Oct 12, 2011

Once upon a time I ran fast. But just that once.

 took the last two weeks off to assess and tweak my training schedule. After my ½ marathon over Labor Day, I spent the next few weeks in a perpetual cycle of fatigue. I eased up on daily workouts and slept in more than I should. I thought *ding* over training. The killer was not that I was tired, it was that I wasn’t improving; I was covering the same distances and running at my same slow-ass pace. (Seriously, I’m an embarrassingly slow runner.) Along with that came an extra few pounds despite the same calorie intake. *Ding*Ding* ineffective over training confirmed. (I’m not complaining, that’s what girlfriends are for.) So I took the last two weeks off, broken off a few pieces of that Kit Kat bar (then a few more) and did Jillian Michaels Ripped in 30. (You laugh, but it's fucking hard.)

I also read the book Run Faster by Brad Hudson to find a new training schedule. Though his thoughts are scattered (I had to make cliff notes  to get the full picture) the book is a terrific guide to becoming your own coach and understanding what the hell “run 3 x 800 meter progression faster than marathon pace but not all out sprinting with 400 meters at v02 max pace and 400 meters recovery” means.  My new plan is to incorporate more progression runs, speed work and hill sprints so I can hopefully run farther or at least move faster than a woman in heels on cobbled sidewalks. I’ll begin next week; this week is purely for remembering how to run. Given my performance this morning, it may not be easy.

During my sabbatical I realized that once upon a time I ran fast. Once meaning a one time singular event.
At the end of August I was deep in the woods of Rock Creek Park trails with Cricket, on dirt trails where she runs free. As per my being a woman... in the woods... virtually alone, my senses were alert despite having Cricket with me (who I still doubt would actually save my life). When I’m on these trails in RCP I regularly look back to make sure I'm not being hunted and I have an unconscious tendency to grip Cricket’s leash in such a way as to lasso and strangle. So, with my defense on the ready, about 30 feet from the trail Cricket and I screeched to a halt and she started barking, hair up in the air, at something large and moving noisily in a tree. First thought- cougar. Second though- ninja monkeys. But no, it was the well-known species of “WTF”. WTF!? Who does pull ups on a bent tree in the middle of the woods while wearing brown shorts and a dark t-shirt that makes you blend in? I tried to breathe and said “you scared me!" The young monkey boy looked at me like I was nuts then blew me off. I continued.

Cricket cooling down with her little red "here I am" light.
A mile later, I turned a sharp corner and came to another gasping halt. Not 20 feet off the trail was the same guy carrying an over sized branch over his shoulders while balancing on a log. Another terrifying sighting of the legendary WTF. That was enough. My irregular heart beat wasn't conducive to running so I went deeper into the woods to escape this guy's weird tree workout shenanigans.

Later on I was all tra-la-la until a storm rolled in and 8:00pm approached. Darkness was coming after me fast. (Yes, coming after me. Dark can be so scary sometimes.) So I picked up the pace to escape my fear of tripping on rocks and logs, stumbling into water, and kicking raccoons in the pitch blackness of the woods within a city. (For the record, I did kick a raccoon once on a dark street in Boulder, CO. Talk about scared shitless. I don't know who was more stunned, the coon or me!) OK, back to the story: As I was running, I realized I wasn't running from darkness. No sir, I was running to escape none other than the Blair Witch; not the tree monkey-man, not the horrible fate of Chaundra Levy, but the Blair Witch. As my rational mind and fear wrestled, I saw sticks along the path laid like the Blair Witch stick man and realized fear won, and that I was running at a personal record pace of 7:30 min/mile. SO FAST!  I was sprinting with long strides up steep hills as I repeated my mantra, “Blair Witch, Blair Witch, run, oh my god, faster." I ran past Then, as I imagined being dragged into a cave full of children's hand prints, I threw myself down the hill and out of the woods. Safe! But not two deep breaths later something large came barreling after me with a loud scattering of rocks and bushes and almost knocked me over.  I was already on edge and I screamed a legit someone save me scream. I turned around to confront the Blair Witch but it was another (a different) young man out for a run. “Wow, it got dark real fast didn't it?" "You scared me!" "Oh. Have a good night!” Then he waved and trotted off carefree on his twinkle toes.

I’m sure I had nightmares that night. I also haven't run in the woods since then. Thank you Blair Witch for your motivation. It’s been 12 years and you can still scare the crap out of me.

Sep 8, 2011

Virginia Beach Rock and Roll Half Marathon!

Me and Sarah with bling.
My friend Sarah and I traveled to Virginia Beach with our beaus this past Labor Day weekend to camp out and run the Rock and Roll Virginia Beach ½ Marathon. (Here's some pictures.) It was the first time either of us had run a continuous 13.1 miles and we finished with enough energy that we were able to lie on the beach, gorge on s’mores and drink beer till 10 that night. Totally epic if you ask me. And I don't want to brag, but we walked away with a super sweet medal of a gold glittered sea shell… so did the 11,219 other people in the race but that doesn’t discredit our triumph over B.O., sticky GU hands and, of course, 13.1 miles of road. To me, the medal is still sweet. You can engrave it with your name and time but I'm fairly certain that’s not something I want to do.

The course was flat with lots of shade, making it bearable, the weather was gorgeous and the bands that lined the course about every mile kept us going with rock classics and a punch of adrenaline (I mastered the running hip gyration jump. Close your eyes and imagine.) Also along the street were people spraying hoses, a lady with a bowl of cantaloupe (which I think Sarah was lucky enough to get a bite of) and, at one point, the remains of what was once a High Flyer Wagon full of freezie pops. There were loads of local cheerleading teams, an Elvis, some cowgirls, spectators dressed in their finest rock star costumes and a guy who juggled the whole race. Sadly, he started with 5 and ended with 4. The most amazing though was an amputee who did the whole race on crutches (holy freakin’ wowzers!). Several people were pushing disabled family members in strollers, including what appeared to be a 70 year old man and his wife which nearly brought a tear to my eye. Ryan Hall and several all-star runners were there and it was absolutely nuts when we were on our second mile and they had looped around back toward us on one of their last. The winner finished in an hour and two minutes. That's under a 5 minute mile!

As expected, there were two hurdles, which are also lessons:
There were more bands than toilets along the route in a crowd of 11,000 people. Not cool. Since there were no bushes in sight, I had to wait 7-10 minutes at mile 8. Afterward, I maintained a 9:45 pace until about mile 12 when my left leg started to feel sore. By mile 12.5 it had seized up and I found myself bounding on my right leg because I could hardly bend my left. But, determined as hell, I hopped across the finish line with my worthless leg and put on a celebratory cheer for the camera. I hoped for a photo where I was as mildly attractive as you can expect to be after 13.1 miles and got this:
Rock this!
Which is better than this:
Breathing through the pain. So hardcore.

Immediately over the finish line I rolled into the medical tent where my leg as wrapped in ice, I ate a mini salt packet and they kicked me out to retrieve my medal, find Sarah and get arm loads of food handouts. Within a few minutes the salt took action and my leg cramp weakened so ate another for good measure. I found Sarah and my second medic – my boyfriend Will, who stood there with two miraculous Dunkin’ Donuts bagel sandwiches. Sans potty break, my time was in the 2:25 zone. Not bad for a first.

Need noms now!
I am quite proud of myself and I am extremely proud of Sarah who hardly trained but ran the distance without stopping. I've known her for nearly 15 years and she's pretty rad like that. I loved the race and think it was the perfect first 1/2. There is another R&R in DC in the spring that I plan on running and I'm hoping to recruit a few of you to run with me. If you don't live in the area and want to run your first, I suggest this one because of the lively atmosphere. True I have nothing to compare it to but it was a great experience which says a lot.

As far as my future running plans, I unfortunately can’t run the full Richmond Marathon in November that I planned on doing. The summer heat put me back about three weeks in my training and I don't want to push it. But I am signing up and setting time goals up for two more halvsies this fall, finding spring marathons and I continuing my ultra training.

See us in the front? Sarah leaping in yellow with other friend Sarah and me.
Let the rainy fall training begin!

Aug 24, 2011

I fell- And I heart Dunkin' Donuts

Again, I'm a slacker. I have my GRE on Saturday so maybe I won't be anymore? Yes, that's a question. The good news, however, is that I have not been slacking on running. Here is a first update, which is what this blog was supposed to be about in the first place.
I fell. I tripped on the sidewalk and my dog didn’t help me get up. I swear she was getting back at me for making her run when she didn’t want to.
Right after: Bleeding gouge
A nurse I am not
One week later: I felt like King Henry VIII and thought my leg sore was going to kill me.
Two weeks later: Itch's like diaper rash but apparently I'm a super healer!
I did my longest distance to date this past Sunday, I made it 11 miles in under two hours, which I think is pretty good considering I walked about 10 minutes. I even scampered into the trees to piddle. But here is the most BESTEST news:
This poor woman drew it
Typically after a run of 9 miles or more I get migraines so debilitating I can't see, can't, can't move, can't think, can't sleep... nutin' doin' for 24 - 36 hours. The migraines have gotten to the point where I took Valium to reduce muscle tension and Hydrocodone leftover from my shoulder surgery to make the pain go away, but my migraine wasn't phased. Yep, I'm overlapping prescription drugs and am potentially a bad role model. Hopefully I won't pull an Anna Nicole Smith. (Measuring caps on the tops of Nyquil or Pepto-Bismol? It's for sissies who can't handle a swig. I learned how to swig in college.)
So what was the deal!? Not enough electrolytes? More water? More food? I read that migraines are not uncommon but most people are clueless as to why; it's an undiscovered individual battle, like bad breath. So, one day I feared the worst on a nice little 8 mile run from one end of a trail head to the REI attic sale (probably why I ran so fast.) At the finish line I had a Dunkin' Donuts bagel sandwich with egg, cheese and bacon. Holy mother of Hell Yeah! I didn't get a headache at all. In fact, I powered through the whole day and even ended up going to the coast to eat crabs and drink beer in the sun.
This Sunday I felt a slight headache when I was driving to home from my 11 miles but scarfed a bagel sandwich. It was better than a fistful of Advil. I don't know what it is but some people have to have pancakes, others drink Ensure, and this one famous runner has a Hawaiian pizza delivered to him halfway through a race. He rolls it up like a burrito and eats while running. (Ham while running? Bacon would be ruined for life.)

So a bagel sandwich with a coconut or peanut donut (or both, or two of both)? I'm not complaining. I'm picturing sponsor material here.

I took a 20 minutes bath with two bags of ice afterward too. My legs felt terrific.

I <3 you Dunkin' Donuts.

(This would make me hate donuts. Run 2 miles, down a whole box of Krispy Kremes and run back two miles in under an hour: http://krispykremechallenge.com/. You’d have to run another 25 miles to burn off what you ate.)