Wednesday, 9 October 2013

First post-marathon run

After twiddling my thumbs for a week, slowly going crazy, I finally decided on Monday..screw this I'm gonna run (1 week 1 day post-marathon). My knee didn't hurt anymore, why not? Bad, bad idea! I was full of the joys of life for around a mile and a half and then it all went downhill.

After that point my right knee (the one I injured) began to hurt, not unbearable but it reminded me I probably shouldn't be running. Towards the end of the run my left knee decided it wanted to join the party and hurt worst than the right one. I've had ITBS on and off with my right knee for over a year but never my left, WTF. 3.5 miles in 40 minutes, grrrrrr! I was as fresh as a daisy at the end...I never even broke a sweat despite the fact that it was over 30˚C when I ran, but the pain was just too much.

I feeling pretty frustrated, somewhere along the way I've become a running addict and not being able to go out and run even 3 miles pain free is frustrating.
I'm still stretching a lot and I think most of my problems not only stem from my IT band but the fact that every muscle around my hip area is really tight. That run has been my one piece of exercise so far this week!
When I don't exercise I don't sleep well..which means I'm slowly going crazy. I was meant to go swimming this morning but getting up before 6am when I'd hardly slept just wasn't happening. The state fair is in town right now..I'm gonna go tonight and have fun. Tomorrow its back to exercise, early mornings and all!
I am excited to try out a runners specific yoga class that is running at my favorite yoga studio for the next few weeks....thats the plan for Thursday.
I have to keep reminding myself that taking a few weeks away from running to recover and heal is not going to affect my fitness too dramatically...well no worst than trying to run, making injuries drag on for months!!

I have to surrender to what my body needs but its hard for a control freak to do that :)

Anyway, I hope your week and running are going well.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Post-race recovery

You can read all about my race experience here The race.

Crossing the finish line felt great, but as soon as I got my medal and took a moment to admire its shininess, I had only one thought on my mind..FOOD! Earth Fare were one of the race sponsors and put out a good spread! By the time I was finished running, a lot of the food was gone but I still managed to inhale a banana and some pretzels!
Me and my precious, awful picture :)
That taken care of I headed to the medical tent with the intention of getting some ice for my knee. What I got was a full injury examination by a physiotherapist, bonus! She was able to pinpoint the source of my pain..I almost jumped of the table. My Lateral collateral ligament was severely inflamed. She did checks which involved her pushing on the inside of my knee, to check if the ligament was torn. Diagnosis- it was inflamed from my stupid IT band passing over it. I walked limped away with a giant ice pack strapped to my knee.

You know what's good for pain, BEER. Thanks to the Highland Brewing Company my bib came with a coupon for two beers. A muscle relaxant, carbs and tasty all in one, what more could you want. A couple of those and I was talking the ear of my friends, who'd drove up for the day to see me finish. We headed out to lunch. I had another beer (and lots of water) and half a pizza. I really thought I'd eat everything in sight but I didn't really taste the pizza and was full after less than half of it.

I went back to the hotel to assess the damage and shower. Besides a tiny blister on one toe and some weird gunk from my belly button there was no rubbage. Thank you BodyGlide and Fleet Feet! Everyone was exhausted especially the pup! We all fell asleep with the TV on. 2 hours later my angelic best friend went to a CVS and came back with lots of liquids and a large bag of ice (forgetting that most hotels have an ice machine). I proceeded to basically bury myself in that bag of ice. I would have had an ice bath but I was worried I'd fall asleep in it!

I ate the rest of my pizza, had a protein shake and slept for the rest of the night after a healthy application of water and ibuprofen.
The next morning I continued to ice my knee. I knew the best thing I could do for my body was to walk a little and stretch but walking might not be so good for my knee right now.

My desire to see DuPont State Forest won out. I'm a little obsessed with the Hunger Games so I really wanted to see some of the filming locations in the park (at the waterfalls). No serious hiking was involved all the trails were leveled with gravel. I quickly learned that my knee didn't hurt if I walked downhill backwards. I looked like an idiot but I think the alternative moans of agony might have made me seem like more of a weirdo. Small children were passing by me even when walking forwards but it was a beautiful day for a walk and the waterfalls were spectacular.
Stairs, ouch!

This is how the cool kids walk down a hill
Totally worth it.

It's now 4 days post marathon. Each day is like getting up to a new and improved body as the soreness recedes. I'm pretty much back to normal now. I've been on a steady diet of ibuprofen, not something I like to take, so today I cut it down a lot, only needing some this evening for my knee after a day on my feet. I'm icing my knee 3-5 times a day, as well as stretching everything focusing on my IT band and my dreaded foam roller has seen lots of use.

 I got a massage yesterday from my regular masseur...heaven. After 4 visits she has managed to deknotify (my own technical term) my, until now, permanently knotted back. Yesterday she went to town on my legs. She noticed the swelling and tenderness in my right knee but said overall my left leg was in a worst state, poor thing compensated for my right one I guess. I know massages are expensive (I'm not rich believe me I know they cost money) but its worth it...not only for recovery but to help with any hard training. While I was training my runs after a massage felt like I was floating along and post-race just one massage has taken care of any residual muscle soreness.

Right now all my plans are all up in the air. A lot of it depends on my knee but I might start a swimming regime this weekend to keep my fitness up. I've even contemplated getting a trainer for my bike so I can use it indoors in the evenings to build up my weak quads. Someone smack me for saying this but I even miss running. My knee is already feeling better but I know from experience how this injury can linger so all I see in my future for sure is stretching and ice!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Asheville Citizen-Times Marathon -The Race

For pre-race details and drama see 'twas the night before the race
Crossing the start line, it was time to put all my nervous energy to good use. I ran at a fast but comfortable pace trying not to go out too fast or focus on catching my pacing group that were now 4-6 minutes ahead of me.
I wasn't sure what to expect of the first half of the course having only run the second. We ran through residential neighborhoods as we headed north out of Asheville. Hills and more hills. Thankfully I was finding it easy enough, with none of them providing any more of a challenge than the rolling hills Columbia sits on. 
I passed the 5 hour pacer early in the race and then another one for the half-marathon. At some points it was really dark and I was glad of the glow bracelets provided. Especially considering one half of almost all the roads we ran on was still open to traffic.
At three miles I caught up with the 4:30 pace group. I must have been running faster than I thought oops. They were running 10 min 19 sec miles which felt unbearably slow but I had many miles to go. I felt good chatting away for the next few miles to the nice people in the pace group. My right leg was slowly demanding my attention but I ignored it. 

Every hour or so I was taking Sports Beans with water, and in between grabbing Ultima Replenisher at the aid stations. I also tried to eat a piece of a Bonk Breaker bar for a different flavor but I had to spit this (and at one stage Sports Beans too) as holding it in my mouth to chew was making me nauseous. The aid station were spaced 1-2 miles apart and were well stocked with all sorts of stuff including drinks and Gu gels. I also passed about 3 medical stations so all in all we runners were very well looked after!

Somewhere around 7 miles (after the half-marathon split) the real bad boys came out to play, a.k.a what seemed like a f'in mountain. I think it might actually have been part of a mountain. We climbed and climbed and climbed, steeply. Every time the course turned onto a new road or came to a bend I thought it has to level out or go downhill. Noooo more uphill. I fought my way up them keeping on pace but it was a hard ol slog. 
After around 3 miles of hard climbing we had a few steep downhill sections which I really wanted to run all out on but held back. Then the smaller individual hills just kept coming. At this stage my right leg hurt really badly and was tight from hip to foot. I hung on to see my best friend and puppy at the 12 mile point, what a pick me up. 

At this stage even the smaller hills were becoming a struggle but I clung to the pacing group as best as I could. I knew a flat section was coming up so I used the pacing group to get me there. I hung with them for about a mile of flat. 
Physically could I have stuck it out with the pacing group til the end?, unknown, but mentally I needed to run my own race. I took a bathroom break at mile 19 ending my run with the pacers, this also marked my first walking break (yay). I had a few shaky moments (ok minutes) when I got going again, dizzy and shaking with chattering teeth (the wall?). Mile 19-20 seemed like the longest mile ever until I realized there was no mile 20 marker when a lovely person at an aid station shouted that I was almost at mile 21. Hallelujah!
I started to feel a bit better overall (with the exception of my stupid knee) so I consistently ran the flat and downhill sections. Hills now began to make a reappearance (looking a lot bigger than I remember) so I quick marched up them. 
22-24 miles were a loop section for the most part so once I got out of that I knew I could walk the rest if I wanted and still make it in loads of time for the 6 hour cut off. Having not yet been passed by a 5 hour pacer made me pick up the pace a bit to try get over the line before 5 hours. The last 2 miles except for one or two small sections were up steep hills...have I not earned my medal by now!!

 I made it tho 4:49:10 (chip time). Slower than I wanted. Especially considering my half-marathon split time was 2 hours 13 mins.
 I'm now gonna put this into perspective for myself. People who have run tons of marathons (30+ including Boston) have been quoted as saying this is the hardest course they've ever run. I not only did this for my first marathon but I did it with an injured knee. I ran up and down a frickin mountain as well as a butt load of other hills. I'll take my time and be proud.

I enjoyed every bit of the race even the worst moments.

Back of medal lists all the neighborhoods we ran through.

 A few things stand out in my memory:
The buzz from the crowd at the starting point.
Running in the dark with only glowing bands stopping me from ploughing into other runners.
Passing and being passed by the wheelchair (bike) participants, and watching their struggle up the hills, not only dragging their body weigh but a great big bike, very inspiring and humbling!
A girl bald from undergoing chemo cheering us on from her garden...I felt like I should be applauding her.
Being told I looked strong in the first Half and believing it, being told that in the last 8 miles and knowing they were lying lol.
The hundreds of volunteers and supporters along every mile of the course...thank you, you made me smile and laugh the whole way through!
Seeing a cross covered in teddy bears along the roadside..this may have made me cry.
Taking to a man more than twice my age about Chi running as we both walked up a hill....he eventually left me behind.
Knowing I was going to finish.
Cheering back at the awesome drummers at the start of the finish chute.
Being able to pick up the pace and run hard across the line!

Monday, 30 September 2013

Asheville Citzen-Times Marathon---'twas the night before the race

Last Friday the 27th seen me leaving Columbia shaking in my boots (just as I had been for the days beforehand). I took that day off work to head to Asheville and good thing I did.  The level of organization and packing it took to make sure I had everything I needed, including the toaster, had my nerves frayed. In fact I think at one point I may have just sat down and let my best friend take the lead on the packing. 
After several stops, including walking the dog and returning due library books, we were off! It took us 2 1/2 hours to get to Asheville, in my newly repaired car. Our destination was a Best Western on the East of Asheville. I was a bit worried when we pulled up...the hotel didn't look the nicest from the outside but I was pleasantly surprised. The room was clean and had a fridge, tv, internet, microwave and best of all the dog only cost an extra $10 a night unlike the $100+ per stay other hotels wanted. A lot more comfortable than the usual camping expeditions we go on!!

After unpacking and making it feel a bit more like home I headed off to the race expo. Easy to get to with lots of public parking nearby. I picked up my bib, t-shirt and an extra 'bib' for the back of my shirt to let my pacing group know I was with them. I was simultaneously happy and disappointed with the t-shirt. Happy cause it was a technical T, which doesn't seem to be the norm in the US, unlike Ireland. Sad because it was a mustard yellow. I hate yellow clothes (with yellow as the main block color), I know I'm shallow!  The half marathon T was a nice teal color....better in my book any day. But I shall wear it with pride anyhow!!!

The expo itself seemed to have the usual race stuff (as well as some cool speakers), a good mix for a smallish race, but not feeling too flush with cash I decided my money was better spent on essentials like food!

At this stage of the week I would have been happy if I'd never seen another carb heavy, starchy food in my life, but I soldiered on and got some French Toast for lunch No.2 (1 was an early one at Subway). Feeling full it was back to the hotel for a nap. I didn't feel at all guilty knowing I'd get very little sleep that night. Dinner consisted of a kids portion of spaghetti with a plain tomato based sauce..nothing risky there.

Everything laid out ready for the next day, I think I fell asleep at the late hour of 9:30pm. I passed out. I don't know if was being so nervous all day but I slept great, walking up 5 minutes before the alarm went off at 3:30am. Why so early, you ask. The race started at 6am and I had to be there an hour beforehand. I also needed to eat etc before that. The tried and tested burger bun, PB and jelly combo was washed down with a little coffee. It seemed to take ages to get ready but we made it out the door, my two best supporters braving the ungodly hour with me. 
The kid in me kind of loved the fact that the first hour of the marathon would be run in the dark...I got to wear glow stick type bracelets for the first time in my life.

The race was supremely well organized so I had a printed list of road closures (and their times) as well as a printed map of parking garages, offering $5 all day parking for the event. We went to the first one we came across and easily got a space, from there it was only a 2 min walk to the start/finish line. 
Lots of sleepy runners and supporters were hanging around. Knowing my stomach as I do I was trying to visit the port-a-johns as often as possible and ended up feeling silly lining up for a single one when there were 30 or so the other side of the starting corals, oops. 
I ran around the parking lot they were in to warm up. I bent down to do something, stretch or pet the puppy (I can't remember), and I felt something 'shift' in my right knee. A knee that had been a troublemaker with ITBS for 8+ months, but hadn't troubled me in the last 11+ weeks of my training.
Trying to ignore it I went into my starting corral (H). I looked ahead and in the next corral I seen a pacer with a 5 hour marker on her sign. That can't be right, is exactly what I thought, I changed my expected finish time to 4 hours 30. Even if I wasn't in time to change it to that, I should have been with that pacer group in my original time slot 4:45-5 hours. So somehow, either through my own fault/someone else's I was now 3 corrals behind my pace group. 
For the next 20 minutes I sounded crazy as I alternated between ranting about the screw up and my now persistently aching knee. I knew I was freaking myself out, so with some deep breathing and encouraging words from my best friend I let it all go and tried to soak up the atmosphere and excitement from everyone around me.

More about the actual race soon...

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Last training run

I was very tempted to skip my 2 mile run last night (it was raining). However, I went out and did it anyhow as a nice little end to my marathon training.
I started off and it was drizzling and by the end it felt like someone was standing above me pouring out buckets of water. It felt very much like running at home, in Ireland, cold and wet, maybe some Irish luck will see me through the race!

I ran close enough to race pace (only a tiny bit faster) with my roommate...who is doing very well beginning her own running journey. It felt good...I'm ready. I have a ton of anxious energy and I just wanna get started now!!

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Stress I do not need!

After all of my obsessive preparation for my race on Saturday (more on that here), I went out to my car yesterday evening only to have it not start.
I'm super annoyed. Its done this once before and replacing the battery did the trick but now I'm starting to think its something more. 

Worst part is that its stuck in a busy multi-story garage, so towing it would be a total, b***h! I have a mobile mechanic coming to look at it today so I'm hoping that he can at least get it started to get it out of there and to a garage stat.

But I'm trying not to stress too much, worst case scenario, I spend money I don't have to hire a car to get to Asheville for the weekend!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Ahhhh and carb loading

The ahhh is the sheer panic and excitement, swirling around and around in my head. Just got that email to help runners prepare for Saturday and my stomach might have flipped.
Speaking of my stomach.....
I lost just over 1lbs at weight watchers last week, despite eating everything in sight. I put this down to the fact that I only ate when I genuinely felt hungry, so I needed the food. I wasn't aiming to lose anything, in fact it kinda worries me how many calories my body can gobble up, how will it be when I'm back to a semi couch potato status. I wonder if I would have lost more weight throughout training if I'd ate more. I don't think I was under eating, but last week makes me wonder! 

No worries on that front this week carb loading ahoy. Lots of white rice, bagels and pasta. I'm not sure whether to aim for more food, that's mostly carbs, or to just increase the percentage of carbs in my diet. I think I'll aim to eat a bit more but not stuff myself like a pig, I don't want to arrive at the race start bloated and feeling gross. I'm also planning to minimize my dairy intake for 48 hours before the race to hopefully prevent any of the stomach problems I've had from time to time.

The only thing I'm worried about now is my start corral. Last week I moved myself up to a 4:30 finishing time so I could run with my pacing group. Originally I think I had said I'd finish closer to 5 hours, which would have simply been an excuse for me to walk when I get tired. Now I'm just hoping I did it before they printed the bibs/finalized the corrals. Not too much I can do about it now!

In order to prepare I've also been foam rolling and stretching (including yoga class on Sunday). I'm still getting a few aches and I almost wish I'd booked a last massage this week (instead of 2 weeks ago) but I don't want to risk upsetting anything.

My obsessive preparation has involved getting the car serviced (for the 2.5 hour drive there) and getting my puppy a new leash (to replace his grubby old one). Every aspect of this is going ahead with best foot, wheel and paw forward!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Is this taper madness?

1 week to D-Day. This time next week I'll (finger crossed) be finished my first marathon. I'm starting to feel extremely nervous.
 All sorts of problems pop into my head. Not just about running. I'm feeling a lot of work stress this week, something I haven't felt in a long while, all of which has resulted in very bad sleep with weird weird dreams! Including one were I'm an hour away from the marathon start line, when I realize I'm also an hour late for the race!
On the running front it's been lovely having shorter runs. They feel refreshing rather than draining. My legs feel great on these, it's been hard to hold back on the pace. Most have been faster than race pace, ekk. But my race pace is a full minute slower than what I consider comfortable now #playingitsafe
No major aches...a few small ones that I haven't felt in months but I'm told this is my body recovering and healing...perfectly normal. 
My last weekend run is today, I'm hoping the 8 miles will help settle my nerves. Then it's cross training tomorrow. I finish off with 4 miles Tuesday, 2 Wednesday and that's it til the race on Saturday. Weight watchers tomorrow and then I'll slowly ramp up my carb intake. 

Cross your fingers, pray for me, or  whatever but I'll need all the help I can get!!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Taper smapaper!

Week 1 of tapering on my marathon program. My miles peaked last week at 40. This week I've just polished off 29 miles. That's a big drop but it doesn't feel like it. Maybe I've got another bug or maybe last week is catching up on me!

My long run today was 12 miles (as compared to 20 last week) taking just under 2 hours. I did it early and enjoyed beautiful sunny skies, lower temperatures and a breeze, aka perfect running weather. As per tapering advise I read somewhere(?) I avoided any major hills on my long run and ran along the river.
The run went well. Usual nutrition with no major problems. Even better, no snakes today!

Mucho tired now much more so than last week. It's game day here in Columbia (USC Gamecocks versus Vanderbilt). With a house near the stadium and lots of tailgating going on in the neighborhood I don't think a nap is on the cards.

One bonus tho is the yummy food I get to have on long run days.... Lunch was a fresh baguette, Brie and cranberry preserve with some tea and almonds, D-E-LIOUS. Not the healthiest but I eat pretty good 80% of the time. Next week the food might have to be reined back in a little as I'm only due to run 22 miles total.
Speaking of food, I'm currently on week 4 of Weight Watchers maintenance and doing good. After week 6 if I'm within 2lbs of goal, I get to go and weigh in, etc for free. Inconveniently the 6th week falls on marathon weekend. I'm not weighing in early...hello carb loading. Maybe I'll weigh in late or skip a week. But it would be cool, lifetime membership and a marathon in one weekend, how life has changed in the last few years.

I haven't experienced taper madness, I don't have time :) Maybe next week, I'm prepared to fill my normal running hours with some inspirational running books.

I am getting excited for the race tho. I've started print out all the needed info, my gear is picked out and I've booked a day off work (expo is on Friday, race Saturday). I've seen chatter on Facebook that some Columbia runners are pacers for the race so maybe I'll finally get some info or a foot in the door with some running clubs here. Best of all two of my work buddies and their other halves are taking the time and money (means a lot for students) to come up to Asheville for the weekend to cheer me on. If I see everyone and my puppy at the finish I might just cry! 

Next week: Tuesday 4 miles, Wednesday 6 miles, Thursday 4 miles , Saturday 8 miles and finally Sunday cross train.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Peak Training Week-Overcoming Boredom

This week has been the peak of my training in terms of mileage and the length of my long run today. Most of my runs went well this week. I've been getting a bit bored on my runs....even a 5 mile run seems long, not physically but mentally.
I was dreading my 20 mile long run all week long because of this, but I had to suck it up and do it. I ate some white bread and jam (jelly) about 2 hours before I ran.

 On the run I tried a few things to mix it up mentally.

1) I turned off the same old music I've been listening to for weeks and put an audiobook on my ipod. Maybe not the best if you are wanting to run fast but this was a long slow run. *For the marathon I'm going to buy a load of new music*

2) I ran through parts of the city I've never been to or ran through.

I started a bit later than I wanted to (8 versus 7am) as my nervousness had me running to the bathroom a few times. I only have to think long run now and I'm off! In good news this meant that my stomach was good throughout the that looks good for the marathon.
Running around different areas and being caught up in looking around meant that 10 miles went by very quickly. I was running on quiet roads without sidewalks, normally in a race I'd run in the middle of the road but I had to stick to the side this time (gotta hate that traffic). By the time I was done the first 10 miles my left ankle was pretty tender from running on a sideways slope. However, where I was running was super pretty (around a lake) and shaded so that made up for some aches.

At this point I have to admit I took a 5-10 minute break. I ran into Whole foods to use their bathrooms and fill up my now empty water bottles, but they were cleaning the ladies. This being my only bathroom option for around 5 miles I just went with it. I got a bottle of water and a bonk bar (? hilarious name) and ate outside..a quick pee later and I was off again.

I headed to the other side of the city (towards home) on one of the bigger main roads, still on new roads. Unfortunately, not shaded or as pretty as earlier but  with less chance of getting lost. For the most part the sidewalks were still slanted especially as I crossed driveways, every single one hurt. As I got back to my regular haunts closer to home the sidewalks levelled off and my ankle felt more normal. I tried to pick up the pace here as I'd ran most of the run a bit slower than I would normally.

As boring as endurance running can be sometimes I think my body quite enjoys it because I felt better and more hyped up as the run went on. By the last 2 miles I was fist pumping (well mini ones) to the music I put on after my audiobook finished. Maybe a bit of runners high?

20.1 miles in 3 hours 25.
On a side note I've signed up with a pacing group for the race. A 4 hour 30 group, a bit slower than I'd like but perhaps realistic considering I don't know how the first half of the course will be and i know there are hills on the second half. Besides its my first marathon, I wanna enjoy it. More room for a PR later :)

I took some chances with food today...a new bar mid-run (crazy), I wanted something to chew that wasn't Sports Beans (I'm getting a bit sick of them) and I get hungry after a couple of hours. Also as my bottles emptied around 3 miles from home, some kind of mania hit me and I bought some orange juice and drank a ton of it. It seems my stomach will put up with a lot when I'm running. Its what I eat before that seems to be my issue! I'll eventually figure it out.
I'm relieved to have made it this far in my training! I've had 2/3 bad weeks where looking back I've had viruses or some other bug but I've had no ongoing injuries and I'm not too tired (if I head to bed earlier than normal). Now I have two weeks of tapering to look forward to before the big day!

Some Pictures from this week:

Can anyone say nosey neighbor?

Lots of hills this week!

First drive in movie

Took me a second to figure this one out!

Locked and loaded

More art pieces

Monday, 2 September 2013

Vegetarian backlash

I've been noticing a very interesting phenomenon in the last few months. A LOT of people are hating on vegetarians.

It really annoys me. A lot of it coming from former veggies annoys me even more. Vegetarianism isn't a fad diet to me. I don't eat meat, not because I think meat is unhealthy (in moderation), for me it's a ethical choice....not one I try to force on other people. 
Suddenly people, that were vegetarians, are practically stuffing whole animals down their throats and are seemly super proud of it. I read one blog and the writer went from a raw vegan diet to eating tons of meat and putting butter in coffee to get extra fat in her diet. Is it just me or does that seem crazy? Chose an in between maybe!

 But for all that is good, back up your arguments with fact and science. Most of this obsession with diets seems to be tied up in weight loss. It's possible to be, really unhealthy with a vegetarian diet (believe me I know) or balance it really well and be healthy and lose weight. The same is true of any diet choice and in my mind a calorie deficit is why you lose weight wether its about cutting calories, fat, carbs or whatever. 
If you don't want to be vegetarian fine but don't knock it, say its unhealthy or no good for athletes unless you have some good science behind you and don't try to push the latest diet, the latest guru has invented to make money from, on me! If you are so proud of your diet great. Just leave me alone!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Unlucky 13..week 13!

Contrary to my title this week has not been unlucky at all!
I completed my 18 mile run last Saturday (2 hours 59) and now I only have what I am calling one long long run left (a 20 miler in week 15). It was nice and cool on Saturday, I took even greater advantage of that and ran in the morning for once.
Only 2 bathroom stops (success if you are me!) and I felt pretty good up until the last 2-3 miles when I started to get really hungry and tired. Lots of food and a 2 hour nap revived me and I was ready to go for the rest of the day. Recovered muscle soreness!
I also treated myself to a new laptop. Yes very extravagant and only for the great back to school discounts I probably wouldn't have been able to get it. My poor old mac has seen me through 4 years of a Ph.D and 3 years of work. I've split Cola on it, I've dropped it onto asphalt from a height and it pulled through. Its still trooping on, but with no battery and it slowing down, it wasn't really cutting it for work, it was time to put it out to pasture.  

Couple of things I'm finding towards the end of my training especially with the higher weekly mileage:
I can eat more and still lose a small amount of weight (even tho I'm now trying to maintain)

I need to eat more because I could probably eat enough for 3 people right now, I'm so hungry all the time.

I really don't care anymore what anyone thinks of me in my running gear; a) I'm working hard toward a goal, b) I'm usually too tired to care and c) my legs are looking better than ever (not so lumpy and bumpy). I fit into a size 2 the other day (6 in the UK and Ireland), I'm not sure I've been that size since I was 6! 

You def gain muscle; even if you only lose a modest amount of weight, you probably have lost more fat than you think. I got tested at a student enrolment event recently and even though I've only lost 4/5 lbs that has translated to 5% of my body fat, yipee!

I won't be able to manage the hills on the marathon course.

I'll have to go to a port-a-potty every mile when racing and lose lots of time.

That even if I finish the marathon it won't be good enough for me, I'll compare times to everyone I know and I'll be the slowest. Tied to that, I'll have completed a marathon and still not feel like a real runner because I haven't ran a Boston qualifier or something crazy like that, lol.

Afterwards, I'm afraid I won't want to run for ages.. that I'll lose fitness and gain weight! 

All stupid I know but I have to acknowledge my fears to address them. Some of them I can do very little about but for others it'll be easy enough to figure a way to subdue them e.g. I'm gonna sign up for a half after the marathon. A long enough time away to let me recover and start to run again but not so long that I lose a lot of fitness. The goal of having a race will keep me running.

Anyone else have worries about the build up to a big race?

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Happy Birthday to me!

Wow 30 today. I would say time flies but I have very vague memories of my teens and early 20s so maybe not so much.
Looking very serious. Yes 30 is a serious number. Sorry feeling a bit silly. Most of my birthday celebrations were held with friends on Saturday so today was a fairly ordinary day. Therefore, I ran. A nice easy 4 miles and after 2 days of not running my legs felt great! 
Most professional marathoners peak around this age....not I. Not the professional and not the peaker. I want to continue to improve. Anyway I've a nice bubble bath and some bubbly waiting for have a fun week. Let me know if y'all are doing any celebrating too!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Good bye twenties!!

My Saturday started off early. I start running at 6:30am in the dark. I ran the 2 miles to work as a warm up and used my card access to nip to the restroom and stash my reflective vest in the lab. 

I ran around for 12 miles with no particular route in mind splashing through puddles and getting drizzled on the whole time. What a way to wake up!! 
I didn't mind the rain though, it was quite nice especially since we are still in the midst of a cold front right now (good running weather). The only thing I didn't like was the wet feet and the idea that my nice   Newish trainers were getting soaked. They are now truly broken in.

Honestly my mind wasn't really on the run. I had a busy day ahead with a tight schedule to stick to. So I just wanted the run over and done. 1 hour 51 minutes later and 12 miles were completed.

 I literally ran into the house, had the fastest shower ever and 15 mins later I was back out the door to the vet. Boomer, my puppy, finally got his stitches more cone of shame.
After that weight watchers where I finally hit GOAL!! Woohoo. Home again and 4 hours after I got up, I finally got some food. Then I went for a nice massage which my BFF got me for my upcoming birthday.   This is my second time going to the same masseur and it makes a difference..she seems hell bent on getting rid of the tension in my upper back.

After lunch I headed home and got ready for my birthday party, yes woe is me, I'm thirty this week. A bunch of work people and friends came over for a BBQ in my backyard. I drank entirely too much but had a great night. It's been a quiet day in my house. Lots of people and other dogs means the puppy has been blessedly tired all day so I get a chance to recover. I skipped my cross-training today but I'll complete it tomorrow instead. For now I might have another nap...I am getting older after all!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A Beautiful Night

Looking back I find it oh so hard to believe that at the beginning of my marathon training I'd get up to go for a run in the morning and be cold as soon as I walked out the door. Well that was when I was still foolish enough to think I could make myself run before 7am.

Delusions gone, I now run as close to darkness as my distance for a particular day will allow. The last few weeks have been sweltering! Not so tonight. It was a balmy 24C (75F), a full 10 degrees cooler than my run last Saturday, with a nice breeze. 24C would probably be considered a heat wave (or close to) back in Ireland; after a few days of enjoying the sun everyone would be complaining about the heat. Little do they know! 

Well tonight, after needing a couple of miles to loosen up, I practically skipped along the pavement. There was no complaining. Those nice cold drinks that are normally a stop gap in my march towards death were really refreshing and I enjoyed them instead of slugging them down in desperation. And instead of dripping sweat I had a nice sheen, about as attractive as sweat gets.

I looked down at my phone at 9km and realized I'd run a nice enough pace for the distance I was doing and pushed a teensy bit for next km to shave 3 mins 8 secs off my best 10k pace. Without really trying...bam!!!  There is hope for me yet. I'm still a snail but this snail is slowly getting faster. I don't care if it was the temperature drop or the fact that I'm feeling better, it's still a sign of improving fitness. 

I finished up my remaining miles to finish at 8 miles in 1:14:23.

P.S runners are awesome. The number of nods, smiles and hellos I get from fellow runners outnumber those from others 100 to 1. I guess we feel each others joy and pain. Not to say non-runners aren't awesome too I've got really nice comments shouted at me (not the dirty kind) and random high fives.

P.P.S no snakes tonight yay, just a toad and lots of cicadas exoskeletons on wildlife watch

P.P.P.S I know I must come of as quite bipolar, down one day, way up the next but I figure if you don't revel in the good runs you'd never keep it up!!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Cross training

So not me!! 
What do you consider cross training?

Well so far I've read that swimming and cycling are two of the best exercises to use for cross training in relation to running. So far I've been content to swim for 50 minutes or so and go to a yoga class as well...depending on how I feel.

I've been thinking about cross training a lot because as much as I like swimming after around 20 minutes I tend to get bored. I'm pretty sure I could swim for way more than an hour but eventually boredom always gets me.
Cycling is just not an option..I hate it with a passion....its something I've never improved at no matter how hard I've tried. One small hill and I'm a mess. This probably makes it an excellent cross training exercise for me..but no sir I'm not doing it.

Everyone always says "do what you enjoy", it'll keep you at it for longer. Too true. I like to run and although I'm not the best runner I've been plugging away at it for years. I might never win any races but it keeps me fit and healthy.

What about the stuff you HAVE to do?
I have an extremely large backyard. When you take into account the back yard and front yard, mowing the lawn can take 2 hours on a good day and 3+ if I've let the yard grow free for a little while. All mowed with an old fashioned push mower, usually in 80F+ heat with high humidity. This week I didn't have time or the money to head to the gym or classes but plenty of jobs had to be done around the house. Once again I looked out and sighed..the grass was getting to the point where I knew that if I didn't cut it that day it was going to be the end of the week before I got around to it and then I'd have an epic battle on my hands.
I mowed and mowed and mowed! I had to stop several times to wipe sweat from my eyes as it was literally pouring off of much as when I'm running hard. What a work out.

Lawn mowing with a push mower can burn as many as 500 calories per hour. 500 calories by 2.5 hours = 1500 calories. Cross training by definition is meant to be training other muscles that are not used so much in running right? Well walking and running use slightly different sets of muscles and pushing that mower sure used my core muscles and arms. Add the weight of the mower and tthe longish grass and there was lots of resistance. Resistance, using different muscle groups and a decent calorie burn. I'm pretty sure I cross trained.

Any unconventional cross training suggestions? What do you find works?

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Surprisingly hot!

So Columbia, SC marathon's motto is Famously Hot, Surprising Cool...Columbia right now is not so much surprisingly cool, more like surprisingly HOT, and I don't mean the people!

I did my long run on Saturday right after mid-day..stupid I know. It was 35 degrees Celsius, feeling like 38.  I had no choice. I took of and went to the riverwalk a long section of paved shaded trails along the river. I deliberately chose this despite the lack of hills to protect myself from the beaming sun. I've had some issues with dehydration and overheating before, so this was about swallowing my pride and looking after myself so I could go the distance. I set off with 2 packets of Sports beans, 12oz of water, 12oz of Ultima Replenisher and my credit card. 
I had 16 miles to finish, my Nike+ app is stuck in km so that comes out at a nice 25.8 km. Every 5km or so (the length of the trail) I'd take a very quick 30 second break and a large drink. After every 10km a longer break. At these breaks I hit the restroom, put my head under the tap and soak my shirt and headband in water. I even left the trail and made good use of my credit card to hit up a local gas station for some water that was actually cold.

 **seriously guiltily moment but I also got a bottle of coca cola, partially cause I had fantasies about one for well over an hour and partially because I " thought" I needed some extra sugar. I was so hot that the cola gave me brain freeze, sadly fantasy and reality once again don't quite match :) **

All of this made for a long time running. Considering the heat and the fact that I missed lunch to run I actually felt pretty strong. Yes I was exhausted after 16 miles, but I hadn't run more than 6 for a long time less, than 12 weeks ago, so that's to be expected. I also wasn't too sore afterwards! I guess the extra effort in the hydration and cooling departments helped. 16 miles = 2 hours 56 minutes. 

Really considered joining the people tubing down the river!! Roll on Fall and cooler temperatures.

Losing weight or changing shape?

So for starters my hands are better, yay! I woke up on Saturday and it felt like the day after a bad know what I mean, the world is all bright and shiny and you are no longer in pain!

My weekend started out with the usual weight watchers weight in....I didn't make my lifetime goal. As I didn't bring my old weight watchers info from Ireland they couldn't count my previous weight loss. That meant they moved my goal a pound lower without informing me, so that as per WW rules for lifetime membership, I will have lost 5lbs here! 0.8 to go, fingers crossed for next week. 

Anyway I actually exceeded my original goal of 140 by 0.2lbs so I KNOW I did it. I can also see changes in my workmates keep telling me my arms look 'jacked?' An expression I'd never heard before and I guess my lower legs are following along. That means I'm not only losing weight but gaining really I've probably lost more fat than I think. 

 A word of advise for anyone trying to lose weight..take your measurements (noting exactly where you measured). Sometimes it can be a great reminder on weeks when you don't lose any weight that your body is changing regardless of what the scales say. I took some measurements at the start of marathon training, then a couple of weeks ago at the half way point I broke out the tape again. 

Man, I'm changing shape weirdly. I lost 1/2 inch off my arms yay! 1 inch from my hips. AND wait for it, I've gained an inch on my thighs and 1/2 an inch on my calves.  It can only be muscle but to put an inch on each thigh but lose off the hips that's funny. No shifting my pudge as I call it (belly) but usually that's the last thing to change for me. I've really noticed the biggest change in the last 2-3 weeks, I'm putting that down to the number of miles I'm running per week. My mileage came in at 31 miles this week, barely respectable for even a novice runner at marathon I know why runners are so tiny! Now if only there was a way to be taller! Back to the lab it is!

Thursday, 8 August 2013


Claw hand is fighting a valiant fight but its no match for me. Slowly with anti-inflammatories I'm getting better. First the terrible pain I was in on Tuesday, when I last blogged, receded and now the numb tingly sensation is slowly going away. It's still there, irritating but no longer painful most of the time.
I suppose I can't call it claw hand all the time, can I. 

The technical term is Ulnar nerve compression. This nerve runs from your neck down your arm, through the wrist and into the hand. It can become compressed or damaged at several points; neck, elbow or wrist. For people who have this as a long term condition it's known as Cubital Tunnel Syndrome ( These people have my undying sympathy. 

It starts in the pinkie and or ring finger as a numb sensation. It can become painful with pain traveling up the arm and like I experienced you can lose muscle strength in the hands especially when trying to grip or hold something. Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome often steroid injections or surgery have to be undergone.
In Athletes this condition is most often seen in cyclists and throwers because of the movements or positioning of the arms that these sports require. No idea, other than tension or bad posture, how I got it then! I think I might be a little prone to it as I infrequently get a weird numbness in my right pinkie finger. I chalked that up to having a case of arthritis to look forward to in the future, I guess that's not so.
Besides the aforementioned drugs, I'm trying to practice better posture at my computer. Especially not leaning on a hard desktop with my elbows. Running with my shoulders and hands soft. I would rest completely but I feel like I'm starting to hit the peak of my training. 15 miles last Saturday, 16 this weekend and from there on step back and longer weeks alternate until the marathon. If I sit these runs out I'm not sure I'd be able to complete the marathon, especially as the novice program is designed to just get me to the finish of a normal marathon, never mind one with tons of hills. I've been running slow with minimal hills trying to keep myself relaxed, I feel like that's compromise enough for now unless my recovery halts or I get worst!
There are a ton of neuropathies associated with the arms or hands so don't rely my little old blog for advise I'm just sharing my experience, go see your doctor if you think something is wrong!

Four easy miles tonight..the temperatures have been a tiny bit cooler the last two nights despite hot days so that's made for some nice running. As frequently happens I got trapped by a train for a good 10 minutes only a mile from home.

Side note: my puppy got neutered the other day, does he not look too cute in his cone. He's in recovery too!!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Claw hand

So in case anyone's noticed I haven't blogged in a while. I have been struck with a case of claw hand. I ran my long run on Saturday, 15 miles. It went really well so much better than the 13.1 in Asheville a few weeks ago ( will do a full update later). 
My backs been tight and sore since doing 2 ten hour car rides 2 weeks ago, to Fl and back. I got a massage on Saturday morning. The poor masseuse managed to get 70+% of the knots out but not them all.
 I went out and ran that evening for 2 hours and 30 mins. The tightness meant I held myself quite rigid in my shoulders and arms when running and I managed to inflame/irritate a nerve(s) that goes to my hands. It started with my pinkie and ring fingers, first they were numb/tingly on my left hand on Sunday and then on Monday it was my right.
Liberal use of ibuprofen and ice tricked me into thinking it was ok while at work today, but I let the ibuprofen wear off so I could do my 4 mile run tonight. I now have some weird pain everywhere in both hands. So much so that getting undressed required help (yes humiliating!). I have next to no grip and it hurts to really try too hard to grab and hold something. I still ran but super slow concentrating on keeping my shoulders loose. Ice, ibuprofen and back massages are the order of the day until the problem gives in ( I'm way more stubborn).
Feeling a bit down and sorry for myself but chin up. More stuff has happened to me training for this marathon than any other race, I guess its all the extra pounding those miles do to your body, but I'm not normally so drama laden. Typing hurts so I'm gonna sign off but I haven't forgotten my blog :) will update soon!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Half-way there & some weight loss!

So half-way there eh! What's changed? 
Well me for a start. Running makes me a happier person. I don't stress as much, I usually sleep better and meeting goals never fails to make me feel good.
Specifically for marathon training I've run 173.5 miles and spent 28 hours 8 minutes and 52 seconds doing it so far. Oh and I've also lost a few pounds (4/5)! 

I'm pretty sure, fingers and toes crossed, that I might hit my goal weight at weight watchers this week. I've spent many years struggling with my weight and at my heaviest I was tipping the scales at just over two hundred pounds. This was making me feel like sh*t as I have polycystic ovarian syndrome. The bigger you are the worst the symtoms. Unfortunately PCOS helps weight gain and makes the fat wanna stick just that bit more. BUT it was a wake up call that I needed.

I was so determined I wouldn't have been too out of place on the Biggest Loser! I worked, at the time 10+ hour days finishing my Ph.D, spent 3+hours a night in the gym and was a fiend about what I ate. I lost a lot of weight and got within 3lbs of goal before starting a new job and moving. 

I can hear you, no I didn't put all the weight back on...I kept it all of for a long time, thanks to learning so much about food along the way and running. I put a bit back on in the last year or two...not too much but it's at this point I want to catch it and reel it back in!

If anything it's more of a struggle this's easier, well not easier but weigh drops off faster when you are bigger. I never got that initial surge of weight lost to make me feel amazing or to spur me on this time. I don't look different. Lastly getting older sucks and also has a role to play. Marathon training helps.

But this time I'm sticking to it to the bitter end, it taken a shockingly long time to lose 20 pounds, but who cares. I'm eating more in moderation and getting fitter. Just a refresher course to keep me on track.
My goal weigh is 140lbs.....not very light but healthy at 5'4. I have a kinda stocky chesty build so I figure about 10lbs is at least pure boobs lol. Maybe once I've reached and maintained that goal, I might aim to lose another 7 but that's the limit for me..I'm not a person who would look good at the 120lbs I've heard some of my friends want to be. I'd rather be heavier and have some muscle :)

 Anyways this was meant to be a quick update but I guess I'm excited to weigh in on Saturday, keep those fingers crossed.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

My Fleet Feet Experience

So I mentioned ages ago my NB trainers were on the way out...yeah, they're dead! Instead of my usual approach which is to go to an outlet and get a couple of pairs of trainers, I decided to get my feet evaluated. A friend recommended Fleet Feet. With a store 20 mins from my house in Columbia, SC, why not!
I went in put myself on a waiting list and proceeded to wait 30 mins (they were very busy). Firstly I was asked what I wanted the shoes for, I explained and then I was off to walk in my bare feet while my gait was assessed. I was pronounced sound....I had a neutral to very slight over protonation. 
My feet were measured sitting down and standing up. I was given some nice socks to try on and then came the shoes. The first pair were an awful looking space suit silver Adidas pair, they fit well but had about ten inches of cushion..not for me. Next were a pair of Brooks...nice still very cushioned but not so bad but I rejected these as I felt the heel was a bit high.
Then came the hard decisions. Everyone has been raving about the Mizuno Sayonara trainers. I tried and ran in a pair...just right and so comfy. They were too comfy...not too much padding but really soft. I was worried about how they'd hold up to the miles. In the end I got a less padded trainer that was super comfortable, a pair of Saucony Progrid Mirages. These are designed for slight over protonators and meant to sit somewhere between a minimalist and regular trainer. Lovely! Even these make my old shoes feel like pancakes, these new babies were long overdue.
Best of all they were on sale with 20% off. They came to approx. $86. I really thought they'd try to sell me half the store. They did have me try on socks and some inserts but when I said I didn't like/want them that was pressure! Overall a good experience and a decent price. Thank you Fleet Feet, I can't wait to give them a good run.

This post was in no way sponsored by Fleet Feet.

So Florida

I was in Florida for 4 days for work this week. Two of us went down and we drove to save much needed research funds. Driving down on Wednesday meant that all my runs were better done in the morning. I did that, I can't say I enjoyed it but its good practice for races.
I ran 7 miles on Wednesday morning and was back at my house, showered and eating breakfast when my lab mate showed up in her gorgeous SUV for the long drive.
We chatted the hours away and made a few stops. 
Pad Thai for lunch
Before we knew it we were in Jupiter. Meeting up with our boss and collaborator we headed out for dinner (Italian).
The next morning I was up early for a nice easy run, my lab mate and the fledgling runner headed out with me for 4 miles. Boy was I glad we went out in the morning..cause it was scorching hot. Our hotel was a block from the beach and we ran along the sand for the first mile. 
With heavy legs we moved up to the sidewalk that runs along the top of the beach. It was really designed for sports around this area with lots of water stops, showers and parking. All of which were put into good use by the 50+ year olds that were in better shape than me, oh the shame!
My knee was sore at the end despite the shortness of the run, I figure it was due to a slope on the beach. 
The next day was a rest day and I took full advantage laying out on the beach and swimming after work was done!

That night I had the best food ever, some spicy and sweet mix. I ate almost every bite.. I was so full.

The next day was a ten miler (yay for step back weeks). I did the first five by myself running around town.
For the next five miles my temporary roomie came out with me. This was a real pick me up for me. The first two miles went well but she struggled after that.....neither of us slept very well for the three nights. I think she was dehydrated and feeling much like I was last week! We did walk/run intervals to make it back to the hotel on time for breakfast. Some super fast showering and some breakfast and we were back on the road. It was like the day from hell after that. We were all talked out, my monthly visitor arrived and we drove through awful thunderstorms most of the way up the coast of Florida. I thought I'd never get home. By the time we got back I was exhausted and my back was in pieces.

But my baby Boomer was so happy to see me, after our longest separation yet, he heart melted a little.
I'm being lazy today and not cross-training, sore back and tiredness, enough said.