Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Athletic Supporters

Ah, jock straps....   Ha! No, I'm kidding.

When I first started running, I sought out other runners.  I went onto Runners World and browsed through the message boards until I found a place to hang my hat.  Since then, I've branched out to groups on Facebook, and now the blogesphere and Twitter.  I've surrounded myself with other runners, and have laughed, cried, and cheered with them.  They have become a second family to me.

This past weekend, I made an impromptu trip to Wisconsin to visit my grandfather, who is in the hospital.  It was a stressful, whirlwind trip, but it was also an opportunity to meet one of the girls I've been talking to online for over a year now.   We had coffee and went for a walk, and it was just as comfortable as if we'd been doing it all along, instead of just chatting online.

Now I'm back home and I'm tired and sad and just kind of numb from my trip.  I don't feel like running, I don't feel like talking, I don't feel like doing much of anything.   Fortunately, I know that when I decide I need a kick in the pants, my friends - online and otherwise - will be there for me, and will remind me that even if I don't feel like going for a run, it may just be the thing I need.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Everybody Gets A Trophy?

I have two race medals.  They are both finishers medals, one from a 10 miler, and one from a Half Marathon.  I am proud of both, and feel they are each symbols of my accomplishment, and all the miles I ran in preparation of those two races.   After a conversation with my 5 year old, however, I realized that not everyone may feel the same way. 

Last night, my son's t-ball coach told the team that they had one more game, then they'd be having a get-together with the other teams, and trophies would be given out.  My son was really excited - until he realized that everyone would be getting a trophy.   "All the teams get trophies?" he asked.  "Yup!" I replied enthusiastically.  "But... why?  That's weird."   He frowned at me, and looked rather upset. 

I tried to explain to my son that at this level - the 4 to 6 year old t-ball crowd - it's more about participation and doing your best.  And that everyone gets a trophy because everyone came to all of the practices, listened to the coach, cheered on their team, and had fun.  I was met with complete silence.  My son was not happy.   Winners should get trophies.  That is his line of thinking - and generally, I agree with him.  I do think that children need to learn that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, and you don't always get to go home with the trophy, no matter how hard you tried.  That's the nature of sports - and of life. 

Yet I'm sitting over here in my corner of the world, surrounded by my sport, and I'm in possession of two medals, even though I've never won a race.  Or, truth be told, even placed in the top 50%.  

I will likely never win a race, or even place in the top of my age group (unless I'm the only one in it).  "Finishers" medals are probably the only kind I'll ever get - and honestly, I'm ok with that.  I love my finishers medals.  I am proud of them.  They're pretty, and I don't want anyone to take them away from me, or tell me that I'm not deserving of them.  It makes me a little sad to think that my son may one day realize that the only reason Momma came home with a medal was because everyone did - but I'm also hoping that one day he'll understand that it doesn't negate the experience, and it doesn't make my medals any less important to me.  

I hope he'll be excited when he gets his trophy, and put it somewhere special in his room so he can look at it and remember how much fun he had with his friends this spring.   Or, if not, then I hope he'll at least say "Thank You" to his coach before he tosses the trophy in his closet and moves on to the next big thing.  


What do you think of race medals? Do you keep yours? 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Running, Period.

I'm lucky enough to have female runner friends to talk to, ask questions of, swap clothes with, etc, etc.  I know others aren't as lucky, so today I bring you - "The Joys of Womanhood." 

For any men reading, if you think a women's menstrual cycle is "icky," feel free to skip this post and go watch Sports Center.  (Then again, if you're a woman reading, and you likewise think the topic is icky, I also direct you to Sports Center.  Who doesn't like Sports Center??)

Ok, now that I've successfully cleared the room (hopefully not of everyone)...

I never pay attention to my period.  Seriously, I don't.  I'm on Ortho Evra (birth control patch), so I'm fairly "regular," but I really don't pay any attention.  I don't usually notice if I'm more bloated, crankier, more tired, etc, etc.  I am completely out of tune with my body.  It bleeds for 4 - 6 days every month, and yet, as my husband "jokes," I don't die.   Whatever.  No bigs.

Except, now that I'm a runner, I've started to pay more attention to my body, and have begun to question things.  Why does this run feel so hard/slow?  Is it what I'm eating/not eating? My sleep patterns?  Or could it be, just maybe, that my period is starting soon, and that's why I'm feeling so sluggish while I'm chugging along on an "easy" three mile run?

So, like I said, I asked my female runner friends.  Turns out, feeling sluggish during runs in the days before your period is pretty common. Doing a little Googling, I found a bunch of articles on the subject.

So how about you?  Do you notice any differences in your running during certain times of the month? When changing birth control?  While pregnant?  After menopause?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cutting The Fat

I hate whining about my weight. I really do.  But today I need to.  I will try to keep it more to "talking" and less actual "whining."

My goal for this year was to get down to 145 lbs.  That would require losing 12 lbs, which I thought was completely do-able over the course of 12 months.   I started off really well, but after looking at pictures from my recent half marathon, I realized that things were not hunky-dory.  They were more like chunky-dory.

I love this picture because I look happy.
I hate it because I can't stop looking at my stomach.

Last week I announced I was going to quit drinking soda.  I have yet to actually achieve this.  I blame it on stress and PMS.  I picked a crappy week to try to give up my biggest vice.   Still, when I got on the scale today and realized that I have gained back ALL of the weight I'd lost earlier this year, I was frustrated and angry with myself.

I'm 34.  I don't make good food choices.  It has to change.  Something's got to give.  Today I'm just feeling lost as to where to start.  They say weight loss starts in the kitchen.  I have a ton of "diet" and "healthy" cookbooks, yet they're just collecting dust on the shelf.  I don't know what my problem is, but I can't seem to shake myself up enough to change things.

For those of you who have lost weight -  What did you do to kick-start the transition?  How did you make the first steps towards a healthier you?  

Friday, May 17, 2013

Who are you?

The thing I love most about running is that it has the power to completely transform me.  Not physically, though it's doing that too, but mentally.   I am never the same person before a run as I am afterwards.  Good, bad, or ugly, somewhere along the way, two steps in or two thousand, I become someone else.

Tonight I left my house tired and cranky.  My legs were heavy and my normal pace was not possible.  I trudged.  The dialog in my head was negative and rambling.  Then, about halfway through my route, a voice in my head said "What hurts?"   I took stock, and realized that nothing hurt.  My right calf, normally loud and obnoxious, was quietly moving along.  My ankle, often twitchy, wasn't twitching a twitch.  Everything was just fine.  So I said to myself "This feels great!  I am so lucky to be able to be out here, running, free, healthy, happy...."    My pace picked up and the rest of the run felt easier.

Not easy, mind you, because running is never easy for me - and tonight I really did feel like I was running in quicksand, but after my little mental shake up, things just felt easier.    I started the run tired and cranky.  I finished it energized and happy.   Running is transformative.**   Love it.

**Someone please tell me why spell check does not think this is a word, even though Merriam-Webster says it is?

Fitness Friday

Fitness Friday

For the past two days, I've been madly scouring the internet for other bloggers, trying to build up more of a community - not only to foster some readership for my own blog, but to find other blogs that I'm interested in, and to see what's out there on the Wild Wild Web.  

What I've found has amazed and delighted me - but also left me realizing that while I may be a runner, I am quite possibly the laziest runner out there.  Yes, I finally started doing some core/strength workouts this week, but it's all  baby-step stuff, and certainly not anywhere near as hardcore as what the rest of the running world seems to be doing.  Ya'll are amazing - and inspirational.  

So help me out.  What's your favorite non-running work out?  What do you absolutely hate to do, but love the results it gives you?  What have you found to be totally useless?  I need your knowledge, oh wise ones.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Running Words: A Primer

Before I started running, I was pretty sure that I had a firm grasp on the English language.  It was, after all, my first language, and  I've been speaking it since birth.  (Ok, maybe not birth.  But fairly soon after. I'm a gabber!)   Not only am I fluent in English, but I'm familiar with many abbreviations and acronyms, and a fair share of "slang" and pop culture idioms, as well.  

So when someone mentions The Wall, I know immediately that they're talking about Pink Floyd.  A Clydesdale is a gorgeous horse, and a brick is something that's used in the creation of buildings and homes.  I'm no dummy, those are easy!

Except, apparently, runners have their own language.  PB does not stand for peanut butter.  When someone talks about "the pack," they are not worried about putting things in their suitcase for an upcoming trip, and the Magic Mile?  No longer a British movie made in 2005.  

At the tender age of 33, I had to learn a whole new language.  Fortunately for you, I've developed a little list of running words and their meanings.  So feel free to use it as a guide, a cheat sheet, if you will, and maybe you'll be spared the embarrassment of asking "What the hell are you people talking about?"   Because, really.  It's all English, don'tcha know?   (Well, except "fartlek."   But we'll get to that.)

So, here you are.  A running primer:

  • Magic Mile - NOT a British movie, but instead a method by which to determine pace, developed by Jeff Galloway
  • PB - "Personal Best" (also sometimes called a PR - personal record)  This is used when discussing race times.  
  • Brick - not a building material, but a training method.  A "brick" is a run and a bike ride, back-to-back.  Often undertaken in preparation for a triathlon, or a duathlon. 
  • Surge - big wave during a storm  Pulling ahead of your competition in a race
  • Pack - A group of runners in a race.  Often there is a lead pack, "the pack," and then the "back of the pack" (<--- Where I normally am)
  • Clydesdale - Horse? Of course not.  In running a Clydesdale is any male competitor weighing over 200 lbs.  (The female version of this is an Athena, and the weight classification is 150 lbs) 
  • The Wall - Pink Floyd album. (No, really!) And, also, apparently, what you might "hit" at mile 20 of a marathon. 
  • Fartlek - A Swedish word that runners have co-opted. A fun, unstructured way to do speed work.  
  • DNS -  "Did not start" - what happens when you sign up for a race, then don't participate.
  • DNF - "Did not finish" - what happens when you sign up for a race, start it, then either break something, vomit, pass out, get lost, etc, etc.  
  • DFL - "Dead f*cking last"  - what some people live in fear of being, and something I am waiting to experience.   
  • Negative Split - has nothing to do with mean bananas.  Crazy, right?  When you have "negative splits," it means that you ran the second half of a run or race faster than the first half.  
  • Ultra - something crazy people do.  Any race distance over marathon length. 

There are others, but why overwhelm you? I'm sure you're still trying to figure out how something with "fart" in it could be considered a good thing.  So. There you go.  You learned something today!  You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Breaking up is hard to do

It's been nearly 8 years since I last smoked a cigarette.  When I decided to quit, I went cold turkey and never looked back.  Occasionally I dream about smoking, but when I'm awake, I never feel the urge to light up.  

Unfortunately, there's another bad habit that I haven't been able to shake.  I think, though, that I haven't really been ready before now.  I'm hoping that like cigarettes, I can quit cold turkey and never look back.   While my current bad habit isn't nearly as deadly as cigarettes, it is harmful, and it needs to go.  

So innocent looking, right? 

I shouldn't just single out Dr. Pepper - I'm giving up all soda.  But Dr. Pepper has been my favorite for years and years.  There's nothing quite like it.  I have a sneaking suspicion I'm going to feel like this after a few days: 

With my weight creeping up steadily over the past two months, something has to give.  There are a few sodas in the fridge, but once those are gone, I am not buying any more.  It has been suggested to me that I just switch to diet soda, but I can't stand the taste of diet, so I might as well just go cold turkey.  

Let's just pray I don't hurt anyone in the process.  (Or wander through the desert with my underwear on my head.) 

Monday, May 13, 2013

I'm baaaaack!

Today was my fourth run since my half marathon.  Today was also my fourth all-running run in a row.  Is this really significant, given that I claim to be a runner?  Shouldn't all my runs be all-running?  (And isn't that why they're called "runs?")  You'd think so.  But this has not been my year.  2013 has kicked my butt, running-wise.  Illness, injury, laziness, you name it, have all reached up and smacked me.  

I am happy to report that all of that is over, and I finally feel like I'm "back."   Just in time, too, because I recently hired a running coach - and today was day 1 following her orders schedule. =)   Just 3 miles "easy."  Which, I have decided, I'm changing the name of.  I do not have an "easy" pace.  Running is just not "easy" for me.  So, instead, I am calling it my "default" pace.  The pace that happens when I'm not trying to run quickly, and I'm not trying to run slowly.  I'm just.... running.  It's my "default" setting.   So I did a "default" 3 today, and was pleasantly surprised to see splits in the 12:xx range.  My regular run pace used to be in the 13:xx range.  Very, very happy that I seem to be making progress (finally).  

Another happy (I guess?) thing today was that I tried out my new fuel belt.  No, I did not need a fuel belt for a 3 mile run.  But I figured, better to try it out now than on an actual long run.   Annoyed for 3 miles is better than annoyed for 10.  Yes? Yes.  

Fortunately, I was not annoyed at all!  I picked up an ifitness belt last weekend at the Frederick Expo and was anxious to try it out. I normally carry a water bottle in my hand while on longer runs, and while that's been fine for me, sometimes it does get a little annoying.  (Mental note - read a thesaurus before next blog post)  

The belt stayed exactly where I put it, on my hips (I can't run with anything around my waist, it makes me queasy for some reason), and the extra weight of the water bottles (I have the 16 oz version - two 8 oz bottles) didn't bother me at all.   Added bonus, it has toggles to hold a race bib, slots for Gu, and a nice sized pocket for various other odds and ends.   I doubt I'll ever actually use it in a race, but it will be nice this summer when it's hot and I want water on my longer runs.  

All in all, I'd call today a good day.  Plus, we have a landscaper coming this evening to look at our wreck of a yard.  Hopefully we'll be able to afford whatever needs to be done to make it purty.  We'll see. =)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Let's get ready to Rock!

"Thank you! You are now registered for the 2014 Rock 'n' Roll New Orleans Marathon & 1/2 Marathon. Please check the event website for updates."

So, that happened.......... *blink, blink*

A year ago I ranted and bitched on a message board on Runners World  that I wasn't going to run a Half Marathon, and that people should just quit bugging me, because I DON'T WANNA!  *stomping foot*

Then somehow I signed up for two half marathons, ran one of them, then signed up for a third.  I think someone put something in my water.  Seriously.  It makes no sense to me whatsoever, and I plead the fifth.  Or insanity.  Whichever one will get me out of hearing "I told you so" from internet peoples.

In other news, I hired a running coach.  More on that after I decide if she's worth the moola or not.  Wow, I just Googled "moola."  Never knew it had so many meanings

Can you tell I'm a bit hyper today?  I blame it on the Toblerone I are earlier.  Yup yup. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Keepin' it in Stride

So, awhile ago, I read about Stride Boxes.  I was intrigued  so I signed up - after all, $15 a month to try lots of cool products? How could I pass that up?  With all the excitement of getting ready for my half, I kind of forgot about it.  Then this showed up:

After a brief "Hey! My Stride Box!" squeal, I opened it up, and was amazed at how much stuff they put in such a little box. 

So much cool stuff! 

A few of the items, I recognized, but others, I'd never seen before or had even heard of.  Fortunately, Stride Box comes with a handy-dandy "Stride Guide" that details the contents. 

It even tells you how much everything costs!

Since I wasn't pleased with my choice of fuel for my half this past weekend, I'm most excited to try out the Honey Stinger Energy Chews (even if Cherry Cola isn't really my thing), the Bonk Breaker Bonk Bites (who doesn't love PB&J, right?),  the Just Great Stuff bar, and the Vi Fuel Endurance Gel.   (The Jelly Belly Sports Beans I've had before)

The Klitch seems really cool, though my race bag has a separate compartment for shoes.  Still, it's an interesting idea.  Over all, I'm super psyched, and can't wait to try everything out - and for sure, I can't wait till next month to see what other goodies Stride Box has for me! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Frederick Run Fest!

This weekend was the Frederick Run Fest. On Saturday night, there was a 5K, and on Sunday morning, a Half Marathon. If you completed both, you got two medals - the one for the half, and an additional one for being a "Nut Job."
American flags at the start of the 5K.
These two gentleman ran with them the whole way. 

Since this was my first Half Marathon, I decided to skip the 5K and instead just cheer on my friends, who are, indeed, nuts! After the 5K we had dinner, then headed back to the hotel.

While I normally don't sleep well the night before races, it was even worse this time. I didn't fall asleep until well after midnight, then kept waking up due to loud neighbors and the loud sounds of traffic outside our hotel room. I finally gave up a bit before 5 and just got up.

Around 6, Michelle and I headed to the race. It was about a mile and a half walk, but when we saw the traffic backing up, we knew we were right to walk. Plus, warm up! :-)

I decided to line up behind the 2:40 pacer, even though I wasn't quite sure what pace I'd end up running. Since I was going to be doing a run/walk, I didn't want to be in anyone's way, so I figured starting in the back would be a good idea.
Spoiler alert:  I did not finish in 2:40:00

At the last minute, I found out that a girl I know wanted to run with me. She'd been recovering from surgery as well as shin splints, so she thought run/walking sounded like a good plan.  I was nervous about running with anyone, since this was my first half, and I really wanted to do MY thing, but I figured I couldn't say no.  Plus, seeing a gorgeous hot air balloon float over our heads kind of filled my heart with hope.

Floated right over the start line, then off to who knows where. 

It turns out, running with Erin was great. The miles seemed to fly by. We were both feeling good, the weather was perfect, and the course was amazing. I really loved that the residents of Frederick were so enthusiastic about the race. People cheered us on, played inspirational music, offered up bathrooms, blew bubbles, and when we ran past a church, there was even a man of God outside blessing the pack. It was amazing.

I started to get tired around mile 8 but was still feeling pretty good. When we hit mile 12, I was so overwhelmed by the fact that I was about to finish a half marathon that I teared up a few times.

After a bit of a hill (which I did NOT enjoy), we came to the race track, where the finish line was. We had to go about 3/4 of the way around. I really wanted to walk, I was so tired, but Erin told me to "dig deep." I laughed and said "I don't have a deep!" I told her I had to at least slow down, so when we hit the last straight away, she went on ahead. I was left all alone for the last few hundred feet. There was no one in front of me or next to me and it was such a surreal feeling after having run with Erin and a whole pack of other runners for 13 miles.

It was kind of fitting, though. In the end, I was the one who had to "dig deep" and finish strong. My legs, my heart, my drive. As much as everyone supported me and cheered for me these past weeks, it was up to ME to actually do it. And I did. :-)

Oh, and that 2:40 pacer? Yeah. I finished ahead of her. Official time for my first half marathon - 2:37:54. Couldn't be happier.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

It's Madness, I tell you!

Since I have yet to actually FOLLOW a training schedule (not to mention that I usually run shorter races), I have never actually experienced a real taper.

Taper, being defined by Wikipedia as: 

"In the context of sports, tapering refers to the practice of reducing exercise in the days just before an important competition.[1] Tapering is customary in many endurance sports, such as the marathon, athletics and swimming. For many athletes, a significant period of tapering is essential for optimal performance. The tapering period frequently lasts as much as a week or more."

Despite the fact that I've never really tapered, I've participated in a few races, and the week before a race, something weird happens. Some call it TAPER MADNESS.  I call it going bat shit crazy. 

Things you can stress about the week before a race (of any distance), in no particular order:

  1. Training (or lack thereof)
  2. Sleeping (or lack thereof)
  3. Hydrating
  4. Why is the dog looking at me like that? 
  5. Getting to the race
  6. Parking at the race
  7. Pinning on the bib
  8. The number on my bib - lucky/unlucky/reminds me of my ex boyfriend's birthday
  9. Calf feels twingey. Maybe a strain? 
  10. Foot hurts.  Stress fracture? 
  11. The living room needs to be painted. 
  12. Where are my lucky socks?? 
  13. Do I have enough Gu? Maybe I should buy some Gu.
  14. Race day weather. 
  15. Whether or not I should cut my toenails. 
I'm sure there are more.  But since I'm currently bat shit crazy, that's really all I can think of.  Tomorrow is Friday.  Race is Sunday.  Monday, I may have my brain back.  Maybe.   Eeeeee! =)