Wednesday, April 30, 2014

She nailed it. And I added a few.

I came across this short article today, and yeah I would say she nailed it.  Especially the last one...
A couple of items I would add:
1.  Plan future conversations.  I can't tell you how many arguments and then subsequent make-ups with my husband I've had in my head all alone on the long run.  With so much time on my hands (actually, on my feet) and no one to actually talk to, I spend an insane amount of time imagining I'm talking to someone.  A lot of that time, I'm pretending to talk to Paul  This probably pays off pretty well for him because I've usually solved our imaginary argument by the time I get home and all is well and he doesn't even know we had a fight.
2.  Take pictures.  Okay, so y'all are all painfully aware of this one by now.  You'd think I'd get better at the on-the-long-run selfie with so much practice, but no...
3.  Learn French.  I am sad to report that my French is TERRIBLE.  After hours and hours of running and listening to "How to Speak French, Lesson One," I thought I was ready to move on to lesson two.  Ha!  I was oh so very wrong.  Back to lesson one for me.  Of course, listening to and then repeating French statements out loud is a lot less embarrassing alone on the trail than on the elliptical with someone right next to you.  So, I might be putting off lessons for a few more weeks.
4. Curse myself for starting this.  Let's be honest, on long runs we all spend a significant amount of time questioning our sanity and cursing ourselves for setting the alarm.  It's usually not until after I've finished my mileage that I am overcome with the gratitude and excitement I feel about running.  It's an in hindsight feeling, not so much an as it's happening feeling.
4. To Do Lists.  What else is there to do but make them?
5.  Obsessively check my Garmin.  I do it like it's my job.  This is a bad, bad habit.  One I am unlikely to break anytime soon.  But, I do encourage you to break the habit if you do this too.  You know, it's a do as I say not as I do type thing.
6.  Wave.  You know how much I love my runner's wave!!
7.  Write blogs.  Well, at least plan the blogs I will write.  I can't lie.  This is the main thing that occupies my time while I run.  I love thinking of what I'm going to tell you later (all 3 or 4 of you).  Sometimes I start out with something on my mind and spend the run developing that thought into a blog and sometimes I have no idea of what I will write about next and then something happens on the long run that inspires me to want to inspire you.  Either way, I spend a lot of time imagining what I will say to you.  So,in a way, you are my inspiration for running.  Thank you for that.
And I keep reading how you should never post a blog without pictures.  But, since I'm not running and pictures on the elliptical are boring, I've just posted the last photo in my phone.  I colored my hair (big news for me) and I was trying to document the change, but you can't tell at all in this picture.  What can I say?  It was this photo or the screenshot of the recipe I'm going to cook tonight for dinner.  Not so sure you came out ahead on this one.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Plan

I've been spending some time trying to come up with a plan and now I'm ready to share the plan with you. 

I'm not going to run. 

Yes, you read that correctly, I am not going to run. I know, it's an odd thing to hear from someone who writes a running blog. But, it's true. I'm taking some time off from running. 

While I was running the half marathon two weeks ago, I felt some pretty significant pain. I was able to through it, but I felt it every step of the way. Even days after running, I was still feeling an extraordinary amount of soreness and pain.  When you feel pain like this, you have to do some evaluating of what's going on with your body. I've come to two conclusions:

1.  My body needs a break. Several of the places where I was really feeling the pain while I ran were the same areas that hurt so badly during the full marathon in January. This tells me that I've never taken the time to let these small little injuries (for lack of a better word) heal. With no distance races planned, I think it's time to let my legs heal. My injuries are minor and need nothing more than a little rest.  I think that if I give up running for a little while, my legs will bounce right back and be ready to run strong. 

2.  I'm out of shape. Okay, I know this is the part where most people roll their eyes. Of course I'm not really out of shape. I just ran 13.1 miles. I'm in shape. I'm just not in my typical shape. And, I'm not saying that with any negative connotation. It's okay to go through varying levels of fitness. It's normal not to be in "fighting" shape all of the time. It's been a rough an exhausting year and there have been plenty of reasons for me to let my fitness level slip a little. My strength training went down to only about once a week for most of the year and I really think that had a big impact on my running. While trying to fit marathon training into an already insane schedule, I found myself sacrificing all of my other fitness routines. My strength and flexibility have taken a big hit this year. Part of being a good runner is being strong. I'm going to take my time off from running to get stronger, more fit, and more prepared for the long run. 

Even though it's only been a few days, it's weird not to run. I already miss it. When I drive by a runner, I can't help but feel a little jealousy. But I am certain on my decision to take a break. I think this break isn't just going to get my physically ready to run again, but mentally it is going to get me excited to run again. 

In the meantime, I'm finding other methods of exercise and that's fun and exciting. Two days ago I talked my husband into going on a 16 mile bike ride with me. It was fun seeing the trails I normally run from the vantage point of a Bicycle. I've been able to get to Bar Method several times this week and all of  my leg muscles are remembering what it means to shake like crazy. 

I've also been able to catch up on some old Sex And The City episodes from the comfort of the elliptical machine. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Inspired To Run (Boston) Strong

Anyone else watch the Boston Marathon today?  Anyone else shed multiple tears while watching the Boston Marathon today or was I the only one sitting in their office, glued to the live feed and overwhelmed with joy and inspired to run?  What a difference a year makes!  Last year, it was tears of shock and horror and sadness that I shed on Marathon Monday.  This year, I was flooded with pride and awe as I watched all of those amazing runners press on for 26.2 miles.  I was inspired!  Inspired to run (Boston) strong.

After work today, I slipped into my  blue and yellow and went for a run in in honor of Boston.  I ran because it's what I do.  Running is my way of paying tribute to big things.  Today was a big thing.  Today we witnessed a sport's, a city's, a country's, and humanity's answer to terror.  Today we saw the definition of Boston Strong.

I ran last year in honor of Boston too.  But last year, I ran with a heavy heart to honor those affected by the devastation of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.  This year, I ran in honor of those who chose to come back and race again.  I ran for all of those who said they had unfinished business in Boston.  I ran for all of those who faced the pain and trauma of last year and said that they weren't going to let that be the end to their story.  As I ran, I honored the bravery of all of those runners who weren't going to let terror win.  I ran 4.7 miles to honor the approximately 4,700 runners who weren't able to finish last year's race, but agreed to run it again this year.  I ran in awe of all of those who trained like hell and ran like hell last year and said they were willing to do it all again.  I ran because it was all I could do to show my support for everyone who faced the fear of last year and ran today anyway.  I ran in tribute to all the Boston Strong runners.
I believe we are all Boston Strong.  I believe that it is our basic nature that when we are thrown to the ground, we dust ourselves off, get back up, and run on stronger.  At the very core of all of us is a Boston Strong runner.  We won't let anyone stop us.  When things are hard, we go harder.  We won't let the bad guys win.  We dig deep and find out how strong we really are.   It's only when we start letting the doubts and the can'ts and the shouldn'ts sneak in that we lose our confidence.  But, we need not lose our confidence.  We are STRONG.  We are BOSTON STRONG!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Race Day Recap - Diva's Half Marathon

Last weekend, I ran the Diva's Half Marathon in Galveston. The Divas races are a series of races all across the country in awesome places like San Francisco, Myrtle Beach, And Puerto Rico. Since one of my new running goals is to make trips out of races, I foresee some more Diva runs in my future. This was the first Diva's Half Marathon in Galveston (you may remember my love for Galveston running ), so I was excited to give it a try. I was also interested in this race because it is an all women event (men can run, but aren't counted in the results) complete with pink boas and sparkly crowns. I've mentioned before that after the seriousness of the Chevron Houston Marathon in January, I'm in need of some light hearted, no pressure races.  So, way back in early February I signed up for the Diva run and then promptly forgot about it and barely trained. 

First, let me give a shout out to my friend Amy who talked me into signing up. This was Amy's very first half marathon and she did great.  Best of all, she had a great time. I feel like it's safe to say that we have a new running sister. 
(Pre-race photo. We were way sweatier at the end). 
While I'm giving shout outs, I'd like to give one to my dad, who drove an hour to be at the race by 6:30 a.m., just to watch me run. I don't think dads ever stop being daddies. 

I would also give a shout out to my husband, who not only wakes up with me on every single race day, but who has  put up with months and months (years - truthfully) of living with someone in training, which is not an easy task. But if I were to get into all he means and has done for me, the blog would be a book. 

Back to the race. The start line was in the heart of Galveston at The Strand. A perfect place to start and finish a race. Over the thirteen miles, we ran through some historical neighborhoods (Galveston contains one of the largest and most historically significant collections of 19th-century buildings in the United States (per Wikipedia)), along the ocean, and through some newly developed neighborhoods. It was at about mile 3 that we made our turn for the seawall. I love running next to the ocean. Nothing makes me feel more alive and more connected to the whole world than the ocean. A couple of times I caught myself staring over my shoulder to watch the waves (this is not a smart race-running technique and I wouldn't recommend it). 

I noticed early on that I was on-pace for a really great run. Nothing feels better than looking down and seeing your pace and realizing you aren't even struggling to keep running where you want to be. So on I ran, over-taking runner by runner (I even overtook the pace runner!) and really feeling good.  That is, until mile 10 when we made the loop turn around and I was hit right in the face by a brutal headwind. Now, knowing what running next to the ocean is like, I was expecting the humidity and wind...I just wasn't expecting to be slowed down so much by it. I dug deep and willed myself to run, but I just couldn't get my pace back down to where I wanted it.  Watching seconds stack up was hard and frustrating, but I had to remind myself that running 13 miles is hard. It's not supposed to be easy. Luckily, after only two miles of the crazy headwind, we peeled back off towards The Strand for the finish. I have to say this was probably my fastest closing mile ever. My legs were kicking and while I was exhausted and hurting (more on that later), it felt amazing to be headed in so fast. I remember seeing my husband and daddy as I flew on to the finish. 

Of course, being greeted by this at the end, didn't hurt!

We were also greeted by a glass of champagne with our medals. Of course, I promptly dropped and spilled my champagne (noooo!!). 

Overall, I have nothing but great thoughts about this race. It was fun to push myself past my expectations. Running with all women was amazing. You've never seen a cleaner race. Very little spitting and every single person made it to the trash can with their water/Gatorade cups. I even witnessed a woman mid-stride fix the garbage bag, so that it was in the proper position for the rest of us to drop our cups. Women are also amazing encouragers. I got high fived by a total stranger as I passed her. Plenty of women (including me) would yell out encouraging "you got this and you can do this" when passing someone who was really struggling. It was such a great run to be surrounded by strong, motivated, and determined women. And it was a lot of fun.seeing all of the men along the route cheering on their badass ladies. Girl's Rule!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Little Perspective

Yesterday was a lesson in Perspective. 
After the race, I spent the rest of the day thinking about my PR (personal record).  At first, being elated thinking I set a new PR and then devastated hours later when I realized that I had, in fact, not beaten my PR and had missed setting a new PR by 13 seconds.  That's right, 13 seconds!! For those counting, that's one second per mile that cost me my PR.  I can't tell you how many times I went over the course in my mind looking for where I could have picked up 13 seconds.  Thinking of those awful two and a half miles into a strong headwind or remembering when I caught myself staring into the ocean instead of focusing on the run ahead of me, surely losing precious seconds.  Going into the race,  I had no thoughts of hitting a PR, but after the race, all I could think of were the 13 seconds that I had lost somewhere along the way.  13 measly seconds ate at me like crazy.
What I never once stopped to think about was how lucky I was to have finished.  I never took the time to thank God/Life/The Universe for getting me across that finish line alive and healthy.  The preciousness and fragility of life never crossed my mind. 
We as runners often focus on the tiny details and minutia of a race.  We obsess over how we did.  Did we do all we could have done?  What should we have done differently?  Did we train hard enough?  Could we have run faster?  Were we fueled enough?  Were we fueled too much?  Did we rest enough?  Did we stretch enough?  Were we warmed up properly?  We look for any and all of the tiny details to analyze the race and our performance. 
What we are doing is missing the big picture.  In the details, we miss the importance and beauty of it all.
Late in the evening, after hours of obsessing over my missed PR, I was given a heavy dose of perspective.  I learned that one of the runners, Kaytie, collapsed at the finish line and after receiving emergency care in the finish corral, she passed away.  I was not there when it happened.  I was already at brunch obsessing over details.  My running buddy, Amy, was there and even helped guide the paramedics to Kaytie.  Thank God for fellow runners.  Even though I was not there when it happened, I have felt the loss deeply.  Knowing that this sister runner spent her last hours running the same course as I ran, seeing the same wonderful Galveston sites as I did, and celebrating with her fellow runners is touching.  But knowing that her race ended so much differently than mine, has really shaken me.  The finish line of a race is supposed to be a place of joy, release, and relief.  It should be the highlight to a hard fought race.  It is the place where you are rewarded for your work and can celebrate with friends and family and even complete strangers.  Knowing that our finish line was the site of such great tragedy is heartbreaking. 
Shortly after learning about Kaytie, I learned that two other runners died the same day at a half marathon in Raleigh, North Carolina.  In one morning, our running family lost three members.  It was a devastating realization.  I've written many times about the bond of runners.  We may not know each other's names, we may share no more than a glance, or we may never meet in person, but we are all connected to each other by the run.  We are in the long run together.  We share the same goals and challenges.  We understand each other's journey because our journey is the same.
I am so saddened by the events of the weekend.  But, I am going to learn this lesson now, while I still can.  I vow not to take another race for granted.  I will always run and race with a thought to those who no longer can.  I promise now to never cross a finish line without thanking God for getting me through to the end.  I will be grateful for my legs and my heart and every part of my mind and body that carried me through.  I will celebrate my life and my health, no matter what the clock I pass under reads. 
I can obsess over the details later. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pre-Race Jitters

I'm making a tradition of packet pickup selfies. This probably isn't the greatest tradition. 

I'm in Galveston gearing up for the Diva's half marathon. I'm not really sure how I'm feeling now 10 hours out from the start line, other than a little nervous. Last night, my husband asked if I was excited about the race and I told him that I wasn't sure if excited was the right word. I told him that I was having a lot of feelings, but that it was weird because nervous wasn't one of them.  Well, I spoke too soon because the nerves hit me pretty hard this morning. I think knowing that this is the least "prepared" I've ever been for a run has me feeling uneasy. I'm used to be really well trained, having stuck to a strict running program and dedicating myself fully to the preparation. This go 'round, I can't even say I've trained much at a all. I did my long runs and kept up with most weekly short runs, but my mentality just never was quite right. I know that I said this race was going to be just for fun and that I wasn't going to worry about pace or time or finish. Listen, I was lying. Not purposefully. I wanted to be telling the truth. But, this afternoon as I was packing up to head down here, the competitor inside started rearing her head and now I have to admit, I want to run well. I want to run fast. 

Of course, I'm willing now to dedicate myself fully to the training. And by "training," I mean carb loading!!

Wish me luck!!  Not with the carb loading. I don't need luck with that. It's a given. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rebel Running and an Art Trail

I am a rebel runner.
Taper, what? Taper, who?  Not me. I laced up and set out running today. What can I say? I'm a rebel and a rule breaker, you know, a runner. 

On today's art run, I was reminded of a few things that can happen on the long run:

1. Sometimes your legs are heavy and your dogs start barking.

2. And you feel like you could take a nose dive right into the ground. 

3.  You have to listen to your body. If your body needs it, you just need to take a break, sit back and relax. 

4.  But, then you have a choice: to stay seated OAR to get up, dust yourself off, and get back out there on the trail where you belong. 

5.  Never give up, even when you have a sinking feeling. A little prayer will get you through. 

6. Enjoy yourself. This is a long run. Take the time to stop and smell the flowers along the way!


Houston- I love you. You make this runner girl smile. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Hello You

Well, hello early morning, easy breazy cardio with magazines. I have missed you. 
BTW - taking selfies at the gym, especially while facing the wrong way on your machine, is a little embarrassing. Oh the things I do for you. 

Heeellllo you (pronounced like Hello Newman). How I have not missed you. Not even a little. 

I've been spending some taper time reading celebrity gossip magazines  (relaxing) and foam rolling my thighs and IT band (NOT relaxing). 

Mentally preparing for this weekend's half marathon. Ready to run!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Guess What I Did

Guess what I did yesterday.....
I slept in!!

That's right. I slept in on a Saturday!  No pre-dawn long run for me. Not even an at dawn run. I slept until well after the sun came up and even when I did wake up, I walked out into the kitchen, got my pre-run breakfast together and got back into bed to eat it. It wasn't until near noon that I took off for my quick, laid back six miler. 

That's right people, it's taper time. Time to cut back on the mileage, trust my training (or lack thereof), and let my body heal. 

(Seriously, I googled "taper" and this popped up).

I can't believe I'm actually tapering for this race. I've barely even trained for it. 5 weeks of rushed, undisciplined training has me feeling guilty about taking the break before the run. I was actually considering skipping the taper portion of training. Right up until I ran my hand over my shin the other day and felt some pretty significant pain. Hello, body. When you speak, I listen. Sounds like you're telling me you want a break. Okay, a break we will take. 

Here is the thing, I know I can run 13.1 miles and I know that a few days of not running isn't going to change that fact. I will miss running for the next week, but I will be rewarded with a fun, exciting, soul strengthening race.  A week from now, I will be ready to run!

But for now, I think it's time for a nap...

Friday, April 4, 2014

No Truer Words

I came across this picture and I have never felt more understood in my life.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Running on Empty

I've written a blog about running on empty before, but this one is a little less deep.  Today the empty on my mind is more physical and less emotional.  I'm talking about running on an empty stomach.  Do you do this?
Because the majority of my runs are made in the wee morning hours while it's still dark as night outside, taking the time to fuel properly just doesn't fit into my schedule.  My runs are usually spent racing the clock trying to get as many miles in before I need to be back getting ready work.  If only my 9:00 - 5:00 allowed me to show up sweaty and in my new magic shoes.  Maybe then I would have more time to adequately prepare my body for runs.

Here is the thing though:  I'm terrible at running on empty.  I am significantly slower and fatigue quicker on an empty stomach.  Such slow, exhausting, and empty runs leave me feeling very frustrated.  I try to stick to a running schedule that allows me to improve (in distance and pace) as a runner, but these runs feel counterproductive.  Does this happen to you?
I know plenty of runners who say they don't like to fuel before a run (hey, let's be honest, we all have stomach issues associated with running), but does that mean they would run worse if they fueled?  I can't help but think they would run better.  I know I do.  Also, I know there are studies out there regarding the additional fat burn that can be gained by exercising on an empty stomach (and even a rare few that talk about running on empty), but for one, I am not running to burn fat or lose weight, and second, the majority of  studies regarding increased fat loss on an empty stomach refer to moderate exercise (brisk walking, light elliptical, etc.), my morning runs are more strenuous (at least to me) than that, and I know it's not good for me physically or mentally to be running on empty, but I haven't found a good alternative.  I need something very quick and easily digestible that I can eat during warm-up and active stretching, but that also provides enough fuel for an hour or so of running.
What do you eat before you run early morning? 
Nor can you build strength or pace.  At least, I can't.