Sunday, July 29, 2007

Beginning to taper

Since I was still so stiff on Wednesday, I took Thursday and Friday off, rather than just Thursday, to recover. That brings me to yesterday's long run.

After last Saturday's long run (the 12 miler) those of us training for the Chicago Half were to begin tapering, which means cutting back on mileage and beginning to rest. The race is two weeks from today. You can't build much endurance in two weeks and the last thing you want to do is fatigue your muscles right before the race. Our schedule said that we were all to run 90 minutes at yesterday's long run. However, our coach emailed us Friday night to say that those of us who are tapering should feel free to cut the 90 minutes back to 60 or even 45 if we were still feeling stiff from the timed run, or just feeling fatigued in general. Meg still wasn't feeling 100% and my legs still weren't really in the game, so we planned to run for 45 minutes. We ended up running for 60. This week, Meg was pushing me along. We ran the first 3 miles at a good pace. After about 4 miles I definitely slowed down a bit. My legs just weren't playing along. My legs feel better today than they have in about a week, so I'm encouraged. I hope and think that the worst of the muscle tiredness is behind me. I have a race to go enjoy! As Meg said, perhaps she had her fatigue, then I just had mine, and now we can move on. On a side note, the weather was pretty nice! It's been humid but cool in the mornings.

And a great update--I've met my fundraising goal! Thank you SO much to everyone who contributed!

Life is a little hectic between now and the race so I may not update this much. I'm really looking forward to a good race day. TWO WEEKS TO GO!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Timed fitness run

I'll get to the timed run in a second. Just wanted to say that yesterday Brendan and I went to the gym together for my cross training day. We have been trash talking each other for weeks about who can lift more on lower body. I was convinced it was me. My legs are more muscular, they are actually a little bit bigger, and he doesn't run. Yeah, he can still lift more on leg press. It seems so unfair! I have to laugh about it. After our "lift off" I did some inner & outer thigh work, abs, some triceps, and just messed around trying out some new things. It was a really laid back workout, meant to be fun.

On to the timed run. Since last Wednesday was so hot and humid (see the post "Hot, nasty, bad-assed speed"), the timed 5k "fitness assessment" run was moved to today. Today was hot, too, but much less humid. We did the usual mile warm-up, stretched, then started the 5k. My time was 25:57, which, while that's my fastest ever timed 5k, I know I can run 3.1 miles faster than that. I don't want to make excuses, but I do think I can explain it. I'm still stiff from Saturday's run. I asked my coach about it. He said that sometimes a step up in long run mileage just beats up the body more than normal and in doing so makes for a long recovery. He said that almost everyone experiences a long run week like this during training. He said he thinks it's good to run hard during one of these hard recovery weeks, that training while tired is a key part of endurance training. Apparently a person training for a marathon typically goes through a hard recovery long run like that more than once. So, I guess it's a good thing after all! Perhaps it means I'm right on track.

Monday, July 23, 2007

That was a surprise

I was certainly surprised yesterday to find that my legs were sore from Saturday's 12 mile long run. My legs hadn't been sore or tired in months. I stretched a few times through the day and forgot about it. Then I set out for a 40 minute run this evening only to discover that they were not up for a hard run. Talk about a surprise. The first mile was sore and stiff. The muscle tiredness never really did go away, though the stiffness and soreness did. There are two things about this episode that make me curious. One, is this a good thing? Does the soreness mean that I'm still gaining muscle? Two, did my massive (and unusual) caffeine intake, coupled with overall fatigue, make it worse? In other words, was this going to happen regardless or did I invoke it by mistreating my body?

The run itself was more or less a good one, despite the muscle crabbiness. My schedule said 40 minutes and I wanted to do 20, so I compromised at 32. After 20 or so I got more into the swing of things, so that near the end I felt like running the full 40 would have been fine. On a side note, we've had very favorable weather recently. Today was bright with a high around 82 I think. It had dipped below 80 by the time I left for my run, which certainly sweetened the deal.

I'm getting so excited about race day! Meg and I have been talking about food and wondering what sorts of crazy things we'll see along the race route. Also, yesterday I found out that my parents are coming to Chicago for the race! I'm so excited to get to share this experience with them!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Longest long run

Today was my first and only 12 mile long run before the half-marathon. The high water mark. It was amazing. The weather was perfect and I felt great. I want to write this post now so that I can record my food intake and everything before I forget it. Today worked so well, I want to repeat the food part of it on race day.

At about 6:45am I had my typical pre-long run breakfast of a handful of dry cereal, half a can of Diet Coke and some water. Meg showed up around 7:15 this morning and we left for Mahomet. Including Meg and me, we had 6 runners and a coach this morning. We stretched a bit and discussed strategy. Would Meg and I run the 6-mile loop twice? Or an 8-mile loop with an additional 4? I finally admitted that I wanted to discuss strategy because I was stalling. I was a bit nervous about the run. Meg suggested that we get started, so off we went.

We ran the first two miles in about 8 minutes and 8 min 30, respectively. We knew this was too fast and it was. By the third mile our bodies had slowed down for us to our typical 9 minute pace. I grabbed a small sip of Powerade after 2.5 miles and a tiny sip of water after 3.5 and 5.5. After about 6.1 (54-ish minutes) we ate our Jelly Belly Sport Beans (today's flavor: orange. Did I absolutely love them? Yes.). This turned out to be a great time to eat them. After about 5 miles I still felt fine but realized that my body was starting to give me gentle signs that it was depleting its sugar supply. By eating at 6 miles rather than 7 I avoided the fatigue that usually sets in at 7.5 miles. At 7 miles I chased the sport beans with some water. We inserted a 2 mile loop at this point, bringing us to 9. At 9 I had a bit more water (all this water totalled no more than 8 ounces). From there we ran back to the starting line (running total: 10 miles) where I had a hearty swig of Powerade before running the last two miles. Since we had the highest mileage of our team today (mileage is based on the event each person is training for) we were the last ones finished. The others were there at the finish line cheering for us. It was so nice! I finished with a huge smile. After the run we did some ab work.

Today's combination of weather and food was ideal. At no point did I feel particularly weak and at no point did I want to stop running. In all honesty, I had a great time. It felt good. Unfortunately my running partner wasn't feeling so great, so she didn't love the 12 miles the way I did. I'm confident, however, that come race day she'll embrace it with me (I hope I feel this good on race day!). Meg said my time was about 1 hour 45 minutes not counting our water stops. As long as the weather holds I feel pretty confident that we can finish the race in under two hours. Here's to hoping!

A 12 mile long run qualifies a person for a fantastic breakfast, which we had. Blueberry pancakes and coffee for me. Delicious. Other than Meg's not feeling so great, it was such a beautiful morning all around. The afternoon wasn't too shabby either--our yard sale was a huge success. With three whole days to spare, I've met my fundraising goal! It's all down hill from here! Thanks everyone for the encouragement leading up to today's run!

Friday, July 20, 2007


I did my Friday run yesterday (Thursday) just so I wouldn't be running 12 hours before the 12-miler. Yesterday was still quite humid, but neither as humid or as warm as Wednesday. The run turned out to be a fairly typical 30 minute run in terms of how I felt. The wind blew pretty hard throughout, as it was threatening to rain. Then last night I washed all of my running clothes from the week. With all this humidity, I didn't even want them in the laundry hamper anymore. Eeeew.

It also means I have an assortment of clean clothes from which to choose for my first ever 12 mile run. I'm trying to get myself ready--I keep giving myself little pep talks about it. It's just an eight mile run (which is fun) with a few miles tacked onto the end. Or like two six mile runs, which individually are pretty easy. I think we're going to run the eight mile course, then back down to the 0 mile marker (1.2 miles), back to the picnic tables (1.2 miles) then to the covered bridge (0.8 miles) and back to the picnic tables. Wish us luck!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hot, nasty, bad-ass speed

"America is all about speed - hot, nasty bad-ass speed .~"Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt did not actually say this. This is a deliberate misquote given to us by the genius that is "Talladega Nights," which I love. Regardless, it's great and it fits the occasion. What occasion, you ask? Oh yes, today's Wednesday evening track workout.

Our schedule indicated that we were to run a timed 5k fitness assessment. When we got to the track our infinitely wise coach said that tonight was not the night for a fitness assessment. It was about 86 degrees and 80% humidity. He sent us to do our warm up while he devised an alternate workout for us. After our standard one mile warm-up and two strides, our coach gave us a choice. We could do a regression workout (5 laps, then 4, 3, then 2) or a two-person relay in which the first person runs a 400 (1/4 mile, one lap at our track), tags the second person, rests while the second person runs a 400, then repeat 7 times. Each person runs only two miles, but each interval is faster than a race pace. The workout itself was short and fun. I was paired with Randy which is always a good time. Afterwards Meg and I did the cool down together.

So the hot, nasty speed. I have never sweated so much over anything. Even after our one mile warm-up I was soaked. During the rest between intervals I just dripped sweat. My shirt was soaked all the way through, as were my shorts, and they are both dry-fit! My pony tail was soaked to the point that I could just barely wring it out. We all felt like we were running as fast as was humanly possible, but falling short of the paces we each knew we were capable of. My times ranged between 1 min 30 and 1 min 45 or so. There are not words to describe the sweat. It was really incredible. At the end Randy was laying on the track with his legs on the fence to stretch. He put a hand up for a high-five from me (since we were partners). As I leaned down to high-five him I dripped sweat on his shoulder. In any other situation this would be absolutely humiliating. Today we all just laughed about it. My coach says that the more fit a person is, the earlier they will begin to sweat in a workout, that sweating is actually a sign of physiological efficiency. I joked that I was going to get a shirt printed that said "I'm this gross because I'm this fit." In summary, it was a short run so I'm not tired now from it. It was like running through a swamp. Despite that, it was fun, the two-person relay.

I did my cross-training workout last night between meetings and errands. I ran about 20 minutes, then focused again on abs, back, and hips. My hips are getting stronger, which is encouraging. It was a short, purpose-driven workout, which as I've said before, I really enjoy.

One more run between me and Saturday's 12-miler...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

a cut-back long run

Just to catch up since I haven't posted in a few days, on Thursday I went to the gym for a cross-training workout. I didn't do any cardio other than 5 minutes of walking to warm up. I focused on abs, back, and hips. I think the ab and hip work is paying off some, even though I haven't done much of it yet. I think I am getting stronger.

Friday I did the normally scheduled run--30 minutes. The weather was perfect. I loosened up after a mile or two and really got into it. I ran around my subdivision some, but spent most of my time running around Sawgrass. I so enjoy running with my mp3 player. I'm just out there with this gorgeous, enormous Midwestern sky, a nice breeze, and some music that I love. It's a good time. After my run we had one of my favorite dinners--skillet nachos. We hadn't had it in quite a while. Yum!

Today's long run was another 8-miler. At this point in the training, eight miles is a pretty good time. Fatigue is just starting to set in at the end of it. Anyway, Meg picked me up this morning and we drove over to Mahomet together. We ran the first mile or so with one of the coaches, who happens to be an 8-minute-miler (we're 9-minuters). So we started out a bit fast and gradually worked our way back to 9 minute miles. We chatted through a lot of the run this morning, which always helps it to go a bit faster. I finally told Meg about this blog. I don't know why I hadn't before. I didn't know her that well when I started it, then because she appears in it so frequently I felt weird about telling her after that. But she knows now. :)

Somewhere between miles 4 and 5, I think, we got to talking about embarrassing things associated with running. These tend to be things that runners can openly discuss with one another, but that get somewhat questionable among a more general audience. This includes chafing, my toes, toenail loss, the visible, grainy salt that forms on your skin after a long run, the riding up of the shorts, ability/inability to eat or drink during a run, getting sweat in your eyes, the complete inability to stand up again after a long run (see my post from our first 10-miler), and burping. I love that runners have heroes, products, and issues specific to running that we discuss.

Anyway, the run went well. We had great weather. We finished in 72 minutes. As with any other long run, I went through ups and downs along the way, meaning periods that were really easy and periods where I had to push myself a little bit more. Overall it was a fun run! Since the full marathoners had a 14 mile day today, Meg and I stayed after to cheer them on. We also shared the leftovers from our bake sale, once stomachs had settled far enough to eat.

We really cherished today since we go up in mileage considerably next Saturday. Next week is our first 12 mile run! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Bursting at the seams with thankfulness

Today was an amazing day to be a runner with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. I am so thankful and joyful I almost don't know where to start. I'm just sitting here smiling.

First, a fundraising update. Yesterday and today Meg and I held a bake sale at my husband's work. We sold blueberry pie, double chocolate chunk cookies, raspberry brownies, oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and black-bottom cupcakes. We each earned $61(!), and there are leftovers Meg is going to try to sell at the Vet school tomorrow. I am so pleased. I also have a coin box at Dos Reales. I went by on Tuesday to see how it was doing. I left some small change and took $7. I'm going again this coming Tuesday for the final pick-up. The best part--tonight was my fundraiser at Noodles & Company. I think it went really well! I know a good handful of people from church went, they seemed to have good business from people walking in off the street, and I went with Brendan and 4 of my teammates after practice tonight. The girl at the counter said they had been pretty busy for a Wednesday night, and that people were asking about the fundraiser, which was encouraging. I'm going to call tomorrow to see if they have the total. I have to say, too, they were so easy to work with. Very professional, polite. Fundraising with Noodles was a great experience all the way around. I'll update again when I know more!

Second, I should say a bit about tonight's track workout. Tonight was my favorite track workout ever: 400's. I LOVE running 400's. We ran a mile warm-up, 12 400's at 3 minutes each (so we rested in the time between our finish and the end of the 3 minutes), then strides and a cool-down. I ran 11 of the 12 400's at 1 min 45 to 1 min 47, and one (the 11th) at 1 min 40. It felt phenomenal. I should say too that there's no record of a Monday or Tuesday workout here because Meg and I were baking those evenings (picture below, thanks N for the help & adorable labels). I think I'm going to make up the cross-training workout tomorrow, we'll see.

So, as I drove home from Noodles & Company tonight I felt so overwhelmed by the support of my friends and team, and so joyful that I love to run and can use it as a gift to give. I just smiled and thanked God, for the life I have in this town, for the people who have shown me such love and support in ways big and small, for the success of my fundraising efforts, and for the joy I find in running, especially with my team.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Week of the 4th

I have quite a bit to catch up on here! I was good considering it was a holiday week--I did all the scheduled work outs! So stick with me here, I'll get through them one by one, some with more detail than others.

Monday I've already discussed.

Tuesday was (as always) my cross-training day. I LOVED it. Brendan and I went to the gym together for this one. I didn't do any cardio, which, I don't think I've ever gone to a gym and not done cardio. For at least 45 minutes I did weight lifting and abs. Since my lower back/hip issues have motivated me to strengthen these areas I've found a whole new love for cross-training day. Most of the time when I weight lift I feel like I'm going through the motions, doing what I know. That was not the case this week! I was on a mission. It made it so much fun. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think maybe it takes some fire to get into a groove vis-a-vis physical fitness. Tuesday I found that.

Wednesday's track workout got put off until Thursday. We didn't meet as a team to do the workout since Wednesday was the 4th. Instead, our Wednesday coach emailed us some options to do on our own. If I'd been slightly more organized I might have done Paxton's 5k. Instead I opted to do the scheduled Fartlek. It was HOT outside, so I caved in and headed to the gym to do my workout on a treadmill, inside. It was an experience, running intervals on a treadmill. It worked out. I did a mile warm-up, 3 miles of Fartlek intervals, then a mile cool-down.

Friday I was scheduled for a 30 minute run. It was blistering hot out again. I am starting to think I should get up in the mornings and run rather than going at night. I headed out around 6:50 or so, planning to cut it to 20 minutes due to both the heat and the dinner Brendan was so graciously making. Usually when I get to 20 minutes I don't really want to stop, I'm in a groove. Yeah, not so much! It was just oppressively hot. I'm glad I ran. I would have felt like a cheater if I'd skipped it entirely.

Then today's long run. Oh my. Today was a 10-miler for half- and full marathoners alike. It was something ridiculous like 72 degrees and 65% humidity when I left at 7:10am, and 92 degrees when I got home at 10. I don't know what the average temperature was during our run. It was just incredibly hot. Since Meg is on vacation I ran most of the 10 miles with Allison. We stopped every 2 miles or so to get a quick drink or stretch a bit. Even after just 2.5 miles I felt a bit wilted. I had my sport beans at about 7 miles (and, a note to Natalie, I could taste the salt but only because I was trying to, I think. They are just lovely in the middle of a long run. Maybe we can bust open a pack someday just to see what they're like when I'm not drenched in sweat). Mile 9 was absolute torture. I wanted to either throw up or cry. Mile 10 was much better though. I don't know if it was the beans or knowing that I was almost finished, but I definitely pulled it together for that last stretch. Overall, to be honest, it was not a fun run. That said, even with the ludicrous heat, accidentally running ~0.15 miles too far, and all the breaks, I still finished in ~1hour+40 minutes (including the breaks). The target was 1h30, so I was pleased. So it was miserable, sure. But if I could do today's run in a halfway reasonable time, then I can handle a half-marathon. Bring it.

Monday, July 2, 2007

in a groove

Today I was scheduled for a 20 minute run. My right hip hurt for about the first 2-3 of it, then loosened up. I had another great run. The weather was amazing. I felt great. I ran pretty fast since it was a short run. Had my headphones on and my music turned up. I was in a groove, just like Saturday. I had nothing short of a fantastic time. When I got home I told Brendan that for the first time since the summer of 2003 I feel like I'm in a cardio groove. That makes me smile.

I took aspirin before my run and iced my hip after the run. So far it's feeling more or less ok. I know the inflamation is there but it isn't causing me pain, if that makes sense. I'll continue to treat & monitor it and hope it works itself out.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

A glorious long run

This morning we cut back to eight miles from last week's ten. I have to say, this morning's was probably the best run of the season. It was a great run. Fatigue didn't start to set in until about 7.5 miles, at which point I could just power through the last little bit. The weather was perfect. Allison ran with us and helped keep up conversation to pass the time. We held a good, steady, reasonable pace. Allison timed us at 73 minutes, Meg timed us at about 68. Meg stops her watch for water stops, Allison probably didn't. So I'll say we ran between 8m30 and 9 minute miles. All around, it was a great run. Felt great, great weather, good running partners, good pace.

And the hip, how was the hip? I took Bayer before the run and stretched my hip as best I could. It hurt for maybe the first two miles before fading to a dull ache. It really became very manageable. Immediately after the run I stretched it for a long time. When I got home I iced it for about half an hour. I took more Bayer later in the afternoon. Right now (Sunday morning) I can tell that it is a little inflamed when I stand up, but it doesn't hurt much. I'm not limping around the house like I was Friday night. I think the icing/aspirin/stretching plan is working.

And I have fundraising updates! I'm having a Noodles & Company fundraiser on July 11th from 4-9pm. As far as I know I'm still having a Qdoba fundraiser this coming Friday, though I'm still waiting for the fliers from the manager. Meg and I nailed down dates for our bake sale at my husband's work (July 10-11). I'm hoping that the fundraising will come together very soon!