a series of unfortunate (running) events

Where to start.

My weekly long(est) run started out on Saturday morning at 6:30 am. I was up early because I was good and went to bed at a decent time. I opened up the weekly Marathon Training Team email and realized that we were supposed to run that same day at that exact time instead of Sunday like normal.

Crap.

Now, Al and I will have to run on Sunday by ourselves without the distraction of friends and the downtown Richmond architecture.

Hurricane Isaac (or Tropical Storm by that time?) was supposed to dump a ton of rain all weekend so I made sure I had my hat on to keep the water out of my face. I was excited about a potential downpour. Somehow it always feels childlike and silly to be running in the rain, so to me it’s fun. 🙂

We started off running and instantly realized that the humidity was awful, like I’m breathing through a straw awful. I could’t wait for that rain to come… but it never did.

I was holding my water bottle in one hand and didn’t want to occupy my other with my hat so I kept it on my head. Wearing a hat when it’s not raining makes me feel overheated. I was sweating to death but kept on.

In hopes of not getting bored, we went on a new-to-us route. Between miles 2 and 3 the humidity made me feel like I could barely lift my feet. With lead in my legs, a new sidewalk, and a cloudy morning, I tripped and fell to the ground. I laid there for a second from the shock. While getting up and brushing grass and dirt from my multiple wounds I said to Al, “I have to keep running!” and I did. I’m pretty proud of that because the other two times I’ve fallen during this training, I just stopped and walked home.

It’s embarrassing and a little traumatizing when you fall, I wouldn’t recommend it.

This fall was the worst which makes my fight to keep going even better. My right hand and my poor Garmin were pretty scraped. So was my left thigh and knee.

I have to mention that I was wearing my watch backwards on the inside of my wrist because when it rains I feel like it gets less wet. Who knows if that’s true but if I had known it wasn’t going to rain at all, my Garmin would have been worn like normal and not scuffed. Bah, Humbug!

At around mile 4 some guy driving on the other side of the road honked at us, yelled something, and then flicked us off. How pleasant. At that point I was very glad that Al decided to run at my pace with me even though it’s very slow to him. He was silent most of the time because he wasn’t feeling the run at all but it was nice to have a buddy!

After a hour and 45 minutes we were done.

I felt amazing… and then I noticed all the scrapes. I had planned on walking the dogs with Al but tended to my wounds instead.

I really didn’t mind the cuts but what I did mind was the tiny scrape on my Garmin. That thing is expensive and pretty! Oh well, that’s what it is, just a ‘thing’ right?

Oh and I don’t have my one sleeve rolled up in the photo above because I think I’m a badass, I have it rolled up because I had/have a nice strip of Poison Ivy on my upper arm. I had to use 5 bandaids to cover it up to prevent chaffing or the urge to itch my arm off during the run. Good times.

Let’s just say with the new injuries, the Poison Ivy rash, and the multiple bruises and scrapes from work this week, I look like a hot mess but I couldn’t be more proud. I love my job helping animals, am proud of taking care of my own dogs properly (I got the Poison Ivy while walking them), and even that series of unfortunate events, we still got in a good run.

Have you ever fallen during a run? Please tell me you have.

the mental side of training

Al and I have successfully completed one whole month of marathon training!!

I think I already knew this but the mental side of the training is by far the hardest part. I made it through two tough mental challenges this week.

I have a big fear of getting injured – of not being able to even start the race let alone finish it.

I’ve been recording my workouts and thoughts about each one in my training manual. After just four weeks I’ve figured out what I need to do to stay healthy and uninjured: SLEEP, eat, hydrate, stretch, foam roll, do yoga, and cross train. It’s a long list, but I’m trying to keep up with it.

This week life got in the way a couple times. There were multiple days of getting off of work after 7 which forced me to skip the yoga classes that I know help me with my IT bands and hips. I also had to work Saturday which is normally my cross training day.

Training and injury prevention is about structure but I’m also realizing that it’s about flexibility. Because I was unable to make it to yoga, I was too sore to run on Thursday so I ran on Friday instead. I doubled up on my workouts and moved my Saturday cross training to Friday as well since I had to work.

I ran nice and slow on the dreadmill treadmill and then I swam a good 1500 meters that really helped loosen up those tight running muscles.

I loooove a good plan but this week showed me that I can adapt when obstacles get in the way. Next week if I can’t make it to yoga again, I’m going to roll out my mat and do a session at home. I have plenty of classes to choose from in my iTunes library. No excuses!

I’ve got a fear of the distance itself.

26.2 miles is flippin’ far! Enough said.

Yesterday, we didn’t even run close to that but the mental challenge was ridiculous.

A couple of factors added to the fear. It was already hot and humid at 7 am when we started running and, well, I didn’t want to die in it. I was afraid of getting lost because the big running pack spreads out and I often end up running without many people in sight. Lastly, it was 7 miles and I hadn’t run that since March when the weather and course were totally different.

I started off super tired and feeling sorry for myself. My legs felt like lead. Everybody was passing me! I kept looking at my watch. I was running a 10:00 minute mile. I thought, Well either my watch isn’t working (because I planned on running ‘easy’ and was expecting a 11:30 pace to fight the challenge) or these people are going to pass out at the end!

By mile three I was still feeling pathetic and people were still passing me. I reminded myself that there was a water station at the halfway point so I’d be able to stop for a second and mentally regroup.

The 30 second break was just what I needed. I saw some of the people standing around that had passed me miles before. Their fast starts were getting to them. And the Powerade I drank was the best thing EVER! All I needed were some electrolytes and a confidence boost. I started running again and felt 100 times better.

The rest of the course was mostly in the shade which was nice. I stopped again at the second water station and kept on. I passed a couple more fast-starters while keeping my 10:00 minute pace. I couldn’t believe I was keeping that pace in the heat and for that distance! I thought, Maybe this training is working! Maybe I can actually stick to this pace at the marathon!

I was so shocked because our coaches have told us that our pace will start to slow when the distance increases. Obviously 7 miles isn’t far compared to what we will be doing in the months ahead so my pace might still decrease but I tried to run ‘slow’ on purpose and kept the pace up naturally. Sweet.

I heard the 6th beep (6th mile) from my Garmin and laughed out loud. I only had a mile left. I was so proud to go from almost bottoming out mentally in the beginning to feeling super tough in just an hour.

Even though you aren’t supposed to on the long runs, I sped up my pace because I could (!!). I felt like I could run a couple more miles without much trouble. Thank goodness because we’ll be running 8 miles next week!

I know there will be a lot more hurdles in the coming months and it’s going to be rough but I’ve got the tools to help me overcome them. Can I get a HECK YEAH?!

Yikes, that was intense. Excuse me while I come back down from my runner’s high.

Tell me about a mental hurdle you’ve overcome!

live a little

Wow, it has been a tiring week. Lots of people were on vacation at work so I filled in for them. I give props to everyone who works full time in the medical field. I can’t imagine trying to take care of the dogs (let alone kids) and also live a healthy lifestyle after being on my feet all week! Those people are gods.

———-

I, like many people, live in the past or the future. We’re too worried and worked up. We go through life wandering until we realize we aren’t really living.

I found a great Oprah quote that explains where I’m going with this:

Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift. — Oprah Winfrey

Often times if I’m in a funk and can’t seem to stick to my healthy habits, I decide that the day is a wash and give up. Thinking to myself, ‘ Tomorrow I’ll start eating healthy’ or ‘Next week I’ll get back to the gym’.

That’s one of the reasons I wrote this post to help me stay on track. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s about doing little healthy things that can add up to more of a routine. But what happens when you can’t bring yourself to do just one? What happens when you keep putting things off and struggle to make healthy habits a routine?

This week I was supposed to start running again. Up until Wednesday I used the excuse of a very busy work week to skip my running. ‘Next week I’ll start running again, I just don’t have time.’ is what I thought to myself.

There were two things that helped me get out of this cycle of not living in the present.

One is a mantra I picked up from Elisa. She uses the word ‘believe’ to help her get through her training workouts. I thought I’d try it out not just for workouts but every time I landed in a funk and negative thoughts would creep in. Let me tell you it works! I’ve been using the word since Monday and I haven’t felt this happy in months. Saying the word in my head stops those negative thoughts and helps me move on with what I’m doing in the present. I believed I could eat healthy this week and I did. I believed I could stay chipper this week and I did. I believed I’d run this week and I did. It’s amazing what a little word can do!

The second is not a thing but a person. I look up to all the Vets that I work with but I have really taken to one in particular. She’s a runner for one thing, has run a marathon (!!), and is a healthy, happy person. No matter how ridiculous a patient’s parents are, she is friendly and kind. It’s an amazing thing to watch! Such a genuine person.

I hold her on a pedestal so to my surprise on Wednesday, I found out that she has trouble motivating herself to workout and struggles with negative thoughts too! We both love to workout and know we need it to mentally and physically feel good but to just DO it is tough. As I left for work she said, ‘Have a good workout!’. Of course I groaned and said I really wasn’t sure if I could do it.

‘Believe.’

On my drive home I got to thinking. The Vet was so motivating and had lifted my spirits. I decided to live in the present for her. I physically didn’t have the time and energy to workout that night but I WAS going to wake up at 5:00 am and run. I hadn’t ran since the 10k and really needed to get back into it. She would be so excited for me when I told her at work. Maybe I’d even help her get back into working out too.

I got out all my running clothes and placed them in the bathroom so I’d be able to just get up and go. At 5am on Thursday, I ran. I ran for four miles and felt great! Like I thought, she was super excited for me when I got to work.

It’s funny how things work out in life. If I hadn’t started a blog I wouldn’t have met Elisa and learned of her mantra. If I hadn’t changed careers I would’ve never met the Vet and had the motivation to run and run far.

Last night my husband said, ‘I believe that all things happen for a reason. It’ll all work out.’ He’s so right.

I’m currently living in the present and hope to continue on with my moments, mornings, and Mondays. Now that I have a little more help to do them, I know I’ll be able to.

I’ll leave you with another Oprah quote to finish up:

“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.” — Oprah Winfrey

So true Oprah!!

What do you do to get yourself out of a funk?

5 things i learned from my first 10k

I did it!

I ran the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k  in 1 hour and 23 seconds.

It’s not the time I wanted but I’m so happy I conquered my first 10K!!

This is only my third race and definitely the largest (over 40,000 people!). Because of the size, there were a lot of variables that I hadn’t run into during my earlier 5k races so I learned a lot.  These are things I really wouldn’t have been able to know unless someone told me so for any future racers out there, I’m going to help you out!

Five things I learned from my first 10k:

1. Rain clothing – I brought a hat to wear because rain was in the forecast. It didn’t rain during the race but it did during that 2 mile walk to the start. The hat keeps the water from getting in your eyes and also keeps you a bit warmer if the temperature cools off from the rain. During the run I held my hat the whole time since I didn’t need it but because it’s just a lightweight baseball cap, it was easy to fold it up into the visor and run without it being a distraction. Better to be prepared than be caught hat-less in a downpour!

Another rain tip that I didn’t do but should have -> My coaches from the YMCA training team said to cut a hole in a trash bag and wear it like a poncho. You wear this until the race starts to keep dry. Once you’re done with it you can just throw it in the trash! Such a great idea. It would have been nice to have started the race warm and dry.

2. Fueling – Hydrate not just the day of or the day before but all week long. Same thing with healthy food. Course we should be eating healthy and drinking lots all the time but if not then definitely the week before a race. You’ll have so much more energy on race day and you won’t have to worry about excess bathroom breaks from chugging water the day of.

Also skip the alcohol that week! Even though my husband knows he shouldn’t drink before the race, he drank beer the night before. Let’s just say he had major pains during the first mile and paranoia the rest. 🙂

3. Park far away – If it’s a giant race then don’t try and attempt to park close. We spent probably 30 extra minutes in traffic trying to find a place to park until we gave up and drove back to my sister’s apartment. We then walked the 2 miles to the start of the race… in the rain. It ended up being great despite the rain because we got to warm up our legs and also see the top runners fly by us! A 4-5 minute mile is unfathomable! They were gazelles. My point is, take the extra time to park and walk. It’ll keep you from being stressed out when trying to park and dodge all the people near the race site.

4. Start in the right wave – One of the main reasons my time was slower that I wanted was because I originally placed my sister and I in with the 12:00 minute pace runners . I had NO idea we would be much faster than that once our training was over. We spent a TON of time running fast then running much slower to weave around people. I don’t have knee problems but my knees were quite sore from all the twisting and side stepping. My friend Liz who also ran the race said that her Nike + told her she ran an extra .2 miles from all the weaving! My advice to you is that if you know you’ll be pretty dedicated when training then up your pace group just in case. If you’re in the group that’s too fast well they can just run around you instead! Ha.

Oh I forgot to mention that my husband was in a faster pace wave to start but he decided he wanted to start with us (way slower) so he had it even worse! Course he still beat us by a lot but he had to pass a lot more people. Tough.

5. Enjoy it! – During the race I had a cold so I spent a good amount of time coughing WHILE weaving, slowing, and going. I could have been miserable the whole time but by mile 2 I snapped out of it and enjoyed the sites. If there are obstacles in your way, it’s okay. You can always run more races but not that specific one for another year! So stay in the present and enjoy!

———-

Now that I’m a seasoned racer (ha), it’s time for a marathon! My husband and I won’t be doing the Marine Corp Marathon because it sold out in 2 hours! BUT we will be running the Anthem Richmond Marathon on November 1oth. Look for more run-related posts as I’m sure I’ll be learning a lot more when I’m training to run 26.2 miles. Only TWENTY MILES more than the 10k, EEK!

Did you learn anything? I hope so. If not, do you have any racing tips that I missed?

and i ran

I ran so far away. Flock of Seagulls anyone?

———-

Saturday I wasn’t able to make it to BARK. Not because I was lazy and bailed on the dogs but because my feet were killing me from some good blisters that formed on both of my big toes. Mmm, what a great way to pull you in right? Ha.

So don’t wear crappy socks while running! Also, when your coach tells you to wear wool and not cotton socks on a rainy run day, make sure you actually wear wool socks and not cheaper cotton ones instead! Lesson learned. You know when the sand is super hot at the beach but instead of putting your sandals on to walk across it (sandals and sand = sand kicked up on the back of your legs which is the worst) you tiptoe/run while saying saying ‘Ow’ ‘Ooch’ ‘Eech’ the whole time? Yeah, picture me doing that in the house all day Saturday.

This isn’t even the point of my post. The point is that the blisters were worth it. I ran for an hour on Saturday. A WHOLE HOUR. While you watched two episodes of Income Property, I ran… the whole time. This seriously boggles my mind.

One hour and 49 seconds. I ran for 6 miles.

But I’m seriously not writing this to brag, I’m writing to say that you can run (and like it) too!

If you read my previous running post, you know that I used to hate running. During that time, I regularly went to the gym to run on the dreadmill treadmill. There would always be a girl who was already running when I got there and still running when I left! Sometimes she was still running after I finished my ab and weights workouts! I’d often calculate in my mind how long she’d been trucking along and many times it was about an hour. I’d think, ‘Man I’d DIE if I ran for a hour!’ or ‘Isn’t that super boring?’. Saturday I didn’t die and I wasn’t super bored. Craziness.

It’s all about your approach.

Here are a couple of things I do to enjoy and succeed at running:

  1. Take your time – if you can’t talk, you’re running way too fast (unless your doing sprints on purpose).
  2. Add distance slowly – to give you an idea, with our 10k training we’ve added an extra mile about every two weeks.
  3. Enjoy the scenery – this helps me tremendously. If your neighborhood is boring like mine, go somewhere else!
  4. Focus on your form – here’s a good article about the subject.
  5. Stay positive – even this summer when I was enjoying running, I didn’t think I could run for a whole hour. Negativity is a waste of time! If I’m struggling on a run I often think of the words ‘strength’ and ‘peace’.
  6. Just do itNike is right. You’ll regret not trying more than the actual run.

The sign up for the Marine Corp Marathon opens in 2 days so my husband and I will be registering for it soon! While running those six miles on Saturday the negativity crept in and I thought, ‘How the heck can I run more than four times the amount I’m doing now?! There’s no way.’. Then, I instantly erased that negative thought by realizing that I didn’t have to run that far tomorrow, next month, or even this summer. I have plenty of time to train. I just need to take it slow and the mileage will add up.

Do you have any exercise hurdles that you’ve overcome? How’d you do it?

———-

We’re running seven miles next Saturday but I’ll be sure to wear the right socks so that I make it to BARK afterward! The sooner we go again, the sooner we can choose our new foster dog. 🙂

calorie counting troubles

Aside from my major sweet tooth I’m a healthy eater and exerciser these days.

A few years back when I was in graduate school, in Boston, all by my lonesome, I took a break from my semi-healthy habits. During the day I was still eating well with oatmeal, turkey sandwiches, and salads as my go to meals but at night…oh at night. At night I worked at a pub that served awesome food so I failed there and then if I wasn’t working I was eating whole bags or tubs of whatever I felt like that night. Eh.

That year I gained 10-15 pounds.

To counteract my eating I would go to the gym. Research tells us that eating healthy is WAY more beneficial in losing weight than just exercising (unless you exercise all day long) so the weight stayed on.

I think my turning point was my engagement. I felt like crap and definitely didn’t want to feel or look like crap on my wedding day.

The first thing I did was improve my eating. I cut back somewhat on all of the junk and restaurant food. I kept up my exercising which was cardio and weights but added yoga for the first time and also swimming. The gym at my school was ah-mazing so to me it was fun to trek in the snow (I’m from FL so yeah), swim in the toasty pool, get ready for the day and then head to class. It was a nice routine for me.

All this was working. The only downfall was my calorie counting.

I think those calorie counting websites are a great tool to help you in the beginning of your healthy living overhaul. They can help you gain the knowledge you need to make the habits a lifestyle and not just a diet. BUT I didn’t kick the habit once I had gotten back to my original weight. For a couple of years I would track every calorie in and every calorie burned. Each time I gained a pound or lost a pound I internally freaked out. I probably only fluctuated 5 pounds or so which is NORMAL but at the time I didn’t think so.

Towards the end of my calorie counting I began reading healthy living and healthy food blogs. They were (and still are) great sources of postivity and inspiration in my life. Then one day it just clicked. What the heck am I doing sitting here trying to figure out how many calories my turkey sandwich has?? I’m wasting my life worrying about this stuff! I’m done with calorie counting and bringing myself down with negativity. Done and done. It was such a crazy epiphany. One morning I was calorie counting and by the afternoon I was this brand new person! I guess things finally just clicked.

Of course I still struggle with a negative body image once in a while but if I eat a whole box of mike and ikes one night, the next morning I have the choice to eat healthy again. No big deal! My life won’t be ruined because of that candy – maybe my mobility for the night will be and you’d like to think I’d learn my lesson by now!  But hey, it’s okay.

Now I have to tell you I have a naturally thin frame so some might look at my before and after pictures and say ‘There’s no freaking difference! She’s too skinny!’ but I was eating terribly and wasn’t happy in 2008. I mean I cried (not from happiness) trying on wedding dresses! How sad is that? Anyways, I now know that it’s not about the scale but about how you feel overall. When I have a good, healthy, balanced system going I look like the image on the right – like right now!

2008 & 2011

Today I focus on the meal at hand and mainly how I can add veggies or fruit to it. For exercise I focus on yoga 3 times a week (per my  2012 Resolutions) and training for a 10k in March. When I attempt to stay on track with this I feel balanced, I sleep better, and I’m SO much happier over all.

You can be healthy AND happy without overanalyzing your body and everything else for that matter! As my husband says, “Just Chill.”

running

I ran two miles with Roary this afternoon. It was so nice to get outside and exercise after an 8 hour work day. If you asked me a few years back how my run went I definitely would have grumbled and walked away with tears in my eyes.

I grew up playing sports, mostly volleyball. I was one of the best players on the team but I was ALWAYS the slowest sprinter/runner. For years on end I hated running with a passion. First off, I sucked at it! As a competitive athlete I hated being crappy at something.  Also, it was too tiring and too painful – my asthma would act up and I’d burst into hyperventilating tears. <- one of these incidents happened during a run with my husband when we first started dating, HA. He’s a keeper.

My main issue with running was that I could hear my labored breathing all the time. Hearing my breathing would make me anxious and want to stop. To ‘fix’ the problem I would blast my iPod so loud that I couldn’t hear anything at all. This still didn’t make running enjoyable, I just kept obsessing over how stinking long ‘Irreplaceable’ by Beyoncé was!

A change in my approach to running happened when my husband was deployed around this time last year and I was stuck walking the hyper dog 3 times a day. I decided to ditch the iPod, run a shorter distance, and fix my heel-banging stride. For six months, Monday through Friday, I took in the night sky (I woke up at 4:45am for my commute) and ran more on my toes at a nice, relaxing pace. I loved it! I added daytime runs on the weekends and enjoyed the sunrise (you can’t expect me to sleep in way later on the weekend when I get up so early during the weekday!). Roary and I even did sprints once in a while because it was fun!

roary dazed after a summer run

I ran my first 5k in December and my second on January 1st. Training for the 10k starts in a couple weeks! I’m so excited for the challenge and have high hopes for the Marine Corps marathon in the fall. Yikes!

I still find it crazy that I now enjoy something that I used to despise so so much. I guess the point of this post is if you think you hate something maybe you should try a different approach? You may be in for a pleasant surprise.