Saturday, January 31, 2009

Maybe I Should Rethink the Marathon?

I guess it's normal to question the decision to run a marathon probably 3 or 4 times during training. (Or daily?) But until today, I hadn't really questioned it. I knew I wanted to do one someday, now seemed like as good a time as any, and my goal is just to finish, so there is no pressure. I thought I'd made peace with the fact that it's going to be hard--REALLY hard.

But today's run was seriously bad. (Luckily, I'm coming off several good runs, so maybe I was due). Today made me question--WHY AM I DOING THIS???

After a great 10-mile run last week, my 12-miler today was really, really tough. I think I had forgotten how tough runs over 10 miles can be. There were also other extenuating factors.

The top five reasons today's run SUUUUUCKED:

1. It came at the end of a rough week. I've been taking care of two sick kids (strep throat), we had two snow days off from school (mostly because of ice--not enough snow to have fun in), and everything was generally OFF schedule.

2. I was due a drop-down week, but I postponed it to stay in sync with my training group. My body was telling me it was time to lay off a little, but I didn't listen. I'm sure glad next week is drop down!

3. I was under fueled. This is probably the BIGGEST reason today's run went awry. Usually I eat lots of pasta and bread before a long run. Not yesterday. Yesterday I just didn't eat enough. I had a small lunch. Then last night a group of girls wanted to go out to dinner. We planned on going to Old Chicago Pizza for some great carbs, but the wait was too long. We wound up at Kohana sushi restaurant. I'd never really tried sushi.

Well, I'm thinking that wasn't the best choice the night before a long run. It was NEW, which is not always a good idea. Some of it was spicy. I have no idea what was even in some of it. The girls and I sampled several different kinds, but overall I ate little. I had a bowl of rice with it, but I didn't finish it. After dinner, I felt kind of nauseous. I don't know what didn't agree with me, but I was up half the night with a stomach ache. This morning I could barely stomach my coffee and was unable to finish my full bowl of Wheaties. I started the run nauseated and with NO ENERGY---not good.

4. I ran the first half of the run too fast. Despite feeling unwell, my first two miles were at 9:43 and 9:38 pace. That's nowhere near where my long, slow distance pace should be. The first six miles were all faster than I was supposed to go. (I think I wanted to get it over with!) Then I was pulling in 11:00-11:30/minute miles at the end. Nothing like inconsistency and positive splits....

5. I had leg pain. About the 8-mile point, I realized both knees were aching. By mile 11, both knees, my right hip, and my right ankle were hurting. I had this happen once before---in my last half-marathon. (Also known as my last run over 10 miles.) I ran my 10 miles last week and didn't have any aches or pains.

Overall, I will say I am proud I stuck it out and finished my 12. My training buddies stopped at 8, and I wanted to quit. But I "dug deep" and finished those last four miles. They felt more like 40!

MY BIGGEST CONCERN is that my knees and other joints won't hold up on these longer runs coming up---14 miles in two weeks, then 16, 18, and two 20's. I read in my marathon book that most people find that "running ceases to be fun at any distance over 15 miles." For me, it may be more like 10. At least for now. I guess in a month, a 12-mile run will feel like a VACATION.

Ok, so now I'm offically scared.....

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Treadmill Running

I've been doing almost all of my wintry runs outside lately. However, yesterday, my sick child stayed home from school with strep. She was on the borderline of contagious/not contagious because she had been on antibiotics for 24 hours, but I think she was ready for a break from her grueling kindergarten schedule. Until yesterday, she'd had perfect attendance.

I debated on skipping my run, but we were forecast an ice storm last night and I knew running on Tuesday might be out. So, I took her to the YMCA. Before you think, "bad mom, " I didn't put her in childcare or anything. She was feeling completely back to normal and happy after being on antibiotics for two days, but I found a bench for her to sit on away from any people (old or young), brought markers, paper, etc., and she entertained herself for about 30 minutes while I ran. After being housebound for two days, she said it was fun.

My plan called for 3 easy miles, but sometimes I feel like those "easy miles" are a little pointless. I wanted them to MATTER, so I decided to do a tempo run instead. I was in a rush, so there was not much time for warm up. I walked about 20 seconds, then jogged for a third of a mile. Then I did one mile in 9:33 and another at 9:00 minute pace. My last 2/3 mile was supposed to be cool down, but I found myself comfortable at a 9:40 pace for most of it. When did 9:40 (or anything under 10) become comfortable?

The good thing about treadmills is you can easily try out different paces and see how they feel. I experimented (briefly!) with 8:40, 8:54, 9:05, etc. just to see what they feel like at this point in my training. And I was pleasantly surprised.

Oh, I did do something else slightly different---caffeine. I drank about half a frappuccino mocha right before going into the Y. I could tell a difference around the 2nd and 3rd miles. Maybe I should always integrate caffeine into my runs!

Two of my friends have been drinking 5-hour-energy drinks before runs and can definitely tell a difference. That one scares me a little, though I assume it's safe. I think I need to do some research.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Orthos Are Nice, 89 Days, and Random Facts...

Last week, I went through a rite of passage every runner must eventually go through: My first visit with an orthopedic doctor! A while back, I noticed a lump or nodule on top of my left knee cap. This was actually on Day One of marathon training (three weeks ago) when I went a little too high on the incline on the treadmill on which I was running. I felt a sharp pain, lots of soreness afterward, and this lump appeared which I was fairly sure wasn't there before. In addition to the lump, my left knee has plagued me with soreness since I started running. I knew it wouldn't hurt to get it checked out before marathon training intensified.

I called on Wednesday, and I was able to immediately get in to see the ortho doc's physician's assistant. When I told her my history, the first thing she did was congratulate me on training for a marathon! She had run the Country Music Half Marathon about five years ago, so she gets what this running thing is about. She ordered an ex-ray of the knee, which showed I have mild runner's knee and mild arthritis from cartilege degeneration, but nothing abnormal for a gal pushing 40.

I also have a traumatic neuroma on that kneecap. An online medical journal says, "A traumatic neuroma is a thwarted attempt by a nerve, injured or severed by prior trauma or surgery, to regenerate, resulting in a tangle of neural fibers and connective tissue. Traumatic neuromas usually present as palpable nodules, painful to the touch." It's not serious and mine isn't really that painful, so I'm planning to just leave it alone. The only treatment for neuromas is surgery. No, thankyouverymuch. She didn't advise me to stop running to let the runner's knee heal (it's normal to have mild runner's knee if you are a runner), but she did say taking glucosamine and chondroitin might help maintain the cartilege I have.

The marathon is in 89 days. Is it me, or is that not very far away???? I only ran 18 miles this week. I'm possibly starting to freak out a little.....

I saw this on Facebook, and decided to share it here, too. It's called 25 Random Things About Me.

If you read this blog, consider yourself tagged. I love getting to know my bloggy buddies better as much as I love to read about your running adventures!

1. I have only lived two places in my entire life, Adairville, KY, and Clarksville, TN.
2. I'm sad that I didn't discover running until I was 36 years old.
3. I never expected to have three children---just two. But I'm so glad I have sweet little #3.
4. Chris and I met at a Halloween party. He was Jason from Friday the 13th, but I was lame and didn't dress up.
5. Chris and I dated for only 12 weeks before becoming engaged. When it's right, IT'S RIGHT.
6. Chris and I were Beagles (a local band) groupies and they played at our wedding, which was very cool. I had more fun at my wedding reception than I've ever had at anyone's.
7. I LOVE to dance, but I'm TERRIFIED of public speaking.
8. I came in second in a limbo contest at the Warehouse (a local bar) on my first date with Chris. 9. The Bahamas is the only place outside the U.S I've visited. Key West is my favorite though. 10. I went on a mission trip to New York City and worked in a Brooklyn daycare for a week in my twenties. I even rode the subway. It was eye-opening for a girl from a town with just a four-way stop.
11. I feel strongly convicted to help people in need. Maybe because I grew up poor.
12. I'm terrified of fire. I don't like bonfires, campfires, fire pits, etc.
13. When I was little, the curtains in my room caught on fire because my sister left a candle burning (see #12).
14. I could not cook AT ALL when I got married. I still wish I were a better cook, but I'm improving every year.
15. Chris is my soulmate. We finish one another's sentences and frequently say or think the same thing at the same time.
16. I became a Christian at 11, fell away from it during high school and college, then came back into the fold in my mid-twenties.
17. My family and I just moved seven houses down the street because we needed a bigger house, but loved our neighborhood so much.
18. I love learning. I would love to go to school for the rest of my life (as a student, not a teacher).
19. I was an 8th grade and 10th grade English teacher for eight years. It was hard. The kids were kind of mean.
20. I'm very thin-skinned and get my feelings hurt easily. I'm bad at forgiving.
21. I once left a job I really liked for one that was AWFUL. I think I have "grass is greener" syndrome.
22. I miss my Granny Johnson. She passed away 21 years ago and it still makes me cry.
23. Sometimes I feel like I'm wasting my education, but nurturing a child is an important job, too.
24. I am a first generation college graduate. I am thankful to my parents for sacrificing to send me to college.
25. I'm really content with my life and thankful for my blessings.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Spectacular Run!!

My kind of "meh" week ended with a super awesome great spectacular amazing run. Seriously, it was THAT good. Could it be that we are being teased with spring-like weather? Come on, a sunny, 60-degree day in January? Apparently for one-day-only, Tennessee is having a burst of spring. Tomorrow is back to the thirties. How could I NOT run in these temps? I was just thinking the other day that I missed the feeling of the sun warming my skin on a run. Today, I was able to run in short sleeves, capris and no ear-warmer, mittens, or jacket. It was heavenly.

I switched my 10-mile long run to today to take advantage of the weather and ran with two ladies I had done a half-marathon with in October. (All of us had set the goal of a sub-2:15 half, but they finished in 2:11 and 2:13, while I came in at a disappointing 2:15:41. I struggled to keep up with them that day and felt bad as I watch them getting further and further ahead in the distance....)

But TODAY, I hung with them. They were so sweet--they said that they could see a BIG difference in me from October and that I was kicking, um, butt. (well not exactly their words...) That gives me hope for a sub-2:15 half this time---in three weeks--- maybe even a 2:10.

I have really been diligent this winter keeping up the mileage and training. After an illness sidelined me for a large part of November, I jumped back in with both feet in December. I sure hope all this hard work pays off!

I guess it really already has. Today the last two miles hurt a little, but I kept pace and even finished the last mile at a 9:43 pace. Overall average pace was 10:23 (very good for me on a long run), but I still had enough left to speed up that last 1/2 mile. We did take one little break at the 5 mile point to use the restroom at a convenience store and take a gel, but for ME, one walk break in 10 miles is pretty great.

I'm getting there.... It has taken perhaps more time than I'd like, but I can see that I'm getting stronger and faster. And that's why we do this week after week, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Clif and Luna Bar Recall

I've made it a priority to eat better after reading Nancy Clark's Food Guide for Marathoners over the weekend.

I'm cutting down on fried, fatty foods and eating more fruits and veggies.

I needed a snack involving chocolate yesterday and found a box of Luna Nutz Over Chocolate bars that had been in my pantry for a while-- so long I had actually forgotten about them. I am really "nuts over chocolate," so I was feeling virtuous as I ate a nutritious yet delicious snack.

Then tonight I logged on to Runner's World and saw that Clif and Luna Bars have been recalled due to possible contaminated peanut butter. Uh-oh. Here's a link to all the recalled ones (yes, Nutz Over Chocolate is on there, but mine was not from the possibly contaminated lot. Yay, me.)

Week three of marathon training has gotten off to a slow start. Last week I was in serious training mode, but this week I am feeling more laid back. I only did two of the three miles I was supposed to yesterday and then took the kids for ice cream at Chik fil a. (We were celebrating that my two-year-old used the potty. I'll make it up on Wed. or Thurs. Maybe) Today, instead of doing my core workout/weight training that was planned, I went shopping and took my mom out to lunch.

Family.... Training.... Responsibilities.... Rest.... Finding BALANCE in all of this is going to be interesting. But at least I didn't get salmonella.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

My Running Peeps

It was a mish-mash kind of long run today. I knew it was going to be freezing and there would be no restrooms on the running route, so I had to take matters into my own hands. I decided to divide up my 9-mile run. At 7:15 a.m. it was 19 degrees, and I bundled up and headed out for the first 2.5 miles in my neighborhood. I ran at my own nice, easygoing warmup pace, and though cold, it wasn't half bad. I saw Crazy Running Guy from my neighborhood out running, too. My husband and I always laugh because he's out whether it's raining, sleeting, snowing, freezing---Crazy Running Guy is ALWAYS out there. He said something to me as he passed (for the first time acknowledging me!) about how "People must think WE'RE crazy." Uh-oh. Did he say WE? Am I going to be known as Crazy Running Girl? (See last week's rainy run....)

Then I went back in the house, thawed for about five minutes, took care of business, hopped in the car and drove maybe six minutes away to the spot where my training group was meeting at 8:00 a.m. to do my last 7 miles with company. We actually had about 14 people show up for a 20-degree run at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday. That's dedication and/or insanity.

It's funny, with that many folks, little groups emerge. In the front, we had the BQ (Boston Qualifying) Crowd. They are our fastest folks and they lead most runs. There was three in that group. I think. They didn't stick in view for very long. Then there was the Fast Ladies. These are the sub-two-hour half marathon gals. They were at least in view for most of the run. Sometimes I try to hang with them, but it's just soooo hard.

Then there was my little Middle of the Pack group. There were three of us--- two true Middle Packers plus a Fast Lady who hung back with us out of pity. (Just kidding--she wanted to chat and have an easy run. However, her "easy" was kinda freakin' challenging for us!)

Then, there was the Run/Walkers a.k.a. The Jeff Galloway Crowd. They do an 8:1 plan where they run 8 minutes, then walk one minute. They've been known to overtake me near the end of a run when my steam runs out, and I must say that kind of sucks.... I gave that technique a shot, though, and it just wasn't for me. I did enjoy running with them, though. They have a lot of fun.

It's good to have people.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Running

This morning was, well, CRISP. It was 30 degrees with a fairly strong wind (blew my hat off twice), but it was a great day to enjoy the outdoors. Between Facebooking, texting, and a few phone calls, I assembled a little group of six to do speedwork at the track. These were just fellow moms and neighbors and friends, and somehow with our kids and busy schedules, we all came together on a Wednesday at 9:30. Having company made it seem less cold and the five miles flew by.

We warmed up for a mile and started two speedwork miles on the track. I was shooting for a 9:06 pace according to my Smart Coach plan, and I managed an 8:50 mile, walked/jogged 1/2 mile for recovery, then a 9:05 mile. We all finished up with about two miles in the neighborhood at an easy pace for cooldown.

They all want to continue to meet regularly. Two of us are training for the Country Music full, 3 were training for the half, and one was just there for fun. I think I'll call us the Wednesday Morning Running Club. Not exactly clever....

St. George Island pictures--finally!

This was January 2. It was MUCH too cold for this! My son Nathaniel learned to ride this boogie board in the freezing water!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Negative Splits and Running Candy

A mommy moment: This morning I took the kiddos to look at a new elementary school for the next school year. It's a magnet school for math, science, and technology. I was very impressed with the curriculum and the facility. It's very hands-on, math and science are integrated into every subject area, and the teachers use different and innovative teaching methods. No brainer. We're definitely applying. We have to go through a lottery (much like marathoners!) to see if our applications are chosen. My mommy time will be reduced since there is no bus service and I'll have to drive them to and from a school about 15-20 minutes away, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.

The tour took much longer than I expected, so I was left with little time to run my three-miler before picking up my preschooler. It was supposed to be an easy 3 miles at an 11-minute pace, but time was of the essence. You see, my preschool charges $1 per MINUTE if you are late. I knew I really had time for three 10-minute miles, rather than the 11-minute pace. I was all ready to go, then couldn't find my MP3 player. That wasted precious seconds. I ran mile 1 in 10:23, got worried about the time and ran mile 2 in 9:44, and finished up mile 3 with 9:23--- negative splitting each mile. Not exactly an easy recovery run for me, but I made it to preschool in plenty of time!

After I picked Julia up, we stopped by Starbucks for a recovery latte (have you tried the Starbucks London Fog tea latte--Earl Grey tea, vanilla syrup, foam-- phenomenal! And I had a coupon for a free one. Even better!).

Then we went to the running store to stock up on gels. My 2.5-year-old said, "Are those running candy?" Why yes, Julia, they ARE running candy. If by candy you mean sticky, yet slimy, sometimes foul-tasting packets of goop that give you an upset stomach for hours later. The Shot Bloks really taste like candy, but they just don't do it for me. I'll deal with the taste, consistency, and after-effects of gels because they at least give me ENERGY! So, I guess I'll stick with goop. (P.S. MCM Mama recommended Vanilla Gu. I got one for this Saturday's run, and I'll review it on here afterwards. Maybe it will taste like a latte.) A question for the marathoners--- caffienated gel or no?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Soggy Run and Recovery Done Right

On Saturday I had an 8-miler, my long run of the week. I had run 8-milers twice in December and also a 9-miler, so I wasn't too worried about the run. Saturday morning arrived with light rain showers, but I was determined to get the miles in. I had already lost 1.5 miles during my mid-week run due to the sore knee.

I put on my most water-resistant jacket, wind pants, and picked up my friend Cherilynne. We drove to a paved trail to meet the running club. Only two other runners were brave enough to face the rain. Our group of four started out at a challenging pace for me, but normal pace for the three of them. I knew I was going beyond my long, slow distance prescribed speed, but misery loves company, and the light showers quickly turned into a hard rain. Luckily, the temperature was in the low 50's, so it truly wasn't that bad. (Or I'm just that tough.)

By mile 4, my wind pants were wet and stuck to my legs (but at least they weren't cotton, weighing me down and slowly sliding south!), but my Reebok water/windproof jacket was holding up well. I unfortunately hit a puddle right at mile4, so the last 4 miles involved soaked socks and shoes (and caused one blister). Cherilynne and I had 3 CranRazz Shot Bloks at the 4 mile turnaround. I didn't really feel any extra energy from them, however. Gels and Sports Beans seem to work better, don't you think? I think going out too fast on those first four tired me out a bit. The last four miles were much slower. Someday, I hope to master the art of negative splits. Maybe next week.

The knee was fine. It felt a little strange around mile 3, but never hurt or anything. I iced later in the day, and it's not sore at all today.

Since I had burned 758 calories according to Garmin, we went out that evening for the perfect recovery meal at P.F. Chang's in Nashville. (This was after sitting outside for hours at the cold, windy, and wet---yes, more rain---Tennessee Titan's playoff game. Seriously, I was rained on more on Saturday than any day I can remember in my whole life!) The perfect meal consisted of a spicy New York strip cooked medium rare, brown rice, asparagus, fried green beans, and a Cosmo. Doesn't that sound wonderful? It was. And the best part was that it was served in a warm, DRY place with no children and no clean up.

I'm totally ready for week two.

P.S. A discount code for the Country Music Marathon is ANNIV to save $15! (or so I'm told) If not, try TNTOTX for $10 off the price.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Marathon Training Week 1: The First Mistake

Well THAT didn't take long. On DAY ONE, I made my first training error. On Monday, I had an "easy" three-miler scheduled. The kids weren't back in school yet, so I had to go to the Y since they have childcare. I hopped on the treadmill, warmed up and started thinking about how hilly the Country Music Marathon is said to be. I figured I'd better throw in some hills. I'd done some hill work up to a 4 incline before. I decided to go up to a 5 incline today (not changing speed). Five may not sound like much, but it was really challenging. So challenging in fact, that I felt a sharp pain go through my problematic left knee. I quickly slowed down and lowered the incline, but didn't stop. It passed and I figured I was good to go. About three hours later, the soreness set in. It hurt to walk on my knee. Stairs were particularly painful. It felt like I had a catch in my knee. I looked and there was a pointy area on the top of my knee that I don't think was there before.

I iced, rested, and felt totally depressed for two days. I also dealt with a stomach bug for about 48 hours. My physical therapist buddy took a look and said she thinks my kneecap shifted a little and that what's poking up is the top edge of it. Either it didn't go back where it should have or it has inflammation under it. She told me it was safe to try running to see how it felt.

The pain was gone yesterday, so I ran 3.5 slow, easy, FLAT miles on the treadmill, stopping to walk one-tenth of a mile every mile. And it felt ok. Thank God! The pointy thing is still there, but maybe my knee was always pointy.

So here I am already 1.5 miles behind schedule and I've missed a speed workout. I guess that's how it goes.

I have a rainy 8-miler scheduled tomorrow. Then I'm going to the Tennessee Titans playoff game, where I'm sure to get in the extra 1.5 miles for the week walking to and from wherever we'll have to park. (At least!) So I guess I'll break even.

I'm sure next week will be better! I'm also excited that I've got 4 local gal pals training for the same marathon as me! Two live in my neighborhood and two go to my gym. It's going to be nice to have buddies to train with. All of them are faster than me, however. Guess I'll just have to run faster....

Monday, January 5, 2009

Today I'm a Marathoner in Training

My training for the Country Music Marathon starts today!

For all you experienced marathoners, Smart Coach on only has me running 3 times a week. Is that enough?? I have a 3 miler, 5 miler, and 8 miler this week. The other four days are Rest/XT. I plan to finally integrate a spin class in there and continue with a little upper body and Pilates/ab work.

My half-marathon plan had me running 4 times per week (but the race is closer). I'm chucking that plan and moving on to the marathon plan.

Are there any other running plans you'd recommend? I just got Hal Higdon's book on marathoning for Christmas, and I think it has 4 or 5 runs per week.

I just want to do this RIGHT.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Holiday Challenge Results

Hello from St. George Island, Florida. We drove more than 10 hours with 3 children for four days at the beach. We are a little insane.

It was gorgeous yesterday, but it's chilly and windy and overcast today. I did get in a 3-mile NEW YEAR'S DAY RUN--- 2 miles with my hubby, then one with my sister-in-law. We are on a barrier island that is only one mile wide and 12 miles long, and it is soooooooo windy. We ran the first mile into a 15 mph headwind with a temp of about 50 degrees. It was quite brutal. Coming back with the wind behind us was much better (and speedier). Tomorrow and Saturday should be nice weather, then we are back in the car again on Sunday.

I thought hubby would think I was a little obsessive about my weight if I packed scales for the trip, so I had my FINAL HOLIDAY CHALLENGE WEIGH IN on the 30th. Hope that's ok!

Remember, the challenge was to either MAINTAIN your December 1st weight or to gain no more than 2 lbs from the holidays. I was up exactly 1 lb. from December 1st. (This was before travel food and 1 day of vacation food/beverage though.) Maybe I should go ahead and count it as +2. So, I think I made it! Sort of.

Just for good measure, I swam laps in the small hotel pool on the way down on the 30th. Then I picked up firewood along the beach last night with the kids. That had to burn some calories.

So, how'd you do? Are you + or - or the same?

I hope everyone gets in a run or some kind of fun, heart-rate increasing activity today to start off a healthy and prosperous new year!