Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 166 - Out like a lion

What happened to summer-in-March? This week has been terrible! Today especially has been freezing cold and pouring rain all day long. Yuck! Good thing I don't run on Fridays.

Last week was my highest training week of 40 miles and now for three weeks I'm tapering, the gradual reduction in mileage that allows my body time to heal and get ready for the race. The lesser miles are nice, but I'd like to run the race tomorrow and be done with it! It feels like I'll lose my capabilities with taking it easy so much. My biggest complaint is the callus on my right foot, but I could run 26.2 through that.

This week was so-so on the mileage. Hal recommended 5-4-8-12 and I didn't even hit that. Thursday was supposed to be 8 miles and at 6:10 pm I was already regretting not running. There was still time so I forced myself outside. It was in the low 40s and I had to find my tights, definitely not something I wanted to look for until October or later. Most days if I can get dressed, my mind gets in the game, but Thursday's run never had the mental component. I finally told myself if I could finish the 6.07 lap in under an hour, I could quit. If I went too slow, however, I had to finish the prescribed 8. I finished in 58:58.

I'm equally unexcited about running 12 tomorrow. I know I'll have the cavalier attitude of it's an easy run. It's only 12. Obviously I'm forgetting that until a few months ago, 12 miles was an extremely long distance and it took me months to gear up for it. 12 isn't as difficult as 18 or 20, but it's still a solid 2-hour run.

Come back summer-in-March. This is awful!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 164 - The most awesome thing of all

One of my favorite sites is 1000 Awesome Things. I started following it some time into the countdown, so I'm not sure he mentioned this. Regardless, here's my opinion of something truly awesome: The human body!

On Wednesdays I work with a 5th grader and we do science work sometimes so I'm reminded of what I learned years ago. The body has so many parts and systems and yet they all work together!!! Even better, I can tell my body to do something completely crazy - like run 20 miles and it does so! The limiting factors are all in my head. My body can do everything my mind says to.

Then after completely abusing my body through a 20 mile run, it heals itself! That's the most amazing part of all! I didn't do a recovery workout after 20, I didn't get a massage, I just went on with my normal life and my body completely repaired itself in less than 24 hours. How amazing is that?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 161 - 20 felt better than 18

The first time I ran 18 it took 3:33 and every single inch of my body ached.

The second time took 3:27 and I was in pain. I assumed my 20 mile train would be more like the first attempt at 18, that my body would want to give up the fight and just stop.

It was a great surprise then to push myself through it and finish all 20 in 3:41:39. My target time was 3:48 to hit my spring marathon pace. Yes, I had done the math down to the second while I was running :) Going into the last mile I thought perhaps I could hit 3:46 or 3:47. My time was a great surprise! Per mile, my pace was better doing 20 than either of the attempts at 18.

The actual run was ok. Actually it was awful, but I've felt worse during shorter runs. I had planned to run 4 laps of 5 miles each. On the third lap, I thought there is no way I could do this same route again, so I changed the 5 to a 6 then improvised at the end.

My times were:
Miles 1-5 ---- 49:02 with no walking!!!
Miles 6-10 --- 55:14
Miles 11-16 -- 1:10:10
Mile 17 ------ 13:24
Mile 18 ------ 13:11
Mile 19 ------ 10:49
Mile 20 ------ 9:46

Around miles 14-15, my body detached from my mind. My legs kept going and my brain was completely detached from the pain and misery of it all. Miles 18 and 19 I kept hitting patches of inertia where it definitely hurt, but I was able to just keep going, knowing it would have been harder to stop and restart than to just keep going.

The weather was pretty decent. It was awful for the summer-in-March, but pretty good for running. It was in the low to mid 60s and cloudy. Rain had been in the forecast all week for Saturday but it never came. It was actually nice to have cloudy weather and not be super concerned about the sun.

After the run my clothing was so sweat soaked and the thought of touching it repulsed me so I hopped in the shower fully dressed. It's always easier to touch water soaked clothing than sweat soaked stuff.

My friend came over and we played Nintendo, ate dinner and watched a movie. Without her, I probably would have been in bed before 7 :)

My hips are a little sore, but otherwise I feel none too terrible for the abuse I did my body 20 hours ago.

This post is really disjointed, just like how I feel post 20-miles.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 159 - The greatest run ever. Ever!!!

Thursday was a long-ish run, 10 miles to be exact. It was also ridiculously hot outside. I had a fire drill at work and it was awful. I think I was sweating in the few minutes we were outside. I texted my friend to ask how exactly I was supposed to run in that? Any running would have been bad enough, but ten miles? Bah! Not my cup of tea!

I was in no hurry to run whatsoever, even though the news claimed it wouldn't cool off until 4am. hah that's funny. No, not really. It was awful. So I laid on the couch, I sent emails, I washed the dishes, watched most of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince." I was doing anything to NOT run. I told my friend I'd go at 5:00 or 5:30, but that deadline came and went. Finally after 6:00 I dragged myself off the couch and said I can't give up now, not with three weeks left. I had switched to Hal's program because I needed more mileage on my legs, so I couldn't pass up his directions, when he recommended what I knew I needed!

I was fully prepared for the furnace-like weather I imagined was outside, except it really wasn't that bad. The thermostat I passed claimed 79 but it didn't feel anywhere near that.

I really had no expectations for my run, but it wound up being great! The single greatest run I've done in my entire life! My goal is always to run past the Anglican church before walking, but this time as I passed the church, I thought I could make it to the next major street before I walked. Then I made the turn and thought I could make it to next turn. Then I just kept going until I said That's enough for now.

My ten miler was broken down into: run 3.5, walk a tiny bit, run 5.0, walk a tiny bit, run 1.5 and done! It wasn't the fastest run I've ever done. It wasn't the furthest, but it felt the best.

My heart was ticking away, but I barely felt it. My lungs were huffing and puffing, but I barely noticed those either. I was aware that I was in pain, namely the callous on my right foot kept reminding me of its presence and my underarm was chafing, but none of that mattered. What mattered was how great my joints felt. My knees and hips felt soft and squishy, and able to absorb every pounding step. My brain quieted down and stopped whining to stop, freeing my legs to just keep going.

I felt like I could run forever. It was the greatest feeling ever. I want to bottle that feeling and use it again on Saturday's 20-miler, and certainly use that sensation at the race. Was it the elusive runner's high? I didn't feel high (not that I've ever been high so I can't compare it). I felt relaxed. If I had had a few protein bars and two more hours of daylight, I have no doubt I could have easily done a 20 miler. What an awesome feeling!

It really helped moved the 5:00 marathon goal from the delusion to the concrete and make me believe without any doubt that in 3 weeks I'm going to cross the finish line under my target time. See you at the finish!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 158 - The ultimate 4-hour cardio playmix part 5

I've recently added to the ultimate 4-hour cardio playmix. It now stands at a total time of 3:54:51. It's ingrained in my head to call it the 4-hour, so the name sticks. I've gotten several recommendations this week though, so I might actually hit a solid 4 hours :)

Here's the end:

55. Awake and Alive - Skillet
56. Break Stuff - Limp Bizkit
57. The Beautiful People - Marilyn Manson
58. Not Afraid - Eminem
59. Down with the Sickness - Disturbed
60. Baby Got Back - Sir Mix a Lot
61. The Night Pat Murphy Died - Great Big Sea
62. Irish Drinking Song - Dropkick Murphys (?)
63. Lighters - Eminem et al
64. Get Thru This - Art of Dying
65. Devour - Shinedown
66. Tonight - Seether
67. One Step Closer - Linkin Park

As for 60-62, there is a ton of angry yelling music and those serve as my comic relief. Who doesn't laugh at Baby Got Back??? All these years later, it's still hilarious :D

I'm not actually sure who sings the "Irish Drinking Song" or if that's even the real title. The chorus is "drink and drink and drink and drink and drink and drink and fight." Any concrete answers?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 157 - Yup, I'm actually complaining about the hot weather

When it comes to my regular life, this summer-in-March has been GREAT!! The sunshine is awesome, wearing short sleeves is wonderful after long sweaters all winter, I've been driving my convertible, everything is super great and I hope every March is like this!

That's my normal self at least.

My running self isn't so happy. What happened to acclimating to warm weather? What happened to temperatures in the 50s? The 60s? It got way too hot, way too fast! Luckily I read that acclimating to cold weather takes three weeks, but only one for warm weather. I guess I'm acclimated.

It doesn't help one iota that I've been in the habit since September of running after work, which is usually 3 or 4 pm when the temperature is at its highest of the day. This morning I was driving between schools at 9:45 and I saw two people out jogging. I was so jealous! It was sunny, but still cool and I wished so badly I was running!!! Nevermind that on days I don't work, I don't leave the house before noon....

I worked then dragged myself outside in the heat of the day and it was ok. Thankfully there was a good strong breeze. Also thankfully it was only a 5-miler. I did the exact same route as yesterday and I felt better today, yet it was a minute slower? I'm trying to not dwell on that, because really, what's one minute when doing a 47 or 48 minute workout?

One of my students said it's supposed to go back into the 50s. Fine with me!!!! (Did I actually just say that???)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 153 - .14 farther, 13 minutes better

My first attempt at 14 miles was by far the worst run in the whole training process. It was cold, snowy, gray, windy and just miserable in every way possible. Today was completely different. It was 72 and sunny, ergo my 11:25 pace became a more respectable 10:40. Like every run, the first part was great! The first 8 miles were easy enough. The first 6.07 was done in 1:01. Then as soon as I hit my last lap, it's like my mind and body shut down and I had to drag myself through the last six miles.

It wasn't great - I was dehydrated, even with a water belt, I hadn't eaten enough calories, and my shirt was soaked with sweat. Gross! Something especially gross about warmer weather running is that my arms and legs sweat, then the water evaporates and I'm left with dry salt residue all over my body. Ewww!

It got done. Nothing else matters. Now I soak the callous on my foot and pumice stone it, then hit it with extra strength lotion. In four weeks it'll all be over and I can give my body the two or three weeks break from running it wants! Doing a 26 week training program is too long. I should have started with Hal and kept it to 18 weeks. Ah well, live and learn.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 151 - Clockwise bad, counterclockwise good

Almost all of my runs - regardless of the distance - go in a counterclockwise pattern. Just for fun on Wednesday I thought I'd do my 5-mile loop the opposite direction. It was awful! Terrible! Horrid!!! For every degree that my Tuesday run was awesome, my Wednesday run was equally wretched. It was the exact same route, but the direction made all the difference.

Then a huge light bulb flashed over my head. The first time I ran 18, I felt fine the first 10 miles, then everything fell apart the second 8. The next time I ran 18, it was all good for 12, then fell to pieces for the last 6. What made the difference in both runs? Changing directions!!! Each time I ran 2 counterclockwise laps, then switched for variety and different scenery the last lap. Big mistake!

My runs now and forevermore will go COUNTERCLOCKWISE! I don't mind continually looking at the same thing. My music is always the same, why shouldn't my scenery be as well?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 149 - In like a lamb

So many days at work I see the warm-ish temperature and midday sun and desperately want to leave so I can run right then before the weather changes. The students obviously can't rearrange their schedules so I can work late, so it's always just been a pipe dream and I spend the afternoon knowing the nice weather will be long gone by the time I can fit in a run.

Today was so different. I worked until 4:30 and didn't start running until 5:18 when it was still SUNNY!!! I *heart* daylight savings time!!! It was full sun for the entire time I ran, and the temperature stayed in the low 60s. Wonderful wonderful running weather!!!! Somehow it doesn't seem very note-worthy to say I wore shorts in March :) I had bare legs though! Whee!

Chuck Gaidica (local news weatherman) looked into his magic 8 ball and claims 75 for next week, which would be good as well, but if it stays low 60s and sunny until April 14 I'll be a mighty happy camper.

Hal said to do 5 miles today. No problem! I was running FAST at the end (ok, fast for me!) which tells me....I'm darn lazy! If I can push myself really hard at the end of a 5-miler, I should be going faster throughout the entire run. I did the exact same route as last Tuesday when I finished in 48:49. I was happy enough with that. Today, however, 46:29. Yeah baby! The average time per mile was 9:17, my third fastest since I started with the Daily Mile and the two fastest don't hardly count because they were each 2 miles. Who can't run fast for two miles? :D

It was wonderful to see other people outside, walking their dogs, riding bikes. I even passed 2 other runners. Happy running!!!!

Update: I reworked the math for my Martian goal and my Saturday time WAS on target pace. To hit 5 hours I'll have to average 11:27s, so 11:24s were on pace, by the skin of my teeth.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Day 147 - Running with God

As part of my 5 (or 6) mile route, I pass a beautiful church. I don't even know what type of church it is. For some reason I have it in my head that it's an Anglican church but I really don't know. I always imagine how beautiful it would be with the large lawn covered in snow. My goal is always to hit the church before I do any walking and most days I can do so.

The first time I passed it, something popped in my head, something I hadn't thought about in years, Philippians 4:13 "I can do everything through God who gives me strength." Now every time I pass the church it runs through my head. Sometimes it sounds like a declaration "I. Can. Do. EVERYTHING. Through. God. Who. Gives. Me. STRENGTH!!!!" Other times it all runs together "IcandoeverythingthroughGodwhogivesmestrength." More often it sounds like "I *gasp* can *breathe* do.........everything.....*gasp* through God *suck air* *breathe* strength." If I keep saying it enough, I believe it.

Thursday was another awful day. It was cold and gray all day with 100% cloud cover. It was also a day in which Hal prescribed 9 miles. Actually Wednesday was supposed to be 9 and Thursday 5, but I had to make the switch due to Wednesday night work. After I finished my Thursday day job I should have run right away, but instead I laid on the couch and did a whole lot of procrastinating for HOURS. I had pretty much accepted I wasn't going to run at all.

Then, sitting at my computer, I saw the reflection in the monitor of my neighbor's house. I thought I saw....sun? really??? I ran to the front door and looked out. Yes! Sun!!! It was like God was knocking on my front door asking "What do I have to do to get you running? I gave you strong legs, I gave you a strong heart that can beat effortlessly for hours of running, I gave you clear lungs (for this week at least). I gave you a non-winter!!! What more do you want, girl? Sunshine? Now go run!!!"

So I did and it was great :)

Saturday wasn't so great. It was cold-ish so I dressed for the cold. I must live in a wind tunnel though because it was super cold and windy on my porch, but it wasn't really that cold and I was overdressed. I ran a 6.07 mile lap then stopped home for a bathroom break and to refill my water bottles. I ditched my wool hat and gloves and traded the undershirt and hoodie for a long sleeve tech wick. It felt so good to have a bare head!!!! Yet at 12.14 miles I made another pit stop and realized I would finish near sundown and I was sweating so I would get chilled, so I changed my shirt AGAIN! What a pain!

The actual run was ok. The first lap was great! 6.07 miles in 1:02:44. Second lap was ok, 6.07 in 1:09:32. Third lap was rough, 6.07 in 1:15:23. The last 1.3 miles I felt strangely energized but it was probably deliriousness more than anything. When it was all said and done, I went 0.21 miles further than my last 18-miler and i was still 6 minutes faster. That's all fine and good, but I was still going too slow for my spring race pace. I'm counting on two big things for that day - good weather, and not being alone!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Day 142 - Calories are not the enemy

When it comes to food, I'm waiting for two inventions. First, Willy Wonka was on the right path with the gumball that had the flavor and sensations of a 3-course dinner, but without the calories. I want to be able to eat food, enjoy it, but not gain any weight.

The other thing I wish someone would invent is a magic pill that makes me feel full and gives me the strength and energy of food, but doesn't involve any time to prepare, consume or digest. A major problem I have with long runs is that I can't ingest enough calories. The 2010 marathon was particularly awful. Food like fruit, which is low in calories and high in fiber - both good things - wasn't very helpful in preparing to burn 5,000 (ish) calories.

I may have found the next best thing....the MetRX Big 100. Why do they call it 100? It has 420 calories and is clearly a MEAL-REPLACEMENT bar. It's small, easily digested and tastes comparable to a ClifBar.

I had one before my 18-miler and it wasn't terrible. I had calories to fuel my legs, but not the sensation of a full, gurgly stomach. I'm not sure they were actual pretzels, more likely just pretzel shaped chemicals, but as far as calorie bars, it wasn't terrible. Something terrible I tried on the same run was vanilla gel. It was disgusting! It was so overly sweet that I downed half a bottle of water to get it down without tasting it. Pizza or cheesecake would have provided calories even easier, but then I'd be looking for a bathroom in the middle of the run, which is never a good idea.

Something that makes me crazy about the Biggest Loser is how everyone acts like calories are evil. They're not! Calories are a source of ENERGY. When a person has no calories, he/she has no fuel and therefore no energy. Silly people!

As long as I'm posting pictures of food, here was Sunday's breakfast - whole wheat waffles with added flax seed, buried under cinnamon and fresh fruit. Bon apetite!

Today's run was GREAT! I do so much better when the weather is nice. It was 48 and sunny so I was out in shorts and knee socks. I wore my SmartWool hat, but I didn't really need it. Wore a hoodie as well and I would have been fine with just a long sleeve tech wick shirt. Best part of the race? No walking, baby! When my brain wanted a break, my legs yelled back "Quit wimping out! Suck it up and finish!" My brain listened to the wise legs :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Day 140 - I refuse to feel guilty

Teaching an adult ESL (English as a Second Language) class is a teacher's dream. The students are among the nicest people in the world, they have great attendance, work hard, and are never a behavior problem whatsoever. The night program where I taught in the past, and where I taught last month offers ESL as a personal enrichment class, so I always had a ton of freedom to decide what I wanted to teach, without being strictly controlled by state standards.

It's the world's perfect class, yet I quit it. Who quits their dream job? I feel like I'm abandoning the students. They even said (in broken English) that it's hard on them to have so many different teachers in a semester. It'll be at least 3 teachers this semester, but I can't feel bad about it. I can care about them, but still have my own life and my own priorities, which were sorely lacking in the month I taught the class. Maybe if I didn't have 2 nights of history classes it would have been different, but my training and health were going downhill fast and I didn't train for 20 weeks to give up at the very end.

My friend gave me the greatest support and encouragement to quit. It was nice to be reminded that I wasn't doing anything wrong. "U can't ignore your goals and mental health," she texted. "Don't feel guilty when you've done nothing wrong." Besides it wasn't my class. I had been asked to sub for one month while they found a permanent replacement. I fulfilled my end of the bargain and I'm done with it, both physically and mentally.

Even the Bible agrees with quitting the class:
Phillipians 2:4: "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Notice that this text assumes that you are going to look out for your own interests. And knowing that is true, the text emphasizes that we should also be careful to attend to the needs of others. The text assumes that both are important. My interests are important; other people's interests are important. The text does not say, "Stop looking to your own interests, and pay attention only to the needs of others." It acknowledges that we will look to our own interests, and it encourages us to also look to the interests of others.

Something else I can't let bother me was missing my best friend's daughter's birthday party. They have both been sick all week, my friend with a fever and chills. She essentially uninvited me because she kept saying she didn't want to interfere with my training, she didn't want me to get her virus because it was a bad one. I will see the little munchkin when she's healthy. I wanted to go to the party but I understand and appreciate my friend's logic. A stomach virus would be awful, especially as my 4th consecutive sickness.

The funny postscript is that I walked passed a Coney Island yesterday just before my run. I know it as the Albanian Coney Island because the cooks and most of the customers are from the country or speak the language. I had to wait while a car turned in the drive. I was dressed like an overstuffed marshmallow and my only makeup was greasy sunblock I slathered on for the sun and wind. Naturally, then, the driver was one of my night ESL students and he recognized me. It never fails!

It took 7 hours from waking up to actually running, but it was a good run, even if it was cold and gray. At one point I was running straight into the blustery wind and snow. One step two step it got done, all ten miles of it. I always have 10-minute miles in the back of my head. At 1:32 I realized there was no way I would finish in 1:40, yet I did some fast math and realized if I finished in 1:45, that would be my target pace for the Free Press (4:33 = 10:30 miles). 8.5 ish miles into my run, I started caring about the time and established an instant time goal.

When I finally finished it was in 1:45:19, 19 seconds over my fall goal time. Sweet! Had I been thinking about time and pace the whole time I would have been able to hit 1:45 even. Not bad for a race that's 7 months and 17 days away! When I got home and did the math I realized I'll have to average 10:25s for the fall, so I was actually 1:09 over pace, but I'm still happy with it. My goal pace for the Martian is 11:30 per mile and I bested that by a long shot, even in crappy weather!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day 137 - Not a happy camper

I'm not a happy camper. I'm angry and I'm frustrated. Why? I'm freaking sick AGAIN!!!!! Soooooooo angry and frustrated!!! I had less than one healthy week after the flu and cold, and now another cold? What the heck?!?! I haven't been healthy in a solid MONTH!

Who can I blame? The germy students, certainly. Hand sanitizing 25+ times in 7 hours obviously isn't enough. Blame the weather. Blame the post 18-miles. I got a cold immediately after the marathon in 2010. Related or coincidental? Who knows? Who cares, really?

I'm angry and I'm frustrated. Hal says to run 9 miles today, but my head is all woozy and I feel like I have mush behind my forehead bone.

To make it all worse, I have stupid work tonight. Angry about that too! Sleeping and recovering are tons more important than the few dollars I'll make tonight. It's the last night, thankfully. Next week I'll "only" have 2 nights (and 5 days, of course). WORK MAKES ME SICK!!! Is a marathon a valid reason to take a personal leave of absence until Easter? It should be. I HATE BEING SICK!!!!! I try to take care of myself, I try to eat well (some days are more successful than others, but always in the 1400-1700 calorie range). I eat fruit and veggies and fiber every day. I exercise 6 days a week (cardio, strength and yoga), I sleep 8 hours a night. I have one or fewer drinks a month. I have never smoked. I take vitamin d supplements and wash my hands like a maniac. WHY AM I ALWAYS SICK???? I HATE IT!!!!!!

I'm so frustrated I made a doctor's appointment for a physical. I generally avoid seeing doctors because they tend to not fix what's wrong with me anyway, but whatever. I'm desperate enough to try it. FIX ME!!!