Sunday, April 28, 2013

Absence.

I haven't been writing about running because...I haven't been running.

I didn't plan to take this long of a break, but it just sort of happened. I've been doing Zumba, kickboxing, and barre classes instead. They have been kicking my ass. I got used to the difficulty of running and I forgot how difficult other forms of exercise can be!!

Anyway, I am planning to take the dog on a short run later today to see if my legs will still work! I will leave you with three things I forgot to tell you about the half three weeks ago:

1. I finished in 2:27:XX, which was three minutes ahead of my goal time!!

2. I saw at least 3 corgis along the course! I <3 corgis!!

3. My favorite aid station was the unofficial aid station at mile 10, which was set up by some locals and they distributed PBR in cups that looked exactly like the water cups. They had to keep yelling out, "This is NOT water!!" I did not indulge, but several other runners did ;)

Monday, April 8, 2013

SLO Half Marathon

I had an amaaaaaaazing half marathon. The day before the race I was a little anxious. I went on a super short run in the morning to shake things out. (and to see what it feels like to run in the morning...-___-)

I didn't get to bed as early as I wanted to. But I've heard that the night before the race isn't as important as the night before the night before the race. I don't know if that's true, but I consoled myself with that thought. I laid out all my gear so I wouldn't have to think in the morning. On top of the race, that day was also a holiday at my church and I had a shift at the hospital after that. I had a lot of crap to haul around with me.

My gear. I'm not very good at matching. Don't judge.

I was pretty excited for this race for a few reasons. I'm local so I didn't have to worry about parking/shuttles/bag check/getting lost. My lovely mother dropped me off and kept my 18 tons of stuff I needed for the day. Clif provided gels along the course. While I am not super picky about my fuel, Clif Shots are tied for first place in my book.

They're actually purple. But they look kinda blue here. Ignore my obese knees.

I got some compression socks at the Pro Compression booth at the expo. I was attempting to stalk Skinny Runner wanted to get some socks because I would be on my feet for several hours at the hospital after the race and that didn't really sound like much fun. I thought maybe if I squeeze the blood out of my legs, it would make it to my brain and I might be a functional human being the rest of the day.

Race day. I wasn't anxious at all. I ate my breakfast like a champ. (Toast and a banana is the winning combo for me. Sometimes the bread can be hard to get down but once it's down, it's down.)

At the starting line. The party is in the back, right??

I wanted to stay with a pace group because I'm still not very good at pacing myself. True to form, all of my runs leading up to this race have been at very inconsistent paces, so I was a little unsure of what pace group to go with. The optimist and the conservative parts of me were at war. Eventually the conservative half one and I stuck with the 2:30 pace group. (instead of the 2:15 group, which would have been rad if I could have pulled that off)

I loved loved loved this course. Hilly, yes. But amaze-balls nonetheless. Running through downtown that early in the morning was so fun. These are streets that I have explored many times, but that early in the morning, in the middle of the street, with no one else (except a bunch of other crazy runners) around was way. too. much. fun. After a mile, it hit me how amazing of an idea pace groups are. I don't have to worry anything. I can just follow the pacers, let them deal with the math, and look around at everything and everyone.

At the first big hill (which was really one big incline followed by two or three more rolling hills), I tried my very very best to stay with the pacers. I started to worry that I would burn myself out trying to stay with them. But for some reason, I didn't listen to that voice in my head and I didn't feel the desire to let off the gas. I just kept following.

The next six miles were a lot of rolling hills that led out of town and toward some wineries. This portion was an out and back, so we got to see the lead half-marathoners coming back. I was stoked that we got to sort of be spectators and participants at the same time. :)

Just before the turn around at the halfway point, there was a giant (to me) hill. By that point, I had already decided that I wasn't going to walk a single step of the race, and I stuck to it. (unless you count the one time I got stuck behind someone who suddenly started walking at an aid station and I almost completely bowled him over) So I had no choice but to keep running up the hill. Once I make the decision not to walk, I have to stick to it or else all bets are off and I would probably walk up all the other hills too. Luckily at the top of the hill cute guys were handing out Clif Shots and then I got to turn around and fly down the hill! (And watch all the other people suffering their way up!)

I had lost the pace group on the uphill and spent the next mile or so trying to catch up. It was around this time that I started to get really pumped up. I realized how good I felt, despite the wind and the hills. My hip and knee were starting to ache a little bit, but I knew it would be a while before it would force me to slow down. I just decided to ignore it and keep going.

As we came back toward town, we hit the last downhill and I used this as my chance to pick up some speed. We hit the 10 mile marker and I decided I could push a little, so I left the pace group behind. I was feeling pretty invincible at this point. I passed a lot of walkers and each time I did, it added to the sensation that I was flying. The crowd of runners had thinned out considerably, so I felt like all the spectators were there just to watch me. This is probably what Shalane Flanagan feels like when she's kicking ass. (ie every day)

Nothing could stop me. Not even the surprise bridge over the railroad tracks with a series of ramps at mile 11 or 12 could stop me. Nor could the surprise incline from the road onto a bike path in the last 0.1 miles. It's like I wasn't even part of my body any more. I could feel the discomfort in my hip and knee and I knew I was breathing hard, but my brain just didn't process it and didn't let it affect me. I was on top of the world and my modest mile splits and very human joints were not going to bring me down. In the last 5k of the race, I pulled 3 minutes ahead of the pace group. Whaaaat?? Hahaha :)

All I could think about was how amazing the run had been and how lucky I was to be out there and part of the race. I suddenly realized what Hungry Runner Girl means when she talks about getting bugs stuck in her teeth because she's always smiling when she runs. I'm pretty sure I was smiling for 95% of the race. (the other 5% was the ridiculous hill before the turn around...)

This was a completely incredible experience. At a time when my enthusiasm for running and training was waning, this was the perfect pick-me-up to get me back on my feet. I am excited to keep running. I am excited to keep racing. I am excited to get faster. My body hates me a little today (within a minute of stopping running, my legs completely cramped up...) but I am still 100% over the moon with my weekend.

Today I am grateful for my patient and loving mother who puts up with my shenanigans,drives me before the butt crack of dawn to the starting line with nary a complaint uttered, and cheers for me with a cowbell at the finish line. She should be given sainthood.

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How was your weekend?

Did anyone have any good (or bad) races?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Half marathon!

My first official half-marathon distance race is tomorrow! (I don't count the first half of the marathon as my first half :P)

I'm alternating between being really excited and screaming in my head, "What did you get yourself into?!?"

The anticipation feels like the night before Christmas. Except that Christmas wasn't usually accompanied by dread and a foreboding sense that I am about to be in a significant amount of pain. (I'm just being a whiner. Ignore me. The race won't be that bad.)

I have to keep reminding myself that I am going to finish...I just may not finish as fast as I want.

I forgot to take pictures at the expo today. Because I'm really cool like that. Hopefully I will remember to take pictures tomorrow!

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Are you racing/Did you race this weekend?

What are your summer race plans?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Heart health and poor decisions.

Sometimes Google lets me down. Not often. But occasionally it happens.

Whenever I have questions about my health, I go see my doctor I check online. I don't have health insurance and I do not want to know how much an EKG costs without it; Google is the next best thing. Not really.

I have been having heart palpitations all. freaking. day. It feels like my heart is hiccuping. You know when you're in the middle of a bout of hiccups but you're not actually hiccuping and you can feel the anticipation in your diaphragm and you are hyper-aware that you're not hiccuping but one is on the way? It's that same feeling, but in my heart.

Apparently Google is not an adequate replacement for a trained and licensed medical professional because all it will tell me is that heart palpitations are either completely normal and harmless...or they might kill me. And it won't tell me which side of the fence I'm currently on. Thanks for nothing, Google.

Can you believe the nerve? (Obviously I am being sarcastic. Go see your doctors for an accurate and informed diagnosis, ladies and gents. And for the love of corgis, do not listen to any of my medical/lifestyle/hairstyle advice.)

So I was laying (lying? I can never remember which one it is. Damn. Useless college degree...) on my bed and staring at my running calendar:

I use a corgi puppy wall calendar to keep track of my runs. You're allowed to be jealous.

I was trying to decide if I should go for a run. I wasn't really feeling it since it felt like my heart was trying to bust free of my chest and run away. (That's a slight exaggeration) But I don't really have very much wiggle room left in my training schedule. (Read: none at all) The half marathon is in two (!!!!!) weeks. I decided that if I died during my run, I wouldn't need to worry about the half. And if I survived, then at least I got some sort of run done. 

Ladies and gents, do not follow my example. Sometimes I do really stupid things. Running while experiencing some sort of cardiac upset probably doesn't even make the Top 5 List of Dumbest Things I Have Ever Done. (#1 is driving in LA; #2 is believing the fraternity brother at the fraternity party that he would show me, and not my friends who apparently have bladders the size of swimming pools, where the bathroom is - he actually did, but hot damn that could have gone downhill very fast) It probably (hopefully?) wasn't harmful. But the safe route would have been to sit it out and consult someone who knows anything about cardiac-type-things.

Anyway, I decided to keep the run short since this is my first back-to-back run in about two months. And because my heart is on the fritz. But since it was short, I decided it should be fast. Kindly re-read the last paragraph where I mention that sometimes I do stupid things. We will see if I pay the price tomorrow.

Good news: I didn't die (Although whether or not that is good new is subjective) and I didn't notice my heart palpitations while running. Bad news: the palpitations came back once I stopped running. Damn.

Hopefully they will be gone tomorrow. Hopefully I will be alive tomorrow. Today I am thankful for cardiologists because someday when I have health insurance and can afford to see a doctor, I'm going to pay one a visit! Go visit your cardiologist for me! (Not really...unless you actually need to see your cardiologist...)




Saturday, March 16, 2013

Treadmill run.

I didn't take any pictures because I'm lame. Feel free to hate me.

I've been doing a lot of treadmill running recently. For a while it's because I was traveling and treadmill running is easiest when you're on the road. (Not the touristy type of traveling though, because then I would highly recommend running outside) And for a while when I wasn't traveling, I was just being lazy. (I live in an area that isn't super safe for runners, so I usually drive somewhere else to run)

Anyway, I think with the amount of treadmill action I was seeing (Oh baby), my mind was numbed to how awful it can be. Don't get me wrong - there are some great perks to the t-mill. Once you drown out the screaming in your head. However, after getting in a couple runs outside and then going back to the treadmill, all I can say is eugh eugh eugh eugh.

Let's start with the positive: I love (to a certain extent) being able to control the pace. It allows me to do something that sort of resembles speedwork. I don't know anything about pacing (I haven't run very many races, so I don't know what 5k, 10k, etc paces are for me) and I don't think I've run enough to judge effort (Is this 70% max effort? Or only 68%?), so my version of speedwork is just to run for a certain distance at a pace faster than I would normally choose. Seems simple enough to me. And I love that the treadmill has everything laid out in front of me.

Paradoxically, the thing I hate about running on the t-mizzle is that...everything is laid out in front of me.

I still have HOW MANY MILES LEFT????

And am I the only one that feels this way, or does it seem like it takes a lot more effort to run at the same pace (or in my case, a slower pace) on the hamster wheel than it does outside?

It just gets depressing. I hate looking at the display and feeling like I'm stuck in the land of slugs. (One of my classmates in college - seriously, guys, college - once called me a slug. And slugs aren't exactly quick. So I thought they were appropriate for this description. And yes, he called me this after he already knew I ran/hobbled/crawled/log-rolled a marathon. I don't get it.)

Since I'm not usually much faster than slugs anyway, I won't talk hard numbers. But let's just say that my warmup mile outside with a hill was at a pace that would be hard to maintain on the dreadmill. My overall pace for my run outside (which I'm choosing to consider a tempo :P) was about 1:30 min/mile faster than I usually do inside.

Is this all in my head? Or is there something about treadmills that messes with pace? I've heard that they're technically supposed to be easier than running outside, so I set the incline at 1.0% to help negate that. Is it because I'm expecting it to be hard that makes it difficult? Or is it because I can watch every 0.001 mile tick away?

Anyone else out there experiencing the same thing? Bueller? Bueller?

(By the way, today I'm thankful for my library card. My broke a** college grad butt can't afford my book addiction. Hollaaaaaa free books!!)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The scale is a liar.

Sorry I've been gone. I visited my sister for a belated birthday celebration and then got hit with the apathy bug afterward.

Anyway, I learned a couple of important lessons these past few weeks. The first one is about your diet while running, specifically things you eat before running. I don't want to jinx it (like I jinxed the Chafing Gods - it is Chub Rub City all up in here. But I'll spare you the details...), but I always thought I had a GI tract of steel. I usually never get heartburn (unless I eat an entire family sized bag of Flamin Hot Lays by myself in one night), I don't notice my stomach/intestines/etc when I run (I have never -knockonwoodknockonwoodknockonwood - had to crouch in the bushes/frantically look for a bathroom/waddle home), and with the exception of one unfortunate time eating Domino's pizza, I pretty much never have an upset stomach. 

I don't know how familiar you guys are with Asian food/Asian fusion food, but shabu shabu is my current obsession. My sister found a really good restaurant near where she lives. This place is not traditional Japanese in the slightest but it is delicious beyond reason. It is a hot pot style meal where they bring out plates of raw meat/veggies/seafood/horse and you cook it in pots of boiling water and dip it in sauce and enjoy! I don't like meat so I always get the vegetarian entree. It is literally (and I literally mean literally) a plate bigger than your face piled high with vegetables. Fiber mountain. I wish I had taken a picture. But with food, I devour first and ask questions later.

I ate the entire mountain. And then ran 7 miles a couple hours later. Not one of my smartest decisions. And I always wondered why/scoffed at the people that stopped eating salads a couple days before races. I understand completely now. Lesson of the day: don't eat 8764 grams of fiber and then expect to be in tip-top shape for your run. It wasn't even like I needed to run to the bathroom every 46 seconds. It was just a giant rock sitting in my stomach. I definitely didn't make it all 7 miles at once. I usually hate taking walk breaks, but this time I let it slide.

Anyway, moving on. Here is a picture of my other obsession:

His name is Xiao Liwu and I want to give him a giant hug.

I know for a fact that pandas are the coolest animal in the world. Part of my birthday celebration was going to see the pandas at the San Diego Zoo. I wish I had a bigger purse because I was definitely thinking about packing this little guy in there and hightailing it home.

So with all of my traveling/fiber-eating/panda-watching, my running schedule got a little messed up. But I reworked it. I'm getting nervous for the upcoming half marathon (SLO Marathon on April 7 - if any of you are going to be there, HOLLER AT ME!! I want to get cake at the Madonna Inn after!!) but there's not much I can do except run my feet off. So I was supposed to do my long run this last weekend. But then this little guy showed up in our laundry room:

I named him George. He's not actually little. He's kind of a tank.

We rescued him off a utility pole when he was a kitten and he's been hanging around ever since. For the past few months, he has been spending more time at the neighbor's house. I've been trying to woo him and convince him to spend more time with me. Trying to make a feral (but friendly!) cat love you = Sisyphean task.

The next lesson I learned: sometimes life happens. Sometimes feral cats happen. Sometimes logic and reason escape you and only leave you with enough time to do some speedwork instead of a long run. Just roll with it. I did my long run a couple days later. I have enough things in my life to stress about, I'm not going to add my improvised running schedule to that list. I run to be happy. Petting a fluffy, friendly cat also makes me happy. I'm lucky enough that I got to do both, even if it wasn't exactly how I planned it.

He is the heaviest sleeper ever. He also looks like he's dead. He's not. Can you see his tongue sticking out?

I finally did get my long run in. I was waiting for my mom to get off work so we could try out a new Zumba class so I went to the CVS next door to get some sort of sports drink. When I was staring at my options, I didn't feel like getting a sugary Gatorade. But then I saw this hiding in the corner:

Vitamin drink before.

It's like Vitamin Water. Except it actually has vitamins in it. And it's sweetened with stevia. I have no idea if it actually works. The bioavailability of vitamins/minerals is a little unclear right now (euphemism for: scientists don't know crap at the moment, but hopefully that won't always be the case) but at least I felt good about drinking it.

Vitamin drink after!

Anyway, apparently certain vitamins degrade in water, you the cap holds all the vitamin powder and you're supposed to shake it up before you drink it. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Finally, (and to put an end to this monstrous post) I have decided to stop weighing myself. I was feeling pretty good yesterday. I had done three pretty difficult workouts in two days, so I got the bright idea to check on my weight.

Highest. Weight. Ever. (Literally ever. Sigh.)

A frantic Google search seemed to indicate that there was a link between delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and weight gain. I weighed myself again this morning, and I was down 4+ pounds. Clearly my scale hates me. But more importantly, clearly body weight fluctuates a lot in a short amount of time. And perhaps most importantly, body weight is not a measurement of one's intelligence, goodness, morality, personality, or ambitions. It's just your relationship to the earth's gravitational pull. The earth and I are a little closer than we used to be. Oh well. So today I'm grateful for being grounded - for literally being able to have my feet on the ground running and also for being able to take a step back and get some perspective.

Thanks for sticking with this ADD post. I promise to make my posts more focused in the future.

PS - I'm bad at keeping promises.

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What is your favorite food?

What do you do to refuel?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Holy thigh chafing, Batman!

Two in a row! Woooh!

Random announcement: I signed up for the San Luis Obispo half-marathon!! Holler at me if you're running and we can go get cake at the Madonna Inn after!!! :)

I got a running skirt today. Well...it's not exactly a running skirt. It's a general athletic-type skirt, and I think that may have been my fatal mistake. The little shorts underneath ride up. All of my shorts have been riding up lately, so I opted to get a skirt so that I can save everyone else from having to look at my pasty white thighs. You're welcome. I think I may have tempted the Gods of Chafing when I talked (okay, bragged) in an earlier about how my skin doesn't chafe. There was definitely some thigh rubbing going on. It doesn't seem to have removed any layers of skin, but I don't want to press my luck.

The skirt in question. Purchased from Costco. I'm going to keep wearing it because a)it was cheap, b)I need new workout gear like nobody's business, and c)I like to tempt my chafing fate. And I literally spent 5 minutes maneuvering myself so I could get a picture without anything in the background. I clearly failed. I don't know how you guys can take pictures of your skirts/legs/shoes and have them look nice/not demented.

Last weekend was my birthday weekend. I ate at Panera for the first time in my life. Because I'm classy like that. I don't know how you guys do your birthdays, but in my family/circle of friends, the birthday person gets to eat wherever he/she wants. When I heard about the ooey, gooey, super cheesy macaroni and cheese at Panera, I decided I had to have it. There were many nomz to be had. I mostly just felt like revisiting my mac and cheese bliss, so I thought I would share it with you all.

Are you jealous? I'm getting jealous looking at my own picture. Mac and cheese is my kryptonite.

Also for my birthday (it was really for Christmas, but I wasn't around to get it, so it turned into a birthday present), the Significant Other's little sister got me panda headphones. I love pandas. End of story.

I feel like a 7 year old when I wear these. It's fantastic. Even though they don't fit in my ears very well (I have notoriously difficult ears), I wear them everywhere. Except while running.

Last, but not least, I enjoyed a chocolate soymilk after my run. I have heard that chocolate milk is the way to go for refueling after a run. I don't really like dairy stuff that much (I don't think I'm lactose intolerant, but it does weird things to me. In case you wanted to know. Which I'm sure you didn't), so soy and almond milk are my main squeezes. Two things that made me happy: Silk brand uses non-GMO ingredients (take that, Monsanto!! Go be brain-washed by Food, Inc. if you don't know what/who Monsanto is) and this particular product is fortified with Vitamin B12 (which can be difficult to find in non-animal-derived products).

Yum!!!


Basically this post is a long distraction. I had a super frustrating run today (back at sea-level though! Hooray!) and I was feeling the need to put things back in perspective. All of the things that I pictured and that I have enjoyed within the last week are from people who care about me. Having a bad run doesn't change who I am and realistically has very little influence on the larger portion of my life. What's important is that a)I survived and I got the miles in, b)I am surrounded by amazing people, and c)I have a good run coming my way!

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What are your favorite foods?

What do you do for your birthday?