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.