Monday, October 22, 2012

2.5 weeks out!

The 13.1 mile course has been posted! This will be our Half Marathon in 2.5 weeks!

We are 2.5 weeks out from the race, and I have had more mood swings about this event than I can even count.  I have gone back and forth between excitement, motivation, frustration, sadness, pain, and determination.  

Each week in our training schedule, we have been adding another mile each week.  It's amazing, because 10 weeks ago I would NEVER have thought 3 miles or 5 miles was "easy." When compared to 8+, it is!  
  • We ran 6 miles and I thought that 7 sounded so hard.
  • We ran 7 miles and I thought 8 would be too hard.
  • Then we ran 8 miles and I couldn't believe we were about to run 9!

The amazing part is that I think once you go over the hump (which we are thinking is about 6mi), adding another mile or so isn't hard.  Is it the runner's high they always talk about? I'm not sure. But what I do know is that I get tired at about the same end point of my run, whether it was 6 miles or 8.  I've convinced my mind and my lungs that I am capable, it's just convincing my sad, injured leg that it is invincible. I think that might be the hardest part about this: I can do this, but my leg just physically doesn't want to, and fights me every step of the way.

The muscle strain above my left ankle and along my inner calf has been sore since August. It seems to be going through waves.  It would have healed if I gave it more time off, but I was too stubborn and pushed through.  Then, last week, the tendon in the same foot all of a sudden started hurting.  Nothing happened, I didn't twist anything or step funny, it just got angry about 6 miles into the 8 mile journey! I feel that the two points of pain are related as they seem to run in a straight line.  If you are standing flat footed, and flex your right toe, the pain runs right along that tendon to the inner part of my foot.  

This Sunday we were slated to run 9 miles and I wasn't sure I could even put pressure on my right foot to run.  The part of your foot that takes the pressure and is used to "push off" the ground is kind of an essential part of running. So I loaded myself with ibuprofen, and taped it with my fancy Argyle Rock Tape.  My foot did surprisingly well! I felt it each step but had no problem running through it.  Everything I have read said that if you can run through the pain, it's ok to keep going.  Ok, great. But then my brilliant self was so focused on my foot that I completely forgot to tape my calf. I made it 7 miles before the throbbing in my calf was so strong I couldn't run another step.  We cut the run short at 7.35mi. I felt good about the run, but couldn't help but be pissed at myself for such a stupid mistake.
*I should also mention that Tempe Town Lake, our running location for the weekend, was hosting a Half Ironman.  This made us change our course to avoid being trampled by runners / bikers, so that was another reason for our lack of mileage. The change in course dropped a mile off of our route, which we were going to add to the end but I couldn't go on.

However, despite the fact that we ended short, I still felt invigorated that I ran through it.  The adrenaline in my veins told me that I could do this.  That the mind is an amazing thing and that adrenaline would have my back.  But it didn't take long for me to change my tune - within three hours later I was nearly crippled when everything had cooled down.  It didn't matter how much ice or biofreeze I applied, or how much ibuprofen I took - it has been throbbing since.  Hence the mood swings - I can't decide which I'm more excited for: entering the race in 2.5 weeks, or it all being over.  At this point, I'm tired of being unable to walk. I'm tired of hurting and being confined to flats. I'm tired of smelling like Biofreeze!  I'm tired of complaining. My only option is to stop, and it's not going to happen. I've come too far.  

So, I have come to terms with the fact that the race is going to hurt, and I am really going to hurt after. But then I can take some much needed time off of running.  I don't want to risk a chronic issue.  I only need to last 2.5 more weeks. Just 2.5 more weeks.

* * *

We've been talking a lot about "what happens after." I am about to complete 13.1 miles.. while it has been a grueling process, I am not the only one! I have read so many stories of runners who took several attempts to even get this far.  I am determined and not a quitter. But, this epic adventure cannot be my only story.  I know that the next race will be easier, and the one after that.  I will look back on this day and laugh about my silly beginner's story... right? ha!

2013 is going to be dedicated to smaller races.  Keep up the gym time and work on strength and muscle tone.  Small races throughout the year to work on improving pace.  And then another half. I am thinking that the PF Changs 1/2 Marathon in January 2014 might be a good goal. That's plenty of time to register early to avoid the expensive fees, avoids training throughout the summer, and gives me a year before I have to jump into another extensive training program. I think my body, mind, and family/friends will all appreciate the time off. :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

The gluten free / dairy experiment

One month ago, I started a new experiment with my diet.  I dropped all gluten/wheat from my diet, as well as all dairy. The only exception was eggs, but I kinda classify that as its own food group. It's actually been a lot easier than I thought, and an interesting learning experience.
A note about the eggs: Eggs are an AMAZING source of protein, and one I have become quite dependent on.  Additionally, they are so mellow on my stomach, I can literally eat and egg and then run 5 miles with no problems.  Not all foods are so forgiving. Since I have had no issues after eating them, I decided not to include them in this experiment.

I decided to give myself a couple more weeks on the gluten experiment, as I think I may have gotten a little wheat when we were in San Diego (I had vegan sausage and I didn't realize that most of them contain wheat). So, to be safe, I decided on 6 weeks just in case (since it can take a month to get it out of your system entirely). So, two more to go.

Over the past 5 years, I have dramatically changed my diet and gotten progressively pickier about where I shop, what I buy, and what I eat.  Just ask Jay, after I drag him to three grocery stores seeking "all natural" or "wild caught" products rather than buying what is on sale or available in the freezer section.  I feel empowered by knowing what is in my food, and I truly believe I feel better by fueling myself with better ingredients, even if they are more expensive.  I also believe that we vote every time we grocery shop, and I will vote to keep these items available and accessible to the public.

When I stopped eating meat, I stopped eating fish and dairy. Everything was removed from my diet initially because of cruelty issues, and then remained that way for health reasons.  I never craved meat, so I never felt the need to put it back in.  In fact, I felt better without it.  I did eventually start to crave the fish again, but that took 3 years to resurface (and is still on occasion).  The dairy was tough for me, so I brought it back in pretty quickly. I've had a love affair with dairy my entire life, and it always seemed to bring me back to the same result: my body doesn't like it.  My stomach especially doesn't like it, especially when I have a lot.  It gets bad, I drop it back, I feel better, I bring it back, I feel crappy. And repeat.  You see, I appear to be an "all or nothing" girl when it comes to dairy, cheese especially. I can't just eat it once a month. So apparently, it's time to say good bye, or I will just keep battling the stomach pain, occasional nausea, bloating, etc.

Over the past couple of years, I've slowly been working it out. Rice milk instead of half and half in my coffee. Almond milk instead of yogurt in my smoothies.  Sorbet or soy ice cream instead of ice cream.  Cheese was my downfall, as I was opposed to the idea of "soy cheese." And then I started this ingredient and gave it a shot: made enchiladas and it was delicious!

So why gluten/wheat?

I know I am not "allergic" to anything. I've had blood work done to confirm it.
I know I am not "lactose intolerant." I don't have the same symptom every single time.
What I believe is I have a food intolerance to dairy, and the wheat symptoms are incredibly similar.

Here are some of the gluten intolerance symptoms:

  • weight gain
  • gastrointestinal problems (bloating, gas, pain, constipation, etc)
  • aching joints
  • exhaustion
  • head aches
Here are some of the wheat intolerance symptoms:
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • frequent headaches
  • inflammation (joints and muscles), allergies
  • chronic fatigue
  • skin rash
Here are some of the dairy intolerance symptoms:
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • weight gain
  • sinus pain and headache
  • fatigue
  • skin rash

Anyone who knows me knows I have always suffered headaches, I have really bad inflammation in my muscles (major knots from head to toe), I randomly get hives, I'm tired a lot. Gastrointestinal, check.  It all seems to add up.

Gluten intolerance is harder to pin point, unlike celiac disease. It can take days to feel the affects of it in your body.  That makes it really tough to diagnose.  It's also something that has consistently been in my diet since I was a child.  It may not be a huge problem, but I certainly eat too much of it. I started noticing all of the above symptoms, and it occurred to me that I hadn't had dairy in days. What I had eaten consistently was wheat.  The final straw was the week/weekend that we were moving and I felt nauseous after I ate any type of bread or dairy. My stomach was bloated, I felt very gassy, and I just felt terrible. And it was happening more often than not.

Since I started this experiment, I have been feeling so much better. I will be interested to see what happens when I start reintroducing food, but I am very undecided if I am going to reintroduce dairy at all. It might just be time to cut the cord. My family might kill me when it comes to the holidays this year, ha!

Not exactly sure how to classify myself now. I am a vegetarian that doesn't eat dairy or meat, but I eat eggs, and I have been craving fish a lot so I've been eating that pretty regularly (couple times a month) over the past year or two.

I guess I'm just Abby. :)