Half Marathon Training: Week 11

I don’t know in the ten years that I’ve lived in New England that we’ve ever had a winter like this.  I remember I used to say to friends here that winters in Michigan were colder, snow was more frequent, and you’d have constant snow cover all winter long, since the temperatures rarely got above freezing.  In other words, things that don’t normally happen here.

They’ve all happened here.  This was another week of battling life and the elements in trying to get the runs in.  The race is in 13 days, and so tapering technically is supposed to have begun.  I was scheduled to do my last long run Sunday, but then we had a big snow storm.  Normally I would move it to the next day, today, but the kids had a school delay and the roads are just a mess from all of the snow.  So I’ve decided to attempt it tomorrow.  We’ll see how it goes.

I also had a car accident on Thursday.  I’m OK, but the car is not.  It was after I’d gotten my run in, at least, but it screwed up the next few days for me as well.  And while I think that I feel stronger this training cycle, I know that I had a much easier time sticking to my training plan for my half last year.

Still, I’m not worried.  As a friend said at the gym last week, “You got in an eleven miler, you’ll be fine.”  And I know that’s true.

This week looked like this:

Tues:  Rest
Wed:  30 min.  HIIT class
Thurs:  3.3 miles @ 13:15 pace and 30 min. HIIT class
Fri:  Rest
Sat:  60 min yoga
Sun:  6.5 miles @ 13:18 pace (treadmill)
Mon:  3 miles @ 13:15 pace (treadmill)

This coming week looks snowy again.  We may in fact get snow tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday all in a row.  But the snow shouldn’t start until late in the afternoon, so my 12 miler should happen.  I hope so.

Clean Eating Update: Week 1

So last week I ranted on about “cleansing” and how these companies are selling the fact that our bodies are loaded with hidden toxins that only their products can rid you of.  I have never been a fan of any program that tries to tell you what they sell is better than plain old common sense food and lifestyle choices (I’m talking even about Slim Fast, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem as well as these newer “nutritional rebalancing” programs like Isagenix or Beachbody).  Sure anyone can eat/drink the prescribed packaged food or potions, but can you live like that your whole life?  Does it really teach you about food and nutrition and what is best for your body?  And don’t even get me started about how our bodies are time bombs that need to be cleansed of all of their toxins.

Anyway, I decided it was time to put my money where my mouth was, since I hate people who are all talk and no action.  Rather than go the misery route, I decided to bite off cleaner eating one step at a time.  First stop:  sugar.  I decided to cut back on all added sugars, both real and artificial, in my diet. I said I would cut out desserts, sweets, everything possible that has added sugar.

How’d I do?  Well I think I did pretty well.  The biggest thing was eliminating the Equal/Splenda in my coffee each day.  I have two cups a day and put in a packet every single time.  So right away I was making a big change.  It wasn’t easy, but within just a few days I got used to the flavor of the unsweetened almond milk as my flavoring of choice.  The other big change was not adding a dollop of maple syrup in my oatmeal.  I swapped that out for sliced or mashed bananas and that has been OK.

I didn’t eat any sweets or desserts.  It honestly wasn’t that hard since I’m not a huge dessert eater any way.

The one area in question for me is other items that have sugar in them, like my power bars and granola bars.  My Kashi bars had “cane syrup” so I let that one slide, but my Kind bars have sugar and so do the Clif ones.  My plan is to have them only sparingly.

I started feeling a little better right away, but now this feels normal.  So we’ll see.  No headaches or anything like that.

For Week 2 I have decided to eliminate dairy.  This one is tricky because I do eat Greek yogurt often, probably five days a week.  I have found some non dairy alternatives, but all of them in my local grocery had added sugar, even the Stonyfield soy.  I bought two but then found some plain ones at another store, so I’ll just work through these (using them only sparingly as a topping for oatmeal) until they’re gone and then work with the plain.

I’ve already switched to almond milk in my coffee so that won’t be hard.  The biggest problem there is having coffee out.  Yesterday I had coffee out with girlfriends and had to take it black because all they had was cream.  But it was doable.

Beyond those two items, I think the hardest will be cheese on pizza.  We eat a fair amount of pizza, especially during Lent when it is a good meatless option.  At this point I plan on taking the cheese off.  We’ll see how it goes.

So far I’m down about two pounds, which is less than I was hoping for, since I’m really carefully tracking as well.  But the whole point of this journey is not the quick fix, it is to slowly clean up my habits in a way that can stick, so I need to let that go and focus on feeling good and healthy.

Half Marathon Training: Week 10

Another week under Mother Nature’s frozen grip here in SW CT.  It has been such a struggle to get the runs in this week, but I have done each run, all the way through, no splits (well except the one on Tuesday to finish out last Monday, but that’s technically last week, right?).   This is probably the first week I can say that, and it’s about time.  I do hate the listing of treadmill runs here. I am consistently slower on the treadmill than I am outside, so my paces are not great this week.  Here’s what the week looked like:

Tues:  2.5 miles @ 12:51 pace (treadmill)
Wed:  3 mile jog @ 13:37 pace (treadmill)
Thu:  6.57 miles @ 12:57 pace (outdoors in 15 degrees….aka the water bottle run)
Fri:  1 hr 15 minutes of bootcamp
Sat:  1 hour of yoga
Sun:  shoveling snow (sigh……)
Mon:  11 miles @ 14:18 pace (treadmill)

Yes, you read that right.  I knocked out 11 miles on the treadmill today.

I was all geared up to run outside today.  Unfortunately the snow we had Sunday AM had lots of melt on Sunday PM and refroze overnight.  When I drove my son to school I saw ice everywhere on the sides of the road, and I just knew it wasn’t a good idea.  Plus the temps have plummeted again to a brisk 15 degrees, but today with a nasty wind.

A friend of mine at church yesterday cautioned me not to try running on the ice.  I groaned and asked how does one go so long on a treadmill?  She replied she’d done a marathon on a treadmill once.   She said, “Just put on some movies and go for it.”

So that’s what I did.

I set up my laptop near the treadmill and started.  The first movie I chose wasn’t a good running movie.  I needed something that I knew well enough that it was OK to miss some dialog, but something that kept my interest.  Kind of like one of those movies you can never pass up when they’re on USA or TBS?  Once I realized that, I switched to Sweet Home Alabama and I was in like flynn.

I’m not going to say I enjoyed this run.  I pretty much hated it.  Especially when the movie was over before the run was (second choice:  Music and Lyrics).  But I took it slow and easy and I got through the miles.  Just like it would have been outside, there was a lot of walking in those last three miles, but whatever.  I got the miles done.  I didn’t split the run.  I needed to get this run done.  I haven’t run a long run straight since 8.5 over a month ago, due to our weather.  I had to do this.  And I did.

My feet were plenty sore after.  I did put on my new compression socks and that seems to have really helped the leg soreness.  After a few hours, I felt fine again.  So yay me.

The weather looks cold but clear for this week (finally!) so hoping to get a week of runs in without too much juggling or rescheduling.  We’ll see how it goes.  This week includes what should be my last long run, and then I start to taper.  I can’t even believe I’m nearly there.  Seems impossible.  But here we are.

You Know You’re Sick of the Treadmill When…

So I haven’t run on pavement in 11 days.  Today I had in my training plan a 6.5 mile run.  I took my kids out for the bus, and decided I was going to try and run this outside.  Mind you, it was 12 degrees out, which is about 5 degrees below what my general minimum outdoor running temperature.  But the mere thought of running that long on the treadmill made me consider it.  While it was cold, it wasn’t terribly windy and also the sun was rising bright and strong.  I decided to go for it.

I suited up:  running tights and yoga pants over that on the bottom, a tech T, loose fitting light shirt and then my heavy fleece on top.  I added a scarf, which I never do, figuring I could take it off when I got too warm (spoiler alert, I never did).  My running headband, my awesome running gloves and my phone.  The final thing I added was a small water bottle from my running belt in the inner pocket of my fleece.

I headed out and immediately felt super cold, even with all of the layers.  I tightened up my scarf and told myself if I didn’t get warm, I would turn around and go home.  I planned a route that looped around the neighborhood, so I would never be more than a mile and a half from home.

Within half a mile, I started to feel that familiar tingle of my body warming up, and felt relieved.  It really was a beautiful morning and the roads were actually clear, which lately is unusual with all the snow we’ve been having.  Still, I could feel my legs were still not warming up the way the rest of me was, and that nagged at me.

At about 1.25 miles in, I stopped to take a sip from my water bottle.  And that’s when I realized why my legs weren’t warm.  My water bottle had been leaking in my inner pocket the whole time.  It was about half empty, and the pocket was soaked, as was the left leg of my yoga pants.  No wonder why they weren’t feeling warm!

I stood there for a minute and contemplated what to do.  It didn’t take long to decide to keep going.  Now that I’d emptied the bottle, the spot should dry since my blood filled legs would warm up the spot.  Right?

Another half mile or so and I could tell the spot still felt really cold.   Noticeably colder than my right leg.  I looked down and saw that the front of my pants was icy.  Holy crap!  So was the inside of my jacket.  It was 15 degrees out.  Of course the water would freeze!  Damn!

But I still didn’t want to go home.  The rest of me felt completely warm and comfortable and the run was feeling so good.  I hiked up the fleece away from my body and pressed on.  This worked until the 3.5 mile mark or so.  At that point I was starting to think I was a little nuts.  My leg would warm up, I’d drop the jacket, it would start feeling cold again, repeat.  I finally turned around to go home.

At some point though, I realized, the leg felt OK again.  By now I was over four miles in.  I could turn around and go home, or add one more loop to go for five.  I decided to do it, and see where that put me.

Wouldn’t you know at the end of that loop, my pants started to seem like they were drying off.  The leg felt fine, and the thought of hitting my treadmill for the last 1.5 miles just seemed silly.  I could finish the run.  I turned one more time to add a longer loop.

By the time I returned home, I had completed 6.57 miles.  And if it weren’t for that damn leaking water bottle, I could have easily kept going.  It could have been a terrible run, but it ended up being a great one.  The sun was shining, and the rest of my layers worked perfectly, so I know now that I can run now even when it is 12-15 degrees, which is great because the treadmill is truly sucking the fun out of this training for me.

I haven’t put in a run over 5.5 miles all in one stretch in exactly a month, so today was exactly the confidence booster I needed.

To Cleanse Or Not To Cleanse

Everywhere I go anymore, people are trying to sell me on cleansing.  It’s been building to a fever pitch over the last few months and I honestly just can’t take it anymore!  Ugh to cleansing.

I don’t believe my body is toxic and holding onto very, very bad things.  I believe my body is built to cleanse itself and it does (that’s what the liver and kidneys are for).  I’m tired of people trying to sell me on pills and powders and telling me that my food, real food, is not nutritious enough.

I get the desire to lose weight, I do.  Believe me, I want to lose weight as well.  And if you’ve got 50+ pounds to lose, I’m not averse to you going on one of these programs to get that jump start you need to get you back on track.  My frustration is honestly not with people like that.  My frustration is with healthy, perfectly healthy people who are already at their healthy weight signing up for this program because they are being sold a bill of goods that their bodies need extra help “cleansing” themselves.  I call bullshit.

The thing about these programs are, in addition to all the pills and potions they sell you (and make no mistake, these programs are expensive ways to achieve weight loss or bliss or health or whatever you’re after), they ask you to do the actual real things that are probably the real reasons why people feel so good (after the first lousy few weeks of it, I mean).

They ask you to do what any sane person knows you should do to clean up your diet:  cut out booze, sugar and caffeine.  Cut out processed foods.  Cut out dairy and wheat.  Hello, it’s Whole 30 but with better money making potential!

And in case you don’t know how I really feel about it, here it is for you in one sentence (caps intended): YOU AREN’T CLEANSING YOUR BODY WHEN YOU PUMP IT FULL OF ARTIFICIAL, PROCESSED CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here’s the thing though.  When I tell this to friend after friend who jumps on the cleansing bandwagon (and at this point I count 8 at least), they look at me funny.  You know why?  Because if I know all of this, if this is true and I believe it, why have I gained weight this year?  Why aren’t I skinny and at my healthy weight?  Where do I get off saying this stuff when obviously I could use a cleanse or two, right?

And they have a point.

So it’s time.  It’s time to put my money where my mouth is.  Starting today, I’m going to, one week at a time, start cleaning up my eating (and drinking).  I know myself better than to go cold turkey on all of my bad habits because I’ll be setting myself up for failure.  But here’s what I am going to do:  for the next six weeks, I am going to focus on one thing, one habit, one thing that I am eating or drinking that is not helping my body be the best it can be.

This week?  Sugar.

I am going to start the process by cutting out sugar wherever I can, including artificial sweeteners.  For the next six weeks (Hello, Lent) I am going to cut out desserts, sweets, added sugar, added artificial sweeteners (I use it every single day in my coffee and I know it’s horrendous for me).

That’s it.  Step one.  Sugar.  One step closer to being cleaner.

Because I truly do believe that I can “cleanse” my body by eating whole, real, honest, natural foods.  And I would really, REALLY, REALLY like to be able to use my own progress to be able to prove it.

Here we go.

Half Marathon Training: Week 9

Week 9: aka the week that wasn’t.

I had the best of intentions, I did.  I rescheduled all but one of my runs for outside of the time that I had intended to travel to Florida for my dad’s wedding last week.  I packed my running gear, looking forward to some warm weather runs in the sun.

They didn’t happen.

I left my house early (and by early I mean 3:45 am) Wednesday morning.  After a mad dash in the dark down to the airport and a even madder dash to meet my second plane in Atlanta, I arrived in warm and sunny Sarasota, FL.  I knew that day wouldn’t have a run in the cards, although the dashing and a bit of meandering through the streets of downtown counted for a little something.

Thursday was wedding day, and if I’d been more on the ball, I would have gotten up early and ran that morning; it was the quietest.  But I’d wanted to spend time with my Dad, and then my siblings arrived and we spent some time together by the pool in the hotel (again, if I’d been thinking, I would have at least suggested a walk around the grounds, but I digress).

On Friday my Dad met us early for breakfast, and I was too hung over from the wedding the night before to get up before he arrived to hit the treadmill.  We spent the morning doing some touristy stuff in Sarasota together, and then had dinner with the happy couple.  I had hoped to run on the beach, or at least walk on it, but a change of plans prevented that.

On Saturday, again, I had intended to go either out on the road or onto the treadmill for a run, but the schedule proved too tight.  I did walk around a bit at the Farmers’ Market that morning.  We were all scheduled to leave that day, but while my siblings made it out alright, my flight was cancelled and I moved out of the hotel and back to my dad’s for the extra night.  I toyed with the idea of an afternoon run, but instead opted for a post dinner stroll with my dad around downtown.  I was glad for the extra time with him, for sure.

On Sunday, again, I probably could have pushed myself out of bed early for a run, but spending time with my dad and his new spouse seemed like the better choice.  I spent the rest of the day traveling back home, arriving back to frigid cold temps and a happy family.

On the plus side, my legs were itching for a run this morning, and I nailed my nearly 5 mile treadmill run.  I went much faster than I thought I would be able to after a slow first mile.  Clearly this is why people taper before a race.  The five days of rest definitely left me feeling fresh and ready to run.

So, it was not a great week mileage wise, although it was a great week for my family.  :)  Time to get back into training with just a month left to go!
Tuesday:  3.2 treadmill miles at 13:40 pace, plus shoveling
Wednesday:  walking through airports and around town
Thursday:  rest
Friday:  walking around town
Saturday:  walking around town
Sunday:  walking through airports
Monday:  4.71 treadmill miles at 12:44 pace

Half Marathon Training: Week 8

Still stuck in the snow here in SW CT.  We have had snow every few days and often, cold to go along with it.  It could be worse of course….we’re not Boston, so where they have gotten 15-20″ storms, we’ve gotten 12″, 8″, 4″, 6″….it just keeps coming though.  It wreaks havoc on the kids’ school schedules (they are out today for the third Monday in a row, and only had two full days of school last week) and of course, my training.  But somehow, I logged the miles this week.

Monday:  Shoveling
Tuesday:  4.5 @ 12:48 and then 5.5 @ 14:02, treadmill runs
Wednesday:  HIIT class
Thursday:  3 miles @ 13:07 and boxing class
Friday:  kickboxing and strength classes
Saturday:  3.6 miles @ 12:53 outside (messy)
Sunday:  5.2 miles @ 12:50 outside
Monday:  4 miles @ 12:54 treadmill and shoveling
I know.  It’s a weird week.  Besides my broken up ten miles on Monday (the only way I could eek out a ten miler on the treadmill was to break it up) there aren’t any big long runs.

My ASICS training plan finished out my “Getting Faster” this week and started the “Going Further” portion. I’m not entirely sure then why it didn’t ask me to do any longer runs…during Getting Faster it had me doing 8.5 mile runs.  But this week it dropped me back down to 6.5 mile runs, but it was asking me to do them faster.  Between the snow and traveling this week, I had two 6.5 mile runs scheduled for this weekend, a total of thirteen miles.  I took my dog for my run on Saturday, intending to do four or five miles, but the melty, dirty snow was just too much for him.  He was filthy and the melt was refreezing on his legs and torso, so I had to cut it short.  I intended to go further the following day, but then my shoes, which I purchased half a size too small a month and a half ago, started to rub the wrong way and I was seriously hurting.  And then this morning, due to a total math miscalculation, I logged four miles, which I thought put me over the top of my mileage goal but actually put me 0.2 below it.  Not a huge deal, of course, but still.

I am getting better at doubling up on activities.  Either two runs or a run and a class, or a run and shoveling, something I never really felt OK with before.  I’m not seeing any great gains in speed either, and I know it is because I’m just trying to get through the miles.  I am supposed to do a three mile jog tomorrow, but I will try to turn it into an interval run if the shoveling doesn’t leave me too sore today.

At this point my plan says that I have completed 34/54 prescribed runs, and I have logged 144 miles out of 257.  So I’m over half way there, which makes sense as the race is just over a month away.  The biggest mileage weeks are the next two and a half weeks.   It’s surreal.

 

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