Friday, March 25, 2011

train, work, school, sleep, repeat

i knew i'd run out of gas sooner or later, and this week it did. i'm usually full of energy on monday and tuesday, but by thursday, i'm down for the count. this week was much worse than normal.

not counting the 4:30 a.m. wake up calls for running or spinning, or the numerous assignements i'm working on for school, i was scheduled to be out of my office pretty much 3 full days this week. doesn't sound so bad? well it's not really, but the problem is, i get nothing done when i have to do this. when that happens, i start to stress about the load of work sitting on my desk that needs tending to. i'm planning 2 work events right now, and the correspondence level is high for both of these. so each night, i head to bed flat out exhausted only to lie awake with my mind racing about what i have to get done in the short amount of time i would be in the office. after about 2 nights of this, the deficit adds up. on top of work, i was preparing for a presentation which would last about 30 minutes for my thursday afternoon class.

the presentation went well (got an A), but my training didn't. although tuesday's 4 x 1600m repeats were good, thursday's tempo run had to be cut back from 8 to 6 miles as did the tempo. so pretty much it ended up being a 6 mile easy run. i was fortunate to not have my night class that night so i was able to go home after work and get some much needed rest, including a full 8+hour night's sleep. unfortunately it wasn't enough. by the end of friday i was done. and when the saturday morning alarm went off for my run, i said, no thanks. i can't tell you when i did that last!

training and working is hard enough, but adding in graduate school has tested me. i know, no husband, no kids, so why is it so hard? well because it is! :) after a little rest this weekend, i'll be back at it next week with my usual training, and hopefully more rested and refreshed. i hate that my training was limited this week, but it's better now than in the middle of marathon training. my motivation has not suffered, so i will recover and return better for the extra rest.

Monday, March 21, 2011

running hard DOES make you stronger

saturday was 14 days since the marathon. during yesterday's sunday afternoon easy run, terri and i were thinking about what a good week we had so soon after the marathon. just one week after the race, we ran 8 miles, then the next day 6. on tuesday of last week, we started back with some speed work and had a great tempo on thursday. saturday's run followed suit and was solid with 10 miles in 1:33, averging around 9:20 or a little under. considering that our first 4 miles on the trace were 10:05 average, we really kicked it in and our last miles were all at 9 or under, with our last one being 8:31. when we were at 9.60, with .40 left, terri said to kick it hard that last bit, so we did. it felt nice to stretch out the legs a bit at the end.

i am of the belief that it hurts less to run a little harder sometimes. i've heard some of the runners i look up to say that it hurts them to run slow. it doesn't necessarily hurt me to run slow as i'm doing it, however, i hurt less when i run harder. i work on the second floor of my building, and we have stairs and an elevator. 9 times out of 10, i take the stairs. stairs are hard work and in the past, it was not uncommon for my legs feel the burn when i take a trip. right before the marathon, at the peak of my training, i had a lot of fatigue in the legs and really felt some burning. but on any given day, i can sail up and down the stairs with little to no discomfort from running. not only is the speed work making me stronger and faster, it's opening up my stride and allowing my muscles to fully engage. i really do believe that this makes me hurt less and suffer less after my run. don't get me wrong, it's not easy, and like we always say, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

so speed work and quality runs have a great purpose in training. i know there are many schools of thought on training. how many days to run per week, how many miles to run per week, speed work or no speed work, LSD or quicker long runs. everyone has their own way of doing things and what works for one might not work for another. to me, it's simple. if you want to run faster, you have to run faster. not everyone is built to run the same speeds, but your speed can be enhanced to your full potential by adding some quality, purposeful runs to your training. the proof is in the pudding - my race times only get faster when i'm training harder. currently, i'm running 4 days a week - a speed day, a tempo day, long run and a recovery day. i have one day where my run is 'easy.' easy is relative here cause that run usually hurts the most as it is at the end of a pretty hard week.

now that i've said all that about training hard, i'm also a big believer in recovery and allowing your body time to recover. i'm not one of these who can run a 5k one weekend and a marathon the next. i'm a very slow recoverer, but i know this so i allow for it. this is not something i do only, every runner does it and should do it. after a few hard days or weeks of training, it's a perfect little reward! it's ok to take some time to put your feet up, go for a walk, or take an easy ride on the bike.

i've been running for a few years, not that long compared to a lot of people i know, but i'm finally putting all this stuff into practice. i've always known it, but i've never had the mental toughness to get behind it and do it. now i do!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

i feel the need, the need for speed!

it appears that the better i feel and the better i run, the more i blog! no one wants to write about their training when it's in the toilet, so it makes sense.

i'm very happy today about how my week has gone. let me remind you that i'm still less than two weeks out from the marathon. i am AMAZED at how good i feel. tuesday's 8x600 workout didn't feel great, but this morning's tempo felt as good as it did before the race, if not better. i mean, wth? who is this person writing this? terri was ready to hit the ground literally running this week, back on with speed and tempo. so just as thursday is for tempo, that's what we did today. chris (tattooed 26.2) has joined us this week, and bless his heart, he drove all the way out from way past anywhere to run with us. we had a great run. how great you ask? well let me break it down for you.

mile 1 - 9:28
mile 2 - 8:48
mile 3 - 8:40
mile 4 - 8:31
mile 5 - 8:23 (we were running for water)
mile 6 - 8:51 (we were full of water)
mile 7 - 8:41
mile 8 - 8:40
average pace - 8:45
overall time - 1:10:10:25

i blame chris, but i ain't mad! (just kidding - no blame) who knew we had this in us so quickly after the race? the good part is right now sitting at my desk, where i'll be all day, followed by sitting in class all afternoon and evening, i feel good - no hip pain, no periformis pain. walking up the stairs and no burning in the quads. following the marathon, i feel like i am in the best possible position i could be in to move forward. i feel like i'm gaining fitness steadily. i'm also losing weight. i finally weighed yesterday for the first time in a month, and i'm down 4 pounds.

i'm excited for what is to come. i'm excited to be training and accomplishing some quality running. and i'm excited to see what james (power multisport) has in store for me!

bring it on summer!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


for years now i have been involved in indoor cycling or spinning as most gyms refer to it. from the very first class i visited, i was hooked. i prefer the intense, loud and lots of yelling type workouts in the gym. i'm also terrible at aerobics, and i'm not overly fond of a class of that nature anyway. except for yoga, which has its own place.

several years ago, maybe 5 or 6 (can't keep up), i was approached about having my own class. of course i said yes. i have enjoyed teaching as much, if not more, than being a participant. over the years, i've taught at different times during the week and each class has gone through ups and downs as far as participation. right now, i'm teaching monday and wednesday at 6 a.m. it's a 45 minute workout including a cool-down with some light stretching.

nothing against previous classes or their participants, but this is easily my favorite group ever. it's great because we enjoy the same type of class / workout. plus, they don't mind my music, which i happen to think is really cool. as i've taught over the years, my style of teaching has evolved into my own, which is more like cycling on the road or the trails, and not as much of an aerobics class on a bike. we do speed work, hill climbs, endurance rides, etc. my class is made up of mostly of athletes - marathoners, runners, triathletes - and they all love to have an intense and aggressive workout. this is a very consistent group who show up each week, and they push and motivate me, which gives me the energy i need at 6 a.m.

the best thing about spinning is the cross training it provides. cycling is a great workout for runners or anyone who is wanting to increase fitness. it gives me time off from the pavement pounding of running and provides an intense cardio workout that also increases strength.

if you are looking for a good workout and something different, give it a try!

(this post was inspired by a friend, jenny street, who took her first spin class today in louisiana - way to go jenny!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

my daily diet

for a couple of months now i've been monitoring my diet carefully, to the point of it being a bit ridiculous to others, but not to me or those i train with. and it's working. the efforts are paying off. this morning, another pair of pants has some extra room. the belly is looking flatter. and i'm feeling thinner.

what i'm doing. i'm eating lean meats, healthier carbs, less and better fats, less sugar, and a bit more protein. i am a believer in having healthy fats and sugars in your diet. my days consist of oatmeal for breakfast, which i now love and crave. a mid-morning snack of a whole grain bagel or banana. sometimes i might eat just half the bagel and smear a little peanut butter on it. lunch of a turkey or chicken sandwich with pretzels or a salad. a snack of string cheese or banana in the afternoon. and sadly, cereal for dinner, because i love it so much. i am choosing better cereals and eating less of it. i might also have a 50 calorie slice of whole grain bread with a half of a tablespoon of peanut butter. i am not a cook. i don't like it, and i don't do it well at all. i'm not creative in the least with food, which is why my meals are so simple. i know there are areas of a balanced diet where i'm showing a deficiency, but i'm learning and working on it.

i'm using my fitness pal, the same food and exercise tracker as james (power multi-sport). i need accountability when eating healthier and less, so this has been a great tool for me. i've been using it since january probably. it lets me log my meals and snacks as well as my exercise while keeping track of fats, sugars, sodium, etc in addition to the calories i take in and put out. i've always said it's much more difficult to log an unhealthy meal which is how it helps to keep me accountable.

it wasn't until this week that i really felt a big difference in my weight. i don't get on the scales too often so i have no idea how much i have lost. the last time i was on the scales was right after christmas, and i had seen a weight gain that really bothered me. that's why i decided to get serious about my daily diet and training, and it has paid off. maybe this week i'll be brave enough to see what the verdict is on how much i've lost. it's not uncommon for me to feel different after a marathon, especially when i've trained hard and been diet conscience, but this time, i plan to keep on moving in the right direction. not only will i feel better, but i will be able to run better as well. that's very exciting to me!

maybe my next blog will be a post about my pounds lost... stay tuned!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

back to running

exactly one week ago, we were celebrating our marathon. where does the time go? it seems like we just started training. just as fast as the marathon came and went, so did my week of recovery, and of that, i am glad. after a week of walking and taking it easy, i was back on my feet running.

this week, i walked every day, except for friday, for at least 45 minutes. sounds easy, but it gets really old, really fast. the only one who loved it was molly. she got to accompany me on all them except for the one i had to do on the treadmill. i also had some time on the spin bike this week. i went to class wednesday prepared to teach, but the crew was all back together and chatting was more fun, so that's what we did. i really enjoy my morning spin class. it's become a great little group of aspiring athletes - marathoners and triathletes in training.

terri told me the saturday running plan on friday, and said she wanted to try for 8 miles. i was so excited to be running, so 8 miles was great with me. the 8 felt ok. i could tell i had run a marathon a week ago, but my legs felt better than i expected. yesterday i woke up with some vertigo, which bothers me from time to time, so since i really needed to go to work, i took some medicine for it and went on ahead. the medicine makes me super sleepy so yesterday was a battle to stay awake. i think it carried over into today as i felt a little loopy this morning and this afternoon. the positive is i got some great rest.

i'm so glad to be back running, and i'm never usually like this. i'm excited for the next step, the next race, and the training. of course, i will ease back into training, but i'm sure glad to not be walking only!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

recovery day 3

my post-marathon glory is winding down. the post-race celebration is over, the trip home is over, a day of rest is over, and now i'm back at work. i have to give ginny (happy feet 26.2) credit, the 'ice bath' worked. technically, it was wading in the hotel swimming pool, but the water was frigid! it might not have been as cold as an ice bath, but that was plenty for me! i do believe it helped tremendously, as well as the walking i've done since then. I walked 2 miles sunday when i got home and yesterday for an hour, slowly of course. i feel like i'm recovering very well after a hard effort.

so what now? this week, no running. i will continue to walk daily, for at least 30 minutes. i will be back teaching my spin class tomorrow, and will do what i can there. i will most likely hit the gym at some point this week to get back to some weight lifting, upper body only until my legs are better. it's spring break on campus, so i don't know if yoga is offered, but i imagine i will wait another week on that. next week, i will ease back into running, nothing intense, just some jogs. i will pick back up on my other workouts as well.

all the albany girls are feeling excited, rejuvinated and more motivated than ever after the race on saturday. 3 of us are already looking ahead to the next marathon and training schedules. it's crazy, but i've only been like this one other time in my life and that was after my first marathon, heading into my second. my first marathon was a miserable 5:35:07, and in my second, i ran 4;14:something, a better time by 1 hour and 20 minutes. i was so determined after that first race to kick the next one's ass, and i did. that's how i feel now. and i LOVE it!

next step, finish recovering. after that, plan out my training for the summer, leading up to the tupelo marathon on labor day weekend. then after that, train to break 4 hours. yeah, i have tiger blood! i have one speed. i have one gear. GO! i'm WINNING!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

my return to racing

march 5, 2011 came and went just like that. but it's a day i will not forget anytime soon. 3 and 1/2 years ago, i PR'd in Philadelphia, and since then, it has been something like this - 4:16, 5:00, and 4:30. instead of moving forward, i moved backwards. 12 weeks ago i started a journey to the snickers marathon and wanted it to be a comeback. and it was. warning: this is a long post.

all week long, my friends and i tricked the weather and to our dismay, saw a dismal forecast of warm temperatures, humidity and rain. talk of adjusting the race plan began, and i began to get freaked out. you see, i am the most mental runner there is. after 10 marathons, i still get nervous like it's my first. friday morning, we loaded up and left hattiesburg. i was feeling good and excited about traveling with these girls, 4 good friends. i was also feeling oddly more confident than i ever have, but i was waiting for the jitters to really set in. after a long drive, some afternoon pizza and a birthday surprise for ginny, we arrived in albany. after going straight to the expo, a very small expo, we found our hotel. we unpacked, went for dinner and then came back to get ready for the race. i'm still feeling pretty good at this point. we were also not as worried about the weather, which probably helped my mood.
we woke up early the next morning, all doing our own routines. i ate a banana and half a bagel with a little peanut butter. surprisingly i'm still feeling pretty good, a few jitters, but nothing unusual. after doing our pre-race rituals, we headed out the door and to the race. after one last quick visit to the port-a-let, we walked to the start and immediately were off. terri and i planned to stay together as long as we could and hopefully the whole race, but agreed to do our own race, meaning one could leave the other at any point.
i never really remember or notice things about a race, like what roads we run, what we pass, and such. this one was no different, but i remember running through some pretty neighborhoods, seeing people watching from their porches or lawns, wonderful support at aid stations, and great volunteers. the course was one of the best. it was mostly flat with rolling hills and the roads were smooth and clean. terri and i ran along with a few people for most of the first half of the race and had a blast doing so. i've never really done that before, and it made the miles go by quickly. at mile 13, terri said she was putting on her ipod, and i decided to do the same. at this point, i'm still feeling really, really good. however, i was worried that i had gone a bit too fast, but i had decided to just go with it and go for it. she and i stayed next to each other until around 16-17. at that point, i think terri decided to pull back a little, which ended up being smart for her.
i kept going, and pushing, and i was dreaming of the possibilities, thinking of a possible PR. i knew i'd have to keep on pace, but i also knew how difficult that can be. i was also thinking, if i don't PR, so what, i'm running the best i've run in 3 1/2 years. the rain started, and i kept rolling. that is until about mile 22 where the tempo caught up with me. i began feeling unable to push through it. i felt a little nauseated, weak and suddenly tired. i started taking a few walk breaks of about 30 seconds and walking through a couple of water stations to drink better. that helped and i kept going. just before mile 25, i happened to look back and saw terri waving at me. i took another short walk break, and she caught up to me. she and i almost were in tears at seeing each other. she was running strong and her decision to pull back a little was successful. i, on the other hand, was struggling. she got about 10 yards ahead of me, and i decided to fight like hell to not walk again and keep her right there in front of me.
and i did. we made the last few turns and headed to the finish. i crossed the mat in 4:07:47, about one minutes off my PR 3 1/2 years ago. i was back. i was happy. and i felt terrible. i immediately got nauseated and desperately needed to sit. it's safe to say i left it all on the course, i took nothing with me to the car, to the hotel, anywhere. i ran my hardest, the best i could, and i am pleased. the training paid off.
in the latter part of the race, i was unable to effectively run the tangents and ran 26.6. my pace for that distance was 9:18. my pace for the 26.2 was 9:28. i ran a 9:18 pace, i just ran longer than a marathon. here are my mile splits: 9:29, 9:40, 9:16, 9:15, 9:07, 9:10, 9:08, 8:56, 9:04, 9:11, 9:12, 9:08, 9:12, 8:59, 9:07, 9:13, 9:04, 9:01, 9:14, 9:14, 9:13, 9:37, 9:52, 10:08, 9:53, 9:42, and 5:26. i am so proud of how long i stayed strong and only slightly disappointed that i fell off my pace. i am most proud of how strong my mind was. i have never had a race where i felt like this, ever. i'm finally back where i need to be to move forward. i couldn't be happier. the snickers marathon in albany, ga was a mental victory.
after the race, the 4 happy finishers dined on snickers bars, mexican, and later on a yummy hamburger and a wendy's frosty. we had a great time, and i'm so grateful for these 4 girls. we had a blast.
here are the happy and proud finishers.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

something other than running - midterms and eyes

i posted a facebook status update earlier in the week that said 'if you want to take your mind of a marathon, study for a midterm.' there are many more ideal ways i'd rather use to take my mind off a marathon, but this is my best choice right now. i guess i could do other things, but then i wouldn't do very well on the midterm i have thursday afternoon, the day before i leave for albany. not a big deal, but it's really taking all my time outside of work and running/training. it's even stealing some my sleep, which is the worst. i like to be in bed early since i get up before most everyone in hattiesburg. the silver lining, we're at the midterm of the semester.

another one of the dilemmas on my mind is my contact lenses. i have to wear hard contact lenses due to some issues i have, but i began having some problems associated with dry eyes which caused some uncomfortable issues. my contacts were burning, developing a film and impossible to wear. we've tried a couple of different things and currently, i'm trying out a special made pair of hard lenses that have a tiny hole drilled in the front middle and a pair of soft. those who wear hard know how wonderful the idea of soft is. my dilemma has many layers. one, the soft lenses are wonderful, but i don't see quite as sharp with them. the hard are pretty comfortable, and i see well with them, but i worry about the same issues happening again with this pair. seems it would be simple to just choose the soft. well, the soft will cost me significantly twice a year, whereas the hard i won't have to pay for. i'm still under a warranty, so i can keep these new ones at no charge and order a new pair later on down the road, like years down the road. so, i'm struggling with what to do. of course i want the soft...
a little more background on the eyes... i have some pretty funky eyes. i have a condition called coloboma. basically it is a situation in which there is a hole in one of the structures of the eye - iris, retina, choroid, or optic disc. it is present at birth and can be caused when a gap called the choroid fissure between two structures in the eye fails to close up before birth. the effects can be mild or severe, depending on the size and the location of the gap. if only a small part of the iris is missing, the vision can be normal. if a larger portion of the retina or optic nerve is missing, vision can be poor and a large part of the visual field missing. colobomas can come with other issues, like smaller eyes, or other vision related issues, or things more severe like malformations in part of the body, such as cleft palates, hearing impairments, growth or development delays, central nervous system abnormalities, decreased vision in bright or extreme lights (this is one of mine), and congenital heart defects. about .5 to .7 out of 10,000 are born with colobomas. what is most unusual is that my sister has the same thing. she and i are both lucky with our problems being very similar, but she does have worse vision than i do.

i am very lucky that my colobomas are mild. i do have a pretty significant astigmatism, and i have congenital cataracts which will need surgery at some point. however, compared to the average person with vision problems, my eyes are pretty good. my colobomas cause my pupils to be shaped like upside down teardrops, almost like cat eyes. another issue i have is the light sensitivity because i have more light entering my eyes that the normal eye. i must have sunglasses when driving, even on cloudy days when a glare is present. i also get quite a few questions from complete strangers. the picture to the right is similar to how mine looks. so if you've ever wondered about my eyes, but were afraid to ask, there you go. and trust me, if we're friends or i know you, it is ok to ask.
i will hopefully do well on my midterm and be on my merry way to albany the next day, with both types of contacts in tow. i have decided to put my decision off until next week. maybe after a good marathon and an A on a midterm (fingers crossed!!!), i will have clarity. ha!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

key lime pie - and a hot marathon

i almost made it this week without cracking. today, i cracked, had a weak moment, fell off the wagon - whatever you want to call it. i had a piece of pie. that piece of pie was 300 calories i was hoping to save for something else that would fill me up a little more and be way healthier. however, it was SO good! i'll be fine - the rest of my intake today has been good, and i ran a great set of 800's this morning and 8 miles today. so technically, i'm all that worried about it. but, i sure wish i could have had a clean week! :)
speaking of running, this morning was the last speed session before the race saturday. just 6x800 at a conservative pace. terri and i stuck to that pace, and i am so happy that my legs felt really good! i've had tired legs for the last week probably and they were a bit fatigued during spin monday. i do believe that not pushing in spin class helped save them today. i will rest the remainder of today, teach in the morning and run one last short run thursday. friday, we hit the road. the work is done.
saturday's forecast keeps shower warmer and warmer temps. i am not a warm weather runner whatsoever, so all i can do is hope for the best and run the best that i can. i am hoping that the humidity stays low to keep it the best possible situation. i can't control the weather, so i'll make sure i hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. i don't like to drink a ton in a race so i will have to really make an effort to make sure i stay replenished. this is what i get for choosing a marathon in early march in south georgia! ha!
an update on my 'injuries' from my fall in new orleans:
boy i heal fast! and neosporin is a miracle cream! my right hand is 100% healed, left hand is 90% healed, and knee is 75% healed. the only issue i'm STILL having is my left shoulder which took the brunt of the fall. i'm having pain when i wake up (i unconsciencely sleep in my side) and major rotation issues - limited rotation and pain when i try to go beyond the limit. i don't think anything is torn or that it's anything serious, but it is definitely a nuisance. i have stayed away from weight lifting and yoga so i won't aggravate it further, but so far, i'm not much better. the good news is it doesn't effect my running. i either need a good massage or some good drugs!