Monday, February 17, 2014

IMS Arizona Relay Marathon

Yesterday was the IMS Arizona Relay Marathon, and I was one of four people on the "House Headz" team.  The marathon started out in Buckeye and traveled through Avondale and Glendale, finishing at Westgate.  

There were four "legs" to the race:
1st runner: 7.1 miles (Jeff)
2nd runner: 6.1 miles (Abby)
3rd runner: 8.3 miles (Laura)
4th runner: 4.7 miles (Christi)
Total mileage: 26.2 miles

The thought was for us to all cross the finish line together at the end, so I planned to run the final stretch in addition to my six mile leg.  I figured that waiting until meeting up at mile 25 would be too long of a rest period in between, so I might as well just run the last one. No big deal.

But of course, as luck would have it, my work and school schedule made prepping for this race a challenge. I was able to get to the grocery store and prep a bunch of food, but I ended up working really late on Saturday night (about 1 am) which meant I did not get to eat said food, and I only ended up with about 4 hours of sleep before the race! 

I do not recommend this.

Saturday night, I also realized I was starting to get sick, and was feeling a bit run down.  This was not helping me feel better about Sunday.  When I got up at 5:40, I was feeling pretty tired but quickly ate and drank some coconut water to try and revive myself.  For the most part, it worked.  (Or maybe it was the adrenaline, who knows).  We rushed around like crazy to find the spot where we were supposed to meet Jeff, so he could pass the timing chip to me and I could continue on.  The race wasn't clearly marked and was a bit unorganized.  The chaos at least gave us a good laugh.  It was a bit chilly but otherwise a gorgeous morning.    

Up bright and early for the race! We were leisurely taking pictures until we realized we were in the wrong spot and needed to dash to the correct one!


My leg of the race was actually really beautiful. The sun was up, but it was still cool, and I ran through the golf course community in Avondale.  It was really quiet and serene and actually really pretty.  I got cheered on by a lot of retirees in golf carts passing by.  Physically, I did pretty well.  It was my fastest 6.1 miles and the longest I have ever run by myself.  I finished in 1:00:49, average pace of 9:58 per mile.  I felt really good with this considering all the underlying factors. I was also pleased with my self-pacing, since I have never run that distance solo and am used to having someone next to me to talk to and gauge my speed.  Mentally, it was a bit of a challenge, but nothing I couldn't push past.  For one, that portion of the race wasn't very crowded, so I literally was running alone in some parts.  I was also running with marathoners who were used to the distance and were all passing me.  I didn't pass anyone at any point, which was a little tough on the psyche.  (PF Changs I passed a LOT of people in the course, which makes a difference).  I had to remind myself it wasn't about them and to just run, and my six miles went relatively fast.  When I hit the 3 mile mark, I was actually surprised at how fast it had seemed, so I knew then that the 6 miles wouldn't be a problem.  I was still pretty happy when I hit mile 13 and saw Laura waiting about a half a mile a way, ready to take the timing chip from me. :)

Feeling good, I decided that I would continue with the original plan to run the final leg with Christi.  I ate a banana and some pecans and tried to keep my legs moving for the hour break.  I don't think it mattered though, because the minute I started running the final leg, I regretted it.  My legs had cooled too much and I was too tired to begin with, and every single step of the 4.7 miles was heavy and exhausting.  This got in my head a bit.  Christi had the timing chip so I was trying to keep on her pace, since it was her portion.  I decided if she stopped, slowed down, or went faster, I would do the same.  I couldn't stop, because I was in the middle of nowhere and had no way to get to the finish line.  But I was also worried I was holding her back.  I didn't have to worry about that, because we kept a pretty speedy pace at the beginning (9:20) and finished in 43:50, an average 10:06 pace. I couldn't have run faster if I tried! Laura didn't end up running the last leg with us because the 8 mile portion was unexpectedly hilly and brutal.  She found us during mile 26 and we crossed the finish line together.  Her timing was impeccable; she met us right after we climbed a huge, daunting hill that kicked out ass.  We were out of steam but finding her meant it was almost over!  When I finished, I literally almost started crying, that's how hard that leg was for me.  I think it would have been easier to just run straight through for the 10.8 miles, instead of having the break in between. I'm not sure I would want to do that again without specifically training for it.

In the end, our team finished in 10th place out of 30, Total time: 4:07:52! Hell yes! Considering we weren't training as a team and weren't even competitive about it (although we got competitive around the end), and considering all the various factors for the day that had been a challenge, I think we did really awesome! 
I couldn't get the full sheet in the picture

The relay was a bit hectic, but was a really fun experience that I would do again in a heart beat.  I decided that I need to get all races for the year on the calendar ASAP so I can get my time off for work.  I cannot continue working the night before a race; it's just way too hard. Not to mention, I'm on my feet for 8 hours the night I should be resting them.  Physically, I can push through, but it makes for a tougher recovery.  I'm feeling pretty beat today.


We were missing our 4th at the finish so we should probably Photoshop him in.


This was a huge test for me...I feel proud of what I accomplished.  The night before, I was feeling a little distraught about the thought of getting up in four hours to run over 10 miles.  Jay's words: "Your stronger than that."  I kept remembering those words while I was running and it helped.  I am stronger than that.  But in the end, regardless of the misery at the finish, I am thankful for the experience.  I needed this to push myself both physically and mentally.  Things are not always easy and there is always going to be a voice in my head that will scream at me to stop and curl up and eat a brownie.  I needed this to prove that I was capable and am glad that I didn't bow out at the last minute.  I would have been sad to have been missing in the picture above.  

It was a great way to spend a beautiful morning in Arizona. :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

I am in charge of how I feel and today I am choosing happiness.


When I did this mass re-org of my life, my biggest fears were that when I was finished, I would no longer have the relationships (i.e. boyfriend and close friends) I had worked so hard to find. As everything has progressed, I'm constantly finding reassurance that things will be okay.  I am surrounded by so many people who love and support me and I truly believe that if these relationships were meant to be, then everyone will still be there when I am done in five years.  Sure, some of my relationships may change, and some of us may grow slightly apart, but I have learned to accept it and have decided to cross those bridges when I come to them.  I am constantly reassured by my supportive boyfriend that everything is and will be okay, and I believe him.  I'm releasing some of those insecurities that have been taunting me in the back of my head.

As everything has been going at full force, I've actually realized what my biggest fear is: losing myself.  It's funny, I have made such a huge change in order to build a new and better life for myself, one that involves having a fulfilling career instead of one that just pays the bills.  Part of me didn't want to complain about how stressed out I was or how much I hate waiting tables, because I recognize that I made this decision for myself and to complain about it seemed petty and stupid.  But the fact of the matter is, I hate this part of it.  I hate working nights and weekends and have never appreciated the Monday-Friday, 8-5 salaried position I used to have more.  But deep down inside, I always knew I wasn't happy with that and this is something I am going to have to do until I am in a position that can afford not too.  But, since I have been so stressed and strapped for cash, every dollar counts and every bad tip affects me in a way I wouldn't want it to.  I was starting to hate who I was becoming and was crushed when my own boyfriend told me that he missed my smile.  I don't want to be miserable for five years, I would have to learn how to balance things better.

I was losing the person I have always been and was becoming one of those people who was always tired, always stressed, never happy.  I lost my smile because the stress of making ends meet and trying to juggle this crazy balancing act was running me down.  Time to revamp and sort out my priorities.

Working two jobs and going to school full time is asinine.  If I need to request a loan from the bank or sell my body on the street to do it (kidding), I'm going to stop thinking that this is a schedule I can handle.  Doubles and triples scheduled each day are horrific and I was pretty much the walking dead by the end of the week.  So, job #1 has been cut: my last day there is Friday.  I left on good terms, am welcome to stay, and have been told that if they have a need for it and I'm looking for work during the summer, that I should give them a call.

This small change, releasing three shifts from the week, did something wonderful for me.  This freed up time for many things!

  • Homework and studying.  If I'm going to quit my job and go back to school, it makes no sense to not have any time to dedicate to studying for the courses that are trying to kick my ass. If I'm going to fail these classes then this was all for nothing.  I need every A I can get and I need to stay focused on this priority.
  • Time for PT Observation! I now have enough time to do 4-6 hours per week, depending on how I'm feeling.  More than likely I'll cap it at 4.  I'm currently observing at an orthopedic clinic just behind my house.  They treat me more like an intern than a lurker, so I actually get to learn things! It's very exciting and I'm hoping one day I can use this to secure a PT Tech position in the field while I finish school.  I also need a ton of hours before I can even apply (at the end of the year), so this really needs to be a large priority.
  • Time to work out.  Since I ran PFC, my activity level has severely halted.  It's not for lack of motivation, it's for the sheer fact that I have been so swamped and so exhausted that there literally has not been time for a run or to go to the gym.  This is not okay to me.  Not only have I had no release for the tension in my neck and shoulders, but my psyche has been severely affected. I truly need this release and I deserve the time to get to have it.  Between work, school, studying, a giant sewing pile and the other million directions I'm being pulled in, this is currently my only release (besides a bottle of wine, ha!).
  • Time to cook food at home, and to eat an occasional meal with my boyfriend.  Having Monday and Wednesday evenings off means I get to work out both nights and then we get to make dinner together when we both get home.  We are making use of the small amounts of time we have together, and it makes a world of difference.  Getting home from work at 11pm and then up again at 6:30, isn't very conducive to many home-cooked meals.  This helps me prep for the next day as well as cook healthy balanced meals for myself.
  • Time for a little more sleep in the mornings at least 2 days a week. Don't think I even need to elaborate on how happy that makes me. 
As for running, this is going to stay a large priority in my life.  I'm working out more ways to integrate it into my week, but for now I'm a little limited.  Going to make the best of it in the way that I can.  Trying to get some dates on the calendar to stay focused and keep my mileage up.  Here's what I'm thinking for this year:
  • I am part of a 4 person team at the Arizona IMS Marathon on February 16th.  I am running the 7 mile stretch on my own and then joining the team (hopefully) for the 4 mile finish. This will be the longest I have ever run on my own, and while I am excited about it, I am happy about the mental challenge.
  • Trying to find a 10k and a 15k between now and the fall.
  • Fall: Would like to do a half marathon around November, race TBD.
  • Would really like to do the Arizona Half Marathon in March of 2015 (this will keep us active during the holidays but allow us to begin "training" again after the 1st of the year).
I found this and it perfectly summed up how I am feeling this evening.  
Life is good, I am healthy and in love and moving forward with my life.

Monday, January 20, 2014

P.F. Changs Rock and Roll Half Marathon

After 12 weeks of training, it was finally here! Yesterday, we ran the P.F. Changs Rock and Roll Half Marathon.  After all this work, it was finally time for the end result: fun.

Several weeks ago, it occurred to us that we were going to beat our time from last year.  We looked at our 15k finish time and realized that we had gotten much faster over the past year.  When we ran the Shun the Sun Half in November 2012, our average pace was 11:44.  In all of our training runs, we were averaging a 10:20 pace for long distance runs, a significantly faster pace. We were feeling pumped and energized about rocking this race.  We were both feeling strong and healthy, and excited for race day.

We then ran into a series of roadblocks.  Between Christmas and New Year's, Christi got really sick.  At New Year's I got really sick. And just when we were beginning to taper and I was starting to feel better, Christi got sick again! It didn't seem like we could catch a break, and as a result, we lost our final 7 mile run the week before the race. We moved our mileage to cross training machines at the gym and decided that rest  and getting better the week of the race was more important than the mileage we knew we would be able to complete with no problem.

Another roadblock I had was my schedule.  The week before the race, I started school, trained every single night (late) at my new job, and worked my second job in my "spare" time.  I was on my feet constantly, and my legs felt it hard. And sleep? It wasn't happening. I wasn't getting home before 11-11:30pm at night, which meant getting to sleep about 12:30am and then back up to do it all again at 6:30am. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, and I was frustrated that after all this time, the week I truly needed the rest was the week wasn't getting any.  I was starting to seriously wonder if my legs would be up to the task, because they literally throbbed everywhere and felt incredibly tight.  In the end, it all worked out.  I got to sleep after midnight on Friday and then slept HARD for 12 hours.  I had my entire Saturday to rest my legs and mentally prepare for the race on Sunday. Oh, and plenty of time to eat (I did a lot of that).

Sunday morning, I was up at 4:30, showered to heat up my joints, had a little bit of coffee and a big breakfast: baked tofu, boiled potato, 2 corn tortillas, and a protein fruit smoothie.  It was a pretty bland breakfast, but it did the trick to fuel me (although AGAIN I needed to eat more: I got hungry about 4 miles in, which by then had been about 3.5 hours since I had eaten breakfast). Christi grabbed me at 5:45 and we headed towards one of the light rail stations to park and ride to the start in downtown Tempe.  The light rail was packed with other race participants.  After a little bit of confusion about which stop to get off, we ended up in Tempe and began to make our way towards the race.  Found the gigantic porta potty line, found gear check, got rid of our jackets and put on our tutus! (Last year, we cheered on the marathon participants as the P.F. Changs full marathon course went past my neighborhood.  We saw girls in tutus and have been dreaming of them ever since!)
 You can't tell here, but it is REALLY cold. I also like how we stopped time in this picture. 

We made our way into our corral (there were 26 total in the half, we ended up in corral 11), heard the national anthem, and waited patiently for our turn to start.  It took about a half hour to make our way to the start line.  By then, I had to pee again, but it was too late to go back out and find a bathroom. (Mid race I decided I would rather get a bladder infection than lose 20 minutes in a porta potty line... seemed logical at the time, ha! And no, I did not get one...)

It was our turn! Just before they counted down our start, one of the announcers reminded us that the first half of the race was a steady incline, followed by a large hill, and to remember to pace ourselves.  We began running and soon got to see what was so exciting about this race.  At every mile marker, there was a band. The bands weren't amazing, but they brought some excitement to each milestone, as well as a crowd of people.  Between each mile marker there were a lot of different groups of people who joined us to cheer us on.  Most of them were in costume, and most of them had really funny signs to encourage us to go forward. These were some of my favorites:
  • Faster, faster (that’s what she said)
  • May the course be with you
  • Keep moving, I farted!
  • You run faster than our government
  • Chuck Norris wanted me to tell you that in our minds you’re all Kenyans!
  • Quit bitching, you paid for this


There was a Roaring 20's group, Alien cheerleaders, Chinese drums, a Pied Piper, Creepy people on stilts, and men and women in tutus to mention a few.  Running along with us was Santa, Batman, a gorilla, a mascot I didn't recognize, and a group with a Chinese dragon. I am not sure how one can run in a fur suit, but they definitely made me laugh.  There was a lot of excitement which I really enjoyed and appreciated.

I'm not sure where I found my energy, but I really felt great the entire race.  In the end, I felt like I could have continued running.  When I was done, I was tired, and I felt it in every muscle, but the race itself felt comfortable and relatively easy.  I grabbed the gatorade from the water stands each time, which normally I do not like, but sounded really good and refreshing.  They were kind enough to serve it to us cold.  It's funny how some things just sound and taste really good when you need it the most, even when you wouldn't ordinarily want to consume it.  I think the added sugar and electrolytes kept me moving! The announcer was right: the first 6 miles was a steady incline (the kind that isn't very visible to the eye, but your legs definitely notice it).  The mile 8 and 9 turn around on McDowell was the giant hill heading into the Papago Mountains.  That was steep, but we seriously powered through it.  I was really proud that we weren't one of the many people who had to stop and walk it.  The remainder of the race was mostly downhill, with the exception of some small hills in Papago Park.  The race finished at Tempe Beach Park, with the finishing stretch across the Mill Bridge over Tempe Town Lake. I really liked that being the finishing stretch, it felt very dramatic. :)  I was hell bent on finishing the race just before my podcast finished, and it ended just as I was crossing the finish line.  (Last year, I had to restart it).  In the end, we did beat last year's time (by a lot!), and each set a PR.


I am feeling REALLY proud of us.  When we did our first half marathon, it was scary and hard.  We didn't know if we could possibly run that far.  We were sore, exhausted, and I was injured.  When we set out to train for this race, we really wanted the end result to be fun.  Most importantly, I wanted it to be easy, and injury free.  We each ran into our own issues throughout training and even throughout the race, but nothing that we couldn't overcome.  I personally was very pleased that I wasn't injured AT ALL during this race. No tape, no swelling, no fears I would make something worse.  I felt relatively strong, and while I knew that I would have areas that might be extra sore, I wasn't petrified this time.  When I crossed the Mill Bridge, I teared up a bit, because I feel like I have come so far.  If you had asked me 2-3 years ago if I would feel this way, I would have thought you were crazy.  It's finally clicking and it feels amazing.

Training recap:

What we did well:

  • Rest days: Taking a full day off between runs was the best decision we ever made.  It made some days extra long (doubles), but it made the run days so much easier.  Win.
  • Recovery: We got a lot better at the recovery aspect from each run and workout.  Recovery food and drink, hot tubs, epson salt baths, rolling muscles with the stick and/or foam roller, icing even if it wasn't necessarily needed at the time. 
  • Adapting the schedule to meet special circumstances: Not only did we train through the holidays, but we trained through 3 bouts of sickness.  And for the most part, we stayed on point the entire time.  We found creative ways to get our miles in, as well as learned to recognize when our bodies needed a little extra rest.  We were able to rest without feeling like we failed our schedule, which helped the mental game a lot.
  • Food: We have figured out the foods that we really like consume before a run, and what we never want to eat again before a run because they do not sit well (add to the list: bananas, peanut butter, bell peppers, and anything spicy).  In addition, we got really good at eating while running! Favorites are dried cranberries and honey packets.  A little bit of carbs, sugar, and potassium to give us a little boost in energy, and in an all-natural way (I'm personally a bit scared of the Gu packets, and not a fan of the added chemicals).

What we didn't do well:

  • Cross training. It just seemed to be hard to fit in the schedule on a consistent basis. We were good at integrating it weekly at the start, and at the end when we were sick, but during the middle section of our training schedule it just seemed to go away.  It was coincidentally the day we were supposed to work out on our own, and clearly, we weren't very good at keeping ourselves accountable.  
  • Water: There is always going to be room for improvement in this area.  I think because we weren't training through the summer, we weren't as mindful about how much water we needed to consume every day. As a result, we ended up chugging water while we ran our long runs because we were dehydrated.  
  • My shoulders: I need to figure out how to keep them loose.  I woke up with a bit of tension in them, and the knot in my left shoulder was painful the majority of the race.  I generally tend to carry my water in that hand, which is probably part of the problem. I need to get better at switching the bottle back and forth, since I prefer to run with the water on me.  This has been a common issue in almost all of my races, since I have such tight / knotty shoulders to begin with.
In the end, I am super excited about how well we did, and very excited to move forward! We are going to participate in the IMS Marathon as part of a relay team, and the rest of the year is TBD.

This is Camelback Santa.  We ran into him several times throughout the course and he did nothing but cheer other people on and take pictures with them.  He had a blast and was definitely part of our race experience. :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Food. The story of my life.

For as much as I love food, get super excited about eating it, and for as many good choices as I like to think I make on a weekly basis, food has been the bane of my existence over the past year.

It's New Year's Day, which means it has officially been a year since I began my crazy elimination diet to try and figure out what was making me feel sick all the time.

So, a year has past, and I would like to think that the giant mystery has been solved, but unfortunately, only part of the case can be closed.  It seemed like the farther I delved into the search, the longer the list of questionable foods became.

Here's why:
Problem #1: "Nothing" is wrong with me. (Some might beg to differ... but I digress. :D )
I spent a hell of a lot of money on tests to try and figure out the root cause of my digestion issues, stomach pain, muscle inflammation, headaches, etc.  I was really hoping there was a giant indicator that would come up on an ultrasound or during an endoscopy, but no such luck.  Truly, I am glad I am healthy, but that may have just been easier.  It was determined that I might suffer from bouts of gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), and that I also might have IBS.  It was also determined that I had developed food sensitivities and an intolerance to many foods that might be causing a lot of the problems. I ran out of money waiting for a doctor to find the cure (and patience) and decided to play Nancy Drew on my own.

Problem #2: My reactions lack consistency.
There are certain foods that give me an almost immediate reaction, every time.  That makes it really easy to never eat these foods again.  The rest of them give me a delayed reaction, some of them depending on quantity, and the rest depending on what else I happened to be eating that week. The reaction may be the next morning, or days later, and it may only happen when paired with certain foods (but again, it's not the same reaction every time).

What I have figured out:
#1: I've learned to pick my battles.  
I do not question the seasoning anymore but make note of it if it specifically is mentioned on the menu. I do not cook with any questionable seasoning (i.e. paprika and tumeric), but I do incorporate sesame on a semi-regularly basis. I said goodbye forever to dairy and egg, and actually, aside from small moments of weakness (i.e. I'm hungover), I honestly do not miss either one.  I can eat the "maybe" vegetables but I make a point to not eat them on a daily basis.  In other words, I will buy 5 mushrooms for dinner so there isn't a contained in the fridge to eat all week, or buy just large portabello mushrooms that will be consumed in a single meal.  Wheat has been a bit of a hard one. I do not cook with it, and actually really enjoy gluten free soy sauce, gluten free rice pasta (I have been really happy with all of them), have found gluten free bread I really love (Schar from Fresh and Easy), and even gf flour tortillas (Rudi's).  I love asian inspired dishes however, so I make concessions (perhaps far too many) on regular soy sauce when we are at a restaurant, as well as the occasional pizza crust (provided there is no dairy in the sauce or the dough). I find the treat of a quarterly slice of vegan pizza rewarding and worth the possible problems following me the next day.  I have yet to find a gluten free pizza crust that tastes remotely like pizza, and most gluten free products still contain eggs anyway.

#2: I definitely suffer from occasional gastritis, caused by an excess of acid in my stomach.
After Thanksgiving, when I had had a lot of wine, coffee, and spicy foods, I was literally nauseous after every meal for several days.  I have also had major stomach pain (like someone lighting my stomach on fire) after eating certain foods, and only a combination of pepcid and prescription stomach pills can alleviate it. This puts me in check immediately, since these feelings feel awful and are a good indicator that I'm making too many dietary concessions and bad decisions.  I haven't had pain that bad since this all began 5 years ago, and am certainly not in the position to go get a bunch of medical tests done again, so it makes me remember to behave. :)

#3: I definitely have IBS, albeit a mild form of it.
When my gastroenterologist suggested I might have IBS,  I didn't want to hear it, since I was focused on my food intolerance list and didn't think I could handle another list of foods to eliminate from my diet.  However, now that I have completed the first year, I have realized she was probably right. Many of the foods on both lists are actually duplicates of each other, and while I cut out a bunch of foods initially, almost all of them have been reintegrated to a certain degree, and I still am not always feeling great.  So clearly, the mystery has not been solved.  Then there are other foods like cruciferous foods (cabbage, broccoli, etc), garlic, and quinoa, on the list for IBS triggers, and I thought these were a load of crock. Honestly? How can broccoli and quinoa, foods that are so nutritiously dense and good for you, possibly hurt someone? Well, the answer is, a LOT. They are tough to digest and if your stomach is at all irritated, you are going to be punished. Quinoa has been my toughest food lately, which makes me very sad. :(  (It's also loaded with protein and I love that!) The part of IBS that isn't so mild, is the stress trigger. Still working on that. Alcohol is also a trigger, so I have cut out most hard alcohol (especially juice mixers) and stick to wine/gin, which even then sometimes gives me trouble.

As for the protein... Still eating fish, and still not eating a ton of nuts and beans.  I have been making a huge effort to integrate them into my diet again, but the moment my stomach gets even mildly irritated, I have to cut them back out again. This is tough when I'm in training.  What I have learned, canned beans are out (super hard to digest) but if I soak and slow cook, I do pretty well.  Nuts are good but in small quantities.  Cannot be combined with other iffy foods (i.e. don't put in the quinoa and steam up a pile of broccoli to go with it).

Throughout the year, I have definitely noticed the knots and inflammation in my muscles have tremendously improved.  My stomach issues are more poignant and obvious when they happen, so even the delayed reactions are easier to pin-point.  I have been able to pin-point almost instant neck and head pain after eating gluten, so by cutting that out I have had less problems there.  I have been feeling better, and I feel that I am on the right track, so I must be doing something right. :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

T minus 26 days!

OMG! It's Christmas eve, which means that we have less than 4 weeks until race day (26 days to be exact)!!

I occasionally like to look back through my old posts to gain perspective on how far I've come, and I am definitely feeling more hopeful and excited than I was during last year's training season .  Mainly I can attribute this to the fact that my body is handling the pressure better, and I'm being much smarter about listening to aches and pains and knowing the difference between fatigue and exhaustion.

We are pushing through on our training schedule through the holidays, which is no easy feat! Schedules are packed, and we are re-scheduling weekly to fit it all in.  As a result, we are losing a little bit of our Wednesday night strength training (arms mostly, and extra heavy squats on Mondays), but at this point it is about keeping things strong as they are, and keeping everything happy. :)  When the race is over, we can go back to a bigger emphasis on building muscle just in time to get ready for summer.

We lost mileage last week, so we are making sure this week is full, despite the fact that Christmas is smack in the middle, and Sunday's long run is being moved to Saturday. Since it wasn't possible to get all the runs in and keep a designated rest day before the first one, we took our normal leg night and shifted it to keep the emphasis off the legs:

Sunday: Cross training, mixed cardio (treadmill, elliptical, stationary bike), 60 minutes
Monday: Cross training (stair climber and elliptical) and abs, 90 minutes
Tuesday: 7 mile run, downtown
Wednesday: OFF! (Merry Christmas!)
Thursday: 5 mile run, on the track, with final mile composed of sprints
Friday: OFF!
Saturday: 9 mile run, Papago Park (testing the hills for the race)


I am super excited and proud of where we are up until this point. The fact that we had extra weeks in the 8-9 mile range made me feel a little better that we lost some mileage this week due to exhaustion and sickness.  But if we learned nothing over the past few years, we learned that we need to listen to our bodies when they scream for rest.  Losing 2 miles here and there is not going to hurt us in the end.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hot Chocolate 15k - a helpful learning experience!

The motto for the Hot Chocolate 15k Race on Sunday became "What not to do before P.F. Changs."

We've been on track and have been doing so well throughout our training schedule! I'm not sure what happened, but we both spaced and did something really stupid before the 15k.  We went out on Friday night.  Seems harmless, but all the free wine coupled with a very late night was a very poor choice two nights before our race.  And the crazy thing is, it didn't even occur to either one of us that we should call it an early night.  As a result, we were sluggish, our legs felt heavy from mile one, and we were under hydrated. This meant for a looooong 9.32 miles.

I also made the mistake of eating wheat on both Thursday and Friday night (in the form of regular soy sauce). Between that and the wine and the mystery food at the corporate party, my stomach was crazy upset.  I was literally up all night on Friday and did not sleep at all.  I was miserable.  On Saturday I forced myself to eat, knowing that my food would make me nauseous and most likely wouldn't digest well, but was necessary for success during the run, and drank a bunch of coconut water.  This helped a lot.
This is my savior.  It's not Wai Koko, but it works in a pinch.

On Sunday, I was up at 5 to eat after a good night of sleep, and because it was nervous, my stomach was worse! I was popping pepcid and immodium all the way to the start line, which I'm sure did wonders for my hydration.  Seriously, I have to figure a way around this. It is the worst.

Not only does sleep need to be a priority, but these little dietary concessions I have been continually making have to stop.  I've come so far with my elimination diet and know what foods irritate me, but I put myself through it anyway out of convenience and being able to eat in public with others.  The remainder of December and the entirety of January have to be devoted to clean eating. I think that January will be devoted to bland eating to try and eliminate any possibility of stomach discomfort in the days leading up until the race. Seems strict, but I think completely necessary.
*Side note: I developed a cramp in my stomach at about 3 miles in.  It just went away yesterday (almost 4 days later).  It felt like a side stitch, but those normally go away? Not entirely sure if this water related, breath related (it was pretty cold so my lungs were constricted), or food related? I'm hoping not the latter.

A couple other things were off during the race.  It was cloudy when we arrived, so I left my sunglasses in the car.  Just before our coral was about the start, the sun came out in full force.  I was forced to squint for the majority of the race.  I also was stuck with the jacket that was completely necessary pre-race but was promptly tied around my waist from the start of the run.  It slid constantly (as did my shirt) and I ended up fighting with it for the entirely of the 9.32 miles.  I knew better, I should have left it in the car and just froze while I was waiting in the coral.

Pretty much all 9.32 miles was a challenge, but the beauty of the entire debacle?

  • It was a training run.
  • It was a wonderful test run for how much food/water/sleep was needed for race day in January.
  • We also got to test fuel during the run.  The favorite so far is dried cranberries, and we ate a couple at mile 4 and then a few more at mile 6.  The little burst of sugar helped deplete lost glucose and give a little more energy to sustain the next leg of the race.  Dried cranberries: delicious. Fresh cranberries: OH THE HORROR.  Tried that last week and that will never happen again! :)
We may have been slow, but there were still 600 people behind us!
Official race time: 1134/1774.  1:40:09

This is why it's important to train... to learn from your mistakes. :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This week's "A-ha!" moment

It's been a really interesting week.  We had an epiphany, of sorts.

Last week, due to Thanksgiving, we ended up rearranging our training schedule a bit to accommodate for plans with family and realistically schedule around events so we would be successful in our attempts instead of just half-assing it because we were tired/hungover, etc.  As a result, our short run moved from Wednesday to Thursday, and our arm workout moved from Wednesday evening to Wednesday lunch.  No big deal.

On Wednesday, I had family coming into town, and due to traffic they got in pretty late.  I ended up staying up until 1:30 am in the morning.  This would have been fine, except our run was scheduled for 9:00 am and I had to get up early (around 6) to eat something before it.  I did not sleep well, I forgot to prep my breakfast the night before, so as a result I only ate a little bit and it wasn't very appetizing.  My run on Thursday (5 miles) could not have felt worse.  My leg felt GREAT actually, but my mind, my lungs, and my momentum crashed. I was not in the right head space, my arms and legs felt like they each weighed 100 pounds and I could barely propel myself forward.  Ordinarily we run the entire way through, unless we get stopped at red lights (it happens frequently downtown), but this time I had to stop to walk about 3 times.  If we had a leash, I would have been wearing it and Christi would have been dragging my sorry ass around the block.  Walking isn't the end of the world of course, but it was certainly unusual for 5 miles and hasn't actually happened in a long time.

I started wracking my brain trying to figure out what I did wrong:
1. Wednesday wasn't a rest day.  I worked my arms and core, which explained why my arms were so heavy.  If your arms aren't moving, the rest of you isn't moving much either.
2. I didn't sleep enough. I certainly didn't sleep well.
3. I probably didn't drink enough water, and then I had 3 glasses of wine on Wednesday night. Don't judge me...
4. My breakfast not only had very little protein, but my oatmeal was runny and I didn't finish it, and I didn't eat it early enough to digest in my system before taking off on the run. It did not sit well.

I shrugged it off, and made a mental note to take better precautions on Saturday for Sunday's run.

On Sunday, we ran 8 miles.  While I didn't get to sleep incredibly early, I slept very well.  I got up early to eat, not quite early enough to cook and digest fully, but I at least had a better breakfast (tofu and potatoes).  The run felt really good.  My legs were tired by about 6.5 miles, and we got stopped at a few stoplights (which by then, I was thankful for), but the difference between Thursday and Sunday was tenfold.

Fast forward to this week.  (I know, sorry... this is a long story. I should have warned you!) On Monday night, we realized that all of our short runs in December were now 6 miles long.  (Yes, 6 miles is "short").  They are all also scheduled on Wednesday morning.  Runs on Wednesdays must be completed by 5:30 am to get Christi to work, so this meant moving our run from 4:30 to 4:15 am.  Ehh, no biggie.  But what this also meant was that it was at least an hour of running (and likely a little longer, it is 4 am and all and we are sleepy), so this meant fueling the run was a necessity.  This meant getting up at 3:00 AM to eat.  You heard that right, 3:00AM.
*I am pretty sure I once said that I draw the line at getting up before 4, but just in case it wasn't clear, I am definitely drawing the line at 3.  Anything requiring me to get up earlier than that requires a change in my hobby. :)

Tuesday, I was on it.  I boiled potatoes and made tempeh for the next day's breakfast.  I had my clothes out and ready to go.  My shoes were and headphones were by the door so I didn't need to fumble around for them in the dark.  I was in bed at 8:00 pm and up at 3:00 am on the dot.  I ate breakfast, chilled a bit with the cats, and then went out to the track.  I ran all 6 miles and it was like I could have run miles more.  It was the first time (in longer than I can remember) that my head, my lungs, and my body were all in sync.  My heel felt great.  And while I wished I ate a little bit earlier than the run, my food stayed settled as well.  I never needed a second ear bud.  We laughed the entire time.

It doesn't matter what you eat or how many ounces of water you consume, or if you are wearing the perfect shoe, or if you are listening to the perfect mix.  A great, and successful, training run depends solely on one thing: REST.  I am certain that having Tuesday as a rest day and getting 7 hours of sleep made the ultimate difference.  Sure, the food and hydration and shoes all matter.  But without rest, the rest are null and void.

Rest means my legs don't get ultra tired, which means I don't start doing funky things with my stride, which means I limit my injury.  Rest means I have plenty of time to loosen sore muscles instead of continuously working them until they get injured.  We are half way through our training program and ahead on our mileage, and the best part is that despite the few twinges and occasional need for sports tape or ice, it is going relatively easily this time around.

I don't want to jinx myself or anything, but I am feeling pretty damn proud at this moment.