really rally. On a side note, you can only imagine how much my husband must love me while training (whomp whomp whomp - that's my Debbie Downer sound.  Sorry). 

All this is leading up to me saying I was too tired today to even think of anything to write. All 16 miles I thought if what I would blog about and nothing came. The run was "fine" and uneventful and honesty, lesson-less. 

So here is a little miscellaneous info:

1.  On mornings when I REALLY can't seem to get myself out the door, I read motivational quotes about running to get me going. This is the one that got me out the door today:

2.  My route takes me past Popeye's Chicken. I never crave and rarely, if ever, eat fried chicken, but I can't lie. That is about the best smell EVER while running!! One day I'm stopping for a mid-run snack. 

3. Speaking of food, I did have this for dinner. Zero guilt. It was super yummy. And yeah, it was cooked in a bowling alley "kitchen."

3.  I think I'm getting slower. My pace wasn't great. It wasn't terrible, but it was noticeably slower than previous runs that were the same or further distance. I'm not sure why, but keeping my typical pace has become more difficult. My guess is that it's just due to the relaxed holiday schedule and holiday over indulgence. But, I'm vowing now to increase my strength and speed training. Consider it my early new year's running resolution. Now, what is it they say about resolutions?  They are made to be broken. Or is that just rules?

4.  I'm currently listening to the audiobook of Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things. It's very long. 25 hours or something. I may actually still be listening to it after the marathon. But, the narrator has this very specific and unique way of speaking and I find myself thinking in that voice for hours after my long run. Weird. 

Off to bed now. Goodnight. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

You Are What You Eat (and drink)

Remember when you were like three years old and you snuck into the candy jar and overate until your tummy ached and you were miserable, thus learning the lesson that too much junk food isn't good for you?  Yeah well, guess who apparently never learned that lesson...

Christmas day was an exercise in over-indulgence.  Literally.  The only exercise I got was putting food and drink in my mouth and chewing.  If chewing burned calories, I might have woken up in great shape this morning.  Instead, I woke up feeling like this:
And I had five miles in front of me.  I was in no mood.  The run was a struggle from start to finish.  I swear, as I was shuffling along, images of all of the food I ate and the drinks I drank (and drank and drank and drank) would pop into my head and I would feel like ducking behind a tree.  Let me give you a snapshot of what yesterday looked like for me.
-cinnamon pop-tart
-cinnamon rolls (yeah, that's two breakfasts.  You counted correctly.)
-chocolate covered candies, pretzels, caramels, and pecans
-white wine
-peppermint bark
-red wine
-red wine
Now, I'm not normally a big proponent of obsessing over trying to eat clean.  And, I definitely don't believe in self-shaming over a day of indulgent eating.  Feeling guilty about a meal (or whatever you would call yesterday), in my mind, is a waste of time and energy.  I believe in eating a generally balanced diet (and by balanced I do mean slightly heavy on desserts) and trying to eat as much "real" food as possible.  I also believe in enjoying food of all types because life is short and sometimes binging on a bag of cookies really does help. 
But here's the deal, when it comes to running, you really do get out of it what you put into it.  You can't expect your body to perform at a high standard when you've not given it any of the proper fuel.   As good as all of the food and drink was yesterday, it was just as BAD for my run today.  Please don't mistake this blog entry as some sort of guilty conscience spill.  I'm okay with what happened yesterday.  I absolutely enjoyed every bit of Christmas indulgence.  One bad run isn't the end of the world.  In fact, it's nothing in the long run.  But, it was a good reminder that you get what you give and you are what you eat.  Meaning I was a sweaty ball of chocolate covered cinnamon red wine running down the trail today!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

To all of you, a very Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday season!  I am sending you my runner's wave and all my love. We, in spite of our many and varied differences, are runners together on this same path. 
PS-- I planned this picture to be way cuter. But, my husband had no patience for the 35 degree weather and my insistence that he keep retaking my picture. 

PPS-- Turns out a Santa hat is a great ear warmer!  

Give and it Shall be Given

Came across this during my 20 mile run the other week:

I've written a lot about what it has meant to me to be able to run to raise money to fight the various diseases affecting my loved ones. By giving to charities that aim to find a cure for and to support those battling these diseases, I have been given a sense of empowerment against helpless situations. 

As you know, earlier in the year, I embarked on a weekly (okay, I have to admit several weeks got away from me, but I tried) donation program in an attempt to curb a certain bad habit I was battling. I can happily report that I've nearly won that battle. Sure, there are days that I am tempted to and do speak badly about myself. Habits, by definition, are hard to break. But, making these donations has been something I can take pride in and again, has provided me with a sense of empowerment. 

And every now and then, giving actually rewards you with physical and monetary rewards!  You may remember a month or so ago, I ran a virtual 5k to raise money to benefit those serving to provide aid to the Philippines after the typhoon hit. Well, look at what I received in return:
Yeah, that's a gift card to Olive Garden. I foresee several dates with the unlimited soup and salad bowls!  Let's not forget about those breadsticks. I love those breadsticks. I also received that cute black and white active band for participating. Like I said, give and it shall be given. 

So, during this season (and all year round), I encourage you to give to those in need. Find any charity or cause or group and give whatever you can. I promise you, you will receive for it. I can't promise you unlimited soup and salad, but I can promise that you will be rewarded.  

Monday, December 23, 2013

Watch Your Step!

Tonight, shortly after stepping off of the treadmill at 24 Hr Fitness, I thought I smelled something, turned my shoe over to investigate, and found this:

Oops! Sorry to the guys on either side of me at the gym.  I swear I had no idea. 

Service announcement to all dog owners: If you walk Spot on a running trail, please pick up after him. When you don't, it turns unpleasant for a whole lot of people. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Runner Girl Interrupted

This runner girl's long run was doomed before it even started. Take for example, the weather forecast:

In Houston, weather like this translates to feeling like you're breathing through a wool sock. It isn't fun. But, still I set out. 

I have been feeling sick of my usual trail, so I decided to drive about 15 minutes away to check out a trail that I've run by a couple of times in order to try something new. And then it happened. I FORGOT MY GARMIN. Noooo!!!!  It's one thing to do a quick, short, neighborhood run without a Garmin, but a long run (even if it's "only" 12 miles) on a never before seen trail without one is unthinkable. But, still I set out. 

I set out Garmin-less in the rain and already feeling defeated. Speaking of feet, within the first three miles my shoes and socks were soaked through and every step sounded like squish-squash. By the way, even the lightest of running shoe becomes remarkably heavy when filled with rain water. I spent the run stopping and starting to take on and take off my rain jacket. By the way, once it stops raining, rain jackets, even jackets made specifically for runners, become remarkably hot. Of course, every time i would take off the jacket, the rain would start right back up again.   And wouldn't you know it, during all of the starting and stopping, I managed to turn off the Map My Run app three times, losing my mileage over and over again. Finally, I found myself hiding under a downtown bridge waiting for a downpour to ease up when I decided enough was enough. Sometimes, the smart thing is to walk away from a run. 

My husband sent me a picture of what his screen looked like when I sent him the text that I was calling the run off. I guess it wasn't such a bad idea to call it quits. 

My guess is that I ended up running about 8.5 miles of my planned 12 and I can only imagine that my pace was a half a notch above walking.  Not the run I had set out for. It was a run interrupted and interrupted and finally abandoned.   

As you know, I'm not normally a fan of quitting, but every now and then, you just have to know your limitations, dry off, and then vow to tackle the run another day. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Let the Countdown Begin

Well, it is officially less than one month until I have to run 26.2 miles. 

How am I feeling about this news?  Mixed emotions for sure. On on hand, so ready. On the other, desperate for more time. How can I feel unprepared and also confident at the same time?  I know I have done, up to now, every run required and I trust my plan. I know that this plan has worked for countless others and was designed to prepare us for success.  That said, I can't help but think I need more time. Next weekend I will run my final twenty mile run and then it's taper time. Mentally, I'm a little frazzled and sick of training. But, physically, am I ready??  One thing is for sure, in less than a month we will all find out!

My deadline is quickly approaching!  And my abs still look nothing like this. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

FUBC Revisited

Does everyone remember my wonderful friend Denise who has been so bravely battling breast cancer this year?

Well, today was her last day of radiation and the last day of, to use her words, active treatment. Just a few hours ago she rang her final bell of treatment and now we can look forward to 2014 and many more years to come as NED (No evidence of disease)!

This morning I threw on my trusty FUBC (there really is no better expression for how I feel about it) tank and as I hit the treadmill, instead of focusing on how far I had to go, I spent the time thinking about how far Denise has come in less than one year. In less than one year, my friend has faced and conquered diagnoses, cutting her hair off, chemo, that damn port, losing the remainder of her hair, two surgeries, the return of hair (much darker!), and now radiation. She has done it all bravely, gracefully, with humor, and of course a couple of tears. I could not be more proud of her or more happy for her if I tried. 

Denise's fight isn't over. She will continue various treatments for many years in order to remain cancer free (or no evidence of cancer as she always reminds me to clarify). These treatments won't all be easy or fun, but she will no doubt handle them with the same courage and strength as she has exemplified in the battle so far. 

Here is to my friend Denise, whom I love very much and who is going to be around for many more walks around the neighborhood with me. 

I'm sure the fellow gym goers were impressed with my treadmill selfie skills. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

It Finally Happened! Oh, and I Ran 20 Miles.

in which I talked about a certain gluttonous sweet treat that I was looking forward to trying after a long run one day? 

Well, it finally happened!  And it was fantastic in all of it's over-indulgent glory. 

Step one: Start with the two main ingredients (brown sugar/cinnamon is my flavor of choice).
Step two: Combine.
Step three: Enjoy!!
This picture is proof that I love and trust you.  No amount of filtering could change how long of a day it had been.
Oh, and I ran twenty miles yesterday.  Twenty miles!  It's the farthest that I will run in preparation for the marathon.  Some people go for more than twenty in their training, but the majority of programs that I have seen peak at twenty miles.  I think this is because if anyone knew how going farther than twenty would really feel, they'd immediately come to their senses and drop out of the race.  For that reason, twenty miles is enough for me!  It was actually a pretty good run.  Not my best, but not my worst.  I have one more twenty mile run before I start tapering for the race, so before I started, I decided to make this one about just putting in the mileage.  I will worry about speed in a couple of weeks when I run my next twenty miler.  Still, the speed wasn't bad.  And until the very end, I wasn't feeling any pain. Runs like this really help with my confidence.  I am finally starting to believe that I will be able to reach my goal come January 19. 
Runs like this also help with me have a clear conscience when devouring treats like the above.  Of course, I haven't moved much off the couch today and I'm considering a second ice cream sandwich right now...

Friday, December 13, 2013

As In Miles???

Miles???  Really?!?
When I see stickers like this, I am totally in shock and awe. I want to pull up next to them, roll down the window, and ask a couple questions. Questions like how???  And why???

***Someone just suggested to me that this sticker refers to biking 140.6 miles. That makes much more sense. I feel better now.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I Told You

Well folks, it's here. I told you this would happen. After months of complaining about the Houston heat and humidity, I'm now sick of this frigid weather. These runs are cold!  I'm over this winter and I don't even think it's officially here yet. I know lots of you all over the country are snowed in right now, but I have Texas blood and I just wasn't made to be outside of bed when the temperature starts with a 3, much less running outside in the elements. In real life, people just don't do that. In marathon training life, crazies like me layer up and get out there. But, we don't have to like it. Brrrr!!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Stuck In The Rut Race

I have to confess to you that I've been in a bit of a runner's rut lately.  I just haven't felt like running.  It's not that the runs have gotten too hard or too long or too painful. Thankfully, the runs themselves are going along just fine (yes, knocking on wood as I am typing).  It's the thinking about the runs that I'm sick of.  I cannot tell you how much thinking goes into marathon training.  I have to think about how far to run, what time to run, what time to wake up to run, what time to leave work to run, what time does the sun rise, what time does the sun set, what's the temperature going to be, what to pack to wear to run, what to eat/drink before a run, etc.  My whole schedule revolves around getting those four weekly runs it.  Oh, and of course finding time to stretch, strength train, and foam roll in order to prepare my body to make it through the runs.  Really, it's just become too consuming.  My life outside of running already borders all consuming and overwhelming.  Throw in that I have turned running into training and I'm really starting to feel the mental toll.
But the thing about being stuck in a rut is that you just have to break out.  You have to push through and push on.  I did some reading on methods for busting out of a training rut and I'm going utilize a few suggestions and keep on going.  The bright side is that I have only a little over a month to go before race day (how can that seem too soon and too long at the same time?!?!) and then running can go back to just being running and not training.  At least for a while. 
Do you ever find yourself stuck in the rut?   What are your rut cures?
Yesterday, when it was just too dark, too cold, and too rainy to really be motivated at all, I decided to try something new and do my run on the treadmill.  I said new, not fun.  You should know that running on a treadmill, to me, is akin to water torture.  It's so repetitive you want to scream.  But, the gym was a place I hadn't seen in a while and it was warm and dry and fit the "change your location" recommendation, so to the treadmill I went.  I sat my phone on the treadmill ledge and did a moderately paced five mile run while watching old youtube videos.  I won't say it was my favorite run ever, but it was different and I got through it.  And, I can now feel confident taking it to the gym for runs I just can't fit in during the daylight hours.  Which, at this time a year, are far fewer than you'd think.  It's nice to have opened up that option. 
Also, a few times I looked up from my screen to see this on directly in front of me:
Now, I know there are a lot of WWE fans out there, but really?  This could possibly have been the craziest thing I'd ever seen on TV.  In the time it took me to run five miles, I saw a wrestler acting like a ballroom dancer, one using what I think was a sock puppet on his hand to intimidate his opponent, and enough male lycra to last me a lifetime.  Talk about motivation to get back outdoors running....

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Long Run Randomness 6 and a Running Buddy

You will never believe what was lying in our path this morning.  Seriously, directly in our path.  At 6.5 miles in, we almost tripped over them.
Can you believe it?!?  It was as if someone knew.  Really, did one of y'all leave these for me?  Don't worry, I didn't pick them up and take them home.  Mostly because I was running with someone this morning and I had a feeling picking up Ramen Noodle off the sidewalk in the middle of the city would be frowned upon.  But, don't think it didn't cross my mind.
A little more on running with someone this morning:  As you know, I'm pretty much a solo runner.  I like to set out at my own time, own trail, and own pace.  Let me tell you something about being a solo runner.  It can be really boring and kind of isolating.  I've actually been in a bit of a runner's funk this last week or so.  The running hasn't been any more difficult that usual. It's just that I've been bogged down by the "have to" of it all.  I think I'll write more on that later.  But for now, suffice it to say, it was the perfect week to be asked to go on a run with a friend.  In stepped Sue.  She is a coach with me at Girls On The Run and she is a real and experienced runner.  We only had 13 miles to run today (only?!?!  Crazy how perspective changes during training) and thank goodness because it was 35 degrees when we started and probably only 36 degrees when we finished.  It was so nice to have someone to chit chat and share the run with.  I'm pretty sure I talked Sue's ear off (this must be what happens when a runner is deprived of company for 15 weeks straight).  We talked about some pretty deep stuff going on in our lives.  We probably talked more than either of us had intended, but I believe it's good to put it all out there and then hopefully, leave it a little of it on the trail.  Anyway, it was nice to just run for running and not to worry about pace or the route or the distance.  It was nice to just run.
We came across this today.  Maybe not your typical Christmas decorations, but it made me laugh.
I went to the Justin Timberlake concert two days ago.  And yes, it's true.  YOU CAN'T STOP THE BOOGIE.
  *****edited to add that last night an awesome girlfriend of mine have me a surprise gift. 
Look out long runs, post run meals just got a whole lot more exciting!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

All You Need Is...

I think God/Life/The Universe was trying to tell me something. I came across all of these signs yesterday on a five mile run around town. 

So remember, Love is the thing. It is the only thing. We were created out of Love to be Loved and to give Love. Love is all you need. And Love always wins. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

If I Never Have To Write Another One of These - PLEASE READ

Meet my friend Matt.  Matt was one of my roommates right out of college; that is, we have been friends longer than I’d care to admit. 

Matt is the life of a party--always ready with a warm smile and a “Dude!”  Matt’s laugh is so contagious that you can be on the other side of the room, hear Matt laugh, and the next thing you know, you’re cracking up, too.  Matt is married to one of the sweetest girls I know, and they are parents to a wonderful little boy.  They are a family of joy and compassion and I am lucky to know them. 
What I'm trying to say is that I love Matt and his family.  What I haven't said yet is that earlier this year Matt was diagnosed with lupus.  Lupus is a disease that Matt has been all too familiar with for too long.  The picture above is Matt running the 2010 Houston Marathon to raise money for Lupus in honor of his own mother, who was battling the disease at that time.
If I never had to write another testimony like this, I would be the happiest runner you know.  It would mean that all of my loved ones are safe and healthy and I could run for the pure joy (I use that term loosely) of running.  But until that day, I run to relieve the helplessness I feel when a loved one is diagnosed with a disease I cannot fix. 
On January 19, I will run all 26.2 miles of the Houston Marathon to raise money to fight lupus.  I will run for Matt and I will run for all of the people who are bravely fighting diseases that I cannot cure.  I will run because it is the one thing that I can do to make a difference.
Please, help me in my “run to raise” by clicking on the link below and making a donation on my fundraising page to the Lupus Foundation of America, Texas Gulf Coast Chapter.


Just click on “Click Here to Sponsor Me.”

If this link doesn't work, please let me know

Saturday, November 30, 2013

18 Miles and Delirious

For today's long run, off I went to follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the yellow brick road. 

And at the 9 mile halfway mark, I came across the Beatles and some former Presidents having a jam session. 

After hanging out with the Beatles for a bit, I turned back and followed the yellow brick road back home (there's no place like it) to the land of turkey, mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole leftovers. 

Me with the Beatles - proof I really need a running buddy.