Monday, November 24, 2014

WWU - 12 Tough Miles

Jeff said "how will you show 12 miles when you don't have that many fingers?" so I went Roman numeral on him, with crossed arms for an X (10) and my fingers for the extra 2.  Hey, it made sense at the time...

I know it isn't Wednesday, but really - how many of my American readers will read this on Wednesday?  I know y'all will be elbows deep in pie-making and the like for Thanksgiving, so you get my Wednesday Workout Update today...because I need to tell you how tough that run was!

On Saturday, our running club had our benchmark run, which is the longest training run of the season.  The full marathon group ran a ridiculous 21 miles, while our half group ran 12 miles.  We ended up lucking out with the weather - almost all week heavy thunderstorms were predicted for Saturday morning, but late on Friday, that changed to mid-morning, so we were good to go.  That said, it was 63 degrees, with 100% humidity, and it was windy...so still not optimal conditions, but at least we weren't getting rained on.

I was going to do this run solo - Amy wasn't feeling great, so she dialed her intervals down a notch, to 1:1, while I kept mine at 1:30/1 (run for 1 minute 30 seconds, walk for 1 minute).  We all set off and it was fine - just a little boring as I had no one to talk to.  I ran to my first turn-around point, but on the way, Becky (who is on the injured list and was manning a water stop instead of running) told me that there was a live electrical wire farther down the road - apparently Coach Damien had touched it and gotten a nice shock.  Since it was dark and she wasn't sure exactly where it was, I decided to cross the street - didn't need to take any chances!  Amy and Diane, who were behind me, also crossed as well...our mommas didn't raise any dummies!

Once I made that turn-around, I was running into the wind.  Not fun.  Then I turned into Scary Statue park and was STILL running into the wind.  Not fun, but I figured at least when I make the turn-around at the other side of the park, the wind would be at my back and would push me along.  Well, that didn't happen; I wondered if it was just me who was cheated out of a beneficial tailwind, but afterward, Andi said the same thing happened to her.  Hmpf!

I kept running, and eventually got within eyesight of Stephanie and Loretta, who were manning another water stop.  They cheered for me, which was awesome!  I had to wait nearly a minute (FOREVER in runner time) to cross the busy road, and then I was on an uphill climb to another turn-around point.  Soon I saw Cary and Andi running toward me, and as we were just about to pass each other, Cary split off from Andi, turned around, and said "I'm going to run with you now" - what the what?!?  As it turned out, Andi wasn't feeling well and was going to cut her run short, so Cary very nicely decided to keep me company for the second half of her run!  I might have mentioned a time or twelve that I am a social runner, so this was wonderful.

We instantly started chatting away, and before long we were back at the water stop with Stephanie and Loretta.  I refilled my water bottle and took a donut hole for some fun fuel.  That ended up being a mistake, because a couple miles later, my stomach was churning.  I don't normally have stomach issues during a run - sure, it often feels crummy afterward, but this was not good.  We were at mile 8.5 when this happened, and I ended up having to walk some of my running intervals.  Cary saved my run by doing everything she could to distract me - talking about all sorts of things, and then getting me to do lightpost-to-lightpost runs (run to a lightpost, then walk to the next, repeat repeat repeat).  Eventually she stretched out those intervals a little more, but it was just a rough go for the last 3.5 miles.  She epitomized a true friend, first by adding an extra mile to her distance when she turned around to run with me (she finished the day by running a half marathon!), and then by sticking with me and making sure I finished the run, because she knew I'd be really down on myself if I ended up throwing in the towel early, even with feeling crummy.

Remember how last week, when I was chanting "boyfriend pants, boyfriend pants" to get me through the last two miles of my 11 mile run?  Well, this week, all I kept thinking was "I'm going to lay down as soon as I finish" - and I did just that...for about 30 seconds.  Next thing I knew, Cary was pulling me up, making me go on a cool-down walk with her and Brian.  Oh I did NOT want to do that...but I have to admit, after a few minutes I started to feel less like death, so I'm glad she made me walk.  Then I changed out of my soaking wet shirt, and finally laid down on our yoga mat.  I will say, it looked like we were having one hell of a strange picnic in the middle of the parking lot, but we didn't care:
Rehashing the run, stretching, shoes off...and even laughter amongst all of the groaning.

This was a rough run for many of our runners - I think the weather conditions, combined with the long, long distance, hit a lot of us hard.  One of our marathon runners ended up calling me when he was at mile 16 - he could go no more, so Jeff drove out and picked him up.  It turned out to be a good thing (for us, anyway) that this happened, because we got to leave for Blue Baker an hour earlier than we would have, had this runner continued running to 21 miles.  And as we drove away from the park, guess what?  It started to rain!  We got to avoid that mess - hurray!

In looking back at this run, I didn't drink any Gatorade until I was close to mile 10.  I don't know why, but that was a rookie mistake - my face was gritty with salty sweat, which probably contributed to my stomach issues.  Ah well...live and learn.
 
Feeling slightly more human here.  They weren't the best 12 miles, but I completed a tough run, and I'm proud of myself for that.

Friday, November 21, 2014

FMM - Starring My Pretty Paco

On the needles:  I'm pretty much finished with my Christmas knitting (exception being one skein of yarn that I'm waiting on, but it's for a local gift, so I'm not stressing).  Now, it's all about things for me!  I'm knitting the Duotone cowl, using one skein of Madelinetosh DK in Baltic, and one skein of Knitted Wit worsted in Autumn Rainbow:
It's a double-sided cowl, so I'm knitting in the round, which makes it go pretty quick.

One thing that I've discovered with cowls is that I prefer to have them long, so I can double wrap them and style them a bit better.  Naturally, all of the cowls I've made up to now were on the shorter side.  So, I'm on a cowl-making tear - which works nicely considering how cold the weather has been.

I've also picked up my mohair scarf again - the last skein of mohair kept sticking to itself and was a royal pain to knit with, so it had gone into a months-long timeout.  I finally retrieved it and made it through to the next color, which is really pretty:
See the blue edge?  Loving this.  But in all honesty, the scarf is boring to make - just knit, purl, ad infinitum.  Plus the yarn is slippery and if I'm not careful, my needles slide out when I'm close to the edges.  I can't wait to be done with this project.

I finished my latest hat:
 Pattern is Field of Wildflowers, and the yarn is Knitted Wit Worsted in Autumn Rainbow.
 Close up - I love how the stitch pattern really shows off the variegated yarn colors!

I've already shown you pictures of me wearing my Autumn Leaves shawlette, but I had to do my traditional pictures with Paco modeling it:
This is his pensive, staring off into space pose...such a model!
And this is his "I know I look good" pose.  I have to say, orange works on Paco.

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Tomorrow is our running club's longest run of the season - 12 miles for the half group, and 21 miles for the full group.  Naturally, the weather forecast for Saturday has been terrible all week - heavy thunderstorms.  As of last night, it finally seems to be easing up on that prediction, so I think we're going to be able to do the run (USAFit's policy is no official running when lightening is present).  I've been coordinating volunteers to work our water stops, stressing about the weather, gathering fuel (all kinds of GU and chews and donut holes), stressing about the weather some more, printing maps and figuring out when the volunteers should be at certain mile points...oh, and I'm also going to run 12 miles!  Needless to say, I'll be really glad mid-morning on Saturday, when this all should be completed (weather permitting, fingers and toes crossed on this).

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WWU - 11 Excellent Miles!

After my terrible 10 mile race the previous week, my confidence in my ability to run long distances was lacking.  Sure, two days after that race I ran a good 3 miles, but then the very next day, it was all I could do to last for 35 minutes before throwing in the towel.  Yes, the weather was vastly different those two days, but still...those kinds of extremes in good/bad runs this close to my first goal race made me wonder if I really had it in me to run a half marathon.  We're getting down to the nitty gritty in our long runs - maybe I max out around 9 miles?

Well, I'm happy to report that my 11 mile run was a good one - what a relief!  The temperature was not quite as cold as forecast - it was 42 degrees, with very little wind.  I layered up my clothes just right, but as usual, my fingers were frozen, even with wearing two pairs of mittens (side note:  if you have suggestions for super warm gloves/mittens, I'd love to hear them).

Amy and I headed out and had a good time chatting about all things knitting, and soon we hit what I call Scary Statue park, but in actuality it's called Veteran's Park.  There were hundreds of full-sized flags planted, in row after row, remaining from the Veteran's Day ceremony earlier in the week, and it was really moving to see them.  We ran an out-and-back through the park and then headed up to our main road, where we got to smell a very dead animal and later on see (but thankfully not smell) a dead coyote.  We also saw a live deer cross a wide four-lane road - luckily traffic was light at the time, or it might have joined its dead brethren.

We reached the turn-around point on the main road and then it was a mostly downhill run for several miles (and as the person who does our routes, you better believe I planned it this way).  I was feeling great but Amy, not so much.  She fell behind a bit, and I kept going to our next turn-around point; after I hit that and caught back up to her, she decided to call it and walked back to the park, cutting out going through the fancy neighborhood.  So, I ended up doing about half of the run on my own, which was fine.  I took a GU at miles 3, 6 and 9 and felt strong the entire time - no lead legs this run, hurray!

As I mentioned in Monday's post, I did do some mental bribery/reward thinking, starting around mile 9.  Hey, whatever works, right?  I finished strong, and then we headed off to Blue Baker, where I got my usual meal (including a cinnamon twist, yay!) but except for a quarter of a bagel and some chocolate milk, my stomach was having none of it.  That's OK - I boxed everything up, took it home, and snacked on it later in the day.  As long as I can tolerate getting the chocolate milk down, I figure I'm fine on recovery food - the rest will come in a few hours.

I felt pretty good on Saturday, but Sunday, my body was definitely letting me know I ran 11 miles.  Luckily, this season these kinds of aches are just temporary, and by Monday I felt normal again.  Just a few more weeks and then?  It's race day, eeek!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Rewards/Bribery

Does anyone else do this for hard things?  Or things that you just aren't that excited about, but know you need to do them anyway?  I've always done this, from rewarding myself (back in my pre-diet days) with a trip to Coldstone Creamery after going in for my mammogram, to better-for-me options like a pedicure when I reached a certain number on the scale (back when I used to weigh myself), or allowing myself guilt-free knitting time once I completed certain tasks around the house. 

When I was training for my first half marathon in 2010, I had to do my long runs with the marathon group because I was trying to ramp up my mileage for an earlier race than what my running club was training for.  Because there were so few of us in that group, I did all of my long runs alone - sure, there were others ahead of and behind me, but I never had a running buddy to get through those miles with.  Some of our runners used to think about what splurge meal they would have that day, but I would - and I'm sure if you've read my blog for any length of time, you won't be surprised to read this - think about what I'd buy for myself.  Once it was a yoga mat...obviously it didn't have to be particularly expensive items, but more like little indulgent splurges.  I didn't feel the need to do this once I started running with friends, because I wasn't solely focused on how many more miles I had ahead of me and why was I doing this and OMG WHYYYYY???

But I've had to get through a couple of long runs mostly on my own lately, and Saturday's 11 miler was one of them.  I was by myself for the last half of the run, and while I felt fine in that nothing was hurting, it was a huge physical and mental challenge to keep running.  I tried to buckle down and not think about where I was in relation to the finish, and that worked for a while...and then I was at mile 9 - ugh.  Two miles to go.  Two miles isn't a lot, until it's the last two of eleven.  I started feeling, well, not exactly sorry for myself, because obviously I'm choosing to put myself through this torture do this, but I was definitely needing some motivation.  I recently bought a pair of Adidas "boyfriend" pants that I loved, and decided that was it - I'd get a second pair as my reward for completing the 11 mile run.  I kept thinking "boyfriend pants, boyfriend pants" as I ran on, and the funny thing is that my last mile was the fastest...coincidence?  I think not.
(not my body (HA!) - image swiped from Zappos)
The official name is "BF 7/8" because these are supposed to hit just below the calf.  On my short legs, they are full-length, and super comfortable to wear around the house.  Nicer than sweats, but cozier than jeans.

I don't always need to reward myself for doing hard things, but I like to have a bribe as an option, just in case I really start to falter.  It used to be food, but aside from a cinnamon twist, food rarely motivates me these days.  Back when I was dieting, promising myself a new top once I lost a certain number of pounds was a great motivator/reward.  I think the act of acknowledging when you are doing something challenging is important, and having a bribe on hand doesn't hurt, either.  What say you?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Mishmash

I lost 10 pounds in one day without dieting!  It's the newest thing in weight loss, and it's called a haircut.  OK, it might just feel like I've lost 10 pounds, but I had about five inches chopped off, plus my hairdresser put in a lot of layers, and the result is like I'm floating on air!  I documented the process:
 Before - my hair had grown past my bra band in the back;
During - all foiled up for my highlights and lowlights;
After - all done!
Back view - it's still long, but much lighter overall.

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So last Friday I posted this picture:
Ollie, Andi and Louise
Today, I'm posting this:
Just Andi and Louise.

Last Friday afternoon, little Ollie started looking unwell.  It's hard to describe a sick rat, but she just didn't look right.  I tried to get her into a vet on Saturday after my race but all the "exotic pet" vets in town only work M - F.  I held her as much as I could, and petted and loved on her, but she died on Sunday afternoon.  It was pretty crushing - she was such a sweet, outgoing little thing, and seemed perfectly healthy right up to late on Friday.  She was only about four months old.  Jeff and the kids were still on their nerd convention vacation while all of this was happening, so I didn't tell them until Monday night, when they got home.  Thankfully I had sweet friends who were checking in on me - it's a pretty helpless feeling to watch a pet decline like Ollie did.
 R.I.P. Ollie

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Today I'm going to a celebration of life for an old friend, Gary - last Friday morning, I heard that he had died.  It was a pretty crummy Friday, as you might surmise.  Gary was someone who really enjoyed life and marveled at everything.  A while back, he decided to take up bowling, and before long, there was a group of us who met him every Friday night at the bowling alley.  We'd bowl, eat burgers and fries, and have a great time...sometimes, friends who didn't bowl would stop by just to hang around!  He was a good guy, and he will be dearly missed:
Fun times and good memories at the bowling alley with Gary.

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Tomorrow I have my 11 mile run.  It's going to be freezing cold, but hopefully not as windy as it was for yesterday's run - it was 35 degrees, with a north wind blowing of 15 mph, which made for a 25 degree wind chill...brrr!  Fingers crossed the run goes better than last week's 10 miler.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

BCS 5 & Dime Race Recap!

The race shirt - I can safely say I've never had a shirt this color.  It's brownish-gold (and of course, we had a discussion on where exactly you might find this color if you were a parent...)

On Saturday I ran the Dime, or 10 miler, of the BCS 5 & Dime race.  I was not in a good place going into it, between feeling anxious about it for a couple days leading up to the race, and then the day before I had some sad news about an old friend, plus another issue was happening that was also upsetting.  Recap in a nutshell would be that I felt like my legs were made of lead for pretty much the entire race, I questioned whether I'd actually trained for this because by mile 7, I was D-O-N-E done, and I even had a couple of "screw it" moments where I walked for about half a mile.  I'm hoping that this was an anomaly and that this coming Saturday, when I have 11 miles on the schedule, I'll actually run those miles and feel accomplished instead of feeling like a failure, which is a pretty terrible thing to pile on yourself after such a rough couple of days.

The day wasn't all bad, simply because I got to spend it with my running club friends.  We started out with a pre-race group picture:
Missing a few members who hadn't arrived at this point.
Hilarity is always the name of the game with some of us...

Amy and I started the race together.  She was a little undecided if she would go the entire distance, but in the end she did.  It was nice to have company alongside as we ran and ran and ran and when did 10 miles get to be sooooo long?!  I can tell you, it feels stupid long when your energy never kicks in.
Just starting out - we look pretty good here.
Another starting picture, determined look on my face.

We hit the first water station around mile 2.5, which was nice to see after the lack of water stations at the race last month.  We were running in familiar territory, except that just after mile 3 we exited the fancy neighborhood we usually run in and were on a two-lane road that I don't route our group on because there's no shoulder and the speed limit is 60 mph.  One lane was blocked off for the runners, and police were letting cars go through one way and then the other, but they were backed up for nearly half a mile and there were some angry drivers that we were running next to.  I don't blame them; no one likes getting stuck like that.  It was kind of funny, though, that as we ran by the line of vehicles, several people had their windows rolled down with cigarettes hanging out - a juxtaposition of people doing something healthy on one side of the road, and people doing something harmful on the other.

We finally turned off that road and were on the top of where we did our hill workouts - we got to run down the hill without having to run up it first for a change, which was fun.  We hit another water station and then about a mile later, we were running toward a couple who were sitting at a corner, directing runners to turn.  As we got closer, I thought "I know those people!!!" - it was such a surprise to see my non-running friends, Mary and Danny, out there, and of course they got sweaty hugs from me (whether they wanted them or not, haha).  Mary was taking pictures, so Amy and I did our pretend running pose:
I'm holding my snack pack bag of M&M's in my hand and I think I had some stuffed in my cheeks as well!
Then Danny photobombed us - love it!

Seeing familiar faces at that point breathed life back into me for another couple of miles.   Then the wheels fell off and we were running up the same damn hilly road we run every Saturday, and that's when I said screw it and walked for about half a mile.  Eventually we started running again, but after a while we walked for about another half a mile.  Then the finish was finally in sight, and with that, some of our USAFit crew who were cheering us in.  As we turned toward the final push toward the finish line, we could see that there were still other runners behind us and that's when Amy and I high-fived each other - we weren't last!  Woohoo for small victories!
The race photographer caught our high-five, along with our pretty tired expressions.

Afterward, we rested under our canopy and heard about how the race went for everyone else:
See the road behind us?  We had to run up that and then turn toward the finish line.  This race series loves their uphill finishes, I'm telling you.  I however, do not.
Cristy and Julia - I can't even remember what she was saying, but I love her grand gestures as she was talking.
Diane, with Brian in the background, mixing up some Nuun.  Brian lives really close to the race start, which is a good thing because he forgot his running shoes and had to drive home to get them!
The pink ladies, AKA Pam and CC.

They had coke floats and beer at the finish line, but I don't drink alcohol, and the coke float didn't sound good to me, so I skipped that.  After we took down the canopy, we went to Blue Baker, where I got my usual breakfast minus a cinnamon twist because they ran out by the time we got there.  I should call ahead on race days and have them set one aside when I know I'll be late...wonder if they'd do that for me?

This race won't be held next year - the race director is changing things up.  If it were held, I wouldn't run it again...it was really expensive, and I run in this area for free every week - why pay for that?  That said, they did do a much better job with water stations this time, with three of them on our route, manned by friendly volunteers and sweet little kids.

Monday, November 10, 2014

No Milkshake For You...er...Me, and Other Maintenance Habits

Last week, Jeff and I went out to dinner before he left for a road trip to California.  We'd placed our orders for our favorite chicken Caesar pasta salad, when a waitress walked by us, bringing a milkshake to another table.  Jeff immediately wanted to order one, but I said I couldn't - it was Monday.  It made perfect sense to me as to why I wouldn't even consider getting a milkshake on a Monday, but I had to explain my eating pattern to Jeff, so I thought I'd share it here, too.

Monday begins my "rein it back in" part of the week, and a milkshake, or any dessert, is not on my menu.  And it's not because of the old standby of starting a diet on Monday; it's just that after our long run on Saturday, I do treat myself afterward, and I eat pretty much whatever I want, even on Sunday.  So on Monday, if I don't consciously put the brakes on that kind of eating, it would spiral out into the entire week pretty quickly.

Tuesday through Thursday are hold steady days; Friday brings a bit more protein and carbs so I can fuel up for my long run on Saturday, and of course, the weekend is all about making my stomach and my brain happy after torturing my legs.  It might sound a bit weird, but it works for me quite well.

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I've been in maintenance mode for several years now, and while I'm pretty good at being on autopilot with food choices when I'm by myself, I sometimes forget who I am and where I've come from when I'm out with friends, and order/eat like they do.  But I had two instances last week where I ordered my usual, except that normally I'd split the meals with Jeff (but he wasn't there).  In the first instance, I asked for my burger to be cut in half and got a to go container when I placed my order, so when the burger came, I immediately put half aside.  I didn't think about the fact that I'd been given twice the amount of fries I normally eat, and was just eating and chatting with my friends, when I realized I was done...and guess what?  There were a lot of fries remaining in my basket!  I still ended up eating what I normally would have and stopped without becoming a member of the clean plate club.  Go me!

The next day, after our race, I ordered the usual at Blue Baker:
Cinnamon bun was in place of the cinnamon twist - boo on me for getting there too late to snag one!

I ate one of the bagel halves and a piece of bacon, along with the chocolate milk, Nuun drink, and coffee.  Took the rest home for later, and that's when I realized that I ate what I normally would have, had Jeff been there to split it with me (well, minus the cinnamon twist/bun - there's only so much I can eat right after a long run). 

Later in the day, I had the other half of the burger, and half of the cinnamon bun.  And even though I was not having the greatest weekend, I was pretty happy when I realized that my eating habits were so ingrained that I ate my usual amount of food without even thinking about it.  I guess repetition does eventually breed success!