Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sometimes, wine needs to be the priority

I was honestly thinking this morning, right after I jumped out of bed, ran at full speed to turn the coffeemaker on, put on my Aspaeris Pivot compression shorts, my Cho-Pat compression sleeves, how the hell am I going to write today's blog post, I have so much random crap to talk about?

Then it hit me - today is Thursday - day of blogging randomness! So here's some random crap that I've done or is on my mind.

1. This week has been horribly stressful (even beyond the stuff I can admit to on FB and Twitter, believe it or not!), but I think  I can handle any stressful week if I get a random Jewish holiday off on Thursday.

2. Last night was my absolutely favorite activity ever - drinking wine outside with the world's greatest girlfriends. We met at a wine bar in the harbor where sit outside on the water. Looking forward to it got me through the week, I even rearranged my training schedule to have today as a rest day. I plan my wine consumption around my training 99.9% of the time,  but once in awhile it needs to be the other way around.

We took "couple" pics of those sharing the same bottle. Sorry I still haven't figured out that whole "flash" thing yet.
Casi and Carolyn
Lily and Tricia
Deidre and I
As much as I despised playing on a softball team this summer, that's where I met Deidre, so it was worth the mind numbing boredom and torture of everyone watching me bat.


3. Right before I left for the wine bar and thought life couldn't get any better, I got an email from Kara, and it somehow did.

Now I have weekend plans other than grad work, and I get to race with Kara! I did a metric marathon last year and it was a lot of fun.

4. I'm secretly really scared. Kara's really fast and we've never run on the road together (I mean, other than at mile 30 of a 50K). She says she's not, but just friend her on daily mile, and you'll see the truth. She's also super hardcore and will never back down because she feels "like crap" or "ready to vomit", like I will. (Ok let's be serious, I would have backed down long before that point). I often think to myself "WWKD?" (What would Kara do?), and the answer is always, run more, or run faster.

5. I'm secretly glad I'm doing the race, because my training has completely sucked this week, which is why I was glad I had a bunch of other stuff to blog about. Tuesday, Jill and I did a track workout. I could have pushed it, but I didn't. There was essentially no speedwork involved at all, just because I didn't feel like it. We did 7.1 miles. Lily and I did 8 miles Wednesday morning, and it was slow, because of me, and I didn't feel like I could push it. Lame.

6. A creepy strange man cornered us after our track workout Tuesday to tell us he's been "watching us for weeks" and wanted to discuss our form in detail. He also said, regarding the marathon "So.... you guys are trying to finish the whole thing?" and told us we had wasted our time coming to the track because we had been chatting. He said we should only focus on our workout. Right....that's not how I roll. Talking with friends is half the reason I run.

7. We all know I run at 5am which it's pitch black outside, and I hate my headlamp, so when I got some Knuckle Lights to test out, it was like a match made in heaven.

Knuckle Lights go on your knuckles, as you may imagine, and work like a headlamp.  The website explains that even though you move your arms as you run, the beam is wide enough that you will still have plenty of light to see as you run. (PS - creepy guy also said never to look at your feet as you run. I wanted to say that's how you trip over dead cats). 

I'm a teacher, so I always start with the positive. The lights worked great, didn't bother me, and provided plenty of light for both Lily and I to see, even when I was behind her. Here's me trying to show how well they light up a dumpster.
Ok so you can't tell from this pic. But I could see the trash perfectly.
It was true that the beam of light was wide enough that I could see fine throughout my fun. I plan on using these on all my 5am runs from now on.
See how bright?
My only complaint was that there was no explanation of how to wear them, and dummies like me need diagrams. They were rubbing against my hand and really uncomfortable for the first seven miles, and then I turned them around and they felt fine. The company also said they were redesigning the strap so it would be more comfortable.
 

I also couldn't use my handheld bottle, but it's not really Knuckle Light's fault I only have two hands. Hard choices needed to be made.

It was hard for Lily and I to take good pics, because we were busy with our running, so Eric took a few more when I got home from work.


Disclaimer: I didn't buy these, because I'm cheap, they were generously provided to me for this review. But I swear my opinions are my own. If you don't believe me, I'll create a vlog with Lily telling you all that I complained about work, and probably tons of other things, on our run, but NOT the Knuckle Lights, not even once. She can also testify that we could see even on super dark scary roads.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Perspective

Sometimes your perspective changes on things. For example, what constitutes a date night. 

It used to be you spent days picking out your outfit, and tons of time getting ready, and being nervous about what you were going to talk about.

When you're married, it's throwing a dress on five minutes before you leave and going across the street to get the most delicious Eggplant Parmesan I've ever eaten.
We had big plan of watching Glee after, but the DVR wasn't working, so our plans got even more exciting.....

Shopping for a new trash can AND laundry basket!

When I said throw on a dress, obviously I meant over my Aspaeris Pivot Compression shorts


I'm really glad I'm married because sometimes I think about how much I would fail on a first date.

Last night Carolyn invited me to a sneak preview of 50/50. This was one of the best movies I've seen in a long time, I highly recommend everyone cancel or rearrange your plans this weekend and go the second you finish work on Friday.
Considering this movie is a true story about the main character's battle with cancer, it gave me some perspective on my whining about my workday woes. 

It apparently didn't give my fellow movie-goers the same perspective. There was some sort of technical difficultly, and everyone started yelling and booing at the people in charge, because God forbid they are interrupted while watching a movie they paid a whopping $0.00 for.

We had to watch the scene where the main character first goes to chemo three times. Really, he was the lucky one. The people on the other side of the screen had to rewatch something they had already watched, not once but twice, then wait nearly five minutes while they fixed it. I haven't even told you the worst part yet though. During those not even five minutes, we weren't allowed to use our phones, because it was a sneak preview! Now it's clear why the guy getting chemo was the lucky one, right? I mean, can you even imagine going through that? No wonder people were completely throwing hissy fits.

Saturday, I listed all my mile splits so you could all be super impressed with how my speed decreased throughout the run. My awesome friend Mike emailed me saying he graphed them all. He totally changed my perspective on listing splits. This is way more user friendly.
And who doesn't love graphs?


Lastly, several people have asked me if my upcoming marathon seems like nothing, because I've ran as many 50Ks as I have marathons (2 of each - didn't that sound hardcore though?) and I'm training for a 50 mile race. 

Um, hell no. The marathon is huge. 26.2 miles is still a long freakin way to run.

My perspective on distance has changed to some  extent. I clearly remember being ready to give up on half marathon training the first time I was supposed to run seven miles, because I honestly thought that was too far and I couldn't run it. Last week, a 7 mile run was my shortest workout.

Now that I've done more 20+ mile runs, they don't seem as scary. But, they still seem pretty far, and I do still get some anxiety about running that long.

Still, I don't feel any less intimidated by the marathon coming up. I'm tapering for this marathon, and I'm not using it for a training race. Unless I don't do well, in which case, it will have been "just a training race", and I'll delete this post, if necessary.

Part of the reason is a 50K, for me, does not feel like crossing the finish line of a marathon, then running five more miles. It's a totally different experience, start to finish. In a marathon, you're gunning for a good time, and running hard with very little breaks. In my 50Ks, not that it's been easy, but it was more about enjoying the experience, chatting with the friends I'm with, and it's so much more relaxed. I'd maybe compare it to taking a traditional class vs. taking a pass/fail class? Either way you want to pass, but how you get there when your grade counts requires a lot more hard work. As far as the 50  miler affecting how I feel about the marathon, running 50 miles is just ridiculous. I'm not even thinking about that yet.

Maybe if I run like 10 marathons it will seem like no big deal, but I'm definitely not to that point yet!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Handful Bra Winner and some other stuff!

Success - I ran 22 miles yesterday, and didn't have any ice cream, brownies, or chocolate or any kind after! No wine either. I made another loaf of Kari's amazing banana bread yesterday and had two pieces with peanut butter for dessert. (Banana bread has officially been ruled acceptable in this competition. I mean, duh, bananas are healthy). Also, this time I even made it with all applesauce, no butter.
 This morning, Lily and I went to a swim, bike, run, hosted by the Baltimore Area Triathlon Club. It was totally official with bike racks and all.
 Last SBR (swim, bike, run) there was a huge range of experience, from people who had never swam in open water, to experienced triathletes. This morning, as we set up our bikes everyone was comparing different Ironmans that they had done, and were totally jacked and tan. AKA - we were way out of our league.

 Nevertheless, we got set up. Then we realized everyone but us was putting on a wet suit. We went and asked the organizer if we needed one. Her response: "I mean, it's not like you'll catch hypothermia swimming or anything". Awesome. Wetsuits keep you warm and provide a speed advantage. Based on our swim skills, we were already at a pretty big disadvantage before the wetsuits even came in to play.

Since we were going to be so far behind anyway, we took pictures of everyone in their wetsuits getting in the water.
And of ourselves, looking gorgeous in swim caps and googles.


My clearance tank top from Dick's is just as good as any wetsuit
 I could have done this swim completely drunk and garnered the same results, if not better. I won't get in to all the specifics, but let's just say I added quite a bit of distance weaving around not knowing what freakin boat I was supposed to be swimming towards. The course was something like half a mile, and my time was 21:55.
 Where are all the bikes? Oh, right, everyone's already half done with the bike course by the time we finished swimming.

About 5.5 miles into the 15 mile ride, I got my first flat tire. I'd gone to a flat tire changing clinic when I first got my bike, and I was so proud of myself that I was able to take the tire off, change the tube, and put it back on.


 Oh - one problem. You also need to pump it back up.
 Hmm....didn't Lily and I already have huge problems with not knowing how to operate bike pumps? You would think I would have tested out my little riding pump that attaches to my bike previous to actually getting a flat. Nope.

 Tried it at all sorts of angles.....the tire was not receiving air. Oh, did I mention we didn't bother to take our phones, either? That is the last time I am doing that! For real this time!
Something about this looks funny....why would they make a pump I have to pump in between the bike spokes?
 Thank god this guy came to our rescue. See that little thing coming out of his hand? There's a whole other part of the pump, that was inside the black tube! Who knew? Turns out that little hose thingie was pretty essential for pumping.

That guy showed us how to pump the tire, we finished the ride, and arrived back just as the organizer was heading out in her car to look for us. 15.32 miles in 1:00:11.

There was a picnic after the SBR, and both of us had scrambled when we decided to go at the last minute, this morning, to find some random food in our houses that was presentable enough to feed to strangers (mine was banana bread, cauliflower, and dip). When we finally got back, everyone had already eaten, and was starting to leave, and we still had to run.

After yesterday's speedy - for - me 22 miler, my legs felt like lead. We took it nice and easy and did a 5K in 32 minutes. It was great to be able to finally chat, biking in traffic is way too loud.

When we were finally done, we asked the few guests still there about recommendations of races for next spring's half ironman. You could tell from the looks on their faces that they were dubious about our triathlon-ing abilities, but I don't feel today was an accurate representation. We know how to commit to training, and that's the important thing.

Then we split the food we'd brought for the picnic (she got half my banana bread, I got half her smoked Gouda) and I drove home obsessively eating cauliflower and Gouda, because I was starving. Good times. I'm still glad we did it though, it was good experience. And a way better way to hang out with a friend then watching football at a bar. In my eyes, anyway.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for: The Handful Bra winner!



video
Congrats, Sarah! Please check out the Handful website and email me your size, color preference, and address at alyssalindsey718@gmail.com.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Today only, there are two giveaways going on!

This post includes a picture of me in very tight shorts, so I am warning you, and also attempted to make up for assaulting your eyes with that, by providing these beautiful pictures of a rainbow that I took last night.

My camera also crapped out today, so all but the rainbow pics and one other are ipod pics, so they are even lower quality than usual.



 Thank so much for everyone's advice on my pacing question yesterday! I was so torn. Coach Kristy, plus a few others, recommended only doing the last 10 miles at marathon pace. I completely trust their expert advice, but Kara and Lily, who have actually met me and spent a ton of time running with me, said they had confidence that I could hold the 9:30 pace for the entire run.

When Casi gchatted me last night to tell me the humidity would be nearly 90%, and I remembered that we started up a huge ass hill, I decided to hold back at the beginning, and aim for marathon pace in the last ten, per Kristy's advice.

I met my friend Jill at a park downtown around 6:30 this morning, for the Baltimore Marathon course supported run.  They provided a link with route sheets you could print, bibs, several water stops, and even Powerbar Gels to the runners testing out the course. I highly recommend running on the course if it's at all possible before a target race. I run the portion of the marathon that's in the nice part of downtown all the time, but running through the ghetto with hundreds of other runners is a special treat.
This may be the last picture ever taken on my camera :(
I remembered starting uphill, but I forgot that the first five miles were entirely uphill. Jill and I powered up them and still kept under 10:00 miles for most of it. Bad news though. This run is out of order. During the actual marathon, those hills are mile 16-21. The hills feel much bigger then.

It was really fun to run on the course and get excited for the big day. The whole time we were reminiscing about the course run last year and especially the marathon itself. At times, one of us could remember exactly what had happened at a certain spot, and exactly how we felt. Other times, we were like "did we even run this street in the marathon?". Marathons play tricks on your mind, and I swear some parts are ingrained in my memory like they happened moments ago, and some parts I must have blacked out for.

Jill knew my plan, so when she started getting tired as we neared mile 13, she encouraged me to take off. I'm not going to lie, it was a bit hard to do. Running a nice easy pace while chatting with a friend vs. 9 + more miles gutting it out by myself. It seems like a lot of runners are able to overlook the pain and run at a really strenuous pace all the time, but it's a struggle for me mentally to push past my comfort zone. I'm really not one who likes to inconvenience myself in any way.

So, I left Jill, and the plan was to finish at marathon pace, but I felt really good, so I just ran what felt right. I rarely post splits because I know they are boring, even for others, but I'm pretty excited about these, so up they go, scroll past if you don't care. But if you do, tell me this was not a picture perfect negative split run.

10:10
9:48
9:34
9:31
9:28
10:06
10:11
9:43
9:57
9:55
10:14
9:39
9:51
8:49
9:12
9:08
9:05
8:23
8:48
8:50
8:36
8:15

 I mean, check out those last five miles - and the last one was an uphill mile at 8:15??  I do want to note that the beginning was nothing but uphill and the end was flat, but still. I felt really good on my own, and I wasn't constantly checking the Garmin or pushing for a certain pace.  Miles 21 and 22 were tough, but not grueling or I felt like I was going to die, like Thursday's tempo run or anything.

So, although I was only aiming for MP the last ten miles, I ended up doing 22 miles at an average pace of 9:25! On the race course! Now, I did stop the Garmin for water breaks, and for a porto-potty break, and unfortunately the marathon clock won't stop for those. But I was still pretty proud of that time.
Jill and I met up to take a sweaty post 22 mile pic afterwards
 While we were stretching with some other members of our running group, something truly amazing happened. I was recognized by a blog reader! Of course, my friends were all totally impressed, and Jill said it was like I was a celebrity. Hal found my  blog when I posted a link to last year's marathon recap on the Baltimore Running Festival facebook page, and read it because he is training for his first 50K. Here we are together!
 Part of my speediness I am attributing to my new Aspaeris Pivot compression shorts that I got in the mail last night. When I put them on, I was shocked at how soft the fabric was, they actually felt really good on my legs. Usually my hips/hamstrings are the first to get tight and sore on a long run like this, but not today.

As we were stretching, I told Jill that I could tell where the shorts ended because that's where my legs started hurting. Times like these I really wish I had a washer so I could be wearing them again now. I took an ice bath in them though, so by hanging them up to dry, I should be good to wear them after tomorrow's swim, bike, run, right?
Lame ipod mirror photo before my icebath
 While I'm not sure anyone is a huge fan of pictures of their legs in spandex type shorts (if you are, please send me your address so I can slap you), compared to my 8 million bike shorts pictures from my duathlon, my legs definitely look less frightening in these shorts, despite the absolutely amazing, wonderful professional photography by my peeps at that race.

Side note - remember how I discussed me folding all the laundry on Wednesday? Well, it's Saturday, and I'm not naming names, but someone else who lives with me still hasn't put his or hers away.

Between my phenomenal Handful bra not chafing me, and doing great at it's job, and the absolutely fabulous, fantastic Aspaeris Pivot shorts massaging my legs, it's no wonder I had a good run.

And for a limited time only, you have a chance to win BOTH on my very own blog. Eric is very excited to do a dramatic vlog choosing of the winner of the Handful bra later today (or tomorrow, if he runs out of time before work, he's out right now), AND Aspaeris is giving away a free pair of shorts to one of my wonderful, lucky readers. So if you haven't entered the Handful giveaway yet, do it! These bras are awesome! I'm not linking to it though. You have to really want it.

Here's some other stuff that is making me so happy today. I'm not giving it away, but you are free to go to the store and buy it. In fact, I recommend you do. You're welcome, Trader Joes.
I like my coffee the way I like my men

I don't know why I was fooling around with that little canister before

Me + figs = happiness

This has not made me happy yet, but it will soon
I have no idea if my no sweets challenge had anything to do with this run, but in my head it did, so I'm calling it a win. I'm only on my fifth day, but that's already significantly less dessert than usual for me.

So get going on liking Aspaeris on Facebook, following them on Twitter, and heading to their site to learn something to share for your entry. Ya, it's a lot of steps, but they are giving away free shorts, so just do it, it's totally worth it, plus I'm only requiring one comment about what you learned on their site. I am against bonus entries, but not as against as I am for dessert. I have yet to complete an essential part of my marathon training, which is choosing a unbelievably decadent dessert to eat afterwards. So if you link to something that makes my mouth water in a separate comment, bonus.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Huge post about a geeky running question

Last night I had class. Technology has made huge strides in student comfort since I was an undergrad.


 I did get a little distracted at times, as would most likely happen in a traditional class.
 But, mostly, I had to ignore the ipod, because you can get called on. As you can see in the first picture though, I got all the laundry folded while achieving higher learning simultaneously. Eric's still working on putting his portion away.


After my brain was sufficiently stimulated, it was time for Biggest Loser.  Anna Kournikova - pathetic replacement for Jillian.  She cried more than the contestants. We all know I have a love affair with Jillian going on, so it's likely I wouldn't have been happy with any replacement, but Anna was the bottle of the barrel.

The new hot black guy trainer makes up for it though. I tried to learn his name for the whole two hours, but failed.
Google Images didn't have any pictures of him alone, probably because no one else can pronounce his name either.

 Thursday morning is tempo run time. I was up at 4:30, at Lily's at 5, and running by about 5:03. 

We are a true dynamic duo, because she would never get up at run at 5am alone, and I would never push myself that hard alone. This girl is an amazing tempo run pacer, she practically killed me on the six fast miles. This run felt very challenging. My legs almost never hurt while I'm running. They may  get sore and tired as I get up there in mileage, but this was my muscles were screaming by the second tempo mile. We hit some hills, not as bad as my neighborhood, but the long, sneaky, slight incline kind. When we stopped at a traffic light around 3.5 tempo miles in, Lily asked how I was feeling and I told her I didn't think I could keep the pace up. She told me I could, and off we went, and I kept up. Partially it was because I had no idea where we were and it was dark out, but isn't it amazing how someone telling you that you can do something makes such a difference? Even though I doubted it, just having her tell me I could do it changed my whole outlook. I know we've said it a million times, but running is so mental.

After the run, we were a little stiff.
And SOAKED. We all know I'm slow on the uptake, and especially so at 5am without coffee. So on our warmup mile, I wondered why my chest hurt and thought maybe I was having an asthma attack. Turns out the humidity was around 90%.
Wringing the sweat out of my shirt and skirt is sexy

When I got to work, I was yet again confused by the fact that my butt was wet. Like, not damp, my the back of my skirt was noticeably soaked. Finally I realized it was because my sweat soaked my car seat on the drive home from our run, and then soaked my work clothes when I drove to work. Excellent. 

Nonrunners - this may be a good place to exit this post. Thanks for reading!

So, back to that "running is mental" thing, I have a question for my fellow runners. This Saturday is the Baltimore Marathon supported course run.  The running store that helps put on the marathon puts out water stops, complete with Gus, porto-potties, and hands out direction sheets, so you can do your last long run on the actual marathon course. This is a big deal, because there are some parts of the marathon that you really can't run on without risking getting shot or ending your run addicted to heroine. You truly see the city in this race. Last year there were thousands of runners, and we got cheered on because people thought it was the actual race. This year we are even getting bibs! Did I mention all this is free, they just request small donations?

As most people probably are, I'm using this as a dry run for the race, in terms of outfit, nutrition, hydration, etc. My latest obsession, Kristy, has me wondering if I should use it as a practice for marathon pace. Kristy writes an amazingly inspiring, informative blog that chronicles her hard won recent Boston Marathon qualifying time. She does most of her long runs at marathon pace. 

I debated admitting this on the blog, because I'm afraid I won't be able to do it, but since I signed up for Baltimore I had set my ultimate, all the stars align goal to have a 9:30 marathon pace. But, with the fifty miler coming up, I haven't been training at that pace. Most of my long runs are LSD, more like 10-10:30 pace, which is fine, but my focus has been on adding mileage to prepare for an ultramarathon, not speed. I've done speedwork, but I haven't put the effort into it that I would have if the marathon was my key race.

Despite this, being inspired by Kristy, I want to try for a 9:30 pace on Saturday, for 22 miles. I'm asking if it seems reasonable because it means that I'm probably ditching my friend Jill, and running alone, which is kind of a big deal for me. (We already talked and she's fine with it, although I think she could do that pace!). Also, I don't want to go out at that pace and then be dying at the end of the run because I'm used to 10 minute miles. 

So my question is, should I try for marathon pace, or just continue my LSD runs that I've been doing throughout my training, and save the MP running for the next training plan?

And if you are still reading, you get a gold star. I really hope Kristy herself reads this and gives me an advice. It's like she's a celebrity to me now.