A Change of Scenery

Keep in mind, I’m writing from my bed right now. Last night I didn’t feel great, and it’s carried over into this morning. I woke up at 5:15 ready for a quick 4 miles, and the second I sat up I realized that the queasy feeling hasn’t gone away just yet. Back to bed, and working from home sounded like the ideal option. I leave for Florida on Friday morning. I’m not taking any chances here.

This weekend the team long run was in Cambridge. And Watertown. We also visited Boston, Brighton and Allston too. But Cambridge was my favorite. I’m a sucker for good scenery, and this run had plenty of it.

Oh Boston, you may have your flaws but you sure are pretty.

We met at the Publick Theater in Brighton at 8, and I quickly ate what I consider to be the breakfast of champions.

Picture of health right here

It was good to catch up with the team and see how excited everyone was about a run that did not include hills. People were a lot happier knowing that there wasn’t going to be a ridiculous incline for the last mile of this one. After the warmup, it was a little chilly so I kept my North Face on. BIG MISTAKE. I always seem to forget a couple key points when dressing for long runs:

–       We start at 8:30. It gets significantly warmer between 8:30 and 11am

–       It may be 30 outside right now, but I will feel like it’s 45 in about 10 minutes.

–       Sweatshirts are heavy, and any extra weight is not appreciated around mile 9.

I will eventually learn to remember these things. This just wasn’t the week it happened. But what did happen this week? I ran without music, for the first time in my life. Maybe it was the pretty view, maybe it was my desire for some peace and quiet, but for the first time ever I took the headphones off and ran with the thoughts in my head. It was amazing. I may do this more often.

I think one of my favorite things about running in silence is it didn’t give me any perspective about how far or fast I was going. I normally have my pace pretty set and in my head I can say “this many songs is this many minutes, I should be at this distance by now”. Without music, you have no concept about how far or fast you’re going. It’s one of the few situation in life where the saying “Ignorance is Bliss” applies.

The scenery didn’t hurt either. Running along the Charles past Harvard is one of my favorite runs in the world. It makes me forget about my usual less than loving relationship with Boston. It’s flat, gorgeous and there are so many other runners out there on a Saturday morning you feel like part of a greater community. It’s hard not to find smiling runners with this view.

Marathon training hurts, but the view makes it better

Now, I’m not quite sure where or when this happened, but I took a wrong turn or two along this run because I did not encounter a water stop the entire time. Normally, if I know I’m not going to have a water stop I throw a few bucks in my iPod case so I can stop at a store and grab a bottle of water. Not thinking this was a concern, I was cash and card less. This became a serious issue around mile 10. I was dying for a drink, and I was still 4 miles out from the base. I ran the last 4 fast than 6-10, simply out of thirst. Probably not the wisest move ever, but yellow Gatorade has never tasted so good.

This was the first week that the sore set in. I’ve been lucky with training so far. I can certainly feel the impact, but I hadn’t really been SORE at any point. After I got home from the run Saturday, that changed pretty quickly. I changed, took a shower, and felt like absolute junk for the rest of the day. I did make my new favorite post run breakfast though.

Love in a cup.

This weeks training is going to be a little different. I leave for Florida Friday morning, and I asked Coach Jeff how I should handle my long run. He told me that any mileage done in a 24 hour period can be considered a long run, so if I broke the 15 miles I had to do into 2 or 3 runs, it would still count. This means that Thursday is going to kick my butt this week. Seven and a half before work, seven and a half after. Eeep.

Have you had to change up your training schedule like this? How did you feel after? I’m slightly afraid it’s going to kick my butt, or afraid I’ll love it and next weekends 17-miler is going to seem even more daunting. Advice?

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Favorite Things Friday: Peyton Makes Me Happy

Running wise, it’s been a great week. Since my unexpectedly snowy and speedy long run last weekend, I decided to turn up the pace on my shorter training runs during the week. It’s paid off. I feel great, and I feel more confident than ever that Boston is going to be a great race for me.

Tomorrow is 14 miles along the Charles River with the Miles for Miracles team. If you happen to be out running along the river tomorrow I doubt you’ll miss us. Really, we all got our singlets in the mail last night.

Yeah, you certainly won't miss us.

It’s Friday, and if you’re new around here, it’s Favorite Things Friday. I take a few minutes to go all Oprah-esque and share with you my favorite things. On this weeks list…

 

Peyton Manning: Being from Massachusetts it’s not easy to defend my love of Peyton Manning. Especially this season. It’s OK Peyton, you’ll be back, and I still love you just as much.

 

What, that last play was for me? Thanks Peyton, love you too.

For all the great football Peyton has given us over the past 13 years, how can you not love him? On top of that, he’s given us some of the greatest football commercials ever to grace the airwaves. These are my favorites:

 

–       Football Cops (even though Eli is in it, I still love it)

    Priceless Pep Talks with Peyton Manning

–      Where he acts like a superfan

 

Nike+ Levels: I started using Nike+ at the beginning of marathon training to track my runs, and it’s been amazing. One of my favorite features is the different levels you can reach based on overall mileage. Last night, my 3 mile run was enough to bump me up to Green. Turns out, the whole interface changes when you hit a new level. It’s certainly a dorky thing to get excited about, but it kind of made my night.

It's very St. Patricks Day-esque

 

Training Blisters: Now how could this be one of my favorite things? The way I look at it, the more blisters I get during training, the fewer I will get during the marathon itself. Right? Right. I developed a few new ones this week, and I’m trying to just accept them. It’s been a painful attempt.

 

Yurbuds: Yurbuds are the greatest headphones ever created. This is not a joke. I bought them about a year ago, and I have never once had to adjust them while running. Through rain, snow, sleet and wind, these things do not budge. Ever. They’re a little on the pricey side, but they are worth every single penny.

 

Enjoy your weekend everyone! Xoxo

 

Am I missing something? What are your favorite things this week?

“Train Hard. Finish Easy.” and Other Words I Live By

Lately, I’ve been lucky enough to have some awesome people reach out and give me some amazing advice when it comes to this whole training for the Boston Marathon thing.  Their words have helped me figure out what was wrong, what was right, and what just was. This advice has gotten me back on track and I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time. Last night was the proof I needed.

Those 3 miles felt good!

All of this amazing support has got me thinking about some of the great advice I’ve gotten in my life, running and non running related. There are certain words that have always stuck with me, some from people I didn’t know for long and haven’t seen in years. For all the great advice that’s come my way the past few weeks, I feel I should pay it forward and share some of it.

For all applicable categories, in all situations, these words apply:

“I know myself and that is all”. F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is the one I live by to the point that I actually got it tattooed on my body. Yes, that’s right. When I get out of the shower these are the words I see.

Yes it hurt. A lot.

Sometimes it relates to running. I know my boundaries, I know my comfort zone, and I know how far I’m able to push. I know how to listen to my body, I know when I can keep pushing and when I’ve had enough. While running, like in life, you have to know yourself before you can figure anything else out.

Running Related

“Train Hard. Finish Easy.” – An ex-boyfriend.

Now, this wasn’t entirely his quote. His motto was “Train Hard. Win Easy.”, but let’s face it. I’m not exactly a contender to win the Boston Marathon. This ex was addicted to training in his respective sport, and it paid off because now it’s what he does for a living. When we broke up and I didn’t know what else to do with myself, so I started going to the gym obsessively. Like, twice a day, for 3 hours at a time obsessively. I parked myself on the elliptical, because I hadn’t yet experienced the joy of running. I would grind away on the elliptical for 2 hours just thinking to myself “Go hard, lose easy” (lose meaning weight- when we broke up I was a little chubby). It worked. In fact, it worked too well. I lost 40lbs in 6 weeks. Not healthy. I should not weigh 98 lbs. I know this now.

But I always liked that saying, and I think it applies to a lot in life. Train hard, and by the time the actual race/game/event comes around, it’s a cake walk.

“Who cares if you don’t finish, you got out there and tried to run 26.2 miles. That’s insane just to attempt” Auntie Gina.

On the way to the start line, right before the pep talk.

I tend to get mad about times, splits and PRs. I should have run faster, I shouldn’t have gone out so quickly, I should or shouldn’t have done a million other things. So when we got to Chicago, I was a bit of a mess. What if I don’t finish? It’s 90 degrees, what if I pass out? Thankfully, Auntie was there to put it all in perspective for me.

On Love

“Be with someone who makes you want to be a better person”- An old co-worker

A girl I used to work with was telling me how she knew her fiancé was the man she was supposed to be with. She told me the story about how his father had died when he was young, and he had always been the “man of the house” to his sisters and mothers from a young age. Even when they had to move to Boston for his job, he was never more than a phone call away for them and would drive 8 hours for anything they needed. The way she told this story and the way she said he inspired her to be a better person every day is something that always stuck with me. If the person you’re with doesn’t make you want to be better, ask yourself why.

 For Life and Work

“Is there anything you can do in this moment to fix the problem? If there is, do it, if there’s not; then shut your laptop and walk away and let it go until there is something you can do.” Jim

 

He's smarter than the average... walrus?

After one particularly bad day at work with 5 angry client emails over a site we didn’t build in the first place, I called Jim having what can only be described as a minor nervous breakdown. Crying, shaking, 9pm on a Friday telling him I was convinced I was going to be fired. The site wouldn’t work, I couldn’t figure out what could possibly be calling it, so obviously this meant complete incomptetence and out the door I’d go. That’s when Jim delivered these little words of wisdom. And he was right. It was 9pm on a Friday, I’m not a developer, so there was nothing I personally would be able to do to fix what was wrong. All I could do was reply nicely to the angry emails, shut my laptop and deal with it the next day.

“Do what you love and fuck the rest”. – Little Miss Sunshine

Oh Little Miss Sunshine, you always put things in perspective. Thanks.

“Hey, you’re not smoking crack”- An old roommate

I have a slight case of OCD. I like things to be perfect. I want to be perfect. We all know that’s not the case. So an old roommate of mine used to put everything into perspective for me with the one simple phrase. Whenever I’d come home from class after a particularly long day, I’d bitch and moan about how I could have worked harder, stayed in the library longer or typed an extra page or two for the paper. His response “Hey Brit, you’re not smoking crack”. So the next time you want to get down on yourself about some little thing you could have done, think about your life as a whole. Overall, you’re probably more together than you think. And, at the bare minimum, you’re at least not smoking crack on the corner. If you are… how did you end up reading this?

There are others, but most often these are the little tidibits I look back on and smile. They were right. And I’m a better person for having listened.

 

What’s some great advice you’ve gotten? Running, life, love, I want to hear it all!

Running in a Blizzard Never Felt So Good

Ok, so it wasn’t so much a blizzard as it was a typical snow storm; but it was still terrible outside. Saturday morning I went through my normal routine. I had known it was coming all week and I wasn’t happy about it, but after last weeks poor performance a little snow wasn’t going to stop me from trying to reclaim my dignity. So when the alarm went off at 6am Saturday morning, I woke up, stretched out, jumped into moms Volvo (safety first!) and drove to Wellesley for the team long run.

I’ve been doing long runs by myself for the past few weeks due to schedule issues. When last week went to complete crap, I emailed the coaches and they both agreed that running with a group may help me get over the mental hurdle I’d been facing. I completely agreed, but was really nervous that I would be the slow kid in the pack.

Yes, that’s a really dumb concern. I know. 11 miles is 11 miles, and it’s still way further than a lot of people can, or are willing to run. When I got to practice Jeff and Sarah reminded me that everyone always worries about being the slow kid, and while they were sure I wouldn’t be, even if I was, who cares? It was a snow storm. Fast kids weren’t happening that day anyways.

Once everyone arrived we had a great seminar on gels, blocks, bars and all other supplements that you can reach for during a run and what works best for what. The best part of the seminar? Samples. Now, I’ve always been a Vanilla Bean Gu girl. It’s what I’m used to, it tastes like frosting and it seems to work. But when that didn’t work for me last week I thought giving something new was worth a try. I grabbed two strawberry chomp blocks and ran out the door with the rest of the team.

The first two miles were what they have been lately. I felt OK, but a long way from great. It probably wasn’t helping that on the up-hills I would put my foot down, take a step and slide back a half a step because of the uncleared sidewalks and whole blizzard thing happening. Didn’t stop this guy from driving around in a Lamborgini though.

 

Safety first?

Around 1.5 Coach Sarah ran over and asked how I was doing. I told her I felt OK, but still a little off. She told me not to worry about it, just run at whatever felt comfortable to hold a conversation and we’d run together for a while. I was nervous I was slowing her down, but I agreed.

It was the best possible decision I could have made. Coach Sarah was so great to run next to for 5 miles, so easy going and encouraging the whole way. She talked about her past marathon (she did Chicago this year and agrees that one hill is a cruel way to end a race), how she got into coaching and funny running stories in general. Casually talking for the first few miles was a great way to take my mind off of the hills and not worry about the pace. After a particularly brutal hill I could feel my breathing getting a little wheezier than I was comfortable with, so I told Sarah to go run ahead and I’d see her at the end of the run. Once I started walking I grabbed my Nike+ (which I had had on mute) out of my pocket and that’s when I saw it…

I was averaging a 9:20 mile for 5 miles! What? I was shocked. I was confused. I was ecstatic! I’ve always been conservatively comfortable at a 10:00 pace, and thought going above that would be pushing it a little too far for a double digit run. Apparently not. The thought that I was pulling that pace in those conditions was a little mind boggling to me, but I’ll take it. From there it got a lot harder, but the water stops were pleasant breaks.

Who needs ice??

I kept trudging along and the snow was picking up, so the next 5 miles were not as smooth as the first. Negative split certainly didn’t happen, but honestly, I’m not concerned. I ran 11 miles. In a snowstorm. In a really respectable time. And I only fell once (pretty sure I pulled some muscle in my calf, but I was just happy no one saw).

Don't be intimidated by the sexiness.

I got back to the hall where we drop our stuff, stretched it out and talked to a few of the faster runners who were already back from their 13. They were all saying this 13 really counts as 18 because of the conditions. A few were saying they’ve never felt that strained during a run. Knowing that I had one of my better runs while these rockstars had one of their not so great runs was comforting to me. It reminded me that no matter how fast or how far you can normally go, you’re going to have your off days.

 

After I defrosted on the drive home I was perfectly OK with the idea of staying snowbound for the rest of the afternoon. Peanut butter toast, a banana and a cup of tea later, I got in a solid nap then watched a lot of Netflix that I’m not particularly proud of. I also spent a lot of time on Pinterest. I’m obsessed. It’s ok.

Sunday morning I was expecting to wake up sore because of the snowy hills. Hills do a number on my quads anyways, when you add a sheet of ice on top of them I figured they would be screaming to spend the day in bed. Surprise again. I woke up feeling fresh and ready to hit the gym for some cross training. 45 minutes on the elliptical, a lot of stretching and some weight training made for a solid morning at the gym. I even made it out before the last of the New Years crowd came in!

Other than that, the weekend was filled with a lot of family time and laundry. Life during marathon training is super exciting, I promise. As much as I miss my wine nights, staying up past 11 on Fridays and not waking up to run at 5am every morning, I feel healthier than I have felt in a long time.  The loose jeans don’t suck either. But those are about to ruined by this deliciousness that I found on my desk when I got here.

Breakfast of champions.

Tiramisu Brownies? Ali, I love you. My jeans hate you, my future case of diabetes certainly doesn’t think you’re awesome, but I love you. And that’s what matters.

 

Happy Monday everyone! xoxo

Favorite Things Friday: Feeling Better

This week started out pretty rough. It’s still not where I want it to be, but it’s getting better. Last night was another 2+ mile run, no records set but I did make it a point to negative split. I figured if there was ever a time to focus on it, a 2 miler was it!

 

Not impressive, but I'm not dead. Go team.

5am came way too quickly this morning. I got up, got dressed, and while I was prepared for a “dusting” of snow, and instead I found 4 inches. It is January 20th. I should have expected this, and been prepared for it. I didn’t, and I wasn’t. My Uggs? In my trunk. The shovel? Not a clue. The only thing I had was my snow brush for my car in the back seat. Better than nothing. I also heard Britney Spears “Opps I did It Again” on the radio on my way to the gym. Not sure why they were playing it, but no complaints from this girl. You go Brit Brit.

Being disgusted by a tiny amount of snow, I honestly don’t know how last years runners trained during the winter. We got at least 1 major snow storm every week from January-March. The mounds were so high along the sides of the roads that you couldn’t see oncoming traffic, and there was ice everywhere up until 2 weeks before race day. 2011 Boston Marathon-ers- I salute you. I don’t know if I could have done it.

I’m certainly not prepared for is the 3-6” of snow we’re going to get tomorrow, while I’m doing my long run. However I am excited to get to Wellsely to work with my wonderful coaches and get acclimated to the course. I’m excited to work on my hill running, pacing myself properly and hopefully doing a real negative split at an actual distance.

I think the only thing getting me through at this moment is knowing that my 15 mile run in 2 weeks will be done in Florida. Warm weather. Pretty scenery. No sneaky ice patches making me look like the clumsiest runner ever? Good times.

 

Two weeks. I cannot wait. Can you tell I don't like the cold much?

Now that I’m feeling better, my overall mood has improved and it’s easier for me to appreciate all the little things. And with that, my favorite things this week are…

Nice People: This week was a rough patch in my training. I felt really down on myself, but then something happened. Some amazing nice people showed up and made me feel better. Just the quick texts, nice emails and positive words really made all the difference for me this week. So if you’re one of those nice people, thanks. You rock.

My New Kitchen: Yes, I realize this will be the 3rd time I’ve mentioned it this week, but when you go three months of marathon training without being able to cook pasta, you REALLY love your new kitchen. Speaking of..

Pasta: I run marathons to compensate for my love of carbs. Preferably with cheese, but really, any carb with any topping will usually do. Being able to cook pasta has been the highlight of my week. I think that sums up what type of week it’s been. I also made myself this deliciousness for dinner last night.

Mushroom ravioli, lots of spinach and cheese. Amazing.

Modern Family: Was anyone really offended that Lilly “dropped the f-bomb”? I kept seeing all these articles saying “Modern Family Went Too Far”. Seriously? For a show that depicts a gay couple raising an adopted child, an old man married to a woman younger than his daughter, and all the other completely realistic, normal situations that are discussed, overzealous parents are going to pick a child swearing (which is something they do in real life) to get pissy about? Drop it soccer moms. Leave my Modern Family alone. I think the show sets a great example for mixed families, and beyond that; it’s hysterical. I laugh out loud at least 5x a show, and that’s tough for me. Good work ABC. Good work indeed.

 

Good Playlists: I need to make a new long run mix. I really need suggestions. Right now I’m stuck in a Glee/Britney/Angry Rock combo. Please offer any and all suggestions you have. P

So those are the things I’m happy about at the moment. Tomorrow is 13 miles with the Miles for Miracles team in Wellesely, and I can’t wait. Except for the snow. Maybe it will hold off…

 

What are you favorite things? More importantly, what are your favorite workout songs? Send me your suggestions!

 

 

Progress

Let me just say how great runners are. Seriously, all of the support, advice and kind words that came my way yesterday were overwhelming. It’s relieving to know that I’m not the only one who’s faced a rut like this, and I got some great tips to get back on my game. You know, that killer land speed record crushing game I had before. No? That wasn’t me at the Olympic trials last week? Damn.

 

After a few emails with Coaches Jeff and Sarah yesterday, we couldn’t quite nail down what caused my rut (I’m going to go ahead and blame the asthma), but we did come up with some ideas to get me out of it. First, Jeff wants me to cut :10 – :30/per mile off of my long run times. I have my reservations, but he swears this could make all the difference. He also wants me to come to team practice on Saturday and see if running with a group helps.

 

I have been meaning to get back to team training after the first one I attended, but I won’t lie- I’m intimidated. I always thought a 9:30-10:00/mi pace for marathon training was respectable. Not outrageously fast, but certainly nothing to shake a stick at. I’m not sure who actually shakes sticks at people, but the saying has always made me wish I had a stick handy.

 

When I got to the first team practice and I was blown away. Pretty much everyone there was clocking 7:30-8:00 miles. Seriously? Week one? Did you qualify and you’re just here because you’re a super do-gooder? Because that’s awesome, but if you could pretend to be slow like me for a confidence boost, that would be awesome.

 

So I’ve been a little embarrassed since then, but last night I had a breakthrough while I was stuffing my face with pasta on the couch. 90% of the people running Boston are there because they qualified. I’m not going to be in the first 75% of the pack, but neither are the 25,998 or so people that aren’t Ryan Hall or Desi Deviilia. We’re in it to finish, maybe PR and that’s about it. I’m still running 26.2 miles for an amazing cause. And today that’s enough for me.

 

After a repeat of my glorious Monday night dinner, I watched the Biggest Loser and was off to bed. I woke up this morning feeling refreshed. Then I read an amazing email from Sara from Event Brite. She had some amazing advice from her Boston training last year, and some kind words to add on top of it.

 

Nice emails make my day.

To wake up and have that sort of motivation laid at your feet is incredible. At 5am I felt even more motivated than I had the night before, and that’s no easy feat.

 

This mornings workout was certainly nothing for the record books. It was 2 miles, on the treadmill, with the single goal of not wanting to die at any point during it. And you know what? It felt pretty dang good.

 

Two miles without wanting to die. Today, that's a win.

Most people yesterday reminded me that marathon training isn’t supposed to be easy. Most of the time it’s not going to feel good, and there’s going to be more days in front of me that feel like some sort of cruel torture. It’s just how it goes. And that’s why we crazy people do it. It’s a challenge, and you don’t get better without them.

 

I might not be where I want to be, but I’m better than I was yesterday. 88 days to go, and we’ll take them one run at a time.  I also saw this yesterday, and it’s now my desktop image. Anything that can make me laugh about what I’m putting myself through is good in my book. It also makes me want pancakes.  Mmmm… pancakes…

 

I’d still love to hear more advice about how to get out of the rut. I feel better, but still not great. I love hearing all the different tips- so let’s go! How do you power through training?

Not My Best Work

All I can say is that this was not my weekend when it came to running. I saw some friends, was incredibly productive and my kitchen is finally done!

It's glorious!

But as for training- not so much. I tried. I failed. I tried again. I failed again.

After putting out a twitter request for pre long run meals that weren’t pasta, quite a few people recommended pepperoni pizza. Not the healthiest idea, but I was certainly willing to give it a try. I ate, changed into PJs and off to bed I went. At 10pm on a Friday. I’m so wild.

Despite my carbo-load, my full nights sleep and plenty of water/Gatorade; Saturday did not go as planned. Not even close. I went out with the hope of doing 13 miles. That was the “intermediate” distance on my training plan, which I’ve been trying to push myself toward. By mile 3, I could feel something just wasn’t right. Eating a Gu didn’t help either.

The key is to keep them cold. Refrigerate the night before. Tastes like frosting.

Once I was 4 miles in and I hadn’t gotten into any sort of groove,  I just kept trying to push myself toward the next mini-milestone. I knew that wasn’t going to work for 13 miles, but I kept trying.

“Just make it to the next telephone pole”

“The end of the street isn’t that far, just make it there”

“You’ve run 26.2 miles before, and you’re having trouble by mile 4. Really?”

“You can drink a bottle of wine if you just finish this run. A whole bottle.”

Nothing. At mile 5 I could feel my breathing getting tighter, and I had to stop. Dead in my tracks, on the side of the road, with my phone in hand. I felt deflated and more upset with myself than I’ve ever been on a training run. I’m supposed to be running the Boston Marathon, and I couldn’t make it through 6 miles of hills in my own town? Pathetic.

I made my dad come pick me up. I went to the pharmacy, picked up a new inhaler (I know, I should have had one long before this and kept it on me. Stupid stupid stupid.), and I sat on the couch for an hour or so. After feeling completely defeated, I grabbed my car keys and headed towards the gym.

I figured at the gym I could get in a few miles on the treadmill, and that would be a save environment in case my asthma kicked back up. No being stranded 5 mies from home, trained staff all around me, maybe it would put my mind at ease. Well, it put my mind at east but it sure didn’t do anything for my lungs and legs. 2 miles later, I headed back home. More deflated than when I left. Awesome.

I’d like to say I went home, rested, woke up Sunday and owned that run. It didn’t happen. Yesterday? The 4 miles on the training schedule felt like 40. I went home to my glorious new kitchen and made myself a healthy pasta dish to try to cheer me up.

Whole grain pasta, turkey meatballs, spinach and cheese. Yum.

Even pasta wasn’t helping this mood.

I emailed Jeff (my coach from Miles for Miracles) last night and I’m hoping he has some advice.

Has anyone else ever been stuck in a training rut like this? I’ve never felt as discouraged as I do right now. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.