Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day 63C--Calves

My calves have been tight and sore since I started marathon training. I stretch and stretch, but that only helps temporarily. I did some reading last night and found that my tight calves are probably caused by my tight hamstrings. I've always had tight hamstrings. It's all a giant snowball. If my calves have to compensate for my hamstrings, they get sore. Once my calves are sore, other muscles have to compensate for that. Eventually, I will be one giant tight muscle that can barely move.

Touching my toes is something I can do only after months of extensive daily stretching. I did get back to the yoga today trying to stretch my hamstrings a bit so my calves can stop hurting. I was also stretching my hamstrings while watching TV last night. I need to keep that stretching up whenever I have a chance so that my calf stretching is more beneficial and hopefully, I can keep from limping all the time. I will also start doing the strengthening exercises recommended by NovaCare for my marathon training group. They should help strengthen my quadriceps, hamstrings and calves, also helping ease my pain.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 62C--Sand

I ran at the beach this morning with other T2 runners. Not just near the lake like my Saturday runs, but on the actual sand of Foster beach. This is a pretty accurate portrayal of what our steps looked like. What that means is that the normal push you get when you run isn't really there, because the footing isn't stable. Running in the sand is both easier and harder than running on pavement. It's easier in that it works different muscles, giving your usual muscles a rest. It's harder in that each step is a test of ankle stability.

Running right next to Lake Michigan at 6:30 in the morning is a great way to start the day. It was calm and the sun was barely over the horizon and shining off the water. I'm still not a fan of running before work, but I think I'm a fan of running in the morning. It was still cool, not hot and humid like it will be this afternoon. It was also quiet. When there are very few people up and about, the city is really quiet. It's completely different.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 61C--12 Mile Run

Yesterday was the 12 mile run. We started at Foster and ran all the was down the lakefront to the middle of the S-Curve of Lake Shore Drive, to Chicago Avenue. I finished, and were really, really close to our goal pace of 11:30. Just like last week's run, the pacing was thrown off by multiple bathroom and drink breaks.

That didn't mean I finished without pain. My calves and thighs were sore, as were my feet. This was the first distance where my flat feet seemed to cause a problem. It was also the first time in my life where it caused pain on the outside of my foot. I've gotten used to arch pain, even though I haven't had much of that in training this year. Yesterday I had pain in both arches and in the outside of one foot.

Because my pain was farther reaching and more severe than prior weeks, I decided to follow my coach's advice and try an ice bath. I didn't use actual ice, just really, really cold water from the tap. I stood in the water to help my feet, but needed to get my legs into the water, too. The thought of sitting down in the water scared me to no end, so I had to find a way to sit down close enough to the water without getting my bits wet and frozen. Luckily, Jenni is a super-genius. She gave me a big stock pot to turn upside down and use as a chair. That allowed me to soak my legs for 10-15 minutes; much longer than if I had been freezing my privates. That bath and some advil is allowing me to walk today without limping.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Day 60C--Kathrine Switzer

I met Kathrine Switzer last night. :) I wrote a bit about her back in May. In person she's even more impressive. Before her presentation, she went around the room to make sure she met everyone there personally. She even stayed after a bit to take photos and talk to people. She also made me feel some sympathy for Jock Semple, the race official who tried to physically remove her from the race. He should get credit for the fact that more women are running in marathons today. Still not 50%, but getting closer. Without those iconic photos, her entry into the Boston Marathon would have been a mere footnote. His actions made it front page news and encouraged all women runners after that date.

She was in town to promote Icebreaker clothing. I couldn't afford any of the clothes, but going to the book-signing/presentation got me a free pair of socks that sell for $15 a pair. I will try them out this weekend. If they work, I think I'll make them my long run socks. At $15, they should be super amazing.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 59C--Morning Run

I woke up early this morning to get my run in because my week is so packed that I didn't know when I was going to get them both in. Because I didn't want to get up three hours before work to fit in breakfast two hours before my run and then a shower after the run before my train ride, I ran without eating breakfast. It wasn't my best idea ever, but it wasn't horrific, either. I used the 5:1 run/walk intervals, but ran much faster than the 11:30 distance pace. I ran about a 9:43 pace. I did skip the last walk interval, but only because I could see the finish line and didn't want to walk to it. If it had been a real 5K, my time would have been under 31 minutes, which isn't my best ever, but much better than I've done over the last year. My next real 5K isn't until the end of July, so I have plenty of time to get a bit faster. By the time that 5K comes around, I will have run 16 miles, 60% more than I ran this last Saturday. Hopefully the increased distance over the next month will help my time in the 5K. I would really like to break 30 minutes, something I haven't been able to do since last May.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Day 58C--Off Days

I have been horrible about my cross-training. I didn't do anything on Sunday except some really light gardening and some cleaning. That's actually more than I did yesterday. I will be squeezing in a run this afternoon, even if it does rain. I have so many things planned this week that I feel like my fitness has to be shoe-horned in. I know my schedule is much better next week, so maybe I can get more cross-training in then.

I still have tight calves from Saturdays run. That seems to be a continuous problem for me. They get sore on Saturday, I stretch and stretch, but they don't feel better until I get a longer run in. I was told to try an ice bath after my long runs, and I will try that on Saturday after I run 12 miles.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day 57C--10 MIles

I cannot believe that I ran 10 miles yesterday. It went really well. Ran all the way from Foster down to the North Avenue Beach House. We were a bit off our pace, but we stopped for two bathroom breaks and three water breaks. Weirdly, even though it was hotter than last week, the last two miles were no harder than any of the previous miles. In fact, the last mile went better than all the other 9 miles. The hardest part was running up the ramp onto the bridge over Lake Shore Drive. It was also the most rewarding, because the view of the city was fabulous from the middle of the bridge. Plus, some of my pace group did Rocky dances when they reached the top.

I mapped out 10 miles on my hometown and realized it's pretty close to the distance that I would bike on occasion, thinking it was a ridiculously long distance. And now I ran that distance. I feel amazing for having done that. I know pride is a sin, but I feel super proud. I also spent most of yesterday feeling really sore. My hips, knees and muscles were all sore, but they're much better today.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day 56C--Love of Running

I love running. I can't believe I typed that and even more shocked that I actually mean it. I love that running is open to all people, regardless of background, fitness level, gender, income, weight, age or any other factor that may limit people in other sports. I also love the lack of competition in running. I'm sure that the elite runners feel they're competing against each other, but for the rest of the runners, they're just trying to run faster than the last time they ran. It's as much about personal growth and improvement as anything else.

I was reminded of my love of this aspect of running this morning when reading a blog post. It was about a "overweight, middle-aged mom" buying running shoes and how her fears about being treated as an outsider/intruder were unfounded. If you go to a running store to buy shoes, they will be helpful. If not, go to a different store. A good store will want you to succeed and join the runners. I was also reminded about the camaraderie in running by a tweet by a running friend who was loving an article in "Runners World" about mentoring/teaching running. She tweeted "Loving @runnersworld story on how #runnerds can help beginners get started. I love doing that! I'm so happy when I hear about someone's run." It's true.

Runners want to encourage new runners and are encouraged by their progress. When runners see someone faster, we just want to be them. We don't want them to fail, we want to follow them and get as good as they are. I've only been running a year and am amazed by the amount of help available from other runners. I thought running would be a solitary sport, but it turns out to be a team sport, just no other teams.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 55C--Over 100 Miles

Last night's run of 3 1/2 miles pushed my training total over 100 miles. That's at least double my entire life's running total prior to this. My run felt great last night, but my pace was slower than I realized. It may have been because of my stop at the grocery store and to peek inside the open door of the Uptown Theater. I love old theaters and this one has been shuttered for almost 30 years. I've been able to peek in the door twice now and each time I'm blown away by the beauty and decay inside. I may have been distracted by my stops and forgot to stop my watch when I stopped running.

Other than my slightly slow pace, I did notice a slight weight loss. I think that may have been helped by my poor attempt at dinner last night. I made a mushroom/cabbage soup, but used purple cabbage, so the soup turned purple. The picture at left is from "Bridger Jones Diary" not my actual soup. That was slightly disturbing, but didn't make the soup inedible. That was done by some dried mushrooms that didn't soften, so I had to eat around them. That was a healthful meal fail. I will continue to try to eat high-protein, low-fat meals, though. I need it and it will help my girlfriend in her mission. I'm glad I'm choosing the exercise method of trying to lose weight, though. I don't drink soda, eat fast-food or do many things that make dieting necessary. I eat high-fiber, low-calorie breakfasts and drink a lot of water, so I would have to cut out a lot of food quantity for a diet to work and I don't like feeling hungry. I'd rather feel exhausted from a hard run.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 54C--Mid-week training

I am scheduled to run 10 miles on Saturday. That's an increase of 2 miles, not just the 1 mile I've been increasing every other week. This is clearly the week to make sure I don't slack at all on my mid-week runs and cross training.

It's also a week to look for inspiration wherever I can find it. Every week, during my Saturday run, there is a church group running on the lake path. They are mainly black women and are heavier and older than the people I run with. Even though they're struggling a bit more with their run, they're still out there every week and smiling. They're super-inspiring.

I'm also inspired by the people running with me, but at a pace of 15-16 1/2 minutes per mile. As one person pointed out, they have to run for 6 1/2 hours to finish the marathon. That's up to 4 hours longer than the rest of us run.

I'm also inspired by my girlfriend Jenni, who is starting her own journey to get fit. She has started a blog detailing her efforts.

I am inspired by anyone who makes the effort despite the obstacles. One big one is the lack of plus-size workout wear. I have tons of options for appropriate clothing to run in, including boys large & Extra Large items, but the options are minimal if not nonexistent once you get past size 14-16. Sports bras are hard to find in sizes larger than DD and even those are scarce and not nearly as cute.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day 53C--8 miles

Today was the 8 mile run. The weather was perfect; a bit cold to begin, but then the running made us warmer. We ran at an 11:24 pace, which is close enough to 11:30 for all of us to be happy. Actually, the pace includes a bathroom break of 2 minutes and a Gatorade/water stop of another minute, so our running was even faster. Either way, I am happy that we finished and finished strong.

Our entire group of seven women finished together as a group, despite ankle issues and way too much chafing. The ankle issues belonged to Jenn and the chafing was all mine. I will be looking into other ways of defending against this. It's like a skinned knee, but after you've hurt it, you continue to rub it repeatedly for more hours. It's not super painful, but it's also not pleasant. I also have a black toe, which I got last week on the 7 mile run, and will probably have the rest of the training. It hurts like a bruise right now, but I'm scared that it will hurt worse when the nail starts to fall off.

Even with all of that, I am so happy that I finished my run. It is the longest I've ever run at a stretch and I felt so good when it was over, that I even did some yoga to stretch out my muscles. I'm now off for a ton of walking. It's summer festival time and I'll be walking to and from the festival and all over for a few hours.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 52C--Running

I got in my run today and it really felt good. I hope that the weather is just like this on Saturday so I can handle the 8 miles. I had a hard time with the 7 miles in the heat last Saturday and am a bit worried about the extra mile this week. I'm only slightly worried because the run/walk intervals mean one extra mile is only two intervals. The weather looks like it will be sort of cooperative for Saturday; cool, but raining.

I do know that I have to take 30 minutes this weekend to get my bike up and running so I can start biking to work. I really feel like I need the extra cardio to help me with the running. I also think I need it to increase my weight loss. Not that my weight is my primary concern. It's secondary to finishing my marathon training and being successful in October.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 51C--Heat

It's been really hot all week, which has sapped my energy. That and it feels like my B-12 levels are low, too. I wish that I could test my B-12 as easily as diabetics test their blood sugar. I feel sluggish, but not sure if that's lack of sleep, the heat, low B-12 or something else. I am taking B-12 tablets every day and the pills are way more than my daily needs, but still feeling sluggish. Unfortunately, there is no home test for B-12, so I'll have to get back to the doctor for testing. I think I'll also have them test for Celiac disease, too. I don't think I have it, but it can cause B-12 deficiencies and I'd like to eliminate that as a reason. If I do end up having it, it will be nice to know and deal with it and maybe feel more energetic.

I did try running on Monday and got in a little over a mile run. Most of that was speed work on the track. I also tried another energy booster during the run to see how it worked and tasted. Yuck. I couldn't finish because it was so gross. It tasted like bitter orange mix without enough water. I'm sure some people might like it, but I have vetoed it from my training.

On another food note, I have tried the pre-training food shown at left. They're about 50 calories a nugget and come 4 to a package. They taste like a yummy candy bar. I may see if these work during a run. They're mostly carb, so they should work and I don't dislike them, which is good.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 50C--One Month In

It's been a few days more than a month since I started training, so I thought I'd update my measurements and report any changes from that date.

I currently weight 141.5 pounds, 1/2 pound heavier than when I started., which makes my BMI 25.08. That puts my BMI within the "overweight" range, but just over the edge from "Normal".

Other than the slight increase in my weight, none of my measurements have changed over the month. I was hoping for more changes and in a positive direction. I think that the final arrival of summer will aid in moving these numbers in a positive direction. The weather in May was not as conducive to running as I really wanted and my mid-week runs were missed or shortened due to cold and rain. I do also plan on getting my bike out on the road this week, too. That should help with my cardio for the running and really work on these numbers.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Day 49C--7 Miles

I survived, which may not sound that impressive, but actually is. While I was running 7 miles, there was a half marathon on the south side of Chicago that was being called because of the heat. Sadly, there is a report of one of the runner's death. Survival is good.

Other than surviving, I don't have any greatness to report. I was really, really hot for the entire time. I didn't really feel all that great at all. At about 5 1/2 miles in, I told the rest of my pace group that I was spent and running on fumes. Finally, the stubbornness that I've had my entire life was going to really help me out. That stubbornness was what got me through the last 1 1/2 miles.

I really need to get my bike back on the road. My muscles aren't struggling with the increased mileage, but my cardio is clearly lacking. I felt like I was panting from very, very early in today's run. Since I'm only supposed to run twice during the week, I need another way of increasing my cardio capacity.

I did try the Clif Shot gel today. It tasted like really squishy fudge. Flavor was good, but the consistency was a bit hard to deal with while I was panting. I did get it down, and didn't really hate it, which was my worry. I have other mid-run foods ready for future runs. Hopefully, I'll have found one that I really like before October.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day 48C--Training

My cross-training on Wednesday was softball practice. Some sprinting, lots of throwing and batting. I don't know if that's enough to qualify as cross-training, but it takes up most of the evening, so that's all that gets done.

Yesterday, I ran just over 3 miles. My time was a bit faster than my normal pacing, but I think that's because I ran 1 1/2 miles, took a break, and then ran the other 1 1/2 miles. It made running faster than normal pretty easy.

Tomorrow I run 7 miles, which is the longest I've ever run in one stretch in my life. I'm really excited to start setting new personal records (PR). Almost every Saturday going forward is going to be a PR. I do need to get to a health food/sporting goods store today to buy some race fuel for tomorrow. Time to start trying some different kinds. Also need to get used to Gatorade.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day 47C--my running

I walked over 4 miles on Monday for my cross-training. It wasn't as much training as I probably should have gotten, but it was nice to walk to the beach and around the neighborhood on Memorial Day.

Yesterday was my mid-week run day and I ran 4.22 miles, even though it was hot and sticky. I thought the run was sucking, but my pace was right at 11:39. Yesterday was also one month into my marathon training. I should have taken measurements, but forgot. I will get them tonight and be sure to share if my weight or measurements have changed at all over the month.

I signed up for a 5K that happens at the end of July. It's in Green Bay and ends with a lap around Lambeau Field. Even cooler than that is that it's only $25 for the race. That's one of the lowest costs I've ever seen for a chip-timed 5K. The Soldier Field race was $65. Yes, I'll have to pay for a hotel room, but this is still a way cooler race than any other I've run. Better than running through the concourse at Wrigley.