Last Minute Prep

October 16, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Training Calls For: Rest

Miles Run So Far: 272.2

Days Left: 1

Sometimes, it’s hard to put into words just how exciting and intimidating the lead up to a big event can be.  This is definitely the case with the past couple of days before tomorrow’s marathon, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking (with a little help ;)).

Last training run:

That’s my “four miles?  I’ve got this” face.

Heading up to the Expo:

It’s feeling more real!  This is actually going to happen.

Fuel up!

Time to hit the hay.  ZzZzZzZzZzZzZ.

Check in tomorrow morning…you know I won’t leave you without something to read while I’m off running my tush off!

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Reaction Time

October 12, 2010 at 9:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Training Calls for: 3 miles (check!)

Miles Run So Far: 267.2

Days Left: 5 (deep breaths…deep breaths…)

Confession time:

I had a panic attack yesterday thinking about the marathon.

I’m normally a very low-key, low-stress person (stop smirking, Sam) who does not get ruffled by future things.  I did not have a panic attack about any of these past majorly-life-changing events: graduating from college, moving several states away to take a job where I knew no one, getting married, telling my first boss I quit, starting a new career, going back to school, buying our first car, buying our first house.  Not a single panic attack in any of those segments of life.  But on a random Monday, less than a week away from 26.2 miles, my heart started to pound uncontrollably.

I guess there’s a first time for everything.

I was scoping out the marathon website to email information to my parents when everything started to overwhelm me.

That route on the map looks incredibly long….Wait, how many water stations are there?…Parking is going to be a nightmare….Quick, check the weather….What am I going to wear?

Pretty soon, I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath and I actually had to go in my office, close the door and put my head down on my desk.

Breathe.  Deep breaths.  In and out.  In and out.  Stop.  Freaking.  Out.

I may have joked about hyperventilating into a paper bag in the past, but I kind of get how that little piece of grocery garb could be clutch in a situation like this.

When I told my sister about my little “episode”, she asked: “what exactly are you worrying about?”

Good question.  I have no idea.

And then it kind of struck me how silly the whole thing was.  If I don’t know what I’m specifically worrying about, then there’s nothing to worry about.  I have trained for more than four months for this one event and while it makes me nervous, there isn’t anything to worry about.

What if I can’t find my groove and I struggle?  Well, I know how that feels, I dealt with it during our 18 miler and I overcame it.  I showed it who’s boss.

What if I wear the wrong thing and overheat?  I’ve been testing outfits for two weeks and if I make a boo-boo, I’ll ditch the clothes.  They’re donated to the needy anyway.  No biggie.

What if I surprise myself and it feels effortless?  Um, keep running, goofball.  Just like you did when you ran half the 20 mile run without stopping.

It all comes down to reaction time.  Not reaction time as in the ever-inadequate “hey look out!” before a softball smacks you in the face, but reaction time as in you have to wait until the time to react.

I can’t run a marathon ahead of time just so I can feel prepared and less scared and know how I’m going to handle every little curveball or pitfall.  I’m going to have to react when the time comes.  It isn’t here yet, so no sense in getting my running shorts in a bunch over nothing.  My training has shown me that I can not only run the distance, but I have learned to react well to just about anything.

I’m always surprised by how much running mirrors life.  Maybe it’s because over the past year I’ve become a devout discipline of Saint Hal Higdon, maybe because running gives you an incredible amount of peaceful time for self-reflection.  Whatever the reason, you can’t tell me that this whole theory of reaction time isn’t applicable to life in general.

Wait until the time comes to react.  Don’t bother with the what ifs.  Otherwise, you’re wasting energy having a panic attack in your office with the lights off wondering who will explain to your husband that it was the mental preparation for the marathon that killed you, not the actual physical exertion.

Someone sent me an email recently and included in their signature line was the quote, “The miracle isn’t that you finished.  The miracle is that you had the courage to start.”

Amen to that.  The hard part is over.  If I have to crawl across that finish line, it doesn’t matter.  I had the courage to start.  I’ll just take whatever comes my way and rely on some well-prepared reaction time to deal with it.

🙂

Beans, beans…

October 11, 2010 at 9:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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…the magical fruit the more you eat the more you….

Okay, that’s enough of that. 😉

Training Calls for: Rest

Miles Run So Far: 264.2

Days Left: 6

Bonjour, blog babes!

My new routine means I go to class MTuThF from 9-10 and then head on over to work at 11 (yes, I start my work day at 11 — be jealous 😉  I also don’t get out until 7, so in turn, I’ll be jealous of all you 9-5ers).  In the hour in between, I chill in the campus library, use their WiFi and write my posts.

Dear Library,

Get your act together.  Sketchy WiFi for two days straight was un-cool.

Dear Bethany,

Get YOUR act together.  Forgetting your camera was equally un-cool.

But I’m back now and I am ready to reveal just what I was cooking up in the cocina Tuesday night.  Ready for it?

Black beans?

Brownies?

Black Bean Brownies!!!

Yep.  After eating one of these babies at the 30-mile meal, I finally got the courage to try the recipe myself.  I have a hard time wrapping my mind around a dessert made from an ingredient I’m used to seeing in soups, salsas and nachos, but I am nothing if not willing.

It’s all in the name of a potentially good dessert. 😉

I found this recipe online and realized I had everything I needed to make it.  It was like the universe was telling me I needed to strap on my apron and get to work.

Here’s my other motivation for trying this recipe…

A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease and has been restricted to a gluten-free lifestyle.  Another family member of mine is already eliminating gluten from her life for dietary and health reasons as well.  It kills me that 99.9999% of baked goodies and enjoyables include FLOUR.

What the heck?

So when I see a recipe that’s gluten-free, I think to myself, “I need to try that for them.”  Since I am NOT gluten intolerant and I know exactly what a treat with gluten tastes like, I figure I can be the discerning palate for these two and taste test these recipes until we find one that will revolutionize the G-free world.

Oh, yes.  I bear that cross proudly ;).

This might have been the easiest recipe I’ve made in a while.  Dump almost all ingredients in a food processor and whirl.

Add chocolate chips sprinkled on top (or you could use chopped walnuts).

Bake.

Enjoy.

So here’s my review of the flour-free freakishly good black bean brownies:  um, pretty close.  Most gluten-free products taste similiar (but not close enough) to the real thing.

These are a darn good imposter.  Sam declared he likes them BETTER than actual brownies.  The texture is kind of odd when you pull them straight out of the oven (really fluffy — think long-lost gluten-free cousin to the Pillsbury dough boy), but when they’ve cooled, they’re chewy and kind of fudgy like a good brownie should be.

The instant coffee the recipe calls for gives the brownies a hearty base flavor — though it isn’t overpowering.  It doesn’t taste like mocha, it tastes like chocolate.  I think the chocolate chips on the top are imperative because they give you a little nugget of chocolate amid an otherwise tastebud confusing treat.

I’m not sure how much healthier they are compared to regular brownies (since you still use sugar, oil and eggs), but they’re made from REAL ingredients, so I give them my stamp of approval!

In other news…

Did you notice we’re just 6 days away from the marathon?  OH. MY. GOSH.  I am a little bit freaking out and mostly just excited.  My 8-mile run on Saturday was so-so.  I think I was bored?  Strange, I know, but running these shorter distances (um, 8 miles is shorter? who am I??) is kind of like old hat.  I think 20 miles went so well because I was engaged in the challenge.

Let’s just hope I feel that same way on M-Day.  Pardon me while I go grab a paper back and start hyperventilating.

Sam, on the other hand, is battling a serious IT band injury.  It hurt him so badly I had to run ahead and get the car to pick him up.  I can’t believe this has happened to him with just a week to go, but I’m trying to maintain a positive attitude and grab my pom poms to be his cheerleader.  We’re in this together, no matter what.  Even if I drag him across the finish line.  Even if I drive all over God’s green earth to find another marathon for him to run.  Even if I put him on my shoulders and carry him the whole way.

Got that, Sam?  It can all turn back around just as quickly as it went south. 🙂

Leave Sam a little comment love and encouragement, okay?

Fantastic Four

October 5, 2010 at 9:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Training Calls for: 4 miles

Miles Run So Far: 248.2

Days Left: 12

My hunch was right!  This morning’s 4 mile run was great!  Even though I smacked the snooze button once and sleepily agreed to wait until Sam’s alarm went off at 6 — once I was up and out of bed, I was alllll business.  I think I may have been the only one.  Both of the monsters had zero interest in leaving their cozy canine quarters.

Ruby gave me the (sleepy) stink eye once I turned on my bedside lamp (she sleeps on the floor next to my side of the bed).

Zora took a different approach and thought if she laid as flat as a pancake, I wouldn’t see her (she sleeps on the floor next to Sam’s side).

Adorable.  They could go back to sleep — I however, needed to suit up!

It was a chilly 46 degrees this morning.  The closer we get to race day, the more I wonder what I’m going to wear — and not in the 7th grade dance “OMG, whatareyougoingtowear?” way.  In the “I hope I don’t burn up or freeze while I try and do this because it’s going to be hard enough as it is” way.  The race starts at 7:30 — so daylight will have just broken and it’s bound to be cold.  It won’t be cold for the whole run, though…so do I layer and shed or just wait to warm up as I run?  I decided today’s run would be a good time to start taking note of how different clothing options feel in different temps.

Can you see me now?  Haha, I love that the reflector panels on my vest look nuclear in this pic :).  At least we know I was visible to traffic!  Visible…blinded them…meh.  Whatever.

I ran in shorts, a t-shirt and threw on an Under Armor hoodie over top.  I took some gloves with me, but ended up ditching them after about 5 minutes.  This combo was too warm.  It’s so hard to tell.

I feel like the running equivalent of Goldilocks.  Too warm, not warm enough, just right?

Sam and I ran together — a rare occurrence on a weekday (!) — and we covered those 4 miles in just under 40 minutes.  I know I’m always saying that pace is not important and numbers do not matter (and they don’t!), but these for these last runs before the marathon, I am going to be more conscious.  I want to get really in tune with how my natural pace feels so I can avoid the “pack mentality” on race day and not take off like a rocket from the starting line.  Too many people burn out in the first few miles from excitement — I need to know I can sloooooow it down and feel that my pace is right.

While I’d like to credit my fantastic four to my previous post on over-coming fatigue, I think more of it had to do with the hearty, healthy dinner Sam made last night.  Fuel is key!

This picture doesn’t do it justice because I camouflaged the delicious-ness with cheese.  Isn’t that always how it goes? 😉

Shepherd’s Pie means different combinations to different people, but in our house, it usually means browned ground turkey, seasoned with sauteed onion and garlic, with mashed potatoes (or cauliflower) spread on top.  In this case, Sam got creative and sliced a tomato on top, sprinkled black pepper over it and oven baked it for a little longer.

The results were so yummy — we had lean protein from the ground turkey and carbs from the potatoes and deliciousness from the seasonings and tomato.  Many people add some cheese in between the meat and potatoes, but he omitted.  I then added.  Compromise — keeping marriages happy for thousands of years ;).

Even though the picture is blah, the principle is fabulous:  this is a good example of a healthy swap.

Ground turkey subbed for ground beef.

(sometimes we sub) Cooked mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes. *see below*

Spices and flavorful root veg (onion) subbed for butter, salt and grease.

If you’re starting a healthy journey or are looking to change things up a little, try and sub one thing at a time.  No one wants you to do a complete 180 on your dinner, but changing one thing may lead to more substitutions.  Taking it one step at a time, one ingredient at a time means you won’t go into shock trying new things.  Too often, people think they have to change everything, give up everything, sacrifice everything just to see a difference in their life.  It feels about as good as leaving the hot tub to jump in the pool.  What a shock!  That’s when frustration takes hold and quitting seems like the only option.

Not so.  One change at a time will add up to a big result soon enough.  Patience, grasshopper.

* Now, if you haven’t done the cauliflower/mashed potato swap before, here’s my advice:  try it.  No, really.  Cook the cauliflower (fresh or frozen) and then mash it either by hand or in a food processor.  It will get creamy and smooth like the mashed taters.  You can add some seasonings (garlic powder or Cajun seasoning) and a smidge of real butter and honestly, you don’t notice a big difference.

The difference in the nutritional profile of cauliflower vs. white potato, though — well, that’s something to smile about. 🙂

It’s off to work I go (it’s pledge drive time in my public radio job — wheeee!), but tonight, I have a feeling I’mma get crazy in the kitchen.

Stay tuned, my little soufflé!

Spread the love…Share a healthy swap you make from time to time!

The Great Infestation

October 4, 2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Training Calls For: Rest 🙂

Miles Run So Far: 244.2

Days Left: 13

So I left you hanging with a picture of a disgusting bed bug and the promise of telling you what has recently infested my house.  Well, here’s a real picture clue.  Ready for it?

Fatigue.  We now basically always feel as good as we look in these pics (circa 15 mile run — August??).

Like a pest that creeps into your house at night and you suddenly wake up surrounded — fatigue is everywhere.  Lately it seems like Sam and I are both dragging all the time.  We’re balancing a lot, which isn’t anything new to us, but on top of everything (work, school, running, caring for the monsters, tending to our house, living life) — I think we’re both ready for marathon training to be over.

That’s right — we’ve reached that point.

Let’s do tha dang thang.

It’s not hard to understand why we’re fatigued from training when you consider we’ve been training continuously for the past 16 weeks and really, since January when we started half marathon training.  That’s more than 10 months of following one piece of paper or another printed off Hal Higdon’s website.

That’s an awful lot of mornings when you wake up and say, “how many miles do I have to run today?”

This is where it gets honest (for me — I can’t speak for Sam): I’m kind of tired of running.

There.  I said it.

Does that make me a bad person for admitting I could definitely go for more than just a random rest day here or there but an actual string of days without a 5 or 6 mile jog?  Or that I could really use a day where I’m the one who determines how far I’ll run and whether I’ll worry about my pace?

No.  It makes me human.

With any long term goal or project, you’re bound to run into the point where you either want it to be over already or you want to quit.  I don’t want to quit — I’m too close (13 days?!?!?!) to do that.  But I am itching to get to the starting line so I can get to that finish line.  Make sense?

The best way to combat fatigue is to listen to yourself and focus on other things which give you joy and pleasure until you can restore that sense of happiness in the task that is causing you fatigue. Don’t let it drag you down.

Example 1:

A lovely dinner out to celebrate our anniversary.  On Saturday, I made a conscious effort not to dwell on the 12 miles we were running that day.  I didn’t want to mentally fatigue myself over it.  Instead, I made the star of the show that day our fancy dinner out and some quality time together.  That’s what I was looking forward to all day. The 12 mile run was just something on my to-do list — it wasn’t my entire to-do list.  P.S. It was a great run, probably because I didn’t assign it so much importance.

Example 2:

A fun breakfast.  On mornings when I’m running more than 4 miles (read = preparing to burn more than 400 calories during a run), I make sure I fuel up with a carb-y breakfast with some healthy fat and staying power.  It’s almost always an English muffin with PB and maybe a banana (depending on the length of the run).  I am tired of English muffins (no offense to the British ;)).  I am tired of pulling out the toaster first thing in the morning.  I am dangerously close to being sick of PB — this is an emergency, people!  I need a break.

My standard breakfast is easy and takes 2 minutes, but in a way, it’s causing me fatigue, so I chose to go with something more fun.  Something I could really enjoy.

“Hey That Tastes Like Pumpkin Pie”  Oatmeal

🙂 1/3 cup each of: Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats, Light Vanilla Soymilk, Water and Canned Libby’s Pumpkin

🙂 1/2 tsp ground All Spice

🙂 1/2 tsp of Cinnamon

🙂 Brown sugar and chopped walnuts for sprinkling

Combine, heat, sprinkle with brown sugar and chopped walnuts.  Close eyes.  Imagine Thanksgiving.  Pass the turkey leg.  Yuuuuum.

A little extra time this morning and I don’t feel like I’m stuck in the same breakfast rut that relates to the same fatiguing running rut.

I can already feel the tides turning.  I think tomorrow’s 4 miler will be fabulous, re-affirming in fact!  All because I took a little time to stop focusing on fatigue and give myself a little boost with other happy activities.

Remember: fatigue is an infestation, but joy is contagious.  One can chase away the other — just make sure it’s the right one. 🙂

How do you handle fatigue?

One Big Date Night

September 30, 2010 at 9:44 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Training Calls For: 4 miles (5 miles in my case)

Miles Run So Far: 332.2

Days Left: 17 (?!?!!)

I checked out on you yesterday…but for a good reason:

No, Sam and I didn’t get married last night.  But we did get married three years ago as of yesterday!  While we’re actually going to celebrate our anniversary this weekend, we wanted to spend a little quality time together and bopped out to a movie.  My life is one big date night with that guy 😉 and it all started on 9-29-07. ❤

If you’re looking up at the top thinking, “why did she run an extra mile this morning if training called for just 4 miles?”, here’s your explanation:

No, no.  I didn’t run an extra mile to burn off extra calories (please, you know that’s not how I roll!)

This delicious, pre-made lasagna was waiting for me at home Tuesday night and I just couldn’t bring myself to lace up my sneakers and run when all I wanted to do was heat a square of that bad boy up and chow down.  I know you understand.  Comfort food has a hold on all of us, no?  More like a vice grip in my case.  At least I made this one with whole wheat noodles, reduced the cheese and used ground turkey to “healthify” it. 😉

In addition to my Italian-related irreverence to the training schedule, I also reasoned that if I were to run 5 miles Tuesday night and then turn around and run 8 miles Wednesday morning, that was just asking too much of my body.  Could I do it?  Yes.  Would it be a quality run?  Prob not.

I’ve done that kind of back-to-back running in the past.  It’s problematic because:

😦 Your body is still recovering from the first run when you force it into the second.

😦 I find I can’t eat enough calories to replenish from the first run and then turn around and fuel for the second.  I may like to eat, but I’m not a fan of forcing food down my throat.  Unless it’s lasagna.

😦 Odd, but true: the peeps at the running store told me it can take your running shoes 24 hours to “re-inflate” to their full stability and support after a run because you’ve been compressing them with your body weight over the course of your run.  So let’s see, a 5 mile run at 7 o’clock at night and then an 8 mile run at 6:30 AM means I’m bouncing my feet off squished shoes.  Thanks, but no thanks.  We have three weeks left, I’m taking every step to protect my leggies — no pun intended.

This all means I ran 8 miles yesterday morning (nothing says “Happy Anniversary, old lady” like a hearty long mid-week run!) then 5 this morning to make up for Tuesday.  I’ll do 4 on Friday and keep on truckin’ with the regularly scheduled 12 on Saturday.

Sunday, I will rest.  Ah, rest.

Sometimes I think it’s silly to go into such an in-depth explanation of why I’m switching it up and how I’m keeping track — but I think it’s important to show you that you can follow a training schedule without going bonkers. Hal Higdon, the great Don of Running, says himself it’s okay to switch around.  Just don’t miss your long runs and try and keep your mileage up.

The point is to get to the starting line and then get to the finish line without injury or insanity.  I’m just tryin’ to make that happen, peeps.  One run at at time.

Finish this sentence:

The comfort food that warms my heart and has a vice grip on my decision-making skills is….?

Have a fantastic day.  When I come back, I’ll tell you all about an infestation that’s gripping our house.

No.  Not bed bugs *shudders*.

Source

Switch Up

September 28, 2010 at 9:38 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Training Calls For: 5 miles

Miles Run So Far: 319.2 (holy cow)

Days Left: 19 (eeeeeeek!)

This day is less than halfway underway and already, I’m switchin’ it up, flip-flopping things left and right.

I woke up this morning and was pretty proud of myself for getting out of bed with the first alarm (not the second, third or fifth — curses to the inventor of the snooze button!).  If you have a spouse, the alarm clock conundrum is even worse.  You lay there and think, “well, I’ll get up when his alarm goes off.”  Then you lay there and wonder if you really know what time he’s waking up.  What if it’s later than you planned?  What if it messes up your schedule?  Is this wager worth it?  Then you decide you don’t really care and fall back asleep, hoping for the best.

In this case, I beat my demons and got my bum out of bed.  My running clothes were all laid out, all I had to do was chow down on my pre-run snack, dress and hit the door.

Except that it was raining.  Not just a little, but a bonafide downpour.  I know, I know.  All the “experts” *cough cough Hal Higdon cough cough* say you need to follow your training runs no matter the weather because who knows what the climate will be come race day.  I agree with this.  It’s not like on the day of the rain, I can convince my friends the race organizers to hold off 15,000 people from running because I’m not really a fan of puddles.

But, this morning at 5:30, it was dark, too. *scared childish face*

That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.  I’m going to run those 5 miles tonight.  Chances are it will still be raining, but at least it won’t be pitch black.

Since I suddenly had an extra hour on my hands, I crawled back in bed for half of it and used the other half to make dinner for tonight: lasagna.  I figured I was just trading the hour of running for the hour of lasagna baking and it will all even out and I will still be late in the end.

Switching up running for cooking though, lead to a lackluster breakfast:

Plain ol’ cereal.  Kashi Go Lean Crunch, but still.  Boooooring.  After making a whole pan of lasagna, I had a hard time thinking about dirtying up even more dishes for a stellar breakfast.

Sometimes I like to think if every other meal is something good, the ones in between can be boring.  Last night’s dinner was spectacular, so this morning’s breakfast can be straight from a box.

Spaghetti squash!  If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash, we need to talk.  It’s probably the easiest meal I put together.  15 minutes, start to finish.  For this dish, I used the following:

🙂 one 3 pound spaghetti squash (enough for me, La Samuel and leftovers)

🙂 one ripe tomato, chopped

🙂 one onion, chopped

🙂 one pepper (color of your choice — I had orange on hand)

🙂 one tsp. minced garlic

🙂 Feta cheese

Salt, pepper and EVOO.

It’s as simple as this: stab the squash.  Seriously, poke air holes in it (four or five) and stick it in the microwave.  I think I nuked this one for about 8 minutes total.  It should be soft to the touch.  While the squash is getting squishy, saute the onion, pepper and garlic in a pan with a little EVOO.  Pull now-squished squash out of microwave (probably using hot pads) and cut lengthwise.  Scrape out seeds, discard.  Using fork, pull the squash flesh away from the skin.  It will come apart in strands, hence the brilliant name: SPAGHETTI SQUASH.

Toss in big bowl with onion, pepper and garlic, top with tomato and sprinkle with Feta.   Season with salt and pepper.  Pat yourself on the back for a delicious, healthy meal prepared in the blink of an eye.

🙂  When you make a good meal in a short amount of time, it’s like a Monopoly game pass: “You made great meal and still had time for yourself — proceed to breakfast!”

Even if breakfast is boring. 😉

Have a great day, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing — whether it’s raining or not!

File this one away…

September 27, 2010 at 9:51 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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…in the “you’re never going to believe this” category.

Only this time, it isn’t something fun I’m sharing, it’s something sad.

Yep.  Last Thursday, the 16th, my hometown was hit by a tornado.  No, I’m not kidding.  Yes, we’re okay.  No, our house was not damaged…but plenty of other people became uprooted and homeless in the blink of an eye.

It happened so quickly.  I had just gotten home from work and the next thing I knew, Sam herded me and the monsters down to the basement.  I even said to him, “are you sure it’s a tornado warning? It must be a watch — we’re never under a warning.”

It only took a few minutes for the tornado to apparently pass down the road behind our house.  It’s spooky to know that a tornado can rip through the neighborhood one street over where trees fell on houses and our little home was untouched.

The power was out for about 3 days, so I fled to civilization with Sam where he had to work an event for our university.  Our wonderful friends, Joe and Kathy, took us (and the monsters!) in as refugees.  We promised to return the favor if a tornado ever hits their hometown…although I hope that never happens.

Sam and I completed our scheduled training run of 14 miles along the beautiful Olentangy River trail under near civilization and it was a pretty good run.  The trail is beautiful and has so curves and winds, so it isn’t a boring old straight-arrow path.  Very nice!

When we got back home Sunday afternoon, there was so much to do to get the house in order.  Food to throw away, cleaning to do, groceries to buy (and replace) and this week just took off like a freight train.  Every time I had a minute to sit down, the last thing I could think of doing was firing up the laptop to try and explain what had been going on over here in my little land.

I know it all seems like a big apology — and that’s because that’s kind of what it is.  If you read this blog with any regularity, I know you expect to see something new every once in a while.  I kind of got a big, fat “F” in that department.  I’ll try and make it up to you :).

Saturday night, my friend Kelly and I took advantage of a pretty cool local event.  The 30-mile meal was the final event in a week long program celebrating local food production in the form of a dinner made completely from food grown or produced within a 30-mile radius.

My delicious plate:

Trust me when I say I took a nibble of everything on this menu:

By biking to the dinner, Kelly and I saved $5 off our admission.  I’m always up for a little exercise and it helped work up an appetite.  The dinner started at 6 and the line was supah long.

Peeps recognize good food when they see it!  I’m glad there were plenty of carb-friendly options on the menu, but I was prepping (mentally and physically) to run 20 miles the next day.

Sunday morning, Sam and I got up nice and early to found a good, cool morning awaiting us.  The weather was in the upper 50’s with a slight breeze.  Perfect.  We had agreed ahead of time that we wouldn’t be running these 20 miles together.  It was a hard decision to make, since we’ve been running buddies for all of the long runs, but in reality, we won’t be running the marathon together.  Sam is a faster runner and I don’t want to hold him back.  Besides, the kind people of the Columbus marathon have decided to place us in different corrals. 😛

I packed my Clif Blok shots, filled Alice the Camelbak with Gatorade and started to gear up for this run.

It’s going to be fine, it’s going to be fine, it’s going to be fine.

Running a long distance like that is more mental than anything else.  Your body can do almost anything — it’s your mind that needs convincing.  Think of your body as a leaderless pack of cattle and your mind as the sheepdog that corrals them.  If you’ve got your mind focused and in agreement with your plan, your body has no choice but to follow.

The plan was to follow our 10-mile route twice.  10+10 = 20.  From the bike path to our house one direction was 6.4 miles, from our house back to the path in another direction was 3.6 miles.  We parked a car at the bike path and used both the vehicle and the house as “aid stations”.

I totally surprised myself by making it back to the house and feeling great.  Six miles in and I was doing good.  I made the decision to keep with the momentum and not stop at the house for water.  I had my Camelbak and I wanted to just keep running.

Um, I ran the first 10 mile lap without stopping.  I probably could have kept going, except I knew I needed to actually stop and conscious drink water and take energy gels.  Since I’m prone to dehydration, things could get nasty if all the hydrating I was doing was taking little hits off my Camelbak.

I stopped at the car, drank up, chomped down and stretched a little.

A little walk break and I got back to business.  I ran the whole 6 miles back to the house without stopping.  Who am I??  That’s 16 miles and just one walk break.

While I was running, I thought a lot about my parents.  They are undoubtedly my biggest cheerleaders on this planet (besides Sam).  When I was younger, my dad always told me, “your best is good enough“.  On this run, I really felt like I was following that idea.  I could have stopped and walked earlier, I could have taken it slower or given in to the sore legs and achy feet, but that wasn’t my best.  If I was going to give forth the effort, only my best was going to be good enough.

My best is good enough.  My best is good enough.  My best is good enough,”  I repeated over and over.  It became a mantra.  Incidentally, it was a better mantra than what I started the run with: “lookin’ good and feelin’ fine…feelin’ fine and lookin’ good“.  😉  A little self-absorbed, no?

Around the point when I started back towards the path (miles 16-20), I was starting to lose steam.  My legs were achy, my IT band started to flare and I was ready to be done.  I had walked for almost .75 miles after I hit 16 miles and it was a little too long.  My body had tasted the temptation of a walk break — and it wanted more.

No way.  We’re going to do this, I told myself.  I kept trucking through to mile 18, took a mini-walk break (maybe .10 mile) and pushed forward.

This is where it starts to get silly.  I had about a mile left, I knew I could make it and then, I started to lose my mind.  No joke.  I’m glad no one was around to hear the things I was saying out loud to keep moving.  But since this is an honest blog, I’ll tell you anyway. 😉

With a half mile left, I started to talk to myself about the girl I was.

I am the girl who could only run a quarter of a mile last year.  I am the girl whose butt was glued to the couch.  I am the girl who was thin but out of shape.  I am the girl who was hooked on fast food.  I am the girl who listened to that little voice too much.  I am the girl who told herself no.”

It morphed in to me talking to myself about who I am now.

I am the girl who ran a half marathon.  I am the girl decided to do this.  I am the girl who told the little voice to get lost.  I am the girl who is running, who is a runner.  I am the girl who will dominate a marathon soon. I am the girl.  I-am-the-girl.  Iamthegirl.

Flying down the last hill, I powered through and hit the exact point where I started 3 hours, 38 minutes and 4 seconds earlier.

I am the girl who just ran 20 miles,” I whispered to myself as I hit the button on my stopwatch.

And damn, it feels good.

That’s 20 miles, peeps.  Twenty whole miles.

So bring it on marathon, bring. it. on.

P.S. Don’t fret pets, I’m back with more regularity now.  Sorry for the hiatus, I’m doing my best.  And isn’t my best good enough?

Difference of Opinion

September 14, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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FIRST:  Thank you for all the sweet comments and encouraging words!  It never ceases to amaze me how kind blog land people can be.  The combination of your wonderful words and a runner’s high made for a GREAT day.  Let’s get to it. 🙂

Training Calls For: 5 miles

Miles Run So Far: 265.2

Days Left: 34

Buenos dias, peeps!

Another day, another early morning run.  I fueled up with an English muffin and PB plus a smidge of coffee.

Delicious.

The weather this morning was eerie.  It was nice and cool, about 50* but the fog was incredibly dense!  Since it’s getting lighter later in the mornings, I spent the first three miles looping our neighborhood just waiting for enough sun to come up enough to venture out on the State Route that connects our neighborhood to the one down the street, er, State Route?

Overall, I ran the entire 5 miles without any pain and I think I made good time.  I didn’t run with an iPod for safety reasons and I left my technology at home.  I just wanted to enjoy the run.  It was a great way to start the day.

Of course, you know my mind wandered as I traveled those 5 miles…let’s do a little off-roading, shall we?

You all know how I work on a college campus, yes?  So one of the fun things about this atmosphere is that every once in a while, marketers show up to target the elusive 18-25 group with the latest and greatest.  Back in the day it was Red Bull…all too often, it’s booze, but yesterday, it was something new to my eye.

Um, a Smoothie-Mobile?  This refreshment RV was set up outside a local bookstore with a table full of “REAL” fruit smoothie samples.  I was tempted to snag one on my way into work, but then I remembered that McD’s and I have a slight difference of opinion when it comes to the definition of “REAL”.

I base this on the following conversation I had this past weekend while I ordered one of the few things I’ll get at McDonald’s: coffee.

Drive Thru Diva:  Here’s your medium, black, iced coffee.  Are you sure you don’t want cream and sugar mixed in?

Me: No, but I’ll take one of each on the side.

Drive Thru Diva:  Well, here’s four of each…

Me: No, no, it’s okay, I only want one.  In fact, I’m only going to use half the sugar packet.

Drive Thru Diva: (stumped) Um, okay.  Just so you know, when we make it mixed up in the back, it usually has six creams and five sugars.

Me: (stumped) Oh.  Uh, that’s okay.  I just want one.  One.  ONE.

That actually happened — check with Sam.  WHO PUTS SIX CREAMS IN THEIR COFFEE???  FIVE SUGARS?  Pardon me while I go ballistic.  It’s coffee, people!  Get a grip.  You should not turn coffee into a magical, jet-propulsion, go-power tool with armed with caffeine, sugar and liquid heart attack.  That’s not “REAL”ly coffee.

*sigh*

I know I can get all high-horsey about food and the natural is better thing, but c’mon.  This has to shock someone else, too.

My REAL food for the day: 😉

Green bubbles for breakfast:

One scoop vanilla whey protein powder, one cup fat free skim milk, one frozen banana and three huge handfuls of spinach — blended until hippity bippity bop — it became a Green Monster Smoothie.

A lil’ lunch after a mega staff meeting (complete with a chorus of growling stomachs):

SSB and J.  Wha??  Sunflower Seed Butter from Trader Joe’s.  Uh-mazing.  So good.  Made a fabulous sandwich on all natural whole wheat bread.

Numerous handfuls of grape tomatoes — fun-size fruit.

Fresh pineapple.

An orange…

And a nectarine…

Completely gratuitous pictures to showcase a new haircut ;).  Good-bye pony-tail, hello Audrey Hepburn inspired ‘do.  Comparison picture:

Change is good. 🙂

An afternoon snack of the Mom’s Best Shredded Wheat cereal I absolutely….

LUV <3.

Dinnah:

Two sweet potatoes topped with delicious, all-natural baked beans.  Yes, two potaters.  They were small.  I am a running machine.  It all evens out.

In fact, it’s just fuel for the 9 miles I gotta run tomorrow morning!  Nighty-night.

The Answer is YES!

September 13, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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Yes.  I did it.  I ran 18 miles…18 long miles on Saturday.  Ankle/foot be darned.

After a week of progressively better runs, I decided to go all out and run the 18 miles the training schedule called for.  I was back at it.

I could lie and tell you everything just clicked in to place — that is was magical and Disney-like and some woodland creatures scampered alongside and we all laughed and sang, but since this blog is dedicated to the newbie in all of us and this counts as my first injury experience, I’mma be honest wit you ;).

It was awful.

No, really.  The first 9 miles weren’t so bad.  Sam and I followed the same route we ran on Thursday night, with the intention of looping it twice.  After the first loop, back at our house, I made an executive decision.  I cut loose from my man moorings and let Sam go on ahead (I seriously hold him back in terms of speed) while I made up the remaining 9 miles in our neighborhood and the neighborhood next to ours.  Please keep in mind, our neighborhood has a 1 mile loop and the next-door neighborhood has a 1.5 mile loop.

This was going to be a long 9 miles.

All those loops and swoops and figure-8’s gave me a lot of time to think about this injury experience.  It would seem injuries are contagious — or at least fall under the category of “bad things happen in numbers”. Everywhere I turn, I know a runner coping with an unexpected physical shortcoming.

My father-in-law is always wary of his hamstrings.

My sister-in-law is nursing a troublesome ankle.

A friend just emailed me to tell me she’s out of marathon training due to shin pain.

Her running partner has a bum knee and is out of training as well.

Sam’s battling shin splints…and I’ve got an ankle, that until lately,  I would have removed in a heartbeat if I thought I could still run without it.

Like chicken pox sweeping through a preschool, runners all around me are stricken with injury.

My dad made a wise observation recently when he said he didn’t really think anyone got to the starting line of a marathon without suffering some kind of injury. “Think about it: you run so many miles for four and a half months straight.” He’s right — you can’t push like that and expect nothing to happen.  Of the people I listed above, we all have one thing in common: pain. The other thing we have in common, the thing less obvious, is that we all have willpower and desire. We want to keep going and overcome the issue, but it’s out of our control.

If you are forced to drop out of training or change your plans, are you a failure?

I answer with a resounding NO.  Never.

Failure, to me, means you know you could do it, but you opt not to “just because”. No real reason — you just decided to quit because you couldn’t push yourself to stick with it. You didn’t have the heart to keep going.  Knowing when to throw in the towel and pick up the ice pack is different from failure. That’s a judgment call and if you’re wise and you have your body’s best interest at heart (no pun intended), then you make the right call even if it feels terrible.

Of course, this is all well and good and easier said than done. I reached a point Tuesday where I got dressed, laced up my sneakers and headed out for my first run back.

I’ve had just about enough of this injury nonsense, I told myself. We’re going to run.

I finally got what I wanted — I basically got to tell my ankle to shut up. Stop whining at me about how you hurt, suck it up and let me run. Just let me run, for crying out loud.

While injury has forced others to re-think their plans, I’m not there yet. I know if I come to that crossroads, I’m going to follow their lead and make the smart choice.

Because I know it’s not failure.

Because I know it’s best for my body.

Because I know there will be other marathons.

But for right now — I’m still in it.  I’m not going anywhere.

All of these thoughts on injuries and training and changing plans came in a jumble through what was probably the most mentally taxing 18 miles ever.  I came to a point where I was battling a stitch in my side after just a mile, so from mile 12 to mile 18, I was running a mile and walking, then running a mile, then walking.  My legs were bricks, I could actually feel the muscles bunching up and my caboose wanted to derail.

I gave serious thought to stopping at 12 (what I should have run the Saturday I took off) and then again at 16 (wasn’t that close enough?!).  I gave serious thought to crying.  I gave serious thought to cutting through our neighbor’s backyard just so I could shave off a half a mile.

I gave that all serious thought, but I didn’t give it serious permission.

There comes a point in anything worth doing where you realize, indeed, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  That’s when it really counts.  The part where you keep pushing because you know, deep down, nothing is really wrong.  You’re tired, but you have to move forward.  It’s a mental game at this point — train your mind to believe it’s possible.

So 18 was ugly, I’ll admit it, but I am darn proud I finished 18 miles and am back on track to dominate 26.2.  Those 18 miles were as much about training my mind as they were about training my legs.  Should marathon day be an ugly run too, at least I know I can keep moving forward.

There’s no happy picture with fingers displayed to document this, but it doesn’t matter.  I’m not going to forget that run for a long, long time.

Let’s get back on track,  shall we?

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