Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Seriously...where have I been?

Awwwwww maaaaaaaan...I did it again. I don't know how I expect the many nine people who follow this blog to stay interested if I don't post anything, never mind follow up on my goals. we are:

Weight: I'm down 5lbs! It's been about 5 weeks, so that's pretty good. At this point, even a 1lb average is good for me. I am not particularly shy about how much I weigh, but for some reason I shied away from actually posting it on here. But, why? Maybe it will help someone.

When I started to really try and lose weight in 2006 I had hit a high of 179.8. I was pretty shocked. I'm only 5'4" and I was 0.2 from a "weight decade" I had never seen. I really didn't want to cross that line and didn't fully understand how exactly I got there. I think I was just in denial. I love food! I just needed to love a little less of it. My husband is 10 inches taller than me. I needed to remember that I don't get to eat as much food as he does. The number was the slap in the face I needed.

People always want to know what I did that finally worked. I tried many different diets, but in the long run it was pretty simple. Eat less, move more and eat real food. Definitely eat lots of veggies! I keep really tight tabs on my sodium and added sugar. Now, even if I eat the proper amount of calories, but it's junk food instead of healthy food, I won't see the weight loss. I really have to be diligent. I use Livestrong to track my food and workouts and every so often my trainer makes me write all of it out so she can go over it. The biggest difference was the rest of my life. This time around I had running and a very supportive fitness community. I joined the gym and got more competitive with myself about how fast I was running. I had my trainer and all of my friends, of all shapes and sizes, who were running, biking 100 miles, swim/bike/running or just trying to he healthier. The perfect example? As I'm writing this section about the support I have, my trainer texts me to ask how I was feeling. I had one of those days where my form was crap, I was exhausted and I didn't feel well. I really didn't do a great job and was frustrated that I couldn't pull it together. I think I was hoping for sympathy, but I didn't NEED it. I needed to get my butt kicked.

As of this moment I weigh 152.5. I am supposed to be down to 149.9 or lower by 1/1/12. THAT is going to be hard. The ultimate goal is 140. 145 is the top of the weight range for my height, but I will probably need to lose more than that to have a healthy body fat percentage. So, before anyone jumps all over me about the numbers, and that 152 isn't honestly that bad, the body fat % is a big part of what the goal is. 140 will be the point where we will stop, reevaluate and make a new, and probably final, goal. It's possible that 140 is final. I don't really know. In my entire adult life, that I've owned a scale and cared, I haven't weighed less than 147. I don't have a personal experience to base my goal on. I don't want anyone to think I'm all, "boo hoo...I have to lose weight." I'm happy with myself the way I am. I just want to be fitter and healthier. It wasn't until I accepted that it's possible to be okay with yourself and have the desire to improve, however much improvement is needed, that it started to stick. It's kind of hard to be good to your body with healthy food and exercise while giving yourself the stink-eye!

On to running: I did not do so well with this. I tried. I trained even though I had to drag myself there, but two weeks before the Turkey Trot I got super sick. I had a head cold for a week that turned into the never-ending chest cold/cough. I ran it anyway and matched my old PR to the second. I guess I should be happy that I can match my old PR when I feel like death, even if its almost 3 minutes slower than I know I am capable of. My last 5K of the year is this Sunday's Jingle Bell Run in Somerville. I just plan on running it for fun and will chase the sub 29 next year.

Speaking of next year...I signed up for a triathlon! I'm doing the Boston Triathlon on August 12th next summer. I'm suuuuuper excited! That is obviously going to be the big thing I focus on. If I completely lose my mind, I may do a spring half marathon, but I don't want to be training for a fall one through part of the tri training. It's a sprint distance tri, which means a 1/4 mile swim, 9 mile bike ride and 4 mile run in that order. So now I'm getting a bike for Christmas and need to find somewhere to swim pronto! Anyone want to give me lessons on form? It also means that I'm going to be tired, really tired, and that's fantastic! The further away from training for my half I've been, the worse I sleep. Two nights ago I got in bed and stared at the ceiling the entire night. Well, except for the fews times I got up and tried to reset my brain to GO THE F TO SLEEP. It was awful. I didn't sleep for even a minute. It's the weirdest thing to not have the mental reset of falling asleep and waking up, no matter how brief it is. I'm going to try and get back to the mileage I was doing in the middle of my half plan, back when I was tired but not yet at the point where tears were involved. Back when my husband would come home in the middle of the day and find me sound asleep, halfway off the couch. It's pretty sad that I have to work so hard to tired my brain out, but it is what it is! I call it the Brain Troll. It's like I'm invaded by this little monster that marches around my brain and is like, "think about this now! What? Why isn't tomorrow's dinner important at 3am?! WELL, THINK ABOUT THIS THEN!" Imma get you, Brain Troll. Better pack your bags!

Well, that's it for now I guess! I missed it here while I was taking an accidental hiatus, so I'm really going to try and be better about that. Maybe I'll actually take AND post pictures here too!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'm back!

I really didn't mean to let almost a month pass without posting. Training for the half marathon is over, but this blog isn't! There has been a lot on my mind, so I'll summarize and get into the details later:

- Big gym goal: my trainer really wants to focus on weight loss through the holidays, now that I am not worried about training for the race. This is the original reason I started seeing her and it's time to get back on the wagon. The goal is about 6lbs by January and to NOT go back up into this weight decade once I break into the lower one. That's not a lot of weight, but at this point it requires REALLY following the plan (no added sugar, low sodium, plenty of veggies, NO WINE). We have 15lbs before we stop and figure out what the ultimate goal is. I'll post a day's worth of food to give you an idea of what that looks like.

- Running goal: I have a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. Last year I shaved 2:30 off my 5K time and hope to do as much this year. It's flat and on a dirt road. With the speeds I ran during this past round of training, there is no reason I can't run a sub-30 5K even though my best is still officially 32:20. In practice I've run around a 28:30. The goal is sub 30 but I'll be pretty psyched to run sub 29!

- I miss training for my half. There's a bit of a void where that training was and I'm having an awful time motivating myself for my 5K on my own. It's just not the same! I'm so glad I wrote a thorough race recap so I don't forget anything. I'll add stuff as I the couple who were a high-5 station. They rocked. Oh, and the reporter at the mile 10 aid station who said, "so these must be the 9 minute milers?" I love that guy. Haha.

- I'll probably blog more about food and random life stuff at this point too.

- I beat my 400m best by 4 seconds with a 1:48! I'm pretty sure I can go faster too, but I'm warding off some hamstring tightness and didn't want to push it.

Also, I redid the blog design, so hopefully you like it!

Monday, October 10, 2011

BAA Half Marathon - race day recap

I have to be honest. As much as I can talk about this race all day, I have been stalling in writing this recap since I got up. I realized I'm afraid I'll forget something from what ended up being a very, very special day. The memories will only fade the longer I wait, so here I go!

I should back up a bit. My last week of training went pretty well. I did a 12 miler last Sunday and I went great up until mile 8 where I got CRAZY hungry. I felt like, if someone walked by me with a pizza, I'd probably mug them. Gimme your pizza and no one gets hurt! Anyway, that was the point where I was due to take a Gu (energy gel, vanilla flavor only). The fact that it tasted so delicious, like it never had before, told me I wasn't properly fueled. I blamed it on a longer than normal time between food and start and also on being fairly low on fuel due to a stomach bug the day before. Miles 8-10 we're an absolute slog, which resulted in some "what was I thinking, I can't do this" tears. Then I "rubbed some dirt in it and walked it off" as the husband and I say and ran the remaining 2 miles. I finished in just over an 11 minute pace. Not the 10:42 I hoped for, but it was promising that with proper fuel, I would be ok on race day.

The Friday before the race was the last of the BAA's training clinics. It was somewhat of a course overview and then a Q&A with last year's winner, John Korir. Wow. What an awesome guy. Unless I showed you a video of him talking, I can't express how much he loved running. He just beamed with it. It was really inspiring and his message to all of us was: Don't be afraid. Trust your training and just run.

It's very basic, but how many people struggle with that? I do. I felt strangely calm after and was pretty amped up. Maybe I wouldn't have a crazy time, but I wasn't afraid of the result. Mostly I just love the course and couldn't WAIT to get out there and run in what felt like a giant herd of people. I missed out on this for a while when I ran closer to a 12 minute mile. I would be left behind and runs would be very solitary. Now, it's not so much the company, conversations are very limited, but the sound of dozens of footfalls behind you. It's so simple. So back-to-basics. Just people running and smiling. Prior to Sunday, I had run over 20 races (this actually surprised me when I counted them up), but this was the only one where I was SO excited and not afraid at all. You'd think I would be since it was my longest distance, but I just couldn't wait.

Saturday was a rest day and I thought I was going to lose my mind. I had all this anxious energy and nothing to do with it. Of course I needed to save it for Sunday, but I was climbing the walls. I did a quick shake-out run, which was enough to warm up my muscles to get a good stretch. I've been struggling with tight calf muscles (especially on the right side) and it was also starting to be a quadricep issue on that side. The rest of the day I watched tv and followed the Ironman World Championships in Kona live online. What an amazing race that was!

Sunday I woke up at 5:45 and ate my plain bagel with jelly and peanut butter. I usually eat only whole grain bread, but I can't have all that fiber on race day. I need easy to digest and burn carbs! I washed it down with 16oz of coconut water. I love that stuff. Gatorade does well for me during long hot races, but pre-race, it's too much for my stomach to handle. Most likely it's the sugar. It was so weird. I'm normally so nervous before any race, long or short, that I gag while I eat my breakfast. That's part of why I eat so early. I need to be done at least 2 1/2 hours before the race to digest and let the nausea pass. Sunday, I felt completely normal. I think a small part of it is that I'm used to being up even earlier for work. I think most of it was that I just couldn't wait to get out there. I love this race, I loved training and I love the BAA (Boston Athletic Association). I was intimidated by them the first time I ran it, but I learned that they are really about all runners, of all abilities, going out, being active and doing their best. During the clinics, they express how appreciative they are of every single person coming out to run with them. They especially thank the runners doing their first half with them and ease their fears that the cutoff time of 2:30:00 may possibly be just a suggestion and that they want everyone to finish and get a time.

At about 6:45am we left to take the orange line down the the Forest Hills station. From there we took a shuttle bus 1.5 miles to the start. We were there by about 7:30, race time it at 8:30, and had plenty of time to get our bearings, stretch and use the porta potties. Of course, at 8 I figured a second try would be worth it, waited 25 minutes in line, then realized I HAD to go at that point and was IN the porta potty when I heard the national anthem being sung. D'OH! Not the first time that's happened, but I thought 30 minutes would be enough! I flew out of there and sprinted up to the finish line. Nothing like that to ruin the calm and get the heart racing. I excuse-me'd as close as I could get to the 10 minute pace (how exciting is that?! A 12 minute short distance miler belonging up there?) and stretched my calves again. I had said goodbye to the husband earlier, who would most likely run an effortless sub 2 hour race. I can't be jealous because he has done so much to help, push and support me over the last 3 months (and really the last 15 years!).

Within a few minutes, the gun sounded. Then we waited another few minutes just to walk towards the start. I wasn't even sure if that was our gun or the wheelchair gun. We started running and there you go! It's race time! I normally have a very hard time at first. It takes a while for me to get in a groove and I am usually plagued with self-doubt for the first few miles. That is especially hard in a 5K when at the point I snap out of it, I only have 1.1 left and I'm pretty tired then! This time was different. I was just kind of in love with the race at this point. Does that sound silly? Cheesy? Stupid? I just can't think of another way to describe it that that really fits better. I grew a lot as a person and a runner while training. A lot of that I credit to my trainer for keeping me in check and really pushing me. I wasn't worried about the time because I knew it would be a decent time at worst and I also knew the pace/time wasn't the most important outcome. I started the race so happy and so calm that I wasn't sure it was me!

I had a definite strategy that I practiced during training. I called it the hydration station hop! Haha. There would be water or water and gatorade every two miles. All I had to do was run two miles. 13.1 is overwhelming. 2 miles is not. I cannot, at this point, run and drink. I swallow too much air and get stupid crazy cramps. I lose much less time walking to drink and then picking the pace right back up without trouble. All I had to so was run two miles. Times were at every mile and were clearly marked. By mile two I was slightly faster than race pace (by a few seconds) but felt okay and knew I'd lose time in miles 6 and 7, aka the first big hill. I carried my own vanilla Gu that I knew I could tolerate and took that at mile 4. Although, I was thrown off a little since the 4 mile station was at about 3.5 and I almost didn't take my Gu then. I took about 10 steps from the station and realized it was mile 4's table, but early. You have to take about 8oz of water (but not Gatorade because that's too much combined sugar) with Gu. I had only drank about 4oz and I like to take the Gu and then drink. Whatever...I figured if that was the biggest glitch, I was ok.

At that point, we ran over the Route 9 over pass, turned around at 4.6 miles and headed back to Franklin Park where we had started. Although we weren't halfway done, it was still comforting to be headed in the direction of the finish while I still felt good. Right before mile 6, Lululemon had a cheer station and a DJ was there, which was a nice surprise! I pepped up a little and managed to distract myself. I got to the water table at mile 6, which also had Power Gel, and still felt good, I was hitting my pace and alternately not believing it and emptying my mind so I wouldn't ruin it. At this point the run had been joyful. Again, maybe that's cheesy, but it was! I loved it! I felt lucky and so grateful to be healthy, strong and more fit than I have ever been (even if I still feel like I have a lot of work to do!). In hindsight, based of the rapidly warming temps (67 at race start time and that is already too hot for this salty super-sweater, never mind an hour+ later) and my waning energy, I should have taken the second and last Gu then and used the Power Gel for my planned mile 8 fuel. Well, really I should have brought 3 Gu packs, but I had only grabbed two and a back up Power Gel from mile 6. I was afraid to take a gel I had never used before because my stomach is so sensitive. Instead, I took more water and willed myself to just run two more miles to the station at mile 8. Mile 6-7 was the first big hill and fairly tough. I was happy I stayed pretty strong and steady and passed quite a few people then. Mile 7 was pretty fun. There were many people along the Arborway in lawn chairs and on blankets, hanging out with their families and cheering us on. One guy was sitting all alone, yelling an endless stream of personalized encouragement at us. Just past him was a line of 3 or 4 young kids waiting for high fives. Every high five they got resulted in a very excited "WOO!" What I loved was that there was this little teeny toddler boy, shyly standing about a foot back from the older kids with his hand out, hoping for a high five. I made sure to get him too and he waved his hands with such excitement that he almost fell over. Glad he didn't!

I got to station 8 and that's when I started to hurt. My right calf had been tight the whole time and by 8 it was also my hamstrings and my right glute. It felt like someone was punching me in the butt! It hurt! It also happened that mile 8-9 was going back up the overpass into Forest Hills. It was hot. HOT! And the entire mile was up and over the overpass...rough, crackled concrete where you felt like you were running, no, death-marching, up into the sun. It really felt like that! I had been running with the same big pack of people the whole time, which had been comforting, but every single one of us deflated half way up the climb. I tried to push it and a few tried to follow. We got about 3/4 up and the walk-monster got us. I walked to the top and eased into a run on the way down. Downhills usually help me to get my momentum back, but I felt like I was being beat up at this point. I was starting to get a little weary and feeling like the 4-5 miles I had left was so long. This was the first point I felt like this and I tried to push it out of my mind. I got to mile 9 exhausted. I was also super hungry, just like on my last long run. I ate closer to race time, but it wasn't enough. Next long race, I'm going to practice with a solid fuel, maybe Cliff Shot-blocks. I took some Gatorade, which I hadn't planned, and hoped for the best. It sat okay and I think it helped with the hunger.

Heading to mile 10, we enter Franklin Park again. Thank you to all the spectators there! Crowd support was good all along, but this was a really tough patch. I should have felt good coming off a 1/2 mile downhill, but I felt awful. I felt completely overheated and was desperate for water. I think part of the reason I sweat so much is that I am not an efficient cooler. I'm hoping that will change as I get more fit and lose more weight. What was great about this awful patch was my mind frame. I just decided I'd run as much and as fast as I could and it would be good enough. I wasn't stressed and the voice that told me I was too slow and not good enough was completely absent. Did I outrun it? Was it gone for good? Mile 10 was at a switch back and heading towards 11 was downhill. I lost a lot of time on mile 9 at the overpass and 10 being a bit uphill. I made up some at 11 but I knew what was waiting. The nice easy downhill at the start was mile 12 on the way back. Almost a whole mile of a fairly decent grade uphill. I thought I was tough. I though I could gut it out. Maybe if it was in the 60s I could but it doesn't matter because it didn't work out like that. In reality, mile 12 kind of punched me in the face. We were a group of struggling walk-joggers up this hill. Everyone was trying so hard to run but only going about 30 seconds before the heat, incline and distance got to them. I saw many people meet up with their kids, friends and family and started to feel alone. I knew I had the husband and a friend at the finish, but I started to get sad. I was only half way up the hill. I turned that sadness into fuel and did a super slow jog up the rest of it. I just wanted to get away from there. I think that mile was about a 13 minute pace. Yikes!

At that point we ran into the Franklin Park Zoo and found mile 12. Glorious, glorious mile 12! Only 1.1 left, although it felt like 1.1 was an unfathomable endless distance at that point. It was REALLY hot at this point. I'd bet it was about 80 since it was close to 11am and the high got to 87 that day. In the zoo I remember running by a giant parakeet aviary, seeing mile 12 and a zillion spectators/zoo-goers and then completely shutting down mentally. All I could think about was not stopping and breathing normally. I stared at my feet and hunkered down. I was already past the 2:20:00 crazy fast goal I set. I had a mile to go and 6 minutes to get to my 2:30:00 secondary goal. I knew that was unlikely as well. At that point, other than the last resort just-finish-goal, I HAD to finish at a sub 12 pace. I worked too hard to fall back into that. I don't care if I worked hard mostly at running faster at shorter distances, I was training for faster longer races as well. I just didn't have the experience.

I came out of the zoo and really dug in. I had been able to hear the finish area announcements for the last mile and it was making me crazy. I knew the finish was on the track in the stadium and when I saw the stadium looming in the distance, I was a bit dismayed. I knew it was less than a mile, but it looked so far away. I buckled down again, focused on my feet and blurred my mind. I literally counted to 10 over and over until I reached the chute leading to the stadium where some kind guy yelled, "go aqua shirt girl! You're killing it! 500 meters to go!" As kind as that was, I ran FOR. EV. ER. and then someone told me I had 450 to go. THEY were wrong as well because I saw the 400 remaining mark over a minute later and I was running much faster than that at that point. I love that the BAA knows we need to know how much is left. I have to say that signage, staffing and the volunteers were top-notch for this race. I just loved it. I can't say enough good things about it. Halfway down the chute I felt like my heart was going to explode with happy and running and exertion and adrenaline. I was finishing my race and it was a 100% respectable effort! Was it fast? No. Did I try my hardest, enjoy it and have a good attitude the whole time? Absolutely! I had never had a race where I was so positive.

I rounded a corner and realized I was about to enter the stadium. I hadn't thought of it, but how exciting is a track finish in a stadium?! In the distance, I saw the gun time was about 2:38:00, which meant my net time was about 2:34:00 and I had only a couple of minutes to book it 200 meters to get in under a 12 minute pace. I sprinted through the finish, stopped my watch around 2:35:00 and knew I did it. Did I have a breakthrough? In some ways, yes. I thought a breakthrough would be great cool weather and a 10 minute pace, but I had no idea how much I'd learn about myself in the 2 1/2 hours I was out there. I tried to put it in words above, but I'm not sure I really did. I guess, how I feel is that, even though it was only an 11:52 pace, I am excited for what's to come. I know what effort I can put out in major pain and super hot uncomfortable conditions. I also realize that I'm still getting fitter and losing weight. At some point all of this will come together.

I ran across the finish line and just felt happy. I smiled at everyone as I scanned for the husband. I saw him just outside of the stadium track where we were exiting and ran towards him. I don't know what came over me, but I just started to cry. It was very emotional. The whole training had been an emotional test. I constantly felt on the verge of not being capable of what I was doing, but somehow, just scrapping by. I had plenty of encouragement, but my inner voice was always the loudest and my biggest critic. Maybe it knew to let up on race day? It never had before. For the first time, I ran a race where, even though I struggled, I never said "I can't" and knew I was doing my best. I actually enjoyed the whole race, pain and all, and lived in the moment.

I pulled myself together and the husband gave me some Gatorade and a fruit leather, which I ate in about two bites. He seemed to understand exactly what the tears were about without me having to struggle for words. Then a race photographer took a picture of us together, so I'll be sure to share the picture of me with sweat, tears and snot on my face! Listen, it's not gross. It's part of running!

My official time was 2:35:25. It's a 35 minute PR over my first attempt where I was injured and walked almost all of the last 6 miles. I wish I had run in the 10 minute mile range, anything sub 11, but I'm really okay with it. Sub-12 was the biggest deal.

Here's the big lesson. Like John Korir said, don't be afraid. Just try. It doesn't matter what happens, you will learn so much about yourself. Getting to the start line sometimes takes more courage than running the entire race!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Loaf

You know you want some!

I'm glad I procrastinated, because my second batch was tweaked to my preferences. The first close-to-original-recipe one was good, but it gave me a chance to think about it for a while. I can almost never find a recipe I want to make and follow the instructions 100%. I always have an idea or opinion and I hate to waste an opportunity. Listen, people. Baking is not scary. I promise. People say that baking is more of a science and that ingredients, especially the ratios of certain wet and dry ones, can't be messed with. Not true to an extent. There are certainly things that are finicky. Have I made a souffle? No. Popovers? Nuh-uh. Does the husband make pie crust so good I don't care to even try? Yessir! Cakes, cookies and quick-breads? No problem!

Also, feel free to tweak/omit spices. I used all of these because I had them readily available. Same thing with the molasses. You can use regular molasses or leave them out. Regular all-purpose flour would be fine too, but I use all of my normal stuff in the last batch. See? Flexibility. No biggie.

Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
dash of cardamom
1 15oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups of sugar
2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 cup of chopped pecans, plus 1/4 cup chopped for topping
turbinado sugar for topping (I used a coarse vanilla sugar that I got at William's Sonoma)

Preheat oven to 350º

Grease 9 X 5 baking pan with butter and then dust with flour.

Mix dry ingredients, flour through cardamom, in one bowl. Make sure to whisk it pretty well. I hate nothing more in a cake than a lump of baking soda. BLEH!

Mix pumpkin, oil, eggs, sugar and molasses in a separate larger bowl until smooth.

Fold in dry mixture until just incorporated and then add 1 cup of pecans.

Add to pan and top with sugar and the rest of the pecans.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Don't be like me and get so excited that your boss called to say you don't have to work on Saturday ("yeaaaah..I'm going to have to go ahead and ask you to come in on Saturday...." Office Space? Anyone?) that you miss the timer and cook it for an hour. Guess what? It was still good!

Also, don't go to refill your champagne glass (no occasion...just broke into one of the extras we had at my parent's house that they made us take back up to Boston) with such gusto that you explode it all over your counter. The counter you just cleaned.

Try to wait long enough to eat it that you don't burn your face off. I recommend topping with cream cheese or butter.

Quick Update

I keep promising I'll update more and then don't. My bad! I'm not sure what I was thinking being like, "hey...I work full time and am adding a really intense training schedule to my life. Let's write a blog too! Also: take lots of naps." The naps win.

Hello. My name is Jillian and I love naps.

The day after my last post, on the 19th, I saw a guy who does sports massage. My trainer mentioned this being a good idea a while ago, but at this point she told me to go right home, call him and make an appointment for that week. Also, that she was friends with him and would know if I did not do this. Hahaa...again, she knows me pretty well. She knows I hate new/unknown situations. It turns out he's also a personal trainer who had worked at my gym, so that was nice. I kind of already knew who he was and that he was really nice. Then, when I called him, I found out he works out of his home and works one block from me! Anyway, he asked a lot of great questions about what I was experiencing, my training and my background and I was pretty excited to meet up.

I cannot even tell you the world of difference he made. I only went for a lower leg massage/stretching and it worked out every issue I had, between the work he did (in 30 minutes!) and the stretching tips he gave me. He also gave me a lacrosse ball and showed me how to find knots/pressure points and release them. I went from being a little depressed and thinking I had a chronic problem that would not allow me to work as hard as I wanted to, to having an easy workable solution. I had been having ankle pain for a while that would always initially start at the outer edge of my foot, often at the midpoint. I had a suspicion that it was the peroneal tendon because that's where it inserts on the bone (this is where I tell you not to self-diagnose). There has never been any trauma to that area, but the last time I ignored it, it bruised and swelled like I had fallen on it. A trip to the doctor showed nothing and I didn't push investigating it further, thinking it was a one time deal. What he found during the massage was that I had tight soleus muscles and most likely tight deeper muscles. The muscles that attach to the peroneal tendon. I mentioned my suspicion and he really felt the tight muscles were the cause. It made a lot of sense. I always noticed my lowed calf muscles would get tight and then the next day my foot would hurt. Well, after seeing him and taking his tips I felt completely better.

That week of training was great! I was doing my usual strength and running routine. I had my first long run since I hurt my foot Labor Day weekend. 11 miles last Friday. For some reason I psyched myself out and got super nervous. If I failed to stay uninjured on this run, I would likely be told not to attempt this Sunday's and would have to run my race with 9 miles being my strongest long one. I had super bad stomach cramps and could not mentally get there. It was also really warm and the air was like soup. It was disgusting. While I barely ran a sub 11 minute pace and my goal was to run it at my 10:42 goal, I was happy that I struggled through, didn't have any pain and still did ok. Although, it did allow for some room for the crazy brain troll to march around and tell me I was still too slow to take myself as seriously as I do. I hate that guy. I never started to improve until I did start getting serious about it.

The next day was a 5 miler. It was actually ok, but I was tired from work. The day after, Sunday, was a 5k. Not the best planning, but my parents, husband and I had been planning on it since last year's and I really enjoy it. I hindsight, I realized I woke up feeling kind of funny. I brushed it off to allergies and not sleeping well. Oh, and running 16 miles in two days after an injury and a big break. I ran a 32:20 which is an official 10 second PR, but it's 4 (FOUR!!!) minutes slower than I did in practice. I pretended to be happy, but since people kept on reminding me that it suddenly got sunny and hot (about 80) and that I was having stomach problems, they probably knew I was lying. The last 1.1 miles was a blur of a stomach cramp so bad that it made me dizzy. Also, I gagged really bad at the finish line. Gross. Oh well! Is it fall yet? Two years ago it was 41 and dry at the start of the half marathon. This year may be high 60s and rainy. No! I want mid 50s and crisp!

The best part of all of that was that my legs felt like I did absolutely nothing all weekend. I was sure I'd be sore and tight after all of that. 19 miles in 3 days! Before training I didn't run that in a week on a regular basis. I was actually second guessing myself that I didn't push myself hard enough, but I knew that wasn't the case. I had finally figured out what was going on with my legs. I stretched, foam rolled and used the lacrosse ball every day. It was my nighttime-tv-floor routine!

The bad news? I felt weird because I was coming down with a cold that would knock me on my butt! I saw my trainer Monday and after that I was a mess. I missed my 5 miler Tues and my last set of 400s on Thursday. Thursday I worked 6am until they sent me home at 1 and then slept until 7pm. I woke up when my husband came home and then went back to bed at 11. I slept the entire night until he got up at 7. I'm normally a terrible sleeper, so I was REALLY tired. Today I saw my trainer again and she had me do about half of the 400s and some weights. Then I saw the massage guy again and felt like a million bucks later. Anyone in this area who wants his info, let me know!

Also, can I say that I feel like a super productive grown up because, not only did I get my cracked windshield and shredded wipers replaced on Monday, but I actually remembered to get my car inspected before the sticker expired. I mean...not that I've ever forgotten before...and gotten a ticket from the meter maid...

This week: 3 miles tomorrow, 12 miles Sunday, strength Monday and a few easy runs early in the week. I'll see massage guy Monday or Wednesday and then...dun, dun, DUNNNNN next Sunday the 9th is race day!

Up next: Spiced Pumpkin Bread. I will be working on this immediately since I cannot have slice #2 until I have posted the recipe!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fueled by Roxy's

What an amazing day yesterday was! All I knew was that we planned on going to the SoWa Open Market to get some food from the food trucks (FOOOOOD TRUUUUUCKS!!!! - that's how my brain says it when it sees them) and maybe wander around the indoor vintage market. After that I had the big test of a 5 miler at race pace or faster (10:42). My last and fastest 5 mile race was last summer in 58:45 or an 11:45 pace. I killed myself to get under the hour/12 minute mile pace that I had been stuck at. I hoped I could do better this time, since my trainer is trying to get me to a 10:42 pace for 13.1 miles!

I decided to do an afternoon run since it was a Sunday and going to be relatively cool all day. I also enjoy afternoon runs more. While I was drinking my coffee I found that the Triathlon Sprint World Championships were on Universal Sports. I love triathlons. I am completely obsessed with the Ironman, particularly Kona. Imagine what it's like to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Hard right? But now instead, its a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon. A WHOLE 26.2 mile marathon! To go to Kona? You have to pretty much win your age group in a previous Ironman. You might be able to come in 2nd or 3rd depending on how many people race in your age group and if people decline, but it's that serious and real mortal people do it. Trust me! Go to Universal's page and see when the Hawaii/World Championships are on. They are doing reruns frequently because the 2011 championship is coming up. They also usually do a bunch of them in a row on New Years Day. That's when I first caught the coverage and was hooked. They don't just show the race, they feature stories on the elites and special racers. The second group is what's really touching. There are cancer survivors, a nun, a guy who is 85, people recovering from horrific accidents, you name it. It's amazing and very real. Some of them don't make all the cutoffs and they show the tears with the triumphs.

When that was over, we made our way down to the market for some Roxy's Grilled Cheese. Maybe food from some other trucks, but Roxy's was first priority. Apparently it was for some other people too!

The line is longer than it looks and an hour or so later it was double this!

Getting closer! How cute is this truck? I just want to squeeze it! We got the Mighty Rib grilled cheese with short rib, fontina and caramelized onions. Holy cow! That was a good sandwich. We also got the poutine made with sausage gravy. We shared both of these, so I'm going to pretend I didn't eat much of either. Does it help if I didn't have breakfast?

If you love food trucks as much as I do, you may have been watching the Great Food Truck Race that Roxy's was competing on. There was definitely an air of excitement around the truck yesterday, but judging by the food we had, it was well deserved. I won't say how the series is panning out to avoid a spoiler. All of the guys were there yesterday and just as friendly and hard working as you see on tv. I can't wait to go back! Next time I will be getting the Green Muenster unless they have a special I want. The special on Sunday looked amazing, but had duck in it. I want to like duck, but just haven't managed to convince myself. Not more than I like short ribs, anyway.

We wandered around and around for a while. I wasn't really feeling like shopping even though I had wanted to go shopping there for a while. The Husband was curious about the Go Fish food truck so we went over to see.

He ended up wanting to get the Fried Haddock Sandwich. Again, holy cow. I wish I wasn't too full to manage more than a couple of bites. This is, hands down, the best fried fish sandwich I have ever had. The line was a bit slow, but it was all forgotten after getting our food. I'd happily stand in line for it again.

Of course, since I didn't feel like shopping, The Husband did. After being dragged around for a while, I went home, crashed on the bed and took an hour nap. I love naps! Once I got the quilt lines off of my face, I went out for my 5 miles and he came with me.

It was really nice out, low 60s and no humidity. I was so thankful I had healed enough to run in the weather I had been waiting so long for! I felt good at the beginning, but my foot did start to ache after about a mile. I kind of knew it was probably in my head at this point, mentally told it to bug off and it did. After that we took off. He runs much faster than I do, but I noticed I was keeping a pace where he was able to still run comfortably. If I slow down, he has to shuffle. We got to 1.5 miles in 15 minutes and I felt really good. I started to wonder if I could keep it up for all 5. I knew I could run 3 faster, so why not? As my trainer says, what am I saving it for? We got to the turn around at 2.5 miles in just under 25 minutes and I knew that if I did that with a big uphill, I could keep up the pace with a downhill on the way back. I got to 4 at about 39:40. I was going to do it! I wanted to quit, but seriously, it was 9 or 10 more minutes! The last mile hurt. A lot. It's on cement sidewalks and involves dodging distracted pedestrians and running up a hill for the last 1/4 mile. I saw The Husband looking back like he was trying to pull me along and I dug in. We got to the top (somehow I passed him, but probably because the sidewalk was so crowded) in 49:47! Earlier, I wasn't sure if my food truck lunch was the best choice, but I guess it agreed with me!

One year ago I just wanted to run 5 miles at a sub 12 minute pace. Now I ran a sub 10. I almost didn't believe it. I don't say this to brag. I'm super proud and excited that it's finally happening, but mostly, I want you know that that it can happen. You just have to stick with it. You have to be willing to be uncomfortable. It doesn't mean to hurt yourself, be careful, but to get out of your physical AND mental comfort zone. I never knew how to push myself until this year. Yes, having a trainer made a huge difference, but you can do it on your own. Just make it a test. Can you run that 400 faster? Even just by 0.1mph? What about when you are trying to get a mile or two down at a faster pace and at the point when your lungs burn and your legs feel heavy, when you'd normally stop, can you go for one more minute? Just one...maybe two? You may really surprise yourself.

After I went home...the Kona Ironman was on! Yay! I got to relax, watch the coverage and then the new episode of the Food Truck Race. After that, I went to bed and read some magazines before falling asleep. It was just such a nice relaxing day. It was such a relief to run more than a mile of two without pain.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Oh, hi...(injury update)

Last Sunday was my first run since hurting my foot. It went ok. I'd give it a C+ if it had to get a grade. I was supposed to do 3 miles and stopped at 2. A mile in, my foot felt "weird." After two it was sore again. I limped the mile home and waved for the second time at the two nice men who alway sit on their stoop on Westland with their dogs on Sundays and say, "hi, runner girl!" or "nice day for a run, run one for us!" Haha. They're actually really nice, and it makes my day.

It was an amazingly crisp, bright blue day. Just like it was on the 11th 10 years ago. I won't get into it any further since, a week later many of us must be relieved to be beyond the anniversary. I will say that even hurt, I was grateful. There was just such a clarity to last Sunday. As I walked home I felt like I was finally 100% in the current moment. Everything felt, looked and sounded different. I'm healthy, have my family and friends and my job. What do I really have to complain about? A sore foot? Put some ice on it!

I did my bike training and some short runs. After I got home Sunday, I realized that my foot had immediately stopped hurting. That was a first. Previously, once it started up, it had stayed that way. As of now, almost a week later, I have managed a few 3 and 4 mile runs without pain. Tomorrow is 5. Three weeks from tomorrow is the race. I'm half excited and half terrified. My goal pace is 10:42. That is extremely ambitious, based on previous race paces (although maybe not so much on current practice race paces). It ended up I told my trainer it was my "crazy ambitious pie-in-the-sky goal pace" and then she was like, "okay here is 12 weeks based on something you think is unrealistic, but I am here to prove you wrong." Okay, she didn't say that, but that's the general theme. I really can't question her. She knows me so well that sometimes (a lot of times) she knows stuff about me I don't. 

So anyway. #1 I am a total liar for promising you posts about various trips and recipes and then holding out. I wiiiiiiilll... #2 darn it....what was #2?! I'll keep you posted on the training? Or something?

Anyway, the rest of the year looks like:

10/9 - BAA Half Marathon!
Maybe a 10K for fun the week after. It's for firefighters and they're pretty awesome, so...
A Thanksgiving Turkey trot or two.
A Jingle Bell run or two.

The End! Of 2011 anyway.

Next year (like how I'm already thinking of next year when this year is so far from done?)...there is a little devil (you know who you are!) birdie on my shoulder that is suggesting a triathlon. Not sitting on the couch watching hours of the Kona Ironman World Championships and crying, not talking about how much I want to do a tri, not petting the bikes in every sporting goods store I go into. Actually. Doing. One. Based on the results I've had from cross training the past few weeks, and the fact that I actually want to do one but was too consumed by the half to really commit, it's something to think about. A sprint tri that is.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Injury workout week

Well, I started this week majorly bummed. I couldn't walk without pain, never mind work out or run. I texted my trainer on Monday to let her know and when we met on Wednesday, we revised my plan.

Monday I was supposed to do strength on my own while in Maine. I did what I could, but a lot of what I had been assigned put too much pressure on my sore left foot.

Tuesday was supposed to be an easy run, but I knew a 13 hour day on my feet at work would be more than I could deal with without running after. I was right and we both agreed ahead of time that I would go home, ice and rest.

Wednesday I saw her for strength and she assigned me some work on the stationary bike and elliptical. After our session, I did 5 min hard, 5 min easy for a total of 60 minutes on the bike.

Thursday after work, I spent 30 minutes looking for a blasted parking space and went to do 40 on the bike, 1 minute sprint, 1 minutes rest. At this point my butt was KILLING me. Not a fan of the bike...

Friday was another session with my trainer and 60 minutes on the elliptical. I had to set the resistance to 15 and the incline to whatever my foot could tolerate. Honestly, it sucked. 15 at a 1 incline made my left calf tingle, but I worked through it. I had been feeling better being on it as the week went on.

Today I worked again and only felt pain sporadically. Today it was more tightness making my foot ache than the minor injury I suffered last weekend. I was supposed to do a hill program on the bike, but I realized at about 5pm that it was Saturday and the gym closes at 8. I work until 7 and would have exactly 15 minutes to work out once I got there IF I found a parking space right away. I texted trainer and offered to try and easy run, but she suggested against it since I was on  my feel all day.

Tomorrow I am getting up early to do my first run in 8 days. I'm doing 3 easy miles around a track to see how I feel. I almost wrote "I have to do", but I don't. I WANT to. As much as I complain about not wanting to go out some days, I can't take it when I'm forced to the sidelines. Tomorrow is a sad, sad anniversary for our country and I am profoundly grateful that I have back what I need to help cope. I plan to finish early enough to finally watch some of the coverage that I have been avoiding on tv for the last week. It still hurts so much to watch, even for someone who didn't personally know a single person who was lost. If it's not the only one, there are very few days that I recall with such an amazing clarity.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Last week recap

Oh hi there...I know, I know. I'm fired! Wait, can you fire me from my own blog? I realize it's been 7 days. Here's what I've been up to while we left summer...

in our wake. HA! Get it?...Wake?...

Do I hear groaning?! 

I'm sorry but all of you are going to have to deal with it. One big thing that happened is the The Husband has resumed grad school and The Bird (more on him in a bit) doesn't get my humor like he does. Not that he thinks it's funny, just that he says, "I GET it..." after I elbow him and say "heh heh" about fifteen times.

Bye, bye driving out onto the beach...

Anyway, don't hate me, but I am kind of looking forward to fall. It's like a reset button. I feel more like New Years Eve is on Labor Day and the New Year starts today. Maybe it's because, if you add the years from pre-school up through my second degree together, I've been in school for 23 years. TWENTY THREE! That's many years that began right about now. Who doesn't love the smell of pencil shavings? Oh hey, now would be a time to give a shout out to all of my teacher friends who have recently gone back (some just got kids in today). You rock! I truly know the effort that goes into teaching. Really! For those of you that don't know me well, it might have even been my first degree. Ha. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.


The hurricane came through and we were spared here in our teeny little apartment. Many huge trees went down in the city, one right behind our apartment, but we didn't even lose power. I am very thankful that the worst of it for me was being really scared for a few hours of the trees banging our window and the sound of our skylight sounding like someone was trying to vacuum it out. Many people I know were without power for an entire week, had their homes damaged, lost possessions. The little sister of a friend had a close call when her car was swept off the road in an unexpected flash flood in western MA and she held onto a tree for 4 hours while waiting for the fire department. She is one tough cookie and I'm so happy she is ok! My aunt, in central VT, has to drive wayyyy around to get to work and I'm sure many places she loves won't ever look the same. Who knows when it will get better for all of them up there. When hurricane season winds down here, snow will start. Please be safe! Same for all of you in other areas of the world (hello person who checks in from Germany!). 

Ok. I'm off my soapbox. Really, I'm not a weather paranoid person, but I am fascinated with storms. The Husband made me walk to a restaurant at the end of the hurricane just to pry me away from The Weather Channel. More evidence in "Jillian is really 80."

Workouts....oh boy-eeeee....

Last Sunday was supposed to be a 10K. Since there wasn't one I wanted to do, I was instructed to pick my favorite route and just run it like I was racing. Then the hurricane hit. I paced my apartment feeling enormously guilty that I wasn't running. The hurricane wasn't all that bad here, but the wind would gust every once in a while, and the sound of the 4 story tree being ripped out of the ground of back was quite eerie! Each time I was about to be like "F it! I'm going!" the news would show a huge tree that had just fallen on one of my routes. It was pretty crazy, but each time I though, "ok, well I'll just run here instead," the news would show that exact place. Yeah...I probably watched too much news that day.  But I was safe and wouldn't know without hindsight that I may have been ok if I went out.

Monday I was supposed to have strength, but my trainer decided she wanted to do intervals on the deadtreadmill. I had managed to smash the back of my right calf just above the achilles on Saturday and it made walking hurt a little. It was swollen, but not exactly bruised. Running was the last thing I wanted to do. I ended up doing 400, 400, 800, 400, 400, 800. For once I kept my 400 pace at or above 7mph the whole time and barely dipped below that for the 800. I even finished my last 800 at 7.8! At one point, my trainer was super excited at how much faster I was and how paces I hated before, for being uncomfortable, were not pretty normal for me. I used to run a 2:05 400 and the have to slow wayyyy down. It was the exception. Now it's kind of normal for me. I love it! I never thought I'd be comfortable at that pace. Is it fast in general? No. Is it fast and the result of a lot of sweat and tears for someone who routinely ran a 5mph pace? Sure is! I did a little bit of strength after and that was it. I made sure to ice my shins when I got home: 

You know you're a runner pride yourself in your ability to prop up ice packs in your freezer to form a curve that matches your shin bone. That takes a lot of shin splints my friend. Now, please meet: Saltybird! He is 17, loves my husand more than me (even though he's really my pet) and likes to crawl up on my toes with his creepy, creepy bird feet. Also, blocks the Red Sox game. Maybe when he starts saying more than swear words and screaming his own name, he can guest blog. was one of those days that happen so when you have a routinely annoying day you can be like, "Oh, well at least it's not like TUESDAY..." I got home at 9pm. I started at 6am. I was exhausted and it was too late to run 4 miles anywhere near where I live that late. The rest of the night went: shower, food, faceplant.

Wednesday (after agonizing for 12 hours over telling my trainer I skipped the run) I had more strength training. She was understanding, but also worried about making my mileage without killing me. This week we're in right now has a total of 27 miles. If I missed any days last week, I'd be almost 10 miles below what I'm doing this week and risking injury with the jump. So I also had to run 4 miles Wed. I took it slow, focused on form and was fine.

Thursday was intervals. I took them a little slower because I was concerned about the multiple days of running I was doing in a row. Most were around 2:15.

Friday. 9 miles. Dun dun DUNNNN!!! I wasn't so much nervous and just really not feeling like taking 90-120 minutes to run before I had to pack for our long weekend away. Pack AND leave the house alone to pick up The Husband at school. I have MAJOR problems getting out of the house when we're leaving for more than a day. I have this dread that I will leave something on, plugged in, running that will burn the apartment down or that the bird will be able to escape. So I need to check everything at least 15 million times. The run went well. It was a breezy, sunny 68º. Miles 1-2 were the usual internal screamfest of, "quit...quit...quit, quit, quit, QUIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTTT". It takes a log time to get into my grove... 3-6 we're great and I ran the fastest then. 7 was painful because my hip flexors felt like someone had been punching them. At 8 I could "smell the barn" and picked it up just so I could be back sooner. I'm super proud of mile 9. I am someone who never runs a two loop (or more) run. I will never do that second loop! I just don't have the willpower. I run a big loop or an out and back because, before I know it, I'm halfway through and I have to turn around complete the run to get home! I couldn't find the place where I was supposed to exit my loop and run a 1/2 mile our and 1/2 mile back to add a mile onto last week's 8 mile loop. I was SO annoyed! I decided to run my 8 mile loop and at the end run the 1/2 mile path in the park and then back. Super risky because the path is way to close to home. I did it and I ran it at about an 11:20 pace. Not super speedy at all, but I was REALLY trying to not run myself into the ground. I'm also proud that I couldn't even get that as a 5 mile race pace last year and it's this years easy long run pace.

It all comes at a cost though. This weekend we went away to visit family in Maine and I had one short run to do. It was supposed to be a "shake out" easy run after doing my 9. It was pretty, easy and scenic (minus a killer hill) and I felt good. Until about 5 hours later. I was walking around Camden and my left foot started to feel weird. Then tight. Then it HURT. Sometimes my feet will get little stabs of pain that come from nowhere and then go away completely. This didn't, this felt exactly like what my right foot felt like when I was doing half marathon #1. Right before I kept running on it and ended up with a swollen black and blue foot and ankle. (Don't run through pain!) I couldn't believe it. I stretch. I listen to my body. I take rest days. I ice. I strength train with my trainer in a very strategic manner to fix the imbalances that have caused pain before. Why? What else should I have done? Is this it? Game over? I refuse to give up but I refuse to hurt myself. After HM #1 I couldnt run for months and, wouldn't you know, life handed me a basket of things I could have used running to work through. It couldn't have come at a worse time. It would be like someone not being able to use a trusty journal to work out their feelings. I needed to run. I needed to do something so unlike my old self, because one day in  2006 I found myself standing in a park, staring at runners and knowing I had to. If you were around me this weekend and I seemed sad or far away. This is where my mind has been.

I still owe all of you a couple of posts. Two fun ones (my trip from this weekend and a recipe) and two more serious ones. The serious ones are 2008-the fateful half marathon at the end of 09 and then 2010 to now. 2009 will obviously end in an injury, which I will get into then. I know a lot more about what my deal is now, thanks to doctor visits and trial and error. I have some major tightness in my calves and my quads and its causing a chain reaction down my leg to pull on tendons in my foot. The tendons inset on the calf muscle on the outer portion of my leg and then loop down around my outer ankle and attach to my outer foot about halfway down the side. Then pain is just as it's always been, right in the middle of the outer edge of my foot. All the tension is just pulling on it and I didn't get to it before it hurt me. I'm hoping a few days of rest, ice and working the knots out will help. The race is 5 weeks from this past Sunday and I have no idea how this will pan out.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Calm before the storm

It's a beautiful evening in Boston. Let's hope our roof and windows stay intact. Our apartment is two full walls of 4' tall casement windows and two walls of old crumbly rowhouse brick.

No worries though. We're stocked up!

Beer and duct tape. No we did NOT get twisted tea.

We already have plenty of containers for water, a roll of heavy plastic and enough food. Not sure what I'm going to do about my pretend 10K race on Sunday. My training plan says race. My trainer says just run 6.2 as fast as I can LIKE it's a race since there aren't any I want to do then. I guess that's a good thing.

How it all began (Part I)

This SHOULD have been the very first post of this blog, but when I get an idea to start something, I just need to DO IT or I will think it to death. It took me two months just to come up with a name for it. Could you imagine if I tried to write this post out too? Once I decided on a name, I sat right down and wrote the first post.

I got the idea to run in the fall of 2006. Idea may not be the proper word. Infection may be more accurate. Somehow it crept in and I could not stop thinking about it. I dreamed about it. I saw runners everywhere and I tried to figure them out. What does it take? Does wanting to run badly enough count? Before this point I had done Absolutely. Nothing. Athletic. No sports as a kid. No sports in high school.

I walked through this park almost every day after the job I had then.

I'd come around the corner up ahead, towards where I'm standing while taking this picture and think, "it would be so awesome to run through here!" It was the infection taking hold. I really felt a pull towards it. I just wanted to run off the stress and everything else bugging me and feel free. (Is that cheesy? Whatever!)

In typical fashion for me, I couldn't actually just buy some sneakers and get out there. I had to look up running online, buy a book about running, think about it a lot etc. Some may call it procrastination. I think I'm just a good researcher. I went on a trip to Miami with my best friend a few years before that. While we were in the airport, I was shocked to find out that she hadn't really done much research about where we should go and what we should do. She laughed at me and said, "well I already knew I was traveling with you! What would I read that you hadn't already found, read and sorted?" Touché, friend who knows me too well. 

I'm really trying to be a little more spontaneous.

(It's still impossible to get me to go to a new restaurant anywhere without looking it up on Yelp though.)

Actually, this hits on another point. I'm a little type A.

WHO. IS. LAUGHING?! Okay, I can be a lot type A. I hate to be bad at things. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm good at a lot of things. Or that I kill myself to be really good at things. It means that before I started running, I usually picked to do things I knew I was good at (playing the clarinet but never really practicing? Check). That was part of the intrigue. Why did I have to be that person? Who decided? Why do we carry baggage that tells us we can't or shouldn't when there are at least as many indicators that we CAN? It means that I've really had to work on my mental dialogue. I'll get to that in part two (or three. ha).

Oh, geez...I've tangented myself off into the woods. Where am I? Right.

I thought about running all fall and into the winter. Because, seriously, no one likes fall running in New England. It's much better to wait until it's closer to 0 degrees out. In December I went and bought The Complete Idiot's Guide to Running and Jogging. I love this book. I tell every new runner I know to buy it. Besides being an accomplished runner, Bill Rodgers is such a super nice guy and has a ton of information to share. This past December, I ran a fun run that he puts on every year. Not only did he mingle and chat with all of us, but he sat at a table signing pictures (or whatever you brought), chatting more and taking pictures with anyone who wanted them for hours! I had the chance to tell him what an impact he made on me in person that day. He seemed almost like he wasn't used to hearing that (it can't be true though). Unless I could show you his face and you could hear the tone of his voice when he talks about running, there's really no way to show you how much he loves it. How much it seemed that he loved seeing all of us there, newbies and veterans alike.

Besides the fact that it has a ton of information, the book gives two hugely valuable pieces of information:

1. Go slow. No. Slower. Really, I had no aspirations of speed and even I was shocked at how slow I had to run at first.

2. NO ONE is going to laugh at you. Okay, no runner will. Not even the fast guys and gals. If anything, my biggest cheering squad have been from the very front of the pack. They run because they love it. You don't train that much and that hard if you don't and they want to share running with you. If someone does shout something mean to you while you're running, I suggest doing what I do. In your head (Not out loud. People are crazy...don't actually respond to them!), you insult their manhood and then immediately forgive them because, obviously their Mom didn't hug them enough. Sorry guys, it's only been boys behind the very courageous drive-by insult. I'm sure there are mean girls out there somewhere too.


My first run was in January of 2007 through the park in the picture above. The "feels" like temperature was -12 degrees. At least the weather couldn't get much worse. It was day one of the training plan, which is similar to the Couch to 5K offered on Cool Running. I had also decided on a first race to run and I was fairly terrified. Did Captain Type A pick a 5K? had to be a 5 MILER that caught my eye. I didn't really mean to pick a longer race, but this one looked great. I finished the 5K program and since I was a few months early, I used the extra time to go from 3.1 to 5 miles. The race was Boston's Run to Remember, honoring fallen law enforcement officers and benefiting youth at risk programs.

It started in the Seaport area and ran through downtown. It was so much fun to run down the middle of empty closed streets that I'm used to seeing clogged with traffic. My official time was 1:02:43, a 12:25 pace. I don't know that I had a goal time at that point. I just wanted to finish the whole thing without walking, which I did. I ran another 5 miler that fall in 59:59 and made my goal of coming in under an hour (just barely!). A few weeks later, I did a 5K and that was it for the year.

Did I feel like runner yet? Not really. Should I have? Yes.

Here's another thing. Weight. I started running at about 175lbs and I am 5'4". I was down from my highest of 179.9 and felt awful. Just a teeny bit more and I was going to break into a weight decade higher than I had ever seen. However, people bigger than me and people smaller than me have done it. You may want to get your Doctor approval to begin running if this is new to you. I suggest it, because you just never know. While I did not use running for weight loss, it did help. Diet made the biggest difference. I don't subscribe to any certain diet, although I have tried many of them! After being up and down until the beginning of 2010, I learned that it's really just portion control, moderation and making good choices. I know, how obnoxious am I right? It's totally not easy to do this, I get that. I'm still battling the last 10lbs until my trainer and I evaluate where we go from there. I'll get into that and food more in the continuation of this post.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Keeping it real

First off, I see there are some new people reading here. Hello and welcome! I am planning on actually writing something in the About Me section, as well as my long-promised How It All Started post this week. I really promise this time!

Training since my last update started out great, just as I had left off. The realist (not even cynic!) in me knew that a bad day was around the corner. It's just not realistic to think that you can go out there every day and be all, "tra-la-laaa! I'm running faster than I ever have and it doesn't even feel hard! Wheeee!" That's what Sunday was like and I knew I'd pay sooner or later.

Wednesday was a rest day for me last week. Thursday was 400m X 7. I used the track at the Back Bay Fens. It's really pretty there and there's usually a lot going on. It's good if it's in the circle in the middle. Bad if there are a million people walking all spread out.

This was taken across the river from the track, on the loop I sometimes run.
Anyway, I was dreading this workout. I had to work, so I ate a small dinner at work at 5 and didn't get out there until about 730. The specific workout is that I have to run all 7 at faster than a 2:42 (which is my half marathon goal pace), but faster if possible. Between them, my rest is half the time the previous interval took and I need to be walking or jogging slow. My best 400 is about a 1:52. I think I could do faster at this point, but I had seven to do after working for 13 hours. My times were:


Keep in mind that I'm still not that fast. A fast single mile for me is somewhere in the low 8s. My 5K PR is a 32:30, although I've run it in about 29 in practice recently. It's a big improvement from when I ran a 12 min pace no matter what the distance and was embarrassed to haul myself around the track!

I was really happy about how I did and that I managed to stay pretty even, other than the first 1/4. Even The Husband (the genetically gifted I-woke-up-running-in-the-8s husband) was impressed when he ran the last 2 with me.

Friday was a day with my trainer (more strength) and a 3 mile run. As much as the track workouts (the 400s) have greatly improved my speed and fitness, they are really tough on my body. Friday my shins were sore again and I slogged through my 3 mile easy run.

Saturday was another 3 mile easy run. I felt a little better and did it in a what felt moderate 31 min. 

Sunday...oh, Sunday. 8 mile long run Sunday. Why? Why did I sleep until 10:30 when I knew it would be hot? Other than working forever and running after... I checked the weather and it said it would be overcast until noon. Okay, if I left right then I'd get back in time, so I hurried up. The Husband and I stepped outside at about 10:45 and, immediately, the sky cleared. That would normally be a great thing, but not when I have to run for an hour plus! I hoped I was wrong and off we went.

It was miserable. I felt bad that, due to the heat, I was keeping a much more conservative pace and my over 6 foot tall husband was literally shuffling to stay with me. I got a mile in and told him this was the best I could do. I suggested he run up to the next intersection, about a 1/2 mile away, and meet me there. He didn't know the course for the run, so we had to somewhat stick together. We did this until we got to the pond, our turnaround, and he decided it was easier to run at my pace than start and stop. I felt awful. I was ruining his run. There wasn't anything I could do about it since he didn't know where we were going, but I felt like I was letting him down. Why should his run and training suffer? He was such a good sport about it too. He really didn't mind sticking with me and didn't complain. It was me and my head that was the problem. I couldn't get into my groove. I could hear him behind me in his sequence of run, shuffle, walk a few steps. Repeat. I knew he was staying behind me so I couldn't see him and wouldn't feel bad. I was hot, salt was stinging my face and I jut wanted to be home. 

Finally, at mile 7 it started to pour. I would normally have been elated, but I felt so mentally beat down that I just shuffled through the drops. I love running in the rain. I ran most of my PRs in the rain. I laughed and mentioned that our windows were open and it's too bad we didn't learn anything from the Friday storm than soaked everything within 7 feet of our windows. The husband ran off ahead and I slogged home in a time of 1:32:08. An 11:31 pace. I was bummed. I sat on my front steps and tried not to cry while The Husband said things like, "but you ran 8 miles!" "You didn't quit!" "That's still not a bad pace!"

It didn't really help. I came upstairs, made a smoothie and showered. As I sat down with my lunch, I saw that the Triathlon World Championships in London were on Universal Sports. I LOVE the triathlon. I haven't done one yet, but I'm thinking about it. Then, it went to commercial and I saw this, which almost made me cry (yeah, I'm kind of like that. I've gotten teary eyed daydreaming about qualifying for Boston):

"Maybe strong is just what you have left when you've used up all your weak..."

 And then I stopped feeling sorry for myself. Completing a miserable, seemingly endless run took a lot more than the ones I'd normally pat myself on the back for. Maybe my thinking is all wrong.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm sorry, Officer...was I speeding?

It's recap time! That means I should have been posting more often, but was busy running, eating, sleeping and generally being a waste of space. Oh, and working, which contributes to my desire to make the couch cushions as flat as possible on my off hours. I should mention that my work schedule is kind of weird. I work Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 6am to 7/8pm. Most days are physically, mentally and even emotionally tiring, sometimes exhausting, but I still have workouts to do after all of them. My speed workout is always on Thursdays, but it always ends up okay.

Anyway, Sunday was long run day! I had a 7 miler, which is the furthest I've run since 2009. I was dragging when I left the house. I just didn't feel like it. I had a lot to do later that day and I just wanted to get it over with. It's hard to feel like that when getting it over with is going to take 75-90 minutes!

It ended up being a great run. It was overcast and in the low 70s and felt like it could rain at any minute. I was a little disappointed it didn't. I ended up feeling really strong and ran what I felt was a good pace. I wasn't sure what that pace was until mile 6 because I got a little lost (haha...yeah...) and I didn't know where any of the other miles were. I actually had fun and it was a beautiful course. I ran along part of the Emerald Necklace (the BAA Half Marathon mentioned on the link is the one I am training for) and used Jamaica Pond as a loop to turn around and head back. I can't believe I had never run down to the pond before! You really forget you are in the city. There's dirt to run on! The sad part is that so much of the string of parks have been chopped up and separated that it's hard to follow them from one end to the other. I don't meant streets intersecting. I understand that it's necessary, but I'm talking about having to dart across four lanes of angry traffic on Rt 9 (Huntington Ave). Crosswalk? Pedestrian light? Not so much. There might be a crosswalk wayyyyy down at the next light, but I can't really see from where I emerge.

After making it across, I run over to a streetlight to re-tie my shoes (I'm a bit compulsive about how tightly my shoes are tied). I put my foot up on the base of a light post and notice a Boston Police cruiser had pulled up next to me waiting to turn and the guy is giving me a weeeird look. I'd like to thank my broken filter for allowing me to blurt out:

"I'm sorry, officer...was I SPEEEEEDING?!"

(smile...quizzical look...burst of laughter)

"Sheesh...what's so funny?!"

(shaking of the head...driving away)

I know, I blistering 10 minute miles are a lot to process...

Anywho...I finished mile 6 and saw I was just under 63 minutes. I was killing the 10K pace from last Sunday in a training run! I finished 7 at 1:15:43 and a 10:49 pace. My 10K pace was 11:07. Both courses were very hilly.

I point this out to give all of you beginners some encouragemet. I worked for SO LONG to run a sub 12 pace in a 5+ mile race. Last summer was the first time I did it with a 58:45 5 miler. I KILLED myself to take 15 seconds off my mile pace. As excited as I was to improve, I was highly discouraged at how little I got for the massive amount of work I put in. It was enough for me, for a very long time, to just finish the whole thing without walking (or even walking too much).

This summer has been a string of breakthroughs and I am still surprising myself. I think I'm surprised because I finally stopped worrying so much about it. Instead of running and running and hammering and hammering, I learned that I needed to get stronger, not just run more. I have never had a strength workout with my trainer where I haven't been at least a little sore the next day. She's pretty awesome. Not only does she know the perfect workouts to make me stronger and have a more balanced strength, but she catches tightness and possible injuries before I really know it's occurring. She is also so far into my head that she deserves an award. It's been crucial in getting me to do some pretty crazy workouts without me #1, realizing what's coming and #2, flipping the F out! I look back on that interval workout I wrote about in July as a major turning point. I left that day knowing something was very different. When I did my next run, I realized that I was freed from a suffocating case of doubt.

Monday was a strength and yoga day, that I did on my own since my trainer is out of town. I'll see her on Friday. Tuesday was a 4 miler that I did in 38:20!

Holy crap.

I was worrying about running anywhere in the 10s and I pulled out a 9:35 pace. My first mile was even an 8:56! I know the difference in my workouts compared to before, but this all feels a little out-of-body. I had a crazy, vivid dream about running an upcoming 5K in 28 minutes. I woke up so excited, thinking that I had really run that race. I was a bit deflated when I realized I hadn't.

Today I did the first 5K in about 29 (if it was an official race, I'd PR by 3:30). The first 3 miles I did in 28. I need to do another 5K soon. For some reason, with the shortest distance race I run, I get to the start line and turn into Choke-a-saurus Rex. I run 32s, 33s, 34s. I haven't tried a flat course since I started really having breakthroughs. It's time!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dear City of Boston

THANK you for choosing directly across the street from the entrance to my gym as one of your 15 permanent spots that your food trucks will rotate through. Really.

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, I not only have to try and not chew on the counters while I get ready, because the cafe downstairs is cooking bacon (BACON?! At the GYM?! REALLY?!?!?! WHYYYYYYY), but this is my view as I leave. Redbones BBQ has a food truck. You are amazing, Redbones, but you're killing me! I'm a little obsessed with the food trucks (Bon Me I love you!), but I don't dare go to Redbones by my gym. I am 100% certain my trainer will choose that moment to look out the window! Sigh...

Today's workout: 1 hour strength (mostly upper body and some leg presses) and 1 hour elliptical on resistance and incline 15. UGH. I was supposed to run 3.5 miles but she switched me to elliptical thanks to the return of the dreaded shin-splints.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

But I don't WANNA!

I've spent many hours over the course of training on my bed, just staring up at the ceiling and willing, PLEASE, running clothes, switch with my street clothes. Please? Someone told me once that if I'm dreading a workout to at least commit to putting on the workout clothes and I'll most likely feel like I can get through it.

Yeah....I'm lazy. REALLY lazy. Just putting on my running clothes feels like a lot of work. I want to watch television, I don't neeeeed running clothes! Why put them on? I DON'T WANNA!

To be honest, I'm not sure I've ever met any person, ranging from beginner to race winners, who don't dread at least some of their workouts. I love running and I like I more as time goes by. I don't always feel like that right away though. I owe some of you my thoughts on this issue, so I thought I'd share here. If you have anything to add, please comment! All of these ideas have been passed down to me either by friends or from books/online:
  • just commit to putting the appropriate attire on. This is usually enough to put you in the right mind set. Think about it. If you're coming home from work, you mind is (if at all mine) set at, "Shower! Wine! Television!!!" Or, if you are trying an early morning run, your mind may be more, "don't do it! Don't get out of bed. Nothing good can happen out there!" You put your clothes on and, viola! you're a runner now. No? Just try it. Word to the wise. DON'T sit down when you get home. Be robotic about it. Go right in, grab your stuff and change. The couch is the enemy. You will never get up. 
  • commit to just 10 minutes. Most people want to do more after that. If occasionally you don't? Maybe you need the rest that day. Only you know how much you have been doing. I prefer the first tip, just because it works better for me. I know that, first, I have to change, go down 3 flights of stairs and walk 3 blocks to start my run. Then second, once I've run 10 minutes away, it would be 20 total to loop around and go home. I may as well do my 30-40 minutes. I realize this right away, so it's hard to convince myself it's worth going downstairs at all. I don't even let my thinking get that far. I just put the clothes on and go. If I start thinking about it too much I literally start going, "la la laaaaaaa...I can't hear you!" in my head.
  • I cannot remember who said this, (I think I read it on Runners World) but it helps put each workout in into perspective with the whole training plan: think of each workout as a deposit to the bank and on race day you get to withdraw. I try and remind myself of this during the run. To be honest, it didn't really help until I saw the benefits of my workouts pay off. It was after the first time I had a serious race plan, worked with my trainer that I finally felt prepared and had a great race. Don't wait until this happens to start thinking this way, but when you do have a great race that you worked hard for, you will really see all those individual workouts as a great cumulative reward.
  • treat it like your job. You go to work, you buy groceries, you cook, you do your laundry. You do all sorts of monotonous things that you'd probably rather skip, but don't. Why is your workout any different? Make it a non negotiable.

That being said, am I perfect? Noooooo....Am I on week four of my half marathon plan (AHHHHHH!!! 1/3 of the way through!!!!!) and have managed to jack up my training Every. Single. Week? Yes. I've done all of the mileage, but I tend to skip my Tues run. It's so silly because it's an easy short run, but it's after my first 13 hour day of the week of standing at work all day and I just desperately want my couch. And, also? Excuses. Big fat excuses. By my next shift on Thursday I'm all over it and just block out ANY thought about my training. I know I will just go home, change and not allow a single conscious thought about the workout until I am at least half a mile from my apartment. That's what I did today. Tuesday I spent 15 minutes laying on my back on the bed while my brain went, "hhhhHHUHRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrr" and then gave up. You know what that means? Instead of just getting my butt kicked by my trainer in the morning, I get to do that and run 3.5 miles. She pointed out that my legs might feel like rubber since I keep on stacking my runs all at the end of the week and ran 18 miles in 60-ish hours. Ooops...that's more than my weekly mileage before I got serious this summer.

I guess what I'm saying is, for all of you new people, give the plan a chance to prove itself. You may be pleasantly surprised at how much it really pays off. I promise it will. My very first mile took 14+ minutes to run and I never thought I'd later run 3 miles in 30 minutes. I just kept on going out there. If your week doesn't go perfect, if you miss a day, move on. Guilt is too heavy a load to add to your run.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Moooooove.......get out the way. Get out the way. GET OUT THE WAY.

My brain automatically soundtracks my life. Sometimes I wish it wasn't the superpower I had been blessed with. I guess I could have been stuck with the make-yourself-a-blanket-burrito-while-you're-sleeping-and-the-only-person-who-can-free-you-is-the-person-you-stole-the-covers-from power. Oh. Hmmm...

So yeah, tonight was a recovery run which basically ended up with me running next to and harrassing or just behind and heckling The Husband. At one point, I was actually ahead of him a few feet and almost had to elbow-drop some dude who was managing to take the entire path with himself and his Whole Foods bag. I growled in my head, but guess what! My filter's broken and I maybe kind of went HRRRRRrrrrrr!!! at a stranger. The Husband only saw the sneer that was the end result and looked confused, so I flicked my head back at the path-hogger and made the Universal Flying-Elbow sign. Tangent: Does anyone else's husband think it's funny to pretend to elbow drop you Every. Time. you lay down anywhere? See...this WOULD be funny and not cause me such anxiety, except for that time I tried to roll out of the way and DID end up getting an elbow in the kidney.


He still look confused at my salty attitude so I turned around, pointed at the guy (who was wayyyyy far away now) and went, "Mooooooooove....get out the way, get out the way, GET OUT THE WAY" (Ludacris? Anyone?) while doing an interpretive dance. And running. Running with lime green compression socks on. THEN he got it, but I was on a roll! "Beep beep (whoop whoop!), why you all in my ear, talking a whole lot of (SHHH) that I ain't trying to hear?  GET BACK..." I wasn't even thinking of the normal (censored...haha) version of the video I'm used to, but THIS VERSION (NSFW) thanks to Angry Cube Dweller.

This is the point where he shakes his head and says, "you suuuuure have a lot of energy to be chasing me around this path singing Ludacris" and I started skipping and sing, "after woooorking thirrrrteeeen hoooooo-uuuuuuurs!" and then add, "meh...I think I just used it all up."

Lucky for him he can run faster than me.

My workout schedule has been kind of jacked up this week since SOMEONE didn't do their long run on Sunday and then the universe (ahem work, I'm looking at YOU) made my Tues night run impossible. Did I mention my super awesome trainer made me my very own personal training plan? I see her twice a week and she is ALL OVER IT. Like, pulls it up and grills me on each workout, because I need it.

Monday was strength training with her and a 3 mile run that night. In between we walked all over the place going to the farmers' market, food trucks (or as it sounds in my head FOOOOOOOOOD TRUUUUUUUUUUUCKS!!!!) and the Chihuly show at the MFA. Holy waiting in line. It was a cool exhibit, but REALLY.

Tuesday was 13 hours of work and a failed attempt at a 3 miler.

Wednesday started off with a girl coming up to me while I was stretching before my workout and saying, "are you her 9am? I'm not sure what her deal is today, but she tried to kill me. She said your workout is even worse. Okgoodluckwiththatbyeeee!" If she only knew that I was already lined up to be "On Punishemnt." Trainer lady was not amused at my missed run, so I got to do 400s. YAY! Really I had to do them because she wanted to make sure I was pushing myself, but it felt like punishment. She was going to make me do something else in "40 seconds" but I was like, "really?! What?! WHAT TIME IS IT?! My everything hurts, I can't feel most of my upper leg, and I'm missing part of my right pointer toe because my middle toenail scratched it off sometime between 400 number 5 and 400 number 6." Then I felt like a giant baby. There were only 10 minutes left, so she wrote out 30 minutes of strength for me to do on my own when we were done and I still had to run 3 miles that night. I did and I felt like I was dragging someone else's sand-filled legs the whole time.

Today? Work 13 hours and a 3.5 miler. Surprisingly, I ran the first two mile in 9:10 each, with a little break at the water fountain (BUBBLAH!) between them. Then I remembered it was supposed to be a recovery run, because I have 6 miles tomorrow. I ran the last part in about 11. My lower legs were starting to feel a bit battered, so I wore compression socks at work (I should regardless...sigh...) and then wore a good running pair for my run tonight. I think they really do help. I also think it helps my foot line up in the shoe better not having a looser sock and I can lace my sneakers with out having a nervous breakdown. Or re-lacing 15 times.

Tomorrow is 6 miles, Saturday is work and no workout and Sunday is a last minute 10K!