Thursday, October 30, 2008

Entering the diet-threatening holiday season

Well, my eating has been quite unstructured and poor this week. I'm noticing a trend where that happens the week after a race, when I tend to lose my focus somewhat. And then to throw Halloween on top of that...ugh. My laptop is parked about 5' from the pantry so I will admit to having done a little quality control checking. Yes, those Snicker bars and M&Ms are still yummy. I've had enough.

Tomorrow night the neighborhood will trick-or-treat together then gather for a party. This is my vow: NO alcohol and NO candy on Friday night.

This is my plan: eat good stuff during the day and have a satisfying dinner. Then I will take a bag of apple slices and 1.5 oz of almonds to snack on. I'll bring my water bottle. With me nursing a cold and having a medium run scheduled for Saturday I can't take any chances.

I need to work this out since there will be parties, holidays, dinners, etc, and I need to stick to my guns. I refuse to gain back the weight I have lost.

I was just reading a little bit by Nancy Clark, RD, who describes how so many people "diet" for breakfast and lunch and then are starving and make bad choices at night. That's been me this week. So I need to eat better throughout the day. This weekend I will start logging food again too.

This cold has taken the wind out of my sails. I've kept up my fitness but need to get more sleep. In fact, I also vowed to be in bed by 9:15 so off I must go (this after a 3-1/2 hour nap today).

Monday, October 27, 2008

On to the next race

Three weeks and four days until the Roanoke half marathon! Time is just flying by. This semester has been really difficult and running provides a framework around which the insanity of my life can be semi-organized. I feel good...great in fact after the race. And much to my surprise there was a pretty rigorous leg workout awaiting me today. I'm sure I'll feel THAT tomorrow.

I hope to ride the confidence I got this weekend through the coming weeks, because the pressure is on to have another strong performance to produce the momentum I want to have to head into my spring goal, which I am announcing publicly. I will run in and complete the Pittsburgh Marathon on May 3. It's my home town and my folks live about a 25 minute drive from the starting line at the convention center. The clincher was that it will be exactly 364 days from when I first set foot in the gym, and started working with Jake, having made the decision to get in shape. So we will (hopefully) be able to say I completed a marathon within a year of the start of my training.

I have been warned that the timing is not ideal and that a later race would be better because training for this one will have to start mid-January. December and early January will be "off season" with no structured running. The plus side of a May race is that it shouldn't be sweltering. The idea of a marathon in the heat of mid- or late-summer just does nothing for me!!

I want to join a pace group that runs for a particular goal time (time tbd) so I will have a group and some extra motivation. I'm so excited for this already!! Who knew???? I NEVER thought I would have the courage (insanity?) to commit to this kind of goal. But I know I can do it and enjoy it. I know it won't be easy, but it's doable.

On another topic, I've been eating too much junk since Friday. Today was OK but starting tomorrow I need to cut out the crap. And I will. Really.

Can I also add that I'm really glad we are no longer in sandal season. Had I been warned about the impact of running on my lovely painted toenails, I may have reconsidered. I'll spare you the details, but two of the ten are no longer available to receive nail polish!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What a great day!

This is the only picture I have from the race. This is Ling (I believe), who finished right ahead of me.

The other cool news from the day is that at the awards ceremony, I won the GRAND doorprize, which is a free pair of shoes from Runabout Sports! James (the store owner and race sponsor) gave out tons of merchandise. He is an amazing individual and great for the running community. We need to support his store and keep him around.

I won my age group too, but unfortunately I WAS the age group. I'll be curious to see the times. (The results are now posted HERE. I came in 46/56 but 5/10 women. My time was 2:26.50)

I am still amazed by how good I feel, how quickly those 2-1/2 hours passed, and how confident and strong I felt.

I'm enjoying the waning hours of my 24 hours of debauchery. I've had beer, cookies, a huge meal at Zeppoli's and I don't feel at all guilty! Tomorrow....back on the straight and narrow.

Brush Mountain Breakdown Report

I DID IT!!!!!! And I did it strong - mentally and physically - and did not hit that wall like I did in Danville. The race started about an hour late, in a light drizzle, and in a muddy field. Looking around I noticed mine was the lone "mom-van" among a fleet of trucks and SUVs! I met some cool folks and saw a few folks that I knew. It was a very relaxed atmosphere and a small pack of runners.

After the 5K runners were off, the 8 and 15 milers lined up. I ran with a vet student for a while. She was super steady and confident, if slow. But I knew it was best to start off slower than I wanted. After I few miles I felt like a racehorse ready to get in the starting gate and GO! So off I went until I caught up to the next person. She was a young environmental engineer. That was fun for a while while we made our way up and Up and UP Jacob's Ladder. (I passed one guy who I am convinced was hung over!) This part just made me think of all the squats and lunges I've done and I knew I had the power. Down the back side I flew and got about the biggest rush I've ever had while running. Miles 5-12 were on my own terms and just fabulous. I loved the extra challenge of controlling every footfall to minimize mud and wetness and avoid ankle-turning rocks.

The last few miles began with a sizable ascent. This was the first time I felt some burn and I did have to walk briefly a few times. I continued to pass folks (and was never myself passed) until I caught up with a sprightly 17-year-old girl. I knew it would take a Herculean effort to pass her and once I knew she was not in my age group, I didn't sweat it too much!

I finished in 2:27'ish and felt great about my time and the physical and mental race that I had just completed. This will give me a huge boost heading into the Roanoke half next month. AND I have the confidence to know that with some training adjustments, I should be ready to tackle a marathon in the spring.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the race came after the finish, when it took two attempts and six people to push my van out of the field. There was one way in, one way out...up a short but fairly steep hill between two narrowly spaced gates that left little margin for error.

I went to the car wash before even coming home. You should see my shoes!

So, I finished, in one piece, and feeling suprisingly fit and comfortable. I do not think I am completely ill-suited to this. I feel amazing right now!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Twas' the night before Brush Mountain Breakdown...

I'm anxious to get this underway, to know the outcome, to see what happens. The forecast seems to have moderated a bit and the chance of rain is less than 50% for morning. Hopefully I won't be drenched in a deluge. I'm packed up, clothes are out, iPod has all the upbeat stuff with good tempos, and food is planned. I hope like heck I will sleep.

How do other people manage the anticipation/excitement/anxiety? You'd think at this point in my life with so many competitions behind me of various sorts, that I'd have it all under control. I don't remember getting this keyed up for a horse show. In part I think that is because there was always so much to think about before setting foot in the ring - preparations, grooming, braiding, schooling, etc. With running, there is none of that intermediary activity. And it's so raw. You run or you don't. It's all you. No horse as partner. Random thoughts:
  • When I hit a tough time, remember it will pass. On a run things don't stay the same, so hang in there, it will improve around the corner.
  • Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
  • Don't worry about time, just finish and focus on how great that sense of accomplishment will feel!
  • I know and believe I can do it, so I can!
  • To even think of doing a marathon, I need to show I can do this.
  • Think of it as just a training run for the Roanoke half marathon.
  • Do the work, leave the rest to God.
  • "I must go through the valley to stand upon the mountain of God" - Third Day
  • If ultramarathon man can do 200+ miles, I can certainly do 15!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ultramarathon Man

Two thumbs-up. Great book, honest and insightful, inspiring, well written.

The author quoting a volunteer at the Western States 100 mile race: "Pain is the body's way of ridding itself of weakness." Quoting his track coach, "If it feels good, you're doing something wrong. It's supposed to hurt like hell." (Karnazes, p. 129). The author describes how he relished the pain and celebrated it.

15 miles will be nothing compared to what this guy has done.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A trip to the bookstore

Jake informed me that he read that the race this weekend is actually closer to 16 miles. That just sounds so much bigger than 15 and I could feel myself getting nervous. I put it out of my mind and went about my business, which included stopping by the bookstore to stock up on material that might inspire me to turn in a little earlier and get the rest I know I will need. I suppose it's not coincidental that two of the books I walked out with are Ultramarathon Man (Karnazes) and Into the Wild (Krakauer). I suppose I am hoping that those two crazy adventures will put my little one into perspective. The first book is non-fiction - ultramarathons are, I believe, anything over 26.2 miles. I've heard of races as long as 50 and 100 miles. When I think of those in relation to a road trip, it boggles the mind.

Of course, now I want to read and not work, but I will restrain myself. I hope.

Friday, October 17, 2008

No predicting how a run will go

My legs have been very sore for the last two days following a Jake-led leg workout Wednesday. (addendum: I was informed that it was "good" I was sore and that I "needed" a good hard leg workout 7-10 days before the race. Live and learn.) Today when I woke up already tired, still sore, and hearing the rain beating on the windows, I really questioned the wisdom of a 6:30 am run. I wondered with the soreness how good of an idea it was to run. With no one to ask, and no legitimate way to back out, I went.

Surprisingly, I had a great run! The soreness did not impact my run in any appreciable way, my energy grew, and so did my focus. I usually see at least a handful of other runners and walkers out, but on this day, I saw no one. I was a bit proud of myself for getting out there to do the work.

there's only Grace

...that's from a song I heard this morning and sums up how I felt. Grace sustained me. Grace keeps things unpredictable and interesting. Grace moves me.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I signed up!!

I did it. I signed up for the Brush Mountain Breakdown 15 miler on 10/25. After much debate between that and the 8, I decided that I really want to test my limits and see what I am made of! I gave Jake full veto power (well, OK, some veto power!!) and he did not exercise it so it's game on.

I have no goal time in mind, knowing that the trail course is hilly and not what I am used to. I just want to finish in reasonably good shape and in good cheer.

After talking it over, I realized that my fear surrounds the idea of running this alone. That's pretty irrational because there will be others out there (and I plan to take my phone). It's definitely a journey into the unknown. And I have a habit of putting boundaries around what I think I can do and stopping short of that. This time around I'm just saying, why not? Why not me??

I can't believe race week is approaching so quickly. I was reminded that it means dietary changes -- carb depleting for several days and carb loading for several more. Then ravenous for days afterward.

I have that great post-leg-workout soreness that tells you that you did something good and given rest, the muscles will grow. Today Jake introduced a new exercise - lunges up the sloped asphalt loading area behind the WC. It was a nice change. When he announces "new exercise," I know from experience to approach it with a combination of curiosity and trepidation!! He definitely keeps things fun and interesting, never stale.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I had a really good tennis lesson this evening - a welcome relief after a few weeks of struggles (it happens). My elbow is improving which I think had a lot to do with it. We worked on returning with a low passing shot, some volleys, and serves. In the serve, I need to remember to stay low a bit longer and wait on the toss, load the back shoulder more (sort of a pivot motion) and come forward through the serve (think serve-and-volley). We worked on placement - wide to forehand, wide to backhand, straight on, first and second serves. Fun! I play with my group Thursday night so it'll be fun to try some of this out there.

Moving along

Life is just crazy. Returned from a quick trip to DC with the kids and was hit with a swift but rather impressive bout of food poisoning that left me incapacitated from 3 pm Sunday until 6 am Monday. Then, as quickly as it hit, it was gone and I was fine. Fine other than feeling like I've been on the losing end of a boxing match with a bear. A small bear, but a bear nonetheless.

So, the blissful easy runs are not happening this week. But, I continue to "do the work". I knew I'd be lucky just to get today's run in so I took the dog for extra cheer. (And it's fun to tempt fate and see if this is THE run on which we'll suffer the ultimate tangle and finally take each other out.) It's always humbling to note how well she keeps slogging along, although she did require two long dunks in the creek and lots and lots of water (whereas I did not, but I did think about it). What's with this 84 degrees in mid-October stuff? It still isn't as bad as 84 in August, so I'll take it!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Running strong

I had another strong and exhilarating run this morning. I managed to get it in before the rain started up again. The running has ratcheted up a notch, definitely. It's so often that way with a sport - things are continually moving among plateauing, backsliding, and improving. So I'm enjoying the feeling of significant improvement while I have it! WOW!

Tomorrow I'll do 8 miles for the first time since the half. (That seems like it was ages ago.) When it's been a while since I've done any distance runs I start to get worried that I somehow won't be able to. My confidence is a pretty fleeting thing since I don't have much of a running history to draw upon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Finally eating better

Two days with eating back on track. I feel better already and will be glad to feel less "puffy" but it might take a few weeks to undo what I did in a few weeks.

I ran early this morning -- I've not run early like that for a while. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy heading out first thing when it's still dark and my brain has not had time to fill with the petty details of life. The air is cool and still and it offers a degree of anonymity not permitted in the daytime. I felt strong and hyper-aware. It was one of those spiritual runs.

A funny thing happens about 20 minutes into each run. It's a sensation that brings to mind the notion that blood is being diverted from my brain to the muscles of my legs and body. My mind tunnels and the focus comes. (I just hope it's a positive focus, but that is not always the case.)

I missed out on hill work yesterday with that stupid sore quad muscle and am literally craving it now. I asked JRP about trying to still get it in but my request was declined for now.

There are natural ebbs and flows to anything we do....and right now I'm riding a nice running high and can't wait for the next race in 2-1/2 weeks.

Monday, October 6, 2008


I've been testing the whole calories in - calories burned thing to see if what I eat has that much bearing on my weight. Well, in fact, after two weeks of eating whatever and munching during my late-night work sessions, I am here to set the record straight. You can't eat whatever you want and not expect to pack it on. I'm up two pounds!

And was I any happier eating whatever? In fact, no! Oddly enough, as much as I would curse the feeling of being hungry, I kind of missed it (in a sick sort of way). When I would get hungry, I knew it was a good thing and that my body was burning fat. And that brief feeling of hunger a few times a day didn't impact my energy level or work output.

So, I'm back to logging food on Spark People. And back to better choices. More fruits. Less food. More water. No evening munching. It's that simple! (But I swear there is a huge PMS connection for me.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Homecoming 5K

Ran the Homecoming 5K in 23:52. Here are the full results of the Homecoming 5K

I came home and did the calculation...23:52 comes out to a 7:41 average mile -- exactly what i was shooting for if you look at Not bad considering I never saw any of the mileage markers and could not gauge my pace whatsoever! Seriously, the amazing-ness of getting EXACTLY the pace I wanted has not escaped my notice.

Call me strange, but I have to give some credit to an amazing and loving God. The song I listened to over and over while running was "Made to Worship" by Chris Tomlin. And I'm not implying that God is blessing me for my sake or my glory. He works through one to bless others -- likely in ways we're not even aware of. Prior to the race I wrote on my arm in permanent marker "Do the work" -- shorthand for "Do the work, leave the rest to God."

Incidentally, I won my age group but it looked like all the others in that group were walkers. The weird thing is they took our picture - the first and second place winners for the men and women in the 40-49 age group - and I have to say, I did not feel like I belonged in that photo with those other old looking people!! I have to assume they were all at the upper end of the age bracket!! LOL!!

It was fun to cruise by folks much younger than me. I like to think the result is a testament to what good training can do, and I have to of course give my kudos to Jake who is an amazingly skilled, knowledgeable, and gifted trainer. I don't think he quite realizes what he has to offer and how unique he is. He will go far and I will say "I knew him when...!"

No less impressive is the fact that my family all ran in the 1-mile fun run! Robert ran with Spencer, I ran with Grant. Grant took off at a frenetic pace, stabilized, and started to peter out at the end. It was fun to coach him through the end, knowing what spurs him on. "Grant, do you want that trophy?" "YES!!!" "Grant, do you see those kids behind you? They want it too!" "Just run to that next telephone pole. You can do it! The finish is in sight! Push hard!" And by golly, he did. He finished in about 9:30 and ran on all heart. Spencer came in afterward, with no less heart driving him. They had a good time. Grant won his age group! We enjoyed a nice pig-out at Boudreax's afterward. What a great day for all!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Running Route Mapper

I added a new tool to the right side of my blog. My friend Steve shared this running route map tool from USATF - I ran a new route today and had no idea how long it was but thanks to this tool I figured out it was 4.5 miles. You can also search on other folk's running routes for Blacksburg and I uncovered some new ones I will try. I expect I will use this quite a bit!

Today's run was a bit challenging and I'm thinking I did too much for the day before a race, even a short one. My IT issues have migrated from the right side to the left and now it's radiating up into my hip. I need to get on top of this and get it cleared up. I'm thinking I should put off Monday's hill work to Tuesday and give myself one day off post-5K. I worked hard this past week and I don't know that my legs have had sufficient recovery time.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Yummy Eggplant Dip

I ran into one of my former ES students at the farmer's market and she told me about an eggplant dip she made that sounded great. I just happened to have some local eggplant in my fridge and needed to do something. So here is my twist on her recipe and it's fabulous!!!
  1. Chunk up eggplant, red onion, red pepper, and yellow pepper and distribute on baking sheet
  2. Add chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Roast.
  4. Blend up in food processor with two handfuls of tomatoes from garden. Add some garam masala (Indian spice mix).
  5. Eat with pita, baked tortilla chips, or spread on a tortilla.
  6. YUM!!!
I am so happy that it is Friday. This week ended up well and I had an enjoyable workout at the gym late today. Sweated like crazy on the bike for 30 minutes then did chest and back. I discovered that by wearing a tennis elbow band and by using my lifting straps from year ago, I could take the pressure off my elbow and get more done. It was very satisfying.

Off to the homecoming game tomorrow. Yeah! I am so excited!!


I have never been so glad for a Friday. It's a gorgeous day and I am happy that I was able to play tennis last night and have a lesson this morning without my tennis elbow interfering too much. The chiropractor strongly suggested a band for it and I will admit it helps. This issue demands much the same type of attention as the IT bands - stretching, massage, ice. I've been slacking on my stretching and when I saw the massage therapist Wednesday she said my left IT band was as bad as its been, so I have to get back on that. It's interesting but the speedwork on Monday definitely worked things differently. My shins were sore and IT bands took a good hit. This is all part of the learning process for me.