Thursday, December 29, 2011

17 miles in the Eastern Shore

Yesterday, I met up with my friend Sam at the public library in Daphne for the LONGEST RUN OF MY LIFE (seems like I'm doing that every week, these days) - 17 miles. It was in the low 40s and I felt extremely underdressed, but I figured I'd get warm in the first few miles and that it would heat up towards the end of our run. We set off to run along the Eastern Shore Trail from Daphne to Fairhope. 

32 paved miles from Battleship Park to the Weeks Bay Reserve. Awesome!

This was the first run I've done with another person, while training for the marathon- and it was an absolutely critical one to have company. And to make it even cooler, Sam is the only woman I know to have completed a full IronMan! In short, she kicks a lot of ass. 

We talked a lot about her IronMan preparation and she told me that the most crucial thing she learned was heart rate training. She explained that most people struggle with their training because they don't know how to properly pace themselves and will tend to swim/bike/run much faster than they ought to. This is the wrong way to train because it causes your body to operate at heart rate outside of the fat burning zone. Basically, your body stops burning fat because your workout requires something with a higher caloric value so it ends up burning muscle instead. This opens you up to more injury risks and causes you to feel burned out and exhausted by the end of your workout. Training in the appropriate heart rate zone forces people to move slower than they would, but it allows your body to operate in the aerobic zone which is where your body most efficiently burns fat. Sam said that if you do it right, you should feel refreshed by the end of a long workout. I can't say I've felt that way after my long runs!

Before I knew it, we had run 8.5 miles and it was time to turn around! I couldn't believe what a difference it made to run with someone else, especially someone as interesting and experienced as Sam. It was a gorgeous run and I was really enjoying myself... until right around mile 15. Sam has ITBS and it really started to bother her towards the end of our run. My aches and pains were isolated in the arches of my feet, which was annoying but still MUCH better than what I had experienced in my other long runs. Then, we both started to feel nauseous which Sam said was a symptom of dehydration. At mile 16.3 (estimation), we saw an oasis in the desert...

We crawled in and said "we don't have any money, but if you give us some lemonade we'll love you forever and come back from lunch!" and they said "Alright, ya'll!" 

We sipped our half lemonade/half water beverages and they were sooo incredibly refreshing! I felt much better and extremely grateful to the kind folks at East Shore Cafe. Thanks to them, Sam and I were able to safely make it back to the library where our cars were parked. We had to walk a little because our legs had stiffened up from our break at the Cafe, but we survived and I'm still counting it as 17 miles completed!

Today, I'm feeling a little tightness in my calves but other than that, I'm just fine. Might do a spin class with Hans this afternoon to loosen everything up. Might also invest in a heart rate monitor ;)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

musings on millionairesses

I took my car in for an oil change, tire balance & rotation, software update, and Auto Butler and they said "Alright Ma'am, have a seat over there and we'll come and get you in about three hours." THREE HOURS?!!! Who has that kind of time to just "have a seat"??!!! The kind service attendant registered my obvious look of discontentment and offered, "Or if you're interested, we can have our driver take you somewhere!" 

And so Clinton, the driver, shuttled my ass to the nearest YMCA. The Y in Daphne is so much nicer than the Y downtown (which is the one that I always work out at). It doesn't have that weird rubbery track smell (like 5th Deck Roland) and all the cardio machines have their own television screens. I watched two episodes of Millionaire Matchmaker and ran 7 miles. Awesome.

It was a real treat for me because the "free basic cable" that comes with my apartment has been down for.. uhh... a few months. I'm not a big television watcher, but every so often I do enjoy several dead-brained hours of Bravo. 

There were three millionairesses in the two episodes that I watched, which I thought was pretty awesome. It must be tough to be a woman on that show, though. The line-up that Patti picked out for the women was chock full of greasy, schmucky dudes whose eyes were practically rolling in their skulls with $$ signs. Of course when the millionaires are dudes, it really isn't any different for their picking pool. This show is so incredibly shallow. That might be why I love it??

I bet you couldn't find me a bloke as dashing as the one I've already got, Patti!

It's late. I'm tired. Goodnight.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

>1 pull-up in 2012!

3 mile run this morning, followed by a solid half hour of stretching. I had wanted to run 4 miles, but I was having a really hard time distracting myself. There were no handsome dudes or attractive ladies to check out and there was nothing interesting on television. I tried to watch coverage of Kim Jong Il's death, but it sucks trying to focus on a subtitled news report on a television halfway across the room. So after ~30 minutes of running, I found a quiet place to listen to my weird classical music and zen out. I did the usual stretches and focused a lot on my right hip because it was extra achey on my run yesterday and clicked a bit on my run this morning. Pigeon- I'm telling you... do it. 

I wish I had a foam roller though. It was a major staple for Coast Guard Women's Rugby. On the first morning workout after every game, we'd head up to CDR Shumway's and he'd have us do light cardio for 15-20 minutes and foam roll/stretch for the rest of the workout. We'd roll out our hammies, quads, glutes, calves, backs, and hips and it was wonderous. Some of the more jacked gals would also roll out their shoulders/arm muscles but I never had any arm muscles to speak of, and foam rolling my upper body always felt like a weird bone massage. Icky.

I think one of my fitness resolutions for the New Year will be to (finally) improve on my upper body strength. With the exception of what I absolutely HAD to do to pass the Physical Fitness Exam twice a year, I shied away from upper body work. Severely. Most of the time, I was too embarrassed to practice push-ups or lift weights even when I was the only person in the gym! It's funny how self consciousness can be such a barrier to self improvement. But anyway, in 2012, I would like to be able to do a pull up. Even if it's just one! 

Single-hand pull-ups may be my fitness goal for 2022.

Monday, December 19, 2011

the longest run of my life, closely followed by the longest run of my life

So 14 miles happened on Friday. I got out of work a bit early, dashed home to throw together a playlist (highlights: David Gueta's "Titanium" (feat. Sia) and Jay-Z & Kanye "N****s in Paris"), and I hit the road, nervous for the adventure to come. It wasn't a mind game until about the 10th mile. My hips started aching, my knees felt like they were swelling up, and the arches of my feet were SOO stiff. It got worse and worse from there, but the silver lining is that I never felt like I was breathing hard. Which probably means I was running slower than shit, but HEY- it's something!

Side note- when "Paradise"- Coldplay started playing ~3/4 of the way through my run, I felt totally euphoric and like everything was going to be alright. It took my mind off the aches and pains and I felt really proud of myself for this 14-mile run (which was a real milestone for me) and for what I have yet to accomplish. 

Saturday and Sunday were a bust. I was in New Orleans eating and drinking all those calories back. Highlights- bread pudding pancakes at The Ruby Slipper Cafe in Mid City and braised lamb shank with grits at The Irish House. Incredible!! It's no wonder that I haven't lost any weight since I started this eating plan- I mean TRAINING PLAN. 

But anyway, today was the start of Week 8! With Christmas being right around the corner, I figured that I probably wasn't going to do much working out after Thursday or Friday sooooo I made an interesting (read- STUPID) change to my work out plan... and did my long run today. FIFTEEN MILES! OUCH! The first five miles were terrific. I felt loose and I was able to find a really comfortable rhythm but, of course, that nice feeling was not meant to last. Today's aches and pains were the same as Friday's but they set in a lot harder, although again I didn't feel like I was working hard, cardiovascularly. Does this mean that I need to replace some spin workouts/runs with weight training? Help! I don't want my legs to pop off in the middle of this marathon! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

day of rest!

Ahh... I've been waiting all week for this day. The day my feet, knees, calves, quads, hamstrings, core, and BRAIN gets to recover from all the mess I put myself through since my last day off (last week Tuesday). The day that my "workout plan" says STRETCH and that's it! No spin class, no weight lifting, no running, just resting and recovering.  And maybe some Ben & Jerry's.

Sometimes it's hard for me to take a day off from working out. I'll get out of work and think "You know what? I feel fine today, and today is a perfectly good day to train so why waste it!" but Hal Higdon has a lot to say about the benefits of rest and I figure he probably knows better than I do. Ed Eyestone of Runner's World Magazine says that a rest day is as crucial to his training as a long run. Does that mean I'm off the hook for tomorrow's 14-miler????!!

Back to the subject of stretching, behold- one of the best tricks I learned from Chris G at Synergy Yoga.

The Pigeon Pose

*cooo... cooo...*

It can be difficult and painful at first- but once you're able to relax into this pose, it works wonders for hip/glute tightness! I like to listen to classical music while I'm stretching because it makes me feel like a beautiful, graceful ballerina (or maybe it's because I get so damn tired of Ke$ha and Lil' Wayne by the end of a workout). Last week, I listened to Claude Debussy's "Menuett" as I stretched each hip flexor and I'm telling you- it totally transported me. Duuude...

And for the days when I'm feeling EXTRA fancy...

But gosh- that looks like way too much work for this rest day. And you can't devour a pint of Ben & Jerry's Chubby Hubby with your arms all twisted up like that!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

sweet, delicious runner's high

I'm using Hal Higdon's Novice 2 Marathon guide to train for my first marathon in March. I have (somehow) managed to stay pretty true to it for the past six weeks, but this week is making me nervous. My long training run is 14 miles.

... I've never run 14 miles...

Last week, I was supposed to run 9 miles and I gave up. List of excuses: it was cold and windy out, my legs were tired, I was tired, etc. Now it's this nagging splinter in my mind, making it tough for me to believe in myself. Luckily, fear is a big motivator for me. The feeling of taking on a challenge that seems insurmountable and then FINISHING is such a high. I want that high, I NEED that high. 

Today was a 4 mile run, my last short run of the week. I wanted to finish it in 35 minutes, for a 9:00 pace. I felt really strong as I started picking up the pace (maybe it was the amazing caesar salad I had for lunch at Mellow Mushroom!) and I ended up finishing at 34:13, for an 8:33 pace! Ahhh sweet victory. Sweet high. So what did I do to reward myself? I jetted to Bill's 5:30pm spin class at the Y. Now THAT was a mistake. We got these new bikes at the gym and whenever we brought the resistance up "a quarter turn", it felt like a FULL TURN. I was sweating like it was a BHYM class, for real. 

Side note: How is it so much easier to run before a spin class than it is to run after a spin class? I practiced a "transition run" after spinning a few weeks ago and felt like my legs were made of steel. I don't mean my legs felt jacked, just incredibly HEAVY. I think I might have made it two miles. Triathletes- how do you do the bike -> run thing so well??!

And here, for your viewing pleasure, is a picture of my favorite triathlete- Jimmy Krebs, emerging from the Gulf of Mexico having caught a red snapper during the swimming portion of his 70.3 (half ironman).

Gotta get your protein somehow!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

giving this a second chance

So I guess I haven't posted a while! The funny thing about this blog is it totally helped me get over my fear of the 188 miles, but it made me terrified to have my writing out in public for the world to see. There are a few things that I am super self conscious about- and even though writing is my oldest pasttime, sharing what I write has always made me uncomfortable. I guess ultimately, this blog was scarier to me than my bike ride from Seattle to Vancouver. I'm SO GLAD that I didn't give up on the RSVP (which was an amazing experience... maybe I'll write about it another day) but I wish I would have stayed true to writing about my progress.

Today, I was reading Jamie Tomc's marathon training blog and her writing totally inspired me to pick this thing back up. I don't think that I need it to stay accountable to my workouts or fitness goals, but it maybe is a tool that I can use to stay accountable to my writing. I don't know Jamie, but I'm getting to know her through her writing and I am so impressed with her drive and with her heart (not to mention her athleticism!). She is training for a marathon in April to honor and support loved ones who have fought the battle of cancer. Jamie is raising money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Tis the season, my friends!