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)