Monday, August 8, 2016

12 miles on the Dreadmill and a whole lot of Tri!

Running in the summer in Georgia is a joke.  Even at 5am it's 80 degrees with 1,000% humidity and a heat index of 200 degrees F.  So, I tend to do my shorter runs outside during the dreadful weather and the long runs inside on the treadmill.  This may seem contrary to other training recommendations but this is what I have found works best for my body, and if I have learned anything from multiple failed training attempts it's that you have to do what's best for your body!  And also contrary to popular belief, I find that if I have a show to binge watch on my Kindle I don't mind the longer miles on the treadmill.  Benefits of long runs on the treadmill include not having to carry your fuel, temperature regulation (I have a small fan clipped to mine at home for a nice wind-in-your-hair effect), and a stable bathroom if needed.

I suppose long-run-on-the-treadmill opponents would site studies that say if you run on a treadmill then you are not adequately prepared for outdoor running as the treadmill belt moves for you and you don't get exposed to head-wind drag or ground reaction forces.  To them I would say, "Hah!  You clearly do not keep up with the latest in biokinetic science and sports physiology!"  And then I would point them in the direction of a fabulous research article published in 1996 in the Journal of Sports Science entitled "A 1% grade most accurately reflects the energetic costs of outdoor running."  In this study, lead author Andrew Jones compared energy expenditures of male runners on the treadmill at varying speeds and then compared that data to expenditures documented in these male athletes while they ran the same distance outside.  His results concluded that a 1% grade on the treadmill most accurately simulated physiologic conditions of running outside.  HOWEVER, this conclusion is only applicable to a certain speed set: to runners running a 7:09 min-per-mile pace or faster.  And for me, I only reach that pace in my dreams....
Anyhow, given recent scientific developments, I say, run on treadmill runners, run on!

I did 12 miles on the treadmill on Sunday while watching the Olympics.  The 12 miles wasn't the prettiest 12 miles I have ever run but I got them done, and some weeks in Marathon Training that is a WIN.  The middle 4 miles wouldn't have happened without the help of a great montage of all the Rocky montages I found on YouTube (I had to take a break from watching the Olympics after the heartbreaking finish to the women's cycling race).  Today, as I write, I feel pretty good.  Some tightness in my mid-back and shoulders but no too bad.  Some soreness in my feet, but I think I might be due for new shoes.  I am feeling overall good about my conditioning to this point and I look forward to my first attempt at Triathlon on August 28th (more to come on that...)!  

I love the Olympics.  I love watching the amateur athletes get a chance to shine (I don't like that they let professionals play in sports like basketball, golf, and tennis).  I love watching the equestrian competition as the Olympics are pretty much the only time equestrian sport is featured on network TV.  But I also like the cyclical nature of the Olympic Games.  It is nice to reflect where we each were four years ago...I personally was laid up after knee surgery.  And in a world filled with such sadness and evil it is nice to see the countries come together to celebrate something so positive!

Happy Olympics and happy running!

Sometimes you gotta show the treadmill a little love...and replace the circuit board!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

And we're back!

In the words of Sir Elton John, "oh, the bitch is back/stone cold sober as a matter of fact."

Mission 26.2 was accomplished in March 2015 when I completed the Snickers Marathon in Albany, Ga.  It was a fabulous race and I would highly recommend participating in the event.  The people are great, the course support is awesome considering it is a small race, and they qualify something like 15% of the field for Boston.  The high of completing my first marathon lasted almost the whole of last year.  It made me feel invincible.  I could run anywhere at any speed!  I was faster then a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive!  I could leap tall buildings in a single bound!!  I had it all! I had concurred the unconquerable. I had slain my "el Guapo" and emerged stronger, more confidant, and fitter than ever....

So then, why are we back you ask?

It's hard to describe what happened, exactly, in those months after the marathon.  The marathon high lasted for a while and with it brought a wave of complacency.  But when that wave receded, it left behind a sense of emptiness and discontent.  It was like a living running death.  I followed my post-marathon taper plan and knocked out the lower mileage weeks with minimal thought.  As time passed, I found shorter miles would not satisfy me.  When it was time to reintroduce speed-work, the faster miles left me feeling discontented and left me wanting more.
 I introduced weight training to my routine and got a little faster (placed third in my age group at a small race in December, had some success at a half
marathon in November).  But I couldn't find a race to truly inspire me; I couldn't find a goal to get me back on track.  The excitement of self-discovery that I felt when training for Albany was gone.  And before I realized it, the year was gone too.  There was no more 2015.

2016- An opportunity presents itself....

Running is what you need it to be for you at any given time.  In January, my dad was nursing an injury that precluded him from running for several months.  What this meant for me is that I would be running with Kevin in the races they had committed to that spring.  This was exciting.  I had a blast, and we didn't do too badly either.

This was the push I needed and provided me with the motivation to get back into the game.  Rolling off a great runner's high after one of these races, I decided I would enter the lottery for the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon.  And I got in.  My sense of self discovery has been renewed.  This time, I will return to our nation's capital to race.  Victory will come in the form of completing those 26.2 miles and high-fiving the marines at the end.  Victory will be in the form of self-discovery, of learning more about myself this time around than I did before.  Victory will be the rebirth of new dreams and goals for the future.  Victory will come on Oct 30st, 2016 and on all those miles in between now and then.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

So what happened to October?!?

Hello all!  Don't worry, I am not dead (even though the long absence from posting might suggest otherwise!).  September and October were a blur, filled with a busy work schedule, a wedding, and some other personal adventures.  Once again, I apologize for neglecting this blog!

"Proper" carb loading for the hat trick!
So, as of last post, I was targeting the Airforce Marathon.  Unfortunately that race did not come together for me.  The original plan was to travel to Ohio and run with my brother and father.  However, my father's Achilles tendon did not heal in time for them to make the race, and (although I am sure Ohio is lovely) I was not excited about traveling by myself (my husband's schedule would not allow him to come with me) to Ohio to run 26.2 miles by my onesies.  Instead, I decided to make my own "hat trick" race weekend.  I ran a 5k on Friday Sept 19th (with Kevin at the Chattahoochee Park), a 10k on September 20th (Vibham 10k race), and 13.1 mi on Sept. 21st (5k with Horse Rescue Relief Retirement Fund + 10 miles on the trails at the park afterwards).

Kevin and me after the 5K on Friday
Back to back racing is hard, particularly if you really race the events rather than simply run them as you would a regular training run.  I enjoyed it though and learned how hard I could push myself.  I PR'd in the 10k race on Saturday and the 5k race on Sunday.  My legs were dead though by the last 3 miles in the 10 miles after the race on Sunday.  I did not bring enough fuel for that run which I can usually deal with but after a weekend full of hard racing I could not deal with minimal fuel that day.  I feel very confident that I had no glycogen stores left anywhere!!  After I finished, there was a food truck in the park selling gelato (he had just opened).  I ran straight up to it and immediately bought a large cup of mango flavored frozen sugary goodness.  I had to sit down and drink a whole water bottle and eat the rather large serving before I felt ready to (safely) drive home!!

Dad and Kev getting ready to race on Sept 20th
After the hat trick, I took it easy with some light running mixed with cross training.  At the beginning of October I got suckered into doing back-to-back races (again)!  The race on Saturday was my first race at night!  I will say that I would have killed myself if it wasn't for the head lamp that I brought with me.  Night running is fun, but definitely nerve racking!!  In the Sunday race I agreed to pace my friend who was shooting for a 5k PR and we ended up tied for third place in our age group!

My legs were really tired after that race weekend in October, so I took two weeks off completely from running.  This gave my legs time to recover from a fall race schedule that was perhaps a little more intense that I had intended it to be.  Now I have started training for the Albany Marathon in March.  While I am disappointed that I will not be meeting my goal of running a full marathon before the year is out, I am really pleased so far with how my running has progressed this year.  I have stayed healthy and set PRs, so I would say that overall this fall racing season has been a success!

Happy trails!
Gelato to the rescue!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tomorrow is a new day....

Robert Frost was a great American poet.  He is also perhaps the most quoted, second only to Longfellow or maybe TS Eliot.  So, as I hold a degree in English Literature, it was really only a matter of time before I quoted one of those guys! A classic Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken," is filled with quotable lines that can be extrapolated and applied to any person who has ever set foot out their door on a quest for fitness, for a PR, or for a BQ.  While everyone must be familiar with the final lines, the lines that stand out in my mind are: "And both that morning equally lay/ In leaves no step has trodden back/ Oh, I kept the first for another day!"

"Oh, I kept the first for another day!"

I love it!  There, in a poem that traditionally lends itself to a melancholy interpretation full of regret, is a line full of hope.  It is perhaps the only optimistic line in the entire poem.  Love. It.

The reason I bring this up is that I, just as all runners, have suffered some set-backs in my training.  A pulled muscle here, a migraine there, and a full-time work schedule everywhere really puts a cramp on training sometimes.  And the truth of it is that no, I don't get every run in at precisely the time I want to.  Sometimes I am not able to get the run in at all.  And that is OK.  It is OK because tomorrow is a new day and to have a truly new day you have to let go. The narrator in the poem can't let go. The narrator spends his whole life wondering what if, rather than living.  I don't want one rough day or one bad week to derail me so much that in twenty years I write a poem encapsulating my regret (even if that poem would make me famous!).

I don't want to be Prufrock and count my spoons (yes, once you get an English major on a roll it is a hard train to stop!).  I don't want to count my miles for miles sake.  I want to remember each mile and soak in the lesson each stride teaches.  Its not the quantity that you run or the time frame in which you run but what you take away from each run, each mile, each step, each breath.  I don't want to be Frost and wonder about what would have been if I had returned for that other path on that other day.  I will take the road less traveled, but I will run down it and enjoy it and live it, and then I will return to take the other path.  And if I am not able to return to take the other path, I will not live in regret but rather live in satisfaction in knowing that I was present for each breath and each step.

Tomorrow is a new day.  To truly experience a new day in all it's glory you must let go of yesterday.  You must let go of your failures, but you must also let go of your successes.  If you live in the past you will never be present, and if you are never present you will never live.  And consequently, you will never make it to the next race!

Happy Trails....

Friday, July 25, 2014

Peachtree Road Race 2014

This year I ran the Peachtree Road Race with my best friend and cancer survivor Rachel.  I had mixed feelings about running this race as my father and brother were unable to run with me (that is a LONG story).  However, the focus of the race for me this year was to run it with Rach and celebrate her brave battle and ultimate win over cancer.  It was great to have my friend back running by my side!  And yet again I was floored by the healing powers of our sport.

 Rachel worked really hard training for the race and I couldn't have been more proud of her!  We started way back in the pack - start wave W (W for work!), so that meant we had plenty of time to get to our start corral and relax before the race.  The trick to running a big race like this where you know you have a long delay from when the elites cross the start line to when you will cross the start line is to stay loose but also stay motivated and positive!

Staying motivated at the start
This year's Peachtree was awesome.  Everything was running right on time and you couldn't have asked for better weather!  I am surprised the winning times weren't faster (although they are WAY faster than I will EVER be able to run!).  The crowd, as usual, was great too - even though we started so late there were still plenty of cheering folks along the course.  We even past a community water station that featured a keg of beer - some runners jumped off the course and were doing keg stands!  (Unfortunately I was unable to capture a picture of this feat!)   My favorite sign on the course was "This is the worst parade ever."   My favorite person on the course was our friend Cason, who came from far away to cheer us on!  (And who will be running with us next year if all goes according to plan!!)

Wearing the "A"!
Through a registration hiccup I didn't have a number come race day.  Since my father was unable to run this year, he graciously lent me his.  It was an "A" number.  (He qualified with a blazing fast 10K qualifier race time of 42:00 minutes - or something ridiculous like that!)  Wearing an "A" number gets you a lot of attention - and sometimes gets you to the front of a very long port-a-potty line!  One day I hope to earn my own "A" number, but for now, I will enjoy the perks that come with having a super fast dad.

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays for many reasons.  Primarily because it is a holiday that celebrates independence and freedom as well as the sacrifices that are made to protect those liberties.  Our country is so unique and so utterly amazing in that it was created in the spirit of individual liberties at the peak of the developmental period of modern philosophy and science.  Although we are not a perfect nation, far from it, we are definitely a unique nation.  A unique nation that offers her people unique opportunities and I am thankful for all the men and women who serve and protect those opportunities.  Other reasons I enjoy the Fourth is that I like fireworks, BBQ, and road races - all of which happen on this day!
Celebrating a well deserved breakfast post Peachtree!

After the race, after collecting our t-shirts, after shuffling through the food and beverage lines, Rachel and I did what any great American does after running 6.2 miles -eat!  For our post race victory feast, we elected to go the the Waffle House - as any good Georgian would do!

The victors with their swag.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Great Sports Movies

This post has nothing to do with my recent running activities. (A race recap from the Peachtree on July 4th as well as an update on my training efforts will be forth coming.)  This post is about great sports movies.

Among my many favorites are Hoosiers, We Are Marshal, Remember the Titans, Major League, Sandlot, Seabiscuit, Million Dollar Baby, and Angels in the Outfield.  However, I have to admit that my favorite sports movies are probably the Rocky movies.  You don't get much better than Burgess Meredith (Mickey) instructing Sylvester Stalone on the finer points of chasing a chicken around or shouting out lines such as "You're gonna eat lightning and crap thunder!".  And, although I feel like a traitor to my chosen sport of long distance running, I would argue that the beach scene montage from Rocky III is by far better than the Chariots of Fire beach montage.

The Rocky movies, like all good sports movies, seek to applaud and promote the benefits of perseverance and hard work; attributes that lift the underdog from obscurity to fame.  The heroes of these sports movies often demonstrate strong work ethics, an optimistic nature, and an uncanny ability to motivate themselves and others even in times of hardship and stress.  However, one of the themes of the Rocky franchise is humility.  Rocky is only successful when he is humble.  He demonstrates great humility when he returns to the gym in Rocky II willing to carry spit buckets and mop up at the end of the day just to be around the sport he loves, even though he believes his fighting days are over.

Our sport, that of long distance running, is just like that of boxing in that you must posses humility in order to be successful.  You must accept that running requires sacrifice, hard work, and patience.  If you cut corners in your training you will pay the price, however, if you are honest with your training you will reap the rewards.  The road is a merciless judge and jury and if not respected can certainly be an executioner.  However, if the runner is humble, if the runner puts in the training, if the runner has faith, the runner will succeed.

Happy trails.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Vacation time

I got to take a little impromptu get-a-way to a small beach on the Gulf Coast of Florida a few weekends ago.  It was lovely!  But it was also HOT!!  I discovered that, despite running more consistently recently than I have been in years, training on hilly courses in a cold winter and mild spring does NOTHING to prepare you for the heat of summer.  Although summer does not officially start until this weekend, the temps at the beach were certainly suggestive of the dog days of summer.  I was struck by how poorly I produced sweat as well as how the little sweat I did make seemed inadequate for cooling. My legs got sluggish but my breathing stayed normal - so I guess that is a win?  Anyways, what I learned on this vacation is that as spring ends and summer begins, I need to start some heat training!!!  Exactly how I will do this safely, I am not sure.  When I figure it out, I will let you know!  If anyone has any suggestions please feel free to post below....

Now, please enjoy the following photo essay of our time at the beach....

Driving for 8 hours in the car makes the doggy-babies sleepy!!

We took the old Jeep fishing and it was fun - even though we didn't catch anything!

Finally some R&R

Can't beat this view while on a long run!

One of the restaurants we ate at had these place-mats which I haven't seen since I was a kid!
 Enjoy your summer vacations!

Do you run on vacation or relax?

Suggestions on prepping for a hot summer / summer racing?