Saturday, October 31, 2009

Shouldn't 9 miles be "easy" by this point?

Because I wouldn't call my "taper" run today with Team in Training easy. Nine miles still feels like nine miles: a long, challenging run.

I remember the first time I ran 9 miles. I was wiped out for three days straight. But I've come a long way since then--last week I had a triumphant 12 miler--and mistakenly believed I could just whip out 9 miles like it was nothing.

It went the way all of my long runs have gone. The first three were easy, the middle three were tiring, then I got a second wind and coasted home the rest of the way. But 7-8 miles into the run, I really wanted to know, "Are we there yet?" And I wasn't.

I have fantasies, of course, that 9 miles will feel like "nothing" when I'm running the marathon. I've got three months till the ING...maybe there's hope for me yet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My pre-run ritual

As my weekday training runs get longer and longer, I have to wake up earlier and earlier these days. But more mileage is only part of the reason why I'm setting my iPhone to strum a good morning song at 5:35 a.m.

The other reason is my pre-run ritual has gotten more and more complicated. I used to just lace up and go. Now, this is my process.

1. Wake up and turn off alarm before husband wakes up.
2. Gather up workout clothes, set aside from the night before, and go into bathroom.
3. Brush teeth, take vitamins, Advil and allergy meds (all necessary for a run these days).
4. Dampen strap from heart rate monitor with warm water.
5. Put on heart rate monitor chest strap and watch and test twice to make sure it's picking up on my frequencies.
6. Put on sports bra, tank top and running skirt or leggings.
7. Strategically place safety lights on front and back of body.
8. Sit on the floor on a towel and apply baby powder to feet to prevent blisters.
9. Put on Nike Dri Fit socks, making sure left sock goes on left foot; right sock on right foot.
10. Put on sneakers; check lace tightness.
11. Make sure iPod "On the Go" playlist is acceptable.
12. Turn off Wi-Fi so that RunKeeper GPS program can work.
13. Put iPod in arm holster and plug in earphones.
14. Go outside and stretch.
15. Turn on safety lights.
16. Hit "Shuffle" on iPod.
17. Turn on RunKeeper.
18. Run.

The strange thing is, I really look forward to my pre-run ritual. It is a lot of work, but it also kind of reminds me of getting ready for a black tie affair; the preparation is part of the fun. There's no open bar to look forward to, of course, but when no one's looking, sometimes I do a little jig as I'm running, like I'm out there twirling around in taffeta on a dance floor...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I Know Where You Ran Last Summer

Dear City of Weston:

I realize times are tight and the “Halloween decorations” line in the city budget probably got slashed, but I think we’re all OK without the paper orange pumpkins. Your creative alternative of removing the light bulbs in most of the streetlamps, in an attempt to “spook-ify” the streets for anyone who might be on them before dawn, might have been taking the scary Halloween spirit just a little too far.

Though I must say, if scary was what you were going for, you hit a home run.

This morning, I was running in almost complete darkness as the deceased Michael Hutchence of ‘80s band INXS fame cackled “The Devil Inside” on my iPod, when I collided mouth-first with a giant spider web. And I screamed. A long, shrill, harrowing scream that surely frightened the other people out on the trails. (There you go, Weston: free Halloween sound effects.)

Picking the spindly strings out of my mouth, I began to wonder of the direction of my life had been taken over by some Alfred Hitchcock wanna-be.

This wasn’t the first time this week I felt this way. In fact on Sunday, during my long run, I realized I could very well be smack in the middle of a classic Halloween slasher flick. It was just me and my beautiful Team in Training running mentor, our long dark ponytails blowing in the wind. So there we were, two young(ish) women stranded alone in pitch blackness, with just small red blinking lights stuck onto our clothes for vision. It was a good two mile stretch on Bonaventure, between Royal Palm and South Post, without a single functioning street lamp. As we ran past dead animals (is there anything more chilling than tripping over a dead possum?) with spider webs caught in our hair, the timing was perfect for some bloodshot-eyed zombie to come out from the middle of nowhere and suck our blood, dismember us or do whatever else the scary bad guys do in these movies. (I’ve never actually seen one of these gory scenes; this is usually the part when I hide my face in my hands or decide I really need to leave the theater and use the bathroom.)

If you, too, would like to be able to come up with plots to trashy horror “B” movies, there’s nothing like being alone with your thoughts for a good few hours to get the creative juices flowing. Or the blood flowing, depending on how you look at it.

I’m not holding my breath for the City of Weston to fix the streetlamp problem. I actually called them, twice, and they said it was the power company’s fault, but Florida Light and Power said it was Weston’s fault, so I don’t see this issue being resolved any time soon.

I do see Daylights Savings on the horizon, though—so my long run this Saturday, which is Halloween, might be my last scary run…till next fall.

Happy Halloween.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ode to a Banana (or how I survived my 12 mile run)

Oh Banana, Banana, I love you so
I ran 12 miles & didn't have to go!
Thanks to you, my kind yellow friend
I didn't need to run wearing Depends.
Banana, without you where would I be?
(I'd be in the bathroom, moaning, "Why me?")


The nice thing about having a blog about training for my first marathon is that when I have a question about a running problem, I actually get a lot of good advice. Last week I asked whether I'd have to run today's 12 miler on an empty stomach because my previous double-digit runs had left me in gastrointestinal agony. 

From all of you, I got great advice, empathy and even some sample menus. I was able to use these suggestions to put together a strategy for this week's run--and hooray! The strategy worked. Today I went the furthest I've ever gone, 12 miles, finished in 1:54 which actually included a five minute water break, and best of all, didn't have an upset stomach at any point.

I thought I'd write out this strategy so that (a) I can remember it for future long runs, and (b) I can offer it up to any other runners who suffer from IBS.

If you couldn't tell by my brilliant banana poetry, bananas were a big part of this plan. Many people emailed me to tell me what a perfect pre-run fuel a banana is, but what was especially persuasive to me was that my father, who has Crohn's disease and is genetically responsible for my IBS (thanks, Dad!), told me he's been pretty much symptom free since he began eating bananas with peanut butter. I was hoping my body would react to bananas (with some peanut butter added for protein) the same way, and luckily, it did.

Here's the eating/drinking plan I followed (you may recognize some of your own advice here, and if so, thanks!)

Day before the run
  • Follow the "residual diet" that people with severe Crohn's and IBS follow, which is basically all refined carbs, low-acid fruits and vegetables and simply prepared meats.
  • Eat a heavy lunch but a light dinner that contains a simple carb
  • Drink a lot of water dall day. NO GATORADE! (Electrolyte drinks are a big IBS trigger)
  • Do something relaxing (I took Pilates Friday morning.)

Morning before the run
  • Wake up at least an hour before the run (4:15 am today!!) and eat a banana with peanut butter and some black coffee (no milk)
  • Dress in loose fitting clothes
  • Don't wear a fuel belt or anything else tight around your waist (I carried my water)
During the run
  • Drink room-temperature water. Don't drink sports drinks. Don't drink too much, either.
  • Have a very small amount of performance fuel after 45 minutes of running (I ate a few Jelly Belly Sport Beans, not the whole pack)
  • Relax. Being too tense or running faster than you're comfortable can be perceived as stress.
After the run
  • Within 30 minutes eat a Clif bar or another high protein/carb food that is made from natural ingredients
  • After that, don't eat again for three or four hours
  • Have a relatively large lunch and afternoon snack and a very light dinner
Advice offered but discarded (sorry!): give up running altogether because people with IBS can't run. That might be true for some people, but I just don't buy it for me. Hey, we colon-impaired people can do anything, with the right fuel and the right strategy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10 Ways Training for a Marathon Is Like Being Pregnant

1. You wear special bras.

2. You're hungry. Not an idle tummy rumbling, not a hmmm, what do I want to eat, but a deep, clamoring urgency to devour the fresh, buttery green inside of an avocado, to crunch between your teeth a tart apple dipped into a mound of peanut butter, to gnaw on a doughy bagel topped with whipped cream cheese like some wild animal chewing on a bone--oh, and you want all this food STAT.

3.  Another week, another new (hopefully minor) ailment. People get used to you complaining whether you've got a due date or a race date.

4. Your feet get bigger.

5. When you have to go to the bathroom, you really have to go to the bathroom. The big difference: the women waiting in line for the next available stall might let a mama with a baby bump cut ahead, but a sweaty, doubled-over runner squeezing her legs together is going to have to wait her turn.

6. You glow.

7. You sweat at inappropriate times.

8. You find yourself repeating the phrases, "Well, I guess there's no turning back now!" and "What have I gotten myself into?" Sometimes you say them in a resigned way, sometimes with determination; other times, a note of sheer terror can be detected in your voice.

9. You sometimes walk with a waddle.

10. You have genuine faith that the "finish line" will be worth the aches, pains, mood swings, mornings spent sick in the bathroom, blood, sweat and tears. Which is why, despite all these things, you soldier on through it happily, always concious of how many weeks, then days, are left in your countdown.

So, uh, if anyone would like to throw me a "runner's shower" (is there somewhere I can register for a Garmin?), I'm generally available on Sundays...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Big Foot

Running might slim your hips and trim your thighs—but does it make your feet fat?

None of my shoes fit. I’ve dropped two dress sizes, and even my new clothes have gotten baggier—to the point where my 6 year old recently asked me, “Mommy, why can I always see your underpants when you sit down?”

But my feet have turned into big, puffy bricks. I used to wear a size 8 or 8 ½ shoe. By the way my feet are busting the seams of my zip-up calf boots, I’m guessing I’m now at least a 9. [Can’t type this without cringing: if I’m honest with myself, I suspect I’m probably up to a 9 ½. Nooooo!]

Before I go score some big bargains at DSW (the “big girl” shoes are almost always on clearance), I have to consider the swelling factor. I don’t think running has actually elongated the bones in my feet or made the flesh of my foot fuller. I think my feet swell after a run, and that makes choosing footwear in the morning, after I’ve done a 5-mile loop, make me empathize with those mean ugly stepsisters who never could get their toes inside Cinderella’s slipper.

But by the end of the day, conceivably, a size 9 shoe that felt great when I first got dressed would become too big since I’d no longer be swollen from the run, causing the bane of any runner’s existence: blisters!

[I’m just trying to talk myself out of shopping for size 9+ shoes, of course. I’m 5’4 and have no business wearing shoes that big. I might as well strap a diving board to each foot—that would look just as fabulous.]

I really don’t have the luxury of being vain about my shoe size, though. Blisters from ill-fitting footwear have the potential to ruin quite a few future runs, so I think I just need to suck it up, pack away by 8s for the next few months, and start shopping in the section where the 5’11 supermodels—and drag queens—shop. With 90% of the female population needing a smaller size than me*, at least I should have plenty to choose from.

*Not a scientifically acquired statistic; made up out of thin air.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Can I run 12 miles on an empty stomach?

I ask because I think I might have to try that next weekend: 12 miles without having eaten first.

This is the second week in a row that running 10 miles led to me spending some real quality time in the bathroom a few hours later, in a cold sweat.  I feel better now, but it was so bad I was actually convinced for a short time that I'd caught a serious illness--or had been poisoned. It was that bad. And much worse than what I went through last week.

I've done a little Google-research and found an article that had some do's and don'ts for running long distance if you have a sensitive stomach. (I have IBS). Looks like I've been doing all don'ts and no do's because I:
  • Ate less than an hour before running and less than an hour after the running is complete;
  • Ate heavily the night before;
  • Used performance candy (Jelly Belly Sport Beans)
  • Wore a belt tight around my waist when I ran (to hold the water) rather than looser clothes.
I'm also supposed to avoid dairy for 24 hours before a long distance run (had pizza for dinner last night, followed by frozen yogurt) and high fiber foods and vegetables (I'd say 80% of my diet is whole grains and fresh produce.)

So I have a bit of a game plan for next week. I am going to try running after a lighter dinner (but heavier lunch) the night before, changing out my fuel belt for a hand-held water bottle, and of course avoiding dairy altogether. I had an egg white and soy patty for breakfast today and wonder if the lack of carbs/too much protein could be where I'm going wrong. 

I am hesitant to cut out a pre-run breakfast altogether, though, because I do need the energy. Maybe I can have a plain piece of toasted wheat bread. I don't want an upset stomach after everytime I do a long run...but I also can't see eating nothing before or after burning around 1000 calories.

Fortunately, the run itself was great. I beat last week's time by four minutes and had fun the whole time. Now if I could just get to the point where I feel great after a long run, I'll be in good shape.

Off for another dose of Bentyl...

Friday, October 16, 2009

The ouch explained: Medial gastrocnemius strain

And the grand prize of a signed copy of my book, Bride in Overdrive, goes to Kristen, who guessed a muscle strain. I am also offering a copy to my father-in-law Lou (I think he already has several, since his son is the book's main character), even though he didn't follow the contest rules of posting his diagnosis directly on this blog, because his email actually contained the exact words I heard from my orthopedist's mouth: "medial gastrocnemius strain." Which means a pulled calf muscle.

Here's a picture of exactly where it hurts:. That tiny red part sure does smart! The bad news is that I can expect to feel discomfort there for as long as two more months! (He said calf strains usually are a problem for 2-6 weeks but can last for 3 months, and I've been hurting for 4 weeks so far.)

The good news is my shin splints, which he treated me for earlier this year, are completely healed. And the other good news is that I don't have to change anything to my current routine aside from stretching three times a day. I can still run. So with his blessing, I'm all set for another 10 miles tomorrow.

Congratulations to Lou and Kristen, and thanks to Sarah, Kate and Leah for playing! (Kristen, if you email me your mailing address, I'll send that book right out to you.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guess my diagnosis--and win a prize!

Tomorrow I'm going to see my orthopedist because I've been having some calf pain for several weeks now--really, ever since I attempted to do hundreds of weighted lunges and squats at the YMCA "Pump It Up" three weeks ago.

I'm really anxious that he's going to tell me I have some kind of serious ailment that requires retiring from running, so I've been Googling things like "calf pain" and "running injuries" in advance of the appointment. The best-case scenario would be him laughing, patting me on the back, and saying, "It's totally normal for your left calf to ache when you wake up in the morning, hurt for the first mile of your run, then feel better until about an hour after your run. It's also normal for your left calf to tingle. Don't do anything differently!"

But I have a feeling that's not going to happen. I'm concerned about tendonitis (although my achilles heel feels fine), a knee injury (although my knee feels fine) or worse.

So I'm having a contest. Guess what my problem is and I will happily send you a free, signed copy of my book, Bride in Overdrive: A Journey into Wedding Insanity and Back, published by St. Martin's Press in 2004. It's a book marketed for "anyone who's given serious thought to what kind of underwear she'll wear when she walks down the aisle."

If you already own a copy--or if you're a smart shopper and have a friend or relative who is engaged to be married or a recent bride--I can sign the copy to someone else.

I know, not the most exciting of prizes, but hey, it's a tough economy.

So the rules are, you need to post a comment at the end of this blog before 9 a.m. EST tomorrow, Friday, October 16, with what you think my calf problem is. The first commenter who gets the right answer will have my book mailed to them, free of charge, with the autograph written to whoever they want it to be addressed to.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hold me.

I just got my training schedule for October (a few weeks late) and it's pretty intense compared to the past two months. Scanning these big numbers with my jaw dropped open, it finally hit me: I am crazy. I am truly crazy.

I have signed up to run a marathon.

What was I thinking?

Even the word marathon is long. Compare it to run. Run is what I do around my neighborhood, 3 miles here, 7 miles there. Marathon is what athletes do. Not klutzes who faked mysterious illnesses rather than run around the track in high school.

I'm supposed to do another 10 miles this weekend, and after that, the plot thickens. Five mile weekday runs, then 12 on the weekend.

I am petrified to see the November schedule. I'm signed up to run the A1A half-marathon November 15; maybe by then I will be used to regularly running double-digit routes.

Or maybe not.

Sometimes being an impulsive, spontaneous person is a good thing. You never let life get boring; you take risks. You do things before you can be afraid to regret them.

Other times you do things and later on are shocked that you did them. You wake up, blink, look around you, and find yourself running alongside thousands of other people and shriek, "What am I doing here????"

So tell me, please, what am I doing here?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Don’t judge a woman until you’ve run a mile in her compression hose

I used to see this woman running all the time who wore a super-short running skirt and what I thought were white knee-high socks. I am a nice person all in all, but I do have a bit of a snide side, and I remember thinking to myself, “Nice look you’ve got there, Wonder Woman.”

Actually, she was a bit more like Molly Shannon’s SNL “Mary Katherine Gallagher” character than Lynda Carter. I kept waiting for her to shout out “Superstar!” and then stick her hands under her armpits to sniff them.

But a few weeks ago my left calf started to hurt, more when I ran but achy when I wasn’t running, too. I tried hot baths, hinting to the pedicurist to “dig a little deeper” during the lotion-application part of the treatment, Advil, ice, heat, arthritis lotion, everything. My calf tightness would loosen up after about four miles of running, but return after I stopped.

I mentioned this during my run on Saturday, and one of my Team in Training teammates suggestion compression hose.

I had no idea what they were, but when I asked to see a pair at Runner’s Depot the next day, wouldn’t you know it? With my running skirt, I indeed look like a nervous Catholic school girl. Just call me Superstar. Sometimes when I’m nervous, I like to stick my fingers under my armpits and smell them…

Actually, the pair I got is purple, and I only wear them on my left side, so maybe I look more like The Joker from Batman than Mary Katherine.

A few other “judgments” I had of other runners when I first began running—that I now wish I could take back:

Smirking at the fanny pack: I remember thinking, when seeing a hyper-equipped runner, “Are you running or are you going on an elephant safari?” But this was back in the day when all I thought I needed to run were sneakers and headphones. Now for my longer runs I wear a fuel belt (which is just a nice name for a fanny pack) equipped with water bottles, sport beans, reflector lights, a sweat rag and more.

Snickering at Richard Simmons wanna-bes: Seeing an old, skinny man running in nothing but tissue-paper-thin running shorts or briefs always gave me a case of the giggles. But eventually I figured out that the weight of your clothing really does have an impact on your performance. True, you won’t see me dressing like I’m ready to Sweat to the Oldies or running in the equivalent of Spandex underwear. But on a really hot day, I’ll choose the lightest weight shorts and tank that I own. (I even weighed two different running skirts once on my digital food scale.)

Turning my nose up at treadmill addicts: Long before I became a runner, I might hop on the treadmill for 15-20 minutes to warm up before lifting weights, taking a kickboxing class, etc. I never understood why there were people who seemed to live on the treadmill. They’d be on it before I got there and still plugging away when I left my kickboxing class. “This is a great gym!” I felt like exclaiming to them. “Why don’t you get off that boring machine and explore it?” But now I realize that they were probably long distance runners stuck indoors because it was raining outside—and I wouldn’t have wanted to stop what I was doing to take kickboxing, either.

Oh well—you live and learn, and you learn not to judge. So if you see a runner with one grape-juice-purple leg limping past you, try not to laugh. Otherwise, one day, that purple one-legged runner might be you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

10 miles, baby!

So...10 miles. In 90 degree heat. No major injuries to report, no new blisters (I can't tell you how much I swear by the combination of Nike Lunar Glides and Dri Fit socks and about a half a cup of talcum powder on each foot). I was just under a 10 minute mile at 1:38. And I didn't puke up my Powerade! Life is good.

But I had one strange, awful moment about two hours after I finished running my first double-digit run with my team.

It was 9:30 am, and I was happily watching my 6 year old's Little League game (he also was having a good day--my little switch hitter got three nice hits!) when I suddenly and desperately needed to relocate from the bleachers to the lovely Weston Regional Park ladies' room. All I can say is, I'm glad I went when I went. My presence was most definitely required.

After that lovely visit, as I was walking back to the stands, I began sweating profusely--you'd think I was still on mile 8--and shivering. It was in the 90s by then and I was shivering!

A nice mom on my son's team saw me looking like, I don't know, a heroin addict in withdrawal (confession: I'm a huge "Intervention" fan so I actually have an idea of what a heroin addict in withdrawal looks like), and brought me a cold Dasani, which helped tremendously.

So did eating the saltiest hot pretzel they had to offer at the concession stand. (I actually said to the teenager working there, "No, can you give me the one that's completely white all over?") Man did that salt taste good! And just like that, I was all better again.

I returned to the bleachers and after thanking the Dasani mom for her kindness and convincingly explaining to her that I was a running addict, not a drug addict, I enjoyed the rest of the game, my 3 1/2 year old's ballet practice an hour later--and the two hour nap I took when all of that was over.

So, that weird, sweaty moment during the baseball game aside, I'd say I survived my first Florida 10 miler. Next time, I think I'll have some super-salty pretzels, or maybe just a big container of Morton's, waiting for me right after my run, though. The body does strange things when it gets low on electrolytes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Finish Line Fantasies

Sometimes when I’m running, I like to imagine what would be the ultimate finish line crossing experience. I’d sprint past it on fresh legs, as if I’d just taken a quick lap around my development, not a grueling 26.2 miles; the Black Eyed Peas would be playing “Pump It” live from the sidelines; the race organizer would say, “What are YOU doing here? We weren’t expecting to see you for at least another hour! Marge, someone get this lady a bottle of water!”

But after my speedy-but-stressful10k experience last weekend, I realize that simply crossing that 26.2 mile mark in one relatively uninjured piece is all I can really aspire to. I’d say my top three priorities for the Miami ING would be:

1. Completing it.
2. Not requiring hospitalization during the race.
3. Not requiring hospitalization after the race.

Should the racing gods grant me those three wishes, I would get just a bit greedier:

4. Not being in excruciating pain (giant bloody blisters, shooting shin splints)
5. Not being in bearable but still very unpleasant pain (tight calves; sore butt)
6. Not having any bathroom emergencies

And getting a little greedier than that:

7. My husband and kids would actually see me cross the finish line, and wouldn’t be stuck in Miami traffic or frantically trying to find a parking space on South Beach
8. My iPod, heart rate monitor, headphones, fuel belt and sports bra would all do their jobs and not break mid-race
9. I would look something other than confused, miserable or angry when crossing the finish line—happy or proud would be great (A little race picture history: first 5k, looked frighteningly determined; second 5k, looked about to puke; first 10k, well, I think the picture below says it all)

Finally, my least important but most burning fantasy would be to:

10. Get a good time.

But if that doesn’t happen, and #1-9 do, or honestly, #1-5, I will still consider the marathon to be a totally fantastic experience.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Cool down (please, cool down, already!)

It’s October. Shouldn’t I be hearing crispy leaves crunching below my feet as I run, instead of the sudden demise of a poor snail that was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time; shouldn't a sweet, maple-scented breeze be tickling my nose rather than an unpleasant reminder that Secret deodorant isn't keeping my B.O. a secret? In the season of jack-o-lanterns and knee-high boot fashion spreads and Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes, shouldn't a few pores of my skin and hairs on my head not be exuding copious fluids after just a quarter-mile warm-up jog?

Well, this all would be the case, if I didn’t live in sunny South Florida. The weather report at 6 am this morning for my Broward County zip code was 79 degrees with 72% humidity (“feels like 86 degrees,” explained the graph, and that would probably be 86 degrees, presumably, to a person who was not engaged in intense physical activity.)

I became a real runner over the summer, when it was even hotter than 79 degrees at 6 am--and my Team in Training mentor has told me that if you can run 8 miles in the heat during the peak of a Florida summer, you can run anywhere.

That is somewhat of a consolation as I find myself daydreaming about running through a sprinkling of gold and amber leaves while following the path on Boat House Row in Philadelphia, where I was born and raised; as I imagine the thrilling chill of wind against my face (wind! what an exotic delicacy) as I comb through the cobblestone streets of Baltimore, where I spent the second half of my 20s; or hugging my jacket (remember those cuddly fleece things?) closer to my body while crossing the Key Bridge from Georgetown to Arlington, Virginia, where I spent the first half.

But, in November, if I still lived in any of these places—or in St. Louis, where we spent the two years before we finally settled here (how cool would it be to run circles around the Arch?)—I probably wouldn’t be able to burn off my Thanksgiving dinner outdoors without worrying about slipping on an ice patch.

And from what I recall of the first 32 years of my life, before I became a perennially sun-kissed (and sweaty) tropical being, there’s a time when cool weather transforms from being “nice and refreshing” to “a big hassle;” and eventually you stop smelling the leaves and instead start smelling wet wool (all those cozy pea-coats drenched in freezing rain and snow.) Wet wool smells a lot like a wet dog--I can guarantee you that Glade doesn't have a scented candle created to emulate this distinctly northern odor.

So I will try to count my blessings. But I do look forward to the day (which I thought would have arrived already) when I can run without carrying a towel with me, which I need to constantly mop the sweat out of my eyes, so I can see where I am going.

Being blinded by sweat is a bit of an occupational hazard when you run this close to the equator. And so is stinking. Thank goodness for soap, baby powder and showers.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Official results

Hey, David and I were seven seconds faster than we originally thought! And I came in 3rd among 35-39 year old chicks, and he was the fourth fastest among men 25-29.

This is me (the 54:54 is my "net" time from when I crossed the start line to the finish; the 55:03 is from when the race started)

3 4060 JORIE MARK 35 55:03 54:54 8:50

My next scheduled race is the Weston half-marathon in December. :-)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lessons from my first 10K

I sit here with sore glutes, an upset stomach and a LOT of pride after completing my first 10k with my brother-in-law David in a very respectable 55 minutes, 10 seconds. David's pretty fast, and he's also 8 years younger than me, and I'm pretty sure he could have run it in even a few minutes faster than that--but he was a gentleman and stayed at my pace from the start line to the finish line.

I can tell David had not only a great time in terms of when he crossed the finish line, but a great time meaning a great run. I'm jealous. For me, as much as I enjoyed the experience with running with my husband's little brother (much more enjoyable than running solo) and the sights of Key Biscayne (vultures! peacocks!), it was a rough run for me.

I made the mistake of running this 10k the way I've run my previous 5ks: which is to say as fast as I could. Plus, I'd had my weekly long run with Team in Training the previous day and I felt every moment of Saturday's 8 mile run as I took on today's 6.2. Not smart of me at all.

My theory about 5ks is that they are very short, and anyone can endure a little misery for 25-30 minutes, so I've just thrown my body into the dynamic of the race, not trying to find and maintain an enjoyable pace at all. And I'm someone who loves to feel good while running, so this is a big sacrifice--but walking away with better-than-expected times has made that worthwhile.

But a 10k is quite literally twice the length of a 5k. And 55:10 is a really long time to go "as fast as you possibly can." It made all 6 miles just crawl by for me (I remember looking around frantically for the elusive mile marker 4), which is the opposite of how a long run feels to me when I'm running on my own.

And as David pointed out, if 6.2 miles feels long, imagine 26.2.

I may have to run a few more medium-length races before my marathon so I can really learn how to run at a normal pace without getting carried away by the excitement and adreneline rush of a racing event.

Because as soon as I hear "Ready, set, go!" I GO. And really, I need to learn how to just go.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Weights Debate

I have something really bold and controversial to say, so brace yourself.

If you’re a runner, this may provoke more ire in you than a statement about abortion, the healthcare debate or what to do with illegal immigrants.

OK, here goes: I don’t see the point of weight lifting while training for a marathon.

Before you start pelting me with bananas (or dumbbells), let me make it clear that I’m not talking about cross-training in general. I get a lot from spin classes, and I recently discovered that yoga is my friend.

But strength training, particularly high repetition strength training, seems to be doing more to harm than help my running.

On Sunday I took “Pump It Up” at the YMCA, which entailed dozens and dozens of lunges and glute lifts done with weights. I’ve taken this class many times before (before I began marathon training) and perhaps because I didn’t run a dozen miles in the days following weights workouts, I always felt good afterwards and got a lot out of the experience.

And while I was in the class this Sunday, as I was curtseying and flexing and balancing my heart out, I felt absolutely fine. (OK, not “happy,” but not like I was out of my league, either.)

But four days and twelve miles later, I’m aching like I’ve never ached before.

It’s my legs. They hurt. This is really strange, because I’ve never really had “sore” legs during the six months I’ve been running regularly. Muscles that certainly had to be conditioned from all the running I’ve done—my calves, hamstrings, inner and outer thighs and hips—are seriously unhappy right now.

I could probably “break myself in” by doing more weight training every week, but my inclination right now actually is to do less of it—much less of it.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I’m not sure why I would need to be able to do 125 squats with 8 lb. dumbbells in order to run a marathon; I’m not really sure how lacing myself into ankle weights and then lifting my calves above my hips is going to help me with speed or endurance.

The irony of it all is that I’m looking a lot more “muscular” these days than I ever did when I took “Pump it Up” every Sunday and did cardio just twice a week. My biceps are defined; my thighs don’t widen when I sit down; my stomach, even, is starting to pass for the stomach of someone who hasn’t necessarily had two c-sections.

So while I’ll keep cross-training, I’m going to choose how I cross-train very carefully in the future. Yoga, yes; curtsey-lunges, no thank you. (In any case, I’m pretty sure people in the super-crowded “Pump it Up” class will be relieved to have one less person competing for space and a riser.)