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!