Catching the Running Bug: An Origins Story

Exercise and activity has never been a stranger to me.  At two-years-old, my mother put me in dance classes.  I did tap, jazz, ballet, and acro.  Believe it or not, but I was the worst one in my acrobatics class.  I’ve always had crazy-developed legs, but no upper body strength.

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Once a gymnast, always a gymnast.  Yes, I literally handstand around everywhere.
This made it difficult when we were learning back walkovers.  The easy way to teach one is to push up in a bridge (full wheel in yoga) and then kick over.  I could kick, but I wasn’t strong enough in the arms and shoulders to help pull my foot over.  My mother, who loved gymnastics, decided to teach me how to do the skill in one movement – start standing up, slowly arching my back and lowering until my hands touched, and then kicking right at the moment my fingertips came into contact with the ground.

What I lacked in upper strength, I made up in fearlessness. I quickly progressed from a back walkover to a back handspring, and then I was doing round-off back handsprings.  My mom taught me all of those skills.  Recognizing my talent, she quickly deduced I wasn’t going to get the training I needed from the dance instructors, and put me in gymnastics (which was best for me because I’m complete Awkward White Girl when it comes to rhythm).

I tried a couple of other sports, but being a complete shrimp (my sister was two years younger than me and my height) and also being a jackass when it came to losing team sports, gymnastics quickly became my sport.  I guess it helped that I picked up skills on the other events (bars, beam, and vault) pretty quickly too.

From kindergarten until freshman year, gymnastics was my life.  I started competing on team at the end of my first grade year.  I have to say, I was more than a little confused when my coach started talking about “meets.”  I honestly thought it was a meeting.  I had no clue I was going to perform my routines and get a score.  However, after not receiving a medal, I quickly figured out that the girls who had no falls, wobbles, or mistakes, were the ones who won.  And I wanted a medal.

Over the course of my career, I still made mistakes (though they normally came in the form of my full turn on beam), but more often than not I got great scores.  Bars became my best event.  Pretty ironic for a girl with no upper strength to be able to swing bars, but at this point my stomach and back were so strong that it didn’t matter that my biceps and triceps were nonexistent.

During my career, I was in a gym pushing my body for at least 25 hours a week. I ate, breathed, and lived gymnastics.  Even now, I’m pretty sure the soul of gymnastics is imprinted on the nucleus of every cell in my body.

While I technically missed out on that whole high school/college relationship with that first boyfriend you never can quite get over, I don’t believe any relationship could have ever measured up to gymnastics.  Gymnastics was my reason for being.  It was life.

The problem with making something your life is that it consumes you.  The highs, while they are amazing – seriously, standing on top of the podium after nearly perfect routines never got old – but, the lows were bad.  If I fell (I did standing back tucks on beam, but a full turn would put me in a pile on the mat) that day or weeks that followed was just complete misery.

After injuries forced my hand and cost me a scholarship, I got into a bit of a rut.  I did cheerleading (it’s pretty much obligatory of every ex-gymnast go this route).  The problem got to be that I wasn’t working out enough to match my diet.  In gymnastics, I didn’t have to diet.  But after gymnastics came puberty, and then my appetite caught up to me.

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My sister (and mom not pictured) came out to support me when I finally decided to enter my first 5k after running for 5+ years.
Running didn’t come to me naturally.  Even as a freshman in tip-top shape, I still had a hard time running a mile in 10 minutes to pass.  Run 26.2 miles?  Freshman Erin would look at me and laugh and laugh and laugh if I could travel back in time and tell her that running gets easier, becomes her stress-relief, and that she’ll sign up and finish two marathons (even if I have to crawl to the end of this next one).

My second semester of college, I decided enough was enough.  Weights weren’t helping me get my shape back, and I added cardio into my workouts.  I abhorred cardio, but something needed to give.  Enter the elliptical machine.  I thought I was a running fool.  But when I took my dog for a run, a hunting breed that never tired of running and walking, I quickly found out I was just a fool.

With the help of my Brittany Spaniel named Mac, I became a runner.  We started out slowly – jogging a few blocks and walking more.  But gradually, the walking stopped.  Mac was crazy about running.  He knew the difference between my running shoes and my shoes I wore to the gym.  Upon getting my running shoes out, he would start crying, jumping on me, running circles out of my bedroom into the living room and back.  I have a video my brother took probably ten years ago of him completely freaking out because we were going running.  My biggest regret will always be that I didn’t start running with that dog soon enough.

My first running partner.  He’s always with me.

When Mac was 13, I was training for my first half marathon.  I never took him on any of the long runs, but as my weekly runs climbed up to 6 miles, he was with me.  I was always cautious of him because thirteen is not young, but he did it like a champ.  The next year would be a slow decline with our runs becoming walks.

I owe so much to that dog that I’ll never be able to repay him for.

With him, I found out exactly how much I love running.  I don’t love it the way I loved gymnastics.  Honestly, I’m not even sure if my relationship with gymnastics was healthy.  If I had a bad day, I laced up my shoes and went running.  The day my sister boarded a plane after her wedding and moved to Denmark, I learned that it was impossible to cry and run at the same time.  After four miles, my eyes were dry and I needed a nap.

Of course, not all runs are created equal and I’ve had just as many bad runs as I have had amazing runs.  In fact, I had an entire year where running just felt sluggish, my times were atrocious, and other than weight management, I’m not sure why I continued.  This was the year after my first marathon, and looking back now, I think this slump was because I wasn’t prepared for how big a task running 26.2 miles really is.

But through the good and the bad, running is always there for me.  It stopped my from strangling people while I worked retail and served, it kept me thin-ish, and then when I got older and realized a lifestyle change was in order, it helped me lose weight.  When there were times I was worried about paying my bills, or passing an accounting test, running was right there to stop me from being a completely crazy person and put me back to my only half-crazy self.

I still love gymnastics.  It’s an amazing sport.  I will never be as passionate about running as I was about gymnastics.  That’s for the best though.  I love running.  And I don’t love running for for the amazing things I have and can accomplish, but what it does to me.

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The stride you get when the finish line is in sight!
Running feeds and nourishes my soul in a way that gymnastics never could.  Running this second marathon isn’t about finishing in a better time (although that would be amazing) than the last time.  This marathon is about me.  During this year, my diet carved off 20 pounds and turned my into a more shapely person, but my running has carved at away at my soul and helped me connect with myself in a way I’ve never been able to in the past.

That’s what running is to me.  What is running to you?

 

 

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Sleep Deprivation and the George Costanza Inside Me

I’m just going to start off and say that the past week I’ve wanted to put my sleeping pattern in a choke-hold and body slam it.  Last week during the week, I know I skimped a bit on my 7.5 nightly average.  I didn’t help my situation on Friday when I drank a bottle of wine and went to sleep.  My Garmin shows I got over 9 hours of sleep that night, but upon waking in the morning, it sure didn’t feel like that.  I made a point to behave on Saturday and did get good sleep then though.

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My own office would’ve came in handy on Monday.  #cubiclelife

But then, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were terrible nights.  I don’t know what was wrong me.  Sunday night I even took my prescribed sleeping pill (I like to take a prescription on Sunday night to get back into the swing of my weekly routine), but I was restless until about 2:30/3:00 a.m. and when my alarm went off at 4:54, I hit snooze and didn’t give running another thought.  I was finally sleeping deeply, and I knew my body needed it.

I did manage to get up and walk 2.5 miles before work and a mile with Maris on lunch.  And then, seeing the remnants of Hurricane Irma were going to be upon us for two days, I went for an evening run.  While it was in the 70’s that evening (versus mornings in the 50’s), the humidity was low with a nice breeze, and I felt great.

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My feelings on Monday.  It was beautiful, but I needed more sleep.

Maris, though, is another story.  I’m going to assume that every other person in my neighborhood also saw that: 1) the weather was perfect; and 2) we were going to be drenched in rain for the next 48 hours because there were a ton of people out.  Maris is a big girl, and sometimes she can redefine the word boisterous.  Knowing this about her and that other people don’t like or are scared of big dogs, I try to run in the street (or simply pause if the road is busy) until the other person passes.  I hate stopping, but I don’t want to put the other person or myself in an awkward situation with my crazy dog.

Some of these people were also walking dogs.  Maris has never met a dog she didn’t want to befriend (with the exception of the dog that literally jumped through a slatted porch railing to land on top of her and try to attack her, but that’s a story for another day).  Not only did I have to hold her back from making new friends, but there were way more squirrels out than there normally are in the morning.  Talk about a total body workout.

She made it a challenge, but I was happy with myself for getting out there and doing it.  It’s normally really hard for me to motivate after working all day to go home and workout – I tend to take a page from George Costanza’s playbook and use my evening to decompress from my day prior to sleep.

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I have a job and mortgage, but I feel the rest is accurate.

Before bed, I checked the hourly weather and saw that I might have a window in the morning before the rain hit, and set my alarm for a little earlier than normal.  No joke, I was in bed at 8 p.m., watching the office and hoping to fall asleep by 9 or a little after.  But, of course that didn’t happen.  It was maybe after midnight before sleep finally greeted me.  My 4:45 alarm really sucked, so I crossed my fingers that it was already raining so I could go back to sleep.  It wasn’t raining.  I had not quite two hours to get dressed and get a 5-mile walk with Maris finished.

Tuesday night’s restlessness was my own fault.  I needed to do yoga, and since there was no beer yoga this week, I asked two friends over for beer yoga and pizza.  We had fun with yoga and then a little too much afterwards.  But I did get my butt out of bed before 4:45 to get to the gym.  I put in 2 miles on the treadmill before the 5:30 a.m. spinning class that I convinced my mom to attend.

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No, Erin.  You should have cut-back on the fun to sleep!

I really enjoyed the class.  I knew I was getting a work out as sweat was pouring down my face the entire time, but I had a hard time gauging how good of a work out I actually got (I figured it in the morning though).  With running, it doesn’t matter the distance – 5k or 18 miles – I always feel exhausted afterwards.  Running isn’t a complete body work out, but it takes its toll on the body while you’re doing it.  Spinning is strictly legs only.  When I left, I didn’t have that complete body exhaustion, but I did notice that walking up one flight of stairs made my quads burn more than normal…

Wednesday night, after suffering through three shitty nights of sleep, I decided to take my sleeping pill.  And it worked! I got 9 hours of sleep! The alarm went off and I flew (ok, slithered) out of bed and through on my running shoes and had…THE WORST RUN IN MONTHS!  It was 4 miles in “it just stopped raining” humidity, the temperature was upper 60’s, and my quads…my quads felt like they wanted to detach from my femur and slap me in the face.  My average pace was 9:19 with my fastest mile at 9:14. I was a good 40 seconds off my average pace and can normally manage my last mile (if not last two) under 8:25 minutes.

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My thought process during the 4 miles on Thursday.

So let me conclude with SPINNING IS A WORK OUT!

Even today (we walked another 5 miles), I’m still somewhat sore – though not nearly as bad as yesterday.  And last night, I got a solid 8 hours of sleep without any sleep aids!

I would love to go back to a spinning class; however, with my mileage up at this point in time, I’m probably going to wait until after the marathon.  I can’t afford to have my legs that dead right now, but I think that after the marathon, the class will help me build more muscle and maybe help me finally get a sub-25 minute 5k.

So I’d like to close by asking if you’ve ever done a spin class.  And how has spinning helped your running?  

 

Feeding our Princess

Allow me to talk about my baby girl for a little bit!

We got Maris Sandberg – mom’s a Yankees fan and dad’s a Cubs fan – as a puppy.  She was a reject and I say that with complete love (honestly, Chris and I are pretty much rejects too).  Maris is a Rhodesian Ridgeback.  The breed standard is for the hair that grows up their spine to grow in opposite direction resembling something of a Mohawk or a “ridge,” hence the name.  Maris was born without this gene.

I’ve always had dogs present in my life, and as I got older, single, and moved out, I wanted a dog with great guard-dog instincts.  I also wanted a dog that could run.  Researching breeds, I came across Rhodesian Ridgebacks.  These dogs were bred from a South African tribal dog and several hound varieties such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, Greyhounds, etc. to give them a dog with endurance and courage to hunt lions.  No joke, they would send these dogs out in groups to hunt and corner lions.

I have no desire to hunt a lion, but my thinking was, if this dog is crazy enough to stand up to a lion, then I’m not going to be momentarily creeped out whenever I come home and the lights are out in my place.

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Dog (and cat) on patrol.  Mailman, beware!

Then I found Chris.  Chris was a cat person.  It took a little bit of persuading, but after losing my Brittany Spaniel (he lived at my mom’s but both my brother and I would stop by during the day to help care for him) six months previously, I finally convinced him.

We started looking at rescues and shelters and either had no luck or were turned away.  I would’ve been happy to take an older dog, but we needed a puppy because of Chris’s cat, French Fry.

French Fry is a cat Chris got from members at a country club he used to cook at.  They had him de-clawed because he has aggression, and then had to give him away because he kept using the dad’s Jeep as his litter box.  French Fry has attitude like no other!  He does not see himself as 10-pound house cat, he sees himself more as a 500-pound Bengal tiger.  The problem is, he has no claws to back that image up.  We were afraid that if we brought in a grown/nearly grown dog that even the best of dogs might retaliate against Fry’s attitude.

Finally, we found our defective, ridgeless, little lady.  And guess what.  The Cat Person fell in her love with her instantly.

What happens when a chef who loves the farm-fresh movement falls in love with dog?

The dog food that I bought is instantly not good enough, even though it was bought from a boutique and was what my other dog ate (who lived to be 15-years-old).  We took a trip together to get dog food, and Chris poured over ingredient lists before finally settling on Orijens dry dog.  The 25lb bag ONLY costs $76.99 plus tax.  You can read about this food here, this is a website our vet told us about to compare different foods.

But of course, since Momma wanted her to be a running dog, he decided that just the dog food alone wasn’t enough.  After more research, he began making bone broth (from local, grass-fed cows) that we supplement into her food.  The meat from the bones, he braises for her.

Originally we fed her twice a day.  For her size and weight, only 2 cups of food a day is recommended, but with her activity level, she eats 3 cups of food a day.  At twice a day she would get 1 ½ cups of dry dog food, ¼ cup of bone broth, and ¼ cup of braised beef.

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Summer can be brutally humid, and Maris is weird about water.  Scratch that, Maris hates water.  Since she normally walks around puddles, I had to document her getting this close to the river.

Last summer, we started feeding her three times a day to keep her hydrated.  She’s a weirdo and only drinks water after eating.

We also started adding 3-4 blueberries to her food in the morning after we learned she was prone to urinary tract infections.  Blueberries contain the same compounds that cranberries do – these compounds prevent bacteria from sticking the lining of the urinary tract system.  If the bacteria don’t stick, no UTI!

About six months ago, Chris told me to start adding coconut oil to her food.  Sometimes I would remember, sometimes I wouldn’t.  We have a huge tub of coconut oil and I’ve broken quite a few nails trying to open the container.  But after this article from the New York Times, I remember to add her coconut oil into her food.

It’s a pretty interesting read if you have an animal you run with or would like to run with, and I’m glad to say that everything Chris has been doing for her is spot on!

In addition to that, she does eat eggs too.  Chris can’t even make eggs or an omelet without  her giving him this perfect princess pout that says, “You know Mom forgot to feed me this morning.”

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Not even snow slows us down!  She has boots for the snow to keep the salt from getting into her paws.  If it’s really cold, she wears a jacket too!

I’d like to say that we’re the epitome of responsible pet owners and only feed her stuff she needs, however, I don’t need to drink delicious IPAs or eat cheesecake.  We believe in indulging through moderation and as a bit of a reward.  We don’t eat a lot of ice cream (we’ve had ice cream twice this summer), but we found out that she’s a fiend for ice cream, so we always get her a pup cup of soft serve vanilla.

She also loves pancakes.  After my long runs, I have a dark chocolate pancake mix that I make pancakes with (these are awesome.  I do 1 ½ servings and it’s less than 300 calories and I get 21g of protein).  I have a buttermilk complete mix that I have serve her because dogs and chocolate do not mix.

All in all, she’s a very loved, spoiled little girl who enjoys running, walking, and terrorizing the squirrels and bunnies.  Having her has brought a different kind of happiness to our lives.

What do you feed your dogs, cats, or other animals?  What are some of their  favorite snacks?

The “ruff” life of a dog.  Run hard, sleep hard, eat hard!

When the Stars Align…

Oh Fall Running, you are there…right there so nearly and completely in my grasp!  It’s like when I’m working on a new bind in yoga and I feel my fingertips brush against each other.  Then I’m just standing in the pose, grunting and groaning and working to grasp and lock my fingertips…As this is the beginning of September and still not quite fall (and even in fall my city will see days with highs of 80° or higher), I’m not going to quite cheer and say I’m out of the woods yet.  “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.”

For my long 18-miler today, the weather was fantastic!  It was 54° and actually getting cooler while I ran.  Running in shorts and a tank top never felt so good!

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There couldn’t have been a more perfect morning!

And so I started my first loop with my puppy princess.  My loops were basically a 10k, so my plan was to do three loops and then take a small detour home to stretch my cool down walk to one full mile.  Everything went according to plan on my first loop.  There were no real outstanding miles, but as it was early, I was all about conserving my energy.  I felt good out there too.  And, in my opinion, that is the biggest accomplishment for those first miles.

Mile 1: 9:20

Mile 2: 9:18

Mile 3: 9:20

Mile 4: 9:23

Mile 5: 9:17

Mile 6: 9:02

I ended this loop with a 9:16 average; a great way to put a dent in my mileage this morning.  After half of my banana and some water, I put Maris up to go back out for the second loop armed with my pepper spray.

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The halfway mark of our first loop.

This loop felt pretty great!  I will say though, that I’ve noticed some tenderness in my knees that starts between miles 8-9, but by the time I hit 10 miles, I feel strong again.  Does this happen to anyone else or is my body the only weird one?  I was a little thirsty – not to the point where I couldn’t finish– but it was 5 a.m. and since I was by one of the local universities, I decided to try my luck. Somewhere someone was smiling down at me as one of the lecture halls was open.  I slurped up some water then went back to finish the remaining 3 miles on my loop.

Mile 7: 9:05

Mile 8: 9:07

Mile 9: 9:12

Mile 10: 9:06

Mile 11: 9:13

Mile 12: 9:09

My average on my second loop was pretty unbelievable, a 9:08 average, and it gave me the confidence I needed to go back out after another quick fuel and hydration stop.  I knew this loop would be the hardest loop and that Maris’s distraction would be a big help.  With her back in her harness, we headed back out.  I actually think the little break was good for her because she had no problem keeping up with momma on this loop (In all honesty, she never has a problem keeping up).  And what a loop it turned out to be!

Mile 13: 8:55

Mile 14: 9:07

Mile 15: 9:10

Mile 16: 9:04

Mile 17: 9:12

Mile 18: 8:49

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A local high school.  I love seeing the old buildings lit against of the black sky

Somehow, this loop, my last loop, was my best loop with an average of 9:03.  No clue where Mile 13 came from, but I do know where Mile 18 came from!  I hit 17 and sent a quick text update to my mom (I send one after every loop to my mom and Chris so my whereabouts are always somewhat known in case something unfortunate were to happen to me) to let her know I had one mile left.  I looked at Maris, and said: This is it; let’s get Momma’s butt home.  She complied and together we made that last mile my best mile.  Basically, I felt like a freight train.  Any time I think of myself as a freight train, I smile and think of Major League 2.  Yes, it’s horrible, but I love the part where he says, “You’re standing on the tracks, and the training is coming through.”  Yes, I am ridiculous.

I’m definitely sore, this was a 3-mile build from two weeks ago, but not overly sore.  During the 15-miler two weeks, I also stopped about every mile my last 3 miles to stretch out my hips and thighs.  This time I didn’t have to do that.  It looks like my body is adjusting and starting to learn that I’m not going to give up.  I might take a break if need be, but I will win out in the end!

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Come on, Mom!  Let’s get home and eat!  I hear those pancakes calling my name.

The mile cool down on my way home helped to work some stiffness out.  I might not have needed to stretch during my run, but my quads were screaming once I stopped.  Before work I took Maris for a half-mile walk.  We did another half mile walk at lunch and might do one this evening as well.  It is a lot of extra steps, but I don’t want to get stiff from sitting all day, and I don’t want her to get stiff from snoozing all day.

Tomorrow we will take it easy on the walking miles, and then I’ll do a yoga session in my house to get all my muscles, joints, and ligaments back into place along with foam rolling and some magnesium oil.  One of my blogs that I follow suggested magnesium oil a few weeks back, and with my knee overly sore last week, I tried it.

**Click here  to see the article.  She did an excellent write up, and I won’t do it nearly the justice she did.**

I will say I did foam roll, then massage the magnesium oil in, and the next morning I woke up with some tenderness, but it was manageable.  I wanted miles with Maris that day, so thought even if I need to do 3 miles of intervals, I’d rather do that than nothing, but I was able to get in three miles of complete running with my knee feeling fine afterwards.  I’m convinced!

 

The Long, the Weird, and Downright Oddly

Disclaimer: Holidays always crunch my time and this holiday especially did just that.  We had tickets to the IU versus Ohio State Massacre – I mean football game.  While we pretty much always know the outcome of any IU football game, it’s still fun to tailgate.  Thursday I took a half day to get to Bloomington for the game.  Friday was also a half-ish day that was basically spent wrapping up all work for the week and starting on Tuesday’s stuff.  Seriously, a Monday off always throws me for a loop.  In response to that loop, I like to get started on my Monday (Tuesday) stuff so once I finally get my head on straight, I’m on track and not behind!  And I’m just now getting around to editing this post that I typed last week on Tuesday.  Yes, I am Fail Erin, so nice to meet you!

Long Run Tuesday did not get off to a good start at the beginning.  I sprang awake 10 minutes later than I planned.  I was surprised to find that not only did I snooze through two alarms, but I didn’t even vaguely recollect hearing both of those alarms before hitting snooze.  Once I grabbed my phone, I found out why I overslept – my phone was off.

SnooZE

Jolting awake and realizing you overslept is one of the worst feelings in the world.

I’m still not sure how it turned off because it was clearly on whenever I went to bed.  I could pretty much pinpoint when it turned off (most likely between 10:30-11 p.m.) because that’s when the notifications on my phone stopped.  There was a brief moment of panic – thinking my phone was officially dead and then having a heart attack because my phone was my tracking device for running.  I have a Garmin Vivoactive but the touchscreen stopped working, and I can’t hit the place on the screen to get my run to start.

That being said, allow me to get to the run…

Sometimes, I really hate my body and its weird aversion to humidity and stagnant air.  As it is, I’m not stressing this week about missing my 17-miler.  My 15-miler last week went relatively great, so I’m not going to stress about having another down week.

Not near as hot as two weeks ago, I did at least manage 9 miserable miles.  I never really felt bad, but thirst became my issue.  As someone who drinks 100+ ounces of water daily, hydration is hardly ever a problem for me.

So my first loop, while my slowest first 4 miles to date, felt fine.  I obviously wasn’t worried about my pace since this was supposed to be 17 miles.

Mile 1: 9:57 (I’m sure this mile was 30-40 seconds faster easily because Maris stopped for a break, I then had to dispose of it, and forgot to pause my phone.  Whoops!).

Mile 2: 9:16

Mile 3: 9:18

Mile 4: 9:13

At the pit stop, I drank and had a bite of banana.  Once I started drinking the water, I had a Frank the Tank moment (It tastes so good once it hits your lips) and didn’t want to stop, but I forced myself to stop.  Running while water-logged is annoying and slows me down.

Thirst

I’m sure no one would mind finding a crazy ginger making out with a garden hose!

Between miles 5-6, I began to feel ravenous for water.  My clothes at this point, are as wet with sweat as they were at the end of the run last week.  It was disgusting.  The one bright spot this week is that I was prepared for this sweat, and no chafing occurred (at least that I’ve noticed yet).  Had this run been a race with water stands every 2 miles or so, I’m confident I could’ve finished the 17 miles.  But only having access to water every 4 miles was frustrating.  Instead of suffering, I just decided to cut it short.

Mile 5: 9:36

Mile 6: 9:24

Mile 7: 9:22

Mile 8: 9:32

Mile 9: 9:16

Looking at the times, we were definitely sluggish getting back to it, but I did manage to push Maris for a better time on the last mile.  Not our fastest mile, but looking at the last 5 miles, not bad.  Once I told her to take me home, she was a dog on a mission, not stopping for anything but our house!  Well, we circled around the school nearby and the houses a road over to walk a cooldown mile, but still.  Maris knows “home” means we’re almost done.

Sitting here reflecting back on yesterday’s miles and what I’ve achieved this far has me at the weird, contradictory place.  I’m happy with where I’m at, and I’m what I’m achieving.  But I do not understand my body at all.

Ok, yes, I understand my body.  I understand its needs and wants all too well.  I just don’t understand why it’s so ODD!  Why does humidity make me turn tail and run straight into my house like I’m the Wicked Witch of the West about to be melted into a pile of goo (the fact that my body sweats enough to turn me into a pile of goo is irrelevant).

The other peculiarity (it’s gross so you might want to skip to the next paragraph) that pretty much has always happened for the past two years is that my nose literally runs faster than I do.  I’m healthy, completely healthy, and yet not even a ½ mile into my run, it is snot rocket time.  Where does all this snot come from?!   Why does it seem like I have a never-ending supply of snot stored up in my sinus cavities?  Also, I should make a note NOT to wear my mesh tank top on my long runs.  I looked like Rudolph from rubbing my nose with the bottom of my shirt.

sweat excessive

The answer is empirically and emphatically: YES

Which brings me to my last weird, quirk.  Why. Does. My. Body. Sweat. So Much???  Seriously, it’s disgusting!  When I got done with my run (well more like around 7 miles), there was not a dry stitch of clothing left on me.  It looked more like I was dunked in a pool.

Last weekend, I wanted to laugh when one of my friends (we actually ran a marathon together 6 years ago and then her bunions got too painful for her to run) talked about finally getting back to running and doing the Monumental Half Marathon while I’m running the full.  She talked about how she was so sweaty after a 4 mile run and then said, “I bet you wouldn’t have even broken a sweat.”

My response, “Uh, seriously?  I sweat like a beast at the half mile mark of any run.”

So in closing, I want to know, am the only one out there sweating like a wildebeest while I’m running?  What other oddities or peculiarities also drive you insane during a run?

Getting My Groove Back

I’m going to admit it, I had runxiety yesterday.  I tried so hard to get asleep by 8:30, but that became 9:30, then 10:30, and finally after 11 p.m. I drifted to sleep.  Yes, 3 a.m. came way too early for me.  But I hoisted my butt out of bed and set about readying myself for 15 miles today.

I know I didn’t get enough sleep, but my nutrition was on point.  I had over 120 ounces of water throughout the day.  My breakfast was steel cut oats with a teaspoon of brown sugar and ¼ of blueberries with vanilla Greek yogurt.  Lunch was orzo with chicken and veggies and a granola bar.  I capped that all off with my wonderful Vietnamese Cuisine leftovers, chicken curry with extra veggies, for dinner.

The weather was damn near perfect.  The temperature was 65° with 85% humidity and a dew point of 61°.  This was much improved from last week and much more fitting of what my body prefers.  Note: this is much more aligned with what Maris apparently approves of too!

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There was laying about for my princess this morning!  She was on point this run.

So, sleepy and a little stressed, we started out for our first loop.

Mile 1: 9:21

Mile 2: 9:13

Mile 3: 9:13

Mile 4: 9:11

Mile 5: 9:03

The first mile was absolutely freeing and I was able to shake a lot of my stress – work, relationship, bills, family, traffic, mistakes, time-wasting, running – off of me.  This is why I love running.  I take all of my stress and pound it into the pavement.  Maris and I stayed really consistent, but of course she picked up the pace whenever we were on the home stretch.  We ended this loop at a 9:12 average pace.  Bonus points for Maris not laying down right before 4 miles to tell me this was BS!

After two bites of a banana and couple of slugs of water, we set back out for our second loop.

Mile 6: 9:08

Mile 7: 9:12

Mile 8: 9:14

Mile 9: 9:11

Mile 10: 9:10

While our second loop wasn’t nearly as impressive as it was for our 12-mile run, the consistency felt good.  Considering I knew I had 5 more miles left whenever I got done with this loop, I wasn’t upset that our average pace was 9:11, which kept out overall average pretty much the same.

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Hardcore Beggar Dog Mode after I dropped her off.  She has no clue that she has to cool down before she eats!

The 12-mile run two weeks ago was the first time I introduced Maris to doing loops, and she wasn’t happy to go back out after the break – that wasn’t routine.  It was routine to come home and eat.  This time though, she was better.  While we didn’t have the ending burst of speed that we did the last time around, we stayed consistent.  I will say though, that around mile 9, my right knee began to feel a little bit tricky – my IT bands have a tendency to get and stay tight – so I figured I’d push for another 3 miles, and then do intervals if necessary for the remaining 2 miles.  Other than that, my body felt as good as I could expect at that distance.

Once the second loop was finished, it was more banana and water, and then Maris was put in the house.  I took off for my remaining 5 miles.  As I started back, my mind started taking a trip to negative town.  Not because I was feeling bad, but because for past runs, I haven’t ran farther than 3.5 miles without Maris.  While running with her can sometimes be a chore scouting for any potential distractions (bunnies and squirrels keep me on my toes), it does seem to take my focus off of the task at hand (unless it’s miserably hot and humid weather).

Mile 11: 9:20

Mile 12: 9:08

Mile 13: 9:05

Mile 14: 9:15

Mile 15: 9:00

As you can see, I was able to get by without incorporating intervals my last two miles.  My mind did momentarily put doubt in my head, as evident by my 11th mile, but I squashed that doubt and plodded along.  Doubt wasn’t going to help me get this run done, and I really, really, really, really wanted to get this run done so I could meal on my dark chocolate protein pancakes.  Still though, this was my fastest loop, coming in at a 9:10 average pace.

My remaining miles were focused on finishing, although I will say I stopped at every mile and did some stretching.  My hips were definitely getting tight and going into my low-back/glute area.  I know this evening and tomorrow that I will need to focus on rolling out these areas and doing yoga to put everything back in its place.  There’s no beer yoga for me until next week, therefore, it will be just me, my mat, and notes from the IG accounts I follow.

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If you’re able to smile at the end, you better count it as a win!

For the record, this run is my longest run since I finished the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, AL in December 2011.  Obviously, this won’t be my longest run of the year, but I can’t wait to see how my body responds to the challenges of these distances and how it will adjust come the end of September whenever I am running 20 miles and running 15-17 miles on my down weeks.

Stay tuned for next week when I take on…17 miles! YIKES!

Check Those Perfectionist Tendencies at the Door

I love to tell my fiancé or my friends whenever they get down on themselves that nobody can or should expect to be perfect 100% of the time and to not be so hard on himself/herself.  We’re human beings; we make mistakes.  Beyond our mistakes, there are also uncontrollable factors that can also hinder our ability to complete a project perfectly.

I am great at giving this advice, but rarely do I ever take this advice.

I’m a complete Type A person, and I feel like I can and should be better than mistakes, hindering circumstances be damned.  I thrive on beating deadlines, living a scheduled life to complete as much as possible every day, and turning things in right the first time.  I die inside a little every day when I encounter inefficiency, waits at the doctor’s office, traffic driving under the speed limit, and people who want to take up my time with trivial nonsense.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  Most days, I’m able to balance this driven, hard-working person against the follies and foibles of the outside world that more often than not slow me down and thwart my pursuits for nothing but complete and total perfection.

Which leads me to this current funk I’m in.

Perfect

This is the advice I need to take right now.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like, it matters that it’s done.

Running is the least of my problems right now, although it’s the one that contributed in the biggest way to my current funk.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been in the middle of second-quarter statements for my clients and their investors.  This always culminates with changes being made and mistakes of mine needing to be corrected.  The back-and-forth project consumes all of my time, and then when you throw in my mistakes, you can see why it’s often hard for me to not let the stress consume me entirely at some point during this process.

Enter running.  Running is my stress relief.  It’s been my stress relief since I decided to take my baby boy, Mac, running over 10 years ago despite my struggles to get myself around the block.

Like we all do, I’ve had great times running and horrible times running.  I’m thankful that the horrible times are few and far between.  I’ve also noticed the keys for me to stave off those horrible runs.  Consistency and nutrition are the biggest weapons in my arsenal to guard against the running blues.  Those I can control.  The other, I can’t control so much.  It’s the weather.  I would much rather run in 10° weather than 70’s with humidity and no breeze.  That weather kills me.

Normally, I do experience the running blues during the summer, but this summer I was mostly immune.  In the summers past, my running took a hit when it came to my times.  In the spring/fall/winter, I could easily run 5k’s between 27:30-28:30 minutes.  In the summer, my times fell between 29-30 minutes.  Chris and I ran a lot of races together last summer – running races every weekend from May 21 through August 6, 2016.  He beat me all of the races until the last two.  One of those races was at the zoo and is really hilly.  Chris ended up hurting his knee the last ¼ of a mile (I’d already crossed the finish line before he injured himself, so I didn’t just leave him there!), and then the next race he was still sore from his knee and wasn’t in his best form.

This year, my times were mostly immune from my summer slowdown, pretty much staying consistent with my ending times from the spring.  The only difference I’ve noticed is that in the spring, my racing splits were within 10 seconds off my fastest and slowest miles.  This summer, there’s been a 30 seconds difference between the fastest and slowest – a factor I’m sure is from the sun, heat, and humidity.

Bad Run

Point taken.

Then my 15-miler last weekend happened.  Ok, didn’t happen.  As I stated in my post last week, Maris was tired and done before we even hit four miles.  The entire run felt like a struggle after the first mile, but once I saw her like that, I decided to end the struggle at 5 miles.  I tried to get the run done on Saturday, but rain early in the morning and then high temperatures and humidity held me back.  I decided to run on Sunday instead, but then Chris’s dad invited us to breakfast at 7:30 in the morning, and there was no way I’d be able to finish my run in the morning without getting out the door by 3:30 (which I’ll do during the week, but not on my Sunday).

I’ve checked the weather since, and after the rain today, we’re in for cooler temperatures for at least a week – cool enough that Chris and I can open the windows and turn off the AC.

That being said, my long run of 15 is now scheduled for Wednesday (tomorrow) morning.  With the weather nicer than last week, Maris should be fine for 10 miles.  If she’s not, I’m going to grab my mace after 5 miles, and complete the last 10 on my own.  If I’m tired, I’m going to do intervals.  I don’t want to do intervals, but I need to get these miles conquered.  November seems like a long time away until I glance at my training schedule and see just how short of a time-span I really have.  Not only that, but I’m pretty sure my sanity rests on this run tomorrow.  I have to finish these 15 miles to get this stress off my shoulders.

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I just need to stay focused on my goal.

I know in order to finish this run, I’m going to have to check my perfectionist tendencies at the door and just do it.  No matter if I finish in a 9, 9:30, 10, or 11-minute mile, the miles are done.  My goal is to complete this marathon and eat pizza and drink beer.  No matter how fast I run, I’m still 26.2 miles farther than the me who is too afraid of failing to start.

Marathon Goal

               26.2 miles and then 🍕🍕🍕 and 🍺🍺🍺