Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Struggles

So I started writing this post a few days ago (monday), and I was going to tell you about how I work through the hardest parts of running. I was going to give you my bits of advice on what to do with pain, lack of drive, etc. It was going to be really funny, and I was going to use this line about how everything I have to say here is just from my own experience and not approved by the AMA, FDA, NRA, PDA, or any other of those acronyms. I am so clever.....

Well forget all that. Tonight, I was on the elliptical and started reading, Racing Weight.

AND BOY AM I EXCITED ABOUT THIS BOOK.

The intro to this book is KILLER. This is what you can expect in coming blogs, other than reports on my upcoming runs (and the fact that I hurt my foot over the past weekend and have been resting it. yuck. hoping its not a stress fracture or plantar fasciitis)....

1. An assessment of what my "optimum performance weight" is. This is part one of the book.
2. An assessment of what I need to change in my nutritional and workout habits to achieve this. This is part two.
3. Exactly HOW I plan to change. (Part 3)

So the book begins by talking about weight as it relates to endurance athletes. For athletes, losing weight isnt about "looking good" -- it's about reaching the perfect muscle to fat ratio that gets you to your optimum performance weight. It talks about all the ways that body fat percentage affects performance etc and how to effectively and safely get your body to that point over a 12 to 24 month time period.

THEN it goes through the typical body compositions of different endurance athletes: CC skiers, swimmers, triathletes, runners, rowers... it's so awesome. oddly enough, my body shape fits most with a runner. who would have thought- runners have smaller upper bodies with more built legs. aka- me. I THINK IT'S A SIGN FROM GOD.

i cant wait to get a little further into this book. really, people, it's gonna be great. don't worry- i will share all my new knowledge with you. get ready.

ultra love.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

penny for my thoughts

I just recently finished reading Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Karnazes, and I have a few thoughts to share with you about this book. (Don't worry your pretty little face, I won't be spoiling anything)

Dean is an normal guy. He has a pretty sweet job and makes good money. He has a precious wife, and he loves her. He ran when he was little and in high school, but stopped at some point for one reason or another. He had a few coaches during his time that inspired him. His younger sister died in a car accident, and this changed his life.

There is nothing terribly unusual about Dean's life, and that is one of the important parts about this book. Most people can relate to Dean and the course of his life. It is the part of the book that makes you think, "well, if he can do it, so can I!"

Dean became "Dean-the-lean-mean-running-machine" on his 30th birthday. He had a sort of drunken life crisis during which he sobered up while running 30 miles and eating taco bell. After this drunken life crisis he got back into running, but got into ultra running when some dudes beat him running up a hill. He found out they were training for Western States and decided to it this himself.

Tho book chronicles all the crazy races this dude runs. And this is where my feelings about him get iffy. His pure desire to run turns into this insatiable need for extreme adventures. He does some crazy stuff like- running over 100 miles through the desert and running a marathon TO THE SOUTH POLE. what? the south pole? yes, the south f-ing pole.

But i'm not sure that an extreme seeker really puts forth the best "model" for people who want to run. He makes it seem like if you don't run 20343849037459287340958 miles in extreme heat or cold with a 500 pound gorilla strapped to your back and chopsticks up your nose then you aren't really a serious runner.

There something to be said for pushing your body. But i'm not sure pushing it to its "limits" is really what running is about. Why on earth would you want to run in subzero temperatures and almost die? How does that achieve any of all the awesomeness that comes with a perfect 6 mile run with your dog? I see the benefits and the challenge of pushing your body to see what is possible. But there has to be a line between this "extreme seeking" and seeing what our body is capable of or perhaps what our body was made to do.

I think that humans truly were born to be runners. I think its obvious in the complexity of our feet and the make-up of our muscles. I think that running through mountains and just plain running is a way of "going back to our roots" - a way of being in touch with some intangible purpose. But Dean goes beyond anything reasonable. And for some reason it irks me. It makes me feel like his need for his next adrenaline high will turn off future runners because, lets face it, how many of us are ever going to run 226.2 miles in a row? How many of us want to?

I see a joy in the possibility of a day of running- 8 hours? sounds like fun if i can train my body to where it needs to be. 50+ hours of running? no thank you. That just seems like too much.

The reason good ole dean-o just doesnt do it for me: yes he has a good story. yes i am sure he runs for other reason's other than that next extreme fix. but what he shows to the rest of the world is the reason why people think ultra runners are nuts. And thus all us cool kids who just wanna run, look like crazy people because we get lumped in the category with the deans of running.

I'm not sure if i have clearly expressed my feelings here. I just know that the feelings i have about running- like the way i felt pushing myself for 6 miles to beat the sunset while letting luna run free for most of the run- are not in sync (nsync?) with dean's. Luna feels the same way. She just told me.

ultra love



Saturday, March 20, 2010

20/20

friday night, as i was getting ready for bed, my roomie, ellen, said, "hey boo- how far are you running tomorrow?" i said, "i'm not sure let me check my schedule."

and then i realized i was going to be running 20 miles.

so saturday, i ran 20 miles (on march 20th- whoa). yes, im spoiling the ending- i completed the full 20 miles. this is going to be a beast of a post, so get comfy because this is not for the light of heart... okay i dont know how that really fits in here, but i felt like saying it.

riiiiight..... so about my running adventure.....

I woke up around 9 (ish). Talked to my man on the phone for a bit. Got up, put on my capri spandex and my t-shirt. I made the breakfast of champions- honey bunches of oats and scrambled eggs. I gathered my "running stash" and put some vaseline on the top of my sports bra line to prevent chaffing. (For some reason, that is where my skin gets most irritated. vaseline is great at preventing this) Below you will see my stash. Its pretty sweet, and there is an angel puppy who insisted upon modeling.


I took my delicious stash out to shelby farms for a day of epic running. I started out at the beginning, as most people do.
The first part of the run is across this hill (its not steep at all, but it is a hill none the less) and you run towards the entrance to the woods (the better part of the run). Well, as i approach the entrance, i see this:
and i'm thinking, "OH NO! there has been a rock slide or a murder thats going to be on SVU!" so i approach this mess to read the sign, which says:
facelift? how do you give a trail a facelift? so i think for about 2 seconds and decide that this whole facelift thing can suck my.... i mean, is for the birds... and go right through that caution tape- throwing caution to the wind (HAHAHAH)- and proceed on the trail, interested to see what this whole face lift thing really means.

as i was sneaking through the trail, breaking the rules and otherwise being a bad ass, i heard some yelling. And i was immediately afraid i had been hunted down by the rangers for my second misdeed at shelby farms (remember i had gotten escorted back to my car bc i was in the park after sunset?). However, it was just a bunch of boy scouts getting rowdy in the woods. for what? i dont know. but they were running around having a good ole time.

along the path, i figured out what the facelift was. they were putting in some gavel and such in certain places to prevent mud build up. all in all, a good idea, but no reason to keep my from running my trail. i made a mental note to break this whole "facelift" rule the next two times i looped around. (AND I DID! bahahaha. i'm such a rule breaker)

after you get out of the first woods part- you run past this lake. it's pretty cool. take a look.
The reason that i have these pictures is that on my third lap around, i decided to take my camera- for moral support and for something to keep me busy while i trudged along. it was very helpful. On that third lap, i saw this deer poking out from the bushes!!!
This picture shows you just why this trail is so great for running.
Pretty daffodils!
About two miles in, you get to what i like to call, "THE HILL OF DEATH." this pictures doesn't quite do its steepness and depth justice, but at least you can see it. For some reason, the placement of this hill just about kills me every time i run it. My last lap around, i let myself walk up it. its that bad, or i'm just that bad at hills.
After you go up the hill, you run for about another half mile and then you hit the fun part. THE DOG PARK! see picture below. this part is one of my favorites because it always gives me a good boost of energy.
Thought i would show you some pretty flowers.....
Now this is probably my top favorite part next to the secret passage. This old abandoned car. How it got 3 miles into this trail, i dont know. but it is pretty cool.
the car is to your right and this rando building is to your left. so cool right?
This is about half a mile further along. It took me a good many tried to get luna to walk over that bridge the first time we ran this trail. but she LOVES to jump over that fallen tree in the background.
This little bit of awesomeness is right about 4 miles in. I just love it.
This "robert frost" split in the road is right before the secret passage (which will be shown in full detail at the end of this post. its kinda fun to take one side or the other depending on my mood. they split to go around those trees and meet back up on the other end of them.
This picture shows you one of luna's fields. I usually let her run free right around here. you can imagine her majestically bounding from side to side, jack rabbit running wherever her little heart tells her to go.
This is the last mile of the trail. I always love to see this mile marker.
But i think i love seeing this one the most.
So after the first six miles, i turned around to add two miles on (run back to the 5 mile marker then back to the 6 mile marker). I decided to add these two miles (for all you non-math ppl out there- 6 miles times three loops equals 18 miles plus two equals twenty).

On my way back to mile 5, i passed three girls. Well, im a competitive soul, and once i turned around i decided it wasn't okay for me to not beat them. SO i picked up my pace and blew past them. In hindsight, that was a bad idea because it kinda sucked the energy out of me. Oh well, it was worth it to pass those biotches runnin so damn slow.

After mile 8, i stopped to go to the bathroom. I ate a mini cliff bar. I refilled my water bottle. And i ran on. This time, i rand the course backwards, you know to spice things up a bit. Not backwards like, not being able to see where i was going, but like starting at the end of the trail and going to the beginning. On this loop, there were like a million people on bikes and i had to jump out of their way alot. Oh yeah, and there were 3 people on HORSES. no wonder i kept seeing horse poop along the trail.

By the time i i finished this loop, i had run 14 miles. i was pretty tired. my legs already hurt. my calves were tights. my feet were sore. Sitting on the toilet was a blessed relief. This time, i ate some Gu and refilled my water bottle again. I discovered that i like the combo of half water half gatorade in my little water bottle for the trail. I knew this last loop would be pretty painful- thus the camera for the pictures you see above.

Well i was right, i hobbled along. One thing i learned is that even going down hill can hurt when your joints and muscles are are tender. The only thing interesting about these 6 miles, other than the pain, was around mile 4 when i ran past this Asian couple. They must have been in their 40s or 50s. Keeping in mind that they are FOUR MILES into the trail, they were wearing polo shirts, ironed khaki pants, WHITE tennis shoes, and sweaters tied around their shoulders and they had a little frufru dog. I was so bewildered by this couple that my mouth kinda gaped open in surprise...

and then i swallowed a bug. yep, a bug flew in my mouth and i ate it. it kinda tickled so i took a swig of from my water bottle. then i coughed up part of the bug. i guess i just needed a little extra protein for the last two miles. a little bit after this bug incident i came to my favorite part of the run- the secret passage. and i have a special little video for you!

video
After the secret passage, i just had a little ways to go . Around mile 5 of the trail, these bikers rode past me and asked, "have you been running this whole time?" i said, "yes- i'm at the end of 20 miles!" well there wasn't quite an exclamation point in my voice because i really wanted to kill anyone who interrupted what little will power i had left. but i put on a happy face and pretended like i did mind their disruptive intrusion into my running zone. I actually saw those same 3 bikers at the end of everything in the visitors station. they were fairly impressed that i ran 20 miles, and well, so was i. The last mile was really painful. I was barely shuffling along- searching my ipod shuffle for any song that would give me a good rhythm to run to. The last 1/2 mile i had "you cant stop the beat" from the musical hairspray which, oddly enough, had the perfect beat and perfect message.

20 miles. DONE!

When i finished, i stretched a little, hydrated a little, and started snacking on a peach and cliff bar. When i got home, i could barely get out of my car. I was so stiff and in more pain than when i had finished. Fortunately, i had an angel waiting to greet me at home.

and then, i hopped into this. the hot tub is perfect for after a long run. i can't even begin to describe how much this saved me.
This is the big fat blister/callous on my left foot. Its kind of a beast. Sorry- my feet are ugly because, well, i run alot.
I also forgot to wear sunscreen and have a sweet farmers tan (actually its a burn) you can see the lines below. its pretty red.

You can also see the line on my calf if you look closely. its about an inch below my jeans. Luna also wanted to be in this picture.

Well, that is the end of my story of 20 miles. I hope you enjoyed this beast of a post.

Ultra love.

Monday, March 15, 2010

I'm Legal

I ran 18 miles. When i type it out or say it, it seems like a really long way. When i ran it, it seemed like a really long way. When i remember it, it doesn't seem that far.

Before i took the trip to shelby farms, i put on my trusty spandex pants and my nike jacket. I filled my new Nathan Brand hand held water bottle (it kinda straps onto your hand and has a one way valve so you dont squirt yourself while you are running---- genius) with water, grabbed a packet of gu, a cliff bar, and a bottle of Gatorade. I was so smart and googled the 10K course so i would know where to start. I made this fantastic plan to run the 10K course 3 times because i knew the Tour De Wolf would be muddy.

So i park in the right parking lot and begin to look for the big sign that would mark the start of the 10K. FYI PEOPLE- the Shelby Farms website LIES. LIES. ALL LIES. There is no start billboard. SO i had to resort to plan B (bahahahah) which fortunately, i had. I opted to run this 2.75 mile course 6 times and to add a loop around the lake. The lake loop is 1.67 miles. All this added up to a glorious 18 mile run.

I began to trot. And when i say trot, i mean, i was running pretty damn slow. My legs were sluggish because i hadn't really run like i should have for the past 2 weeks. I made it about 2 miles around the loop when it started to rain. The rain kind of hurt a little bit. It was comin at me sideways and stinging my face. Nevertheless, i powered through it. Scratch that. Trudged through it. Lap one--- DOWN!

Lap two was uneventful. I hit the lake loop in the middle of Lap #2. Also uneventful. Lap 3. Still uneventful. After lap three, i stopped at my car to suck down a packet of Gu. Lemme tell you about Gu. I got the vanilla bean kind- it tastes really good, but it has the consistency of snot. So while you eat it you think, "man this tastes good, but am i eating vanilla flavored snot? ehhhhhhhhh not sure. but i think i will keep eating it." I opened the hate-or-ade and filled my little hand water bottle with it. yum. then i chewed a piece of gum and got back to running.

Lap 4 was also uneventful. On lap 5 it started to look dark and about a mile in, i saw these two guys that i had passed about 2 or 3 times before. as we ran past each other they were like, "hey, how far are you running today? we ran past you a bunch." I said, "18. Im training for the Nashville marathon." one dude said, "cool, i just ran the little rock" and then we went on our ways. It was a good time to chit chat with other distance runners, even if one was 40 and the other looked 60. Kinda gave me a little push for the end there.

When it was time for Lap 6, i thought, maybe i should just go run these last 3 miles at my dads house since it is kinda dark (it was cloudy so i couldn't tell when the sun set). BUT- i kept on running anyway, hoping i could just be sneaky. WELLLLLLLL, that didn't work. .75 miles in the RANGER picked me up in his truck and took me back to my car. I played dumb like i hadn't been paying attention, but i knew what i was doing. good thing i have an innocent looking face. i sure fooled him.

So since i got kicked out of shelby farms, i drove to my dads house, grabbed winston and his leash, then ran --- scratch that--- hobbled the last two miles of my 18.

How did my body take it you ask? I was tired, stiff, in pain, sore, but oh so happy. My hip flexers were the most tender- i definitely could not have done hurdles and there is a good chance i couldnt have jumped up on a curb if it werent for those AWESOME handicap ramps that are on every corner now. Thank goodness for the Americans with disabilities act or else i probably would have fallen on my face those last two miles.

Fortunately, i had a good attitude about this run. I have just finished the book, Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Karnazes. I will blog about that later, but in his book he makes a good point about running and pain. Running hard should be a little painful, and as long as you feel good pain from working yourself like a mule, you are doing the right stuff. He also talks about baby steps and taking it one stride at a time. Both these things made the 18 miles a little easier and rewarding.

I am proud of my accomplishment and I cant wait til i get to run 20! yay!

Ultra Love

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Grandeur of the Seas

So, two weeks ago i went on a cruise with my handsome and health conscious boyfriend. See his angelic face below. (My photography friends with be proud of that sun spot/sun flare)

So this cruise was chartered by a bunch of Ohio State Fans who wore red Ohio State gear the ENTIRE cruise. Every single day. I kid you not. The boat was pretty sweet. You can see the center deck below.
The first day out we stopped in Key West- you can see the whole gang below. What a crew.
Then my BF and the band played at Sloppy Joes. Nate did such a good job. Way to go Nate. You look good.

To the exercise portion of this post. There was a pretty small gym on the boat. It had about 8 treadmills, a few elipticals, and some outdated weight machines. One day i ran 6 miles and the other i ran about 3. The thing about running on a boat is that as the boat moves back and forth, the treadmill inclines goes up and down. This was kind tricky and made for a pretty intense workout. I also had to take some sea sickness medicine because the boat was super rocky one night. FYI- sea sickness medicine makes you pretty tired. It made it alot more difficult to run and feel good while running. Another time, i was going to go running, but decided to take a nap instead. goooooood choice! :)

The rest of my "exercise" included walking on the beach in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. See the evidence below.... HA!

Nate looks pretty next to the tender boat that was taking us back to our big boat from the beach in Mexico.
Once back on the boat, the last night Nate played two shows. And, again, he did a good job. He looks super cool here.
Reasons why i love cruises, and particularly this one:
1. Naps. I love naps and nate let me take MILLIONS of them!
2. Midnight conversations in a steaming hot tub with the cold night air blowing across the deck.
3. Working out with my boo.
4. Walking along the beach in Mexico, holding hands.
5. My new J. Crew swimsuit
6. Towel animals made the the cruise crew
7. Old people doing cheesy line dances
8. 11:30pm free buffets
9. Endless food
10. The solarium
11. Watching the sunset or watching the sky after the sun has set with my favorite person on the front deck of the boat
12. Key lime pie
13. relaxation and happiness
14. good music
15. good people

Thursday, March 4, 2010

true luv

video

Luna and Gibson Carter were meant to be.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

14 miles and still alive to blog about it

So the day after the blog post you see below (ps. Sorry for the emo-ness of it all, but sometimes you just gotta blog and make cheesy but rather accurate metaphors to get all those “feelings” out….) I ran 14 miles.

14 miles is the longest I have ever run in my life, and, frankly, it wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was pretty good.

I woke up early that Saturday morning- around 7- got ready, ate some cereal, filled my water bottle, gather my energy bars, and hit the road to Shelby Farms.

NOTE- there are some people who cannot eat before exercising. I am not one of those people. While I probably couldn’t eat an entire thanksgiving meal or Huey Burger pre-workout without vomming, cereal/oatmeal/eggs/sandwich/granola bar/fruit (anything relatively light in size and general texture—does that even make sense? I don’t know) are just fine pre-workout. Pre-workout equals anywhere from an hour to right before my workout- FYI. If eating pre workout makes you nervous, try starting with a granola bar or a little bit of apple sauce. If you (me) are going to be running long distances, you have to get used to eating while running because your body needs fuel. From what I have read, what and when you eat on a long run really depends on the individual. As I figure out what works for me, I will share. Duh.
Anyway, my 14 mile run. I ran out at Shelby Farms sans Luna. I just didn’t think jumping into 14 miles was a good idea for her. I’m relatively sure she could handle it, but I want to work her up to the long runs (and make sure I can get her proper access to water along the way- her safety and health are number one).

Anyway again- back to the run- I ran the Tour D’Wolf (6 miles) twice and then tacked on 2 miles at the end, like I did on my 8 mile run from a little bit ago.

There were a few things that made this run particularly enjoyable.

1.The weather was perfect. Just the right temperature, partly cloudy (too much sun= squinty eyes and sunburn).
2.The perfect weather meant there were lots of dogs out and about. I got to smile at lots of dogs which made the run seem less long. A sweet puppy-semi jumped on me and left a muddy paw-print on my pants. This made me really happy for some strange reason.
3.I found a secret passage.

Eeeeeeeeeee! Excitement! Let me tell you about this secret passage. At mile 4 ¼ into the trail, there is this gap in a fence that you have to run through. This gap is ALWAYS varying degrees of muddy. From squishy to standing water. Mostly, some level of standing water is involved. AND- because the muddy area extends from about 20 feet in front of the gap in the fence to about 10 feet after this gap, there is nowhere to go but right through the mud.
Well, that USED to be how it was til I found my secret passage, my hidden jewel, my sanctuary of awesomeness. To the left of the muddy area that is in front of the gap in the fence, there is a tree that fell over some time ago. In my desperation to not have wet shoes for 10 miles, I inched my way to investigate what looked like it could be some other footprints. I climbed over this tree and what did I find???? THE REAL MILE 4 ¼ OF THE TRAIL. How do I know this, you ask? Because the 4 ¼ mile marker was there! From what my St. Mary’s/Georgetown education has enabled me to discern, this tree fell many moons ago, thus making the gap in the fence SLASH redirecting of the trail necessary. However, the trail on the other side of the tree is NOT muddy at all. And you can see puppy paw prints in the ground. This real/old part of the trail meets up with the fake/new part of the trail about 50 feet down the way where the fence ends. For the visual- the old trail runs along the left of the fence, and the new trail runs along the right of the fence. The fence is pretty much hidden by trees and bushes though. FANTASTIC. It really made my day. I am not kidding. If you ever run with me, I will show you all its secretness.

In other news, after mile 6, when I looped around to start the trail again, I stopped by my car to drink some water and eat a Cliff bar. The water was perfect, but my mouth really didn’t want to eat the Cliff bar. I am thinking of investing in Gu because chewing doesn’t seem high on my list of priorities mid-run.
Besides that, it was a great run. I even pushed myself on the last mile. My time was about 2:20 -2:30 which is right for me. I am a 10 minute miler and have always been. That will probably get better over the years, but, for my first real try at a marathon, I will stick with my 10 min mile goal.

Tonight is 16 miles. My schedule was de-railed slightly because of a CRUISE. Don’t worry- the 16 mile run and the cruise will suffer HUGE dumps of blog.

ultra love.