August 1: HR training fail…

So today was supposed to be my first day officially on an HR plan (although the “real” plan doesn’t start for 4 weeks). So I went out for 45 minutes at 14bpm and, of course, my Garmin wouldn’t display my heart rate. I kept restarting the run but no luck. I could only see my HR when my Garmin was in regular watch mode. And this just pissed me off every time I looked at my watch, so much that my HR would jump into the 150s with the slowest jog. So I mostly shuffled and walked. My husband said I landed on a strange feedback loop where looking at my high HR made my HR stay high. Well wtf…

June 13, 2016: About that fast day

It’s funny how knowing you cannot have something or do something makes you want that something so much more. So much more it hurts…

Just wanted to post a quick thought about yesterday, which was my first day on the Every-Other-Day Diet. (The book is a very easy read, by the way, and describes a number of studies whose results seem back up what the author is proposing.)

Yesterday was a fast day. 500 calories. No problem, right?

Yah. I was damned sad, the second I took my last bite of lunch, which I ate later in the afternoon, just to mitigate my suffering. I should have been fine. It was a satisfying and healthy, clean lunch.

But all I could think about was the fact that I couldn’t eat anymore yesterday. I thought about that from the last bite of lunch, until the moment I fell asleep, probably 7 hours later.

BUT – I will say that the other thought that was bouncing around my hungry brain, which was that as soon as I woke up today I could eat whatever the hell I wanted to eat, actually did help me suffer through it. That, and many, many, many ounces of water.

“I can eat tomorrow. I can eat tomorrow. I can eat tomorrow. I can eat tomorrow.”

So far today I haven’t had the urge to binge at all. I may have indulged in a cookie or two, but honestly, my mind isn’t set on eating all the food, or eating any crap. I’ve just been eating my normal foods. Mostly clean. Mostly homemade.

I did weigh myself, and was nearly 3lbs lighter than after my long run last Saturday (I forgot to weigh myself Sunday, the first day of the diet). I’m sure I’ll be up tomorrow but I guess that’s just part of the experience.

So we will see. We will see…

June 12, 2016: I need to drop this bowling ball

And by bowling ball, I mean this excess 10lbs I’m carrying around.

Why? Because I’ve gained a solid 5lbs from my last, never-ending marathon training cycle. And I wanted to be 5lbs lighter than that to begin with. So…while I’m still in this wonderful fog of “will I, won’t I” go for another fast marathon finish, why not experiment with my caloric intake.

Last week I did a quick Clean Program based cleanse, just to help me adjust my appetite down. I think it helped but the truth is, since I did my first Clean cleanse a few years ago, I’ve adhered (about 80/20) to a clean diet, so I don’t experience the dramatic changes in weight and overall well being from the cleanse that I did the first time. I guess that’s good.

I lost about 26lbs super fast when I first did the cleanse. No, not all the weight was lost during the 21-day cleanse, but I kept up the clean eating habits from the cleanse and eventually got down to 130lbs, a weight that, while I’m not super skinny at, I’m still super happy at.

And the weight stayed off for a few years (I think rapid weight loss just works better for me, honestly; everyone is different). But with all the marathon training during the last 2 years, the weight has crept on. I want to race at 125lbs. Instead I’ve been racing (and staying) at closer to 135lbs. And it isn’t muscle.

I’m burying the lead here. I’m jumping into the “Every Other Day” diet. I’ll give it a try for the next 3 weeks and see how it feels. Today is a “fast” day (500 calories – hardly a fast but I’ll be hungry nevertheless). On the non-fast days, I play to adhere to my typical 80/20 clean eating habits. As I ease back into some intensity with the training, it will be interesting to see how this impacts my workouts. I’ll be following the Run Less Run Faster plan – so only 3 high-intensity runs per week, and I’ll match those up with the diet in what seems like a logical way: eating the day before a workout; fasting the day of my (typically early morning) workout.

I did waste the first 100 calories on lactose-free creamer for my coffee. Well, is waste the right word? I’m having some Clean Eating Skillet Spaghetti (I use Tinkyada Brown Rice Spaghetti noodles instead of whole wheat, and I use beef instead of turkey) for my one meal (a late lunch). I’ve already run and completed my strength training today. So we will see what the day brings.

June 10, 2016: I need to care about my stink

After Mountains2Beach I took a week off from work and spent ALOT of time on the couch with various icepacks covering my many broken parts. I didn’t go out. I didn’t see anyone. I mean, my husband and kids were home, but we are all on the introverted side so we all tend to find our own quiet little caves to hide out in.

So I’ll just say this; showering (or bathing) just wasn’t high on the list. I wasn’t running. I wasn’t exercising. I wasn’t exerting anything at all. So rather than a daily bathing ritual, I went 2, sometimes 3 days before hitting the shower. I guess I also want to mention that during this time, my husband was painting our bathroom, and it put that room out of service for 4 days. (He’s not a fast painter; thorough, but not fast.)

Yes I had two other options; my sons’ bathroom – which I won’t even enter to clean. I make them clean it. And our guest bathroom, which, ever since our oldest stopped using it, is so nice, and clean, and pristine, that I don’t want to use it. But I did. Sparingly.

Dirty socks on the desk. And a red nose. So what?
Dirty socks on the desk. And a red nose. Because so what?

Okay so what I’m saying is I got really used to living in my stink.This is where not having daughters hurts me. Because I’m sure a daughter would have said OMG MOM YOU STINK GO TAKE A SHOWER. But my husband and sons? They just sort of accepted me, stink and all (ok, for the record, I wasn’t that stinky, just, you know, kinda ‘ripe’). I even  put off a PT appointment to avoid having to take a shower that day. That’s how, I don’t know, uninspired to shower, I was feeling.

When I returned to work I returned to my daily morning shower. That’s fine. I started some light running this week, so it was necessary. Today is my day off. I ran, let’s see, 7 hours ago. I ran for 60 minutes. It’s hot, windy and dusty outside. It felt great to get sweaty and salty and gritty. The problem is. I am still sweaty, salty, and gritty. I went to the grocery store in all my grit. Why? Because who cares? That’s why. I don’t know those people. And if being a little smelly and gritty keeps strangers away, I feel like that actually works for me.

But now I’ve been trying to get some work done and I just got a whiff of myself; have you ever done that? Like, doubled back on yourself in the space/time continuum and gotten a whiff? So…when I say “just got a whiff” I mean, like, an hour or two. Because even then, I found myself falling down a lets-try-100-different-themes-for-my-blog rabbit hole.

I swear, I’m going to go take a shower. Right. Now.

June 5, 2016: Switching gears and goals

I’ve been pretty introspective this week, following my craptacular performance at the Mountains2Beach marathon, my breathtaking, mid-race stumble and, of course, my painful hamstring. I’d taken this week off because I expected to be exhausted from what I’d hope would be an all out effort.

Instead, I’ve been sitting on the couch with ice on my hurts and bump; I don’t even have enough ice packs for all the hurt spots so I trade off injury to injury except for my hamstring: that sucker is frozen!

I realized within a couple of days that, other than the fact that my hamstring hurts like hell and it’s difficult to breathe (from when I slammed into the asphalt), I’m fine. I’m ready to run. I went to a PT – the hamstring is a bit strained by not torn. He can have me back up to speed pretty quickly as long as I’m faithful to – ugh – strength straining, especially for my hips, glutes and, you guessed it, my hamstring.

In fact, you should have seen the way his eyes rolled when I said I’d dropped the minimal strength training last summer because it was making me too sore to run. That is – that “body weight” strength training made my legs too sore. “You don’t do ANY strength exercise?” he asked, bewildered. “Um…I plank for a minute on most days,” I answered; he shook his head. Yes, I’ve ignored the thousands of articles I’ve read about the importance of strength, plyo, core, etc., and I finally paid for that choice. 

 

Immediately after the race I’d declared that I was done going for Boston. And I felt such a sense of relief. I felt seriously burnt out from marathon training.

But as I’ve sat around the house this week, wrapping my head around my running and other aspects of my life, I realized that I wasn’t burnt out from marathon training. I was burnt out from the heavy load I’ve been carrying from ALL of the different parts of my life. Being overloaded with tasks that I despise, while refusing to let go of activites that bring me some joy. Talk about way out of balance. I know that some of that is within my realm of control. Unfortunately, some of it is not – well, with the exception of just exiting certain situations entirely.

So with my husband, I started devising an exit strategy – an exit from the situations in my life that drain my energy, drain my creativity, drain my sense of peace, drain my happiness. I won’t lie; its an ambitious plan that spans 2-3 years, and will take a ton of discipline, sacrifice, and willingness to make dramatic changes. But I’m brave. I run marathons. I can handle this.

I will do the damn strength training. I will not spend Sundays dreading Mondays. I will lay low and save every dime. Dave Ramsey wrote “Live like no else today, so you can live like no else tomorrow,” right? Ok. Fine.

And I’m not done reaching for Boston, either!

 

 

 

Race Report: Mountains2Beach Marathon 2016

The 2016 Mountains2Beach Marathon was not quite the race I’d prepared to run.  I’d run the race in 2015, and achieved a BQ time that was not enough to save me from the 2016 cut-off time (BQ -2:28). When I studied my 2015 performance, I thought about the factors that slowed me down toward the end of the race (heat, sun, lack of hydration), and I worked and planned to be prepared for those obstacles in 2016.

What I didn’t anticipate, however, was a course change. A change that, while on paper didn’t seem that different from the 2015 course in terms of elevation, ended up being enough to keep me feeling rather disoriented as the course wound its way down a highway (where’s the bike path?), from Ojai to Ventura. Last year’s peaceful bike path through the trees was replaced by a rolling highway, and cars held back by police officers (thank you!) at a number of intersections along the way. I saw a couple of drivers, clearly frustrated from having to wait, dart across the course with little separating the runners from their car. It was definitely not a time to “zone out.”

Actually, perhaps the biggest change was in the first 6-7 miles of the course. Last year, runners were leaving downtown Ojai by mile 2; this year, we spent more time wandering around Ojai, beginning the race with a not-insignificant elevation gain for the first 3 miles, then pretty much doubling back past the start line, and finally heading down the road. We didn’t join the bike path until mile 11; I’d driven the course the day before specifically to be more familiar with the course changes, however when we got to mile 11 and I saw the bike path, I assumed the rest of the course was the same as last year, save for the last 2 miles at the beach. I mean, the course map showed a squigly line from Ojai to Ventura, and the elevation chart showed a downhill profile that, at least from mile 11 on, seemed like last year’s course. But I’m not familiar with the area, so I completely missed the fact that about 1.5 miles in on the bike path the course left it – and never returned.

It’s not that I mind a rolling course; in fact, I totally love California International Marathon because of the rolling course. I just like knowing what to expect. In my brain, for months now, M2B was a downhill freight train. Turns out, not quite so much.

Around mile 15, a funny thing happened. Not funny. Tragic. Shitty. Frustrating. My left hamstring, which I confess had been a little tight after Revel Mt Charleston a couple of weeks ago, decided to go full cramp – OUCH! Like, stop and scurry to the side of the road and try to stretch it out kind of OUCH. Here’s a confession: I have been fortunate in that I have not been injured during a race. Between December 2014 and August 2015 I ran 3 marathons, BQ times in each, without any problems during training or the race. I know, I’ve been damn lucky.

M2B2016_1After a brief stop to stretch, I tried to resume my pace. I lasted about 2-3 miles, each mile getting slower and slower. My hamstring was not feeling better; in fact with each step it felt like a painful balloon threatening to pop. The reality of the situation hit me hard and fast; this race was not happening. A BQ was not happening. I looked at my Garmin, where I could see that I was still within 30 seconds of my target, and I glided to the right side of the road, slowing down to a walk. I could have settled into a major pity-party right there and then, however my hamstring was KILLING me with each step, keeping me very much in the moment. I was at mile 17, on some random highway. I had 9 more miles to get to the finish line. I texted my husband; he was waiting at mile 23, ready to pace me to a strong, on pace finish. I was afraid he would think I was just having some sort of stressed-out breakdown, that he’d try to convince me to “suck it up.” But I’d never felt anything like what I was feeling with my hamstring before. Ever. When I tried to run fast, it stabbed with a sharpness that was unsettling.

Had there been a van waiting to pick me up at any point, I’m about 99% certain I would have gotten in. I wasn’t concerned at all about a DNF. I was concerned about not being able to run for weeks or months – who knows how long? But I didn’t see any van. It was miles before I would see a medical tent too. So I walked. But walking didn’t last long at all (maybe a minute). Not because the pain went away; because my brain started calculating how damn long it would potentially take me to walk 9 miles. OMG. I couldn’t fathom the thought. I settled into what had to look like a very uncomfortable “wog,” dragging my left leg along.

The other thing that really kept me going, however, were my friends who became my cheer squad that day, chasing me down the mountain with signs, cowbells, smiles, laughter; they were amazing! They cheered me on from no less than 5 different spots on the course; earlier in the race I breezed by with my arms raised, bolstered by their voices! After I was hurt (and I didn’t tell them, but I think they figured it out), I hobbled by and found real strength and energy in their supportive words.

As I approached mile 23, anticipating seeing my husband, my left foot, which was dragging, caught some torn up asphalt and I tripped and splatted into the road. Somehow I managed to bang up my right knee, right shoulder, left side of my forehead AND left side of my ribcage. I looked up from the ground to see a handful of volunteers: “Ma’am, are you okay?”

Um. NOPE. I was dazed. I was bleeding. I couldn’t breathe (my ribcage was killing me). Holy. Cow. When is this race going to be over?? I pulled myself to my feet, grabbed some water to wash off my wounds, and moved on.

I finally reached my husband who, while understood I was super slow from a hamstring blow up, wasn’t aware of the fall until he saw my bloody knee and shoulder. A pained expression washed over his face. Seeing that, I began to choke up, only the physical act of choking up was excruciating – of course it was, because why should I get to cry? So we continued on; I got slower and slower as I became breathless with each step, not being able to take deep breaths, or even normal breaths. But I kept moving forward; along the final mile, my cheering friends once again greeted me, along with some more friends who I didn’t know would be there – what an amazing surprise! As horrible as I felt, as in pain as I was, I was so damn happy over the course of that last mile, and I credit that 100% to my husband and my friends.

Mountain 2 Beach MarathonI approached the finish; I wouldn’t be “stuffing it in.” Nope. No more falling. No more hurting. I hobbled in but, seeing the photographer at the finish line, I threw up my hands and smiled. Why? Because I was so, so happy that I managed to finish that race!

Ironically, it wasn’t even my worst marathon time; like, not even by a long shot. 4:18:09 isn’t a BQ but in any other circumstance I would be so pleased with that time. So I’ll take it.

I stopped at the medical tent; the medical voluteer listened to my lungs to make sure I hadn’t done serious damage. He cleaned up my knee and gave me ice for, well, everything. I had a friend who was running her 2nd marathon that day and, with all the love and support I’d just received, I definitely wanted to pay it forward, so we waited along the final stretch and cheered runners in until we saw her. While waiting, I sucked down a double margarita (my amazing friends brought it to me at the finish), shed some quiet tears, and reflected. I don’t know where my Boston dream goes from here.