Monday, September 8, 2014

How Runners Are Like Toddlers...

Courtesy of this weekend's 15 mile run I had a random thought. Runners are like toddlers.  Bear with me...

Gravity is both our friend and our enemy. Ever watched a toddler run? They are perfect little Pose Runners lifting a foot, tilting forward, and then catching themselves with that same foot, over and over again. Until of course, they inevitably fall down and go boom. A love/hate with gravity. It helps a toddler run, until it becomes too much and they fall. Similarly, gravity helps us run. We love the downhill. But every now and then, it’s all too much, and we go ‘boom’.

We put everything in our mouths. Toddlers explore the world with their mouth. “What’s this toy/hair/shoe/whatever? I’ll put it in my mouth!”  Runners are a little bit smarter about what we put in our mouths, but let’s face it, mid-training, we’re still stuffing anything we can in there. Rungry, anyone?

We awake freakishly early for reasons unknown to anyone else in the house.  I’m not a parent yet, but I’ve heard the endless stories about being awakened at obscenely early hours to find your toddler in bed with you/staring at you/getting into something in the kitchen/shrieking from their bed or crib. WHY are they up so early? No one knows. Similarly, runners get up at obscene hours, usually while it is still dark out so they can dress, fuel up, and go out to either train, or race, long miles. WHY??  I do this every morning, and I’m still not 100% sure...   (credit to @HenryHoward for this one)

We randomly pee/poop/vomit on ourselves. Yup… dirty little secret… runners will every now and then pee while running, barely make it to the restroom, get betrayed by a fart, and vomit. Hopefully not all at once. Toddlers, are obviously tiny tornadoes of pee, poop and vomit. At least runners have some control over things.

We expect to be rewarded as motivation for doing things. Potty-trained a toddler lately? All I hear about is the rewards involved: M&Ms, stickers, toys, etc.  Likewise, we runners like rewards.  Run a race? Medal and T-shirt, thank you. Training run? Beer and cheat food, thank you.

We have mood swings, and occasionally become irrationally crabby. We all know toddlers can go from 0 to full meltdown at the snap of a finger, but have you ever observed an injured/frustrated/tapering/over-trained runner? 0 to toddler with no warning. Marathon training is a delightful display of just how irrational I can be. Thank God my husband is (usually) understanding.

We need sleep. Lots of sleep. When a toddler devolves into an irrational, tantrum-y mess, the first thing uttered usually is, “Someone needs a nap.” Mid-training, plenty of runners need naps. This runner goes to be awfully early as the miles increase, especially since they’re morning runs, and I’ve yet to meet a runner who couldn’t empathize.

We are easily entranced and distracted by electronics. We've all seen the exasperated mom who hands her cranky toddler an iPhone, or plops him/her down in front of a movie so she can have just a few minutes of peace. And it works. The toddler is easily distracted by the bright electronics in front of him. Runners have Garmins, iPods, phones, FitBits, heart rate monitors, and we are fascinated by them! We become reliant on their feedback, and ...  oooh, shiny!

Any to add?  How do you think runners are like toddlers?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Monumental Training, Week 9.5...

Because "Monumental Training" is more fun to say than "International Training"...
(if you're new, I have the Detroit International Half Marathon two weeks before the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon)

Why Week 9.5?  Well, A. It's Wednesday, the week is half over! Get with it!  And B. I'm just going to tell you what's going on up to now, including today.

. . .

I broke my ass.

I'm going to call that my theme of the week.

I repeated that several times over the last few days.

I didn't really.



I actually had this problem two weeks in a row. This week, I was just a touch smarter, and maybe a bit tougher, about it. Monday is squat day. Last Monday, I squatted heavy, did some box jumps, did some kettlebell swings, ran 5 miles on Tuesday, and couldn't walk by lunchtime. I'm pretty sure Wednesday ended up being bench press only, and then I waddled back into the house...

This Monday, I squatted heavy again, completed 3 reps each at 85, 95 and 105. Then I did 4 rounds of 10 box jumps, 10 walking lunges with the 45lbs bar, and 10 pushups on the box. Tuesday, I ran 4 miles (it was supposed to be 5, but I ran out of time).   Today though... I could move! Sort of. So I did bench presses and 4 rounds of 10 burpees, 5 ring rows, 5 shoulder presses each arm at 20lbs, plus some ab work.  I have weak shoulders and I hate burpees. But I got it done!  I'm quite proud of that.

My long run on Saturday was a hot (literally) mess.  The schedule called for 12 miles. I didn't rush out the door, and knew it would bite me in the ass, but at about 9:00 a.m., I loaded the Camelbak and off I went.  Heading out the door, it was a perfect 68, and I was on mostly shady neighborhood streets. I was clipping along at about 10:20, which is faster than my normal race pace, but it felt good. I knew I was going a bit fast, but didn't stop to reign it in.

By mile 5, I was hurting. I was out in the sun. Nothing but the sun. It was hot. I could feel the heat in my face, and wanted nothing more than to quit already.  I slogged through the next 5.5 miles. At around mile 10.5, I had to pause and stretch, hiding gratefully in the shade under a tree. I even texted my husband to tell him I was struggling. "Finish it. You don't quit."   I beat myself up a bit, because, yes, I sometimes do quit. But I am not proud of quitting, ever. So I kept going. It was not pretty. In fact, it was agony.

I trudged home, collapsed, and promptly checked the weather. In the 2 hours I'd been running, the temp had gone from 68 to 78, with not a cloud in the sky. Considering the mild summer we've had, and the very cool mornings I usually run in, 78 was HOT. (I know this sounds ridiculous, but mornings this summer have been in the 58 - 62 range, and obviously no sun.) Also, my early splits were 10:28, 10:25, 10:02, and 10:38.  The early speed showed in the late slow.  But! It's done. Another long run in the books, and 12 miles closer to the Monumental Marathon!

Feeling buff post-long run. And showing off my new Inov-8 tank top, which performed beautifully!

What are you training for?  How is training going?

My Whole 30 Experience...

I promised this post a few weeks ago, but here it finally is. My thoughts on my Whole 30 experience.

As I mentioned when I started this, I recently read Chris Kresser's Personal Paleo Code. The book resonated with me for a number of reasons, and I really liked his acknowledgement that Paleo is not a 'one-size-fits-all' lifestyle. After all, I often argued to my husband, I can eat corn without problems, so why not have it as an occasional treat?

Kresser's plan has you do essentially a Whole 30. He calls it a Reset Diet. But you eliminate grains, dairy, sugar, alcohol, butter, white potatoes (which are now Whole 30-approved), and take a few other important steps for 30 days. After this point, you can test various foods to see if and how your body reacts.

I posted earlier about the biggest hurdle I encountered, an accidental lack of carbs! We sorted that out with sweet potatoes and plantains and felt much happier and better able to perform while working out. So, a few things I learned:

  • I actually can't eat grains. I'd argued to my husband all along that I could handle corn, and I didn't see any reason why I shouldn't be allowed to eat it. For 30 days, I craved tortilla chips. All I wanted was chips and salsa. So, against the recommended plan, that was the first food I tested.  Chipotle chips and medium salsa? Down the hatch! Best lunch in a long time. 6 hours later while walking the dog? Sharp, painful stomach cramping. The corn wasn't completely out of my system until almost 24 hours later, and I missed my morning workout.  I actually still have not tested rice, though I did have rice noodles. Reactions haven't been quite as bad, but I generally don't feel good on grains.
  • Sugar is simply a habit. I found it very interesting how easy it was for me to give up sugar and move on. I've never had a big sweet tooth, and the Whole 30 made it very clear to me that visiting the candy bowl at work was simply a habit.  Again, I've had cheats here, but I am much more aware of it. Sugar is a conscious choice now, not a mindless "oopsy".
  • Dairy is iffy. I didn't get a clear answer on dairy. I haven't gone back to yogurt, and I'm very conscious of the cheese I choose to eat, but some days I feel perfectly fine, and others not so much. The obvious answer here is yummmmmmmm, cheeeeeeeeese!
  • Stress = Alcohol. I enjoy drinking. There, I said it. I also drink when I'm stressed. A glass of wine after a long day of work is delightful. Abstaining for 30 days really drew my attention to this correlation. But I still don't see it as a big problem. I understand the potential drawbacks to drinking, but also don't think a single glass after work is a big deal. I am glad to have seen the correlation clearly though so I can be aware if it becomes an issue.
  • Stress is a big problem for me.  My whole life is a big ball of stress. It's who I am. It seems like every management method, every supplement, every attempt to control stress simply fails. I am a sensitive person. I'm learning to embrace that. But it means I internalize and feel responsibility for, well, everything. And this is holding me back.
On that note...  a few things I didn't learn, or, my disappointments with Whole 30:

  • I can't lose weight. There, I said it. I went to a doctor, who figured I had adrenal fatigue, or just need to stop eating bananas after 4:00 p.m. (seriously) (I don't). I took supplements for my adrenals and had more energy, but not a single budge on my body. I took before and after photos on my Whole 30. Nothing changed. I will not post them. I changed how I work out, adding more strength and such. I can see a little more muscle, and my butt is bigger, but otherwise, yeah.. nothing changed. 99% of people have Whole 30 success stories of losing weight and being otherwise amazing. I do not.
  • I didn't feel 100% awesome, or find the fountain of youth of energy. The stabbing stomach pains I sometimes get are generally gone. I know my gut is healing. But, I still felt bad a decent amount of time. And I didn't have all the energy I thought I would. My workouts aren't easier, my runs aren't easier. I know part of this is stress-related, but....
  • In general, my joy toward food was gone.  Doing Whole 30, I felt discouraged about food. I saw it as fuel, period. This was good and bad. I am much more conscious about what it's doing to my body. But, I am discouraged by the high cost of eating the Paleo way (holy F meat is pricey). I am depressed by my inability to lose weight, look good, perform well athletically.  I still feel much more guilty about anything that isn't Whole 30. 
I refuse to make food a source of stress, which has led to a relaxation of my diet. But I often feel guilt over that relaxation. I know many of my issues are probably beyond diet, but in terms of Whole 30, I am a bit disappointed. I expected to see more and better results. I don't regret it, because I think the things I learned far outweigh the inability to drop some chunk. I would encourage anyone to do a Whole 30 to explore some of those cravings and connections within your diet. 

I do think when it comes to food there is a fine line to walk between health and stress.  While I'm discouraged that I didn't lose weight, I also feel like joy in food is more important. I have made many amazing meals that are Paleo. Dialed-in Paleo even (Kinda like 80% 30 instead of Whole). Diet didn't solve everything for me, nor can it. And with that in mind, I want to take the good lessons I learned and move forward without making food a stress point. I am conscious of what I eat, but I am dropping the guilt over the occasional cheat. I want to live the healthiest life possible, but I'm also aware that I'm only living one life, and I'm going to enjoy it.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monumental Training, Week 8...

Week 8 was a bit eventful...  I wrote myself a pretty intense workout Monday, still cranked out my miles Tuesday, and regretted it by lunchtime Tuesday!

Monday, I did a 3x5 of squats at 75, 80, and 95, did ab work, and did 3 rounds of 10 box jumps, 10 push-ups on the box, and 10 kettlebell swings at 35. By the time I was getting up from my desk that day, I was hurting! I managed to crank out my 5 miles Tuesday, and well, can't even remember the rest of the week! I felt pretty badass until about Tuesday afternoon though!

This weekend the schedule called for a 5K race instead of a long run, and I was happy to oblige. Dear Husband decided to run with me since he started a new strength program this morning. Usually, he runs "with" me, and leaves me in the dust within a half mile. But, he decided to stick with me and push me along. We ran a 29:29 5K... my PR is 29:25. I'll take it!

Things have been extremely hectic at work, so I keep meaning to write more, and just, well, not. In the grand scheme of work/life balance, I have to work, I have to marathon train, and I have to find time to relax for my health.

What are you training for? How is your work/life/training balance?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Monumental Training...

So, uhm, last week was.. well, terrible.

On Monday, the 14th, I headed out to the garage to do my 1-rep max testing..  I had really high hopes after the gains I saw last Wendler cycle.  Did my warm-up, and started loading on for the squats.  The warm-ups with the bar (45) were pretty easy, the next few progressions OK, and then we put on my previous PR of 95. I went down into the squat, and...  panicked. Me: "I'm stuck!"  Husband: "No you're not, push." Me: "Get it off, get it off!" (I have a weird fear of 'bailing'... gotta fix that.) Then my mood got stuck right with me. Everything was negative, spiraling down, and I couldn't stop it. I rallied to try a deadlift, and a light weight felt hard, and I was done.

But then, I took it out on my husband with a few snide comments. Here I am, feeling beyond negative at myself, and he's swinging my weights around like nothing....  guess where this is going? Yup. A few minutes later, I got yelled at. Laid into. And my mood was down for a week.

So, Week 5 of marathon training was pretty rough. I missed a workout, and cut some others short. I could rally myself to get a workout in and then feel numb by lunchtime. My approaching 30th birthday wasn't helping.  Luckily, my 8 miler last Saturday went very well. Pace came out to an 11:00 average (my normal Half Marathon pace is 10:40).. but I had stopped to help a dog that was lost, and forgot to pause my Garmin, giving me a 13 minute mile in the middle. So, probably pace was right in line.

We're all good now, don't worry. (Hey, real talk, marriages take work... there are two people involved with their own moods, drama, and issues. But there's a whole lot of love in ours too!) Monday was my 30th Birthday! I ended up taking the day off, and my husband and friend put together a nice little surprise dinner at a wood-fired pizza joint I love. It is my fave cheat food!   (I'll have some thoughts on 30 in a different post).

The rest of this week has gone OK as far as training. I've finished the Whole 30 and been testing foods I used to eat regularly, with mixed results. Tuesday was a planned 5, but I woke up with tummy issues from my birthday dinner, rallied, got in 2.5, had to stop by the house to pee, and developed stomach cramping when I stopped. So I did some light lifting.

Wednesday, I ran a mile for a warmup, and then did 5 reps at 45, 50, 55 (15 total reps) of bench press, and then hang cleans, 1 shoulder press into back squats, 1 shoulder press to put bar back, then 4 rounds of 15 second planks on front and each side with no rest between rounds. Yesterday was 4 miles, and they came in right at HM pace.

I'm feeling decent about tomorrow's planned 10 miles. I used Tailwind last week and will try that again.  The stomach issues are frustrating, but I guess I just have to eat really clean this marathon!

What are you training for? How is your training going?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Random Thoughts While Running...

"Take it easy. Yeah, that feels good."

"I like the colors I'm wearing today."

"Oh, that mile was fast, guess I should keep pushing."

"Come on light, turn red, turn red, turn red.... guess I have to keep going."

(Looks at bushes while running in the rain, notices it's dry inside)  "If I was homeless, I would hide out in there. I could sneak in."   ...  "Who thinks that?"

"My shorts are riding up. I wonder if I've reached inappropriate height yet."

"I wonder what I'm eating tonight. Crap, I didn't thaw anything. Meat won't thaw in time. I have to buy something. Steak. Could I eat steak every night? Yes. But not tonight. So, what am I eating tonight? Ok."

"I hope I don't have to fetch lunch at work today."

"Hey dog!    Woof."

.........   "Oh man, did I just finally experience runner's high to One Direction??"

"Yup. Forever my song..        worth it."

"That house is cute."

"It's hot."

"Wow, I really like that porch. So cute. I wish we had money to build a bigger porch. I'm sweating."

"Ugh. Why do people sweat?"

"Do any girls actually glisten? I have salt in my eye now. Ow."

"Holy F, a marathon is really far."

"I like my shoes. I wonder if it's silly to have the wings on them.  Who cares?  ... I love Inov-8."

"I wonder what random people think about my calf sleeves."

"That is a weird looking car.  Loud engine for no reason.  Oh, heyyyyy small penis."

"I need to change my music. Sometimes this shuffle does an awful job picking songs. (click) Ugh. (click) ugh. (clickclickclick) Oh, finally."

"It's just the 4 mile wall. I hate this thing. Maybe it's not it. Maybe I don't have it today. No... just the 4 mile wall."

"I need more shorts."

"Whoa, they tore that road up."

"That lady is dressed weird."

"Glad it's not snowy anymore. Those sidewalks were slick."

"What should I eat when I'm done? Should I fry my egg?  Yup. Fried eggs."


"Almost there. Kick it in. Drive home."

Friday, July 11, 2014

What Running Should Teach Us About Life...

I meant to make this be a funny list. I kinda went with the opposite... but it was still fun.  Runners are great at teaching themselves about running, and never realizing that we're teaching ourselves about life. Here are just a few things I think running should teach us about life...

1.       Eat right, drink water, wear quality shoes, avoid chafing.

Let’s start with the basics.  So obvious, right? Take care of yourself! Even as runners, when this basic tenet should be obvious, I think many of us neglect ourselves. Running becomes one more thing to jam into our day. It’s our “stress relief”, but sometimes it’s also a stressor. An obligation. Even if you enjoy it, you are physically stressing your body by running.  So, eat good, quality food.  Sleep. Good, quality sleep. Wear the right shoes. Really. Support yourself.  Avoid chafing? Well, that’s just common sense.

2.       Go at your own pace.

No really, I mean it. Too often, we’re told to hurry, get this done, get that done, be aggressive, chase down your goals and tackle them, etc. And that’s fine when you want to push. When you can sustain it. Or when you feel like pushing your limits a bit. But pace is such a deeply personal thing. What is pushing the limits for some could be a crawl for others, or impossibly aggressive for some.  There are times that I want to be flat out, driving hard, and gasping with exhaustion when I’m done. Other times, I want to preserve myself, settle in for the long haul, and choose comfort.  The same goes for life. We have to choose our own pace, and embrace it. Work toward goals or through situations at your speed, in your way. Marriage, work, having children, buying a home, etc. Don’t let the way someone else handles a similar situation dictate how you handle your situation OR how you feel about the way you handle your situation.

3.       Find a plan, and stick to it. But don’t panic when things go awry.

When you  choose a new distance for the first time, or want to get better at one, what’s the first thing you do? Look for a training plan of course!  And how many of us have missed a run or two, completely panicked, and found out in the long run, it didn’t matter? Probably 95% of us.

Life is like this. If you want to achieve something, anything, in work or your personal life, you have to have a plan. A logical, reasonable chart of how you will reach that goal. But you also have to be prepared. Life doesn’t always follow our plans and schedules. And it’s important to be flexible, to be able to re-route, to get derailed, and realize that you’re never truly off track, you can still reach your goal.

4.       You need support, and you need to support others.

Think about your favorite moments racing vs. your least favorite. For me, the best moments have come when there is a fun crowd cheering for the runners, or when I’m running alongside my running buddy, or a random fellow runner. The support energizes you. It keeps you moving forward. My favorite moments come when I give that support back, high-fiving other runners, cheering for other runners, or joking with the crowd.  Even waving and smiling to another runner in my neighborhood gives me a physical boost. Seek support and give support. You’ll gain from both.

5.       Tomorrow’s another day. And if it sucks, tomorrow’s tomorrow is another day.

Ever have a terrible run? Ever have two terrible runs in a row?  Ever just get in a funk?  Yup. It happens. When you have an awful run, or a bad day, sometimes an aborted run, what do you do? Tell yourself, “I will try again tomorrow.”  Sometimes, you’ve had a few bad days. Sometimes, it takes all the courage and willpower you can muster to try again. But if you try, try, try, you will find a tomorrow that is wonderful. I’ve had terrible runs followed by unbelievable runs. I’ve had weeks of OK runs to finally get a “good” run.  Life is just like this. Days will beat you down. Getting out of bed to face tomorrow will be hard. It will take courage. And sometimes, “tomorrow” will be just as bad as “today”. But if you continue to try, if you never give up, eventually, you will find a “tomorrow” that is good, and eventually one that is stellar, and eventually one that is a personal best.

6.       It is the journey AND the destination.

Be present in the moment with an eye to the future. Enjoy the moment, but be prepared for how the good and bad of now can prepare you for the good and bad in the future.

I recently ran my first marathon, and I’m currently training for my second. I trained for my first marathon in the middle of what was officially named Michigan’s Most Miserable Winter. Coldest, snowiest, most days without sun, you name it. I did long runs mid-snowstorm, ran in ski gear, including goggles, during a -22 wind chill morning, and bought trail shoes just to survive the snowy sidewalks.  I raced on a day that ended up being 70 degrees and sunny. Some days, I was fully present in that run, that step, that moment. Some days, my eye was toward the destination, coaxing myself out the door with the knowledge that this training run would get me to my goal.  

Training is such a combination of things, it’s hard not to be a metaphor for life.  You are always learning, from the good and the bad. You’re always moving forward, even when moving backward. Sometimes, you get “runner’s high”, and you’re so fully present in that moment you’re not thinking about anything else. Everything builds toward the destination, the race, and when you get there, you’re so grateful for the journey because that has colored how you experience everything else.  

Enjoy it.  Enjoy where you’ve come from. Enjoy where you’re going.  Enjoy where you are. 

What do you think running should teach us about life?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Carbs Make Me Happy...

Let's start today with a dose of honesty. I've been feeling pretty down. Well, really down. Like, I'll spend half a day feeling motivated to charge charge, choose my own, happiness, all that ish that's splattered on Twitter and Pinterest and whatnot. And then something will happen, sometimes as insignificant as feeling bored at work, and I'm spiraling down the drain of hopelessness.

I don't know if it's a weird side result of the diet. I heard somewhere that people on Whole 30 can feel down and cranky without enough carbs.  And, full disclosure, we had one cheat meal that included white potatoes... I was very happy the next day. Until something crazy happened at work of course. 

But, when you're marathon training and you feel blue, what do you do? Run in the morning, before you've got a chance to be blue of course! Some days, this doesn't work. Today for example, I woke to my alarm after having barely slept. It wasn't even an argument that getting another hour of sleep would be helpful, while trying to run my planned 4 miles on no sleep would probably be detrimental. But of course I am now sitting here with my coffee absolutely berating myself for being a lazy loser.

Training is going OK despite everything else. My long run last week (a whole 6 miles) was a bit of a struggle, but..  it's been humid, and I haven't used an electrolyte replacement, I'm Whole 30, so I haven't used any real fuel, and well, sometimes bad runs just happen. 

Crosstraining has been going a bit better than the running. I'm seeing definition in my face, and my legs look noticeably stronger, which I know will help.   I also feel, well, cleaner. I'm ready for more potatoes, but I'm not sure that I'll go back to my old way of eating. Not completely anyway. I haven't missed dairy or sugar at all, so while the occasional gluten-free pizza, or honey in a recipe, will be enjoyed, I think I want to treat it more as a treat than a staple. I am eager to try certain foods though, and can't wait to say "adios!" to sweet potatoes!

Yesterday's workout:

- 1 mile warmup run

- Wendler bench press (deload week): 3x5 at 35, 40, 45

- 3 rounds: 30 second plank, 30 second side plank each side

- 4 rounds:  5 incline pushups, 10 lunges, 10 box jumps

What are you training for?  How does food effect your mood?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day 17...

This would've been a bit better to post on Day 15, right??   Anyway, I'm halfway through the 30-Day Reset Diet portion of Chris Kresser's Your Personal Paleo Code  (sometimes easier to describe as a Whole 30).  I didn't want to be one of those people who posts everything I do and everything I eat, but I figured an update couldn't hurt..

It has been....   interesting.

I will say that Google and various Whole 30 forums have been my best friend. The initial transition wasn't bad. We don't eat gluten at all in our house (I already know I'm intolerant), and we're about 80% Paleo anyway. My co-worker decided to join me, and he had a miserable first three days because he was breaking the gluten/sugar addiction. I wish more people were properly prepared for this. There is of course a school of thought (I'm not going to tell you how to eat) that believe gluten is poison whether you're intolerant or not. It is proven fact that wheat/gluten spike your blood sugar worse than, well, actual sugar, and gluten and gliadin get into your blood and get into your brain. If you choose to give up wheat, understand your reasons, and be prepared for the process. You will go through actual withdrawals.

Anyway, back to Dear Husband and I... things started out fine. We have several Paleo recipes already, and many weren't hard to turn Whole 30. For example, my stuffed peppers..  just omit the butter and cheese!  I even managed to tweak my beef stroganoff recipe to make it Whole 30, served atop squash 'noodles'.  But, while my co-worker was admitting within a week that he felt better and had more energy, I was feeling, well, nothing. No reduction in bloat (in fact, a few painful bloat/gas issues), no extra energy, and I was crabby and blue.    I had one run where I felt like I had a much better energy reserve than normal, especially considering I've had to abandon pre-run fuel, but otherwise, nothing.

I was ranting to Dear Husband, as I am prone to do, and he mentioned that he too was feeling bummed out. Ok, off to Google I went!   After a few searches, I realized that we probably weren't eating enough carbs. We're obviously both active, and by eliminating white and red potatoes, we weren't getting in as many carbs as normal, partially because I really don't like sweet potatoes, and partially because, well, it's harder to get carbs in on strict Paleo!  Since then, I've made a point of including carbs at every meal, and I think we've both noticed an almost immediate difference.   I don't like sweet potatoes, but if you fry them in coconut oil for morning hash browns and actually get them crisp, they aren't bad. Our Costco has organic bananas, and they're almost always green, so I've made sure to have at least one per day, and we recently grabbed some plantains! I fried them the other night, then topped them with cinnamon and sugar. Tonight, we're going to try mashing them as part of this recipe from PaleOMG.  I do not believe Paleo automatically means low-carb, despite the odd association we've all made. But, on Whole 30, you definitely have to put a bit of thought into getting them. Here's a good carb source chart from Balanced Bites. We're active. We definitely need more than 100g of carbs each day, or our bodies don't have the fuel they need to support us, and we will suffer!

It took a while to figure out why I was still getting painful bloat, and I figured it out almost by chance. I thought maybe it was from eating raw broccoli, but then bloated painfully (and oh, the gas!  Yikes!!) on a day when I had no green veggies.   Well,  it's cherry season. I love cherries, especially Ranier. Costco had those too.  It took me exactly 3 days to down a 2 pound package. On a bit of a whim, I googled if cherries can cause gas. Lo and behold! A blog post with pages of comments about an obsessive love of cherries followed by an equal portion of GI distress. Two days of no cherries, two days of no issues. Bummer. Guess I just have to figure out the safe limit!

On the Whole (30, lol), I am glad I'm doing this. I imagine I never would've figured out the cherry thing if I wasn't, and I'm excited for Step 2, when you reintroduce foods and determine what works for you. I AM looking forward to having white potatoes again, which I don't think will be a problem for me.

In the last few days, I've noticed that I'm sleeping deeper, even if I still need to change some of my habits around sleep. I have energy on my runs despite no pre-run fuel, and the insane humidity. I'm making gains in the gym, and with the combined effort, I have noticed a few things fitting better, even if I can't see a change yet. I'm much less obsessed with food, which seems funny given how limited it is. I know that everything I'm putting in my body is good, and I no longer crave the bad things. I don't give a second thought to the office candy bowl.

Surprisingly, I haven't had a single craving or longing for dairy.  I looooooove cheese, so I honestly thought that would be my worst craving, but it's been pretty easy to walk past the dairy section when I'm out shopping. I am ready to have alcohol again, but also realizing the alcohol-socializing connection might be a bit strong. I don't see a problem in relaxing with a drink, or having wine with dinner, but I am seeing some interesting things in the frequency and reasons for my drinking. And hey, my skin is clearer, so I guess not drinking for a bit isn't a bad thing!   My strongest craving so far is for corn tortilla chips (hey, I said we were only 80% Paleo!) I'm not sure if this is a salt craving, or where it's rooted, but it is almost my only craving at this point. I know some people who think organic, non-GMO blue corn is fine. It'll be interesting to test corn in Step 2 and see if I can have it every now and then, or if I'm craving it because I'm breaking some unhealthy connection in my body...

I'll try to post a few recipes soon, and yes, I took before pictures, so I might share those eventually...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Running in the Smartwool PhD Run Short...

I lift. I squat.  I have a booty and I have thick, awesome, thighs. Why awesome? Because they are muscular. Because I can squat 115. Because I can run a marathon with them. I'm embracing my thunder thighs and bubble butt. They're kinda awesome.


Running shorts to me have long been a necessary evil. I love shorts. I love when short weather finally arrives, and I can toss the tights aside. After all, rainy runs are way more fun when you can enjoy the puddle stomping, right?

My legs, however, do not love shorts. For the past year, I've owned exclusively Nike and Under Armour running shorts. My Nike shorts would slide up my hips, creeping toward my belly button, no matter how tight I tied them. Runs are less fun when you're constantly stopping to re-tie your shorts. Or worse, trying to tie them while running. If I could get them to stay put on my waist, my thighs were regularly eating the material.  and, if I could avoid everything else, my bubble butt risked becoming uncovered if I got moving.

My run routine:  Run, tug shorts down, run, run, pull material out of thighs, run, run, come dangerously close to inappropriate as shorts hike up waist and thighs eat the little bit of material left, run.


I was reluctant to buy pricier shorts though, because why spend the money on a 'quality' pair of shorts only to have the same problem??

Along came Smartwool. I freaking LOVE their socks!   So, I joined their Fan Field Tester program, and received a few coupons for $20 off a $75 purchase. After poking around, drooling, and making a giant wish list, I decided to give the PhD Run Short a try.

I was happy from the start! The internal brief is sooo comfy! It is form-fitting, and elastic enough to conform to your form. It fit me very well, and the wool material continues up through the waistband, so all main next-to-skin points are Merino wool. The tie is stretchy, which gave me hope.  So, on they go for a 3 mile run.   At about 1/4 mile in, I instinctively glanced down. At this point, my Nike shorts are already riding up my waist. It took me a moment to realize the Smartwool shorts hand't moved.  And they didn't move. All 3 miles.  Not once did I have to re-tie, tug them down my waist, or tug material out from between my thighs!   I DID have to glance down and make sure I was still wearing them because the ventilation is that good.

I took them on a 4 miler a few days later and had the same wonderful experience. I put them on and didn't think about them again. Amazing!

Finally, this morning, I took them out for 3 miles in 94% humidity. This was the first time I had any awareness of my shorts. I was literally dripping sweat. I actually took my top off and ran in my sports bra for the first time in my life during the last mile of my run, that's how humid it was.  The Merino wool did its job beautifully. The brief and waistband wicked perfectly. I know it was only 3 miles, but no "swamp ass" feeling while running in that humidity? Whoa! The short material did stick to my legs a bit with all that moisture, which made it the first time I noticed my shorts. But, what I also noticed is that it would stick and release. I never had to tug the material off my thigh because it would let go on its own.

Shorts NOT being eaten by my thighs...

Shorts covering my bum!

I am 100% pleased with these shorts. They fit my athletic frame, and they perform exactly how I want them to perform.  They come in limited, but fun colors. They have one external pocket, but it does zip, so your small items will still be secure. They state that they have reflectivity, but  have yet to test it.   I hope they get more colors.. and that I get a second job, because I want about 10 more pairs of these shorts!!  I don't ever want to run in my other shorts again!

Fun stripes on the side... time to buy more shorts!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I Passed a Runner Today...

I passed a runner I admire while driving to work today.

I approached a runner, and eventually we passed. He was clearly a runner. Quality shoes on his feet. Proper body position. Head up. Technical sleeveless top drenched in sweat from the morning’s humidity. Lean body.  Drive in his eyes.

And then I passed the runner I admire. 20 feet behind the other runner. He was bigger in both height and weight. He had standard shoes on his feet. A cotton t-shirt. Normal gym shorts. Thick cotton socks. His gait was slower, lumbering a bit under each step. His head was down. Focused only a few feet ahead of him. Avoiding the passing cars. I never saw his face.

I thought about two main things. First, how much I admired that runner. In many ways, the challenge of that humid morning run was far greater for him than for the other runner. Everyone who passed the first man would think, “Yes! There’s a runner.” But they would probably pass the second man with a disparaging thought, if any thought at all.

My first, most immediate thought though had been, “That poor guy was just passed by the faster one.” Because it had to have happened. Based on the location on the sidewalk, and the distance between them. Sometime shortly before I reached that scene, the runner had to have passed the “runner”.

I am not fast. I’ve known many, many times that demoralizing feeling of the runner who passes you and the distance that they so quickly put between you. I admire the runner I saw this morning because in my own mind, I AM that runner. I will always see myself as someone who doesn’t look the part, who isn’t built like a runner, isn’t fast enough, isn’t slim enough.

I admire the Shalane Flanagans and Meb Keflezighis of the world. I admire the Boston Qualifiers, and the front-of-the-packers. But I admire the back-of-the-packers more. The ones like the man I saw at my first marathon. Heavyset, slow, large feet plodding along. But moving. Always moving. He never stopped running. Even as I eventually gained on him, overtook him, and left him behind. I saw in race photos that he never stopped running.

I think that even those of us who are not competitive are still comparative. We all are. We compare shoes, styles, form, weight, and especially distance and speed. The distance seems addictive. We always want to go further and further, and then faster and faster. And in some ways this is good. Use comparison to drive, to push yourself. But there is the side where we, or at least I, can’t stop comparing myself. “Why is she faster?” “Why is she skinnier?” “I must look awful to people who pass me while running.” “I don’t look like a runner.” “WHY are all my race photos full of awful, red-faced, pudgy, not-impressive me??”

I’ve talked before about the Jerk. The nagging thoughts that follow us and tell us we aren’t good enough.  I imagine some volume of the Jerk even follows the Shalanes and Mebs. But the size of the Jerk following some of us, following those people who “don’t look like runners”, must be astounding.  But some runners get up and go anyway. Some runners face everything they see in the mirror, every person who ignores them, or worse, every heavier-than-the-runner step, every rubbing spot, every deep, desperate breath.  Some runners ignore all the doubts packed against them, and yet they run.

Those are the runners I admire. Don’t let your head hang down. Don’t stare at the ground.  I might be faster. I might manage a bigger smile when I pass you on the path. But we are all facing doubts, and I am so inspired by your determination. You, the one who “shouldn’t be a runner”, the one who “doesn’t look like a runner”, the one who’s fat, or slow, but still running. You ARE a runner. You are my inspiration. And that smile when we pass? It’s genuinely for you. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Cross Training The Husband's Way...

Day Two of Whole 30!!    (Remember, I'm actually doing Chris Kresser's Your Personal Paleo Code 30-Day Reset Diet... but it's easier to call it Whole 30 since that's more well known).

Day 1 was fairly easy, except the husband and I were both very hungry in the evening. I think we may have not planned in enough carbs and need to do a better job of incorporating them throughout the day. I'm not planning to share everything I eat, but if I come up with a great recipe, I will definitely share those!  For example... no idea how I originally found this, but here's the recipe I'll be using for dinner tonight... Mexican Shredded Beef ..  Real spices, no junk, and so good!

Today also officially kicked off training for marathon #2. Training techincally started yesterday with a rest day... today was Cross Training. I've given Dear Husband control over my cross training for at least the first half. This gives him Mondays and Wednesdays, and I said I'd lift Thursdays since Friday is CT/Rest and I plan to just do Yoga/Stretching.  I'll backtrack just a bit to let you know how terrifying today was...

I finished my first Wendler Cycle over the weekend by testing my one-rep max.. Bench didn't improve much, probably because I only really worked chest one day a week. Shoulder press I couldn't work because the weights we have are too heavy..  So here they are (May 6 / June 14):

Shoulder Press: 55 / 55
Bench Press: 70 / 80
Deadlift: 125 / 150
Squat: 80 / 115

Yup... 35 pound PR in squat!  I was not anticipating that... I hate squats and love Deadlifts.

So..  DH decided to roll right into another Wendler.  Today's workout:
Wendler Squats: 3x5+ at 65, 80, 90
3 Rounds, no rest: 15 second hollow hold, 15 second glute bridge
3 Rounds: 20 air squats, 15 lunges, 10 box jumps, 1 minute rest

Yes, you're reading that correctly...  my 'light' first week of Wendler exceeds my previous PR.  Ooof!  By the time I got to the first air squats, my legs didn't want to function!  Got it done, but tomorrow's 3 mile run should be an adventure!
The post-workout view... from flat on my back!

Ass-kicker!   But I not-so-secretly love box jumps..

The best thing about this morning though?  I planned ahead and made a frittata last night!  DH was headed to to the gym before work as well ( I always use our garage gym / the sidewalks for running), so I had to plan ahead a bit..   Super easy!  7 eggs mixed with 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk..   Browned and crumbled the sausage in a cast-iron pan, added red onion and 1 Tbsp coconut oil, let the onions cook a bit, then added the kale.  Once kale and onion were cooked, added the eggs, and popped it in the oven at 375 for about 10 minutes.   Boom!  Protein ready and waiting when the workout finished. 

Yummmmm....  See? Whole 30 is tasty!

Do you have any Whole 30 recipes, or great ways to stay fueled and hydrated while doing Whole 30??

Friday, June 13, 2014

Paleo Running...

As I write this, I am having a lovely breakfast of sausage, an egg friend in coconut oil, and sautéed kale. Yup, kale.   It's the current "it" food, and I have plenty at dinner, but breakfast?  And coconut oil? Never been a big fan..     So what's going on?

Well, I've obviously been discouraged. I've been dealing with adrenal fatigue. I've been trying to manage stress, but there are so many things that just plain bring me down lately.   I'm trying not to dwell on the negatives though, and in my efforts to take charge, I picked up a copy of Chris Kresser's "Your Personal Paleo Code".  The general idea behind this book is that one-size-fits-all-Paleo doesn't exist. It should be personalized to each person, and by paying attention, you can cure what ails ya through your diet.   (Ok, that was a gross oversimplification).

The plan begins with a 30-day Reset Diet. During this phase, you remove all the bad junk from your diet. Then in Phase 2, you add things back in and determine what is right for your body. So, for the next 30 days, no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no sugar, no processed foods, no alcohol.  It's very similar to doing a Whole 30.  I'm really hopeful that this will reset my body, help me heal my gut, and move forward feeling healthier.  Oh, and if it finally helps me drop a few pounds, that won't hurt either!

The interesting part will be that I start this on June 15. The same day I kick off training for marathon #2.

Some parts of this aren't a big deal. I don't think I have any runs so long in the first 30 days that I'll need fuel, and pre-run bananas are plenty compliant. I'm honestly most concerned about hydration.  I am a salty, salty sweater. Honestly, you can rub salt off my forehead after a warm weather run.  Right now I use Nuun, especially after a run.  (Protein powders are also not allowed during this 30 days for various reasons).  And I really hate the taste of coconut water. So I'm a bit stumped there.  While I think Nuun, Island Boost, and the protein powders we have  (my go-to fuel, hydration, recovery) are very 'clean', I don't think any are allowed for the next 30 days.   (Island Boost for example is a coconut water base, but has fructose and glucose...  no sugar allowed). I suppose I could try eating an orange mid-run if I really need fuel...

Any other Whole 30/strict Paleo runners out there?  What do you use to fuel, hydrate, and recover?

Saturday, June 7, 2014


Well, this is about to get awkward. My last post was all about why I run. This post is going to travel down the road of discouragement...

It's spawned primarily by a conversation with my husband (hi honey, sorry for the husband-bashing)..  it's not the first conversation we've had along this lines, but this one is sticking for some reason.

Do you run to lose weight? Have you lost weight? Do you at least keep the weight off, and see a change in your body while you run?   ....     I don't.

I haven't lost any weight (this is a guess. I don't own a scale, but there is no change in how my clothes fit. I haven't really seen a change in my body. I suppose it's stronger, but size, tone, etc. has not changed.  Part of this is me. I do not like what I see when I look in the mirror. I do not like how I feel when I get dressed. I do not like how I look in photos. And while part of that is my own issues, part of the problem is that the photos, the look in the mirror, the fit when I get dressed has not changed in a year and a half.

Last night, I complained yet again to Dear Husband about this lack of change. Maybe it's the pressure of our three-year-delayed Honeymoon approaching. Maybe it's that this week, I've found I don't fit in two dresses that fit fine the last several years. And that the lifting has done nothing other than make my butt bigger, and a pair of shorts I was wowed to buy last year aren't so flattering now. But it's bothering me.  And Dear Husband yet again told me that I just need to change things up. Last time it was heavier weights, squats, and more HIIT work. Now, it's body weight work. "All this long, slow distance running you're doing. It won't burn fat. That's why you see so many fat marathoners."

That made me angry.

But probably not for the reason you're thinking...

Because he's right. You do see many fat marathoners.

Yes, there are the rail-thin, Shalane Flanagan types. But the majority of us aren't running 5-minute miles. Especially for an entire marathon. Most of us are running at a pace we can manage. But it is challenging. But it is a long, slow, steady pace that our heart and body adapt to.

My  mind over the last 24 hours has run the gambit of reasons why this made me so angry. There are fat marathoners, sure, but there are SO MANY people telling me they've lost weight running. Those 'fat marathoners' talk about doing sprint and speed work, so why are you telling me to do sprints and I'll lose weight if they are fat? How did we go from, 'lift heavy and you'll lose/tone' to 'do bodyweight stuff in intervals and you'll lose'? How many of those runners who lose weight talk about eating massive cheeseburgers and cupcakes on their cheat days while I don't eat gluten, rarely have sweets, and don't eat processed crap? All these runner are talking about how they don't lift weights, or when they do, they're light. I'm out here lifting a minimum 45-pound barbell.

And that's when I knew what was really making me angry.

I do everything right on paper. I eat well, I lift heavy, I work out minimum 5 days a week. And I have seen no result. And each time I go to him with frustrations, I am told that what I am doing is wrong. "It isn't easy. You don't get to just do what is easy and get what you want." But the problem is, I should be able to do what I enjoy. Every time I ask for help, I'm guided toward something resembling a CrossFit WOD. But not as heavy, maybe not as intense. Just different enough that DH can laugh when I accuse him of making me CrossFit.

And that's the root of it.  Perhaps he's right. LSD running is not the ideal way to burn fat. I know. But, in a world where I urge others to "find an exercise you enjoy" and rather than 'diet', "find a lifestyle you can stick to", why does the answer for me keep coming up, "do something you don't enjoy, challenge yourself, get way out of your comfort zone, and find a lifestyle that's difficult to maintain".

He's wanted me to CrossFit for years. And maybe this will finally make me try. But I don't see it as something I want to do.  I want to see a result to my hard work. Just a smidgen of it. I don't want to be told that I ran a marathon, and while the result was fantastic because I supported a important charity, the personal result was non-existent.  I don't want to lose pride in what I did. A marathon. Not many can say that.

But today, I am discouraged.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day...

Crap! I was supposed to blog, wasn't I?  I don't have an excuse, I'm just bad at this...

So, I've been dealing with the adrenal fatigue, focusing on lifting, and maintaining my running. I'm in week 3 of a 4 week cycle with lifting, so I'll be testing my one-rep max again in about two weeks. I do feel like I've seen a change in my body the first time since, well, forever. butt is bigger.   Oops.

Honestly, the lack of change in my body has been frustrating, but today, it got me thinking. Why do I run?

Today is National Running Day. So social media is full of people talking about running, sharing why they run, sharing all forms of pictures, etc. A majority of the "why I run" responses are in some way related to weight loss. Either people run to lose weight, or because that's how they lost weight, or because that's how they can eat bad foods and not gain weight.  So, if my body hasn't changed in a year and a half of running, and I eat healthy, so I can't really claim I'm running to maintain...  why do I run?

I can't argue that running is stress relief. I know it is for some people. They talk about having runner's high every run, achieving Nirvana somewhere amidst the miles. I don't find this mid-run serenity they do. I don't think my way through problems or solve issues. Often though, I find silence. My brain jumps to things so meaningless I can't remember them when I'm done, or simply goes quiet. I find peace when the run is over. I love the moment when you're done, covered in sweat, still outside, and just sit. Turn the iPod off. Look around. Enjoy that moment.

But recently, I found a reason to run. I run because when I don't, I miss it. I run because I can. I run because so many can't. Running my first marathon for Team Fox this year was so influential. Even with the race over, I can't move on from the cause. I'm connect with other Team Fox members. I'm thinking about Team Fox almost ever run. I run to speed a cure for Parkinson's Disease.

My father-in-law is on my mind when I run. But so too are friends like Missy, whose Dad recently lost his battle with Parkinson's. People with Young Onset Parkinson's.  I'm doing a second marathon this Fall, and hoping to continue raising funds for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. I'm trying to think of more things I can do to raise funds.

And all along, I know there are so many other wonderful, deserving causes out there. TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) who help the families of fallen service members, people run to fight cancer, to raise awareness for autism, for so many causes.  And I'm so glad for every runner involved with any charity.

So why do I run? Because I can. Because God has blessed me with that ability, even on the difficult days. Because I want to do good.

Why do you run?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pick It Up and Put It Down...

Last post, I hinted that my training was changing course for a bit. I think strength training is extremely important to athletes. I still don't want to go completely to CrossFit with my husband, but I like to use many of the same moves. I don't mind kettlebell swings, hate burpees (like everyone), enjoy box jumps, deadlifts, hang cleans, etc. My training plan for the Monumental Marathon officially kicks off on June 15, and it starts light, so I gave my husband 6 weeks of free control, as long as I can still run a minimum of 3 miles, 3 times per week.

So. He has me doing a Wendler Cycle. We're doing deadlifts, squats, bench presses, and shoulder presses. Step 1 was to test my one-rep max so we could map out the rest of the cycle.

Lifting around my husband involves an embarrassingly high level of grumbling and pouting. He critiques my form and I get crabby. He pushes me too hard and I basically throw a 29-year-old tantrum. Yeah... it's fun.  But, God bless him, he doesn't give up on me. I guess it's nothing worse than 19-year-old Privates in the Army threw at him.

My 1-rep max as of May 7:
Squat: 80
Bench Press: 75
Deadlift: 125
Shoulder Press: 55

I was bummed because my deadlift is down 10 pounds from last summer, but hey... I barely lifted since last summer. We have a great garage gym setup with squat rack, bench, bar, box, etc. all from Rogue Fitness. Can't recommend them enough. High quality gear and made in the USA! Dear Husband has never let me off easy... "my" kettlebell is 35 pounds, our bar is 45, and the lightest dumbbells we have are 20. I'm a firm believe that women should lift heavy. Your purse weighs more than your 5 pound dumbbell, so how on earth will that get you fit??

So...  for the next 4 weeks, I'll be lifting 4 days per week. And running 3 days per week. I'll double-up on Thursdays, so my new training schedule...

Monday: Squat
Tuesday: Run 3-4 miles
Wednesday: Bench Press
Thursday: Run 3-4 miles, Deadlift
Friday: Shoulder Press
Saturday: Run 3-6 miles
Sunday: Rest

Coach Husband swears to me I'll see advances in my 1-rep max and in my running. And I definitely won't stop lifting during marathon training. Strong legs are a big help when your mind is ready to give up.

So now I will pick some things up, and then put them down. And then do it again and again.

Do you weight lift while running? How do you cross train? 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

500 Festival Mini Marathon, Take 2...

Well, adrenal fatigue or not, I had registered months ago for the 500 Festival Mini Marathon! This would be my second year running, and another chance to run alongside my running buddy. Since we usually have to be supportive from afar, and because this race is just plain FUN, I wasn't going to back out.

I entered the weekend with no expectations. After all, I'd run my marathon 3 weeks ago, I am currently dealing with adrenal fatigue, and I'd basically only run 5Ks since the marathon.

We hopped in the car for a 5 hour jaunt South to Indianapolis. After a stop at Eric's house to unload the car, and introduce our 60 pound dog to his two 12 pound dogs (ours was terrified of his, go figure), we headed to the Expo.

Indy gets the Expo right. It is BIG, there are lots of shopping options, some fun samples, and it all flows smoothly. Walk up, get bib, take fun photo, convince friend to run full marathon...

Oh, yeah. I made sure to walk Eric right up to the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon booth and have a little chat with their representatives.   I've already registered for the November 1 marathon, and am trying to fundraise for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research again. I'd really appreciate your support! Eric has been talking for a while about wanting to do a marathon, so I figured a hometown race we could run together, that has received GREAT reviews, would be a great opportunity. And I convinced him.   I also convinced him to buy some calf compression sleeves from CEP finally. But that's just because I am wise and all-knowing...

Obligatory Expo photo...

Race morning dawned bright-ish, and not so early...  They tested a wave start at the Mini Marathon this year, and our Wave wouldn't step off until 8:15. Add to that the fact that Eric lives very close and has guaranteed downtown parking, and we "slept in" until about 6!  We needed a brief stop at CVS, because I forgot deodorant, but compared to forgetting my shorts AND sports bra last year, I still came out ahead!

The wave start was a great idea for a race so packed (usually 35,000 runners). There seemed to be much less of a crowd outside the corrals, the lines for the port-a-pottys were shorter, etc.  I did jump out of our corral for a last second pee. Security threatened to make me go way back to the back, but thankfully, other runners weren't going for that and popped the fence open.

The day started chilly, but by the time we took off, the clouds were gone, and it was warming up fast with all the sun. A LOT of people are either inexperienced or just silly because they were wearing tights, jackets, etc. I saw a girl pull her fleece top off exactly one minute after we crossed the start. I can't imagine carrying that for 13.1 miles.  I had stuck with my marathon outfit... shorts, Team Fox singlet, and arm warmers, which worked very well as the sun continued to rule the day. 

The wave start worked very well. There was the usual jostling at the front. Somehow, it never dawns on people to move back a few (or several) corrals if they haven't trained, and you always run into walkers almost immediately, but within a mile, we had spread out nicely. This year, I only felt crowded at a few choke points, so I hope they keep the wave. 

Eric started strong, and I had a few early moments of panic where I thought he would PR, and I would fall out! But, I think it served me well to have no expectations. When I felt a little panic at Mile 4, I reminded myself that I have a well-known mental Wall between mile 4 and 5, and if I could just get past that, it'd be easy through Mile 9. (I was totally right). 

The course is fun. After weaving through some neighborhood streets, you go through a very short boring section and then enter the town of Speedway. The first sign is always the Allison Transmission "Pit Stop". Their building is right outside Main Street in Speedway and they man a fun water stop, full of energy. Main Street is always full of people cheering and giving high-fives, and then you turn into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Entering the track is the only real hill on the entire course, but the Indiana University cheerleaders were at the top, which made things easier!

Some people hate this part of the race because it's "boring", but I actually enjoy it. There's just enough novelty to keep your mind off things, they bring high school cheer teams, and you get to dodge people at the Yard of Bricks.  This is also where I realized I was feeling very, very good, and Eric was fading. At Mile 8, I asked him if he had any fuel, since I had just taken my second (I like an every-4-mile policy) and he hadn't. Nope, he forgot to bring any!   Luckily, I'd brought an extra Island Boost, just in case I needed it.  Despite his reluctance to try it at the Martian Marathon, here, he found himself very grateful for it, and it worked! Fast fuel, no upset tummy, happy running buddy. 

You run through a couple 'rougher' neighborhoods as you get to the end. Not bad at all, and actually the crowd support is great. Almost every house had someone cheering on the porch, most louder than other neighborhoods!

As we passed Mile 10, Eric was definitely fading. The sun was hot, he admittedly hadn't trained as well as before. We were walking each water stop, and he was trying to walk earlier and longer. I found myself full of energy, and being "that girl".  At Mile 10, I yelled, "Woo-hoo!! Nothing left but a 5K!!!" and after no response, "Why aren't people smiling anymore??"  Luckily, that got a few laughs. 

I kept encouraging Eric to bring it in strong, run hard for the water, and then I'd let him walk a bit longer after. I promised him beer if he kept going, and found myself cheering, clapping, yelling, and pushing for the last 3.1 miles. There were several times he slowed to a walk and I cheering him into continuing. I surprised myself, and I couldn't be happier for it. After the last few weeks, I had honestly expected to fall out and have to walk myself, not be the one with energy leftover. 

We finished 1 minute short of a PR, which neither of us expected. The medals this year were awesome, the post-race party rocking, and the beers we had at lunch were perfect. What can I say? I love the Mini. The shirt this year is tech without being 'tech'... it doesn't look tech, and I can wear it around town. Finally!!!!   I wish every race would go back to a cotton shirt. I will never run in your race shirt. Ever. But I *would* wear it around town, doing yardwork, to sleep in, etc. The water stops are perfect. More than enough. Other races could definitely learn from Indy. And the crowd support just can't be beat. 

Only disappointment?  MarathonFoto once again has no pictures of me. Meanwhile, they have like 20 pictures of each person who walked. I know there are 35,000 of us, but c'mon man!

Another successful 500 Festival Mini Marathon in the books...

Looking forward, I don't have any more races until October, and will probably keep it that way. Marathon training begins June 15, and until then, I'm letting my husband program my workouts with a weight-lifting/strength focus. I'll be looking to PR my squat, bench press, shoulder press and deadlift, as well as run 3 times per week, with two 5Ks and a 4-6 mile "long" run to keep my running abilities up. 

Have you run the Mini? What are your summer workout plans? Any races coming up?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Race Recap: The Martian Marathon

Ok, so when I left you all, I was barely into my training for the Martian Marathon. I had decided to run a marathon after my father-in-law was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I linked up with Team Fox, the fundraising arm of the Michael J. Fox Foundation and got to work!

My mom decided to fly in to witness my first marathon, and my friend joined me to run the half marathon.  By the afternoon of Friday, April 11, we had collected everyone, and headed to Dearborn for the Expo. I'll admit, I had low expectations. The previous two races I'd done in Michigan had very tiny, very underwhelming Expos. I got a laugh right away when we pulled into the parking lot and were greeted by many inflatable Martians. 

Maybe Eric isn't feeling confident about his race...

I was overall very impressed by the Expo. Everything ran smoothly and was easy, and there were plenty of booths with useful gear. I actually picked up a new medal hanger, and was happy that they had the 26.2 stickers available. I also bought a pint glass. I've come to the decision that every race should offer pint glasses.

Got my bib!  And made a new friend...

The next morning, I rousted us all out of bed at about 4 a.m.  The Marathon would step off at 7:15, and there was a parking lot immediately next to the start and finish lines that would close at 6:30. Supposedly this lot was only for marathoners, and I do wish someone would have checked bib numbers and controlled the lot a bit better. Parking quickly started to be outside of the lines, and I believe cars were still pulling in as we ran off. 

Quick pre-race Island Boost, wrapped in my husband's Army woobie!

The weather was perfect. The low was 44, no clouds and no wind. The start line was fairly informal, made of a banner on PVC piping, but hey, as long as the timing mats work, who cares? After the National Anthem, we were off!

The race started up a slight hill and then turned through some neighborhood streets. I quickly dropped into the thin back of the pack, which was my intent. I was hoping to conserve energy and told myself to go slow. The path took us down briefly onto Hines Drive, a long, winding road through park area. But the Marathon quickly broke off and weaved through neighborhoods. The path was well marked and well stocked with volunteers and inflatable Martians scattered around. I'm sure some people weren't thrilled with this section, but I didn't mind. It reminded me of my training runs. There were a few hills thrown in, but nothing too crazy, and one or two families came out to cheer. 

I finished the first 8 miles feeling really strong. At Mile 9, two things happened. First, the paths of all the races merged again. We were dumped back onto Hines Drive. Second, I had only run a short bit when bikes passed me, and the drivers announced they were the Half Marathon leader escorts. What??  Yup...  the leaders of the Half were 4 miles in... I was 9.5 miles in, and here came these two skinny high school kids just plain flying by me. Yikes. 

The path goes down Hines Drive and then doubles back. For a little bit, this was fun. I saw most of the half marathoners, and all the marathoners come back. The real benefit to this was that there was almost no crowd support at this race, so the double-back allowed us to cheer for each other. 

At about Mile 14, I was still feeling OK, but also feeling very warm, and very, very sweaty. I'd trained outside, which meant training in snow storms, the Polar Vortex, and -22 degree wind chills. The weather had warmed a bit, but top training temp was about 50. The high on race day was 71. Sunny, cloudless, and approaching 70 was kicking my butt!  I began chatting with another runner who was using the Galloway method. She was doing 4 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking, and I began to notice she was catching me on each run. At around Mile 15.5, I decided to join her.  Despite being in shorts and a tank top, I was HOT, I could feel the sun and the salty sweat on my face. AND, she was keeping the same pace as me with presumably less effort. 

I said hi to my new running partner, Denise, and off we went. We were on the slower side, but I didn't care, I just wanted to finish.  At around Mile 18, we picked up another girl, Erika, who had fallen out.

At about Mile 23, we got off Hines Drive and headed into a wooded path, and then the campus of U of M - Dearborn. Hines was pretty, but I couldn't have been happier to get off! It was getting very boring, and had a slight tilt that was annoying my legs. 

That last bit was miserable. I was so tired, and so ready to be done, but by the time I saw the Mile 24 sign, I knew I would finish. I had to. When we reached a half mile left, Denise wanted to walk again, but I had the adrenaline to finish. We thanked each other and spread out on different paces. 

The finish was great. You rounded a corner with about .4 miles left and could almost see the end. You could see Martians, and finally a crowd. There was a left turn ahead and just before the turn was Mile 26.  At the corner, I saw my mom and ran over to give her a giant hug. I won't lie, I almost started crying right then and there!  She tried to run alongside me toward the finish, but couldn't quite keep up in her ballet flats :)  

The finish corrals were a bit too thin for my taste. I had to duck around cones to pass some Half Marathoners who were walking, but couldn't go too far to the right because the Kids' 1 Mile was finishing. As I neared the finish line, I could see my husband, and there was a volunteer right at the finish line who told us slow pokes, "Great job!! Marathoner!!!"  I crossed the finish line in pure joy, grabbed a water, which was the only thing I could have from the finish line grub, and burst into tears. Marathoner.

Crossing the finish line!


Overall, it was a very good race. It was a bit amateur, but overall well-run, and the volunteers were very friendly. The Expo was well-run and I enjoyed the Martian theme. My friend loved the course, but I don't think I'd do the Marathon again. It was just too long to be on Hines Drive and too far a distance for the out and back. Also, the course wasn't conducive to crowds, and I really missed having crowd support.  Given the heat, they could have used more water stops. They were every 2 - 2.5 miles, and one was out of cups when I got there.  I'd also like to see them change the finish. The Kid's Marathon was finishing at the same finish line at the same time, so my marathoner picture has me off to one side, with two kids and one of the kid's Dad featured more prominently. Call me a jerk, but I just ran a f*cking MARATHON and I should have a picture that's centered on me. 

All else aside, I'd recommend this race. There are some things to fix, but you won't regret running it. 

Walking toward my husband after finishing!

As for me, I ran a marathon! I finished in 5:17. Not the best time, I know, but I don't care. I did it. And with every step, I knew I was running for a bigger cause. To date, I've raised $3,802 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.  If you would like to donate, you may do so here: Team Fox  100% of your donation will go directly toward grants and research aimed at better treatments and a cure. I am proud to be a marathoner and proud of what I did to support my father-in-law. 

Another successful outing with my running buddy!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Where Did I Go???

Where have I been??  I know. I know. I'll explain.

For reasons that I'll explain shortly, I haven't posted in 3 months. I basically let you all know I was going to run a marathon and then vanished. A few days ago, I checked my stats, and I was still getting pretty reasonable hits, so I decided I'd give it a try again.

So where was I?

It all started months ago...  although if we're being honest, it started years ago. I've always had my problem weight around my mid-section, and figured my balanced approach to working out should make some type of dent. Maybe not abs, since I'm not a diet maniac, but a difference. I've chronicled this here.. I don't just run, since I know your body will eventually adapt, and when I say I weight train, I don't do it like most girls. The smallest dumbbell we own is 20 pounds, and I my husband regularly pushes me to add more weight to our 45 pound barbell.   Plus, we eat gluten-free, mostly Paleo, which is not to say my diet is better than yours, but is to say that there is mostly whole food in this house. We eat clean, not processed junk.

Cue a few months ago, the "Why haven't I lost weight??" whining started. Dear Husband would explains to me that I shouldn't want to "lose weight".  "Ok! Wrong vernacular, we don't even own a scale, but I should see a change, I should have lost some of this (grabbing own belly fat)" Dear Husband then explains how it takes time to notice a difference. "Just keep at it!"  "But I've been working out for 6 months."  "It takes time!" "But I've been working out for 7 months." At a year, Dear Husband finally wouldn't argue, but giving me a puzzled expression and saying, "Hmmm.." doesn't help either.

Ok, so, can't lose weight despite exercise and eating right. But I'm exhausted. "Go to bed earlier." No, I'm exhausted. "Well, you ARE training for a marathon." No, I'm EXHAUSTED. Had to will myself out the door to run, didn't have energy for the dog, didn't want to even think about cooking dinner, and cleaning it or doing anything after dinner? Forget it. In fact, I was worthless after 7 or 8 pm. We have a dog and two cats... we working on their bedtime routines, but they often give us several wake-ups. But, Dear Husband would get a good night's sleep and tell me how wonderful he felt. I'd get a "good" night's sleep and be well, exhausted. And that's if I got it! I couldn't fall asleep as well as when I first went gluten-free, couldn't stay asleep, and if I woke up at my regular wake-up time, I couldn't sleep in.

And my mood?  Well, it was fun. Those little stressful things were big stressful things, and I couldn't handle the stress. I'd rage to myself over what just happened. And if I wasn't raging, I was down, down down.

Cue a sudden interest in random blog posts about thyroid issues and adrenal fatigue. All the symptoms were clicking. Exhausted? That's me. Can't lose weight or gaining weight, especially around the belly? That's me. Stressed, anxious, moody? That's me! Feeling depressed? Me.  Irregular periods? Me! (On the pill, it was coming 5-7 days early. And I've ALWAYS been regular.)

I went to the doctor, who first spent a solid 20 minutes trying to convince me that nothing was wrong with my thyroid, all these little issues were just other things. I'd lose weight if I didn't snack after dinner and didn't have fruit after 4 pm, and besides, I shouldn't worry about weight anyway. AND! Training for a marathon was a perfect way to maintain my weight. I should take something for sleep and then I wouldn't be tired. And she could prescribe something for being depressed.    

I almost stormed out, but convinced her to at least do bloodwork and discuss things after that.  Upon my return, she started the same, doubtful path, but kept looking at my bloodwork. Gee... nothing's wrong. At all. So why am I like this? Suddenly, I become a puzzle to her. She asks lots of random questions. Finally, I say, "Well, could it be adrenal fatigue?"   With a funny smile, she admits that, as a traditional internist, she's not really supposed to diagnose that, but it's exactly what she was thinking.

Normally, she'd need to send me to a functional medicine or holistic doctor. To her credit, she gave me some natural ideas, rather than the costs associated with a whole different doc. I'm taking Vitamin D supplements (along with my fish oil and B-complex) because it was the one thing low in my bloodwork. She suggested an adrenal supplement called Adrenogen from Metagenics.  I know several people from the Paleo world suggest the GAIA Herbs Adrenal Support, but for now, I'm going to follow my doc. We've gone very strict Paleo, though, it's summer... I'm still going have a few drinks!  And, where some people say to cut out exercise, I'm trying not to. I've got more races already paid for, and I enjoy working out. I am going to try to add meditation to my day. I've added holy basil/licorice root tea to my daily routine, and am consciously adding more healthy fats, which I've probably lacked for a while.

I can only guess that my life over the last 4 years had a big part in this... (DH deployment #2, move apartments, lose job, plan wedding, DH comes home, wedding moved at last moment due to Hurricane, Honeymoon canceled due to training, Training, move to Michigan, find (miserable) temp job, find good job, lose good job, hunt for job, find job, daily life). I've always thought I handle stress well, but I'm also a *feeler*. I feel the mood of the room, the mood of another person, and I mean I feel it internally. If you're stressed, I am. If you're upset, I feel it, and I'm unsettled at my core. My husband had even previously suggested stress as a reason I wasn't losing weight, but stress does so much more than that.

I'm hopeful I can get this sorted out and feel like me again. I'm hopeful, not going to lie, that I can tone up and shed some of this body fat before September because we finally booked our Honeymoon!!!  I need to keep working out for me. I think there are probably plenty of you out there just like me, so I'm going to try to be back and keep you all posted on running, eating right, and dealing with Adrenal Fatigue.

Oh, and in case you were wondering...  I'm officially a Marathoner!!!

Are you dealing with, or have you dealt with Adrenal Fatigue? What helped you? Have you ever tried meditation? How do you relieve stress?