Weekly Race Shout-Outs and Foodie Pen Pals

***First***

With this weekend, we enter back into racing season! Efforts will have to be redoubled to stalk and figure out who is racing where and keep you in my fast racing thoughts.  This week I haven’t had too much time to stalk, but I did want to mention a couple of people I know are racing:

1) Sam is going for a marathon PR in Idaho where he WILL be qualifying for Boston!

2) Jac is running the Disneyland Half this weekend! (major jealously from my end).  Her daughter will also be running the Disneyland 5-K!

3) If you WANT to race but haven’t signed up or can’t find one, Laura from Mommy Run Fast is hosting a virtual 5 or 10 mile race this weekend! I didn’t do a race in August (it just didn’t ever work out around marathon training), so I figure if I get my run in today and submit my times, I can still consider it a bucket list success!

Good luck and fast thoughts to you, and everyone else racing this weekend! 

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Foodie Pen Pals


So, I have some wonderful guest posts lined up for next week! BUT, today is the official foodie pen pal reveal day, and the Lean Green Bean lady runs a tight ship (necessary for organization).

I’ve been seeing these posts for the last few months, and I finally decided to jump on the bandwagon.  I like food! I like pen pals! I like receiving food from pen pals!

For August I was paired up with Catherine from Alabama.  The moment I looked at the box when it came a couple of weeks ago, I knew I was in for a good surprise!

The Goods:

These were eaten within moments of this picture being taken!

Catherine says she’s obsessed with this snack mix.  I’d have to agree after trying it!

She even included treats for Giuseppe!

Catherine is there in the left corner.  And this is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! 

THANK YOU CATHERINE for being a great foodie pen pal! This was such a cool experience, and something I plan to participate in often.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend!

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Endurance Training Changes Your Life. Or: Patientia Disciplina Mutationes Vivit

Hi Friends!

I am currently running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and I will be for the next several days.  And, I’m kind of grumpy and I want to spare everyone as many grumpy Amy posts as possible. But never fear! I’ve brought in reinforcements! (You were so worried I know).  

The first up is blog friend Dominick from Etc.  He is also training for his first marathon (ING New York), and enjoys good music, good beer, and living it up in Southern California.   He also translates stuff into Latin.  The title is my attempt to do the same.  Hopefully google translate didn’t make me say bad things.  

Hello America! 

It’s an honor to be chosen as “guest blogger” for this installation of Lavender Parking.  I think “A” chose me because I am…a runner?

 ME: My name is Dominick and I am a runner

YOU: Hi Dominick.

ME: It all started when I was a child…probably around 1.  Running was always a recreational thing for me until a few years ago, that’s when it took a turn for the worse. I started doing it at all hours of the day and when I started doing it at midnight I knew there was a problem.  That problem got worse when I started waking up early, I would struggle out the door and into the back alley looking for my fix before sunrise.  I would go to work and think about running, constantly checking online sites for tips, paraphernalia and new routes.  It became clear about a year and a half ago that I was an addict.  I remember when I hit rock bottom; I was sitting on the shower floor wondering when the pain would just go away.  Wasn’t running supposed to make me feel good?  Wasn’t I supposed to have more energy?  Where was this “high” everyone talked about? 

I knew things had to change but I didn’t know what to do.  A friend came to me and suggested I try a half marathon.  It sounded too hard, too much planning, too much commitment and work…just too much.  Then one day I looked in the mirror and saw the reflection of a semi out of shape man in his early 30’s that was looking for something more.   I decided to go to a meeting at the local running store, they were offering discounted registration for the inaugural Pasadena Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon, I don’t know what came over me but the next thing I knew I was registered.  It was at that moment that my life changed.  All terrible addict jokes aside, the moment I registered for the half marathon I knew I had made the commitment to become a “real” runner.   

 

 

My healthy journey began with cupcakes and Runner’s World

I will admit that I wanted to take running serious but at the same time I trained for the half without a program. I figured as long as I was consistent and progressed slowly then I would be ok.  I started increasing my mileage in September, please note that the race was in February.  I went from running 3-4 miles before work on Tuesday and Thursdays to nothing less than 4 and as much as 6.5.  My Sunday runs went from 3-4 miles to a minimum of 5 and eventually I topped off my “training” at 10 miles a few weeks before the race. I had prepared for everything to the best of my knowledge…except for the unexpected…I caught some sort of flu the week of the race and the only thing I could think of is how I worked so hard for six months to get to race day.  I ate healthy food, rested the most I could and did a few short runs to test my lungs to gauge if I would be able to compete.  Unfortunately my lungs burned and I couldn’t take full breaths on a 3 mile run the Thursday before the race.  When Sunday rolled around I decided I had trained too hard and I had to attempt to race but I wasn’t confident I would be able to breathe.  I was nervous but thankfully by the third mile I knew I was going to be ok, I didn’t feel 100% but I felt like I could finish.  I ended up coming up a little short of my goal but still delivered a time that made me proud.  I suddenly went from being concerned about my ability to finish a half marathon to thinking that it was not that difficult and maybe I could complete a full marathon.  I don’t know where the arrogance came from but a few weeks later I entered into the New York City Marathon lottery and anxiously awaiting a response.  I can’t be the only idiot who signed up for their first marathon this way?

So here I am, I just finished week 8 of an 18-week marathon-training program courtesy of Hal Higdon and at times I struggle to see the forest through the trees.  “A” asked me to guest blog and gave me this prompt:

Ummm…. why don’t you do something about how endurance training has changed your life.” 

 (AMY INSERT: I provided several prompts and was asked to be the deciding factor between 2.  I didn’t just “ummmm” for no reason!)

I thought, that should be easy but has it really changed my life?  I still drink the same amount of beer and eat just as many cupcakes.   I don’t have a six-pack and I feel like I am still slow.  So I pondered, how exactly has endurance training changed my life?

When I first started running I would battle with myself about how much I hated it and questioned why I had to run.  Originally it was to lose weight and start living a healthier lifestyle.  The reality was that something inside me was screaming at me to prove I could stick to a routine regardless of how much I hated it, as long as it meant I was doing something productive and healthy.  The half marathon training was a test and I didn’t realize it until I crossed the finish line.  It many ways it marked another part of my transition to adulthood.  I went from giving in to my excuses about why things couldn’t be done to proving that I could accomplish something if I sacrifice and commit.   The crazy part is I knew this to be true in other aspects of my life but for some reason I always felt like I was never going to be ultra athletic and I had a million reasons why I wasn’t more than a casual runner.  I literally thought that running 3 miles was a killer workout and had no ambition to EVER run more than a 10k. In 6 months of training I learned that the only thing stopping me from completing something was myself. 

 

Look how amazing running makes you look!  Mile 12 of the R’n’R Half Marathon…sorry ladies I’m taken.

 {AMY INSERT: There is nothing not amazing about this picture and everyone in it!}

The first thing I realized when I began prepping for marathon training was that I literally knew nothing.  It was as if I was starting to learn to run all over again.  Everything thing I read told me that unlike a half marathon, the full was a true test of endurance, they made it seem like any schmohawk off the street could train a few weeks and do a half marathon.  A marathon is for the “real” runners.  I read things that said…don’t set a pace goal, just focus on finishing…this scared me.  I don’t want to train for 18 weeks and just finish, I want to reach my goal whether it be aggressive or not, if I put in the work I want to achieve my desired result.  I read blogs about training and began to see the stress it put on people physically and mentally, I pretended like I was different and it wouldn’t affect me.  I made it a point to read about injury prevention, proper running form, diet, sleep, and cross training.  Before I knew it my social life was planned around running.  I couldn’t stay out late or drink before long runs and I had to tell friends that I couldn’t play in their reindeer games because I had to wake up and run.  I am sure everyone knows how non-runners respond to the idea of running and how that response is amplified when you tell them you wake up at 6:00am on a Saturday to train.

 I knew things had changed a few weeks ago when I went to San Francisco and woke up at 6:00am…on vacation, after a night of drinking and not getting to bed until after midnight…and I laced up my shoes in the hallway of my hotel before heading out for my run.  The crazy part was that I was genuinely excited to be running such a beautiful city at such an ungodly hour.  I headed down to the bay and ran along the Embarcadero for roughly 7 miles and was stretching on the steps of Union square by 8:00am…on vacation.  It was an awesome feeling knowing that my commitment to the goal was strong and that I was rewarded with the most beautiful sunrise in the history of San Francisco.   Vacations to me have always been about breaking routine and escaping reality, but now that I am in training I have realized that it is a great way to start a full day! If you have never run on vacation, I highly recommend it. Urban environments are particularly fascinating when you’re hitting the pavement before the hustle and bustle begins.

 

Just the sea lions and I hanging out on the pier…where are all the people?!

 The next lesson I learned was to be overwhelmed.  Before training began I had only eclipsed 10 miles twice; a training run leading up to my half and the half marathon.  I sat and reviewed the plan that Hal suggested and realized that I would eclipse 10 miles over 14 times in 18 weeks…with the last 12 on consecutive weeks.  I told myself that there was no way in hell!  How am I supposed to run 14 miles on Saturday and then do 15 the next?  I literally get anxiety attacks trying to plan routes in my town, when planning a recent run I looked at my girlfriend and said, “Do you realize how far 14 miles is?  I can run to downtown Los Angeles and still not be at 14 miles! This is ridiculous!”.  Planning and preparing is the hard part, the run isn’t nearly as difficult as I make it seem to myself.  I have learned to focus on one week at a time, one mile at a time, to not think about what I have accomplished so far and instead focus on what is still ahead of me.  Being overwhelmed is ok, it forces you to prepare for anything and I am now trying to embrace the fear and use it as fuel.  Nothing beats telling a non-runner that you knocked out 15 miles before they brushed their teeth.

 

 Sometimes it takes me an hour to go this far in my car…I could run it in twice the time.

The last way endurance training has changed my life and the most frightening is the fact that it has become part of my routine.  I no longer make excuses, I may put up a little fuss but now I see training as a necessary activity that must be completed.  Sleeping is not optional, eating is not optional and now neither is running.  This past Saturday my girlfriend and I decided we are going to go to Hawaii in a couple of weeks and the first thing I searched was not…”things to do in Oahu”…it was…”running routes Oahu”…I shit you not.  I knew there was an awesome trail that ran around Diamond Head and that there is a local half marathon the day after I arrive before I realized that Oahu is home to the world famous North Shore and ummm this place called Pearl Harbor.  I feel like an idiot sharing that but I think it tells you how endurance training has changed my life.

 

I took the time to map the Windward Half Marathon on Nike+ myself…you’re welcome race organizers!

I originally wanted to write something funny about the negative side of endurance training but the only things I could say with honesty seem to be positives but ask me next week and there is a good chance you could catch me cursing the day I ever laced up a pair of shoes in the first place.   Oh yeah, that man in the mirror is now 15 pounds lighter and no longer feels the pain that use to leave me sitting in the shower.  If you are pondering an endurance event, whether it be a 10k, a half, a full or more (you’re absolutely nuts if you do more), your life will change, if it doesn’t then you are not going about it right or you haven’t noticed it.

 One negative…you may find yourself spending some money on entry fees, clothes and paraphernalia…

 

Training shoes…they all rock except those bastards on the far right…those suck.

How NOT to Train For a Marathon, or Amy is a Running Bum

FRIDAY! Oh my goodness. I am so ready for this.

These last few weeks have been crazy for both me and Aaron.  He’s switching positions within his company at the start of September, so he’s working 2 jobs right now in the transition (12 hour days, anyone?).  And while I deal with deadlines and stressful situations all the time, I’m coming up on my busiest most stressful week of the year that is being made even more stressful thanks to two federal grant deadlines at the same time.  (those feds require a lot of information).

Oh, and I’m hosting a bridal shower at my house this weekend which is fun (seriously, planning parties is what I live for), but I’m a bit OCD and every square inch of my house and yard must pass a white glove test, and I don’t do “small.” Go big or go home.

So, we’re both coming home exhausted, I’m trying to get everything done for the party, and we’re supposed to be training for a marathon.

Supposed to be.

We’ve been bad again this week.  I’m burned out.  Not from running really, but I’m just tired from life and at the end of a long work day/cleaning day, I’m not all about the running.  And Aaron, who is usually the person in this relationship who makes sure we get out no matter what excuse I throw out, isn’t into it right now either.  Perfect timing right? I’m still in constant awe of people who work stressful jobs every day, have kids, and still manage to run and dominate.  You have my utmost respect, because I’m having a hard time.  I didn’t run at all on Monday, and we put in 2 of the 5 miles we were supposed to yesterday (speed workouts have gone on as normal).

As you can see, I am so behind on everything (2 episodes behind in the Newsroom!!!), including blogging.   I think your life will go on if you don’t know everything that’s happening in my life (you want to know? Right now I’m watching Love Actually which is a movie I have seen easily over 100 times and drinking a beer.  Because stressful work days means more booze intake.  I should write a book on how not to train for a marathon with lots of chapters on not running and drinking beer while watching Rom Com’s ….oh, and I should specify that I’m writing this on Thursday night.   I rarely turn down a beer, but even I don’t make it a habit to drink at 7 am on a work day).

I’m mostly sad that I haven’t been able to keep up with your lives. Can’t you just stop being interesting for a couple of weeks?

I’ve missed pictures of Hawaii, Denmark, and Scottish Isles, new jobs, new babies (any other HRG readers out there amazed at how Janae looks perfect and acts perfect all the dang time including moments after giving birth in a city she moved to literally the day before?), new distances conquered, and everything else that y’all are talking about.  And I hate that.

Also, I think it is silly when people write entire blog posts talking about not blogging. And yet, here we are.

Just to make things less silly…

1) Lance Armstrong: I’m pro Lance.  I’m certain that EVERYONE in the pro cycling community dopes.  I don’t think that makes it right, but Lance is an awesome athlete regardless.  Guaranteed the dudes that now take over the titles doped too, so I’d rather have the strongest (doping) athlete have the title then the second strongest.  Also, he has yet to fail a drug test.

2) Naked Price Harry: Why do I never get invited to these parties???

3) ING New York Marathon’s new “no bag check-in” bombshell: Have fun with that.

This is a fabulous back down off it weekend, 12 miles and 6 miles.  I shall enjoy every second of the reduced mileage because its back up to a 30 mile weekend next week.

Have a fabulous weekend! And don’t do anything interesting without me!

Marathon Reflection Monday

So, I ran 30 miles this weekend.

I’ll just let that sink into my brain (and yours) for a second.

I knew this was going to happen one day.  6 and a half months ago when we first signed up for Chicago and Aaron devised our training plan, I saw it on the spreadsheet and knew I would have to run it.  2 and a half months ago, when I first started my training, I knew it was getting closer.  Last weekend, after a 28 mile weekend, I knew there was no turning back.

But I’m sitting here, realizing that I, the most non-runner out there, who up until a year ago couldn’t imagine a fate worse than running more than 6 miles at a time, ran 20 miles on Saturday followed by a 10 mile run yesterday.

I don’t even know myself anymore!

Ok. Now that that’s done…

I kinda just didn’t feel like it last week.  We did our two speed workouts, but I didn’t do my two recovery runs.  Aside from not getting the mileage in, it didn’t seem to help our hurt me too much by skipping out.  But I just thought you needed to know as my accountability brigade.

Saturday we woke up early, got in almost 3 miles before the sun came up, and ran around what felt like the entire Northeast side of the city.

Um, hello elevation gain! Thanks for being a pain in the ass. (That’s over 1,000 feet of gain if you’re wondering).

We carried the hydration pack with us and stuffed it with 3 water bottles (it is only supposed to carry 2).  I got away with only having to carry it for 4 miles, but wow.  That’s a lot of water weight to carry around.  Maybe I should have been training with this thing the whole time!

There couldn’t have been a bigger difference between this week’s long run and last weeks miserable experience.

Mentally, I was focused, positive, and unconcerned with how many more miles I had left.  I had energy the whole time, and while my feet really did hurt starting at mile 16, my body met the 20 mile challenge.  I don’t really know if I have ever been more proud of myself or more impressed with what this little body can do with some hard work.

I can’t even believe I’m saying this, but running 20 miles was…enjoyable? I was almost deliriously happy starting at mile 14.  Is this the “runner’s high” that everyone is talking about?  If so, this would be the first time I’ve ever felt it. (I also just noticed that mile 14 started the downhill portion of the run…coincidence?)

It seems to be common thought that once you hit 20 miles, you can run a marathon. Through this whole process, I’ve been obviously doubtful that I can pull off a 3:30, but at many points, I’ve been doubtful that I can do this at all.

Saturday, as I heard the little beep from my Garmin indicating that I had hit 20 miles, it became very real.  I am now in marathon shape!

{Awkward photo angle}

BUT, for all of the happiness I felt on Saturday, yesterday’s 10 miler kicked my ass big time.  Saturday night we tailgated at the opera (more on that tomorrow), and I didn’t eat very well and had more wine than water.  So, when we finally got up and out the door at 9:30 (read, hot), I was dehydrated, not fueled properly (I actually got the ammonia taste in my mouth which means my body was breaking down muscle for fuel…this is BAD), hot, and tired.  I usually try to push the pace of these mid-distance runs, but yesterday I had more miles above an 11 minutes than I did under 10. Not cool. Meanwhile, freak of nature Aaron was prancing around bragging about how wonderful he felt.

But, I got it done.  With four weeks left until taper, I have two more of these mileage overload weekends.  This is a back down off it week, so next weekend will focus on running 12 fast miles followed by 6 faster miles.  I still don’t think I’m running my “fast” runs fast enough (at least according to McMillian), so I have 4 weeks to really hammer out some speed.

As always, injury prevention is a priority.  I didn’t wear my  little IT band thing on Saturday (I forgot it), so I’ve spent the last two days trying to get my whole right leg back in good condition.  Otherwise, everything seems to be going great!

I hope your long runs went well this weekend!  After a hot summer, it looks like almost everyone is starting to get back into training and racing!

I hope you have a fantastic week!

Choosing an NFL Team

I did not grow up in a sports oriented family.

Sure we’d go to the occasional local minor league baseball game (Albuquerque Dukes Forever!) or watch gymnastics during the Olympics, or suffer through football games and rowdy relatives during Thanksgiving dinner (as much as my mother tried to prevent it).  But for the most part, I spent my life sports free aside from high school games and of course my Saint Mary’s Gaels.

Then I met Aaron.

His whole life has been sports oriented.  He played baseball and water polo, and was on the track team, cross country team, and swim team.  His father is from Brooklyn, so New York sports are a big deal.  I once suggested that we move to Boston.  I was informed that this was not acceptable since the Red Sox fans live there.  And don’t mess with the Giants.

So, for the last 4 years, my life has involved a lot more sports games.

Luckily Aaron hasn’t been a complete die-hard when it comes to his teams (we compromise…less sports games I have to watch means less episodes of Real Housewives he has to watch), although there was that one pre-marriage course where the Giants game was streaming on his phone….

So, I figure it is time for me to choose an NFL team to cheer for (please don’t ask me to get into baseball).  If I’m having to watch games anyway, might as well get into it a little more.  If you can’t beat them, join them. Or something like that. With pre-season starting up, it’s time. In fact, I made it a bucket list item for this year.  I also want to be able to speak intelligently about these sweaty men tackling each other.

{HUH?}

I know there are a lot of options, some I might not even know about yet.  I had never even heard of the Buccaneers before last year. Around these parts most people are either Cowboys or Broncos fans.

I  knew that I could NEVER chose the Cowboys (the one opinion my dad has had on football), and Oakland fans scare me as does Oakland, so no Raiders fan here.

I narrowed it down to three options:

1) Denver Broncos: geographically, Denver is pretty close to Albuquerque.  I also usually go to one Broncos game a year, so they would be easy to support in person.  And while I didn’t get into Tebow madness (he was adorable, but even I could tell that he sucked), I AM IN OBSESSIVE LOVE WITH THE MANNINGS.  I don’t know why.  Don’t ask me to explain it because I can’t.  Peyton is so close, I can taste him. In the most unweird way possible…

2) San Francisco 49ers: This kinda goes back to elementary school when all the boys wore Rice and Young jerseys.  I’ve always considered San Francisco a cheer-worthy team.  And aside from Albuquerque, the Bay Area is the only other place I’ve had a mailbox, so it’s almost like the home team.  (I was actually a bit closer to Oakland, but we already discussed that Raiders are a no-go).

3) NY Giants: ELI ELI ELI! He’s so precious.  And they win.  I like winners.  I’m not too into cheering for non-winners.  Also, this is Aaron’s team.  On one hand, this means that we won’t want to kill each other on Super Bowl Sunday or play-offs.  On the other hand, I don’t want to do anything just because my husband does it.  You know, aside from the whole running thing.  And gluten free diet.  And riding a tandam bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. Hmmm….

AND THE WINNER IS…..

THE GIANTS!

I broke it to Aaron last night over our gluten free burger.

He wasn’t very excited because he doesn’t think I’m loyal enough.  He thinks that I’m only cheering for them because they won the Super Bowl, and if Eli ever switched teams, I might switch with him.  Apparently, by choosing the Giants, I”m choosing them for better or for worse.  For winning seasons and losing seasons.  Through adorable quarterbacks and ugly quarterbacks.

That’s a lot of commitment talk.

Maybe I’m not ready….

Who is your team?  Can we still be friends? 

HAPPY FRIDAY! 30 total miles on the schedule for this weekend.  I don’t even want to talk about it!

Hey There, Hot Stuff (And I’m Not Just Talking About the Merchandise)!

First, this thought that went through my head during my tempo run yesterday: If I’m going to throw up, at least let it be AFTER I finish my 20 pace minutes.

So, I was completely ok with throwing up (because that means you’ve pushed yourself as hard as you can) as long as I could finish up my workout first.  Every day I’m amazed at this complete weirdo I have become.

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Yesterday, The Boring Runner blogged about getting his first mid-run cat call.

I laughed because I know.

I get honked at or hollered at least once a week.  It usually happens when I’m running alone (or when Aaron is far ahead), but having him next to me doesn’t seem to deter people either (it should be noted that I never run in my wedding ring, but my guess is it would make no difference).

This practice baffles my mind for so many reasons. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable as much as it makes me question the motives and mentality of these hootern’ hollerers.

I also don’t really take it as a compliment.  Luckily, I derive my self-esteem from sources other than drive-by shouting.

The post prompted several comments from other ladies who also deal with this, so I guess at least it’s not just a New Mexico machismo man thing.

I can guarantee that I’m speaking for everyone here when I say that no date has ever resulted from a man in a car cat calling a female runner. Or, you know, a female calling out to a male runner.  However, if this is the way you met your life partner, no judgement, and can you please share because I’d love to hear the story!

But truthfully, I don’t think dates are what these men are after.  It’s not like the slow down and get to know us better.  Or even turn around to get a second look.  Perhaps they are just attempting to raise our self-esteem by causing us to jump when the horn goes off unexpectedly?

Also, I am not hot.  ESPECIALLY when I’m running.

MAYBE if I looked like this when I ran, I would understand:

But, I don’t.  In fact, I usually look like this heel striking and all (not to mention that I look like a 12 year old):

Also somewhat surprising is that 90% of the time, the offender is driving a newer nice pick-up truck, so he presumably isn’t a high school student.  Also, this usually happens in the morning, or shortly after work, so these people should be relatively sober.

So, I have no reasonable explanation.

Man people: Any insight into this strange social ritual?  I’d like to think that your mamas raised you better.

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Aaron showed me this video last night, and it had me laughing.  I’m not a bike rider, but I would TOTALLY do what this guy did if something of mine got stolen.  His commentary on the matter is pretty priceless.

Happy Thursday! SO CLOSE to the weekend!

Marathon Reflection Monday

I think people (scientists? psychologists?) have proven that your brain blocks out memories of pain.  After the immediate agony is over, you forget just how miserable you were and you prepare yourself for the next round.

I ran 28 miles this weekend.  19 miles on Saturday and 9 miles yesterday.

The 9 mile run was fine.  However, I think there were very few moments after mile 11 of the 19 miler that I didn’t hate.  The ache and fatigue and thirstiness completely overtook my mind and body.

And yet this morning, I’m sitting here drinking my coffee thinking, wow, that wasn’t bad.

But that’s a lie.  My feet throbbed like I was running in  my stilettos and  I’m not completely confident that I won’t lose my left pinkie toenail in the next couple of days.  My legs were so incredibly tired.  And I was a little bit out of it.

For example, at around mile 15, Aaron, who was running slightly ahead, turned around and waved his arms to let me know that he was changing directions, and ran on after he was confident that I saw him.

I didn’t see him.  He was apparently right in front of me.  I continued on a few blocks before I heard a sprinting husband yelling at me from behind. At least Aaron knows know that he can sprint that far into a long run and still finish strong!

{Found on Kelly’s “matras” page!}

Also, I suspect there is some major Amy on Amy crime going on.  I burned out big time at about mile 11.  I run 11 miles all the time.  11 miles is half marathon land.  I shouldn’t be bonking at 11 miles.

I think this is a case of mental sabotage.  As I get into higher mileage, I’m saying things like, “you only have 8 more miles!” at mile 11.  And my brain responds,  you only have??? My usual mind manipulation tactics aren’t working, or my mind is catching onto me.  I KNOW that 8 miles after 11 is a lot.  And I start fading.  And I start running way slower (like waaaaay slower).

But then, at around mile 16, I was able to say, “only 3 more miles,” and a mental shift took place.  3 miles is worthy of an “only.”  I got a second wind.  My paces were back down in the 9 minute mile range when they had been veering close to 11 for a few miles.

I finished with an overall pace of 9:35 (same as the 17 miler), and with a new mileage notch on my belt.

I got home and I drank lots and lots of water.  And I ate this glorious plate of pancakes.

This long run made me realize the battle I will be facing come marathon day.  I’ll have to figure out a way to avoid that huge “hit the wall” chunk of run and for goodness sake stop sabotaging myself.

So, from here I have 5 weeks left of solid training before the taper.  I only have 3 more long runs (if you don’t count the intermittent 12 milers as “long”).  We’re pretty close to our peak mileage.  I’m still going back and forth on whether I should cut off long runs at 20 miles, or venture into the 21/22 range, but regardless, we’re almost there.

There really isn’t anything new to add to the things going well and the things that need improvement right now.  Despite the high mileage weekend, everything feels really good.  Aside from some routine muscle soreness, I have no heel pain and no IT band pain.  I only took maybe a 1 hour nap on Saturday instead of sleeping all day.

I think I slept better last week, and I actually ate relatively well.  I’m starting to focus on losing a few more pounds so I don’t have anything extra to haul around Chicago, and right now, since I can’t really add too much more exercise into my life, eating well is the only way to really accomplish that.

So, here we go into crazy marathon territory.  The next 5 weeks will be…hell, I’m guessing.  But I’m also excited to see what this little body can do.  Bring on the 55 mile weeks!

Also, the Olympics are over. So many things to talk about there, including a crazy Closing Ceremony.  So, I’ll just leave you with a giant SPICE UP YOUR LIFE this week!

Happy Monday!

Chicago: So Much More Than Just a Marathon

Hey y’all!

Well, just when I thought the heat would be a topic of the past (because really that’s all anyone, including myself, has talked about this summer), here we are in the middle of another heat wave.  While it isn’t as hot here as it might be in Phoenix (sorry, Jac), we opted to do our intervals on the treadmill on Tuesday (I think Aaron wanted to avoid “you made me run when it’s too hot to run fast, so I’m going to run slow to spite you” Amy at all costs, so onto the treadmill we hopped, alternating, doing core work and weight lifting in between intervals.  I just wish treadmill running was exactly equivalent to real running because I kept up about a 6:30 minute mile pace the whole time, even venturing into the 6:07 territory for multiple tenths of a mile.

But sadly real life doesn’t have a moving conveyor belt to do some of the work for you, and neither is it flat unless you live in the midwest.  Chicago is in the Midwest!

Speaking of Chicago, I AM STARTING TO GET UNCONTROLLABLY EXCITED TO BE THERE!

“Bet your bottom dollar, you’ll lose the blues in Chicago
Chicago, the town that Billy Sunday couldn’t shut down “

-Frank Sinatra

(A quick Wiki search shows me that Billy Sunday was pro-prohibitionist and a Christian Evangelical).

I went on google earth and looked at the map of the course.  I mean, it isn’t New York where you get to run through the 5 boroughs and across the Brooklyn Bridge and into Central Park. And it isn’t Disney where you’re running through the happiest place on Earth with characters ready to take pictures with you.  And it might not even be the US Half Marathon (who I am SO disappointed in by the way…don’t ever do that race) where I got to run through San Francisco.  But it looks amazing!

You get to run through so many neighborhoods (29 according to Wikipedia), across that awesome looking urban river a few times (apparently named The Chicago River), and all over the city.

We have never been to Chicago.  In fact, I only made it to “the middle” two years ago for a wedding, so that whole section of the country is still a mystery to me.  Aaron’s mom is from Michigan, so he spent a lot of time there growing up, but I won’t dare compare Detroit/Ann Arbor to Chicago.

Our hotel is only a couple of blocks from the race start, so I think the energy of having some 40,000 runners in one concentrated area will be pretty cool.  Even Phoenix felt like Runner City for RnRAZ, so I can only imagine what it will feel like during Marathon weekend in Chicago.

We’re starting to look into what we want to do while we in the city.  We obviously don’t want to do a lot of walking in the days before running, and we may not be able to do a lot of walking in the days after, so we’re trying to figure out how to maximize our vacation without being on our feet too much.

I’m starting to research the following:

1) A Mafia Tour: I am weirdly obsessed with the mafia.  I want to see sites where people got whacked.

2) John Hughes Tour: I LOVE John Hughes movies.  No girl who lived in the 80’s doesn’t.  16 Candles? The Breakfast Club? Planes Trains and Automobiles? FERRIS BUELLER?!  Even Home Alone.  I want to see as many of these characters’ homes, schools, and shenanigan sites that I can.

3) The Art Institute of Chicago: Both Aaron and I thought at some point in college that we would be art history experts, so we both have a lot of art knowledge.  And we LOVE museums.  So, this is an obvious stop in our Chicago tour.  Known for the large Impressionist collection, Monet and Van Gogh are among the artists whose works hang on these walls.

4) PIZZA! And Hot Dogs! Post marathon, I can eat junk food AND not feel guilty about it!

5) Blues Clubs: Apparently Chicago is known for them.

6) Michigan Avenue: It has nice stores.  I like nice stores.

7) A dip in the Lake: I figure post marathon, this will feel like a giant ice bath!

There aren’t any local sports games that weekend.  I think seeing Wrigley Field would be cool though.  Also, Devil in the White City is one of my favorite books, and I would LOVE to see some of the World’s Colombian Expedition sites, but apparently they don’t exist anymore. It’s not like 1893 was THAT long ago.

What am I missing??? Recommendations are appreciated!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend.  We are running 19 and 9 this weekend.  For the first time ever, our weekend mileage will actually be higher than 26.2.  Getting closer!

Stay cool out there!

Marathon Reflection Monday: Halfway Point

I am officially at the halfway point of my marathon training! This is probably one of the few cases where “it’s all downhill from here” just does not even apply.

This has been such a crazy and unexpected couple of months.  There has been far more frustration and all over the place emotion (I’m happy! I’m sad! I hate running! I love running! I’m hungry!) than I anticipated, but I’ve also gone way out of my comfort zone and done things like run 17 miles that I definitely didn’t think I’d ever do even 10 months ago.  And I’ve become a faster runner regardless.

Luckily we’re on a happy Amy week right now, so no complaining! Yay!

This past weekend, our plan called for a half marathon race.  Incidentally, there happened to be a half marathon organized in Albuquerque, but we decided to save our money and run our own.

We chose a hard course near our house that includes a 400 foot elevation gain over a mile and a half…but we went around 3 times, so I had to run up that hill three times.  No matter what, I can’t get myself up that hill with any type of speed, so I knew there was no way I would be able to achieve a half marathon paced run.  I focused on getting up that hill as fast as I could (ranging from 8:50 for the first time around to about 9:30 for the last) and running everything else at an 8 minute mile pace or under.

I finished 13.1 in 1:52:47, at about an 8:36 average pace.  Not too shabby, even though I would have liked to go a bit faster.  I was also pretty dehydrated.  We chose this course so we could do a bottle drop.  We had a few little water bottles placed along the way that we could grab during our 3 times around this loop.  But, somebody stole one of my water bottles.  What is wrong with people?  I just hope that person was about ready to pass out and really needed it.  Or choked on it enough to remind them that stealing isn’t cool!

Next week we have 19 miles. And then we’re almost at our max mileage! Crazy to think that my first 20 miler is in two weeks.

Since I am at the half way point, I’ve been looking back at all my workouts over the last couple of months.  From my first long run (7.5 miles at a 10:15 pace) to my 17 miler at a 9:35 pace.  I have gotten faster and stronger.  Even this past 13.1 was way faster than my long runs pre RnR Arizona, so I’d like to think that if I ran a real half with real competition and sans the 400 foot elevation gain X3, I’d have a fantastic half PR!

See, I told you I was in a good mood!

So, this will be a comprehensive reflection of the last two months.

What’s Going Well:

1. Sticking to the plan: Even though Aaron has been on reduced mileage for over a month, I’ve been sticking to it and running solo.  While I’d obviously rather run with him, I’m proud for doing a lot of this on my own.

2. Getting over the pace obsession: It hasn’t been easy.  I try not to let my long run paces get me down, but I am slowly understanding that my long run paces aren’t too indicative of my marathon pace come race day.

3. Picking myself up when I want to quit: Last week was a rough week.  I questioned my sanity, and at one point during a workout I wanted to give up altogether.  Then I realized that I’m not a quitter, and the only person making myself miserable was me.  After a quick attitude adjustment (and a good long run), I am completely rededicated to making this BQ happen!  And it’s not like anyone forced me to do this.

4. Injury Prevention: I’ve managed to keep little annoyances (knee pain, IT band pain, and heel pain) from becoming big problems.  I hope we can keep it this way!

What Needs Work:

1. Eating well and drinking less: I can clean up my diet for two months.  I thought I’d start from the beginning, but I really like food and beer (and margaritas and wine), and giving that all  up was not as easy as I hoped.  But I’m ready to give this healthy lifestyle thing a go.  Starting tomorrow.  JUST KIDDING!

2. Getting the Emotions Under Control: Training for a marathon is hard.  Duh.  That doesn’t mean I can get sad after every bad workout.  Because then I eat badly and write long blog posts about how much I hate running.  No fun for anyone!

3. Rededication to the Goal: I was very public about my goal because I hoped it would push me harder.  I think I’ve lost a little bit of that focus thanks to frustration and also the ease of letting myself off too easy.  I’ve got two months to whip myself into shape.  I can do it!

I bet the people who came in last for the Olympic track and running events wish they had tried a little harder. I know even Pre wished he had pushed a little harder in Munich! I don’t want to finish my marathon wishing I had tried harder.  And there is no time like right now to start.

Have a fantastic week!

Weekly Race Shout-Outs and Migraine Induced Grumpiness

Sending Fast Thoughts To:

Whitney is running the Wild West Relay this weekend! Actually…I think she’s already started according to her live tweeting!

Natalie is running her very first 5-K this weekend! Her running journey started just over a month ago, and now here she is, running her first race! You’ll do awesome!

Good luck to you ladies, and everyone else racing! 

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First: I actually cried yesterday when Gabrielle Douglas was announced the all around gymnastics winner (even though I already knew that she won) and then cried again during her medal presentation.  I don’t cry.  I have no idea why this particular win and this particular girl got me all teary eyed, BUT I AM SO HAPPY FOR HER!

I also think it is adorable when Micheal Phelps walks out to the pool in his giant headphones.  I wonder what kind of music the most decorated Olympian ever listens to to pump himself up? Obviously it works because he won! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops when I found out that he got his individual gold, but people are getting pretty pissy about all of these “spoilers” so I celebrated in private.

Also, I wish I had pursued rowing in college.  I would have made a perfect coxswain (unbelievably awkward word to spell, by the way)!

The running events start today, and I’m excited to actually hear terminology that I understand!

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Yesterday, I was sitting at my desk, looking at my computer, and all of the sudden big chunks of my vision were blurry.  I couldn’t read anything.   I texted Aaron because I was concerned (and hoping that I wasn’t seeing “the light”), and he said it sounded like I was about ready to get a migraine.

Hooray!

I NEVER get migraines.  The last time a headache wiped me out was in 2006, and I certainly don’t remember any vision problems coming with it.

A few minutes later I started seeing a weird zig zag snake its way around my visual reality.   As if blurry vision spots weren’t trippy enough.  I WebMD’d and found out that “auras” are a tell-tale sign of migraines.  I google imaged “migraine auras” and found this Wikipedia picture, and this is exactly what it looked like except with my desk and office door in the background.

Is this what it feels like to be on acid?  Not that I have any interest in finding out.

I have never experienced anything like it, and I really didn’t want to spend 2-3 days locked in a dark room, withering in pain. I tried to relax, I rested my eyes and drank some more coffee, and while I did get a headache, it wasn’t a bad one, and it went away after a few hours.

Crisis adverted I guess?  It was bizarre.

In my WebMD searches, I also discovered that migraine symptoms start showing up a couple of days before the actual headache and include depression and irritability.

This may explain why I’ve been in a funk of a mood all week. Blame it on the migraine!

Tuesday’s workout was 800 repeats.  I went in with a BAD attitude worthy of Mel Gibson.  It was 97 degrees, the track we use (which is dirt) had been pretty destroyed thanks to our big rain storm a couple of weeks ago, and I just wanted to run fast, but I couldn’t thanks to crater/canyon city.  I hated Aaron for making me go at 6 pm, I hated the sun for being so hot, I hated dirt for being so easily shifted by rain, I hated my ankles for being so easily rolled, I hated the water for not tasting like fresh mountain springs, and I hated 800’s. I REALLY hated them.  The numbers 8,0,0, the words eight hundreds, and the distance.  Everything. I didn’t know I had so much hatred in my little heart.

I had my worst split times yet, and I blamed everything and everyone else for it.

Then that night, I watched an interview with the USA swimming coach, Bob Bowman, and he said that he trained Michael Phelps with a lot of “worst case scenario” situations.  For example, he had to train without goggles and he trained on an empty stomach.

Poor guy probably just wanted to get a super fast training swim in, but his coach put all sorts of obstacles in his way.

Then, in Beijing, at the very start of one of his races, Michael Phelps’ goggles filled with water and he was blind.  But, since he’d trained without goggles before, so he knew how many strokes he could go before the turn-around, and how many strokes he could go to dominate the finish.  He won GOLD at that race, even though he couldn’t see a thing.

So, obviously I am not Michael Phelps and my little battles are nothing compared to you know, training to win Olympic medals.  But I realized that dealing with some less than ideal conditions in my training might ultimately be preparing me to deal with anything come marathon day (at least let’s hope….otherwise this self-pep talk is pointless and sad).

I know I said I would try and not be negative and try and not spend my life complaining about MY DECISION to run a fast marathon.  But the past couple of weeks have been a running emotional roller coaster.  And I think Tuesday was the low point…at least I hope it doesn’t get much lower.  I was ready to give up and say hey, I tried, but I can’t run a marathon.  If it weren’t for the Olympics and all these happy shiny athletes reminding me that I have no excuse, I might have just said, eh, 6 hour marathons are cool as is taking a Chicago vacation and sleeping in on marathon day.  DNS/DNF for the win! (Just kidding.  But I did consider quitting).

I know this is supposed to be fun, and sometimes it is, but I don’t like bad mood Amy.  At all.  Pre-Migraine symptoms or not.

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Yesterday I was about a mile into my tempo run.  I came across a man carrying his flat-tired bike.  I have no idea how far he had to carry it, but I gave him a sympathetic smile.

He laughed and said “stick to running.”

He’ll probably never know how much I needed to hear that.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!