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!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Mishmash

 Siblings, whether human or animal, just KNOW which buttons to push:
"Moooommm, he's touching me!"

Poor Paco.  He was so tired, but Kip's paw kept dropping down more and more, which would.not.do.  Finally Paco got up and went under my footstool.  Then Kip left the couch.  Hah - I knew he was doing it on purpose!

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More pets - I'm rat-sitting while Jeff and the kids attend a nerd convention in California.  I know rats aren't for everyone, but to me, they are so cute!  Here's an early morning picture of the sleepyheads:
 The little paws slay me.
I woke them up - well, Ollie, anyway.  She's the most active and is always ready for an adventure outside of her cage.

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So yeah, I think my vision has changed again:
Had my contacts out for the night and was knitting while wearing my glasses, which have transition lenses (like trifocals).  I couldn't see my work very clearly, so I popped on my reading glasses that I use when I wear my contacts - and suddenly, a whole new world opened up.  Sighhhhhhhhhh.  Losing your close up vision is a royal pain.

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Also in the "what the hell, body???" news, I discovered that I am definitely allergic to Burt's Bees lip balm.  Remember when I wrote about my chapped lips problem a few months ago?  Well, I finally got it under control about six weeks ago, and have only been using Aquaphor - which is messy, but it was safe.  Last Friday, I was cleaning out my running bag and found a tube of Burt's Bees and I put it on - ONCE.  That night, my lips were bright red and hugely swollen.  The next day, they were burning - it was like a chemical peel from the inside.  Now I'm at the massive chapping stage.  It's bizarre that I could become so allergic to a product that I've used for at least 10 years, but this is for real.  I can wear both my Clinique and MAC lipsticks with no issues, so it's something in the lip balm that is messing with me.  Again, what the hell?  Why would this just suddenly come on? 

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I'll be running a 10 mile race tomorrow, and I've had some pretty major race anxiety going on for the last couple of days.  I don't understand why - it's in the same area where we run every Saturday, it's a distance I've done already, and the weather should be perfect for running.  Argh, my mind is messing with me and I don't like it!  Hopefully I can get this worked out before the race starts...we'll be having a pre-race dinner tonight, so maybe I'll get some group therapy along with my burger and fries.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

WWU - 9 (Mostly) Lonely Miles

My long run on Saturday ended up being a mostly solo run, which is not what I prefer to do, especially when it comes to lots of miles.  We didn't have a big turnout for our half group anyway - I think there were only 11 of us (the full group had 5, but they started anywhere from an hour to 30 minutes before the half group since they were running 19 miles) at the start.  Amy and I began our run together, but pretty early on she said that her knee was hurting, so she turned back when we were close to mile 3.  At that point, we were on our main road, so I was fine, except that it was dark and I was all alone and did I mention it was dark?

I ran for about a mile without seeing anyone, and then the first person I saw was not someone from our running club, but a man walking with a sweatshirt on, and the hood pulled over his face.  I swear, what is it with men in hoodies, the dark, and me??  Two weeks in a row now!  This was a different man, and it was cold enough to need a sweatshirt this time, but I still ran pretty fast to pass him and then kept running for a while to get some distance between us.  I finally saw our runners coming back from the turn-around point; this was nice because I felt less alone.  I hit the turn-around at 4.5 miles and headed back.  I felt fine while I was running, but as I went on, I had to work on my mental game.  Near mile 6, I was supposed to turn into the fancy neighborhood, and I didn't want to...but I did.  Once there, I was supposed to run the entire perimeter, but there was a shortcut that I was approaching, and I seriously considered taking it...but I didn't.  I'm telling you, these were big mental obstacles that I had to work on - my legs felt fine (and I kept having to remind myself of that), but I really wanted to get back to my group.

I kept running - I think because I wanted to get finished, I was running a little faster than I normally do on a long run.  It was also much cooler - 46 degrees when we started, so that probably contributed to my increased speed.  I felt pretty good, although my legs started feeling a little dead toward the end.  Probably shouldn't have fueled the day before with so much Halloween candy, but what can I say - the Kit Kat bars were calling me!

I came around a bend and saw Jeff walking toward me, which didn't surprise me - he knows I don't like to run alone, so I figured he'd show up at some point once he finished his run.  Just part of being married for 30 years - one partner does something like that, and the other partner knows it's going to happen.  Anyway, we connected just as I hit mile 8, and he ran in the last mile with me.  As it turns out, I ran this 9 miler about eight minutes faster than the last time I ran 9 miles - could have been the cooler weather, could have been a bit fear-based - who knows why, really?  I will say that my quads were definitely sore the next day, which was a different feeling for me; I've felt really good after most of my long runs this season, so I guess I was putting out more of an effort with this one.

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I have to tell you about one cool thing that I saw on the run:  it was still very dark, but clear - I was looking at the stars and picking out the Big Dipper, and Orion's Belt, and then I saw a big orange star that was slowly moving across the sky - it had a greenish tint and was like nothing I've seen  before.  When I finished my run and got back to my peeps, it turns out that most of us saw it...consensus was that is was either a shooting star or possibly a comet?  This was a sweet bonus to being awake, outdoors, and aware of the predawn sky.