I don’t even like bananas.

The last really long distance I ran was the Maine Marathon in October. That was pretty long. After that, next longest was a 10 miler with my daughter, Lucy, right around Christmas.  Full stop. Nothing. Okay, maybe a little bit here and there… I didn’t want to lose all that fitness, but winter just got SO MEAN that it was such a battle to think about leaving a warm bed to go outside into subzero temps, with wind, in the dark, to exercise. So, I didn’t.  Plus, there was just so much (expletive) snow to move all winter (10 feet of it, thankyouverymuch), that I was spending enough time outside in the cold and dark. Plus I had to shovel my roof. I was absolutely getting plenty of outside time.

The problem was (is), that my appetite was (is) still of the marathon size… so let’s just say there has been an imbalance of calorie intake versus calorie expenditure, and intake has been in the lead.

The combination of the improved weather and my ill fitting clothes has motivated me to think about getting in shape.  Two weeks ago, I had to travel and I just so happened to think optimistically about my commitment and I packed my sneaks. I met some new colleagues on that trip and after dinner, one of them said, “Hey – let’s go for a run in the morning!”  I looked at him, and the other guy with him, and said, “You mean me?”  They agreed that they meant me. They promised only 30 minutes, slow pace.

I was game – so I met them in the lobby of the hotel at 6:15 a.m. and we set off. However, we were all new friends, so there was a lot of talking, and I was trying to keep up, while talking, and I finally had to beg them to stop and walk – TWICE – just so I wouldn’t throw up on them.  I don’t think they were impressed with my fitness but they were really nice about it.

Well, that kind of embarrassment is just the right kind to get me in gear, and I got serious. I signed up for the Old Port half-marathon in July so that I’d have a date looming ahead.  I diligently ran 2-3 miles, several times a week over the last couple of weeks (including a jaunt by the East River in NYC this past week.)

All of this means that there is nothing like regular exercise to remind you how much what you eat influences how you feel. This is how the bananas have made it back on the grocery list:

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I don’t even really like bananas, but the truth is that they are the perfect athletic ‘fuel’ in so many nutritional ways, that’s it’s really self-sabotage to NOT eat them. So, there they are. I’m eating them. One a day. Hoping my muscles and metabolism appreciate the treat since my taste buds most definitely do not.

Today, I woke up, with a COLD, and still laced my shoes and stepped out for what I expected to be a 3 miler, with a 6 miler planned for tomorrow. But, my running buddy (and good friend buddy), Janet, was heading out for a long run on her own today with a new pacing method.  I felt good when I got started (thanks to the banana and cold meds), so I followed her plan and actually clocked 9 miles!

I’m back!  Bananas and all.

Onward.

 

 

 

Philadelphia Marathon – on the schedule – at least on mine

Today was Margaret’s last day of vacation in Maine and she chose to run 12 miles with Janet and me this morning before she packed the car to drive back to PA. If you couldn’t already tell, from all the previous blogs, Margaret is a machine. I don’t know anyone else who could run 12 miles, then pack up a family, and then drive all day. But Margaret can (and did.)

Today was tough on the three of us, though. We met in Portland and did almost the same route as last week  – including a full trip around Macworth Island and a detour through Payson Park on the return, trying to stretch the distance to 12 miles.

Margaret was running with wings on her feet – she was super fast and led way in front- her head just a dot for me to follow ahead in the distance. Janet was full of determination and stayed with Margaret for a long time before switching to a different pacing strategy.  I was the caboose. And, even though I felt good on this route last weekend, bopping along at a good pace, I was just NOT feeling it today. I sort of had heartburn for the first 8.5 miles and generally felt in a bad mood.

As we looped back to the starting point, it was obvious that the route was only going to be 11 miles, not the 12 we had planned. Now, the three of us are all the “get it done” type – no backing off the plan for us. But, today, none of us felt like finding that last mile. Nope.  At 11, we quit and sprawled out on the grass by the cove, complaining with relief that the run was done!

Margaret was heading back to PA to manage a move. She’s essentially been in housing limbo all summer. Her family is waiting to move into a new house next week, but had to move out of the former house in June, so the last couple of months have been a bit nutty. She was just anxious to get back to PA to get that move going and get herself and her family settled into the new house before school starts, so I think that’s how she ran so fast.

Since my move is over, I’m just tired. 🙂  And I didn’t feel like running fast at all.

Also, I lost the hard drive on my computer last week. Since I lost absolutely everything on the computer, that means I also lost my running log and my training plan. This means I’m following Janet’s crazy customized training plan she got from Runners World.

The most important point of this week’s blog is that we ran 11 miles together as if we’re all training for the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23, but…. I’m still the ONLY one who has signed up!  Ok, Margaret’s moving and Janet is busy, but COME ON. If I’m on my own on race day because they didn’t sign up in time, I’m going to be really sad (and slow.)

I didn’t have my phone with me, so I don’t have any photos of today’s 11 miler. But, I’m including a photo of my dog, Stella, because she looks like I feel on long run days like today:

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Onward!

On the road again…

Last time I posted, in *January*, Maine was in a deep freeze and I was complaining about plantar fasciitis.  Let’s just say, in all respects, it was a LONG winter, weather-wise and exercise-wise.

I just couldn’t get myself to deal with the gym and do the therapeutic workouts on the rowing machine or elliptical.  I’m not a gym girl. So, I made up my own workout – not the same cardio as running, but a regular routine that worked on strength.  It helped me keep focus and I stayed generally fit.

Ever heard of a Bodyblade?  Neither had I.  And then I tried one out and … it is one serious piece of equipment. It’s a long piece of fiberglass with weights on the end and a handle in the middle. You grip the middle, and cause a rhythmic motion and that works *everything*.

Here is the Bodyblade:

bodyblade photo

 

So, anyway, I had a routine of the Bodyblade, 40 lunges, and a 7 lb kettlebell, 6 days a week.   To deal with the foot issue, I rolled out my foot on a special (not so nice) nobby ball that was supposed to help loosen up the tight fascia in my foot. Then, along with those exercises, I slowly started running again.  Just 2 miles at a time, a couple times per week. Then 3 miles. Then 2 or 3, etc.  And now, I’m getting some real mileage back.

However, I am not completely recovered from the plantar fasciitis, so I have to do the following:

1. run with tight tape (and yes, the angle of this photo does make my ankle look really, really strange. It doesn’t really look like that.)

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2. A post-run ice bath for my poor foot.

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3. Then, a therapeutic compression sock especially for plantar fasciitis (and I have to sleep with the sock on, too!)

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The good news is that I’m actually getting somewhere.  I logged over 20 miles last week, with an 8 miler last Sunday. (Though, I stopped at mile 7 for a quick hello to a neighbor who was outside in his driveway, and then it was actually a 15 min chat, so I got a bit of a rest before getting that last mile in.)

And, if you’ve read this blog before, or if you actually know me in person, then you know that there is a probably a goal embedded in this mileage effort.  Indeed, multiple goals exist.

For instance, I no longer have horses. This leaves a huge hole in my life for a lot of reasons, including regular exercise and a daily time commitment to caring for them.  Running takes time and effort and planning, so it helps to fill that tremendous void of an effort that I loved so much.  In this way, my goal is to use running to distract myself from the loss, finding an alternative outlet.

Also, running connects me to other people, though I mostly run alone. But, I know that Janet and Margaret are there, working on their own goals, logging their miles in achievement, with focus.  And, sometimes we’ll run together.  Margaret will be in Maine for the 4th of July. I am running the LLBean 10k on that day with a couple of friends from work, and Margaret will join us. 🙂  Janet is coaching a Couch to 5K group, so she’ll be with them on the 4th.

And, running is helping me keep my head together as there are days when the intense push-pull of my life could get me so mixed up that I would want to just stand still. But running keeps me moving forward – literally and figuratively.

So, I’m on the road again. I am aiming for October 5 – either the Maine Half Marathon or the Maine Marathon, depending on what I’m ready for.  Janet really wants to do the Philly marathon again, but it’s so late in November this year that it puts the heavy distance training during my busiest travel time which is pretty complicated. But, as Janet pointed out, Philly is relatively flat and has fans cheering for the whole 26.2 miles.  Maine is hilly, 1/10 of the runners, and not so many fans. It’s lonely and hard.  I’m not sure I need lonely and hard. So maybe Janet and I will just do the half marathon on Oct 5th and then decide about Philly.  Too soon to say.

However, I just went out and planted a water stop for tomorrow morning’s run – I am going to head out before it’s too hot and just see how far I can go….

Onward!

Plant What?

Okay, okay.  My blog is no longer about preparing for my 1st marathon. Now it’s just a blog, somewhat related to the experience of running – the ups, downs, starts and…stops.

You may recall that my first blog entry last summer was pretty lame. I went on and on about the marathon registration as a surrender to the peer pressure of my very fit and persuasive friends, Janet and Margaret.  I said that I had never even really enjoyed running, and how I just did it to stay in shape as time allowed, that I had no shame in being slow, and that I had no burning desire to get faster. At the time, I just wanted to finish the marathon.

As I was packing in the mileage and suffering the  heat of China, the long weekend runs, the ice baths, the sore feet and ankles, the hunger, the fatigue, I was also amazing myself with what my body could do.

When the marathon was over, I kept running – lightly. At first I said it was to keep from getting stiff. Then I said it was to keep the fitness I had gained.

As it turns out, I LIKE RUNNING.  After all that work, I’m fit enough to put on my kicks and pound out a 5-8 miler without feeling wrecked for the rest of the day. I like the fresh air. I like the exercise. I like the alone time and I like the company of my running friends when I can join them.  I like the goals I put in place each time I set out.

I embraced this revelation and  signed up for a February 10 mile race with Janet.

And now… I am sidelined completely.   Keep in mind, I made it through 4 months of training without any major injury. Sure, I had tendonitis, my feet hurt, I endured some seriously nasty physical therapy. But I walked away from the finish line right into an ice bath and then right back to my regular life. No injuries.

Now… I have a very painful condition common to runners. (Insert sound of thunder here) – PLANTAR FASCIITIS – (Close with thunder claps.)   My right heel hurt so much that it kept me up at night, I couldn’t walk, sit, or stand comfortably. I was downing Advil tabs like they were Sweet Tarts.

These pictures show what is wrong: plantar photo 2 plantar photo

I went to see Dusty. A big a hello from him, a high five for my marathon, and then… a sad slow shake of the head as he dealt with my foot.  Plantar fasciitis is a beast. A mean, gripping inflammation of the tight fascia from heel to toe. The treatment? REST.  Ice,heat, tape.  And REST.  The arc trainer and elliptical are out – they still strain fascia. Swimming is allowed, but I don’t swim. ( I can swim. As in, I can stay alive if I fall in the water, but I am not a swimmer.)

So I hit the rowing machine. In the gym, I ran into a friend who last saw me before the marathon. He asked me how I was doing but before I answered, he said, “Well,you must be injured because nobody rows unless they have to.”  J

Fortunately,  the machine has a game mode where every pull of the “oar” throws an electronic  dart at target on the screen in front me… if I have good form, I get a bulls-eye and 50 points. So, at least I have something to concentrate on as I row to nowhere in the basement of the gym.

Here is a picture of what the game looks like: dart game

But it’s not outside, It’s not with my friends. And it’s not… running.

I am in San Diego, CA for meetings. Right now, Maine, (where I live) is in the grips of an astonishing deep freeze, the Polar Vortex. We haven’t been able to get warm for weeks.  I knew this trip was on the calendar and I was dreaming of putting on shorts, my shoes, and running in 70 degrees.

I’m not at all complaining about being in California. Not at all. I am just sorry that I can’t even enjoy outdoor exercise that doesn’t require 35 layers of frostbite protection.  This is the bike path outside my hotel room – 65 degrees and calling for me.

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But, the treatment plans for plantar fasciitis are pretty consistent –  and they all focus on rest.  (Trust me, I’ve Googled it, looking for some study somewhere that would justify light running during recovery. There isn’t one like that.)

Now that I know I like this activity, I will be good about what it takes to get better. I’ll have to miss the 10 miler, and probably the 20 miler that Janet is determined to get me to do in May. But, I will get back out on the road at some point. In the meantime, I’ll focus on what’s allowed.

Running to Crazy Land

My former college roommate commented that I’m definitely a runner since I refer to my distances in the hundredth of a mile… as in “12.92” versus what most of the population would refer to as “13.” 

Truth is, I’ve never thought of myself as a runner, which is a bit strange, since I’ve been running on and off for the last 8-9 years.  Seven years ago, I ran my first 10k. Two years ago, I ran a 10 mile race. Last year, I ran two half marathons with one month in between them.  Yet, in spite of all of that, I still think of myself on the outside of the running population – an interloper – not actually a spectator – but  more of a  “don’t mind me, I’m just passing through” presence. 

Is it because I’m not fast? Is it because I am only dedicated when I have a race distance that scares me?   I tell myself that I’ve been coerced into the races, and that I can (and do) blame my running buds for getting me to register. Is it because they were a pair, and then they invited me in, and I always run behind? (They’re faster.)

I’m not sure why I haven’t given myself the credit that I apply to every other runner I see on the road… but today, I realized I *am* definitely “a runner.”

This is how I know:

1. I was up before the sun so that I could start the barn chores and still drive to Janet’s house by 6:30 a.m.

2. I put on shorts and a t-shirt even though it was only 48 degrees outside.

3. I rubbed silicone stick all over my skin in any place that I thought might rub against fabric.

4. I drank pickle juice to keep the cramps away. (I’ll come back to this one.)

5. I took 2 pit stops in the woods (this is Janet’s fault.) 

6. I ran 16 miles.

7. I got back to my house, filled the tub with cold water, poured in three bowls of ice, and then SAT in it.

(I’ve just paused, thinking, “I only have 7 items – 10 would make a more legit list.”  But then I just re-read my list of only 7 and I think those are enough highlights to prove the point. 😉 )

 

I’ve heard that runners, whether they know it or not, are part of what’s sometimes called “a closed community” – meaning that they bond strongly to one another through the shared experience of endurance and sacrifice, and are sometimes not in touch with how their extremism affects or impacts others.  I disagree. I don’t think it’s a “closed community.”  I think it’s Crazy Land.  And I’ve just moved in.

Crazy Land is not  a closed community at all – it’s wide open -everyone is invited, especially runners. And, what I realize now, is that anyone who puts on sneaks, puts one foot in front of the other, over and over again, despite the body’s readiness to stop, IS a runner, including me.  The distance doesn’t matter. The pace doesn’t either.  Stepping to the challenge makes a runner. And, the challenge is *always* self imposed. Sure, I freely point the finger at Janet and Margaret, but the truth is that I’ve always had the power to say “no”, but I never have.  Even this morning, Janet was planning on running 17 miles. My training plan suggested 14.  We agreed that I would shoot for 15 and Janet would keep going to get her 17.  But then, when we got to the 7.5 mile turnaround, Janet said, “Let’s go for a full 8 before we turn back – can  you do 16?” and I said, “Ok.” 

I’m pretty sure that’s proof that I’m a runner and that I did it to myself.  Janet just suggested the distance. I actually made myself do it.  I am a runner.

 

NOTE RE CRAMPS:  My 2 previous distance runs were really wrought with gut splitting cramps.  More than one person suggested drinking pickle juice, which sounded a bit out of bounds, even for Crazy Land, but I Googled it and it does seem popular.  This morning, I poured about 1/4 cup of dill pickle juice from the pickle jar into my 6 oz water container.  I have to say, I only drank a portion of that concoction and I just couldn’t do more.  At one of our water stops (shout out to Janet’s husband, Michael Griffin, for stashing water along the route for us), I poured out what I had and refilled with just plain water. Then I burped and sweated pickle juice for about the next 5 miles.  Just not my thing.

BUT – this was a CRAMP FREE RUN.  Maybe it *was* pickle juice, maybe it’s because I started taking probiotics, maybe it’s because my body has finally calmed down, OR, maybe it’s because I shared 16 miles with my friend, Janet, and in spirit with my friend, Margaret.

 

NOTE RE TEAMMATES:  Janet is in fine form. She’s ahead of me in mileage and polished off 17+ miles this morning after a particularly grueling, sleep deprived week of work related stresses.  Margaret is recovering from emergency surgery. She will be fine, but she needs some recovery time.  Of course, some people in her situation might just bail on the marathon, but I’m pretty sure Margaret will be back to her training without a doctor’s note.  Inspirational teammates for sure!