Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Running Resolutions

As a runner this year gone past has been exciting. It's made me realize I'm capable of a lot more than I thought possible. 
I went from being exhausted from running back to back half marathon weekends at the start of the year, to running half marathons 5 weekends in a row. I haven't tracked my annual mileage, but I know its over 1000 miles, overall this is the most I've ever run in a year.
I made a decent PR time at my first half marathon and in the middle of that long streak of halfs I made another one with almost no speed work. This has made me realize that being a bit smarter about my workouts will lead to big improvements, I hope!!

2015 is going to be all about being more consistent, faster and stronger.

So here it goes 6 resolutions for 2015

1. Strength work- my downfall
Do strength work and make it a more regular routine. I'm debating getting evaluated and working with someone to find and eliminate my weak spots. A more structured environment for something I dislike doing will keep me motivated. I'll probably start out on my own for Jan+Feb (or group classes) and then work with a trainer for a few months.

2. Stretching
I've gotten pretty good with this but I'd like to spend a bit more time stretching post run. Obviously I'm going to continue with my weekly yoga classes. My goal is to regain some lost flexibility.

3. Mileage/consistency 
Before marathon training my base milage varied a lot, anywhere between 16 miles to 30 miles per week. Of course this depended on my on and off again injuries. 
I built that up a lot over the course of marathon training. I've adapted and gotten stronger. I'm hoping complementing running with strength work will reduce injuries and I can hang onto a higher weekly mileage (30-35 miles/week), when I recover from Disney.
That'll also mean that if I do decide to run another marathon, other than the extra time drain, it shouldn't be too taxing to train that bit more. It should also boost my endurance and speed at the half marathon distance.

4. Speed
My major aim for this year is to PR, possibly multiple times, at the half marathon distance or shorter. 
However, I hate to push myself into discomfort with speed...the reason why my 5k, 10k and half marathon paces are not so different. Funny considering I used to be a sprinter when I did athletics as a kid. It is time to push through that barrier and really try hard to get faster.

 5. Run in more states
So far
Running is really only an excuse to see more of this beautiful country! I'm not an official 50 stater but I would like to do a half marathon or marathon in all 50 states and DC. This is a long term goal. For now I'm content with conquering the southeast.

After 2015 based on race registration

When I leave the South I'm unlikely to visit and pay for flights just to race. So a few states that are nearby I'll make the effort to do a long drive to, like Alabama. Others like Louisiana, I'll probably hold off on, because realistically I'm going to want to visit places like New Orleans at some stage.

6. Racing
I'd like to continue to race a lot, spring 2015 already looks hectic. However, I want to continue to be smart about running so many halfs and realize I need to pick and choose what races I'm actually going to race.
In line with running in more states and racing a lot I also want to be selective. Running this many races ain't cheap. I don't want to run a race just to tick off a state...unless it's incredibly convenient i.e. I'm already there for something else and registration is cheap.

Fall 2015 is as yet a blank slate. I don't know where I'll be or if I'll even be in the states. My contract expires in November but I might have to leave earlier for another job if the right one comes up. With that in mind no races are on the schedule and probably won't be until I have some idea of what's happening with my life #headinthesand
Ideally, if I am moving, I'll probably take most of my spring races easy, focus on getting stronger and then try for a big PR in the fall/winter season.

It looks like I have enough on my plate to keep me busy for another year, let me know some of your resolutions.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

2014 Racing Round up

2014 has been the year of racing. I've completed a 5k, 10k, 12k, 14 x half marathons and a full marathon. Most have been for long training runs but its been so much fun. I thought I'd round out the year by highlighting some of my favourite aspects of the races I've run. An Oscars of races!!

Best Volunteers
Based on: Organisation and enthusiasm.

Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon- Musical and very enthusiastic

RnR Virginia Beach-  Very well organized

Tryon Half Marathon- Super friendly from start to finish

Best after party & food
Based on: Quality and quantity of food, seating etc

Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon- Def. the best food I received after running

Tryon Half Marathon- Lots of tasty food

Kiawah Island Marathon- good food, unlimited beer, lots of seating and space heaters

Best Course
Based on: Technically, hills, beauty.

Kiawah Island Marathon/Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon- I'm rolling these into one because they have very similar low country scenery and both very flat

New River Half Marathon- very hilly, but the prettiest course

Tryon Half Marathon- trails but again beautiful and got to see some great fall colors

Hon. mention to Cherokee Harvest Half--especially for entry into the Smoky Mountains National Park

Best support
Based on: Number and enthusiasm of spectators, lots of aid stations

RnR Virginia Beach- by far the most spectators, that played their part in cooling everyone down with hoses and ice pops. Lots of official extras too.

Run Like a Diva North Myrtle Beach- lots of spectators

Kiawah Island Marathon- a lot of aid stations and more spectators than I expected

Best overall experience

Based on: My overall enjoyment regardless of how the race went

Kiawah Island Marathon- Good accommodation, stress free and a good race

RnR Virginia Beach- Super fun weekend with mimosas on the beach

Run Like a Diva North Myrtle Beach- on the beach in March..of course it was good.

Best t-shirt
Based on: Comfort, fit, useful and looks good

Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon- like the design and its a good fit for everyday wear

Scream Half Marathon- love the design

Run Like a Nut Half Marathon- not so much a good looking t-shirt but its super comfortable and is now my pj top

Races with extras
Based on: extra swag, extra amenities

Tobacco Road Half Marathon- got a pair of compression sleeves. There was tent to keep everyone dry at the race start

Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon- great swag.

Kiawah Island Marathon- spectator shuttles around the course, bike rentals for spectators, PT at the end, free massages, a free photo download, lots of food on course including some blondie bars at mile 20.

Best medal
Based on: Originally, design (reflecting the race) and of course size

Kiawah Island Marathon - love that it was a bob cat (native to Kiawah) and teal is my favorite color.

Darlington Half Marathon- the little track was unique and sparkly

Tobacco Road Half Marathon- love the train

Hon mention to palmetto half and scream

Best performance by yours truly
Based on: Consistency of run, time and mental attitude

Run like a nut - 3rd in my age group and a PR. Ran even splits.

Bootlegger - Placed in my age group. Solid race felt good.

Kiawah- Horrible splits but a big PR and stayed strong mentally.

If you feel like checking out my recaps for any of the races here are some links:
5k Resolution Run, Columbia SC25:11PR (1st F 30-34, 4th F Overall)
10K Red Shoe Run, Columbia SC51:52:00PR (2nd F 30-34, 12th F Overall)
Palmetto Bluff, Bluffton SC 1:54:47
Tobacco Road Half, Cary NC 2:07:06Split 6.55 1.06.46 (1st half pace, 10.11 2nd 9.57)
Palmetto Half, Columbia SC 1:59:14
Run like a Diva, Mrtyle Beach SC 1:56:55
New River Half Marathon, Todd NC 2:16:47
Bootlegger Half Marathon, Dawsonville GA 1:58:22
Scream Half Marathon, Mortimer NC1:57:17Gun time only
Rock n Roll Virginia Beach VA 2:05Start of Marathon Training
Darlington Half Marathon SC 2:13
Ray Tanner Home Run 12k Columbia SC 1:02
Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon, Cherokee NC 2:41
Spinx Fest Greenville SC2:04:47
Run Like a Nut, Florence SC1:54:14PR (3rd F 30-34)
Governers Cup, Columbia SC2:08:00
Tryon Half Marathon2:32:00
Kiawah Island Marathon4:22:28

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Recovery week 2

Usually I'm the person who gets sick every holiday. I've avoided it this time, knock on wood. I've been getting up late (10am most mornings), napping etc. It's obvious that the last few months of training and minor stresses have taken their toll. My body has come back to earth with a massive whoomp lol but I'm not sick thank goodness­čśâ

 Injury report: not using my left arm for anything besides running and adding a wrist brace has gotten rid of the elbow pain, while my shoulder has been uncomfortable, not painful, on and off.  IT band pain kicks in after a few miles on my knee but no hip pain. Slow going but it's progress. Really focusing on stretching and rolling for now and then I'll launch into full rehab mode after Disney. 

Monday -Yoga
I went to a very different class this week-Gentle and restorative yoga. It barely felt like yoga. The second half of the class involved some extended time in supported poses while the instructor went around and gave everyone a short thai massage. It was amazing. It definetely moved something as the deltoid muscles in my left arm twitched for a little while afterwards. 

Tuesday 3 miles 9.55 mins/mile
Three miles that felt long. Man suck it up! 

Wednesday 5 miles 9.06 mins/mile
Decided enough was enough and kicked my own ass out the door for a run. I overdressed and it was warm and humid. I was soo sweaty but it felt really good to listen to some music full blast and run in the rain. A good honest workout.

Very sick of all my old music but two of my new favorites to run to are Sia-Chandelier and David Guetta ft. Sam Smith-Dangerous (the 80s vibe gets me going strangely). 
 ITB pain again in the last half a mile. Afterwards when stretching, my hip flexors and left hamstring were super tight so they got some extra attention. 

Thursday- should have run but I rested
Santa came so lots of fun was had

Friday- 3 miles 10.05 mins/mile
After bringing Boomer to the dog park I remembered how nice and flat (kind of) that neighborhood is. That prompted a return visit for all 3 of the family for a run. It's so nice; sidewalks, tree lined streets, old brick houses, basically suburban heaven very close to work. I wish I'd looked around a bit more when I moved here...ah well, I ain't moving until I'm really moving, it's too much hassle. 

The run was fun. I felt strong the whole time, no pain. It was a bit warmer than I was expecting, 65F when we were finishing, so we were all a little toasty. 

Saturday- 5 miles 8.30 mins/mile
Straight away I was zooming along. A little life has come back into my legs. Other than a tight shoulder everything felt great. First time past 4.5 miles without any knee pain!!!!
I put this down to multiple sweat inducing sessions (pain makes me sweat ) on the lacrosse ball rolling out my quads, ITB and glutes.

Sunday 8 miles 10.05 Mins/mile
Decided to go with Martina for her long run (11 miles) with the aim of running as much of it as I could but stopping when my knee got bad. Got to mile 6.5 without any pain and then it slowly got worst. Went as far as 7 with her then walked .25 miles and stretched everything before jogging back a mile for a total of 8. Ideally I would have loved to do it all but 8 is pretty good for now. Disney will be a walk-run scenario anyhow so the pain should hold off for longer then, I hope...pretty please!!

Hope everyone is enjoying their vacation so far.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Crazy dog lady: Christmas edition

Dogs have always been part of my family. Starting with a giant Collie called Tim. Then a series of mixed Terriers and finally when I left home Rottweilers. 
My Mom has always been the crazy crazy person who talks to her dogs like they're people/small children. Fine when your at home...a little more embarrassing in public. When my parents lost our previous Rottweiler they were beyond upset, I'd even go so far as to say depressed. 
Now I have a dog thats my own I understand better. I raised him from a little peanut and now I'm starting to turn into my Mom. Boomer has gone from being a pretty good puppy overall to a more mature version. He loves adventure and is a great running buddy, I don't think I could love the little fella more. 
It shows, he has more presents than the rest of the household combined. He loves the Christmas tree; it makes a great brush and has already tried to find his presents. Only two more sleeps until Santa arrives.
 So don't be afraid to spoil your 'babies' this Christmas, we all know Santa comes to good pets!!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Recovery Week

So in case you didn't know I'm crazy stupid and signed up months ago for the Walt Disney World Marathon on Jan 11th. Not to race, it'll strictly be a fun run.
However, that makes my recovery in between races really important as any injuries will be made worst if they are still lingering by the time Disney comes around. This week has been all about taking it easy after the marathon on Saturday.

After arriving home on Sunday at lunch time I relaxed until the urge for my normal routine became too much and I went to my usual yoga class. My instructor marvelled that I was there, inside I was too, but I played it cool because you know I can run a marathon and be fine the next day. Bahahaha!!

The class was hip openers and funnily enough I felt fine. One hip (left) was a bit tighter than the other but I got through the class with minimal wobbles and no pain. I felt great afterwards.

Monday-Rest and Back to work
Other than my shoulder and elbow, everything felt normal. I bounced between having loads of energy and waves of tiredness. Energy because I've been sleeping like a baby since the race and tiredness, because you know recovery and all that.

Tuesday- Massage and 30 min walk
I was in a lot of discomfort all day from my shoulders and elbow. A hour long massage in the evening, thank you Mom and Dad, took a ton of that away. Its been hard doing fiddly lab work, when really I just want to rest my upper body.

After the massage I took Boomer, who has been on a running hiatus too, to the park for a 30 minute walk to burn off some energy. Nothing hurt, again suggesting my legs are good, yay. My legs didn't even burn on a very large flight of stairs. I still cannot believe that I ran a marathon and the worst part of me is my shoulders. The training program I did was tough, maybe too much for me since I obviously have some muscle imbalances to work on, but damn its made my legs strong.

Spent most of the day taking deep breaths and dropping my shoulders so I don't undo all the good work the massage did (95% shoulder pain gone, 50%  of elbow pain gone). I'm going to have to move/kidnap my massage lady if I move....she is amazing.
That evening I sat with an ice pack on my elbow and a cup of tea in hand. I turned on the Christmas tree lights, lit a candle and just chilled while Martina went off for a run. It was weird to be on the other side of the running addiction for once, weird good!

Thursday-2 miles-10.36 min/mile
Post run selfie
This week has been all pampering in the lead up to Christmas. A mani/pedi after work was so nice. It ripped my one blister off but other than that my tuttsies look great.
Since my legs have been feeling so good, I've been itching to see how they feel on a run. I have a gradual build up planned, with no major long runs between now and Disney. First up was a 2 mile run with Martina and Boomer. Nothing hurt!!! Not wanting to chance fate I kept it slow and steady and stopped after two. Elated is the only way to describe how I felt.

Vegetarian Gumbo

Afterwards a gorgeous dinner at Bourbon. I will definitely be revisiting for cocktails.

Friday- rest
Lots of rest and relaxation. I had a work Christmas party. Given that I work in a lab full of girls it was pretty quiet all afternoon when everyone went home early to get ready. Lots of good food, drinks and laughs. 

Recovery from the party ;)

Sunday 5 miles
5 miles with Martina. I probably pushed it a little with the distance but I felt great until I got a bit of ITB pain in my left knee in the last half a mile. Nothing major just a little reminder that my body hasn't fully forgiven me for last week yet!!! Afterwards the pain left immediately and I only had a slight ache in my elbow.
Obviously I haven't fully recovered. I felt drained when I got back and had a two hour nap. That's the joy of recovering over the holidays, if you are tired you can just have a nap. In the next week I just have to remember a slow build up will serve me better in the long run.

BTW if I don't blog before Christmas Day, Happy Holidays!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Kiawah Island Marathon Recap

Kiawah Island Marathon, SC - Dec 14th 2014

I have had very mixed feelings about this race, which are constantly changing, so I've waited a few days to write a post, so I can try to figure out where I finally stand. I've gone from really angry and disappointed at the end of the race to 95% positive a few days later.

So recap on my goals for the race:
A. 4 hours or under
B. 4 hours 10 or under
D. Not feel like death---debatable

I ended up with a chip time of 4.22.28, a PR of 27 minutes 22 seconds, but first lets back it up a bit so you can see why I had such a great weekend.

Kiawah Island is around a 2 hour drive from my house. The expo was open until 8.30pm and I'd already picked up my bib and t-shirt the week before so the drive down (apart from a little traffic) was very stress free. 

It is a private resort with lots of golf courses, fancy restaurants, a spa and beautiful beaches. The only way onto the island was either for the race or to rent a vacation home.

 If one thing all my races have taught me this year, its that the less stress on race morning the better. So instead of staying 20 minutes away in Charleston, I managed to rent a gem of a condo on the island though VRBO. By a gem, I mean it was beautiful and less than 5 minutes walk from the expo and the race start/finish.

Two of my friends were coming with me but one had to pull out at the last the two of us stretched out and enjoyed having the place to ourselves. It was so nice in fact that I went to the expo, had dinner and then nixed my 2 mile run (not sure if this was a good decision). 

View from the condo
The expo itself was pretty small. Besides the packet pickup there was one room with a variety of running related goods (I got a cute ornament), another with some reps from other races etc and then a room full of Kiawah Island marathon branded gear. I couldn't resist a pair of fleece lined sweatpants...I'm going to live in them.

Afterwards I chowed down on some pasta and sauce (I'd pre-prepared) along with some garlic bread, yummy, before heading to bed for an early night. As usual I didn't sleep great due to pre-race anxiety and also a bit of discomfort from my tight shoulders.
 I woke up ready to roll. My friend also got up with me at 6am (the angel) but it wasn't bad because the race started at 8am and we didn't have to drive anywhere or negotiate parking. I ate a english muffin with some PB and half a banana and just spent 30 minutes getting myself together before we walked to the race start. Surprisingly my nervousness was under control, all my racing this year has really helped so much with this. We were there way too early but the temperatures were good and didn't feel as cold as I expected, I didn't even need gloves.

Jackie at the finish..looking perfect!
I decided to be ambitious and line up with the 4 hour pace group, led by a super nice but very perky lady called Jackie. In the deepest part of my soul I might have ended up hating her a little bit. Only because she wore makeup...which looked perfect from start to finish, she ran the whole marathon at a 9 min/mile pace with no problem and didn't take a drink or gel the entire time. I'm not sure she was human, ha ha. Her plan was to have us run the exact same pace the entire race (around 9.08-9.10) with the aim of getting us over the line at 3.59.30, to barely break 4 hours. Perfect for me, or so I thought.

We started out and the first few miles were really crowded. I almost fell a few times either from tripping on people or getting hit by them, whilst trying to keep up with the gazelle-like Jackie. It started to thin out a bit within 3 miles but those first few miles were a bit panicky as I tried to warm up and maintain pace all the while alternatively getting trapped behind people and then surging to keep up with the pacer. The first water station was a bit of a disaster but things started to settle a bit after that. The crowd only really thinned out  a lot when the half split off from the full and then I felt like I could take a breath.

The course was really pretty. It was absolutely flat, I think there was one 19ft incline on the entire nice! The aid stations were every 2 miles and well stocked. Every mile marker had a timer screen and we crossed timing mats multiple times throughout the race. My only dislike (a very minor one) was that there were a few very tight turn arounds, hard when you are sore, and with half of most of the roads opened it was hard to run the tangents and when I stopped my watch (mistakenly) after crossing a mat at 26 miles I'd run an extra .48 of a mile.

I knew within a few miles that Saturday was not going to be my day. My shoulders hurt, they were so tight (especially the left one which has been giving me problems) and my groin area felt tight and sore very quickly (never felt that before). Eventually the pull on my hips gave me horrific pain in my outer hip and knees. My shoulders eventually loosened a bit but they also resulted in some referred pain in my inner left elbow. The elbow pain was annoying but dropping my arm every so often relieved that a bit and it didn't impede my running.
 The hip-knee pain was a whole other saga. For the first while it was bearable and I left the pacer and did a fastish mile (8.40) at the 7 mile point to give myself a bit of time to stop and stretch. Engaging my glutes helped too. For the longest time my mantra for every step was "squeeze your butt, tuck your pelvis up" lol.
At mile 12, I seen my friend who had hopped on a shuttle bus (the race had them for spectators) to cheer me on. Right after I seen her a port-a-potty opened and no one was waiting so I sprinted in for a pee. I managed to run a 5k pace interval mid-race to catch the pace group!
Around mile 17-18 we turned a corner and something popped in my left hip, the pain increased dramatically and at that point I knew it was game over for a time anywhere close to 4 hours and I let the pace group go. After that I walk-ran, mostly running but stopping once or twice per mile to try stretch in the vain hope that something would release. I also detoured to use the one real restroom on the course. I didn't really need to go badly but I figured my time was blown so why not make myself more comfortable.
My pace dropped from around 9 min/mile to 12-13 mins/mile for the last 8 miles. So you can see how I added a good chunk of time onto my final time. I pulled through those last miles being passed by 65 other people in the last 6 miles...apparently I passed 35 runners and finished as a truly middle of the pack runner.

 I crossed the line, got an awesome medal and met my friend who was waiting. After getting a heat sheet, crying for 30 seconds (pain and anger) and drinking a couple of cups of gatorade I headed to an area with some yoga mats laid out. I figured I'd stretch not realising that professional physiotherapist were stretching people out. A really nice guy worked on me for 5 minutes and straight away 50% of the pain was gone.

A bobcat medal, native on the island

After that I went straight for the alcohol, Angry Orchard cider is like liquid candy and was exactly what I wanted. The beer/cider were unlimited but I felt like one was enough to celebrate. Then food. They had a couple of different pasta salads, fruit, cornbread muffins, brownies and a white meat soup. I loaded up on everything but the soup. One nice thing was that there was white cloth covered tables with some heaters spread throughout the area so I was able to take a seat to eat.

Then it was back to the condo to shower. I got away with one small blister on a toe, no other chaffing. I missed out on the free post race massage as they ended at 2.30pm and I was done showering etc at 2pm (I didn't want to walk over and discover a massive line). I didn't need to sleep. I just laid on the bed and watched TV for the afternoon until we met up with some fellow runners for some pizza and watched Pitch Perfect (very funny).

The next day I went to The Southern Kitchen for an amazing breakfast and then a walk on the beach where my weekend was topped off by watching dolphins surf and frolic really close to the beach. The drive home was uneventful. It was nice to come back to the pup and Martina (who'd been away all week at a conference).

Spot the dolphin
Now I said I'd swung back to 95% positive about the experience, here is why:

When I could manage the pain, the pace felt easy.

I never let myself mentally quit because if I had, believe me, I would have added way more than 22 minutes to my time. I pushed as hard as I could for those last 8 miles.

I didn't crash. I felt nauseous maybe 3 times for 30 seconds but otherwise I felt ok. I didn't take in a whole lot of solid food (a tube of shot bloks) and drank not that much gatorade. I know I can run a half on water but it surprised me that I didn't need more. Unlike my last marathon, I didn't hit a wall or cramp at any point. Just pain slowed me.

Except the mentioned pains, in very specific sites, I didn't hurt until the last two miles. Then my calves etc. began to hurt but on a different day pushing through the last couple of miles wouldn't be too hard or unusual.

Except for my shoulder (which I suspect I might need some PT for) I feel fine, I'm recovering really well. I even managed yoga the next day without any issues. I'm back to a slightly elevated level of hip/knee pains but I've felt way worst after some of my harder half marathons.

What all of that boils down to is I KNOW I can run under 4 hours 10 and on a really good day I'd make my A goal of under 4 hours. There is something equally frustrating and satisfying about realizing that. At least I don't feel like the race broke me this time. I just had a shitty day.

BTW as a overall assessment of this race---it was amazing. There were so many little extras, like the spectator buses/spectator bike rentals, that made this a quality experience. Other than the t-shirt, which I didn't like ascetically and the crowded start, I can see why this race is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best (smaller) marathons in the country. I'm not sure if I'll run another marathon next year, but if I'm in South Carolina, I'll be running the half at Kiawah Island next year for sure.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Last week of marathon training- the final preparations

This week I've escaped from the fog of tiredness that seemed to settle over me for the last two months. I've been like a cork in a champagne bottle, ready to rocket into the sky at any given time. If this is what I feel like tapering, imagine what I'm going to be like afterwards with a week or two off running, crazzzzzy.

My hips don't hurt, at all for the first time in a long time, in fact pretty much everything feels good except my shoulders. As the last week or two passed and my predominant pains are gone, smaller ones have popped up and then gone away. I think the smaller ones have been there the whole time but drowned out by some of the bigger aches, now everything is just healing/unknotting/refuelling.

The last few runs I've been making feel worst than they should because I've been telling myself "eh its only 3 miles I'll just eat dinner and then run". Feel free to laugh at me, I do. Monday was no exception I had 3 miles to do. I had dinner with my lab-mates to celebrate one of them passing a candidacy exam and then headed out with Boomer to run. Nothing felt bad I just ran slowly to stop my stomach from getting upset.
Tuesday I had 4 miles and it felt easy, again I brought the pup. Mid-run being a good dog owner I stepped onto some grass to get to a trash can to drop off Boomers' deposit. Someone else decided to be a crappy dog owner, I stepped into the biggest pile of *stuff*. Not the kind you can let dry in and then scrape off later. No this doo doo was not to be ignored, it was so bad, the smell had me gagging. When I got home I spent 15 minutes just cleaning my shoe.
Either its a sign of how things are to going to go on Saturday, s**t and I'll spend a long time cleaning up the resulting mess, OR a good omen. Lets go with a good omen, bird poop is lucky why not dog poop, ha ha. I got home, showered and ate dinner by 7.30pm. It felt like it should have been way later. Its been weird not having any 10 mile mid-week runs.

Wednesday and Thursdays are a rest day. Then a final two miles on Friday, which I imagine will be done on Kiawah Island in the dark. Today saw me take my lunch break on the massage table. Thirty mins of alternating relaxation and pain. My back is a mess but better than it was, I can now relax my shoulders!! So all thats left to do really is relax, rest, prep some food and pack my gear.

It looks like the temperatures should be in the 40s and sunny for my entire run on Saturday. A tad chilly but pretty much perfect marathon running weather. I've decided to wear my 3/4 length pants (since they've never ever chafed) and a long sleeve t-shirt. I've probably top that off with some gloves (that I'll pass off to my friends at some point) and my water belt. I'm always tempted to wear more but really all I need is a thin layer between my skin and the cold...running will warm everything else.

SOooooo my A goal (like in my dreams A goal) would be to sneak in under four hours B. four hours 10 or under (that'd take around 40 minutes or more off my previous marathon time) C. PR at all
D. just finish without feeling like death.

Lets hope I achieve at least one of those goals.

 Big shout out to Kim who is also running a marathon this weekend!! Good luck.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

A little non scale victory today...

As I saw from the last round of marathon training my weight doesn't really change too much throughout training and that's held true this time as well. I haven't followed up with a post on my BF measurements with calipers because I did it again and it said my BF was 15%.....the calipers completely lie. Maybe with all my free time post-marathon I'll go get professionally measured since clearly I'm not too good at it, anyhow back to a non scale victory.

I'm going to preface this by saying everyone is different heights, shapes, builds etc etc please don't compare sizes. Smaller doesn't make people better than each other, just different. Im comparing myself to myself only. I know my body and its limits. I'm not super skinny, 5 foot 3 with plenty of muscle and still a fair bit of cushion. I'm also not boasting, this is genuinely a big deal for me. 

At my biggest I was a U.S. size 20-22. Not ginormous but for someone as short as me it wasn't healthy either. Today I went shopping to replace some clothes...I've finally reached the point where my wardrobe is so empty (except for my bursting at the seams sports drawer) that I have to start restocking. I bought not one but two pairs of size 2 jeans. Holy moly when did that happen. I'm now a 2-4 depending on the material and shape of pants. 

Less than 4 years ago, I remember walking out of stores (even just leaving the mall) due to the sheer frustration of constantly trying on clothes that don't fit and none being available in my size. That feeling sucks so bad. I've stopped losing weight but I don't want to stop celebrating little moments because that's when you stop appreciating what you do have and things start to slip (at least in my case).

There is a point that I think I needed to reach to successfully lose weight. You get so fed up and or sick that you can't ignore your weight anymore. The comfort of not trying and therefore not failing is replaced by sheer determination and all those things you ignored; the pants size, the number on the scales, the food on your plate, the snide remarks people make** become markers for your progress. I'll be forever grateful I took the step to invest in myself and my future. I really encourage anyone who is trying to lose weight to go for it. Find help and do it right (slowly, consistently, eat well and know when to stop) you'll never regret it. 

 ** they'll continue to make remarks but eventually it'll become you should stop losing weight, not because your BMI is too low/even in the healthy range but because you are not the obviously fat friend or family member that they can pigeon hole anymore...

Marathon (Kiawah) Training- Week 17-Week 2 of Taper

Plan Crosstrain
Actual Yoga
I've been enjoying yoga more and more. Its been nice going every single week for the last 4 months or so. I've seen an improvement and every class I learn something about poses I've done tons of times. This week, I did one pose and felt it from my hip up the side of my stomach. I'm guessing it was my obliques I felt stretching but I'd never felt that before aka I wasn't doing it right before. 

Plan 4 miles
Actual 4 miles
I worked out a lot of knots/adhesions from my hamstrings with a lacrosse ball. The foam roller does nothing for my hammies (I might be doing it wrong) but the lacrosse ball really seems to get to the areas I have problems with. As a result my four miles with Boomer felt wonderful, so light and easy. No sign of the dreaded ITBS.
We also got to test out our new light which I left blinking on the leash between us -- $10 at Target. I've been looking for one for a while but didn't want to spent $10-20 and then another $5-10 on shipping. I'll probably stock up on a couple more to have one at the front and one at the back.

Plan 6 miles
Actual 4 miles
I decided to switch my runs for Tuesday and Wednesday around for two reasons 1. I had a massage in the evening after work and the reduced miles let me get more benefit from it and 2. the main reason is it means both days I can run with Martina for most of the miles. Its nice to have company.

The massage was good. Almost shed some tears but the pain is totally worth it. My shoulders and back are a mess right now...and then the usual hip stuff was dealt with. I don't want anything messing with my legs on marathon week but I did book myself in for another appointment, next week, to work on my shoulders for 30 mins, as the looser they are the more relaxed everything else feels.

The run felt good and so short, yay! I forgot my watch again but I might deliberately do that in the next week or so, so I'm not tempted to run too fast as I start to fully feel the benefit of tapering.

Plan 4 miles
Actual 6 miles
This was another slow run but it felt great. My legs felt fresh right to the very end.

Plan Rest
Actual Rest
At home alone all evening. Between the extra energy I'm starting to feel and having no one to talk to I was bouncing off the walls, ended up watching a not so great movie to pass the time!

Plan 4 miles
Actual 4 miles+
Martina was in Charleston for a conference on Friday and coincidently early packet pick up for the Kiawah Island Marathon was the next day. I drove down on Friday evening, to stay the night, with Boomer strapped into the front seat beside me. I got to the hotel and we headed straight out to dinner, to an Irish bar of all places, Molly Darcy's. I had a delicous veggie shepards pie, yum. Once we got back to the hotel I was exhausted and it was 8pm, so rather than waiting I decided to get my run done. Half a mile outside in the parking lot with Boomer to burn of his excess energy and the 3.5 or more in the tiniest gym ever. I had a pretty full belly but didn't feel it too much or get sick.

Plan 8 miles
Actual 8 miles
Boomer was really good in the barking. From about 5am onwards he was restless but a hand on his back was enough to settle him. Unfortunately that also meant I was semi awake from 5am. From then on all day it was the Boomer show! He must have said hi to a 100 people, all adoring him, and around 10 other dogs. People were pointing at him from cars and restaurants, I think he might have a secret celebrity life we don't know about.
 We went and got my packet, scary, and then lots of shopping. I'm still going to the expo next weekend but at least if the traffic is awful on the drive down I have what I need to run.

I picked up a few cute Christmas decorations at the Charleston city market. Then we went to the Tanger Outlets and I picked up a pair of  full length tights for a steal in Under Armor.

After that it was time to go home. We got back and I napped for two hours before going running. I felt a bit off after sleeping so awkwardly (thanks Boomer) and then driving but I got it done. Last long run done woohooo. Now I just have to keep everything feeling good and stop my nerves from getting out of control. Its gonna be a long week!!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Marathon (Kiawah) Training Week 16-Week 1 of Taper

Week one of tapering over. I can't believe that its only another 2 weeks until the race.

Plan Cross training
Actual Yoga
A really good class. I think my yoga instructor is sick of me requesting hip openers (even though I limit my request to once every few weeks). I've been complaining about my hip being tight for ages but it seems to be slowly loosening. Every yoga class for the last few weeks has been better.

Plan 5 miles
Actual 5 miles 10.20 min/mile
A very slow easy run to break in new shoes. After a bit of anxiety about how I felt running on Saturday, I just wanted to run and enjoy it. No pace goals. I started out sore (right glute mostly) but it felt like the muscle letting me know it was tired (rather than full on injured). As I warmed up that disappeared after a mile or two. 
Starting out I considered ending my run after 3 miles to let myself recovery more and prevent injury (my running buddy was finishing then and there was lightning in the distance) but by the time I got to 3 miles everything felt good. I continued on and got a nice smattering of rain, lovely on a warm and humid evening.
Foam rolling, extra stretching and lacrosse ball massages in abundance at my house!

Plan 8 miles
Actual 8 miles 9.30 min/mile
Finally a nice easy run. I felt good and didn't want to quit at any point!!! Wooohooo! Started late enough but I got lucky and avoided most of the rain that evening, only getting sprinkled a few times in the last couple of miles.

Plan 5 miles
Actual 5 miles 9.04 min/mile
Another rainy day, a bit on the cooler side. I had 5 miles to run and the rain had stopped by the time I went out, yay! I've been feeling better and better as the week has gone on. I had a few twinges from a shoulder muscle but otherwise everything felt good and not so tired!! I got to run in the light and enjoyed all the leaves on the ground. Managed to run race pace without any effort.

Plan Rest 
Actual rest
A quiet relaxing thanksgiving at home. Boomers leg is hurting him again, not as bad, but I think it's still healing. His girlfriend came over to stay, as her humans were going away for thanksgiving, that cheered him up.
In return for babysitting she made her humans bring us some delicious pasta for lunch.

Lots of eating today, who am I to break with tradition. Four kinds of potatoes for dinner, yummy.

Plan 4 miles
Actual 4 miles 9.47 min/mile
The first time I really felt like I was tapering this week. An easy four miles with Martina.

Plan 12 miles
Actual 12 miles 9.38 min/mile
I spent the morning painting the living room. We color matched it to the original color (well a bit more yellow) as we rent. Over two years in the house and those walls were a bit scuffed, especially though Boomers puppyhood. I got paint all over me and ended up running afterwards wearing a hat to hide the evidence. 
It was nice going running, knowing I only had 12 miles to do. They went fine. Easy pace felt easy. The groove just wasn't there but I knocked out the miles anyhow. The last mile my left knee got some ITB pain so I walked parts of it. This really worries me so close to the race but I really hope with the reduced miles and lots of stretching (and rolling) in the next two weeks my body will cooperate. Race anxiety is kicking in, eugh!! On a positive note it was a beautiful day to run and I got to see a ton of wildlife.

Since the living room was painted we went off with some friends to pick up my first real Christmas tree. Here's the finished product...not too shabby.
I hope your Thanksgiving Holiday was great!