Monday, December 23, 2013

Life outside of running

There is life aside from running, amazingly. (running summary: I've been haphazardly chugging along the last couple weeks, using my $600 treadmill for all it's worth) Nick and I started remodeling our bathroom a few months ago. Yes, months. You know what's fun? Ripping stuff out of a crummy room and envisioning what the "after" will look like. You know what's not fun? Doing the actual work to create an "after." So we've been taking it pretty slow. 

We started with a pretty bleh room. There was not that was totally awful about it, but the whole thing taken together was unpleasant. The picture below was taken after I removed the wallpaper border in a fit of rage sometime last winter. Friends don't let friends hang wallpaper borders.

The before from May: walls painted with a, I kid you not, bear-shaped sponge, moderate mold, super gross linoleum. Also, I do NOT miss that awkward length of hair.

We then took a bit of a break. We're lucky because we have 2 full bathrooms and can take all the time in the world doing all these steps. I would occasionally get frustrated and want to just finish the damn thing already, but then momentum (or lack thereof) would get the best of me, and I wouldn't do anything. Then Nick and I painted quickly, over the course of about a week including a million touch ups, in November. Then we took a break, because the next step was daunting... 

The middle:  lots of painting happened, and now Nick grouting the cement board seams

The wall is kind of a medium gray, although in my mind it's kind of blue, like this color. The subfloor below the linoleum was solid wood, which was nice but apparently you can't lay tile directly on it. We got cement board and Nick cut it to fit all the weird nooks and crannies in the room. Then my dad and Nick spent a day laying out tile and cutting small pieces to fit. The next step was to slap down some grout and lock the tiles in. This is easier said than done, and Nick and I were not really looking forward to it. We bought "sheets" of smaller tiles, connected in a 6 x 6 sheet. I guess that made it easier overall, but it meant instead of dealing with large tiles with small pieces cut out of the them, we had lots of tiny tiles bits cut to fit specific areas. There was a large amount of frustration, but Nick completed the (first step) of the tile this weekend.

After-ish: tile is laid!

It looks dirty because omg, mortar everywhere. It is such a messy task. I vacuumed twice afterward (the bathroom is small, so vacuuming was pretty much my largest contribution.. Nick did great mostly by himself!) and the floors still felt gritty. There will be even more grit to come when we put in grout (which will be white and get rid of the mungy look). I am so proud of Nick and excited for the next steps. I would say we'll get it done during vacation time this weekend but we also just discovered Once Upon a Time on Netflix, which is surprisingly addictive, so that might win out. As I said, we're not in any rush. It might be nice to let the feelings of frustration fade a little before we get into another new step. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The off season

Although I did really well with training, and only hated the world about 80% of the time, I am still really looking forward to taking a step back and just doing what feels good for the next few months. I know that most likely means less running, but how much less is still to be determined. My runs last week were both (yes, both, I ran twice. and it was glorious) been 6 miles, and that felt perfect. Less than an hour of running, including cool down, but long enough to get some nice sweat going on.

Other things I want to add back in:
-Lifting! I had nice arms last year, and they slowly shrank to scrawny over the course of the summer. That's not ok. I'd love to get some definition happening again. Obviously, I won't be a powerlifter anytime soon, but I can definitely work on building back some strength. It's also just nice to feel like I'm capable of picking up things, when things need to be picked up.

I'm useful. Like picnic pants. Also, picnic pants are a great idea. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

-Biking. Indoors, obviously. I set up the trainer the other night and was reminded of the 800 reasons why biking inside is lame. Reasons #1 through 500: your body position never changes, so butt pain is basically unavoidable. Reasons #501: no way to tell how far you've gone. Reason # 502-800: boredom. My dad does these crazy bike workouts on Youtube that keep him from getting bored, but I'm not that motivated. I'd rather zone out and watch a movie (the other night was Little Miss Sunshine). My legs felt great and noodle-y after an hour on the trainer. It was a nice change from running.

-Swimming! Unfortunately, the pool is currently overrun by high school swim teams during the week, which makes this tricky, but Friday afternoons are open and it's a great way to unwind. Plus this will help with Project Have Better Arms

-Other things. Like going for a mini-hike with Nick. Or doing more HIIT stuff. Or finally finishing the remodel on our damn bathroom. Or just getting really, really caught up on TV watching. 

It feels weird to not have a plan, or something big looming. I don't even have any 5k's on the horizon. I'm trying to relax and just enjoy it, but my stupid need to do something will probably get overwhelming in the next month or so. And then I'll manically register for 10 races. Someone stop me if it comes to that.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

I swear I'm still running: Jingle Bell 5K Race report

In the week since the marathon, I've tried to ease back into running. That means I've stuck to the treadmill, and one day of elliptical. Just trying to let my legs heal because I know that 26 miles is a long way to go. I felt fine all week, but I still waited to decide on Thursday that I felt up to running a 5K on Saturday. Might as well. It's closeish to my house, and a ton of my coworkers were running. I signed Nick and I up, not thinking about a concert we were going to on Friday night (Carbon Leaf!!!). The concert was awesome, but we got home late and I was seriously doubting my decision. Doubly so because my stomach was a mess. Mother Nature convinced me to suck it up by being a balmy 40 degrees. 4 hours of sleep, but I don't have to wear a hat? Decision made.

This is my area's biggest 5K (I think... don't quote me on that). It has about 1000 registrants, which is a ton for down here. Pluses: the start and finish are right outside a hotel, so you can hang out inside right up until the start. Bathroom lines are manageable. Minuses: They give you jingle bells to put on your shoes, which seem festive and cute, but are actually the work of the devil. Also, The turnaround point is a hairpin. Boo.

I jumped in near the front and wanted to start off quick, but for once I was unable to get any fire under me. I saw a guy I ran cross country with in high school, and made it my goal to stay with him. He seemed comfortable and steady. My splits were 6:55, 7:09, and 7:43 (?!?!). That is tragically typical for me in a 5K. I'm the worst at pacing. I was passed by a 9 year old with about a third of a mile to go, and I didn't have the heart to be ashamed about it. I think the race demonstrated how my legs might actually still be a little tired from that race I ran a week ago.

I stuck around afterward for a few minutes, seeing if I might get an award. I got one last year, and it was a fleece-y headband, which was cute and useful. When I saw this year's award was another headband, but in a different color, I decided to leave. Good thing I did, because I definitely did not get an age group award (I was 6th). I would have looked like a supreme loser waiting for an award that never came. YOU PROMISED ME A FLEECE HEADBAND! I GOT A PR! GIVE ME THINGS!

The unnecessary comma is killing me but the sentiment is spot on, so I'm going with it. 

I would like to say that later in the day I WON at a baby shower. I actually won twice, for having a super cute baby picture (I earned that by being born) and again by correctly guessing the number of candies in a candy jar (I earned that by picking random numbers). I'm the best at things.
Good god that's a cute taco.

I will end with a picture of our Christmas tree, which smells amazing and fit entirely in the back of my car. Not too tall, just how I like 'em.

I'd make some claim about how we're going to put more ornaments on it and maybe a tree topper, but I'd be lying. This is as much Christmas as we're getting. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Alexandria Turkey Trot: Race Report

This race happened over a week ago. Good thing no one pays me for this because I fail at being prompt.

This was taken milliseconds before I ran into the porta-potty, and about 1.5 minutes before the race start. We planned ahead.

Nick and I ran the Alexandria Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. It was my 4th time running it (2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013), and Nick's 3rd time. The last 2 years, we've run it right after another race- either a local 5k (last year) or a huge DC 5K (in 2011). Those years were mildly miserable. We were rushed and had wicked tired legs. This is an ok strategy for a Turkey Trot, because it's supposed to be a fun day anyway, but it makes for a lot of stress on an otherwise glorious day of eating.

This year, it was 2 days pre-NCR, so we decided not to run 2 races in the same day. I'm so wise. We chose the 5 miler because it's just generally more fun and I figured I'd be highly likely to try and race the local 5k and trash my legs. 

So, I clearly like this race since I've done it for so many years. It has a nice big, warm waiting area in a nearby school. They have Quaker granola bars, those 80 calorie wonders that you can eat 45 of and still not feel satiated. Now in fun flavors like sugar, and sugar with brown things in it (seriously, their "peanut butter and whatever" flavor is not the least bit peanutty. Don't lie to yourselves). Parking is a bit of a hassle, but it is free and getting out of the streets after the race is always easy. Then it's just a quick 40 mile drive back home. Considering where we live, anything less than an hour is a win for me.

The first mile was sort of slow because we were caught up in the 1000 people who all thought that lining up at the front was a good idea. I am reminded every year that Turkey Trotters are the most fun racers you'll ever meet, because everyone is happy and friendly on Thanksgiving morning, but THEY SUCK AT RUNNING. Nick and I were dodging people left and right and did the ol' reliable "run on the sidewalk" trick for the first quarter mile or so. The crowd didn't thin out to a normal number of people until around the 2 mile mark. We chugged along, still passing people. The race flew by pretty quickly because there are a lot of twists and turns (annoying if you're trying to run super fast), and you run by joyful people drinking and cheering up a storm in front of their houses. It is a nice atmosphere. I didn't want to run way fast, because I didn't want to tear up my legs, so we just went relatively quickly and finished in 41:XX, around an 8:12 pace. 8:12 also happens to be my marathon goal pace. We all know how that worked out.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November Totals

This month... oh how glad I am that it's over. I re-peaked, re-tapered, and ran a second marathon. In 6 weeks! I feel so fancy.
I just really love cats wearing clothes.

November will go down as my highest mileage month, ever. It didn't feel like it, at all. I cross trained a bit less, so maybe my legs had enough time to recover, but overall it just really didn't feel terrible taxing. I guess that's a good thing? December will be the exact opposite, because I hope to get more into cross training and back way off running. This also gives me an excuse to run outside even less! Because I needed that. 

November 1: 6.3 miles outside @ 8something pace
November 2: off
November 3: 18.25 miles in 2:41 (8:56 pace)
November 4: off
November 5: tmill 7.35 miles.
November 6: bike 19.35 @ 18.2
November 7: tmill 7.35
November 8: 6.35 outside @ 8:05
November 9: off
November 10: 20.1 outside @ 8:42
November 11: off
November 12: tmill 6.35
November 13: swimming! ~2100 m in 40 minutes.
November 14: 6.35 on tmill, 1 @ 6.2, 4.1 @ 7.7, 1 @ 6.7 plus c/d.
November 15: 6.3 on tmill
November 16: off
November 17: 15.7 on tmill
November 18: off
November 19: 5.35 on tmill
November 20: 45ish minutes of intervals
November 21: tmill- 1@ 6.1, 3.1 @ 7.8 (ah!), 1 @ 6.8 plus c/d, 5.35 total
November 22: tmill (it was raining, I swear), 5.3 total
November 23: 8.6ish outside at 8:40some
November 24: off
November 25: 3+ on the tmill, 3.3 total
November 26: off
November 27: off
November 28: 5 miles @ 81:12
November 29: off!
November 30: 26.25 in 3:37:07

November totals: 159.55 miles run, 19.35 bike, 2100 m swim, 1  HIIT

Monday, December 2, 2013

Race Report: NCR Trail Marathon

Short story: I did not BQ. 3:37:07, 8:16 pace.

Long story...
Thursday, Nick and I ran a Turkey Trot. I will write more about that later, but we finished right on in 40:58, which happens to be an 8:12 pace, a.k.a. my marathon goal pace. I felt good about it, but also a little worried because the pace felt a little hard.

Friday was a day of much relaxing. I ate gluten-free pasta, and a salad for an early dinner, then some chocolate chips and potato chips (not together!) before bed.

Race day nutrition: Nick and I got up around 5 on Saturday. Normal breakfast, banana, 2 eggs when I woke up. I drank a bunch of water. We stopped for coffee and I ate some rice chex around 7 or so (race start was 8:30am). I also had a Gu about 15 minutes before the start, plus more water. My stomach was feeling pretty crappy and unsettled, but I figured that was just nerves. Turns out, it was just nerves and luckily I never needed the bathroom because there were very few along the course. Noted. I had a (VERY COLD) Gu again at mile 5, 10, 15, and 20. They were chewy because it was so cold and they sat terribly in my stomach. Ugh. I carried a bottle of Gatorade, drank Gatorade at a couple of stops, and water a couple times. Fluid amounts felt pretty good overall.

The race was small, with around 500 runners plus maybe 100 more marathon relay people? It felt like a local 5k, really. We hung out in an elementary school cafeteria with plenty of bathrooms. It was warm and great. I saw a coworker who was planning on winning the marathon. He did! He gave me some course info, pointing out that the hill at the end would feel crappy, even though it was short. He said to relax and we chatted about clothing choices. I debated my attire a lot (it was around 20 degrees at the start!), and ended up going with some Saucony tights, a short sleeve tech tee, a long sleeve New Balance pullover, gloves, and a light weight ear warmer. I was never really too warm. Nick and my dad were there, and they offered to take any of my extra clothes, but I stayed pretty comfortable. My fingers were painfully cold at the start but warmed up after a few miles. My core sweated considerably but I wasn't uncomfortable.

Mile 1-5: 7:55, 8:06, 8:03, 8:11, 8:04
I set my watch to give me half mile splits. The splits were a nice check-in. I started off a little fast, but the first 1.5 miles or so were downhill, and it was freezing. I settled in with a few other people who seemed to be cruising around 8 min/mile and I tried to stick with them. I saw Nick and my dad around mile 5 and it was great! The trail up until that point was nice and even and I was cruising. I had a few moments of checking in with my body and being just a little bit worried about my pace, because it felt just a tiny bit hard. The first part of a marathon shouldn't feel hard... right? Or maybe it should? I've never pushed for a pace goal in a marathon, so I figured maybe I was doing what I needed to do.

Mile 6-10: 7:58, 8:01, 8:00, 8:11, 8:11
I kept chugging. It is a very lonesome race, which was actually nice. The NCR trail is beautiful and was well-maintained. The only slight gripe I have was that there were distinct tire ruts, and then gravel in the middle. The tire ruts were packed dirt, with occasional icy spots. It irritated me (spoiler alert, there was MUCH more irritation to come). I stayed on pace, but slightly fast, and was still feeling... ok? I guess. I was just so obsessed with my pace and that made it so I never felt relaxed.

Mile 10-15: 8:18, 8:05, 8:03, 8:07, 8:00
Still cruising. I saw my friend coming back toward me, in the lead, and he was looking great. This also meant we started having more runners coming back towards us. I knew that meant the turn around was coming up. I was hoping to hit the halfway point around 1:46 or 1:47, and I did. I passed the timing mats right at 1:46, which is a half marathon PR for me! Woohoo! The tricky part at this point, that I did not know, was that we crossed the halfway point and then had about another mile before the turnaround. That screwed with my head. I kept wanting to turn around and just get heading back, but we were still going forward. WHY!?!? I did not take into account that although it's an out and back course, the very beginning and very end take slightly different routes, so we didn't turn around at exactly halfway. I would have probably still been irritated if I had known this, because that was just my mental state at this point. There are no real "hills" during the middle 20 miles of this course, but there is a very slight uphill from mile 10-12, so a very slight downhill from 13-15 or so. That was nice, and although I didn't feel the uphill, I felt the downhill.

Mile 16-20: 8:00, 7:58, 8:02, 8:10, 8:20
I started to feel it for real. I was sucking wind a little, but I refused to back off. If I had backed off at this point, would I have been able to finish stronger? Who knows. My paces didn't drop but I was feeling a lot of mental fatigue. It became an effort to maintain. It also started getting really lonely. I lost the people I was pacing with and was totally by myself for a period of time. There were also a lot of walkers on the course, but not affiliated with the race, so I kept passing groups of families out for a morning stroll, and I was mad I was expending energy passing them. I know I wasn't really using any extra energy, but it sure felt like I was. I started doing mental math at this point... If I run 10 min/mile for the rest of the course, I'll finish at 3:44... now I'll finish around 3:41.. now 3:40... I knew I was still on pace, and felt good about that but I really started to doubt myself. I wasn't able to do the math to figure out what sort of cushion I had for my finish time.

Mile 20-end: 8:19, 8:32, 8:26, 8:49, 9:10, 9:30, 2:27 for last 0.25 (9:54 pace)
Annnnnd this is where it started to fall apart. I knew I only had a LITTLE bit of distance left. I knew it, mentally, but physically I just could not do it. I really believe I was using every ounce of energy to keep moving forward, and tried to keep my foot turnover quick and keep my form from falling apart, but I was scrunching my shoulders badly and getting really mad that I was carrying a water bottle. I am pretty sure if anyone saw me at this point, they thought I was dying. The last 2 miles have 2 legitimately sizeable hills, although they are very short. You come off the trail and need to get back to the start point. My watch shows about 100 feet over a quarter mile, a slight downhill, then another 130 feet over the last mile. I know that doesn't sound like much but it was all I could do to keep moving forward. I actually told myself, out loud, not to walk. I had a moment where I was not sure I would finish! I was so mad at myself as I saw my goal slip away. My dad was right there towards the end and I grouched at him, gave him my water bottle, and tried to keep from crying.

I finished, got a medal, tried to be cordial to the volunteers who gave me a space blanket and took my timing chip. I immediately felt HORRIBLE. Everything hurt, my stomach was upset, and I was upset. Nick helped me inside, I hugged my dad and cried a little. I drank a couple bottles of water and ate some chips and tried to calm down. The post-race food was delicious (pumpkin soup, chips, cookies, bagels!) plus hot water for hot chocolate, although I just sucked down hot water plain because I was freezing. I changed into dry clothes and tried to keep my legs moving.

So that's that. I will be back with some reflections later. Basically, I'm disappointed, but I am not sure how I could have done any better. I ran my ass off for 20 miles, but couldn't hang on the last 6.