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.