Monday, February 28, 2011

Performance Anxiety

Image Credit
With tri season fast approaching, I've come to realize something:  I'm incredibly anxious about it.  Actually, let me narrow that down.  I'm anxious about the ocean swim portion.  All the sprint tri's in our area have ocean swims.  I grew up in the ocean, so that by itself isn't a big deal, and I trained in the ocean in anticipation of these races.  It seems to be the combination of everyone else in my wave, the already choppy ocean and the strong tide that have me freaked out.  Last year, I thought it was the swim in general, however, when I did my olympic distance tri in North Carolina, that was a lake swim, and it was fine.  Sure, there was a little chop created by my swim wave, but I was pretty unfazed by it. I'm even looking forward to getting back in the pool this week.

I think about our upcoming local sprint series and get kind of panicky.  I know I got through two of them last year, but they blew me up for the rest of the race.  I spent the swim with an obnoxiously high heart rate and felt like I was struggling the whole time.  By the time I got to shore, I was exhausted.

So I'm trying to figure out how to get past this.  I want to be excited about this season.  I'm excited about getting back on the bike, and I'm excited about having a stronger run base and more confidence in that leg.

But I can't seem to get past my nerves about the swim.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eating and Eating and Maybe a Little Running

This past weekend E surprised me with a trip to Savannah as a sort of belated Valentine's Day/we haven't gotten away to just relax for longer than I care to think.  We've spent time in Savannah before, but usually an afternoon passing through here and there, or once for a sprint tri E did last year. So this was the relaxing, post-marathon trip.

Moon River Sampler

Originally we were booked to stay at a Joan's on Jones, a quaint little B&B in the historic district.  E called to confirm our reservations Friday morning, and we arrived around 9 p.m. Friday night, excited about our stay.  However, much to our surprise, they weren't expecting us.  Or at least the wife portion of the husband and wife team that runs it wasn't. Turns out, while her husband confirmed our reservation for two nights, the wife had booked the room already for Saturday night.  Our options were stay there for the night or find somewhere else.  A few phone calls told us a lot of hotels in the area were already booked, so we opted to stay there for the evening and let the wife, who seemed to think it was our fault they screwed up, call around and find another place for us to stay Saturday.  Oh yeah, after she tried to charge us the full amount for the night.  Really?  

We dropped off our baggage in the room and decided to go out for a drink and dessert.  We found a nice place on the river, and enjoyed a couple glasses of beer and some truly tasty desserts.  Eating and relaxing was pretty much the theme of the evening, and well, the weekend. Our reluctant hostess had found us a room at another B&B after all, so we packed up Saturday morning and decided to wander until the new room was ready.  It was a beautiful day, and we meandered through the streets of historic Downtown, stopping to enjoy lunch at a local brewery, Moon River, then gelato, which we ate on a park bench in one of the many historic squares to enjoy the day and the dessert.  We then decamped to our new room, at the Lincoln B&B, which turned out to be a beautiful little apartment on the ground floor of a historic Victorian.  Wonderful hosts this time around, and a beautiful suite, stocked full of snacks (bonus) and all sorts of thoughtful amenities.  Bliss.
Food Coma Imminent 

We took a nap, then went out that evening to take in the City Market area, visiting some little art galleries, taking in a wine tasting and enjoying the hustle and bustle before heading over to the Firefly, a quiet little cafe we had discovered on another trip that did not disappoint.  After a delicious three-course meal, we decided to abandon plans to go back to the City Market area and instead just enjoy our room.  It was fantastic just to relax.

We finished the trip off with some fantastic pizza from a place in City Market, and then headed home.  It was a fabulous weekend - technology free, I might add.  Do you see a theme of eating?  It was all amazing, though I was more than ready to start back this week with  my normal meals.

Oh yeah, and training.  On Monday night we went for our first post-marathon run, just an easy 3 miles through the neighborhood.  I was aware of my legs a lot more than I expected, is probably the best way to put it.  My knees felt tweaky, part of my right hammy ached and everything felt just slightly out of whack.  Overall though, it was really nice.  I'm looking forward to working my mileage back up, and hopefully get out on the bike this weekend.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Climbing the Walls and Post-Run Shoes

As soon as we got home from the marathon on Sunday, we ordered pizza and I devoured about 5 slices.  Since then, I've made and consumed chocolate chips cookies, wolfed down some Godiva chocolate, blissed out on Skinny Cow ice cream cones and basically inhaled everything in sight.  It's been awesome.  But now I think I'm done.  Granted, I ate a 3 Musketeers Bar about twenty minutes ago, but that was totally it.  I bet I won't even touch the heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie cake I made E for Valentine's Day when I get home.

As I've been eating though, I've been thinking about how much I want to be running, swimming, biking, yoga'ing...sweating.  This week is my official week off - no guilt about not training, diet, etc.  Just enjoy the mellow aftereffects of a good marathon.  [Side note, I'm already thinking about the next one.  Any suggestions?] And it's kind of nice being able to agree to a guilt free happy hour with coworkers (no thoughts of, I should really be home running), making plans with family or not having any plans at all.  Which is also rather fantastic.

Mostly, I'm glad I've come out of the marathon feeling even more motivated than before.  It still hasn't quite sunk in that I ran a marathon, but I do feel tremendously empowered and so much more confident in my abilities.  Somehow, I finally feel like an athlete.

On another topic, I'm looking to find a good pair of post-run and/or casual flip flops (or shoes).  I've been looking at the Orthaheel Kinect, but does anyone have any suggestions?  Being Florida, flip flops seem the most sensible choice, and with my job and in general I spend a lot of time on my feet.  I need more support!

Finally, for your viewing pleasure, crossing the finish line at the marathon:

Monday, February 14, 2011

26.2 with Donna Race Report

Nope, I'm not freezing at all
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  Yesterday, I officially became a marathoner.  I'm still really, really stoked.  Probably more so today that yesterday, because yesterday I was tired and sore and kind of spacey.

So here we go.  I'm kind of terrible at race reports, so here are the highlights of my day.

E and I had been planning to run this race together.  I asked him long before I ever decided to do this marathon if he would run my first one with me.  He agreed, and we've done most of our training together.  I think my desire for this all started when I was watching the finish line at his first marathon, in 2009, and saw a couple crossing the finish line together and thought "wow,  what an awesome feeling that must be."   So on Thursday night, E came down with an awful case of food poisoning.  As a result, it was pretty touch and go, right up until the start line on Sunday, whether he would be able to run.  Friday after work I went to the Expo (let me tell you how much I *love* a good race expo) to pick up our packets and do a little browsing.  Needless to say, a little browsing turned into a new pair of Saucony running capris plus two BondiBands, which I have heard so many good things about but never got around to ordering.  Upon getting home, we discovered that they had given E a women's half-marathon shirt, necessitating a trip back to the Expo Saturday morning.  After swapping out the shirt, we did a bit more shopping (shocking, I know) and E got me an awesome Saucony windbreaker that I have been coveting (I'm not sure what is with the Saucony trend...their stuff just fits me well).  Ok, enough about the Expo, on to the good stuff, the race!
1941 was a great number!

We had gorgeous, gorgeous weather for this race.  Because of where the race begins, there is no parking anywhere near it, meaning you have to pick one of a dozen or so locations to park your car at and take a shuttle to the start line.  We live fairly close to where the race started, so it was a bit out of our way to drive to the shuttle stop, but that was ok.  I had been stressing about what to wear for the race, since it would be in the 30s when we started but 60 by the time we were done.  Meg talked through some of it with me, since I tend to err on the side of ridiculously hot within a mile of running, so I wore capris, a long sleeve shirt and a pullover. I neglected to take into account the two hours we would be standing around outside prior to the race start and I was freezing.  Shivering, teeth chattering, freezing.  There was some issue with the shuttles (and about a bajillion people at our shuttle stop) so we didn't get to the start line until about 10 minutes prior to the starting gun.  We got there, through our bags in bag check and found our place in the corral, between the 5:30 and 6:00 pace groups.  Then the gun went off and away we went!
Marathon Bag and medal

The first part of the course you go over a bridge on a highway which takes you to the beach, where most of the race is run.  Once over it, you run through neighborhoods and the beach community, even doing 3 miles on the sand.  The area is where my grandparents lived when I was growing up, so it's an area I'm rather fond of.  There was also a lot of crowd support through these neighborhoods.  Jacksonville loves any excuse to tailgate, and this was no exception.  In addition to the race-sanctioned water stops (which were awesome, located every half mile to three-quarters of a mile) people came outside of their homes, setting up lawn chairs, stereos and tables full of water and oranges and other fruits, some even had stuff like m&ms.  People also decorated with banners and balloons, all in pink for breast cancer, and I thought many times it's one of the only races I've ever run where fans and spectators are thanking each other.   There was one awesome woman around mile 15 who was sitting in a lawn chair by the roadside.  She took off her wig when we passed by and said "Thank you, thank you from a survivor, my wig goes off to you!"  There were live bands too, which was really neat and lots of people with fun, creative signs.  My dad, his girlfriend and my aunt met us at mile 10, so we got gels from them and gave them our jackets - the day warmed up quick with the sun in full force and no wind.  

My legs were a little more sore by mile 10 or 11 than I had expected, but the miles were going by quickly.  Poor E, still recovering from his food poisoning, was in pain for most of the race, but was doing his best to make sure we finished together.  He really gave it everything he had.  As an athlete in general, he amazes and inspires me with his discipline and dedication, and his overall mad skills.  Yesterday really blew me away, because I could tell how much it was costing him to do the race, but he was relentless in his desire to finish.

I will be one of "those" people with the obnoxious
magnets on my car.
We saw the family again around mile 16, and then we were on our way back towards the finish.  Around mile 19 is when I really started to hurt. My right knee felt tweaky, my hamstrings were hurting and by mile 22, my toes were killing me, which is a problem I never have.  Then we were back on the highway headings towards the finish.  At that point we were both pretty tired, so we alternated running a minute, walking a minute.  There were still a lot of people out cheering us on.  A couple schools' cross country teams were out, and did the whole tunnel of high fives thing.  I have no idea what this is called, but E said it is part of the marathon experience.

And then suddenly, we were over the bridge and off the highway and the finish line was in site.  It was awesome.  We picked up the pace for that last little sprint and we were done.  I had finished a marathon.  My aunt got video of us during the marathon and crossing the finish line, so I'll post those soon. My dad and his girlfriend got some great pics of us as well, so more of those to come.  I was so happy they were there to share the experience with us.

Today, my hips and right knee are pretty sore - I'm doing a great job at demonstrating what a hobble looks like.  My toes did get pretty shredded yesterday, so I have them all bandaged up today.  But overall, I feel pretty good.

Favorite signs from yesterday:  "We <3 Boo [insert pictures of bees here]"
Most inspiring moment:  Watching an older gentleman on arm-brace crutches complete the marathon.
Overall touching moment: Realizing how many woman I know, several of whom have been close to be, who have been affected by breast cancer, and then reading all the shirts and signs of other people running the race for women who had been touched by the disease.
Creepiest moment:  The water station with the guy dressed as a leprechaun clown, who was passing out water, completely stone faced.

I'm sure I'll think of more, but these are the ones that spring to mind.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

T Minus 5 Days...

Wow, it's almost here.  My first marathon, the 26.2 with Donna Breast Cancer Marathon.  I guess you could say being this close to the big event is making me reflect over the path that brought me here.

Late last year, after finishing my first olympic distance tri, I decided I wanted a larger challenge which turned out to be running a half marathon.  In fact, I decided on a trifecta of races:  the Outback Distance Classic Half Marathon, the Donna Half Marathon and the Gate River Run 15k.  I didn't feel ready to commit to the seemingly impossible distance of a marathon.  In 2012, I'll do one, I thought.  Then I'll be ready.  Then in October, on Halloween, we ran the Pumpkin Run, a 10 mile course through a local cemetery, and I started to think, maybe I should go farther.  And on Thanksgiving, when I ran the Outback, I thought, this isn't enough.  And decided to go for it, shoot the moon, take on the challenge.  E had, several months prior, agreed to run my first marathon with me.  Being an Ironman and having already completed one marathon, he was definitely up for the challenge...I just don't think he thought it would be this soon!  Of course, I didn't either. :)

My training the last couple weeks hasn't been the greatest, but I'm ok with that now.  I have confidence that I'll do it; not finishing is not an option.  My dad and his girlfriend will be there cheering us on, and my aunt will be here, plus friends.  It's a race with great support, and there are so many women in my life who have been touched my breast cancer that running for them is something miraculous in and of itself.  

So I'm nervous for Sunday, but I'm also excited.  The last year has seen me become more and more of an athlete, something I would never have dreamed I would become.  I've learned to have a better relationship with my body and with food.  I've been able to feel proud of my progress and my strength.  I look forward to this race and I'm already ready for the next one!

Friday, February 4, 2011

For Shame on Marathon Training

I'll just put this out there:  one of my biggest issues with training is consistency.  I'll do really, really well with running/yoga/swimming/cycling/diet for whatever period of time, and then I completely crash and burn for a couple weeks and don't do anything.  These past two weeks are a case in point.  I'm running a marathon a week from Sunday.  I think I might be an idiot because I haven't run.

The marathon is the longest thing I've ever trained for, particularly for running, both in distance and time commitment.  I put a lot of weeks into Olympic tri training last year, but that also varied with the swim/bike/run.  The issue of the last two weeks began with something simple: since starting marathon training, and putting in the longer distances, I've fought sore hamstrings.  At first, once I had a rest day, they bounced back with little issue, or I might have a couple slightly sore runs but the pain wasn't debilitating.  Then, on my long run two weeks ago, my right hamstring locked up and I was hobbling.  Stretched it out.  Walked it out.  Tried to run, to no avail.  The left hammy was sore as well, but nothing like the right.  With the marathon so close, I decided it was better to take a couple days off to let them heal, rather than keep pushing myself, causing potential problems on race day.  I've never had muscles cramp up like that before, and there is no way I could get through a marathon if that happened at the 10 mile mark like it did that Saturday.  A week later, and my hamstrings were still sore, but slowly getting better.  And's almost two weeks and I haven't run.

I did get in a good yoga class, but that's not exactly a substitute for my weekly mileage.  Hence the lack of blogging and my all but disappearing from DailyMile.  I'm just kind of embarrassed and irritated with myself, so I have been hiding a bit.  So, I have faith I'll make it through the marathon, but have given up any hope of a decent time and expect to be in quite a lot of pain, probably during and after.  I'm getting really excited though.  :)

Fun things that have happened while I haven't been running:

- I finally got a new phone, the Droid 2 Global, which I've been lusting after for quite some time.

- We went to the outlet mall last weekend and I scored a couple of great summer running tops from Adidas.  They will go really well with my adorable new Puma running skirt!  Clearly, I've been on a gear kick.  Replacing the worn out, ill-fitting stuff with new, built-to-last pieces that should get me through a few seasons.  This picture isn't the best of my new skirt, but at least I know the reflective bits work!

- Outside of an incident involving chocolate chip cookies and ice cream cake, my diet has been ok. I've made the transition to unsweetened almond milk and low-sugar cereal.  Now it's time to quit chasing the sugar dragon and banish the afternoon/evening chocolate cravings.

- Anyone else sort of not impressed by Biggest Loser this season?  I feel like they're trying to create too much drama with the "unknowns" and the "ranch team."

- Very excited about Google finally coming out with a blogger app. I haven't posted it from it yet, but have long thought it would be easier to  have one.  Has anyone else tried it?

So here's to a better training weekend, a light training week ahead, and a marathon a little over a week from now!