Going Gluten Free- A Call for Help!

Last week was filled with all of the exciting changes I had hoped for. Monday was my first day as a full-time graduate student. This was a much-needed change that I decided on two days after the Boston Marathon. I was already accepted and enrolled in my graduate program but I’d been doing one class at a time, mostly online and at a rate that would have me graduating in 10 years, if ever. Making the choice to go back full-time was an easy one after Boston put the important factors in life into perspective. I couldn’t be happier to be back in class but there is definitely an adjustment curve to the lifestyle. Not just the early morning classes following late night bartending shifts; but little things like wardrobe choices.

A few things I remember doing in college I thought I did simply because I was in college and that’s what college kids did. Not quite. A few things I’ve remembered this week…

 

–       College kids wear hoodies because they’re lazy. We also wear hoodies because when it unexpectedly starts raining when you’re in class and the parking lot is on the other side of campus you have an instant mini-umbrella. Would have been nice to remember before the flash flood warnings started going off on everyone’s smart phones during Bio.

–       Text books really are that expensive. iPads are even more expensive. These expenses are offset by buying the $8 bottle of Pinot Grigio instead of the $12 bottle. Over a semester that’s going to add up.

–       Getting to class on time < Having coffee for your first class

–       Always make sure your schedule allows you to watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air before class. I failed this one.

 

I also started my 16-week training schedule for the Cape Cod Marathon Chowdah Challenge and I’m feeling pretty positive with how the first week shaped up. My long runs were a very conservative, very consistent 10:30 which I’m happy with for this point in my training.  Keeping my long runs :90/mi slower than my marathon goal pace has always been a struggle for me because I’ve never been quite sure what my pace should be. I decided since my goal at Boston 2014 is to BQ, a pace of 8:30-ish/mi; I should be aiming for a 9:00/mi at Cape Cod.

Saturday was the first run where I truly focused on my pace and it was a true effort to maintain the same pace every mile. I would notice myself starting to pick up a little bit after Nike+ chimed in to tell me I had hit another mile marker but I quickly caught myself and slowed back down. Overall, I felt strong and confident with this weekends runs. Great success!

With all those changes last week there was one unexpected and I must admit, not 100% welcome change. For the past few weeks my stomach has been WAY off and I’ve felt like complete crap. A year or so ago my doctor suggested to me that with my other food allergies it was very likely that I am also gluten sensitive, not allergic, but should try cutting gluten out of my diet for a period of time to see if I felt a difference. At the time I thought “No way in hell are you taking my pizza and bagels from me. I’ll deal with a stomachache, thanks.”

Well, last Monday I had hit my limit with feeling like crap so I decided with Jim traveling for work it would be the perfect time to cut out gluten for a few days while I didn’t have someone else’s culinary preferences to worry about. So I went grocery shopping for some gluten free carb options and hoped in the back of my mind that it wasn’t going to change anything.

Twenty-four hours later, I felt amazing. The best I’ve felt in a long time kind of amazing. I kept it going for a few days and each day felt better and better. I honestly think my workouts last week felt so strong because of the dietary change.  Today I tried a couple regular bagel chips to see if I felt any different. About a half hour later my stomach revolted against me in a crampy-pissed-off way that I don’t care to revisit for a long time.

This puts me in a pickle.

I love my carbs, I love my sandwiches and I love food. I also love feeling this great. So I guess I need to suck it up and do what’s best for my health. Any free time I come across this week will now be spent researching gluten free recipes, products and tips. And mourning the loss of my morning bagel. I feel like I should bust out a Whitney tune to the bag of Thomas’s that are about to go into the trash. AAANNNNDDD IIIIII…

Have any of you gone down the gluten free road? Any tips for a newbie? Any favorite products I absolutely MUST try? 

False Start and Some Training Goals

While I’m a sucker for happy endings, I’ve always enjoyed the start of things more. Whether it be a movie, first day at a new job or a vacation, the first day is always full of possibilities and potential. Over the course of whatever it is there will certainly be ups and downs, but the start is filled with hope and anticipation. It shouldn’t come as a shock that this is also how I feel about my marathon-training schedule.

I woke up yesterday morning after a pretty rough night of sleep and hurried myself off to my first day as a full-time grad student. It all seemed so fitting: first day of school, first day of training, all my new beginnings rolled into one. I got to class with 30 seconds to spare, opened my planner to see how much mileage I’d be doing when I got home when I saw a note I never expected.

Yes, I have every run for the next 16 weeks written out. And non run days. Just to clarify.

Yes, I have every run for the next 16 weeks written out. And non run days. Just to clarify.

How I didn’t realize that I had created my schedule to have Monday rest days is a little beyond me, but somehow that fact had exited from my mind. A normal person may have thought “Perfect, first day of school and all I need to do is study. Great planning, Brittany.” All I thought was “No, this can’t be right!”.

There was something about starting everything at once that I was quite excited about. I slumped in my chair a little and reminded myself that it was still the first day of my training schedule and by resting I was abiding by the schedule. I didn’t like it but I agreed to it. Hmphf.

I’m pretty excited about taking on a new kind of training schedule, this one having two long runs each week. This weeks workouts look like this.

Monday- Rest

Tuesday- 3 miles with hills

Wednesday- 3 easy miles

Thursday- Rest

Friday- 3 miles at MGP

Saturday- 13.1 miles (Jamestown Half Marathon)

Sunday- 6 miles

I had to reverse the long runs this week to accommodate for the Jamestown Half being on Saturday rather than Sunday. Other than that, I think the run I’m most nervous for in Friday’s MGP miles. I think if I knew what my goal pace was I’d feel better but I’m still trying to figure that out. I guess I have until Friday to figure that out.

So while I didn’t get to run yesterday I did use the time wisely. I got to spend the afternoon with my dad who is currently down with a couple broken ribs thanks to a graceful fall from a ladder on the 4th of July. I swear the man is gifted in coming up with new ways to injure himself. There was one time when I was in high school and I came back from vacation to find my dad with 12 new stitches in his chin. Apparently when he got home from bringing me to the airport he went back into his bedroom, put one foot in the laundry basket and tumbled into his dresser. He went to work with a band-aid before a co-worker informed him he was still bleeding pretty profusely and may want to have that looked at. That’s my dad!

With my dad on college graduation day. His most recent stitches had just healed.

With my dad on college graduation day. His most recent stitches had just healed.

I also used the time to think about my training more than the actual race. I thought about my past few training sessions and where I could improve. I went through a lot of my old Nike+ data and came up with three goals for this training session.

  1. Every run will be outside. Every. Single. Run. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t predict the weather on race day. The only way to not stress out about that is to train in every possible condition so no matter what race day brings you can say “No biggie. Been there, done that”. So from here on out, there will be no treadmill love in my life.
  2. Cross train at least 3 days a week. I tend to focus solely on running when I start a training schedule. This time I want to make sure I’m not cutting out spin classes or Group Power just because I’m running a marathon in the fall. I love my cross training and I honestly believe my running is strongest when I’m hitting spin and yoga on a regular basis.
  3. Fuel my runs with real, healthy food. I tend to be the person that will eat a big bowl of pasta or a pizza the night before a long run and say “whatever, I’m running 17 miles in the morning!”, then wonder why I felt like crap 5 miles in. I’ve been cooking a lot more recently and coming up with some amazing healthy, fueling recipes that I can’t wait to share.
This is a frittata filled with veggies and healthy cheese. I'm unusually proud of myself.

This is a frittata filled with veggies and healthy cheese. I’m unusually proud of myself.

I know there will be good runs and bad runs. Some days I’ll wonder why the hell I signed up for this is the first place and want to sit on my couch with a bottle of wine and a plate of mozzarella sticks. And on days like that I’ll remember people like Ali, Jeff and the countless others who can’t run right now no matter how badly they want to. I’ll remember that on April 21, 2014 I’ll be back in Hopkinton getting my third chance at Boston. And then I’ll start.

What Fall races are you training for? Any training advice you’d like to share? Did your dad hurt himself in some ridiculous way too? I would like to hear all of your stories. Please and thank you. 

Cape Cod Marathon Chowder Challenge- Let the Training Begin!

I hope everyone had an amazing 4th of July! We had Jims family in town visiting last week and we did all of the tourist-y New England things that visitors think they should do. Overall, we had a great time and it was nice to have his family come see our lives out here and accept the east coast isn’t as bad as they thought it was. Jim also got to teach his nephew the glory he believes in Nintendo 64. From 1994. Yes, the real one.

His nephew is his mini-me. It's adorable.

His nephew is his mini-me. It’s adorable.

Other than the family time we stuck to our normal holiday traditions. The third was spent on a private beach with some of our best friends who are lucky enough to live on the cliff overlooking Manomet. Around 10:30 I could feel myself coming down with Jims sinus cold, so I went home and left him to drink his cold off with our friends. Surprisingly, I felt much better than he did yesterday. Who would have thought?

Happy Third!

Happy Third!

For the 4th, we spent the day with my family at my grandparents pool. It’s been a while since my whole family has been together and it was great to have so much love in one place. Of course, the kids were super excited for Jimmy to spend the day throwing them into the pool. I think he enjoyed it more than they did.

With all the quality family and friend time there hasn’t been much running the past few days. I’m more OK with it than normal because I’m taking advantage of the chance to re-charge my marathon-running-batteries before I start my 16-week training schedule for the Cape Cod Marathon on Monday. So while I wasn’t physically running, I used some of the down time to figure out how much running I’lI be doing for the rest of the summer.

like to do my research. I’m the type of student who will sit in the library from open-close when I have a term paper due printing 37 different articles, highlighting (always in yellow), cross-referencing and making sure I’ve approached the subject from every possible angle. The required page minimum is no issue. It’s the maximum that usually gets me in trouble.

The past few weeks I’ve taken the same approach to a training plan for the Cape Cod Marathon Chowder Challenge. I’ve never done a double race weekend before and I have absolutely no idea how I’m supposed to train for it. Add in the 5 half marathons, one 10K and one 7-miler I have before this weekend and I’m a little extra confused about the training approach.

There are a lot of training plans out there for races like this, specifically the famed Goofy Challenge the Disney World Marathon has every year. I think I’ve compared at least 10 plans and then compared the best of those to the official Cape Cod Marathon training plan. I knew up front a few adjustments would have to be made but I wanted a plan that I could make minimal changes to so I would fell like it was a real, tried and true plan. Earlier this week, I finally found one.

I have decided to go with Lee Hoedls Goofy Challenge plan. I like that it requires five days of running each week with two long runs back to back. I wanted a schedule that would still allow for the races I’m already signed up for in the 16-week time frame from now until I toe the Cape Cod starting line. Of course I will have to veer slightly a couple times, but overall the schedule works incredibly well with the goals I have for Cape Cod and the races in between.

Training officially starts on Monday for this 16-week program. One would think this is perfect timing, right? I get the holiday week to enjoy as I please and ease myself into a training schedule after my fun in the sun has passed. True, but there’s something else starting on Monday: Grad School. For the next 7 weeks I will be in class from 8am-2pm three days a week studying human biology. Then going to work. No big deal, right? Right. 

So for the rest of the weekend I’ll be analyzing every detail of the next 16 weeks of mileage and psyching myself up for the Chowdah Challenge. Ready…. Set…. Eeep!

What fall races are you in training for? Any tips for a double race weekend? Did you do anything over the top for the 4th? Let’s hear about it!

Summer Race Goals

It’s been a busy week. Jim’s family gets to town this afternoon so I’ve been doing all sorts of domestic things before their arrival. Cleaning, shopping, cooking, baking, stressing. Normal things when the in-laws are coming to the house for the first time. Yes, I refer to them as the in-laws. It’s been 4 years. His dad said it was official at 3. 

On the running front, this week has been all about finalizing my summer race schedule and setting very specific goals for each race. I’m focusing my summer on learning to RACE instead of RUN. I hear there is a difference.

My first summer race will be the Jamestown Half Marathon on July 13. I had to miss this race last year due to a run in with food poisoning so I’ll be sticking to toast and whole wheat pasta the day before this year. Just in case. My goal for Jamestown is pretty simple. No walking. I’ve become accustomed to walking at all of the water stations during races and it’s a habit I really need to break. During my runs I’ve been trying to focus on slowing down and pacing myself rather than walking when I feel winded. It’s been a nice challenge to add into my runs while waiting for my fall marathon training schedule to start on July 8th.

After the Jamestown Half is the Narragansett Beer Festival Half in Easton, MA on July 21. Goal? Beat my Jamestown time. I never said these goals were lofty, but they are specific and that’s good.

My other summer races are…

– Falmouth Road Race. I’m going back despite my terrible experience with it in 2011. I’m running it with a friend who has never done it before so I’m trying to keep an open mind for her.

– Providence Rock and Roll Half Marathon. This will be my first Rock and Roll series race so I’m super excited about that. I’ve heard all great things which gives me hope it is worth the rather expensive entry fee.

So that’s the plan for this week. Sorry for the lack of posts this week. Life got busy. You understand🙂

What races are you super excited for this summer?

Start Running. There is No Step Two.

Have you ever seen “How I Met Your Mother”? I’m just going to go ahead and assume that you’re nodding your head in agreement and will completely understand the characters I’m going to refer to and be able to add their little inflections in yourself. If not, my apologies and please consult your On Demand during your next well earned couch ride. You’ll thank me later.

There is an episode in season two where Marshall decides on day in April that he’s going to run the NYCM that year. I’m going to overlook the incredible odds of deciding to take up running in April, register for the NYCM lottery, get in and train without a hitch here. There just isn’t enough time to rant appropriately. Anyways, Marshall trains for the NYCM and the day before the race he breaks his toe. Barney scoffs at the idea that Marshall even trained for this race to begin with and when everyone reminds him that a marathon is a true feat of human endurance, Barney utters these words of sheer genius.

“Um, guys, here is how you run a marathon. Step one: Start running. There is no step two.”

Despite the story ending with Barney running in Marshalls place, finishing the race then being unable to use his legs and getting stuck on the subway for six hours; this has been my personal mantra for every race I’ve ever run. Since my first road race was the Chicago Marathon and a few friends thought I was absolutely insane for going from 0 to 26.2 (I would agree with them in hindsight), I had to remind myself that this was no different than a 5K they had all run. Just start running. That was all I had to do.

I look excited. That's to mask the sheer panic.

I look excited. That’s to mask the sheer panic.

This morning I shared those same words of wisdom on one of my best friends, Ida. Now something you should know about Ida up front is that she is in incredibly good shape and can kick my running butt on a spin bike any day of the week. She’s the girl who screams ‘Woo!” with the instructor from the bike and gets the energy of the whole room up. Yes, she was a college cheerleader. Who would have guessed?

Every time Ida asks me about my runs she does two things. The first is to call me a crazy person, the second is to say she wishes she were a runner. I’ve told her time and time again that she should just come with me for a run. I’d be easy on her. It would be as good for me as it would be for her because it would give me someone to run with and her someone to “coach” her through it. Disclaimer: I am not a coach. I’m not even kind of a coach. But I can read the “Couch to 5K” plan online and do it with someone.

So this morning Ida finally took me up on my offer and met me at my house at 8am. The first 5 minutes of stretching was filled with her repeating the words “I’m going to die”. I assured her she would not die and that we’d keep an easy 11:00/mi pace just to ease her into it. She told me she didn’t know if she could even run a mile at a 13:00 pace, never mind 11:00. That’s when I told her “Just start running. There’s no step two”. And off we went.

Fifteen minutes later we were back in my driveway slightly sweaty and very proud of ourselves. Her for making it through 1.38 miles in the pace I promised, me for actually keeping her at the pace I’d promised. I’ve always been very bad at pacing myself but apparently I have a knack for pacing other people. Not quite sure how that’s possible but I guess it works for me.

She agreed to run again Thursday and join me for 2-3 runs a week during the summer. Not the winter. She said I’m out of my mind if I think she’s running when it’s cold outside. Can’t really blame her for that one. I told her when November rolls around I’ll teach her some treadmill work outs. And I’ll start with the same words. Just start running.

How was everyone’s weekend? Any races or awesome workouts? I want to hear all about them! 

For The Love of Endorphins. And Beer.

photo 1

The best item in the 2013 Boston Marathon swag bag.

Some workouts are done with a specific goal in mind. A BQ at the next marathon. New distance acheivements. To win an impossible bet with your 6’5” boyfriend that was entered into over one too many beers. That last one just me? Ok. Fine. You know you’ve done it too but I’ll let you pretend.

Yesterdays workout was done with a less athletic goal in mind. Beer. Sam Summer to be specific. Jim came home with a twelve pack of the good stuff on Monday night and it has been staring me in the face every time I’ve opened the fridge since. Even though summer has yet to make an appearance for more than a few hours around here, rumor has it that it’s bathing suit season. With that in mind, I have been abstaining from the joy of an ice cold beer after long sweaty workouts. I knew I truly had to earn the beer this week. I may have taken that slightly overboard.

A morning of errands and healthy grocery shopping was followed by a morning Group Power class. I love Group Power and the way I feel like I’ve had my distance running butt handed to me following every class. If you’ve ever tried Crossfit, Body Pump or aerobics picture a combination of all three. It’s amazing but you most certainly feel it the next day if not immediately afterward.

After Group Power I went home and made Bob Harpers skinny pasta sauce to cover my spaghetti squash in. See, told you I went healthy grocery shopping. Does anyone else dream about food during their workouts or am I the only fat kid in the gym doing it? Just me. Again? Ok fine. Back to the pasta sauce. My amazing auntie Gina is full blooded Italian and I grew up eating her pasta sauce. Classico just isn’t doing it for me. Never mind all the sugar and chemicals in it. Just the taste alone. Ick.

Believe it or not, all these healthy things equal sauce. No sugar. No corn syrup. Imagine that.

Believe it or not, all these healthy things equal sauce. No sugar. No corn syrup. Imagine that.

Feeling fairly accomplished for my day off, I parked my butt on the couch for an hour and read this months Runners World. After Wednesday night it just felt right to read the stories about the true heroes from that day.

After a couple episodes the little voice in my head started whispering “You’re being lazy. Go do something productive”. It turned into more of a yell than a whisper rather quickly, so I went back to the gym for a run. Nothing crazy, especially since all the treadmill running I’ve had to do lately is boring the crap out of me. I have such a beautiful running route now that staring at a TV screen just feels terrible.

My obsession with Nike+ is still going strong.

My obsession with Nike+ is still going strong.

I got home, checked the sauce was doing what Trainer Bob told me it should be doing and jumped into a wonderfully hot shower on a rainy day. I don’t like warm showers. I prefer to feel like an ambulance may need to be called at some point if I stay in one spot too long. My only mandatory criteria in the rental property was that it had incredibly hot water and good water pressure. The beach was a bonus.

After drying off and changing into sweats I re-parked my butt onto the couch and saw a text from my friend Ida.

“Spin?!?”

Sure?

I knew going into it that the class would be downright painful. My legs were already pretty tired from the two other workouts of the day but I love spin and there was a different instructor Ida had been telling me to try. So I went. It was worth it.

John’s class is all up tempo, upbeat, happy riding. Yes, the hills made me want to cry at certain points. I cursed his name and swore I would come back next week and do twice as many hills if he promised to let me off the hook. No deal. Oh well, I tried.

The end of the hour came faster than I could have expected and to be honest, I wanted to keep going. I was on that crazy endorphin high usually reserved for 16 miles into a run where you haven’t hit the wall quite yet and feel like you could run on forever. I took that feeling home with me where I fell onto the couch in a post long run glory type of way.

Thankfully Jim came home soon after because I’m pretty sure if I was left to my own devices I would have slept in my sweaty clothes right there. The endorphins were still there but even those weren’t enough to get me on my feet at that point. I yelled to Jim to take the pizzas out and he yelled the three words every woman loves to hear at the end of a long day.

“Want a beer?”

Yes. Yes I did.

Cheers and happy Friday everyone! Are you running any races this weekend? Let me know!