Thursday, October 29, 2015

Runfessions: Hold on to that feelin'


Runfession #1: I can't stop thinking about my recent Chicago Marathon. I'm still smiling about it! And I can't stop talking about it! I know that. You know that. Have you ever known anyone to run a marathon and not talk about it? Some people accuse runners of oversharing. Apparently they would like more of us to be like this woman:


Yeah right! This would never happen! And really what is the point of this video anyways? It's clearly fake.



One more picture, because I can't stop thinking about it. I promise this is the last one, and thank you for indulging me one last time:
Look at that heel strike! And don't ask me what that yellow substance is on the ground ahead of me. It's early in the race, about mile 3 or 4, so I'm pretty sure it wasn't any bodily fluids at this point. Of course, you never can tell. Maybe a banana?
Yes, it was a great race, but I didn't meet my A goal of a sub-4 race and qualifying for Boston. When I looked at the weather forecast for the week, I knew that wasn't in the cards. Dialing back my goals and making a B goal, to finish strong, under 4:30, and to have fun was the new, updated plan.

Which is exactly what happened. Plan B, mission accomplished. Since then I've been basking in the post-marathon glow of that accomplishment. After a week off running, I started up again, slowly. My legs feel good. My plantar fasciitis is still there, but no worse from running 26.2 miles. I call that a win. I have foot pain when I start running for about 1/4-1/2 mile and then it is gone. Between yoga stretches and my self foot massage, I continue to keep it down to a dull roar.

yes please
Last week, on a beautiful fall day, I went for a leisurely 6 mile run. I took it slow because I was fighting bronchitis. This is Runfession #2. You've all heard the advice about not running if your illness is below the neck, right? Right. Well, I've never been much of a rule follower. Remember too that I'm a medical professional, so conventional medical advice doesn't apply to me. My rule? No fever=nothing serious. Never mind that I was coughing like a chain smoker and needed to use my inhaler. Joking aside, I know better, but I wasn't about to miss out on a perfect fall day to hit up the bike path. So I took 2 puffs of my albuterol inhaler, laced up my shoes and chugged along, occasionally having to hack up a lung cough.

Don't you kids try this at home. Do as I say, not as I do.

While I running, I let my thoughts wander. And they wandered to that Chicago Marathon and my missed A goal. And here's my big Runfession #3: I started to have crazy, uncontrollable thoughts about running another marathon this fall.

An argument ensued between my brain and my runner's heart:

Heart: Hey, you know what? The Naperville Marathon is Sunday, November 8."
Brain: "But I work Saturday, November 7."
Heart: "Work, schmerk. You could so do this thing. You know you want to."
Brain: "I might get injured."
Heart: "You're feeling great! Recovery from Chicago was a breeze. And think about all those people you know who are doing back to back marathons. They're not hurt! "
Brain: "Even if I didn't get hurt, Becky would hurt me. She'd make me do 26.2 burpees. Maybe she wouldn't coach me anymore."
Heart: "She'd never know. She doesn't read your blog, does she?"
Brain: "True story. Oh my God. But I couldn't tell anyone. They'd think I was crazy!"
Heart: "So don't tell anyone! The weather will be cool. You know that the heat was the main reason you missed out on that goal."
Brain: "My husband would divorce me!"
Heart: "So don't tell him! Just tell him you're running a half. Tell him you're going to volunteer!"
Brain: "And what if I fail? What if I get hurt?"
Heart: "What if you don't?"


At that point, I stopped to cough and to snap some pictures of the beautiful fall colors. Then I turned around to head home. With the distractions and the cough, my brain and heart stopped arguing, and I started to have sane thoughts again. I decided to discuss this with Marcia at our planned lunch later that morning. 

When I saw Marcia, we hugged, and my runfession came flooding out before we even ordered our food. Of course, I couldn't not talk about it! I'm a runner, and we must talk about all the things running, right?

But instead of telling me that I was nuts, she told me she was feeling the same way--she spent the morning looking up the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon.  We talked for a while about this crazy phenomenon--how we runners always think we can push harder and that we've got more in the tank. 

But we don't. 26.2 miles is incredibly hard on the body. Heck, why do you think I'm sick right now? My tank is on E, which in this case, stands for ENOUGH.

Enough running. Enough racing. Enough long distances. Enough coughing.

Enough.

I could blame my illness on my job. Actually, I know that is where I picked up this bug. I take care of sick kids every day, but I usually avoid illness. This time, I wasn't so lucky. I'm sure my post marathon dip in immunity had a lot to do with it.

All those arguments my brain was giving me are enough reason to continue on my planned recovery. My illness is kind of the icing on the cake. Marcia shared with me that she did chase another marathon after that crazy hot Chicago marathon in 2010 and ended up injured. Oh, yeah, that could happen too....

We both agreed that it's not worth it.



But.... oh so tempting!

Thanks to Marcia for hosting Runfessions but even more for the real life confessional and slapping some sense into me! What are friends for, anyway?

But Marcia, what was that about that Avenue of the Giants Marathon? Marcia?

Have you ever tried to redeem yourself by running a spontaneous backup plan? How did that work out for you? How do you determine when you've had enough? Do you run when you are sick?

Be sure to head on over to Marcia's Healthy Slice for Runfessions and spill the beans! I promise you'll feel so much better!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Falling for...food and family #hemphearts #sweatpink

My oldest son is clearly enjoying all the fall things! Yes, he carved this.
I have to admit that it feels so weird to not be training for anything. Since race season is over for me, I just updated the pictures on the blog header as well as my Facebook page cover photo. My friend Karen commented what great memories I have from this year! And she is right! I ran 3 halfs, a 10 miler, a 10k, and a full marathon, and had friends at every race! I had some PRs and AG awards as well. I'm most happy about no injures this year! Following my final race, the Chicago Marathon, I took a week off to recover and continue to ease back into running. I'm still nursing my plantar fasciitis (who isn't these days?), but other than that, I couldn't be more thrilled with how the year is coming to a close. Now to keep myself out of trouble aka signing up for another race to fill the void. Looking at the big picture is easier said than done. But with the ever-present threat of burpees from my coach, I think I'll behave.

My wingman!
Thankfully, between work and family I seem to be keeping really busy. This past weekend, I enjoyed watching my youngest play rugby! I have been working almost every Saturday since September, and this was only the second game I've seen this fall. His team lost, but these boys continue to inspire me with their heart and hard playing, right up to the bitter end. The team they played today was really good, and Matthew and one of his teammates joked that it was as if the opponents weren't quite human. Matthew said if they tackled them, he thought their skin might come off and there would just be wires underneath there. Kind of like running with the Kenyans, right?

Anyways, I've been busy in the kitchen, making some delicious fall recipes. My family is always happy to eat whatever I put in front of them. Manitoba Harvest sent me a package of their Hemp Hearts to try, and I've been experimenting with them. Since my boys are allergic to tree nuts, the Hemp Hearts are a great substitute for nuts in recipes. My oldest son Tom went pumpkin shopping a few weeks ago and came home with not only pumpkins but also squash. There was a butternut squash sitting on the kitchen counter, and I made a pasta sauce with it. I like to make a brown butter with fresh sage to spoon on top of the pasta, and instead of the pine nuts that the recipe called for, I substituted Hemp Hearts. It was a hit!


Here's the recipe:

Butternut Squash Pasta sauce
recipe adapted from Cooking Light 2006
Serves 4

Ingredients:
1# butternut squash peeled, seeded, and shredded
1 garlic clove, minced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups of water
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup/4 oz. shredded parmesan (I use SarVecchio, a cheese made in Wisconsin (it's got a nutty kind of flavor), but you can use your favorite)

12 ounces uncooked penne

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts
1 tbsp fresh sage

Directions: 
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 c pasta water.
2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add squash and 1 cup of water to the pain. Cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Gradually add the rest of the water, 1/2c at a time, waiting until the water is absorbed before adding more. Stir occasionally.
3. Once all the water is absorbed, stir in the sugar, salt, and pepper.
4. While the squash is cooking, melt 2 tbsp. butter in a small saucepan. Allow it to lightly brown. Remove from heat and stir in the Hemp Hearts and sage.
5. Combine pasta and sauce, tossing well to mix. If the sauce is too thick, add pasta water until mixture reaches desired consistency. Toss with 3/4c shredded parmesan.
6. Spoon pasta and sauce onto plates; top with remaining cheese and buttered sage sauce.
7. Serve and enjoy!

With a salad and a chardonnay...it's the perfect fall meal!

And yes, here's a running photo from the weekend:


What are you cooking up for fall? Don't you just love fall meals? I can't wait to see what else I can do with my Hemp Hearts! There are a ton of recipes on the website. If you want to try Hemp Hearts, I'm giving away one package below!

disclosure: As a SweatPink ambassador, I was given one package of Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts to try and review here on the blog. Of course, all opinions and recipes and photos are mine!

I'm linking this post up with Holly at HoHoRuns and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin and their Weekly Wrap! I'm expecting some race reports...and all kinds of fall fun! Check it out!













I'm also linking up with Debbie at Confessions of Mother Runner And Tina Muir at Fuel Your Future with Tina Muir for Meatless Monday! Yum!












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Friday, October 23, 2015

Loving/Not Loving: The Friday Five Edition

There's just so much to love lately. 


I am loving the fall weather that we have been blessed with! It has been amazing, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s, and minimal rain. It was super windy earlier this week, but with those winds came the warmth. I didn't love that it was warm for the marathon, but it could have been so much worse. I have to admit that after crossing the finish line, it was nice to be warm. I'm not loving that the Farmer's Almanac is predicting a cold winter for us again. I hope they are wrong, and that this warm trend continues into the winter.


I'm loving not being in training for anything! My runs are easy and relaxed. With no paces to hit, I can take time to smell the roses--well, it's fall, so not the roses, but maybe the leaves? Do you know that smell? When I was a child, we used to rake the leaves. There were no blowers back then. We made leaf houses and leaf piles to jump in. Today the smell of the leaves took me back to those days. I love not having to hit a pace or meet a distance goal. But what I'm not loving is in spite of all my free time, I can't seem to get anything done! My house is still cluttered. My closet is in disarray. Maybe I shouldn't have been blaming my marathon training for all that...


Speaking of the marathon, I'm still loving that my oldest son came to spectate with his girlfriend. And he even put his arm around me for the picture she took of us. He and I have had a tough year or 2. I'm starting to feel like he's coming around. We actually have conversations now. This past week, he baked a pumpkin and used the filling to make pumpkin muffins, which were delish. He also made scones. This is stuff he used to do when he was younger. This really warms my heart. But I'm not loving that he quit his job (he's going back) and that yesterday, he decided he wasn't going to school. No reason, he just didn't feel like it. Sigh. Baby steps, right? He did go to school today... small victory...

Looking vibrant as always!

Yesterday I had lunch with Marcia. I am loving that I have met some really nice, like-minded friends through blogging and Facebook. Marcia is one of the first bloggers that I followed. I have gotten to know her pretty well over the past couple of years and I really enjoy her company. Plus we are supportive of each other, and not at all competitive. Marcia has given me a lot of guidance, especially with running and my blog. At lunch, we talked a lot about blogging and one thing both of us are not loving is the undercurrent of ageism that seems to be pervading the blogosphere. Why do sponsors need to know the age of the blogger? Isn't it enough to be a good runner? A good writer? Gotta love those comments I've heard from people (not on the blog thankfully) after running Chicago about how I did well for "someone your age". Yikes.


I'm loving my new Apple Watch. Do you have one? This was a totally indulgent, "I want it" kind of purchase. I do love my gadgets. I'm still figuring it out. But I can't get enough of Mickey Mouse dancing on my screen. I need a watch with a sweep second hand for work, and you can switch watch faces to one that has that feature. Pretty cool. My patients are really intrigued by it. There's a basic fitness tracker, which I haven't tested out yet. Nike Plus has an app for the watch, and I've been playing with that a little bit. I've never used Nike Plus in the past, but I like the look of the screen and maps. Using it with the watch requires a couple of extra steps, but I'm slowly figuring it out. For now, I'm wearing both my Garmin and my Apple Watch on the run. Stay tuned....I'll be writing more about it as I get comfortable with it. There's nothing not to love here.

What are you loving these days? Not loving? Are you training for anything? Have you met any friends through social media? 

This week's Friday Five Linkup hosted by the DC Trifecta is 5 Things I Love. They are also celebrating their 2nd Linkupversary, so be sure to not only check out all the posts, but congratulate them on hosting a very successful linkup! Plus Courtney at EatPrayRunDC is getting ready to run MCM this weekend, so wish her luck!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Heavy Medal Deprivation


Ok, all you runners! 
Tell me the truth. 
Do you run for fun? 
For the satisfaction of chasing a goal?

Or do you run for this: 
from the 2014 LRM
www.arkansasonlline.com
So many races are doing this, dangling ridiculous medals like candy in front of runners, who are eager to chase the bling. Heck, there are even challenges where you can run a series of races and collect even more bling. If you run Disney's Dopey Challenge, which consists of a 5k, a 10k, a half-marathon, and a full marathon, you go home with 6 medals. Would anyone do this challenge if their weren't medals at the finish?

Or would you feel deprived? 

I've written about this phenomenon before, this need for participation medals amongst runners. Don't get me wrong. I love nothing more than a volunteer slipping a medal over my head as I cross the finish line of a big race.

But do I run for bling? Do I choose a race based on the medal that they are offering? And would I feel deprived if I ran a race and there was no medal at the finish?

No, no, and no. It seems like I'm in the minority, though.


Did you know that finish times for all distances continue to increase? Could this be due to increased participation by runners? Maybe. Could it also be due to runners entering for fun and bling rather than the competition? Race directors, desperate to attract runners in the very crowded race world, are really upping their game with bling.

I choose races based on the distance, the location, and the reputation of the race. I look for races that I call "runners' races"--races that attract serious runners who know race etiquette. No color runs for me. I did one Hot Chocolate Race a few years ago and it was not my scene. Walkers lining up with runners. No, thank you. I did run the WDW half about 5 years ago, and it was for me, one and done. I found the whole experience anti-climatic. 

Don't throw your running shoes at me. This is just my opinion. And some food for thought. After all, what are you going to do with all those medals? Could you run a race just to run? 

Would you do a race if you knew there wouldn't be a medal at the finish?

I'm linking this post with DebRuns who hosts Wednesday Word. Today's word is deprivation. Let's go see what all the other bloggers are feeling deprived about...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Being Gladys Kravitz


I wasn't able to participate in many blog linkups during marathon training. Between training recaps, product reviews, the book club, and Wednesday Word, I had plenty of topics to write about. I have to admit that I missed just writing about random stuff. I like the linkups that give bloggers a prompt--it's kind of fun for me to see where my thoughts go. Now that marathon training is over, I get to let the mind flow. So watch out!

This week the #FitDish team of Jill Conyers and Jessica Joy came up with a blog prompt that really intrigued me:

What is your workout Alter Ego?

I have to admit that the #FitDish gave me a challenge. I've never thought about having an alter ego, especially as an athlete. I've never modeled myself after anyone famous or notable. Truthfully, I don't have much of an ego. If anything at all, I lean more towards insecurity. An alter ego? Who has an alter ego? Not me. After doing some research, it's clear that I'm missing out on something!


I learned that there are a lot of famous fictional alter egos. Clark Kent has Superman. Bruce Ward has Batman. Elvis has Elvis. A character within a character, The Big Lebowski abides...the Dude (Jeff Bridges). I'm sure you can think of many others.

Plenty of celebrities have alter egos. Beyonce has Sasha Fierce. Eminem is the Slim Shady. Kiss--a heavy metal costumed band from the 80s (I always thought they were odd)--well, they all have their alter egos. Miley Cyrus, while she's tried to move away from her alter ego Hannah Montana, will forever be linked to her. I have no idea what her alter ego is now. Detroit Lions' Calvin Johnson is Megatron. Pretty much every wrestler on WWE has an alter ego. And what about that guy, The Situation, from the reality TV show Jersey Shore? Not that I've ever seen the show. But I have seen his abs. Probably his only redeeming quality.

source: giphy.gif
Is anyone who they seem? Apparently everyone who is anyone has an alter ego these days!

Who am I?
Thanks to Ilsa at www.enduranceonthemind.com for this picture! 
So who or what is my alter ego? I gave this a lot of thought. I looked at athletes and role models. I know who I'd like to be! But I'm my own person. Eventually, though, I realized that I do have an alter ego. It's not who you might think. She's not an athlete or a role model. Sad to say, I'm not especially proud of my alter ego. But as I've come to realize, my alter ego is mostly accessible when I'm out for a run.

For better or for worse....

If you read my blog regularly, you've probably seen me joke a lot about being Mrs. Kravitz when I'm out on my runs. In case you don't know who she is, Gladys Kravitz was the nosy neighbor on the 60s TV show, Bewitched. Mrs. Kravitz was always watching the Stevens' house for odd behavior, and since Samantha Stevens was a witch (albeit a good one), there were plenty of situations for Mrs. Kravitz to talk about.


Yep. I admit it. I'm Gladys Kravitz. A running Gladys Kravitz.

The majority of my runs are done in my neighborhood and I've become fairly observant while on the run. It's not that I'm nosy or anything. I mean, let's face it, running the same routes can get pretty mundane. We've lived in the same house for 18 years and I've become pretty familiar with the neighbors' patterns and routines. I notice things. Odd things. Out of the routine things. I know when people are on vacation. I know when they are sleeping, I know when they're awake....oh wait, that's Santa. On garbage day, I can tell who had a party last weekend. And I wasn't invited.


There is a difference though.

While the fictional Mrs. Kravitz causes a lot of trouble for the Stevens', my inner Mrs. Kravitz tries to be helpful. Last summer, I was on a training run and came upon a cyclist laying in the road, a victim of a hit and run. While comforting the cyclist and waiting for the paramedics, I asked him if he got a good look at the car that hit him. I knew from his description of the car that he was hit by our maniac newspaper deliveryman. I had multiple close calls with the guy myself while running. The police initially downplayed my hunch (after all, what would I know?), but one of my other neighbors saw the guy earlier that morning with a smashed windshield, still delivering papers. Eventually, the guy was arrested. But not right away. After the incident, while I was out running, I observed him still delivering newspapers but in a different car.

Come on, man! I called the paper to complain. Isn't that what Mrs. Kravitz would do? WWMKD?

Recently, I saw a story on the news about a house fire on the street behind me. As I headed out for my morning run, I made a detour down the street where I came upon news trucks from every Chicago news station. The reporters flagged me down, and I was interviewed for the story. You can see that interview here. By the way, I just want to point out that the reporter in this video called me a runner, not a jogger! Hey, curious minds want to know...

My neighborhood runs take me through the parks. I've called the police on homeless people sleeping on picnic tables and on kids who should be in school but are on a bench, getting high. I've called to check on neighbors whose cars were all home when they are usually at work. I've closed garage doors of friends whose kids left them open. Waved my fist at the jerks who can't stop at the crosswalks or stop signs. Always keeping an eye on that creepy guy with the fluffy little dog who likes to hang out around the grade school.

Not everything I see is serious though...I smiled to myself the first time I saw a second car parked in the driveway of the widower who often greets me on my runs. I get to greet all the new puppies being walked by their owners. And there's always the funny things I see laying in the road, especially on a weekend run. Condoms anyone? I'm still trying to figure that one out--do you do the deed and then just fling the evidence out the window?


Most of the time when I'm running, I don't see anything at all. A lot of my runs are done in the "zone" and I don't notice things. But when I do, I try to use my inner Gladys Kravitz for good. Wouldn't it be nice if we all looked out for each other?

Maybe being Gladys Kravitz isn't the most exciting alter ego, but maybe it isn't the worst. And it's all I've got. I probably need to get a life.

Do you have an alter ego? If you don't, what would it be? Be sure to head over to the #FitSwitch to see what alter egos are out there!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Hangover: marathon recovery

I've run the Chicago Marathon 3 times now, and each race has been a completely different experience. You can read all 3 recaps here, here, and here. Recovery each time has been completely different as well. After my first marathon, my feet hurt so bad, I couldn't walk on them the next day. Last year, I felt pretty good after my marathon. I went to work the following day and manned the sick clinic. This year, I took the day off following the marathon and I was glad I did that. It's like I knew ahead of time that I'd need it. While I was no more sore than usual after a long run, I felt hung over. Like I went on a bender all weekend and drank myself silly.

giphy.com
I didn't sleep great Sunday night, and when I finally rolled out of bed on Monday morning, I made my coffee but headed very quickly to the couch, where I spent most of the day. I had what I can only describe as the "heebie-jeebies"--the yucky feeling I used to get when I overindulged. I did overindulge, in a sense. On miles. 26.2 miles is really far. 26.2 mile in the heat is something else.

I worked hard at drinking lots of water and eating all the food. Once the heebie-jeebies subsided, my appetite returned with a vengeance. I was hungry--no, I was rungry. I had the runchies. Hey, I recently read that running doesn't increase endorphins as much as it stimulates endocannabinoids! Yep, you read that right. Runners' high, indeed...

Oh dear, I'm on a tangent again....

Back to my recovery story. As I replenished my depleted body, I began to feel more like myself again.

On Tuesday, I was greeted at work with this on my office door. My coworkers all congratulated me and indulged my retelling of my marathon glory. I do work with some awesome people!


But of course, the downside of going back to work is that even though I did this amazing thing, running 26.2 miles, I couldn't broadcast it to everyone that I saw. Oh, but I wanted to. Tell me this hasn't happened to you. I was so proud of my accomplishment, and I couldn't share it with anyone! Nope, I had to put on my professional face and be empathetic to all the families I care for. Because when they bring their kids to see me, it's all about them. As it should be. But I won't lie. I wanted to tell everyone. I didn't, but I wanted to.  I wasn't ready to stop basking in my post-marathon glow. Even though this was #3. It never gets old...

Don't you want everyone to know when you've accomplished something this huge? I wore my Chicago Marathon race shirt all day on Thursday, and when I was at Target, another shopper asked me where something was. When I told her I didn't know, she told me she thought I worked there because I was wearing a red shirt.

Oh, so humbling.

Here's the thing: You run a marathon, and you cross a finish line. All along the route there are spectators cheering you on, telling you to keep going, telling you how strong you look, calling your name (or "go USA", which is what I heard). Thousands of people volunteer to hand you water, Gatorade, sponges, what have you, and you take them, throwing the discards on the ground to be cleaned up by more volunteers. Little kids put their hands out to you and you high five them. You push the power buttons on every sign you see. When you cross that finish line, a volunteer puts the medal around your neck and makes you feel like you won the race. People congratulate you. Photographers line the course, snapping your every move. You are amazing. You are a rock star.

Oh, that finish line feeling....
And then you go back to real life. Where your family wants dinner. Your son's car broke down again. The dog threw up on the carpet. There's 6 loads of laundry to fold. No one wants to see your pictures. Your husband asks you to put your medal away.

That's when the real hangover begins.

Not the physical hangover like I described above. What I'm talking about is what happens when the soreness subsides. When the physical symptoms subside. There's no more goal to chase. No more training. No more planning. No more marathon. No more accolades.

And for some, there's reflecting back on what might have been a disappointing race.

Some call it the post-marathon blues. How does a runner beat that? How can a runner prevent feeling empty after the dust settles? What to do when the endorphins endocannabinoids go away?

-Bask in your achievement. Not everyone will understand your need to talk about what you've accomplished, so write a recap. Even if it is for your eyes only. I can honestly say that I've probably read my race recap 50 times since I've written it. It never gets old. I look back on Sunday and am astonished at how I ran that race. Personally, it seems like it was someone else's story! Re-reading what I wrote reminds me of how far I have come as a runner. No one is going to tell me that (except my coach). There's nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself. Look at your race day pictures. Even if you don't buy them, those pictures are another reminder of what you've achieved.

Chinatown. Mile 22. Still running.
-Analyze what went well and what went wrong. You should do this whether or not it was a great race or a disappointing race. There's always something to be learned and always something to feel good about, no matter how you did. I had that bad Chicago Marathon in 2011, and I was so upset with that race, I couldn't even tell people that I ran it. Hindsight is 20/20, and when I look back on that race, there was a lot to learn. There was also the fact I ran a marathon. In all my disappointment, I negated that achievement. It just took me a while to get over myself. If you had a disappointing race, don't beat yourself up too badly. Remind yourself that not everything during the race was under your control. And sorry folks, but no race is perfect. I bet even the winners have things they want to improve upon.

-Eat well and get plenty of sleep. This goes without saying but after you run a long distance race, your immune system is taxed, making you more susceptible to illness. This is your time to pamper yourself and replenish. Now isn't the time to gorge on junk food and all the other things you gave up during your training. Look at your recovery as mile 27--this is the final phase of your training.

-Don't rush back into running. Give yourself time to recover. Sure, you hate to throw all that fitness to waste. And you don't have to. Just go easy on yourself. According to this article, it can take up to 2 weeks for the inflammation in your muscles and 7-10 days for the cellular damage to resolve. Hal Higdon has a return to running plan you can follow (there's also a half-marathon plan). Seasoned runners can listen to their bodies and slowly return to running. While you are waiting to run, you can do cross-training activities--I did some yoga this week, which felt great.

Triangle pose stretches me out in all directions!
I also went out on my bike. Dare I say I rode leisurely?

Retracing my running route and taking in some of nature's glory!
-Sign up for another race. Not tomorrow, mind you. Once you've given yourself time to recover from the marathon, pick out another race to run. For fall marathoners, a Turkey Trot is perfect timing since those races usually happen about 4-6 weeks after most of the fall marathons. I signed up for a virtual 5k run the week after Chicago--I wasn't sure if I'd run or walk. I ended up running it slow and easy since my legs felt good.

Jumping for joy--that first post-marathon run!
I also have 2 spring races on the calendar, the Sarasota Half Marathon and the Big Sur International Marathon, so I have plenty of incentive to give my legs time to recover. I'm not planning on DNSing either of those. For the next 12 weeks, I plan on running easy. I may add some distance back in later this year, but for now I'm going to give these legs and feet a little bit of a break.

-Start tackling that "after the marathon" to do list. I already got my dog groomed this week, and I've been doing some purging of the piles of junk that accumulated all over the house. Yep, I fed my family and did the laundry. My medal is hanging up on my bedroom mirror. That broken down car? That's a sore subject. I think it's time for the junkyard, but my husband disagrees. Anyways, there's still a lot to do and now is the time to attack those tasks.

She got her haircut. Next up is me. We should have done a 2 for 1...
What do you do to recover after a marathon? How do you fight off the post marathon blues? Have you set any goals for races?

I'm linking up with Holly at HoHoRuns and Tricia at MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap! Check it out!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Book Review: Confessions of an Unlikely Runner by Dana L. Ayers


Dana Ayers is one of us. She calls herself a "back of the packer". A "casual" runner as opposed to a competitive runner. But like the rest of us, she's a runner. And she shares her experiences running a variety of races, from marathons to obstacle runs in very funny and readable book, Confessions of an Unlikely Runner: A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated.

Well, heck, the title says just about all you need to know! Why haven't you read this book yet?

I downloaded my copy for free from Kindle. It was one of those Kindle Daily Deals. I figured, why not? And thought to myself, hmmmm, maybe this would be good for the book club.

This book was so good and laugh out loud funny that I would have gladly paid full price for it, had I known about it sooner. Dana shares all her experiences, the good, the bad, and the embarrassing. She sprinkles "pro tips" throughout the book, advice, wisdom, and motivation based on her experiences

Marathon training? She jumped right into a Team In Training for the RnR Country Music Marathon in Nashville. And asked herself, "what did I do?" She raised $3000 and ran that thing, that's what she did.
"Slower than Oprah, but right around Katie Holmes." 


Motivation for so many of us. Time to beat? 4:29:20.

Because I know that you want to know--5:29.
source: nydailynews.com
I won't lie to you. My first marathon, I so wanted to run a marathon faster than Oprah. My logic was, if Oprah can do it, I can do it, right? Except she had a whole team of people pushing her. My first marathon, I was not successful, but I did best Katie Holmes. Anyways, I did best Oprah last year and this year! Now I can sleep at night. But I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who had this goal. As a matter of fact, there were a lot of those "oh thank god it isn't just me" moments while reading this book! Dana chronicles her training and boy, does she sound like me with her logic and thoughts. There are plenty of mishaps...like the ripped yoga pants and the chafing that resulted from her quick repair of the rip...and you know you have stories to tell too!

Dana takes us through her Tough Mudder aka "paying to sign a death waiver". Which convinced me that I never want to do an obstacle race. I'm glad she did it for me. Kind of funny, because one of the bloggers that I follow, Janelle at Run with No Regrets is running a Tough Mudder this weekend and she listed one of her goals as "Don't Die". She has other less scary goals, of course, but the whole thing makes me wonder: why do we runners do this to ourselves? Dana's recap is really funny, though and really, what fun would it be if you played it safe all the time? You wouldn't be telling any good stories, would you now?

Of course, Dana participated in a Ragnar Relay. Because what runner worth her salt hasn't? Oops, that would be me. I'll live vicariously through my friends who've done Ragnar. Dana's recap is hilarious, and contains what is probably the best quote of the book:
"I thought that cheeseburger was really doing me a solid, but right now it's doing me a liquid.."
Something only a runner could relate to...gotta pick the right fuel! Although when the rungries hit, you'll pretty much eat anything, right?

She also talks about cross training, which she says (again like me!) that it has to be fun to be motivating.
"Pro tip: A perk of being a non-competitive runner is that you don't have to take cross-training terrible seriously unless you want to. Just do something besides running, call it cross-training, and then call it a day."
Love this! And by the way, she even tried CrossFit, where she assumed she get a tear-stained tattoo on her cheek after a successful workout. Kind of like a gang initiation, I guess...some do compare CF to a cult, so I guess she wasn't that far off...

Bottom line, Dana runs for the same reasons we do. Of course she runs for fitness, yes, but:
"It's (running) like the adult form of being rocked to sleep without actually having to go to sleep and without the awkwardness I assume would accompany asking another adult to hold me on their lap."
Moral of the story: You can be a runner too. And you don't even have to put on a tutu or get electrocuted. Unless you want to.

I really enjoyed this book. I found it motivating, relatable, and funny too! You can download it from amazon for 2.99, which is still a huge bargain.

Have you read the book? What did you think? Please share your review in the linkup below. Make sure you link back to this post by grabbing the badge below! Thanks again for participating! 


And don't miss next month's book! At the Chicago Marathon expo last week, I met Bart Yasso. He signed a copy of his book for me and agreed to an interview for the book club. When I asked him about his book, he was really self-deprecating about it all..."it's just a story about me and running, you know..." I've heard great things about the book and I think we will all enjoy it! Please feel free to send me any questions you want me to ask him--Yasso 800s anyone?


"My Life On The Run: The Wit, Wisdom, and Insights of a Road Racing Icon" by Bart Yasso is our Book Club Book for November!








Thursday, October 15, 2015

Author interview: Confessions of An Unlikely Runner by Dana L Ayers


Have you read this month's book, Confessions of an Unlikely Runner by Dana L Ayers? Dana, a former blogger and now author, writes about her adventures and mishaps on the road and off. I'll be posting my review tomorrow, but first, enjoy this interview with this very funny and personable fellow runner. And if you want to learn more about Dana or read her blog, you can find her at dcdana.com. And if you haven't read the book, it's not too late to jump in! The linkup will be open for 2 weeks following the publication of the review. And comments stay open forever!

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TTLWH: I loved your book and your sense of humor! Any recently funny stories about a run or a race you want to share?

DA: Thank you! I guess the most recent mishap was a couple weeks ago. I’m coming up on the Army Ten Miler and, per usual, I didn’t start training as early as I should have. I’ve done 10-13 mile races before without really training much but I don’t recommend doing that so I try to be good and build up mileage beforehand. So a couple weeks ago I told myself I HAD to start to ramping up my runs. I set a mileage goal for a particular day that week to kick off my “let’s get serious” training.

The night I set aside for that first goal, I was wearing shoes that started giving me a terrible blister that tore on the back of one of my heels. But I was so determined to get through the goal I set that I just kept going anyway. (Like I mentioned in the book, sometimes I run if for nothing else than for mental reasons. I feel like I get to the point where I have to run - just to remind my brain that I’m a runner - before I fall so deep in the Lazy Hole that I never run again. This was one of those moments where I needed to prove something to myself mentally.)

I pushed it as long as I could and finally reached a point where I knew I needed to turn around and finish early. But I couldn’t stand the blister pain anymore and actually had to take off my shoe while I was still a good quarter mile from my apartment. I sheepishly had to limp past all my neighbors’ homes wearing only one shoe and looking slightly crazy.

But it didn’t end there. I was so angry that I still didn’t get to my goal even after trying so hard, that I then threw on flip flops and continued to run obsessively around the block until my running app told me I’d finished my goal. Tenacity - I have; discernment and sense of pride– apparently, not so much.

TTLWH: You’ve done all the big goal events—a marathon, a relay, a multi-day race, an obstacle race—what is your next challenge? A lot of people are doing ultras—I’ve heard that the ultra is the new marathon. Some of my friends are participating in triathlons. To both of which I say no thanks. What about you?

DA: Yeah, I don’t foresee doing an ultra either, but I definitely think I’ll do a sprint triathlon at some point. I don’t have a bike, though, so it’s not a near-term goal. (Well I do have a bike, but it’s a pink beach cruiser I found by my dumpster and while it’d be hilarious to ride it in a tri, I think I’ll wait until I have a “real” race bike). I’d also love to do one of those races where you run and then kayak or paddle board.

Honestly, my latest thing is ruck marches! I know that’s not really a running event, but they do include some running and it’s a great workout overall. I’ve done a couple with an org called GoRuck which is run by military special operations guys who take you through team-building endurance events that last anywhere from a few hours to several days. You wear a ruck sack (back pack) with weights in it and there’s walking, running, pushups, yelling – all kinds of things involved. Plus you get to work out with people who are so specially trained, so disciplined, and so patriotic – the military-loving side of me totally geeks out. It may sound terrible to some, but I love that kind of stuff and the energy is so great. People spur each other on and are really supportive – I’ve even seen people pick others up and carry them while running just to make sure no one got left behind. It’s refreshing to see that level of team work and it’s fun to push yourself like that.

And I just read that Ruck Marches are the hottest fitness trend of 2015! Who knew?
TTLWH: What was your all time favorite race and why?

DA: That’s tough! I love them all for different reasons, but probably either Tough Mudder or the relay events I’ve done have been my favorites. I love pushing myself in non-traditional ways so low crawling under barbed wire, climbing walls, and carrying logs while jogging around farmland in Mudder was fun. And the relays – with all the living in vans and no sleep and being part of a team like that – nothing else really compares to those experiences.

TTLWH: What about all women’s events? What do you think about those? 

DA: I ran the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in DC last year and I loved it! Granted, they do allow men to run that too, but I kind of like the idea of having all women around you in a race. It’s that “Go, Girl Power!” sentiment. Women can be hard on ourselves and on each other so it’s nice to be in something where there’s this feeling that we’re in it together and we’re cheering each other on. I don’t want to do them all the time, but I like that they exist.

TTLWH: What is your weekly training like? How many days per week do you run? Cross train? What is your favorite backup plan for when you can’t run?

DA: Here’s where my former physical therapist and all the coaches out there are going to cringe. I’m very inconsistent. I know it’s bad, but some weeks my time and energy gets pulled elsewhere and fitness falls by the wayside a little. There was a period of time where I was consistently running five miles a day, five days a week, but that’s no longer the case. Lately, I’m doing well if I run three days a week, 2-3 miles at a time.

I tend to run more than anything because it doesn’t require much: no planning, no schedules, no car, no equipment – just throw clothes on and walk out the door when the motivation hits me. But I do love classes at the gym (spinning, boot camps, Pilates reformer, Zumba – you name it) and I love being outside for anything (paddle boarding, hiking, tennis, etc.) But I don’t consistently do any one activity, it’s more when I’m in the mood or when friends are doing something. Gym classes are probably my number one backup plan if I can’t run.

TTLWH: Treadmill. Yes or no?

DA: Normally, I’m a No. I probably hadn’t been on one in a year until last week when it was so nasty and humid in D.C. that I just couldn’t make myself run outside so I gave into the ‘mill. I do like that I can see my speed on them, but overall I just love being outside so much better. I feel more free, I have things to look at which makes the time go by faster, and I don’t sound as much like an elephant when I run outside.

TTLWH: Finally, what one piece of advice (besides reading your hilarious and motivating book) would you give a non-runner who is thinking about taking up running?


DA: Start slower than you think, don’t give up in the first 10 minutes -it gets better after that- and pay attention to how you feel after you run. That awesome post-run feeling of accomplishment never goes away and it only gets better the longer you run and the more races you do. (That was more than one piece of advice but I just can’t help myself- I really want people to try running!)

And that's advice we can take to the starting line! Be sure to check out her book. 

Dana L Ayers
photo: amazon.com

Do you ruck? Know anyone who does? Did you know that ruck is also a rugby term? When they call out "ruck over" it means for the tackled ball carrier to get the ball to one of his players. The things I learn...

Be sure to check out the book review tomorrow and link up your review! And if you don't have a blog, please share your review in the comments! Let's get the word out and help a fellow blogger promote her book! Sharing is caring....


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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Chicago Marathon Race Recap: No Giving Up

 "I don't look at a marathon as a race. It's a 26 mile journey, is what it is." -Frank Abramic, 80 year old Chicago Marathon 2015 Finisher, after running his 17th consecutive Chicago Marathon in 6:26. Read his story here
That's his motto. Not a bad way to approach a marathon.

Here's mine.

Back when I was a staff nurse, we had to pick up extra shifts during the winter. We could do a 4 hour or an 8 hour shift, but most of us opted for the 4 hour shift. Dubbed the "princess shift", our motto was:
"You can do anything for 4 hours".
That's what I told myself Sunday morning. This was going to be a princess shift.

Not having a killer long run during my marathon training, I was a little worried about the marathon, and if you've been following me, you know I adjusted my goals. Originally, I wanted a sub-4, BQ race. Even though I trained with this goal in mind, not crushing my long runs during my training made me rethink that goal. I realized that going into this race, if I didn't achieve that goal, that BQ, I would have been hugely disappointed. If you read Sunday's post, you now know that the Chicago marathon is really fun. No matter what the outcome of this race, ultimately, I wanted to have fun. Heck, after all that hard work, I'd hate to throw it all away based on a disappointing race! So I made my B goal about having fun, with, of course, the extra goal of a respectable finish time. I mean, come on, this is overachiever Wendy talking here! I wanted to have fun, but I wanted to hold my head high. And finish with a smile on my face.

But even with my adjusted goal, my backup plan, I was really nervous. I don't know why. I think not crushing my long runs was messing with my head. Even with all the words of wisdom imparted to me by friends and my coach, I just didn't feel as confident as I did last year.

Becky gave me this to wear on my wrist with her mantra: "Good Vibes Only". Race morning, I wore that along with my lucky throwaway sweatshirt that has made it to every race this year! I also slipped the rock she gave me for last year's marathon into my waist pack--the one that said "Believe" on it.

Inspiration from my coach
My husband took me to the El station at 5:30. I sat next to a woman from Alaska who talked my ear off the entire ride into the city. She's done Boston, blah blah blah. When you line up for NYCM, stand on the top deck of the bridge because "everyone pees on the runners on the bottom" blah blah blah. Anchorage is "so boring" blah blah blah. There was another guy with her, whom I thought was her husband, but turns out was just another runner. He was from British Columbia, and we walked through Gate 1 together. Miss Alaska took off for parts unknown, so the Canadian guy and I got to talk while we waited for our bags to be checked. This was his third marathon, having run the Victoria Marathon twice. He was a super nice guy, and once we got through bag check, we had our picture taken and split up.

My Canadian friend and me. Baring our bibs. 
I checked my bag and lined up for the portapotty. Once I finished my business, I walked around. Although we had planned to meet for some pre-race good wishes, Sara texted me--she was going to line up in her corral and wouldn't have time to meet. We texted back and forth about the predicted weather for the day. It was chilly pre-race, but the forecast was for wind and a warm up to the 70s. I also heard from my tribe, who sent last words of encouragement. No one was able to meet me at Buckingham Fountain, so I asked some women who were stretching to take my pre-race picture.

A peaceful moment before heading to back to the circus.
I lined up with my corral and at 8:00 we were off. I knew from previous years that because of the tall buildings, my Garmin would be unpredictable. I wanted to use my Garmin to track my pace. But it went crazy, showing paces all over the place, and so I had to run by feel. Once we got closer to the lakefront, I was able to see an accurate pace, and I was running an easy 8:55 min/mi. I felt good and thought that if I could maintain this pace, I might actually achieve that A goal! Believe and you will achieve, right?

I fueled with Tailwind as I planned, 24 ounces/hour. When I stopped to refill my bottle, I also took about 6 ounces of plain water. At mile 8, I felt the need to pee. That never happens to me when I run, but I stopped at the portapotty. As I headed forward, I felt some cramping in my stomach and a little bit of nausea. I wondered if I was taking my fuel too fast, so I backed off a little bit.

I maintained my steady pace until about mile 14. My hamstrings started to tighten up, and when I stopped to hug my friend Karen, I couldn't catch my breath. I was trying to figure that out. The wind must have kicked up something that triggered my latent asthma and/or allergies. I haven't had to use an inhaler for a couple of years, but today would have been the day to pack one in my already overloaded SLS3 HiPZiPP (affiliate link). I started to run again. Interestingly, that shortness of breath didn't bother me as much when I ran, but every time I stopped, I had to catch my breath. It was an uncomfortable feeling.

Trying to catch my breath
As was the nausea and a migraine that was threatening to go full blown. By mile 16, I felt so queasy that I pulled out my secret weapon. As a nurse practitioner, I prescribe a medication for nausea and vomiting, and I put one of those pills in my waist pack every time I do a long distance event. I've never had to take it before but today I popped in my mouth and let it dissolve. I chased it with some Tailwind. I figured I couldn't feel any worse than I was already feeling, right?

The sun was really starting to feel warm and at mile 17, I finally put up the white flag of surrender and began to walk. Crap!

This would be my pattern for the rest of the race. I tried to run slower, but I still had to stop to regroup every mile. I felt a feeling of despair. This is exactly what happened to me when I ran my first Chicago marathon. Except, I reminded myself, at that race I started to feel badly at mile 8. Here I was at mile 17. I could finish this thing, even if I had to walk the REMAINING 9 MILES. Oh, hell no! I remembered calling my husband at mile 18 during that bad race--I wasn't going to do that. I could finish this thing and meet my B goal, right? I needed to stay positive. There would be no burpees. Not only because I was going to push on and finish, but because I didn't think I was capable of getting back up off the ground once I went down to do them.

There's motivation, right there.

After that little mental pep talk, I felt better and began to run again. I listened to my music. "No Giving Up" by Crossfade came on.
"There's no giving up now. Do you really want to give this all away? Can't you ever see things in a different way? Somedays. No giving up now. Such a beautiful thing to throw away. You should think things through. Over and over again. All over again."
and

"I know we have given. All that we can give. When there's nothing to lean on. Well, I remember this. All we make of this lifetime. Is always here within. And remembering that's why. We should never give in. "

And to think I almost deleted this one from my playlist. If I ever needed to hear this song, it was now. I will admit it's kind of screamy. But the lyrics were just the push I needed.

And so it went. I couldn't count on my Garmin, so I kept my eye on the clocks at the mile markers, knowing that I started 31 minutes after the elites. I was able to estimate my finish. And as long as I finished under 4:30, I would be happy. I pushed myself to run a little farther, a little harder.

Run, walk, run, walk. I channeled my inner Jeff Galloway. Sipped my Tailwind. Ignored my hamstrings and my feet, which were now screaming in pain.

Spectators called out encouragement to me:

"You got this!"(believe it or not, yep, I do)
"You look great!" (to which I shook my head) 
and "Go USA" (in reference to my shirt) 

Finally, I made it to Mt Roosevelt. The final sprint to the finish. That 400 meter run up a stupid hill to the finish. My legs found something that I had been missing for a while. A little surge of adrenaline pushed me up that hill and I flew through the finish line! 

Finish line, here I come!

Official finish time: 4:25:53
I felt a huge sense of euphoria, crossing that finish line. Because even though I didn't get my A goal, I got something more. This finish was a huge mental victory for me. I didn't quit. I didn't give up. I dug deep and did what I had to do. And I finished with a respectable finish time. One that I could be proud of. 


If the weather conditions were different, could I have done better? Probably. But I always think of that advice that my friend and Ironman finisher Sandy gave me back before my first marathon: 
"You have to go with what the day gives you."-Sandy, Ironman finisher
And that's exactly what I did.

On my terms. I haven't stopped smiling since I finished.  What a race!


Have you ever had to adjust your race goals based on your training? On race day conditions? How did you do? And how did you feel?

I'm linking this post up with DebRuns and Wednesday Word, which for this week just happens to be adjust. Who knew?