Tart Cherry Juice and Chocolate Milk are my new best friends

Yuck! That is my feeling of today’s long run.

I had found out about a Greenway a couple miles from my place and thought it looked like a lovely place for a long run considering that it spans 10 miles with little traffic interaction. I looked up the website. It said that it was hard packed dirt, which I could handle. Well, about 3 miles in it goes all rocky, gravel-like. It killed my knees and ankles. I thought about going back and finishing the rest of the run somewhere else but that kind of felt like cheating to me so I kept on truckin’. I ran the first mile of this run at HMP (just to see). It felt good. I can definitely do that pace IF nothing else affects me, such as side-cramps or other unmentionable problems runners can incur.

The last 2.5 miles out were killer. My ankles definitely got a workout. I can feel it all over though. I will not be visiting this trail again until after the half.

I need to start carrying water with me or making my runs pass by water fountains. I had my Gu at 5.5 miles and water was nowhere in site. The Gu was nice and warm because I had stored it in between my ipod armband and my arm. Eww. But, it went down smooth and was a pretty tasty one. I still needed water though.

Anyway, I turned around there to finish the run of 11 miles. I slowed it down a lot because I was feeling all the working the trail and rocks were doing on my body. I have no doubt that had I ran last week’s course all would have been well but as C.S. Lewis says, “Experience is a brutal teacher, but you learn.” These are words to live by and one of my favorite quotes.

After my run, I stopped by Earthfare to pick up some 100% Tart Cherry Juice. Jamie Mains, whom I have bugged to death I’m sure over this entire process of asking her a bajillion questions about running and training, recommended it to me for joint pain. It is supposed to reduce inflammation. So when I got home I drank a glass of this along with my norm of drinking chocolate milk. (A perk to training is that you get to drink chocolate milk without any guilt. The combo of the chocolate and the milk replenish the protien and carbohydrates you lost during your run and is popular recovery drink for serious athletes.) So, this is why tart cherry juice and chocolate milk are my new best friends.

For now, I will be resting my legs at home and praying a lot. As I write I have just switched the ice packs from my knees to my ankles. Hopefully, I will be recovered enough tomorrow for my 5 miles at HMP. If not, I will use tomorrow as my Monday rest day and run this on Monday.

As a side note, Mom, don’t worry about me…I am fine. Just a little sore. Remember the broken nose? That was much worse.

Mantras and PRs

Let me start off by saying, after Reality and Doubt came to visit me this week I have revised my original goal of 1:59 to one of 2:10. Suffice it to say, I will be ECSTATIC if I do get the 1:59…but I have to face reality. The reality is that this is pretty fast (for me anyway) for a long period of time. I have been keeping up with my plan. Following it to the Tee. If nothing else, I am a rule-follower. It’s just in my DNA. I don’t break rules.

The plan I am on is based on a goal of breaking 2:00 so I am keeping those paces just because I am comfortable with them and it will make me faster. Obviously, I will PR and that is always a good thing. My first half was 2:40. I think I was more trotting than running. I was scared to death of not being able to finish because the 12 miler I had ran 2 weeks before had hurt my knee so bad that I did not run period in the 2 weeks leading up to the race. I got out and tried to run 4 miles one day and didn’t make it 1 before I was in excrutiating pain and had to walk back to my condo.

Training has been going great so far. I am having a hard time trusting the process though. Everything I read and everything I’m told is that I should run my long runs at an 11:00 minute mile, or 2 minutes slower than my HMP. I can’t do that. I am told that the long runs are just so you have time on your feet and that on race day is when you really get it. I feel like that I would get lazy and my body would get used to the pace, therefore want to always be at that pace. I know that this is what I should do and maybe I will this week for my 10-11 miler. We shall see.

Monday, my rest/stretching day, was soooo long! I was restless. I got home from work and immediately wanted to go run. It had been a much longer break than I usually have for runs. I, obviously, need a life. (I do have friends but they are all at work at night.)

Tuesday was an easy 4 mile run. It was so slow and easy that I was b-o-r-e-d. As I said, I am following the plan. This was the pace it said to run. And again, hard time trusting the process. I guess I have to realize that race day is when I should reach my peak, not before then. Until that day, I need to treat my legs well. Let them recover and rest after a hard or long workout. I guess it’s the same in any sort of competition. When I competed in cheer my coach always said we needed to peak at competition. It didn’t matter if we weren’t hitting everything perfectly before. It mattered if we hit it perfectly there…that is a lot of pressure to put on one day. That’s why we train though.

Tonight I did 800s x 4. I increased my pace by .1mph with each 800. It felt good. I felt strong and, surprisingly, fast.

I had recently picked up my Runners World magazine to read it when I finally had the time. There were two extremely interesting articles I found this week. (They are all interesting to me, but I won’t bore you.) One was about how the Biggest Loser contestants train for a marathon. This was very inspirational to me, as is the show. If these people can train for a marathon there is absolutely no reason why I can’t. I will run one this year.

The next was an article on mantras. The Sanskrit word actually means “instrument for thinking”. It basically says that while running you should reinforce positive thoughts in your head. I’ve already been doing this so I was excited. When I am really pushing in a speed workout I will yell things (in my head), usually only one word but with the same meaning – Find the will. Find the strength. I will try to make up more to get me through the 2 hours of the half-marathon. Any suggestions will be taken. One of my favorites from RW was “One mile at a time” for a marathon. Simple, yet, to the point. I can use that for a half. It’s important to not become overwhelmed by the task at hand and to just be in the present.

I already find myself doing math equations every time I run. I know, dork, huh? Well, I will separate my runs into fractions and pie charts. (If any teachers are reading, you should appreciate this.) For example, when I hit three miles in my nine mile run, I thought 1/3 of the way through. Only 2/3 to go! I will also try to calculate pace and finish time. It is hard to do while running but just kinda comes natural to me…always with the numbers.

The countdown continues….4 weeks and 3 days.

Feeling blessed!

Today was amazing! It was one of the best days I have had in a long time. Not only did I get to go to church for the first time in a few months, but it was a gorgeous day for my 9 mile run. The church was great. Collective worship and praise always gets me teary-eyed. I am just overcome by why we are all there. Some of the smallest things affect me on a daily basis. My friends call me “sensitive”…I am. 🙂

After church, I went in search of Gu because I was not prepared. I had packed my bag because I wanted to run in Mt. Pleasant today and found no reason to drive all the way back to James Island when I was already there. So I packed everything I could possibly want to wear to run in, my Garmin watch, my iPod, and a headband. Then, I realized that I was running 9 miles today and I couldn’t do that on my breakfast alone. I knew that I would need some Gu (for you non-runners, this is an energy gel designed to be eaten/taken while in motion to provide fuel to keep you going when your stored-up energy runs out). And, of course, I’m (still) in an unfamiliar place. I don’t know where to go buy this. So I looked up Vitamin stores on Google maps on my phone. (Have I mentioned I love my Blackberry? I don’t know what I would’ve done without it these past few months.) I find a Vitamin World so I go there thinking that they would have Gu. But, when I get there the woman looks at me like I’m crazy when I ask for Gu’s. Haha…I guess I would too if I didn’t know. Then, she directs me to Try Sports, where I finally buy four because I don’t know where and when I’ll find it again.

Then, I drive to Isle of Palms because I have heard about running the IOP Connector. It is a beautiful day but still a bit chilly between 47-51 degrees. I packed on the clothing because I got cold last Thursday on my 3 miler at the bridge…but, now that I think about it, I was getting dark by then. I parked by the beach. It’s inspirational to me…and it’s really cool that I can do that now. I took off wearing my dri-fit long-sleeve, running tights, half-zip long-sleeve, and a fleece headband. I didn’t want to get cold and come back early, so be prepared, right? BIG mistake. I was hot, and I mean, sweating hot by mile 2. Ugh! What to do? I had three options. Go back to my car and put it up, lay it down somewhere and hope it was there when I got back to it, or tie it around my waist. I opted for the last because I was not about to go back and restart my run and run the risk of losing momentum and this jacket was expensive. My luck someone would pick it up. So here I go, running down the IOP Connector with a jacket tied at my waist like a dweeb. Oh and I took it off mid-run. Like I said, didn’t want to lose momentum. This meant taking the iPod off my arm and my Garmin off of my wrist all while trying to not drop anything and keep up my pace. And then, putting them back on. The jacket didn’t bother me once I got going but I did have to turn it to the side. The fleece headband also came off and ended up in my jacket pocket eventually.

Other than that, the run was great! I ran under what my pace was supposed to be for this run and I wasn’t out of breath. The first two miles weren’t my best, but they never are. It got much better. By halfway through, I was rapping Ice Ice Baby. Yes, out loud. Those of you who know me well can imagine this, I’m sure. I can assure you I was a sight to be seen in my highlighter yellow shirt singing “Word to your mother.” Hahaha…”too cold, too cold”. At 5 miles I was ready for my Gu. I had started to slow a bit and knew that I needed something if I wanted to finish this on time. The Gu is pretty nasty the first time you eat one, but this one wasn’t so bad. It took me about three slurps, if you will, to get this one down. Easy peasy. The rest of the run was beautiful except for having to readjust my jacket a few times. I ended up at one point with it around my chest, under my arms…fun times. One must be flexible to succeed at anything.

When I got down to about .3 miles to go, Shout to the Lord came on my playlist. I had intentionally made this my ending song. I knew that I was almost finished and I looked at my watch. I was going to make it under pace. I was overwhelmed with joy and relief and teared up. Training is such an emotional thing for me. To push my body to the limits and be amazed at what I am capable of. This is why I’m feeling blessed. Not all people can get out there and run 9 miles, even if they desired to, but I can. I have two perfect legs, perfect lungs, and a perfect heart. What else could I ask for?

Nothing is impossible.

Woohoo! I ran 4 miles on my HMP!! Now, I know this is possible. All day it seemed like this run was not going to happen. I had to work today at 11:00 and had imagined the night before that if I wake up early I would go ahead and run before work, so that way it would be done for the day and I wouldn’t be worried about making time for it later in the day. But…I woke up early…and went back to sleep. Ha! I figured I don’t get to sleep in often so I would just run after work. Well, at work we decided to go out for Mexican food afterwards, which I was pumped about (and if you ever come to Charleston eat at Santi’s). It was delish! I have been ravenous for the past two weeks and ate enough for at least two people! So, of course, right after that I could not run, but I came on home. I started making excuses like, well, if I don’t run today I always have my long run tomorrow… Then after about an hour and a half of being home I went for it. I was nervous about trying to stay on pace but I did it the whole way through, without my full-on effort. Training is paying off and I couldn’t be happier….

It is so close…

Today is a rest day and, boy, did I need it! My legs have gotten so heavy this week during my training. This IS the first full week of hardcore training. This soreness in my legs really got me thinking this week…can I really do this?

It’s not really a question of whether I can run the half marathon or not. I know that I can run it and complete it, probably without all this “hardcore” training…BUT I am a competitor and just finishing at this point is not an option for me. Besides, I’ve done that already. On to the next. You know when I told my dad that I was going for under 2 hours he didn’t even flinch. Well, I don’t know if he flinched (We were on the phone) but he didn’t hesitate in telling me that I could do it and it was fully possible. I know myself that this is a lofty goal but…here I go anyway. It actually gave me a lot of confidence that he had faith in me. I know that my mom believes in me too, along with the rest of my family and friends. I don’t want to disappoint anyone, especially myself. I think of the impossible and I think of how I used to do back tucks when I cheered…Now, THAT is scary!

My intervals I ran this week were difficult. I did it and I ran on pace but I didn’t want to. I was tired. My legs were tired. I had ran the 7 miles on Sunday, strength trained on Monday, and ran 4.5 miles on Tuesday. Intervals on Wednesday were…not desired. I think it is me getting used to the speedwork. I’ve never done this before so my body is adapting and it is letting me know. I got some good advice this week from one of my half-marathonmates that this happens during training and it will get easier. Good to know. Good to keep going. And keep going I will. Tomorrow, I am running 3-4 miles on my HMP (half-marathon pace). Then, on Sunday, 9 miles. I find joy in looking for new places to run and planning playlists for my run. I realized when talking about why I am doing this last week I forgot to mention my love of running. It is just a given to me and I consider this an unspoken known.

I am so excited about going to the half marathon. My mom thinks I am just excited to go to Disney World. (Who says I’m not?) I love theme parks and don’t all athletes say they are going to Disney World when they win? Well, I will already be there when I cross that finish line 🙂 Another thing that I love about and am pumped for is the camaraderie. There is something about being with other runners, surrounded by them that makes me feel in my element. Now, granted, I am no Olympic runner, by any means, but that doesn’t make me love it any less. When you love something, you want to get better at it and you want to be around other people who love it just as much as you do. Runners understand each other. They understand why we will go out in the middle of a rainstorm and will be as happy as a lark to run 4 or 5 miles. They understand why we will run for hours on end to train or just to run. They understand when other people say “how can you like to run?” or “I hate running. Why would you want to do that for fun?” and all we can do is just smile and say “I love it.” or “It is my release.” No one else understands. No one else understands until they have enjoyed a run. Once you enjoy a run, it is addictive. It is a drug.

6 weeks to go

I don’t really know what I was thinking signing up for a half marathon 6 1/2 weeks away when I hadn’t ran more than 5 miles since my 1st half marathon in April…and on top of that I will be going with two Boston Qualifiers!

I began with some speedwork last week when I realized I was going to get to go. This race is one that I had coveted since I saw the post on Active.com about it. I had tried to find some fellow ladies to run with me but to no avail. It seems hard to find people that want to run these. I get it, if it were easy everyone would do it…but it’s not. It takes hard work and a lot of discipline. So why do I want to do it? The answer is easy…for the sense of accomplishment and inspiration. The first half I ran was the Country Music Marathon in where else but Nashville. It is part of the Rock and Roll Marathon series. These races feature bands along the course to sing you to victory, as I like to think 🙂 All along the course there are spectators who are cheering and holding up signs. I felt like a rockstar running that race with all of those people yelling for me! It was definitely one of the most inspiring things that I have ever done in my life. That race I ran just to finish but it felt sooo good when I did. I did have a time goal but did not make it and I am very competitive. It hurt my spirit a little bit but I did have a major knee injury at the time and only missed my goal by 10 minutes.

So this time I am going to take care of myself and make sure I go in injury-free. I will try to break my PR (personal record) by 40 minutes. I honestly think I can do it. I have been running for a solid year and have built myself up (I think and hope). So on to speedwork, which I did not do the first go-around. To be honest, it has always kind of scared me and intimidated me. BUT if you want to get better you have to push boundaries so that’s what I’ll do. My first time felt awesome! I don’t know if it will be like that from hereafter but I sure hope so. I warmed up for 5 minutes. After the warm-up, I started my intervals of 400 meters at as fast as I could go. I took one minute breaks between each interval. I started out thinking I would only do 4 intervals but I just felt like running (Forrest Gump, anyone?) and ended up doing 6 instead. Then, the cool-down. After that I took two days off from running (per Hal Higdon’s training plan). I did Yoga the first off-day, Friday, and did nothing on Saturday except work. Yoga really helps me to center myself and not to mention the amazing stretching it does for my legs.

Then comes Sunday, my first long run of this training. I had went in hoping to do 7 miles but ok with 6, considering my mileage at this point. I don’t really like to run in the cold so I hadn’t really been racking up the mileage. I decided to do my run at the bridge mainly because it doesn’t have intersections like road running does. I wanted to run straight through because I knew that if I stopped I might not make it the whole 7. I really don’t want to lose my motivation, especially knowing how close the race is. I drove to the bridge, which I know is a solid 5 miles out and back, and went one mile further so I could add that to my distance and make it 7. I don’t know what I was thinking. The first part of the bridge is KILLER! It is so steep! I was afraid I would never be able to keep my pace and keep my legs injury-free so I slowed down at the beginning. I made up for this time on the downwards. You have to understand once you get down…you have to go back up. The second time up was easier, actually, from the other side. It is a longer ascent but it isn’t as steep. I consider myself an endurance runner rather than a speedy runner. I get better as the run goes on so by mile 2-3 I am usually feeling great but at mile 1 I sometimes want to stop. I am very happy with the way the ran went. My only hope is that I can keep it up and make progress. AND that my knee behaves 🙂 Thanks for reading…I know it was long but I had a lot to say.