Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WWU - Running in California!

When I booked my trip to California, I knew that I would be getting pretty deep into my training mileage and I'd have to be sure and get my long runs in while I was there.  Not a problem, right?  The weather would certainly be better, and let's face it, you can't beat running along the coastline.  But I was a little nervous about doing the long runs by myself.  You all know how much I love my running buddies - I am most definitely a social runner, and having someone alongside while you run miles and miles is a huge help with both encouragement and distraction.  Lucky for me, my best friend Barbara offered to ride her bike next to me while I tackled my 6 and 7 mile runs.  It was on!

I normally do my long runs on Saturdays, but Barbara suggested switching them to Fridays while I was there - there would be less traffic (foot and bike) on West Cliff Drive, where I'd be running, plus that would give us all day on Saturday to do stuff with Theresa since she'd be out of school then.

The day after I arrived in California, I did my six miler.  Barbara lives about a mile from the coastline, so I walked from her house about half a mile as a warm up, and then I started my run.  She rode an older bike that would make it easier on her to go slow, and was mostly alongside me for the duration.  The weather was a nice cool 59 degrees when I started, at just after 8:00 am.  There was a bit of fog and it was overcast, which was perfect for me.  I felt good and pushed myself a little more than I would have, had I been doing the same distance in the Texas heat.  I ran down Swift St., and once I hit West Cliff Dr., I ran toward Natural Bridges first.  Hello rolling hills!  Well, not hill hills, but it isn't flat.  I turned around at the entrance to Natural Bridges and ran back along West Cliff - I passed by the surfer monument statue, the lighthouse, all sorts of interesting people, as well as runners, walkers, dogs, bicyclists - there was a lot of activity going on for a Friday morning!  I turned around when I got close to the Santa Cruz Wharf, but well before then, I could hear the sea lions who live there barking away - that was a different sound than I'm used to hearing while I run!  Barbara carried a backpack with extra water for me, and refilled my handheld water bottle during the run.  It was nice to have my own private "crew" taking care of me - I felt like an elite runner!

I got a little tired around the 4.5 mile mark, but had a salted caramel GU and rallied for the final 1.5 miles.  I finished and we walked to a sweet little place for breakfast, where I had a poached egg and bacon on a chili chive biscuit - it was delicious!
Ahhh, nothing like breakfast, all the drinks (coffee and Nuun) and a good friend to share it with after a long run!

I ran again on Sunday morning - I had 40 minutes on my schedule and zipped through them.  Amazing how much better running feels when it's not so blasted hot!  Barbara walked while I ran, so I was solo for this one.
A gorgeous morning - the fog was lifting and the views were fantastic!

My next long run was a 7 miler, which I did the following Friday.  Not gonna lie - I was a little nervous about this one.  I hadn't run 7 miles since last January, and knowing how tired I was toward the end of my 6 mile run the week before - well...yep.  Nerves.  But the run was great!  Same route, only more time on West Cliff.  I tried to run a little slower in order to keep up my endurance for the extra mile.  I took two GUs during the run, my most-excellent crew kept me hydrated and distracted, and when I hit the 7 mile mark?  My overall pace was only 5 seconds per mile slower than the six miler run - and I felt much better!  I swear, running is weird.

Here's the map of my run:
 So funny to see the blue - yep, that's the ocean!

I finished my run and Barbara indulged me with some picture-taking:
SEVEN!!!  I climbed down the path a little for this shot.
Went a little farther out for this one.

And then, it was time for breakfast - this time at Kelly's French Bakery:
A ton of food - I put a healthy dent in this plate.  Plus, all the drinks.  And a caramel macaron for was so good, I'm kind of glad that Blue Baker doesn't make them.

Normally after a long run, I spend the rest of the day lazing around.  As I told Barbara, "Saturday's aren't usually very productive during training season"  - but after this run of 7 miles, plus a good two miles of walking before and afterward, we went home, showered, picked up Theresa from school, and drove over the hill to the mall, where we shopped until 9:00 pm.  I figure I easily put a half-marathon's worth of miles on my legs that day! 

I finished out my running in California with a 45 minute run on Sunday - 3.25 miles, plus another 2 miles of walking.  All told, I ran just about 20 miles and walked a good 9 miles while I was there (not including all the shopping/walking miles, haha).  I'm glad I was able to not only keep up with my training runs, but also to run in such beautiful conditions!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Mishmash - On Vacation!

I've been visiting my best friend, Barbara, in California, all week.  We've been having too much fun, as you can imagine...lots of talking, shopping, beach-going, and adventures.  I'll be back with a regular post on Wednesday, but just to show you how much we mean business, this was our first stop right after Barbara picked me up from the airport:
Straight to the mall!

Have a great weekend!  See you on Wednesday. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

WWU - Running Recovery/Injury Prevention

Over the last five years, I've had to come to terms with the reality that my body doesn't respond particularly well when my running gets into the higher mileage zone.  Because of that, I've gone into this season with a different attitude:  I want to give myself the best chance at getting to the Houston half marathon in January uninjured - this is a fun race, I'm doing it with a special group of friends, and by gosh, I want to be on the race course and not on the sidelines!

I'm being as proactive as I can, but I'm also reevaluating things along the way and am willing to make changes as necessary.  Here's what I've done, here's what I'm doing, and here's what I'm changing.

  • Lost weight so I have less body to haul around as I run
  • Started eating more protein (something I was not very diligent about)
  • Began cross training before our season began
  • Taking fish oil everyday, which seems to help with joint aches
  • Drinking a protein shake within 30 minutes of working out (most of the time)
  • Wearing compression shorts* after I've run
  • Rolling my tight calves with The Stick - this works best when Jeff does this for me as he can apply more pressure
  • Using the newly-discovered glute machine at the gym in hopes that stronger glutes will help with my hamstring issue
  • Massage - I'd like to pluralize that, but so far I've only had one this season.  However, I think they help a lot, so I'm going to force myself to do this at least once a month until the race, and just work that cost into my budget somehow.
  • Still working at losing weight - lighter is better when it comes to running
*Mine aren't particularly tight - I have two pairs of Tommie Copper compression shorts that were sent to me for free, and I didn't want to feel super-squeezed in them, so I ordered up in size.  They're comfortable, but I probably should get a pair in at least one size down to really feel the benefits of compression.

  • Easing up on the number of times I cross train each week.  I went to PF five times a week for about two and a half months, but started to feel really fatigued - I bumped up my mileage without thinking that I should cut back on the gym.  I'm going 2 -3 times a week now.
  • Stopping the hill repeat workouts.  I hated to do that because I know they are really beneficial to my training, but I began to notice that my standard twinge that was leftover from my hamstring injury last year was becoming more than a twinge, and it started radiating down the back of my thigh - eek!  Hill repeats are not recommended if you have a hamstring issue, and I knew that, but I wanted to follow the training schedule.  It took some encouraging confirmation from my online running coach to make this OK in my head - no more hill repeats for me.
Again, this is what my 51-year-old body needs.  I've had to work hard at letting go of my "everyone else can do it, why not me?" expectations and get real about what my body can handle...and hopefully it can handle another season of half marathon training!

Monday, September 8, 2014

How Others Eat

I'm watching you.  Yes, you.  And you...and you, too.  I'm not judging.  But I am observing how you eat.

Back in 2008, when I was dieting and sometimes feeling sorry for myself, I would see you in a restaurant, eating something fabulous, and I would think "how can she eat that and be so thin when I can't" - and yes, there might have been some internal whining included with that thought.

When I finished my diet and was starting to figure out how to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss, I would see you in a restaurant, eating something fabulous, and I would think "it must be a special occasion, because there's no way a thin person like her can eat like that all the time and not gain weight" - and I felt better about the fact that I still had to limit what I ate in order to maintain my weight.

As the years passed, and the agony of how hard I'd worked to lose weight began to fade, I would see you in a restaurant, eating something fabulous, and I would think "yes, I can eat like her because obviously she can eat well and remain thin" - and I would order something that wasn't always the best choice for this formerly overweight person.

It's a process, this whole losing weight and keeping it off deal.  I've had occasional blips, but I'm on autopilot most of the time, routinely turning down treats and pretty much eating my regular, standard meals.  I like that food doesn't take such a strong, front-and-center role in my thoughts on a daily basis like it once did.  Sure, special places or occasions will warrant more emphasis on food, but that's the exception rather than the norm for me now.

Jeff and I usually split our meals when we go out.  While it works for us, I had the impression that this was not what most couples do.  So I was a little jarred recently when we went out to dinner with some friends.  Naturally, we were all talking so much that we could barely get our orders placed before rejoining the conversation.  We had a great time, and it wasn't until our meals were delivered and we all paused to take a few bites that I realized, with the exception of one person, everyone else had either split their entree with their partner, or had ordered a salad.  Huh.  People eat like us.  We eat like them.  This is more normal than I realized. 

Maybe I wasn't watching the right people all along?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Mishmash

Another weekend, another massive amount of traffic in town thanks to the students returning.  Here's a picture from a friend's Facebook feed of last Saturday afternoon:
This is where we would be, if we wanted to go to Yogurtland (it's in the building on the left).  Don't you just love all the vehicles blocking the intersection?  Everyone is going nowhere, fast.  You are looking at layers of dumbness here.

One of the comments on this picture made me laugh - it said "shelter in place" (meaning, don't leave your house).  Honestly, we avoid certain areas for a good part of the year, but dang it, Yogurtland is right in the midst of this mess!  Our once a week treat!  We waited until nearly 8:00 pm on Saturday night to go there, and by then the traffic wasn't too bad - we only had to wait through two cycles to get through the signal to turn left.  Got into Yogurtland, got to the machines...and about a million sorority girls converged.  It was the end of rush week and I guess they were all celebrating.  Egad!  We got our yogurt and got out of there as fast as we could.  It's just insane.  I wish Red Mango was still open - it was a little more off the path and was rarely this crazy - plus we could get to it without hitting a ton of traffic.  First world problems, I know...but geez.  Student enrollment is up at Texas A&M and the town isn't any bigger - it feels like we're getting squeezed out.


On Tuesday we were up early for the hill workout.  I took Paco out to the front yard to pee (so as to avoid him getting skunked in the backyard - fool me twice, shame on me).  I stood on our front walkway while he was on the grass near the street, and all of a sudden I heard the sound of clicky-clacky nails behind me - I turned to see a freaking skunk running right by me!!  Not ashamed to say it was every man for himself at that point and I abandoned, dog, and ran back inside the house.  Luckily, the skunk didn't spray, and Paco made it back unscathed as well.  I have to tell you, this is getting OLD.

Later that day, I tried to make Paco sit at the spot where I was when the skunk ran by me.  Instead, he's showing how I turned and ran!
Dramatic reenactment:  Paco says "Mom turn and run like dis, only I make it look smoother."
Dramatic reenactment part 2:  Paco says "and den I was at the front door and mom was inside and wouldn't let me in until I passed the sniff test.  Hmph."


Speaking of night critters, there was a very relaxed deer watching me walk on Tuesday morning.  He let me get really close and since I was carrying my phone, I tried to get a picture.  He was under a streetlight, so it's not the greatest shot, but you can get an idea of how close he let me get to him:
A young buck, based on his size and antlers.   

Now this is the kind of wildlife that I like to see.  Skunks, not so much.


Have a great, critter-free weekend!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Wednesday Workout Update

I don't want to jinx myself, but I had another great run on Saturday!  It was a low-mileage run at only 4 miles (every few weeks we drop it down a bit, which is a nice break both mentally and physically), but each mile felt awesome.  Loretta and I ran at a good pace for mile one, and then?  We kept increasing our pace.  By the last mile, we were an entire minute faster than the first!  I have to say, we were running fast and by then we couldn't talk at all, which really is not what you're supposed to do on the Saturday runs - they're supposed to be a long, slow run where you are just getting time on your feet.  But the weather was pretty decent and we felt like going for the gusto, so we did.  It felt great to put everything into a run like that!


I thought that Saturday run was weirdly good.  However, on Monday morning, Cary, Jeff, and I had 45 minutes on tap, in disgusting weather - it was so hot and humid that there was fog.  Gross, right?  Once again, we had a strong run!  We were going pretty fast for me, and I did end up with a side stitch for about the last mile, but I kept running to the end, thanks to some healthy encouragement from Cary.  I know my runs will not always be this good, but it's very nice to have these in the mental bank for when the bad running days roll around.


Last month I ran 48 miles and walked 16 miles, and I went to Planet Fitness 18 times.  Whew!  My vain side hopes some of this effort is making a difference in how I look.  Honestly, some days I think "yeah, there's a difference" and then others I just feel like a blob.  I suspect that's pretty common with everyone.  At least I know it's making a difference in how I feel, so I'm very happy about that.


One of my jobs as organizer for our running club is to come up with all of the routes for our Saturday long runs.  It's a bit of a task, as this year I'm trying to route three different groups all in the same direction, along with avoiding certain roads because of high traffic or no sidewalks.  I finally finished everything for the season - the half group goes up to 12 miles, while the full group goes up to 21 miles, and there's a variety so it's not the same direction/route each week.  I felt good and confident about the distances that I knew were coming for me to run as well.  Then, out of curiosity, I checked the routes for the upcoming 10K and 10 mile races that we'll be doing as part of our training, and I instantly felt that familiar-yet-unwelcome anxiety wash over me.   I don't know if it's the thought of a race, or the routes themselves, but I sure wish I could get over this!  And the funny thing is that I don't feel anxious when I look at the race routes for the half marathons that are coming up - nope, just these practice races.  I frustrate myself sometimes, I really do.

Other than the mental stuff, training for the half marathons in December and January is going well.  So there's that?  Sheesh.  

Monday, September 1, 2014

Happy Labor Day!

It's Labor Day in the U.S., which means that a good part of my countrymen are off work, enjoying one last relaxing BBQ.  Of course, if you're in my town and are a student or work for the university, you're all at work.  Not sure when the national holiday ceased being recognized here, but there you go.  So if you're off work, enjoy your day, and if you have to work, well...happy Monday!