Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Own-ly Me

One of my new favorite bloggers Rachel Wilkerson recently posted one of her rules for life: Thou shalt own it. It’s worth your time to click over and read. If you’re short on time, basically, her post was about deciding to start owning her decisions and stop letting other people second-guess her or express unsolicited disapproval. She said, “If you’re sick of feeling guilty and ready to own it, remember this: tell people what you want, what you’re doing, what you need. Don’t ask for permission or advice.” And, then she invited the rest of us to join her in declaring what we’re “sorry, I’m not sorry” for. This really really resonated with me. And, lots of other bloggers, check it out here and here and here. Here are a few things I OWN:

  •  I like to run. I haven’t always, but I do now. You might even call it a passion. I don’t care if you think it’s crazy to pay money to run (race registration) or get up while it’s still dark out on a Saturday morning to run. I don’t need to hear about it. You don’t have to understand it or want to join me. Sorry I’m not sorry. 
  • In fact, I don’t really like running with other people. I know I’m “supposed” to join a running club or make running dates with other like-minded runner girls. I see them all in twos during the week and in packs on the weekends. Not me. Running is my time to think and not about keeping up or slowing down or making conversation. Just call me the Lone Runner. I own it.
  • While getting healthy and then starting long-distance training, I’ve cut WAY back on my alcohol intake. It really affects my ability to run well. One glass of wine on occasion, and I’m good. But, you wouldn’t believe how much crap I get from people when we go out. Peer pressure much? It’s like others believe they can’t have fun if I don’t have a drink in my hand, too. I can enjoy my time out with or without a buzz. Consider it owned.
  • I like nice things--clothes, house wares, food, vacations. I’m (very) financially responsible, but I’d rather save up for top-of-the-line or my dream item than settle for whatever’s on sale. I’d rather go out to eat only occasionally and go somewhere fabulous than eat at chains with a coupon. I’d rather go on one vacation where I stay at the Four Seasons than five where I stay at Super 8. Call me a “consumer.” Call me shallow. It’s my money, and I spend it how I want. Sorry I’m not sorry
  • I don’t do anything, just because that’s what “people do.” I know, I know. I’m in my 30s. I’m supposed to fall in line and put a ring on it and get busy having babies. In fact, depending on who you ask, I’m way behind schedule. Well, I absolutely own my life choices thus far. B. and I are 100% committed, with or without the state’s stamp of approval, and I like that my “kids” can be left at home with food and a litter box while I go out for the day.  I make choices when it’s what I want, when I want to do it, not because if fits everyone else’s conception what I should be doing. This applies to all areas of my life. Sorry, I’m not even a little sorry.

So, that’s what I own. What about you??

Monday, August 30, 2010

Force of Will

I ran 18 miles on Saturday (18.18, if you want to get technical), and it was unbelievable. I won't bore you all with yet another blow-by-blow run report, but let me just say it was a one in a million run. There was no walking, my legs felt a-mazing, my splits were back to normal, and I wasn't even tired until the last mile. And, I went out just hoping not to end up with a bloody knee again!

While I was running, I had plenty of time to think...back to about a year and a half ago when I first started running, how difficult even short treks were then, and how much endurance I've built.  If anything, the experience of running and training for long distance races has taught me about the power of, well, willpower. I've come to believe that (barring devastating disability or disease...and sometimes even then) you can train your mind and body to do almost anything with enough determination and patience. Most of the non-runners who find out about my marathon goal will say something to the effect of "there's no way I could do that." And, I tell them, sure you could, if you really wanted to. Most people don't really want to run a marathon (which is totally fine and understandable--do whatever activity floats your boat). But the point is, you have far more potential than you give yourself credit for. Trust me, the former non-runner who will rock her first marathon in 5 weeks.

Like I've said before, achieving your goal takes determination and sacrifice. Nothing worth having is free, right? But, for every ounce of effort and sacrifice I've put into my goal, I've gotten back more in the form of confidence in what I'm capable of. The following apply specifically to things I've learned while getting healthy and then in training, but I've found I now believe them to be true in other parts of my life, too:

  • I'm not so stuck in my ways that I can't make drastic positive changes in the way I live.
  • I'm much stronger than I think I am.
  • I can keep going even when my mind says I want to quit or not start at all.
  • I'm no longer intimidated by the enormity of my end goal--all I have to do is what's required right now, this minute.
  • If I genuinely want something, I'll do whatever it takes to get there.
I won't get into cheerleader mode on you, but I think those 5 bullets apply to pretty much everyone. There's nothing you can't accomplish, health and fitness related goals or otherwise, if you decide that's want you want for your life. Give yourself the chance to surprise yourself--b/c I guarantee you, you will!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back on Track

Soooo last week didn't go exactly as prescribed by my training plan. My motivation seemed to have floated out a window somewhere. I did my Tuesday morning 5 miles, but then on Wednesday morning, I was too tired to get up and decided to go with B. to get in 8 while he went biking on Grant's Trail. I failed to remember that there are no water stops there and that in general running after a full day of work just isn't my cup of tea anymore.  I did 6 in the time it usually takes me to do 8. Not good. I made up for this on Thursday by doing 7 instead of 5. So, one way or another my midweek mileage was done.

I knew going into the weekend that getting in a long run, especially 18 was going to be difficult. B.'s brother was getting married on Saturday night. I'd already decided that I'd have to split up the run at the very least...I wanted to wear my favorite cute heels (that get far too little wear in these days of sore, tired feet), and I didn't want to be falling asleep in my wedding cake. So, the plan was 8 miles on Friday morning and 10 on Saturday morning. Friday didn't happen. Strike one. On Saturday morning, at 4:30 a.m. it was pouring. I reset my alarm. At 6:00, still pouring. I gave up at that point and went to sleep.

There was still time for redemption, I told myself. I could get up on Sunday morning before the scheduled wedding brunch and get in a minimum of 10. Not so much. My stomach is no longer used to consuming wine, red meat, and frosting all in the same night. I spent most of that night rolled in a little ball holding my tummy. After the brunch, I ran errands with B. and basically decided to consider the weekend a wash in both food and exercise and start fresh on Monday.

It's SO easy to get off track. It's like no matter how much exercise I do (and how much I love doing it most of the time) or how good I make myself eat, my "default" is lazy and fat. After a week of bad eating, it's like starting all over again to remind myself that no, in fact, we don't eat ice cream every day and that french fries are not our friends.

Exercise is easier for me to get back on a roll with. The weather is much cooler this week, so after work yesterday, instead of taking a full rest day, I went for an easy 12 mile bike ride out at Grant's Trail. It felt great! And, this morning, I put in 5 and tried to push myself a little bit faster than usual. There's something about watching the sun rise on a 65 degree morning that makes my whole day. I love rolling into work at 7:30 knowing I've done more already than most people do all day!

To make up for last week's lack of mileage, I'm doing 18 this weekend instead of taking the step-back to 13. That will mean doing 18 and 19 on back-to-back weeks, but I think I'm up for it. As far as food goes, all I can do is start fresh today and make good decisions one meal/snack at a time.

6 weeks to go!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ruminations on "17"

The week leading up to my planned 17 mile run was a rough one. My banged up knees were recovering from their trip from the bike to the pavement last Sunday. They were definitely in working order, just a little sore, but I took it easy on them just in case. Then there was the heat warning that stretched from Monday-Friday where heat indexes were in the 110's and above. Because of this, I made the decision to hold my long run until Sunday morning as the temps were supposed to be about 10 degrees cooler.

It was not. At 5:00 a.m. on Sunday, it felt like 87 degrees according to my weather app. It was still very dark, and I anticipated that I'd get about 5 miles in before sunrise, which would be a good thing. And, I was off...

Mile 1: I see a bunny rabbit crossing a major road...in the cross walk. Street-smart urban wildlife!

Mile 2: Stomach issue rears its ugly head, and I plan to stop off at the nearest Starbucks to use their restroom. I discover that Starbucks isn't open at 5:00 on Sunday.

Mile 2-5: Stomach settles down. Decide to wait until I reach the park at mile 5 to take my first nutrition gel just in case.

Mile 5-8: It's nice to see human beings again now that I'm on the park path. About a mile of the park path has been bulldozed out to be replaced. I, following one of those fellow human beings, ignore the detour sign and end up doing a little cross country running in the grass along side the muddy remains of the path. Note to self, follow signs, not people.

Miles 8-10: At a bathroom stop, as I'm pulling up my CW-X stability tights, I realize the seam in the inner thigh has begun to disintegrate and there's a  hole. The same thing is happening on the other side, too. Good thing I paid extra for high quality gear. I begin composing my letter to the manufacturer.

Mile 10-13: I'm daydreaming about when I'll be done and at home stretching...My shoes feel literally water logged. Not kidding, I hear sloshing...I'm sweating that much. I don't let that stop me from stopping at McDonalds for a Powerade to refill my water bottle. I hand the cashier my $2 from my Spibelt. It's also water logged. She looks at me like I'm the nastiest person alive. Guess I should have put it in the plastic bag with my phone.

Mile 13-15: I'm celebrating having only a couple of miles to go and only one more big hill. I'm trying to hold my arms away from my body b/c the Body Glide has worn off and I'm chaffing big time. I mentally note that the sidewalks are in terrible shape and I need to watch it so I don't fall. Seconds later I bite it big time. Face plant into the sidewalk. I leave the better part of the skin on the heel of my right hand on the concrete and tear a hole in the knee of the aforementioned tights. I sit on the sidewalk momentarily, teary eyed, half hoping no one saw my clumsiness, half hoping someone will come out of their house and give me a band aid. No one does.

Mile 15-16: I limp along, bleeding profusely from the hand, calling B's cell phone repeatedly (he promised to leave his ringer on in case I needed something, but he's not answering). I realize the iPhone touch screen doesn't work touched with wet fingers. B. finally answers. Turns out his ringer was on but the volume was down. I tell him where I am and keep walking in the direction of home. He meets me at exactly 16 miles. Yes, I'm counting that last mile even though I walked it.

  1. Choosing not to be disappointed by being a mile short. I said when I started that I was doing a hybrid of the novice 1 and novice 2 training plans. Plan 1 said 15, Plan 2 said 17. I was in between.
  2. Before my own feet got in the way, things were going pretty good. While being tired may have played some role in the fall, I won't allow that to make me think I can't do this!

Goal for next weekend's workout?
  1. No bleeding!
  2. Get into a good head space despite a couple of difficult experiences.
Questions I need to answer:
  1. What's the etiquette for entering businesses or making purchases while sweating like a pig?
  2. Can I still try to get my tights replaced for the defective inner thigh seams now that the knee is shot?
Here's to a better week this week!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Oooooh We're Half Way There

Nothing like a little old-school Bon Jovi shout out on a Monday morning! This is start of week 10 of training for the Chicago Marathon. 9 weeks down, 9 weeks to go--half way there! Last week was a "step back" week and looked a little like this:

Week 9
Monday - rest
Tuesday - 3.5 miles (aforementioned toe issue was bothering me so I stopped early)
Wednesday - Sick
Thursday - 4 miles
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 11 miles
Sunday - bike ride (cut short by a crash)

It was weird that 11 miles, once a big deal, felt like a short run. I returned home with all kinds of energy and proceeded to do some work after cleaning up as opposed to falling back into bed immediately. I'm psyching myself up for the next two weeks of mileage push 17 and 18 mile runs. I'm feeling confident!

All of that was momentarily called into question yesterday. I took my bike out to Grant's Trail for a little cross-training bike ride. It'd been almost two weeks since I'd had the opportunity to take Ruby out, so I was excited for a nice relaxing ride. I was enjoying the hot breeze in my face and the general lack of traffic on the trail when a kid, probably 10 years old, came riding towards me. Moments before he reached me, it seemed as though he decided to turn back in the other direction without looking to see if anyone was coming. He started to turn directly into my path. I yelled, braked, and swerved to no avail. Just off the trail on my side was a gravel parking lot with concrete parking stops. The combination of hitting one of those with my tire and the kid slamming into the side of me sent me off the bike and onto my right knee and wrist in the gravel. The kid and his bike landed on my other leg that was still straddling the bike. The kid was terrified but okay. His knee was scraped but otherwise he seemed okay. Although no parents were anywhere in sight and he wasn't wearing a helmet. Seriously, parents, manage your children. I asked him three times if he was sure he was okay before he sped off. My knee, on the other hand, was scraped and bleeding all over the place. Some nice people I'd passed earlier caught up with me and stopped to make sure I was okay. I was shaken and dripping blood but the scrape wasn't deep. And, my bike appeared to be in working order. So, I rinsed off the blood using my water bottle and headed back for my car. I could already tell my knee was swelling, so I decided to call it a day.

I showed up at home bawling, not so much because I was in pain but because I was afraid 9 weeks of training could be screwed up by one bike ride. Fortunately, I don't think that's the case. This morning, my knee is a little sore and swollen. The thing that hurts worst is my lower back...I feel a little like I've been in a minor car accident, scraped and sore in weird places but otherwise okay. I think I'm still going to do some light strength training this afternoon and my runs for the week as planned unless some new pain develops. Having a bike crash has been my biggest fear (right after accidentally catching a bug in the mouth...no, seriously I think about things like that). It sucked, but it could have been much worse. So, next Sunday, I'll suck it up and get back on the proverbial horse...er bike.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Small Victories, Blisters, and Pestilence

Better late than never, a report on Friday's run...Friday's 15 mile training run was AWESOME! No, I'm not being sarcastic. It seems my feelings of death during the 14 miler the previous week were due to the intense heat, not my inability to run. I left extra early on Friday morning with the expectation of getting in about 5 miles before the sun rose. The weather was uncharacteristically cool and even the humidity was bearable. My legs felt unbelievably fresh and light. The best part was that the when sunrise rolled around, it turned out to be an overcast, gray day. No direct sunlight! There was a soft breeze, and at certain points in the run, it sprinkled a little. And, 10 miles into a 15 mile run, a little rain is a welcome treat. I wasn't breaking any land speed records for sure. I took it slow and stopped to fill my hand-held water bottle at every fountain I encountered. Between mile 10 and mile 14, there aren't any fountains, so I stopped at Starbucks, dripping with sweat in line with people in suits, to buy some bottled water. Girl's gotta do what she's gotta do! Somewhere around mile 12, I became conscious that the seam of my sock was rubbing against toenail of my second toe. I crossed my fingers that I wasn't getting a massive blister and kept going...I finished strong. Tired, but so happy that I didn't feel horrible like I had the week before.

When I got around to checking out my feet, there were blisters in other places, but no rubbed spots around the cuticle of my second toe. It was tender, so I wondered if I'd managed to bruise it somehow. I didn't really think any more about it until Saturday evening when I took my shoes in the hotel room. My toe was throbbing under the nail. I grabbed some nail clippers to see if maybe the pain was from the nail poking the skin or something. On closer inspection, there was a huge blister under my nail. Just regular, not blood blister. I drained it, but my toe was still really tender. The only way I can really describe it would be a strange pressure under the nail near my cuticle. I ended up wearing flip flops for the rest of the trip. It was a great trip by the way...Here's a picture of me with my mom and sisters when we arrived at our hotel:

This morning was my first attempt at running since the problem started. The toe wasn't bothering me when I got up, so I decided to go ahead and run without figuring out how to wrap it with gauze and athletic tape. OUCH! Running up or down hill was extremely uncomfortable. I will definitely put some padding between me and my shoe for the next run. Hopefully this clears up quickly (and my toenail stays ON)!

Another experience from this morning...I had a flashback to the scariest summer of my life. I was around 5th or 6th grade age when one summer the area I lived in experienced a visit from the 7 year cicadas (ugly flying bugs the size of golf balls). They were gross on their own, swarming all over bushes and trees, but they joined forces with some other variety of cicada (13 year maybe?). I lived in terror for the few weeks that they were around. I specifically remember going to the local library and my mom having to force me from  the car because the bushes near the door were covered in the little beasts. A few weeks later, they were nothing but a bunch of shells stuck on trees and bushes. What does that have to do with this morning? While the experience of my childhood was a plague of biblical proportions, I believe they're baaaaaack. I encountered 7 on my run this morning. Seven! They would be sitting on the sidewalk looking like dead leaves until my feet got near them at which time they'd dive bomb my head. So, there were also 7 flailing dances and screams like a little girl on my part. I went so far as to make a detour to the other side of the road to avoid a particularly large one after it didn't seem phased by the stream from my water bottle. At least it was early...I think only a couple of people saw my performance. Nature...gotta love it.

Anyway, this week is a step back week in my training plan. Mid week runs are the same length, but my long run is a mere 11 miles on Saturday. Ah, relaxation!
Any readers have tips or tricks to avoid blisters and toenail trauma? Please share!