Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

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.


Owie, Again

I am dancing around the edge of being injured again. Another very common, typical runner injury; my left piriformis is angry at me. In the colloquial, my butt hurts.

It isn’t crippling, although every now and then I will get gasp-inducing shocks of pain in my left hip when I take a step, but they have come down in frequency since I started addressing the issue with stretches starting back on Sunday.

I am frustrated because I know the reason I am hurt; I sit at a desk all day and I have extremely inflexible hip flexors and weak hip abductors. Even Dr. Green commented that I have extraordinarily inflexible hip flexors when he was adjusting me back during the last round of IT problems.

It is not my habit to really stretch out after a run; I am time-pressed, I am overtired, I am rushed to get back to the office/home/wherever, insert whatever other excuse here. Further, I haven’t done any sort of strengthening exercises for my hips and glutes. As I said even in my last blog post, I haven’t been doing any lower body workouts aside from running. Well, the hens have come home to roost because of all my excuses.

Of all the possible times to be injured and need a little bit of rest from running, this isn’t the worst possible time at least. The next two weeks will see me sucked down the rabbit hole of SCA activities, and I have no long runs planned at all. I will keep my short runs on my schedule, and keep the stretching going that I have been doing. I need to find a hard ball to use on the piriformis muscle itself because the foam roller cannot get deep enough into the mass of muscles in that area. I need to keep up my daily stretching I am doing when I wake up in the morning. But I also really need to incorporate something like yoga into my routine, and I have known that for a good long while.

Like last time, I will set myself up a treatment plan including stretching, deep tissue massage (with a ball), and strengthening exercises. If it doesn’t resolve in the next 2 weeks with my own homework, I’ll call Dr. Green and get on his calendar. I guess I also need to find a yoga class at the Y to take on a semi-regular basis too.

I just wish yoga was as fun as running. I suppose it is more fun than being injured, though.

No Hollywood Finish to This Story

I wouldn’t say I conquered 12 miles. I conquered 9 miles, and then suffered the worst 5k of my life.

My first 9 miles were run pretty much at my goal pace. I was really pleased with that; I felt good, strong, the knee was achy and complaining, but solid. And then the last 3.3 miles (the whole route was about 12.3 miles) took most of an hour. I am not kidding. It was like a switch got thrown right at the 9 mile mark and I went from achy to agonized.

The pain in my knee progressed to muscle spasms across my quadriceps and even down my calf and shooting pains and spasms into the arch of my foot. A painful reminder just how much your body is a completely interconnected system. Pain became fear, and by the bitter end, fear threatened to become panic and irrational tears.

I got back to the stadium to find it largely emptied out. The intermediate teams had long ago left. It was just the stragglers left. I clocked an average pace of 13:14.

Not much I can say about it. I was upset, but I knew going in that 12 miles is a difficult distance for me mentally. Add in the physical difficulty I was facing, and there was no real way for me to come away from the run cheerful and chipper.

I saw the chiropractor again yesterday who worked me over. He wants me to completely lay off running unless I want to run the long one on Saturday, but he would prefer I didn’t. Between now and next Saturday, my focus is strictly on cross-training. He prefers using a bike, but he is an avid cyclist (he is flying to Florida today for IronMan Florida this weekend), so that figures. I will probably alternate biking and swimming if I can since I find stationary bikes only slightly more fun than watching paint dry. The goal is to get a moderately difficult Perceived Rate of Exertion going and do that for the length of time my scheduled run would have taken.

With only 10 days to go, I am not going to lose any of my physical or aerobic endurance. I have been wrangling with my mental endurance since this crap with my knee started 3 weeks ago. I am going to spend the next 10 days working on my brain as much as I work on rehabbing the knee.

Visualization, yoga, stretching, ice, cross-training, and positive thinking are the prescriptions for the next 10 days.

The countdown is officially on.


Only 158 days to the Warrior Dash. Don’t think I have forgotten that.

So, catching up on my training:

Sunday: attempted a 2 mile run at the school but fell flat after half a mile, most likely due to dehydration.

Monday: intended a 2 mile run that turned into 2.75 miles because I felt so good and strong.

Tuesday- Cross training – climbed from the first to the 10th floor of my building twice in the stairwell, then went on a 1.7 mile powerwalk.

Since joining the Battle of the Bulge challenge team at work, I have been highly committed to getting my 30 minutes of activity in, in theory 3 times a week, but I want to earn those bonus points for doing even more. I do not want to be the weakest link on my team.

I’m not. I am logging my food religiously and making sure I get activity in so that I have something to log. One of my teammates is in Colorado at a ski resort, so her access is spotty at best, but she logs when she can and she has really been able to rack up the fitness points. Another one (the marathoner on my team) gave up logging after one big splurge at Bottoms Up Pizza. I talked him back into the game and he started logging again this afternoon. I am proud both that he got back in and that I was able to encourage him.

The remaining member of the team is hit or miss with her logging.

I want to win this thing. My competitive streak is strong. They had no idea what they were getting into when they asked me. I don’t even know what we are “playing” for, what the prize is, but it doesn’t matter. I want to win. I want the bragging rights and I want that deep-seated smug sense of accomplishment that comes with doing something better than people around you who consistently underestimate you.

This challenge has helped me focus on my diet and activity level, and it has gotten me back into the habit of logging my food choices, which will please my nurse practitioner to no end. It is also easier to stay out of the candy bowl in one infamous office if you know you have to own up to eating 1, 2, or 5 pieces.

I really need to do some yoga tonight. I believe in the healing power of yoga now, though it is still not my favorite activity. My legs are going to hurt from the two trips up the 10 flights of stairs, and I want to run tomorrow. I think I will make tomorrow a short run, Thursday will be another cross-training day, and then Friday, I want to do a 3.5 mile run.

The other thing I really need to work on is picking up heavy objects repeatedly on a more regular basis, too.


Some background.

I finally committed to a race. I have wanted to run a race for years and I always sort of figured it would be a Race for the Cure kind of thing or maybe the Richmond Ukrops’ 10K annual race, but each time I would decide “this is the race I am going to run,” I would check the date and it would be up against an SCA event, or I would decide the $35, $40, $70, $99 registration fee was more than we could afford, or I would decide it would be too crowded for my personal comfort (crowds freak me out a bit), or I would just convince myself there was no way my fat ass could run 3.1, 5.2, or however many miles.

Facebook ran ads for the Warrior Dash this week, and because I know of the WD and considered running it last year, (and here comes the excuse: except that the closest one was in Pennsylvania and it was too far to drive) I decided to click on the link. Warrior Dash – in Virginia – in October (best time of year to run) – an hour and a half from my house – only $40. Is it up against an SCA event? Sure, but damnit, running a race is either a priority or it isn’t. I have been to dozen (hundreds?) of SCA events in the past decade. I can skip ONE for something I have wanted to do for years.

Anyway, all my excuses dried up and I signed up.

More background.

One year ago, on January 14, 2010, I underwent gastric bypass, at a weight of 270 pounds and a BMI of 43. On my one year surgery anniversary, last Friday, I weighed 151 pounds. Negative 119 pounds, but let’s just round up and call it 120. My BMI is in the “Normal” range. It is a modern medical miracle, and I am deeply thankful and in awe of my new life.

How does one celebrate losing about 45% of their total body weight? It shouldn’t be with a fancy dinner out; celebrating weight lost by eating is counter-intuitive. It shouldn’t be with a glass (or 2 or 3) of alcohol. I am not interested in new clothes (I have had more new clothes in the past 12 months than in the past decade combined), new shoes, or a new hair style (I love my hair). A manicure/pedicure doesn’t appeal to me in any way. Those things are just not who I am.

Losing 120 pounds has given me my life back. It has given me the ability to move and taken away the pain I used to suffer when I did. So it seems to me that the best way to celebrate losing almost half of my body weight is to use that new found freedom and ability, and do something crazy and fun with it, which is why I have chosen the Warrior Dash.

I have lost a lot of weight, but now I have to rebuild muscle I have lost, build speed and, frankly, endurance on my runs, and find the confidence to “put myself out there.” I am highly competitive to the point of being actually afraid of losing, and the likelihood of winning my age division is poor, so I have to confront some deep rooted personality issues to conquer this race, too.

The purpose of this blog is to track my training, my successes, my failures, and hopefully work out some confidence issues along the way.

1/20/11 Training * Weight – 151
Power Yoga – 25 minutes

Training Notes: I have NO balance whatsoever. I chose power yoga for the stretching aspect of it since the two previous nights I had done strength training workouts and one short run, and thought yoga would help alleviate some soreness. Plus, I need to build some balance to “Walk the Plank.”