Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Still Running

Well, I'm still plugging along.  I think I remember the actual origin of this dumb back pain, though, because Melissa reminded me that I had complained about that spot before.  It was after a medium-length run and it was quite cold outside.  We finished our run and were headed in when we saw my husband backing his truck up by the mailboxes.  Turns out, our horses had gone walkabout - probably led by my mare.  My mare alternates between being a sweet, loving pocket horse and a total b!tch.

Here she is in a relatively sweet mood:

And, again - my niece is riding her.  She wasn't acting up at all.

But, on the day in question, she did NOT want to leave the neighbor's yard. And he did NOT want three horses grazing in front of his house.  Guess who prevailed?

So, we started leading them back to the house, and she was going faster and faster, and I was holding on to her lead.  And I told her to slow down, and pulled down on the lead and she yanked her head up.  And I thought she'd yanked my arm off - but that was mostly because I was shivering and cold by this point - the heat from the run dissipated while we were hunting down the horses. So, tight cold muscles + hyperextension = soft tissue injury.  I was pretty mad, and said a few choice words and corrected her, and then Melissa (bless her!) saw that I was struggling and took Mystique (that's the b!tch's name) so I could lead the calmer horse.

I've also been having a bit of trouble with that shoulder, now that I think of it, and I think both the back and the shoulder irritation stem from that day.  And, yes, I am going to continue to run and to play with the horses. And get a physical therapist to help me with body mechanics so that I can continue to do both AND move patients without further injuring myself.  I do love that stupid horse, even though there are times when I would like to choke her.

Today's run was 8 miles at a moderate pace on the treadmill - no back pain but I do feel a bit of a "tight" sensation.  That's an improvement over muscle spasms, anyway.  What is on your training calendar for the day?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Back Pain

Let me start this post by saying that I have been moving patients for 25 years, on and off.  I have NEVER injured myself moving a patient - until now.  I was helping to move a patient yesterday and I pulled a muscle in my back.  It hurt immediately - quick spasms that made me gasp and go sit down as soon as we had the patient positioned.  And it's hurting still.  Here's the stupid part - I was just moving the patient's head.  To be sure, it was a rather large head, but still - just a head.  &^#$@#!  I'm so mad about this that I could scream!!!!

The pain now is localized between the 7th and 8th rib on the right side of my back.  It's all muscle pain - there isn't any evidence (that I can feel) that I've done anything other than irritate the soft tissue in that area.  I'm not a believer in lying flat on your back with back pain, so I've continued most of my normal activities for the last two days.

I hadn't planned a run on Friday, so that was a rest day anyway.  I ran a slow three miles today - found that if I kept an 11:00 - 12:00 pace my back didn't bother me much, but when I increased the speed I could really feel it.  So, that's a bummer, because I did want to get in some speedwork over the next couple of weeks.

On the other hand, I don't have a time goal for Disney - it is all about fun and character photos for me (and a trip with the hubs - ALONE!) - so I suppose it really doesn't matter.  My goal for signing up for Disney was to force myself to continue training with reasonable intensity during a month when I'd really rather hibernate, and I can still do that even if I don't worry about speedwork.  

If it doesn't ease off in the next week or so, I'll go ask my doc for a referral to a physical therapist and see if there's anything I can do to strengthen some of those muscles to keep this from happening again.  In the meantime, if you see a short, stocky chick with too much gear on running VERY slowly, give me a wave, will ya?  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  I have a lot to be thankful for today - I have a wonderful husband, three happy and healthy adult sons, great family, great friends, a great job... I'm even happy with my car!

The local track club hosted an 8K race today, and I ran it along with Kim, Melissa and my youngest son.  We knew my son would be faster (he's 19), so he ran on.  The plan was for the rest of us to stay together, but Melissa took off early.  She explained why later, and I laughed at her, but I'll let her tell that if she chooses to!  So, Kim and I kept running, but Kim had this look on her face... and I suffer from dreadful IBS, which I keep under control by downing copious amounts of Immodium. Sometimes 6 pills a day.  It can be that bad.

 I know what that look means when I am wearing it.  On my face, it means: "Please leave me alone, there might be an explosion."  Then Kim confirmed that she was having stomach issues, and I felt so bad for her, because that is absolutely the WORST feeling during a race. There are pains I can run through, but when the GI tract is acting up I am useless.

Kim told me to go ahead - and, let me tell you, did I ever have mixed emotions about that one!  I hate leaving someone when I've planned to run with them, but I will tell you right now that if I am ever running with you and I suggest that you might go ahead, it's because I don't want the people that I know seeing me if I have an accident.  And, yes, you folks who want me to spell it out, I mean if I poop my pants.  But you don't want to ask someone you've run with twice if that's the case with them.  You know?  So, what to do?

Well, I figured I'd err on the side of caution and run on - 5 miles isn't that long and I knew we could find one another at the finish. So, I sped up and ran on, and I was moving pretty fast (for me) - even with the very slow first mile, I was at mile 3 at 28 minutes.  Mile 2 & 3 were fast.  

And then, it hit - only this wasn't my customary GI distress - I just had to pee.   No big deal, right?  And I ignored it, and ran on.  Melissa and I were passing one another right and left - it was funny - like a runner's version of Spy vs Spy.  And the urge to pee got worse. I started looking at the side of the road, but we were along the river and it was pretty open.  And it kept getting worse - it was actually painful!

And then I saw it, just ahead.  The sweet beige of a porta-potty!  I was so happy!!  I started running faster and saw that there weren't even any lines.  Whoohoo - a porta-potty with no lines in the middle of a race?  That's a gift!  And then I got closer and realized that the reason there were no lines was because it was some sort of utility shed... and it wasn't even big enough to hide behind for a minute.  I almost cried, I'm not kidding.  It's funny now, but it was not at all funny then!

There was nothing left to do but finish the race.  I tried to hold a steady speed, and I'm sure I looked like I was doing some sort of cross between running and the pee-pee dance.  I finally finished the stupid race in just under 50 minutes, stopped to give up my timing chip and then went straight to the porta-potty.  I tried to take a second to talk to some friends, but it wasn't happening.  The potty beckoned, and let me just say thank goodness there weren't any lines!

Then we went back to find Kim and she was only a few minutes behind us, in spite of her stomach.  And Melissa was ahead of me, so we were all easily under an hour.  I'd call that a pretty successful race all the way around.  We were all pretty happy with our finish times, I think.  

And then it was time for the raffle - they held a raffle at the end of the race, and you got a ticket for every canned item you brought.  I brought two bags of food, and Melissa and Kim were similarly loaded down.  They started drawing the tickets when I realized that the woman who had given me some of my tickets gave me BOTH halves - in other words, my tickets weren't even in!  I was sad about that, and Melissa said, "See if they'll add them in!"

So I did, and I won TWO things!  A fanny pack, which the Princess will love for biking, and then this little gem:

Yup - I won a GARMIN!!!  Now, I knew they were giving away a Garmin at this race, and we had done lots of joking about the Garmin, but never in my wildest dreams did I dream that I would win it!  So, I never win anything, and now in the last week I have one Kim's fabulously cute headband giveaway, a running pack AND a GARMIN!!!  Can you tell I am a little excited about it?

Melissa and I will make good use of this little guy, let me tell you.  We are perfectly capable of sharing it, too - we are neighbors and we send things back and forth all the time.  The Garmin is charging, bread is rising on the stove, the turkey is in the oven and here's hoping that all of you have as nice a holiday as I have had so far.  Minus that urge to pee in a utility shed, of course!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Speed Envy

I have a confession to make.  I have speed envy.  I really do.  I've had it for as long as I can remember.  I have always wanted to be able to run really fast.  Now, biology is against me on this one - I am less than five feet tall, and I have short, stocky legs.  I have not one speck of athletic talent in my entire body.  There's really no hope for any real speed.

Even when I was in the Army, at my fittest, I could run (at best) 8 minute miles. I always easily passed the physical fitness test but never could get the maximum score on the run.  

I'm not going to let a silly thing like a lack of speed stop me, though.  I started running again about fifteen months ago.  Here's a photo of me at that point - I'm the short one on the left.

See those tall, pretty girls standing beside me? They aren't really tall - it's just that my particular talent is making everyone around me look tall!

And, a little more than a year later, here I am again - this time on the right:

Melissa isn't that tall, either, but she looks it next to me!  I told you that was my talent!

In the last sixteen months I have lost 18 pounds and gone from running 1-2 miles at a time to finishing two half marathons.  Now, to be fair, I'm not exactly a newbie runner.  I had simply let my running lapse for many years.  But I'm still proud of what Melissa and I have accomplished.  

I haven't dieted, either, but I find that the more I run the more careful I am about choosing whole, healthy foods.  I'm never hungry, though, and I probably eat more now than I did a year and a half ago.  My metabolism has changed and my appetite has changed.

So, while I haven't seen an appreciable difference in speed (and I probably never will), I am pleased with the changes I have seen.  And I'll continue to push myself with interval training and hill work and tempo runs.  And if any of you have a little pace magic, could you pass it along?

Big Fat Greek Marathon Fund: $62.50
Goal: Unknown (they send out information in February)
Days until our next race: 2

Monday, November 22, 2010

So Maybe It Is The Illness... (Updated)

...because strength training (which I usually find ridiculously easy even if I'm lifting the max amount of weight I can to finish ten reps) was a bit of a struggle this morning.  I got through it - 45 minutes, anyway - so I guess that's something.  But I felt weak and tired.  Maybe it's the virus, maybe it's the after-effect of the suck that was yesterdays' run. Who knows?

I also spent about ten minutes with the foam roller and a few minutes stretching.  And the post-workout shower cleared my head, and I'm very glad now that I didn't just take the morning off.  Then I treated myself to a skim milk mocha at the Starbuck's in the hospital lobby.  Just because!

(Update) - And now that my friend Kim has updated her blog, I can tell you about Saturday!  Some time ago, I saw a comment on another blog in which Kim gave her location - and it is literally right up the road from where I live!  How often does that happen?  :)  So, of course I got in touch with her, and she was gracious enough to agree to meet us for a run.

Melissa and I love the social aspect of a run - although we have somewhat different running styles - I tend to go like crazy until I drop, while Melissa is the voice of reason in this friendship - we share that love of the group run.  So, we met Kim and took her to one of our favorite (albeit challenging) local runs.

We ran a fairly fast five miles on a very hilly course.  We took a few walk breaks, to be sure, but we definitely worked up a sweat and pushed ourselves to conquer those hills.  Kim was great!  She pushed herself all the way to the finish - she's certainly a better runner than she thinks she is! :)  We're all getting together again for a Thanksgiving run in a few days - 8K, here we come!

If you get a minute, take a look at Kim's blog - she has a really cute hairband giveaway that's worth checking out.  And she has cute kids! :)

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Suck Factor - Long Run Recap

Well, I had a long run of 16 miles scheduled for today.  I knew it was iffy - I've been fighting some sort of upper respiratory virus for days now, and was just starting to really feel better this morning.  But Disney approaches (49 days!) and I cannot afford to miss any long runs.

So, I set out at a moderate pace, and I decided to take a different route just to shake things up a bit.  Bad idea.  BAD idea.  The new route had more hills than the old one, and they were steeper.  But I thought that the hill training might actually be a good thing, so I didn't turn back - again, bad idea!

I made it through about mile 6 without any problems - and then the suck set in.  I decided to take a walk break every mile for the remainder of the run, and I decided to gauge that by the mile markers.  After running for about 15 minutes and thinking, "Holy Cow - this is the longest mile EVER!", I realized that the county I was running in only places mile markers every 2 miles.

About mile 10, the stomach cramps set in - but they weren't constant, or I would have just packed it up and gone home.  I'd have some cramping, and then 8-10 minutes with no cramping.  So, I'd walk for a few seconds and then run during the cramp-free spells.

About that time, I called Melissa and asked her to join me for the last few miles.  Thank goodness she was home, and happy to come out - I honestly wouldn't have made it the last three without her.  We arranged to meet at about the 12 mile point so she could run the last 3 in with me.  Well, we didn't communicate that well, so I was waiting for her (and taking a short stretch break) when she called and said, 'Where are you?"  We quickly changed course and met up for the last part of the run.

Melissa said, "Will this give you 16?"  I said no, that it would give me 15, but that I was going to take it and be happy.  And we finished the last three miles with me stopping every 8 minutes or so for a break.  I did keep the walk breaks under a minute, but I couldn't have run the last few miles without them.

Now I'm sitting on the couch with a heating pad (and two chihuahuas) on my stomach.  I wish I'd had an extra mile in me, but today I just didn't.  I'm not sure if it's the fact that I'm coming off of an illness, or just an off day, or if maybe I'm not as fit as I think I am.  Or perhaps some combination of those factors.

At any rate, I am running the Disney Marathon on January 9.  I had already made up my mind that, because I love Disney, I was going to make this run about fun and not about time.  I want to stop for every character, and I want to run nice and slow through each of the four parks and just soak up the atmosphere.  Until I have grandchildren I don't have little children as an excuse to visit Disney (although I may steal the Princess next summer for a short trip - don't tell her!), so this is probably the only chance I'll have to hang out and play in the Disney theme parks on my terms for quite some time.

I guess if I have to, I'll take frequent walk breaks in the Galloway style and just finish the race.  But I really hope next week's long run is better than this week's.  Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Outer Banks Half Marathon Race Recap

Okay - as promised, the race report from the Outer Banks Half Marathon.  We arrived in Nags Head at about 4:30 pm on the night before the race.  It was pretty, but very windy.  The above photo is Melissa on the beach outside of our room, and the wind was whipping.  It had us a little worried, to be honest.  But we knew we weren't running for time, so we headed for the race expo to pick up our packets.

The expo was in a little building a couple of miles from our hotel.  We asked the desk clerk how to get there and she gave us very easy directions.  This was one of the best race expos I have ever attended - it beat the Nashville Women's Half Marathon expo by a mile.  We each got a long-sleeved tee (mine was a midlayer half-zip), and Melissa got a running skirt, and I got a tank top - they were closing things out as low as $10 an item!  I wish I'd had a little more money to spend - I could have had an entirely new running wardrobe!  We were happy with our purchases, though.

We each got Bondi-Bands to keep our hair under control.  

 Here I am in my pirate Bondi-Band.  It was a great deal, and a very cute way to keep your hair under control in the wind!  I had a photo of Melissa in hers, but it has mysteriously disappeared!  Hey, Melissa, where's that photo?

Our wake-up call was for 5 am, but we were both awake at 2 am.  That's how excited we were about this race! We laid in our respective beds and talked for a bit, and finally went back to sleep.  When 5 am rolled around, we jumped up and got into our race gear.

We drove to the parking area for the start of the half marathon, and joined several other people in walking to the corrals.  There were quite a lot of porta-potties, so it was easy to get in the pre-race nervous pee!  There was no wind, and the temperature was in the mid-50's - absolutely perfect!  We were very lucky, because in prior years there has been wind.

We stood in the 10-12 minute/mile corral for quite a while.  We could hear the announcer, but we couldn't really distinguish what he said.  But, they were playing music and we were people watching, and we figured we'd start running when everyone else did, so we didn't really care.

Melissa was standing next to me, when the runner in front of her suddenly bent over to stretch with her butt right in Melissa's face!  It was too funny - let me add that there was ample room on either side of the road - you really had no need to put your best "butt" forward, so I have no idea why she did that.  Melissa turned around and we cracked up - and so did several other runners who had seen the girl!  I wish I had had a camera - I would totally have taken a photo of Butt Girl!

Other than Butt Girl, though, there were quite a few runners in costume, and that was fun.  I also love reading the funny tees that runners wear.  One girl had a sign taped to her back that said, "This booty will NEVER surrender!"  Love that!

At one point, it sounded like the announcer started the race.  Everybody started moving toward the start line, but nobody was running, so we really weren't sure.  We walked for several minutes, and finally started jogging.  We crossed the start line about eight minutes later.

The first mile felt great, but Melissa is rehabbing an injured leg, so we had agreed on a walk break at every mile.  At the end of the first mile, it was really hard to take that break, but we did it anyway.  Mile two was the same - we didn't feel like we needed a break, but we took one anyway.

At mile three we needed to get rid of our outer layers, so we used the walk break for that and it was fine.

At mile four I needed a potty break (I have a lamentably small bladder, even though I am a nurse), and the line was pretty long.  Melissa timed our break, and it was 8 minutes.  But Melissa is a good friend, so she waited for me and even cheered me on - "Go, Terri!  You can do it!" to the great amusement of the other folks in the potty line!

Mile five, six and seven were uneventful - just steady running and equally steady walk breaks.  The whole race (with one exception) was very flat and easy.  At mile eight, they had an energy gel by Hammer Nutrition, and I did not want any.  Melissa insisted that we get one, though, so I did - reluctantly - but these weren't bad.  I finished mine, and will look for these energy gels when it's time to replenish my stash.

Mile nine was steady, but we knew we were coming up on the bridge.  The Washington Baum bridge is a very tall bridge designed for ships to pass under, and it was the only hill on the course.  Once I saw the bridge, though, I knew we had it.  Our driveway is steeper than that bridge, and we run up it a couple of times a week.  Mile ten was at the crest of the bridge.  I asked Melissa if she wanted a walk break, but she didn't, and we were so close to the finish that I figured it wouldn't hurt to keep going.  

We ran through mile ten and took a walk break at the water station at mile eleven.  Then there were two more miles until the finish.  I felt great - I could have kept going for several more miles.  Which is good, because I have a full marathon coming up in a couple of months!

About five minutes after we passed mile twelve, we started to hear the noise from the finish line AND we started to see race finishers with medals around their necks.  I love seeing people who've already finished, particularly when it's obvious they've come back to cheer other people on.  

And then it was our turn - the finish! Here we are, crossing the finish line!  It was fabulous - and my favorite part is getting the medal at the end of the run!

  And the pirate bling - the medals!  Aren't they pretty, sitting there waiting to be claimed?

Here we are, having our picture made with a pirate at the post-race party!  He said, "Are you sure you two ran that race?  You smell awfully good to be finishers!"  Melissa was crowing about the pirate thinking she smelled good, so I burst her bubble by reminding her that pirates bathe maybe once every six months - of course she smelled good to him!

Here we are, sight-seeing after the run at the Wright Brothers Memorial. Melissa is wearing her race tee, and I'm wearing the tank top I got at the race expo.  Don't we look fit?

 Here's Melissa on one of our recovery runs.  Look at that sky!

And here is Melissa with her little Princess - the Princess learned to ride a bike on this trip and we all biked through the village on Ocracoke Island.  All in all, a very active vacation!

Our finish time was 2:28:25 by chip. Not bad for a race we just wanted to finish!

So, to sum it up - I highly recommend the Outer Banks Marathon Weekend as a destination race.  It was a flat, fast course with one moderate hill.  The race was very well-organized, the local folks were friendly and welcoming and the weather was perfect.  And who doesn't love a little pirate booty?!

Big Fat Greek Marathon Fund: $62.50
Goal: Unknown (they send out information in February)
Days until our next race: 4

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Few Days Off

I have been fighting some kind of viral illness for the last week or so, and in the aftermath of the race it seems to have taken hold more firmly.  I'm going to take a day or two to try to recover from it, but then I'll be back with a nice long post about the race and the Outer Banks and all the fun we had!  Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Run Like A Pirate!

We leave at 4 in the morning for the Outer Banks, to run the Outer Banks Half Marathon.  The theme of the marathon weekend is Pirates, which is awesome, because I love pirates!  Ok - I love Hollywood and Disney pirates - real life pirates, not so much!

The best pirate costume wins $50!   Now, Melissa and I have both had busy weeks at work, so we haven't had a great deal of time to put together costumes.  But Halloween was just a couple of weeks ago, so Melissa hit the clearance racks and we'll make a decent showing.  Aarggghh! :)

I'll be offline for a few days, but I'll be sure to take pictures while we're away.  Have a great, ACTIVE week, everyone!  See you next week!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day!

Happy Veteran's Day to all of you out there who have served, are serving or will serve our country.  We owe you a great debt of gratitude!

T-3 days until the Outer Banks Half Marathon!  I am very excited - this distance is less than my long runs have been, so it should be a nice steady run along the ocean.  In fact, I'm considering it just another training run - I'm not taking more than a day off (if that) afterward.

Good luck to those of you who are running a race this weekend, and good luck also to those of you who have training runs scheduled.  So far my longest training runs have been more difficult than most of my races!

Big Fat Greek Marathon Fund: $60
Goal: Unknown (they send out information in February)
Days until our next race: 3

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Off Topic

Most of you don't know that I have three adult sons.  Two of them decided to join the Army.  This was difficult for me, even though I had been an Army nurse.  I guess it's a difficult thing for any parent.

This post isn't about my sons, though - it's about a young man who trained with our youngest son.  Pfc Shane Reifert was killed last weekend in Afghanistan during a firefight with insurgents.  His sister has created a blog, and you can read it here: My Fallen Soldier.  Shane was a hero, and he gave his life for all of us.

My request is a simple one today.  If you are a praying person, please send up a prayer for the men and women serving our country right now.  And if you're not, send some positive thoughts. Our service members need all the support they can get.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Biggest Loser

Ok, I admit it - I'm kind of hooked on The Biggest Loser.  It's my "guilty pleasure" television show.  I know that there is a lot of controversy regarding the safety of their methods, and I know that not everyone is a fan.  I tune in anyway.

I tune in because I think it's fabulous that these contestants are learning to be active, and inspiring people in their communities to be active.  I tune in because I find personal inspiration in watching them work out.  If they can work that hard, what have I got to whine about?  But mostly I tune in because I love seeing people get a second chance, and for some of these folks it really IS a second chance.

I do wish, though, that there were no elimination.  And I wish that, after the challenges, everybody got letters from home, or phone calls, or whatever.  And I wish the emphasis was less about the number on the scale and more about regaining your health and reclaiming your life.  I'd still watch it, because I love watching the transformation from overweight and unhappy to fit and athletic.  I wish they'd let us follow every contestant down that road.

In spite of what I dislike, though, I am going to go home and watch The Biggest Loser tonight.  And next time I'm on the treadmill or out on the road, I'm going to remember that there are folks out there who are twice my weight, working just as hard as I am.  And I'm going to stop whining and keep running.

Do you have a "guilty pleasure" television show, or snack, or whatever?  If you do, please share!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Strength Training

I know that I don't do enough strength training.  And, the truth is, winter is coming.  The days are short and dark and cold and I probably won't get any better at strength training any time soon.

I think this might be a solution, at least for now:
One Hundred Pushups


Three days a week, less than thirty minutes a day.  And, maybe, once I'm finished with both programs, I'll see results.  If I see results, I'll generally keep pushing and perhaps get better at achieving some sort of balance with my workouts.  Hey, it's worth a try!

Big Fat Greek Marathon Fund: $60
Goal: Unknown (they send out information in February)
Days until our next race: 6

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Garmin Giveaway

I just found out about this giveaway: 26.2ismycooldown - the blog author, who is way cooler than me because he does triathlons, is giving away a Garmin.  If you are a runner, a Garmin is probably on your wishlist, so go on over and enter quickly!

Hmmm - wonder if a Garmin will work in Athens? :)

Big Fat Greek Marathon Fund: $60
Goal: Unknown (they send out information in February)
Days until our next race: 7

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Eating on the Run

I am not a fan.  I'm not talking about eating when you're rushed for time (although I'm not a fan of that, either) - I'm talking about actual food eaten during a run.  Blech.  The last thing I want to do on a long run is eat.  The result of this is that I tend to bonk on a long training run, and I'm a little worried about the marathon I have coming up in 64 (!!!!!) days.

Gu is quick and easy, and I know a lot of endurance athletes swear by it, but I don't like it.  I really don't.  I've even tried freezing it, and it wouldn't stay frozen long enough to make a difference.

So, I'm trying different products over the next few weeks to see what I can at least tolerate during a long run.  So far Sport Beans are my favorite.  They're small enough to be easy to eat, they taste good and they're fun.

I read an article that suggested Fig Newtons as a mid-race fuel source.  I'm a Fig Newton kind of gal, so I'm going to try that, too.

I've also heard that some people eat bananas in the middle of the race - I like bananas, but they seem a little bulky, and I'd hate to put the peel back in my Camelbak.  I'd also hate to just throw it on the ground.

So - what is your solution to the mid-run refuel dilemma?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Training Partner

If any of you are blessed with a training partner, you will understand this post.  This is an ode to my training partner (of 14 years or so!) - my sister-in-law, Melissa.

When I first met Melissa, my husband and I were a new couple.  He told me about his brother's wife, who was a female Marine.  He said he thought I would really like her.  Frankly, I was skeptical.  I had this picture in my head of a mean old battleaxe with no sense of humor.  

Of course, Melissa is nothing like that - she's upbeat and funny and I don't think she's ever met a stranger.  I liked her immediately.  Here she is in her Marine uniform:

And, when I decided that perhaps the Army Nurse Corps was in my future, it was Melissa who taught me to run.  Patiently, one telephone pole at a time (seriously, that's as far as I could run!), sometimes jogging in circles around me so I wouldn't quit, she taught me to run.

Fast forward a few years - Melissa retired from the Marine Corps and I completed my tour with the Army - we found ourselves in the same area again, and started running together again.  This time we were more evenly matched, because I'd had a few years to find my running legs.  But, life intervened (as it often does), and Melissa sustained a rather serious back injury that required surgical repair.  Then I started a demanding graduate school program.  And we let running take a back seat to everything else.

So, we both gained weight, although Melissa carries hers much better than I do.  Here she is, stylish and chic:

Here I am, sack of potatoes:

And here we are in September after the Women's Half Marathon in Nashville:

And, more recently at the CrossKnox Ten Miler in October:

Can you see the difference?  We ran together on Tuesday and, really, Melissa looks like a different person.  She is still stylish and chic, but she has lost an amazing amount of weight.  I am so proud of her!  And, I've lost a few pounds myself, but I still dress like a sack of potatoes.  We're almost back to our military levels of fitness, and Melissa is gently pushing me to buy some real running clothes.

So, here's to you, Melissa - because no one else would get up before four in the morning to meet me at the gym.  You are an awesome training partner and I am very lucky to have you as a sister-in-law and friend!  Even if you are kinda noisy on the run! :)

Big Fat Greek Marathon Fund: $50
Goal: Unknown (they send out information in February)
Days until our next race: 10

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Afternoon Run

It was a great afternoon for a run.  I know there won't be too many more of those, so Melissa and I ran a few miles this afternoon.  I got in a few before Melissa joined me - she's rehabbing an injured leg and we definitely want to make our half marathon later this month!!

We ran and we chatted - our favorite thing to do on a run.  And we gave directions to a distinguished older gentleman in a cute convertible who didn't seem at all put out by the fact that we were a sweaty mess!  He even offered us a ride, but we had a few more miles to run, so we politely declined.   And, no - we wouldn't have accepted the ride anyway, but that's one of the things I love about East Tennessee - we'd probably have been perfectly fine if we had.  People are so nice here!

The fall color is gorgeous, and it won't last long.  Hopefully we'll get in a few more runs before the leaves drop and the weather turns nasty.  How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Big Fat Greek Marathon Fund: $50
Goal: Unknown (they send out information in February)
Days until our next race: 12

Monday, November 1, 2010

Long Run Recap

Well, yesterday was a tough one. First, the eldest was here for two weeks for mid-tour leave, and then he was gone, so I was sad and mopey all weekend. :( He's only got six or seven months left in the Army (depending on how much leave he has saved up by then), so we'll have him home for good soon enough, though.

And I had a long run that I needed to get in. So I ate a mini bagel with a little peanut butter, and gave it about 45 minutes to settle. Then I started running, and I was going too fast. I tend to do that when I'm stressed and upset, and it usually works well to ease the stress, but yesterday I had planned a 16-miler. NOT the best plan. So, anyway, I was pounding along - I took a walk break every mile for 20-30 seconds to drink from my Camelbak, but I didn't take in anything else. (This is important).

I pass a convenience store on this particular route at about mile 7 and again at about mile 9. I had one pack of Gu, and I had a half-baked idea in my head that I'd stop at the store and get a banana or something on mile 9, and then finish the last 7.

But I got to mile 8 (where the potty is) and stopped, and realized that I had forgotten my Gu. I ate it then, and had a bathroom break, and a little stretch, and then started back. Since I had just eaten my Gu, I didn't feel all that hungry at mile 9. So I kept running.

At mile 10, I was a little hungry. Mile 11 - a little hungrier. By mile 12 I was ready to gnaw my own leg off. But it was three miles back to the convenience store, and only four home. My legs were cramping at this point, so I stopped for a quick stretch break before heading on.

Mile 13 - my legs were still cramping, there was a tightness in my hip that I hadn't noticed before and my stomach is complaining to beat the band. I stretch again, and keep going.

Mile 14 - I started wondering if there's anything edible on the side of the road. I'm not kidding - I'm looking for leftover dead berries from the summer or some sheep sorrel or some edible fungi - ANYTHING, because I'm bonking HARD. My pace has slowed and my legs are still cramping. At this point, my husband drives by, takes one look at me and slows the truck. He points to the passenger side and I give it up. I ride the last bit home in the truck. And go immediately to the kitchen for a giant glass of chocolate milk and some leftover chicken. I can't remember when I've been that hungry before!

So, I cut the run short by two miles. I'm not happy with that, but it was still a tough run. My pace was just slightly over 11 minutes per mile for the whole distance, but the first 8 miles were just over a 10 minute per mile pace.

Lessons learned: you need more fuel than a mini-bagel to start a long run. You need to refuel at various intervals, and one pack of Gu halfway through is probably not enough. I should have had the Gu at mile 4, and a banana at mile 8 or 9. Then, although I might have been a little hungry, I should have been able to finish the last 7 miles or so.  Oh, and it's probably not a great idea to start a long run at your tempo run pace.  But I'll do better next week!

On a positive note, this is the scenery I was running through:

It's gorgeous here right now.  The weather was perfect - sunny and cool, with a little breeze. And the lake is gorgeous, too - we're lucky to live so close to it!

So, ultimately I think it was a valuable training run. Better to figure out the food issue now than at Disney. And the pace issue, for that matter. We have a half-marathon in just under two weeks and I'm going to try to get some good photos.

Happy Training!

Big Fat Greek Marathon Fund: $50
Goal: Unknown (they send out information in February)
Days until our next race: 13