Wednesday, December 29, 2010

30-Day Challenge - Mission Successful!!!

Christmas was the last day of the 30-day challenge and I'm happy to say I completed all three components for the entire 30 days.

Yet I'm not saying it was easy and each of the three parts had their own difficult times.

No fast food or carry out was the hardest the first two weeks, when I was craving Jets Pizza and again the last few days, when I had already proven I could do it and just wanted to eat normal again. I had Jets for lunch on the 26th....and I discovered a new Thai restaurant in Southgate that is really good! (In the little plaza at the intersection of Dix and Eureka).

No alcohol was only an issue on Christmas when I had dinner with friends and they had no fewer than 15 bottles of wine, all of which smelled delicious. Fresca was almost as good. I had a beer with my pizza the next day and the man at 7-11 told me to not drink and drive :D

Exercising was really only difficult the few days I was sick. Otherwise it was sometimes a little hectic to exercise while working a day job and a night job, but it was a great addition to my life. So great, in fact, that I haven't stopped and as of this writing, completed 34 consecutive days of exercising. I'm going to keep going as long as I can, with the ultimate goal of 100 days, which will take me to March 5. I can do this!!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Done! Paid for a stranger's meal

On Christmas morning, my first - and only - item on the agenda was to go out for breakfast. There's something about greasy diner breakfast that I really like. A good number of places were open and rather than support a chain, I went to Charlie's Diner in Lincoln Park.

Had a delicious breakfast then decided that I wanted to buy someone's breakfast. At the booth opposite me, an older man was eating alone and I decided he was the one. When Pam came by to refill my coffee, I asked her to bring me his check as well. "He takes something home to his wife," she said. "That's even better," I replied.

I finished my meal then paid both checks before slipping out the door. Merry Christmas!

Buying a stranger's meal is not an item on the Bucket List, but belongs on the "Cool things I've already done before I had a bucket list" list.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Joining the craze

Every year at this time the Y offers two weeks of free classes. I try to take as many as possible and last night joined in the Zumba craze. I can see why people like it!

When I first saw the instructor was Maria, however, I cringed. Last year I did her New Year's Resolution fitness class and she had us do so many squats I couldn't walk right for three days! This was completely different though. I hopped in the front row and caught on quickly. It was a 45 minute class and it went fast. Maybe not so good for helping me prepare for the half, but it was cardio and it was fun. I can see why Zumba is such a huge trend!

Up next: a BOSU fitness class. It may or may not be immediately followed by kickboxing fusion. The kickboxing I understand but what is the fusion component???

By the way, today is day 27 and I feel great!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Know what else is exercise? Shoveling!

For some reason I will surely never understand I woke up at 6:00 am on a snow day!!! Rather than lay in bed and hope for more sleep, I just got it over with and shoveled the sidewalk and driveway and I'm ruling that my exercise for the day! It was heavy snow, so I was lifting with my arms, legs and back; I was all bundled up so I was sweating and I think I may have breathed a little hard at one point. Therefore I exercised!

Day 18 - done!

The longer the 30 days go, it's definitely getting progressively easier :)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Paying it forward

In the week I thought I was doing the half, I got the following email from a woman I work with:

Hi Michelle,
I want to wish you the best on your 1/2 marathon. You really have been a great inspiration to me. I haven't done much walking let alone running in years due to my poor knees and hips. In June 2009 I had my left hip replaced. I had already in previous years had my other hip and my knees replaced. I had started walking better but not any distance. After reading your blog, I decided that even if I couldn't run (the doctor said that was not an option for me with my fake knees and hips) I needed to start walking. At the beginning of September I started walking with my husband ( he has always walked several miles on his own). the first week we just walked around the block (.43 mile). Over the weeks I have slowly increased my mileage and am now at a mile. I did my first walk around Elizabeth Park on Sunday. I have been trying to get my walk in 4 to 5 times a week. You would laugh at my time. It takes me about 22 minutes to walk a mile but since a month and a half ago, I couldn't even walk a half mile, I feel good about it. Keep up your blog. I am sure that you have inspired others too.
(reprinted with permission)

My response:
Thanks for your email! I'm so happy to hear I inspired you. I think we're all capable of great things, sometimes we just need a little nudge to get started. The guy last year did it for me, I paid it forward to you, the possibilities are endless! Awesome about walking a mile! Good for you :) and don't give the time a second thought. You're completing it, which is all that matters. Keep it up!!!!!

I think we're all capable of great things, if only we believe we can. So often we limit ourselves because we think we can't do something then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Open your mind and everything is possible! (Look at me - I completed a marathon!!! if that doesn't say the impossible is only an illusion, I don't know what does!)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Survey Says: Nyquil is not alcohol

Minutes after writing that the no-alcohol component hasn't been a problem whatsoever, I got ready for bed and took a big swig of Nyquil. Before I could swallow, I realized Nyquil has a 10% alcohol content! Of course it does! I got carded buying it, for crying out loud!

Yet this is my challenge and therefore my rules and I don't think Nyquil counts as alcohol. Reason #1 I'm certainly not drinking it for the taste; Reason #2 I'm not consuming it socially; Reason #3 if not for this unexpected cold, I wouldn't have had a single sip of it.

With that ruling, I'm now 14 days complete and I think it's finally getting easier :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

30 days is a long time!

The 30-day challenge is continuing, now 12 days complete. Friday will be halfway. Whee!!! How's it going? It's hard! It doesn't help one iota that I picked up another cold. How is it that I went well over a year without a cold and I've had two since the marathon? Anyway the cold made working out really difficult for a few days. I'm not doing anything that would jar my body (running) or force me to have my head upside down (yoga) so it's been all biking or lifting weights.

Saturday in particular was interesting. In an effort to combat this cold, I turned on the Abc Family Harry Potter marathon and spent the entire day sleeping on and off. I finally dragged myself onto a stationary bike, but my mind was still at home vegging with Harry, Hermoine and the gang. Somehow my legs were moving but I would have put down my head and closed my eyes if I could.

Getting to the gym is the hardest part, until I leave, then while driving home, not eating out is the hardest. Stopping at Jets or Subway would be so easy! The irony is that I gave myself one cheat - it was ok to go to Panera, but only if I was working on my graduate thesis. I never exercised this option, however, because I finished the thesis while working for my friend.

The no alcohol inclusion has barely crossed my mind.

Through it all, I just keep thinking to keep going. If I stop, everything I already did will have to be repeated. Funny, that's the same thought I had at mile 14 of the marathon. It's easier to keep going than to restart. Besides I have other 30-day challenges to get to!

Monday, November 29, 2010

13% done

It's day 4 of the inaugural 30-day challenge and I'm hanging in there! Friday was all around easy, Saturday it was extremely difficult to leave the house! I woke up at 9:30 and thought I could hit the Y before the debacle of the Michigan game at noon. Instead it was just after 6:30 when I took my first step. What happened to my day??? Despite the late start, I still got in 30 minutes. The problem, however, is that on the way home I kept thinking about Jet's Pizza and this greasy Mexican dive I haven't been to in months. I had some pork chops instead. Sigh.

Sunday was easy enough until the family visited and got Mexican food. I was quite content with mac and cheese, thank you :) Today was easy enough as well. It was sunny after work so I passed on the Y and power walked outside. Most days once I start exercising I feel like I could easily do a full hour. It's getting started that's so difficult! Likewise the food is easy enough, just takes a little more thought and planning.

A great side effect is how much money I've been saving. On Friday, rather than a $13 Jets Pizza (that would last 3 or 4 days), I had a $2 Trader Joe's noodles and sauce with some baby carrots and broccoli (virtually free). If I can save $25 a week, I've saved enough for 2 massages :D

You're all missing out on this challenge! It's great! (It doesn't hurt that I've lost 1.4 pounds of water weight since Friday. I'm hoping to lose 5 in the 30 days.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One of the last of the 2010 Freep marathon related posts

When I first thought about doing a marathon, I knew there would be a few sacrifices I'd have to make. I assumed I would be giving up after work drinks with my girl friends, giving up some Saturday afternoons to run and I was totally ok with that.

Some things arose that were easier, some more difficult. For example, I didn't even blink when invited to the Michigan - MSU football game. I had planned to run 1 hour 40 minutes that day, and spending a long full day in the sun would surely dehydrate me and get in the way of the run, so I immediately said no. Another event, however, was more difficult to pass up - two of my favorite bands, that both factor very heavily into the ultimate 4-hour cardio playmix are Godsmack and Drowning Pool, who were performing together in Detroit. I wanted to see this show like crazy! Yet, it was the night before the marathon and going to a concert would surely interfere with going to bed at 9pm, so I told myself I would be able to see them again at some point. Hopefully.

Something I didn't plan on skipping was my friend's birthday party. She had invited me to Miami for a weekend and I was all set to go ever since she invited me in February. As it got closer and closer, however, I realized I couldn't go, mostly because I couldn't walk and needed to see a doctor asap about my leg. It pained me to tell her I had to cancel, but for twelve months, my blanket excuse was always "I'm training for a marathon." I invoked this excuse for things I didn't want to do, such as....why wasn't I working? Why didn't I have a boyfriend? Why didn't I finish my graduate thesis? The answer was always a shrug, a smile and "I'm training for a marathon."

The last thing I gave up - which I never anticipated - was my hair. Despite having long hair for my entire life, I don't like the feel of hair. When I sweat it gets even worse, the curls turning frizzy and sticking to my back and neck, each piece adhering like glue. Gross! A ponytail didn't help because the hair still touched my skin, so I cut it off and wound up liking it even better short. Cool!

Was the race worth it all? Yes, absolutely, without a doubt!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Announcing....the 30 Day Challenge!!!! (part 1)

The half marathon is April 2, 2011. I'm already in fairly decent shape, which is to say I can run a few miles at any given time, my heart is beating strong and my lung capacity is good and strong. Given my current shape, I don't need to start training from absolute zero, I don't need to repeat the couch potato to 5k program. Having said all this, I reckon I'll start training for the half on January 1. That will give me 12 weeks to prepare and after all, it is only a half marathon :D

To tide me over until then, it's time for....drumroll please....the 30 day challenge!!!! (part 1) Starting November 26 and for 30 consecutive days, I'm going to challenge myself in three ways:

1. no alcohol
2. no fast food - includes all food that you pay for before eating
3. exercise 30 minutes

Why? Because I can. Because I function best when working off a to-do list. Because it's good for me.

So who wants to join me? Brother? This is exactly your kind of contest! All participants will be on the honor system and anyone who successfully completes 30 days (and yes you have to follow my days, which means Christmas day is alcohol free and pro exercise) will get a bottle of Charles Shaw wine - or a Happy Meal if you already abstain.

Subsequent 30 day challenges will surely ensue!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How I did it

My boss asked me today how I trained for the marathon, so here is the planning story. Before getting hurt, I had the greatest intentions. I printed a month by month calendar and wrote out the scheduled exercise for every single day. For eleven months. At any point starting in November 2009, I could look at my calendar and determine the scheduled run for any day until the race. When I went to grad school in Ohio for 6 days at a time, the first thing I packed was my calendar so I had no excuses while I was out of town.

Of course getting hurt ruined everything, but I had it organized so well!

Here it is: a 43 week program (yes, 43 weeks) to go from being a couch potato to completing a marathon. Keep in mind that I'm not a trainer, haven't completed a single day in gym class since 6th grade and cobbled together three running program. In other words, it might not be the best plan available, yet it got me across the finish line. As a common sense warning, attempt marathons at your own risk! (Or go to a local running store and sign up for a marathon class, or ask for their training program.)

Click on the picture to make it bigger and readable / printable.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Here I go again...

Running a half marathon isn't on the bucket list, but I now officially have plans to do so at the Martian Marathon on April 2. I'm not generally a fan of out and back running, but it's close to home (so I don't have to deal with traveling) and I know I can do it. This time I'm not going to get hurt and I'm going to train properly and finish in 2:20. I enjoyed the first half of Detroit and even at the time I knew I'd do another half so here I go :)

On a related side note, I attend a church where the average age is 84. There is one other attendee under 40 and we're going to run together to the half/full split. Sweet I have a race partner :)

It's on Hines Drive - anyone want to place bets as to whether or not it'll be flooded???

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Ultimate 4-hour Cardio Playlist part 4

43. Killin' Me - Drowning Pool
44. Someone that you're with - Nickelback
45. Send in the Wolves - Destropy
46. Hero - Skillet
47. The Good Life - Three Days Grace
48. The Good Left Undone - Rise Against
49. Flat on the Floor - Nickelback
50. Disturbia - Rihanna
51. Because of You - Nickelback
52. Another way to Die - Disturbed
53. Animals - Nickelback
54. Come out and Play - The Offspring
55. Break Stuff - Limp Bizkit

When it's all said and done, the ultimate 4-hour cardio playmix is only 3 hours, 11 minutes, 38 seconds. How often do I really need to exceed 3:11 without repeating a song anyway? During the marathon I got to the end and repeated it. After the second complete run through, I shut it off and ran the last few minutes without music.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Done! 34 - Run through Hell

Some of the bucket list items are carefully planned out, whereas others fall into my lap and I have to jump at the chance. Running through Hell was definitely in the latter category.

For the past several years, there has been a 10K through Hell in August on one of the hottest days of the year. The runners, therefore, were both literally and figuratively running through Hell. I assumed I would eventually be one of them, yet while I was running the marathon, an email dropped in my inbox with some upcoming events, including the run through Hell on Halloween.

Not only was the race going to take place after a two year hiatus, it was a costume race! How great is that? My brother agreed to come with me and dressed as Elvis and a Trekkie, we ran alongside a family of Incredibles, R2D2 pushing an X-wing fighter stroller, Ben Franklin, a runaway bride, 2 cosmonauts and the best costume of the day: it was 41 degrees, yet a man showed up wearing a Speedo, a swimcap and goggles, with eight gold medals around his neck and a bong in his hand. Get it? Michael Phelps!

Time wise, my brother smoked me, despite his claim of not running in a solid year. My time was by far the worst I've ever completed, yet I'm pleading I was sick. I've had a horrid cold all week which made it super difficult to breathe, then at one point I got lightheaded and had to walk. Ugh what a miserable feeling. Still fun though! (although at the end I thought to myself "Is that it? I'm done already?") :D

Here I am as a Trekkie....

and my brother as Elvis...

Monday, October 25, 2010

So now what?

I hit my lowest weight on April 18 and have put back 5.8 pounds since then. I gave myself a week to recover from the marathon and eat whatever I wanted without weighing in. Now, however, it's back to the Daily Plate to get off these few pounds. I don't subscribe to the notion of winter weight.

The gym routine has been biking so far - 4 times since the race and on Sunday I restarted a light weight routine. The next session of classes at the Y starts in a week and I hope to sign up for a weekly spin class. As for running, I haven't been in a hurry to get back to that, even though on Sunday there is a run through Hell (Michigan). I'm doing this one simply because I want a t-shirt that says "I ran through Hell!" Not sure if it'll be this year or next.

I want my working out to be more variety and more enjoyable, although I do plan to continue running. I think 3-5 miles a few times a week should be sufficient :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010


After spending Sunday lounging on the couch and replenishing my lost calories, I got back in the game on Monday and became that person. Yes, the one who works out less than 24 hours after finishing a marathon. I think this is actually recommended? It certainly was in my book because my hamstrings were tight, but the more I sat, the worse they felt and while a little painful, moving helped. So I biked for 10 ridiculously slow minutes, then stretched and repeated. Hot tubbed for a good half hour while I was there. I skipped work on Monday because I was scheduled to be at the elementary school and my legs wouldn't have appreciated sitting on the floor or in little kid chairs.

I also drained my blisters on Monday night. I don't think most doctors recommend that either? Yet the one on the ball of my foot made walking pretty painful so I just disinfected a pin and got it over with.

Thursday I was back at the Y for a 30 minute bike ride. There is a 10K I want to do on Halloween so I hope to try running again on Saturday.

I spoke to my brother within an hour of finishing the race and one of the first things he asked was whether I'd do another marathon. Even then I said I'd do another half, absolutely, but the full would be a long way off, if at all. It seemed like everyone I talked to asked if I was planning to do another. Why do we have to think about the next one? Why can't I just celebrate this one? The bucket list says complete A marathon, not several...

Yet here it is, Thursday, and I can say without a doubt that yes, I would do another marathon. Seeing as I did pretty much everything completely wrong this time, I can only improve my time (by hours!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Are you ready? Ready! Thank you Detroit!

Coolness aside, I'd like to say thank you...

- to the 2000+ volunteers working long before dawn
- to the thousands more that showed up with their husbands, wives, grandparents, grandkids and dogs to cheer for family, friends and strangers
- to the starting line dj for playing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" as my wave was approaching the start line
- to nature for providing a perfect running day, including a sunrise visible from the Ambassador Bridge
- to the woman with the squirrel puppet - not what I was expecting to see and it made me laugh
- to the families in Indian Village who didn't offer water, but instead had beer tables and Polish music
- to the patient drivers who waited for the stragglers to cross the intersections
- to the musician around mile 13 who was singing Good Riddance (Time of your Life) and when I passed he was singing "For what it's worth, it was worth all the while. It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right, I hope you had the time of your life."
- to all the kids (and adults) who held out their hands to slap five.
- to all the runners who commented on and encouraged what I had written on my calves in Shapie: Bucket List #5.
- to the shirt and medal designers - they're great!
- to all the bands and groups that showed up to entertain us
- to the woman passing out hard candy - any calories helped!
- to the people on the side of the road playing their iPods on speakers or turning up their car radios for passing runners
- to the Live United (United Way?) group at mile 12 for blasting AC/DC
- to the Canadian race walker who asked about #6
- to everyone who read my name and encouraged me to keep going
- to all the police and border workers who weren't just monitoring human traffic, but cheering and encouraging
- to everyone who took the time to make signs ("Toenails are overrated," "Just one more song")
- to the student who pointed out the obvious - that I can indeed walk
- to the Department of Homeland Security for allowing our passage into Windsor - it was definitely the best part of the race

Thank you Detroit! I love you all!

Yup, I'm a dork! :)

Someone posted this as a comment on the Freep's website and I like it so I'm sharing his words:

"When I ran the Chicago Marathon last Sunday and was limping my way to the finish line, a woman was holding a sign that said, 'There will be a day when you cannot do this. And today is not that day!' That inspired me to finish. You'll find your inspiration and you'll make it."

Monday, October 18, 2010

The aftermath

To describe the marathon in one word: Surreal.

I know I completed the entire course, I know my feet hurt, but when looking through the Freep's photo galleries, I saw runners going on Michigan Avenue, going past Campus Martius, but I don't remember passing these sites. I remember individual moments:

- Two girls in Canada at the fluid station who smiled at me and said "Good job, Michelle." I looked at them, thinking perhaps they were students, yet wondering why they were in Canada, until I finally remembered my name was on my bib.
- The policewoman with the 8 1/2" x 11" handwritten sign that said "Yes you can!"
- Coming up out of the tunnel and seeing cheering people standing two deep to encourage us all.
- The church that had a water and banana station, taking it upon themselves to help us even though they weren't an official fluid station.
- The man in Indian Village who met me in the street to offer me some jelly beans.
- Best sign of the day: "That isn't sweat. It's your fat cells frying."
- The woman on Belle Isle who said "When you wake up tomorrow you'll be a marathoner. That's something 99% of the world can never say."
- Stopping at mile 21.7 to talk to Mike from the Y who was working as a race official. I remarked that I didn't know if a better description for my feet was burning or kniving. He reminded me that at this point it's all mind over matter and I only had 4.7 miles to go.
- A member of the medical team draping my finishers medal around my neck because no one else was there to do it.

By the time I reached the end, the crowd was largely gone, but that's ok. I finished. My entire goal was to not die so regardless of my time, I won my own race! The name of the game was slow slow slow, just keep surviving. I never saw the last chance pacer so not only did I finish, I did so with time to spare!

After the Riverwalk, we turned right and were faced with one last hill. I was beyond burning energy, I was beyond running on fumes and kept going only on willpower and desire. I kept trudging up, one foot after the other, cognizant of the blister on the ball of my left foot, every cell screaming to quit, but my mind saying no, keep going. I looked up and the first thing my eyes focused on was the Mile 25 sign. I started crying, realizing that yes, I'm going to do this. Un-athletic, poorly trained me just completed 25 miles. At mile 26 I started crying again then on Fort St. summoned every last iota of energy and ran to the finish.

The Freep is running a video of the finish line and here I am

The damage to my body isn't too bad either. I have a blister on the bottom of my right pinky toe, and a quarter sized one on the ball of my left foot. My biggest gripe is that I didn't stretch afterward and now have hamstrings that feel like concrete and make it painful to straighten my legs. This will pass. The pain is temporary but the accomplishment is a lifetime.

Come back tomorrow for my thank you letter to the city :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I did it!!!!!!

I completed all 26.2 miles. The full story is forthcoming, but for now I need to eat as many calories as I possibly can :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Just a few hours now

It's 8:36, my alarm is set for 4am and I'm about to hop in bed - after I eat again. The irony is that I can't seem to ingest enough calories today! Tomorrow I plan to arrive downtown at 5:30 and eat until the race starts. Calories = energy, plain and simple.

My clothes are out, I met my brother and borrowed a race belt so I'm as ready as I'm going to be. Do I feel prepared for the race? Not at all, yet I have a strong feeling of confidence (delusion) that has served me well in the past. Case in point: I bought a car with a manual transmission when I had no clue how to drive it, yet I knew I'd figure it out; I twice quit my job without having anything lined up yet the rent and car payments were always paid on time. Things have a way of working out!!!

I also keep in mind when I did the triathlons on Belle Isle. The water was so cold and the current so strong that with every stroke, my body was screaming to quit. Every time I looked up, I saw a kayak or canoe and it would be so easy to latch on and get dragged back to shore. I couldn't breathe, yet I kept going and eventually I finished it.

Something else to keep in mind: Sound mind x sound body x total physical exhaustion = ALIVE! Pain is temporary but the memory and the accomplishment last forever. Those who stay will be winners. Etc.

Something seriously cool is you can track runners' progress during the race on the Freep's Marathon website. In the top right corner, click on Runner's Tracking on Race Day. It's not real time, but updates when runners cross timing pads throughout the course. How cool is that? If you want to track me, I'm number 6821 scheduled in the I wave.

One way or another I'll see you at the finish!

Best of luck Lizzy! Come say hi if you see me sporting the Billups jersey :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Getting all the ducks in a row

Today commenced the final preparation phase. I've been eating more and trying to carb load all week (I haven't stepped on a scale all week either - the first time in a year and a half to abstain from my morning check in). Today I started eating exclusively natural, preservative free food ie lunch was whole wheat pasta with broccoli, baby carrots, peas and a scoop of peanut butter for flavor. Dinner - though late - will be a piece of chicken breast and 2 organic yellow potatoes. Dessert will be my second apple of the day.

After work I ran to the Salvation Army for disposable clothing. I picked up a pair of gloves, a blue striped hat with a fleece liner and a yellow fleece jacket. Too bad I'm discarding it all because I actually like the hat and jacket :)

Then I ran downtown to pick up my number. The expo wasn't terrible, but I also wasn't very interested in it. I just wanted to grab my bag and come back home, yet the booths were arranged in a serpentine and the pick up was, naturally, at the very end. Nevertheless I got a bottle of yellow Gatorade, a single serving of brown rice and a baggie of peanuts. More importantly, I picked up my number. I have a green bib which means I'm a first timer. Attached to it was my timing chip. All the previous times I've been chipped, it has been about the size of a matchbook and I've laced it onto my shoes. This one is a small piece of plastic about an inch tall and as thin as paper. I loop it on a lace and I'm good to go. Printed on my timing chip is my name and the name and phone number of my emergency contact. I have it written on my shoes as well, but it never hurts to have multiple locations to find the number. Brother, make sure your phone is turned on!

The last thing I picked up was my race shirt. So many of them are hideous yet this one is really nice. It's long sleeved and 100% polyester (wicking baby!) But...I got an extra large and it's none too big. I have long arms so I'm going to either wear it at 3/4 length or constantly pull at the edges. It's ok though because it's the best designed race shirt I've ever gotten. Here's a picture. You can see my haircut too :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A bad batch of shoes?

I have no idea how or why I know this, but every batch of condoms produced are tested and if the results are greater than .03% damaged, the entire batch is discarded. Random, I know, but it makes me wonder if shoes face the same testing before going out to stores. Maybe there's nothing wrong with Mizunos - I wore them for 3 or 4 years without incident - maybe I just got a bad pair?

The Vibrams are GREAT!!! - so long as I stay under an hour. Once I hit the hour mark, the balls of my feet start hurting and get progressively worse, so I tried the pink Mizunos on Monday and they felt and sounded loud and clunky. Maybe they're just damaged? I'm going to try an older pair today and see how those fare. I had kept the turquoise pair as errand running shoes, but they might get upgraded for a few days. I actually had a pair in my cart on Amazon yesterday, but decided it was too close to start with a new pair :)

When this is all said and done - whenever that may be - I think I'll stick to running 3 miles for fitness and mixing in biking, ellipticalling, spinning, kickboxing. I enjoy running for a half hour or 40 minutes, but multiple hours? nah!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fashion versus Function

Some people look really nice when they work out. My mom even wears makeup when she goes to the Y. Such things never even cross my mind, as my workout attire is 100% functional, without the least regard for how I look...

Everything I wear on Sunday will have a clear purpose:
- my grandma's old bandana keeps the sweat out of my eyes and my hair off my face
- UnderArmour sports bra
- Hot pink Pistons jersey. It's sleeveless so I don't have to worry about underarm chafing and the material wicks. Plus I like the color :)
- DanSkin tri shorts. Much like bike shorts, but with a band of rubber to grip my thighs and prevent riding up. They have two pockets intended for Gu or Clifbars, but I use them more for the iPod and house keys.
- Wool five finger socks - grey instead of white to hide the dirt better. Wool to wick.
- Shoes to protect my little piggies.
- Polarized sunglasses to protect my light sensitive eyes. Yes, I wear them long before sunrise and in the rain.
- I will also be sporting Salvation Army gloves and a sweatshirt in the beginning to be discarded once they have served their purposes. I wonder what the organizers do with all the roadside clothing? I sure hope they donate it somewhere.

And of course, the pink iPod (that coincidentally matches the jersey lol). The Freep says "The Detroit Free Press Marathon strongly discourages the wearing of music devices. Participants must be alert to their surroundings and able to hear medical emergency vehicles, motorcycles, buses and official marathon vehicles. For your safety and the safety of those around you, we strongly urge you to run headphone-free."

I know the entertainment stations are going to be great, but I've trained for eleven months with the same playlist - I can't give it up now!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

T Minus one week and counting!!!

At this time next week (8:30 pm on Saturday) I'll be in bed, resting up for the race. At this point, I'm definitely doing something, I'm just not sure which. Anonymous - whoever you are - made some excellent points, namely that I CAN walk if I need to. My bucket list says "Complete a marathon." It doesn't specify a time limit or indicate that I need to sprint every step. My goal is to finish on two feet without any assistance. If I have to walk some, I've still finished. Look at the competitors every year in the IronMan Triathlon who collapse and start crawling, anything to keep going. I don't want to be in that position, yet they're still doing everything possible to finish and I admire them more than the professionals who breeze through it.

The Freep Marathon obviously has time limits because they're closing streets and employing cops. Yet the limit is SEVEN HOURS for the full marathon. That's just over 16 minutes a mile. I could walk the entire thing and still finish in time...

I have worked hard for eleven months training my body and my mind. It's all about mind over matter. Here's how General Patton phrased it: "Now if you are going to win any battle to you to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."

Should I need further motivation, the back of my front door has two things: a map of the route and underneath that four simple words YOU CAN DO THIS!

Stand by for a decision.

Friday, October 8, 2010

I didn't anticipate this wrinkle

I encountered a problem on the Freep's marathon website. The deadline for changing races was October 1, at which time I didn't think either distance was anywhere close to being a possibility. After surviving an all-time long run of 80 minutes yesterday I still plan to go ahead with my audacious idea of running the half in a week.'s too late to I go with the full and drop out at 13.1 miles. Do I pay another $90 to enter the half? There are no refunds or transfers of registration, yet at this point, the double registration fee isn't a huge concern (even though I registered early to save $20...). Finishing is what matters. Advice? Any one complete it previously and have good tips? Anyone from the Freep reading this and want to make a recommendation?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

If this makes me a hippie, pass the beads!

I've enjoyed a healthy life so traditional versus alternative medical care is never a decision I pondered for even a minute. This past year, however, I've become somewhat holistic and touchy-feely, not because I want to be a hippie, but because it just feels good!

Since I started the 11 month training program (soon to be even longer...) I've gotten in the habit of getting a massage every month. The ExSalonce salon in Lincoln Park offers a full hour for $45, which is among the cheapest I've ever found and she's good! After my hour today, my calves feel great, my foot doesn't hurt anymore and I feel like I could run a marathon! (ha ha)

My other hippie tendency is courtesy of Charity Loring who offers free yoga classes. Free! I only tried yoga once before - my brother and I signed up for a class through a community education class, but we barely survived the first class because every time we looked at each other, we started laughing! Not to mention it's hard take "exercise" seriously when the last ten minutes involves laying down and not moving. ummm I can do that at home...Yet yoga with Charity is relaxing and soothing and in the summer, she invites us all to her house for a cookout.

After both hippie activities, I feel more relaxed, i have no pain and I think my posture gets better. If these are hippie traits, let me dig out the tie-dye!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Power of Denial

The back to running agenda has been going pretty well despite a sore left foot, yet I hadn't really pushed myself. This weekend, I decided to go for it and see what happened. The plan was to run a full 60 minutes and I'd either get through it, or my body would fall apart, but either way, at least I'd know. I can deal with positives, I can deal with negatives, but uncertainty? Not so much.

I got out the hippie shoes, the long sleeved t-shirt and my gloves and I was off. 61 minutes later, I was still standing, none too worse for the wear. I had no major pain in either joints or muscles, thankfully! I don't think it did it right, though, because I wasn't sweating very hard and I was barely breathing hard. I had to force myself to drink water because I wasn't thirsty either. I was pretty slow - 5.67 miles in 61 minutes, but I survived, which is all that matters.

I was planning another 60 minutes today, but my old procrastination and punctuality problems reared their ugly heads and limited me to 37 minutes before I had to work. I feel great today too. Ok I'm exhausted and my left calf feels worked, but it's nothing a good night of sleep won't cure. I don't start work tomorrow until 9:30 so I'll recover my superpowers tonight.

Thursday I'm planning to run 80 minutes and if I survive 100 on Saturday, I'm changing my race entry to the half, with the full intention of completing it. Not the race I want to do, but a half marathon is a good accomplishment in and of itself.

Would a running coach recommend a half on basically 2 weeks training? Not in a million years, yet - and this is huge - I built a solid base from October 2009 to July and I've been able to draw strength from that despite the weeks off. In the end, if my body can handle it, I'm back in the (half) game. Ultimately it's all about having priorities and walking comfortably on Monday, October 18 is definitely not one of them.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The ultimate 4-hour Cardio Playlist part 3

31. Break - Three Days Grace
32. Animal I have Become - Three Days Grace
33. Faint - Linkin Park
34. Walla Walla - The Offspring
35. Monster - Skillet
36. Goin' Down - Three Days Grace
37. Do or Die - Dropkick Murphys (sometimes this serves as an alternate starting point)
38. Little Smirk - Theory of a Deadman
39. I Gotta Feeling - The Black Eyed Peas
40. Stay Away - Nirvana
41. Told You So - Drowning Pool
42. Take Back the Fear - Hail the Villain

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How I should have been running all along

Running in the hippie shoes is completely different than how I ever ran before and while it's all mental, I can't say I ever consciously decided to change my approach to running.

In an interview with Amazon about the book "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen," author Christopher McDougall describes our collective problem as "We treat running in the modern world the same way we treat childbirth—it’s going to hurt, and requires special exercises and equipment, and the best you can hope for is to get it over with quickly with minimal damage." I can't comment on the childbirth aspect, but that was my exact approach to running - it was painful and something that I knew was good for me, but I didn't enjoy it and wanted to get it over with as soon as possible.

Not only that, before I ran a single step I would plot out my distance and every turn of my route then continually monitor my time, to make sure I was staying within a 9:00 to 10:30 pace. With the hippie shoes, I knew I couldn't go far right away, and I realized it doesn't matter how far I go! That realization was so liberating. Now, instead of serving the arbitrarily chosen distance, I turn on the iPod stopwatch - just to make sure I'm increasing my time, but not going too far too soon - then I just go. If I'm a minute or two off, it's of no concern whatsoever. No longer do I run laps at the park; I haven't stepped foot inside the Y since I got the shoes.

Now I just go. I drive to a safe neighborhood I like, park the car, and go. If I feel like turning, I'll turn. If I decide to run the entire time in one straight line then turn around, so be it. Running along mostly empty streets without having anything to count (laps, time, distance) has started clearing my head and I sing along, but mostly my brain is filled with only one thought: "Man, this feels great!"

For what it's worth, I track my distance after I'm done, but just for my own curiosity. baby :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm baaaaack

My beautiful pink Mizunos have been sitting in the trunk untouched since July. Yet the barefoot hippie running shoes seem to be working great! Sometimes one little piggy feels like a blister is starting to form, but that's nothing a little vaseline won't prevent. I feel like I'm going impossibly slow in them, yet my average time is still right around 10 minutes a mile. When I was doing the longer runs, especially the first time at a distance, it wasn't unheard of for me to get closer to 11-minute miles, so the "speed" seems to be right on track.

Distance wise I started with .5 miles then I stopped tracking distance and went to time. 12 minutes, 18 minutes, 23 minutes, all is well in my running world. My left calf has occasionally hurt but not in a "there is something wrong and this is serious pain" kind of way, but more like "I'm using a muscle I don't always use and it feels great" kind of way.

This weekend: 30 minutes baby! (sigh, what a setback that I was doing 7 miles and now I'm back to 3. Yet I have the muscle memory so it won't take nearly as long to build up the distance again).

There is a rock and roll marathon in New Orleans the week after Mardi Gras. Perhaps that will become the new goal. If I'm doing a winter marathon, it's definitely going to be somewhere warm!

Here's a great website to find races of any distance throughout the country

Monday, September 13, 2010

Lovely days at the park

It's sunny and warm, I finished work early and I'm off to try 1.4 miles in the hippie shoes. Happy times in Michigan! Let's enjoy the warmth and sun while we still have it!

Also on the agenda: lifting weights. I read that Serena Williams doesn't like her arms - she said they're too big. What the heck? To have arms and shoulders like hers is my goal!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The first step to becoming a hippie

A few weeks ago I went to the running store to see if they carried the minimalist hippie barefoot running shoes. They don't. Most things I'll buy online, but I wanted to try these on before shelling out. REI was my best bet, so I ran up there and asked Brooke in shoes if they carried "the minimalist barefoot running shoes." She knew exactly what I meant and pointed me to the Vibram Five Fingers, helped me with the European sizing then reminded me of REI's return policy, in case they didn't work out (basically, they will return anything at any time in any condition). Plus they were ten percent off. Score!

I don't know if shoes were the problem, but I know I was wearing heavily cushioned shoes and messed up my leg. Brooke mentioned that after the shoe companies started with cushioning shoes, leg injuries have skyrocketed. Neither of us profess to be shoe experts, but we have the same information with the same cause. Can't be a total coincidence.

After wrangling each little piggy into its own opening, I took a lap around the store and the toe separation wasn't nearly as bad as I was expecting. All the information online says to get used to barefoot running very gradually. I started with a half mile today. Could I have gone further? Absolutely! Maybe the desperation work on the bike and elliptical worked like I was hoping. It's been several hours and my legs feel great, even though Vibram's website warned me that I might feel it in my calves. Tomorrow: .75 miles!

I ran by Mom's work wearing the shoes and she asked the most appropriate questions when she saw my shoes: "What is on your feet?" My new running shoes! (the ugliest shoes I've ever bought)

Hideous! I look like I'm about to go swimming. Incidentally they are waterproof so I certainly go swimming with my webbed feet.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I've lost it

It's become painfully obvious that the marathon isn't going to happen in October. Perhaps I'll go somewhere warm in February or March and run it there, but for the near future, it's off the schedule. My weight hasn't changed (more than three pounds either way) since January. I got a job. I'm no longer suffering from the post-breakup compulsion to work out. The result of these independent factors is that I've completely lost it. I have no real desire to work out. I don't even care that much if I lose my heart and lung capacities that took soooooo long to build up. Once my arm muscles start getting soft I'm sure I'll care, but for now I've given up. What a lousy feeling. Yet, I'm too apathetic to care.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I'm not a huge prescription drug user and I've never done street drugs, but this salsalate could change everything. The pharmacy literature said it could be 3-4 days before I feel any change, the doctor warned it could take two weeks. After 12 days I could successfully run in place. Today (day 13) was another Tigers' day game which meant 2 hours on the elliptical. After the first hour I did a little jogging in place and I felt fine, so I completed the second hour, with the intent of attempting running again.

In regular walking I know I step on the outside of my heel and roll my foot inward. I assume I do the same when running, which is definitely not proper running technique. I knew I would have to limit myself to a very short distance, so I thought I'd try the hippie way of barefoot running. I slipped off my shoes and in socks, ran .25 miles. It was a little slower than I normally go, but I was striking the ground with a lighter downward force and hitting my entire foot, not just the heel. Maybe these hippies are on to something?

It's not practical to run completely barefoot so I may need to try the minimal running shoes, intended only to keep the foot safe from pebbles and nails and such. I already stepped on a nail during the triathlon on Belle Isle - certainly don't need to repeat that experience!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I had to walk a decent amount yesterday - the farthest I've walked since the injury - and Mom said I was limping. I didn't notice or feel it, which tells me that it wasn't bad, or else I have completely gotten used to it. Today was absolute perfect running weather. It was 70 and just enough of a drizzle to cool off. Unfortunately I didn't get to run the 16 miles I had scheduled.

While cleaning the house, however, (that's a great trade-off!!!!) I didn't notice my leg, which is to say I didn't notice any pain or discomfort or limp. So I started jumping in place, alternating feet. Jumping both feet has always been fine, but alternating always hurt the right one. Today, it was great, so I started running laps around my 10'x14' living room and that felt great too. Hallelujah! Granted I was barefoot so taking lighter steps and they were most likely smaller strides than when I'm really running, but this is the first time in six weeks I've been able to put any downward force on my right leg and not crumble immediately. Please don't let this be a fluke!!!!!!

Congratulations to CDB and family!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thank goodness for Tigers day games

The past three Sundays and today I have had a hot date (for one) at the Y. I don't know what's going on with the marathon - I'm still hanging on to the idea of running the half - but I do know I need to keep exercising both to keep my heart and lungs strong, and also to make sure I don't gain back any of the weight I lost.

To these ends, Tigers day games have become elliptical time. The game is typically the only thing I want to watch all day, so rather than sit at home and watch it, I make sure I'm at the Y right when it starts, I hop on the elliptical directly underneath it and I go for two hours. Is it boring? Considering I'm basically standing still, it's not that bad. The Tigers distract me and the time goes fairly quickly. Thank goodness for day games - the Tigers are pretty much the only thing that could get me to elliptical for that long! It's worth it - today I had to cut it short to 1:47:00 and I burnt 1296 calories, so after the few hours, I can eat pretty much anything all day. Not a bad trade-off!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I fought the track (and the track won...)

After biking 15 miles this afternoon, I didn't feel quite done working out. I didn't want to put in another hour ellipticaling and I sure didn't want to lift weights on consecutive days, so I tried running again. I figured since I managed .08 miles yesterday, perhaps I could do .1 today. After about three steps, my right leg screamed "I'm not bearing any weight today!!!" and I had the good sense to stop right then and hop into the hot tub for a few. What a massive pita this is turning out to be!

I'm definitely walking with less pain and no limp (except when I wear heels and everything goes to hell), but I don't know if that's due to the drugs or the time. In either case it seems to be healing, but at this rate, I'm looking at Thanksgiving before I complete a full mile. Argh! Frustration! Running is mostly mental so why won't my leg listen to my brain?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Breaking the law breaking the law

It's been a solid week since I saw the doctor and started the anti-inflammatory drugs. He said no running until he saw me again. Does anyone seriously think I followed his advice? I hit the Y for some upper body weights today and I felt great so I decided it was time to test my leg. It can handle ellipticalling with ease and feels better with biking, but running would be the true test of my recovery.

A lap at the Y is 1/10 of a mile and I told myself I would do one complete lap at the most. I went about 80% of the way before I stopped and picked up my bag and left. How did it feel? My mental health was great those 40 seconds. It felt incredible and liberating to be using my entire body again to tackle a serious bit of athletics. The real question though, is how did my leg feel? Better than it did last time I attempted running. I had a slight limp and I felt discomfort - but no pain! - in my quad. My knee and hip felt great. What the heck???

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The good, the bad and the ugly

subtitled: why I don't see doctors part 2

The good: The orthopedist and a radiologist both looked at the bone scan and determined it was normal. There is no stress fracture of the hip, which is what he was trying to rule out.

good part 2: I can continue exercising.

The bad: He doesn't know what's wrong. Thinks perhaps it might be some inflammation of the hip, but doesn't know what caused it. I'm on Salsalate (salflex) for two weeks to see what happens, if anything. After a day and a half, nothing yet.

the bad part 2: exercising means biking, ellipticaling and lifting weights in my arms and shoulders only. This isn't good enough!!!! My calves are getting soft and squishy after years of working on them!!!

The ugly: the prospect of going back to running. He doesn't want me to run until I see him again then when he gives the ok, implied that I'll resume running one mile per day and sloooooowly building distance again. Wasn't this what I started doing in October????

Frustration. Give me cortisone if it means I can run again. I'll sign the waiver to get indefinite injections.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Logistics of the 20-mile training run

I was never worried about how and where I would do my 20 mile run because things have a way of working out. I seriously doubt I'll be doing it this year, but here's some info for those of you still in running shape.

Running Fit (running shoe and gear store) is hosting a 20 mile run on September 25, which was my scheduled 20-mile day, as I imagine it is for everyone attempting Detroit this year. For a $10 donation they are hosting runners on Hines Drive in Livonia (I wonder if it will be flooded...?). The site claims it will be traffic free and aid stations will be available every 2 miles. The hydration is worth the donation alone.

Here's the link

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Why I don't see doctors

My appointment with the orthopedist was a frustrating reminder of why I haven't been to the doctor in years. He took a series of x-rays, tested my flexibility and range of motion, then shrugged and said he didn't know. What the heck??? On Thursday I go to Wyandotte hospital for a "cover your ass" test, a type of medical care in which the dr. orders a test he is 99% sure won't reveal a single thing, but is ordering it so I can't sue him at a later date. I just want to heal, I'm not interested in instigating a malpractice suit!

Assuming everything is fine, his solution is to experiment with different medications until something works. I asked him about the race and his answer was "we'll see," which is better than "no way in hell!" Although given that I've missed a month of running, it might behoove me to change to the half this year then run a full sometime next year.

Before I left he said "Until I see you again, no running, jogging, speed walking, baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, gymnastics, dancing, bowling, hunting (hunting?)." I caught that he didn't mention biking or ellipticalling, so I asked about those and he said fine. Lifting weights are fine too, so long as I'm sitting down and only working the upper body. So basically keep doing what I've been doing the past several weeks.

On the positive side, he didn't put me on crutches or in a wheelchair. I went to the Tigers game last night and probably walked a mile getting to and from the park and I don't feel any worse for the wear.

Unfortunately I just keep waiting and doing what I can to maintain my heart and lungs. I see him again Tuesday.

Thanks for your concern, Carrie :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Ultimate 4-hour Cardio Playlist part 2

18. Funkytown - Lipps Inc.
19. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap - AC/DC
20. Dragula - Rob Zombie
21. Step Up - Drowning Pool
22. Sports mix - Jock Jams
23. Pretty Fly (for a White Guy) - The Offspring
24. Forget - Drowning Pool
25. Bleed it Out - Linkin Park
26. Whatever - Godsmack
27. The Bitch is Back - Elton John
28. Amazing Grace - Dropkick Murphys
29. Given Up - Linkin Park
30. No Brakes - The Offspring

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Home treatments have failed me

When I get hurt or sick, my reaction isn't to run to the doctor, but to heal it at home, and use the medical profession only in extreme emergencies or as a dead last resort. So when my leg started hurting, I figured I could fix it myself. I tried heat, ice, rest, massage, hot tub, aspirin, biking, squats, lunges, leg pressing, leg extensions and ellipticaling. I can jump rope on both feet just fine, but when I tried alternating feet, the right leg wouldn't play nice. It's not getting worse, but the only thing that feels better is when I bike. It seems the longer I bike, the better my knee feels, yet within a half hour or so, the stiffness is back and my knee won't bear weight. I can't spend the next nine weeks on a bike, so I finally made an appointment to see an orthopedist. Please help me!

With this great negativity and huge monkey wrench in my life, here's a nice story to balance it out a little. I told my grad school friend about it and she said if I can't run Detroit, I can stay with her in Houston and run their marathon in January. I hope it doesn't get to that but I appreciate her offer and understanding of how important this is to me. Thanks Sandye!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two good days

My leg is finally feeling better. Hallelujah!!!! With the combination of not walking if I can help it, stationary biking, elliptical training and time, I haven't limped in two solid days. What a great feeling! Stairs and inclines don't feel great but I can't expect everything to instantly change overnight. I've talked with some friends who are / were long distance runners and both concurred with my self diagnosis and treatment plan. One recommended waiting four pain-free limp-free days before I try running. I figure I'll give it a week. Even if that feels great, he said do the next day on the elliptical to ease my body back into running. For now everything is going right. The obvious priority is healing, but along with that is maintaining my heart and lung capacity. Once those are gone, so is the marathon dream, so I elliptical for an hour regardless of how insanely boring it is. Despite the setback, the marathon still seems to be a go!!!! I can do this!!!! (and so can all of you!!!)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another crummy substitute

I've never understood the appeal, or even the need for elliptical trainers. I always relegated them to the category of exercising for those who don't want to work too hard or get too sweaty. If I'm putting in the time and effort to exercise, I want to maximize the full benefits from running or biking (but not recumbents because even though I have heard the arguments about being more efficient than uprights, I have assigned recumbents to the same category as ellipticals). Other great options are running stairs or lifting weights. I have definite ideas about working out and ellipticals never fell anywhere in my realm of options.

Yet I'm still gimping along and biking is great for sustaining aerobic capacity, but the marathon isn't a bike race! After talking with a cross country coach, I finally sucked it up and tried the elliptical. I'll try anything at this point! I began with a mile and felt pretty ok, so I hopped off and stretched my quads and hamstrings. Still felt great so I hopped back on for another two miles. It's far from perfect - my average mile time is in the 11:40 - 12:00 frame and I don't seem to be sweating enough or breathing hard enough, but it's working my legs in a similar fashion to running without the constant pounding or weight bearing. I read somewhere that in running, every time the foot hits the ground, it does so with a pressure equal to four times your body weight. Isn't that amazing to ponder?

I finally came to the conclusion that rather than biking and hoping for the best, I'll transfer my running schedule to an elliptical trainer. It's not great, but it's the best I can do right now.

I looked up the symptoms of a strained quad and I seem to fit the criteria to a T. On the positive side, I'm home medicating exactly right. But on the negative side, the cure is rest. I've even stopped walking from point A to point B relying on biking as transportation as much as I can. (Thank you Carrie and James - you guys are awesome!!!!)

So it continues. My mom and brother both asked what I'll do if I can't run the marathon. I refuse to acknowledge the possibility. Undertaking huge feats of strength or ambition require a certain suspension of disbelief and faith in the impossible. I can do this!!!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The first step back

After resting my leg all week, the pain has downgraded to a slight discomfort and the limp that made it almost impossible to walk on Saturday became very slight. Biking, squats, lunges all felt ok so it was time to test my leg with running. I wasn't foolish enough (or stubborn enough) to look at my calendar, see 4 miles for today and plan to run that. I thought one mile would be a good start. I barely made it 30 steps. Could I have kept going? Sure, but at what cost? The pain was immediate as was a severe limp of my body screaming in protest and trying to protect my right leg.

So I did what I should have been doing all week - changed into my swim suit and climbed into the hot tub, trying my hardest to ignore the screaming children who were surely peeing in the tiny pool. I sat right next to a jet and moved every few minutes, hitting my knee to my hip and back. Came home and iced it for 20 minutes, then heating padded it for another 20. It seems to be back to a slight to moderate pain.

If I was just running for fitness, I wouldn't care about taking off a week or a month, or I would bike hard 4 times a week, but the marathon is exactly 3 months and one day away! Time is not a luxury at this point. Hurry up and heal you darn leg!!!

For what it's worth, it seemed a few days ago that it was the knee that felt pain, now it seems to be the quadricep. I don't know which is worse.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Biking is a crummy substitute

My leg has been improving day by day. It's not great, but compared to how it felt on Saturday (when I would have used a walker if I could) it's tolerable so therefore time to test it out. Tuesday (72 hours later) I tried biking. I kept it at a low resistance and a slower speed than I normally do and limited myself to 20 minutes. It neither hurt nor felt great so I tried some leg presses, also much less than I normally do (100 pounds yesterday versus a normal 210). That didn't make a huge difference either. It felt good to sweat a little, but biking is such a lousy substitute for running, at least how I was doing it. I didn't want to force my knee with a high resistance, but that's what causes me to work my legs, my heart, my lungs. What I did on Tuesday was more akin to biking as transportation or recreation than biking as exercise.

I tried again today, biking 30 minutes then doing some squats and lunges. I've isolated it to my knee - at least that's better than my hip or my quad - and it's not in pain, just discomfort now. Time is most likely the only remedy, but with the biggest race of my life in 12 short weeks, I don't have the luxury of waiting out discomfort. Besides, running is the epitome of discomfort. So tomorrow is time to start running again. I have the good sense to not expect to jump right back into a 5 mile run, but I don't really have a plan of how far I want to go. I'll start with one step, then another, and another and see how I feel, then baby step it as long as my knee holds up. I won't even set my stopwatch just listen to my body not my hard headed brain.

The irony, of course, is that I went since November without a single twinge or even a cold and this close to the race have to deal with this setback. Let's hope it's short term and not long - I really don't want to walk the marathon!!!

Monday, July 12, 2010

48 hours later

It's been about 48 hours since my leg started hurting. It seems to be improving, but is it really getting better, or am I just telling myself it is? I'm not sure if it's a physical or mental improvement.

Most days I regard running as a chore that I have to do, so naturally while I'm trying to rest my leg, the only thing I want to do is run! Of course another factor in wanting to run is that my alternative is reading pages and pages for grad school (as in 600+ pages of military theory by Sunday). Not to mention that the longer I go without any exercise, the more I'm convinced that I can feel the weight creeping back. Must avoid that!

I'm going to try an easy gentle bike for a few miles and see how my leg fares with that. Keep your fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Running through the pain

My past few 5-mile runs have felt really good and this week was no exception. I was barely breathing hard, my heart felt great, my lungs were great, there wasn't even a hint of a side stitch from dehydration. Yet I grabbed a sip of water at 3 miles and it all went downhill from there. I felt a slight kink in my right leg - I wasn't sure if it was the knee, the quad or what. I kicked it out a few times and kept going. It didn't go away, but didn't get in the way of running either. Until 4.5 miles when it stopped being a slight twitch and became pain. I pulled off to the side, did a few stretches, then kept going. I should have stopped immediately.

I've always believed to a certain extent in the idea of "no pain, no gain." (or in the 1992 Olympics "no pain, no Spain" then in 1996 "no pain, no peaches." I love it!) After all, if exercise was easy, we would all have killer bodies. Any physical improvement is worth working for, so a little pain doesn't faze me. Besides, how are the muscles growing if not through a little discomfort? With this attitude, I told myself I could do it and kept going.

I finished the last half mile and the last mile time was the slowest. Yet, this happens the majority of times - the first mile is the fastest, I slow down each successive mile, then end with a strong last .3 or .4. So in terms of time, I was following my normal pattern. I stopped for subway and by the time I was home - less than 20 minutes from the end of my run - I was in pain. The worst part is that I couldn't definitively pinpoint the pain - was it my knee? my hip? my quadricep? A day later I still don't know, but it's painful to put weight on my right leg. It doesn't hurt to move it, just to bear any weight.

Now I'm self medicating with ice and heat, stretching a little, but otherwise trying to not move. What a mess!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A heat index of 108? That's funny

I've claimed numerous times that there's no correlation between intelligence and common sense, but when the heat index topped 108 this afternoon, I had the good sense to say it's too damn hot to run outside! I was stuck in class again all day, leaving only the mid afternoon break to run 4 miles. Not a huge distance, but in this weather, walking to the mailbox is too strenuous, forget a 40 minute run.

Alas I went back inside. When is this heat going to break? I think I've discovered my heat threshold is 85. Any more and I'll wave the white flag and resign myself to gym laps. Given the choice between gym laps or nothing, the mileage is more important than pavement pounding.

For what it's worth I did the 4 miles in 40:11. Not a bad pace at all!

Monday, July 5, 2010

7 miles redux

On Monday I had another all day class. They gave us a several hour break at lunch which coincided with a temperature fluctuating between 90 and 92 degrees. Naturally this was the only time I had to run 7 miles. I didn't wake up early enough to go in the morning and I knew if I waited until after dinner, by the time I digested, it would be too late. So it was run in the excruciating heat or not at all.

i'm not stupid so yes, I went back indoors, but unlike my last attempt at 7 miles where my body rebelled and I sat down on the track at 6.5 miles, this attempt went great! I felt strong and finished the entire 7 miles with only one water break. i wasn't even thirsty, but after 5 miles, it felt like I should have some water, just in case.

My brother had recommended Gatorade pre packets so I tried one today. Maybe that made the difference, maybe it was actually having calories fueling my body. Whatever it was, I destroyed my old 7 mile time. Last week I trudged across the finish line in 1:19:03. Today I was aiming for 1:14 and soared across the finish line in 1:11:44, my last lap the fastest of all. Wow! I lost over a full minute on my average per mile speed. I even felt way better today, strong and not in any pain. The mental trick seems to be not thinking, just listen to the music and keep counting the lap number.

The rest of the week should be pretty easy - 4, 5, 4, 4. It's all relative. Not that long ago 4 miles seemed an insurmountable distance, now it's an easy day.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A short history of running (or something like that)

In 8th grade, I first decided I was a runner and therefore belonged on the track team. It never fazed me that the last time I had run was in 6th grade gym. The track team was one of the hippie types where everyone makes the team. I participated in some meets, sat out others. I wasn't great, but on a team of 70, I wasn't the worst either.

In 9th grade, I joined the track team again. I had run sprints in 8th grade, but decided I was going to take advantage of my height and switch to hurdles. Not many people wanted to do hurdles, so I ran at all the meets, including the one on my birthday when I clipped my trail foot on the very first hurdle, tumbled to the ground and instinct said to break the fall. The result was a broken and dislocated finger. Even better, this happened on my 15th birthday when I had tickets to go to my first Detroit Pistons game. I was off the team.

The next year I decided I was going to be a distance runner. Very early in the season the coach had us jumping on boxes and I twisted my ankle on landing. I didn't rest, but kept running and it eventually turned into a hairline fracture. Another year off the team.

By 11th grade, I was still convinced I was going to be a track star. I hadn't yet found my niche so I switched to mid-distances. I finished the season without any major injury but it's pretty safe to say I was the worst on the team.

My senior year, I joined the team again, but a few weeks in, realized I didn't enjoy it and quit before the first meet.

I didn't run again for years. After college I participated in the Race for the Cure several times and a handful of local runs, as far as 8k, but I never really took it seriously and I was never good! Sure I finished every race, always with at least one walking break.

In 31 years, the furthest I had run without stopping was about 2 miles, probably even less than that. I doubt I've ever run more than 20 minutes without walking. And now I can run more than an hour without stopping or walking. Wow! I have no athletic ability but determination is more powerful and is working thus far. If I can do this, everyone can. It just takes time and work. You can do this!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cheating my way to 7

I had to take a class on Sunday, the same day I was scheduled to run 7 miles. Wow that sounds like a lot, doesn't it? I had two choices - get to class super early and run beforehand, or wait until after and run instead of eating dinner. I decided to get it over with early, even though it was in the 85 degree vicinity and humid! So I ran inside again. Yes it's cheating, but I think it's ok here and again as long as I don't make it every time.

How was running 7 miles? Predictably awful. The furthest I've run in my entire life is 6.2 miles so jumping to 7 was pretty considerable, especially given that I seriously slacked last week and only managed 3 miles the entire week...

I got out the iPod, donned my favorite pink shirt and started out. I knew I was going pretty slow but finishing was much more crucial than any time. Around 6.2 miles my legs felt like lead and I thought I was going to throw up all over the track. So I walked it out for a few minutes and drank a little cold water. Then at 6.5 miles, my legs refused to budge one more step so I sat down right on the track and took a 4-minute break. Got up again and finished. I didn't finish strong, but I finished, which was all that mattered.

The total time was 1:19:03. Slow, but a good starting point to improve on for next Sunday when I do another 7 miler.

The last time I ran 6, I felt awful afterward and curled up on the couch, thinking "If I lay still long enough, eventually I'll fall asleep." This time, I didn't have the luxury of time but I didn't need it. Which is not to say I felt great - my hips were a little sore later that night, but I remained coherent enough to drag myself to class.

I need to share my history on the track team to explain what an enormous accomplishment it is for me to run 7 miles, to run 77 minutes. Soon!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

No turning back now

Registering before the end of June saves runners $15 on the entry cost (it starts at $75 and increases the closer you register to the actual race). I knew this all along and I also knew that it's near the end of June but it didn't click until last night when I finally realized I need to get this taken care of! So I hopped online and within 4 minutes was all signed up for the marathon. I'm conservative with my finances, so now that I've shelled out $75 I'm determined to finish!

The registration had me estimate my finishing time to place me in the appropriate starting wave. It was broken down into 10 minute increments so I chose 4:40 - 4:50. Perhaps a little wishful thinking - I really had no idea beyond somewhere between 4:30 and 6:00.

The confirmation message had an uplifting signature: "We'll see you at the finish line October 17. You can do this." Thanks for the vote of confidence, Freep!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why are the short runs the hardest?

After my six miles on Saturday, I would have thought running 3 and 4 this week would be super easy. The four was ok enough, but the second three mile day was the hardest of the week and I don't understand why! It's a measly three miles. I regularly finish it between 27:40 and 28:30, so why at Elizabeth Park did I struggle to finish under 31 minutes? Granted the park lap is 1.05 miles so doing three laps gave me an extra minute or so. Even with that consideration, why did my per mile time jump from 9:23 on Tuesday to almost 10 minutes on Wednesday?

It's easy to get myself geared up to run 6 miles, but I seem to have this idea that 3 is absolutely nothing, that I can do it without any effort. Yet every time I run the distance I'm reminded that it's a decent length. I think the problem is that I tell myself 3 miles is a piece of cake, when in reality I spent nine weeks gearing up to run 3 miles. I'd almost rather do the longer distances because I can mentally prepare for those better.

Yet running 3 miles - in whatever time - really isn't that terrible. The time goes fast and I'd much rather run for 28 minutes than, say, stare at the wall. I'd definitely rather run than sit in traffic. Maybe I'll become a runner before this is all said and done..? Or maybe not. I tend to prefer the results to the process.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Yeah I cheated - I'm not stupid

Saturday's temperature was in the mid-80s with a heat index in the low 90s. It was also scheduled to be a six mile day. I knew if I forced myself to go outside - when I was sweating just walking 20 feet to the car - that I would last about a mile then give up. I didn't want to quit my long run so I went to the Y. I figured the mileage was more important than one more day on the pavement.

Was it cheating? Absolutely, yet it was also the only way I would make it through six miles. Even inside it was still in the 80s but the humidity was somewhat controlled. I normally try to eat as salt free and sodium free as possible, but I intentionally ate salt in the morning, hoping to hang on to some fluid. I don't know if that made a difference, or what it was, but I felt great throughout the run.

The entire six miles I was overcome with a calmness and knowledge that of course I was going to finish. I forced myself to drink every half mile or so, but for the most part I wasn't even thirsty. I didn't want to interrupt my flow for anything, even water. Was I "in the zone?" And if so, how did I get there? More importantly, how do I make it happen again?

When it was all said and done I finished in 61:30, by far the fastest I've ever done the distance. Even better, the last lap - the 60th was the fastest one.

The irony, of course, is that the next day was cool and cloudy and would have been perfect to run outside. Ah well.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Socks and Shoes

There is a trend toward running barefoot but I'm definitely bypassing that idea. I want the maximum cushioning between my feet and therefore my joints and the street. My shins were sore after two consecutive runs last week which meant it was time for new shoes. I had had the old pair a full year so I had pushed them beyond the recommended 500 miles. They always wear out exactly the same - the small diamond of cushion under the ball of my foot wears out and I replace shoes that otherwise look brand new. They're expensive too but worth every cent of preventing damage to my knees and hips.

Replacing shoes is easy. I go to the store and pick up the newest model of the Mizuno Wave 6. The whole thing takes 4 minutes. The only difference from year to year is the accent coloring. This pair is fuschia and black, last year was a hideous turquoise and chartreuse.

Buying the first pair, however, wasn't nearly so easy. I went to Total Runner in Southgate with my old shoes in tow. The man who helped me looked at my old shoes, measured my feet, watched me walk barefoot then had me try on seemingly every shoe in the store, watching me walk in each pair. Finally an hour later I left with the style I've stuck with for three years now. It was tedious, yes, but essential for a good, comfortable shoe.

I definitely recommend buying the first pair at a running or walking store, rather than a department store. I've found that running stores employ runners who can determine exactly which shoes will be the best, whether cushioning, stability or neutral, etc. I don't even understand all the terms, but he knew which shoes were the best for my feet. He also knew that running shoes might be a different size than street shoes. I wear a full size larger in running shoes which I wouldn't have thought if not for his help and advice.

As for socks, the only brand I wear now are Smart Wool. Wool socks? Absolutely! They're not hot or scratchy in the slightest bit. They're comfortable and wick moisture (pull it from my skin and push it to the outside of the fabric where it's absorbed as water vapor), keeping my feet dry and blister free. I've only found them at REI and paid anywhere from $4 to $11 for one pair. They come in different styles, but tend to run large.

In the winter I had a problem with blistering in the same spot every single run. They guys at Total Runner recommended slathering my feet in Vaseline before running. Sounds gross, but it didn't feel bad and it worked. A few weeks later the problem was gone. I hear Vaseline works for chafing too, but thankfully that hasn't been a problem!

With the old shoes, I kept one pair for yard work, kept a second pair for everyday shoes (I wear the current running pair exclusively for running) and donated the ugly pair to the YMCA. I'm not entirely sure what they do with them - donate to a school maybe? It seems asinine to get rid of a really good pair of shoes, but I have no use for them, so I use the bin to pay it forward. Maybe some little girl with big feet finally has a pair of good shoes :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Best run yet

This afternoon was 78 degrees, 53 percent humidity and cooled by a 7 mph breeze. It was hot and felt somewhat muggy but wound up being the best run I've had thus far. I had to pick up a new pair of shoes at the running store a stone's throw from Mom's house so rather than go back to the park and the monotony of laps I mapped out a 3 mile course around her house. is a decent website for calculating distance. It's full of ads and pop-ups but if you can get through those it's pretty good to either search for existing runs or calculate your own based on either a street view or a satellite view. It's free too :)

I mapped out a 3.05 mile run, grabbed the iPod (and sunblock, but not above my eyes!!!) and headed out. I read before that it's better on the joints to run in the street than the sidewalk because the former gives a tiny bit of cushion, the latter giving absolutely nothing. Where it's low traffic areas I try to follow that advice and today worked out great. There was almost no traffic and plenty of trees. It was also garbage day so there were no parked cars to dodge. Yes the trash liquid leaking on the streets smelled awful but whatever. It gave me incentive to run away from it :)

When it was all said and done I finished the 3.05 in 27:41, another personal best time for me, which destroyed the old of 28:13. Even better, it barely felt like work. Sure, I was aware that I was sweating and breathing hard, but the time went quickly and I didn't agonize over every step. I didn't even hit song #9 on the ultimate cardio playlist which has always been the signal that I need to wrap up the 3 miles. I tried to not think and the time went quickly. Maybe the answer is to not think? Not sure how easy that will be...

Sunday, June 6, 2010


This afternoon was lousy for a summer weekend, but with a temperature in the mid-60s and a reasonable humidity and full cloud cover, it was a wannabe runner's perfect environment. I went to church in the morning, then knowing I was scheduled to do 5 miles, I wanted to finish it off before the rain came in and before the Tigers game started. Waiting until after the game was an option too, but it made much more sense to get it over with and not have it hanging over my head.

It felt relatively cool but I knew I'd be sweating so I grabbed shorts and a tank and set off for my five mile jaunt. I've done the distance a handful of times but today felt really difficult. I had water available but that did little to alleviate the cramp in my right side that made itself felt within the first mile. Nevertheless I grabbed a sip every .75 miles and kept chugging along. I felt awful and my per lap speed was equally awful but when it was all said and done, I finished the five miles in 49 minutes and change, the fastest I've finished the distance.

When I got home I entered it into The Daily Plate to revel in how many calories I had just burnt (836 baby!). Just for kicks I entered everything I had eaten and discovered that I forced myself to run five miles on fewer than 300 calories! It's not that I was deliberately withholding calories or food. I don't like to run on a full stomach, but it was more that I just wasn't hungry this morning. Yet I know that calories are fuel and energy, both of which my body desperately needs to get through the (relatively) longer runs. No wonder I was cramping in my side and had to drag myself through it. Note to self - eat more when you run more! Take care of this body and it will take care of you!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"It's not the heat, it's the humidity..."

We've all heard it. We've all said it. It's generally both the heat and the humidity, but today was all humidity. The temperature was a cool 73 so I put on long pants, not thinking about the humidity at a scorching 85 percent. Ach I was sweating before I even began.

28 minutes later I was done and realized my upper lip sweats. Gross! Yet still better than yesterday when sweat dripped off my forehead, mixed with sunblock and streamed into my burning eyes.

Yesterday and today both I did three miles. Yesterday's time was 28:13, today was 28:14. Ultimately the time doesn't matter so much as the distance, yet I do try to go faster each time or at least stay the same speed. Why drag it out when I can finish it quickly? Besides doing the math keeps my mind busy and therefore not thinking of the task at hand.

The temperature was great, the wind was great, but I can do without the humidity. It was a good run today and even better, I completed the entire run and cooled off before the rain (and therefore saved my shoes from the mud).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Maybe there's something to this morning running thing

I was up before 6 this morning and for a few minutes seriously considered getting up and running. I came to my senses, however, and went back to sleep. I was up for good at 9:30 and immediately tested the weather to determine if I was running early or late. I opened the window and the humidity hit me like a blast oven. Yet I knew it would only get worse so I figured why not? and left before I could talk myself out of it.

When I left home it was very hot and humid so I wore shorts and a tank, but when I started a quick warm-up walk it was cold and made me wish for a long sleeve t-shirt. By the time I started running, it was hot again. What's that line about Michigan weather? If you don't like it wait a few minutes...

Running early on Saturday felt great, but today, not so much. I had to stop once for water, but I wasn't really dehydrated, so much as bored. For as miserable as I felt, though, I did the same distance as on Saturday but finished 19 seconds faster today.

After I finished I enjoyed the rest of the day knowing I didn't have the run hanging over my head. I think there's really something to be said about getting up and getting it over with. Now if only work didn't get in the way!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Getting it over with early

When left to my own devices, I generally sleep until 11 or noon. Today, however, I was up at 9:30, wide awake from the sunlight streaming throughout the house. It was still somewhat cool and the humidity was low, so I grabbed a muffin and headed off to run before it got any hotter. The park was nearly empty, half the route was in the shade and the wind I complained about weeks ago was a nice gentle breeze today. I felt so great that I hit the Y immediately after for a few miles on the bike then walked a mile on the treadmill at a 9% incline.

Later in the day it got ridiculously hot and now I'm flipping between the Tigers game and Harry Potter so I'm glad I got it over with - it would be hard to give up either in favor of running :) I know later in the summer the morning will be my only option and this was a great way to start the morning run! (of course it's all relative. In a few weeks 10am won't be cool but once the schools close I can wake up with the sun then nap in the afternoon...)

I had been worried about getting dehydrated with running so soon after waking but it wasn't an issue. Even better, I went 3 minutes faster than I had on Wednesday. It was all good today!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

85 degrees? No sweat!

How did it get to 85 degrees overnight? More than half of my outdoor running has been in a hooded sweatshirt and gloves so this heat wave was a major surprise. I thought I'd be gradually easing into hot weather running, not making an immediate switch.

Last Thursday I planned to do my first 4-mile run in the heat. I thought mind over matter would solve everything. I made it to 1.6 miles when my brain got lazy and said that was enough. Monday was even hotter so I compromised by going back to the Y. Even though it's air conditioned, it's still in the upper 70s and the glass wall lets in sunlight and heat. There is also no breeze, so it was a good compromise. The first 1.5 miles were great, the next I thought I was going to throw up at every turn. Once this feeling subsided (and my lunch stayed in place...) the last bit was great.

That wasn't enough acclimating though, so I went to the park and walked in the heat, just getting used to the weather. That night, however, I took out the trash and discovered it was cool enough to run outside. I know it won't stay cool at night all summer and I'll have to start running with the sunrise, but I'm not ready for that quite yet. Let me baby step my way into it.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Better than nothing

My motivational problems continue and the dreary flat gray sky didn't help any yesterday. After I slept in late, watched the Tigers game, read a chapter for grad school and did basically everything I could to procrastinate, I finally dragged myself to the gym. I've gained a few pounds over the past weeks and I went to combat that weight if nothing else.

I got there after 5, which is the busiest time of the day, but my favorite bike was available - out of the ten or twelve bikes they have, I like exactly one - so I made a beeline for it lest someone beat me there, turned on my iPod and isolated myself from the world. 56 minutes later I was pouring sweat but I had finished 15 miles and burnt 950 calories (according to The Daily Plate which is based on my weight, unlike the bike's counter which is based on a 150-pound person).

It's pretty bad that I'd much rather bike 56 minutes than do the run, which was only scheduled for 3 crummy miles. I would have finished the run in under 30 minutes, but it was somehow easier and more enjoyable to bike double the time. Too bad I can't bike my way through the marathon :) I worked my heart and legs for almost an hour so it wasn't a total wash, certainly better than anything else I had done all day.

After dinner (a subway 12-inch baked chicken on 9-grain bread with lots of veggies, but no cheese or dressing) I watched The Biggest Loser (I dvr it then fastforward all the drama and the entire episode gets condensed to about 35 minutes) and they were "training" for a marathon. I generally like the show's message about eating right and taking personal responsibility for the success or failure of one's weight, but this marathon was awful! It appeared to have been sprung on the contestants and they had 30 days to prepare. 30 day?! Don't most people train for 6 months? or longer? One of the contestants said he was outside walking 20 miles every day. One of the trainers should have interjected that walking 20 miles every day is too much! Every training program I've found has exactly ONE 20-mile day and mine is September 25. I can't wait!!! < / sarcasm >

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Taking it to the streets

All my outside running thus far has been a continuation of laps, whether at Council Point Park or at Trenton's Elizabeth Park. Yesterday, however, was scheduled for five miles and I didn't want to do that many laps, so I went to Mom's house where I know the street route for that distance. After hours of procrastinating and grazing on candy, I finally hooked my can of mace on my waistband, turned the iPod to a moderately low volume and headed out. I felt like I was going impossibly slow - it felt like I could have walked at the same speed, yet by the time I made it back to her house, I had averaged 10:10 over five miles, which is just about what I hit at the Y when I run there. It was even a little faster than I've done a few times, not to mention I had to stop for a few traffic lights and didn't bother to pause the stopwatch for those few seconds.

I won't lie and say it was fun, but I'll admit there's a certain sense of accomplishment in running 52 minutes without keeling over. When I was in college I went to church with a girl who was training for a marathon. One day she was so excited about running 18 miles in 3 hours. I didn't understand her excitement - I could come up with hundreds of other things I'd rather do with three hours, but perhaps I'm beginning to understand it. There's a definite sense of empowerment in pushing your body beyond what your mind said was possible.

Lisa, I hope you found your inspiration on Friday! Here's an ad slogan you might like: (Sound mind) x (sound body) x total physical exhaustion = ALIVE!

Friday, May 14, 2010

If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice

I've realized that running a marathon is a decision I have to make several times a week. It's a goal I need to recommit to almost every day. It's pretty rare that I wake up and think "I am not going to do any exercise today!" This happens almost every Sunday, but otherwise I just don't get around to running unless I make it the priority from the time I wake up.

By choosing to not make a decision, however, I have decided to not run or do anything to advance the marathon training. It's so much easier to watch the Tigers game or take a nap or do laundry. Some days I'd rather clean the bathroom than run. Yet if I want to cross the finish line in October, I need to decide affirmatively more often, not have the notion that I'll run "after the Tigers game..., after work..., after I do the laundry." Once I start, inertia keeps me going but getting into my gym clothes and on my feet is the absolute hardest part.

Starting training is new and exciting, showing up at the starting line will be exciting, but this in between is a grind. To be perfectly honest, it's boring. I don't regard running as fun, I see it as the means to the end of losing and keeping off weight. Let me remind myself of a quote from Jillian Michaels: "It's a commitment you have to renew every single day. But the payoff is worth it." Tomorrow is another day, another chance to start over, another chance to log another five miles. I can't waste that chance!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Motivational Problems

I've been having serious motivational problems this week and weekend. It's not even that I'm busy working or sick or anything, I just don't want to run! I dragged myself back to the Y today - I know I'll need to run in the rain at some point but after a 7-hour work meeting, today was not the day. Once I got started, inertia got me through 4 miles, but it wasn't fun. I wouldn't say I hated it, but I definitely would have preferred biking or pretty much anything else. The endorphins felt good and I'm glad I went but I really wasn't feeling it. It would be easy to blame the weather, but then what's my excuse for Sunday and Monday?

Please share any ideas for getting motivated to run when you don't want to.

Protecting the girls

Before it became a fashion magazine, Women's Health was a good health and fitness publication. One of their early stories was a review of the best sports bras. For high impact sports, they chose Under Armour's Endure style. REI sells it for $45 and while expensive, it's worth every cent.

The article noted that sweat breaks down lycra (or elastane in this case) so sports bras need to be washed every time they're worn (not sure why you wouldn't...) The best combination is Woolite and the gentle cycle then line dry. Don't use the dryer!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How fast are you gonna go?

I've been asked several times how fast I plan to finish the marathon. I have no aspirations of qualifying for Boston or New York, so the time is ultimately immaterial. I do, however, have a plan.

At first I thought 4 hours would be a good, feasible goal. It was fine until I worked out the math and realized this is a 9-minute mile. I can absolutely do 9-minute miles, but 10-minute miles feel a lot better and a lot easier, especially as the mileage increases. If I can maintain a constant 6 mph I'm looking at about a 4.5 hour marathon. If it becomes 5 hours, that's fine too.

In the end, regardless of whatever time I'm aiming for, the only thing that matters is finishing. If I get to 18 or 22 or 26 miles and my body shuts down, it's ok to walk to the end. My goal is to cross the finish line by my own power, regardless of how long that takes.