Archive | June 2014

The Road to the Half: Recovery

Everyone has been asking me “how do you feel?” in the four days since the half.  And I have to say, I feel much better than I thought I would.  I have to chalk it up to a lengthy training plan which I feel really prepared me for the race (if you’re wondering, it was the free Beginner Half Marathon to Finish in the RunKeeper app).

The worst thing by far for me has been my feet.  I’ve got blisters on several toes and they are still kind of sore.  I have very wide feet, and it took me forever to even find shoes that were comfortable to run in.  And I still think I have not found the best sweat wicking socks to prevent the blisters on long runs.  I’ve not had this problem really much before, only once I hit the 8+ mile mark.

That being said, I have had almost no soreness whatsoever in my legs, which has surprised me.  I did walk around a fair bit after the race, and stretched before I left the site.  I took a slow two mile walk the next day.  I did nothing the second day after, but I went to bootcamp yesterday.  Thankfully, we did strength work, which worked many other muscle groups.

Today I did my first run since the half.  I had planned on three easy miles outside, but I overslept and woke up to very humid 70+ degrees.  Blech.  I opted for the treadmill instead.  And it felt really good.  I kept it slow and easy, but felt strong the whole time.  The blister on my big toe started talking to me in the last mile, but otherwise, felt pretty much normal and recovered.

I have been being careful to drink more water than usual, and I think that has helped part of my recovery too.

Everyone keeps asking me, “Will you do a full marathon now?”  I have to say, at this point, the answer is a firm no.  I can’t ever imagine it.  The half was very hard for me, and it took a great deal of time and commitment to train for.  I can’t imagine running for six hours, which is what it would take me at a minimum, to complete 26.2.

That being said, I could see doing another half.  It would have to be a destination event, though, I think.  Not just another half locally that’s “fast and flat” or anything like that.  No matter what the terrain is, thirteen miles is a long way, and I’m going to need some other incentive other than to “just do it” to sign up for another.  Either traveling, awesome scenery, great friends, or something.

Have to say, though, it does feel really great to see that 13.1 magnet on my car.  🙂

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Wednesday Weigh In

I’m up two pounds this week and not the least bit surprised by it (pissed off about it yes, surprised about it, no).

In the few days before the half, I allowed myself to indulge a little.  I told myself I needed the fuel.  And honestly, I don’t think that was the problem based on my weight the morning after the race (which yes, if you’re keeping score that was a whole two days ago).

I told myself since the race I needed to recover.  I walked the first day, two something miles.  I felt good, really good.  Yesterday, with the summer vacation in full swing and unexpected meetings thrown onto my schedule, I didn’t exercise at all (I’d planned a walk).

I told myself it was OK to reward myself with dessert the night of the half (and every night since).  I told myself it was OK to have an extra drink because I’d burned 1300+ calories at the half (and have, every night since….the drink I mean, not the burning of extra calories).

And then there’s the unexpected visit from Aunt Flo eight days early (WTF perimenopause?).

Add it all up and I’m swinging back up the pendulum the wrong way.  And I can feel it:  the urge to bypass bootcamp this week, to maybe take a Whole Week Off from worrying about food and exercise, the thought that maybe where I am right now isn’t quite so bad and maybe I need to just stop trying so hard.

So, obviously, none of those things are going to happen.  I’m going to go and get dressed for bootcamp this morning, I already ate my normal sized healthy breakfast, and I’m going to have a good day today.  That’s the only thing I can do at this point.  I can beat myself up about the missteps over the last two, three, seven days, or I can suck it up and move (mostly) forward.

Obviously I choose to move forward.

Current Week: + 2 lbs (ugh ugh ugh)
Total Weight Left To Lose:  12.4 lbs
Age:  43
BMI:  27.8  (ugh ugh ugh)

The Road to the Half: The Race Recap

Yesterday afternoon around 3pm I thought, “Wow, I’ll be done with the half by this time tomorrow.”  And so I am.  I’m done.  I still can’t really believe I did it.

I got up around 5:15 this morning.  I’d pretty much packed everything the day and night before, so there wasn’t much to do but savor a cup of coffee and catch up with a few things online.  I double checked everything in the bag, and left my house around 5:35.  If I’ve learned anything about tight parking at races, it’s to leave early.

I arrived at Jennings Beach in Fairfield around 6:05.  It was, indeed, early.  There was tons of parking available, so I snagged a spot very close to the pavilion where all of the pre race activity was (and, more importantly, the porta potties).  It was early, so I chilled for a while, went through my bag again, and just tried to zen out.

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Finally I ventured out of the car to see what vendors were set up.  What luck to find a running store had brought tons of stuff to sell, including small belts that can carry a few gels and keys.  I had chosen to wear pants with a pocket, but they didn’t really hold the small tube of Vaseline I wanted to carry with me and reapply during the race.  The belt I found was perfect.  I snagged it and a few gels (wasn’t sure of availability on the course, although I know they were supposed to be handing them out) and set it up.

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The weather was beautiful, even a bit cool, as I killed time before the race.  I used the bathrooms a lot, not wanting to have to on the road.  I enjoyed the scenery and plotted out my race strategy, trying to fight off nervousness.  Basically, I decided to walk every hill.  I knew I couldn’t spare the energy they would take to run and go the whole thirteen miles.  I also decided I’d walk through every water stop I got water at.  I wasn’t sure if I’d need them all (there were nine on the course map) but if I was getting water, I’d walk.

I ventured out to the start line about twenty minutes before race time since there really wasn’t anything else to do.  This year, they’d separated out the men and women with two different starts (although elite women runners were supposed to go to the men’s, and some of the slower men showed up at ours).  Even so there were tons of people (I suppose at least two thousand).  The race started right on time at 8:15.

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The first few miles were relatively flat.  I could tell I was keeping a good pace, although I tried to keep it slow.  Even so, hundreds of people passed me.  At first I was discouraged, but then I finally got my headspace right and started enjoying the scenery.  There were still plenty of people around me.  It was fine.

I felt really strong even through the hills for about the first six miles.  There was lots of shade, and the hills led to great downhills, and the water stops were frequent.  I think it was around mile 7 that I started to not feel super any more.  I could tell blisters were starting to form on my feet, and I reached in my pouch to reapply my Vaseline to my bra area.  I took a gel just before the mile 6 water stop, but it didn’t seem to be giving me the energy I’d hoped for.  I opted for water and gatorade at the next one, hoping for a boost.  I tried doing the math in my head, and realized I still had six more miles to go.  I remember thinking, I’ll never make it.  An Episcopal priest stood outside his church giving high fives.  I slapped his hand and said, “I need all of the help I can get!”.

I started taking more walk breaks at this point, figuring that at this point my pacing had been good enough that even with walk breaks I should still meet my 3:00 goal.  Another big hill loomed somewhere in mile 8, but after we crested it, I was able to find a good pace for over a mile, and felt a little better.  At mile 9 I took another gel, and I felt even better after that.  By mile 10 I knew I was in the homestretch.  It seems crazy to think “It’s only a 5K from here” but it was what everyone around me was saying.

Mile 11 brought us back near the beach, but deceptively so.  We had to weave in and out of sidestreets before we got back to the beach where the finish line was.  I remember thinking that mile 12 was so far away at one point, and then trying to do the math in my head:  if I walked the rest of the way, what would my time be?  I forced myself to run more than I walked at this point, but it was a very, very slow run. At this point I was fighting for every inch.  I stopped at every water station and just tried to muster the energy and hydration to keep going.

Somehow, mile 12 passed more quickly than mile 11, and finally, finally I saw the finish line sooner than I had anticipated.  I was able to muster a bit of a faster pace towards the finish line, and was grateful to see 2:50:xx on the screen (actual net time was 2:49:40, better than I had ever imagined I’d do).  I’d done it.  I’d made it in under 3 hours, with a ten minute cushion.  I grabbed my medal and walked through the chute to where more water waited.

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I guzzled four paper cups of water before I finally felt good enough to venture back to the beach for some fruit.  I hardly ever feel like eating after running, but I knew I needed the fuel.  I snagged a banana and some watermelon, and was just grateful that there was still food left.  I bypassed the pizza line, not interested.  Instead, I asked someone to take my photo on the beach while I was still high and sweaty from finishing.

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So now that it’s over, here are my takeaways:

  • Follow the training plan.  I felt reasonably well prepared for this race.  It was definitely hard but I knew what to expect.
  • Conserve your energy.  I passed a lot of people in the mile 5-8 range because they clearly bonked out.  My strategy of walking the hills and water stations worked well.
  • Hydrate the day before and throughout the race.  I sweat a lot so I was really aware of needing to stop often for water.  I had hoped to skip a few of the water stops but I found each time that I felt like I needed it.  At some of them I took just a sip and poured the rest down my back or over my head.  I never felt full of water and I never needed to use a bathroom after the race started, so I know I did the right thing by stopping so much.
  • Take every high five and smile you can get.  These really helped me, especially since I didn’t have anyone there to cheer me on.
  • Body Glide everywhere you usually chafe.  I applied it twice before the race and then used Vaseline during the race and it worked very well.  I only have one small spot, as opposed to the many sore spots after some of my long runs.
  • Sunscreen/hat.  If it is summer, or sunny, you need both.  I used a sports sunscreen that isn’t supposed to sweat off, although I saw some pink on my arms near the end of the race.  I was grateful for the hat too to keep the sun out of my eyes.  I swear it helped me stay cooler.
  • Try to find socks that will minimize blistering.  I have had tons of issues with blistering during my long runs.  I still have blisters, but way less than I did after my twelve miler.  They need to be very lightweight and sweat wicking.
  • Try to enjoy the moment.  There was beautiful scenery throughout the race today, and I really tried to make myself stop and appreciate it.  It helped.

I”m not sure I’m ready to do another half any time soon.  It was hard, extremely hard.  I don’t know that I would do another one just to race again.  I do think I would be willing to run another half if it was a destination race:  like New York City or maybe the half in my hometown of Detroit, or Niagara.  We’ll see.

For now, I’m glad I did it.  🙂

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The Road to the Half: The Freakout Begins

My first half marathon is tomorrow and I am sitting here contemplating my final training run this morning.  My training plan calls for a fifteen minute “shakeout” run to get the blood flowing to my muscles the day before the race.  Some plans call you to do that the morning of, but I’m going to stick with my day before mentality.  I don’t know that I can imagine adding any more mileage at all to tomorrow’s total.

I woke up this morning feeling very anxious about it.  I don’t know if I am ready.  I am not sure what I was thinking when I signed up for this race.  It seems impossible from where I am sitting this morning.  Sure, I’ve done the training.  I missed some of the runs, including the last long 13 miler.   Still, I did most of them, including 10, 11, 12 mile runs.  I know plenty of people who have entered their first half with less training.

The weather, at least is cooperating.  It should be in the fifties still at race start, which is nearly unheard of for this time of year.  It will be warm when I finish, but to at least get the first hour in under 60 would be great.  And I think most of the run will be below 65, if not all.  So that’s a good piece of luck.

I’m worried about time.  I don’t know what to expect.  Ideally I think I can manage getting in under 3 hours.  But I worry because the course is setting a 3 hour and 15 minute time limit, “for the walkers”.  Which brings me back to my point.  How am I considering doing this when my “run” is nearly the “walk” time limit?  Maybe I’m going to do better than I think.  If I maintain a 13 minute pace for the most part that would put me in around 2:52.  Ugh!  I need to stop analyzing the numbers.  It will be what it will be.  I just don’t want it to be terrible.

I plan on arriving early enough to be able to park on site.  This means leaving my house by 5:45am and hopefully arriving by 6:15, two hours before race start.  After that, I’ll probably sit in my car for a while, use the porta potties, liberally apply glide and vaseline to all of the usual spots where I have been chafing, and sunscreen which will hopefully not completely sweat off.   Before tomorrow I’d like to reorganize my long run play list, lay out all of my clothes (and hopefully figure out which pair of socks will minimize blistering), and get everything I’ll need packed in my usual race bag.  I plan on bringing:

  • towel for post race mop off and/or possible shower
  • dry clothes to change into; the race is at a beach so there are showers.  I might even take a full shower, not sure yet.
  • sunscreen
  • running hat
  • body glide/vaseline
  • water, power bars etc in case there isn’t much food left when I finish near the three hour mark
  • phone, earbuds, armband
  • race bib and pins
  • jacket for early morning pre race temps

I think that’s it.

I won’t have any friends or loved ones waiting for me and cheering me on at this race.  I’m a little sad about that since it is such a big milestone for me, but in the end, that’s the way running has always been for me.  It’s always really been a solo activity, a me against me challenge.  I’ll have to look inward for the strength to finish this one.

Wish me luck.

The Road to the Half: The Taper

The race is in just a few days.  I can’t believe I am here!  I am kind of freaking out and very, very nervous about it.

Because of the last few weeks of crazy, my training plan has not been perfect.  I was going great guns until the end of May.  I got my 12 miler in on 5/29.  I had planned on doing my 13 miler on June 4, but it rained.  I did five miles on my treadmill that day, making up a shorter run I’d not completed the weekend before.  I tried again on June 6, but after having run the two days prior, I just didn’t have it in me.  I ended up with eight miles that day before I gave up.

With the travel and crazy that ensued, my next chance to run long would have been this week, which was too close to the race.  I need the taper, I know.  So I haven’t done the 13 miles in training, which makes me nervous.  I know tons and tons of people go into halfs with less long runs than I’ve done.  I’ve been as consistent as I possibly can be.  I’ve done the eight, the nine, the ten, the eleven and the twelve mile runs.  I know I can complete the thirteen.  I am just not sure how much walking will be involved in those last few miles.

I’m now in the taper part of the training and it does make me nervous.  I ran a five mile run on Sunday, and it honestly felt really great after a few days of not being able to run.  I suppose that’s the idea of the taper.  I did a four miler yesterday and it wasn’t as nice; still felt strong but it was really warm, so I was slower.  I kept thinking the whole time, you’ll have to triple this on Sunday!  How can you be ready to stop?  OY!

At this point there’s nothing more I can do but trust in the training and do the race.  The forecast, thankfully, is not terribly hot.  It should be probably 65 or so and not very humid during the race.  Still not the cool 50-60 of most of my training runs, but still far better than it was last year for this race.

My worries:

  • I am worried about the hills, but I plan to be very conservative about the early ones to preserve my energy.
  • I am worried about the chafing, and am planning on bringing a small container of vaseline to try and reapply during the race.  I think I have figured out the best sports bra combo to minimize it.   Even yesterday’s four mile run brought out a chafe in my usual spot so I have to really be aware of it.
  • I am worried about my feet.  I am trying different socks this week on my final runs to see which ones will minimize blistering.  I am going to need a serious pedicure to remove all of the dead skin on them when this is over.  My feet are a real mess.
  • I am worried about parking.  I hate shuttles.  This is a 5,000 person race.  My plan is to just get there really early and park on site.  Since I know I will be one of the last finishers, it shouldn’t be a problem.  This means I will need to leave my house by 6am.  I will try to have all the parking places on a list in my car in case it fills faster than I anticipate.
  • I am worried about time.  My twelve mile run was 2:44, which means that thirteen would likely be around 3:00.  The course services end at 3:15.  That means if anything at all goes wrong, I am on my own.  I just don’t want to finish after the course limit time.  I had hoped it was four hours so I would have some comfort there, but it doesn’t.  So hopefully all will go well.

Four days left.  Two three mile runs, one fifteen minute shake out and then I’ll be running my first half marathon.  I can’t believe I’m finally here.

Wednesday Weigh In: Three Weeks of Crazy

So if there is anyone out there reading this, you may have noticed I haven’t posted anything since May 31.  It has been an absolutely insanely crazy three weeks.  Here’s some of the highlights:

June 1:  Our town 5K that I put together.  It is the culmination of months of work.  I don’t run it, because there’s just too much to do (I did a training run along the route the day before).  It was a huge success!  Record number of runners, beautiful day, wonderful food, amazing spirit.  If you’re interested, go to our website and then to our Facebook page to see some amazing photos (it’s been so crazy I still haven’t put any on the main website).

June 2:  Hosted an awards ceremony for our local parents’ council, of which I am president.  After that, our local BOE meeting, of which I am a member.  So much for going through all of my race stuff.

June 3:  Last meeting of my parents’ council year, where I retire from my presidency.  Three hour long meeting plus luncheon afterwards.  Yeah, ditto to not going through my race stuff.  Or, frankly to posting my weigh in, which let’s just say was UP.

June 4:  My great aunt passes away.  Quick flurry to arrange travel to her services.

June 5-7:  Travel.  But not to my great aunt yet, to my 100 year old grandfather’s party.  Woohoo!  48 hours away from home, with family and fun.

June 10: Frantic packing, laundry for trip to FL.  Another weigh in that doesn’t go on the blog.  Also UP.

June 11:  Travel to Florida for my aunt’s services.  No logging, hardly any computer time, just family time.  Long three and a half days of travel and sadnesss.

June 14:  Land at airport just in time for my in laws’ 50th anniversary party.  OMG!  The whole family is here!  I haven’t been home to clean or get things ready!  Things aren’t perfect but oh well.

June 15 to today:  Try desperately to catch up on my life, keep up my half marathon training (IT IS THIS WEEKEND OMG) and not feel stressed that there are five extra people in my house, because they are family and I love them.  Yeah.  That’s it.

So it’s been kind of nuts here.  I did weigh in the last two Wednesdays but didn’t post about it.  They were up, each time, and not by a little.  I suppose I could have posted but I was pissed off on one hand and really too busy to bother on the other.  I had a feeling it would even out in the end, and it has.  Today’s scale reading brings me to a 2.8 lb loss over last week, which puts me back where I was before the last (four, omg) weeks of gains.  I wasn’t entirely sure about why I gained the last two weeks, so I’m not sure why the dramatic loss this time.  There might have been salt, there might have been periods, but mostly I think there was stress on both ends working the gains and losses.  So we’re moving back in the right direction, and I’m glad for that.  🙂

Current Week: -2.8 lbs
Total Weight Left To Lose:  10.4 lbs
Age:  43
BMI:  27.4

May Progress Report

Well, here it is already at the end of another month.  Time to look at the progress towards this year’s goals:

May is already over.  Here’s the latest on march to meet goals I set for myself in 2014:

1.  Run at least one race a month.

I’m ahead on this one.  I didn’t run any in January, ran 1 February and 2 in March.  In April I completed 2 races.  This month I did a weekend of back to back races, a 5K and a 10K;  the DAWS Run Your Tail Off 5K and the Norwalk Mother’s Day 10K. I think I will only have my half marathon in June. But this means I’m still ahead by 3.

2.  Run at least 2 10Ks this year.

This is already done!  I ran them  just a few weeks apart.  I scored a new PR of 1:13:44 at the first one; the second one was hotter and didn’t have chip timing so my time was about a minute and a half slower.  Still, psyched that I’ve done this and I may add in a few more 10Ks now that the distance feels more manageable.

3.  Run a half marathon.

Still training and on target for the 6/22 marathon.  My long run this week was 12 miles which means I am nearly there!  I have three weeks left so I will have one 13 mile run and then an 8 and then shorter runs before the final week of true tapering.  I am still worried about heat, especially since we are having a cooler than normal spring, so all of my training is being done in lovely 50-60 degree temps, not the 70+ that I hear this race is known for.  Still, I’m doing what I can.  I am adding hill repeats and speed drills, something I’ve never done before.  Other than super sore legs and feet on long run days, I am really amazed and enjoying my progress during this training!

4.  Finally reach my goal weight.

Down just one pound this month, and only two pounds for the year so far.  We’re five months in!  I won’t get ten pounds off at this rate.  Seriously need to get better about the food and drink choices.

Overall, things are good, except for the weight.  It all comes back to choices.  Must. Make. Better. Ones!