Thursday, July 14, 2011

Repentence for Being the Worst Blogger Ever


The answer to that is obviously . . . well . . . I do. I have all these people who care about my progress and who share my love for this terrible, painful, life-consuming hobby, and then I stop writing about my journey halfway through training for my first marathon. I stopped just when things were starting to get good. I was starting to hit my long runs and could have talked about all the ridiculous things that happened to me on them, like the time I got very sunburned after a 21-mile run to the point of being confused for a lobster. I could have told you about the first time I ran 13.1 and ran into both my mother, father, and three people I hadn't seen in over ten years in that span of two and a half hours.

I have a lot of stories to tell about my marathon training journey that have remained untold. I'll get into more of why I stopped blogging mid-training, but my reasons are pretty stupid and I now regret my long absence. The good news is, despite the ridiculous things I did to my body for four months in my last round of training, I've decided to have a go at it again and I need this blog to keep me honest. I've done it once so I don't have that pressure of NEEDING to say I did it at least once. So not only is keeping up with this blog to keep me honest, you as a reader of it need to keep me honest as well. I already want to quit and I've been doing it for about two weeks. I love running, but I forgot how hard keeping a training schedule is. I forgot how exhausted I was and I'm trying to enjoy it like I used to. You need to keep reminding me why I love this torture so much. I'm starting to remember (hence why I'm writing this) but I'm going to need constant reminders.


My goal was to do the half marathon in Louisville on April 30 and the full marathon in Cincinnati the next day on May 1. It was a ridiculous idea of a weekend of 39.3 miles. I'll go into the details in various posts coming in the future, but here are a few pictures to give you an idea:

(John Wall dancing at the start line on Saturday morning for the 13.1. I was so young, happy, and pain-free)

(ohhhhh, knee injury during the 13.1. This is the night before the marathon. not looking good)

(between the frustration of injury during the two races, I somehow popped some major blood vessels in my eyes, creating this lovely red-eyed sight that stayed for about a week)


So there you have it. I survived and am now a marathoner. I like being in the club and I intend to stay here for a while. Expect some more ridiculous posts from me coming out at rapid fire speeds. I've already got some great ideas for things to write about. Also, it's my favorite time of year weather-wise. Even more than torrential downpours and frigid snowfalls, I love running in heat and humidity. Luckily, I come from the Ohio Valley and this time of year, that's what we do best. Yesterday morning, I got to run in 90 degree temperatures with a heat index of 109. It was 8 AM. It's going to be a great, sweaty summer for running like a Viking, folks! That is, if Vikings had dealt with climate change.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'm Still Alive and Still Running

Quick update: If you can't already tell from my relative silence this week, I have sucked at blogging. I have barely opened up this laptop since Monday. As the title of this post explains, I am still alive, and I am still running. 

This week, I've been a bit off on my schedule, but I'm still getting my miles in. Between terrible weather the first couple days, people breaking appointments that keep me waiting all morning instead of running, and the return of asthma/allergy season, this has been an interesting week. I didn't even get to run Monday or Tuesday. I ran for a bit on Wednesday, but only got through about 3.5 miles with a hacking asthma cough before I had to call it a day. When I woke up Thursday morning, I knew I needed to get in a pretty big run to catch up with my projected mileage. I was feeling pretty antsy to go out and enjoy the new beautiful weather, so I decided to try the eight-mile trek that I had been having so much trouble with on Saturdays. If I was able do it, I would know for a fact that my problems with it were a Saturday morning preparation and nutrition issue, not a "omigod-I'm-so-terrible-at-running-and-I-should-quit" problem.

I combined my regular running route with my route of hills in Iroquois Park. This is also the route that the Papa John's 10-miler takes, which I'll be running in exactly one week on March 26. It was a pretty amazing run. The air was crisp, clear, and easy to breathe. There was a bit of a chill, but not too much as to let me run in a t-shirt and never get uncomfortable. I finished it in 1:24:58, which is pretty good considering I wasn't pushing my pace at all. So it turns out that I can actually run eight miles (it's about time) and I can feel pretty fantastic afterward. I am now going into the 10-miler and the half-marathon (running that on April 30) with a whole lot more confidence. No longer worried.

Currently waiting for my carb-filled breakfast to digest a bit more before I go out there and attempt to run 13.1. Run, walk, or crawl, there will be 13.1 miles done today. No excuses. I don't care how long it takes me, I have to finish this distance so I can move on with my life and stop worrying about whether or not I can do it. The worrying is really messing up my training.

My 10k from Last Week is Still Haunting Me

Just kidding. I'm over it. That pace calculator that Tri-James posted in the comment on my 10k report really helped me put things into perspective. I did better than I realized. So thanks, James! I really liked that marathon number it gave me! Hoping I can actually push it and accomplish that on May 1 in Cincinnati.

The point of this section is that the official photos of the race are up. My pictures from the 5k were really stupid (and no, you'll never see them on here), so I was hoping to spot the camera this time and look really cool when I passed it. I saw a guy on this ladder with a professional-looking camera around mile 4 and I immediately got into good form and made sure my face looked as normal as possible. Well, apparently, that camera didn't take any pictures of me. But the camera I didn't see at the finish line took a whole lot of pictures of me during my final sprint at the finish line! Yep, I look like a dope. I really wasn't in as much pain as this photo indicates:

Fail. At least I have a coworker gets a big kick out of these awful race photos I take. I'm going to nail it on the 10-miler, though! Mark my words!

The Biggest Loser

Remember how I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I joined my work's Biggest Loser contest? Well, I'm winning. I am down 7.5 lbs in the last two weeks. I know I'm not supposed to be worrying about this contest so much, but I'm getting a bit into it now because I'm doing so well. I want to win. Trying to let it go, though. This is really just a way for me to refrain from gaining any weight. I'm proud of some of my coworkers, though! One of them joined my gym and she loves it! It's pretty inspiring to watch her become so passionate about adopting a healthy lifestyle and I hope it sticks. As much as I love winning and love seeing the number on the scale drop for me, I'm rooting for her. So far, she deserves it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

10K Roundup: Time Is Relative, Right?


Ran the 10K Saturday morning. Did I beat my goal of under an hour? No. Of course not. I clocked in at 1:01:58. Did I run my race, crossing the finish line feeling like I had pushed as hard as I could? Yes. It burns a little more knowing that I held nothing back and still didn't hit the mark I had set for myself. Sure, there were a couple times that I can recall where I maybe could have pushed a bit harder, but I never slacked. I never purposely held back. I succeeded in my goal in that I ran the hell out of it. Sure, I missed my goal by almost two minutes, but at least I know it's not because I took it easy, and that's something, right?

Also of note, I didn't feel this way at all yesterday. I hated running because I failed and, by the way, I hate failing. It's why I didn't blog yesterday about the race. I knew I wouldn't be able to communicate anything other than disappointment in myself. After the race I went home, ate a power bar, then went to the gym and did another 7.1 on the elliptical. I had burned 1600 calories by 2 PM. I felt golden physically, but I was mentally drained. I have since put things into perspective and am trying to learn a positive lesson from this. Here's what I've come up with:

I am not going to be the best runner out there. I'll probably never even be a good runner by most standards. I can just be a runner. The reason I started running isn't because I was good at it. I started running because I was becoming a healthier person, it was good exercise, and I loved it. I started this blog not because I am such a fantastic runner, but because I love running and I wanted to share that with others and maybe help others develop their love of the sport. This is what I need to remember and what everyone needs to remind me of when I start to get pissed at myself for running slower than I want to. Anytime I start to hate running, I'm doing something wrong. If I don't feel like a Viking, I am not running for me. No more running for the clock. From now on, I need to run for love and love alone.


Yesterday was, and I'm probably exaggerating, the most beautiful day ever. Sunny, mid-40s at race time. There was a strong wind blowing hard enough to complicate things for the standing-around-waiting-for-the-start period, where everyone wants to only be wearing shorts and t-shirt, but you can't because you'll freeze in the half hour you have to stand there and not move. I wore my running tights, a thin long-sleeve wicking shirt, and a UK t-shirt over it to show my fan pride in honor of the SEC tournament (GO CATS!). I was comfortable enough during the waiting and I didn't sweat too much during the run. Again, perfect day.

The worst mistake of the race was not thinking of looking at my watch when I crossed the start line. If I did this, I would know exactly when I started and would be better able to judge the pace of my splits. Because I didn't do this, I was going blind on my split times. Everytime I saw the clock at each mile marker, I only knew that I was close to goal, but I couldn't guess too specifically. Drove me insane.

I ran the race pretty hard. I love to run hills, but I made sure to take it easier on them as to not risk ruining my later kick at the end. Still refused to sit back and cruise completely, though. There were only a couple of hills and they were mild. All in all, it was a relatively flat and fast course that went through some of the most scenic areas of Louisville. We have had so much rain lately that the Ohio River is currently quite out of its banks and we were running much closer to the water than we would have normally. Getting close to mile 5, the proximity was very refreshing because the wind was blowing off the water, making for a welcoming comfortable breeze.

I felt good physically throughout. I was feeling good, not much hip pain for once, and I felt energized. Didn't stop at any of the water stops because I wasn't feeling at all dehydrated and I was cutting it so close on time that I didn't want to risk anything slowing me down. I was on a mission. I spent a good portion of the race repeating "30:04" in my head to remind me of how I didn't want to repeat missing my goal time. It didn't work completely, but it kept my pace up when I was feeling like I should start relaxing a bit. It wasn't completely in vain. 

Coming out of mile 5 was the curve of the final stretch onto Main St. This is not a course that I usually run and am generally unfamiliar with the distance of it. It's quite a long straightaway. I thought I was much closer to the finish than I actually was so I started my kick way too early. I had to cut back quite a bit before the end before going in for a second shorter kick. This is why I don't like when races go through questionable urban areas. It's not so bad running through a sketchy neighborhood with thousands of other people, however, alone on a Saturday long run to get familiar with a course is not something I enjoy trying. Luckily, for the Papa John's 10-miler on the 26th, the course is much better for me. It is comprised of my two current training routes combined into one. Pacing will be much easier and I'll feel like I'm on my home court. I hope this will help my performance.

I don't know what to set for a goal time for the 10-miler. I was thinking about not creating a time goal since they seem to be throwing me off (see earlier reaction to the 10k time). However, I am far too competitive and goal-oriented so I need a target. I am going to think about it. Also, I've decided to start reactivating some fast-twitch muscles to improve my speed. There will be some good speed intervals happening at the gym in the evenings this week. This may seem crazy, but I love sprinting intervals and I totally missed them. I will feel pretty awesome this week and hopefully my runs will reflect it.

Here are a few pictures I took before and after the race:

Cheesy smile = pre-race excitement! And check out that cool Big Blue t-shirt!

My mother ran with me! She ran a 1:10:01. Her goal was under 90 minutes. She's better at modest goals than I am.

I am a *tad* obsessed with adorable dogs waiting at the finish line. There's always at least one picture of a dog at the finish line. I was in love with this little puppy.


I'd like to thank everyone for your support for the 10k and the kind birthday wishes. In the end, it turned out to be a pretty great weekend. My friends and family are pretty spectacular and I am lucky to have them around. They're what keep me going everyday. You guys are the best!

I have been bad this weekend for my birthday and ate like a pig. Also, there may have been a couple adult beverages last night. Most of today was spent being hungover and worthless (this is why I don't go out while training. I know my limits). I just finished eating way more ice cream cake than I should. Tomorrow morning I start back on track and it will be a pretty hard week of training. Looking forward to being back on my healthy routine. I really should enjoy not being so strict on my diet, but I feel terrible. How do people eat like this all the time? How did I eat like this for so many years? I miss spinach.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The First Nutrition Post: Don't Be a Vegetable about Vegetables

I didn't know the best way to approach this subject. I am a numbers girl, so I could go on and on about the calculations involved in proper nutrition all day long. And although these things are very important,  I won’t make you read a mathematics essay. I’m sure one day soon I’ll bring the numbers into it, but for now, I’ll stick to the basics. I want to focus on rules that I live by and I've found work best for me in what I try to do. The reason I eat this way is because it takes/keeps the weight off while still giving me ample energy to get me through my runs and other workouts. As someone who burns over 7500 calories a week, I need all the fuel I can get without having any food hold me back.

I can't do all of this in one post. I tried, but there's just too much. I will go through the rules one at a time and post them in a series. It won't be too long until my next rule goes up on here; expect one within the next few days.

Something to note: if you're just starting a mission to get healthy, I don't expect you to listen to this and start following it immediately. As I will explain below, I didn't. Maybe you're smarter than I am, but I learned most of this stuff the hard way by trying to avoid all these things and do it my own way. Of course, I failed, then tried this, and POOF! Turns out everyone else was right. So if you choose not to listen, I completely understand. The only thing I ask is that you take longer than 23 years to figure it out. That's how long it took me.


Duh, right? I bet you haven’t had this drilled into your head since, well, you first realized you had a head. Well, if you’re like me and an alarmingly high number of people, you’ve never really listened to it. Growing up, I never ate any vegetables, and even fruit was rare. I lived in a Hell of processed foods. When I decided to lose weight and got a personal trainer at my gym, my personal trainer told me to eat fruits and vegetables, particularly vegetables.  The greener the better. I nodded my head and proceeded to never eat a vegetable. I figured I could lose a significant amount of weight and become an overall healthy person and still avoid vegetables.

Vegetables are gross. They’re yucky. They remind us of when we were a kid and our mothers or grandmothers made us eat the rest of our broccoli before we went out to play and we just hated every second of it.

Let’s face it; it was incredibly immature of me to whine to my personal trainer about how gross vegetables are and how if I ate a broccoli floret I would vomit everywhere and be so sick forever. Grown-ups eat vegetables because they’re healthy and they make you feel good. Period. Also, they won’t make you fat. As I recently told a coworker who asked what she should be eating, have you ever heard anyone talk about how they got fat from eating too much spinach? I haven’t. That’s because it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen because it’s healthy and it’s what grown-ups eat.

I had to grow up and face the music that not only was I going to have force down veggies, I was going to have to force down a ton of them. I started slowly and figured out what I liked, what was tolerable, and what I could never eat as long as I lived. By the way, it’s ok to put some veggies in that final column just so long as you have veggies in the first two columns. Veggies I can never eat as long as I live? Raw mustard and collard greens. I tried to make myself love these for about a month. Gross. I don’t even want to be in the same room with those greens.

The most important things to remember about vegetables is that you want them green, green, and greener. Broccoli, spinach, greens (if you can stomach them), and green beans are all great. Try to keep them as pure as possible, but I have been known to eat microwable broccoli steamers in a low-fat cheese sauce, just keep it moderate. Watch out for the starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, peas, and to an extent, carrots. Don’t make these the staple of your vegetable intake. When the scale won’t move and you don’t feel light as a feather, you can blame the starchy vegetables. Give them up and you’ll get an immediately scale shake. Easy as that.

And maybe I’m wrong about this one, but to me, vegetables are not something you eat for taste. You eat them because they make you feel good. They give you vitamins that not only help keep you from getting sick but also help you get through your day or power through a good run. Their fiber content helps you feel full without eating hundreds of empty calories that will do nothing but weigh you down and hold you back.  If you’re not eating a ton of vegetables, you’re doing something wrong.

As for fruits, they are sweet and delicious. When someone tells us to eat healthy snacks throughout the day, we tend to load up on fruits. I love them, too, but I proceed with caution. Fruits are loaded with sugar, and although it’s natural sugar, it is still sugar and if it isn’t burned off, it will stick on you. When I first met with my trainer, she told me never to eat bananas due to sugar content.  As someone who had zero good eating habits and didn’t eat food unless it tasted good, I looked to bananas as an easy way to get healthy nutrients into my diet. I was devastated when she told me never to eat them. The exchange with something like this:

PT: Let the bananas go. They’re too high in sugar.
Me: But I like them!
PT: I know. Everyone does. Let them go.

Thus began my on and off relationship with bananas. Sometimes I love them and I think they’re great for my regime, and other times I curse them for being high in sugar. I have found balance in only eating them with breakfast on days when I am running after the meal. They are the best fuel for me in the morning. But if I’m not running, that banana isn’t going on my plate. Other than bananas, most of my fruit comes in the morning so that I have an opportunity throughout the day to burn off as much of that sugar as possible. I eat a serving of raisins with my first snack of the day. Raisins not only provide good nutrients but are also full of fiber and help to keep me full. If I am doing a workout at night, I’ll throw in an apple with my dinner. Again, I do this ONLY if I know I’ll burn it off.

I get a lot of flack for criticizing fruits so much. It’s just that I know people who decide they are going to start eating healthy and only fall back on fruits. Yes, they’re healthy. Yes,. they’re better sources of sugar than a Twinkie. They’re unprocessed and sometimes even “organic.” It doesn't make them any less full of sugar. I love fruits and I eat them, but I make sure that I have an activity level that burns them off.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Viking Number of the Day:152

I know, I know. I love numbers. This post is about another one.


My body has developed an odd pattern in my nearly two-year long weight loss journey. When my weight plateaus, it plateaus on a number that ends with a three. When I was heavier, the plateaus lasted for shorter periods of time, but now that I am no longer overweight, the plateaus are brutal. I was at 163 for about four months, then I broke the plateau and lost ten quick pounds in January alone. I have been sitting at 153 since January 31. But this morning, 153 is history, folks. I am officially 152.5

Sure, it's just a half pound, but it's a crucial half pound. It puts me just 2.5 lbs away from original 100 lb goal set for myself on April 2, 2009. I plan on finally reaching it by April 2, making it a great way to mark two years of a healthier lifestyle. The next weight goal? I can't say right now. When I get to 150, I'll see where I am in body fat percentage and go from there. From what I can tell right now, I am fairly sure I can get down to 140, but probably no less than 135.

If I didn't have so much to do today, I'd throw a party. Do you think my work would understand if I took a day off to celebrate a number on the scale? Feeling like a sharp combination of a million dollars and a Viking is good enough for now.


Another cool part about today is that it starts my two-day rest period before a race. My legs actually get a bit of a break! Yay! I will, however, take the dog for a walk. I might break my pre-race rest tradition to run tomorrow morning, but that realistically doesn't have much of a shot. I have packet pick-up tomorrow so I have to work an earlier shift to get there before it closes, so I would have to wake up around 4 AM in order to get a run in. I could do it, but I don't want to. Also, tomorrow happens to also be my 26th birthday. As much as I would love to welcome 26 with a fabulous first run, I'll probably save it for the "go big or go home" 10K on Saturday. If I'm feeling ambitious, though, I'll hop to the gym for some spinning or speed intervals on the elliptical.

Hope everyone's training goes well today! Marathon training is the best.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Water From Above, Water From Below


There's running in the rain, and then there's running in the rain while the creeks overflow below your feet. That was today's run in Iroquois Park. As a Viking, I loved every second of it. The hills are brutal but I was too distracted by the water gushing down toward me to notice the incline. My clothes were soaked and my shoes were even more soaked, but I am going to miss these days when the hot, humid summer drought returns. I am going to bask in the glory of how this feels because I'll sure miss it when it's gone.

Also, when I run in the rain, I average about three cars stopping to see if I need a ride to wherever I'm going. Sometimes I think it's funny and sometimes it really annoys me. Today I am annoyed. Maybe it's a simple reflection of how inactive our society has become. I never know what to say to the people because it honestly makes no sense that they would think that I am actually commuting. I am not wearing normal clothes. I am not carrying anything with me. I am taking the most roundabout and hilly route possible, which no one would do if they were going somewhere real by foot. Cars barely go that way. What makes someone think that I am on my way to work? Really? The point of this is that out of five cars that passed me today, two of them stopped to see if I needed a ride. I am not making this up.

I wanted to take some pictures of the flooding because it was pretty cool, but it was raining so hard that I didn't want to risk getting my phone out. I am having enough trouble with headphones right now that I don't need to add telephones to the water damage casualty list. Speaking of headphones, the Yurbuds survived the run! They didn't even slip out of my ear. I sometimes feel like the right earbud is going to slip out, but it never does. I attribute that feeling to years and years of having earbuds fall out of my ears, so initial bit of slippage makes me nervous.

Three days to the 10k. I am feeling pretty confident about it! Current weather forecast is low of 44 Friday night. Should be a sunny morning. Epic Saturday ahead.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Go Big or Go 30:04

I'm taking it pretty easy training-wise this week because of my race coming up on Saturday, so there's probably not going to be much of note about my runs this week. If all goes according to plan, they should be pretty simple and problem-free run and include nothing at all interesting to read or write about. Stay tuned if that changes. I have, however, been thinking a lot of strategy the last couple of days. Here's what I've come up with:


Saturday is the Rodes City Run 10K here in Louisville. It's the second leg of the city's Triple Crown of Running, coming two weeks after the Anthem 5K and two weeks before the Papa John's 10-miler. A couple weeks ago for the 5k, before I started this blog, I had a goal of finishing under 30 minutes. My original goal was to beat my first 5k time from the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure last October which was 30:52. That goal changed because I thought I was selling myself short. I was running this race about 15 lbs lighter than I was running in October. I had been training consistently and really felt like I had hit my stride, which I was not doing in October. I knew I could do under 30 minutes.

I approached the race pretty gingerly. The first mile was fairly slow due to a combination of the early race start line traffic and my efforts to hold myself back in fear that I may burn out early. Once I got to mile two, I realized how long I had taken to get there and I started to push it a little more. I was still holding back a bit because I have this little voice in the back of my head that tells me that I'm going to burn out. I can't seem to shut it up sometimes. I was looking at my watch the entire time, knowing how close I was to my goal time. Mile three I pushed it a little harder, but I knew up until probably the last two tenths of a mile, that I was still holding back a little bit. I crossed the finish line at 30:04. I felt like a complete failure.

I don't like not reaching a goal I set for myself. I know it's not a bad time, and it is a better time than I gave in October. What upsets me the most is that I know that I could have gone harder and I didn't. I crossed the finish line and I wasn't tired. I wasn't winded. I didn't feel like I had run a race, let alone my race. That's why that time upsets me.

I blame this on the mentality I've had to adopt for marathon training. Upping weekly mileage and a new idea of pacing to avoid injury has given me this fear of pushing and being bold. I didn't have that fear six months ago. I never felt any pressure to hold myself back. True, I had no real strategy or plan to my running, but I felt like I had run my race. I crossed the finish feeling like I poured all my energy into it and that I had put forth a solid effort. I didn't feel that way at all a during the Anthen 5K.

So on Saturday, it's "go big or go home" time. I am taking it easier this week for training, and on Saturday, I am leaving any pressure to hold back on the pavement of the City of Louisville. My time is goal is under an hour. My main goal is to cross that finish line with no regrets, knowing that I ran every step with the power of which I know I am capable.


I didn't run in silence yesterday. Sorry, I couldn't suck it up. I used my earbuds that still have one working ear. Maybe one day I'll be a silent runner, but for right now, I have other goals. We'll think about it after marathon season.

But I got my Yurbuds! Just did a short three-mile off day run and took the dog for a walk. For the first few minutes, I was convinced that they were going to fall out of my ears, but I have no idea why because they never moved the entire time. Good sound, too. So far, I think they are fantastic. Thank you, Dan, for the suggestion! It's supposed to rain pretty hard for two days starting tomorrow, so in the morning, I'll test out their performance in the rain. If they go out, I might have to go to silent running forever.


I recently received a request from an old friend who's trying to get back into running and lose some weight at the same time. I'm currently working on a nutrition post about fueling up to have enough energy for runs, but still keeping calories low enough to reach weight loss goals. This is one of my favorite topics, and one that I am still trying to master. I'm working on it, so stay tuned. Should be up by the end of the week!

I have received some amazing feedback from readers of this blog. Thank you for reading and being so kind to share your positivity! If you have any questions or anything you'd like me to talk about, let me know. If I can answer it, I'd love to address it. Keep it together with your goals, whether or not they be running-based.

A small tidbit about working toward your goals--last night during my usual 90-minute elliptical workout, three coworkers came into my gym. That never happens. Biggest Loser competitions mean something! I'm going to bug them to keep it up!