Wednesday, November 30, 2011

wordless wednesday

The poet took the time to hook all you guys up on Saturday morning at the race.
Especially since race photographers apparently don't care about my best side.
But don't worry, the poet had it covered.  Just like me, he's got your best interests in mind.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turkey Burnoff 5 Miler: race report

I had originally planned to do the Alexandria Turkey Trot since it starts in my front yard and covers my usual run routes.  After making the switch to the Philly Half, I wasn't sure if I'd be recovered by Thursday, so I didn't register.  I woke up Thursday morning and desperately wanted to run, but a short jog down the block revealed that I was still pretty sore.  So instead, we spectated, but the turkey trot itch was there.

I remembered Thursday evening that Amy had mentioned a 5 miler on Saturday up in Maryland.  Registration is ONLY available on-site, so I figured that if I was feeling good by that morning, we'd go up and I'd race.  I've never run a 5 miler before, and I've only run the 8K once (with a giant hangover), so I knew that no matter how the race turned out, it would be a PR.  I decided fairly ambiguously that I could probably come in somewhere around the 42-43 minute area without a lot of effort.  I spent Friday night discussing race strategy with my friends.

The website warned that parking was scarce and to get there early, so we did.  As it turned out, they were just trying to terrify everyone into doing exactly that, so I had time to visit the porta-potty 12 times and read my Harry Potter book before the race started.  I spent an equal amount of time stressing about what to wear and then it was time to go.
I lined up with Amy but lost her in the first shuffle of people.  Assuming she was ahead of me, I ducked and weaved trying to find her...only to have her come up behind me about a mile in.  After running the first 10 steps over the line, I realized that my body was still pretty tired and mentally readjusted my goal to 45:00 - 9 minute/miles is slightly more difficult than easy but definitely not race pace.  By the time Amy caught up with me, I was considering re-readjusting my goal to include walking and/or making someone pick me up and drive me back.  The course was far hillier than I would have expected for Maryland...
I decided, as I usually do in races, to manually lap my watch at the mile markers.  The first mile marker, though, came up REALLY early - there was just no way that I went out with an 8:15, even with some of those downhills.  The second mile seemed true and the third mile was as long as the first mile was short, so I didn't really have a good idea on my pace.  I just tried to maintain my effort level up and down all the rollers and not get passed by too many people dressed like turkeys.  The mile 4 marker is right before the last large hill, so any idea about kicking into the finish was gone.  When I rounded the corner and saw how close the line was, I realized that I could probably squeak in under 45 minutes, and that's what I did.
Unfortunately, I wasn't careful about starting or stopping my Garmin properly because we had shoe chips, but as it turned out, they forgot to lay down the mats at the start so only gun time was recorded.  However, as an experienced professional spectator who needs to know when to be ready for picture-taking, the poet recorded my official time.
As for the rest of the race, there was one well-manned water stop that you hit twice - roughly mile 2.3 and mile 3.9 - although I avoided it both times.  The post-race spread was amazing, especially for a race that was this inexpensive ($10), and the volunteers were fantastic.  
It's definitely a great race to burn off all that turkey and pie, especially if you choose the 2-loop 10 mile option, but not a PR course due to the elevation.  Hills are rude, especially when it's the first time you've run since you blew a hole in a half marathon.
However, it was a gorgeous day, I got to run with my partner in oft-injured-Dr. P-stalking crime, and I was able to shake off the race itch.  The last two races have really made me realize that I have a long way still left to go in fixing my form, as it collapsed pretty early in both.  I'm actually excited to return to a training schedule that has lots of easy running in it so I can keep chipping away at my injury-free life. But this week will still go down in history as the "I PRd twice in one week" week, but hopefully also the "I set 2 PRs that should be incredibly easy to beat" week.  

How was your Thanksgiving, friends?  Did you trot with turkeys or just eat your weight in pie? 

Monday, November 28, 2011

the fire is out

I had my turkey trot race recap all ready to go this morning, but I'm going to save it for tomorrow and instead talk about what's going on today.  I think I'm just a tiny bit burned out.  Or suffering from some pretty serious post-race blues.

My plan after Waterman's was to basically shut down the bike and concentrate on the run for the 5 weeks leading up to Richmond.  After Richmond, I was planning on taking two weeks almost completely off to get rested and ready to jump in with my new coach on December 1.  But then things went a bit screwy.  I got sick, and I took 3 days off, but I spent those 3 days a) sick and b) stressing out about what to do about the race.  Once I decided to bag Richmond and run Philly, I jumped back in - probably just a hair too soon - to squeeze in a few runs before race day.  I'm completely happy with the decisions I made going into the race, but I definitely didn't consider the ramifications of pushing back the race on my recovery.  

I ran Philly on Sunday.  On Monday I did 20 no-resistance minutes on the spin bike and then maybe as many as 6 laps of kicking in the pool to shake my legs out and help flush out the crap - this is my pretty standard day-after-a-race routine.  Tuesday, completely off.  Wednesday, a not-short-but-not-long-and-definitely-not-hard swim, but one that set my funky shoulder twanging and it's been irritating me more than a little ever since.  Thursday, 40 easy no-resistance minutes on the trainer (latest House episode to watch).  Friday was the first day I did a "regular" workout, and it was a fairly short ride with some intervals just to get my HR up a bit.  I was thrilled to be back on the bike, which was a good feeling because I've been dreading it lately, and the ride didn't tire me at all, but by Friday night I was feeling pretty blah.  Blah enough to be in bed before 9 on a night when I didn't have to get up until 8 the next morning.  I ran the turkey trot Saturday morning and was thrilled to be running, but once that race itch was satisfied, I was back in the dumps.  Sunday was a gorgeous and unseasonably warm day, and I had no plans other than Christmas tree decorating.  Saturday night I started considering what I'd like to do on Sunday afternoon - a medium-long ride and a swim - and I just felt drained and flat.

So instead, I watched some movies, I read a book, I went Christmas shopping with the poet, and we made spaghetti for dinner.  I didn't get on the bike or in the pool, and I definitely didn't even think about running.  I don't think this is a long-term blah - after walking around outside and being out of the house for a while, I started to feel a bit more chipper.  But I think that I need some more recovery time before jumping into IM training.  I'm hoping to pow-wow with my brand-new coach once she's done recovering from the very serious ass she kicked yesterday at Ironman Cozumel (and hopefully before she reads this.....), but I think I need another week off to recharge my batteries a bit.  And then to ease back in instead of doing a header straight into 15-20 hours a week of swim/bike/run.  

We're going to Key West this weekend to defend our relay title from last year.  I'm hoping that lots of recovering this week - good recovering, with healthy eating and vegetables and lots of sleep and maybe some light yoga and not too much beer - plus a vacation trip that includes a fun, no-pressure triathlon will get me pumped to jump into IM training.  I do know that if I get started down the path that is going to end up in Idaho next June with anything less than "ridiculously excited" as my mojo, it's going to be a long and tough cycle and I'm not going to make it.  

And more importantly - I'm trying to remember that I do this for fun.  I'm not a pro, and I never will be.  It's not my job, it's something I do because I'm absolutely in love with the sport, and I want to make sure that I keep loving it.  When I was training for Waterman's, I was so pumped to get my workouts every day, and to go out and execute them perfectly, to a T, to the heart beat.  I couldn't wait to bust ass and then rush home and upload my workouts to my coach with a note that said, "completed perfectly as described!"  I'm not excited like that right now.  Instead, I don't even want to look.  I'm dreading it all, and that's not okay.  But I'm hoping that by recognizing it, like I did the last time I was feeling burned out, will be a big step towards being excited about it all again, being ready to work my ass off, being hungry and ready to eat all this fat aerobic training right up.  Because I want to rock this cycle hard, but right now my fire is out.  I see that, and I'm listening, and I just need to figure out how to find my way back.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

things that are weird and or disgusting

Just some more post-race notes...

I did what I thought was a great job of hydrating in the days before the race and all the way up to the race start, with mostly water and the occasional powerade zero.  I took a Gu just before mile 4 with some water, and I felt the boost a few minutes later.  I took another one around mile 7 because I wanted some oomph heading up the hill, but I never felt it.  About 2 miles later, I reached for something and realized I couldn't close my hands all the way.  I looked down and my fingers were swollen to almost twice their normal size.  I freaked out a little, but didn't want to tell Beth because I didn't want to stop (race logic at its finest).  I tried to take another Gu around mile 10, but only got a little bit in my mouth before I dropped it because I just couldn't hold onto it.

Looking back through all the video that Jon took, I can see that in the later miles of the race, I'm puffy and swollen everywhere - not just in my fingers, but in my arms and face.  In the moment, I had no brainpower to troubleshoot the problem, but as soon as I got home, I asked Dr. Internet about it.  The internet (which is obviously always right, just like your Garmin) thinks that it's a problem of not enough salt possibly combined with too much water.  When this happens, your body can lose the ability to absorb calories properly, which might be why I didn't feel the boost from the Roctane, and also why I horked a bunch of it up at the finish line - it was just sitting in my stomach.  The other internet thinks that it could be over-heating combined with one of these issues.  This is the first time I've ever raced in warm weather with only Gu - other races I've used a combo of EFS/Perpetuem/Shot Bloks - and I wonder if maybe I wasn't getting the electrolytes that I needed since I was sweating more than expected.  In triathlon racing, I usually take some Tums along the run as well (calcium = electrolytes), which I didn't do on Sunday.  But this kind of swelling has never happened to me before.  You guys are part of the internet, what do you think?

The intense swelling that went on also caused my feet to poof up - which usually happens a bit on long runs like it happens to everyone.  But this time, they were so swollen that it caused about 6 different kinds of blood blisters on my feet.  (Avert your eyes).
I felt my feet start to burn a bit in these places around mile 8 or so, but didn't realize how bad it was until I finally got my shoes off after the race.  I had the imprint of my socks in my feet for about 30 minutes.  I could feel my feet expanding as I sat in the cool morning air, and getting my feet back in my shoes to jump in with the poet was not a happy experience.
Part of it was my fault - we were running a bit late on time in the morning, and I didn't get to do the pre-race body glide session that I like to do.  On a regular basis, I don't use body glide, but I like to lube everything up before a race.  I did borrow a smidge of Beth's chapstick (she was thrilled) to grease up my inner thighs, but I didn't get the chance to do my feet, my HR strap/boobie area, my hip (where the Gu was pinned), or my underarms, and I have chafing in all of these places, plus my inner thighs anyway.

I certainly don't want to point at any of these factors to "explain" my race on Sunday - I had the race I did because I went out hard and fast and blew up - but none of it has ever happened before.  It would be easy to chalk it up to a weird day, but I want to think about it so I can prevent it moving forward.

The other odd thing that happen is shoe-related.  In the weeks leading up to the race, I was fairly convinced that my shin problems were stemming from too much running in the Ravenna - the lightest stability shoe in my rotation right now.  Based on that, I didn't run in the Ravenna but instead ran mostly in the Asics 1260 and occasionally the Adrenaline.  My shin problems continued, but I figured that was because they needed time to heal.  On Sunday, I raced in the Ravenna.  Not only did I not have any issues during the race, my shin splints have magically disappeared since.  I haven't been out running yet - that'll be a fun project for tomorrow or Friday - but all of the ache and point-tenderness I had is completely gone.  So maybe the shoe expert was right all along and it's time to trash the Adrenalines.  I did find an incredibly cheap pair of the Saucony Guide, so I think I'm going to run in those and the Ravenna for a while and see if my legs can deal with the so-little-stability-it's-almost-neutral shoe.  Which is exciting.

So, hit me with your science.  What do you think?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Philadelphia Marathon: race report (guest post)

To most people they were just flags in the road. Some thin wicking designed with the Philadelphia logo, a rounded curve of a thing meant to mark distance. To me, they were a sign that I was still moving, that I had not yet quit. For some reason, during the longest parts of the course, these mile markers were the sentinels I will remember. But, what I’ll remember most is the generosity on display. You wouldn’t think that. If you start cynical and work back you see the shoe companies making money and the expo making money and the race management companies making money on this activity which is essentially people running around in large circles in competition. But I have yet to meet a selfish runner. And what made the day for me was this feeling that everyone, family, stranger or friend, organizer, cop or medic, was pulling for me.

Lesson #1: Generosity is at the core of the marathon.

At sunrise we parked (potentially illegally) in a lot with a bunch of other runners and everyone was concerned for each other’s cars. “But, they can’t tow all of us,” was the general mindset, solidarity with everyone in the lot. And so we, Katie and Beth and Jon, with our first bunch of new friends walked to the starting line. And this great logistical machine began. We found our friends. We peed (thousands of people in a line, no one complaining). We lined up in our corrals. No one argued. No one shoving. And we were off to do something really difficult.

Lesson #2: Never forget that a large group of like-minded people can shut down your whole city (and that we will pay for parking when we are done).

First, let me say this, Allison is amazing. She and I chatted about our plan and how fast we were going to go out. She pulled us back at times and pulled us along at times. We pointed out signs to each other, some awesome, some misspelled, some rather inappropriate. What does a woman holding an “I’ll chafe your nipples for free,” sign want? At about the 12 mile mark I could no longer keep up with Allison’s pace. I had been falling back and catching up for a few miles, and it was too much for me, so I told her to go.

Lesson #3: You have to run your own race.

Soon after that point, the race split off, HALF MARATHON to the right, MARATHON to the left (I saw that sign about 50 times from miles 11-13.1). At that point several things were supposed to happen. First, I was supposed to start speeding up. That did not happen. There was no speeding up from this point forward. Second, I was supposed to get a call from Katie on how her half went. I actually expected the call before I reached the 13 mile point because I failed to account for “getting out the corral and just wanting to sit down” time. But soon after 13 she called and told me her time. I was so proud, but wished I could have talked to her more.

Lesson #4: This is something you do by yourself, but you are not doing it alone.

My next highlight was seeing my sister, who had brought her husband and five year old son halfway across the northeast to cheer for me. I knew she was at mile 16 on the way out (23 on the way back). I was in pretty severe pain by the time I reached her. I asked her to run with me and to “lie to me and tell me I can do this, I look great and you are proud of me.” She ran with me, in boots, without asking a question and reassured me. My nephew stood on the side of the road with his toy trumpet tooting people along.

Lesson #5: Your family will be there for you when you are at your worst.

The next highlight was the 20 mile turn around. I made a promise to myself that I got to listen to music at the 20 mile mark. There was a town, and people and cheering and a beer stand. All of which passed by almost unaware. It was just a “keep going" mindset. But I did get my music. And my music always kicks me into another gear. And that gear was... I didn’t have another gear. I had whatever gear I had. Somewhere back with Allison the 3:50 pacer went by with a cadre of people. Somewhere before the 20 mile point the 4:00 pacer with by with a bigger cadre of people. Now it was just a matter of moving forward. The music helped, not my body, but it calmed my mind. At 22 Katie called again, and it was great to hear her voice. At 23 I stopped to hug my nephew. And on that long strip from 20 back into the city I saw people in pain, walking and lying on the side of the road. All of us patting each other on the back and shouting encouragement.

Lesson #6: You will get there. You will use any resource at your disposal. Just keep going. You will get there.

We finally started to hear the sounds of the city. We finally started to see signs of civilization. And I had a thought that running a marathon is like climbing an ever steepening hill. It never turned from a hill into a wall for me, but it kept getting steeper. Within the last two miles I saw the two best signs of the marathon, confirmations of the generosity at hand. The first one read, “This mile marker is further than most people will get in their entire lives.” I almost hugged the woman who wrote it, but I was still moving. The second, near the 26 mile mark, said, “This was still a good idea. And you look amazing(ish)."

Lesson #7: Our worst moments show our true nature, and we are a caring, humorous, generous people.

Katie picked me up around this point to and ran with me for as long as her blistered feet would allow. And for the first time since mile 14, I ran. I didn’t walk/run. I didn’t give in. I was going to finish this race running. For Katie, for my sister, for the woman who couldn’t get water at one of the stops, for the Korean dude lying on the side of the road, for all the people who shouted my name and “Way to go Mafia!” I told my ankles and hips and knees to shut the f* up and move. And then, I was done.

Lesson #8: The best fuel is love.

I will admit here, if you have read this far down, that it was emotional. That I felt amazing and terrible. That I felt like I had disappointed myself and others for falling apart and not executing. That my first sentient thoughts in the last three hours were not flattering. And now, looking back, I know I was harder on myself than I needed to be. Everyone congratulated me. Everyone was impressed. Even Paula Radcliff said good-job (on my Nike+ app).

Lesson #9: We are our own worst critics, even when we do something beyond what we could have possibly imagined.

After the race we found our car, which was still there. We went to dinner with my sister and nephew and brother-in-law. We drove home talking to friends on the phone. And I went to work yesterday, where more people congratulated me. And, where, many people could not fathom why I (and 39,000 of my closest friends) would do such a thing. I have thought about that a lot. Why would you run a marathon? I think I have come to this. There is no reason to do it. It is beyond the point of exercising, or staying healthy, or staying young. It is more running and a longer distance and more time than serves any reasonable purpose. And that is why we do it, because it is beyond what we need to do.

Lesson #10: We run marathons for no good reason. But for a great reason, because it is more than we think we could possibly do.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Philadelphia Half Marathon: race report

I did my final shake-out run on Friday afternoon.  I thought about pacing and the race plan and who was going to wear which watch and it was over far too soon.  I spent Friday night convincing myself that I had multiple stress fractures in my leg.  I did the tried-and-true test (hopping up and down), which irritated my IT band.  My foam roller is flat so I grabbed the next best thing to roll that sucker out.  
Grumpy, tapered, carb-loaded and under-exercised, the poet and I got to the expo mid-morning on Saturday.  It was a bit of a disappointment - I was hoping to empty my wallet at Brooks and Saucony and Nike and possibly Newton Running, and they either weren't there or had a tiny closet of a booth with no shoes in my size.  So we took some pictures and ran.
I had a great time hanging out with our friends on Saturday, talking about running and triathlon and all the things that go along with being part of these ridiculous sports.  But pretty soon it was time to get tucked into bed, freak out once more about the race plan, and snooze the night away.
We managed to make it to the start with minimal stress, other than leaving our cars in a questionable parking lot and nearly choking to death on bottled water.  I checked my bag full of spectating clothes and then spent 25 minutes doing jumping jacks in the porta-potty line, trying to get things moving.  To everyone that heard someone yell, "YESSSS!" from inside, sorry, that was me, but really, are you that surprised?  A round of hugs and good lucks and we split up.  We were ready.
I bent down to adjust my shoes one more time once we squeezed into the corral.  I was listening to my Al Pacino speech and just trying to blow away all the frenzy of the morning.  When I stood back up, I felt calm.  We were going to do this, or we were going to blow a hole in the earth trying.

We went out fast, which was the plan.  A sub-1:50 means only one mile can really start with a 9, and it was the first one.  It felt hard, but I knew it would, and I was trying to keep calm.  I had configured my Garmin to be showing me only "calories" on the main screen, so I had no information about what we were doing, other than it felt - well, just fast.  I was manually lapping the miles throughout, and I did a so-so job of it - some markers I hit right on, some I hit quite late, but all that really mattered was the time on the clock at the end of the day.

I felt a push just a little after the first mile marker.  I was hanging off her left shoulder, which is the best way for me to pace off of someone - just go into ponytail focus mode and zone out.  Miles 2 and 3 came fairly quickly, and it still felt fast, but manageable.  I had no HR info, no pacing to freak me out, and I had no idea how far behind the clock we started, so even though I caught a few course clocks, it really didn't mean anything to me.  Which was exactly what I needed.

Miles 4 and 5 are down a huge street in Philadelphia, and it was a big boost.  We saw plenty of friends cheering, and I was SO happy to see George in this stretch - I love my CAR family!  Somewhere in mile 5 it started to feel not so great anymore.  I knew that Jon was going to jump in somewhere after the 10K mark, and I was counting down the blocks until we could pick him up.  I also knew that mile 7 was a big uphill, and I planned to put my music in when we hit that marker, hoping that it would carry me up and over.

Mile 7 was hard, and I was tired, and I was worried about it feeling so hard and tired with 6 miles to go. My beautiful form collapsed into a humpback slump as we worked our way up the hill.  I took my first Roctane at the water station right before the hill started and plugged in my music, and neither of those things helped at all.  When we finally hit mile 8, I was dragging hard and I knew we were slowing down.  I basically just tried to focus on the feet ponytail ass in front of me and ignore everything else.  

There was another long and steep hill right after the mile 9 marker, and it whipped my ass.  When we hit the water stop at the end of this mile, I pulled out my emergency backup Roctane, opened it, and then started walking to take it.  Somehow I dropped it, so I just poured some water over my head, but I couldn't get started running again.

I finally got going again, and a good chunk of the next mile was some sweet downhill.  I managed to find a second (fifth?) wind somewhere and sped back up, but it was short-lived.  I started playing the "finish this song and then you can walk" game with myself, and probably took 3-4 "5 second" walk breaks in the last mile.  We finally turned to run up the hill and under the overpass which I knew meant the finish line was close, and Jon turned me me and said, "Time to empty the tank!  Let's go!" and I yelled back at him, "MY TANK IS EMPTY."

I found some energy somewhere (dark magic) and came booking out from under the overpass, only to discover that the finish line was NOT in the same place as it was for the September half which is just incredibly rude.  Instead it's about another quarter-mile further back around.  I can't even remember running this distance, I just remember looking up and seeing the finishing mats and hurling myself across them.  I immediately stopped and spat slash slightly vomited on the ground.

So that was my day.  In reflection, I am not unhappy about how it went down AT ALL.  We went out fast and hard, and it ended up being too fast and too hard and my splits definitely show that.  And I don't regret it.  We went out at that pace to see if I could hold that pace, and I couldn't.  But what if I could have?  There was no way I could have known unless I tried.  Could I have started out slower and run a more conservative race and probably shaved a few minutes off of my final time?  Absolutely, but that wasn't the goal.  The goal was to try something crazy and see what I could do.  In my entire life, I have never once gone out too fast in a race and blown up, and I've spent plenty of races slightly pissed because I didn't feel like my tank was empty at the end of the race.  Not this time.  I went out hard, and I blew up, and it was everything I hoped it would be.

This is also the healthiest I've ever been at the starting line of a half marathon, and that means a lot.  It was my fifth, but it's the first one where I really was able to race the distance.  I learned so much about running and racing yesterday.  I'm so fascinated by the middle distances, and now that I've raced one, I'm dying to do another, possibly in three weeks, but maybe with proper strategy and execution based on my current fitness.  More importantly, I'm thrilled that running is finally finding a way to love me back, after years and years of injuries.  I turned myself inside-out on the course yesterday, and if it means that I only PR'd by 8 minutes instead of 18, then I'm fine with that.  This is my journey, and this race only reflects the decisions I made on a single day in my life.  It does not define me.
No excuses.  No regrets.

Friday, November 18, 2011

random friday facts

1. I actually don't really like cheesesteaks.

2. I know that I should get really excited about historical places and monuments and whatnot, but instead I'm just really really bored.

3. That said, I'd really like to go to Scotland.  Darn you, Diana Gabaldon!

4. We buy a giant bunch of bananas probably every other day.

5. I don't think I could own too many Nike half-zips.

6. I really wish I was 6 feet tall so I looked better in jeans.  My little stumpy legs don't get it done.

7. It's 36ยบ out.  I'm wearing shorts and have the space heater blowing right on my legs.

8. Almond milk scares me.  How do you milk an almond?

9. 2 weeks ago I tried chocolate raspberry Roctane Gu.  Roctane basically has speed in it and is amazing, but it tastes JUST LIKE the chocolate raspberry vodka I love, and when I burp, I feel like I've been out drinking.  

10. I don't own a grown-up winter coat.

11. I can deal with the sight of my own blood, but not from anyone else.

12. I never buy candy, but if it's right in front of me, I will gobble it down.

13. I think dried flowers are really creepy.  They are DEAD, throw them away.

14. I had to get out of bed to pee SIX times last night.

15. I get really irritated when people fail to execute.

16. I'm so excited for this weekend that I want to vomit.  Just a little.  

17. I could quote the entire "Ghostbusters" movie from start to finish.  And do.  Often.

18. I'm not sure I've ever played a poker game and not stolen chips from someone.  Usually from the poet.

19. I take a Flinstones vitamin every day.  My favorite is purple.

Happy Friday, everyone!  Good luck to everyone who is racing, especially in Philly - I'll see you there!

Today's RFF packhounds:
Rock the Dogs
That Pink Girl
The Run Around
Dietitian On The Run

Thursday, November 17, 2011

three things thursday

1. I am FINALLY starting to feel better.  Yesterday the urge to stomp around saying, "NOW WHAT?!?!!" arrived (i.e. complete rest day), and this morning I got in the pool to swim for half an hour and didn't want to stop.  Now I have some serious ants in my very unserious pants.  I'm feeling healthy and the LAST thing I want to do is sit around for another 3 days until Sunday morning rolls around.  But I will, and woe on those that have to be around me until I finally cross that starting line.  

2. In continuing my never-ending quest to have an excuse to buy new running shoes, I think I'm going to work a few more pairs into the rotation.  I really do love my Ravennas, but because they kick up my cranky shins after a few weeks, I can't be in a committed exclusive relationship with them.  I put a pair of Asics 2160s in the mix a few weeks ago, and they feel pretty great for short workouts, but I wore them for my more recent 10 miler and they tore the shit out of my feet.  Plus they have a chunky heel which I think lends to my old-stride bad habits, but the amount of stability is pretty perfect.  The resident mafia shoe expert recommended both the Saucony Guide and the Brooks Defyance as possibilities.  I've already stalked their prices online, and I'm hoping to find a great deal on one or either at the expo this weekend.  Every PT in my corral has told me that it's a great thing to be constantly switching in and out of (similar but not identical) shoes because it keeps your muscles guessing, so I'm going to do it.  My dream is to be just like Dr. Maggs, who said he has at least 6 pairs of shoes in his current rotation.  6 pairs!  Swoon.  Maybe Graham doesn't go to college after all.  Mama needs her fix!

3. I'm going to carry my teeny tiny shuffle with me on Sunday, but I plan to not plug it in until mile 6-8.  I could probably listen to "We Found Love" for the entire second half of the race, but just in case I can't, please drop me some music suggestions in the comments.  Oh, and if you want to feel REALLY bad about your body, go watch the video for that song.  Girl is RIPPED.  Go listen anyway, and try to tell me that if that song shuffled up when you were dragging hard, you wouldn't get a serious second wind and fly down the back side of the course.  I dare you.  So share your favorite good trashy pop beats that will light a fire under my sub-1:50-seeking ass.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

mostly wordless wednesday

Yesterday I checked off a goal from September October November!  It started with this.
Plus a bunch of this.
And ended up (with a LOT of help) like this.
But I can't not mention the rest of my day. This is why you don't give tapering triathletes free frozen yogurt coupons.
And somehow I woke up this morning and saw the mythical racing weight on the scale for the first time in a few's a Wednesday miracle!  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

two puppy tuesday

Otherwise known as, I have nothing else to talk about except how I'm feeling (better but still tight in the chest) and the race on Sunday (as if enough blog posts haven't been dedicated to that already).  So here are some pictures of my pups!

At the dog park:

Wondering why we suddenly started feeding them dinner an hour later last week (the food is in that cabinet).
This is where Molly sits while I cook, little fat muffin.
When we finish a peanut butter jar:
It was a clean sock.
Helping me feel better.  Yes, I did wear those sweatpants for 3 solid days.
Good night...
Happy Tuesday!  

Monday, November 14, 2011

trying to breathe...

...and believe.

I was a lot more pumped than sad when all of the awesome race results started pouring in Saturday morning.  All of my teammates had seriously strong races, and the collection of PRs that showed up in the newsletter this morning only made me slightly wistful that I had been there and nabbed one of my own.  Instead, I stayed put in bed for most of the day, venturing out to the gym to do some core and booty-busting work to wake up my glutes that had been allowed to sleep for a solid week while I coughed and wheezed.  

Sunday morning I set out on one of my favorite runs - the 4-mile Sunday morning recovery loop that I did all spring with Beth.  My legs felt springy and bouncy and happy to be running again, and we chatted our way down into the mid-9s without a lot of effort.  Around mile 3.5, my lungs started complaining about the slightly cold air and tightened up a bit, but we finished out the run pretty smoothly and I was able to hold my own in the big pancake breakfast that followed.  My achy shins?  Turns out a week off was exactly what they needed.

My plan for this week is to err on the side of rest.  I woke up this morning and intended to go to the gym and do a light swim and another round of glute wake-ups, but after 5 minutes in the pool I realized that my HR was going nuts and I didn't have a lot of energy, so I shut it down and spent my time stretching in the hot tub instead.  I'm hoping to get in a light run tomorrow morning (Tuesday), swim easy on Wednesday and do a shake-out run on Friday, and that's basically going to be it.  I feel like my legs might get a little stale with all the time off, but I think these 3 & 4 mile shake out runs are going to be enough to keep me fresh for Sunday.  At this point, they have to be.

As for my goals...  My science project contest is still going for Philly, and you're welcome to make as many guesses as you want based on my physical and mental status throughout the week, and I'll still send beer and chocolate and cookies to whoever gets closest.  All this rest has been good for my body but has also given me a lot of time to think about racing.  At Waterman's, I let my head get the best of me.  I crashed my bike, and physically, was fine.  However, I was completely unable to recover mentally, and I managed to drag myself all the way through until mile 7 of the run, and then I crumbled into a sobbing, foot-stamping, why-God-why mess.  I've talked before about my athletic abilities, and how the one thing I believe I have going for me is a ridiculous ability not to give up, and that failed me last month.  But instead of dwelling on it, all I've been thinking about is how NOT to let that happen in this race.  

I set up that science contest because I wanted to make sure that I set a reasonable goal for this race.  I haven't had a training cycle dedicated to the half marathon.  I actually spent 3 months in a 70.3 training cycle which I truly believe was a bad fit for me, and it took at least 2 of the 4 weeks between these races before I felt like I was myself again once I laced up my running shoes.  But it doesn't matter.  I had a great training cycle in the spring and it all fell apart 2 weeks before race day, and that didn't matter either.  I'm going to try and channel that great training cycle this week while my body rests and heals, and when I toe the line on Sunday morning, I'm going after that sub-1:50 I wanted last March.  I probably won't hit it, I might not even come close, I might blow up in the most spectacularly awesome fashion and end up walking it in, but if I'm healthy when that gun goes off, I will turn myself inside-out trying to make it happen.  At this point, where my head is, I think I need to go after it this way.  Setting a conservative goal that I can definitely achieve and then achieving it?  That's not how I roll.  I'm going after the slightly ridiculous, the no-way goal, and will I be disappointed if I don't hit it?  Sure, but not as frustrated as I'll be if I don't go after it at all.  I choked out this mantra to Amy last spring, when I was running one of the many 5Ks I've run coming back from injury after injury, and I'm sure it'll be in my head as I fight through 13.1 miles on Sunday.  Your heart is a weapon the size of your first.  My heart is full, and my mental game is strong, and I will kick your ass with that.  Every time.  

Friday, November 11, 2011

random friday facts

1. I held my nose while swimming until I was.....27?

2. I think compression socks make my knees look fat.

3. The registration page for my spring 70.3 has been open in a tab for at least a month now.  I'm not sure why I can't pull that trigger.

4. I don't understand why a gas stove is better than electric.

5. We don't own an iron.

6. Gravy is disgusting.

7. It takes me 17 strokes to swim 25 yards.

8. I love doing karaoke ("Papa Was a Rolling Stone" is always a fave) in trashy bars.

9. I constantly "clean up" the refrigerator by putting things on shelves in an order that I don't really understand.

10. I'm still not completely sure that I'm doing the meters to yards conversion correctly, but it doesn't matter because that OWS always feels long and REALLY boring.

11. I read a lot of personal finance blogs.  I wish I could write one but my financial life just isn't that interesting, and I don't think I should rack up $400000 in debt just so I can blog about getting out of it.

12. If I ever popped out a kid, it would be taking piano lessons, on the swim team and going to Sunday school until it got shipped off to college.  Life skills.

13. We're thinking about moving.

14. I wish I was the kind of woman who wore really high heels, drank coffee and owned lots of scarves.  Instead I'm sitting on the bed in my underpants drinking Powerade Zero and talking to my puppies.

15. I like training for triathlon much more than race day.

16. It makes me really sad when Molly gets the hiccups.

And, not random, but just a fact: I will not be running Richmond this weekend.

Other RFF-ers:
Dietitian on the Run
Keep On Running
Knickers In A Twist
Rock The Dogs
The Run Around
Speed Laces
Miss Zippy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

three things thursday

1. I'm still sick.  Big time sick.  Coughing up large green chunks of my lungs sick.  And the half is less than 48 hours away.  I've started considering the possibility of not running this weekend and running the half at Philly next weekend, which is not AT ALL what I want to do since the poet is running the full.  But I'll be there, and I might be in better condition to pound out the 1:47-2:03 you guys think I can do.  Or I can just freaking suck it up and go after Richmond.  Mentally, I am SO ready to run this race.  But I'll have to put a sign on my back that says "snot rockets ahoy, please keep left."  If I go after Richmond and fail miserably because of how sick I am, I definitely won't be recovered enough by next Sunday to try again at Philly, and I'd really hate to end this season on a big fat race flop.  What would you do?

2. The good news about being sick is that laying in bed for two days is that all my little niggles have healed.  My shins feel almost 100%, my hips feel nice and loose, and my legs feel itchy and jumpy and want to go run.  I'm a junkie craving a good solid sweat.

3. The only thing that feels good on my poor throat is ice cream.  So much for race week nutrition.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

wordless wednesday

So, this is happening.
If you want to go adjust your finishing time guesses for a massive respiratory infection (+time) and DayQuil (-time due to heart palpitations and general over-tapered jittery-ness), please feel free.  Sigh.