Winter Willpower

December 24, 2010

In the wake of my 2nd marathon, I took a whole ten days off.  I mean totally off.  I didn’t cross train, I didn’t ride my bike to the grocery store when we ran out of milk, and I didn’t do a single sit-up.  It felt fabulous.  Perhaps best of all, I didn’t really gain any weight like I had anticipated.  All throughout marathon training I’d heard runners complain about packing on the pounds during intense training, and while I was pleasantly pleased to find this was not the case with me, I was fully prepared for the return of the bulge once my activity level came back down. 

As I said, that first week I fared pretty well, but then the Christmas cookies started arriving at the office.   And the cookies were quickly followed by Christmas truffles, and since my policy is to never say no to sweets, it was soon time to say so long to sedentary life!  That second week I hit the gym with full intentions to get back into the swing of things.  I left that first day feeling great and talking about how much I’d missed working out, but somehow that didn’t translate into me returning to the gym that week.  Whoops. 

A full seven days later I hit the treadmill again, only this time I had a plan.  Without races lined up to keep me excited and enthusiastic about the gym I, like most folks I’d assume, tend to slack off a bit.  Ok, more than a bit.  Step one of my plan was to come up with a workout schedule much like I would use during training.  There are modifications of course:  no weekly mileage higher than 23, and no significant distances or distance increases since I’m not planning on running another distance race until May.  This plan* is all about maintenance.  Well, not ALL about maintenance.  You’ve got to have a goal to strive for or there’s really no point, right?  My new goal for this winter is speed.  You see, a few weeks ago on The Biggest Loser, Ada ran a mile in 7:34.  Kirk looked at me with his eyebrows raised as if to say, “Dude, she’s got 65lbs on you.  Why can’t you run a mile in 7:34?”.   Well, I showed him!  I went out the next day and ran a mile in 7:30!  But you can’t stop there right?  So, I set up my winter training plan with speed intervals, tempo runs and decidedly faster paces overall.  Hopefully, come spring, I’ll have morphed from the Energizer bunny and into a jack rabbit.     

Step two of my plan involved accountability.  Without the fear of not being able to finish or set a PR at a race, I needed something external to keep me on track.   Enter Coach Coworker.   Actually, I call him Coach Bob, but to all of you Coach Coworker probably makes more sense.  I picked Bob because it’s not in his nature let me slide on anything–especially running, and he actually used to run marathons before a bum hip decided that wasn’t in his future anymore.  So, Coach now has my training plan tacked on the wall in his office down the hall, and each morning he stops me and inquires as to whether I did my workout–usually in front of everyone.  And, as I’m not about to lose face in front of all of my work peeps (how could I? I can’t even stand losing to Ada who doesn’t know me from Adam?), I’m pretty confident that I’ll  be able to stick to it.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

What are your tactics to stay on track this winter? 

*You can find my plan for this winter posted to my Training page, or click here: Winter Training 2010

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From Tapers to Tornados

November 20, 2010

I won’t delude myself into thinking that more than a handful of readers even noticed my two-week hiatus, but to those of you who inquired as to my absence–thanks, it’s nice to be missed!

The unread blogs on my Google Reader may be encroaching on a thousand in number, and the overtime on my paycheck may have had me doing a happy dance in my kitchen this evening, but I assure you–my time these past few weeks hasn’t been entirely spent away from running.  I’ve been keeping to my back-to-back marathon plan, running work-sponsored 5ks, and even setting new PRs.

The 5k was an annual run/walk put on by Tuerk House.  My company sponsors me in it every year, so long as I go and shake hands with the program director and tout our company for their upcoming projects.  Last year’s race took place right after a bit of a health scare that ended in surgery and I ended up having to walk the last part of the course.  My time this year not only took almost 10 full minutes of my previous course record, but an unexpected 27 seconds off my 5k PR!  The funny part is that I actually ran the course once before the race in an effort to stay warm (it was 42 degrees out that morning), even though I knew that by doing so I was essentially saying goodbye to a shot at a competitive time.  Apparently not, though — I didn’t wear my Garmin so you can imagine how shocked I was when I crossed the finish line and saw the clock read 26:03.  Crazy!  Maybe I should race all 5ks going forward after running a 3 mile warm up?

While I missed my last long run last weekend, I made it up with a 20 miler on the treadmill after work on Monday.  I didn’t get home until after 10pm, but it wasn’t nearly as awful as it sounds.  In fact, thanks to my new work phone I spent most of the 3.5+ hours killing time on Facebook. Posting status updates every few miles really helps pass the time, and the kudos in the comments were great motivators!  Not that I recommend epic long runs on treadmills, but I’ve determined that not only is it a decent alternative to the trail when daytime runs aren’t an option, but it’s perfectly doable.

This week begins my taper for the NCR Trail Marathon on the 27th.  I’m not sure how I feel about stuffing myself full of turkey and pecan pie on Thanksgiving and not being able to run it off for three days, but I’m sure I’ll survive.  I’m excited for the race, but I’m also excited for the race to be over. I’ve been actively training for the past 6 1/2 months and my body is tired.  My brain is tired, too, and both can really use the reprieve.  I plan to keep running through the winter, but intend to drop my weekly mileage from 35-40 to about 15-20.  And, if Wednesday’s tornado (that hit just blocks from my house!) is any indication that this winter’s weather systems will be on par with last year’s Snowmageddon, I’m sure it won’t be too hard!


Up in Smoke

November 4, 2010

Rather than blogging on my lunch hour lately, I’ve been perusing the housing market.  Frustration inevitably ensues when I invariably discover that, just like each day before,  it’s next to impossible to find a suitable home in a  suitable area that’s also at our price point.  And by suitable, I mean fabulous.  Obviously.

The fantasies that fill my head over the long hours spent on the treadmill this week (as rain + darkness + cold  = hypothermic twisted ankles) have at least managed to make the time go quickly.  No sugar plums here, just acres of land and plenty of historical charm.

So, imagine, if you will, the direction my thoughts fled when I detected a whiff of something burning on my run the other night.  No?  Not following me?  I’m going to pretend that’s not because I’m the sole evil mind among angels…

I smelled that tell-tale sign of rubber burning and I immediately began to worry if my treadmill was about to explode.  And then I started to wonder if I could sue the gym if it did.  And how hurt I would have to get to win big and buy the house of my dreams.  See?  Evil mind.  Don’t judge. 

Anyhow, just as I was 3 miles deep into building my new dream house (complete with a kitchen island and crown molding, of course) my fantasy came crumbling down.  Loudly.  You see, it wasn’t my treadmill that was ailing, it was my neighbor’s.  And you should have seen his face when his running surface stopped short, screamed a god-awful shriek, and burst into flames.

Lucky bastard.  


Don’t Honk At My Taper

October 15, 2010

The week before my first marathon, I expected to be bubbling over with anticipation, posting ad nauseum about the mundanities of tapering and preparing for race day.  I did not expect my preparation to include a 60+ hour work week that left me with a desire to look at anything but a computer monitor once I finally found my way into my pj’s each night.  

I’ve heard horror stories of athletes turning into angry, frustrated, bloated jerks during their taper and I was fully prepared to become one of them (even apologizing to my husband in advance for any undue masochistic tendencies that might crop up over the upcoming weeks), but surprisingly, and in spite of my long hours, I have been wholly embracing this taper thing.  A couple of months ago, I was having a hard time managing my one rest day, but here I am, a full two weeks into my taper and I’m noshing on Stromboli, sleeping late and loving every minute of it*.   In fact, the only thing that I’m not anxious about, is the fact that I’m not anxious.

Some might say I’m in denial, and just so you know, I’m not arguing. 

In my oodles of spare time away from the office, I’ve been pecking away at a post on drivers who honk at runners–a ubiquitous pastime of the uncivilized that got me particularly incensed this past weekend.  Apparently, not everyone is feeling as lighthearted as I am these days, as evidenced during my last “long” run on Sunday, when the drivers on the road were a better fit for the taper stereotype than I was.  Over the course of my 8 miles, I was honked at 3 times–4 if you count the air horn some jackass blasted 5 feet from my ear.

Why, oh why do people honk at runners?  I wasn’t running in the street, or wearing skimpy clothing.  I wasn’t even wearing spandex!  I was just minding my own business on the sidewalk–bum knees be dammed. 

I’m not sure why it irritates me so much, but the honking truly rubs me the wrong way (more so than the creepy guy who slurred, “Baby, you don’t need to exorcise” around mile 6).  I think it’s because I can’t figure out how all this honking is ment to be received.  Do they mean for me to take it as a “Hey, baby,  How you doin?'” a la Joey Tribbiani,  or is it more of an assertation of the  “Atta girl!” variety?  I’d be much more appreciative of the tonal high-five rendition of the automotive honk (if that’s the case, perhaps the air horn was more an “up high” interpretation?).

The real issue is this:  If I don’t know how a honk is intended, how do I know how to respond?  Instinctively, I want to give the offender the proverbial finger, but if the driver is merely offering kudos, clearly flipping the bird is not the ideal response.    And yet, a smile and a wave of thanks is hardly the message I want to be sending to some sleaze-bucket who’s puffing up his tail feathers and trying to get in my pants.

Scott Douglas published an all together different theory on why drivers honk at runners called The Mystery of Honking.  His whole philosophy is rooted in the belief that honking stems from anger.  Be it anger at the runner for hogging the road, or anger at themselves for not being as physically active as their object of abuse.  Personally, I’m hoping Scott’s way off base, because if he’s right, that air horn was probably laced with foul-mouthed resentment.  And who needs resentment messing with the bliss of their taper? 

All I know is this:  Tomorrow I’m headed to the starting line to race my first marathon, and the only air horn I want to hear is the sound of the gun at the start.

* Well, clearly not every minute….


Hint, Hint

September 29, 2010

*cough*gimmiegimmiegimmie*cough*


*ahem*
prettypleasecanIhaveit?*ahem*

I’ve had my eye on this baby for over a year and in less than three weeks I’ll actually have earned the supreme honor of wearing it.  You know, assuming I don’t keel over and die at mile 24… fingers crossed!  Although, in the event that does happen, I’m sure that this necklace can be custom ordered to read “24.3” if need be.  You can bury me in it and I will leave this Earth a very happy girl.

Please note, unless your mug looks like this  guy:

(a.k.a the most handsome, endearing, supportive and
loving husband
on the surface of the planet) 

you may disregard all shameless plugs for material gifts in commemoration of once in a lifetime accomplishments.

That is all.


Lucky Week 13

September 20, 2010

With less than one month to go before the Baltimore Marathon, I realized this morning that today marks the beginning of week 13 of my training program – aka, Hell Week.  Coincidence?

Week 13
(click to enlarge)

No, your eyes are not deceiving you.   Tuesday does indeed call for mile repeats at an 8:35 pace.  I’ll remind you that my “happy pace” is probably closer to 11:00.  But, always up for a challenge I’m tacking this week with gusto and in fact, plan to bump Sunday’s long run up to 22 miles, for a grand total of 42 miles for the week.  My highest weekly mileage yet.

Part of the reason I’m so enthusiastic about Hell Week is because my motivation has been waning lately and I’ve made the conscious decision to flip the switch. Last week was punctuated by three all-you-can-eat buffet events and I took full advantage.  Today I had sap peas and yogurt for my afternoon snack.  Flip.  It’s been weeks since I’ve done my interval cross training workout, but today I hammered it out and added strength training and an ab work to boot.  Flip.

The other reason I’m cleaning up my act?  Let’s just say that yesterday’s adventures at a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party involved pizza and cupcakes and while my taste buds thought they had died and gone to heaven, my waistline sorely disagrees.  

As an aside, it was dark when I woke up this morning, and it was dark by the time I got home tonight… Well, hello Autumn. Fancy meeting you here.


Big and Fat Ain’t Always A Bad Thing

September 17, 2010

My husband is awesome, it’s true, but even he can’t deny that some of his charm comes from the fact that he’s a package deal.  Like me, Kirk is incredibly close to his family … his big, fat, Ukrainian Catholic family*.  Unlike me, who grew up out west with only my two parents and not meeting much of my extended family until well into my 20s, Kirk and his family gather multiple times a month for birthdays, religious holidays I’d never heard of before, and maybe most enthusiastically, for football games.

It was  during football season that Kirk first introduced me to his family.  The were loud and boisterous, had their inside jokes and were overall a little intimidating.  Ok, a lot intimidating.  Far from the football enthusiast, I sat quietly in the corner most of the evening and somehow the role I created for myself within his family that night was the one that stuck with me for the next couple years.  It was hard to break out of my niche so late in the game, but once I understood that I was isolating myself and making it impossible for them to get to know me I started making a more dedicated effort.  I socialized, I asked questions, I laughed and told stories.  I may have still slept through the Super Bowl last year, but hey I’m no miracle worker.

Don’t get me wrong — his family was always welcoming and generous, but we weren’t fast friends.  Slowly, I’ve had to work backward, undoing the damage I did in those first few months.   Rather than setting a great first impression and being able to coast from there, I’ve had to work at it.  I guess I felt I had to prove to his family why I was worth keeping around.

This morning, four years into our relationship, I received an email from his uncle confirming to me that I never had to prove anything.  These people are so kind-hearted and loving, that any short-comings I have felt are solely my own imaginings.  These folks love me just as much as I love them. 

How do I know this?  I know because of a simple .jpg file.

 

In my Run to Remember 5k race recap I wrote about how I had torn off the lower portion of my bib used to determine my time.  At the finish line, my bib was ripped from my shirt by a volunteer leaving me to walk through the finish area with only four sad safety pins stuck to my chest.   

Uncle Paul, who ran with me that day, went home, scanned his bib and launched Photoshop.  He wasn’t sure what my bib number was other than it had bookend 4s and so he tried all the combinations.   Then he cut down a FedEx package and printed the image on the reverse side of the tyvek envelope, to make, in his words “the next best thing”.

I now have a bib to hang in my collage, but more than that, I know I also have a big, fat, Ukrainian Catholic family that I can call my own.  

* No indignities were intended by the writing of this post.  Ukrainian Catholic they may be, but physically obese they are not. 

Fat–adjective
1. big, broad, or extended: a fat sheaf of bills.
2. plentiful; abundant: a fat supply of food.