- Chicago is an awesome city to visit.
- The timing is great - May 20th is perfect since we have time to get in shape and the weather will be good.
- The race course will be flat!!!
Monday, December 26, 2011
And what a race! It's the Chicagoland Half Marathon!!! Can I use more exclamation points? YES!!!!!!
So what's this race about? Raising funds for cancer research, for one. The link for the site is here. There are several things about this race that have me excited:
This means the Warrior Dash is out too, but that's okay. I don't want to over do that race. Rex and I are going to have a lot of fun, the money goes towards a great cause, and it'll be a chance to get out of Atlanta for a long weekend.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
It's been a while since I've posted, and mostly it's because nothing of interest has really happened. I did, however, come across this article that I think most people need to be aware of. So far it seems that this data is correlational (meaning we haven't determined a cause, if one exists), but this is some scary stuff. If antibiotics are used to make animals fat so that they yield more meat at slaughter, then would those same antibiotics not make us fat when we eat that meat? I'll let the article go over the details, but needless to say this makes me rethink eating as much meat as I do.
Monday, November 21, 2011
With the holiday that involves giving thanks and stuffing yourself stupid coming up very soon, it might be a good idea to start the holiday off right by participating in a Turkey Trot. They're usually 5k races so anyone can join in the fun. There's one by my parents' house, so I am thinking of showing up. What better way to justify all that glorious food than to burn a few calories before hand? Plus there's always the free t-shirt!
I suggest checking out active.com as an easy way to find your nearest Turkey Trot. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
Friday, October 28, 2011
Do you try to eat more fish to be healthy? Do you also try to buy sustainable fish so you're not contributing to over-fishing? Do you have an allergy to some types of fish? It turns out there's a lot of fraud in the seafood market, and if you do have an allergy you had better be really careful.
Consumer Reports says a significant portion of the fish we can buy in markets today is mislabeled or not fully labeled. I won't go into too many details, but this is pretty sad in a nation like the United States where we have government safeguards for this kind of stuff.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I know I had been certain in the past about running the half marathon in March, but since I've been dealing with the new job I've had to reconsider. So here's the deal: if I can commit to training after work two days a week, a long run on Saturday and a recovery run on Sunday I can manage the 13.1 mile distance. I've done it before, and mentally I know my body can take it.
I've been rethinking nutrition as well. I think my problem last time with the issues after the long runs is all about electrolyte balance. I think if I took salt tablets before the runs, drank water during the run, then drank Accelorade during recovery after the run I'd do a lot better. I've learned a lot more about how to properly carb load and how to eat during the week.
Something else to consider is where to train. I learned the hard way that training on a totally flat surface is awesome - until you get to race day and realize that it's all hills. I really feel that the hills added 15-20 minutes to my time. No, I wasn't trying to beat some kind of time but I did notice the difference. So I will need to find some hills to train on and work them into the training program.
Part of me really wants to run this race again. Another part says sit your butt on the couch. What choice will I make? I have a self-imposed deadline of Thanksgiving. I need to choose by then so I can get back into the training mode necessary to start seriously training in January. I also need to pay for the registration.
This is definitely a moment where life seems to get in the way of our fitness goals, but regardless of committing to the half marathon I am aiming to start running regularly just to run. It's just easier for me to have a goal to work towards. Who knows? Maybe this time next year I'm debating whether or not to run the full marathon :)
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
We see and hear from trainers who look like they haven't had to struggle with losing weight. We read advice from folks who say that it's easy to lose weight if we just quit eating so much and exercise more. Everyone's struggle is a little different and unique while there are some unifying factors, but when you're trying to lose weight you probably feel as I sometimes do. I want advice that works for me or at least get advice from someone who understands how I feel.
Well, there's one guy who is trying to put himself in his clients' shoes. This trainer is deliberately putting weight on so he can try to lose it. He's understanding the addiction to processed foods and soda, knows what it feels like to find clothes don't fit regardless of the size, and how self esteem is so deeply tied to appearance. I say that while it's dangerous for him to put this kind weight (his blood pressure is quite high), I'm glad to see he's willing to take a second look at weight loss.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Did you hear about this? A woman completed the Chicago marathon very, very pregnant, and then gave birth shortly afterwards. I think that since her doctor gave her the go ahead and it appears that the baby was fine, it's pretty cool. I can't imagine being pregnant and running a marathon, but whatever :)
Friday, October 7, 2011
I cancelled my Runner's World subscription today. Does that mean I'm leaving running? Nah, I will just get the magazine on my Nook!! Not only is it cheaper on the Nook, but the dog kept destroying the magazines. He wouldn't eat them, but they were unreadable after he was done. I didn't see the point in having them delivered if I couldn't read them lol.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
If you have an android smart phone, check out Amazon's app store today. There is a free Couch to 5k pro app today, and so far it looks pretty good. I will be sharing this with Rex so we can get back into running condition together :)
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I admit, and you can see it in previous posts, that I have often hoped for weight loss through running. I even expressed disappointment when I only lost 10 lbs after training for a half marathon. I've come to accept the fact that accepted methods of losing weight cause me to be amazingly hungry and don't work as well as I would like. Eat fewer calories? I hope you don't mind that I get really cranky when hungry. Work out more? Makes me hungrier, but I am healthier and feel better. Cut out sugars? Works well, but I end up with strong cravings on occasion.
So what have I done? I aim for whole, non-processed foods when I can with fewer refined sugars and protein at every meal. I also try to get fruits and veggies in my daily diet. It seems to help a lot, and I am still eating food that tastes good and satisfies me.
There's an interesting article on Yahoo! that I think will interest many people. Did you know there's thought of creating a vaccine against obesity? That being fat doesn't mean you're not fit? I like the newest research coming out. It validates the struggle most of us go through, even if we only struggle a little. Let's face it: we all think there is something that can improve about our bodies. Now we're getting more data to help us in a healthy way.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Do you measure your heart rate while running or exercising? My heart rate is one way I can track my training, but it's not a must have when I'm casually exercising. Before today, women were held to the same heart rate standard as men are. We can say that's how it is for women in general - not a whole lot of studies are done specifically for women so we use data based on men's results. Now it seems as though we have a new standard for target heart rates for women based on this article from USA Today.
The old formula was subtract your age from 220. This means as a 30 yr old my target heart rate based on this formula is 190. It's the target I aimed for when training for the half marathon, and it admittedly was pushing me a little too hard sometimes. I had a hard time maintaining that for an extended period of time.
The new formula is take 88% of your age and subtract it from 206. This makes my new target heart rate 180. 10 beats per minute isn't a huge difference, but it does add up. I can deal with 180 and still feel like I'm getting a good work out.
Will this change the way you train? Of course I assume you're a woman when I ask that. Men, keep using the old formula. I think this will be in more use once heart rate monitors begin using the new standard, but you can program it to watch out for a user-determined range.
Friday, September 16, 2011
To make sure I didn't turn into a bloated version of myself after the half-marathon, I made sure to start taking high protein meals to work and avoid eating out as much as I used to. Some things that help me:
- Special K High Protein Cereal with almond milk (unsweetened)
- Turkey/ham sandwiches on wheat
- Low-fat Greek yogurt or a single serving of cheese
- Bananas (not high in protein, but still satisfying as a snack)
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
If you've done any significant training on a road, you probably noticed that your hips, back, and knees don't like it after a while. The problem isn't the running (unless you've increased your mileage too quickly). The real problem is the uneven level of the road itself. It seems flat, but roads are actually sloped just enough to allow for drainage when it rains. So long story short - unless you're running in the very middle of the road, which is a death wish, then you're running on an uneven surface.
I run/walk on the left side of the road, which allows me to see oncoming traffic (and leap out of the way if necessary). This causes my right leg to be slightly higher than the left. A handful of times doesn't mean much. Since I've been walking around the neighborhood exclusively for the past couple of weeks almost every day, I think it's beginning to cause some slight pain in my right knee. It's not runner's knee. I know running has a reputation for being hard on the knees, but it's always been my belief that if you train properly you can avoid that issue (assuming you don't have a previous knee injury).
What's the next step? I will try the greenway again, however I will be out of luck once the sun starts setting early. I'm not sure what I'll do then but I have a few more weeks before it gets really dark too early. If only my neighborhood had sidewalks...
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Okay, so I only technically ran once. I did, however, walk a lot and take the dog with me every time I headed out. Let's just say I'm out of shape but enjoyed the walks/jogs. The dog can go and go and go until he hits the wall and then collapses on the couch or floor and takes a nap. The weather has finally decided to cool down with the help of tropical storm Lee, so we've been enjoying the transition.
I'm learning I need to work on how to figure out dinner plus taking care of the dog. With the garden winding down, I have more time to focus on walking and running. I can certainly see why lots of people actually take it easy during the summer and try other workouts. We'll see how this works out as it gets darker sooner.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Active.com has a cool blurb about how owning a dog makes you fitter than an non-dog owner. I can definitely see it. I've been out walking a lot more with ours, and that's part of the reason why I realized I missed the physical activity. We went on a looooong walk yesterday, and he still had some energy to want to play! Right now he wants to play with the cats, and my tortoise shell is growling at him. Too funny!
Anyway, here's that article. We're going for a short run tonight, and we'll see how we both feel afterwards :)
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Yeah, some people will think that's a crazy statement but somehow I don't think my readers do. Well, some of my friends who read my blog might.
Anyway, what brings me to this is the fact that I have some time off from work coming up soon and the weather in the evenings is beginning to get bearable. I might be a little silly for thinking a vacation is a great time to start working out again, but it works for me. Plus I need to train the dog how to run with me!
So here's the idea: with the dog I need to try and exercise him everyday. Right now we play in the yard and in the house. I think I'll start running a short distance every day so he has a chance to get his exercise and we both work on acclimating ourselves to the running.
I start next Wednesday. Woohoo!
Monday, August 15, 2011
So I took advantage of the kids going back to school and hit the pool Saturday. After splashing around a bit, I decided to try swimming a couple laps. I accomplished about 1.75 before my arms got too tired. Rex says I need to kick more and rely a little less on my arms. After catching my breathe from that, I tried water running. Let's just say that while fun, I can see why it's a great work out. I was tired!!
For those who aren't familiar with water running, here's a good link that describes it. A lot of people suggest getting floats but I just ran in the shallow end. I looked pretty silly, but it was fun :)
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Yeah, that's it! Although if that's my excuse for not running I'm sorely out of luck. School has started in the Atlanta metro area for some counties this week, and the rest are back in school within the next two weeks. Did I mention today's high was around 100 degrees? That's right. I said it. 100!!!
The good news is the dog has been in obedience training since Saturday, and already his behavior is markedly better. He's only distracted by things that are super hard for dogs to ignore, like bunnies running for their lives. If I give him a couple more weeks he'll be obedient enough to take to the trails! It'll still be super hot, but I'm hoping to make it out sooner rather than later. Yes, I'm using the dog as motivation to get out and at least walk since he needs to get some exercise too. A tired dog is a well behaved dog.
How has running been for everyone else? I must say thanks to the 25 people who actually follow me on blogger, and who knows how many others elsewhere? One of these days I will get back into the swing of things. I do want to run the Georgia half-marathon again in March, so I'll need to get back into running soon. Some 5ks this fall would be nice as well. Oh! I can take the dog! Not all 5k races welcome dogs, but some do. Some even offer prizes for the dogs lol. Hmmmm....
Well, as far as my own working out goes (because I do need to give some kind of update), I've been outside walking around the yard with the dog on a 15 ft leash. We play fetch and I only break a sweat because of the heat, but at least I'm outside! Getting eaten alive by mosquitoes. I'm so glad I can be a part of the food chain.
What's my plan short-term? Once it begins cooling off a bit I'll take a lot more walks and some light jogs. Ease myself back into running. I have a feeling this will pick up somewhere in October. I'm not sure what I'll do in the winter when the sun goes down before 6pm, but we'll figure it out.
Here's to making grand plans!
Sunday, July 10, 2011
And that reason is......
Dingo! We rescued a dog a couple weeks ago, and because he's young (about a year old) he needs lots of walks. So far it's been a tad exhausting since his feeding and potty schedule mean I must be up around 6am every day, regardless of what's going on. Granted, on Sundays I go back to bed after I take care of him but still.
We're also still working on training, but I'm planning on training him to run with me. I've got to get him to obey simple commands regardless of his environment first though. I can't have him trying to chase anything and everything that crosses his path.
Wish me luck! :)
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Alright, I'm on a bit of a kick on sorting fact from fiction. Yahoo! has another good article about diet and exercise myths, and I admit I've fallen victim to number 2 to some extent. My thoughts when I first started running were "I run a lot now, so I can eat a lot more". Yeah, that's wrong. Oops! I know I'm not the only one who thinks that way, and it can be really hard to find the balance in eating and exercise. We can't stop eating, but we can't go overboard just because we're getting more exercise in.
On a similar line of thought, check out the latest news on Olestra. Turns out fake fat makes you fat. It's similar to the fake sugar makes you fat news. While the thought of Olestra has always made me ill, I do admit to a Coke Zero with lunch when I'm at work. The rest of the time I am drinking water, and when I eat out sometimes unsweet tea. It's my vice, and I figure there are worse things I can do.
As far as how I'm doing, I've discovered something that I suspected would happen. Some of my larger muscles are atrophying. This is why I knew I'd need to get some new exercise in if I didn't want to stick with running for the summer, but it's not making me happy. I have a feeling that while I hadn't been gaining weight before it will start coming back because I don't have the muscles burning away all day long like I did before.
My excuse? Well, aside from the horrific heat we've experienced so far in Georgia it's all revolving around the lack of a fan in my basement and how it needs to be cleaned. Lame? Oh yeah. Is it working? Sure is. I still haven't done a damn thing in the exercise department. This weekend I am cleaning the basement and buying a fan!! And because I said it here, I will feel guilty until it is accomplished. Hopefully. We'll see :)
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Since running involves more awareness of fueling your body and a good diet, I thought readers might find this particular article interesting. I've been doing more and more research lately about what a "healthy" diet really means, and I've also been noticing something about myself. Even though I haven't been exercising much, okay at all, I've been keeping off the weight I lost training for the half marathon and in fact I think I've lost a little more.
Here's a couple things I've noticed in the past several months:
- Even though I was training like a fiend for the half marathon, I only lost 10 pounds. WTF?! All that training and only 10 pounds were lost??? I know I gained some muscle too, but sheesh...
- I had to eat like crazy for that training. If I didn't pretty much eat all day long, I was dealing with major hunger issues. This confirms my belief that you can't cut calories and exercise a lot without some major repercussions.
- Now that I'm not training or exercising, I expected the weight to pile back on. It hasn't (as I mentioned above).
- Careful grazing (I eat on a very specific schedule) with protein packed into each meal has keep my hunger down and keeps me focused.
- Cutting sugars (with the exception of whole fruit) has been a major success. My glucose levels don't spike and my skin has cleared up. Most people don't realize that excess sugars in your diet cause acne breakouts.
I hope this helps if you're trying to lose weight. Weight loss is different for everyone, and there is no "easy fix". Good luck!
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Due to some recent changes in my own life (new job which means more than double the distance from home and triple the commute time), I've had to face a challenge that most people face in their lives. That challenge is a lack of time. When training for the half marathon (which I am still proud to have completed), I was able to get weekday runs in due to the close proximity of several parks to my old job and being closer to home. I could beat the sunset and still get a couple miles in before heading home. Weekends were easier to deal with as well since the weather was cooler, allowing me to sleep a little later and still have decent temperatures and weather.
All this background is to let you know that conditions are not ideal, but they're not the end of the world either. I now spend significantly longer in the car, and if parks are close by I'm not aware of them just yet. This will make it hard to train longterm. It's also summer here now, so even with the sun staying up I get to deal with remaining heat (we've hit 90 degree temps already and summer has barely started). The other major nuisance is the massive mosquito population here. I get eaten alive during warmer weather.
These external hindrances combined with a desire to try something new have led me to do a little research on the latest and greatest in sports fitness. I've come across a unifying theme throughout my searches. Less can be more. If you've been reading the blog for the past several weeks, you may remember this post. Workouts like this have become more and more popular for several reasons, but here is what makes them appeal to me:
For a quick workout, it offers significant benefits and can be more effective even than running.
As you can tell already, I'm a bit strapped for time. Like most women, I have to deal with household chores on top of working and whatnot. I also crave downtime to relax mentally by reading books, watching an occasional movie, and hanging out with friends. The tough part is going to be making a new routine. This was a major hurdle regardless of whether I chose running, going to the gym, or anything else. Now that I've found a workout method I want to try, I'll start trying to build the right habits again.
Does this mean I've given up on running? No way! This means I'm taking a break but am looking forward to trying to run more 5ks in the future. I miss the casual racing. I'll probably sign up for the Publix half marathon again.
I really wanted to write this post because I want you readers to know that there are other options out there. Find what works for you, and don't be afraid of change and challenge.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
If you read medically accepted advice, then you know you should be eating a low-fat, high protein and high carb diet. I say high carb because it's suggested to eat a lot of grains if you look at the food pyramid. This is where I deviate drastically from popular advice. See, being hypoglycemic means I feel the affects of lowering blood sugar. It doesn't necessarily mean my glucose is low, but I certainly feel the dip more than most. This ends up meaning I should treat my diet carefully. Here's what my diet ends up consisting of:
- Wheat bread for sandwiches
- White rice
- Whole grain pasta
- Almond milk
- Fiber cereal
- Low-fat yogurt (2%)
- Bacon grease
Why do I bring this up? I found this really interesting article on Yahoo! that asks if skim milk is actually making us fat. Even if you prefer the no fat version of milk, I think how skim milk is made white will make you give it up forever. Gross!
Saturday, May 14, 2011
I'm finding I have a pretty predictable cycle. Around April and May I goof off and the Warrior Dash comes along and then I half-assedly complete it.
Today was the SE Warrior Dash, and it was very fun! There were some differences from last year's race. First, slightly different obstacles and trail. I skipped one that involved climbing a wall with a rope. I just don't have the upper body strength for it. The lake was significantly higher this year due to recent rains, so I ended up doggie paddling a lot of it because I couldn't walk it. Second, two t-shirts! Muwahahaha!
What made the experience better was planning for the race in advance better than last year. We made the trek up to Mountain City Georgia the night before and stayed in a nearby hotel (The Dillard House). This allowed us to avoid the two hour drive just before the race and to get to the racing area early. We ran in an earlier heat, parked much closer, and when we were finished we had a real shower to clean up in. The only downside? The hot water at the hotel room wasn't working, but the manager helped us out with compensation. Lunch at the same hotel was amazing, as always.
Overall I think getting the hotel room makes a major difference. Next time I think we'll get a room for both Friday and Saturday nights. That way there's no rush to check out on time.
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Yeah, I've not been doing much in the exercise department. That's cool though. I'll figure something out soon.
On an unrelated note, check this story out. A lady saves a life during a triathalon and then finishes it! Some people are just that awesome.
Monday, April 25, 2011
I'm feeling pretty good, although I'm worrying the lack of exercise on the waistline. The problem here is that I haven't had any real motivation to run. I mean, it's fun while I'm running but good luck getting me out there. I've read that this is a common phenomenon. After achieving a major goal like completing a half marathon, many people get post-race blues and don't have much motivation to run. Why is that? I think it's because we've worked sooooo hard for so long that the break is extremely welcome. I believe it's 85% mental, 15% physical. Why this ratio? It sounded good. Yeah. I just made stuff up.
So I'm looking for other stuff to do besides just running. I tried a new workout today, and it was pretty cool. I got it from Men's Health, but I stole it for myself. Just because I'm a woman doesn't mean I can't do this workout too. This is called "Fire Up Your Fat Burners". While you're supposed to complete 15 sets in a count down sequence, Workout A was really hard! Rex and I only finished 3, and I also need to use a weight heavier than 5 lbs if I'm only doing a few sets. As I build up more endurance it'll be awesome. I think incorporating this workout into my running will make some great improvements.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
My skin is finally clearing up (mostly) and the infection is gone. Rex is still following his Couch to 5k plan (again, mostly) so I ran today's scheduled run with him. It was really nice to just relax and enjoy being out and active. It was a little cool today as well so we didn't feel like we were going to melt. His running is improving as well, so it was awesome today.
This Saturday I'm running the Run the River 5k. I don't know how I'll do, but I plan to take it easy and have fun. After the race, I'll visit the opening of Alpharetta's farmers market. Spring has officially arrived!!
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
Don't ask me how, because I can't explain it. Somehow last week I touched something I'm allergic to, and not only did I break out in a massive contact dermatitis rash (that we originally thought was a brown recluse bite), but then the rash got infected! Now I'm desperately trying not to scratch my arms because that spreads the rash. The antibiotics I'm on don't allow me to be in the sun, so no running for me unless it's in the dark and that's not for me.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I started a new job this week, so I've been trying to deal with a significantly longer commute than I'm used to while also easing back into running. While the sun is out longer in the summer, this won't matter much (except for all the gnats and mosquitos!). Once the daylight fades it'll be a different story. Potential strategies include finding a park near my new job, getting a gym membership, or switching exercises this winter. The latter is the least acceptable as I plan on running the half marathon again next March. I may have to suck it up and buy a gym membership =/
My new goal is to try and run more and walk less. How much? I dunno. But I'd like to see if I can run a few miles before taking a walk break, and that means more training. I hope to run a half marathon this October, and that means I have a couple months to train outside of the training specific to the October race. Rex is working on training too, only on a smaller scale. Once he gets some decent mileage under his belt we can start working on speed work like he wants.
What else is in store for me? I want to use the boxing equipment more. My arms are due for a workout!
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Well, I did better time-wise than I thought! Officially my time for the race ended up being 3:04:06. It's a little slower than I had trained for, but I also didn't train with so many hills either. Ideally I admit I would have liked to have had a 2:45 time, but I met my ultimate goal: finish and still be counted among the living. Since I accomplished both criteria and had a blast doing so, I can't really complain.
Speaking of slow, the results also include an age grade. What is an age grade? Short answer is it figures out how you rank among those of similar age. I can compare myself to others and see how I stand. I found my result to be quite funny: 35.8%. That's not even on the scale! HAHA! Oh well. Just as I was telling Rex tonight over dinner: I'm not someone who can count running as one of my strengths or natural abilities, but I enjoy it and I'm glad it's so popular because many who are like me keep me company. I ran with a huge crowd of people during the race, so I know I wasn't alone in my time. I even passed people! Woooo!
Once I have some pictures I'll post them. Right now with nearly 11,000 finishers just for the half-marathon (the marathon I believe has around 2,000), the photographers have a lot to sort through and catalog. Red took a picture of me in my shiny blanket post-race too with my medal. I hope they look okay. I wasn't that concerned about appearance when I was running.
Here's the list of lessons I learned from all this hoopla:
- Training for a long race like this takes a lot of time. That being said, I think I will never train for a full marathon. While I enjoyed my training for the most part, I can't fathom giving up so much time. Maybe I'll change my mind in the future. Five years ago you would never have pegged me as a runner.
- 13.1 miles is the perfect long distance race. Just enough to pose a major challenge for someone like me, while not so all-consuming that Rex thinks he's lost his wife to some crazy people.
- I am so doing the Georgia Half-Marathon again. So much fun!
- Having the 13.1 sticker on my car is insanely gratifying. The accomplishment alone is addictive. I can see why people run so many races of significant distance.
- The compression sleeves are a life saver. Oddly enough my hips have been tight and sore, while the rest of me is fine.
- I know I talked a big game about cross training, but I did none. Next time I will incorporate some into my training plan. I promise!
Here's a huge shout out to Red and Atalanta for meeting me after the race. It meant so much to me to know I had people waiting for me in the family reunion area. Rex deserves a huge prize for putting up with all my training. He's doing the Couch to 5k training plan, and he's really liking it.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
It's over!!! I'm relieved that the training I went through for the last 12 weeks was worth the effort, and I'm definitely proud of myself for completing the race. Here's a recap of how my day went:
Let me first state that it's so hard for me not to forget something when I leave the house. When I go on vacation or head out to work, it's very common for me to forget an item of some kind. This morning it was my Accellerade. Luckily I was close enough to the house that I could turn around and fetch it, however it did make me a little later than I wanted to be.
Parking for a race this large can be hectic. I ended up parking several blocks away from the starting line, which meant a little more walking than I had really wanted to do before the race, but it was fine. Walking through downtown Atlanta before dawn meant seeing a lot of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks. Not to get distracted by social commentary, but I felt bad for these folks.
Once I got to Centennial Olympic Park, I needed to use the port-a-potties. Unfortunately I think half of the race participants needed to do the same. Luckily the mass of people there meant that many of us would be starting the race a little past the 7am start time. I ended up beginning my run at about 7:12am.
All along the race there were tons of volunteers who worked hydration stations, directed us when the course made turns, and generally cheered us on. Lots of other volunteers from charities also manned hydration stations. There was a spectator who held a sign that said "Charlie Sheen says you're #winning!!" She also said that we had tiger blood LOL!! The spectators in general were that positive and encouraging. In fact, there were more spectators than I had anticipated, particularly at the finish line. It all makes a difference when you're feeling like the hills are defeating you.
I also got to see a very cool view of Atlanta. I've lived in the area for nearly 20 years now, but it's so different when you're driving around vs running. I had forgotten how beautiful the Inman Park area was. Georgia State University and Georgia Tech have also grown tremendously and built a lot of cool stuff around the city. I had never been to the 4th Ward, so that was cool to see. In fact, they had the best cheering section in my opinion.
Overall it was a well run race. Publix did an excellent job of sponsoring it. I got a cool medal, the shiny blanket after the race, and a very nice race t-shirt. The expo was awesome. I bought a t-shirt that says "If it weren't for people like me, you'd have nobody to pass" on the front and "If you can read this, then I'm not last" on the back. Perfect for the slow pokes like me!
Btw, the compression sleeves were great. I wore them during the race, and everything else hurts except my calves. They're worth every penny!!
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I have my final run tomorrow before the race, and I have to admit a good part of me is thankful the race is around the corner so I can take a real break. See, you're supposed to take some time after a big distance like half marathon or full marathon and just let your body re-cooperate. I'm excited I've made it this far, looking forward to accomplishing my goals, and I know the race atmosphere will be fun and thrilling. I also look forward to resting the rest of the day on Sunday and all day Monday.
As far as the leg sleeves go, I have decided to wear them. My legs are at that point where they could use a little extra help, and if I can reduce the amount of pain and discomfort I experience then awesome.
On a really positive note, all this training has helped me lose quite a bit of weight. I'm not sure how much I lost because I haven't been weighing myself, but I'm wearing clothes I couldn't wear last Spring because I gained too much weight the prior Winter. Talk about an awesome side effect from all this training!
Monday, March 14, 2011
I've been trying to decide if I should run the race with leg sleeves or not. I didn't train in my long runs with them on, so I don't know how they'd feel after more than two miles. Tonight's run was two miles, so I figured I would try them. If they're really bad I give them up for the race. They actually felt good while I was running, but they made my legs warm. Since I perform better in cooler weather, warming up my legs seems counter-productive. Ultimately I think it will depend on how cool the race morning is. It doesn't look like that day will be cool, so I'll probably leave them off and use them post-race.
I decided to try and run faster today since it was just two miles. Yeah, I totally got way too excited in the first mile and wasted my energy. The second mile was okay, but my left calf was mad at me. It was just a harsh reminder that pacing is still important, even at the shorter distances.
Friday, March 11, 2011
I often say my goal with running isn't to lose weight, but it's certainly a welcome side effect! I take this approach because if I focus too much on the scale I get discouraged really easily and don't enjoy running. Instead I focus on meeting goals I set for myself based on my current fitness level. For example: next week's half marathon. Wow - it's next week! (Small moment of panic)
Anyhoo, just because I don't focus on the scale doesn't mean others follow my philosophy. For those of you who are in this for weight loss (and let me say, good for you!!), I highly suggest this month's Runner's World (April 2011). It details 8 golden rules of weight loss while running. I won't go into too much detail, but I found them to be sane, realistic, and absolutely doable. I also found I had incorporated many of these rules in my own life already because when you run significant distances suddenly fueling your body is a top priority. Rex can tell you all about the low blood sugar issues I've dealt with. Not pretty...Just for this and the fact that he's never once complained about my time-consuming long runs (and has been nothing but encouraging), he's the best husband ever! He'll read this and say "duh"!
Btw, bananas make the best pre-run fuel and mid-day snack! At least they do for me. I'm trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies in my diet and bananas are an easy way to do that.
On a quick training note, I had to run in my neighborhood last night and I remembered why I quit doing that. The hills are just too much. My ankle did something funny and cracked painfully about a third of a mile in, so I cut it short to just 1.66 miles. It's better now, so I'm not sure what it was but the wind was brutal too. That served as a reminder that even with a "bad" run, at least I got out and tried! Don't beat yourself up over less than perfect runs. Even the pros don't have awesome runs every time they hit the pavement - that's why it's called training :)
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Because I think I'm too used to being active LOL! My legs are stiff and sore, which makes no sense because I didn't do anything! I would be running tonight but it's raining. Actually, it's stopped but the trails are completely flooded. For some reason my legs are really mad at me. Oh well. Tomorrow: three miles. Saturday: five miles. It feels like such chump change!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Since the weather was terrible yesterday, I had to postpone my final super long run until today. It pushes my recovery run out for a Monday, which is typically a rest day, but since my next run isn't scheduled until Wednesday it's all cool. The cooler weather we experienced today is awesome for my runs. I just wished I had paid more attention to the weather report because I could have used some gloves. My hands were freezing!
On another positive note, I am wearing the compression leg sleeves post-run and wow do they make a difference. I'm thinking I should have splurged for the sleeves with footies, since I can tell my feet are also tired and sore now that my legs are feeling significantly better. It's all good though. I can tell that my legs are going to be well rested for the race with the taper and the sleeves.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
So Rex was super awesome and took me to the running store tonight. What cool new item did I get? Compression leg sleeves!! They're supposed to speed up recovery time for your calves, and since I've been having tight calves lately they seemed like the logical choice. Plus they will probably alleviate a lot of the waddling I do on Saturdays after the long run. I wore them after my run tonight, which was only three miles, but they immediately made me feel a lot better. I'm excited to use them Saturday. It's supposed to rain this weekend, so we'll see if I have to push the long run to Sunday. After this weekend it'll be taper time!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Yesterday I completed 11 miles. It was the first time I actually didn't want to run. I really wanted to just sleep in and enjoy my warm, comfy bed. I'm beginning to see that the taper at the end of training is not only for physical reasons but for mental reasons too. At this point in my training I'm just tired in every sense of the word. I mean, the training helps me lose weight, get in shape, give me confidence, improve my health, yada yada, but it's hard after nearly three months. That's a long time! It'll be worth it in a couple weeks when I finish the race; it's just a little tough to remember sometimes.
On a good note, half way into my run I got my second wind and finished strong. That was good because the first half I was just going through the motions. That shows me that even if I get a rough start at the race I can still have room to recover. My fueling during the run is set (one pack of Honey Stingers per hour), and the hydration is covered (Accelerade fruit punch flavor is yummy!). All I have to do is finish my training and then finish the race :)
On a funny note, Rex wants me to say that on Saturdays I waddle like a duck because my legs are so tired and calves are tight. He finds it extremely hilarious. My parents also found it to be funny yesterday and noted that when I was younger I couldn't be bothered with anything that smacked of exercise except riding bikes and here I am running 11 miles on my own. I think they are wondering what happened to the daughter they raised and the one who came to visit them yesterday.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I'm in the training phase now that requires some experimentation during long runs so I can avoid any nasty and unwelcome surprises during the race itself. 13.1 miles is a long way to go when you're stomach is upset (upper or lower GI distress), you've forgotten what's going on because your electrolytes or sugars are way off, the new shoes you bought gave you blisters, etc, etc. The list of disasters is very long.
Last week I tried Accelerade, which tastes much better than I had thought it would. I tried the orange flavor, and while the flavor is actually pretty intense, it keeps me from chugging the whole bottle in one gulp. As a result of the drink on top of an extra packet of Honey Stingers with me on the run, I ended up finishing totally tired and exhausted but not with any kind of headache, confusion, irritability, lethargy, etc. Turns out 10 miles still wipes you out though so I took a nap later that afternoon. The headache I got later that evening was due to low blood sugar because I was starving and trying not to eat too much.
So far I think I'm on track for the half-marathon. My only concern is being counted as a non-finisher, but I can't let it bog me down. If they don't count me as a finisher, it doesn't mean I didn't actually finish. I just don't get an "official" time. I'm still buying one of those 13.1 stickers for my car LOL!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
So, starting a run when I'm completely famished is a recipe for disaster. You probably already knew that. I should have known that. What was supposed to be an easy 4 miles yesterday turned into a grueling 2 miles of pathetic shuffling. The reason I had thought I'd be fine is that in the past I have gone on what I considered short runs (usually no more than 3 miles) and eaten nothing beforehand. Due to the significant increase in caloric burn lately, I think my body is adjusting and now requires more fuel all the time. Why didn't I just eat when I was hungry? Well, I forgot for one, and I am so used to trying to curb the amount I eat that I didn't take my new exercise regime into account.
For instance, I often try to stay away from huge portions because I love to eat and have very little willpower. I have also gotten used to accepting that just because I run I don't have a license to eat like a glutton. I'll find a happy medium soon.
I also have been working really, really hard to decrease the amount of salt I eat. Significantly less processed foods, less eating out, kosher salt instead of granular salt when I cook, etc. When the running store employee tried to convince me to take some salt tablets, I freaked. I wish I had listened, because last Saturday wasn't a good day after the run. My hypoglycemia also shares some symptoms of hyponatremia, so I just wasn't fully aware of what my body was telling me.
Soooo....here's what my latest game plan is:
- Buy more gummies for the long runs (turns out I should eat them sooner than an hour into the run). I think I'm gonna aim for a packet every 45 minutes. This should ultimately add up to 4 packets for the whole 13 miles. I'll add a 5th just to be on the safe side.
- Get those darned salt thingies. That one really goes against the grain, but it's better to be safe here.
- Get a sports drink with electrolytes in it to rehydrate while running. This will help keep my body from flushing out too much salt and potassium. I'll ask the running store folks which is best for someone like me.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
When I initially decided to train for a half-marathon, I knew training would be different than it was for 5ks and 10ks. What I didn't know and anticipate was exactly how different training would be, particularly for long runs. My local running store has been an excellent resource in adjusting to these differences (OMG Honey Stingers are sooooo good!), but I want to detail exactly what I've learned so far in all my various training experiences.
What I learned training for the Peachtree:
- Hyponatremia is easier to get than I thought, especially when I'm sweating a lot. What I had thought were tension headaches were really a lack of salt after running and sweating buckets.
- I tried too hard to run the whole distance thinking only novices took walk breaks. This set me up for sciatica that was excruciating and eventually ruined my Peachtree experience. The mental setback was significantly more painful than the actual injury.
- The right shoes and gear matter - a lot!
- If it's too hot outside, I'm just not going to have a fantastic run. That's okay.
- Cooler weather is my friend! Once I get warmed up, I don't struggle so hard to keep going.
- But just because it's cold and I don't think I'm sweating doesn't mean I'm not actually drenched in sweat. Today was my first hyponatremia headache, and it's not pleasant. I'm going to get some electrolyte refueling stuff from the running store this week. More about that later.
- Due to my hypoglycemia, I need to eat something on the long run. The refueling helps tremendously.
- The Stick is my friend! It brings a whole new meaning to "hurt so good".
- Recovery runs, while they seemed insane at first, are also my friend.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Besides the feeling of being a hamster trapped in a wheel futility pumping my legs and not making any progress, there are other reasons I don't like the treadmill. You miss out on the natural breeze and fresh air of the outdoors, and the scenery changes as you move when outdoors. The best part about the nature trails around the Atlanta area is the wildlife. I've seen tons of squirrels, bunnies, been spooked by deer and spooked some myself (I even had one run with me for a few feet!), several Mallard pairs, and finally hawks. Specifically red-tailed hawks. Last Saturday I saw not one but two, and one was so close I felt like I was invading its personal space. They are very beautiful creatures and worthy of our respect. Surprises like this make running special each time I go out, which keeps me motivated.
Photo courtesy of http://www.ellenmichaelsphotos.com
Friday, February 4, 2011
So after I worked myself up about how fast I was going and whether or not I'd get stuck being swept up in the race, I took a look at what my Garmin heart rate monitor tracked. I am averaging a 13:30 pace on my long runs. Phew! Given that I still have more training ahead of me and race pace always ends up being slightly faster, I'm fine. I'm not trying to be Superwoman here, but at least I know I'm not gonna get run over in Atlanta traffic because the race route has closed.
Speaking of training, I am reading in my half-marathon book about what kind of foods and fuel I should be eating. I feel okay with my normal diet, but I wanted to check the validity of carb loading. See, I would love to indulge in carb loading but something in the back of my mind told me that wasn't a good idea. Turns out it's not. There is no science behind it. A nutritionist had also verified this when I was training for the Peachtree, so take it from me. Don't carb load! It's just an excuse to eat a lot, and I don't need anymore help in that department.
I also wanted to check out what kind of energy boosts I should try during the race itself. Now is the time to experiment with that kind of stuff since many gels and supplements can make people nauseous. That is the last thing I want to deal with during a race. The book cautions against drinking too much water during the race, and I can agree with that due to experience. I've also learned I need to quit drinking water an hour before I run unless it's a short run. I do not plan on stopping in the middle of the race.
Some of you are thinking I can try a sports drink during the run. I've had mixed results with them. They usually work better for me post run, and honestly food works best for restoring my electrolytes. The good part about a sports drink is that it tastes good. I'll probably drink some during the race, but not much.
This week I've gotten no runs in due to the weather. Tuesday it was raining, and yesterday was a combo of rain/sleet/snow/ice. In short, it was awful. I hope it clears up for tomorrow's long run. I have a feeling it won't be a great run since I haven't had any training leading up to it, but I do want to knock it out.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Well, it was mostly general information in an email, but I was still excited to get it. There were some important mundane details like race expo and packet pickup information, course maps, and sponsor information. The part that caught my eye was the pacing information. It turns out that if you are running slower than a 15 minute mile (which for me actually equals a run/walk pace), then you may not get a finish time and you could get pushed to the sidewalk to finish the race or can be driven to the finish on a truck. Suddenly I'm curious about my pace! They'll have pacers from local running stores to help you judge your time appropriately, but I'm dying to get home and check my Garmin and see what my average pace is. The reason this weighs on my mind is because I know I'm in that ballpark, and while a speedy finish isn't my goal I'd like to be counted as a finisher. You still get your complete race participation packet though, including the medal - just no official finish time from the race. I'll have my watch to measure my own time and pace, but still....
Anyway, I don't think I'll finish last. I know there are some walkers in every race, even the half marathon. I'll probably be second to last LOL! I'm not giving up though. If I happen to become a straggler, that's fine. At least I can say I completed the race and put that 13.1 sticker on my car!
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Atlanta is experiencing some amazing spring-like weather at the moment, which is remarkable considering most of us were iced in our homes and the city was completely shut down for nearly a week just a couple weeks ago. We're all so giddy over the weather I think everyone has at least made it outside and taken in some fresh air. The Cumming Greenway was so packed people were parking on the main roads, friends are commenting that they've visited local parks themselves, and I don't think I've seen this many motorcycles on the road in a long time. It's like we all got a boost of energy because of the warmth and fresh air.
Yesterday's run was really good, although I've come to accept that I tend to perform better when it's a little cooler outside. I've also learned that if I'm going to take as long as I do to run longer distances, I need to get up earlier so it doesn't get in the way of the rest of my day. When Spring finally comes around, I'll adjust to the weather. It still feels strange to wear shorts right now, although they're needed since tights are way too hot.
Today's recovery run went very well. Slow, but good. With lots of walk breaks. My legs are very tired the day after the long run (duh!), but the value of the recovery run is I'm not stiff and the lactic acid gets worked out of my muscles, easing the soreness tremendously. The new shoes are helping a lot too. It's amazing how the right pair of shoes can make running so much better. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if you don't know what kind of shoes to wear go to a running specialty store. I know it costs a little extra cash, but it's worth every penny. Then once you know what kind of shoes to buy, go online and buy them cheap somewhere else. That's what I did! Now my shoes are about $30 less online, so I buy two pairs to rotate them out to preserve the cushioning.
I need to read some more from the material I have at home about the kinds of foods I need to be eating. When I learn more, I'll post more here. Happy running!
Friday, January 28, 2011
So I realized that with my long run tomorrow I'll be able to cover roughly half of the distance required for the half marathon. I run/walk 7 miles tomorrow, which is gonna kick my butt but will be awesome!
When I was running yesterday, I realized I haven't really improved much on my running in terms of how far I can run before taking a break. And you know what? That's okay. So I can't really run more than 1.5 miles before taking a walk break. If I focus on that aspect of my training, I'll lose sight of the total distance which is important. I'll worry about that later. I'm already doing a lot better than I was two months ago. Progress can be very slow, and that's natural for everyone. In fact, CNN has a great article about why some people give up working out. Now gyms see the natural decline from people giving up on their resolutions and goals already. Come on folks - it's only been 28 days! Of course you haven't become a marathon runner/body builder/triathalon winner yet! Your body is still adjusting to the fact that you're being more active.
It's tough to keep motivation high when you're frustrated, but I promise it gets better with time. Trust me; I know. =)
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Let me just start this out with I hate treadmills. I think they not only bore you to death, but they also change your stride in a detrimental way. After I ran on the treadmill last week, my right leg hurt so bad I couldn't run very well Saturday. Then I had to wait until yesterday to run again. Granted, it was a combination of treadmill, weather, and old shoes, but boy did my leg hurt.
Instead of beating myself up over having to take a little time off, I just took it easy and remembered that it would be better to stay healthy than hurt myself even more. On a good note, training went well this weekend. I've been having a lot of success with the run/walk routine, and I noticed my training log has no space for speed notations. That's awesome! I think it's more important to complete your distance safely than try to beat yourself up because you didn't run it fast enough. The better you get, the faster you naturally become. I realized that by trying to avoid walk breaks when I was training for the Peachtree I set myself up for injury. I'm definitely enjoying training a lot more this time around.
As far as cross training goes, I haven't had much time for it. I'm gonna focus on trying to incorporate it more this week. We'll see how it goes.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I won't go into too much detail, but check this article out about the dangers of internet diet pills. I know it's tempting to turn to a quick fix when you're frustrated with weight loss (or the lack thereof), but please don't turn to diet pills. Most don't work, and many can harm you or even kill you.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Why, you ask? Well, it's always been a good idea to strengthen the muscles you use for running to improve running performance. I want to make sure I don't hurt myself training, which means it's time to focus on stronger muscles. The stronger and fitter I am, the less likely I am to have a running-related injury. I even have a day dedicated to cross training in my training plan, but I haven't taken advantage of it yet. This coming week I will.
Here are the kinds of exercises I'm thinking of incorporating from Runner's World. We'll see what I decide on Wednesday. I'll get Rex to join me for some of these, and he also has the P90x series on DVD. That might be a fun addition after the half marathon.
Friday, January 14, 2011
I was really glad to come across this article about the realities of food and how it impacts your health. I remember when Rex was working out with a personal trainer who insisted I quit cooking with butter and move to a butter substitute. He must have said some nasty things about me to Rex because I was told Mr. I Hate Real Food wanted to talk to me personally about my sinful ways. His goal was just to be skinny. I just couldn't understand the benefit of eating a fake spray that supposedly tasted like butter rather than just using a little of the real stuff.
Anyhoo, the article I mention above busts a lot of myths like the one I discussed. Sure, eating a whole stick of butter is bad. No one is suggesting you do that. I think I'll begin eating more baked potatoes though. They're loaded with potassium, and that's essential for maintaining normal blood pressure.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
For those that haven't noticed, Atlanta and much of the deep South got its first taste of real snow since 1993. That's right - the last time we dealt with this much snow was nearly 20 years ago. I had just moved from Alaska, and I remember my family thinking it was hilarious that a couple inches was called a blizzard. We also thought it was hilarious we got to miss school for a couple days and disappointed that the cable went out.
Needless to say this particular snow storm left much to be desired. It was really pretty and fun the first two days. Now I think it's safe to say all Atlanta residents are really sick of the white stuff that has unfortunately turned into super slick ice all over everything.
This has put a real damper on my training. Tuesday was a wash - no running outside due to the ice, and no access to a treadmill. Today I ran on a treadmill with the help of a friend and his apartment gym. I hope Saturday ends up being much better. We finally get warmer temps by tomorrow, which will hopefully thaw the roads and trails.
As far as training goes, it's been going well so far aside from the weather speed bump. I decided ultimately to use the original training plan I had chosen a while ago. It turns out that I needed a lot more time to follow the Galloway training plan, but that's fine. The rest of the book has been very useful for other parts of my training. Since I've let go of how fast I thought I ought to be running, I've been able to just enjoy being able to accomplish the distances whether by running or using run/walk. It's been really nice to let go of all that stress and just enjoy the moment.
I hope everyone has been able to enjoy the new year so far, snow or no snow. If you made a resolution, I hope you're sticking to it!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Sunday, January 2, 2011
I hope everyone enjoyed a safe and fun holiday season! Although I love Christmas and Thanksgiving, I'm also glad they're over. Now I can quit eating all that yummy but fattening food and focus on starting over.
Speaking of a fresh start, Rex and I headed out today for a short run. I remember when two miles was a long distance, but now it's just adding to my foundation. To help with my training, I bought a new training log that is packed with tips and pictures. It'll be good to be able to see my progress in this format. It's been a while since I've kept a log, and I forgot how useful they are.
Here's to an awesome 2011!!