Just to let you know- this blog is no longer active. I'll be keeping up my 101 in 1001 list until its completion, but will not be writing new posts. You can read the post below if you want the long version. Thanks for the journey to all my friends in the blogosphere!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mid-Run Fuel

With my ginormous blister healing up nicely (I was pretty worried it was infected...it was red and painful and just generally gross) and my quads no longer sore, it is more than time for me to hit the road this afternoon.

And I will...after I finish this post and maybe grade a few papers.

I've been meaning to share my mid-run fueling experiences though and wanted to see if anybody had some suggestions. Until my last two long runs, I have never used any kind of energy gel or beans or what-have-you at all. In fact, I mostly have tried to avoid the Gatorade at water stations during half-marathons. I just had this hang-up about taking in calories while I was trying to burn them. It didn't make sense to me.

Well, I got over it. I've accepted that (obviously) my body is going to be able to perform better during 10+ mile runs if I have some kind of calories during the run. I knew that I would need some kind of energy to survive 26.2, for sure.

So, while I was home at my parents' (remember? the promised land of 5Ks and running partners and proximity to running stores?), we went to a wonderful running store in Charlotte and I loaded up on a sampling of energy products. I used them about every 4-5 miles during my 13 and 20 mile runs the past two weeks.

I was advised to take the gels gradually and drink water while doing so. I timed my fuels so that I could pick up the gel and water bottle on the porch then run a mile around the block while getting it down. Which worked pretty well, except that I had such a hard time getting down the whole package of 100 calories! (Mark this as the one and only time I'll complain about not being able to finish my food.) Out of the five I tried, I could only completely finish two over the course of a mile.

This is not scientific at all (I think a lot of it had to do with what point I was in my run) but here's what I thought about each of them.

The strawberry banana PowerBar gel was pretty tasty (think smoothie), but it was a little heavy. I was not quite about to finish it.
I will not be purchasing an Accel Gel again! The taste was okay, but the texture was really thick and kind of gritty. I could not even get down half of the package.
The Sport Beans were the surprise winner of my unofficial test! I really did not think I would like eating jelly beans while running, but they were actually the easiest to get down. It might have just been coincedence, but I had the biggest energy boost after these as well.

Even being the chocolate addict that I am, I was unsure about eating liquid chocolate during a run. The Hammer Gel was pretty delicious (it reminded me of the syrup that comes in those brownie mixes, but a little more bittersweet), but was a little too thick and I couldn't get down all of it. And I got chocolate on my hands. Which I normally don't complain about, but it was kind of sticky and gross at mile 8. The GU Chocolate Outrage was my favorite gel. It was a little sweeter than the Hammer Gel and not as thick. The girl at the running store warned me that it was a little too much chocolate for some and did not settle well with their stomachs. My stomach, being quite acclimated to large doses of chocolate, did quite well with this. This was the only gel I was able to get all the way down.

Does anyone else have a problem eating the whole pack? I thought spreading it over a mile (9-10 minutes) and drinking water was more than enough time. What kind of fuel do y'all use? Do some long-distance runners just use Gatorade?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not Me!

Even though I (well, I'm supposed to, I guess, since it's in the title and all) mostly blog about running, I'm pretty much obsessed with some blogs from many genres. I love to catch up on my real life friends' happenings, visit other running sites, read about other 20-somethings, and yes, though child-less at this time, I love a good mommy blog. Which brings me to the ultimate mommy blog: MckMama. And also brings me to Not Me! Monday (which I have never participated in before but just couldn't resist this week, because I've had many a Not Me! moment in the past week).

This weekend, I most certainly did not accidentally bake 3 cakes instead of 2. I always read directions very carefully and never double a recipe just because the original "just doesn't seem like quite enough cake."

As a result, I do not have 1.5 cakes in my refrigerator at the moment.

I most definitely did not frost the extra, spontaneous cake in leftover (from the first, intentional cake), mixed together, blue, green, and brown icing thinking it would look "creative and abstract."

I would never take such a cake to school, give it to my co-workers, and tell them my little cousin helped decorate it so I wouldn't have to explain how ugly it was.

In other news, I did not once again admit defeat to my "running-every-day-for-a-year" challenge. I would never get so overwhelmed with work (did I mention I'll be teaching two grades starting next week?), grad school, housework, and being a human being that I would say (again, again, again), "Forget it for now." Especially not in the same week as the 20 mile victory! That would be too ironic.

Speaking of irony, I certainly did not beg my husband to carry me piggy-back while walking around the neighborhood this afternoon. I'm a runner, for goodness sake...my legs would never have a hard time keeping up with my 6'3, long-strided husband.

And speaking of legs (or feet, rather)...it would never even occur to me to take off my boot and sock after school today to show my gnarly, long-run blister to my co-worker. Definitely not me! I want to keep my friends, right?

So there you have my week, from cake to feet. Appetizing, right? What did you not do this week?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Y'all, I ran 20 miles...

...by myself, running in circles around town, in 95% humidity.

I am so tickled that I was able to do this that I cannot put it into words. It went surpisingly well. I walked for just a bit twice while I was trying to get down energy gels, but kept a really great pace (for me) almost until the end.

When I passed mile 17, I got a little emotional because last time I tried this (four years ago) I crumpled in pain at mile 17 and had to limp home on a bad knee. That was the end of my marathon training and all running for several months.

Today, mile 17 with no pain (except worn-out quads) was a sign I could make it. I did walk and even stretch a little in miles 18 and 19 because my legs were starting to say, "No more, please!"

Mile 20, though, was mine. I was at a pretty slow pace at that time, but pulled a little (what I had left of) a sprint on the last block to my house. I wish I had a picture of the completely goofy grin I was sporting when I finished and knew: I ran 20 miles today.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Snakes (well, snake) alive!

I almost forgot about the most dramatic part of my run yesterday!

I have a few running fears that I carry somewhere at the back of my head: unfriendly dogs, being hit by a car, meeting up with bad company in a dark alley (although I generally avoid both running in the dark and alleys), along with some other somewhat rational worries. One of my biggest, and most ridiculous fears, though, is running right onto a snake! Can you imagine?! Just jogging along the side of the road and one of those little critters slithering his scary little self out of the grass and right under your foot? What would happen? What if one touched me with its slithery snake tongue?! (I'm really less worried about being bitten and more concerned about accidentally making contact with a snake...they really gross me out.)

Well, yesterday, at about mile 9, while running through a neighborhood and taking in the scenery, I looked down just in time to see my foot almost trample a huge, hungry, vicious cobra! Due to my amazing dexterity and speed, I was able to swerve and miss him and barely escaped with my life.

Actually, it wasn't quite that dramatic. There was a snake and I did almost step on him, but he was not that threatening. He was maybe 2 feet long, skinny, a little wimpy looking and almost cute (as far as snakes go, I mean). I still jumped 4 feet into the air, yelped, and sprinted out of its proximity, but I was over it in 30 seconds.

The morale of this story is that my fear (literally running into a snake), when realized, was actually not that bad. It was much worse in my imagination and now that it's over, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to survive any future serpentine encounters.

I'm having a little fear about 20 miles next weekend. Perhaps it won't be as bad in retrospect either? (I think that's a stretch.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Amazingly, Still on Course

I awoke this morning at 5:10, all ready for my big run.

No, not really. I woke up at that time (I think I was getting nervous about my run) but I definitely rolled over and went back to sleep. I did, however, faithfully get up at 7:30, put on my shoes, and hit the road, hoping that I could stay on pace so I could make it to church on time at 11:00.

Which I did. : )

I had a pretty good 13 miles by myself this morning, which was a big relief after last week's fail. I used power gels for the first time (I'll let you know about that later), wore my new cotton-free socks, and was even assisted by my husband! I left my water and gels on the porch and planned my run so I would go by there about every 4 miles or so. I was thrilled to jog up for my first refuel to find him sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair, reading the Sunday papers (how Southern Living) and he was kind enough to refill my water and throw away my trash for me.

So, I'm pointing towards 20 next week. Eek!

By the way, since I've been back in school (and pretending to be a healthy eater in front of my fourth graders all day), I've lost about 5 pounds. That's 5 less to carry on the marathon and I'm trying to make it 10 less by October 18th!

Friday, September 18, 2009

T- 1 month to the Marathon!

There are exactly 30 days left until I will be hauling myself across 26.2 miles of Iowa.

I probably should be freaking out, considering my training has not been as intense as I had planned, my max distance has been 16 miles, and I'm still carrying more pounds that I would like, but (right now) I'm pretty calm about it.

Even if I have to walk part of the race, I will finish and that will be an accomplishment in itself!

In this last month, I'm going to really focus on the things that will get me across that finish line healthy and happy. As very best as my schedule permits, I'm going to stick to my Runner's World plan. I'm going to try to fuel my body properly and give it more of the things it needs and less of things like No-Bake Cookies (which I really think are pretty great as far as cookies go...oats, peanut butter, milk...my body needs those things! Just not the pile of sugar and butter, I guess.) I will remember and take the time to stretch and ice when needed. I (flinching as I type this) am going to cut out Diet Coke from my daily routine. I'm not saying I won't have one here and there, but I'm going to replace my after-school Diet Coke with water.

What else? I know it's too late to make any changes that will have a huge impact on my race, but is there anything else I should be doing?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Well, that didn't work.

Yesterday, I very purposefully mentioned that I would going on a long run today. I thought, if I publicly announced that I would run 15+ miles (and I know I can because I did it last weekend) and block out 3 hours and hit the road, a magical mid-week long run would materialize!

Well, I apparently didn't use enough fairy dust, because 5 miles in, I said, "Forget it."

I was hot, dehydrated, stressing about my teetering pile of papers to grade, a little worn out from a long day of fourth graders, and generally not feeling it. I scraped this week's (already two days late) long run and decided to conserve my time and energy for this weekend.

I rediscovered my marathon plan after a few weeks off track and saw that I need to complete a 13 miler this coming weekend and then hit the big 2-0 the following week. I honestly think I can do it. Slowly, pathetically, but it will be done. I've come too far to turn back now. I just desperately wish I had someone to run with here though.

It's hard for me to fathom that about 4 years ago, the last time I was training for a marathon, that I joyfully hit the road (iPod-less, can you imagine?) for 13, 15, 17 miles at a time by myself. (Except for my one and only running blind date, but that's a story for another day.) I ran, even while limping, before I had to accept my knee was not compatible with a marathon at that time.

I'm just not feeling it now. How do y'all get through long runs by yourselves? I need a partner, I need water stations, I need to not compete with traffic! I really enjoyed and felt good about that 15 miles with my mom last weekend, but alone today, it just wasn't happening.

Monday, September 14, 2009

There was a clue.

Earlier today, I was rushing out the door, trying to get my run before my next obligation. I went to put my house key into my pocket, but it was kind of flipped over funny and I had to fold it up to keep the key in.

Which should have been my clue.

But I didn't catch on and went running around town, thankfully not for very long. Because now, hours later (still in my running clothes because I'm going to get in another mile on the treadmill before bed), I walked by a mirror and realized...

My shorts are inside out. As in, the bloomers are on the outside. As in, it looks kind of like I'm wearing a gray cloth diaper over my shorts. And I ran around in public like this. Aren't I a great ambassador for runners?

P.S. I had a lot of running excitement over the week: 5K! New Shoes! The Best Running Store Ever! I'll share all about that later, but I had to let someone else in on this shorts issue.

P.P.S I'm getting in my long run after school tomorrow. I'm trying to get jazzed up about it, but I really wish I had someone to run with here. I just need a little more distraction from the fact that I'm trying to run 15+ miles.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So, here are the rules.

If you've been following along this little journey of mine, you might have noticed that I made this great proclamation that I was (again) running every day starting September 1st and I was determined and unstoppable! A few days later then (yes, only 4 to be precise) you might have noticed a gap on my mileage where a run was nary to be found. Which is pretty pathetic, but something came up and no matter how big a fit I threw about it, the run was not happening.

I was still upset about the run-that-wasn't the next day as my mom and I set out to run 15 miles together. Ridiculously upset about it. Beating myself up about it. I was having a good run though and at about mile 11, I had a thought, Why on earth am I stressing myself out about something that is optional?

Running is not my job (thanks B.O.B for reminding me of this), the world does not fall to pieces when I miss a run, and this is just my silly plan anyway. So I decided to write myself a loophole: if I miss a run one day, I just have to make it up. Which means some days I'll have a two-fer. Which isn't a bad thing, either. It still adds up to 365, right?

I think this loophole was inspired by an event in my classroom last week. Each night, I have my students read for 20 minutes and record their books in a reading log. I check their logs each day to make sure they've read. Last week, I had a studious, obedient little girl practically in tears because she hadn't read the night before. She was so embarrassed and stammering, "I'm so sorry! I really like this book and I meant to read, but I had dance class and church and we were at my Grandma's and then my mom made me go to bed."

Even when you're in fourth grade, life's like that sometimes. You just can't fit it all in (even when it's just a 10 minute run or 20 minutes reading) and you have a parent (or a husband) that insists upon a bedtime (especially when the treadmill in is the bedroom). So, without hesitation, I told this student, "Honey, it's okay. Read an extra day this weekend. You'll catch up. It's not a big deal."

And I've decided to tell myself the same thing (except, you know, about the running). So, if see a gaping 0 on my mileage, look for an extra run the next day, or on the weekend. It'll be there. That slightly painful extra mile later in the day after the 15-miler is proof. As will be my extra run this weekend for Tuesday. Just keep me accountable!

Monday, September 7, 2009

We took the lake!

I just arrived home from a lovely weekend at the nearby lake with both my own family and in-laws. I feel very, very fortunate that I grew up in a wonderful family, married into a wonderful family, and both of these families are even able to socialize with each other! (Right before we broke out the sparklers and exited our wedding reception, our photographer pulled my husband and I aside for a couple quick shots and told us, "You both have such nice families. And they even get along and seem to be happy together! Nobody was stressed out or pushy or anything. I don't see this very often." Since this guy had been to more weddings that year than most attend in a lifetime, I took that as a pretty good indicator.)

My family's trip down here, as per usual, was in part prompted by an athletic event. Every Labor Day weekend, athletes, mostly local, gather at Lake Waccamaw to "Take the Lake." This year was the first year that it has been truly organized and advertised, complete with water stops, porta-potties, online registration, and even Twitter! Between both of our families, we pretty decently covered the event. Here were the offerings and the participants:

Saturday, 8 AM
Run/Walk 15 miles around the lake

My mom and I ran and were pretty pleased with the result. I haven't run this distance in 3 years and my mom had never ran this far. Part of it was through wooded and sandy trails, so it's hard to translate to marathon pace time though. I finished in 2:57, which is about 5 miles per hour. If I'm able to be just a tad faster than that on October 18th, I might be under 5 hours for the marathon. My mom wasn't far behind. (I'll give the full race report later this week.)

My husband and father-in-law both completed the 15 mile walk and my mother-in-law and several family friends walked part of the way.

(Without being part of the official event, one of my sisters accidentally biked around the lake that morning as well.)

Sunday, 8 AM
Bike 15 miles around the lake

I worked on grad school work and skipped out on the bike, but my youngest sister, dad, mom, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and her boyfriend all biked. They kept stressing throughout the weekend that these were NOT RACES, but that kind of motivated my mom and a few of the other competitive bikers and they raced tightly along (even through the woods where they had to run pushing/carrying their bikes). My mom was 3rd overall and the first woman to finish, which makes us very proud, and also makes me glad that I was at home typing instead of trying to keep up with her.

Sunday, 2 PM
Kayak 14 miles around the lake

My mom and father-in-law were interested in this event, but a little concerned about how boring kayaking in a giant circle for 4 hours might prove to be. They started, but encountered very choppy water an hour or so in, and bailed. We watched the other paddlers from the pier, as they passed several hours later, and once again, I was glad I sat that one out.

Monday, 8 AM
Swim 4 miles across the lake

Unfortunately, there was not a representative from our family in this event. I swam the lake 3 years ago. It was the most athletically challenging thing I've ever done and I'm a pretty decent swimmer. (I have a lot more skill as a swimmer than a runner, actually. In my wildest dreams, they would build a YMCA here and I would faithfully swim every day.) Next year, I think I'd like to conquer the swim again.

In any case, our two families together circled the lake 11 times this weekend! That's 165 miles, if you were counting. Hope y'all enjoyed your labor day weekend too!

(Tomorrow, I'll catch y'all up on my 365 and marathon training. I haven't forgotten!)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm comtemplating "The Stick."

Before your imaginations get away with you, let me explain "The Stick" for any non-runners or those who have not encountered it yet. It is this, well, stick, that you use to massage sore muscles and help your legs recover. At least, that's my understanding. I've seen them in running stores and visited the website, but until lately, have never really felt the urge to buy/use one.

For the past month or so, I've been experiencing this kind of weird tightness in my right calf, at the beginning of my runs and after I finish. It's not exactly painful, just an odd uncomfortableness that stretching doesn't seem to help much. When I get into my running stride (even for 9 minutes or so) it goes away, but then it comes back to haunt me afterwards and sometimes even into the next day or days. I don't think it has anything to do with effort or distance because it's actually happened more often the less I've been running.

So, my question is: Do I need "The Stick" or another recovery tool or should I be stretching more or should I just be sucking it up? Advice, please!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

August and Reflection

I remembered today that I had not yet posted my August mileage. I'd like to also pause for a second (prompted partially by Meredith) to reflect upon my miles and days running since I started this twice thrwarted journey in April. Maybe some reflection will either inspire me or educate me in my new attempt.

August 1
1 mile, up and down driveway at midnight

August 2
13 miles, ran home from town with Mom, stopped for water at Barbara's

August 3
1 mile, treadmill

August 4
3 miles, Grandma Loop

August 5
1 mile, treadmill

August 6
1 mile, treadmill

August 7
1 mile, courthouse loop

August 8
4.5 miles, around town with Amy

August 9
1 mile, treadmill

August 10
1.5 miles, downtown and back

August 11
1 mile, courthouse loop
(It did take me over an hour to mow the lawn though....so is that a good excuse for skipping the other 3 miles? Yeah, I didn't think so, either.)

August 12
3 miles, across bridge and back, very humid

August 13-16

August 17
5 miles, to Lowe's and back

August 18-22
I moved a lot of boxes in my classroom. That count for anything?

August 23
12 miles, to Lowe's and back twice, loop around

August Total: 49 miles

July Total: 76 miles

June Total: 50.5 miles

May Total: 43.5 miles

Since I started on April 25th, I ran 109 days and a total of 229.5 miles. So, that's something. Does that compensate for my 1 mile again today? : )

Why not?

For the sake of my quickly approaching marathon, and just because I love y'all, I started over my 365 yesterday. September 1, 2009 to August 31, 2010.

The past few weeks, when I haven't had the goal of running daily, it's just been been too easy for me to make excuses and say, "tomorrow." I've barely run at all. This does not bode well for 26.2 on October 18th.

So, in my own true fashion, yesterday, I ran one mile. Real quick, before it got dark. Hey, one is more than zero!

I'm happy to know, no matter what, that I'll be running later today, too.