Monday, December 19, 2011
This is about how I felt.
The worst was probably when I saw myself on video during the interview I did for the Pig last spring. I wanted to crawl into a hole. I like to imagine myself as graceful. I've mentioned my Running Buddy's Gazelle mantra before - some people can totally pull it off and look like a true athlete when they run.
Me? Well, this about sums it up.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
So, remember how excited I was to take the next step toward minimalist running? And how excited I was about the New Balance Minimus shoes that I was going to transition to after Air Force? Well, I finally pulled them out and took them for a spin. The result? Well, it was less than winning. In fact, it was brutally painful. Literally.
That's not decorative trim, it's blood. I noticed the rubbing on my heel about a mile into what should have been a 5-mile run. By the time I hit the 2-mile mark, the slight irritation had turned to full on skin-shredding. Ow!
I went home and gingerly removed the offenders. I couldn't bear to leave the run unfinished, so I threw on my trusty old Kinvaras and hit the pavement again. Fortunately, the profile on the Kinvaras is much lower, so there was no further damage. Unfortunately, I got blood on my Kinvaras, too :(
The culprit was a stupid seam on the inside of the heel.
It's raised, and in just the right place to catch your heel with every step. Husband was convinced I was just unlucky, until he took his out for a mile and had the same problem. Sad face, I really wanted to love these shoes.
The shoes went back. It's nice to have a local running store who really wants you to run your best - they took them back and helped me pick another pair to meet my needs. Thanks, Running Spot!
So what did I get? I'll save that for another post. It's been too long, anyway.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Every year I read the same articles that tell you how to avoid gaining weight during this festive season. Every year I read the same couple of tips that just stare out at me as being completely unrealistic. I'm going to share my favorites with you. You're so lucky!
1. Avoid Temptation
Avoid constantly putting yourself in situations that tempt you. For example, don’t walk through the break room at work 10 times a day when you know it's filled with holiday treats and candies. Spend a few minutes in the morning packing a healthy snack (like almonds, a piece of fruit or a yogurt) so you'll have a healthy weight-loss alternative.
And don't place treats on your kitchen counter to stare you in the face or take four desserts off the buffet vowing to take only one bite of each. Remember, EAT before you meet. Have this small meal before you go to any parties: a hardboiled egg, apple, and a thirst quencher (water, seltzer, diet soda, tea).
This is a great idea in theory, but who the hell can actually do this in practice? In reality you know that the almonds, fruit, and yogurt are going to be left to languish in the back of the workroom refrigerator in favor of cookies and other such niceties. As for the second tip, if you eat that small meal before the party you're inevitably going to end up eating the equivalent of two meals by the time all is said and done. So what if you had a hardboiled egg? Are you still going to be passing up chocolate? May as well skip the calories in the egg and apple altogether and just have chocolate for dinner instead.
2. Liquid calories count
Holidays are notorious for tempting us with drinks we wouldn't normally consume. Alcohol offers no nutrients — just empty calories, and we often forget to count them. Eggnog coffee drinks with whipped cream, hot toddies, spiced rum, these drinks can have as many calories as a personal pan pizza! Limit your consumption and order sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice instead. It'll look festive and save calories. If you want to go for the alcohol, alternate alcoholic drinks with diet-friendly, calorie-free sparkling water.
This is all true, but what they're forgetting here is that "sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice" isn't going to help us deal with those difficult people in our lives that come out of the woodwork around the holiday season. It also won't help you handle hosting a holiday with grace, or ensure that you're relaxed enough to keep you from grinding your teeth down to nothing while you clench your jaw to avoid saying something in the heat of a discussion that you might regret later (Why yes, of course I believe that women should know their place and stay inside the home. Why no, I don't believe that men and women are intellectual equals). Please understand that I'm not in any way shape or form saying that alcohol is necessary to make it through the holiday season, just that it can go a long way in maintaining quality family relations.
3. Save it for something special
Indulge only in new, interesting foods; have one taste of each. Avoid feeling deprived and distracted by food all evening long — allow yourself one dessert or holiday truffle per event. When you’re done, destroy the plate. If you've had enough to eat but others are still picking, dump salt over any food you have left.
Sure, I'll just have one bite of chocolate. Like I said above, I would just make that the whole meal. That's my personal issue though, instead of giving up on the dessert part I just won't eat any "real food" to make up for it. I do that during work potluck lunches pretty regularly. Who needs chili, soup, or appetizers? Pass the dessert, please.
I do like the salt idea, but I suffer from "leftovers guilt" and can't bear to throw away food. This is why at any given time you will find a random collection of neatly packed tupperware containers stacked in our fridge. What's in there right now? Leftover calzone filling? Check. Leftover corn tortilla strips? Check. A tea bag that I can reuse because the flavor is so strong? Check. Half of a green pepper that I know I have little intention of actually finishing? Check.
Monday, November 21, 2011
He wants to be able to just pick up whenever he wants and go hiking in the mountains, or rafting down a river, or biking down a mountain. All of which we did last week. (Wow, was it really only last week?!) He also likes to mop the floor with the younger guys on the paintball field. I think that probably accounts for a good 75% of his motivation - not looking like the "old man" around the college-age kids out there.
After our big vacation, I'm starting to see his point. Everything that we were able to do and enjoy would have been made more difficult, if not impossible, had we not been exercising regularly. The hiking took some serious stamina and cardiovascular fitness. Even though we weren't exactly sprinting through the woods, the constant pushing onward and upward and the higher elevations were tiring on the lungs and heart. The running I've done was definitely helpful, since my legs were already conditioned for keeping me moving for hours at a time.
The rafting trip required a surprising amount of physical exertion. I was really shocked at how sore my core muscles were after the morning trip down the river, but I guess it makes sense when you think about needing to keep your abdominal and back muscles engaged nearly 100% of the time just to remain upright in the boat. Add in the bending and leaning for the paddle strokes, and you've got yourself an ab workout that would even make Tony Horton (P90X creator and exercise guru) proud. Each paddle was a crunch.
Even when we weren't actively seeking adventure and excitement (Wow, I can't even type that without thinking to myself "Adventure? Excitement? A Jedi craves not these things."), we were constantly on the move. We covered miles every evening, walking through Vail and Lionsgate. Sure, maybe some of those miles were treks to the gelato shop or to the bar, but hey, after days full of activity, we deserved it. All the more reason to indulge in a variety of local beers and handmade sweets - carbohydrates for recovery :)
The whole time, I just thought about how lucky we were that we were able to take a mini vacation at all, but, moreso, how lucky we were that we were actually able to enjoy it in the form of some amazing physical activities. Had we been out of shape, I'm sure the trip wouldn't have been nearly as fantastic.
How else would I have been able to take in such magnificent views?
Well, I guess I could have just rode hopped in the gondola, but that wouldn't have been as rewarding, now, would it?
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Deciding to live a healthy lifestyle isn't just about waking up one morning and saying "Ok! Today is the day that I'm going to start being healthy!" Sure, there's a certain component of self-awareness that's necessary for the journey to even begin, but you're not going to get very far unless you set some (manageable) goals for yourself. Changing aspects of your lifestyle is a very hard thing to do. People are habitual creatures - we become stuck in our ways and like our routines. Human nature, itself, creates an obstacle to making significant changes in our lives. This is why so many well-intentioned New Year's diet and exercise programs fail miserably. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Minnesota showed that about 80 percent of people who make New Year's resolutions will fall off the wagon by Valentine’s Day. I'm sure we've all been there before.
So, rather than just making a vague declaration that your new mantra will be "Health and Wellness," think about what you really want to accomplish. Setting up a few very specific goals and coming up with a plan to reach those goals might make it more likely that you will be successful. There's plenty of evidence to back that up in the social psychology literature (Locke's "Theory of Goal Setting and Task Performance" is one of the big ones - guess that psychology class I took on motivation didn't go to waste, after all).
Much of the research of Locke and his peeps has been taken over to the business world, but that doesn't mean that it's irrelevant for personal goals, as well. In their discussions, they lay out five characteristics of effective goal setting - Clarity, Challenge, Commitment, Feedback, and Task Complexity.
Clarity - your goals should be clearly defined. Rather than saying "I want to be healthy!" or "I want to lose weight!" say, "I want to lower my cholesterol to under 200" or "I want to be able to run for a mile without stopping" or "I want to lose 25 pounds by July 1."
Challenge - your goals should be reasonably obtainable, but still somewhat challenging. This sets you up for a bigger sense of accomplishment when you reach those goals and will also help to build confidence. For example, when I decided that I wanted to run a marathon, I broke it up into smaller goals along the way. My first goal was to reach 10 miles, then to run 1/2 marathon, then 15 miles, then 20, and then the whole distance. Each goal required me to put forth a good deal of effort, but wasn't so huge that they were insurmountable. I felt like a superstar every time I passed a goal distance.
Commitment - you need to make a commitment to your goals. You need to be in it with all of your heart and soul, ready and willing to make changes to meet your objectives, and ready to follow through.
Feedback - it's important to know how you're progressing toward your goal. If your goal is weight loss, weekly weigh-ins might help to keep you on tract. If your goal is fitness, monthly fit tests or challenges will help you to know how much strength or cardio endurance you've gained. Can you run a mile faster this month than you did last month? Can you do more push-ups this week than you did last week?
Task Complexity - I'll admit that when I studied these concepts in undergrad, I had a hard time telling this one apart from the "Challenge" criteria. I still do, but we'll give it a shot, anyway. You need to set a realistic timeline for meeting your goals, and make sure that you have the resources available to help you get there. This is where the good old cliche of "it's a marathon, not a sprint" comes into play. Make sure you're giving yourself enough time - it's unrealistic (and unhealthy, in most cases) to expect to drop 25 pounds in a month. You don't want to end up overwhelmed and discouraged, so take things as slowly as you need to.
So there you have it - Locke's framework for setting healthy goals. Of course, someone came along later with a fancy goal-setting acronym (SMART), but I prefer the social psychologists :)
What are you hoping to accomplish?
Monday, November 14, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Then Fall comes around and it's such a cool, dry relief. I enjoy being outside and running without feeling like my lungs are going to implode. The basement temperature is perfect for evening workouts. The Dreadmill stands alone and lonely. All is right with the world. The leaves start to change color and provide a beautiful backdrop for early morning runs. Here in Cincinnati, that lasts maybe two weeks, and then one morning you wake up and *BAM* it's 27 degrees, and I'm all WTFFFFFF? It's tooooooooo cold!! I want to curl up on the couch with a blanket and hot chocolate and watch football all day. But I don't. There are few things worse than dragging yourself out of your nice and toasty bed to put on running pants and force yourself out into the cold, cold world.
How many days until spring?
Monday, November 7, 2011
We took a fantastic trip to Colorado last June, a few weeks out from the Flying Pig, when I was newly into that I-want-to-run-marathons-EVERYWHERE stage. The whitewater rafting outing included a 90 minute van ride through the small towns of the Colorado Mountains, complete with random mustached tour guide and kayak expert shouting out fun facts from his position half-asleep under the back seat. Yes, under. He was an interesting cat. One of the towns we passed through was called Leadville, which happens to be the highest incorporated city in the US. He told us some of the town's history, about how it was once the second most populated city in the state, but is now home to fewer than 3,000 people. It was a big gold mining town, and then the mining turned to Lead once the gold boom ended, hence "Leadville." My brain was still somewhat fuzzy at this point, since it wasn't even 6:00 in the morning yet, but then he started telling us about the Leadville Race Series, and I perked right up when I heard the word "marathon."
It turns out that there's a whole circuit of Leadville Races - a 100 Mile Bike Ride, 2 UltraMarathons (100 and 50 Miles), and a Marathon and a Half. It's not often you see a marathon in the "short race" part of a series. The slogan on the Leadville Ultra page is fitting - "Any Idiot Can Run a Marathon!" I'm lucky to be one of those idiots.
So yes, it's "only" a marathon. This isn't just any marathon, though. "The Leadville Trail Marathon is one of the most challenging marathons in the world as it combines beautiful and rugged terrain with extreme altitude changes, including the highest elevation of 13,185 feet."
You read that right - 13,185 feet, at Mosquito Pass. 26.2 miles out-and-back of rugged mountain trail. You can't even really call it a "race," since first-place finish times come in just under the 4-hour mark and there's an 8.5 hour course limit.
WHY would I want to put myself through that kind of punishment? First of all, every race recap I've seen puts it at the top of the list in terms of amazing experiences - I've seen nothing but great things about the trail, the community, and the organization. Second of all, views like this:
(photo courtesy of http://briangaines.blogspot.com/, since I obviously haven't been there, yet)
I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it some more - did some research on flat-landers running in high altitudes, considered how much harder I'd have to train on the big hills in Cincinnati to even have a prayer of making it up the mountain, worried over the fact that I've never done a trail run of any length, let alone marathon distance, talked to a few local running peeps who promptly declared me crazy, and then... signed up. Not only did I sign up, but I convinced the husband to sign up to run it with me. I think he's just as excited as I am. He's going to train for (and run) the Pig with me just to get the distance under his belt, and then we're going to head for Leadville with a sub-8-hour goal :)
So there you have it, my next great adventure. June 30 is right around the corner!
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Today I am thankful that I have strong and healthy legs that let me run far. Not super fast, but definitely far. 10 months ago I was completely intimidated by the box on the Flying Pig Training Group plan that called for 10 miles on a cold Saturday in January. 2 full and 3 half marathons later, my weeks just don't feel complete without a weekend 10.
Nothing wakes up the soul like an early solo run on a crisp fall morning. Add a post-run breakfast at Green Dog Cafe with bacon, biscuits, and coffee, and you've got a very happy Bean.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
I don't think I could possibly pick a favorite part, but "That's not a wall you're hitting it's your body telling you you are about to die" is certainly a front-runner!
I hate the treadmill, but I kind of wish I was there.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Yeah... not so much. I still got my PR, but the course was much hillier than I (or anyone else in my crew) was expecting. The last 3 miles were pretty much all a gradual incline. That sucked.
It was the first super cold morning we had - 34 degrees at the start. I much prefer running in cooler weather, but the wait at the starting line was brutal. Actually, the whole lead-up to the start was chaotic - we were running a few minutes late, to begin with, and got there with not a whole lot of time to spare. I'm usually really anxious about getting there on time, so the whole rushing around to park and get to the start line was very different for me. Then there was the potty situation - the lines were out of control. There was a giant bank of porta-potties, but there was one massive line feeding them rather than small lines at each station. It was crazy. There was also a bank of actual stall restrooms in the park, so I waited in line over there. The women's line was moving at a snail's pace, while the line for the men's room was pretty much non-existent. I kept eying the men's room, contemplating rushing in and rushing out. The woman next to me must have noticed my furtive glances, because she turned to me and said "let's do it!"
The men's room, alone, was enough of an experience. I had no idea that they just have a giant trough along the wall. Crazy! I wish women could easily pee standing up - lines would be much shorter, that's for sure. We hugged the wall and shielded our eyes, lest we get a glimpse of something that couldn't be erased from our memories.
I finally got to the starting line, where I met up with my Running Buddy and my sister Katie and her friend Mack, who had come to town from NYC. It was my sister's first Half, and she was super nervous because she had been having trouble with her knees. There was much hugging and encouragement and "you got this!" all around. Then the crowd started moving forward, and we were off!
The route was a short out and back, followed by a few zigs and zags through the city, capped with a longer out and back down Riverside Drive.
The nice thing about out and backs is that it gives you the chance to see all of your running peeps and shout encouragements and share high fives. I screamed my head off for Little Sister when I passed her on the way back toward the city. The water stations were at odd intervals, especially the last one, which was right at the entrance to Friendship Park, just before Mile 13. I thought that was a weird place to have a water table, at that point I couldn't even contemplate stopping.
My goal was to run the Half in 1:55. I just barely made it under that time, crossing the finish line in 1:54:18.
I look thrilled, no?
I look like an ogre in every race picture, ever.
I met up with Katie's speedy friend Mack, who had already crossed the finish line. We collected our medals and stocked up on water, powerade, and candy before heading back out onto the course. Our runs weren't over, yet - we had to go back out and get Katie. I had passed her on Riverside at about Mile 10, which was her Mile 7, so we knew that she couldn't be too far behind. It was really bizarre to be running back into the fray, but kind of fun, too, as we passed by runners who were starting to fade. We gave out a lot of high fives and candy and cheered them all on as we went.
We caught up with Katie around mile 11.5 and fed her fruit snacks and powerade. She looked great, even though she said she felt pretty awful. And thus began my favorite part of the whole race - running the last 1.6 miles in with my sister. We made the best of it - picking out people that she could pass, counting how many runners were behind her (she was convinced that she'd be the last one to cross the finish line) and planning out how much vodka we'd be drinking at our Dance Central celebration party.
Crossing the Finish Line was even better the second time :)
I'm so proud of my sister for finishing the race. We Mulligan girls have a serious stubborn streak, though I prefer to spin it as dedication and perseverance!
After the race, we met up with my Running Buddy and our friend Rich and his crew. We claimed our free beers and spent some time rehashing the not-so-flat race.
And that's really the best part about my new hobby - the community. Fast or slow, young or old, newbie or seasoned veteran, everyone is there to cheer each other on.
Can't wait to start training for the spring season!
The final stats:
Overall: 320 of 1131 (311 chip time)
Females: 105/644 (101 chip time)
Division: 21/107 (20 chip time)
Monday, October 24, 2011
1. Run every other day, or 3 times a week (this is what I did for AF Marathon - speedwork, strength work, and running long)
3. Muscular Strength and Flexibility
You can read the full details here.
Of course, this doesn't speak to the importance of staying mentally healthy. I recommend beer and good running peeps.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
There was confusion at the starting line, mainly because there was no real start line, just a sign stuck in the grass. That meant no starting chip time. There was a finish mat, but all of our times would be based on clock time. That meant that if I wanted to meet my goal, I had to stick myself close to the front of the crowd so that I didn't waste time weaving through walkers. I'm not used to being up there. That's me in the white tank all the way over on the left.
(Source: Warrior Run)
It was total chaos. I'll admit to being a tattle-tale and telling the race director about the girl behind me with the metal razor scooter when she didn't listen to the people asking her to move. Someone could have gotten hurt with that thing.
Anyway. The two women directly behind me were also going for 25 minutes, difference being that they were both in their 50s! They both ended up finishing just in front of me. I'm seriously impressed and hope that I'm in that good of shape when I'm that age. I also loved that there were so many kids running the race. It was really great to see so many young people out moving, especially given the children's obesity epidemic that we're experiencing.
Look at them all go!
(Source: Warrior Run)
I was really counting on my Garmin to make sure that I was on target. I looked down when I thought we should be around the first half mile, and was shocked to see the screen reading 4.71 miles! I had forgotten to reset it after my run earlier in the week. Damn! There went keeping track of my splits.
This is where I realized that I really, really hate the 5K distance. I've started to really enjoy long runs. I can start off at a manageable pace and then kick it up when I'm ready. My mind gets a lot of time to wander and contemplate my surroundings. I can relax. 5Ks? Totally different story. From the starting gun I'm just a frantic whirling mess. My brain is moving faster than my legs, thinking about nothing but the road under my feet and the discomfort in my lungs, willing my legs to move faster to keep up. It's like my brain and my heart are at war with each other for that period of time - my heart telling my body to hang in there, it's ok, we're almost there, it's only 3 miles, YOU CAN DO IT! GO TEAM! - and my body on the verge of exhaustion, asking why, why, WHY? are you doing this to me? while staging a revolt that makes me feel like I'm going to toss my cookies at any second. My lungs burn and my mouth is dry and my legs feel rubbery, but then I look up and I see the finish clock and there's a 24:xx staring at me, and I know that I've got it, so I pick it up and sprint like an idiot toward the line, hoping that I can get there before the red LEDs flash over to 25:xx.
And then I do, and it's amazing because when I started running in January I was happy with the idea of just finishing a marathon under 6 hours and completely content to be a slow runner in the back of the pack, but I've somehow managed to train myself into being more than that. I'm still not fast - I'm in no danger of ever actually winning a race of any kind - but I'm better than I thought I could be. For someone who regularly underestimates and undervalues themselves, that's a B-F-D.
Now if I could get a winter 5K (it was in the 70s when we lined up) that has an early start time (evening runs aren't my favorite), maybe I can do even better....
24:29 (7:53 pace)
Age/Sex Division winner! Can you believe it?? I got a flipping sweet water bottle for my troubles.
Running Buddy also ran the Warrior Run 5K, and then she did a duathalon (is that even a word?) the next morning because she's crazy. She doesn't have a recap up for either of them, but I'm sure the stories will be great :)
Why didn't we get a picture??
Possibly the best part was seeing my friend and old cube-mate, Lynn. I never in a million years thought we'd be running together - she was also my P90X coach and has had a million knee surgeries.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Woman runs marathon, gives birth
Gives a whole new meaning to "walking the baby out."
Thursday, October 6, 2011
I keep reminding myself that it's better to skip this 26.2, because I need time to heal and rest and I had a PLAN and I should stick to it. It's too late now, anyway. Saturday's 10 miles makes me think that I have a pretty good shot at a new Half PR, so I'll have to settle for that.
10 fucking seconds....
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
First and foremost, running shorts must not ride up my ass. Nothing worse than being "that person" digging out a wedgie every quarter mile. No grabbing/pulling required.
Second, no skin-gripping tightness. If I wanted to run in spandex, I would.
Third, and just as critical as the lack of ass-crack invasion, the shorts must have a pocket! And I don't want any of those namby-pamby cotton flap pockets, either - I want an honest-to-goodness decent-sized pocket. With a zipper.
And it sure would be nice if they weren't $50.
With that, I present to you, my favorite running shorts, the Adidas Response 4-Inch:
I LOVE these shorts. I love them so much that I want to wear them for cross-training, too, but I'm too afraid to wear them out. I need to order three more pairs. I've been running in them for months, and I've never had to crack-dig or tug on them to keep them up. They're lightweight and not clingy and all-around awesome.
The pocket looks small, but you can cram in 4 Gus (or 3 sportbeans), gum, chapstick, and an ipod shuffle and it will still close.
The Adidas website only has them in black and white, but Amazon offers a few different color combinations (including one called "Slime," which is kind of a bad name for a color. They also come in a 6" length, but I much prefer the 4".
And no, I'm not paid/compensated in any way. I'm not cool enough to get free stuff. Shorts just happen to be a relevant topic in the world of running :p
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I'm still seeking 5K redemption from the hilly Cheetah Run, and Running Buddy tells me that the course is flat, so... yeah.
I'm going to stick with my original plan of switching to a minimalist shoe after the Cincinnati Half (I'm leaning toward the New Balance Minimus) and getting some one-on-one instruction on proper running form. I'll spend the fall adjusting to the new shoes and making sure I'm running properly(ish), and then ramp up again in January to prepare for the Flying Pig.
I like to have plans.
Monday, September 26, 2011
But my body is a little more unsure. I've only been out to run once since Air Force - a short 3 miles last Thursday at a decent pace. I came out of the run still feeling not-quite-right, especially in my left foot, which feels a little tight. Charlie has convinced me that I need to take a week off from running altogether, and I've reluctantly agreed. I'm going stir-crazy. I'm going to try really, really hard to stay out of my running shoes until Thursday. On Thursday, I'm going to see about 3 miles. Then, if that goes well, I'm going to go for 8 on Friday. If that goes well - and by "well," I mean at a faster-than-race-pace, I'm going to go ahead and sign up. The price goes up on Saturday. If it doesn't, then I'll just have a long winter to look forward to. I still have the Cincinnati Half Marathon on 10/22, so maybe I'll set my sights on another Half PR.
I'd still much rather have those 10 seconds back.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Failure to meet my goal aside, the Air Force Marathon was totally amazing. AMAZING.
My marathon fun started off on Friday at the Breakfast of Champions. Thanks to a member of the AF FB Group for giving away her ticket, since she couldn't make it! I was so excited to have the opportunity to go.
I got to hear from some really interesting panelists - Josh Cox, who holds the AF course record (and who now also holds the 10K record and would hold the Half record had his pace car not lead him down the wrong path), Mark Cucuzzela, the Military's Medical Consultant and winner of this year's Marathon, Danny Dreyer, of Chi Running fame, and Marshall Ulrich, all around badass. Dude has ascended all of the big 7 summits, with success on his first try. Only person in the world to do that. I actually got to talk to Dr. Cucuzzela one-on-one and get his take on switching over to a minimalist shoe - he's all for it. I even got my sister a Danny Dreyer autograph (wanted to get an autographed book, but they had sold out of Chi Running, so she'll have to settle for an autographed AF Marathon poster).
After breakfast, I headed over to the expo to pick up my packet.
Don't you love the "Beer Coupon?" I think that's the best part.
Shockingly, I managed to avoid buying anything but Sport Beans and Gu. I still can't figure out how that happened.
Met my friend Rachel for a carb-filled lunch - thought about ordering fettuccine alfredo, a la Michael Scott. That's what Rachel had, and it smelled soooooo good.
Drove home, found that Charlie was complaining of an earache, took him to the pedi, found out that he had a double ear infection. That meant the Charlies wouldn't be accompanying me to the race. Enjoyed my now-traditional pre-race Chipotle.
The next morning, I got up ass early so that I could leave my house by 4:00. Of course, there was no traffic, so I was easily at the gate by 5:00, when it opened. I got prime parking, which was still a good mile from the start line. On my trek across the base, I walked and talked with a woman who had run more than 100 marathons. I thought that was pretty amazing, until I heard that Running Buddy (hereafter referred to as "RB") ran the marathon with a woman who was on #202! How crazy is that?
It was COLD out! We're talking 40-something degrees. Which is nice, and all, but not when you're standing around in running shorts and a tank. Luckily, I had dug up an old, ugly long-sleeved shirt to use as a "throwaway" shirt, so at least my arms were covered. Still, I nearly froze to death waiting to catch up with RB. I watched a lot of videos on the design and use of several Boeing aircraft while I waited - their trailer acted as a nice wind-shield.
Met up with RB and her husband, who was running the half. We had about 20 minutes until start time, so we chattered nervously and RB showed off her super sweet hot pink KT Tape job. 7:30 was quickly approaching, so we said our good-byes and good-lucks and went off to meet our pace groups.
The start was amazing. I know I already said that, but I'll say it again. AMAZING. To be on the Air Force Base, surrounded by active military personnel, all of who were voluntarily there to support US, the RUNNERS, was totally amazing. Inspiring. Especially when you looked at the 10K-ers who were running with the packs. That's hardcore.
(source: AFM FB page)
Someone sang the National Anthem, and then the B-1B Lancer got us all pumped with a spectacular flyover. I've never been that close to a plane like that, let alone a plane like that flying directly over my head, and I got goosebumps. That thing was a monster! And really freaking loud. The ground shook as the sound wave caught up with us. Holy cow.
(source: AFM FB page)
And then we were off.
I'm going to spare you the paragraphs and paragraphs of detailed race recaps, since it really went very, very well. The pace group was awesome, I enjoyed the camaraderie and the conversation. They did take a few sections a little faster than I would have liked, especially at MileTen, which took us through downtown Fairborn. This was my absolute favorite part of the course - it was a giant town-wide party just for the race. Hundreds of people lining the streets cheering, dressed in costumes. At the end of the main route, there was a giant set-up mimicking Area 51, complete with Alien costumes and blow-up props. It was freaking sweet. I haven't found any pictures yet, but I'll certainly share them when I do. The only thing missing was Fox Mulder. Would have loved to see him right around the halfway point :p
Around mile 12, I found myself running with two random guys from the pace group, Adam and Shawn. We compared playlists, complained about hills, swapped stories about kids and families and life, and joyfully called out each mile marker. I *may* have been a little obnoxious with my forced enthusiasm. I'm very much of the "Fake it Till you Make It" camp, so I was trying my damndest to tune out the tiredness of my legs toward the end. Unfortunately for my new friends, that included singing out loud to my ipod and squealing in delight every time we ticked off another half mile.
We carried each other through miles 12-22, when Adam had to stop to stretch out his hamstrings. I was afraid to stop because I thought I might not be able to start again, so I kept going. Well, that only lasted a few minutes, because I had to take an emergency bathroom stop. It was unavoidable. Thankfully, there was no line at the porta-potty, but it still took me 30 seconds (yes, I timed it). I will forever kick myself for stopping. I wish it had been as easy as just peeing my pants, but it was... something else. We'll leave it at that. I still haven't been able to figure out how to make that problem go away. I managed to push through it at the Pig, but there was no ignoring it this time around. Next time I think I'm going to stick with Sport Beans only and forgo the Gu altogether. It was after I had my second Gu at mile 20 that my stomach really started to revolt.
Anyway, I got back on course and started up the last of the giant hills. Now I had no one to talk to. I turned on the gas to try to reach the pace group, but it just wasn't going to happen. Again, like the Pig, it was a matter of willing myself not to walk. I thought about why we were there on the base, thought about people who were enduring pain much worse than I was, and just kept putting one foot in front of the other. The 4:00 pace group was *right* in front of me. I still had a chance, but I watched it slip away. I just couldn't close the gap. I knew as soon as I saw them cross the line mere seconds ahead of me that I had missed my goal.
So close. So fucking close. And yes, I should just be happy that I did it, that I ran 26.2 (26.49, according to garmins everywhere) freaking miles, that I have the ability and the health and the guts to go for it, but I was just so disheartened. I shook the hand of the Air Force guy who presented me with a medal and thanked him for his service. And then I cried. I'm not exactly proud of that fact, but I'm willing to admit it.
I stood in the super-slow-moving food line sipping on water (stomach still not pleased with me). I managed to bend over enough to untie my shoes, and that was sweet freaking relief. I wanted to get my flip flops from the bag check, but first I needed to know just how close I came, so I hit up the results tent first. I got my little time printout and saw the 10 seconds dangling off the end. 10 seconds. I may have shed another tear in disappointment. Don't judge me too harshly, it was a very emotional day for me.
Thankfully, while I was hobbling over to bag check I ran into my good friend Rachel and her husband Dave, who had just run the Half Marathon. It was so good to see a familiar face. They had even brought their infant son Julian, so I got to peek at him, too. How can you not smile when you see a baby? Dave did a great job in the Half. I was probably a little bitchy, because I was disappointed and hungry and tired and wanted to puke, so I couldn't even satiate that hunger. So I'm sorry, Dave, that I made such a horrible first impression. But he did friend me on Facebook, so I couldn't have been that bad... right?
I said my goodbyes so that they could get the baby home, and started searching for my Running Buddy. I didn't have the energy to shove through the crowds at the finish, so I settled for watching through the food tent and did actually get to see her cross the line. She looked great, for just having run 26.2 miles! Sweaty hugs for everyone :)
So, all in all, it was a fantastic experience. The course was awesome, minus the giant hill at the end. It was really crazy to be out running on an airport runway. The finish area was the best part, because the lanes were flanked by planes. That was really cool.
The crowd support and organization and volunteers completely rocked it.
The medals? Well, they're gigantic, and detailed, and really, really pretty.
Charlie said it looks like something Flava Flav would wear. He may be right.
What's even cooler is that the marathon was also held at deployed locations all over the world, so that active military members were able to participate.
I'll definitely be back next year.
But then there's that whole issue of the ten fucking seconds. And that's how I'll always refer to them, the f-word-as-adjective included. Sure, cognitively, I know that I did it, because I can just subtract the potty break. But that leading 3 will never be a part of my official time.
And that's why I might be signing up for the Columbus Marathon tomorrow, after I take a test run on these legs tonight. Best case scenario - I officially break four hours. Worst case? I run another marathon. Either way, I come out ahead of the game :)
Clock Time 4:01:18
Chip Time 4:00:10
Overall Place 672 / 2513
Gender Place 125 / 744
Division Place 22 / 120
Monday, September 19, 2011
I cried when I got my official results.
Failure to meet my goal aside, the Air Force Marathon was totally amazing. AMAZING.
How could something that begins with a B1-B flyover NOT be spectacular?
Overall Place 672 / 2513
Gender Place 125 / 744
Division Place 22 / 120
This race is obviously deserving of a full recap post, I just haven't finished it yet. Soon! For now, admire my awesome hardware. This medal is a BEAST!
While you're at it, you may as well question my sanity, because I spent yesterday evening putting together a four-week plan to run the Columbus Marathon next month to try to trim those 10 seconds off my time. I'm giving myself until Wednesday to decide.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Thursday, September 15, 2011
The build-up to marathon #2 is much easier than the build-up to the Flying Pig. I don't have that gigantic pit in my stomach this time around, and I don't want to puke every time I think about lining up at the start of the race. All in all, that makes me happy.
The pit has arrived.
That, or I drank too much coffee this morning.
Nope, definitely the pit.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Four more days until I have one of these shiny medals hanging around my neck.
The build-up to marathon #2 is much easier than the build-up to the Flying Pig. I don't have that gigantic pit in my stomach this time around, and I don't want to puke every time I think about lining up at the start of the race. All in all, that makes me happy.
I am a little stressed out about the getting there and the parking, since I'll be leaving my house at 4:00 AM for the 7:30 start. I don't know how traffic will be, I don't know how parking will be, and I don't know how nervous I'll feel when race morning is actually upon us. I wish I could just spend Friday night up in Dayton, but, alas, it was not meant to be. I did manage to score a ticket to the Friday morning "Breakfast of Champions," where I'll get to hear people talk about running-related issues and meet Danny Dreyer, the guy who does "Chi Running." My newly-a-runner sister would be very excited to meet him. Sadly, I'm still stuck in the camp who uses dirty-word-filled mantras to get me through a long run. Of course, that all hinges on Charlie agreeing to do pre-school drop-off that morning. I'm hopeful - he is the best husband, after all.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Rather than making bunches of mistakes on my "real" Twitter account, I'm setting up a feed for this blog so that I can learn the ropes.
Yes, we're way late to the party.
I'm ok with that.
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Oh, I don't know, maybe NOT getting up before the asscrack of dawn to drag a cranky husband and toddler down to the zoo to watch you run said 5K?
I decided that I wanted to do the Cheetah Run this year. I almost did it last year, and it would have been my first race, ever. After Sunday, if I had done the Cheetah Run last year I might have sold off my running shoes and given up on trying to be a runner, altogether.
Two words: Holy. Hills.
As my running buddy said, "if I had to design the cruelest 5k course ever, it would look something like that!"
Don't get me wrong, I knew there were going to be hills. The hilly reputation is known far and wide. What I didn't know was just how long and steep those hills were going to be. I was expecting the hills in the zoo, but I thought they would be gentle, rolling hills that I would handle with grace and swiftness. I wasn't expecting the gigantic ass-kickers of hills that were waiting for us outside of the zoo gates. Grace and swiftness went out the window. Instead, there was huffing and puffing and gasping for air and spitting (so that I didn't puke) and R-rated-mantra-repeating (more on that in another post). Plus, I stopped to walk when I got my cup of water. I needed that water. Turns out I could have used those 10 seconds at the end, but whatevs. I'm alive.
When the dust settled and I didn't feel like keeling over anymore, I finished in 26:22:00. I didn't even halve my 10K time, which makes me feel kind of crappy, but then I remind myself that there were hills on this course, and I had run 15 miles on my legs the day before, and I start to feel a little less bad. Besides, I still finished 31/686 women. I guess that's not too bad. And we were all schooled by the women's winner, who was a TEN YEAR OLD GIRL. That's right, we were all outrun by a kid. She was speedy, no doubt.
Looks like I've got some work to do to meet one of my 30 by 30 goals. Next time I'll pick a flatter course. Do they make courses that are all downhill?
But look how excited I am to be 30!
Here is me posing with Charlie after my race and his Cheetah Cub Run. He was SO proud of his ribbon, but he wouldn't come anywhere near me. "Don't touch me, Mama, you're wet and yucky!"
Moral of the story: Cheetah Run is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Cute tech shirt, tough course.
Friday, September 2, 2011
I guess in the running community he's some kind of BFD, but what do I know? I've only been part of the community for a short time, so his name doesn't have the power over me. Yet.
The exercise involves running a series of 10 800s (800 meters, that is). In between each 800, you jog for the same amount of time it took you to run the 800 (for example, if it takes you 5 minutes to run the 800, you would jog for 5 minutes before the next one). It's both a marathon speedwork exercise and a marathon time prediction tool. According to Yasso, the time for your 800s will predict your marathon finishing time. If it takes you 5:00 to run each 800, then your marathon time will be 5 hours. If it takes you 2:50 to run each 800, then your marathon time will be 2 hours, 50 minutes. Get it? You're supposed to start these workouts a few months before your marathon, beginning with 4 800s and adding another one every week until you're up to 10. The final week is supposed to be 2 weeks before the marathon, though the Runner's World article says 14-17 days is ideal, which I find weirdly specific.
Now, I can't say that I was a disciplined Yasso follower. I followed the Run Less, Run Faster plan, which did incorporate a lot of 800s, but also included speedy 400s, 1200s, and 1600s. Wednesday was 17 days before the marathon, and I had 8 800s on my RLRF schedule, so I decided to just go ahead and add two more and see how the complete session of Yasso 800s went. I think they went pretty well. My times for the 10 speed intervals were: 3:45/3:45/3:45/4:00/3:55/3:53/3:50/3:50/3:48/3:00 (though I really pushed it on the last interval and kind of felt like I was going to die). I also didn't rest as long in between because it was 8:30 by the time I started and I was tired. According to the method, I should be able to hit my 4-hour goal.
Whether you buy the science behind Yasso 800s or not, it's still speedwork. Still not totally confident that I can hit the 4:00 mark, but I'm sure going to give it all I've got! 17 days to go!
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Ladies who have been pregnant (and male counterparts of ladies who have been pregnant, and friends of ladies who have been pregnant, and people who have read about pregnancy) know that making it through 40 weeks of pregnancy without stretch marks is something to brag about. But not something to brag about **too** loudly, lest you become one of "those women."
So I've been doing these speedwork exercises as part of the "Run Less, Run Faster" program that I'm following (I'm sure that will be its own post later on), and, as "speedwork" would imply, there's a lot of short distance sprinting at a pace much faster that I'm used to. Sprinting uses and builds muscles differently from running longer distances at a slower pace, so I've suddenly got some nice upper leg muscles going on. Based on this random leg muscle diagram, it appears to be my Tensor Fasciae Latae and my Rectus Femoris that are benefiting most (or maybe not, I'm not an anatomy and physiology expert. whatever happened to quads and hamstrings?).
Great, huh? Well, yes, until I spotted a small web of stretch marks a few inches below my hipbone, right on the spot where that "Tensor Fasciae Latae" supposedly is.
WTF? Exercising is supposed to make you look better, not give you stretchmarks!
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Then I got pregnant, and stopped giving blood for obvious reasons. Then I was breastfeeding, and too paranoid to risk taking the hit to my supply. Then I just got out of the habit. I gave when it was convenient, at a few mobile blood drives here and there, but then I started running and became kind of selfish - I didn't want to get lightheaded and feel run-down. In my defense, I've been anemic for 15+ years and losing those red blood cells has always affected me more than most people. But that's not a good enough excuse. Even my Running Buddy puts me to shame with her donation frequency. It's not like I'm going to win any medals, or anything - what's some extra time on the clock?
And then, two weeks ago, I got an email from The Running Spot talking about the big citywide blood drive and specifically mentioning that donating platelets is a good option for athletes. I did my own side research, and it's true! Not only does it leave your red blood cells alone, but the matter that they take from you during a platelet donation regenerates within hours, rather than weeks. So that's all well and good, but donating platelets is SCARY! I'm not going to lie, I was TERRIFIED. Even after donating a million pints of blood, I still got anxious every time. The idea of donating platelets where they're not just taking stuff from one arm, but then also GIVING IT BACK in the other, just makes me shudder. Cue more research, where I learned that they can now do it using only one of your arms and that the needle is actually smaller than the one that they use for whole blood donations. So I decided to go for it.
Am I the only one who finds the graphic/slogan combination a little creepy looking?
In case you're not familiar with platelets and platelet donation, here's a quick summary:
During platelet donation, a small portion of blood (about 1/4 pint at a time), is drawn from your arm and passed through a sophisticated cell-separating machine. The machine collects the platelets and safely returns the remaining blood components, along with some saline, back to you.
A single platelet donation can provide enough platelets for a full therapeutic dose for a patient in need. In fact, some platelet donations yield enough platelets for two or three therapeutic doses. By contrast, it takes four to six whole blood donations to produce a single therapeutic dose.
Many patients who need platelets are undergoing chemotherapy or organ transplant and have weakened immune systems. A platelet dose from a single donor reduces the patient’s exposure to multiple donors and is therefore preferred by many physicians.
I was nervous, nervous, nervous driving down to the big city-wide blood drive. I was shaking like a leaf and side-eying the giant centrifuge machine as I climbed into the chair. Those things are gigantic! The technician staffing the apheresis area, George, was really nice and helpful. He showed me all of the equipment and explained how everything worked. I got a very detailed rundown of exactly what to expect, how long it would take, and what it would feel like. He set up the machine, hooked up the bag, and started the process, and then went the extra mile by entertaining me for the next 90 minutes while we waited for the collection to finish. He let me watch the monitors so that I could see what was going on and showed me how cool it looked when the platelets got sucked up into the plasma bag - it was really neat, all swirly like mixing oil and vinegar.
I'm not trying to say that it was all puppy dogs and rainbows. It took a while - 90 minutes is a long time - the first time is the longest because the machine isn't calibrated specifically to your counts, but even after that it's still a time commitment. The feeling of having the red cells and saline put back in was pretty bizarre - not painful, just a little uncomfortable until you got used to it. The worst part was probably the mouth tingles - the anti-coagulant they use in the return solution binds with calcium to do its job, so it makes your mouth and nose feel tingly after a while (thanks again to George for the technical explanations!). They had a giant supply of tums on hand to combat the ickiness, but it was still rather uncomfortable.
When all is said and done, it wasn't that bad, I was really glad I had decided to give it a try, and I'm definitely planning to go back and do it again. You can go every three weeks, although if they test your cells and find that you're an exact match for a patient in the database, they can ask if you'll do it more often. The women in the chair next to me (who happened to be the kids programming director for the Flying Pig!) went every day for a week when they found that she was a match for a leukemia patient.
So think about it. Even if platelets isn't up your alley, think about giving whole blood. See? I'm even smiling! I even got a Flying Pig duffel bag and a $10 gift card to the Running Spot. Can't beat that!
So in case you haven't noticed, exercise and healthy eating are things that are near and dear to my heart. This isn't because I'm some nutty whacky fitness freak who wants to bench press 1,000 pounds and run three minute miles, although I'm sure that's how it might seem sometimes with my data collection and tracking. It's not because I want to fit into a pair of super cute size 0 pants, although I do enjoy being able to wear the normal-sized clothes hanging in my closet. And sure, when I step back and take an honest look, part of my motivation for exercising and being healthy is because I like the way I look. Who wouldn't feel that way?
But at the root of the issue? THIS is what it's all about.
For me, it's more about health - it's about growing up in a family where everyone struggled with weight issues and heart disease. My mom lost her dad to a heart attack when she was a teenager. I almost lost my own dad when he had a near-fatal heart attack in 2005. My dad's dad had multiple heart attacks over the years before he passed in 2008. In a society where obesity levels are through the roof, heart disease is killing a million people EVERY YEAR, and preschoolers are being diagnosed with diabetes, I want to do the best that I can for myself, my husband, and my own child. Not only do I want to be healthy for them, so that we can live a long life together and I can watch him grow up and meet future grandchildren, but I want to provide him with a good example - I want him to grow up knowing that fruits and veggies are an important part of life, that ice cream and cookies are good, too, but that they're only "sometimes foods," and that exercise is good for the body and for the soul.
I don't know that I'm the best person to be giving advice - I often have trouble with a broken motivator, and there are many days when my give-a-damn isn't working, either. Plus, I'm willing to overshare, which leads to some brutally honest and maybe TMI posts, like what happens when you don't do your kegels after childbirth and then try to do plyometric training. Even so, I do have some ideas and thoughts to share with you, so here I am.
Friday, August 26, 2011
I used to obsess over hiding it. Not going to lie, sometimes it still annoys me when I can't fit cute pants over my ample derriere, and I'm still not a huge fan of the "cottage-cheese jello look" or the fact that my butt keeps shaking long after the rest of me has stopped moving, but I'm trying to learn to embrace it. I mean, really - my legs carried me over the finish line of a freaking marathon, and my hips are just a battle scar of motherhood.
Shake that healthy butt!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
I chose this week's topic in honor of my marathon playlist, which also happens to be the reason for the lateness of this week's blog post. I know, I should have been a good blogger and written it ahead of time, but my mind was full of marathon-weekend excitement. More on that to come later this week!
My running playlist is hard evidence that I'm stuck in the 90s. I have everything from Beastie Boys to Kris Kross, Young MC to MC Hammer, Salt and Peppa to Vanilla Ice. And those aren't my guilty pleasures. I'm not the tiniest bit ashamed to admit that I totally rock out to Sisqo and Sir Mix-a-Lot while I run up the steep hills of Cincinnati.
Nope, not one little bit. In fact, I've even been known to get up and do my own rendition of Ice, Ice Baby on Karaoke night.
So what DOES constitute a guilty pleasure for me?
Ke$ha. Yes, Ke$ha. The "dollar sign girl." I remember the first time I heard one of her songs on the radio - it was that god-awful one about brushing teeth with bottles of jack and going for guys who look like Mick Jagger. I thought to myself "Who IS this lady, and WTF is WRONG with her??"
Then I saw her on TV, and my confusion grew.
It was like Mungojerrie meets Jem and the Holograms.
But after a while, I found myself tapping my hands on the steering wheel and singing along. Oh, no.
Then I heard it. "Take it Off." A total party song that I just KNEW my old clubberific roommate from college would have been all over if it had only been on the radio 10 years earlier.
And it was catchy. And it had a beat. A great beat for running. A great energy for running hills. And oh my goodness, it was so much fun to turn the car stereo speakers up way louder than a 29-year-old should and sing along to the (pretty awful) lyrics. (not with Charlie in the car, of course)
So here it is, for your amusement.
Because come on, we all know of a place that fits the description. Glitter on the floor? I'm so there. Well, not really. In fact, maybe I like this song so much because I never was a clubberific party girl. My roommate would spend her Friday and Saturday nights getting all dressed up in tube tops and halters, heavy eye-shadow, curlers, blah blah blah. I was perfectly content to drink cheap keg beer with the guys across the street, who were much more Dave Matthews than Ke$ha.
In real life, you'd be hard-pressed to get me to admit that I'm a closet Ke$ha fan. Please don't tell my husband that I spent 99 cents to download the single. He still thinks it was Rage Against the Machine.