Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spirit of the Marathon

At work today, I was thinking about my marathon in New Orleans and feeling really nostalgic for the training and the overall experience. It's so funny- I disliked how training consumed my life and now that it's over, I can't wait for my foot to heal and my cough to go away so I can be consumed by it again.

I went on and printed off his 12 week spring training plan. This will take me right up through my road trip to Seattle, so the last week of training could be pretty interesting! If Xiaobin (my road trip buddy) and I can discipline ourselves to do it, we will be running through some pretty beautiful turf. The route I have planned takes us into Wichita, KS; Boulder, CO; Park City, UT; and Portland, OR. I'm hoping that I will get myself into a good training routine that will carry through to our drive so I can capitalize on all the gorgeous scenery :) 

Today I ran three miles at an easy pace (10:00 min/mi) and felt REALLY good! I had a hard yoga class yesterday so I could really feel the muscles in my abdomen, back, and shoulders working as I ran. The training plan calls for some strength training as well on Thursdays so I did about 15 minutes of core/weight work. It might not sound like much, and that's because it wasn't much at all! But after months and months of NOT strength training, the little that I did was well enough. I love this feeling though... I love walking away from a workout and feeling it in my entire body. That bit of soreness makes me feel strong in a way because I can feel all these muscles really being engaged for the first time in a long time. I kind of forgot they were there! 

I had a long day at work and felt tired at the idea of making dinner, so I stopped at Panera on my way home (Jamie if you're reading, this is my second Panera in as many days...). I enjoyed my yummy asiago bagel and chicken noodle soup and watched a terrific documentary- Sprit of the Marathon. HOLY SMOKES it had me almost in tears within the first three minutes. The filmmakers follow six runners, at various levels of competitiveness, training for the Chicago marathon. Two of the runners were elite marathoners Deena Kastor and Daniel Njenga. The other four were local Chicagoans, a few of whom were running their first 26.2. The trials and tribulations, moments of brilliance and aguish, were shared by all six athletes. They all had their own dreams for the race itself, but also marveled at how preparation for the marathon had truly changed their lives. It's such a corny thing and maybe I'm just feeling sappy because I literally just finished the documentary 20 minutes ago but... I can really sympathize with that feeling. There are people, and then there are marathoners. Yeah there is another tremendous leap between marathoners and elite marathoners, but to be a completer of the 26.2 feels to me like a rite in itself. I know I will never run a 2:20 marathon (probably never a 1:10 1/2M either! sheesh...), but I know that I will improve as a runner and continuing to train and discipline myself will help me to improve as a person. 

Boy, oh boy.

I just need to be better about not talking about running all the time... I know it gets annoying because it annoys me when other people do it! The only other thing I think about these days is the late-2000s financial crisis (I'm working on about four different papers pertaining to it right now) and no one wants to hear about that either... Will reading more celebrity gossip make me a more interesting/bearable person? 8)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

plantar fasci-what??

I don't know if I've mentioned it in my blog yet, but I will be moving to Seattle this summer. Hans and I have been traveling back and forth between Seattle and Mobile for the last two years so this is going to be a terrific thing for us, but... I kind of love living on the Gulf Coast. Last night, I walked from my apartment to a yoga class downtown. My friend Trish and I yoga-ed it out and strolled over to one of my favorite places for dinner, The Royal Scam. We sat outside in beautiful 70 degree weather and I had sweet tea and an amazing bowl of crab and corn bisque. It was a perfect Wednesday night! Okay yes, I KNOW there is going to be PLENTY of yoga and seafood in Seattle, but gosh I finally started to lay down some roots in Mobile and it's time to start all over again. *sigh*... okay I'm done whining.

It's been about 4 weeks since I ran my first ever marathon in New Orleans and I have to say, not much has happened since then! I was itching to run the day after my 26.2, but I felt some tenderness and discomfort around the arch and heel of my left foot. I was limping pretty badly for the first few days and then it went away, but I could feel that my arch was still really stiff. It would flare up again if I wore flip flops or walked around barefoot so I did the nuttiest thing...

Currently, the least attractive shoes in my closet.

Chaco sandals, people! Holy smokes am I a believer. These guys are sooooo comfortable- I'm embarrassed for how much fun I made of my friends who wore them. And they really seem to help whatever weirdness is going on in my left foot (my google research seems to suggest that it is plantar fasciitis- HELP!!!). 

I ran a bit last week, with my long run being 5 miles on Saturday. I may run again this Saturday, but I'm going to be taking it easy until this funk goes away. Even spin class aggravates it. That sucks! The silver lining is that I've gone to yoga three times in the last week and I'm remembering how much I love it. :)

Monday, March 5, 2012

marathon- complete!

I got a text on Saturday afternoon that I would not need to work on the response this weekend so I immediately threw some stuff in a bag and headed for New Orleans! 2.5hrs later, my buddy Matt met me at the expo and helped me find my bib # and packet. Funny story- when I signed up for the marathon, I must have forgotten that I was signing up for a marathon because I listed my anticipated finish time as 1:59:00... I was hoping I'd end up in the 1st corral, but they stuck me in #17. Just as well.

That night, we went out to an Italian place in Metairie, LA for dinner and I had a GREAT fettucini alfredo and fried chicken dish (gotta love the South). It was a nice opportunity to catch up with some friends and relax before the big run. At dinner, Chrisy informed me that two of our friends had gotten t-shirts made in memory of Thomas for our group of buddies to wear at the Rock 'n' Roll. Matt and I picked up our shirts (which were actually tank tops) and I thought it would be great motivation for me to wear during my marathon debut.

I didn't sleep much. Jimmy had scored us a room at the Ritz Carlton on Canal (there was a massive leak at the hotel he had actually booked) but I was so nervous and anxious (and sad) that I may not have slept at all...  a rough start! At 6:30 we left our hotel and walked to the start at Poydras and Camp St. I was worried at first that I wouldn't be able to navigate us there but there were TONS of people to follow!!! It was amazing. Even more amazing than the size of the crowd was that I ran into my favorite spin instructor amidst the chaos! It was nice to see a friendly face because, of course, I had already gotten lost and separated from my group. I felt nervous about not having pooped yet (I used to get the same way before rugby games) so I got in one of the incredibly long porta-potty lines and waited it out. The gun fired and there were still probably a dozen people ahead of me in line. You can imagine what it looked like when I finally made it to the throne. Why the fuck couldn't I have pooped at the Ritz Carlton?! Anyway, after that horrific ordeal, I hopped into one of the corrals and actually ran into ANOTHER person that I knew. Kay was shooting for a 4:30 finish and I told her I'd hang on for as long as I could. I stuck with her for maybe 2 miles. Haha.

Okay I could give you the turn-by-turn but I'm already bored with that idea.

I finished in 4:50:39, which is a pace of 11:06. I think I feel the right mix of happiness and... I don't know... hopefulness, with that being my first marathon. I'm happy that I was able to finish it and I know there are a handful of things I can do differently next time to improve myself. The first tweak I think I ought to make to my training is incorporating more strength work. My quads and glutes were tired pretty much the entire time, but I never found myself breathing hard. This tells me that it probably was not necessary for me to supplement my cardio work with spin classes as often as I did. I think I would have had a more comfortable marathon if my legs were stronger. The second tweak that I (hope I) will make is incorporating more long runs, even if it means starting my training a few weeks earlier. Having a 20-mile run under my belt was invaluable, but I think my body would have been happier if it was more used to the impact. Exhibit A is my left heel/ankle which I am currently treating with alternating hot/cold packs.

The best part about my run is that I never really found myself hitting a wall. My pace was pretty consistent and manageable and it helped that there were water stations every 1.5-2 miles because I allowed myself to walk for a few seconds at each of them. I expected my mental state to deteriorate at mile 18 or 19, but it never really did. When the miles started to feel longer and longer, I just thought about the tank top I was wearing and how important it was to honor Thomas' memory by finishing well. My pace picked up significantly when I saw all my friends cheering me on in the home stretch. I had taken so long (most of my friends ran the 1/2M and my friend who ran the full with me finished it in 3:20) that I halfway expected them to have already left for the bars. But they were there in their tank tops! I sprinted to the finish and got my medal and snacks and hugged my friends. Side note: I am so lucky to have such great people in my life.

Running my first marathon was a great experience. Here's hoping my second marathon will be even more awesome! Guess what I signed up for today...

October 28, 2012!

I wondered if it was a bad idea for me to sign up for the Marine Corps Marathon this afternoon, as I gingerly hobbled across my living room to retrieve my credit card. I think the timing will be good though. I will have wrapped up my last long bike ride 2 months prior to the MCM, so I should be in good shape and I'll probably be anxious to switch my focus from cycling to running. I think it'll work out well.

Anyway, that was my marathon experience! I was somewhat consistent with my training, dropped off the face of the running planet for most of the month of February, ate awful food, slept very little (taking three classes this semester was SOOOOO stupid), and I still survived it. Great success!

Great motivation.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

CG HH-6535

It's been a really bizarre week. On Tuesday night, a Coast Guard HH-65 went crashed into the Mobile Bay with one of my friends as the co-pilot. I was called in to help manage the search and rescue and salvage operations and it has been a very emotionally-charged few days. Resources from several different agencies flooded the bay to search for the four crewmembers but the only person recovered on the first night was the rescue swimmer who was sadly declared deceased shortly thereafter. When they recovered the fuselage, the three missing crewmembers were not there. Dive teams worked exhaustingly long hours in the murky waters and were finally able to recover two of the bodies on Thursday. Thomas and LCDR Taylor were brought to Sector Mobile late on Thursday night and there was a small crowd of Sector and ATC members there to welcome them. It was one of the saddest experiences of my life, to see my friend and classmate wrapped in an American flag and carried into the ambulance. But I can't imagine not being there for that. 

Life is so fragile and precious... We Coast Guard men and women are such a small community that when something like this happens, we are all deeply affected. One of my best friends worked as a rescue swimmer with Fernando Jorge for years. Another friend of mine was stationed with Andrew Knight when they first came into the service. An award citation that Dale Taylor received as a LT has been circulating through my group of friends this week. If you get a second, please read it and consider the bravery and selflessness that is required of our aviators.   

And of course, Thomas Cameron. I had the great honor of meeting his parents and brother yesterday evening and it was great to hear everyone recount their hilarious and moving stories about Thomas. Sorely missed, he is.

I may have to work on the response tomorrow, so I'm not sure if the marathon is going to happen or not. It seems pretty insignificant to me right now. Honestly, I think I would rather work and be part of the team who gets to recover the final crewmember of HH-6535 (the flight mechanic is still missing) but I guess we'll just wait and see what happens.

My classmates set up a memorial fund for Thomas. If you are interested, please visit 

Your legacies live on in our hearts

Thursday, February 16, 2012

lazy legs

This Monday was my first run since the 20-miler. So weird- I hadn't taken that long of a break from running since... idk, October? It was really nice though. Between work, school, and family time last week, the only workout I got to was Wednesday's spin class. The biggest time suck of last week though?- MGB. I spent the last four months planning a Mardi Gras Ball and now that it's over (it happened on Friday), I feel like I have so much more time on my hands! It turned out to be a great event. The DJ was great, the live bands were great, the food was AWESOME, the photo booth was super fun, the professional photographer seemed to be doing a good job (we'll see when I get my picture back!), and I think it was fun for everyone to get dressed up and celebrate. I'm happy that it went so well and that it is behind me.

Carolina John had suggested that I up the pace on my shorter runs. I think I'm going to focus on that this week. I'm not sure if that's a great idea so late in the game, but running faster gets it over with quicker 8)
Yesterday, I ran 6 miles at a 9:30 pace. I was so much faster earlier in my  marathon training... I'm looking at my training log and I did the same run in November at a 8:59 pace. I don't like that. Is it because I shifted my focus from speed to distance? Yes, my capacity for endurance has vastly increased since November, but why should that change how I perform in shorter runs? I've got another five or six mile run this afternoon before class. Hoping that my lazy legs will carry me to a < 9:30 pace!
Spin class yesterday was rough again. I don't know what it is...  I felt weak and kind of nauseous in the second half of class and almost thought about cutting out early. Is this my body punishing me for taking last week off? Okay body, I'm sorry!!! Now can we get our shit together and wrap up these last 2 1/2 weeks before the marathon??!

On a lighter note, my mom posted this on my Facebible wall yesterday:

Is she saying I ought to drink more? Thanks, Mom 8)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

study break

It's been a crazy, crazy week. I cannot believe that it is already Wednesday. I drove back to Mobile this afternoon and I have this icky feeling in my stomach... I hate being here when my awesome family is hanging out with baby Lily without me. But I definitely had to come home. I had already missed three days of work and two classes and my cats were basically starving to death, so it's good that I'm back.

This is week one of my epic FOUR WEEK taper. It was supposed to be three weeks long, but I knew I wouldn't be able to get my 20-miler in this coming weekend so it was either four weeks of tapering or two weeks of tapering. Most people thought that I ought to train on the conservative side, this being my first jaunt into marathoning. This week is pretty shot for me, because of family time and Friday's Mardi Gras Ball and more family time, but I did manage a spin class tonight and I am planning a 10-mile run with Hans while he's here this weekend. I figure I kind of owe it to him, seeing as he was flying all this way to run a 1/2M in St. Pete. (We decided against making the trip so that we can spend time with my family. Priorities!)

Spin was kind of rough tonight. I don't know if I'm still fatigued from my run on Saturday, or just feeling shitty because of all the bad food I've eaten since this weekend (I was POOPED after being up all night at the hospital on Sunday and indulged in a Baconator on Monday... my first fast food of the new year!). After class, a bunch of people came up to me and asked how my marathon training was going. My first thought was, "Damn! I need to stop telling people about this! Now they all have expectations!" but really, it was kinda neat. Except for one of the guys I chatted with who is a very experienced long distance runner and cyclist and has run something like 30 marathons. He asked me how my 20-miler went and I have to say... I was pretty embarrassed to tell him. IT TOOK ME FIVE HOURS. He started doing the math out loud for what kind of pace I was running and I started making excuses "it was hilly, I had a cold/flu-thing, my legs were already tired, etc." All in all, not a very uplifting conversation. But he was nice about it and tried to be encouraging and I know it will motivate me to know that I have people that I am kind of sort of accountable to. I'm the kind of person who likes to keep goals a secret because I hate to let people down almost as badly as I hate to let myself down. Maybe it's time for me to nut up a bit.

Anyway, back to studying :-/

Monday, February 6, 2012

Baby girl!

I meant to write about a few things over the weekend. Let me just breeze through the highlights so I can cut to the awesome part :)

1) Finished my final long training run for the marathon! I ran 20 miles from Daphne, through Montrose and Fairhope, to Point Clear, and then back to Fairhope. I wanted to show a map of this run because I'm pretty proud of it, but I'm blogging from my phone and that might be a bit much for this ol' iPhone to handle. The run was TOUGH. Much harder than my previous long runs and I think that was partially due to the awesome hills of the Eastern Shore and maybe the 16 mi run that I did less than a week before this one. My friend Sam ran the last half of the run with me and thank goodness, because I really needed the company! Now I just have to heal up and maintain my fitness for the marathon on March 4th!

2) I ate a lot of amazing food this weekend. Xiaobin and Melissa came to Mobile and we hit up this incredible jazz brunch on Sunday morning. Here is a list of things that I ate: eggs Benedict, bananas foster French toast, lasagna (such an amazing breakfast item), king cake pastries (almost choked on one of the babies), scrambled eggs, bacon, and a waffle. If you think this is stupid excessive, allow me to offer an excuse. I was pretty nauseous and icky all day Saturday (after my run) so this was the first real meal I had in 24hrs. I enjoyed the hell out of it.

3) I watched the Super Bowl last night (duh) and came home and chatted with my Hans about our plans for St. Pete next weekend. We were really looking forward to running the 1/2M but not sure what to do because my sister was looking like she might be ready to go into labor sometime soon. Seconds after I got off the phone with Hans, Joann called me and told me that her water broke! I threw some stuff in a backpack and arrived in Slidell, LA at around 2am. I was really scared of what it would be like in the deliery room and what my sister would be like but the atmosphere was not chaotic at all; it was very quiet and focused. It was such a blessing to see my sister and brother in law work as a team to deliver our baby girl. I was floored by how strong and serene my beautiful sister was through her labor and how nurturing and encouraging Ben was to Joey. I wanted to step in and hold Joann's hand and help her push an be part of the action, but it was Ben and Joann's show and all they needed was each other. Lily McCrae was born at 6:05am today. She is such a precious thing! She's goofy like her daddy and sweet and good-natured like her mommy. She's nursing beautifully and great at napping. I don't have a lot of experience with babies, but Lily seems like an awesome one :)

I'm an aunt!