Thursday, December 29, 2011

RIP #RWRunStreak

I killed the streak the day after Christmas. Up until we got home from my parents’ house at 9 pm in the rain, I still thought I might squeeze in a mile to keep it going, but no dice. The #RWRunStreak was originally supposed to go through New Year’s Day, but I feel like Thanksgiving-Christmas was a pretty good run.

photo (8)

It was time. 33 days was a good run (haha, get it?), but I really did want to take a week off entirely of running before I start marathon training. I’m pressing the reset button for fresh legs, tight hips, and little knee niggles. If I had a little bit more time off of work this week, I would love to spend it hiking or walking or lifting weights during the time I normally spend running. Instead, I took Monday and Tuesday completely off (so much time to get ready in the morning!), spin class Wednesday, off Thursday, and BodyPump Friday.


I’m super-impressed by my run graph. The #RWRunStreak included 2 8-milers, a few interval sessions, and a lot of easy runs. It was not derailed by my 30-hour trip to Texas (where I seriously contemplated if I could run a mile in the airport terminal) or not having done laundry or bad weather. So, I’m bummed that I didn’t/chose not to complete the full challenge, but I’m impressed with what I did.

After the first of the year, I think I’m going to shut this blog down and work on incorporating more running chat into Cook, Pray, Love. Keeping up with 2 blogs is more than I’m able to do at this point in time.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Run Fast for Your Mother, Run Fast for Your Father

I just got back from vacation here:


Palm trees! Sun! Flat runs at sea level! Okay, so it was one run in the 4 days I was gone, even though I had scheduled two.

A week ago this past Friday, I had one of the best runs of my life. I didn’t want to go out and run. It was one of those gray, kind of damp 50-degree days where I couldn’t ever get warm. I ate too much for lunch and needed to run that afternoon. I wanted to cocoon on the couch and not do anything. I wanted to feel sorry for my lazy self and eat candy bars. Not run 6-8 miles.

But then I thought about a patient I had met that morning. 7 years old and the doctors told the family there was nothing more they could do. 7 years old and he told his mom that he was “ready to go” and that he was looking forward to seeing his grandfather. I shed tears over my black bean soup at lunch with my husband relating that story. So I decided to run for him. 7 years old, 7 miles that he would never run.

I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door. It was perfect running weather despite my inability to warm up earlier that day. The fall leaves crunched beneath my feet. The sun tried to peak out from the dense clouds. I tore down my regular path, and it felt easy. One mile for every year of his life, for little boys who shouldn’t be dying, for his parents and brother who I would serve communion to on Sunday. I prayed and ran and thanked God for the blood pumping through my healthy heart and lungs and legs as I powered up hills. I cried and sang along to music. I felt like I could keep going forever except that I was getting a little thirsty so I ended it at 7. Lucky number 7.

That run I hadn’t wanted to do? One of the best I’ve ever had. I felt lighter, all of my joy and sadness released through the pavement.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I haven’t been entirely truthful about what’s been going on with me, but since it nearly had me on the verge of tears a couple of times, it’s probably important.

It started with some shin splint-type pain in my left leg shortly after the Women’s Half Marathon. I immediately freaked out knowing that I had the Middle Half coming up. I rested but not really. I took Advil. I iced and foam-rolled. It got better enough that I ran 7 miles the Monday of Middle Half without too much pain, and I made it through the race with minimal discomfort. However, I could tell that my right leg was overcompensating.


Then I developed a hacking cough. First it was only in the morning and at night. Then I started coughing during the day. Then I bruised a rib (right side this time), which was also aggravated by the Middle Half. Don’t I look like I’m having fun?


The Sunday after the Middle Half, I treated myself to a pedicure, and I got some of the extras including the sea salt scrub. The guy doing the pedicure was scrubbing the heck out of my legs but in a hurt-so-good way, that I didn’t really think about it. That night, I slept in my Zensah calf sleeves. When I woke up on Monday morning, my lower legs were red & itchy. It turned out that I had quite the case of folliculitis. I will definitely spare you all pictures, but my legs were hideous. Even more than a week later, I still look like I had a bad bout of poison ivy.

Later on Monday I was at work (where two other staff members had called in), and I started feeling clammy and feverish and completely lost my appetite. With no one else around, I tried to push through the rest of the day. On my way home, I stopped by Walgreens to get some Benadryl, took some, and promptly changed into my pajamas and went to bed. Of course, my doctor husband was out of town. I woke up at 9 pm feeling horrible, drank some Gatorade, talked to my mom and my husband, and went back to sleep. I made it through a presentation the next morning but left work that afternoon. I had a 102-degree fever for a few days, and I rarely get sick. Fortunately, the antibiotics I got seemed to work their magic quickly, and I was okay to return to work on Thursday. But I have rarely been taken out that thoroughly by an illness.


Thursday was my first run since Middle Half, and I did 4 miles around the greenway at about an 11-minute pace, though my heart rate was so high, you would’ve thought I was racing it. Slowly but surely, I’ve been recuperating. I’ve diagnosed my shin issue as being related to my weak hips that are allowing my left leg to overpronate. Between rolling out my calves with The Stick (thanks Abby!), taking Advil, and doing some hip strengthening exercises, I’m almost as good as new.

It’s been hard for me to ACTUALLY listen to my body and be patient with it as I recover from sickness and injury. I want my body to do what I want it to do rather than what it is capable of at this time. It’s also disrupted my enjoyment of running. When running is painful, it’s incredibly frustrating and saddening. I was feeling really burned out. So I’m shelving speedwork and tempo runs for a while and am just going to run fun miles with my mom or my husband or by myself. And I’m going to try not to care if those miles are slower than I would like. By the end of October, I’m hoping to have run 850 miles this year, which means November and December will be 75 mile months, and that is totally doable to reach my 1000 miles for the year.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

To Marathon or Not To Marathon

That is the question.

I’ve been running regularly for over a year. This calendar year, I’ve averaged 15-25 miles a week. I’ve completed 3 (hopefully 4 by noon on Saturday) half marathons.

But am I ready to make the leap?


This is the one that’s on my mind. May 6, 2012. I would start training around the first of the year, and there’s a scheduled meet-up of an online women’s running group I’m a part of, so I would definitely have company.


  • Training in the winter means that I don’t have to get up a 5 am to get my runs in before it’s 8000 degrees with 100% humidity.
  • Joe has shown interest in the half, so we could potentially do some parts of training runs together.
  • Training groups for Country Music Marathon in Nashville tend to start up around that time as well, so I could look forward to group runs.


  • Time - I work 6 days a week and am on house-call every other weekend. Getting called to a death in the middle of a 16-mile run is not ideal.
  • Training in the winter is cold and potentially rainy and/or sleet-y and sometimes dark.
  • What if I get injured?
  • Running a marathon is hard.

Other things:

  • It seems like everyone is doing it, and after Chicago, reading people’s race recaps is so inspiring.
  • It would be a real test of my mental and physical strength, for better or for worse.

Help, please? Encouragement? Warnings? How to prepare to run a marathon?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Race Re-cap Part 3: The Race

Saturday came bright and early…and chilly. It was perfect running weather, but that nip in the air wasn’t quite as welcome standing around. I went back and forth between wearing a tank top and a short-sleeved shirt and came down on the tank top. My mom and her neighbor showed up shortly before 6, and we were on our way.


We nabbed a sweet parking spot, which meant we didn’t have to wait in the interminable gear check line to ditch our jackets. So we did our pre-race business where I ran into two of my husband’s co-workers.


Downtown was beautiful, even if we were a little chilly. I had a feeling it was going to be a great race. My mom and I discussed our plan. We wanted to have fun and take pictures…but we also lined up in front of the 2:15 pacer with the goal of keeping him behind us.


At the start with the Pinnacle building on the left and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum on the right. Jo Dee Messina did a bang-up job singing the National Anthem, and we were off. It was a true wave start, and we were in the 3rd corral, so we scooted up to the start line and were given the go ahead. The first mile was slow because we were weaving in and out of people and trying not to trip on the potholes along 2nd Ave. 10:15 pace at the 1st mile marker.


I remarked that I had actually looked up what a sub-2:10 pace would be the morning of the race, you know, just for fun. In case you’re curious, it’s a 9:56 pace. 2nd mile – 9:19 pace. Hmm, how did that happen? We should probably slow down a touch. We headed into and out of Centennial Park and up and over some not-so-nice hills with our pace holding steady around 9:50. Most of the aid stations had people dressed up and cheering, and the bands were great. The men in the group I occasionally run with had planned their Saturday run so that they intersected with the race and cheered us on.


We hit the out-and-back portion of the course just in time to see the first runner heading back downtown. I knew I would start feeling better after five miles, and I was right on. I hit my stride and felt awesome up and down Belmont Blvd. It was also motivating to see everyone else. I took a Gu close to the turnaround. Miles 6-7 got a little speedy under 9:40. Once I hit mile 8, I felt confident that I wouldn’t die. My mom kept telling me to go ahead, that she didn’t want to keep me from my PR, but I would pull ahead for a little while and she’d catch up again.


We ran together up Music Row to the statue at Musica, and I was feeling pretty good so I pushed the pace a bit back into downtown. Mile 9 – 9:30. Mile 10 – 9:33. We ran down Broadway, and I remarked to a woman I was running with that I could really use a beer. Then we hit the big hill up 2nd Ave to the bridge over the river. I stopped to walk through the aid station and then picked it up again.

Miles 12-13 were a mental battle. We were so close to the finish line downtown but had to cross the river and go around LP Field before finishing. I had spent the whole race dreading the Korean Vets bridge back into downtown. When I hit mile 12, my mom told me to go again, but I could hardly feel my legs. We got to the bridge, and, like everyone else around me, I started to walk. My mom pulled up beside me and coached me into starting to run again. Little steps up and over the bridge. Somehow, mile 13 was the fastest mile of the race at 9:10.


Right now is when I start thinking, “Where the EFF is the finish line?” Finally, we turned a corner, and there it was so I tried to kick it in. Garmin time (and what ended up being official chip time):


Pretty solid PR for a race I was not planning to PR.


Joe was at the finish to take a bunch of pictures of me and my shiny medal.


Despite the hills, I really like this race. It’s got a good energy and is well-organized. It’s the perfect size to where there is crowd support, and you’re never alone. The volunteers were super enthusiastic, dressing up in costumes and dancing and cheering for all the runners. I was very happy with how it went, but I was ready to get to breakfast.


Happy running and racing, fellow WHM runners! It’s been a pleasure being your official blogger. Keep reading for my next running adventures.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Race Re-Cap Part 2: The Night Before

Remember all my taper rules guidelines? Those kind of went out the window on Friday. It ended up being a crazy busy day at the hospital. Several codes, lots of tears, and trekking around the hospital trying to find a family meant quite a bit of time on my feet. It was a great chaplaincy day, which means it was pretty emotionally and physically exhausting. When the clock hit 5, I headed downtown to the WHM Expo to pick up my packet. Even though it had been raining that morning, it miraculously cleared up and was a beautiful day. Very promising for race day.


This year, the expo was in a much larger space making it a lot easier to navigate. There might’ve been a lot of people there, but it didn’t feel crowded. I got my number, my shirt, and my goodie bag and went to find my WHM contact to snag my official blogger goodies. Because she forgot my things in her hotel room, we went on a little shopping spree in the WHM store, and I left with a magnet, water bottle, tech shirt, cotton t-shirt, and hat. Fun stuff!


All of the volunteers were great and made the process so smooth. I wandered through the expo and purchased a sports bra for my mom and two more Bondi bands for myself. There were all sorts of vendors, and I scored even more gratis goodies, including a tiara which I plan on wearing on my birthday in a few weeks. Even though I had a long day, being at the expo helped pump me up for the race the next day. Everyone looked like they were already having a blast.


Having consulted with Joe, I had a pre-race hankering for pizza, so I called in an order and went to pick it up. By the time I got home, I was ready to collapse and in need of a glass of wine, even though it was a taper guideline no-no. I just made sure to drink a lot of water as well. I debriefed my day with Joe and then we settled into watch some season 5 of Dexter. Vigilante serial killer dramas help me sleep better.


With the help of the cat, I laid out my clothes & accessories for the next day so that I wouldn’t disturb H’s beauty sleep banging around the bedroom at 5 am on a Saturday. He appreciates that. Then I tucked myself into bed while visions of finishers’ medals danced in my head.

To be continued…

Monday, September 26, 2011

Race Re-cap Part 1: The Numbers

(Because I want to focus on a number of different aspects of the race, this is going to be a several part race re-cap.)


50: Degrees at the start


3043: Bib number


13.1 (+ some tangent junk): Miles run


25: Number of times I said I wasn’t going to race WHM because it wasn’t my goal race and the course is too hilly

1: Times I looked up what a sub-2:10 pace would be

2:07:28: Official chip time

2:11:50: Previous PR


1: Number of seconds I beat my mom by

3: times she told me to “go ahead” only to catch up with me again


1: happy and exhausted official WHM blogger

Monday, September 19, 2011

Taper Time

taper (verb) – to diminish the length and intensity of one’s workouts in the days preceding an important competition in order to optimize one’s performance

taper (verb) – to drive yourself crazy checking the weather forecast for race day, sensing every little twinge or ache is an oncoming injury, and lacking an outlet for said nervous injury due to your taper

Women’s Half is less than a week away. I’ve been training for months. I’ve executed every long run, every speed workout and tempo run, and most of my scheduled easy runs and cross-training according to my training plan. The hay is in the barn. Now I let my body rest. Of course, reducing exercise doesn’t mean eliminating exercise. I’ll still do some easy miles to make sure my legs know how to run, but otherwise, I wait.

Tapering can be mentally challenging. There is a desire to want to “cram” for the race. The desire to fit in one last speed workout or tempo run to make sure I can really hold my goal pace. I tend to start feeling phantom injuries. My shins ache or my IT band feels a bit tight, even if everything has been working fine up until now. I check the weather forecast a couple of times a day, hoping that it won’t be raining or too hot.

This year I’m going to try some new things in addition to some old things.


1. No drinking the week before a race.

I like my glass of wine or beer with dinner, especially if we’re socializing with friends, but no dice this week. I’ll need the hydration of water, and there won’t be any possibility of me overdoing it the night before the race.

2. Don’t try anything new.

I’m going to wear the same clothes I’ve done my long runs in, race in my trusty Ghost 4’s, and take GU somewhere between miles 6-7 while alternating Gatorade and water at each aid station. I’m going to run the paths I’ve been running, and while I might take a spin class this week, I’m going to resist trying anything that will make me sore or that I haven’t done in a while. I’m looking at you BodyPump, yoga, and pilates. It’s also not the time to try out a new sushi restaurant that I’m unfamiliar with.


3. Wear comfortable shoes (like not these).

My job requires that I’m on my feet and walking around a good portion of the day. This week I’m going to make an extra effort to wear flats that offer good support. There’s nothing worse than developing blisters from work shoes that rub in exactly the same spot as my running shoes.

4. Take extra good care of myself.

Sleep, healthy “clean” foods, and lots and lots of water.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Running Rev’d

We’re within 2 weeks of the Women’s Half Marathon – Nashville. Driving home from work today, I saw signs up along my route warning people that the roads would be shut down the morning of September 24th. Even though I’m ready, it’s hard to believe that it’s that soon.

I had a stellar 12 mile run on Saturday with a running group that was a bit too fast for me. I panicked a little after seeing the pace of the first two miles, but I settled into my groove and was able to hang on and enjoy the ride. The cooler, drier weather was a blessing, and even with the much faster pace, I felt better than I did on my 11-miler the week before.

This is my third week of my new position as a chaplain at a pediatrics’ hospital. I’ve done chaplaincy work before on a shorter-term basis, and I think it has a lot of running corollaries. Running makes me a better chaplain, and being a chaplain makes me a better runner.

Now that I’ve been running for just over a year, I’m realizing that I do it less and less for its visible effects on my body and more for the therapeutic aspect. When I run in the morning before heading to the hospital, it’s me time - time to set up my intentions for the day, wake up my body, and get my physical, spiritual, and mental juices flowing. When I run in the evening, it’s my time to debrief, be angry, be grateful, and turn stuff over in my head so I can leave it for the night. Running is my time to take care of myself, both physically and mentally, so that I can take care of my patients.


And while it doesn’t feel like it when I’m rolling out of bed at 5 am, I GET to run. I used to greet statements like that with some eye-rolling because I never understood it, but now I do. I GET to run and be outside and go to beautiful outlooks like the one above or just enjoy how green my normal running path is lately. An 18 year-old girl with leukemia who spent her birthday in the hospital isn’t able to do that, at least not right now. So I’ve started running for the people I meet in the hospital, patients and families, holding them in my heart and praying for them with my feet and my breath.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Running in the Rain

When I signed up earlier last week for the Franklin Classic 10K, I checked the weather report for Labor Day. All clear. Slight chance of showers but cooler and sunny. Perfect Labor Day weather. But then Tropical Storm Lee happened.


The rain started Sunday afternoon and kept on through the night, rarely pouring or storming but always steady. Even in the early morning darkness of Monday morning, I could hear the rain pitter-patter away. Well, I thought, maybe the rain will scare everyone away from the race, and I’ll come away with an age group prize! Wishful thinking.

In my having-woken-up-too-many-mornings-at-5-o’clock haze, I pointed the car towards downtown Franklin, got myself parked in the garage, and realized I had no idea where I was going. Fortunately, I was able to follow some runners to the mass of people in City Hall getting race numbers, t-shirts, and chips. I found my mom passing out chips, and even though she had to get up early to volunteer, she didn’t seem too upset about not running. I had not looked up the course, and she warned about the one big hill between miles 1 and 2. Having weaved my way through the crowds, I went back to the car, which was on an unknown floor of the parking garage. By sheer instinct, I found my car again and ditched the race t-shirt, jogged a few steps, bounced around while I stood in line for the bathroom, and headed to the start line.

This race actually had us line up according to expected pace, which was really nice. There wasn’t any second-guessing about whether I was in the right spot, trying to judge by how people looked if I would be trapped behind 5 people walking side-by-side on one hand or getting mowed over by cross-country team members on the other. After a gun misfire and a false start, we were off through the still-steady rain. With a good-sized crowd, I was trying to focus on running my own race and not getting caught up in the people passing me, and I hit the first mile at around 9:30. Not as fast as I would’ve liked, but it wasn’t feeling too tough either. I was holding back a little for the hill that was coming, and I waited and waited but no hill. Finally, right at the 2 mile marker (9:05!), the uphill began. Chug, chug, chug, I think I can. I know I can. Up the hill followed by a few more rolls in the terrain. Can I get a downhill? Mile 3 (9:28) and an aid station that I successfully ran through without dumping water all over myself. Not that it would’ve mattered with the rain.


By this point, the people around me who were obviously out for some kind of leisurely stroll while chatting with their friends were killing me. They’re holding a conversation, and I’m huffing and puffing, while we’re running the same pace. Not cool. Trying not to be miserable or stop to walk. Trying to focus on the last half of the race. Mile 4 in 9:17, definitely feeling my PR dreams slip away. Oh well, We did a little out and back where I saw that a guy juggling while running and an old guy in a track suit running barefoot (not in Vibrams, literally, BAREFOOT) were in front of me. Screw that part about running my own race. I picked it up. Mile 5 in 9:03. Unless I found some rocket blasters, a PR is definitely not happening. One more mile of pain. 10 more minutes of pain. Ching-ching-ching-ching Why did the guy in front of me decide to carry change in his pockets? Blast by him. Why does this course have an uphill into the finish? Finally I started to recognize the names of the streets and know we’re close.

 2011-09-05 07.57.16

Main Street downtown! The church where I got married, stores, people lining the streets cheering. I see my dad and wave to him as he takes a picture. Good dad of a blogger. I kick it in to pass the stupid guy juggling and stop my watch. 57:33, over a minute slower than my PR, but given the 11 miles two days before, the rain and the hills, and the bottle of wine I drank the night before (Oops, didn’t mention that), I’m pretty happy with my tune-up race. I was 18/46 in my age group, and I’m always pleased when I’m the top 50% of finishers. I felt strong and totally ready for the Women’s Half in 3 weeks!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Need for Speed

Of all of the words I might use to describe myself and my running, “fast” is not one of them. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I was slow either. It seems to be a universal truth that there will always be people faster than you and slower than you, so it doesn’t do too much good to compare to other people. But I would like to run faster. I’m envious of people that simply run for fitness rather than to race but do it at a pace that would leave me clutching my chest a 1/2 mile later.


For me, it’s not just a lack of Shalane Flanagan-like physical giftedness. I’M AFRAID. I’m afraid of running fast. Well, not the actual running fast. I’m afraid of crashing and burning or passing out or throwing up. True story.

So I’ve been running consistently for about a year and have just started to do actual speed work, things like intervals and tempo runs. Because I don’t have access am too lazy to go to a track, I do my intervals on the treadmill. It’s better for me mentally because I just set the treadmill to the speed prescribed by my SmartCoach and try to hang on.

Last Thursday’s speed session:


1 mile warm-up, 3 X 1600 @ 8:44 pace (essentially 5K pace) with 800 jogs in between, 1 mile cool-down.

Joe asked me how I felt, and I said, “Well, it was hard, but I didn’t fall off the treadmill or puke.” He looked at me like I was crazy. I realized that I actually am afraid of puking or falling off the treadmill. It’s why I don’t want to go fast. I don’t really trust that my body can go fast. My body does other things well like climbing hills or running for a long time but fast is kind of a foreign and uncomfortable concept.

Doing some speed work has actually taught me that I’m faster than I think and that speed work can be kind of fun. I NEVER run sub-9:00/mile when I’m just out for a jog. That’s reserved for race speed only, so it’s cool to see what I am capable of.


With the Women’s Half less than a month away, I thought it would be useful to see where I’m at race-wise with a 10K. So on Monday, I’m running in the Franklin Classic, a race I’ve never been able to participate in because my graduate institution didn’t believe in celebrating Labor Day. I’m pumped but a little scared. This is my first race in several months, so I’ll be interested to see how I do and will definitely give you a race recap!

Is anyone else afraid of running fast or is that just a weird me-thing?

Monday, August 29, 2011

The End of Summer

Today marks the end of summer for me, and it was a great one. I spent 5 glorious weeks as a camp chaplain and then…didn’t really do much. I thrive on a routine, and my post-camp routine basically consisted of running, blogging, and watching Mad Men/Friday Night Lights/Netflix Instant Stream show-of-choice. But now I’m starting a year-long chaplaincy residency. And in a few weeks, I’ll also start as a deacon/youth minister. And wave good-bye to unscheduled runs and lots of free time. So, for my last weekend, Joe and I decided that we needed to do something awesome. At least, we needed to do something awesome after getting the kitties vaccinated and my teeth cleaned. Like canoeing!


Canoeing is totally cross-training. My back and shoulders and forearms are killing me after 9 miles on the Harpeth River. We had a great time just enjoying the beautiful low-humidity weather and the scenery. Running skirts, appropriate for way more than running.


Due to the canoeing (and the late night traditional Russian dinner at our friends’ house on Friday night), I shifted my long run to Sunday even though it meant I would have to go it alone. 10 miles by myself in time to get back home for church. Going to bed early was not a problem since I was tuckered out from sun and paddling, so I woke up two minutes before my alarm went off and headed to the stone gates at Percy Warner Park, one of Nashville’s greatest assets.


PWP is like a giant playground for adults. Hiking trails, horse-riding trails, and miles and miles of paved road with practically no cars. Even on the hottest summer days, PWP is cool and shady. As evidenced in the picture above, it’s a popular meeting spot for running groups and cycling groups and just people out to walk their dogs. So what keeps me running there every day? The massively brutal hills.


I ran miles 1-4 on the flattish road leading up to the park and then entered the park, where I immediately started climbing. Those first climbs are not the worst of it though. You see how from mile 7-8 it’s pretty much all uphill? That’s the infamous 3-mile hill, a hill that has you thinking that surely it will flatten out just beyond this next curve, but it keeps going onward and upward. Another one of my goals is to make it up 3-mile hill without walking. I thought it might happen today, but with 7 miles already under my fuel belt, my legs weren’t feeling it.

Running in Percy Warner is like my personal version of the Presidential Fitness Test we had to do in elementary school. It serves as a benchmark to test my strength and mental fortitude. And today, I passed with flying colors. I felt better on this run than I’ve felt on a long run in a while, and I did it all by myself without any company. My pace wasn’t half-bad considering the hills either. I got home with plenty of time to eat some pancakes and get ready for church.

Thus ends my long summer. I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine, even if it means early, early morning runs!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It IS Easy Being Green

Lately, I’ve found myself attracted to the color green, though I’m not sure why. Usually green is a spring color, not a late summer color. Coming from Texas, where late summer is characterized by brown, I’m very thankful that the Nashville area is still quite green.

Even my favorite recovery meal/breakfast is green: a Green Monster, to be exact. The green color comes from spinach blended into the smoothie. It sounds bizarre, but I promise you can hardly taste it. My Green Monster this morning wasn’t terribly green because I was a little low on spinach. After a weekend with relatives in town and a lot more eating than running, it felt good to run a few miles, lift some weights, and start off the week right with a Green Monster, appropriately in a pint glass.


My current favorite mix:

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1-2 big handfuls of spinach or another leafy green
  • 1 medium banana, frozen and cut into chunks
  • 4-5 frozen strawberries

I whirl it up in the blender, and it keeps me full until lunchtime.

Friday morning, I had a couple of miles planned, but every fiber in my body was begging me not to run, so I moved the miles to Saturday and took a rest day. Now that we’re moving into the end of summer, kids are back in school, and summer fun is over, I decided to treat myself to a little present, as much to reward myself for running through the heat of summer as to motivate myself until the weather cools down. I purchased this little guy (with credit card reward points!) to accompany on my runs:


Isn’t he cute? I love listening to music on my runs because it motivates me and distracts me, but I’m not terribly picky as long as it has a good beat and is at least a medium tempo song. So I loaded my little iPod shuffle with everything from Jay-Z to Miranda Lambert, hit shuffle, and it surprises me while I’m out there. I can just clip it to my shorts or my sports bra instead of carrying around its older sibling on my arm.


It feels so much lighter, and I love that I don’t know which song is going to come on. Like yesterday, I was going to bail at a certain distance, but when a song I love to run to came on, I kept going to finish out the workout.

I’m not very good at rewarding myself in the middle of training. I’ll usually splurge on a nice pedicure or a massage after a big race, but little things like a new sports bra or running shorts in the midst of a training cycle make my daily runs just a little more exciting.

How do you reward yourself?

Thursday, August 18, 2011


You might notice that most training plans specify cross-training (XT) days. SmartCoach gives you the option of taking a Rest/XT day. This is a little misleading to me because sometimes my XT days are pretty intense. Anyway, cross-training is important, particularly if you’re like me and aren’t built to run 100 (or even 50) miles a week. I’m looking at you, Meb.


Physically, cross-training helps prevent injuries and correct imbalances in your body. Cross-training is also good for you mentally since it force you to switch things up. Again, I don’t know about you, but running the same 4 mile loop around my neighborhood greenway day after day is the quickest way for me to hate running. I love that 4-mile loop, but I also need a change of scenery.

Cross-training can take a variety of forms: swimming, cycling, walking, hiking, yoga, elliptical, home exercise videos, etc. I’ve developed a predilection for group exercise classes like spin and Bodypump with the occasional yoga class thrown in. If it’s a nice day, I might go on a hike with Joe. A gym certainly isn’t necessary, but since I do most of my running outside, I don’t mind heading inside for my cross-training.


Spin: I love spin class. It works my legs without the pounding of running, and I’ve even found my runs the morning after spin classes to be particularly speedy. Most spin classes will be based on an interval format set to music with sprints, climbs, and jumps over the span of about 45 minutes, varying the intensity and difficulty both through speed and with putting more resistance on the wheel. It challenges me because I have strong legs (good for climbs when I pretend I’m in the Tour de France climbing the Pyrenees) but forces me to work those fast-twitch muscle fibers during sprints. It will take your butt a few weeks to get used to the seat, but once it is, you won’t notice it.


BodyPump: Strength-training is extremely important for women, not only as part of a well-rounded exercise plan and a way to get that toned look but also promotes bone density to fight osteoporosis. I like the way I look (leaner and more “cut”) and feel (strong) when I lift weights regularly, but I had stopped doing it regularly. BodyPump is the best way for me to get my strength-training in as well as getting a cardiovascular workout. Each release has a choreographed track targeting every area of your body. Jen teaches BodyPump and noted that the squat track on the current release (78) has over 130 squats! Now that’s a workout. It’s also encouraging to see my fitness improve in ways that aren’t measured by pace or heart rate like being able to hold my plank through the whole sequence or increasing my weights for the back track. I think about how the strength I’m building in my legs will help carry me up hills and power through to the finish line.

What are your favorite ways to cross-train?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Tale of Two Long Runs

I was very excited about sharing my 9-mile long run from this past Saturday with you, but I got a little cocky and completely crashed and burned due to a number of factors. I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to tell you all about it, but then I figured that you could learn from my mistakes.

The long run is like the dress rehearsal for the race. You build your endurance and confidence by preparing your body to go the distance. It’s really important to get your long runs in during your training, even if you skip some of the other workouts.

DO eat healthy, filling meals the day before your long run. It might take some experimenting to figure out what you need to avoid. Some people don’t do well with spicy foods, dairy, or foods that are high in fiber. My lunch the day before was a whole wheat tortilla with marinated tofu and veggies, tortilla chips, and a peach.


However, my dinner was a veggie sandwich on whole wheat, greasy kettle chips, and a cookie.

DON’T overdo it on alcohol the night before your long run. It had been a long week, and I was looking forward to the bluegrass concert we had tickets to. Well, the tickets also included 4 (small) beers, which I had over the course of the 4-hour time span we were there. I didn’t think it would affect me much, but drinking beer left me dehydrated the next morning before I even started. Next time, I’ll alternate beer and water.

DO get enough sleep. It can be hard when you have a 5:00 AM wake-up call on Saturday morning to head to bed early on a Friday night. We didn’t get home from the concert until after 11 pm and didn’t get to sleep until after midnight. I’m an 8-hour per night kind of person, so that alarm at 6:30 AM was not welcome.


DO lay out your clothes & running accessories the night before. Particularly if someone else is sleeping, it can be difficult to tiptoe around in the dark trying to find the socks that don’t give you blisters. For me, the quicker I can get out the door, the less time I have to try to talk myself out of my run.

DO eat and drink something before you head out the door. Mistake #2. I don’t usually eat before my normal weekday runs, which are always less than an hour, so I thought I would be okay this go-round.  Obviously I was too busy taking self-portraits of myself. I’m not hungry that early in the morning, but I usually make myself eat a half of a banana before heading out on my long runs and then plan on fueling along the way. If I’m driving to a different trail or to meet up with a group, that usually gives me enough time for the food to settle in my stomach.


DO make it social. I can do my normal weekday runs on my own with no problem, but spending 9-12 miles inside my own head is not exactly my cup of tea. I’m an extrovert, and if I can talk to someone during my long runs, I know that I’m not going too fast. Saturday’s plan was to run 5 miles by myself and then pick up my husband, Joe, for the last 4. The first five miles were so awful (cramps! stomach issues! too fast of a pace!) that there was no way I would’ve gotten back out there if it weren’t for the company. Sometimes I do long runs with my mom, the Nashville Striders, or other groups that have scheduled runs.

DO fuel in the middle of your long run. Again, it might take a few tries to figure out what works for you. At mile 5, I went inside to get Joe, went to the bathroom, ate half a pack of CLIF Shot Bloks, and drank some water. From that point on, I was as good as new. In fact, I was half-considering going for 10 miles. Depending on the distance and the weather conditions, sometimes I’m just fine with Gatorade, but I’ve also fueled with fruit leathers and Gu. So far, I haven’t had a bad reaction to anything I’ve tried, but other people might have more sensitive stomachs.


DO eat a good meal after your long run. You’ll probably find that you’re hungrier than normal a day or two after your long run, particularly until your body gets used to it. Usually I have breakfast plans after a long run, but Saturday, Joe and I spent a while trying to figure out what we were going to do, and I never really got around to eating breakfast. By the time lunch rolled around, I was ravenous, and peanut noodles with vegetables and tofu sounded like a great plan. Even though this was a totally normal-sized meal for me, my stomach was starting to rumble just three hours later. A long run doesn’t give you carte blanche to eat everything you want, but do make sure you get enough food and water.

Where are you in your training plan? How far was your long run this past weekend?