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 time...it'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 that...no 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 cried.....my heart melted a little.
I'm being lazy today and not cross-training, sore back and tiredness, enough said.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The Fun Part of the Weekend

After my disastrous half-marathon run, on Sunday, my self and my best friend headed to do some sightseeing in this beautiful part of North Carolina. We left Asheville and headed South-East on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We drove for over an hour taking in some of the most beautiful scenery you could ask for.

We drove as far as a viewing stop called Exhibit. Across the road from here was a small trail head, a 20 min moderate hike later and you arrive at Skinny Dip Falls. People were jumping in at parts but it looked too dangerous for me.

We had fun on the hike and the puppy certainly enjoyed getting mucky!
After hiking to the car we doubled back on the Blue Ridge Parkway until we hit the 276 which took us towards Psigah Forest. I was super excited to go as the Hunger Games had been filmed around here and DuPont State Park, FYI I'm a huge Hunger Games fan. We drove along the road stopping at a few places that were well marked. First stop Sliding Rock. This is a waterfall I guess but it's not very steep. It runs over rocks smoothed by years of running water. The waterfall drops into an 8ft deep plunge pool. The rocks are so smooth you can use the waterfall as a natural rock slide. Like the big kid I am I had to try it.

From too hot to freezing...the water was certainly cold....but it was less noticeable after the first plunge.
Then we stopped at Looking Glass Falls, so pretty!
Right when I finished snapping some pictures the heavens opened and the rain began. We sprinted back to the car but there is no avoiding that sort of rain, we were soaked to the bone. A quick change and we were on the hunt for a very late lunch....pizza what a guilty pleasure. Unfortunately the thunderstorms had set in so we decided to go back to Columbia. I had really wanted to hike to some more waterfalls in DuPont Forest but that wasn't going to happen.
Next time I plan specifically for that but I think I'll keep coming back to this area again and again because it so beautiful.

Off to Florida tomorrow.

All pictures copyright belongs to 26point2south.blogspot.com

Monday, 22 July 2013

Half-Marathon Disaster

Well I've gone on my most adventurous run to date. Adventurous in an epic disaster kind of way. 

For new readers, I headed to Asheville, NC on Friday evening to do a half- marathon distance training run, Saturday morning, on the second half of the marathon course which I'm running in September. 

My best friend, puppy and I headed to a KOA 'Kampground' for some cheap accommodation. That's where it all started to go oh so wrong. The campground was pretty and we got a tent site right on the lake with a beautiful view. Def the best site I've gotten here. The campground had a pool and games room none of which I had the energy to try. The staff were lovely; showing us to our site and dropping of firewood. However, this is quite possibly the noisiest campgrounds I've ever been in, including the one with the Girl Scouts. Trains went by at regular intervals throughout the night. Happens to me here, no biggie except for the absence of a ton of bricks between me and the train. I got next to no sleep when you combine the trains and a puppy who recently found his voice and likes to warn me of all the "danger".

I got up at 7 very fuzzy brained the next morning. Sipped some water and had a few sports beans (mistake no 1). 
My super kind best friend dropped me off in a quiet neighborhood that marked the halfway point in the marathon. I carried enough sports beans to see me through 2-3 hours of running and had a small bottle of Ultima and one of water (mistake no 2). I also didn't pee before leaving the campground and was now dying to (mistake no 3). I headed off very nervous about what was to come.  I ran through some beautiful neighborhoods and patiently waited for the hills I'd read so much about. None appeared for a long time and the first incline I'd consider a hill was relatively short and easy. Other than the dire need for a restroom I was feeling good.

I took a chance on the roads being quiet ones and ran along some roads without sidewalks. The busiest one was a dead end and most of the traffic was heading to the city waste facility...pleasant! 

Beginning at the dead end was a greenway along the river. I was hoping, dreaming, praying that it would be like the riverwalk in Columbia and have restrooms. No such luck. By now my tummy was acting up and cramping. The greenway was nice and flat but I was too busy contemplating if someone would see me if I popped a squat in the bushes at the side to appreciate it. Someone didn't want me to do that as there were no areas to disappear into. Eventually the trail passed through an RV park, cue choirs of angels they had restrooms! Foiled they had pin-code locks. 
I struggled on to a weird park with a driving track and finally got to a restroom at approx.mile 6...more like 7 since I got lost a couple of times and had to backtrack to get back to the marathon course  (mistakes 4, 5 and 6). About half a mile down the road I realized I'd lost my not so good directions when I dropped and cracked my long suffering iPhone. I pulled up the course map on my phone and tried to direct myself with a combo of that and google maps. 
I got through the park and refilled my now empty bottles at a water fountain. Traveling across the river, I immediately started along a long stretch of flat road running in a bicycle lane. This killed me. There was no shade and at this stage the sun was well up and the roadway was reflecting heat back up at me.
I continued on to a section of the course that was a loop. Except I ran around it the wrong direction ( mistake no 7). The race organizers very kindly planned it that the worst hills on this loop were downhill...that is if you ran the right way. There were around three steep hills running in the right direction. Off the loop and in the home stretch with about 3ish miles to go. Somewhere on the loop or starting this stretch is where I started to unravel.

GPSing the Hills

Coincidently shortly afterwards is also where the marathon organizers make you earn your medal, with a long steep climb up Clingman Avenue (I didn't bother GPSing this, I don't think I'll ever forget). I think at one point along here I sat on the grass at the side of the road ready to cry. My water was long since gone and I was dreaming about a cold drink. 
I really just wanted to quit. As fate would have it I couldn't, my best friends phone had run out of battery and I had no choice but to make my way to meet her where she was waiting. Waiting a long time. That kind of forced me to run. Between the backtracking, restroom stop and slight breakdown I'd been gone a lot longer than planned and I knew she was probably worried. 
I was too disorientated to do map reading any longer and from the looks of things from where I left off it was downhill towards the finish. Best leave some surprises, right! I got it together enough to stick the name of the cafe she was at into the map and head towards the pin. I got there extremely nauseous with around 1.3 miles left and plopped down in front of her and stole her now warm water. After 2 mins with some major encouragement, I headed off and jogged/walked a small block around the restaurant until my watch hit 13.1 miles. It took 2:25 mins...but in reality adding in all the events I was probably out there for 3 hours or more. Even with stopping my watch when dying along the side of the road it still took almost 15 mins longer than I thought.
Looking back I'm pretty sure I didn't a) eat enough before b) sleep enough and most importantly c) I dehydrated myself to the point were I'm pretty sure I had mild heatstroke.
I stopped sweating ages before I'd finished the run and despite drinking a deviously nice ginger ale ( and blueberry) drink and 2 bottles of water, right after running, I didn't pee until evening. This testifies to how much I f'ed up my hydration.

Time for food...I got banana pancakes and maple syrup, not the healthiest but the pure sugar was all I could stomach the thought of eating.

I don't often talk about how good restaurants are because honestly I love almost any food but a big shout out  goes to Posana in Asheville. It's a bit fancy with really nice organic food and drinks. But what really got me was just how unbelievably nice they were. The staff had no problem with my best friend and puppy sitting waiting for me for hours. They also had no problem with me arriving as a hot/gross mess. One waitress came over and even left me a full bottle of water instead of just topping up my glass and not an eye was batted when in my grossness I ordered lunch. So nice!!! I'll go back heartbeat.
We headed back to the campground and I slept for an hour without even showering (ek). I showered and we headed back into Asheville for dinner at the dog-friendly Mayfels.
When we got back to camp I had a lovely migraine to remind me that I had been an idiot so I took some ibuprofen and slept for another two hours. The sleep and some s'mores by the campfire fixed me. Funnily other than a slightly sore knee (standard fare after a long run) I didn't feel bad at all. That's how I know I screwed up...my legs were fine, I just didn't treat myself very nicely.
I guess I forgot I'm not running around places I know, I can't just run to where I know I can pick up water and just because its a training run, and not a race, doesn't mean you don't have to fuel properly.
Now I know this all sounds doom and gloom and I did feel that way right afterwards but now I see it as a lesson. One i'd rather learn now than mid-race. On a really positive note the second half of the course was fine....excellent. I'm planning on going back to try out the first half on another long run. I'll know then if its a killer.
Next post..the fun half of the weekend :)

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Finally a little traveling is in the works!

Its tricky to work out a schedule when traveling. But its exciting, I feel like I haven't been outside Columbia in an age. I have two very different trips planned in the next two weeks. One is to the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, FL to meet with my bosses research collaborator next week; along with my boss as well as a student in my lab. 

Before that I'm heading North-West to Asheville, NC especially to run. To anyone who has just started reading my blog I've signed up for a marathon there at the end of September. 
Originally I was going to run a half-marathon race this weekend in Fayetteville, NC. That was cancelled, so I decided to run the last half of the marathon course in Asheville instead. I figure that will give me an idea of what the course is like and help me pace myself in the first half of the race, knowing whats to come in the second. Mentally I think knowing the second half will help too...I won't round a corner to a huge hill and go "f**k that I'm quitting" if I already know its coming and yes that would be my exact language...us Irish are not as polite as mannerly Southerners.
I'm staying at a KOA campground up there, so I'm hoping it'll be good and puppy will let me sleep. My schedule has a half-marathon down for the Sunday but I'm gonna do it on Saturday. There are a ton of state and national parks near Asheville and I really want to go hike to some of the waterfalls. I don't think I'd do that if I was worried about running the next day. I will take a lot of pictures...be prepared.

Florida is a bit of a mixed bag. I've never been. I'm excited about ticking another state off the list (I want to visit them all, 9 down many to go). However, it is a work trip. So it could be great...meet, network, talk some science, go to the beach...or it could be one of those many occasions when I feel out of my depth with so many super smart people...who knows. Again lots of pictures will be taken.
For both trips I plan to run in the morning since I have no idea what I'll be up to for most of the day/evening, especially in FL.

I ran 3 miles last night, that is currently the shortest distance I run now (crazy!!). I've been talking a lot about pacing myself, thanks for the suggestions I got. Last night I finally broke out my Garmin Forerunner and worked out my heart rate zones. Delighted that my resting heart rate is 45 bpm. To train in an anaerobic zone I needed to run at 80-90% of my maximum HR. This is meant to help with speed. By the time I was done my watch almost ended up in the river. 
Firstly with the many thunderstorms the river is really high and a section of the riverwalk was flooded (only a small one) that stops you from reaching the longest stretch of it. I had to double back after less than half a mile and get out onto the sidewalk along the road (I'm sick of these roads). The staring by the men carrying out road resurfacing also didn't help my mood (maybe if they were attractive it'd boost my ego but ugly old men staring is just creepy). BEEP, BEEP, BEEP and on screen "Heart rate low"......with the stopping at lights I don't know how many times I heard that stupid beeping (it does it many times not just once) by the end of it I was BLEEPing lol! 

From how I felt, I seem to be pretty good at pacing myself when trying to do speed work. Its hard to run within that zone (i.e. I'd find it hard to talk let alone say hi to someone) but I could sustain it for 3 miles. I ended up doing a 5k in around 26 minutes..close enough to my fastest time. I'm going to try run most of my other runs in the aerobic zone (def. Wednesdays and Saturdays..longer runs). I'm hoping that doesn't mean I have to run at a snails pace. However when temperatures drop a little my HR might drop slightly.

 From my internet browsing it seems that building up a really good aerobic base is one of the most important things you can do for endurance training. >95% of what you need to run a marathon comes from aerobic metabolism, specifically fat burning. By running at this pace for my longer runs, I hope to improve my aerobic base and teach my body to burn fat more efficiently for the marathon. Your pace within a certain heart rate zone is meant to get faster as you build a good base. I'm hoping between the aerobic slow runs and the anaerobic fast ones, I'll be ready by September and my easy pace will be a touch faster.

At the end of next week I will officially be at the half-way point in my training. I have to say I've trained for shorter races and hated it. I'm not dying yet with this one. I think my previous years of running are doing me good, no matter how inconsistant they've been. I've dropped a couple of pounds but I think thats mostly down to how strict I'm being on any particular week with my food. No injuries so far (touch wood) other than the occasional niggle from my IT band. I'm also much better at running hills. Feeling good..long may it continue.

For the rest of this week:
Today          6 miles
Tomorrow   3 miles
Saturda       13.1 miles
Sunday       Crosstrain (Hiking)