Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The plan

So, I've decided to write my own half -marathon training plan this time around. A group of friends and I have all decided to do the Haunted Hustle half-marathon in October. Most of us are beginners so I modified the plan from the August issue of Runners World.

 REST/XT: this means no running! These rest days are just as important to training for a half marathon as our weekly long runs. Your muscles need time to recover in order to rebuild the strength to keep adding miles as we go. I’m not asking you to sit on your ass like a blob, as it will get harder and harder not to run as your body gets used to it. I am saying that you may become addicted to running! The key on rest days is to do low-impact exercises such as walking, biking, yoga or swimming. A little light weight training doesn’t hurt either. Work on your core during your rest days. A strong core will help you keep good running form when your muscles get tired.  It is important to drink a lot of water to help your body flush out any lactic acid built up from those hard training runs we’ll be doing.
EZ: These runs are designed to be run at conversation pace. If you can’t catch your breath enough to say more than a few words at a time, you’re going too fast. Remember, this is not a race. These runs are supposed to be enjoyable, bring a friend along for the fun!
LSD: No, I’m not talking about psychedelics. We are training for a Halloween run and I’m expecting some sort of crazy getup to be going on come race day, but during training it’s important to keep a level head and take it easy on these long runs. Long Slow Distance runs help build both your mental and physical endurance. These are the runs that will help you build up enough confidence to carry you through that final stretch of this half-marathon!
Pickups: This is a pretty simple concept. While you are running, pick up your pace a little.  Sprinting for short distances will help you be able to run faster over all. Any good training plan includes a little speed work. Another way to speed train is Fartlek, which means "speed play" in Swedish, a form of interval training which puts stress on the whole aerobic energy system due to the continuous nature of the exercise. The difference between this type of training and continuous training is that the intensity or speed of the exercise varies, meaning that aerobic and anaerobic systems can be put under stress. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed can be varied whenever you want.
HILLz: mixing up your weekly runs is a great way to make you a stronger more efficient runner. Adding a weekly hill workout is a great way to “mix-it-up.” The incline of the hill helps strengthen all of the lower-body muscles, especially the glutes and hamstrings. The increased speed needed to climb that hill helps boost your VO2Max (your body’s ability to take in oxygen and get it to the muscle to make energy) as well as push out your lactate threshold (the point at which you feel that fatiguing burn in your legs). Sometimes it can be hard to locate a good hill and as it starts to get colder, we may want to spend less time outdoors. It is important to learn how to fit these workouts in at the gym as well. This Runner dude has a few good examples of treadmill hill workouts on his blog.
Tempo: Tempo runs are an excellent way for runners to build speed and strength. They're runs that are done at a steady effort level, usually just a little slower than your 10K race pace. Tempo runs help you develop your anaerobic or lactate threshold, which is critical for running faster. To get started with tempo runs, start your run with 5 to 10 minutes of easy running to warm up, and then continue with 15 to 20 minutes of running about 10 seconds slower than your 10K pace. Finish with 5 to 10 minutes of cooling down. If you're not sure what your 10K pace is, run at a pace that feels "comfortably hard." More on Tempo runs here.
TIPS to LIVE by…
  • Start each run with a gentle warm-up of at least five minutes. This can include quick walking, marching on the spot, knee lifts, side stepping and climbing stairs.
  • Run with your arms and shoulders relaxed, and elbows bent. Keep an upright posture and a smooth running stride, striking the ground from heel to toe.
  • Stretch! Dynamic stretching is good before runs and static stretching is better for after.
  • Register for your race as soon as you can. The sooner you can commit, the more motivated you’ll be during training.
  • Keep a diary of your runs. Note down each run, including your route, distance, time, weather conditions and how you felt. That way, whenever your motivation is flagging, you can look back and be encouraged by how much you’ve improved. Daily mile makes this a lot easier.
  • Run with a friend. It really helps to have someone about the same level of ability as you to run with. You’ll encourage each other when you’re not so keen to run. You'll feel you don't want to let your running partner down, and this will help motivate you. Hopefully we can all keep in touch through dailymile. You can also join a running club in Madison, or Milwaukee.


Monday, August 8, 2011

It begins again...

A little less than two months since Grandma's marathon in Duluth, I'm choosing to begin this journey on more time. Only this time there are a few differences. 

This time I'm only going for half. Training starts tomorrow with a two mile run. I've recruited a few friends to train for the Haunted Hustle Middleton the day before halloween. I hope we can all stick together through training and finish this half in style! Costumes? Probably. I've modified the runner's world half-marathon training to accomodate true beginners. I feel like a beginner right now, really. I hope you're ready girls!

I probably should have shot for a half marathon first, then gone for the full afterwards but I've been known to do things a little differently at times. 

Here's a little catchup from the last couple months:

My marathon went well, but training was somewhat lonely and 26.2 miles is a long way. I finished in 4:37, only seven minutes over my goal.

 I would have uploaded more pictures, but all of them were taken by my boyfriend, Nick, who ended up losing all his belongings in an apartment fire a couple weeks later.
Thankfully nobody was hurt, but my pictures haven't been salvaged. I quit running for three weeks after that. I had a recurring pain in my left foot that wouldn't let me run more than a mile at a time. I lost a little motivation during that little break. An accellerated summertime calculus class kept me busy and too stressed out to run as well.
I'm not a fan of calculus, I must say. It didn't end well.

After that disaster, and a good long healing period, I started to run again. Next came Tough Mudder Wisconsin.

 I had a pretty hard time training for this one. I took a weight training class at school to help prepare. 

 I was only able to run short distances at a time because of my injured foot, but I rode my bike almost every day. I figured I could handle it with minimal training. After all, I had just run a marathon, I could do anything. Ten miles seemed like nothing.
 It was the obstacles that made it both fun, and almost impossible at the same time.
 There was nothing that could have prepared me for those hills. It was four miles of straight up and down hills. These weren't gently rolling hills mind you, these were brutal, better walk on the way down or you might break a leg, hills. Double black diamond ski hills, the kind you don't attempt on skis. 

So, that's some of what's been going on in my life lately. 


Friday, June 10, 2011

Pre-race recap and some lingering thoughts on energy gels

It's almost a week till race day and I'm just about totally prepared for this marathon thing. I'm so nervous at this point that I just want it to be over with. All my plans are in line. All that needs to be done is to do it. 

I've been cutting back on my training for the last couple of weeks. My runs have gone back down to between 3-4 miles each and my long runs no longer seem long. Well, last Sunday's 15 miles turned into 13, then turned into 9+ 2miles of walking because my hip flexors decided to start making themselves painfully noticed. I had worked ALL of Saturday. Starting at 5am with a 4 mile bike ride in to work to stand behind a desk for 8.5 hours Saturday was a non-stop run in itself. It was busy so I didn't get to sit down for a moment. After that, I rode my bike another 13 miles to get to my other job at a swanky private golf club where I do everything from serve tables to carry them and their chairs to set-up and tear down wedding decorations. We were there until 1:30 am. I had to work there on Sunday afternoon too, so I got a ride home and planned on running there (13 miles) in order to fit in my long run for the week. Due to the overexertion on Saturday, my body shut down 2 miles shy of my goal and would run no further. This just gave me a good indication that taking off work for the 2 days proir to my marathon is a good idea. 

I stopped at the local bike shop the other day and parused their selection of energy gels to bring along with me on race day. There are so many to choose from! I picked up quite a few I think I might like just to try and a couple that I know work well for me. I'm a big fan of the cliff bloks and shots because they are mostly organic and contain no high fructose corn sweetener. I noticed a lot of these contained caffeine. I'm thinking, 'hey, caffeine gives you energy, what a great idea!'  Then I started thinking about what caffeine actually does to me; it may not be that great of an idea after all. I don't know about you, but after coffee I tend to need the bathroom. I wouldn't see that being too comfortable on rade day. I've had that feeling on runs before and I don't like it. I was wondering if this is what the problem is for people that regularly complain about digestion issues on race day. Caffeine can also inhibit the absorbtion of carbohydrates into your system and contribute to dehyhdration.

I'd like to know hear some other thoughts on this. Do you use gels on your long runs? Do you go for the ones with caffeine or opt for the more natural gels without caffeine?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

May rains, muscle strains, and overloaded brains

That pretty much sums up my entire last month in one sentence or less. I wish I could say that the reason I've neglected my blog for the last few weeks was due to my travels to distant exotic locales, mingling with indigenous peoples who have never heard of the internet, and doing things far more life enriching than writing endearing notes to cyber peeps. Nope. I'm not that cool.

Finals took a lot out of me this semester. With two jobs, marathon training and nine credits I had my work cut out for me. During the weeks leading up to finals, blogging just didn't fit into my schedule.

To the left is just one of the many disorganized piles of books/notes that haunted me. By the end of it I didn't want to touch a computer or textbook for a while. The three week break between spring and summer classes couldn't have come sooner. So, what did I do for my break?

I did what any responsible college student would do.

I slept for five days straight.

Just kidding.

After finals were over I tried to incorporate more extracurricular activities. Reading... FOR FUN. Spending time outdoors...

That was an adventure. April showers bring May... SNOW?!?!!
OK, It wasn't really snow, but it was close enough. It was cold and rainy. And one fine day brought some kind of sleet-like precipitation that looked more like unflavored dippin' dots.
(I used to think that stuff was so cool)

Looks pretty neat, but it's no weather to run in. I'm clumsy enough as it is without attempting to run with tiny slippery ice pellets under my feet. Nothankyou.
Good thing my school gym is still open through the interim.

This is the view of lake Mendota, beginning of my run. 
Sunset over the lake on my way home. Three miles to go!

This spring transition has not been the smoothest, but it hasn't been all bad. The first weekend in May was beautiful here in Madison. Just in time for my 16 mile run. I felt so good that day, I ran 16.88 miles.

It felt pretty good.  I brought my hydration belt and my Clif Shot Bloks.
They come highly recommended by my mom, a seasoned running veteran who is also running Grandma's Marathon this year.

The first 10-12 miles felt great. I started getting tired, but the worst part was over and I had this beautiful sunset to keep me company on the way home...

I was pretty tired after this run, but really proud of myself because it was the furthest I'd ever run before. I took some advice and tried the ice-bath thing at the end of this run. I'm not sure if I used enough ice. Or maybe I didn't stretch enough. Either way, I woke up the next morning with... (GASP)


 I tried everything they say you're supposed to do for this kind of thing.


But nothing seemed to be working.
A few days week and a few skipped runs later, I went to the doctor.
He told me that I had been over-training and hitting the hills way too hard. I had an achilles tendon overuse injury. The muscles holding my ankles together were severely strained. Good news was I didn't break anything, then came the bad news: I had to quit running for another week. At least until the swelling subsides. Then he told me that when I finally came back to running I couldn't take on too many miles. This really worried me because I had an 18 and a 20 mile run to do and everything I've ever read about marathon training says that the long runs are crucial to preparing yourself for race day, mentally and physically.

Well, I did what the doctor told me. I din't run for two weeks! I really felt like a major slacker. It's amazing the kind of addictive power running has. I didn't know how much I loved it until I had to stop. I was given the OK to ride my bike though. I ride everywhere normally, so that was a relief. I don't have a car and I'd rather not take the bus as long as I have two relatively un-crippled legs to pedal around with.

I asked my mom, almost crying (when I say almost, I really mean actually) if I would have to give up on this whole marathon dream of mine. She told me that was nonsense (thanks mom!), and I would be just fine as long as I got to do at least one of my long runs before the marathon.
Guess what I did this weekend?

I ran 20.49 miles on my long run on Sunday!!!

My boyfriend's family has a cottage overlooking the bay in Door county and this is where we spent most of the holiday weekend. I totally forgot to bring a camera; I wish I would have taken some pictures.
I got up at 5 am and left the cottage by 6:00. Strapped on my fuel belt with two little bottles of water, set my playlist and hit the road. I struggled quite a bit during the last five miles, but the first 14 and the last .4 miles were pretty darn exhilarating. I ran from Dyckesville to Green Bay, along the lakeshore. The views were awesome and despite the thunderstorms that were on the forcast, the weather was amazing. warm and partly sunny the whole way. I cheered myself on loudly as I passed mile 17. Mile 18 prompted another exaggerated raising of the arms in triumph as did mile 19. My muscled screamed and threatened to quit on me but I kept going, determined to show this run who's boss. I ended up finishing my run in a little under four hours.
Yaaayy me!!!

Two unexpected things happened because of this run. I learned a valuable lesson regarding super-long runs. Don't forget to bring body-glide to prevent... Dun, dun, dunn...

Chafing! (not cool)

Also, weird and kind of funny thing happened...
I had an unexplained soreness in my right shoulder later on that day and on into the next one. I realized that it was the very same arm that had my iPhone strapped to it for 20 miles! I guess carrying a few extra ounces really does take it's toll after 4 hours. I may have to rethink my music situation come race day.
Maybe I'll switch arms every hour or so?
I don't know. I'll think of something.

My ankles swelled up again the next day, but this time I knew how to handle it. I rested, turned down two extra shifts offered me by both my jobs, took an ice bath, some ibuprofen and the swelling was mostly gone by this morning. I ran a 2 mile recovery run before biking to work this afternoon and felt great.

Tomorrow I'm going to try 5 miles and see how that feels. I can't wait.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

kicking it up a notch

There is less than two months left in my training for Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. I'm definitely feeling the burn. It seems like lately my legs are always sore, but it doesn't seem to bother me as much as it used to. I think I am developing a new appreciation for the pain and maybe (god forbid) even enjoying it a little?
My weekly hill workouts on Tuesdays switched over to speedwork Tuesdays. I did 5 miles of pickups yesterday. Although I have a better idea of what pickups are than tempo runs, I'm still not quite decided on exactly how to go about it. I decided to wing it by doing five minute blocks with a 60 second sprint at the beginning of each. I did a 5 minute warm-up at 5.5mph, then took it up to 7 for a minute. I did the rest of my pickups at 8 mph between four minute blocks from 6.0-6.5 each. I was on the treadmill yesterday so it  was easy to control my pace and keep track of the time.
The trick was reminding myself to look at the clock this time. I usually avoid it like the plague. Sometimes I even bring a book for the sole purpose of blocking it from view so I don't agonize about the time I have left.
I felt amazing at the end of my workout, exhausted, but good. I have been pretty stressed out this last week with extra hours at work, math exams, final projects and a couple unpleasant conversations. I have had little time to myself so this me time is becoming so precious. When you're having a bad day, there is nothing better than running so fast and so hard that you think your lungs may just burst, then turning around and doing it all over again a few minutes later. With finals just around the corner, I'm going to feel like doing pickups every day.
They say that it is runs like these that make you faster. I hope so. Maybe there is some hope of running my first marathon in under four hours?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Runners High

I have it. Right now.
I just got back from my mid-week 4 miler and I feel amazing! I ran fast, for me.
I posted a question on daily mile earlier today about tempo runs. Now, I'm new to this whole running thing so I had no idea what a tempo run was. I'm still not quite sure if I have the right idea. But it just felt right.
The reply I got came from one of my new found blogger friends, Vanessa from Gourmet Runner. She said, "...it's at your lactate threshold, so it's basically your race pace for 20-30 minutes...The point is to learn how to sustain a fast pace over a longer period of time. Hope that helps!"
It did help, Thanks Vanessa!
I personally do not have a race pace. In fact, I have been rather against it. I didn't want to put any unnecessary pressure on myself, being a beginner and all. I thought if I had a goal pace I would get discouraged by not meeting it and then quit before I even tried. I wanted running to be something that stuck with me for the rest of my life, so I had to love it. And allow myself to be slow, if that's what I needed.
So, back to the BEST RUN EVER! Today's run was only supposed to be 4 miles so I figured today was a good day to try this tempo run thing. I warmed up  in my home with a few yoga poses, stretching and calisthenics. Then I hit the road and started my stopwatch (a tool that I almost never use). I jogged for the first block, then I thought, "Why not just go for it? I can always stop and walk if I want to." So I did. A 155bpm Podrunner mix  helped a little, and I ran as fast as I could comfortably sustain. I only had to slow down  a couple of times as I went up hills or breathed my way through a side stitch or two. I slowed to a walk/slow jog at 3.96 miles and clocked the lap. After a five minute cool down I looked at my clock.

This is what it told me...
Can you say PR?

3.96 miles at 33:41 turns out to be an average pace of 8:30/mile. I set a new personal record today and I am grinning from ear to ear. This is a major accomplishment for me (not to mention getting overcoming my fear of stopwatches). I'm pretty tired but the happiest camper around. It doesn't even matter there is nobody home but me. I had to share it with someone right away, so I'm sharing my joy with you!

I'm so proud of myself that I could just jump right out of my clothes! Actually, that IS the next thing on my agenda; I'm in serious need of a shower.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

mid-week update

My training has been going well despite the awful weather outside and the mounting tension as the semester comes to an end. Last minute projects kept me up most of the night, so getting up at 5:30 to arrive at the gym by 7:15 this morning felt like a major accomplishment. Although seven miles were on the agenda today, I could only manage 6.2. First of all, because I was going to be late to class and second, I get really bored on the treadmill. I didn't have the steady urging of a good beat to keep me company today. My literature class had some required reading so I was listening to an audiobook. Although they're not always adequate distraction from the monotony of treadmill running, I LOVE audiobooks. They save me from getting behind on my reading. I like to read but my problem is that I am always goGoGO and when I eventually stop, It's naptime.
Yesterday's hill repeats were replaced by a little experimentation with the incline controls of the treadmill. First time I ever even touched those buttons. I never even think of it as an option. I ran 2.7 of my 5 miles yesterday at a 4% incline. I'm still not sure if that's good, but I felt adequately challenged so I considered it enough.

Like I said before, tension is mounting as I prepare projects, presentations and study for finals. I don't have much time for anything but I still find the time to run. It is a top priority for me (next to aceing all my finals of course) and helps me fight back the end-of-semester worries. If I can pull off 14 miles or an over 6 mile stretch on a treadmill, hellacious finals or three 15 minute presentations performed back-to-back seem like small cookies in comparison.
Gotta Go...
Keep running and reading and I will do the same.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Halfway there

I ran 14 miles yesterday. I RAN fourteen miles yesterday!! Just had to say it twice. If I hadn't been there the whole time I wouldn't believe it. This is a major accomplishment for me. Six months ago I thought 5 miles was a lot. I still think that's far enough, but yesterday, I nearly tripled that. Whoooo! 

I wasn't looking forward to my run yesterday at all. I was looking forward to being done with it. Last week was a rough on for me. Windy conditions paired with inadequate nutrition made it hard for me to fulfill my miles and by the time Sunday came around, I didn't have much confidence left. I made up a list of excuses why I shouldn't run, weighed the pros and cons and decided that it wasn't a great idea.

I went anyway. The first mile was the hardest. The second mile was hard. I kept wanting to turn around, saying to myself, "If I turn back now it'll only be a few miles, I can handle that." Then I started thinking about how crappy I would feel if I just quit, turned around, gave up. I couldn't handle that, so I forced myself to start thinking posotively. If self doubt took over, I wouldn't make it and I would have to accept defeat. I decided not to let that be an option. I started thinking of how great it would feel to get on here today and tell the world I had done it. I dug down deep and pulled out the confidence I needed to go on. 

Then I started to enjoy it. I began to notice the little things around me. The breeze coming off the lake was mild and cool. The sun was out and it wasn't too hot. Podrunner in my headphones steadily urged me onward. Equipped with the energybelt, complete with shotbloks and two small bottles of water, I had everything I needed. I felt safe and free. I felt good so I kept running.

I didn't have much trouble until around mile nine when I started to feel like there was a small rock in my shoe. I took off my shoe and shook it out, hopefully eliminating the discomfort. It didn't work. It wasn't until a couple miles later that I figured out that it wasn't a rock at all. It felt more like a teeny piece of glass. I took my shoe and my sock off and found a nickel-sized blister on the bottom of my foot. Ouch! There was nothing I could do, I was still a few miles from home, so I kept going and tried to ignore the pain. By mile 13 I was beat, and climbing the last and biggest hill. I told myself it was OK to walk here but by this time I had built up such a rythm that I couldn't stop. It felt really weird to walk. My legs felt alien beneath me. 

Finally it was over and I walked the last block and a half to stretch out my legs. When I got home I stretched, poured myself a tall glass of (room temp) water and took it into the bathroom where I soaked in an epsom salt bath for a half an hour. It felt amazing because my body hurt from the waist down. After that I rubbed my legs down with tiger balm and put on some tall fuzzy socks. It was heaven. I was in bed by 10:30 last night, sleeping like a baby. 

Today is my rest day and I'm set on recovery. I just  finished cooking a nice veggie soup from scratch and I'm about to spend the reat of the day studying. I hope I can find a ride in to work tonight so I don't have to bike it. After all, I've got another hard week of training coming up...

Tuesday: 5 miles, Hills

Wednesday: 7 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Friday: 5 miles, med effort

Saturday: 5 miles

Sunday: step-back, My training says to find a 5-10k but I don't think there are any going on in my area. I guess I can always pretend.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Against the wind

- and uphill, both ways

It's been warming up here in southern Wisconsin but you wouldn't be able to tell on a day like this. There has been a strong, cold wind blowing for the last few days. In a car that's no problem. For a bike commuter however, it's more like hell just froze over. It's been a struggle to get my miles in this week. I lost my bus pass this week so I've been biking everywhere. Thirty mph winds make for a rough ride, especially if you are loaded down with heavy schoolbooks. All this extra exertion has been really hard on my legs. My calves are constantly tight. I've cut 2 out of 4 workouts short at the gym this week. It's too easy just to get off the treadmill if you're tired. On Friday I skipped my run altogether on account of the hail. I kinda feel like I let myself down in some way. I keep trying to remind myself that I probably would have caught a cold out in that weather. Although a part of me still thinks I could have done better.

The weather didn't stop me yesterday. It did delay my departure quite a bit, as I was reluctant to go out in the snow. Yes, snow. In the middle of April. Are you kidding me? It wasn't that soft puffy kind of snow that gently drifts to the ground in December, qiet and and pristine white. Nope, on the contrary, it was like a million teeny pellets flying at me as if shot from a gun. I got about halfway down the block before turning around to put on a hat and a scarf to cover my face. Even though I was cold and my shoes were soaked through, I felt pretty good by the end. After the 80 degree weather we had last Sunday, things were starting to look up. Then came the wind, and the rain, and the soreness. I just hope I can make it through the week. Almost there. Today is my first 14 mile run. Hopefully I'm ready for it. I don't feel much like running right now but it's still early and the sun is coming out. I'm trying really hard to focus on the sense of accomplishment I will have earned by the end of mile 14 later today. Wish me luck!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011


When I started blogging, I also started searching for and reading blogs by runners. I have noticed that a lot of the running bloggers I have visited are obsessed with food. I'm thinking this must be something that just comes along with marathon training. I am close to the halfway point in my training and I'm always hungry! And it's not just, "oh, I'm a little hungry so I'll eat some fruit." or "I have some errands to do so I'll wait an hour and eat at home" It seems like I go into total raging monster mode, my stomach takes up all control of my emotions and I feel like I need to eat a whole pizza, like NOW.
I haven't done this yet, thankfully. But I'm not making any guarantees for the future. I have a coupon book with a whole section devoted to buy one get one pizza deals. At first I wondered why there were so many, but now I'm thinking I may just use them, by myself!
I can't go more than 3-4 hours without food before feeling like I'm going to fall over, or bite the head of the next person that doesn't come up to me carrying food. I have started carrying Lära bars and fruit along wherever I go, but it doesn't seem like enough. I need to eat every two hours and I'm not even halfway through my training.
Will I ever get used to this? Am I going to need to pack a lunch on race day or stop at a Pizza Hut on the way to the finish line?


I can't seem to get enough. I can stretch before or after a workout; most of the time I do both. I stretch at random time throughout the day but it does nothing to keep me from feeling like I need more. I've already stretched 3 times today certain parts still feel a little tight. I made it to class today in record time. Just over ten minutes is all it took to ride to campus. I hit the treadmill right away because I bad a little time before my first class began and I had already done my warm-up. Six miles was on my training schedule today. Jog at a comfortable pace for 15 minutes, then do two miles at a faster than normal pace, and ending with a comfortable jog. I set the treadmill at 5.6 mph and ran for 15 minutes. That was the easy part, no problem. Then I set it to 7 and ran faster. Less than a mile into it I started feeling lightheaded but kept going. At 2.8 miles I started feeling a little off balance so I got off, filled my water bottle up and got back to it. I continued the 7 mph pace for another .6 miles, then I slowed down to 6 mph. I only got to 1.3 miles before I had to stop completely. I felt weak, dizzy and a little bit nauseous. I think I probably just hadn't had enough to eat this morning. Coupled with the extra-hard ride in today, the double-time pacework just ate up my remaining calories. I really have to start paying more attention to my calories so this doesn't happen again. I can't be hitting a wall at 4 miles on race day.
I feel pretty crappy about cutting my workout short by 2 miles today but I'm not about to start beating myself up about it. I had a long hard weekend full of a lot of work and I even added 1.5 miles to my long run on Sunday. I did walk that last 1.5 miles but it was so nice outside I had to stop and enjoy it. It was over 80 on Sunday and not cloudy as the weatherman predicted. Great! I logged 20 miles on my bike just getting around town. I even found a buddy to run the 5 miles with me on Saturday. It reminded me how great it is to have company on a run. It was over before we knew it. I have been running by myself this whole time and it is really hard not to ignore the fact that if I want to stop, take a break, or cut my run short, there is nobody to stop me but myself. Now that I know I've got a friend who is at just about the same running level as I am, there will be many more outdoor runs together. Yaaay!
Monday's rest day came right in time. It really helped yesterday's hill repeats to go very smoothly. No pain or fatigue and I made decent time.
I wanted to change up my hills course and run a neighborhood across town but without a car that would mean I would have to leave my bike somewhere and worry about my gear while I was running. Temps were supposed to drop down to 40 so going without a change of clothes would not have been smart. I ended up doing the same hill as the last 2 Tuesdays but expanding the loop and running it backwards. I was surprised how well it changed the scenery. I felt like I was in a different neighborhood.
Maybe I'll do Shorewood Hills next week.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


It is a misty Saturday morning and you wouldn't be able to tell just by looking, but it's going to be a beautiful day. I am staring out onto the tarmac at the Dane County Airport already anticipating the end of my workday. I've been here for an hour and a half and I'm ready to jet (no pun intended). By the time I leave work today, the sun will be out and it will be over 60 for the first time this year.
Yesss!! I can barely contain myself. After a long winter, this is heaven.
I am looking forward to a nice bike ride home, made easier by the addition of a rack to clip my saddle bags onto. I no longer have to carry everything I need on my back. I will be able to do my short 4-5 mile run outside today and I'm super excited about it. After three consecutive days in the gym, it's about time I got out for some fresh air. My calves were still sore on Wednesday so I hit the elliptical for 45 minutes at half resistance. It said I traveled 5.5 miles but I'm still not sure if I can trust the distance readout from the machine. I kept my heart rate around 160-170 and I was sweating a lot so I must have gotten a decent workout. Yesterday it was the treadmill and it felt great! Four miles in 45 minutes. After walking for five minutes, I set the pace at an 11 minute mile then increased it to an 8.5 minute pace for the last mile. That last mile was hard and I wanted to quit a couple of times, but I didn't. After the 4th mile I threw in an extra 2 minutes at 8 mph just because I was feeling so good. Sprinting used to just kill me but now I love the feeling. I finished up red-faced and sweaty. Great workout. However great my treadmill experience was yesterday, I'm ready for a change. Today I get to be outside!
I haven't decided on a course just yet but today I will have company on my run. I usually am more of a solitary runner. This partly because I don't want the pressure of competition, and partly due to my lack of organization and or friends that run. For the longest time I fell into the group of people who would boast of not ever running unless I was being chased. Most of my friends fall into that category as well. It will be good to have a friend with me today. She has been training indoors on a treadmill so far this year and doing pretty well, but she hasn't run outside yet. She expressed reservations about running outside attached to the added impact of the pavement so we're going to keep it easy today. I'm planning on running anywhere between 4 and 5 miles. I know she'll do great; she's been running better than a 9 minute mile for 4-7 miles at a time. I'm almost afraid of being left in the dust. Either way it'll be a great run. I just know it.
Can't wait!

I hope everyone else out there is looking forward to a great weekend run as well!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Inner Battles

My legs won't cooperate with my body today and it's entirely my fault.

** -- ** -- ** -- ** -- ** -- **

My calves are still super sore from yesterday's hill repeats. It wasn't all that far, but I'm definitely paying for the enthusiasm I put into running up and down those hills.
Today was 5 miles on the treadmill and my legs were not having it. My right calf was being difficult before I even started my workout. I stretched after my run yesterday, before bed, after I got up this morning and right before my workout. It didn't seem to help much. It feels like I got punched right above the ankle on the back of my right leg. I even double-checked my leg for a bruise after my run today. Nope. No damage, just this little internal voice screaming at me from the general direction.
What do you do with uncooperative leg muscles? It was bound to happen at some point; the joint pain would subside and I would have to deal with my overworked muscles trying their best to refuse two 5-mile runs in a row. I can't wait to get used to this. If I keep up my training, pretty soon a 5-miler will be a piece of cake. That's definitely not happened yet. I wasn't about to let some silly leg cramp get me down so I got on the treadmill and went. The first 10 minutes consisted of steady even walking. Then, I picked up the pace. I was able to maintain a 9:13 pace for the next 2 .5 miles. I walked/ran for the remaining couple of miles and I was glad it was over. The time I was making while jogging was eaten up by the times I pooped out and started walking. My pace: somewhere above a 10min/mile.
I was so happy with the pace I had set for myself yesterday that I thought I could do better. So much for that.
I am still having trouble dealing with treadmill boredom setting in shortly after the beginning of my workout. I watched a documentary called "The Future of Food" on my Netflix app for iPhone. It was written and directed by Deborah Koons Garcia, wife of the late Jerry Garcia. Even the fear it evoked in me about GMOs and sinister corporate takeovers wasn't enough to delay boredom for more than 30 minutes. Great film, as far as documentaries go. I blame my boredom soley on my chosen method of exercise.
Did I ever mention how glad I am that it's getting warmer here in Wisconsin?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Procrastination Station

Felt like I got nothing done today. I kept getting sidetracked with other activities. I wanted to get up early so I could hit the gym before class... I ended up getting up early, but I did my laundry instead. I didn't get any miles in but I was able to stock my gym locker with a couple extra sets of workout gear.
Plan B, hit the road as soon as I get back from school.
When I got home I was starving so I made myself a late lunch. Ever since I started training, I have been hungry constantly. I couldn't run right after that either.
Digesting takes time and I am not a big fan of throwing up so I decided to wait a bit. Then I remembered that my dog needed a bath. He really did. He was pretty stinky. Giving my fluffy white dog a bath is always rewarding. He's always good, he loves the blow-dryer and when he's finished he prances around the house showing off how handsome he is. So cute.

Blue is gleaming after a bath.

It still took me about an hour to get going after that. I think that swapping out Sunday's run for Saturday, then not running on Monday either, really messed up my motivation. I left home at 5:30 and it was still sunny and not too cold.
Today was another set of hill repeats (could be part of my reason for procrastination). It's a step-back week so it wasn't as intense as last week. I made my warm-up run a little longer on the way because I wanted to tackle this hill with gusto. I actually ended up improving my time per lap by over a minute. Each loop is .66 mileswith about a third of the distance being a giant hill in Maple Bluff overlooking Lake Mendota. I did 4 loops at an average of 8:34 min/mile. That's faster than I normally go but I really pushed it today. I can definitely feel it in my calves right now. After my post workout shower I rubbed out my sore muscles with some tiger balm and donned my knee high, super cozy, socks. It is heaven.

Like I said before, this week is a step-back week with my longest run being only eight miles. My weekday runs have not decreased in distance though (bummer). Most days I'll be running 4-5 miles. I have talked to a few of my running buddies recently and I think I may have company soon. The warm weather has done what I couldn't in convincing them that it's better outdoors. Having people to run with is great for my motivation.

On the schedule for this week (week 8):

Tuesday - Hill repeats 4 miles I did around 5.
Wednesday - 5 miles (treadmill)
Thursday - 4 miles easy
Friday - 4 miles medium effort
Saturday - 5 miles easy (prep for long run)
Sunday - 8 miles
Monday - Rest

Bike commuting to work and school has helped me build muscle and endurance. It has been so helpful in the recovery process, I sometimes forget that I ever had knee problems. They say cross-training is good for you; it is.

Enough. Top priority right now, sleep.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I'm still alive

Wow. Saturday's long run took a lot out of me. I'm still a little sore today, but I'm alive. And I feel better than I did yesterday. Yeah! I managed to ride my bike into work and school without much difficulty. It is super windy and it was a fight to move forward at times. I just hope the wind is at my back on the way home. I think it could blow the whole way and it would still seem like small potatoes to the 12 miles I endured this weekend.
I may be exaggerating slightly when I say I almost died. I didn't. Death wasn't near either, although I did feel really lightheaded right before reaching the twelve mile mark. I plodded through the first couple of miles reluctantly pulling my body along until I got into the swing of things. Getting really thirsty or having to pee is something you don't really need to think about in the gym or on a jog around the park, but it's something I should have prepared for. I reluctantly stopped at a creepy gas station to use the facilities along the way. Any place that has loiterers who look like permanent residents makes me a little uneasy.
I got a bottle of water and some now and laters. These were partly for my sweet tooth and partly because I thought it might induce salivation if I got tired of carrying a bottle full of cold water. It was warm-ish when I started but as soon as I felt the cool breeze of sunset coming off of Lake Mendota, I ditched the bottle. Holding onto it was making me colder. The last 4 miles were hilly and cool. The uphills made me feel like walking and the downhills made me feel like I was running faster than I could sustain. I was able to push through and finish strong. I only walked the last 2 blocks (and a couple of times during the run).
Going for a run when you are exhausted is hard enough, but sticking it out for two hours (while doing an excellent job of convincing yourself you feel fine) is a feat and a half. Now, whether it was a smart move or not, I have yet to decide. I have had to re-think the categories of  smart and/or sane actions since I became a runner. Things have started to look differently ever since I redefined my standards for accomplishment. A couple years ago, I would have laughed hysterically if you told me I would run 21 miles in a week then decide it wasn't enough until I had run at least another 12.
I skipped the run yesterday because there was no way my legs were cooperating. I did go for a long walk with my dog and that felt good. Getting up and moving was the best thing for me at the moment, but it was hard to work up the motivation. Blue and I walked just over a mile and a half. Any further and I would have ended up carrying him. He's a little white poodle mix with knee problems, so he has a hard time going long distances. This made him the perfect companion for yesterday's walk, slow and steady. 
I am more sore than I've been since I can remember, my legs want to move in short jerking motions and one of my toes has a blister on a blister next to a toenail that is only halfway attached (no lies). It feels great! I'd gladly trade blisters and about 3 more levels of sore for a lazy day on the couch with junk food any day. As long as this is what it takes to reach my goal.
No pain no gain, right? You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. What doesn't kill me makes me stronger? Yes, it's cliche, but it fits.

I don't think you can become an outstanding runner unless you get a certain amount of enjoyment out of the suffering. You have to enjoy absorbing it, controlling it and—ultimately—overcoming it.
-- Derek Clayton in The Masters of the Marathon

I found this quote in my mailbox a couple days before my run and I figured I may need it pretty soon. What's funny is I actually understand the feeling. I did it. I overcame, I bravely faced something I've never done before and it feels good to know now that I can do it.

Thanks to everybody that has taken the time to read and follow me on my journey.
It's not over yet, I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sunny skies are here again...

It is so beautiful outside today, it's hard to believe there are going to be thunderstorms and torrential rains all day tomorrow. It is 50 and clear and I should want to be outside more than anything. After a winter indoors, fresh air sounds good. Right?

Not completely. I am dreading my 12 miles today. Not only am I a little frightened of the prospect of running further than I ever have, I am T-I-R-E-D. Between the 16 hours of work standing behind a desk in the last 24, sleep deprivation from studying late all week and the other 21 miles I ran so far, I believe I have every right. But I don't want to be exhausted. I want to pretend it's something I can overcome in hopes of finding out I actually am capable. 

So, here I am trying to psych myself out to get on the road. I don't know if it's working yet. The sooner I go, the sooner I can reward myself with a nap. Yess!!

I've been really excited to map my runs lately and I have found a new tool to track my training progress while mapping my courses all on the same site. It's called the daily mile and I 've only been using it for a few days but I like it. It's like the runner's club site I've been looking for since last year. It is a new opportunity to meet like-minded ladies. I knew there had to be an easier way to share a passion with people I know are out there but could never find. This seems like it could be fun.

On with the run!!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

PB&B and the bus

Riding the bus into school today with my peanut butter and banana sandwich tucked safely away in my backpack, next to an orange and a graphing calculator, brings back childhood memories. The only difference now is the stakes are higher, the stresses greater and a lot less singalongs. No "Wheels on the Bus" for this trip. Instead I witness a heated debate about the direction of the state's diminishing social support system. A woman talks loudly about the government taking away welfare and how it effects "the black woman" but I can't see who she's talking to. There's nobody with a counter argument. A man with a fat faced baby in a snowsuit pipes in that it effects white people too. I tune out.
Too many things to think about. There is so much on my plate in the next few days. I'm behind on my studies with 2 exams next week, a paper due today (not finished), and another 16 hours of work before the week is out. Somehow, if I can find the time, I've gotta fit in 11 miles by Saturday and another 12 on Sunday.
I'm taking a break from the bike today considering I was on it the last couple days. My body's holding up to the challenges I set so far this week (fingers crossed). Hill repeats didn't take as much out of me as I had expected. Everybody seems to hate them so I just assumed. I lost a toenail but my mom says this is pretty normal for marathon training. I ran 5 miles on the treadmill before 9:00 yesterday at an easy clip. Still holding out for my 12 miler on Sunday. I'm pretty excited about it.
I will be able to let my legs rest a little today because I can't get a run in until 4:00. Only 4 miles, I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Over this hill

My hill repeats went fairly smoothly today. I found myself cramping after the first lap so I had to stop and stretch. I think my pre-run stretching routine needs a little work. The last few times I've run outside, I've had to stop to stretch again after the first mile or two. I timed my laps today since I had some sort of reference point. It was an average 10min/mile pace and my laps got quicker as I got the hang of it. This hill will be perfect for the majority of my hill repeats over the next few weeks. Unless I get bored, of course.
Why is it that once I get close to or past the halfway mark in my workout, everything just seems to get easier? I start to open up my stride and pick up the pace. It seems more like liberation than torture. This is when I love running. My legs/joints will be a little sore and I'll feel like I want to stop, but with every step I take, my confidence grows. I find myself at the end of a run sweaty, sore, fatigued and wanting more (just a little).
I'm pretty sore, but it's only muscle aches (no knee pain!), so I'll just have to stretch more before tomorrow's early morning run. I found a dynamic stretching routine on the Runner's World website and I can't wait to try it out!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A closed mouth gathers no feet...

Saw that quote earlier today and I had to laugh. So true, pretend fortune cookie fortune, so true.

I have been up since very early this morning so I'm in a silly mood. I love my sleep, but I also love early mornings. I love the pinkish hue the clouds take on, the way the air smells fresh and new, and the feeling that I'm not missing anything. I always feel as if I've missed out on something when I sleep in. If I could live on 4 hours of sleep a night, I absolutely would. Then I wouldn't miss anything and I might actually have the time to do all the things on my agenda (theoretically). Probably never going to happen. I need my rest. Despite all the books and articles I've read on health in the 25 years I've been reading, I have yet to find one that says less than 8 hours of sleep is good for you. Oh well.

I got up early enough for breakfast and a bus ride to campus. I left my bike overnight because my boyfriend was kind enough to offer to give me a ride to work. I'm working on accepting help when it's offered. I got here at 7:15 with every intention of hitting the gym before class today (one of the only reasons I come here early). When I got here I realized that I had planned on doing hill repeats outside today. I won't have time for that till early evening. I have class until 3:30 today. No harm done. I'm getting down to business on my homework before class. I'm feeling pretty good about how this has worked out. 

Yesterday's rest day wasn't restful enough for my muscles to relax. I'm still a little sore from Sunday's run. Yesterday's mile on the treadmill probably didn't help much. I couldn't help it. Even though it was a rest day I just had to run, for a little bit. I'm wondering how I'll handle the 5-6 mles of hill workout later. It's about 1.25 miles to the base of my hill, and I've got 4.2 miles of repeats. Hopefully it warms up well enough. It's not supposed to rain today and the neighborhood is beautiful. I'm sure I'll be good as new after a little stretching. Besides, I can't complain now, I'll be doubly sore tomorrow morning!


Monday, March 28, 2011


It's sunny again today. Yeah! Perfect for a bike ride in to class, which is where I'm headed in a few minutes. It's still 28 degrees but it's supposed to be almost 40 today so I'm pretending that time is now.
Today is my rest day, like every Monday. Good thing too, because I've got another exam tomorrow to study for  and a paper to finish up on. I'll still get a little sweat on while riding the bike.
Yesterday's long run was really hard at first, looking towards the end of a really long run was daunting. I stopped and walked a few times to rub out some cramps. I overdressed a little too. About 4 miles in, I stopped and left half my warm clothes with someone so I didn't have to worry about losing anything. Little did I know I had already dropped the gloves I had brought with me. Meh, winter's almost over. After that short break, it was on.
I started running and didn't stop for more than a couple of steps the whole rest of the way. Then I really started to enjoy myself. When it came time to turn around, I decided not to. I kept going and made the extra loop past the UW hospital and back around. I ended up running 10.4 miles yesterday! I totally surprised myself. Yesterday morning I was dreading the run because a part of me was afraid I couldn't make it the 9 miles required for my workout, because I hadn't ever done it before. Now I feel like this week's 12 miles will be a piece of cake. It's only 2 miles further than yesterday.

On the schedule this week:
Tuesday, 5 mile hill repeats
Wednesday, Yoga,  5 miles, easy pace
Thursday, 4 miles, pace run. Goal, 10:00min/mile + warm-up and cool down
Friday, 4 miles, outdoors?
Saturday, 3 miles easy
Sunday, 12 miles!  I may switch my Saturday and Sunday runs this week because it's supposed to rain again this Sunday. We'll see. I don't run too fast and I don't want to be running in the rain for 2 hours.
If I reach my quota, I'll be running 33+ miles this week!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunny Sunday

Looking outside this morning, I was almost fooled by the sunny weather. It looks so nice. Wisconsin weather can be deceiving, it's really below freezing and breezy. I guess I can't complain too much about the weather. It's not raining like last week. If I can't have warm weather I'd rather have sun. The cold still makes me lie in dread of my run to come, but I know I can handle it. I still wonder, even though I've been living in this state for ten years and know for a fact that it doesn't bother me too much. I'm sure I won't even notice the cold after the first 2 miles.
Other than the slight fear of the cold, I'm pretty excited about my run. Today's nine miles will be the furthest I've ever run in my entire life. I think that may be adding to my hesitation a little as well. Part of me wonders if I'm even capable of running that far. Taking a couple of walking breaks may be an option, but I'm prepared for that possibility and I'll try my best not to overexert my self to the point of having to walk.
I can do this. I am prepared. I spent the whole week indoors and it will be fantastic to find myself back on the road again.
I don't have a fancy GPS and I still can't find my pedometer so I'm back to planning my run on GoogleMaps. Half the fun of running outside these days is plotting my path. I get pretty excited to run down new streets and into new areas. I am becoming aware that as my runs get longer, There will be much more of the city to see. The view from the road as a runner is an interesting perspective which I never thought about before I was a runner. There is so much more to take in. Running through the neighborhoods of my city gives me an incredible sense of belonging. It feels as if I have become intimately acquainted with my surroundings, more connected in a way. I have seen parts of this city from a perspective not many people share. Riding around in a car allows you to miss those little things like the smell of spring quickly approaching or the sound of the wind through the trees. If you are interested in seeing my course, it's a public map and just an addition to the one I shared last week. You're welcome to check it out. If you happen to see me running down Gorham in about an hour. Give a shout!

Other than running lately, I am getting used to this whole blogging thing. I'm new to the game, so my blog may not be one of the most polished but I am aware that I now have a few followers. Thank you. In addition to writing about running, I have also been reading about it more. I was surprised to find so many amazing women  sharing their experiences online as well. I have been enjoying everyone else's blogs as much, if not more than writing my own. I have a lot of respect for those women out there that can work, run a household, be there for her children, and still find time to train for a marathon. You rock!
My mom has run marathons since as far back as I can remember. The jogging stroller and weekend races were just a part of what made my family unique. The crowds and the early mornings were a norm. I grew up in this lifestyle but only now am I beginning to fully embrace it as way of life.
I am looking forward to reading more about other's experiences in training and gleaning as much inspiration as I possibly can.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Getting used to riding a bike in this weather is definitely a challenge. It was pretty cold and wet this morning on the way in today. I'm just glad my commute is only 2.5 miles, easy.
On the treadmill again today warming up for 5 miles. I'm shooting for a 10 minute mile. Nice and easy.

It's on...

I skipped out on riding my bike to campus today. It was near freezing and raining steadily with no signs of slowing. I took my dog out just before I planned on leaving home on my bike. By the time I was out the door I had decided to ask for a ride.
I was feeling prepared  as I walked into class a few minutes before the first exam. I've studied for this, it'll be easy.
Suddenly... test anxiety hits, and you find yourself staring at the same question that you were staring at twenty minutes ago. I left the classroom feeling defeated. I had never wanted to run more. Had my workout been any later I would only be allowing myself more opportunity for rumination. The gym is just down the hall from class, so I was on the treadmill in no time. After 13 minutes walking to warm up, I did a few easy intervals. It felt really good to run. My knee didn't hurt at all and it was liberating to just let myself sprint, sweat, lose my breath and repeat. There were a couple lingering thoughts but soon the stress melted away and I started to enjoy the ride.

4 miles on the schedule today, I traveled 4.6 (including warm-up). No biking but I'll make up for that tenfold before the week is through.
Tomorrow is 5 miles. Treadmill again probably, it's supposed to snow.

This was my kick in the butt today, perfect...
Feel the flow of your dance and know you are not running for some future reward—the reward is now!
Fred Rohe, The Zen of Running

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A little sore

Having a bit of trouble getting moving this morning. Started out with a little yoga. My muscles are still a little stiff from the 15 miles on my bike yesterday.
Rode home from work in the dark last night; that was interesting. It's a little scary sharing a space with speeding cars when it's difficult for them to see you.
Today's workout consists of 4 miles of hill repeats. I'm new to this whole marathon training thing so I guess that means I'm supposed to run up and down a hill several times until I reach my mile goal? I'm still not quite sure about that. It's a good thing most of my runs include hills anyways. Madison is built in such a way that you can't go too far without encountering at least one small hill.
I'm opting out of the hill workout to today to spend some time on the treadmill. It has been so long I think I might miss it. Maybe.
I'm definitely not going to miss the rain. It's about 35 outside and raining. That's not good. An indoor workout is just what I need.
With the exam I have today and the other school activities, it's better I stayed on campus anyways.
I'm going to shoot for 4 miles at a steady 9.5 pace. I never said I was fast. 9.5 is a reasonable goal for me.

Monday, March 21, 2011

rest day?

Today is my rest day. Yesterday's run in the rain surprisingly took little out of me. I must have stretched five times last night before bed and once before I left for class this morning (just to make sure). I'm not crampy or over tired. On the whole, Monday has been a pretty good day so far. It wasn't very cold this morning and the sun came out before class was over.
On the agenda today:
#1 Rest. If there's one thing that I'm good at, that would be it. I am an excellent napper. I rarely have trouble falling asleep, getting up is a different story. Waking up at 0600 this morning proved to be a challenge. I ended up hitting the snooze until 6:30 and wasn't fully awake until 7:30. I think I may have been dreading the ride in today. It's only 2.5 miles from my house to Madison College but it was cloudy and I was reluctant to go out in the cold
#2 Class. The first day back from spring break is the hardest. One week is hardly a break. It is more like a teaser. You blink and it's over, you don't get near as much done as you hoped and you can't allow yourself much relaxation because you know you'll be back in a week. I have an exam tomorrow, a paper due, and another exam on Thursday. Hello again, college classes, I've missed your late-night study sessions, endless paperwork to keep organized and STRESS. not. No really, I love it. I just wish (like many others I'm sure) I was allotted more time in the day to get everything done.
#3 Xtrain. I was going to swim today but I didn't get to the gym early enough this morning. I'm sure I'll get some quality cross training on my bicycle these next few months. I lost my car to a drunk driver last summer. A friend of mine let me borrow his car through the winter. It totally saved me from the elements more than once. It has been getting warmer here in southern Wisconsin.  Here, anything above (or hovering around) freezing after a winter of sub-zero temps feels like summertime. Hey, the days are getting longer. That's good enough for me. First time back on my bike was last Friday. I've been on my bike 6 out of the last 10 days. It's been amazing! When the call came in asking for the return of the borrowed wheels, I didn't hesitate. I gave it back yesterday. My car today is a 70's steel frame Gitane road bike with whitewall tires. I think I owe my lack of knee pain lately to my bike.
#4 Work. The ride here would have been a lot shorter had I not pulled a move so typical of me this morning. I forgot an essential piece of my wardrobe at home so after class I headed off in the opposite direction of work just to turn around and come back ten minutes later. It was sunny so the ride was great. Apart from the .2 mile stretch down the side of a busy highway, my first bicycle ride to work this year was smooth and uneventful.
All in all, my day has been pretty full. Rest-ful? I'm still not sure. I definitely don't feel overworked. I think that's good enough.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Running in the rain

It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. I was definitely soaked through by the end of it. Although there was the possibility of skipping the run today because it was raining, or it was cold, or simply because I didn't feel like it, I sucked it up and ran anyways.
It stopped raining right before I began my run so I thought I may just escape the bad weather. By the middle of mile 2 I knew I wasn't so lucky. It only sprinkled at first then turned into a steady downpour before I reached mile 3. This lasted for the duration of my run. By the time I reached my destination my gloves were so wet that I didn't see the point of them anymore and I took them off. My fingers were frozen, still clutching my soggy, useless gloves. It rained just enough to make little rivers, flowing swiftly down the street in all directions, and giant puddles that could not be avoided. My shoes would inevitably be inundated with muddy rainwater at some point so I ran straight through them. I experienced a measure of childlike joy in sprinting through the puddles as fast as I could go. Like when you're small and your mom tells you to stay inside because you might catch cold, but you run out into the rain anyways, feeling defiant and ultimately free for the first time. It was totally worth the cold that set in the next day no matter how many I told you so's you had to endure.
Can't be sunny every day.
I think the rain, despite the minimal discomfort, helped keep me going. I knew if I stopped I would only get wetter because I would be out in it longer. Calling someone to come pick me up was not an option (although that thought did cross my mind). I don't claim to be a die hard, rain or shine runner, but I sure felt like one today. As with any of my long runs so far, there was a constant clamor of self-talk going on in my head. I can do this. No, I can't, I 'm cold. Why am I running in a downpour? Because I'm awesome. Yeah, awesome. My knee hurts. Don't think about your knee. Walk it off you'll do great. The faster I run the quicker I can have a hot shower. Of all the things that went through my head today, the thought I took away from this experience was at the end of the run, when I hadn't given up. I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment in sticking with it till the end and for actually going the distance, in a thunderstorm no less.
My knee wasn't cooperative the whole time but every time I started experiencing pain I stopped, stretched and rubbed out my crampy muscles. I would walk it off for a few steps, then continue with my run. Overall (considering), I felt pretty good today. The work I've been doing on the bike has helped keep my endurance on track and I was rarely out of breath. Good thing this helps because, as of the beginning of my run today, I am car-less. My only vehicle is one of the two bikes parked in the garage, or these two feet of mine. School is only 2.5 miles from my house and work is just a little further. It'll be nice out in no time at all so it will only be a noticeable change in overall travel time (and the size of my laundry piles).

This has not only been the longest run so far, it was also the most challenging. And therefore the most rewarding experience of my training yet. 


I know I should like it because it's the rain that brings all the lovely growing things that I like so much. Flowers, farmers' markets and all the leaves on the trees that shade my summertime runs.
It's just under 40 degrees out right now but it seems colder because it's so dark. It's not like a monsoon rain where I might fear being swallowed up or washed away but it is just enough for me to think twice before going out for a run in this. I know people do it but I'm just not sure how. My dog doesn't even want to go outside today.

I've got 7 miles planned today and like I've said before, I am determined to run the whole distance. I've even got my course all mapped out. I'm a big fan of Google Maps. I have the app for my iPhone and it has come in handy so many times. I don't even need a GPS. I have been mapping my runs so I know how far I'm running when I run outside. It gives me a chance to see more of the city and keeps me on top of my mileage. Yes, I do have a pedometer somewhere, if I could find it. I just think it's more fun to map it out.

Here is a link to my maps in the Madison area the last couple days: weeks 5 and 6 - Google Maps
I will be adding more to this before week 6 is over. Next Sunday is 9 miles, my longest run so far, and you better believe I won't be spending that time on a treadmill.

Friday, March 18, 2011

No more Spring Breaks.

Today marks the last day of spring break. No more sleeping in till 10 am. I'm also nearing the end of week five of my marathon training. Just thirteen short weeks to go until race day!!

This last week has been a tough one for me. Since school is out, and I can't justify buying a gym membership just for one week of use, I haven't had access to a treadmill this week. This is bothersome since the impact of the roads is too tough for my sore knees and the trails are still either covered in ice and snow, or immersed in puddles of muddy water. I tried running down a trail near my house today and it had the anti-traction trifecta, mud, ice and snowy slush. Although the weather has been fantastic, I have not been able to accomplish the daily mileage on my training schedule this week. My knee was giving me trouble so I decided to give my legs a little rest from the impact. I was worried that one step out of my training routine would just mess it all up but I can't afford an injury right now either. I took out my bike for the first time in 2011 a week ago and boy was that just what I needed. It's still a workout but avoids putting any undue stress on my joints.

I have been going more for time than distance on my rides, paying attention to how my body feels. Most days this week have been sunny and nowhere near freezing, ideal weather for the bike. I almost forgot how awesome it feels to ride my bike around Madison. You get to see so much more of the city on a bicycle and usually you're going slowly enough to take it all in. My goal was to stay limber and maybe try a run later in the week. My first run was yesterday, 3.6 miles down Wisconsin backroads.

I went to visit a friend of mine for her birthday in the Lone Rock area yesterday. Her house is out in the middle of nowhere in a hilly area deep in farm country. Perfect place for a mid-afternoon run down a deserted country road. The sun came out just in time to shine on me during my first outdoor run in over a week. I ran 3.7 miles in about forty minutes (I'll not claim to be a fast runner). It felt pretty good, my joints were a little stiff at first but the knee gave me no problems! All the treadmill, elliptical and bicycle work this week has paid off.

I've got 7 miles planned on Sunday and I really want to be able to run the full distance so tomorrow's five mile run will become a ten mile bike ride. Wish me luck...


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

2011 shamrock shuffle

Everybody sported the full st. Patty's day getup, right down to the green shorts and shamrock socks. 

Sam and I after the race.
Nick was the man and kicked both our butts.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I'm posting from the elliptical trainer this morning. My days have been quite full so far this week. I added another 8 hrs of class time to my schedule. However busy I am, I have still been able to find time to train. Much to the dismay of my knee.
I took it easy on Saturday so I could save up strength for the six mile run I had planned for Sunday. Sunday was a beautiful, partly sunny day. I had to work in the morning so I didn't get on the road till mid afternoon. It was cold but really good to be outside. I look forward to the days when I can be outside most of the time. You can't even imagine how badly I'm pining for a good bike ride. My knee started bothering me around mile three and by the middle of mile five I had started walking. This was about the time when my run started going down hill, literally. It's always the downhills that bother me. Down hills, down stairs, etc. Sometimes I chose to walk up the stairs, then take the elevator down just to care for my joints. It makes me feel a little old to be saying this.
Needless to say, a round of ice, and a hot bath was in my future.
My mom, and personal marathon guru, told me it will be necessary for ice to become my best friend throughout my training. I take any advice from her very seriously because not only has she been running since high school and runs from 5-100 miles on any given day; she has also been doing physical therapy, sports medicine for over twenty years. On Monday, I invested in some Dixie cups to freeze large cubes of ice for ice massages. Mom says direct ice is best. For anyone who has never had an ice massage, it hurts. It was hard to inflict pain upon myself like that but it is a necessary evil if I want to prevent future pain and injury.
Monday was my off day so I rested and recovered with an easy ride on the stationary bike followed by 45 minutes of lap swimming. I used to swim quite a bit when I was younger, but now I'm hardly ever in the pool. I did six sets of 200m free with 200m kicking in the middle. At the end of the day, I was noticing a big difference in the overall fatigue I was experiencing last week. I took this as a good sign of progress. Yesss!!
Yesterday was a different story. I had planned a 3 mile run outside between classes down the Starkweather Creek bike path leading away from MATC. It was somewhere around 40 out with no precipitation. Seemed almost perfect. Then I started to run...
My legs did not want to cooperate yesterday at all. By mile 2 I was experiencing shooting pains in my left knee. Every time I started to run it was like my knee was saying, " no, no, No, NO, NO! NOOOO!!!" My discomfort seemed to increase with every stride. I ended up walking the last mile and a half. When I came back to campus, someone from the athletic department gave my a delightful bag of ice. In addition to the knee, my ankles and lower calves were giving me trouble. It was then I committed to a low- impact workout today. Yesterday, I invested in a dish tub, just big enough to rest my feet in, and half bag of ice so I could soak my feet. Oh boy, was that horrible! My feet hurt more in the ice than they did before! I wussed out in under a minute. I couldn't hack it. I ended up just cooling my heels, literally. I rested my toes on the lip of the tub while my heels sank gradually deeper into the icy water. It still hurt, but it was a lot easier to take when one half my foot was still warm. One of these days, I'll be able to handle it. Hopefully.
My easy 40 minutes on the elliptical today wasn't too bad. The knee is still sore, but I feel a measurable amount of confidence in my ability to stick with my workout despite the necessary modifications.
Tomorrow I may have to stick with the low-impact, but I won't be skipping my workout.

Friday, March 4, 2011

1% Inspiration....

Instead of focusing on all the things I can't control, I am enjoying the moments in front of me.The marathon is going to be an amazing journey and I get the chance to write the ending

Shalane Flanagan, 2nd woman finisher at the 2010 New York City Marathon

Minor Concessions

Today's run was the toughest of my training so far. My legs were sore even after stretching today. I tried to run but couldn't keep it going for any prolonged period of time because my right calf kept cramping. I must admit that I walked for most of my four mile run. I have run through the pain before but today just wasn't the day.

I felt a little like a quitter until I saw this month's issue of runner's world. A happy reminder came in the mail today that it is normal to feel muscle pain and fatigue in the early stages of training if you are really pushing yourself. The article advised slowing down and assessing the situation. If you are experiencing pain, walking or stretching might help.


Yep, I'm definitely running in the gym today. It looks yucky outside. everything is gloomy and wet. One more day on the treadmill shouldn't kill me.


Ran on the treadmill again today. I did four miles today to make up for the mile I lost yesterday. I felt pretty good at the beginning, but sore. My right calf and left upper quad were a little tight even after stretching. Not bad enough to stop me from running my required distance non-stop. I took it easy on speed today by only running a 10 min/mile pace. It took me a little longer but hopefully I'll be able to do the same distance tomorrow. With an extra long warm-up and cool-down, I traveled 5.1 miles in total.
It was a little easier to stay on the treadmill today. The people next to me were not bothersome and my boredom was abated by my netflix app for my iPhone. It's a teeny little screen but I got to watch something other than the lame TV shows that are usually broadcast midday. I must say, it does make a difference to have something to look at while running in place for 40 minutes.
About two hours after my run, I started to experience stabbing pains in my left knee. I was just walking back into school to attend my afternoon class and it hit all of a sudden. Then it went away. When I got to class and sat down it started to hurt again so I flexed my knee a few times and rubbed it a little. I planned on icing it when I got home but I had some reading to do, but shortly after I sat down to read, I was asleep. I'm icing it now and hopefully that will be enough to keep me going through the weekend. I've got only 3 miles on Saturday, so that should be a good enough rest.
I'm planning a run outside tomorrow because it's supposed to warm up a little. Hopefully I'll be able to stick it out, It's so much more of an adventure outside. The impact is much worse on roads so there is a chance I might just give up and hit the elliptical. There's no shame in that.

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