The 22 Mile Run That Wasn’t

Oh hi, remember me? It feels like it has been way too long since I have been on this side of the blog. Needless to say, this week has been absolutely crazy. Between work, coaching, finals, and trying to get my workouts in…I feel like a hamster on a revolving wheel.

Conveniently, I am also three weeks out from my next marathon, which naturally, is when the longest long run of a marathon training plan takes place. So between the aforementioned chaos, I was needing to fit in a 22 mile run somewhere this week. That day was today. Because I literally had no other day or time available to do so. Also, summer is upon us here in the midwest and afternoon highs have been in the 90’s for the majority of the week.

I continue.

Getting my run in today meant being up at 5am, greeted with a lightning show, thunder, and big, fat raindrops. I had no way of stalling my run, so I booked it to the gym to do this long run. Before I left the house, I started to download Mean Girls on my iPhone to watch while running and made sure that my iPod was charged to keep me occupied for the four hours I was to spend on the ‘mill.

The first six miles went by pretty well, despite getting a weird stomachache/barfy feeling after mile five. I continued, the next six miles were not well. Mentally, things were getting tough. I tried positive reinforcement to no avail, was sweating like a sumo wrestler on a summer day in Louisiana, and the rain was starting to clear which made me mad that I wasn’t running outside. Ultimately I just could not pull my crap together. My heart wasn’t in this.

One promise I made to myself about a year ago was this:

If there was ever a moment that I didn’t absolutely love what I was doing, then I needed to take a step back, look some things over, and remind myself of why I was doing what I was doing. 

I cranked three more miles out and was done. I wasn’t going to put myself through those other seven miles because it would have gotten me nothing and nowhere. To console my feeling of defeat, I climbed for thirty minutes on the stair master and called it a morning. My skirt was dripping sweat, my thighs had chaffed so much they were bleeding, and I needed to refresh my love of running.

Today was a combination of things that I’m well aware of– stress, not getting enough sleep, and my eating has been sub-par (for me) the past week. I also accepted the fact that I need a break. One of the first signs of over-training is not being able to complete a workout, and while I don’t believe I’m over-training, I realized I have spent the past nine months either training for marathons, maintaining mileage, or racing. I accept that I am feeling just a little burnt out. I absolutely love running, but I have to take some of the stress and pressure away, because those don’t equate to enjoying running for me.

I still love running; in fact, I’m looking forward to a trail run I’ve planned early next week…no watch, no route, no goal pace, just me and the trails. After Med City I’ll be taking near a month off of being on a consistent running schedule and I’m going to be honest, I haven’t felt a release that great in a while. My body needs the break mentally, physically and emotionally. This rest will do me good because when I start training for Chicago I want to give it all I’ve got!

Even though today was the ‘run that wasn’t,’ it was a learning experience and reality check. I must say, I’m blessed and it’s pretty amazing that I was so disappointed with ‘only running fifteen miles…’ WHO says that??

That’s when I finally got my crap together.

Another Marathon, Another State

If you’ve been reading my blog for any more than three months, you might recall that I made a goal this year to run four marathons in four different states. I already checked Arkansas off of that list when I ran Little Rock last month (seems like it was forever ago!), and my next marathon wasn’t going to be until September in Omaha.

This is where God cracks me up. When I think I have a plan of action, He’s all like, “Hold up sister! I have a different plan; yes you’re still gonna do your marathons, but here…do it my way instead.” I’m going with it.

In this instance, I have a special friend who’s best friend is getting married the weekend of the Omaha marathon in September, and said special friend’s 30th birthday is the day after the marathon–so it wasn’t going to happen, per request of the special friend. I made him a deal. I go to the wedding, he goes with me to a marathon.

I’ve known this for nearly a month now and have been scouring Runner’s World and Marathon Guide for a new marathon to run in place of Omaha. A few caught my eye, but I had a pretty tight criteria this time for potential races:

  • Distance: the race had to be within reasonable driving distance (no more than a 10 hour commute)
  • Location: if it was a summer marathon, I would travel anywhere north of Kansas, no where south
  • Date: I wanted a race in September, but that didn’t happen…
  • Budget: the race couldn’t break my wallet (read: no Rock ‘n Roll races with $110+ entry fees)

Basically, I searched a lot, from hotel availabilities, to races, locations, you name it. A race caught my eye up in Minnesota, the Med City Marathon, and I thought on it, but passed. It is on Memorial Weekend which is now right around eight weeks away and wasn’t sure I’d want to do a marathon after this slew of halfs I’m doing over the next five weeks.

Let me take you to Wednesday morning. It was 6:30am and I didn’t want to get out of bed yet, so I was checking blogs, the weather, Twitter and finally Facebook. The Med City Marathon posted a status, and this happened:

So Omaha is scratched, and Med City is in. I’m running another marathon in less than two months. I’m running another marathon in less than two months??

Despite how weird, far fetched and near impossible our goals can sometimes seem, makes them all the more amazing when God pulls em through for you. Then He’s like, “Here, take just a little more, I want you to have the best. These dreams are going to happen…show it off a little bit!” Because I’ve also found a trail marathon in Wisconsin in September that would be the perfect final long training run before Chicago. So maybe five marathons in five states this year? Who knows.

All I know is that I’m totally loving this life and rocking out to it; how life should be lived…full and blessed.

How to Not Pack for a Marathon

I had this great idea yesterday that I would make a helpful post on how exactly how to pack for a race. Since I am the worst packer in the world, I am writing this post on how to successfully not pack for a marathon, because that is what I am currently not doing.

First, when you get home from work, don’t do anything. Sit back on your couch, listen to Pandora, organize your iCal, and muddle around on Pinterest.

Next, take your clean laundry out of the dryer and throw it in a pile on your bed. Don’t fold it. That’s a bit overreaching, don’t you think? Just let it sit there.

Okay now would be a good time to whip out that packing list you made, and start finding the random stuff you need to pack, but don’t actually pack any of it.

As soon as you start getting stuff out, arrange for your best friend to show up to your house and go get frozen yogurt.

Sorry, Aleeza.

Messy hair and no makeup are ideal for froyo outings. If you want the best froyo, go to Yogurtini. If you don’t go to Yogurtini or Yogurtland, you might as well not go.

Proceed to sit around and laugh and talk until it is near closing time, then decide it might be a good idea to finally go home.

This my friends, is how to not pack for a marathon. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up throwing all your crap in a bag about ten minutes before you go to sleep.

Speaking of sleep, I’m getting tired. I hope I don’t forget to pack my sports bra.

Pre-Marathon Prep

Cue butterflies in my stomach and sweaty palms…marathon weekend is nearly here! I’m telling you, this feeling could never get old, and I hope it doesn’t. The anticipation, culmination of training, travel prep, visualizing myself at the starting line, everything…I love it.

Before my first marathon, I had never traveled for a race other than the half marathon I ran in Texas, but even then, I stayed with my brother and was still in my comfort zone.

Here’s a look at some things you may not think about that go into a travel weekend for a marathon:

  1. Registering for the race. Obviously, this is important. The earlier you register for a race, the cheaper it is. I specifically waited to register for Little Rock at the Route 66 race expo because I knew they were having a booth there, and you typically get a lower rate and occasionally some free stuff for registering on the spot.
  2. Book a hotel. Unless you know someone living in the city you’re traveling to, it’s nice to book a bed to sleep in the night before running a race of any distance. Most races have host or affiliate hotels. I booked our hotel room back in December, and it is an affiliate hotel of the race and offers free shuttle rides to and from the start and finish lines on race day–this is HUGE! It is a plus to not have to worry about parking near the race, etc.
  3. CHECK THE WEATHER. Oh goodness, it baffles me at how many runners don’t look at the weather on a daily basis or especially when traveling. As soon as the 10-day forecast is within ten days of the race, you better believe I’m watching it like a hawk. Even on race morning in Tulsa, I stumbled downstairs in the hotel at 5:45am to step outside and check the weather for the race. So far, Sunday is looking might fine in Arkansas! 
  4. Make a list of the stuff you need to pack. Yes, I have to write down EVERY thing I need, otherwise I will not pack it. If it is not on the list, I will forget it and be without a sports bra or socks on race morning. I like to avoid serious public humiliation at all costs. Don’t worry, that’s not my whole list. Oh yes, and this is a trip that will last a whole two days. I pack less when I go on week-long trips.
  5. For runners, find out where you want to eat before you get to your destination, especially if it’s some place you’re not familiar with. It is advised to runners to ‘not try anything new’ the night before or day of a race, so you wouldn’t want to end up somewhere that only has Man vs. Food portion sizes of food you’ve never eaten before…or maybe you would. Different strokes for different folks.
  6. Confirm your hotel reservation! This is VERY important, and it’s also a good opportunity to ask any questions to the staff that you may be concerned about. I called our hotel earlier this week and was wanting to know when late checkout was, which is 2pm. This is good to know for slow-pokes like me, plus the time getting from the finish line back to the hotel (via shuttles) would not ensure us back at the hotel by 2pm, so we had to make alternative plans. You know what that means right? I don’t get to shower after the race…hahahaha! I seriously think this is hilarious, and if you saw my whole packing list, you would understand why ‘baby wipes’ were on there.
  7. Write out directions. I know this is old school, but GPS’s cannot be trusted. This is said entirely from first hand experience and a girl whose family is notoriously nicknamed the “Wrongways.” Just know where you’re going!

I am sure I could think of 100 more things to add to this list, but this handful of steps help make any race experience more enjoyable, especially when traveling. I am not typically an anal person, but when it comes to racing weekends, I like having a plan, sticking to it, and being able to fully enjoy myself sans stress.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting about packing for a marathon, and stuff you may not think you’d need but actually do, stay tuned! I’m going to go have sweet dreams about the frozen yogurt I’ll be enjoying with my best friend tomorrow night, because a good race deserves a froyo send off 🙂

 

Coping Mechanisms

How does a runner cope with not being able to run? By doing absolutely whatever she can that has the tiniest relation to running. That’s what I’ve been doing at least. I never realized how ‘go-go-go’ I am until I was slapped in the face with not being able to do anything. Well anything as compared with my  typical schedule.

Everyone has been reminding me to not rush my recovery which I have found surprisingly difficult, and each day is different. Some days are up ( like today) but some are down, yesterday was a pretty down day. Not being able to do what is normal for me such as spending a lot of time working out, running, and being around people I love just about got the best of me.

Instead of letting the debbie downers drag me down, I spent today thinking of all of the great things I have been able to do, without hardly doing anything. Does that make sense? Basically, here is how this runner has been coping with not being able to run.

1. I bought more running skirts. Send help. Thank goodness that I should be able to get back to life soon, otherwise my bank account would be depleted in about three weeks due to excessive running apparel purchases.

I hope I love this Adidas skirt as much as I love the other ones that I have!

I like that this one is a different color and all flouncy 🙂

2. I’m also waiting on the neon green compression socks that I decided to order…yes I did it. There’s a 98% chance that they will be involved in my outfit for Little Rock–and considering it looks as though there is a chance for rain that weekend, the black shirt may definitely be IN. I have no plans in letting people see my sports bra, especially in a marathon.

3. Moving! I can’t drive because of the medicine I’m taking, but that doesn’t mean I can’t use my feet, though I’m still needing to take it easy. Yesterday I went walking for 40 minutes but was sore afterwards. This is not normal for me. Today I took the Schwinn for a spin, and it was SO much fun. I couldn’t tell you the last time I was on a bike before today and was surprised I didn’t fall, though I came close.

You better believe if I can fall while running then I will come thisclose to falling off a bike. This bike ride caused me to realized two things, 1) I miss running. I would rather run up a hill than ride up one. 2) Cyclists are smart because you can cover more miles in less time than running, and you typically go a lot faster riding than running. But I will stick with running, thanks.

4. Reading about running! From other blogs, books, Runner’s World, the Facebook page for Little Rock…basically if I have done anything to have running on my mind.

5. Wearing running shirts/clothes/shoes around the house. You probably think this is weird, and it probably is. But deep down I feel like if I’m wearing running my running clothes and shoes, I will heal faster. Right? Right…?

6. Watching my hair grow. Okay I haven’t been THAT bored, but I thought it was funny. Though I am actually trying to grow my hair as long as I can because in December I’m hoping to have enough to donate to Locks of Love! I have plans to run the Dallas White Rock Marathon at the end of the year and Locks of Love is one of the big charity partners this year, so I’ll be chopping my hair off so lots of wigs can be made for some amazing people!

Until I can run again, every morning when I wake up I have been doing the ‘jump test.’ If I can jump up and down without it hurting, that is the day that I will run. I haven’t had that day yet, but am hoping it is SOON.

This break period has been a true test of character, as I was thinking on my ride today. I didn’t expect things/this month/training to happen this way, but when do things ever happen as we expect them? In my case: never.

Still staying positive though and tomorrow is Friday!!!! Happy almost weekend to us!

Future-Thinking

Okay, well I left you all on Friday when I was having quite the time recovering from my gallbladder surgery. As I mentioned in that post, I was throwing up early Friday morning with pain that I never wish upon anyone. Me, wanting to get up and move around and heeding my nurse’s advice that walking would help the pain, I set out on a slow, painful, walk around my block. The entire walk I was thinking of how often I take running for granted and never realized it. I typically consider a 4-7 mile run a ‘jaunt around the neighborhood,’ and on Friday it took me over thirty minutes to walk less than half of a mile.

Later Friday afternoon, vomiting ensued and I called my doctor, who told me to visit the ER to get checked out. After a long night of IVs, waiting, me wanting to go home, an injection of Stadol (possibly the worst medical related experience of my life, I’m talking adverse reactions of hallucinations caused by the dang stuff), and more waiting, we were told that I had developed a kidney infection likely from the catheter used during surgery. The ER people were so nice and gave me an antibiotic for the infection and anti-nausea medicine and we were able to go home.

What a difference a few days can make! Despite still being very sore, I’m thinking from both the surgery and kidney infection, my spirits have greatly lifted because I can feel that my body is healing. Though I don’t like taking medication, I know that it is needed right now. I’m also doing the best that I can and giving my body things that I know it needs that will help the healing process–lots of water, my daily dose of chia seeds, wholesome food, vegetables (that I can palate), and rest, which has been the hardest.

Also, instead of focusing on what I can’t do right now, I have averted my attention to things that I am very much looking forward to! I have two min-goals for the week:

  1. Be able to walk for thirty minutes pain-free– I’m not setting a timeline for this goal because I have to listen to my body, but I have faith that it will happen by the end of the week
  2. Be able to run pain free by the weekend– this one may be a stretch, and again, I will be listening to my body BIG time, but these goals are keeping me optimistic

Since I had been so busy in the weeks before surgery, I now have time to share things that I’ve been wanting to share for too long now!

1. I found a new favorite flavor of energy gel! Through this training cycle, I only used gels on my 22 miler, and a chia seed/water mixture for all my other long runs. This one is AMAZING and tastes like a cordial cherry, I would consider running 22 milers more often if it meant I got to eat these!

Plus I noticed that the caffeine gave me a little extra ‘boost’ while I was running!

2. On Sunday I definitely got the froyo fix that I had been longing for, it was perfect. This time I had a 3:1 toppings to froyo ratio which was a-okay. Yogurtini has a banana’s foster topping that you MUST try because it is the best topping I have ever tasted.

That was enough sugar to tide me over for, say, the next three months.

3. This is the medal for the Little Rock Marathon which is now 13 days away!!!! Motivating factor for signing up for this race? Definitely not.

4. I got my new running skirts in the mail and LOVE the Nike one but am sending the K-Swiss one back. It wasn’t the Kelly Green I was hoping for, more like an ugly pine tree green. So the search for more cute running skirts has continued!

5. I also ordered new running shoes in the mail a few weeks back because my old ones were nearing the 450-mile mark which meant my body was yelling at me to get new shoes. I am now on my fifth pair of the same model of Asics, I love them and though I’ve tried to branch out to other shoes, I simply can’t. I love these and they love me. However, I have always gotten the ones with white as the main color because that’s what my local running store had in stock. BUT I found my shoes online and they had my size in other colors, so I did break my norm. I feel like a total nerd wearing these shoes (maybe it’s the neon green?) but they fit my foot like a dream.

6. Which brings me to my next point…I need to figure out what to wear for the marathon in Little Rock, which means I need opinions/help!!! I have always gone for my Adidas short or skirt on bottom, and that pink She Runs LA tank top for major races, but it’s time to change it up.

Haha! I’m a creature of habit, what can I say??

I know that I’ll be wearing the neon green laced running shoes for sure, so I was considering going with the new Nike skirt (after I give it a test run, of course), a new black Under Armour dry fit t-shirt that I just got and totally love, and investing in a pair of these neon green Zensah compression sleeves, obnoxious much?

Or should I totally scrap this idea and go with something else? I can say that a deal breaker is that if it is sunny on race day, there is no way on EARTH that you will find me in a black shirt. I could do grey or another sweat showing color but definitely not black. Basically, give me your opinions please. Since I cannot currently run, I am naturally thinking about all things running, and this is a great time to plan my marathon outfit. Yes, some girl runners think of these things. Only for races though, because there are cameras, you know.

7. I had to turn my attitude around. Yes, I could use this time to be mopey, sad, and upset about my current situation but I CHOSE to turn my attitude around. Am I frustrated? You betcha. You name it and I’ve probably felt it, but today I decided that I’m only going to be focusing on the positives of this extended rest period that I am getting. Here’s to being extra rested for my next go at 26.2!

Finally, a big huge THANK YOU to my awesome mom for taking care of me. She’s the best, whether it be cheering me on to finish at a race, hanging with me at the ER for 6 hours on a Friday night or scolding me for trying to, um, ‘speed up’ my recovery. Love you little, love you big, love you like a little pig. Love you Mom!

Chicago and Other Stuff

A few months ago, after running my first marathon, a common emotion to have is along the lines of, “Now what? What’s next?” Of course I was asked these questions by countless different people. I had already signed up for my upcoming marathon which is now less than four weeks away, so I just told people I would keep running. Easy enough.

I had a few conversations that went exactly like this :

Them: “Well what about Chicago, why don’t you run the Chicago Marathon?” *goes on to explain how amazing Chicago is*
Me: “HA! HA! I don’t think I would ever like to do a big race like that. It seems overrated. Plus the people and congestion…no thanks. Running Chicago isn’t something I’ve ever really wanted to do. I’d love to visit, but forget the marathon.”

Actually, I believe I had this conversation with someone about a month ago. I have always wanted to go and spend time and visit Chicago, but not run 26.2 miles with 45,000 other people through the streets of the city! Marathon mornings can be stressful enough as is, let alone being in a new, huge city, relying on public transportation to get you to the start of the race on time, and who knows what else could happen.

Blah blah blah.

Says the girl who is registered to run the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Source

A month ago I made a resolution for this year to run four marathons in four states, but did NOT plan on one of those being Chicago. I was going for smaller, more familiar states such as Arkansas, Nebraska, and Texas. Texas is reallllllly comfortable (90% of my family lives there).

Turns out that God surprised me again and had dreams for me that were bigger than the ones I had for myself. You think that I would eventually get used to this by now, but no. It’s like an upgrade at a concert; I’m in the nosebleeds happy to be in the same room as the concert and God is all like, “No here, why don’t I just move you to the front row and give you VIP treatment and back stage passes and you can just go on the rest of the tour with the band and marry the lead singer, ok?” Or something along those lines.

You get my point, right? So I’m just taking what He’s giving me and running with it. Literally. Ha. Ha. No that wasn’t funny, I know.

So yes, last week I registered to run the Chicago Marathon which is exactly eight months away.

Another goal that I set for myself this year was to run a marathon to raise money for a charity. Two weeks ago on a recovery run I was racking my brain for which charity I wanted to raise money for, I mean come on, there are THOUSANDS!!! I asked myself a questions, “Which one am I most passionate about?” Because without passion behind what I do, it would be nothing. Suddenly, a light clicked on. How about the organization I volunteer for, Girls on the Run? That makes sense…raise money for an amazing organization that I love volunteering for, you think I would have imagined that sooner!

Upon registering I was also VERY happy to find that Girls on the Run is one of the main 2012 charity partners for the Chicago Marathon which means it will be even more impacted. Be on the lookout in the next few months for links to my fundraising page, and I’ll also have posts solely dedicated to talking more about Girls on the Run, why it means so much to me, how it has impacted my life as well as the lives of so many young women.

Needless to say, 2012 is already blowing my mind. I had dreams for this year, but my world has already been rocked by the awesome stuff that is going on and what is to come in the future months!

Now for the other stuff from my title.

1. I have a 22 mile long run looming over my head for Thursday. I was talking with a good friend at lunch on Sunday and we were discussing how even though you can be passionate about something and love it until no end, doesn’t mean that sometimes it doesn’t make you want to cuss. I love running. I love racing. But the idea of running for 22 miles (not in a race) is not something I exactly look forward to. Notice the use of ‘looming’? Pretty negative connotation there if I do say so myself.

2. With the coming of this super long run though means one thing–it’s almost time to taper! Yessss. I can taper. I am a master taper-er. After this Thursday I’ll be cutting down my mileage until it’s time to race in Little Rock. This training program I made for myself this time around is only 8 weeks long versus my first training plan that was 16 weeks (puke!) and it has flown by! I have found myself actually looking forward to most of my runs and enjoying them way more than I ever did on the last cycle, because I think I haven’t been a slave to training this time.

3. I will really be practicing my taper skills next week because I’m celebrating Valentine’s day by permanently getting my gallbladder detached from my insides and will have to recover, however long that takes. Loooong story short, about two years ago I would get insane cramps on my right side that would literally leave me in a whining mess on the floor because they hurt so bad that I couldn’t stand. I went through six weeks of tests only to be put on a probiotic by some doctor who was a complete idiot. A rude, old, fart.

The pain would only come back randomly, and me being as stubborn as I am just passed it off and figured it was something I would live with. Almost two months ago I was having symptoms that were getting on my nerves so I finally went to the doctor, got an abdominal ultrasound and they found that I have gallstones. Honestly, I was so relieved. I know that gallstones are something they can take care of and be done with. I don’t exactly fit the stereotype for people who develop gallstones, despite my healthy diet and active lifestyle, I still got those suckers. My biggest concern was obviously if it would affect training and potentially the marathon. The surgeon said that he is putting all restrictions on my activity for the first week, but after that I will be responsible for going based on how I feel and listening to my body.

Listening to my body was something I thought that I had mastered, but alas will be put to the test next week. I am really just looking forward to getting this thing over with because it has been a pain in my side. Literally.

4. Friday I am taking a pole dancing class with some girlfriends for my best friend’s very belated birthday celebration. There will be pictures. Aleeza you didn’t read that last part.

Happy Fat Tuesday y’all!