Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm..... Melting....

Whew! It's hot! My thermometer has hit 100 a couple of times this week. Training for a half-marathon/possible full marathon in Tennessee in July/August is just a little crazy!

At 6:05 my alarm went off this morning, and I said, "Forget it, I'm not going." Approximately one minute later, I grudgingly thought, "Well, I'm already awake.... I might as well go." I hadn't completed the crucial steps for an early morning run---laying out clothes and shoes the night before. I fumbled around and got ready for the run. I had 1/2 of a Nature Valley Oats and Honey bar and some water. Then I was off. I started so slowly because my body was still half asleep. How slowly? Who knows, because I forgot my Garmin! (Another crucial step---lay out your Garmin before runs!)

During my warm up 1/2 mile, I was surprised to hear footsteps right beside me. I looked and saw an older lady run right past me. I've heard guys talk about hating getting "chicked," or passed by females. Well, it's no fun to get passed by someone 15 or 20 years older, either! Clearly, she'd been running a long time, right? AND I was on my warm up. I had to check myself---the urge to speed up and keep up with her or pass her came over me, but without a little bit of warm up at a slow pace, I knew my run would be bad.

I saw 4 other runners out at 6:00 ish this morning in my neighborhood. I like that. I ran three miles (as best I could calculate---I'm LOST without my Garmin) and it was so hot, I just gave up. My stomach was bugging me as well. On this run and my last hot outdoor run, I was plagued by stomach troubles. I wonder if I'm not drinking enough or if it's just the heat? (or unrelated?)

I have to run 10 miles on Saturday and it's supposed to be hotter than today. I'm pretty sure I'm going to melt into a puddle around mile seven......

Sunday, July 27, 2008

D'oh and a Baby Step

After my 5.25 mile run on Saturday, I had what can only be described as one of these moments:I was in such a hurry to throw my sweaty running clothes into the washing machine that I forgot to take this out of my pocket: Guess what? MP3's aren't designed to be washed in a washing machine. Sigh. My sweet hubby picked me up a new inexpensive one on Sunday afternoon. Now I just have to load my playlist. Actually, I kind of like the new one better. The controls on the old one were wonky and I could never reliably skip to the next song. There's nothing worse that being stuck with a song that's just not working for you! And occasionally it would start switching songs based on my clothing brushing up against it. And it did actually shock me once. So, it's a GOOD THING, I suppose. Amazingly, the ear buds still work. I'm just glad it wasn't my Garmin!

At the run on Saturday, my friend loaned me her Jeff Galloway Marathon book. It's really enlightening. I've devoured it over the last day and hope to finish it tonight. I'm encouraged about the marathon so much so that.....................

I booked the hotel! The Holiday Inn Huntsville is the "official" hotel of the marathon and the start and finish are both right outside. The rates for runners were great--- only $99, but there were only so many rooms at that rate, so I felt like I had to act now. That's so much better than the rates for the half-marathon/marathon in Nashville back in the spring where a basic Holiday Inn room was going for $199 or more. Anyway, I can always cancel and let some last minute runner have my room.

Still haven't actually registered for the race. Or run more than 10 miles since the half-marathon. Or really decided I'm doing this. Baby steps.....

P.S. It seems that the entire running blogosphere has jumped on board The Push Up Challenge. I'm about to start week 4 (yikes). My last day of week 3 had me do 81 push ups. And to think I used to like push ups.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hey, Speedwork, I Remember You

I finally got in some quality speedwork today AND tried out my brand spankin' new Asics 2130's (which replaced the balloon-footed Asics Gel Nimbus I tried out last week).

I ran four miles at the YMCA (two on the treadmill and two on the indoor track) in my new sneaks. I'm afraid to run outside because they can't have any marks on them or the store will not take them back. I even carried them into the Y in a bag and changed into them once I was inside, then changed out of them before leaving. They have not touched pavement. And I'm not sure if I love them. They left a red line down the top of my foot where the tongue pressed----maybe they were laced too tightly? Maybe they just need a little breaking in? They felt springy and stable and cushiony---the three things I need. We'll see if the foot thing works out.

Today, I ran at about a 9:35 pace with 6 X 30-second strides at an 8:00 to 8:13 pace with recovery in between. I like 30-second strides because they are still building fast-twitch muscles, but they are over quickly. And they are just kind of fun. I feel like I can do anything for just 30 seconds.

So, it felt like I accomplished a lot in 4 miles. This is my drop-down week, so this Saturday's run will only be 3-6 miles. Nice.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Funny Marathon Clip

I borrowed (stole) this from a running blog called The Meaning of Stonehenge.

I don't usually watch the show "How I Met Your Mother," but the clip Marathon Man is hilarious. Sorry about the 15 second commercial, but the clip is worth it.


A runner buddy sent me an article from the Runner's World column "Ask Coach Jenny" about hot weather running. Despite feeling like a weenie when I do the 4:1, I'm doing what I need to do right now. Read on---

Marathon Training in the Heat and Humidity
Hi, Coach Jenny. I'm training for a marathon and I'm having a heck of a time getting acclimated to the weather. (I live in Georgia, and it's very hot and humid.) I've tried changing the time of day I run, but with the temperature being in the 80s with high humidity in the morning and at night, it's still quite a challenge. Is there a way I can get used to the weather so it doesn't slow me down so much? It's hard to enjoy a run with squelching heat and humidity! - Amee

Hi, Amee! The heat can suck the life out of you. But the good news is there are a lot of tricks you can implement to get in your marathon training. The first one is to avoid trying to "beat" the heat. You can't beat it, but you can learn to work with it. Understand that when the heat and humidity are both high, you'll need to tweak your training strategy. Think of heat and humidity the way mountain climbers think of altitude as they climb Everest. The higher they go, the harder it gets because of the altitude and oxygen. But they do acclimate to a degree...

With heat and humidity, the higher they rise, the harder it is for your body to cool itself. It becomes a battle for blood—the muscles want it so they can move, and the skin wants it so it can cool your body. Like the Everest climbers, your body will acclimate, learning to sweat more, allowing your body to cool more efficiently. But the real key to running in the heat is to learn to modify your effort level and strategy and work with it. And here are a few ways you can do that and make friends with the heat:

  • Slow your running pace on your long runs and add a 1- to 2-minute walk break every 4-6 minutes. Although you may think walking will slow you down, it will do the exact opposite. Those breaks will allow your heart rate and body core temp to drop or maintain, allowing you to continue to run at the same effort level. They'll also allow you to run stronger over the long run on average in the heat and humidity. The power walk breaks prevent your body core temps from rising too high.
    Incorporate 30-second to one-minute walk breaks in your shorter runs as well. Again, it will allow you to get in your run with better quality and better allow you to acclimate to the heat.

  • If your training calls for a quality speed workout, consider running it indoors on a track or treadmill. You will get in a better run and reap the benefits of the speed in cooler temperatures.

  • Join a team (if you haven't already) to train with. Most of the training teams I am aware of in the south start their long runs at 4 a.m. to get it in before the temperatures rise. This may sound like a tough order, but training with a group makes it a little easier to get up and out earlier and getting in the long runs before the sun rises makes a significant difference.

  • As the summer draws to a close and the temperatures begin to drop, begin to shorten and/or eventually remove the walk breaks in order to prepare for the marathon.

  • Again, think of heat and humidity as something you need to work with rather than beat. It will never be "easy" to run in the heat, but it can be "easier." The minute you make friends and modify your training, your body will better acclimate and take you step for step through every mile needed to get to the marathon start line.

So, I'm actually doing EVERYTHING right. Good to know!

On the shoe front, the lovely Asics Gel Nimbus 9's hurt my feet. And they are too wide in the toe box. And they don't provide the stability I need. They make me feel like I'm running in clown shoes. Badly. They went back to the store last night (I had the foresight to only run indoors on the track and treadmill in them just in case). The quest for the right shoe continues....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Road Trip and More Marathon Thoughts

On Saturday morning, I got up bright and early at 5:00 for a 6:30 a.m. group training run on the other side of town. I have found that I must have time for breakfast, coffee, and to just get my blood flowing if I'm going to have any chance for a good run. We had 7-9 miles on the schedule, but when I got there, a several people were planning on doing a 10-mile loop. What??

I had already run 10 miles for the week, had struggled some with 8 miles in the heat the previous Saturday, so I thought I'd just do 8 again----maybe do it better this time. I ran with new friend and fellow mom Amy and had a good run. Even with Galloway's 4:1 plan, we averaged a 10:55 pace (including walk breaks). We were running pretty fast on the running parts to have a 10:55/mile average pace with basically two minutes of walking every mile.

Another reason NOT to do 10 miles was because the next morning I was taking the kids here and needed "fresh legs":

Holiday World is a wonderful amusement park two states away in Santa Clause, Indiana. It's medium-sized, not crowded, has free drinks and sunscreen all day, and a killer water park. This was really fun, like going round and round a very large drain:

We had a great time and I feel like I walked another 8 miles (at least). We spent nine and a half hours at the park. It was quite a test of my endurance. Good thing I've been upping my mileage lately! Keeping up with my 7 and 5 year olds (the two-year-old stayed home with Daddy) was a test of my patience as well. Taking a road trip with the kids, over 350 miles round trip by myself was a long overdue test of my independence. I'd never done anything like that. We did meet our friends from St. Louis there, so I had another mom to hang with. It was a wonderful trip.

Monday was spent in recovery. All those hours outdoors in 96-degree weather with 90% humidity sucked the life out of me. Today, I need to get back into the Push Up Challenge, and I plan to REPEAT week 3. I completed days one and two only, so instead of getting off-schedule or moving on to week 4, I'll just do week 3 again. Week 3 is NO JOKE. I'm doing push ups in the 70's.

Regarding the marathon, seeing how I felt after 8 miles on Saturday, I honestly don't know if I can be ready by December. I know on Saturday when the group decided to do 10 miles instead of the planned 7-9, I thought, I have no desire to do 10 miles today. I could have done 10 with the 4:1, I just didn't want to. How am I going to feel when I have 18 or 20 on the schedule? Anyway, this is a drop down week, so I'll only have a few short runs. I'll see how I feel about 9 or 10 next week.

The biggest "con" I realized about running the marathon is that it will put me out of most of the local races in the fall. I LOVE to run races. I don't know why I will pay $20 to do a 3.1 mile run when I can do it right outside my door, but I just love the race atmosphere. I love the camaraderie. I love that nervous, excited feeling at the start. I love the way I feel as I cross the finish. I don't want to have to give up one of my two half-marathons in October. I don't want to give up running the R-3 Anniversary 5K again in August---the FIRST race I ever ran. I want to re-do all the races I did last year to see how much I've improved, and I did one a month all last fall! Marathon training will require that I miss most of those.

So, for the moment, I'm leaning toward not doing the Huntsville Marathon.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Great Marathon Debate

A while back I dismissed the idea of doing a full marathon in 2008. But I think I'm going to revisit the idea. On December 13, there is a marathon called the Rocket City marathon about 3 hours away in Huntsville, Alabama.

It's a small race, a couple thousand runners at most. I've heard it's a great first marathon.

I printed off marathon training programs from Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, and Runner's World. Hal's plan isn't too bad with 4 runs per week. The top weekly mileage is 40 miles (gasp!). Jeff's plan is super-light. There are only two 30-minute runs and one long run per week. It involves the 4:1 method and the website reports a 97% success rate. You run four minutes, walk one. The walk helps your muscles recover a little every half mile or so, so you potentially avoid THE WALL at mile 20. And it's not even that slow. You don't slow down so much in the second half from fatigue and many people PR using this method. (I'll PR regardless since it's my first marathon!) The Runner's World plan also only has 3 runs per week, with the Monday one always being 2 easy miles, then a mid-week run of 5-8 miles, then the weekend long run. (Who knew you could prepare a marathon by running only 3 times per week??)

I need to do more research. But........ it looks...... kind of do-able.

My husband is on board (makes for long Saturdays for him when I'm out running 3 or 4 hours--- or 6!). I have a potential training buddy and/or buddies.

I'm going to pray about it, do my homework, make sure my husband knows what "we're" getting into, and hopefully make a decision in the next few weeks.

I Heart Protein Shakes

Since I'm officially in training again, I find myself HUNGRY ALL THE TIME! I'm building muscle with the increase in mileage and with the push-up challenge, but I find my diet lacking one key ingredient.


Protein is made of amino acids. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of muscle. Therefore, protein is an essential ingredient for muscle building. You can't build muscle without it! You will want to take in about 1-2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight throughout the day. So an average person who weighs 150 lbs would want to consume between 150 and 300 grams of protein in a day. Protein shakes and bars are convenient and provide high quality protein.

I'm digging these AdvantEDGE carb control protein shakes. The chocolate flavor is the only one I've tried, and I'm sold on it. It only has 110 calories, 3.5 fat grams, and 17 grams of protein. It's quite yummy. The best part is it's so portable. The other day I went for a 3 mile run at a local park and left a cold protein shake in the car inside a cooler. The whole run, I kept thinking about that shake. Since the ideal window in which to consume protein is within 30 minutes post workout, carrying along one of these shakes is a perfect option for me.

Convenience doesn't come cheaply, however. A four-pack at Wal Mart costs $4.97. It's not outrageous, but certainly not as inexpensive as a homemade powder shake. But, if you are "on the run" after a run like I often am, this might be a good option.

Any other suggestions of great, tasty protein sources you like after a workout?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"It's Not the Heat, It's the Humidity"

How many times have I heard that expression in my lifetime in the South? But, you know, it's sooooo true!

I had a rough 8-miler in what felt like 99 degrees with 146% humidity this morning at 7:00 a.m. I even did the Jeff Galloway 4:1 (I walked a minute after running 4), and it was still a difficult run. I'm not certain what I think about Mr. Galloway's plan. At first the four minutes flew by, and at four miles, I hardly felt I'd run one or two.

However, in the last couple of miles, when it was hotter and humiditier, I didn't love it. It seemed to make the run drag out f-o-r-e-v-e-r, and I never really got into the "zone." The "zone" is when I forget about speed or mileage and just run. I'm feeling good, not out of breath, and just putting one foot in front of the other. The 4:1 causes constant Garmin checking and I never really got into a comfortable groove. It was just brutal out there.

I was left with that post-bad-run-feeling of, "Why don't I just hang this running thing up?" I thought about the two half-marathons in October for which I am training. Do I really need to do them? Training in the summer in the South just sucks the fun out of the sport. So, feeling sorry for myself and disappointed in running in general, I did what any red-blooded American woman would do-----I went shopping.

Here's what came home with me:

I have officially jumped on the Asics bandwagon. (Sorry, Brooks!) This is the Asics Gel Nimbus 9, the 2007 Shoe of the Year (so I'm a little behind!).

I realized after making the purchase that this is my 4th pair of running shoes in the past 12 months. Is that bad??

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tempo in the Heat!

I had a 5 mile run on my schedule today (with three miles tempo). I thought about doing it on the treadmill at the YMCA (since there's childcare there), but the thought of five miles on the treadmill was not appealing. It was around 77 degrees when I got to the Y, so I decided to run outside. (I can't believe they actually let us sign in the kids and go for a run outside as long as we take our cell phones and stay within a 5 mile radius!) Unfortunately, the area where the Y is located isn't really convenient to any good running routes due to busy streets and a lack of sidewalks and/or shoulders on the road.

I always feel better running around in busy traffic areas with a friend. I feel like two are certainly more visible than one. But, today I had no friend. :-(

I'm also a weenie when it comes to crossing the busy, five-lane highway to get to the really good running areas. So, I'm limited to the side of the road where the Y is. This route takes me past a busy McDonald's where hungry, in-a-hurry people are whipping in to hit the drive through and pulling out with one hand on the wheel and a McMuffin in the other. It's treacherous. They aren't looking out for runners.

So, today I went the other direction and ran on a different busy road filled with doctor's offices, a dialysis center, beauty shops, a couple of houses, etc. I basically ran through their parking lots, people's yards, and any grassy areas to avoid becoming roadkill since it was a narrow 3 lane road with no shoulder. I need to do some trail running because my off-road time going through the grass really wore me out!

Anyway, the humidity was crazy-high, and I warmed up for one mile, managed my 3 miles at a 9:55 (average) tempo pace, then went back to the indoor track at the Y for that last cool-down mile. I might as well be cool while I'm cooling down. I felt strange (heat stroke?) for quite a while after this run. I probably needed more electrolytes. I feel like I ran 8 or 9 instead of only 5.

So, I got it done, but it was tough out there today.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Marathon of Motherhood

In the last 24 hours, my "training" has consisted of running (sprinting!) upstairs at 1:00 a.m. to a crying, throwing up child, holding her hair and rubbing her back as she stooped over the toilet, and making her a little bed on the floor in my room in case she got sick again.

All morning I did lots of squats as I gave her sips of ginger ale and water and felt her forehead to see if she was hot.

Then this morning at 9:00 (around the time of my scheduled training run), I lifted all 60 lbs. of her off the floor (I used my knees!) and carried her down the hall, down the steps, out into the garage, and into the car to go to see the doctor. Lately, I haven't felt that I could lift and carry my big girl any more. But she was too weak to walk, and I didn't have a choice. (Shouldn't that count for my push-up challenge for today?)

After some pacing in the doctor's office, we found out she has strep throat and a possible UTI.

I gripped her hand while she had blood drawn, got an extremely long, thick shot of penicillin, and received an anti-nausea suppository you-know-where. (All in all, a pretty rough day for a five year old.)

I got her home, put her back to bed, and started the mini-marathon of laundry---bedding, clothing, towels.... not to mention the carpet.

Today's schedule originally held an easy two-miler, day 4 of the Push-Up Challenge, and some leg toning. But I think I've "trained" enough for one day.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Seven at 7:00 and One Mean Dog

This morning, I started my new Saturday routine. Now that half-marathon training has officially started, no more sleeping in! I rolled out of bed at 5:40 a.m. to give myself time to have cereal, coffee (critical!), and generally wake up before meeting my running group about 20 minutes across town. We were meeting at the local winery for a seven-mile run in the country. Six of us showed up.

It was a nice run over rolling hills in the midst of farmland, except for one problem---a very angry German shepherd. I've had dogs run out to the road and bark at me from the edge of their yard, but this was different. This German shepherd was growling and clearly meant business! One guy running with us saw him and said, "Whoa!" He had just been talking about how he's not scared of dogs, but he could tell this dog was seriously about to attack us. I hadn't even seen the dog because he wasn't barking, just growling. It's owner came running after it yelling, "No!" at the dog, but the panic in her voice kind of freaked us out. She really sounded scared the dog was going to hurt one of us. The guy running with us stopped dead in his tracks and turned his entire body to face the dog--- and the dog backed down. (I don't know if this is a technique to make yourself look bigger and the dog stop and think---anyone know?)

Anyway, she reigned in her dog, I yelled "Thanks!" and we went on our way.

That was the first time I've run seven miles since the day I ran 13.1 in the Country Music Half-Marathon. I've done 6 four times since then, but hadn't done a seven-miler until today. It wasn't bad at all. From here, it's just add another mile per week on my long run until I get to 12 or 13. No problem.

I think the hardest part of getting ready for a half-marathon is building up to that six-mile base. (I'm so glad I hung on to that base this summer!) Once you get to the half-way point, you can start to wrap your mind around adding one more mile per week, and before you know it, you're doing 10 and 11 mile runs. And they're not bad at all.

I wish training for a full marathon would be so uncomplicated! But I have a feeling that will be a whole different ballgame. For now, I'm considering the Country Music Marathon next April, but we'll have to see how it goes.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Biggest Racing Day of the Year!

According to, July 4th is the biggest racing day of the entire year, and I'm missing out. I should be in White House, TN, right now, not blogging. But, a cough that moved into my chest a few days ago has me side-lined on this race day. Everything I've read about running when sick says above the neck = fine; below the neck = do NOT run. I was sooo wanting to get back into training mode this week, but what I'm assuming is bronchitis is preventing that.

Tomorrow is a slow, easy 6-8 miler with the Clarksville Running Club to kick off half-marathon training, and I think I'm going to attempt it. If I have to walk more than usual, that's fine. I think I'm going to try to run 1.5-2 miles easy today to see if I explode into a coughing fit. If so, I'll skip/postpone tomorrow's training run. I feel a little better today. The fatigue has lifted slightly. I'm anxious to get back out there!

My next 5K will be in August. Hopefully, my husband and I can finally do one together. (In support of me, he stayed home today, too, missing out on his first 5K.)

I'm off to do day 3 of the push-up challenge. I'm on level 3 (the toughest level), but may need to drop back to level 2. If I could only keep my 26 lb. toddler off my back when I'm doing them, I think I'd have more success!