Friday, 31 October 2014

Marathon (Kiawah) Training- Week 12

The weather here in SC cannot make up its mind! Is it Fall? Summer? Who knows? After some nice temperatures last week we got 3 days of weather in the 80s even 90+ one day. Towards the end of the week it plunged back down to the 60s And today parts of South Carolina got inches of snow. I'm surprised I haven't gotten sick. 
Thats brought some interesting training aka reminders of how hard it is to run faster in the heat. Somehow, even though we've only had a week or so break, I forgot what a slog it is to run in it. Since this week is a step back week (YESSSSSSS!!!) I decided to dial back the pace for the hotter days. This was really nice because my right hip is super tight and it let me run some miles with Martina and Boomer.
By the way if you are noticing a lack of pictures on the blog lately, its because all my runs lately are after dark. I think I need to get a bit more snap happy in day to day life.

Plan Crosstrain
Actual Yoga 1 hour
 I was  a bit disappointed when my usual yoga teacher wasn't there, she'd gone to Atlanta for training, and an instructor whose teaching style I didn't particularly like was in her place. Turned out to be a good class though, preconceptions begone.

Plan 5 miles
Actual 5 miles 10.03 min/mile
Just Boomer and I today. It was warm so we took it easy. 
I had some stomach issues, but luckily we reached a bathroom at the half way mark. I broke the rules and brought Boomer into the bathroom with me. It seems to be a communal area to him at home, so when I try to leave him outside at the park he howls bloody murder. I mean bloody murder. The ranger hanging around didn't say anything, score. Lots of water later and we trotted back the way we came to get back to the car and home for the night.

Plan 6 miles
Actual 6 miles 9.40 min/mile (10.50, 10.03, 9.55, 8.48, 8.55, 9.31 min/mile)
I ran the first two miles with Martina and Boomer. They doubled back to finish out their 3 miles while I continued on. Two miles to go and I met them again. They'd finished their run and were walking back a mile to let me finish out mine. Boomer went crazy trying to catch me. He does not get the concept of not running when one of us is. The poor pup was so tired after running he fell down some steps on his walk, so a good thing I didn't bring him for the last two miles with me. Towards the end of the run I spotted a racoon sneaking around..he hightailed it when he seen me. A first sighting for this side of the river.

I tried a chocolate Vega shake, again, right after my run. I'm really starting to think its not for me, I couldn't finish it. The vanilla one, yuck is all I can say, way too sickly sweet. I did buy a test sachet of a different brand of plant based protein, I'll give that a try, and keep trying other brands. If I can't find one I can stomach I'm sad to say it might be back to the whey. I need something to top up my protein on the days I'm running.

Later we met some friends at one of our favorite bars. It has a 'yappy hour' on Tuesday nights. The result, around 50 dogs running around the back deck of the bar. We didn't bring Boomer because as a tired grumpy old man of a dog, around other dogs wanting to play, he becomes snarly. He is normally so sweet with other I don't like to put him in those situations.

I had a massive bean burger and some sweet potato fries there for dinner. My stomach has been bottomless the last few days. Afterwards, it didn't even feel like I'd ate anything. I probably could have ate 3 or 4 burgers no problem. As a result I haven't really tracked my intake at all this week. I've just ate by what I feel I need without eating too much junk.

Plan 5 miles
Actual 5 miles 10.08 min/mile 
A tired day today. I found it really hard to get out the door for this run but luckily now that Martina is training for a half, there are two of us leaving the house. My shoes were pushing on a bruised toe (no idea where it came from). As usual once I got going I felt fine. I still didn't push the pace but I didn't feel bad.
Again starving, a workshop at work resulted in an afternoon pizza!


Plan  rest
Actual rest
My right hip flexor is so tight it hurt to sit at my desk at work. I got up and moved as often as I could. I did lots of stretching and foam rolling that evening. I'm getting some really cool results in the lab. Its very satisfying especially when you come up with the ideas and design the protocol but that also means lots of desk time for analysis. I did some extra stretching before bedtime and I felt like something had released in the morning. Its still tight but so much better.
I had a lot more energy today, I actually managed to do some housework. Who knew I could still clean? Once the marathon is done, I plan on taking a break from running for a couple of weeks. During that time the house is getting a massive clean and declutter before Christmas...maybe even some fresh paint on the living room! Last year Martina and I traveled (by car) to a friends house in PA and then onto NY. It was awesome but I'm really looking forward to decorating the house, eating loads of food, and generally doing nothing while watching crappy movies this year. 

Plan 4 miles pace (9 min/mile)
Actual 4 miles (10.19, 10.32, 10.20, 9.07 min/mile)
3 miles with Martina then 1 on my own. We both had a crappy day at work and pretty much chatted for 3 miles. We both felt a bit less stressed out at the end.

Plan 13 miles
Actual 13 miles 8.56 min/mile
Only 13 miles on the cards today so I did my 12th half marathon for the year, Run like a Nut in Florence SC. Again an early start and drive. I accidently pulled a fast one out of the bag this week. Guess all my taking it easy this week helped. Can't wait to have tapered and  test myself on a full course.


Monday, 27 October 2014

Run Town USA Half Marathon 2014, Greenville SC

Run Town USA Half Marathon, Greenville, SC --Saturday 25th October

I signed up for this race the Monday before. I decided to do it since it was within driving distance, wasn't a bad price for a last minute sign up and I wanted to run somewhere different for my long run. 

As mentioned in my weekly training log, I drove up the morning of the race. Gotta love race morning packet pickup. The drive flew by and despite the fact that I left just after 5am I managed to stay awake. I stopped close to Greenville at a rest stop and I was shocked by how cold it was. I might have run in a vest top, meaning I was very cold for the race and ended up with fingers the size of sausages.

 I arrived in Greenville and found the free parking very quickly. From there it was around a five minute walk to the race start. The start was right outside a baseball stadium and packet pickup was inside. It was crowded everywhere but I got my packet quickly. No amazing swag just my bib and a nice long sleeved technical t-shirt. 

I lined up for the (real) restrooms and realized by the time I got to the rest room, and dropped off my new t-shirt and zip up jacket to gear check, it'd be time to line up for the race start. 
I was surprised at the start by how many runners there were and judging by the t-shirts on display...mostly locals. Everyone was very amped, much more so than I've seen at a race start in a while, I guess Greenville has a very active and enthusiastic running community.

The start and first couple of miles were a bit crowded but I let the first mile be my warm up. The pack slowly spaced out after that. I had people around me for most of the race but once I'm not dodging too much its nice to have some company. I'll be honest a lot of this race is a blur as I try to remember details. I know we ran through the downtown area, a small portion of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, some very fancy neighbourhoods and a park before heading back through town to run a victory lap around the baseball stadium. 
The course was well marked. It was hilly, not huge hills, but frequent enough. The portion in the park added a number of miles as we looped in a somewhat complicated pattern around the park, climbing and descending. I just kept following the tape markers. Good practice for the twisty Kiawah Island course. There were lots of volunteers and a surprising number of supporters.
The aid stations were spaced out every 3.5 miles or so. I found it a bit of a long stretch before the first one but it was ok after that. I walked once during the race at mile 6.5 to take in lots of water at the aid station so I could take some shot bloks. Otherwise I hauled my ass up every hill. Even running at long run pace that still took quite a bit out of me. Since the hills were fairly frequent I was getting pretty tired towards the end of the race but I still picked it up for the lap around the stadium. Hill training, long run and (slight +1000 feet) altitude training all in one :)

Once I crossed the line I got a medal and walked up the steps up the stadium bleachers to get water and some food. There was a ton of stuff but knowing I had further to run I just took some water and a banana. I didn't have to wait long at all to get my gear back and go back to the car to drop it off. I headed to the Swamp Rabbit Trail and finished out my miles for the day. 

I really appreciated the chance to use the post race showers at a local community center, worth all $3. I had some chaffing but I felt good once I'd showered. I had thought about eating somewhere nice in Greenville but there were still a lot of traffic restrictions (the marathoners were still running) that I didn't feel like dealing with. I left Greenville and hit up a Subway once I met the i26 back to Columbia. I thought my stomach was going to digest itself in the meanwhile but somehow I survived. Less than two hours later I was on my sofa enjoying a well earned nap!!

This race was a bit of a whirlwind, I didn't hang out for long before or after but I felt like this was a really well organized race. It definitely did a good job of showing off Greenville and its community.  Recovery has been good, a bit tight but nothing hurts too much. Now to enjoy a step back week.

 Run USA Half Marathon 2.04.47 (9.46, 9.24, 9.20, 9.37, 9.22, 9.34, 10.03<--shot blok time, 9.39, 9.29, 9.40, 9.39, 9.37, 8.55)

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Marathon (Kiawah) Training Week-11

A big week this week. The first of my peak mileage weeks---50 miles before a drop back week. This repeats twice before I taper. I'm just taking things one run at a time. All my lingering sickness disappeared last week so I was ready to roll.

Plan Cross-train
Actual Yoga 1 hour 15 minutes
We had planned on hiking on the Blue Ridge Mountains but missed the trail head for our hike. Boomer was being especially annoying so there was no turning back. I might have got a bit hangry in the car. A dangerous situation for all. Lunch in Asheville solved that problem and we continued on our merry way.
We made it home from racing and camping just in time to unpack and clean the car before my usual yoga class started. I went in with soggy pants, from the car wash, but I really enjoyed the class this week. It flew by and every posture felt like it was doing me good.

Plan 5 miles easy
Actual 5 miles progression (9.01, 8.25, 8.10, 7.44, 9.08 min/mile)
A nice cool day, our highs are in the mid-70s for most of this week. I took the first half a mile slow and when I realised nothing was going to break I hit the gas. After running all my miles at the weekend really slowly I just wanted to run fast. That urge doesn't occur too often so when its there I turn up my music and run like the wind :) 

Plan 10 miles 9.15-9.45
Actual 10 miles 9.19 min/mile
A decent run. I left the house after work and ran to the park. Once I had about 6 miles done Martina met me with Boomer and we ran together for a while. I had an extra mile to do at that point so I ran on and doubled back later meeting them at the end of the run. Also met two of my lab mates at various points as they are all in training for Disney in January. Exhausted afterwards..ate dinner (a massive 1020 calories worth) and went to bed.

Plan 5 miles easy
Actual 5 miles 9.48
A slow start. Then I picked up the pace: 10.46, 10.28, 10.10, 8.49, 8.46. It felt good.


Plan 10 miles
Actual 10 miles 9.22
Another evening run. Got new shoes in the mail and slipped them on. I think when they feel super soft you know it was the right decision to order new ones. I'm probably going to need one more pair before the marathon to be safe. I love these shoes but I really wear them down fast (250-300 miles).
 Took them straight out for a run. 

I kept the pace pretty constant for this one. Got to see a beautiful sunset. Definetely got a little runners high. Felt amazing...peace and love for all.


Plan 20 miles 9.30-10.45
Actual 20 miles: Run Town USA Half Marathon 13.1 miles at 9.32 min/miles, further 7 miles at 10.16 min/mile
Signed up on a whim for the Run Town USA Half at the last minute. Got up at 5am, ate and drove the hour and fifty minutes to Greenville. Drank water constantly in the car and ate a banana walking to packet pickup. Felt surprisingly nervous. I didn't get to run before the race I had no time. I decided to run the race at the faster end of my pace target and then run slower afterwards. Ran the race (will review separately). Finished and picked up my excess clothes from gear check. 
Ate a banana and had some water. Walked the five minutes back to the car, put on my new shirt, made sure I knew where I was going and went off feeling very sorry for myself to run another 7 miles. 
I shouldn't have because Greenville is beautiful. A looong trail, The Swamp Rabbit Trail, runs along the river that passes through the city. At one point I was listening to chimps at the zoo (the trail runs along side it) and another I was staring in amazement at a huge waterfall that sits practically in the middle of downtown Greenville. 

I love Greenville. 
Experienced runners high again, bizarre because I haven't felt that in years and now twice in two days. It eventually wore off and I kept trying to take in calories in the form of Clif Shot Bloks and Gatorade to keep me going. My right knee got a bit of IT band pain in the last couple of miles but not too bad, maybe putting 30 miles in less than 24 hours on new shoes was a bad idea :) not surprising considering my mileage this week and the hilly race course. Lots of stretching and rolling on the way.
Overall I finished this week feeling great a bit sore but amazing. My first 50 mile week (of three) done.

Another two half marathons left, the next two weekends. Then one more 50 mile week, I'm leaving this week race free so my last 20 miler is a long slow continous run. Then taper time...crazy.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon 2014

 Lookie what arrived today. All credit due to the race director for sorting everything out. 

The race was in Cherokee, NC on Saturday Oct 18th and was called the Cherokee Harvest Half Marathon. I signed up for this race for the awesome swag, good scenery and nice medal. It cost $45 when I signed up so I thought it was also a really great price for a half marathon.
This race was a very mixed bag for me. I was doing it as a marathon training run but also running with a friend. It ended up being an awful race for my friend and I paced her to the finish but running way slower than I wanted...slow even for long run pace! 
Thats gotta earn me some good karma with the running gods come marathon time, right? I had a total of 19 miles to run on the day so I ran 3 miles before (on a track where the race ended) and 3 miles after (around and around a big parking lot). 

The race started in the middle of Cherokee and wound its way around the town. It was a fairly flat course, considering it was in the mountains, with one absolutely huge hill at mile 6. 
The course was well marked with loads of volunteers, especially the first half. Parts of the second half were on busy roads so not so many people and some sidewalk running. Considering the time of year (fall colors = tourists everywhere) they did a great job closing as many roads as they did.

The aid stations were spaced around every second mile and the last few had some extras like Gu gels, flat pepsi and pretzels. The aid station at mile 10 was self service as it had either been packed up (because we were at the back of the pack) or the volunteers didn't make it to that station in the first place. I stopped to pee here since I felt like I needed to pee the entire time I was running and lucky I did because I spotted all the food.
Right from the get go my friend's knee hurt her and eventually her hip too. I tried to be her cheerleader and that seemed to work for the first while. We walked the hill at mile 6 and were greeted at the top with four Cherokee Native Americans (hope thats the PC term) playing drums and singing, what a pick me up!!
We also dipped into the Smoky Mountains National Park and saw 'Erica the Elk', also a fun pick me up.
The scenery for most of the race was fantastic. Unfortunately as the race went on my friend started to fade. The selfish competitive part of me wanted to go ahead, I really didn't want to log a PW but I couldn't leave. I know how it feels and she was really hurting so I stayed with her to try get her back in case there was a time limit.
We got back at around 2 hours 41 minutes and ran a lap around the track to the finish. Note we both sprinted the last few hundred meters to beat the older man who'd run most of the race near us so all of our competitive spirit was not lost. 

We crossed the line and I of course ran past all the volunteers. I went back to get my medal only to be told they'd run out. I think they ran out 2 runners before us according to Martina. The race director was in the middle of a crisis with the timing system (not that I cared about time at that stage) so when we offered our addresses, so they knew who to mail the medals to, they didn't seem too interested. Lets hope it shows up because if people who walked the 5k got the exact same medal, I'm sure as hell going to get one for running the half no matter how slow my time. I think I was so disappointed because it was a hard race, in terms of time on my feet and the mental effort of coaching myself and someone else for 13 miles. I was also starving so that might not have helped. 

The organisers promised swag bags to the first 700 people registered but ordered extra. Promised everyone a medal but ran out. I think the priorities need to be switched right there. Surely the swag bags cost a lot more than locally made wooden medals. Considering the 5K runners got the same medal and swag bag, I think I'd only go back to run the 5K in future.

The bag itself was the best one I've gotten at a race. Mesh on the back to let the sweaty clothes breathe and then a small waterproof zipped up pocket for phone, keys etc.

The others all hung out while I went off and finished my extra 3 miles. I'm sure everyone else leaving to go home thought I was crazy, I had to take off the race bib so people would stop telling me I was going the wrong way. Even if the pace wasn't there I wanted to at least finish the distance. Three and a half hours from when I started I was finished running, yay. 

I went back in to the track and lined up for food. It was amazing. The local culinary school made all the post-race food and it was all vegetarian. There was a bean/chilli casserole mix, brownies, smoothies, grilled corn, fruit and I'm sure I'm missing something. The point is it was awesome and I went back for second helpings. Best post-race food ever.

We headed back up to our campsite for the day. I lay down for a half hour for comfort but not sleep, which is normally all I want after a race. I felt really good for the rest of the day. Not too tired or sore. I was kind of amazed that I'd just run 19 miles but my body felt like it might as well have been 3. I don't know if I can interpret that as the slower pace helped or my training is working but at least I know I'm building up good endurance.
The rest of the day was spent hanging out at the fire, drinking beer and eating tons of food. Overall a good day.

So with this race, what would I change:
  • More port-a-potties at the start
  • Medals for ALL finishers
  • Rehearsal for the timing system

What were the highlights:
  • Awesome swag bag, shirt and beanie.
  • Delicious food.
  • Great scenery and nice course in general.
  • Enthusiastic, really fun and friendly volunteers.
Especially for the price the race was amazing but the experience was kind of ruined by the medal thing...childish I know but I can't help how I feel!! I think if it shows up in the mail I'll probably think of this as one of the better races of the year but right now all I think of is a gap on my medal rack :)

The dreaded splits----10.36, 12.06, 11.27, 11.14, 11.29, 11.12, 14.51 <--the giant hill, 11.23, 13.26, 12.12, 13.27, 12.24, 12.45.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Foodie Finds

My whey protein is finally finished. Time to look for some plant based alternatives. I'm starting (and maybe finishing) with Vega products as they offer a bit of variety. They pack in lots of protein and veggies. I got two test packages one vanilla, one chocolate and even though the vanilla one is marketed for sports recovery it doesn't seem all that different except for the portion size and the addition of a few extra amino acids. 
The chocolate one tastes really chocolately (always good in my book) but the texture isn't as smooth as I'd like. The vanilla...we'll see!
The same shopping trip I picked up chicken and cooked it for the first time in years, as Boomer was sick and needed something easy on his tummy. It was weird!!!
Then I found a gem!
 It tastes as good as if not better than Hellmanns but without the eggs. It might not be any healthier as it's still oil based but I love mayonnaise, so baby steps. Apparently this brand has become really popular but it's my first time seeing it. Love it! It went really well in my grilled zucchini and mushroom sandwich.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Marathon (Kiawah) Training - week 9

Ugh is all I can say about this week. It's meant to be a step back week but it sucked.

Plan cross training-swimming or yoga
Actual just the lawn
Exhausted does not describe how I felt.

Plan 4 miles easy
Actual 4 miles 8.43 min/mile
Felt good and it was still cool so I went with it and enjoyed the run.

Plan 9 miles 9.15-9.45 min/mile
Actual 9 miles 9.21 min/mile
I didn't want to go run and clearly someone else tought it was a bad idea too but I did it.
A good run finished close to dark. 
Plan 4 miles
Actual nothing 
Last dentists visit until January yay!!!!
After my run on Tuesday night I took some medication for a yeast infection and some supplements as planned...then it all went downhill. My stomach did not like some or all of what I was putting into it so no running except to the restroom. It stayed like that the rest of the week leaving me dehydrated and exhausted.

Plan 13 miles (including The Ray Tanner Home Run 12k)
Actual 13 miles (1.5 miles to the race, 7.5 of the race, 4 miles after)
My best nights sleep before the race. No worrying about how to get there or where to park. I got up ate and hoped I'd be ok to run. I ran an easy mile and a half to the race start, used the rest rooms and tried to rehydrate.
The race was along familiar roads. It took in one decent hill and a couple of long slow inclines. The race was bigger than I thought with over 500 runners for the 12k and way more for the 5k. Loads of food and music at the end and we got to run around the finish stretch of the USC baseball stadium. A nice shirt and medal ribbon, the medal was meh but I didn't expect one for a 12k.

It was humid which didn't help my hydration situation and warm. I felt awful running to the race but I got amped up to run and after a bit I felt ok. I didn't  take any gatorade just water to keep my tummy happy.  I thought I'd puke a few times but held it together. I ran what I'd describe as comfortably hard pace. I tried to go by feel and ignored my watch except when running through the crowd of walkers/slower runners from the 5k race as its too easy get caught up in other people's pace. I kept the pace pretty steady except for one long slight incline. Overall I'm happy. I'd be happy with my pace on a normal day so doing it sick made it all the sweeter!! Finished 93 out of 546.
I stood around for the age group awards, eating bits of food to help me finish out my miles for the day. Of course I was really stiff when I got going again but not too bad. I did 2 miles home as I ran extra waiting for a train to pass. I popped into the house and dropped off my medal and drank some Gatorade (since I was staying close to home). I meandered around finishing out the last two miles. A shower and protein shake and then myself and the dog went to bed for a few hours.

 Race splits 8.22 min/mile (8.21, 8.36, 8.15, 8.26, 8.46, 8.09, 8.22, 7.38 (last half a mile))

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Interesting results

So I've been complaining about my pace a lot recently and in real life I complain about being tired a lot. Yesterday I got my blood panel tests back from my preventative health screen and after a few minutes of 'what the hell does this mean'/panic, I was fascinated. The results might explain my drop in running performance and tiredness.

I got two abnormal results, and when I say abnormal I mean very slightly outside normal limits...nothing to panic about folks. I'm not going to post actual result numbers because while I might feel comfortable calling the shots about my own health I don't want anyone following my lead......go see your doctor.

 1.) Low Platelet Count (Cells that help Blood clot)
This can be a sign of all sorts of nasty stuff like lymphoma (which would have made some of my other results abnormal but they aren't) but it can also be associated with dietary shortfalls, most commonly B vitamins, protein and zinc. 

2.) Low alkaline phosphatase (an enzyme)
High alkaline phosphatase is bad news for your liver but mine was low.
Low levels are associated with malnutrition, I scoffed when I read that little titbit but again its not malnutrition in general but for particular nutrients. Again associated with zinc, B vitamins, protein and iron. Anything more serious associated with a low result causes some pretty obvious effect so I don't think I need worry about this.

Everything else checks out; tests for kidney, liver, gall bladder and thyroid function check out and all my other blood cell counts, electrolytes etc. are well within normal range. Since everything else is normal, the results are only slightly off and there is such a common link between the two results that I can attribute them to two things;

1.) Being a vegetarian

  • I'm probably not getting enough B vitamins; diet and my sporadic supplement taking is not cutting it. 

2.) Long distance running

  • Runners can fall short on zinc because we sweat so much more....and I've sweated a lot this summer. 
  • I've been looking at my protein intake recently, before receiving these results, and I've already established (and trying to correct) that my protein intake while perfectly good for a normal person is not enough for the number of miles I'm running. Apparently I should be consuming >80g per day (when I'm working out) but I'm only taking in approx. 40g.
  • I ran 16 miles 3 days before the test and then another 4 the day beforehand---that could also throw results off a little.

Like I said my results are only marginally outside normal ranges but I've been debating following up with a doctor to make sure its not more than that. 

My game plan for now is to:
  • supplement everyday (for B vitamins, iron and zinc) but also make sure I'm getting these vitamins from real foods too. 
  • I'm going to eat more protein too and this might have the advantage of helping me get a bit leaner.

Then maybe in 3 months I'll get the blood work repeated....and follow up further if there is still abnormalities.

Is it really weird that I'd love to get some of my own blood so I could have a look at the cells to investigate further??

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Financial goals

First a little on why I worry so much about me and money....
When I first finished my Ph.D I was lucky enough to start my first postdoc not long afterwards. I started on a much higher salary than I'm on now (because of the cost of living).What did I do....I went wild after years of using my credit card to tide me over to the next pay check and blew all my money. I ate out all the time, I shopped, I basically bought whatever caught my fancy, within reason. 
All of those little things add up. As I've gotten older the desire for a house of my own and kids have become stronger and I appreciate the effort my parents put into paying their mortgage off early, never having car loans and never owning credit cards etc, despite not earning much money.

Eventually, I caught hold of myself and started to slowly cut down on spending and started to save a small amount. I moved to the US and the cost of living dropped. BUT wait I moved here with 2 suitcases...I had nothing. Suddenly after paying for travel, with a car to buy and a house to furnish, managing the money I had seemed impossible. 

Between two of us we bought the cheapest second hand car (after two months) we could find, new beds oh and got the internet. Living in a pretty much empty house for months will remind you that we actually don't need much! All I wanted was a bed, my computer and an internet connection to skype my friends and family. Initially all our furniture came from thrift stores and then IKEA(which I've realised is actually cheaper than good quality used furniture) and liquidators (beds and sofa). Couponing was all the rage for us for a while and anything small we bought was on sale.....and thats exactly how we both made it through the first year here. Even now coupons and sales mean we get great deals on finishing touches, like picture frames, for the house.

This year has been easier and harder. I've saved money for an emergency fund e.g. I lose my job and have to move home or someone at home is sick and I have to get there etc. etc. I was super proud of my little nest egg and began to think about putting together a really good deposit for a house. Two things hit; health stuff and the damn car. 
Somewhere along the way my sub-conscience has been eating away at me about getting checkups. I'm by no means an annual checkup person for anything but there is always a good time to start. A lot of prodding and poking later and I know I don't have cervical cancer and soon I should know if all my blood work looks normal. To find that out has been surprisingly expensive (and painful), I see why medical debts bankrupt people here if simple blood tests/exams run into the hundreds of dollars (see below).

                                                                                                                       Total Cost   Out of pocket
Dentist (2 crowns, 5 fillings, cleaning)                                                             2956               2331         Ob/gyn (annual exam + smear)                                                                         341                166
Preventative health screen (full blood panel + Tyroid hormone check)            250+              25
Add the cost of a downpayment on a new car (+loan payments every month now) and a new phone and you can very quickly see why savings is such an issue.

What would I have done without my savings? 
Put everything off. After the dentist the other checkups would have been off the list. Thats the honest answer.
  •  I've gotten so much dental work done in the last few months that I wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise. I probably would have managed a crown or two but it'd be a struggle.
  • I also wouldn't have a working phone.
  • Maybe the old car would be fixed but most likely not and most definitely there would be no new one.
Isn't that a sad little reality that <$7,000 can really affect the quality of your life that much. 

The truth is if I could I'd live the high life I would. I like nice (aka expensive things) things, gadgets and nice food.....combine all that with the face that I'm a very impulsive shopper and you can see how I'd very easily get myself in trouble. 
After moving here two things hit me 1.) All that stuff I'd spent my money on in the previous few years really didn't mean much and 2.) with out the little savings I had then I would have had to borrow money just to move to the US. The value of money was suddenly about more than stuff.  Now I try to think about my purchases and weigh up the cost versus the long term benefit. I'm not complaining but trying to keep myself conscious of the future!!!!

So my nest egg has taken a big big hit. My dental insurance is maxed out. What are my goals for the next year?
  • The car loan is going to be paid off early, extra money is going on top of every payment.
  • Other than that nothing but saving until January. I want to save enough to pay off another crown, deep clean and maybe a wisdom tooth extraction so that I start with a clean slate from February onwards.
  • I still have enough money (+ a bit more) to fly home if needed, but no more dipping into this emergency fund.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Race anxiety

I'm getting to the meat of my marathon training. I'm not going to lie, I'm a bit anxious. I'm not anxious about running 26.2 miles, I know I'll finish, but I'm a little worried about my pace these days.

I know I'm running on tired legs almost all of the time and it's still hot here but I think I'm going to have to start injecting some speed into my easier weeks. I'm beginning to feel like I'm getting slooooower by a lot. What was easy 6 months ago is not so easy now.

I'm meant to actually race a half this weekend according to my training plan. Of course, the one weekend I need to race I can't find one. However, there is a race here in Columbia, The Ray Tanner Home Run which has a 12km (approx. 7.45 miles) race on Saturday. Not quite a half but I think my plan is to run two easy miles before to warm up and then I'm going to run the race (as a race, gasp) and then run the last three and a half miles afterwards. My training plan gives me two days off beforehand so we'll see what I can do on slightly rested legs. Fingers and toes crossed this will be the confidence booster I need to go into these next weeks of training.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Marathon (Kiawah) Training Week 8

Week 8 done- 10 to go!! Another big week of building mileage --41 miles, my highest mileage week ever! My normal race pace run on Saturday was not on the plan. I didn't set any particular pace goals this week.

Plan- cross training
Actual- 1 hour 15 minutes yoga
Really exhausted after the race on Saturday so yoga was my ideal cross training this week. Treated myself to brunch at my favorite spot.

Plan 4 miles easy recovery
Actual 4 miles 10.35 min/mile
A slow run to ease residual soreness from the weekend. 

Plan 8 miles 
Actual 8 miles 9.43 min/mile
Eight miles in the evening.

Plan 4 miles
Actual 4 miles 9.53 min/mile
I took a giant buddy with me today. We certainly got lots of looks. 
This is partly why I love running, I get to eat this 


Plan 8 miles
Actual 8 miles 9.23 min/mile
A lot of rain and a lot of radar watching. I left the house as the rain eased up and only got rained on for 5 minutes or so.

A lot of dodging toads. These guys were all over the path, it took some fancy footwork to avoid them.

Plan 17 miles easy 
Actual 17 miles 10.17 min/mile (9.26, 10.47, 10.54, 10.59, 10.43, 10.04, 10.52, 11.09, 11.18, 11.37, 10.58, 9.27, 9.35, 9.25, 9.10, 8.54, 9.28) 
I had to shop specifically for this run...I'd run out of all running fuel! Unfortunately the closest shop didn't have any clif shot blocks which I wanted to try. Gu chomps it was. 
It was a beautiful day for a and breezy. I ran the mile to a friends house and picked her up for a run. We ran together for just over 10 miles, from her house to a park and then back. When I dropped her home I headed back to the park. A few hills but I felt strong the whole time. I ran pretty slowly with my friend but I tried picking it up once I was on my own. Although I wasn't even running race pace I was really happy I was able to increase my pace. Sometimes even with starting a run slowly it's hard to pick up the pace, girl is tired after 10 miles no matter what pace.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Darlington Half Marathon SC

Half number 9 for 2014 was the Darlington Half Marathon in SC.

Tunnel onto the track
An early start at 4am to drive an hour and twenty minutes to Darlington SC. I had some bread, PB and coffee for breakfast before leaving. No problems along the way and we arrived at the Darlington Speedway close to 6am and parked really easily in the infield of the track. There were a few port a potties but best of all a set of real restrooms.
Nice plate

Race morning packet pickup was easy to find and quick. The t-shirts were unisex (I think) so my usual medium was huge. The packet also included a nice black race bag, beer coszie and mini towel. 
Since my training schedule called for 16 miles, I ran 3 easy miles before the race. I started with a zip up top and dropped it after a mile once I'd warmed up. I was sweaty before even starting the race.

 The race started with a 3/4 lap of the track and then we were off out the tunnel and onto the streets of Darlington.
The course was a mix of park trails (paved) and Darlington's streets.
There were a few hills. Not an overwhelming amount so I wouldn't call it a hilly course. The pack was spread out so I spent most of the second half alone. I did talk to one really nice lady for a while who also runs in Columbia. Maybe we'll run into each other again. It was a quiet race, my impression is that there were only a few hundred runners so not too many supporters out on the course and I think all the locals were in bed (can't blame them) but the volunteers made up for that.

The aid stations were pretty spaced out, the first one was at three miles. One thing I liked was each one had a different flavor gatorade, variety is the spice of life after all! Especially liked the Orange flavor. I didn't see anything other than water or gatorade but I didn't look too hard so I might be wrong. Special props to the lady who re-clipped the top of my sports bra (must get a new one). The kids at that aid station were especially cute. I took gatorade at most stations as well as drinking my own water. I also took some Gu chomps at mile 7 of the half. 

I stuck to an easy pace which dropped a bit as the race went on especially as it heated up. I walked many times in short bursts, up hills and maybe a few other times :( I was feeling a bit sore and didn't want to injure myself. Most of the time the course was very well marked and had lots of volunteers. I think there was only one point where I was a bit confused but then two seconds later a volunteer waved me on in the right direction. There were also lots of photographers, so they caught a few shots of me...some not looking like a zombie for once.
Eventually I made it back to the track and a full lap later (1 mile) I crossed the line at 2 hours 13. Not my  best time by a long shot but I finished the full 16 miles with an average pace of 10.08 min/mile.

I like the medal and ribbon a lot. 
After the race there were lots of drinks. Not so much food; cereal bars and bananas. Don't know if I missed any by finishing late or if they were holding some back for full mararthoners. Either way it didn't bother me I usually can't stomach food for a good hour after a long run but in the interest of a full review this was the least amount of food I'd seen after any half this year. One really nice touch was the computers at the end which provided a print out of your results.
I think this was only the second year of this race so overall it's doing great. A bit more food at the end only thing I would say could improve. It was a cool experience to get to run around a nascar track. A really solid local race, I'd highly recommend the half.

We headed home to Boomer and I spent most of the rest of the day in bed. After an early start and a hard week of running a good rest was needed. Exhausted and sore so yoga was the cross training of choice on Sunday.  Hope you all had a great weekend. Anyone racing?