Days 123-124 — Overthinking the long run

4 05 2010

Tired tired tired from Sunday’s 13-miler. Seemed like a great idea at the time I was doing it, but wow did it zap me ever since! I muddled through Monday and today — fighting to keep my eyes open while playing marbles with my son and watching my daughter’s soccer game. Forced myself to do a late night Classical Stretch Monday which did help my stiff leg muscles once the painful plies were finally over.

Maybe I shouldn’t have tried the full distance. Should have stuck with the SmartCoach, who told me to do 11. The debate goes on in my head…good to know I can do 13 without blood sugar crashing, but paying the price with a tired body now that just wants a rest day — from all things — work, shuttling kids, cooking, exercising. That would be a perfect reward after the race itself, but not in the cards when I have two weeks left to go ’til the half marathon.

The most famous race in our area is the Bolder Boulder 10K on Memorial Day. Equivalent to the Peachtree in Atlanta, most everyone who runs has either done it before or is training for it. You will always find a dozen people you know proudly wearing the t-shirt in June. I have never done this race and probably should someday when we’re not traveling for the holiday weekend or when I haven’t just run a half marathon…

This morning’s sports section in the Denver Post had its typical race-prep article: 10 ways to get ready for the Bolder Boulder 10K

I took number 3 to heart today — running my 2-mile recovery run loop in the park in blasting wind that sucked the Spring right out of the warm air.

“3. Train on fatigued legs. The key to running fast is to be able to train your body to run the second half of the race as hard or harder as the first half. To do that, you have to be able to train the body to run fatigued via a variety of specially designed workouts.”

And number 8 suggests you run the course to practice where to go fast, etc. This would take about six hours in traffic on busy Colfax Avenue in Denver, but I happened to drive part of it yesterday when we were near the route for a doctor’s appointment. It felt…long. And it was not even half of the course. Maybe it was all the stop lights? I seriously have been studying the map so I’m not totally surprised by how far it feels in real life. I’m adding what should be #11 on the race prep list: Don’t overthink it.

I find myself obsessing a bit over what I will wear in various weather conditions, what time I will get up that morning, how many glucose tablets can I fit in my pocket, whether I should try the Hydra Pouch water holder instead of the Amphipod, blue or purple Gatorade?….on and on. I need to have a solid plan, but I need to let go a bit too and remember this is for fun. There is no exactly right way to do the race. And I will very soon forget whether I chose the Pouch or the ‘Pod, wore the tank or the sleeves — tucking the race t-shirt into my bottom drawer with other milestone memories.


Days 116-119 – April Shower Brings May Power?

29 04 2010

This is a marathon week of work deadlines and kids’ performances, projects and sports pictures and practices… I managed to up my IT quotient with a new (i.e., manufactured in this decade) PC monitor, new-and-improved email hosting provider for my business AND helped my daughter with a Microsoft Photo Story program that didn’t run on my Vista operating system (also made by Microsoft — h-e-l-l-o!!).

A quick exercise recap:

Monday — 2 mile recovery run prior to Anna’s late night theater performance
Tuesday — late night Classical Stretch “to open and stretch your hips” after spending the day on the kindergarten zoo field trip keeping up with my group of four little boys in purple dinosaur hats. Didn’t lose a single one of them!
Wednesday — 5 Day Pilates DVD: “P.M. Pilates” is seriously the name to relax your muscles before bed, which sounded perfect at 10:30 p.m. Was a bit short, but better than nothing
Today — a 10-mile run planned, but right now there are SNOW flurries outside my window. I managed to run in weather like this in the winter. But that was WINTER and I wasn’t going 10 miles… Maybe by this afternoon it will just be rain. Is that better?

Here is my favorite quote of the week — from “A Life of Discovery,” a biography my daughter brought home for her next school project. She chose Eleanor Roosevelt because her real name is Anna — who knew? I haved learned so much from the third grade this year.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence
by every experience in which you really
stop to look fear in the face….
You must do the thing you think
you cannot do.”

17 days ’til my half marathon, a 10-mile in the rain, intimidating technology, a swirling schedule — I can conquer these things I think I cannot do…thanks Eleanor!

Days 113-114 – Thunder and Pilates

24 04 2010

First, a report on Thursday’s 8-mile run in crazy spring weather… Heavy thunderstorms pounded us all morning, threatening to ruin my afternoon running plan…but the sun and clear skies showed up around noon. I headed west amazed at the beautiful Earth Day it turned out to be. Went on my long, straight route to Highway 2, and when I turned back to head east I had no idea how quickly the black clouds in the distance were blowing in behind me from the southwest. I was met at my neighborhood entrance by cracks of thunder and bolts of lightning that had me sprinting the last half-mile home. I made it home just in time…crazy rain, hail and a tornado warning came within the hour and the skies poured for the rest of the day and night.

Wow – what luck to find that window of spring when I had my best 8-mile so far! I averaged 10-minute miles in spite of the hill at the end. Friday morning in the still-pouring-rain I was happy to have Pilates class safe and dry inside.

I walk around telling anyone who might have any interest at all about how Pilates has changed me. According to this bio, it was created by German born Joseph Pilates who was “living in England, working as a circus performer and boxer…” He had a bit of a crazy life into the 1960s — smoking cigars and wearing exercise briefs around town. “Many dancers and well-known persons of New York depended on Pilates method training for the strength and grace it developed in the practitioner, as well as for its rehabilitative effects. Until exercise science caught up with the Pilates exercise principles in the 1980s, and the surge of interest in Pilates that we have today got underway, it was chiefly dancers and elite athletes who kept Joseph Pilates’ work alive.”

I am so upset that I didn’t try Pilates sooner that I want the whole world to know (and to be less stubborn than I am and just TRY it – whether you’re a runner or just looking for no-impact ways to strengthen, stretch and tone!). After 8 miles, I normally would be stiff the next day. Stretching my quads and hips really makes me feel like I didn’t even run. The core and muscle strengthening from Pilates workouts leaves my muscles quivering a bit for a while, but then totally relaxed. A good sign — along with a pain-free 8th mile — that it’s working.

This Wellsphere post on How to Be a Better Runner explains Pilates’ benefits:

* build up core strength
* improve your posture that increases your lung capacity,
* teach you to breathe more efficiently,
* provide rest for your joints (no high impact exercises) and improve joint mobility,
* improve your balance (this is true for standing Pilates exercises).

Did a recorded Classical Stretch today, which borrows a lot from Pilates, along with ballet and Tai Chi. Now, a hot bath to get ready for a l-o-n-g pain-free, and hopefully rain-free, run tomorrow.

Days 103-105 – Time out

15 04 2010

Wow am I behind on my blog… Long enough that friends are checking on me to see if I’m okay (thanks Wendy!). The good news is I’m still exercising (late night Classical Stretch Tues., 5 mile run Wed. and Exhale Body Sculpt DVD today). Also good that my SmartCoach training plan scales back a bit this week with three 5-milers. The bad news is I am over-swamped with work.

When the kids were tiny, I worked late, late nights. 2 a.m. was a common bedtime, with painful 6 a.m. wake-up calls from my toddlers. This worked okay for years, because I could spend most days with them and hope to catch a nap with them in the afternoon (ok, Anna might have been watching Dora the Explorer while I drifted, but we got through it). And then, they started spending more time at school, I started working daylight hours, and lost my night owl adrenaline.

On Tuesday, I worked late into the night sifting through my media database to i.d. contacts who might care about luggage with built-in solar panels to charge iPhones and laptops. A very cool announcement (check out CNET if you’re really curious) from my solar client, but one that I had to email to hundreds of reporters at 4 a.m. Mountain time. Yep – I was up with the coyotes.

Proposals, deadlines, meetings, articles, pitches, reports…the center of my last three days. Not to mention spring sports season is in high gear. Swear I try not to overbook my kids, but afterschool activities are just overlapping in April/early May: ballet, baseball, soccer (x 2 kids), art, karate, glee club — whew — it’s a workout just getting everyone to the right place at the right time.

On a time-keeping note, a highlight of my week was getting a new sports watch to replace mine that died mid-run last week. $9.99 no-name model from Target (think I mentioned I lose electronics regularly), but it’s pink and just might make me faster. If it only came with extra time to read the directions…

Other good news — more than 1,000 clicks on my blog. Thank you everyone for reading and inspiring me (yeah Christy on the D.C. Cherry Blossom 10 mile!).

And finally, I give you the song that makes my 6-year-old move it like a hula dancer, and is #34 on my half-marathon playlist: “Shake Your BonBon” by Countdown. If you’ve met my son, you have to play the preview on iTunes and picture him leading the family butt shaking competition in the living room. Enough to wake you up for a 5-mile run every time!

Day 102 – Circa 1980s

12 04 2010

Mondays are tough because I plan to stretch at some point in the day, but I get busy catching up on work, errands, etc., drive to ballet and find myself running out of Monday. Tonight, for example, I did Classical Stretch at 9 p.m. to get it in. A good way to go to bed though — muscles relaxed and ready for Tuesday.

Realized I spaced on my top 40 countdown song list, so here are my throwback additions to my half-marathon playlist:
#38 — Jane Says (Live) from Jane’s Addiction’s Kettle Whistle Album
#37 — Tide is High (as made famous by Blondie) from the “I love the ’80s workout mix’) — I know, chees-ey! But it’s faster than the original, and I DID love the ’80s…
#36 — Love Shack (workout remix)
#35 — I Melt with You (live/remastered)

These are all faster, remixes I found on iTunes that are more upbeat than the original ’80s versions. They all came up on my Shuffle during yesterday’s 10-mile run and made the list because they remind me of college days with my husband in 1990 — long before he had that title.

I must have been missing him yesterday, since he’d been skiing all weekend. Was thinking about how we loved the same ’80s music in those days and spent many nights dancing to these songs — me in my leggings, baggy sweaters and Keds. Each of these songs has a story…what better to think and smile about on long run?

Days 99-100 – 100 Day Party

10 04 2010

Ahhh – a 100 day party is in order! That feels so great. I celebrated by dragging my kids to Echter’s, my favorite garden center where they have varieties I can’t usually find in closer nurseries. In Denver, it is just now time to plant cold-hardy annuals. I went in search of rocket snap dragons that grow to three feet, and pansies to pop in among the tulips.

We got rid of some very troublesome willow shrubs along our alley, so I have all kinds of transplanting projects going on to replace them. I found two shrubs that have been on my wishlist: Daphne Carol Mackie that blooms in May and Japanese Pencil Holly — a cool evergreen that’s tall and skinny for small spaces.

My kids dread going to the garden center, but once there have a ball. Especially at the tree house at this one. They even had birthday cake, and came home with a Venus fly trap!

Gardening may cut into my exercise plans — I get carried away and can spend hours playing in my tiny beds of dirt. Especially on these first spring days. So if my blog turns into a gardening forum, I hope you will still read and chime in!

Workout-wise, I actually did my Friday Pilates class AND a 2-mile recovery run yesterday. Mary was kind enough to show me a tennis ball trick to relieve my aching calves — which we think were set-off by skiing last week. Basically, rolling your calf on the tennis ball (or a foam roller) on the floor for 5-10 minutes loosens the muscle. Fantastic! Enough for me to get out for the recovery run later in the afternoon.

Today — post gardening center splurge — and after throwing that same tennis ball for Lottie, I did Classical Stretch. Instructor Miranda said today’s exercises would have me ready to run a marathon! I’ll still settle for my half…

Day 97 – Moved by chefs

7 04 2010

I love the Food section in the Denver Post on Wednesdays almost as much as I love food itself. It’s filled with new restaurant reviews and inspirational recipes I clip and save with best intentions to cook.

Today, I read this Associated Press story: Celeb chefs launch healthy food drive about the momentum Jamie Oliver (see my Day 88 – Revolutionary food post), Rachel Ray and others are creating to get people to eat better for a healthier lifestyle.

Another article: “Quiet chef’s book a commanding work,” ironically, opens with: “Before chefs were entertainers and celebrities, they were craftsmen…” got me thinking about how these new, celebrity chefs-on-a-mission are so brilliant for coming out of the kitchen and onto the screens to influence people.

To change the habits of an overly obese nation, you go to where the people are — to West Virginia if you’re Jamie Oliver. Then you go straight to their living rooms where they’re watching the tube: the mother of the TV dinner, fast food commercials and sedentary evenings often blamed as a root cause for our unhealthy nation.

So if they can’t pull the plug on the flat screens, at least they are creating reality shows about overweight people competing to shred the most pounds and entertaining chefs are cooking real, healthy food. Michael Pollen wrote a book about it (see Day 27 – Rules to eat by post), but I’m guessing a lot more people who needed the information saw it on Oprah versus reading the book.

It’s all fine — use the best means, including the first lady and television, to move a nation to move more and eat less junk! Ironically, I turned on the TV tonight to do Classical Stretch for arms, legs and abs. (I admit I really couldn’t live — or exercise as readily — without the idiot box!)

In other electronic-dependence news (a.k.a. my iPod)…and in honor of “40 days to go ’til my 40th,” I’m compiling a list of 40 favorite songs for race day entertainment to get me through approx. 130 minutes (that’s 10-minute miles for the half marathon if all goes well). If you have a suggestion, please send it my way…

My top 40 song of the day is “Prayin’ for Rain” by Soulhat (a favorite band from Austin that I listened — and ran — to in my Atlanta days). I’m dedicating this song to trading the inches of snow we woke up to in Colorado for spring rain showers! And you can run to this song in rain, snow or shine…