July, July

My blogging time has been a bit sparse thanks to a monster of a literature review, but I am happy to report that I am running regularly and feeling energetic and strong. My goal is to run 50 miles this month, and I’ve already accomplished 12. I am also using this month as an experiment in eating whole and unprocessed foods as much as possible. I ditched bagels for muesli with almond milk and cranberries, pizza for roasted vegetables, meat, quinoa salads, and crackers for fresh fruit. I will admit, the first day or so without junk food was tough. But I am really feeling good now! Much more energized and just the change in what I am eating for breakfast makes a HUGE difference in my morning. I used to feel like I had low blood sugar by about 10:00, but the power porridge I am making keeps me satisfied until noon. Of course, I still indulge in my two favorite health foods… dark chocolate and Pinot Noir.

Off to run by the water this sunny evening. Looking forward to another great week.

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18 is a lucky number

I finished week 14 with an 18 mile run, mostly trails, with a friend that is keeping me company for the upcoming marathon. I sit here writing this in disbelief. First, if you would have told me last year that I would run 13 miles without stopping, I would have laughed in your face. If you would have told me I would one day run 18 miles for no medal, I would have walked away. Second, 18 miles was nothing like 16 miles. It wasn’t painful and it wasn’t boring–it was really fun. I enjoyed it immensely! I am sure it was because I had another person with me, but I had that wonderful runner’s high again and again for the first time in awhile. I took the time to stretch and apply both heat and ice therapy to sore spots yesterday, and today I feel really strong. I do not have sharp aches and pains anywhere. The only complaint is some chafing I experienced at the neckline of my sports bra, where I neglectfully forgot to apply body glide (I almost always miss a spot!).

I feel nervous about the marathon, but also prepared. I know that I will need to eat GU about every 5-6 miles. I know hydrating is very important. I know to stop and walk it out or stretch before I get really tired or sore. I can anticipate that I will encounter some walls… but my favorite saying of late is that walls are only as big as you make them.

This upcoming long run will be my last. And I have decided to make it a 20-mile run, even though my book recommends two 18-mile runs. Mentally, I need the experience of hitting 20 before going into this race. During the last long run, I will wear the clothes, down to the bra and socks I plan to wear for the marathon. The fuel belt packed with the exact fuel I will consume. I will load my iPod with the music I will listen to on the marathon, if I decide to listen to some music for some of the miles.

After the last long run, tapering begins. The goal for September is to sleep well, hydrate conscientiously, and eat good complex and rich carbohydrates. This is a time for turning inward, believing in myself, and nourishing my body as the instrument that will accomplish this goal.

I hope everybody is getting in a good run or two this long weekend!

I ran with a friend!

My running buddy took me along for an 8 mile run yesterday, and it was a fantastic way to wrap up the week. I was traveling around last weekend, so I had to run piecemeal, but I am really happy with the 8 miles. It was a good physical and mental detox. I realize after a run how much better I feel about everything… it just demolishes stress.

One more week of slightly altered training, and then back to the grindstone for the next several weeks. I am looking forward to getting some more long runs under my belt; especially with September approaching rapidly.

My goal this week is to eat whole and non-disruptive foods. I have a sensitive gut, and while I am all for eating dirty and running hard, I am having some flareups of digestive issues that I need to address in order to run comfortably. So, cutting back a bit of dairy, greasy take-out, coffee consumption (beyond the 1-2 cups a day I need!), and looking at how I can add more water, whole produce, and hearty grains and proteins. Starting tonight by cooking our homegrown zucchini with some yams and chicken.

I will try to read up on Week 12 this evening so that I can share some insights later in the week.

Marathon Training: Week 6

Yesterday I completed my longest training run so far: 10 miles! Since I didn’t have to work on the holiday, I decided to make the most of my day off and tackle the distance. I ran along the bay the entire run–some of the route plucked right from the Bellingham Bay Marathon course. I’ve found a really nice out-and-back run that can be lengthened as long as I want, so it will work for the longer runs ahead (16, 18, 20 miles). It’s a good mix of roads and trails, which is great for my knees. The first few miles were a bit tedious, but 3-4 miles in, I really started to enjoy myself. The second half of the run was really fun. I also ran with my fuel belt and I am glad I did. I drank both bottles of water and was very grateful for a little snack at the halfway point. What made me especially happy was that I had a negative split and I felt really good after the run… ready for more!

fuel

I ran out of GU, so I ate the Sport Beans instead.

thursday2At the halfway point, and already very sweaty.

Tomorrow I will wrap up Week 5 with my mid-length run (5 miles).

Week 6 will culminate with a half marathon in Seattle, even though the prescribed long run is 11 miles for the week. To avoid overuse, I am cutting back two of the shorter runs and adding those two miles to the long run. Therefore, when all is said and done, the cumulative mileage will be at 24.

Monday: 4

Wednesday: 3

Friday: 4

Sunday: 13

Total Mileage: 24

I hope everybody had a great 4th of July yesterday! I will be back next week to discuss Week 6. Yowza, I can’t believe I’ve been marathon training for more than a month–it is flying by.

friday5

It’s FRIDAY!!!!!!

Week 5: Double Digits and Self Care

On Saturday, I finished Week 4 with an 8 mile long run. I had a good amount of energy the rest of the day, which I think is a positive sign. Yesterday, I rested, even though I wanted to start on Week 5. However, I want to be conscientious of avoiding overuse injury, and so rest days after long runs will become increasingly more sacred as my training progresses.

Week 5 is significant because it is the first week that the long run hits double digits (10 miles), and also the first week that the cumulative mileage goes about 20 (Week 5 amounts to 21 miles). What are some of the important things to focus on this week? Self care–or–hydration, fuel, and rest.

Hydration is an especially appropriate subject to focus on because we are having our first heat wave of the summer over here in northwest Washington. Hydration for marathon training does not just mean steady consumption of water throughout the day; it encompasses strategic compensation for additional fluids lost during long runs by drinking 8 ounces per 20 minutes of running time for each long run. That is in addition to the 6-8 cups a day recommended for good levels. I can usually internally feel when I should drink more water (before thirst hits), but the best indication is urine color. Pee should be light or clear… if it’s on the dark yellow side, that is a warning sign of dehydration. In addition to water, I personally enjoy electrolyte replenishing drinks such as Gatorade during long runs. I think that if I’m going to get really sweaty and the weather is warm, alternating Gatorade and water is a good way to go.

Nutrition for running is a comprehensive and broad subject, and there are entire blogs and books out there that discuss nothing more than this. My approach is pretty simple–it’s to maintain an 80/20 ratio as best as I can. 80% whole and minimally processed foods, 20% other things that are tasty. Marathon training has a way of curbing your unhealthy eating habits even if you don’t try. It’s really unpleasant to run in the evening if I’ve eaten something greasy for lunch. I know that… so if I know I will be running, I really try to eat something that will digest well and won’t give me intestinal problems later on. On the other hand, nourishing sources of higher calorie foods are also important. I like nut butters, Greek yogurt, and granola to meet this need. I stay away from energy bars and try to eat something real of substance instead, even if it means packing and washing extra tupperware šŸ™‚ During runs that are longer than an hour (and that’s about 6 miles for me), my go-to fuel is GU. I know it’s nasty and akin to astronaut food, but it gets the job done. Not much to digest, and the energy metabolizes and boosts the muscles pretty quickly. I also really like the sport jelly beans. Those taste a little saltier.

Rest, rest, rest. Rest is important, but also staggeringly challenging for the first-time marathoner to wrap her head around. I feel so great! Why wouldn’t I run today? Waaaahhhh…. Well, one concentrated memory back to my IT band pain, and I start buying in to the rest day with more enthusiasm. Running makes for sustained impact on the joints, and it’s critical to let fatigued muscles recover after long runs so they can work to protect skeletal alignment and integrity during future runs. Stretching is a huge component of the rest and recovery cycle. Stretching for distance runners is the most important and impactful at the end of a run. I spend more and more time after runs and on my rest days stretching. It really does help.

The second half of the chapter on Week 5 discusses positive visualizations. I hope to share some of my visualizations with you later this week.

Happy running, and keep cool this first week of July…

monday4

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Thursday Links

Off to the pool for my lunchtime swim/aqua jog, and I am also hoping for a quick run tonight since it is unexpectedly sunny out!

I read this article today, loved it, definitely related to parts of it, and wanted to share it.

Also, this exists. I want to try it!

My daughter’s school is participating in a rainbow-themed parade tomorrow. Naturally, my running buddy (the lovely auntie that she is) and I are breaking these tutus out again–running buddy even made a miniature one for my kiddo!

I made oatmeal cookies last night, but substituted half of the oats with granola. It’s as crunchy and decadent as it sounds. Now they are breakfast cookies, right? šŸ™‚

Whidbey Island Half Marathon Recap

Three notable things about this race:

-I set a new PR for myself at 2:11… four minutes under my goal time and almost 8 minutes under the time for my last half

-Hills, crazy weather, more hills, more crazy weather

-Did not hit the wall

On Saturday, the day before we left for Whidbey Island, it started to snow. After an unusually mild winter, I found the timing to be HILARIOUS. As we drove down toward Deception Pass, the snow just accumulated more and more. Luckily, by the time we reached Oak Harbor, it was just a rainy day and any white stuff had melted away. We kicked around for a bit, going to Safeway to buy the necessities (bananas, peanut butter…) and then to Windjammer Park (the race start) to play on the windy beach and at one of the most expansive playgrounds I’ve ever seen. My daughter was pretty excited about that part! We even got a decent window of sun.

I got virtually no sleep the night before the race, but I was nonchalant about it. I intentionally tried to sleep as much as possible in the nights leading up to race weekend knowing I would probably experience a lot of nervous energy before the race.

In the morning, I got up, made coffee, and ate all of my special race day foods.

breakfast

At around 7:30, my husband drove me and my running buddy to the start. We huddled in the heated tent and I made many trips to the port-o-potty because I was really well hydrated and also didn’t want to pee during the race. At 8:05 we started lining up, and I put myself right behind the 2:10 pacer figuring I would run between him and the 2:20 pacer to meet my goal of 2:15. At 8:15 we were off, and almost simultaneously, the downpour began.

This half was very different for me in that it went by quickly. I was blissfully in the zone for many of the miles and didn’t really pay attention to the markers until around Mile 9. Even with the rolling hills in the first half of the race, I was able to stay ahead of the 2:10 pacer and continue steadily without walking. In fact, there was only one time that I walked briefly, and that was when I needed to eat my GU. When we got to about Mile 4, we started in on the trails, and were a bit more covered from the rain. I love how much the route went on trails, through woods, and along the water. It was truly a beautiful tour of that part of the island.

mile 4

Around Mile 4

The middle part of the race took us through the Naval Base, which made for interesting scenery. It really is a city within a city. Miles 6-7 were on this beautiful strip of road between the coast on the left side and a shallow tide pool on the right. At this point, the rain let-up quite a bit, but my feet were getting wet from large puddles on the course.

mile 7Approaching Mile 6-ish

The route was a lopsided figure eight, so at around Mile 9 we actually bisected the starting area and went for another smaller loop through trails and roads on the other side of the park. The last four miles were very hilly and difficult. The last steep uphill at Mile 11 was the only time I saw the 2:10 pacer in front of me. I did my best not to get frustrated, I fueled again with some GU, and I reminded myself that the goal was primarily to finish, and secondarily to finish under 2:15. The last mile, which is usually all guts for me, was surprisingly fun because it was almost entirely downhill. I was very happy to finish at a time that was below my goal time by quite a few minutes.

whidbeyfinish

Ready for a hot shower and dry clothes.

Of course once I got to the end of the race, the clouds parted and the sun started shining. We enjoyed a beautiful drive home and then I spent the rest of the afternoon playing out in the yard and tending to some gardening. This morning I am a little sore, but nowhere near as stiff as I was after my first few half marathons.

When I finished yesterday, I could have gone a few more miles, and that made me realize that my body is capable of longer runs–that the marathon goal is not unrealistic. Additionally, I had so much FUN running the race yesterday–even during the challenging hills and last few miles! I jokingly told my running buddy before the race that I was excited for the day that a half marathon would be my fun run. While half marathons still require a lot of mental and physical effort from my body, they are becoming more manageable and enjoyable.

I was a bit sad to finish this half marathon, but I know I will definitely run this race again because it was so beautiful and I have great memories from it. I am very glad I have the Rock’n’Roll Portland lined up for next month–something to continue working toward! Dare I try to shave more time off my finish??

medalLast but not least… GU no longer makes me gag! The taste is starting to grow on me…

 

 

It’s almost Friday!

First of all, thanks for the awesome supportive comments yesterday. I’ve decided to see how my body feels on Saturday and then determine which distance to run. I am running a shorter distance on Friday night just in case.

Four mile buddy run last night was a breeze… and the most awesome part was I did not have to put on my headlamp! I really love that the days are getting a bit longer. March 10th (Daylight Savings) can’t come soon enough, in my opinion.

I have a lot of baby bok choy in my produce bin this week. Anybody have any suggestions on tasty things I can make with it?

Make-up day

I didn’t go for a run yesterday. My daughter was home sick and my husband and I were swapping shifts so that we could make critical meetings at our respective offices. By the end of the day, we were both pooped and decided on some take-out Thai food and wine.

I am home again today with my girl, but she is feeling better and so I plopped her in the jogging stroller and ran around 3 miles this morning. It’s a sunny day and we both enjoyed the fresh air. Running with a stroller is so difficult for me!!! I guess it is good strength training–plus the company isn’t bad.

Tonight I have Zumba and I am looking forward to dancing and getting stinky and sweaty.

Today was a make-up day… running in the morning and my regular cross-training this evening.

My shoes are breaking in nicely!

Oh, and before I forget–I registered for the Portland R&R half marathon (this May). Two exciting half marathons on the docket for this spring! More later…

Week in Review

It finally happened… this morning I lost my right toe nail. I pulled off the dangling nail and was relieved to find a very thin new nail growing underneath. Thankfully, no pain at all. Running=nasty feet, but that is okay, I love running anyway šŸ™‚

Sunday= 3 miles

Monday= REST

Tuesday= 4 miles

Wednesday= Yoga (at home, nothing fancy)

Thursday= 5 miles

Friday= 7 miles

Saturday= Zumba

Total: 19 miles

My new shoes feel so good! I am excited to go for a run tonight.

I want to revisit a few intentions I’ve mentioned over the past month. First, drinking more water. I’m getting the hang of this one. One of my tricks is that before I can have coffee in the morning, I fill my mug to the brim with water and drink that first. The other intention is eating more whole fruits and vegetables. The weekly produce delivery has made this incredibly easy! Aside from the time I used the cauliflower to make a chocolate cake, I’ve used fruits and veggies to plump up stir fries, salads, quiches, and I’ve enjoyed them roasted and raw… all of this has been a great addition to the variety of food in our house.

I am running a race a week from Saturday with my running club. There are two options; 4 miles or 13.1 miles. I am still making up my mind!

Happy Running and Happy Friday!