Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sometimes I don't know why blog posts have titles. I could be super clever and come up with something that probably still sounds lame, or I could leave it blank and folks (I use that "s" loosely... there's just the one folk reading) can read the post and figure it out. I was going to put my NEW! 5K! PR! in the blog title, but that's just giving away the good part.

Now look what this blogging nonsense has made me do.

So. Nick and I did a Jingle Bell Run on Saturday. This is a "big" race for down here- about 1000 people registered, which is about 10x what we normally see. A bunch of our friends and coworkers were running too, which made it all the more exciting. Our excitement was so overwhelming, we went out the night before and had lots of beer and pasta (carb loading for a 5K. it's a thing, look it up). Oh and jalapeno breadcrumb encrusted onion rings! They were SO GOOD. In the morning, I felt like one would imagine I felt after that beer/pasta/fried food combo (not surprising fact: hiatal hernias and associated reflux don't go well with booze/grease/pasta sauce!). I drank tons of water, choked down a banana and we drove to the race. I still felt terrible. I made some comment to Nick about wanting to run fast just to get it over with.

A lot of the racers were there for their annual 5K, meaning there were a ridiculous amount of dawdlers present. I want to like everyone who comes to a race, especially one that supports a good cause, but goodness gracious, at least attempt to line up in order of how speedy you plan on being. Nick was running with me again because he also didn't feel 100%, so we set out and I just planned on running comfortably fast. The last few short races I've done, I've completed the first mile in something like 7:15 and then pulled back a lot so I didn't die. This one, I finished the first mile in 7:30, then slowed down a little to 7:50 and 8:00. I completely felt like dying, but since it wasn't JUST running making me feel gross, I ignored it and kept running stupid fast. I told Nick towards the end that I couldn't keep it up, but then we did. My Garmin showed the race at 3.08 miles, but there was a hairpin turnaround so the distance could be anything. What matters is my time! 23:44! Ahh! I scoped out the race results, not thinking I had a chance at an age group award because it was a larger race. Then I saw I was the 22nd woman... and that a large group of the women in front of me were actually 12 year old girls. Score! I was pretty excited that I was mostly beaten by children. I got a sweet fleece headband that will definitely fall over my eyes when I run in it but will warm me nonetheless.

In the almost a week since the race, I have recovered from my hacking, keeps-me-up-all-night cough and transitioned to a deep, mucusy cough that feels like it's pulling my lungs upward starting from my diaphram. It's not nearly as annoying as the horrible cough from last week that kept me from sleeping, but it's unattractive, painful, and worrisome. I don't think I've been properly sick in a couple years and now I have a cough for 3 weeks. Fun.

Also worrisome is a sharp pain in my left foot. If I remember correctly (not looking in my archives, I'm just that lazy), I had foot pain after my marathon last year and it went away pretty quickly. That was more of an arch pain, and although it was definitely a shooting pain, it wasn't constant. This one is. I ran 4 miles on the treadmill Monday, swam Tuesday, and ran 2 miles of intervals on Wednesday. It hurt the last 2 days but today is really pronounced, and it hurts just walking around. I had running on the plan for today but if the weather's nice enough, biking might be a good alternative. Time will tell.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fast girls have better times

That title was emblazoned on a couple of my high school swimming teammates shirts' and at the time I had no idea what it meant. Of course fast girl have better times! Duh! I get it now (fast ~= wild/easy), don't worry, but back then I was blissfully innocent. Or I had a poor vocabulary, whichever.

So there's fast girls.. and then there's me. Nick and I were at the pool the other day and I was chugging along (500 free moderate/steady (9:15), then 50 breast slow, 50 free fast (1:55), 50 slow, 50 fast, 50 slow all times 3 plus a cool down = very tired me). I was chugging along during one of the 500's and feeling confident. Although I sometimes drag my feet getting to the pool, once I'm in the water I'm usually happy. I noticed some folks in the lane next to me getting ready to get in. One was a younger woman, probably late teens/early 20's, who was definitely built like a swimmer. She had pretty, toned, broad shoulders. Plus she was wearing a swim cap and only if you're hardcore do you do that. Or that's what I tell myself, since I wear one. A middle-aged guy was with her, probably her dad. I saw them a few times because they were dawdling on the deck waiting for lanes to open up so I had time to make all these totally superficial judgments about them.

When swimmer girl and her dad get in the water I notice that she's speedy. Way speedy. I would be even with her on one breath, and she would be a full body length ahead of me then next time I breathed. I saw pretty quickly (ha) that I would not be able to do any impromptu, only-one-of-us-knows-we're-racing races (like when you "compete" with the guy next to you on the treadmill. Yes, I have the maturity and self-control of a 14 year old boy). Since she was unattainable, I focused on her dad...and he was fairly fast too! He was doing 50 or 100 repeats, not longer, slow stuff like I was doing, so it was hard to judge but during a few of our race lengths I definitely had to push it to keep up.

I've never considered myself "fast" (neither the traveling quickly meaning nor the easy meaning). I was a decent swimmer in high school and I've been throwing in some sprints during my swim workouts to get at least a little extra speed in case I ever decide to do another triathlon. On the running side, I've always been s-l-o-w. For a fit, young woman, I've been average or below average (I was 115th out of 376 women 25-29 at the Richmond Marathon. Meh) (my recent second place in my age group in a local 5K = fluke of a small-town race). So having a reminder that my sprint swimming pace is other peoples' training pace was.. unpleasant. I want to be a faster swimmer just for my own satisfaction. I guess I'll keep on working on sprints and form and maybe pick up some pace.

As for running, I would definitely like to keep whittling away the 5K time and this week, for the first time ever, I actually thought about what it would take to get a Boston Qualifying marathon time, aside from a miracle. With this weekend's 5K in mind, my treadmill workout last night was 0.1 @ 6.0, 0.23 @ 8.0 x 10 (3.33 miles, 27:30 total) plus cooldown. That's a total of 2.33 miles at 7:30 min/mile pace, and it felt ok. I have no idea what my legs will do this weekend but hopefully some of that quickness will resurface (as if it wasn't already ridiculously obvious, I have no idea how to train to get faster in a 5K).

Boston Qualifying for 2014 (although it would more likely be 2015 or beyond) = 03:35:00 for a woman my age. That's 8:12 min/mile. That's over 1 min/mile faster than the recent marathon, but after my epic 40some minute marathon improvement this year, I have hope that there's more improvement to come.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Last Tuesday-ish I started getting a little cold. Basically no big deal, I sniffled, I was a little tired, end of story. I figured I'd have some chest congestion for a few days and that would be the end of it. Instead, I've regressed back to my 7 year old self who stayed up into the wee hours for nights on end coughing my face off. Friday and Saturday night Nick wasn't home, so I didn't worry about keeping him up, but last night I kicked myself out of bed and slept in the guest room. I got about 3 hours of sleep before waking up coughing, swigging some more nighttime cough syrup, and sleeping for another hour. I seriously considered calling in sick but this month is really busy as it is and I'd rather get some work in. I feel icky. I wish sleep-inducing cough meds worked for more than 3 hours (really, the Tylenol stuff says take every 4 hours... while I appreciate something that won't automatically make me a zombie the next day, I wish it worked for something resembling a full night's sleep).

On the other hand, my abs are ridiculously sore and I haven't worked them out lately so I win everything for getting in a workout just by being ill! Between this and the colon cleanse last week I'll be bikini ready in no time! (/so much sarcasm).

(from here)

But really, I'm wearing this dress on Saturday and it currently just barely fits. I need enough room in this thing to drink at least 1 rum and Diet before falling over because I've only eaten air all week. I wouldn't normally even worry about fitting into this dress or looking particularly good but it's SO PRETTY ON. It makes me feel like a goddess. Vanity wins this one.

(from here) So much Spanx are being worn.

 While Nick was busy making money on the weekend so he can take Monday off like a millionaire, I did this:

... that doesn't look like anything at all. What the picture is trying to show how much I cooked on Friday. I have 2 pots of soaking beans, chopped veggies, some lentils cooking away (there's even steam! look!) and spices. And Rubbermaids everywhere because I make 17 servings of everything and then freeze it. I made:

- 36 lentil "meatballs" (but only froze 34 because cooking made me hungry) = 3 meals
- 2 dinners of "Ethiopian" lentil stew from this recipe which was delicious and with a few tweaks I will make it my own. I'm imagining toasted almonds and maybe raisins. Side note: finding that awesome blog, Post Punk Kitchen, definitely means some exciting cooking times ahead. I am anxious to make some new vegan/veggie stuff.
- 10 lentil burgers = 2.5 dinners
- black bean dip for lunches all week
- this Raw Brownie batter (which we just call "chocolate stuff") that does NOT taste good after taste-testing black bean dip. I thought I had screwed up but I am pretty sure it was just residual garlic hanging around. This has been our go-to dessert for months. It's so easy and yummy.
- Kidney beans for... who knows. Something beany. 

I also made time to run 2 of my fingers over the grater while grating ginger, and purchase wedding shoes:

(from here)

 Since we'll be tromping through the snow for our wedding, I needed boots. I toyed with the idea of just wearing snow boots and having the girly dress/bulk shoes dichotomy but decided I'd rather go cute and Victorian and feminine. Just because they manufacture "wedding Uggs" does NOT mean you have to wear them. No.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You guys...

I have pictures of the inside of my colon. My life is complete!

Colonscopy and endoscopy were yesterday. On one hand, it was really a no-nevermind. I drank some nasty stuff, got really bloated, slept for 3 hours, drank more nasty stuff, got MORE bloated (at this point it went from annoying "I ate too much cheese" discomfort to full on "I drank multiple whey protein shakes" pain), took a bloated shower, did bloated dishes, made bloated noodles with bloated (delicious) miso-tahini sauce and then went to the bloated hospital for some bloated tests.

I wish I had photographed my tummy. My super stretchy comfy huge pants were leaving a line in my stomach, no joke. I was like, 5 months along with my water baby. Without too much detail, the special prep drink didn't do quite what it needed to do. I was feeling ridiculously hungry (last meal was at 7pm on Sunday, Gatorade and water all day Monday), weak, and uncomfortable. But then, I put on a cute, backless gown, got an IV, and woke up an hour later with my mom next to me. It was over so quickly. The doctor came in and talked to me... he told me basically there was nothing wrong, I don't have any bleeding from my insides but I must take too much ibuprofen because I have gastritis due to ibuprofen use. I respect his medical opinion and all, but I am pretty sure my heavy once a month usage of ibuprofen isn't screwing up my stomach unless it's composed of tissue paper. Arg. I also have a hiatal hernia. Yippee! Common risk factors are: age, obesity, and smoking. Since that describes me exactly 0%, I'm not sure where I got it. It's also pretty much a non-event, except that it may explain why I have such gnarly acid reflux. In addition, the doctor said I should consider seeing a nutritionist because.. I don't know, don't tell me things when I'm just waking up from anesthesia. I don't remember them. I do remember being testy about needing to see a nutritionist. DO I NOT THINK ABOUT FOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU, DOCTOR MAN?

I'm not happy when I'm discombobulated. I went home, ate a banana and some yogurt (my throat was wicked sore and I was mostly asleep, but I was starving. I'm a trooper.) and although I did not intend to sleep all day, that is exactly what I did. I slept from about 9:30 until almost 3:30 with dear, patient Nick being kicked by me as I slowly took over the entire couch. When I woke up I was starving, again, and ate a bunch of broccoli slaw (also with miso-tahini sauce!) and tried to figure out if I was dying or my GI track was just getting back to normal. I was in a fair amount of pain. Also, from now on I'll just blame my hernia for everything. Can't lift that, got a hernia. No time to do laundry, hernia's hurting. Your band's putting on a show tonight? Too bad, so's my hernia. (note: I just looked back and I made the exact same jokes when I first got the anemia diagnosis. I deal with medical diagnoses with lame humor, what can I say)

Take home message? I see the hematologist in January and he'll either say I'm a mystery (it's fine, Hugh Laurie is welcome to give me a second opinion) or... something. I don't know exactly. I feel like we're sort of at an impasse. The interwebs are all out of solutions. There's a slight possibility the samples the doctor took from my GI track will show I have Celiac or something, but I sort of doubt that. Could I please be a lactose intolerant vegetarian with Celiac? I'd LOVE to be that girl at work who can't eat a damn thing even more than I already am. Really. I'd love it.

Workout related: Ran 2 turkey trots. Biked a little with my dad and Nick. Slept. More movement in my life would be a good thing. Nick's breaking in/getting used to a new pair of slightly more minimal shoes, so some shorter, easier runs for the next week or so should be great. And I need to fit into a very snug evening gown in 10 days so I need to maybe eat less broccoli slaw so I can zip it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Things I've been called this week

Subtitle: How to irritate me with less than 10 words.

Okay. I should (?) be happy someone thinks I'm skinny. Skinny is good.  But skinny is not how I see myself, and not how I have ever seen myself. This comment was from a very kind woman at work after I asked about the meat content of some chili at a lunch meeting. It had meat in it, so I declined with "I'm a vegetarian, so I'll go grab my own lunch." She said "Oh! A vegetarian! That's why you're so skinny!"

Side note: when I get unexpected comments, I freeze up. I have some social awkwardness issues and when people go off script, i.e. "Hi, how are you?" "Good, and you?" "Good, how's your week going?" *record scratch* I DID NOT SEE THAT QUESTION COMING. Or- this also happened this week- when someone takes my "sign off" after we've been walking together and we're parting ways. I had already decided I was going to say goodbye with "Have a nice night!" and then he totally stole it from me. So he said, have a nice night and I said "Have a nice night! You too!... thanks...?" I got flustered. I cannot speak spontaneously.

Re: the skinny comment. I was equally flustered. My mind started flipping around trying to find something to say... response options included:
"I used to be a fat vegetarian!"
"...something about how cows gain weight and all they eat is grass..."
"I eat a lot actually.. I mean.. I run too..."
"I wish I ate meat sometimes because protein is so filling and it's hard to find satisfying, real food vegetarian protein sources"
"Thanks, but skinny is kind of a loaded term"

WTF, brain? In the end I just mumbled like a loser about eating a lot and being hungry, forgot to say thank you (is skinny a compliment? I don't even know), and walked away to get my own lunch. I know the comment was most likely meant to be complimentary, but instead it made me stumble and act weird and thus be irritated. Lame.

"Lovely Chemistry Girl"
So this one... it's irritating the more I let myself think about it, but the spirit of the comment was nice if I just take it at face value. I had a meeting with someone in my industry early this week who was here performing an inspection. It went well and we got along, and when we left the meeting everyone was happy. During a wrap up meeting with all the site big wigs, the guy I met with referred to me as the "lovely chemistry girl." I blushed and tried to act gracious or somehow normal but instead I got all squirmy and weird. Everyone laughed and I got a couple of congratulatory elbow jabs. Then at the end of the meeting people kept saying "good job!" For... what? I know he meant to say he had a nice time meeting with me, but it still bothers me quite a bit that my industry, which is male-dominated (like... 90/10 male), women can be called "lovely" and everyone will have a chuckle about it. Other part that bothers me: "girl." Ugh. Yes, I'm female. I just with I could have been the "awesome chemistry staff person" but I guess that doesn't sound quite as nice.

Like I said, it only bothers me when I overthink it. He was a nice guy, and he meant well, but my workplace is just frustrating sometimes.

Running: I did 5 miles @ 8:25s last night and it felt mildly hard but good. It was also cold and I was alone on the road and I wanted to be done so I might have kind of rushed to get it over with. I wore a hat, which kept me from freezing, but my head sweated like crazy. I want it to be cold enough to wear gloves and pants so I don't have to play this silly hat/ear warmer game.  I'm whinnnnyyyyyy...

Hi, dimple. Also, look at the cool shirt from Richmond! Tech! Long sleeve! Joy!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Easing back in...

Baby steps. Yesterday was my first day back running: 3.1 miles on the treadmill at slow.0 mph and then did some planks. My legs felt great if a little draggy, but I had an odd pain in the arch of my left foot. Nothing to be too concerned about but I'm monitoring it. I'm going to ellipticize or stationary bike today and lift a little.

And I bought this bike yesterday:
The Specialized Ruby Sport Compact... yum. It's full carbon and has middle of the road shifting hardware, so this should hopefully last me for a long, long time. It better, since it was a tiny bit expensive. Nick got the male equivalent... can't wait to ride them, even though it's chilly out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How now brown cow?

First, these are the exact words from the weather forecast today:

Mostly cloudy with occasional rain... mainly in the morning.

They used an ellipsis when describing the weather?! Why so non-committal,

With marathon #2 completed, what now? I'm riding a major post-marathon high (side note: I don't like talking about myself to my coworkers, some of whom vaguely knew I was running this weekend. Now I just want to interject "Marathon was great THANKS FOR ASKING" into every conversation ever. I'm a delight) and of course want to sign up for another one. I know not every race will be a 47 minute improvement, but I feel right now like I have a lot of potential to improve with some faster, more dedicated training. There are 2 possible races- the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach or the Rock n' Roll DC Marathon, both are in mid-March. However, some complicating factors:

1) Wedding - April 16. We have a lot of planning yet to do and that's another big stressor over the next 5 months. Plus the holidays, travel, etc.

2) Work - I work 60-70 hour weeks from mid-February through mid-March. We're scheduled to be done with the craziness by marathon time, but there are no guarantees. Also, I could be working nights which complicates things. I foresee a lot of treadmill time in my future.

3) Weather - It'll be winter here, or what passes for winter in Southern Maryland. That means early sunsets, rain, and maybe some snow. I guess you sort of can't win since fall marathon = miserable summer training and spring marathon = miserable winter training. Bah.

4) Weight gain - I gain weight during marathon training, even when I'm super thoughtful about my food intake. The hunger monster wants what it wants... which is often ALL THE CARBS and most of the beers. That, combined with #1, is kind of a deadly combo. This girl needs to fit in her wedding dress. I'm not going to be a crazy bride (or am I!?!?) but of course I want to look my best for my wedding. The camera adds 10 lbs and it's just going to be us and a photographer. So if I look like I'm carrying some extra mass from behind the camera lens, that'll be all anyone sees of us. Not an appealing prospect.

5) Training (I know, I wanted it to be another 'w' word too) - this new "training cycle" would March 16 is 18 weeks out, so I wouldn't have a lot of downtime before needing to really re-focus on regular, longer runs. I know since we're already in marathon shape (I use that loosely, since miles 17-26.2 were clearly not the strongest miles I've ever run) we could handle a little extra downtime, but I'd like to use an actual, official training schedule this time around and see how it carries me. And most of those are 18 weeks.

I'll decide hopefully in the next couple weeks and maybe start ramping up running again. Luckily, it sounds like Nick is on board with running another one so hopefully we can get going and train together again. Or just wait until next fall... hmm.. tempting.

Monday, November 12, 2012

2012 Anthem Richmond Marathon

I could start with this...

But I'd rather focus on this....
no i don't know why I'm posing like I'm on the red carpet. I am a tool.

The race was amazing. Nick and I headed to Richmond Friday afternoon, hit up the well-organized expo, had dinner at Olive Garden (a marathon tradition since I've done it twice now!) and checked into our hotel. The hotel was approximately 15 minutes from the race start and the race start was 8am, so I set an alarm for 5:45 and we slept fitfully. In the morning, the near fatal error occurred. I was trying not to stress, so we spent maybe an extra 20 minutes in the lobby, just hanging out and drinking coffee instead of rushing out. "Eh, it's a downtown race, there will be more parking than we could ever need." Except the world that exists in my head does not match reality.

Reality- the handy parking map provided by the marathon was indeed handy... except everyone else was following it too, and trying to park close to the start or finish lines. And there were somewhere over 10,000 runners all trying to do the same thing (an 8K and a half were also happening alongside the marathon). Blast. We got stuck in traffic for a while, navigated out of it, and finally found parking at about 7:40. Yikes. After a 10 minute walk we found the start line and that other line- bathrooms. We cut it super close, but we were right on time to find the 4:00 pace group, shed our outer layers and line up behind them. In addition to parking stress, I could not find my normal running sunglasses anywhere. They've been with me through every training run and even my last marathon and I love them. I had put them on at the hotel but somehow lost track of them in the hour that followed. After huffing and puffing about losing them I decided to wear my normal sunglasses. And then... the marathon fairy dropped my sunglasses out of my throwaway sweatshirt hood and back on my head mere moments before the start. I guess when I pulled my sweatshirt over my head they got stuck in the hood? I was happy to have them because they're comfortable and reliable, but now I was stuck with 2 pairs of sunglasses. Oh well. After carrying a water bottle, phone and a million gels on every training run, a pair of sunglasses was not a huge deal. Other minor blip- I thought I brought sunscreen, but I really brought insect repellent. We got a little burned.
We set off right at 8am. The course was awesome. I felt amazing through mile 15- in fact, we were hanging with the 4 hour pace group or just ahead of them through mile 17. We averaged 9 minute miles with relative ease. The mental battle began at mile 15 and turned into a physical battle in mile 17. Which also included a big hill. The miles after that were between 9:30 and 10. Oops. But you know what? I'm not upset! It's so easy to say "if we'd run a little faster, we would have broken 4 hours" but holy cow, I ran 47 minutes faster than I did last year! The big hill took my breath away and I couldn't recover, and the wear and tear of those first 17 miles caught up with me. My form broke down, my joints were aching and I started doubting myself. At this point, I turned from hopeful, happy Laurel to the super pissy version of myself. There's sweet Nick running along, snapping pictures of the scenery and appreciating spectators, and there's me, regretting that people keep SAYING MY NAME STOP IT DON'T TELL ME I LOOK GOOD I HATE YOU.

I'm a lovely human being.

So obviously, we slowed down that last little bit. I got the beginning of a calf cramp in my right leg (my calves had been tight all week but I'd been rolling them and I didn't expect they'd be a problem) so I started throwing back water and Powerade (blue electrolyte water=thank goodness I was wearing a black shirt) at every water stop. They were practically every mile, so that meant I was getting little slow down/shuffle breaks fairly frequently. Just knowing that we were closing in on the finish was enough to push me along mentally, but physically I was just not going to go any faster. Nick hung with me even though I am pretty sure he was feeling a-ok. Having him beside me and knowing he was finishing his first marathon was so, so great. I made a deal with myself that if at any point I wanted to start the walk/run cycle, I could, but I didn't want to drag Nick down and ended up slogging it out with only tiny walks to slow down and grab fluids. It helped that last year I didn't run and back then I was barely functional, blood-wise.

We finished! It felt great. After a little walk, some pizza and som stretching we headed back to the car and began the drive home. The rest of the day included showers, stretching, food and movies. In comparison to last year, I felt like a million (very sore) bucks. I wasn't completely and utterly sapped. I didn't want to go run tons of errands, or walk around much, but I felt like a functional human being and was even able to unpack a little. That's accomplishment.

Yesterday was another relatively lazy day. I did some stuff around the house and Nick left for a 1.5 week trip (lame) so I hung out with my parents and ate dinner with them (my brother's a vegetarian too so they have veggie stuff around the house. Awesome). This week will be a lot of lecture watching, cooking, and cleaning hopefully.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I have no idea what I'm doing

I was reading through my posts the last couple weeks and realized I sound... confident. I didn't mean to do that. I'm not confident. I'm terrified that 1) I haven't trained enough for my needs and 2) we haven't trained enough to get Nick to the finish line happy and healthy. (Nick, you should not be reading right now. Not kidding).

I am reading the stupid Runner's World forums WAY too much and letting myself get freaked out by all the instances when people ask "I've been training at X:XX pace, 35 miles/week, how fast can I finish the marathon?" and the responses are along the lines of "you would be lucky to finish a marathon in 12 hours with running only 35 mpw! Don't you read? What training plan are you following, 'How to be a lazy ass and sit on the couch and only run 35 mpw'?!?!" (this is minor hyperbole. but only minor). So, how much have we been running? Less than 35 miles per week... like, way less. One week, I ran 50 miles but that was because I had to run a long run on Sunday and the next one on Saturday. It was a complete accident. The rest of this training cycle has been closer to 30 mpw. Do I think this means my legs will fall off during the race? Yes. Is this normal marathon nerves? How much did I run last year?

When I ask myself these questions, or try and talk to Nick about Marathoning 101, I keep hearing a nasty nagging voice in my head that says "you finished one marathon. and you took almost 5 hours. you are not an expert. you don't know what normal is. Nick is fast and capable and you've led him astray."

I hate anxiety.

Anywho. To chill myself out in these last few days I keep trying to remember:
- I have so much iron in my body right now, it's ridiculous. My blood cells are chubby and happy
- I ran a 5K PR by a full minute this weekend. My legs are in decent shape.
- 5 miles @ MGP Monday felt... easy?
- Those 2 x 18 milers and 2 x 18+ milers were totally doable. The hay is in the barn. The money is in the bank. The... in...the... garage? I don't know any more sayings.
-We can slow down. Barring any huge upsets, I'll still PR and Nick will still be a marathoner after this weekend. I want to turn off my worry and let myself enjoy this time with him and this time letting my body do something I swear it's capable of doing.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Taper awesomeness

Or somewhat awesomeness. Subtitles could be: "I am puffy, hear me run" and "Fresh, chunky legs." This whole running less thing didn't bother me much last year, but this year I'm feeling sluggish and bleh. Add in eating some unusual stuff and probably eating a little more than necessary and I am puffy as can be. Ugh. I know this is normal, so I'm just going to deal with it and know my body is doing what it is supposed to do.

In AWESOME taper news- my fresh legs ran a 24:27 5K this weekend, earning me a second place in my age group (out of 9 women in my age group... I'm going to disregard the small sample size and call it a win). Nick got 3rd in his age group and ran 19:17!!! I'm so so proud of him! We were both hoping to break 25 and 20 minutes, respectively, and we did and it felt great. I had forgotten how much of a non-event a 5K is... I felt funky for a while afterwards, especially since it was cold out, but then we went about the rest of our day and didn't have any significant achiness. It was nice. Here's Nick and I being dorks after the race:

Thanks for the picture, Dad!

Then we went and test rode new road bikes. We are looking to upgrade from our sad, old hybrid bikes to something shiny and new. Our local shop deals mainly in Specialized Bikes, and we test rode an aluminum frame and a carbon frame with different components. It looks like we'll be spending a pretty penny on bikes in the near future. Luckily, the accessories like shoes and pedals can wait a little bit. I'm excited for nice, light, efficient bikes. The test-ride experience was marred by strong winds.. we only rode a few miles on each bike but it was KILLER with the headwind. Special bikes only help so much!

Finally, we got to celebrate my dad's 50th birthday this weekend. We took him out to dinner and he got several presents, including a whole day dedicated to him on our local NPR station, WAMU. Neat. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

I run, therefore... legs hurt.

Nick and I went out for a 5-miler yesterday. It was beautiful and chilly and I actually wanted to run! I had to take advantage of that. I had a mental plan to keep the miles a little faster than marathon pace, maybe 9:00/mile. The first mile is largely downhill so when I saw 8:16, I worried a little but embraced it. Legs were happy. The next 2 miles were tougher, aruond 8:30, and I made a deal with myself to just keep going to the 5k point and then back off and relax home... then made another deal to relax at 4 miles... then figured, screw it, we can keep this pace. Mile splits were: 8:16, 8:28, 8:34, 8:21 and 8:05. I will take iron through my nose if it lets me run this well. It was also really nice to run outside somewhere with some more interesting terrain than the Rail Trail.

Today, my legs are a tiny bit achy. My left knee has been bugging me in a "runner's knee" way, and that mild pain didn't abate during the run, even post warm-up. Today, it's more bothersome. Today is a rest day and I promise tomorrow's 5K will be the last hard run before the marathon. Promise.

Speaking of marathon, here's what our remaining training plan looks like, tentatively:

Saturday: 5K
Sunday: Either bike ride or rest
Monday: 5 or 6 miles, easy
Tuesday: swim
Wednesday: 4 miles, easy
Thursday: bike or rest
Friday: rest

Saturday: go time!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

10 day forecast + more strategy

For the marathon last year (according to Weather Underground, uber-detailed weather site), the low temperature was 35 degrees and the high was 55. I wore long sleeves and shorts and hated life until I got in the pack at the starting line and my nerves overcame my chilliness. During the race, I went through a few temperature cycles depending on shade/sweat/breeze This year, it looks like the Richmond forecast is for almost identical weather- "Clear. High of 59F. Winds less than 5 mph." PERFECTION. Thank you, weather gods. Now don't change a thing in the next 9 days or else I'll cry.

I'm still iffy about pacing and such. From Hungry Runner Girl, I found a super cool pace chart here. The tricky thing is, I think 9:30 would be a decent race pace and is within our fitness level. But then we're just 9 minutes away from a 4 hour marathon and we might as well just run a little faster each mile and finish faster. However, the other side of this argument is that it's just 26.2 miles. Bleh. When Nick and I discussed it earlier this week he said "I'm pretty sure we'll have another marathon, so it's not a big deal if we don't hit our time goal right on the nose," which is an excellent point. However, we're placed in Corral 2 based on our projected finish time of 4:00 so the folks around us will be trying for 4 hours and we might as well also?!?! Ahhhh! Decisions!

Ok. Enough freaking out. Final decision time. Also, I know I'm not an elite or anything other than very mediocre, but pacing is still important to me. Running is 99.999% mental for me when my anemia is managed, and having a goal that is manageable but ambitious is necessary for me. During the half I ran with Nick, 2:00 definitely motivated me (as did having my chatty, awesome boyfriend by my side). We'll be in the 4:00 corral. I want to start with the 4:00 bunch and stay with them at least through the first half, then go from there. Of course, if one of us is feeling sick/tired/achy we'll readjust, but that seems reasonable.

I'm getting so excited to run... partly just to get it over with, partly to see what my body is capable of this year, and partly to get to experience this with Nick. 9 days.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

11 days + Sandy

Or 10 days? Let's think about this: I'll go to sleep 11 more times before the marathon, but I'll only actually be walking around and doing things for 10 more days. Whatever. It's soon.

Last year, the night before the MCM was spent lounging with Nick, building a fire, and drinking wine and eating ice cream. I want to say it was Twix ice cream. Last night, as Nick built a fire to keep us warm during our power outage, I realized we won't be able to have a pre-race fire/ice cream/wine night since we'll be in a hotel in Richmond. Boo. And Sandy? Although the storm made itself known heartily between yesterday morning and this morning, we were very fortunate. We lost power from 8 pm until sometime during the night. The only really bad part for us was that it got really cold in the house. Nick built a fire in the fireplace that I am hoping the previous owners bought as a joke. It's horribly ugly, plus the screen things on the front don't function well. Whatever. It kept the fire contained. That plus my mom's great suggestion to put sheets over the door let us sleep comfortably in the living room while the rest of the house got chilly. By morning, the heat was back on, the fire was out (we slept with the fire extinguisher nearby) and all was well. Last year, Hurricane Irene tore down LOTS of tree limbs in front of Nick's house. We were cleaning up for weeks and Nick purchased a chainsaw specifically for that storm. It was a mess. This time, there was very debris, and most of it just looks like sticks. Seems like all the weak branches were picked off last year!

11 days. Yesterday I ran 6.5 miles (1/4 marathon!) at a comfortable 9:30. I thought about bumping it up but I was happy where I was. Today I'm thinking Nick and I will brave an outside run, and maybe a swim and a bike later this week. This weekend we've got a 5K that my dad does every year on his birthday. I will continue chasing the elusive sub-25 and I assume Nick will chase that sub-20, but we both need to take it easy-ish to keep our legs fresh. It's getting real, yo.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Perfection plus Projected Pace

I am going to gush. Just a warning.

This training cycle has been perfect. Not in the "I did every single training run and got faster and stronger and never felt like dying" way, but in the "I ran with my best friend by my side and accomplished so much" way. It's 17 days until the marathon (or 16? is it how many days elapse or how many times you wake up?) and I feel... prepared? I know that taper crazies have yet to set in but I'm feel good right now.

Last night Nick and I did our last long run- 18.7 miles on the Indian Head Rail Trail. Running on the Rail Trail is definitely not the most exciting thing. There's a decent amount of people watching but no cars and no terrain changes. The reason we've run our last 3 long runs there is safety- we're going to be out after dark, for over an hour. We've finished after dark on the road before (and ran Ragnar in the dark) but we did less than 30 minutes of that run in the dark. Starting at almost 5 pm, in late October, means that over an hour of these recent runs has been done when the sun has set completely. That means we were tripping over large frogs (or turtles... still not sure) on the trail but didn't have to worry about getting hit by cars. That was nice.

The run last night wasn't ground-breaking, but it did make 4 18+ milers for me (18 on the treadmill, 18 outside with Nick, 19ish last week and almost 19 this week) and that is HUGE. Last year I maxed out at 18, I think, and even that was a huge struggle. These long runs haven't been easy, by any means, but they've been doable. The big differences between this year and last are 1) Iron and 2) Nick. He has gotten me out of the house or onto the treadmill so many times when I would not have gone otherwise. Knowing he's by my side makes achy joints, annoying fuel belts and neverending thirst seem more manageable. When I pulled the top off the Gatorade bottle with my teeth and it poured all over me and I just about cried at mile 6? He calmly took it from me, replaced the top, and gave it back to me so I could have my drink. He is so patient and encouraging, and I hope I have been able to provide the same support for him as well. I absolutely would not be here without him.

Now... how about pace and race strategy? Here's me after 13.1 miles at 9:09:

That was in May. Not that long ago! Although in running fitness terms it's a pretty long time ago. And in anemia terms it's been a while. Buttttt.... I know my body is capable of that. And the other day, before I turned my Garmin GPS off mid-long run, we were going ~9:30, which is well within the race pace +0:30 guidelines I've read about everywhere. My other data points are not so convincing- the other 3 18 milers were

Using online race calculators (because you're obsessive like me) and plugging in my 5K, 10K or half marathon PRs you'll see that I should be capable of somewhere around 4 hours. It's funny, my 5K PR predicts I'd finish a half in ~1:57, which is pretty accurate, but says I should be around 52 minutes for a 10K. Conclusion: I run 10Ks slower than I am capable. With this in mind, here are my official goals:

A Goal: 4:00:00 and not a second longer. Likelihood of this: < 20%, unless the stars align for great race day conditions.
B Goal: 4:20ish- this would be 10 min/mile, which is about what we've been running in training.
C Goal: Happy finish, happy me, happy Nick.

Race strategy- first couple of miles run conservatively, somewhere around 9:30, or slower if we're dodging people. Gu @ mile 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and maybe 24. Water or Gatorade every 2 miles. During last night's run I felt like I really needed Gu before it was time to have one

Annnd that's as far as I've gotten. More to come.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fe and Me

But first- a picture from Ireland:
This is Giant's Causeway, in Northern Ireland. It is probably the coolest place I've ever been. It's truly a geological wonder and it was so cool to go there. We also saw the Cliffs of Moher, which were neat but not nearly as interesting as Giant's Causeway. Go there now. Even 10 days after getting home, I keep starting sentences with "In Ireland..." and probably annoying everyone around me. I had a great time on that trip.

Iron. Anemia. My nemeses (nemesises? boo.). I've been up and down for the last year, and since October 5 I've been taking an insanely high dose of iron, plus a Vitamin C supplement, 2x a day most days. This would seem fine, like I've just returned to my normal dosing schedule from last year, but this dose is far higher than last year's. And it's been making me sort of miserable. I am nauseous after each dose and the Vitamin C gives me wild heartburn. I've been trying to separate iron intake from mealtimes and I think this is making the side effects of the supplements worse.

I know people take meds with wayyyy worse side effects. I know I'm lucky that this deficiency is so treatable (even if we still don't know the cause). But damnit, I hate taking pills twice a day that make me feel icky. Also, if I'm not super careful with keeping my veggie/fiber intake super high (like this weekend and in Ireland), things happen. Bad things. I'll leave it at that. Bonus- the only day the GI doctor could see me was Marathon Eve and I am not getting scoped the day before the marathon, even if it would make me feel all light and cavernous on the day of the race. I enjoy clean intestines as much as the next girl but not eating the day before 26.2 would be the dumbest decision ever. So I don't know when that'll get scheduled- she gave me a date in January but we're trying to find something sooner.

Nick and I biked over the weekend and had grand plans for a good 20some miles and then I got a flat 15 minutes out. We rescued the bike but I wasn't feeling running after that little outing and we were time crunched, so I said screw it. Pretty much a waste of an hour and a half.

And then- swimming breakthrough. Yesterday's 1.5 miles in 45 minutes felt unusually good. I felt strong and happy and sort of wanted to keep going. Let's hope that momentum carries me through 22 miles (last long run) today.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

One more long run

Just one more. That's it? I'm pretty baffled by how that's even possible. Ideally, we should do our last long run this weekend, but since we did our second to last yesterday (Wednesday), I'd like to give us more than just a few days off. It means decreasing taper from 3 weeks to 2.5 weeks, but I really think we'll be ok with that.

Yesterday's run was... weird. We didn't leave work until about 3:45 (despite my "goal" to leave at 3... and then remembering I had a meeting at 3. arg.). That meant we got to our running site (the Indian Head Rail Trail, site of our last long run 1.5 weeks ago) and got changed and hit the road at 5pm. That meant the sun was already setting and it would definitely be dark for most of the run. The plan was to do 4 miles out and back on one leg of the trail, then 6 out and back on the other leg. Well... the best laid plans and all that. We did 8 and then the next 2 with no problems. Then Nick needed a break so I ran on ahead for a little. And realized how dark it is. And how isolated I felt... and then I started freaking out. In reality, the trail is practically in the back yard of lots of houses in the area, but it was pitch black (we were wearing neato Amphipod reflective LED vests... HIGHLY recommend for comfort and visibility) and cold and I was totally alone. So I turned around a wee bit before the 6 miles of that leg were up and met back up with Nick so we could head back towards the car and maybe finish 20 miles. Then things went terribly wrong. Not really. But I did get very annoyed.

Some backstory- my much beloved Garmin strap broke when we were in Ireland. I carried it during the 10K we did over there (53 minutes. Still not over that) and it was annoying but it worked. During the 10K, it was super irritating to carry the watch and I kept touching the bezel by accident and changing the screen. I had also used it during night runs a few times but still had not figured out how to reliably make the backlight turn on. So, between my sticky/sweaty fingers, carrying a water bottle, and fumbling with the watch to get the backlight to turn on so I could see mileage, I managed to turn GPS off. I realized this and promptly started whiiiiiiininggggg. I felt silly and since I'd gone slightly off the original plan, I didn't have a definite idea of "this is where we need to stop." I played with the watch a little, grumbled, and grumbled some more. After a little over a half mile, I figured it out and got GPS going again. I was irked though, because it started counting up from 16.1 miles... and I thought we were actually over 17. We ended up finishing at 18.5 per my watch, in 3:05. I think we actually did closer to 19.3, which would mean around a 9:33 pace which is amazing. It felt comfortable and I definitely wasn't breathing crazy hard. I think during our previous 18 I got pretty close to the much fabled "wall" that everyone talks about with marathon training. I definitely hit a point of thinking that I could not finish (which I never got to during the MCM last year). On the run tonight I certainly wasn't joyful or anything, but the last mile was not insufferable either. Good things. Of course, this run was after 10 days of reallly light running (just the 10K in Ireland and 4 miles on the tmill on Monday). So... who knows.

Anywho. 23 days until the marathon. One more long run. One 10K (the MCM 10K! Pretty excited to be back and NOT doing the marathon!), one 5K (same one I ran in like 85 minutes last year the week after the marathon). It's all passing very fast.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ireland- the teaser

Thoughts on Ireland-
- They don't have alarm clocks in most of the hotel rooms. Why? No idea.
-They use white pepper at most of their tables. White pepper smells like cow manure. Yeah, that makes for a fun morning when you're trying to figure out why your eggs smell like cow. I learned to stop putting pepper on things.
- There was a spider crawling on a bed one of the nights. !!!!! I know this is absolutely not the first spider on a hotel room bed, but it was a first for me. I swear I never considered that there could be a spider in my bed. Despite my best efforts to drink plenty of beer and wine and not care about the spider, it still kept me up.
-Do a race when you're traveling somewhere. I promise. I did a 10K (in 53:04 what whaaaaaaatttt) (my Garmin thought the race was only 5.95 miles though so take the race time with a grain of salt)
-Kayak when you're traveling somewhere. Seriously. Got to see the Kinvara Bay from the warm seat of a kayak. It was my favorite moment of the whole week.

I have wayyyyy more thoughts. And tonnnns of pics. I will update soon. Promise.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I hate having to combine words with anemia. I'm running out of options.

So... flashback to August- I was running great, feeling great. I went to a new hematologist after my current hematologist basically said "keep supplementing till you die of constant nausea." New hematologist said "ignore her. let's try not supplementing. be free of nausea!" Hemoglobin was 12.6 mg/dL, ferritin was 110. Living was easy.

Current day: I've been off supplements for 2 months. I went to the new hematologist again. He says "your blood is like, pale pink. Take 325 mg iron 3x a day... in other words, I'd like your blood oxygen transport to be A+ and your ability to eat to be nonexistent." Hemoglobin is 11.1. Ferritin is 25. I'm apparently bleeding from SOMEWHERE. Now I get to go get scopes stuck in various parts of my body until we figure out where the leak is. Hooray.

I'm frustrated. I strongly suspected that my numbers were below normal, since I had been feeling increasingly crappy the last month or so. He said I might feel some improvement before the marathon since I'm taking ridiculously massive doses of iron (plus delicious Vitamin C chewies. Yum). I'm not excited to be 27 and getting a colonoscopy, but it is what it is.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


I have a post all lined up about Ragnar DC this weekend and how fun/awful/memorable/miserable it was (summary: so happy I did it, probably don't want to ever do it again... but ask again in a few months!). Stay on the edge of your seats for it. Here's a preview:

I chose this picture because my legs look great. That's me (there! me! with the legs! I never claimed to be modest.) waiting to grab the slap bracelet from my teammate.

But this post isn't about Ragnar. It's about self-sabotage and freaking out and anemia and frustration.

Monday: ran 10.2 miles on the treadmill just because. Ragnar didn't do a number on my legs (only 13ish miles in 36 hours), so I was feeling fresh after taking Sunday off. I chugged along at 6.3 mph and got some school stuff done and felt good.

Tuesday: little creaky from the run, but still good. Nick and I biked 25 miles @ 17.9 mph. That is a good 20 seconds/mile (average) faster than we normally do. I have changed my Garmin so it shows the average pace for the activity, and I loved watching that average pace hover around 18 mph. It felt good but hard.

Wednesday: wheels fall off. We had 8 miles planned. Last week we did 8 miles at a sub-9:00 mile pace, and this weekend all my (short) runs were in the low 8's. I was feeling speedy and overconfident. When we started out and did 2 miles at around 8:15 I decided that was AWESOME and we can do it and there's NO WAY this will end badly. I was pumped. Mile 3 was around 8:23. Still good. Then my chest tightened, my legs turned to lead, and I started wheezing. I still was somehow convinced that this run could happen! We could still bang out the other 5 miles in the low 8's. Definitely below 9 min miles. Come on Laurel, just push through.

I started beating myself up about slowing down and Nick was wonderful to have alongside me. My legs were failing and I was wheezing and crying (because crying helps you breathe. fact. just kidding, it wastes precious energy feeling and makes you feel dumb.) and Nick kept encouraging me and telling me to just slow down and keep moving. But my average pace was still 7.3! Then 7.2! Then 7... then 6.8... Then we reached the house at mile 6 and stubborn me decided to run/walk the last 2 miles. My chest had loosened but I still couldn't breathe deeply. For the record, I don't think I have asthma issues, I think it's the anemia. Either way, we ended the run with 8 miles at a 9:30 pace which is not bad but I feel bad about it nonetheless.

This is where we go back to last week. When is it too much? When are tired legs enough of an excuse for slowing down? When do you push through and when do you give in and say, this is too much, you cannot breathe, just quit? I am competitive (more on that in the Ragnar post) and that includes competing with myself. If we did 8 last week at 8:XX and I did 13 this weekend at 8:XX then doggone it, you're doing 8 today in the low 8's even if it hurts! Even if you ran 10 miles 2 days ago and biked hard for 90 minutes yesterday. I am my own worst enemy.

As usual, I'm being hard on myself. I know this is not the end of the world (and we still got the mileage in!) but it feels crappy that I pushed myself so hard, was in so much pain, and still didn't reach my pace goal. It was warm out, we didn't have water, there are hills, etc etc etc. I'm feeling icky about training and I know I shouldn't. 44 days till the marathon (that's still 6 weeks!!!). Oh, and 9 days till Ireland ahhhhhh!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Things I haven't been doing

-Sleeping enough. Step 1: sleep in until 11am. Step 2: get busy at night. Step 3: have a super upset stomach from who know what (seriously, lentils, salad and a baked potato should not keep me up). Step 4: get up at 4:50am. Step 5: being a horrible human being all day because you're so ridiculously tired
-Getting in long runs when they're scheduled
-Not freaking out about 19 days till Ireland and 54 days until marathon and 0 days until my head explodes.
-Deciding on a wedding dress. Dress shopping blows. I still can't wrap my mind around spending so much on an outfit for 5 hours (and I usually love spending lots of money on clothes).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Super fast

...this update. Not me. I'm pretty average.

-We primed and/or painted 2 rooms this weekend. It was a lot of fun and I was super pleased until we went to take off the tape and it took the new paint off with it... ugh. When Nick and I are finally on a normal schedule (this weekend we're headed to Baltimore for a conference) we'll fix it. Until then... sadness.

Pre-tape removal

-I failed at the treadmill long run I was aiming for last week. I got 8.5 miles in and felt super terrible, Gu wasn't helping, water wasn't helping. I quit and lifted for a little bit and beat myself up a fair amount. Then the weekend happened:

2 delightful New Belgium concotions in New Belgium glasses my mom got me. Joy in a glass. I felt better about that run.

-We both ran Friday night (I did 7 miles in 1:05). We took the weekend off. We I, the worst running influence in the world, spent time on Friday and Saturday doing house stuff, watching lectures for class, and walked on the treadmill.Relaxing and productive, but not the greatest training. I got called into work on Saturday morning and that screwed up our biking plans. Lame.

-Run redemption. Rundemption. Last night: 16.03 miles in 2:37. 9:48/mile. In comparison, last year in late August I did 12.35 in 2:17. My body and mind are just working so much better this year. Nick and I were tired and achy when we got home, but overall it was really amazing. I felt strong and really never doubted that we would finish.

I know we're not quite 100% on training. I know this. But that long run last night felt so good I can't believe we're doing anything wrong. This year is much less running and much more cross training, like I mentioned last week, and I think that combo is letting me be in ok shape without stressing out my body. So what if we don't break 4 hours? This is Nick's first marathon and last year I ran a 4:5X! I will be happy with whatever happens. We also still have 8.5 more weeks of training, so that's 5.5 weeks before tapering. So much time. I was worried after the failed treadmill long run last week, but I'm not anymore. We're gonna be ok.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

This is still happening.

I will continue to spare you a picture of my horrible legs. The poison ivy is still raging. I am still itching myself awkwardly in public and popping a daily Claritin plus cortisone. Nick says that it looks like I'm on the tail end of the itchy part, but I would just like it to be done already. I think it has been 3 weeks. I'm going to need to detox off the claritin at the end of all this.

This week's long run? Has not happened. Saturday was dress shopping while Nick went to the Baltimore Grand Prix. Sunday was errand day (we're painting 2 rooms). Monday was lazy day (I made chili... that's something?). Yesterday was hot/stormy in the afternoon. So today... to the treadmill we go! I'm not really upset that we're pushing our long run to mid-week, because generally my life feels more relaxed during the work week anyways. And weekends... I cannot get over the desire to sleep in. Call me lazy, but this long run is still going to happen, weekend or not.

About dress shopping. I loved all the strapless dresses. Ever. Most of the dresses with straps ended up looking funky and didn't lay right. My favorite dresses were all strapless and I am ashamed of that considering how strongly anti-strapless I was last week. I didn't end up being crazy about lace. Also, even if you give me wine, boring, shapeless dresses are not going to work for me. The only negative about dress shopping is that either the sample size fits me perfectly (awesome) or it is just a wee bit too big. And a wee bit too big means that it looks sloppy and unflattering and I had a hard time getting my head around how those dresses looked. I worry that I wrote some dresses off just because I couldn't envision them fitting me. Oh well.

Friday, August 31, 2012

So many countdowns

I started the countdown to the wedding yesterday. It is 228 days away. I feel fine about this. It's still a long time from now and we will figure things out...

Other countdowns:
-71 days until the marathon (this seems like a lot? 10 weeks? We just did 14 miles. I feel so much better about training this time!!)
-35 days until Ireland (I am stressing out about this. A lot).

Fun fact: our second-to-last long run before taper is supposed to occur the week we're in Ireland... umm no. I plan on doing a 20-miler the day or week before we leave, and then another 20 (or 22? dream big!) after we get back on Monday, October 15. Still a full 3 week taper, but with a rest week thrown in before the last long run. I think it'll work.

About the wedding, we have officially started paying for the ceremony, and have purchased plane tickets and our rental vehicle for when we're in New Zealand. The only other things are:
-all of my attire
-some add-ons for Nick
-wedding bands (nervous about this)
-activities for when we're in New Zealand

I'm starting the dress search this weekend with 3 appointments on Saturday. 3! I'm going to be so so sick of dresses. And I have to wear Spanx and a strapless bra all day? Pretty much torture. The 3 appointments are at Nordstrom (too expensive), Nicole Miller (probably too expensive) and David's Bridal (much more reasonable but meh). Nick doesn't want any spoilers, so here's a picture of a dress I DON'T want:

(source- Nicole Miller dress)

No hate for girls who do like strapless, but Slate even did an article specifically about how unflattering these dresses often are. I think all but the thinnest women have that armpit/arm/chest intersection of fat. In addition, who wants to spend all day standing, sitting, and dancing in something that's not designed to stay on your body? I know, I know, they build in corsets that make it stay up, but I don't believe that for a second. Maybe I'll be a believer after I try some on, but I'm thinking I'll stay away from this style altogether.

What I do like: lace, A-line, straps (but not sleeves), sheaths, etc. If we end up having a reception at home, I would like to be able to wear the dress again but that is not a requirement, and depends on whether we have a formal reception.

One final countdown:
1 million days until I am free of poison ivy. Or so it seems. I've debated putting a picture of my awful legs up here but decided against it. I'm taking Claritin every night and putting on cortisone cream most days, but it's still intensely itchy. A bonus is that my fingernails are long right now, so I can lightly graze/itch and not dig into my legs too much. I just want it to go away. Boo.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One year later.

Last year on 8/24 I did 12.3 miles and apparently it totally sucked and I walked a bunch. On 9/15 I did 16.5 and there was more walking. Last night I (we) did 14 at a 9:48 pace. What's the difference between this year and last that we're just about 4 weeks ahead of last year as far as training goes? Here's some thoughts:

-Iron. Obviously. I haven't taken supplements in about a month and I think I'm maybe sort of still at an ok level. I don't think I'm much more fatigued than I was when I was still supplementing, plus the run last night was really not painful at all (run notes: started around 4 pm. Ran the first 2 hours @ 6.1, then the last 1.8 miles @ 6.6 just to get it over with. Gu at miles 4, 8 and 12, Gatorade at 2, 6, and 10). I'm going back to the doctor the first week in October to get tested again and although I wouldn't be surprised if my levels have dropped some, I am pretty sure I'm still at least in the normal range.

-Life in general is somewhat calmer. I live with Nick so I'm not splitting my time between 2 houses. I'm comfortable at work. Most of my weekends are still scheduled to death but there's some gaps that let me breathe.

-Better, more consistent training. We missed one week because of crazy work stuff, but other than that we've done long runs of 8, 10, 8, 10, 12, and now 14. They might not have all been separated by exactly 7 days, but they've happened.

-Hydrating and fueling. Consistent hydration that mirrors what we'll have during the race not only helps me mentally now ("Yay I get Gatorade in a half mile!") but it also will help later. I hope.

-Cross training. Bike riding is not only a blast, it is a good workout. Going out and riding steady for an hour or more is still working my heart and lungs for an hour and keeping my legs strong without pounding on them. Swimming is hard and although the workouts are a bit shorter, they're still great and keep me moving.

-Nick. I would not be here without him. He ignores my complaints and excuses without making me feel ignored. He runs by my side but doesn't push me any faster than I want to go. He smiles at me and high fives me and reminds me we're doing something fun. I have never ever enjoyed running with anyone before him. Having my future husband (!!!!) by my side makes this whole thing so much better. We are in this together and we're going to own the marathon together.

After that ridiculous sappiness, here's something to dry your tears. I look like this:

I have the worst poison ivy covering my legs. When I go to try on wedding dresses this weekend, I am very concerned she's going to think I'm contagious and ask me to leave. Ugh. I've been taking Claritin before bed just so I can sleep soundly, but it makes me feel fuzzy in the morning. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Long run success

I really don't have much to say about my long run this weekend other than it was 12 miles in exactly 2 hours and it was delightful. But I guess I should try and chronicle it a little better so I can look back and remember what went right. And maybe replicate it someday.

First let's talk Saturday.

I dress to impress.

We needed desperately to do yard work for Nick's mom's arrival and also just to make the house look more presentable. We had a flowering bush in front of the house that was awkwardly located and scruffy looking and needed uprooted. I decided to start uprooting it, not realizing it would take me like an hour and be ridiculously physically involved. There was jumping on the shovel, digging roots out with my fingers and yanking and heaving an hoing (hoeing? whatever). It was intense. Nick took down a bunch of tree branches and another hugely overgrown bush and we definitely tired ourselves out working for 3 hours or so.

Then for the reward! My birthday was this week, so Nick wanted to take me out on Saturday evening for dinner and a movie. He chose pretty much my favorite restaurant in the area, Ouzo's. Their tzatziki is divine. Their dolma are delicious. It's just so good. We were also planning on seeing Dark Knight, finally, but the first show was sold out so we chose a later show. I had a pretty heavy dinner of pizza and tons o' carbs, 2 big beers and then ate Reese's Pieces during the movie. It was pretty much the least healthy, balanced evening imaginable and it was wonderful. Relaxing quality time with my fiance (!!!!) without worrying about anything. Delightful.

After a 1:30am return from the movie, I set my alarm for an 8am run wakeup call. I know that's not even particularly early, but I still was chuckling on the inside when I set the alarm. 6.5 hours of sleep and then a long run? Psh. I secretly planned on ignoring the alarm and fell asleep thinking about how late we'd sleep in.

And then I grew a conscience? It was weird. I woke up and the Great Debate about not wanting to run started but somehow.. running won? I complained so much to Nick and he, who is so infinitely patient and wise and good at dealing with me, acknowledged me but did not give in to my whining.

Me: I'm tired! we barely slept! my stomach is upset!
Nick: I know you're tired. Sorry to hear about your stomach. Let's go run.

Between his patience and the fact that we REALLY needed to get our run in, plus the cool, mid 70's temps, there was enough motivation to get moving (actual internal conversation: We need this run for training. Think of how good you'll feel going into the marathon if you're well trained). We got out of bed, had coffee, a banana and a muffin and then slowly got ready. We were out the door, a couple hundred yards down the road, and then we realized we forgot the water. Arg. Running is so mental for me, and silly little things like that throw me off. But we were already out there, so no use in quitting.

I carried Nick's Shot Blocks, 3 Gus for me and my phone in my iFitness belt, which was perfect for the marathon last year and I haven't worn it since. After a ton of fidgeting the first mile or so, it settled and was comfortable the rest of the run. We each also carried a water bottle, mine with water and his with Gatorade. I took a gel and water at mile 4 and 8, and drank Gatorade at mile 2, 6, and 10. Still trying to keep it as realistic as possible for race day conditions. Every 4 miles seems to be the sweet spot for gels for me, plus the little sugar boosts from electrolyte drinks.

I haven't pulled our splits, but they averaged around 9:30 for the first few miles and then declined gradually towards the end. I was tired, achy, and my stomach was screaming at me but those 12 miles were done and it felt so good. It wasn't a triumphant run by any means, but it felt decent, not crazy hard. I feel like I'm leaps and bounds beyond where I was this time last year and although I'm not excited about increasing long run mileage, I'm definitely not dreading it quite as much. Nick and I are so capable (lame word, but it's the best descriptor). We can do this.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


- if your dad says your hair is getting long, it definitely is time for a cut.

-I'm going to start bringing my own tupperware to restaurants so I can be kinder to the environment  and not have to worry about thai food sloshing out of containers on the way home. I cannot decide whether this makes me a weirdo or awesome.

-I stopped taking iron supplements (doctor's orders) and now I'm worried I'm going to keel over at any moment.

-I did the exact same intervals last night as I did 2 weeks ago and easily managed to complete another mile. Maybe no iron is a good thing?

-Nick and I are birdsitting/housesitting for my parents for the week and it's seriously throwing off my game. They don't have a dishwasher so I actually have to do dishes every night? The birds require feeding? The house needs cleaning? This substantially cuts into TV time.

-Re: Tv time- my parents have cable, so we get to watch the Olympics this week!!! What's that? They're over on Sunday? We actually only get 5 days? Oh. Well. Better than nothing?

-I have not been, for the most part, sore or achy during these first few weeks of training. Nick has been sore and achy. I would like to credit my amazing running mechanics and stellar lower body strength, but I think it's actually that he runs a lot harder than me. For example- my hard intervals are the same pace as his slower speed. He's a gazelle, I'm more of a groundhog.

-Since I'm back on the iron rich food train, my meals for the last 5 days have either been lentil or bean based. Lentil lunch, bean dinner. Bean lunch, lentil dinner. My cholesterol is very happy, I'm sure, but my digestive system is grouchy.

-Again with the iron rich food train, I'm obsessing over food timing. Again. Prime example: I forgot to take my calcium chew until after I brushed my teeth, and I did not take it until 8:30am. Well, technically that means I should wait until 10:30 for Cheerios (iron+calcium does not = absorption) but I'm not going to. That's right, I'm defying all nutritional logic because I need to eat breakfast before 10:30 in the morning. Especially since 11 is my normal lunch time. This stuff is tricky.

Monday, August 6, 2012

They can't all be winners

I have this silly rule about weekends where I consider them my time to sleep in at all costs and am ok (usually) with wasting the morning in bed. Because I'm "listening to my body" or some nonsense. I used this logic last weekend, not getting out of bed until 10 or so. This weekend, we did the same thing. It was 9:45 before we finally got up and got going. Factor in breakfast, doing dishes, route planning, sunscreen, accesorizing, etc, and it was about 11:45 before Nick and I hit the road for our run. I knew it was hot outside... but I was not expecting this...

It was gross out. Unusually gross. We had 12 miles on the schedule. It was 90 degrees (felt like 95!) when we left. We planned a lovely 6 miles out and then back route, along a road we had run on last week. Rolling hills, good times, right? No. Not good times. Very bad times. My right heel hurt from the very beginning of the run, and stepping outside into the heat and humidity immediately felt bad. I know people run in this type of weather, but I don't! Last weekend's run was far different because it was almost 10 degrees cooler and slightly breezy. This week it was miserable. The soles of my feet were hot from the pavement. The first 4 miles were not fun at all, but they were at a reasonable pace (9:11, 9:20, 9:25, 9:38). At that point I made the decision to turn around, and Nick was on board with that. We ran/walked the 4 miles home and overall the pace for the run was just over 10 min/mile. So... it could have been worse, but at the time it felt incredibly hard.

I decided not to harp on it. Yes, we had 12 miles on the schedule. No, we didn't complete them. Nick actually hopped on the treadmill to complete 1 more mile (he's my hero!), but we still ran less than planned. Oh well. We learned an important lesson: Don't stay up till 11 the night before a long run watching cute animal videos on the internet. Or... maybe a more valuable lesson is to balance sleep and working out? If we had gotten up 2 hours earlier, we would have been running in much cooler weather and maybe would have been able to complete it.

This week has 2 options for how the long run will be executed. Either Saturday morning or Monday afternoon. The pool is closed for 3 weeks of maintenance starting next Monday, so I wanted to get in 2 swims this week. We actually only have 12 miles on the schedule again, which is doable on a week night as well, although week nights tend to be hot. Saturday morning it is!

Monday: swim
Tuesday: speedwork (treadmill)
Wednesday: Bike
Thursday: 6 miles outside
Friday: Swim
Saturday: 12 miles
Sunday: rest

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I hurt myself + I'm doing a Ragnar Relay!

I fell off my bike yesterday. I've tried to reword it to place the blame on the bike, but I really can't. The bike did nothing wrong, it was really just me being silly. Nick and I had just finished 23 miles at a 17.5 mph pace and were sailing back home. Here are the factors that contributed to the crash:
1) It's a pretty decent downhill on the road before turning onto the gravel driveway
2) the road was just refinished last month, and the level change between the new road and the driveway is pretty big
3) I was riding on Nick's right, but in front of him, meaning I had to cut across his travel path to turn left into the driveway
4) we were at 22.98 miles according to my watch, and I didn't want to stop it till it read 23.00 ( I realize this was the major contributor and I also realize this makes me an idiot)
5) The front brakes on my bike don't work well, so I tend to mindlessly brake with both hands before remembering I need to actually apply more force on the back brakes in order to stop

So I tumbled down hill, slid a bit, and my left calf immediately got the worst cramp. It seized up so bad, it became the only thing I could begin to think about. Not the road rash on my arm and shin, not the bruises on my hip and hand, my calf. Calfcalfcalfcalfcalf! It screamed at me. Nick rushed to help me but all I could say was "I'm ok... my calf hurts!!!!!!!" He helped me up and I hobbled down the driveway but the combination of the fall, getting up quickly, stopping the bike abruptly (ha!) and being super duper hungry left me seriously lightheaded and I didn't regain normal vision for several minutes.
The lighting in the living room makes me look like an Oompa Loompa...

I did not pass out! Yay me! I rinsed off outside with the hose and examined the damage. Large area of road rash (top 40% of my shin, maybe 1/3 of the way around my leg) and one big gouge beneath my knee. My left forearm is scraped, and my hip aches. My hand is probably the most worrisome pain but I think it's just a bad bruise. Thank goodness I was wearing gloves.

All in all, it could have been way worse. I could have fallen on pavement, 12 miles from home, and I could have been going way faster. Lesson learned: slow down. Don't turn sharply on gravel. And it is so not worth it to stop your watch at the exact right moment.

In MUCH happier news, Nick and I are doing a Ragnar Relay from Cumberland, MD to DC in September. I signed up as a single runner a couple months ago because I definitely didn't have a team organized, and several teams contacted me in the last week or so looking for runners. The logistics for one of them finally worked out, and now Nick and I will be running the relay! I have read tons of recaps of these races on other blogs, and my friend Kim just did a Ragnar recently also so I had gotten excited just hearing about them. The basic gist is you and 11 other people pile into 2 vans, 6 runners in each van. Each runner runs a leg then swaps to the next person, for a total of 3 legs each, 36 total. Total runner distances (over 3 legs) range from 13.4 to 22.2 mi. The total number of miles is 198.1, and the relay includes overnight running! I love running at night but I hear the experience is a little spooky. This is also through a sometimes rural section of Western Maryland, and there are lots of hills. I'm nervous thinking about it but SO excited. I am so happy that we found a team and I am ecstatic that I get to have this experience with Nick. He's my partner in everything else, I cannot imagine doing something this epic without him. More to come on the relay....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Maybe I should stop making things up...

Last week's interval training was ridiculous and killed me (in a good way)- treadmill "hill" and speed segments that were the same length. This week I wanted to try something different. I used 6.0 as my slow speed and then did segments at 8.0 for 0.1, 0.1 @ 6, 0.11 @ 8, 0.1 @ 6, 0.12 @ 8 etc. lengthening the segments to 0.24. So I did 14 speed intervals and 15 slow ones. That came out to total 2.55 miles @ 8.0 and 1.5 @ 6.0. I think. This was a mentally tricky workout because I had to keep track of when the next segment stopped and how long the next interval was. It kept me on my toes. However, when I was done, I was... unimpressed. 4.3 miles in 37 minutes is fast (for me), but I wasn't totally exhausted, which is my goal when I'm done with intervals. I've still got to figure out the whole speed/distance ratio that challenges me.

Then 40 minutes later I went downstairs and Nick had just run a 6 minute mile. No big deal. I'm jealous of him and his gazelle legs!

Another semi-success of the night was my approximation of pomodoro sauce. This was just barely harder than opening a jar of regular sauce, and it still turned out pretty well, especially for a first try. A coworker has a veggie garden and he has an abundance of tomatoes this time of year. I got 4 of them, diced an onion and I think 5 cloves of garlic. I sauteed the garlic and onion in a generous amount of olive oil, added a bunch of dried basil and Italian seasoning, then added the rougly chopped tomatoes. Everything cooked for 15 minutes or so until the tomatoes were soft and things started to combine a little. It turned out yummy, but needed salt. Next time, I'd love to use fresh herbs, maybe more garlic, and maybe add something else like red pepper flakes for some interest. And salt.

Tonight, we ride! (our bikes)