Monday, August 22, 2011

Anger. Strength. Stupidity.

Today I heard two words I hoped to never hear (yet always knew I probably would at some point): Stress fracture.

Yep, I have a stress fracture in my foot. How did I figure this out?

Yesterday I ran a 7 mile race (in Gloucester, MA for anyone who's wondering) and was in pain the whole time. Not normal pain, but "Jake, you go ahead while I shuffle through the rest of the race" pain. I considering stopping many MANY times. I kept telling myself one thing:

And I never stopped. I never even walked. I ran, then I jogged, then I was reduced to a SLOW jog. I did 7 miles in something like 1:40, and was the second to last person to finish the race. But did I care? No. Because I finished.

It was when Jake and I were eating breakfast afterwards that I knew something was REALLY wrong. I've had foot pain for over a week (after runs), but not like this. Not "foot so swollen my flip flop might need to be cut off" pain. Not "every time I point my toes I feel a nauseating crunching/grinding feeling in my foot" pain. I iced it and took lots of Advil, and decided to see how it felt today. Today, I went to the hospital for x-rays.

Yep, stress fracture. I could say all sorts of things about what I'm learning, etc. but right now? I'm just angry. I'm proud of myself for finishing the race despite the blinding pain, but I feel idiotic for ignoring it and allowing it to get so much worse. I'm also angry that I was SO stubborn about my minimalist shoes that I allowed injury.

I don't know what this means for the near future. I need to meet with a foot doctor, and hopefully he can tell me what to expect timeline wise for running. I'm signed up for a 7k in a couple weeks, and then a 10k a couple weeks after that. Then half marathons in October and November (not to mention the full in March). I don't want to miss any of these races. But will I? I don't know. Maybe I'll walk some of them (if I can) and just try to pretend my crappy times don't bother me. But I don't know.

For now? I'm allowing myself to be angry. I'm allowing myself to be kind of miserable. I haven't cried yet, but I know that's coming.

In the hopes of closing this with SOMETHING positive, I'll share this: Before yesterday, Jake had never run more than 4 miles. He signed up for the 7 miler for the shirt (it has a picture of the famous Gloucester Fisherman Memorial on it, which he loves), and strongly doubted he could do it. While he admits that he did have to walk off and on after mile 3, and his knee hurt after mile 6, he did it. And he did it in 1:24! Is that amazing or what?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

You know it was a good workout when...

I've been formulating these things in my head for a week. I decided it was time to write them all down.

You know it was a good workout when:

You're so disoriented leaving the gym that you can't find your car. And your car is a beast.

(Roxy is the big Xterra.)

Yeah, I really couldn't figure out where I'd parked. I wandered for a couple minutes before I realized it was right in front of my face.

You know it was a good workout when:

The sweat reaches the end of the hat's brim.

You know it was a good workout when:

You get in the shower and your cat (Kalila) goes to town rubbing herself all over your nasty sweaty clothes.

I don't have any pictures of her attacking my clothes, but I posted this one to prove that despite being gross, she's beautiful. :)

You know it was a good workout when:

You're terrified of your foam roller. I don't have a picture for this one, but when I was walking past it to go to the shower, I literally cringed away from it. Just the thought of it petrified me. I'll do it... later. I swear. *cough*

And most importantly,

You know it was a good workout when:

You do a mile in 8:10 for the first time!! AND you do it after completing a brick. Yeah. That's when you know it was really good.

How do YOU know when it was a good workout?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Minimalist shoes.

Let's talk about a very popular running topic these days: minimalist shoes.

I have a little bit of history with these. Back when I first started running, I got a pair of the Vibram Five Finger running shoes, and ran my first 5k in them.

While I think they're fantastic shoes, they're meant for short distances. Otherwise the rubbing between the toes gets way too bad. Feel free to dispute this, but I firmly believe they're meant for 4 miles absolutely max.

When starting to run again (after my month off), I was looking into the Nike Free 2 for a while. I had done a lot of research, and was pretty much sold. THEN Nike decided to endorse Michael Vick (aka dog-murderer extraordinaire) and while the rest of the country seems to be TOTALLY fine with him at this point and buy into the fact that he's "changed," I refuse to support that. I'm the ultimate animal person (hence my vegetarianism). And I'm a huge football fan (go Giants!!), and I think he's bad for the sport. They never should've taken him back. Also, my dog is a football fan, too. And he thinks Vick deserves to get slowly and painfully eaten by pitbulls.

So, because of Nike's decisions, I decided against the Nike Free 2. This meant that I needed a different minimalist shoe to research!

Kellie told me about the Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove, and the research began. They had great reviews, they weigh an incredible 6 ounces, and when I tried them on in the store, they were incredibly comfortable.

I decided to go for it, knowing that I'd need to start out slow. Well this wasn't a problem, because I was starting out slow either way since it'd been over a month since I'd gone running.

I quickly figured out to NOT wear socks with them (even super thin ones that I started out with as a precaution), and stopped mid-run to take off my socks. I hid them behind a bush near a stop sign and grabbed them on my way back. After the first run I decided that I really liked them as shoes, but still wasn't sure about them for running purposes. The 6 ounce technology is impressive, but it means that your foot isn't really protected. Not from rocks, not from weak ankles, and not from muscles getting sore from the extra effort. However, there was one major perk I have to mention - the soles are made by the Vibram people and they ARE very resilient against gravel / silt all over the sides of the roads. It tends to be everywhere in New Hampshire, and it's unavoidable. (Which is why I highly respect barefoot runners, but I've never seen one in New Hampshire.)

After a couple weeks running in the Merrell's, I have to say that I still haven't figured out how much I like them. Sometimes they feel great, other times they make everything hurt. For example, on Thursday I had to stop running after a mile because my shin bones felt like they might come through my legs. However, running today, I had no shin pain. Granted, I spent the weekend treating them and taking it easy, but still - no pain in the shins today?

But I had a different problem today. Pain on the side of my foot. I didn't really feel it during my run, but afterwards I was limping all around the gym. It hasn't improved since I got home. I've had other foot pain from these shoes, but it was short lived. It was obviously muscular, and I assumed it was connected to my feet adjusting to the shoes. This time it feels like a bone, not a muscle. I'm not claiming anything's broken, but maybe too much pressure is on that bone.

Here's the problem with minimalist shoes. Any ache or pain that I might normally connect with my running form or just a sloppy/crappy day, I now have to wonder if it's my shoes. You always kind of have to wonder, but with minimalist shoes, you really have to wonder. So is it my shoes causing bone pain? Or my form? Or does the shoe mess up my foot strike and I'm hitting a bad part of my foot?

I don't know. I just have to wait and see, essentially. The only absolute truth that I can come to with minimalist shoes is that they're a great idea. But I still don't know if they're for me. I'd just like to figure it out before serious marathon training (i.e. long runs) start.

And now I'll leave you with today's favorite running song.

And favorite biking song. (Stationary bike at the gym. Don't wear earbuds while biking on the road! EVER!)


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The only thing that I pray is that my feet don't fail me now.

Day two of my return to running. Day one consisted of running in my town, in VERY hot weather, and the result was a billion mosquito bites and feeling like I might die. However, despite it being brutal every step of the way, I managed a little over 4 miles. I was so focused on the heat that I wasn't focused on the fact that I was RUNNING again (probably because I was going VERY slowly due to the weather).

So day two comes (today), and I go to the gym to avoid heat and incoming massive storms. I go back to my FAVORITE treadmill - right under the fan - and I bring my ipod because I figured it would help. I started out fast - too fast - and I hit a wall before I hit two miles. I had to walk more than I wanted to, and my heart rate was sky rocketing. I needed a way to get through it.

Many of you probably know that I'm mildly obsessed with Kanye West. Not necessarily him as a person - he should probably keep his mouth shut most of the time - but I love his music. One of my classic running songs is "Stronger."

But after trying that and still not feeling it, I knew I needed something better. I put on "Jesus Walks," and it got me through. I'm not a particularly religious person, but it's a great song and a GREAT beat for running.

I got through 4.5 miles, and allowed myself a minute of self-pity when I went back to the locker room and slammed the locker closed. It's just frustrating. I knew I wouldn't be exactly back where I was, but 4 miles used to be nothing. And now it feels nearly impossible. My knees and legs were hurting and I was breathing so heavily that I just wanted to scream and hit something. What happened to my endurance? What happened to the person who, after running 10 miles for the first time, felt perfectly fine?

She had to take a month off from running, that's what happened. And I'll get it back. I KNOW I'll get it back. It's just going to take some time. In the meantime, I'll be frustrated, but I'll keep it in perspective. I thought about Mel who's recovering from a serious bike crash and head injury, and forced myself to hang in there for her, because she just went running for the first time since the accident, and she did it. I thought about Janae who's been dealing with injury after injury lately, and she's still doing what she can, and happily.

The point is, we all deal with setbacks. There's no point in letting it get you down to an extreme, because it will only make it worse. I thought about what Janae said recently - something along the lines of "one mile is a LOT" - because it is. ESPECIALLY when we're coming back from setbacks. There are so many people out there who don't even do ONE mile, and the fact that we're doing what we can (even if it's slower or harder than it used to be) is just. plain. awesome.

I'm in pain now. And I'm SO annoyed that I'm in pain after a measly 4.5 miles. But it's really not that measly. I took a month off, and ran a total of 8.68 miles in my first two days back. I'm going to be ok. We all are.

Stay positive, peeps. It changes everything.

And now, just to end this with a funny note, I saw this parked outside the gym tonight. What happens if he loses weight?

Have a good night and USE SUNSCREEN! (Small PSA for the evening.)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Falling in and out of love.

I should start this entry by saying that I am ashamed at how long it has been since I last posted. It's been a couple months. I could tell you all of my reasons, but there are no excuses. But here's a rundown of what has been going on with me.

I participated in my second triathlon, and I still don't even want to talk about it - a month and a half later. It was a poorly run race, and the female novice group was put in a bad position. We had a limited amount of time to get through the bike portion, and the female novice wave started last - giving us even LESS time to get through both the swim and the bike. If I had had an extra ten minutes, I would have been fine. But as it was, they stopped about five of us, ripped off our timing chips, and told us that our race was over. I still bubble over with anger when I think about it. Especially since, before that point, I was having a really good race. I ran T1 and wasn't feeling fatigued. I could have had a really solid race, but no. I dealt with a swim and bike in the pouring rain only to get a forced DNF. And I don't do DNF.

Two weeks later, Jake, Ethan, B, and I participated in the Warrior Dash. The entire race consisted of 6 inches to 2 feet of mud at any given point, so I had to walk most of the race as to avoid injury.

Despite my best attempts at avoiding injury, when the race finished, I removed my shoes and the blood started pouring. A couple of my toes and a section of the arch of my other foot were rubbed so raw that even now, a month later, it's not entirely healed. This was my first reason for taking a break from running/biking - I literally couldn't put on close-toed shoes for weeks.

(My legs and feet after the Warrior Dash. Yes, my bruises are sexy.)

The other reason is that I had a tattoo surgically removed, and I had to heal to a certain extent before I was allowed to do ANYTHING.

So that brings me to here. It's been a month since I've been running, I've gained some weight along with a lot of frustration. That negative triathlon experienced affected me more than it should have. It brought me down mentally and I fell out of love with being an athlete for a little while. Then the Warrior Dash happened, and what was supposed to redeem my love of running just knocked me out of the game entirely for a while.

Technically I'm signed up for a triathlon in Boston in a week, but I doubt I'll do it. I'm entirely physically unprepared, and I shouldn't do anything that extreme on my arm at this point. But running?

It's time for me to fall back in love with running.

I signed up the Atlanta Marathon in March 2012, knowing that the best way for me to get back on the wagon is to have a goal.

I signed up for the Seacoast Half Marathon in November here in NH, because as my (almost) half way point month-wise till March, it'll be a good time to check on my half marathon time. I'm sure I'll sign up for more as they come along.

Tonight, I'm watching the Spirit of the Marathon to get myself pumped up. Marathon training officially starts tomorrow.

Lastly, I get married two months from today. I totally have time to train. Right? Right. (Oof.)

If anyone can recommend any running books I should read, please do. Not really form or strategy - just the love of the sport. Pleeeasse. :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Complete a triathlon - check.

Today I completed the King Pine (sprint distance) Triathlon. I don't have time (slash the desire) to write a full race report right now, so until then, enjoy these pictures.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


This is a short post, but I just needed to share this.

So, Janae brought my attention to this AWESOMESAUCE website.

If you're an athlete and you like jewelry at ALL, there's something there for you. I just ordered a necklace, and I couldn't be more excited about it. This is mine, and it's a Joan of Arc quote. I CANNOT WAIT TO GET IT IN THE MAIL.

Go there. Spend your hard-earned money. ENJOY.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mental Training

‎5: days left of classes
4: days left of babysitting
3: papers (and Shakespeare posts) left to write
2: Classics finals
1: take home exam and portfolio to construct
0: motivation

I'm down to the last crunch of the semester, and I'm spent. I feel like I have nothing left - and it's really not a good time for that. But this past weekend I reached a new level with my mental training, and I wanted to share this with the class (/y'all).

On Saturday I had the most difficult of all of my MTELs (read: crazy Massachusetts teacher tests). I had less than two days to prepare for it because of school work and babysitting, and this is not an exam you can NOT prepare for. Basically, I retaught myself a semester's worth of information in one night. It's not that I didn't KNOW the information, it's that ever since I've learned it, I've applied it. I know how to apply it. Follow me in a classroom (or even while I'm babysitting) and you will see it left and right. But the exact definition of phonemic awareness v. phonological awareness? Ugh. This is where the studying came in.

On Saturday morning as I angrily got up and got ready, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. In my exhaustion, I stubbed my toe and jammed it. (Also, this was my barely healed broken big toe... so that's fun.) I couldn't find my favorite sweatshirt. It was raining and FREEZING (yay for New Hampshire in April). I was starting to get that feeling - that feeling like "if my morning is going this poorly, why do I think I can do this test and pass it?" I was getting down on myself the entire drive to the exam, and beating myself up for not quitting my job sooner, not asking for that paper extension sooner, not studying sooner.

I just wanted to give up.

And then it hit me - all of the best races I've ever had came after an AWFUL morning. They always start with no good very bad days, and then I set PRs and have a blast. So why was I allowing myself to get so cynical?

Because I wasn't in the racing mindset. Because this is an exam, not a race. But isn't everything related to racing at this point? I tell myself that I can crank out a paper if I'm in the "right mindset," just like I tell myself I can crank out 10 miles on the treadmill if I'm in the "right mindset." Why is it any different? Well, it's not. At least it shouldn't be. So I changed my mindset.

I told myself I was going to have an awesome test. Our kitten Barley (or as I call her, Cat #2) was "helping" me take a practice test on Friday night, and I passed that even with the little leech climbing on my shoulder, licking my glasses, and eating my hair. If I can pass a practice test under Extreme Kitten Duress, of course I could handle this.

And, while I don't know if I passed or not yet, I do feel good about it. And I would be genuinely surprised if I failed.

This was originally going to be a post about my new bike pedals (clip-ins, baby!) and how much I ADORE them and how I desperately need a road bike instead of the bike I have now, but I got sidetracked. All of you with these pedals understand how awesome they are, and the rest of you... just go get them. They're worth it. It's crazy how much more power you get. But more importantly, work on your mental training. It's just as important (if not more important) than the physical aspects, and it can have an effect on the rest of your life. I credit my athlete's brain with my success on Saturday, and I'm grateful that I am capable of this kind of mental manipulation at this point in my life. It's a powerful thing.

Now to kick this mindset back into gear for the rest of my semester...


When do you think this mindset helps you the most (outside of sports)?

Definitely anything academic.

Did you do anything fun for Easter?

We visited Jake's grandparents and aunts/uncles/cousins down in Massachusetts. I ate ALLLLL this food.

(Not really. I ate the spinach pie, potatoes, veggies, and rolls. I'm the token vegetarian everywhere I go.)

I also got to play with one of my favorite dogs ever - Oreo. He is a standard poodle and the most huggable pony on the planet. If we get a third dog (ha), I want a standard poodle.

I need some new music. Recommend something.



Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I've found a new hobby! It's called scoping-out-real-estate-while-running-in-the-rain. The rain part is VITAL because if it's nice out, the people are outside and can see you creeping around their driveways and trying to check out their backyards. The rain leads to some soggy feet so it's important to not make this a LONG run, but it's a fun one. Today I scoped out three different properties until a dog alerted attention to me and I ran off before I was caught.

No, I'm not in the market for a house. But aren't they fun to look at? (We've already established that I'm obsessed with HGTV - you shouldn't be that surprised.) And they're right in my area! So if I DID want a house, it'd be a great location! ...Yeah, I'm creepy.

I used running entirely for stress management today, and I didn't wear my Garmin because I didn't want to get it wet (and it was POURING). So here's the problem with that:

I wasn't monitoring my heart rate, and I was in a bad mood. I've been known for running too hard when I'm in a bad mood, because it gets the bad juju out faster. I've also been known to pull things when doing this. Luckily, I didn't pull anything. BUT my heart rate sky rocketed.

I should backtrack here. I've been having heart rate issues for a while now. I noticed while running on the treadmill that if I got past like 5.3 speed, it jumps up to 180+. I ignored it for a while (I know, stupid) and then after the first time I saw it go over 200, I panicked and have been hyper aware of it ever since. I'm still slow for one primary reason - my heart rate. If I run faster than 11 minute miles (sometimes even 12), my heart rate goes up - and keeps going up. I've been good about monitoring it but I still haven't figured out what to do about it. I've been waiting for my health insurance to kick in, and now that it has, I need to figure out who to go to for a check up.

Back to today. I was running hard and, for a stretch, in an area without a sidewalk. That led to a spontaneous practice of parkour (shout out to Katie for introducing that term to me) while running faster that my heart was comfortable with. My body was fine, and that's the thing that's continuing to confuse me. It's NOT that I'm not capable of faster speeds, it's that my heart FREAKS OUT. So I turned down a side road and leaned against a stop sign for a few minutes and took my heart rate the old fashioned way and it was definitely above 200. Wtf, mate?

To say that it wasn't comfortable would be putting it lightly. I didn't exactly feel like I was having a heart attack, but I was kind of dizzy and felt... weird. Just very off. I waited until it calmed down before I jogged (slowly) home.

I'm a creeper and a freakazoid. And yes, I know, I will be making an appointment with a doctor. Soon.

But for now, this is what happened when I tried to take a picture of how soaked I was after my run:

(Thanks, Knightley.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Hugs for Janae.

Janae over at just found out that she can't run Boston, and we're giving her as many hugs as possible. Therefore, these are pictures of HUGS from my young years to more recent years. And to everyone else who's in these pics, just remember, it's for a good cause. There's even a hug from my Knightley in here. WE ALL LOVE YOU, JANAE!!!

Two Tangent Tuesday

I'm doing Two Tangent Tuesday (just like Janae, Leslie, and Maia) for the first time ever. Here we go.

1. I don't function without caffeine. I'm mentioning this on today of all days because I got to Dunkin Donuts this morning to get my daily unsweetened iced tea and discovered that I was missing all of my cards and my ID. I had my wallet, but no methods of payment. This is because I actually used a purse over the weekend, and my stuff was still in there. I freaked out while driving down to school because the caffeine headache was starting, and I wasn't sure how I was going to survive the day. In my frantic state I sent a facebook message to a friend and she did me a HUGE favor by grabbing me an iced tea when she was at DD. I have the best friends ever. (Even when they're really just acquaintances that I did a presentation with.)

2. I have an unhealthy obsession with HGTV. Yesterday was my day off from class and the day where I usually try to get a TON of work done, but there was a marathon of "Income Property" on HGTV, so I got nothing done. (But isn't he fun to look at?)

That's it for today, I just felt the need to do SOMETHING and it's really not that hard to write two tangents about myself. I dare you to do the same thing!


1. What's your drug of choice? Mine is caffeine. I only drink one caffeinated thing per day, and it's always first thing in the morning. I used to drink soda but since that was so dehydrating, I unofficially switched to iced tea. I say unofficially because I'll still get Diet Coke sometimes when I'm out because it tastes SO good when it's a fountain drink, but otherwise, I heart my tea.

2. When you're doing work do you like silence or background noise? I use HGTV as background noise. Except when "Income Property" is on - then I have to pay attention.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Great Bay Half Marathon Race Report

This is like a week late, and I could make excuses, but I've just been too lazy to write it. There were so many parts of this race that I hated that I was not eager to relive it. But, now I'm doing it. So let's get started!

Jake drove me to the high school which was supposedly near the start, and I went in to go to the bathroom. Needless to say, the line was long, but I was happy to not be using a porta-potty. However, I started the walk to the start with about ten minutes to spare. I didn't think this would be a problem, since it was SUPPOSEDLY right there, but they lied. It was a long walk to the start - especially because once we got there, they routed us in a big loop to get to the BACK of the pack and this took an extra few minutes. Everyone was starting to panic that it might have started, but I got there during the singing of the national anthem and had a few minutes to hop up and down to stretch out before it started. Then it got started.

My problems started early. After the race the weekend before, I was thinking that pace wouldn't be a problem. For the four miler I kept my goal pace with no problem - this race I was alternating between a 9 min./mile pace and a 14 min./mile pace and I couldn't seem to get control of it. The first three miles were all over the place pace-wise, and I knew that that did not bode well.

(Mile 2. Trying to figure out what's up with my pace.)

My favorite part around this portion of the race was the guy blasting the Rocky song from his house for the runners. It was HIGHLY appreciated.

Around mile four, the pavement ended and the dirt road began. This was, by far, the best part of the race. The dirt was easier on my legs, there was lots of shade from the trees, and I made a friend to talk to for the next several miles. This is also where the hills began, but they were mild at first.

Once we got back on the pavement, the real hills began - and they didn't let up until about mile 11. To say that the hills were brutal would be putting it mildly. I was walking much more than I wanted to, but I was keeping up a fast walking pace (at least there's that). Around mile 9 I lost my running buddy because I just couldn't keep up the pace anymore. I fell back a little, and would up talking to an older woman for the rest of my time. She was a walker but a freaking FAST walker, and I had to jog to keep up with her. This was a good thing because jogging was actually easier on my knees than walking quickly was. Whenever I started to fall back with the woman, I'd kick my butt in gear to catch up again and keep up.

The race was well run, and the water stops were frequent enough. However, I really should have gotten a hydration belt before the race. I was desperate for refreshment - so desperate that I ate snow for the first time in probably 16 years. I also shoved it in my bra and down my back to help cool down - that direct sun was really getting to me after about ten miles!

The worst part of the race, by far, was when I turned the corner at the 11 mile mark, thinking "we're so close! it's easy now!" and encountered a REALLY long stretch of absolutely nothing. I should've been happy that it was flat, but I was just miserable - it was the road that wouldn't end. It was an out and back 1.8(ish) mile stretch, and it was awful. The only good thing about it was that on my way back, I was able to see how many people were still behind me. I was starting to get the "I'm dead last" feeling, and seeing that there were still dozens of people behind me made me feel a little better.

After the out and back, we were in the home stretch. We were almost on Main Street, and Main Street was where the finish was. We had less than half a mile to go, and then we turned left - and looked in the face of another hill. ANOTHER FREAKING HILL. We thought the hills were gone! We thought we were done! ONE MORE HILL. This was the first time that the woman I was running with showed that it was getting to her. She started yelling about how ridiculous the course was, and I couldn't stop laughing. We slowed to a near crawl in getting up that hill, because our bodies were just giving out. We ran the rest of it, though, and finished with a time of about 3:10.

(Home stretch.)


My goal going in was sub-3 hour, and considering the hills, I'm ok with my time. Talking to the elites after the race, it was made clear that the course added at least ten minutes to even the best runners' times. That made me feel a whole lot better about my time.

What was made clear to me in this race was that I am capable of a sub-3 hour half marathon, I just need a flatter course! I'm definitely doing this race again next year, though, just to see how much I can improve in a year.

Needless to say, what saved me was the woman who ran the last portion of the race with me. She kept me on pace and didn't let me give up. I love her.

Well, if nothing else, I'm officially a half marathoner. I won't talk about how I could barely walk for two days, because I don't want to relive that. I WILL relive how awesome it felt to get that finisher's medal, though. And how amazing it felt to pin up that bib on my bib corkboard. Happy. ...Especially now that the pain is gone.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Twas the Night Before Race Day...

My half marathon is tomorrow. You'd think I've been trying not to think about it, but that's a little tough with signs like these ALL over my town.

Today was my first ever expo. Unfortunately, it was a little disappointing. Much more in way of jewelry vendors and chiropractors looking for patients than running stuff. I picked up my bib and shirt, bought a bright hat, entered a couple raffles, and bought some Avon products for dirt cheap.

Then, with my leftover money that I thought I'd be spending at the expo, I went to Target to get new pants for tomorrow. I got some sweet pants, a super thin long sleeve hoodie that will work for sun cover and I won't over heat in, and I got some clothes that actually fit me. My clothes have increasingly been a problem and most of them are way too big on me, so it was time to splurge for a few new things.

On my way home I drove the course for tomorrow and I suddenly understood the back of my shirt:

The course is very VERY hilly. You'd think I would know the extent of it going in seeing as it's my town, but I couldn't have understood how hilly it really is. It's going to be ridiculous. However, there are several miles of an unpaved road which, despite potential mud, I am REALLY looking forward to. It will be easier on the legs assuming that I can avoid the massive (and smaller) potholes. If nothing else, the course will be GORGEOUS. This is just one glimpse of it:

Then I had a weird turn of events in my evening. I was taking the dogs out, and Knightley took off on me. He found a baby muskrat stuck in a chain link fence. If any of you know me, you know I'm an animal lover. I love them so much that I don't eat meat. Therefore, I wasn't leaving a poor little animal stuck in a fence. I put the dogs in the house and asked my neighbor who I should call (thinking maybe animal control or something). He put on some gloves and got some wire cutters and between the two of us, we got the little guy out. He looked perfectly finally afterwards, despite some anger towards his rescuers. I wish I'd taken pictures, but I was too focused on helping to pull out the phone.

Lastly, I had cottage cheese pancakes for dinner:

The dogs like to think they're for them, but they're not. They're all MINE! (Ok, Jake got some too. Which is only fair because he made them.)

I followed up dinner with watching The Spirit of the Marathon and eating Skittles (yaay carb loading). So that's it. I'm going to bed soon, and my "invisible woman" is lying on my bedroom floor getting covered in cat fur. (Note: Invisible woman is when you lay out all of your race clothes on the floor so it looks like a person so you can look and see if you're missing anything important.) The only thing I haven't figured out yet is how I'll carry my Swedish Fish with me. Yes, I'm using Swedish Fish in place of something like Gu, because I have a weak stomach and pure sugar in form of candy works better for me. I decided on Swedish Fish after Janae recommended them.

I figured I would be overly anxious at this point but I'm at a strange point of zen. I'm excited, but also a little nervous. I think I just know that I'm going to finish the race, no matter what. I don't want to walk at all, but if I have to, I will have still completed a half marathon. The goal is officially less than three hours. Can I do it? I think I can I think I can...

So now I sleep. And next time you hear from me, I will officially be a half marathoner. See you on the other side...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Race Post Part 2

My official race photos from the 4 miler. Hilarious! I was clearly having a conversation but they CRACK me up.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Anxiety, Race Report, and Mental Prep

This post is long overdue, but I have my reasons. For one, my spring break came! ...And so did a cold. It's pretty typical for me these days. The second I get a little time off, I get sick. The cold totally slaughtered me. It lasted over two weeks, and made exercise impossible. I couldn't breathe at all, and I was getting frequent headaches. But when I was just a couple weeks out from the half, I told myself I had to run no matter what. I got on the treadmill, ready to do my long run after two weeks off, and got started.

I couldn't do it. I BARELY lasted four miles - I was limping and struggling through every step of it. Everything hurt. Every part of my body ached. After the first mile my feet were in the same amount of pain that I felt after I finished my TENTH mile a few weeks prior. Um, not normal.

I limped to my car and was just furious. I went to the grocery store and while I supported my weight on the cart, I mindlessly picked out food while going over EVERY second of my day. What had I done differently? What had I eaten? What shoes had I worn? Was it my state of mind? What was it? And then two things occur to me:

1. I hadn't run (and had barely done much of anything) in two weeks. Of COURSE my body would feel beat up when I got back on the treadmill.
2. I hadn't eaten Skittles that day.

Wait, what? Skittles?

Yes, Skittles. Every other time that I'd done a long run, I'd eaten Skittles first. It started as a joke. I really wanted Skittles that day and I was like "carb loading haha" - and then the run went great. Since then, it's turned into a sort of ritual. Well, on Thursday, I couldn't find Skittles. I looked EVERYWHERE and couldn't find them. So I went for it without eating my Skittles first, and whether or not that's actually to blame, it is the ONLY thing I'd done differently. Needless to say, I'll never do that again.

But here's the problem: After that "run," my mental state had gone to crap. I had gone from fairly confident and excited about my half marathon to absolutely TERRIFIED and thinking that I was such a freaking idiot for thinking that I could do this. I spent probably about 40 hours mentally beating the crap out of myself, until my race on Saturday.

I didn't want to run on Saturday. I didn't want a replay of my awful run. I didn't want my mental state to get even WORSE. But I made myself do it with two motivations: FINALLY being able to wear my shiny new Newton's:

(Yes, that's right. The kid OBSESSED with orange found orange running shoes. Heck yeah!)

And FINALLY being able to use my new Garmin.

Well, the motivation got me to Salisbury. And once I got there, I realized that it was WAY colder than I thought it would be. It was in the low 30s with INSANE wind. For the first time ever, I kept my sweatshirt on for the start.

(Yeah, I like neon colors. What of it?)

The race itself was extremely well run. It was well organized, and as opposed to the New Year's 5k that had NO water (no stations, and impossible to find at the finish), this 4 mile race had two water stations and a guy thrusting a bottle of water at you at the finish. It was run by the same people so I was a little wary, but it was great. My ONLY complaint is that at the second water station, the guys manning it were smoking cigars. Um, what? WHY would you do that to the runners?

Also, happily, at the end of the race I had not only gotten two PRs (best 5k time on the road - 36:00 / best 4 miles EVER - 48:02), but I'd also kept up a perfect 12 minute mile pace the entire time. I was so worried about pacing myself while running on the road, but the Garmin was truly a lifesaver. I'm definitely in love with it. Additionally, running in brand new shoes for the first time for a race was risky - but I had absolutely no pain afterwards. Winning.

Also, this is the first race EVER where I didn't walk at all. I usually hit a mental wall around the 3 mile mark where I think "I must have to walk by now" but I ignored it and pushed through, and was perfectly fine. I KNOW I'm capable of doing it without walking, but something misfires in my head or something. Shut up, brain. I even kept it up when I got hot. So instead of stopping and taking off my sweatshirt like a normal person, I unpinned my bib, took off my sweatshirt, tied my sweatshirt around my waist, and repinned my bib - all while keeping up my exact pace. Yeah. Pretty proud of that (despite the funny looks I got).

Lastly, the half marathon is on Sunday. I'm really looking forward to being done with it. However, I'm still anxious about the race itself. I've been mentally prepping myself to try to calm myself down, and I've been doing pretty well. Saturday's race helped reassure me that I'm not crazy for doing this. I do love to run, I just needed the reminder. I have a series of mantras I go through any time I get anxious, and it's actually working. It's hard not to be nervous, though. The race is in my town, so I see at least five reminders of the race every time I get in my car - ROAD RACE SUNDAY or EXPECT ROAD CLOSURES SUNDAY 11 AM-3 PM. But that's ok - I don't need to avoid thinking about it. I just need to focus my thoughts.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Shattering Goals and Eating Peeps

A while ago, I was talking to a friend about running goals. I told him that I would really just like to be able to run five miles on a whim - run five miles everyday if I wanted to. I never thought I'd be able to do this, and thought that my brother being able to do it was just him having my dad's running genes and body type. I do NOT have a runner's body type. I probably never will. I could drop another thirty pounds and still not look like a stereotypical runner. But you know what I've learned? THAT DOESN'T MATTER. It doesn't matter what your body type is, because you can still do it. Because you know what I realized the other day? I can run five miles on a whim. I can run MORE than five miles on a whim. And I MISSED my goal. I didn't even REALIZE that I had surpassed that goal, because I thought it was so impossible that I never even hung onto the thought. But now I can do it.

Y'know what else I can do? I can run ten miles. Yes, today I realized that I had not only met a goal in life, but I had SHATTERED it by moving through it and doubling it. Surpassing it. KILLING it.

I thought the ten miles would be brutal. I got to the gym and as I was putting on my shoes I realized that I a) forgot my towel and b) forgot my iPod. The towel sucked because our water heater at home is broken, so I couldn't take a hot shower at the gym like I had planned. The lack of iPod sucked because... ten miles on a treadmill without music? Really? Is that... possible? I mean, my brother does it, but he's like super zen runner guy. I seriously considered just saying "screw it." But I realized that I was being a wuss, and forced myself out there. I definitely had high and low moments of the run, but none of them were THAT low. Before this, my longest run was 8 miles, so I thought adding two would be DOABLE but I would feel like this:

But instead, I felt like this:

Ok, maybe I wasn't as fast as Prefontaine, but I felt like I was flying. I intentionally kept my pace slower than usual (about a 12 minute pace) so I could keep my heart rate lower. The past few months I've noticed my heart rate a little too eager to jump off the charts (I'm talking like 195), and I didn't want to get too tired too quickly or have my heart explode, so I kept my pace down and my heart rate down around 165. Even though some of the miles felt a little slow, it definitely paid off in the end. Mostly, I was in the zone. I was loving most of it except for the boredom that is inevitable if you spend too long on a hamster wheel.

Ten miles in 2:12. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

Also, I can't stop eating Peeps. They're like crack to me. Those and Skittles. I eat at least one bag of Skittles a week.

Look at that. It's like an ocean of sugary gooey goodness and I want to bite ALL of their heads off.

What's the run you're proudest of to date? This one might be mine.

Is there a candy that you just can't get enough of? SKITTLES.

Are you as obsessed with Easter candy as I am? I had a Cadbury Egg the other day, and thought I might die of happiness. Between that and the Peeps, it's just amazing.