Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Upside of Illness

So, not only did I not gain 10 pounds on my trip, when I weighed in this morning, I saw a zero after the 1and 6. something I'd never seen before. 160. One more pound until I'm finally, at long last, into my goal range of 150s. Awesome! I guess there was a silver lining in being sick for the past 4 or 5 days. It certainly wasn't from exercise, as I have been lying around waiting for a mucous-y death. Maybe the body burns more calories fighting viruses? Probably not, but I'll take it!
I'm continuing the hard exercise hiatus through the weekend until the congestion clears up more. Maybe a walk tomorrow. In the meantime I'll be slaving away for work. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 22, 2010

If at First You Don't Succeed...

Last week was unbelievably rough! Not a complete failure health-wise, but definitely not a success. The good news? I tried to keep my eating in check, even though every single meal was in a restaurant. I ordered the healthy option (although in some restaurants this was more of a lesser of two evils approach), didn't finish the huge portions, and drank LOTS of water.

The bad news: I did almost no exercise. Other than a few push ups and crunches in the hotel room. I hit up the so-called fitness center at the hotel the first night. It was in a sun room enclosure off the pool. And, it was unheated. Crazy me, when I packed, I packed to workout in a climate controlled indoor area; you know, shorts and tanks. I could literally see my breath in there. I lasted about five minutes before I gave up and went back to my room shivering. As the temperature was in the 20s-30s all week, I didn't bother going back.

I tried to get back on track over the weekend. Saturday, I went out for a short run. I only made it 3.5 miles. I looked at it as an exercise in listening to my body. I wanted to have a new distance record again this weekend, but I also knew I was going out completely physically drained. I committed to myself to only go as far as I felt good. When I got tired, time to go home.

Sunday was spent desperately trying to get caught up on all the things that have to happen before a new work week starts, no matter how tired you are: grocery shopping, laundry, errands, etc. Somehow in those short miles from Saturday, the top of my left foot started aching again (like it hasn't done in months), so I opted out of a hard workout and just did some stretching.

I'll be honest. I'm feeling discouraged that weight loss isn't happening faster. Why are the last 10 pounds the hardest?? It's also that point in February when I'm tired of the depressing cold and fiending for a little time in some warm sunshine. Spring can't get here fast enough! But, I'm going to try to power through. My goals for this week are to get back to my regular workout schedule. I have a strength workout scheduled this afternoon, no excuses! I also want to eat clean this week, to make up hopefully for the questionable restaurant-prepared foods from last week. I couldn't bring myself to weigh in (flying always makes me feel puffy), so I'm giving myself until this Friday to check back in on that front. Gotta be better than last week, right?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New Record

Right before I set out on my long run this morning, I realized I was looking at the wrong week of the training program...What I thought was supposed to be a 9 mile run was really only scheduled for 6. But, it was a great morning to be out running, and when I was getting close to the 6 mile mark, I decided to go for 9 anyway. Especially since I won't have the opportunity to run outside again until next weekend. At 9 miles, I thought, I've done 9 before...I'd really like to reach a new goal this morning. So, I kept going for another mile...
I just ran 10.17 miles in 1:51:33. Not super fast, but my splits were around 10:30 to 11:00.
And, I found another edge...Last week I mentioned that around 4 miles into a run, my legs start to wake up. Around mile 9, they get a second wind. Good to know! I'm fully confident that my half, which is now 1 month and 25 days away will be within easy reach. Woo! What a way to start the weekend!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Mental Preparation

I'm going on my first work trip next week. Starting on Sunday (yes, we're leaving on Valentine's Day), I'll be gone for a week. Where are we going? Somewhere warm? Nope, to snow-walloped Philadelphia. I'll be honest, I'm a little nervous.

First of all, I work from home, so my daily interaction with my coworkers or other employees is limited to e-mail/instant messenger and the occasional phone call. Now, I'll be with them for about 14 hours a day for a week. Apparently, we'll be having all our meals together, too. Yikes! That's a lot of togetherness!

It's also a lot of eating out. Our lunches will most likely be at the on site cafeteria. They almost always have a salad bar and some healthy sandwich options, so I'm not too concerned about that. Breakfast will be tough. I eat Greek yogurt every week, I have a feeling I'll be contending with something on the order of Panera. Dinner will most likely be a sit-down restaurant meal. I have no clue what restaurants are in the vicinity of our hotel, so there's not much scouting of menus I can do beforehand. My challenge will be to stick to the healthy eating rules I know: Grilled not fried, sauces on the side if at all, veggies not fries, etc. I just have to avoid eating badly out of stress.

I'm also concerned about having time to work out. When we meet for breakfast at 7:00, we have to be dressed and ready for the day. After the work day, we'll be having a dinner/planning meeting. When am I going to be able to visit the hotel fitness center (which is tiny, I might add)? At 5:00 a.m.? At midnight? I have to get at least a few workouts in. April 11 is rapidly approaching. To make away-from-home fitness as easy as possible, I'm taking my copy of Burn Fat Boost Metabolism. It doesn't require any weights, so I can do it in my hotel room from my laptop. I've also got several yoga podcasts on my iTunes. The tiny fitness center appears to have at least one mediocre treadmill. No matter how crazy my schedule is I'd like to get in at least 45 minutes of exercise a day. We'll be arriving at the hotel by around 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, so hopefully I can get in a really hard workout before the hard work even starts.

I'm betting the key to making this week successful (both professionally and health-wise) is having a plan and being mentally prepared. It's going to be a tough week, but if I can make fitness and eating right a priority in the middle of madness, I can do it any old day, right??

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday Musings

I went for a short run this morning, and here are few things I discovered/confirmed...

  1. Running on snowy sidewalks is kind of fun. I enjoyed the satisfying crunch my shoes made and seeing the foot prints of others who'd been out before me.
  2. I'm getting significantly more tolerant of lower temperatures (apparently it just takes practice). It was 24 when I went out this morning. I expected to do a super short run and come back inside b/c it was too cold. But, nope! I did a whole run and was fine. I think it depends highly on how windy it is.
  3. When "they" say to watch out for ice on bridges, ramps, and overpasses, this also includes the pedestrian walkway on those overpasses! I skated across the McCutcheon bridge this morning.
  4. I did some research the other day on arm swing while running. I knew the bit about holding your arms at about 90 degrees close to your body, but I didn't know that I was supposed to pump my elbows back instead of forward. Surprisingly this made a difference. What I didn't discover in my research was whether the arms should swing the same or opposite of your stride (e.g., right arm moving forward as left leg strides or vice versa)...maybe this doesn't matter?
  5. The first 4 miles of any run (in the cold at least) are the hardest for me. The 4 mile mark is officially the point at which my legs wake up and are like, "Cool, we're going for a run?" At that point, I feel like I'm good to go indefinitely (well, indefinitely for the next 5 miles or so, haha).

Bonus musing--I love that a 5+ mile run has become a "short" run. I love that I cleaned house for an hour or so afterwards and then went on with my day with plenty of energy. There was a time when a run that long wiped me out. No more!

Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Experimenting Part I

So, the guidelines for the Go! St. Louis half say that iPods are "strongly discouraged." Not banned, just frowned upon...I don't want to be that asshole with the ear buds in, but 13.1 miles is also a very long way to go with no tunes. Currently, my plan is this: I will go music-less during the beginning of the race when quarters are close, but when the pack thins out and I need some motivation, I'll pull out the iPod. I'll keep the headphone cord contained. Heck, I might even buy a Shuffle to slip on my belt. But, in the meantime, since I always run with music, I've decided to try getting used to running a few miles in silence.

This afternoon was attempt #1. I started work early so I could quit while it was still warm (i.e., 37 degrees) and get in a 5 miler before dark. It was all I could do not to strap on my armband as I headed out the door, but I stayed strong.

The result? I finished in my usual amount of time. My splits were very similar. My only issues were mental (and easy enough to get over, I suppose)--I hated listening to myself breathe. Let me tell you, I sound like I am way out of shape! I blame bad allergies! And, even though my Garmin contradicts this, I felt a little lethargic, like I wasn't getting the energy boost from hearing my "favorite" song just when I needed it.

Not bad for the first go round. It's supposed to be warmish for the next couple of days, so hopefully I'll get to give it a try again later in the week.
Do you listen to music while you run or use the time to clear your head in silence?
How do you feel about iPod/mp3 players during races?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Call Me Crazy, But...

Last night, I stayed up until midnight to register for the Chicago Marathon this coming October. I've been thinking about it, talking about it, even added it to my "Future Races" section ages ago. But, last night I was having serious second thoughts. If the sign up had occurred after my half marathon and that had gone well, I think I would have felt differently. Instead, I found myself debating whether to throw down $135 for something I don't even know if I can physically do. Between the half in April and October, I'll have to DOUBLE the miles I can run. Double! Why did I want to do this anyway? Had I lost my mind? Had reading all the Runner's World articles and people's running blogs given me a false sense of ability? May be I should wait for a while, maybe do another half...

Around, 9 p.m., I sat down for a long talk with B. about it. We determined that yes, I really did want to do this. Why? Because somewhere along the line, I really started to enjoy running, and I want to see what my body is capable of. While more experience would be great, why train for something without a goal in mind? So, what was I afraid of? Failure, plain and simple.

I've never been one to participate in things I'm not awesome at. I quite choir. I quit basketball. I avoided math classes as much as possible. I'm sure there are other examples...Just because I wasn't "the best." I don't like being mediocre. And, in running, I'm mediocre on a good day. I'll never be super fast. I'll never win any medals. Kara Goucher has nothing to look over her shoulder about here. I was worried that I'd get lazy about the time and sweat required to train. And, I was worried that I would get out there on the course and not be able to finish. There's a 6 1/2 hour time limit for the course. That's about a 15 minute/mile pace. I walk that fast. But, I kept obsessing about the unknown and worrying about getting part way through only to get kicked off the course for being too slow.

B. told me that while the decision was ultimately mine alone, he'd support me through it all (and kick me out of bed early on weekend mornings to get my long runs in). My mom replied to my tweet wondering aloud if I could do it with this: "You've always accomplished anything you set your mind to." True. At least two people believe in me...That was the reassurance boost I needed.

So, when midnight rolled around, I was sitting in front of my laptop with my credit card in hand, punching in the info that would make me a future Chicago marathoner.

While it's great to strive to be the best at things, I think I can learn a lot from doing something that's hard for me and sticking with it. I may never break the tape or qualify for Boston, but I can be the best runner I am personally capable of being. I'm not really competing with the other runners on the course. I'm competing with myself alone. Plus, I'll only get better with practice. I've already come much farther than I would have ever dreamed with a little determination and time spent on the road. I've gone from being the girl who said "I'd never run that far--that's just crazy" to being one of the so-called crazies.

Any advice from past marathoners?
Any training plan recommendations?
Has anyone done the Chicago marathon and have tips?