Posts Tagged ‘mental’

Swifter Sweeper

Happiness is new running shoes. No lie. I had surpassed 300 logged miles on my Brooks Ghost 6s and for the past several weeks, each time I went for a run in them, I was coming back with an ache in my right ankle. Well, by Sunday, I came back with BOTH ankles sore and achy. I suspected the shoes, went to Lucky Foot (my favorite running store!) and left with a new pair of Ghosts.

I went in fully intending to switch back to more supportive shoes like the Adrenalines. The sales associate really didn’t think I needed the support, but I tried them anyway. Well, after running in neutral shoes for 9 months, wearing the Adrenalines was like tying a pair of 2x4s to my feet. I tried stepping down a click to the Brooks Ravennas but they still felt too stiff and clunky.

When I put on the Size 12 pair of Ghosts, all desire to change up my shoes fled and they came home with me.

It is funny to me how when I was younger, what color and shape my shoes were meant a LOT to me. I wanted my shoes to look super cool; I really didn’t care how well they fit or how long they held up. 15-20 years later, and I could care less what my shoes look like, as long as they fit well and I keep all my toenails this training cycle. And now I pay 5x more for them than I ever did.

Function before form.

So, here is the only thing bugging me about MTT and my awesome team. I ran around a 10:30 minute per mile pace on Sunday morning; this is wonderful to me and is gradually becoming the new normal (not 11:30s like it has been for the past 2-3 years) and I am so happy to see progress in my pace. But even with that pace, I was the “sweeper” for most of the route; dead last member of the team. I caught up with a number of folks on the Boulevard and even passed several of them as we went over the Boulevard Bridge, so that was kind of nice (yay, hill training has paid off!), but it was a tough effort for me to even keep some of the team in sight on Monument Avenue for a while.

My options are to switch to a novice team that runs fewer miles and has slower participants or suck it up, put out the hardcore effort this deserves, and recognize that there might be weeks where the coaches are tapping their toes looking for me.

It would be unworthy to switch to a team with slower members just so I don’t run the risk of being the official Team Sweeper.

Someone always has to be last, right?

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The Quest Begins

So it begins. The Quest for 26.2 miles has started. It began yesterday in the bright sun and blessedly cool Sunday morning at SportsBackers Stadium. I am on Team Cocoa, which the coach, Ellie, joked about us looking like UPS drivers if we actually try to wear cocoa colored clothing. It is the slower team of the two intermediate teams. The faster team intermediate team looks like it is made up of human cheetahs. My team, not so much.

The intermediate teams were scheduled to run 7 miles, the novice team was running 4.

Gory details to follow:

Since I had poisoned myself the previous day with too many delicious but wildly greasy carbs at an awesome restaurant called My Noodle, my GI system was completely uncooperative. At the best of times, my pouch and small intestine (minus about 7 feet of it) are unpredictable, but yesterday’s reaction was completely predictable in the worst sort of way. It is the main hazard of being a Gastric Bypass patient and an athlete (dehydration being a close second).

Within the first 10 minutes of the run, despite my best efforts, I knew I was in trouble and I knew the only bathroom on the route was the bathroom in Bryan Park, which would be about the 3 mile mark (yes, I know almost every single open and available bathroom in the City). I suffered for those three miles, but I made it. While shuttered up in that sketchy little bathroom, I did the math and recognizing that there were no other rest stops along the rest of the 7 mile route, I decided to cut off the “Northside neighborhoods” section of the route and went straight back to the Diamond on the Boulevard. That took a little less than 2 miles off the planned route, but it saved me from more misery.

When I hit Brooklyn Park Avenue, where the planned route and my alternate route met back up, I wound up a pack of fast runners from the Green team; those human cheetahs. Most of them were running in the 8:30 minute/mile range and I couldn’t keep up, but running with them and being a half mile from the end, I knew I could damn well speed up. My insides cooperated long enough and I think I ran that last half mile in the 9:45 min/mile range. I was grinning like a hooligan in spite of everything. I could feel a change in my brain. I am really, truly, officially, and finally training for a Marathon.

You would think I would be unhappy or upset that I didn’t make the full distance on my first week of training, but I’m not. I know my body. I know its limits. I know I could have run those two miles if my system had cooperated. It was a beautiful morning and a familiar route. But I also know myself well enough to know that I would have ended up walking, with severe cramping and doing the “two-cheek-squeak” for the last miserable mile, and I would have felt horrible.

Two extra miles was not worth that kind of suffering.

So aside from all the miles I am going to log in the next 5 months, there are a bunch of other considerations to make to keep myself healthy and uninjured.

Diet: I want to limit repeats of Sunday morning’s gastro-intestinal festival, and that means being careful with carbs, avoiding dehydration, and seeking high quality calories. I need the most bang for my nutritional buck that I can get. No 3pm dashes to the vending machine for a rice krispy treat. I am trying to keep my desk stocked with nutritious options for when the mid-afternoon munchies hit. Whole wheat crackers and natural peanut butter (my variety has added flax seeds, for what that’s worth), mandarin orange pieces in no sugar added liquid, and high quality dark chocolates for those moments when chocolate is a must (it happens). Lunches will be lean protein and vegetables. Breakfasts will not devolve into an egg and cheese bagel from Cupertinos; hard boiled eggs, Greek yogurts, and occasionally things like steel cut oatmeal (have to be careful with oatmeal though; I need extra protein or my blood sugar gets a little wonky).

We regularly plan dinners that are pretty healthy, and they are usually planned on a weekly basis, with an emphasis on balancing Byram’s low-purine food requirement, my lowish-carb requirement, and my Mom’s need for variety.

I am making it a point to really focus on getting all my daily supplements in. I know what the FDA says about vitamin supplements, but their recommendations are for the general populace, not someone who has 7 feet of missing intestine and absorbs only about 2/3rds of everything she consumes. For me, vitamin supplementation is a must.

Cross Training: I know from my history that because I sit all day, my mid-section is kinda soft like a gummy bear, while at the same time, my hip flexors are tight as piano wire. The perfect recipe for injury. Mondays on the schedule are x-training days and I am going to focus most of those days on core strengthening and stretching. In fact, I am going to bring a yoga mat to work. There is a section of the 2nd floor where no one ever comes and I can do a full core workout without any gym equipment and never have to leave my building. Over the summer, when time allows, I might add in some evening swims with Grace at the Y. Being in the water will take my weight off what are sure to be sore muscles, while at the same time, you get some resistance training and cardiovascular benefits. Also, Grace time is Good Time.

Yoga: This goes hand in hand with X-training, but needs to become a regular act. At least on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I need to get up and do a yoga routine in the morning or before I go to bed if I run in the early a.m. during the hottest part of the summer. Again, injury prevention is my main goal; I can’t cross a finish line if I am too hurt to get to the starting line.

Sleep: it’s nature’s Reboot Button. It’s a key element of a good immune system (distance athletes are not famous for their abilities to fight off a cold). It’s when your body builds muscle. It’s when your whole system slows down and recovers from the strain of hard core training. I am going to start aiming to be in bed between 9-10 pm every night because many mornings are going to see me up and at them for early a.m. runs by 4:30 and 5 a.m. A morning glory I am not, but I am going to work on it.

Finally, and probably oddest…

Positive thinking: My mind is my greatest enemy. It is crueler to me than 100% humidity, 90 degree temps, and double digit distances. I have the power to make it my greatest ally. And so I shall work to that end. Stop the self-mutilating mental talks. “I am the slowest person on the team!” needs to become “I am lucky to be running with such amazing folks. I bet I can catch up to them just a little if I push just a little harder.” “Oh my god, 20 miles will feel like forever.” needs to become “I really cherish ‘my time’ and I am lucky to have the next several hours all to myself.” I can work on it, but the mind is the hardest thing to train. Wish me luck.

Going To The Sun*

I know I talk a lot about the tough side of running. When things go wrong, physically or mentally, it tends to wind up here. Let’s shift gears away from that, at least for today.

Today seemed like an ordinary enough day. Work at my desk job for about 4 and a half hours, then head to the ladies room and change from business casual into tech-fiber casual. Hair goes up, hat goes on, headphones go in (all the purists now have a case of the hives over my iPod), and down the elevator 10 stories to the city streets.

It is finally, for real and for true, warm here. 76 degrees out, reasonable wind speeds, clear skies, low humidity. You know, like it’s Spring or something. A warm, sunny day called for bared arms and a route with no shade. I headed for the Richmond Floodwall Park. On the Floodwall, I have seen a bald eagle, a black king snake sunning itself in the path, countless Great Blue Herons and dozens of Peregrin Falcons. I don’t run this route as often in the winter, and I don’t think I have run the floodwall at all since late last Summer. This winter was just too brutal to face the very cold harsh winds coming off the river, and there are spots on the top that drain poorly, so with all the rain/snow, it would have been half a log flume up there. I just avoided the route, but I have missed it.

So today was the day and it didn’t disappoint. The sun was warm without being burning. Sweat poured without leaving me feeling light-headed with dehydration. I had a falcon take interest in my neon green tank top and follow me at distance for a bit. The music on my iPod was perfect for my mood. I added “Let it Go” from Frozen to the playlist last night, and that was like fuel on a fire for me today. Topping the stairs of the floodwall, the roar of the rolling river over-topped the sound of my music, and it was glorious.

The world around me is just starting to take on that lightest shade of spring green; it is also still brown and twiggy, but there is promise springing up all around. We’re still a long way from the emerald green of summer, but also the wicked heat and humidity that summer brings along with it. It was a perfect day and a perfect run.

It is days like today, miles like today’s, that remind me why I do this thing. Why when so many people make cracks about “being chased by a bear” or reproach me about destroying my joints, or warn of the risk of unknown heart problems, I can let all of that roll off my back, lace up my trainers and go out and log some miles anyway.

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

*The title of this post is a reference to Going To The Sun Road, on my Bucket List as a place to go for a run before there aren’t any glaciers left in Glacier National Park.

Doubts

While we were at the Shamrock race expo, they were registering people for the Crawlin Crab Half Marathon, which is scheduled for the first weekend of October. I knew I had wanted to run that race, and Byram said “Go ahead and register today! Sign me up for the 5k while you’re at it.”

Well, two problems occurred. I had an account with the race production company (imATHLETE; also puts on Shamrock), but it was set up by Byram and he didn’t remember the password. Second, they were doing registrations on iPads, which I am not proficient in the use of. After 10 minutes of not even getting past the log in, I gave up and said I would register from home.

Three weeks later, being yesterday, I did. Byram had forgotten all about it, so I wanted to surprise him and sign him up for the 5k on Saturday, and I signed myself up for the “Shell Yeah” challenge, the 5k and the 13.1 the following day.

I kept waiting on Byram to check his email and was sure he would find a “Registration Confirmation” email and be so surprised, but apparently it only came to me. I waited a whole day before I sprung the surprise to him on FaceBook, and then forgot it is April Fool’s day, so he didn’t think I was serious at first.

Ah well, way to blow the wind out of my surprise sails.

In the meantime, I am contemplating three letters. MTT. That is Sports Backers’ speak for Marathon Training Team. $165 will get me 24 weeks of supported team training, my race entry fee, and ultimately a Richmond Marathon finisher’s medal (it really is all about the bling, I suppose).

It isn’t a question of can I do it. I know I can if I stick to the training plan. It isn’t a question of is my family okay with it. Byram (and Grace) have both thrown in their encouragement to the idea (I don’t think they realize how many hours I will be out of the house on runs in September and October). The question is all about my mental ability. Am I mentally tough enough?

Right now, all I have are doubts. 5+ hours of running, stuck in my own brain for that long? I get mentally weary at the 12 mile marker in a half. That will never do.

I trust my legs. I have doubts about my brain.

But I know of only one way to remove those doubts.

Temporary

Every action must also have an equal and opposite reaction.

Isn’t that the Third Law of Motion? Seems like an appropriate quote today. Yesterday was a day of joyful post-race exuberance. I searched for new races to run. I read up on full marathon distance training. I hugged a couple of people, showed off my race medal to a few others, shared race experiences with others who ran, and got asked again and again how it went.

Today, the Third Rule seemingly must be obeyed. Blue. Low. Down. Lonely. Unhappy.

Ah, how could I possibly have forgotten about post-race blues?

My intent to fight back against them today had been initially to go to the gym and work out (not run, sadly; my knee is still very sore and stiff). Then I was asked to go get something on my lunch hour for the office (I am in the half and half creamer club and it was my turn to buy half and half). That would have made for a nice walk in the sun, so I shifted to that plan.

And then I got caught up in an epic, lunch hour-consuming project for work, and here I sit, angry at an attorney who isn’t even aware he is being thoughtless, frustrated that my plans were overturned, and mad that I let myself get derailed without fighting back.

I know I will feel better in a day or so. I know this is a temporary mental state (just like yesterday’s over-the-top feeling was, too).

100

Okay, I couldn’t hold out for a post-run update to get to my 100th post. And I really didn’t want to leave the previous freakout post up all weekend either.

To soothe the freaked out beast within, I remembered some of the best race signs I have seen in all my races so far. Some of these might be misremembered or paraphrased, but they all made me smile, then and now. I am vastly calmer than earlier today.

*~*

Chuck Norris Never Ran A Half Marathon

Smile If You’re Not Wearing Underwear!

Toenails Are Overrated

There’s Bacon At The Finish Line

If You Think 13.1 Is Hard, You Should Try Holding This Sign For Hours!

Why Do All The Cute Ones Run Away?

You Trained Longer Than Kim Kardashian’s Marriage

You Did This For The Free T-Shirt

13.1 Miles (’cause You’re Only Half Crazy)

Keep It Up – You’re Working Harder Than Congress!

Hurry Up! The Beer Truck Is Running Out!

*~*

Then I saw this link, which made my day:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/nicolesander/ways-you-are-the-least-prepared-for-the-nyc-marathon-in-the

Friday Freak Out In Progress

I did something I don’t normally do. I went to FaceBook and made a post specifically to garner some encouragement. I love my FB Friends. They are very good to me.

Tomorrow morning is just another Saturday morning Half Marathon Training Team run. Only it isn’t just another Saturday morning Half Marathon Training Team run. This day, October 19, has been looming larger and larger for me ever since I opened my Training Manual and turned to the Intermediate Schedule and saw that the Intermediate teams would run a 14 mile route.

Knowing this date was coming was just sort of sitting there in the back of my mind, but as each week has gotten longer and as the long runs have gotten more difficult, the number 14 started becoming more and more intimidating. My brain is being overwhelmed by “Ohmigawd this is gonna hurt!” and I know I am setting myself up in a bad way just by being this anxious about the distance.

I was so miserable after last week’s 13 mile distance that I didn’t even walk back all the way to the Stadium where I could go pick up my new team shirt. I just limped straight to the car. I was too pitiful to let a free shirt draw me up that hill any further. I just keep thinking “If that was bad, how much worse is 14+ going to feel?”

It doesn’t help that the route covers some very familiar territory, including the location of actual race finish line (at only the 6 mile point; how is that for a mental sideswipe?), running directly past my place of work (or the starting and finishing point of every lunch time outdoor run I make during the week), and the dreaded long slog west on Broad Street (the first 2.5 miles of the race).

Yes, I can feel myself psyching myself out.

I feel unprepared. Hell, I am unprepared. This feels as big as race morning and I don’t have a plan in place like I would for race morning. Breakfast or no breakfast? How many GUs should I carry? What clothes will I wear? Those are questions I would have answers for if this was race day. And I don’t.

See? I am freaking out. So I am writing this out; getting it off my chest, actively seeking support even if it is just a shout-out from a bud on FB, and making it a point to ask myself the questions above and think up answers for them.

Some people I have talked to have asked why we run a 14 mile distance training run for a race that is only 13.1 miles long? The answer is simple: it will make race day easier to handle mentally. You know you can beat the distance and then some. Boom. Instant confidence builder. This one day with one extra mile isn’t going to do anything for me, physically, but as you can see from the freak-out I am undergoing right now, once it is over and done, I will have achieved something new, something I have never done before and that is why we run 14. It is good for your brain.

Maybe that can be my mantra tomorrow. “This is good for my brain.”

We’ll see.

I am still pretty nervous.

PS: This was my 99th post. My 100th post will be about my longest run ever. I like that.