12.92- Take Two

I already posted about the disappointment in last weekend’s long run. But, I’ve reorganized my head and my attitude, so this morning, I was pumped to try the killer route again. So pumped, that I declined to run with my friend, Janet, this morning – even though we haven’t run together in a month and even though she was running a shorter distance.  I declined both of those enticements for a shot at redemption on the hills of Freeport.

I woke up, did the morning chores in the barn to loosen up, and then went to eat my banana – step 1 in holding off the cramps that just about killed me last week. But NO – no banana for me.  Nope. Evidently, my thief of a dog, Ruckus, ate the last banana.

Here is a picture of Ruckus, looking cute, like he’s not the outlaw that we know he is:IMG_1566

So I had to go with a Power Bar.  No problem, I was up, anxious to get going, and my daughter, Lucy, was planning to ride her bike alongside me to carry water, snacks, and be my overall support wagon.

 

The first two miles were tough – some really huge hills and my body stiff with my feet complaining, but I knew it would get better once I was really underway.   Miles 2 through 6.5 were great – I stayed at a steady no-rush pace and happily listened to my daughter chatting alongside me, enjoying some of our last time together before she leaves for school in a couple of days.  We both appreciated how absolutely beautiful the route was and how lucky we were for so much shade.

And then – A CRAMP – the same knife-in-gut cramp that bit me last week. I do NOT know what that is about, but it is the worst and makes moving nearly impossible.  It is not a normal side-stitch. It’s low and in my gut.  I had to stop more than once just to grab my body with my hands and try to force the cramp out of its spot.  That, of course, never works. But, I did manage to get it to a level that I could breathe with and I kept going for the remaining 6.5 miles.

Because Lucy had the phone with her, she shot photos every now and then of me slogging up the hills…

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Lucy knew I was struggling and quietly stayed with me until at just the right moments, she’d chirp, “You can do it, Mom – look at you GO!“.  She’s the best.  🙂  And go I did. All the way to the 12.92 finish line.

And then, we took a victory “selfie” in the driveway, both of us glad to be home!

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Half Full

This post tips the hat to my friend, Karen, who always expects me to share the “half full” point of view. I’m relying on that today because my recovery run didn’t go as planned.

Obstacles:

1. I planned too long a distance. I was feeling all pumped that I walked away from what could have been terrible injuries in the car accident and decided to try a loop that, according to mapmyrun.com would be 12.65 miles.  The first 2.5 miles were some serious hills (I knew that) so I figured if I was in trouble after the hills, I could turn early and shorten the loop to 10.5 miles.

 

2. Major cramps.  Not the kind that you can breathe through (though I really, really tried). Rather, the kind that make you think your insides might have tied themselves together cutting off all blood flow.  Incredibly painful and like nothing I’ve had before. Methinks this may be related to my recent intestinal troubles more than the mileage.

 

3.  The cramps started after my shorten-the-route turn. By the time they started, it would have been equidistant to turn back than to continue onward.  I kept going.

 

4.  I missed the next turn.  I was thinking about breathing and trying to keep running and all of sudden, there was beautiful Maquoit Bay in front of me. “Cool!“, I thought, “I get to run along the water!”  And then I remembered from the map that my run wouldn’t go by water.  I had to go back and find the turn I missed.  I think this was an extra .8 miles or so.  But, I’m not really sure because…

 

5. My Garmin stopped working. Seriously.  I’m the one with the hard work. I’ve got hills, cramps, jet lag, car accident left overs.  All the Garmin has to do is keep a steady tic-toc and ping off of a satellite every now and then.   It came back on. And then went off. And so on…

 

This sounds all glass-half-empty, I know. But here’s the half-full part for Karen:

1. It was the most gorgeous summer day in Maine! Crisp blue sky, 70 degrees, sunny, no bugs, light breeze. And I spent the entire morning outside in it.

2. I remembered to put on sun screen.

3. I only walked a little bit.

4. I didn’t throw up.

5. I covered a distance even longer than the one I planned thanks to my unplanned detour by the water.

6. I don’t have reliable Garmin evidence of how long the whole adventure took, so I don’t have to feel bad about it.

7. I got back just in time to prevent my husband having to leave work to come search for me.

 

There. All in all, not a bad morning.  I believe I have earned an ice cream mix-in, thankyouverymuch.  🙂

Accidental Insight

I am back from China!

Jet lag is a confusing thing for a human body…when to sleep, when to wake, no back to sleep, but wait, wake up! Sheesh.  I’ve been tired, but I’m also feeling the pressure of missing some important endurance miles while I was away and have been anxious to get my training back on track.

My mind was ready to go. My body, not so much.  Mainly, in addition to messed up sleep, my digestive system has been constitutionally corrupted during and since my trip to China. In spite of the amazing culinary delicacies, my body just revolted and things in the digestive department have not been up to snuff.  This is not only uncomfortable, it is also a bit of an impediment to thinking about being out on the roads of Freeport for an extended period of time, if you know what I mean.

But, I am  determined. I can be a pretty tough nut when there is something that I want, and this case, I wanted to catch up to Janet who was planning a 15 mile run for Saturday morning (today.)  I toyed with the idea of keeping up with her, but was pretty sure doing so would set off the tendonitis in my feet (which is feeling much better now!)  I downgraded my catch-up plan to getting in a 10 miler.

I ran 6 miles on Wednesday and felt good. I ran a fun 3 miles with my daughter on Friday and, though I fought of a cramp for those 30 minutes, I still felt good.   My 10 miler for Saturday seemed like a good plan.

Until I was in a car accident yesterday afternoon.

What happened? LET ME TELL YOU. I was minding my own business.  On a fairly busy road, two cars in front of me were stopped waiting for a car making a left turn. I stopped. The truck behind me stopped. We were just politely waiting for the car in the front to get a safe margin to make the turn.  But, some other driver, going about 50 mph, never saw us stopped and just drove full speed into the pickup truck behind me.  That of, of course, sent the truck into my car.  Everybody got hurt, but me the least since I was furthest from the initial impact.  I hit my head on the steering wheel, scored some whiplash.  I knew that those things were hurting when rescue arrived to get us out of the mess. But it wasn’t until I got out of my car that I realized my knees had hit the dash area and were aching.

My first thought:  “But I can’t be this hurt. I’m training for a marathon!

Yes, I realize that thought completely lacks perspective.

And that’s what this posting is ultimately about.  Perspective and insight.   Sure, I’m training for a marathon. I already felt whipped by the jet lag and intestinal war inside my body, but I was still working on a plan to get my training back on course ASAP.  I had planned my weekend around the long run, the recovery time, and the food I’d definitely want to eat post-run.

The girl who drove her car into the pick up truck behind probably had plans for this weekend, too. Maybe she was on her way to those plans. I don’t know.  I do know that she’s really, really hurt.  It seems she never braked at all, which means she plowed her small Chevy Aveo into the back of a truck at about 50 mph.  Her car crushed into her. They had to take the door off to get her out.  I got taken to the hospital in an ambulance with lights flashing. She got taken to the hospital with sirens blazing.  Whatever her plans were, they’re different now.
I’m sure the police and insurance companies will sort out what happened – of course everyone is speculating that texting was involved – but it really doesn’t matter.  I doubt the people who love her care about anything other than whether she will recover.

My perspective now is about gratefulness.  I am grateful that the worst thing that happened to me is a cut on my head and headache, with a generally sore body and a bruise on my knee. That’s it.  My car is wrecked, but my body isn’t.  I walked away from that accident well enough to plan my 10 miler for Sunday instead of Saturday. No big deal.

And that is the point.  In my mind, the marathon has been a BIG DEAL.  Huge.  So big that I’m writing about it.  I’m working my schedule around the training and eating. I spent my time in China forcing miles onto a treadmill to keep up.  I now realize that though I was a reluctant registrant for this marathon, I’m actually excited about it. It’s a test – both physically and mentally – but it’s also a testament to how lucky I am to be healthy enough to go for it.

Yesterday’s car accident was a good reset to my perspective.  I’m lucky to be training for this marathon, for this test that will make me feel powerful and proud when I complete it.  I will no longer complain about my feet, or fatigue, or even Dusty’s tortuous PT treatments.  I will post positively about my training experiences. (At least I think I will.  It is possible that I will have to complain, just a little bit, at some point during this training. But, for now, my Pollyanna persona is feeling pretty positive.  🙂 )

Eastern Massage

The Chinese have got it goin’ on when it comes to balanced energy and self care. Let’s start with steam rooms. I’d never been in a steam room, and frankly, with the Wuhan temperatures at 106 degrees with 85% humidity, we were pretty much working in a steam room everywhere we went. But, just last night, a colleague said, “Have you used the steam room in the hotel yet?” I said no, not my thing, and besides, I keep trying to find ways to cool down – cold showers more my craving. But, she was persistent, telling me that it’s unlike anything else and will make me feel cleansed and “opened.” And then she said, “you have to stay in long enough for it to work – when you feel you really need to leave is when you have to decide to stay.”

So, this morning, I did a brief workout on the treadmill and then found the steam room, wrapped myself in a towel and went in. It was about 2 million degrees with so much steam that I could hardly find the seats. I wondered if I should write a note with my name and room number in case someone found me steamed into a human dumpling and needed to notify my loved ones. But, just when I hit the moment when I thought, “I can’t stay – it’s too hot,” my body relaxed and I started dripping sweat.

I thought I held out for quite some time, but when I finally left, it had only been about 17 minutes. It turns out that 17 minutes was definitely enough minutes to thoroughly release all the water in my body through my pores – pores I didn’t even know I had. As I toweled off, I realized it was the most refreshing feeling – soft, flexible, relaxed. Amazing. The only downside to the steam treatment is that I discovered it in the last 4 hours of my time in China, so my “openness” will soon be voided by 24 hours of airplanes and airports. But no matter – still totally worth it. 🙂

Also, let me tell you about Chinese foot massage – it’s all about reflexology – a keen understanding of pressure points in your feet and their relationship to other points in your body. It sounds like it would be gentle, peaceful, and not nearly as aggressive as the calf massages I get from Dusty. But, in this case, the foot massage includes not just traditional massage and pressure, but a whole bunch of slapping and pounding and wriggling. A bunch of us were treated to traditional leg massages in Wuhan (thanks to Claire Du’s incredibly generous mom!) and the entire experience was memorable – it was late at night (about 10pm), with a Chinese soap opera on the tv above our heads, and four of us getting slapped and pounded, which led to a whole bunch of laughing or gasping depending on what was happening. The funny thing was that when it was over, we were transformed – we couldn’t stop talking about how great we felt, in spite of the abuse, and have been actively trying to figure out how to get one more shot at it before we board planes later today.

I have managed to keep running throughout this trip – not the distances I need for endurance, but on the treadmill almost every day and my feet seem to be holding up well! I have to think that my feet might be healing, in spite of the continued workouts, and I’m hopeful that I can clock an 8 miler without too much discomfort when I’m back on the roads of mid coast Maine.

Check out this brief video of our foot massage experience – only my leg shows in the video in order to protect the identity of my colleagues. 🙂

And, not really anything about running, but a cool photo of the Shanghai skyline …

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Yangtze River Running

So, I am a wee bit more than half way through my trip. Wuhan is one of the hottest cities in China, and it’s been a cool 106 here during the day. So, even though the air quality is better than Beijing, it’s hot, hot, hot. The Old Port Marathon weather has got nothin’ on the weather here in Wuhan.

But, today, when I woke up early and looked out my hotel window onto the Yangtze River, I knew I couldn’t spend my time on a treadmill. I had to go outside. To hell with the heat.

It was nice to land my feet, one in front of the other, and actually GO somewhere… but even better was what I saw along the way…. I’m not sure of the cultural tradition, but certainly, 5:45 a.m. seems to be just the right time for the mature part of the local population to emerge and begin their morning exercises outside. I was flanked by music, pods of folks doing tai chi, swimmers, and then… an exercise park! Chinese men and women, easily a full generation older than I, were getting it done on swings, rowing machines, and other pieces of equipment that I didn’t recognize. Impressive.

(I learned that turning on the VPN is a solid way to outsmart the prohibition of FB so I’ve got some good shots for you in the blog this time!)

In the first photo, check out the woman hanging from her toes flanked by the woman getting in a good stretch and swing right next to her.

Then, a couple of videos highlighting tremendous strength and balance, games, and lovely tai chi.

In the 2nd photo, notice the guy swimming past the small fishing boat that had just arrived, and then below that, you’ll see a bunch of folks checking out the fish catch.

An absolutely awesome start to my day.

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Finally, I would just like to mention that though this has nothing to do with running, I ate duck tongue, frogs, and turtle (or at least it was in the turtle family) today.

I’m going for the river run again tomorrow morning before heading to Shanghai. I’m not actually getting too much mileage on these runs because the sights are just too good to run past – so there is a lot of stopping and starting. Good for the soul, if not for the endurance training.

Blogging from China

I am in China. Since the time is 12 hours ahead of time in Eastern USA, I’m a bit out of whack. But, I’ve set a new schedule, in local time, and am trying to keep up with business – the fitness biz, that is.

I was warned before I departed for China that the air quality is pretty poor. It’s so bad, in fact, that there is an “app for that.” For real. “China Air Quality” from the App Store on my iphone. Since I have had a lifetime of trouble with geographic orientation (as in I can get lost in the most simple scenarios) and China has bad air, I’ve decided to limit my workouts to the hotel gym.

The gym is equipped with ellipticals, treadmills, bikes and weights. I went right for the treadmill – I am training for a running event, after all. But, with my feet still uncomfortable and with my Trusty Dusty half way around the world, about 2 miles into my workout, I stopped and trudged over to the elliptical. The elliptical takes time to get used to and I’m not sure I like it, but it did eliminate the pounding for my feet, so that has to be helpful.

But, then, I had the best workout of all…. climbing all over Great Wall of China – a tremendous and mind blowing physical and cultural masterpiece.

So, this morning, I was drawn back to the treadmill – I had enough time to run for an hour and figured that would keep me in line with Janet’s schedule this week. But, at step number 5 my stomach went into major cramps. Not the normal side stitch I often wrestle with, but stomach pains. I’m thinking this distress is likely tied to my local diet over the last couple of days, so I split my time between the gentle elliptical and the pounding of the treadmill. I will try to eat carefully today and hope for more comfortable workouts in the next couple of days.

I should also note that the gym was a surprisingly social and happy place this morning in the hotel as many of the colleagues who have arrived in the last 24 hrs for our shared work over the next 10 days were pounding it out to shake off the jet lag.

We’ll be meeting up again, freshened up and ready to head out for lunch, then work.

(China does have a lockdown on access to some websites – though I can post text to my blog, it seems I cannot include pictures, which is too bad)

Battle: Mileage vs Middle Aged Metabolism

I am fortunate to have been active enough in my adult life to be reasonably in shape. But, pretty much on the day I turned 40, my metabolism pulled to the breakdown lane, threw on the flashers, and decided to just take it easy. No reason to rush to burn up those calories and make energy. Nope, second half of life is time to conserve and rest. At least from a metabolic point of view.

Shortly after my 40th birthday, I asked my doctor to check my thyroid. She asked why. I said because I had gained weight for no good reason, I was active, eating the same, nothing was different, but I was gaining. She kindly said, “Well, now that you are 40…” I stared at her. “Please check my thyroid”, I said. She called 4 days later to say my blood results showed my thyroid was looking good.

NOT cool. A sad day, indeed.

I like food – all kinds of it, primarily healthy food, though I have an incredible weakness for ice cream. I’m not a dieter. I don’t have the discipline for the deprivation. I will, however, pay the price in mileage to continue including ice cream and cocktails in my life. So, one would think that the mileage required to prepare for a marathon – 6 months of increasing weekly mileage, all the way to the 26.2 haul – should open up my menu to some indulgence. One would think.

At 45, I’ve read most of the middle-aged diet plans out there – cut back the carbs, or just cut them out completely. Rely on protein and vegetables. No sugar. Or only sugar from fruit, but not too much, because sugar is sugar. And no bananas. According to any Google search, bananas and belly fat are essentially the same thing. No matter that bananas are also reported to be the “perfect” food – a tidy balance of vitamins, carbs, etc. But if you’re battling belly fat, bananas are out.

Oh, and to hell with the gluten. If you want to be really healthy, even if you’re not suffering from celiac disease, just cut out the gluten – one chapter of the book Wheat Belly and you won’t want another swallow of anything that’s got gluten in it. Avoiding gluten means that the carbs are coming from rice, corn, quinoa, legumes, and products derived from those things.

I am averaging about 25 miles a week now, with nearly half of that taking place in one long weekend run. I am definitely stronger. In fact, my daughter looked at me yesterday and said, “Mom! Look at the size of your thighs. They are HUGE!” (Honestly, I think training for a marathon is the only time that I could hear that as a compliment.) But, the blasted mid section is determined to hang on to a solid, well established extra layer. Not enormous, probably not even that noticeable to anyone besides me, but COME ON.

So, let’s recap: middle age metabolism supports belly fat – invites it and gives it a place to check in and get comfy – but I have altered my diet, dropping diet soda and all gluten products. Now, my PT, Dusty, says to cut out inflammatory foods that are inhibiting the healing of my tendonitis. What are inflammatory foods? Grains, seeds, legumes. If you’re following closely, I’ve already given up flour and wheat products, and next on the no-no list are rice, quinoa, lentils.

Me: “Where will all the carbs come from?”

Dusty: “Vegetables. Fruit. And corn”

But, corn is as bad for the mid section as bananas. So pretty much, I’m left with broccoli, blueberries, and almond milk.

No matter, this limited menu ought to do the trick right? I’ll eat a LOT of the allowed foods so that I have enough energy and the mileage will just take care of the mid section.

EXCEPT if you happen to catch the article in Women’s Health magazine (as I just did), you’d learn that sustained energy exercise, “such as running“, is surprisingly not a reliable force against the flab. Nope. Specifically not running. Bursts of energy are required. Kick boxing exercises. Burpees. Fartleks. And a long list of other exercises that boggle the mind.

You may remember from the introduction to the blog, that I actually have a life and obligations outside of this marathon training. I don’t have time to score the training mileage PLUS the energy burst exercises.

In order to make this work, I have to complete the marathon training with a firm hold on moderation. This is a bit of an oxymoron since everything about a marathon is required in the extreme – endurance, training time, pain management, psychological focus, organization, fatigue. But for the food, I need the carbs. I need them more readily available than just in fruit and vegetables. So, I’m eating the corn. I LOVE corn. And it’s corn season. I’m eating a banana before a long run because bananas give me energy and are the best for avoiding cramps. And I’m sticking with the ice cream because I love it and life is short. And I’m eating rice and quinoa and lentils because I believe they are good for me, even if they register as “inflammatory”. I already like the fruit and vegetables, so they can stay. 🙂

As for the mid section dilemma, I have to accept a moderate tolerance for the fact that my body needs fat to survive and if my age and lazy metabolism distribute that fat unevenly, choosing a resting place at my waistline, well, then so it is. I’m already in a fight with my feet. I’ll just leave the waistline out of it.