April/ spring look-back

The past couple days, we have been experiencing crazy weather here in Raleigh (like, flash-flood warning Mon-Thursday, and tornado warnings and watches, with eery skies).

That means two things-

1. It’s not a time to test out longer distances outside
2. Everyone and their mom were in the gym this week (as in 5 of 6 treadmills, 3 of 4 ellipticals, and all 3 bike machines ocupado).

I went to the gym yesterday for a killer circuit workout (killed my legs a month ago, but was okay this week): 3x 0.2mile sprint, 20 calf raises (8 lb weight), 20 overhead presses (8 lb weight), 20 jump squats (8 lb weight… yes this was the hardest part), 20 back-kick leg extensions on each leg (no weight necessary), in case you were wondering…

And I am at ~59 miles for the month, and a few thoughts immediately followed–

I cannot believe I am only logging 16-20 miles per week, mixed with Holy crap! I am so glad I am finally logging 16-20 miles per week!
How many miles did I log each month? Was April more or less? So, here is my look-back on the beginning of 2014.

In January

I averaged about 8-10 miles per week, with lots of effort. Anywhere from a 9:30 to 12:30 pace. The 9:30 pace runs, were usually 2-3 miles, while the 11:30-12:30 pace were long runs which required me to walk (as I would feel pain). My longest run in January was a 7.85 miler with Sheryl, in which we got insanely lost due to a detour, and my horrible directional skills.
Total= 42.25 miles, 4 strength-training, and 1 yoga sesh

In February

I started to feel strong again, and began pushing my limits. In Feb, I ran my first 10 miler since Palmetto (April 2013). And I followed it up with another longest run since January 2013- 14.5 miles with Sheryl. Average pace was around 10:30 (11:00 on long runs, and 10-10:30 on shorter runs). I ran about 10-18 miles per week. All in all, February was brutally cold, I was crazy busy with work, but pushing for those extra miles made me feel strong again.
Total= 60 miles, 1 strength training (but various sprint workouts), 1 yoga sesh

In March

This has been my peak month for sure… I started getting my speed back, and felt great! The weather started to cooperate, and pushed me to be outside, or at least active. Oh, and Daylight Savings… I love the later sunny nights!
Total= 81 miles, 3 strength training

In April

It’s officially been a year- since I was “healthy” and strong. A year since my ab pain started interfering with seemingly everything. And I am finally getting back to where I was 2-3 years ago. It’s taken less time than I thought, but I’m getting there… April marked my return to half marathons, and racing, in general. It also marked my return to “speed” (as speedy as I can currently be).
Total= 58.9 miles, 2 strength training, 1 yoga sesh

Let me put something real quick into perspective… Here are my numbers for May- Dec 2013:

May, 2013: 1.5 miles ran, 4 miles walked (mostly laid up in bed for days after a run or walk)

June, 2013: 12 miles ran/walked (with lots of pain and ignored re-injury)

July, 2013: 13.5 miles ran, 4 miles walked (again, with pain)

August, 2013: 8 miles ran (finally got serious about rehabbing my ab)

September, 2013: 10 miles ran

October, 2013: 17 miles ran

November, 2013: 14 miles ran

December, 2013: 32 miles ran (this is when I consider myself starting to “come back” as I convinced myself it was okay to run very slowly, 11:00-12:00 minute pace to get my mileage up, with occasional walk breaks).

This is all not a pity party, but the opposite. I am so excited to finally get my life back. I get so mad sometimes that I cannot maintain a 8:30 for 8 miles like I used to, but I forget about how far I have come. And how much I have struggled (physically and emotionally) to push through the pain and get to where I am today.

I reset my garmin in December, because I was tired of not reaching “new records” even though I was getting faster. I pushed myself in November and December to reach a 30-minute 5K speed, with all-my-freaking-might. Last week, with Dan, I managed to go sub-29-minutes. And, actually it didn’t feel that hard. It was actually during a 4-mile run. I “ran” my first return 10K speed through run/walking in 1:10 in November, and ran my fastest 10K during the Rock n Roll half in 1:00:40… That’s something to be proud of.

We beat ourselves up, and expect change so quickly, that we sometimes forget all the change that has already taken place. I am doing phenomenal, and I think I sometimes forget that.

I also feel the need to thank everyone who stood with me. I had several identity ‘failures’ we’ll say, where I wasn’t sure who I was without some form of exercise, and had pent up energy I just couldn’t release as I wanted. Dan really stood by me, trusting that I would eventually become the happy and active girl he fell for.

weeknight running dates & dinner dates

Recently, Dan and I re-cancelled cable. Before we lived together, we didn’t have cable.

I have a problem.
I am addicted to bad TV.
So, I had to just go cold turkey. CUT IT OFF! That’s how I got back my life.

I stopped watching the s**t that passes as television. And I am much happier. Dan and I actually cook meals, as opposed to watching others cook meals. I can hear nature outside my window- birds, and cars, and the fountain in our courtyard.

Personally, it’s the best.

But, it also marks a re-birth of sorts. It’s officially getting hotter, and will soon be the dead of summer. And, it forces me to do things with my life. Such as running (but could be other things).

Monday

Monday night was great. I got home nice and early (I’m so glad my job has settled back down again, allowing me to head home before traffic), had a Nuun and some easter candy, and went for a little run. My four miles ended up being 4.5 miles. Oh, and I found a cat by a creek.

No, I did not bring the cat home. Even though our apt is no longer the “crazy three cat apartment” (I guess I’ll tell that story soon too).

Monday’s run was light and easy. I felt good, so I stretched my loop out a little further to a “five mile” with intentions of walking the last mile. The 10:00 pace felt like home again, and I managed to go “sub-8:30” on the last half-mile (downhill, but, hey, who cares). I also ran past Dan and Dave, just as some a-hole who was blazing through a red light almost hit me (I had the “white man walking” sign).  I managed to push a little on some hills, and relax on others, but maintain a somewhat steady speed- 9:30 to 10:30 pace.

Tuesday

Tuesday night looked like a bad storm was about to start, and my favorite thing to do when that happens is rush to get in some hill sprints, so I am never too far from safety. I did the closest, longest hill to our apartment. It turns out it was about 200m (0.12-.13 miles) long, and a 50ft elevation change. It was hard enough to feel like a good workout, but not so hard I couldn’t complete 4 repeats.. They ranged from 1:13 (9:30 pace) to 1:21 (10:40 pace). Not bad.

Maybe I’m weak. I had also ran 6 miles Sunday and 4.5 miles Monday, so maybe it was too much. Either way, my ab was a little sore later that night, and continued to tighten up throughout the night, so I gave in, and took a muscle relaxer to loosen things up overnight.

About me and my muscle relaxers… When my ab is sore, sometimes it can manage to loosen up on its own. Sometimes, it seems to just get more and more sore, until I have to forego exercise or just lay in bed all day. I’ve found that taking a muscle relaxer (5mg) helps to break this cycle, and relaxes my breathing and ab overnight. I definitely don’t rely on them, but usually end up taking one every week or two. It’s also part of revving up my training. My goal is to be able to figure out more accurately how much is “too much”, and find the “just right” balance to enhance strength in my abdominal muscle and push it a little further to get faster.

Wednesday

Aka “Date night”

Dan said he really wanted a steak (Maybe he was in Texas for too long), so we decided to head back to Stanbury for a good steak, and a fine liquid libation.

Side note: I love when bars call them Libations. It kind of makes me laugh. Maybe it’s because it’s a little pretentious, but, then it usually means they are good cocktails, so I guess I do really love it. Hmmm… Libations!

Yummy libation (tequila, jalapeño, and other deliciousness, served on rocks with smoked salt on one side). And onto the main dish- I got the scallops  which came with grilled onion and fennel, tossed in a delicious light vinaigrette over a bed of faro (bottom, left, mostly eaten… whoops!). All in all, delicious. Their veggies/sides always are great! Everything on the plate is thoughtfully planned out and meant to be eaten together. As opposed to the ‘oh right they will probably want some mashed potatoes with this’ veggies. Dan got the ribeye (top left, also partially devoured), which is why we went to Stanbury, so that was delicious as well.

20140424-130711.jpg

We then popped over to Hayes Barton in Five Points for a slice of cake and pie.

The night was perfect weather, so we took a little walk before eating our cake.

Thursday

Another night, another run. It was a beautiful night, and in keeping with getting back to my old normal, Dan and I went for a little four miler together. All in all, it felt good. Running with Dan always pushes me to run a little faster, and push the pace a little beyond my comfort zone. We have a little, steep downhill, following by a grueling 0.8 mile uphill. So it was slow at first, but the mile splits were 9:43, 9:41, 8:45, and then change for the last 0.64 miles. Overall pace 9:26, so I was happy with that. Hence, a little faster than normal, but not grueling fast speed.

Then, we pan-fried some sausage, kale, and broccoli for a well-rounded diner. Followed by the rest of my Hayes Barton cake.

dan me post-run

A little post-run picture. Red-faced, blurry, and all. You know what they say A couple that runs together, sweats together…

Also, I love that you can see our fully-stocked wine rack in the background, that may or may not have a bottle of vodka on it.

 

So, Happy Friday everyone!

I’m headed to Asheville for a pre-wedding sleepover with one of my old college besties (getting married NEXT weekend!). I may take pictures and post.

 

 

 

 

lots of work ahead…

Last night was the first ever Raleigh Brewing Company and Fleet Feet team-up for a run. I enjoy Raleigh Brewing Company, and it’s about a 5 minute drive from my house; same for Fleet Feet. And I support local.

Also, I am trying to get back to running more often and more regularly, so a good social run, or making more running friends is a good thing. And, the Hell Yes Ma’am at RBC is one of my favorites. In my opinion, a good training session requires a good beer afterwards. It cools you down, and relaxes your muscles almost as well as foam rolling. But, it’s actually enjoyable. Just one though, more than that and suddenly, it’s a Wednesday night, and you’re calling someone to pick you up because you’re wasted.

Also, be cautious- beer is stronger after a good, hard run.

So, I got home early, changed, grabbed my garmin, and headed out at 545pm. I hit crazy traffic- just getting out of my neighborhood, and the “5 minute drive” took about 20 minutes… So I got there as they were wrapping up the “this is where we are going… This is how far, and yada yada yada…” I know the drill. Also, I saw Kerry, who coached us in 2012 for my Nashville PR, so it felt like home.

And I followed the herd, with no clue of how far we were going, or where the turn around was. But, I trust Kerry. I could accuse him of making the turn-around at 1.6 miles instead of 1.5 miles for an extra umph, but never to just go crazy off-course.

We ran out the Meredith/Reedy Creek greenway, and my legs felt very loose and springy. Not really what I expected after Sunday’s slow race. But, hey, I got in a good shake-out Monday night with Dan (cut to 1.7 miles because the race was coming down so hard it was stinging my eyes). Apparently that must have shaken them out pretty good.

The greenway out by Meredith and the NC Museum of Art (NCMA) is pretty hilly, rolling, and cut off from cars, and kind of pretty in a quiet (but you can still hear Wade Ave and the interstates, and even run over one I-40 at one point kind of way). I estimated I was going a 10:30 in my first mile, so I was surprised when my garmin chimed “9:33”, and I happily pushed myself up each hill.

I was surprised how much pep my legs had, but eventually, my breathing became labored (around 2 miles in), and I had to work for a 29:20 5K time. Up each hill, I kept telling myself I needed to push it. Dropping ~15 minutes from a half marathon is a lot, and it’s going to take 6 months of dedication. I’ve done it before, but it takes strength with every run. Even if that strength is just getting out the door, and pushing up another hill, or an extra mile.

I also laughed at the idea that I needed to be going about 45 seconds (PER MILE) faster, and maintain for 13 miles. But, I’ve been that fast before, and I will get it back.

And I’ll leave you with a stolen text quote (courtesy of the great Runners World)

goodthingscomeslow

My comeback to distance running in my hometown

Inaugural Rock n Roll Raleigh Half Marathon Recap

Backstory

Let me start by saying that it has been a while since I posted anything on here. There are a few reasons, but, honestly, I needed to return to running in private. I was afraid posting about how little I was running or how slow, or how hard it was, and how much it hurt, would only make it hurt more. About a year ago, I ran through an abdominal strain. In general, I didn’t think it was too bad. Eventually, it got to the point where I was in pain (or “high” on muscle relaxers) the majority of last summer. But, I have talked about that enough…

I first signed up for the RnR Raleigh as the full marathon about a year ago, when it was first announced RnR was coming to Raleigh. There was a lot of controversy about it. All of which I find stupid. Some people argued that we had too many races as it is (in my opinion, these people are the lazy people who do not understand or appreciate all the hard work that goes into planning/training or running a race). Others just felt that this particular “big” race would pull away from the smaller races in the area. From my experience, the RnR attracts a lot of beginners, and beginners usually catch the bug, and sign up for other races- even 5K or 10Ks. Also, it challenges race organizers to be inventive to get people out. Raleigh has 8 half marathons I believe- City of Oaks (the biggest), Raleigh Rocks (which has now been changed to the “Rockin Rebellion” to accommodate the #RnRhaters, and is in April AND October), a Turkey Gobbler (in Wake Forest), Midtown (which was so popular, they have one in June AND September), American Tobacco Trail, Inside Out Sports Classic. Also, 3 mid-size full marathons (City of Oaks, ATT, and Umstead) Anyway, the controversy makes me laugh. I just had to note it- because I think the out of towners had no idea their desire to come to Raleigh upset so many haters.

When I signed up I was also signed up for Richmond full last November. I ended up not even showing up for that. In November, I struggled to get through 5 miles. As of January, I wasn’t even sure I would be able to complete the half marathon in April. All of this isn’t to organize a pity party for me, but to point out how far I have come.

In training for RnR Ral, I gave myself a goal to get to 10 miles. Once I got to 10 miles, Dan and I went to Mandolin for dinner (sooooo freakin’ yummy!). That was February 9, 2014. I hadn’t ran that far since April, 2013, as part of a relay race.

I ran with a friend Sheryl, who was training for the full marathon. One day, I had agreed to 12 miles, but she was going 18-20 miles. I ended up clocking 14.5 miles that day (March 8, 2014).  I managed to max out at 20 miles per week two weeks in a row. So, Sheryl and I would meet up, and run a slow and steady 10-14 miles at a time. I almost always picked routes with hills, knowing that Raleigh has hills. There were weekends when our schedules didn’t match up, and we ran apart.

 

Pre-Race

I was so nervous the week before the race, that I just kept taking muscle relaxers to sleep, to make sure that my ab pain didn’t creep back in the slightest. I didn’t run at all last week, except for the race. People asked what my goal was, and it was mixed. Of course, every runner loves to PR. I would say, “I just want to finish”, and genuinely mean it, but I had an idea of 2:10-2:15 in my head. The more runs I did, the more confident I felt. My fastest half marathon on record is about 2:08, though I’d been running much faster when I got injured last year.

I went to the expo Friday afternoon (after work). It was your typical RnR expo- large with lots of sponsors and goodies. I didn’t really want to go through each exhibit- just get my packet, grab a Trophy pizza, and head home. But, it was nice. Brooks had RnR Raleigh shirts in my favorite style. I was tempted to get one, but didn’t even want to look at the price tag, as I figured the typical $25 shirt was closer to $50. To have a NC state outline, and “RnR” or something in it. Still, I wasn’t hatin on people who were wearing them… I was kind of jealous. haha.

I had a few friends running the full marathon. So, all last week, when I got nervous or scared, I made a sign for them. I ended up with 10 signs… 🙂 The full marathon happened to go just past my house, so Saturday night, Dan and I drove around, putting up signs for them by our neighborhood (miles 11-19 for them). I went to sleep around 10pm, setting my alarm for 4:45am.

Race Day

I tried to plan with Dan to account for traffic, and the road closures. We had planned to leave at 5:50am. I got up as soon as my alarm went off, went out to get some coffee (“out” into our kitchen), and started getting my clothes on, and a little SPF 35 CC cream for my face. The weather for the morning- 60 at 7am, 70 by 9am, and about 80 by 12pm. And sunny. I actually think I overdressed (In the second mile, I was tearing my sleeves off).

Flat Chandi RnRRal

I ate a slice of toast with peanut butter. I had stopped drinking the night before, because I had a feeling I was overly hydrated. So, no water Sunday morning. I waited for my coffee to do its thing. I woke Dan up around 540. He was ready to go by 550, as planned. I went to the bathroom one last time (success!), and we left our building by 555.

Some of the road closures took effect at 6am, but most of the “outer” sections were supposed to close at 630am. We met our first closure about 5 minutes into our drive, that was supposed to be closed at 630am. SHIT! Dan and I both panicked- trying to find an alternate route. He kept saying “I’ll take X road”, and I’d shut him down, “nope, that’s closed off”. The ONLY way in and out was from South Saunders. We finally got to S Saunders, and it was clear it was the “only” way, because EVERYONE (10,000 runners and spectators) were on it. It looked worse than a typical weekday rush hour… Hmmm… We looked at each other, and Dan was like, “nope”, made a couple turns (through a random gravel parking lot… mind you South Raleigh can be rough in parts), and got me about 3 blocks from the start. Not sure how that all worked out, but I was to the starting area (Salisbury St) by 625, and headed straight to the port-a-potty, as we all do the morning of a long race. I waited for 20 mins, and by the time I made my way to the corrals, it was 655, and the only corral open to runners was corral 12. I was supposed to be in corral 11, so this was fine. However, you could tell it was the only one open, because I saw people from as low as corral 4 to as high as corral 24. hmmmm… maybe this will be a clusterf*** the first few miles. As the race started, and we starting moseying ahead, I spotted a familiar teal mohawk, and scooted over to start with Darryl and a couple of his running buddies (Teryn and Rachel). They were all running the full, but shooting for a 4:30 time, so I figured it’d be perfect, and my 2:15 would be good, as I’d be with them for 8.5 miles of my 13.

A race photographer found me looking for a corral, and got this shot (I promise, I plan to buy a few, because they are actually pretty good, but wanted to get this post up before I forget)–

RnR beforeWe started off nice and slow and steady, allowing our legs to warm-up, careful not to pass people too quickly. Our first mile was 10:28, and that sounded perfect to me. We all cheered for how “on target” we were. I put my headphones in, and kept my motivation up. Teryn and Rachel slowly started to speed up, but it was downhill, so we went along with it. “9:17” Darryl and I both looked at each other, laughed, and suggested to the newbies that we slow down. Which we did. The next mile was “9:27”, and our first 5K was over, in about 30 minutes (but I missed hitting the pad for an official time). Then, I lost Darryl in the fourth mile. Rachel and Teryn pulled too far ahead, and I lost them too by the fifth mile. I was now on my own, and on target for a 2:10 with some big hills to come. I planned to run the race hans style (solo), so I didn’t mind. I just kept pluggin’ away, as I started to hit some of the first set of uphills.

Going through Oakwood and Mordecai reminded me of times in high school (I grew up in Raleigh), and it was great to see so many people out to support the runners. Raleigh was out in true form. I even saw a few people I hadn’t seen in years (clearly out to support someone else, but it still felt like home). The brightly-colored wave of runners made its way to Peace St, past the Krispy Kreme, and past Peace University, and down our last downhill. My garmin buzzed another mile, and I was still sub-10:00 pace by the 10K.

The fluorescent, sweaty herd struggled to get all the way up Peace/Clark. One man was sitting by the Black Lotus, who said we were done with this hill (at the first plateau, just before Glenwood Ave). I have ran this route before, so I laughed, and shook my head at him. I knew this hill would slowly roll for another mile or so. The wave of people slowed down, some people started to toss aside their goals, and decided to walk. I heard some people discussing their struggles with the hill. I knew I’d soon see Dan, and Sarah, and Will, and was amazed that there was not a foot of the sidewalk where my fellow Raleigh-ites were not out in full swing. Even those who were passively watching because they couldn’t leave their houses… Thank you!

I made it up the hill, with a 9:53, which left me astounded and proud. I came upon Cameron Village, and wanted so badly to see the Flying Biscuit (where Dan said he’d set up camp, before anyone else, as soon as he left me in South Raleigh). We spend a good amount of time in Cameron Village, and I thought of the Bloody Mary’s at Cameron Grill, and chugged on, until I saw Sarah. Dan was hiding behind a tree, Will sitting next to him in a camp chair. Sarah was cheering for everyone passing, and I yelled her name, as they all yelled and cheered me on. They all looked shocked (even though I was perfectly on time- at a 10:00-min pace, as I had estimated, and had even texted Dan when the corral before me left the start). It was a little boost to see them, and I half-pictured them hopping into the van (relay buddies), to meet me a mile or two down the road…

Oh well, onway and upward. The hill wasn’t completely over, though it had flattened a little. I wondered if the spectators knew how long of a hill we’d been going up, as they encouraged walkers to pick it up. I knew the turn-off was up ahead. It had to be, we were almost to 8 miles. I was tired. I was thirsty. Bad sign. You never want to be thirsty during a race. But, really I was exhausted. The thought occured to me that I hadn’t seen the GU station that was supposed to be around mile 5. I glanced down, and I had been running for about 90 minutes. Generally, I use something every 60 minutes. Ruh-roh!

[Also, just a note- they had Gatorade, but gatorade is too syrupy and makes me nauseous. I prefer Honey Stinger chews (or Sports Beans “bean me up”) and Nuun. But, when I am thrifty or running a lot, I will do every other with GU- they also take up less space.]

Finally, we turned on Hillsborough, and we started our return to downtown. Actually, it was kind of nice, because the majority of the time, you could see downtown in the background. And there was the glorious GU station. Gatorade first. Yuck. Water- yay! GU… yay! …Bleck! Gross! and more water… Just to wash it down, splash the rest on your face. That will totally hydrate you. Well, hell, at this rate, I’ll pour it on my head. It’s hot up in her’!

I appreciated the downhill slope of Hillsborough. I’ve ran this before at the end of a race- it’s a great ending- just enough slope to make you feel speedy effortlessly, but not so much that you feel like you are spinning out of control. We rounded the round-about, and turned on Pullen, and my garmin chimed for another mile “10:28”, and I felt great. I just let go on the downhill, through NC State’s campus, past Pullen Park, then turned onto Western.

And I started to feel it. I wondered when the next water stop was. I was feeling so tired. More than I should be, and I just hoped I had enough to get through another 4 miles. Okay, now is the time to ramp it up, right? So I tried to ramp it up, and felt queasy. You can do this I told myself, and then I vommed in my mouth. Gross. You can slow down now. It’s okay. Let the GU fully settle. And “10:03” chimed in, to agree that it’s okay. Okay, new plan- 2:12? I was at about that pace, and there was no shelter from the shade. I turned onto Dorothy Dix’s campus, and was waiting for the beauty to hit me. I love this campus. Instead, I felt numb to it all. Spectators? Didn’t matter. I just wanted to get to Mile 10.5. My dad said he’d be at mile 10.5. I passed by a thankful water station, which helped me feel better. I started to worry that I had missed him. I got over it, and just continued to chug along, running at a somewhat steady 10:30 pace. I had slowed down, but I still had my eye on 2:15, and was convinced I’d feel peppier when I got the downtown area.

Finally, I saw him! Right after the 11 mile, I waved at him on a small downhill from Dorothy Dix campus to Lake Wheeler, and turned into downtown. I feel a little pep, and tried to push it again, as I knew the Boylan hill was ahead of me, and a cushion of time would help. I tried to push it up Lenoir, but “push” was a 10:30 pace, and felt hard. I continued up Boylan, where they forced us onto the sidewalk, which I thought was asinine. This was at mile 11.5-12, and people were walking. And this sidewalk is only one person wide, broken, and has a steep hill on either side, lined with trees. But, every time we runners (sorry, there were a lot of walkers at this point) tried to jump down to the street to run, some volunteer would berate us like a bad dog peeing on the carpet. So I crushed a few people- sorry! Truly! And that was at a 12:00 pace…

Finally we got to the top of Boylan, and I knew we were past the 12 Mile point, whether the course said it or not (I hadn’t seen it, but I did see the Fleet Feet Raleigh love on Boylan Bridge). I felt inspired to run a little faster for the last mile. And vommed in my mouth again. Alright. I get it body. I can go slow, or I can vomit and go kinda faster. I chose to go slow. People were passing me left and right. Fans were cheering to pick it up into the home stretch. And, as I passed Nash Square, dodging to the right, in case I actually did puke, the 2:15 pacer triumphantly flew past me. And I didn’t even care. That’s how I know I was hurting. I am competitive, and anyone passing me in the last mile is bad news. I just didn’t want to walk down the final stretch on Fayetteville, so I kept plugging around, at my slowing pace. I managed to smile as much as I could for cameras. But, one guy got my true shot- as I stopped my watch, I really thought I was going to hurl. I didn’t see medical tent or staffers. I didn’t see a bucket or trash can. So I proceeded to get my medal, a dry towel, and searched for an ice bucket, grabbed some water (shove a Nuun tab in that. Yes, I hid a Nuun in my back pocket), got a banana and protein bar, and by the time I found a spot to sit, I no longer needed to puke. I texted Dan to let him know I was done, and final time of 2:17-something, and told him where I was.

He was there in minutes, and I told him how I had been doing so good, up until the last two or three miles….

The last few miles were a blur to me. I felt awful. I am not sure if it was dehydration, or overhydration, or lack of electrolytes, or if the GU just didn’t settle right on my stomach. I have never felt like that after a run. If I’m overheated, I usually get dizzy/light-headed, sometimes losing some vision (high blood pressure in my eyes), or see spots, once or twice swaying after finishing. But, never feeling 100% sure I would barf.

I have no regrets. I am proud of my 2:17. And once I felt fully hydrated again, I went back to Nash Square to cheer on my fellow runners. Dan grabbed us some coffee and more water, and I kept yelling for them, hoping I’d start seeing my full-ers soon.

Finally, I saw Beth, and yelled my butt off (4:10, oh yeah, and 8th in her age group- WHAT?! That girl is a beast). Then, Rachel, who I met just before the race with Darryl. Then, Teryn, Darryl’s other buddy. I anticipated Sheryl soon, so I walked along the course to the Boylan Bridge to meet her, and spotted Andrea. She was hurting, feeling just like I had. So, I ran her in, and we ran and walked a little, until I patted her on the back into the finisher shoot. And then, I finally got a text from Sheryl- she was on Lenoir. I texted back- I’m on the Boylan Bridge- see you soon! And I ran her in the last mile.

Here’s a few shots her friend got of us (I thought it was so cute, even though it’s pixely)

RnR with Sheryl 1

RnR with Sheryl 3

So, all in all, I ran about 15 miles on Sunday. Someone managed to snap a picture of Sheryl and me, and it makes me happy- a picture of me and my training buddy. Did I mention Sheryl sub-2’ed this spring? Yup! And that’s my next goal- for the fall. I was fast enough for that last year (was training for a sub-4:00 full marathon). Anyway, that’s next- in like 6 months.

That means, this summer will include a lot of sweat, sore muscles, blisters, probably less toenails, chafing, and probably lots of post-run beer 🙂

Sign up for motivation

I ran a mile Saturday. 8:53.

I ran a mile tonight. 9:12.

That’s more than I ran in May. And it made me think- there are a few things that push my recovery…

1. Writing about them. Knowing I have to ‘report in’ about my running progress makes me stick to it. So thanks to all my followers. And to all my friends, who have asked (with sincere hesitation and grimacing) if I’m running again. Both my running and non-running friends have asked how things are going. The first month was tough, and, honestly, some of the times I was brought to tears in thinking of my response. But they stuck with me, and continued to ask; because they had faith I’d declare ‘I ran 5 miles last week!’ (Still not there yet)

2. My Tuna team Knowing that I have a relay race in October keeps me motivated. It’s a relay, so my teammates are relying on me, and I don’t want to let them down. I am sure they would do just fine without my speed or distance (haha! As if I’ve ever been speedy), but I want to feel like I’m pulling my weight.

So moral of the day? If you lack motivation, sign up for something. Maybe a 5K. Maybe 5 months away. And slowly work up to it.

Happy Wednesday/ pre-fourth-of-July-four-day-weekend — Woo!

road to recovery, paved with doubt and detours

Thursday was rough.

[I have a muscle spasm in my abdomen- on my stabilizing ab muscle (transverse abdominus)- which doing anything but lying down aggravates the muscle]

So, Thursday- I started writing this long woe is me, my life sucks, I’m in pain, etc. post. But, I figured I’d wait til I saw the doctor Friday to post anything…

Flash forward to the doctor visit– She consulted with the head doctor regarding my injury. I always get these rare injuries, which are hard to diagnose. Like my hip- in 2011- it wasn’t a muscle tear, or a fractured femoral neck, or even ITBS (IlioTibial Band Syndrome). Nope, my hip was tilted out of line. Who gets that? I do!

So my doctor consulted with the head physician, who advised her to think of horses, not zebras. Any time you have abdominal pain, they have to check for everything… Like EVERY-FREAKING-thing. She decided it was likely musculoskeletal, since the muscle relaxers seem to be helping. But she also mentioned that if it didn’t go away, to call her; they would test my liver function and my spleen, as those organs are in the area which I describe the pain.

She told me to continue to take my muscle relaxers as I have been, and to take the ibuprofen (I stopped taking it on Monday- it messes up your stomach lining unless you take it DURING a meal, and I kept forgetting while I was eating). She also told me to run.

Say what, miss thang?!

I know, that was my reaction too!

You want me to do the one thing guaranteed to make it hurt? I don’t know…

She must have picked up on my hesitation, because she then went from “Maybe a long run?” to “a long walk with some running as a test”… I could agree to that, knowing I had plenty of the trusty muscle relaxers if that sharp, shooting pain came back

So, yesterday I ran. I won’t lie. I was not looking forward to it. I was really afraid my muscle will act up, and I would end up doubled over in pain all weekend long. But, I think her logic is that I’m not going to stop running completely. If we believe it happens during a run, then I need to test that hypothesis.

So I walked 0.5 miles to my gym, and then ran a mile on the treadmill. I started out slow- 9:41 pace, as I was nervous. I got settled into that pace and started hitting the front of the treadmill, so I kicked it up a little. Until I was at 8:49, which felt comfortable. With 0.3 miles left, I wanted to push it and see how it felt. I got up to a 7:00 pace (8.5 mph). And then dropped to a walk. That mile was 9:17 which is my steady easy pace, so that was encouraging.

After walking for 5 minutes, I decide to run an additional 0.5 miles (at a 8:00 pace). I started to feel sore in my stomach, so I hopped off, calling it successful and walked back to my apartment.

My stomach was a little sore when I woke up this morning, but my doctor encouraged me to keep ‘moving’ when I could. So I went for a 2 mile walk. And am now laid up on my couch again.

It may take a while to get back up in the mileage, but I can run again (a mile is better than 0), which means I’m officially on my road to recovery.

Yay! Tiny celebration for a tiny step 🙂

being a spectator

(And I will never do an Olympic triathlon)

Yesterday, Dan had his first tri ever. He has a half ironman in 6 weeks. And it’s about time he actually complete one triathlon before then. I mean, he’s not even training (kidding! He’s training plenty! Just not crazy, and over-training like I would be)

So, as a dutiful girlfriend and fellow athlete, I decided to go for moral support, and to help pace him on the run part.

We got there bright and early at 8am, and wandered through the body markings area and I started SoccerMom’ing it up- making friends with all the other ‘supporters’.

The swim was first (1500m or almost a mile), and the first guy came charging out of the water in like 18:30 or something… Insane! And he had a few minute lead on the others. We all cheered violently when we saw the first white cap come out of the water (40+ male), and even harder when the first pink cap came running out (female).

Still no Dan.
But it was like 30-minutes, so these people were smoking it! Finally a group emerged with Dan at 37:30. I hit ‘lap time’ on my iPhone’s timer, and ran to the transition area sidelines, as Dan got ready for the bike. He seemed to take his time changing out of his wetsuit and preparing for the ride, and told me he got kicked several times and got a little freaked during the swim (so it was a tad slower than he had hoped).

Yep, he sat down to change. I would have too!

Yep, he eventually sat down. I would have too!

And he took off, biking around the lake for 26.5 miles. I made mental notes that I could run that far…

mouth full of shot blocks

mouth full of shot blocks

We had no idea how long this ride would take. He had been going 16-18 mph with a local bike group . But, I couldn’t do the simplest math, so I just waited until I saw him come to the transition area.

Finally, an hour and a half after he left for the bike, he came rolling in. The clock read 2:12, but the winner had already finished (2:04! That’s crazy!). I cheered as loudly as I could to get Dan’s attention, but he was tired and the music was loud. So I jogged/walked to the run start to help him get started.

Dan is fast. BTW. Like 20-minute 5K, and could probably pull a 41 or 42 minute 10K time. I’m not that fast, so I thought I’d pace him a little, and if he was really hurting, I’d stay with him longer.

I saw him and started smiling (like a dope, waiting for him to see me). He finally saw me, and I set off with him. He told me a little about the tri, and told me he felt like he couldn’t get his feet back under him after cycling for that long. So we started at nice easy 8’s. And I stayed with him for .34 miles before I had to drop off.

Look him taking out that old man. Who cares if the 75-year old started 4 minutes later?

Look him taking out that old man. Who cares if the 75-year old started 4 minutes later?

The course was an out-and-back 5K twice. Which made it easy for me to pace in pieces. I walked ahead and cheered for other runners, as they finished up their tri. I kept walking until I saw a turn, and stopped there, waiting for Dan. He wanted to finish in less than 3:00, which meant he had to finish the 10K in less than 48:00, which is very do-able for him. But would be hard, and I could tell he was getting tired.

Have I mentioned Dan doesn’t really do distance? Like 8-9 miles (in an hour and change) is the longest he trains. 🙂

I finally saw him, and I felt a surge of energy, so I wanted to stay with him for close to a mile (back to the 5K completion). We were pushing 7:40s. And I felt strong, but could tell Dan was struggling to keep that pace. So I stayed with him a little longer, and we pushed down to 7:20s before I needed to drop off again (after 0.7 miles). And he was almost to the 5K marker/ turn-around. I hit my iPhone timer for another lap (25min or so), but that was including his transition time.

I looked for him. I ran with him again for another 0.5 miles. He was struggling. Barely keeping up my 7:45 pace, so we dropped down to a 8:00 pace, to let him adjust before the home stretch. I made jokes that I was taking it easy on him now, because I wouldn’t on the last mile.  I wanted to make sure he came in under 3:00, and the run is his easiest part.

I dropped off again before the same turn (just by the final turn-around). I glanced at his overall time- 2:50. 2:51… Okay, Dan, you need to get here by 2:52 to safely bring it in before 3:00. 2:53 may work… C’mon, c’mon!

Finally, I saw him again (clock read 2:52:30), and we took off. One mile left babe. You’re at 2:52 on the clock, you can do it but you’re gonna have to work for it! I forgot that meant I’d have to run that fast too… And pushed quickly down to a 6:30 pace. I told him to just stay steady with my legs, Just stay with this pace. You’re doing great. We’re down in the 6:30s. Keep it up. Keep it steady, etc. We got to the finish so quickly. And I felt really strong (I know, it’s not about me, but I can’t usually run that fast). I gave him a final pat on the ass, and yelled ‘Bring it on it!’ And just cheered as he hit the final 0.2 miles. As I peeled off and ran through the cycle finish, I stopped my timer- 2:59:02, but I had no idea when he finished…

He had finished in 2:58:40! Wooo!

"It hurts to smile. This is the best you're getting out of me"

“It hurts to smile. This is the best you’re getting out of me”

I was so proud. And proud to have been a part of it, and able to help. Turns out we ran the last mile (according to my garmin) in sub-6:00 pace. Not sure if that’s accurate. But we were flying. And eventually going too fast for me to glance down, so it’s possible. And he brought it in in under 7-minutes FTW (from 5 mile mark to the finish, or 1.2 miles).

We went to shower (ugh! Boys smell so gross after endurance events), and then to Raleigh Times for a celebratory beer (Mother Earth Second Wind. Mother Earth makes good stuff and the name attracted me to it. It was a good solid American Pale Ale).

And in case you were curious, Dan finished the 10K portion in 46:21, faster than I can run a 10K, and all in all, a good solid time. Proudest girlfriend ever. And glad I got to be a part of it all.

Ironman will be interesting. I might have to run the whole half marathon with him. To help him keep a slower, steady pace (which is still fast for me). We will see. We joked that I might have to pace Tom, his brother, as well. And I was like, Ummm. I ain’t running a marathon to support you two 🙂 with a kiss. Also we estimated he will finish the Ironman in 6.5 hours. Better bring my sunblock (I’ll be in the sun 930am-230pm then). And I’ll give you all the highlights for that as well.

what is wrong with me?

Wait, don’t answer that.

Well, not yet.

Last week, I did something incredibly stupid- signed up for my third (full) marathon. I think if there was a race every month of the year in Raleigh, I’d sign up for more races, coasting on the “convenience” factor (and probably skimping on the training more often).

So, here I am.

Signed up for my second marathon (Richmond) in November, and the Rock and Roll Raleigh in April (2014).

On a slightly related note, there has been a lot of controversy about the Rock and Roll coming to Raleigh. Here are my scrambled thoughts.
First, I have done two Rock and Roll half marathons (my first- Vegas), and Nashville last year. I have also done a tiny (300 person) half marathon. I would prefer the middle ground- 1,000-5,000 person race. The 20,000+ person races are intimidating and crowded (regardless of how well they corral people). I will agree with that point. However, they put on a good show (including a good course, tons of food and energy gels/drinks and crowd support); this helps give me energy to last longer.
The main thing people keep saying is “race local”… We have two local full marathons in the Raleigh area (and several half marathons). I did one of these local races (a half), and hated it- I had to bring my own energy gels (which I was not told in advance, I realized at mile 8, when I hadn’t seen anything yet), there were maybe 4 water stations (I drink a lot over the course of 13 miles in MAY in Raleigh), there was next to no crowd support, and by the time I finished, there was no food. Like, no food. Or juice. Just water. Also, i finished in 2:29, not so ridiculously slow that i should miss out on those post-race goodies. Anyway, my point is- sometimes Walmart/Target has more options than the local country store, making it worth it to shop ‘non local’. It also makes me laugh that some of the people who are strongly anti-RnR are the same people who go to starbucks every day. Your coffee choice impacts your local economy much more than which race runners do. A little math lesson– $4/day for a week is $20/week, which is $80/month, or $1000/year. That affects the local economy on a much more significant scale than a few runners paying $60-120 once per year. Just sayin’! If you are going to make that argument, stand behind it with all your spending habits 🙂

The honest truth is I trained for City of Oaks in 2011, and got injured. Last year, I decided to train for Richmond, which is the following weekend. I then signed up for Richmond again this year. Maybe in 2014, I’ll run City of Oaks (which, by the way, is a great local race of about 5,000 runners in the full, I think, with great crowd support most if the way, including me at mile 25). I have wanted to pay tribute to my hometown (and current city) as well, with a good course, and RnR tends to do a good scenic course. And it was only $65, which for a marathon, is super cheap. So, I signed up.

And now I am left thinking When did I become a marathoner? Sure, one marathon is one thing, but THREE? And immediately following that (and a “calm the f*** down” beer), I decided this will be my last marathon… famous last words, right?

So, here goes nothing. Here’s to hoping next winter will be friendlier than this winter. My 15 miler in the snow was horrible, and I can’t imagine a 20-miler in those conditions (Andrea rocked a 27-miler that day, due to bad GPS signaling… go get ’em girl!).

Basically, here’s to early mornings from July to April; drinking water as if I’m storing it like a camel; here’s to foam rolling and yoga (both necessary); here’s to felling tired and hungry all the time. But mainly, to the feeling of accomplishment, to the joyful years at the finish line, the sense of comrade in training and in race day! To all of it! I raise my coffee mug (It’s 8am, I’m not drinking a beer before work silly!)
Raise your glasses (or mugs, or just Nuun pint glasses) with me for whatever goals you have coming. And in advance, for all the hard work you’re going to put in!

how to train for a relay

Disclaimer: I am not an expert. This is what works (or worked) for me:

So, I had done a few “tempo” 5-9 milers, then met with the group for a 6-11 miler in the morning (mentoring a half-marathon program). This seemed to work fairly well, but wouldn’t test my legs with a longer distance in 24 hours.

So, today. I chose to do three runs mainly because I have a week off, and it is 2-weeks out from our relay. (OMG! Two weeks!)

If you are thinking What the heck is a relay?! Here is a brief overview of the Tuna200, which I did in the fall…

love seeing these!

love seeing these!

Now that you’re all caught up…

I am captaining this relay team van, from Columbia to Charleston, SC. My first leg is the hardest of the relay according to the race directors, and those 8 hilly miles will earn me a car magnet (Woo!). My next leg will be 10 miles at around midnight. My third and final leg will be 4 miles in the morning, after the sun has come up. I get to “rest” in between, and eat plenty of doughnuts and Nuun, so I should recover just fine. But, in my head, that’s 22 freaking miles!

relay_leg6

So, I wanted to get in at least one day, where I did a “mock” relay, and ran three times.

Last night, I purposely chose a hilly 8 mile loop. I took it easy on the straight-aways, and charged the hills. My average pace was about a 9:00, but that included the 9:42 warm-up and 10:11 cool-down. I stayed around a 8:40 the rest of the time. It was hard, but brought a sense of clarity. I envisioned my van-mates cheering my name on, or picking up roadkill (when you pass someone), and pushed through the pain.

This morning I met another half marathon mentor, who runs around a 8:30 pace, sometimes a 9:00 on long run days. We had agreed to run 10 miles. And I figured she’d want to go a little faster, and push my speed.

We met at 9am (yay for State holidays! Good Friday indeed!). When we started our loop around the lake, we saw a “dog” scoot into the woods. I said “that dog didn’t have a tail… Omigod, I think it was a deer”… Sure enough, it was. There were two doe just standing at the edge of the running pavement, staring out toward the lake. It was so quiet and serene. It was really beautiful! I didn’t pay attention to my speed any. But my running partner kept checking to make sure I felt comfortable, because she didn’t want to go any faster (haha).

The last few miles, I felt like I had something left in me, so I started pushing the speed, as we came back to the lake. We pushed our pace from a 9-9:30 down to a solid 8:30. Then the last 0.5 miles we were running a steady 7:30 pace. She smoked it in a little faster than me at the end, but I still felt like I finished strong with a 9:08 and 8:06 for my last two miles of a 10-mile run. That rounded it out to a 9:12 pace (which is right on target for my predicted time).

So, now, I have a 4-miler tonight. I intend to smoke it as fast as I can.

My advice for running a relay, in general, I’ll post separately.

relay_sleeping

how to sleep during a relay…

But as far as the running part goes-

It helps to run often. You don’t have to run fast or hard, but don’t let your body recover. It sounds strange at first. You want to teach your legs quicker recovery time. If you currently run 3-4 times per week, this may mean running Monday and Tuesday, then Thursday and Saturday, and eventually throwing in another run. Or running twice one day, then leaving your body time to recover.

Treat each leg as a separate race. If you don’t hit your pace on one leg, don’t worry; you may have more kick on the next one. You may be side-by-side with someone to encourage you to push your pace. You may just be sick of running, and want to run faster, so you can get to the beer and post-party faster. Or you may be freezing cold, and want to run as fast as possible to get back to the warm van and eventual coffee (my third leg from Tuna).

Enjoy your night runs. Some research has suggested you run faster at night because you run closer to your true pace. Seeing the trees blur as you run past them tells your brain you are going fast and many of us slow down. In the dark, that is not an issue. You get a chance for clarity. You can see your roadkill flashing along ahead of you as you come up on them, greet them, and pass on by. There’s also an extreme bonding with the people on the road. Teams tend to line up and cheer for you, even if you aren’t their runner.

And stretch. And foam roller (or stick massage). And eat right. Oh my god, eat right. Test out which foods work for your stomach. Which gels or chews work for you. Not just during the run, but in between. What is your time window before you run? Do you need an hour, three hours? For instance, I can almost always eat a banana. During a run, before a run, after a run; it doesn’t matter. However, I’ll admit- after living on bananas, apples, Nuun, Honey Stinger chews, and donuts, my stomach wasn’t feeling too great before my final run, in those 1-4am hours. And judging by the porta-potties, everyone else must have felt worse than me.

If you’ve never run a relay before, the biggest thing is to enjoy it! Laugh. A. Lot. Cheer on others. Honk. A. Lot. Just have fun with it!

the results (& soreness) are in!

The results from my 5K were officially posted today- 24:24 (7:52 average pace).

Not too bad, #4 in my age/gender. The “winner” of my age group was 21 or something. That will not be happening any time soon (if ever).

So how do I feel today? Honestly better than Monday. I was so sore yesterday and just couldn’t wait to get home and make sweet romance with my foam roller 😉

Mentally, I was exhausted Monday. I think that’s more March Madness hangover.

I completed my goal of a sub-25 5K, but based on other runs, I didn’t feel like it was the best, and I want faster. I mean, who doesn’t want faster right? But I feel capable of a faster race given better weather. I think the cold rain affected everyone. I think I am capable of shaving 30 seconds off that time for a sub-24, not that I’m not proud of my 24:24! I’m so proud of it, but I’m also capable if a little faster so I want to try that 🙂

Cheers! And happy running!