Sunday, January 31, 2016

Big Sur Marathon Training--Week 0

This week, I wrapped up my base building workouts and today I officially kicked off my marathon training for the Big Sur International Marathon. I didn't know what else to call the week before marathon training starts, so week 0 it is.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 0

Like I did for Chicago, for Big Sur, I'm following a 12 week training plan. While Becky didn't develop this exact plan for me, I followed the plan she made for Chicago and tweaked it a bit. I reviewed my training plan with her, and made some adjustments based on her feedback. Right now, I'm feeling fairly confident that I've got a solid plan that will get me to the finish line intact.

That is if my plantar fasciitis behaves itself. I've gotten a ton of advice from everyone including my dad, who eventually became so frustrated when he had PF, he finally took a mallet to his heel. While that somewhat extreme solution worked well for him, I'm not so sure I want to try it on myself. Not that he hasn't offered to do it for me. What has seemed to work for me is the night splint aka my faux Strassberg sock, my Feetures compression sleeve (affiliate link), heel lifting, calf stretching, heat in the morning, and wearing shoes to work with a low (not flat) heel. I tried orthotics, but all they did was make me feel like I was 80 years old. Experiment=fail. I didn't like feeling old. I took the orthotics out of my running shoes and that's that. I'll use them in my work shoes for now.

So how did week 0 aka base building go down? Besides lots of yoga? The SweatPink #FlexandFlow yoga challenge continues, and I haven't missed a day! The challenge wraps up on February 5, and while I'll miss posting daily yoga poses, it's time to focus on the task at hand: the Big Sur Marathon. But you know there will still be yoga happening for me. I just won't bombard you with all my poses.

Monday: yoga class at the studio. This was an amazing class with one of my favorite instructors. She devoted the class to the full moon and we did moon salutations. She also introduced me to my new mantra, "Chill out or Burn out". Repeat as needed. Which I did all week.

one legged chaturanga
Pose of the day was one legged chaturanga
Tuesday: 4.55 miles easy in the hood. I was glad to be done. It was blustery and cold. 8:45m/m.

upward facing dog
Pose of the day: Upward facing dog
Wednesday: Mile repeats x4 on the treadmill. Last week I struggled with pacing, but this week was much better. I'm pretty sure my treadmill needs to be calibrated, because my splits were slower than I expected. I chose to focus on consistency and not pacing. Splits were 8:24, 8:16, 8:16, 8:34 (oops!). After I finished, I went to yoga for another studio class. The theme was hips and hamstrings. Perfect.

a cyborg doing headstand at the wall
Yogi's choice inversion--I chose handstand at the wall. I used superphoto to edit this. My face kind of freaks me out. I look like a cyborg.
Thursday: Cycling x 1 hour. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, I rode in Thailand. I promised Becky these rides would be all about endurance and this one pretty much was. There were a few "harder" efforts but nothing too taxing. The video itself was kind of a turd. The cyclist would randomly stop to wait for his friend to catch up. Meanwhile, I'm pedaling away, just staring at his tire. This happened several times. Dude, ever heard of hitting the pause button? Guess I got what I paid for. This really was the first video that disappointed me. Looks like it's back to Italy this week. Anyways, I rode 13.75 miles/1h.

post cycling lizard lunge
Pose of the day was lizard lunge. Felt great after riding. My ITB thanked me.
After that, I went to see Becky. She had me do some work on the GHD machine, reverse back extensions and traditional back extensions. Holy hamstrings! I did barbell cleans into a front squat followed by deadlifts, both with increasing weights. We finished up with some more hamstring exercises. And my foam roller got some attention that night.

Friday: rest. Pose of the day was tripod headstand. I have never done this version of headstand, and I had a nice surprise! You just never know what you are capable of, do you? What a great way to head into a long day at work. Pun completely unintended!

Tripod sequence
I was going to stay in half tripod, but my legs went up!
Saturday: 4 miles easy in the 'hood. The January thaw felt great! 8:45 m/m.

humble warrior
Pose of the day was humble warrior. I just love this pose.
Sunday: 8 mile "long run". This was my first long run since I ran that half marathon in November. It was 50 degrees, which felt great for January. Unfortunately, it was pretty gloomy out there. My foot felt pretty good most of the time but started to hurt towards the end. When I looked at my Garmin, it read 6.66 miles. Coincidence? I think not. Anyways, I finished up and stretched it out. 8:45m/mile
hero pose
Pose of the day was reclined hero pose. This is a great hip opener and quad stretch. Take it slow. And yes, my eyes are closed. A moment of quiet for me in the middle of a run. Reflecting on how great this pose feels and gratitude for my body that lets me do hard things.
It's been a pretty good week off the road too. Uneventful for the most part. How about you? Any of you yogis ever done moon salutation? Anyone else doing the SweatPink #flexandflow yoga challenge? It's the final week!

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap! Check out what everyone else has been up to!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Runfessions for January

It's time once again for that monthly confessional, hosted by my friend Marcia at Marcia's Healthy Slice. You know you want to bare is your chance to share. Come on in, the water's fine...

What you see isn't always what you get....
So you all know that I'm participating in SweatPink's #flexandflow yoga challenge. Every day, the ladies at SP post the pose of the day and participants not only strike a pose, but they also have to present it creatively. I've had a blast channelling my creative side here. Yep, nurse practitioner by day, creative yogi by night. But I have to runfess is that sometimes there are many takes before I get "the shot". When I use the timer on my phone, I have only 10 seconds to set up the pose. It doesn't always fall into place in time. The camera catches it all!

Like this:
This is what you saw. Headstand. With a beautiful sunrise.
And this:
What you didn't see. Actually, no one saw it hopefully. I was alone in the park. Whew.
And ouch. This one made my sons laugh out loud.
But it was on sale....
I must runfess that since the holidays I have been buying ALL THE THINGS. Last week, I was meeting my friend Sara for lunch and...oh, how interesting...Athleta is right next to the restaurant we chose. They just happened to have 20% off all the sale items. And I just happened to have a coupon. The prices were irresistible and I couldn't help myself. I'd call it therapy, except that I also bought a few things from REI earlier in the week. 

A blogger in real life...
I have to runfess that it's always a little awkward when a random stranger tells me they read my blog. This time, it happened last week, while I was in line at Whole Foods. The woman in front of me was talking to the cashier about a half marathon she was supposed to run in Florida that was cancelled due to storms. Of course, anytime I hear someone talking about running, my ears perk up. My Mrs Kravitz powers kicked in and I eavesdropped. When she turned to me and told me she reads my blog, I was, of course, thrilled because yay, someone reads my blog, and simultaneously embarrassed because oh no, someone reads my blog! We chatted and it turns out she lives very close to me. I told her to drop me a line so we can meet up for a run. Hi, Alicia! Thank you!

I runfess that I've been giving the brand ambassador thing a lot of thought. One of the brands that I worked with in the past upped the ante for their ambassadors this year. They developed a kit that ambassadors were required to purchase, which included compression socks and a shirt. The new requirements were for ambassadors to wear the shirt and socks for races and training photos. I'm always honored to be chosen as a brand ambassador, and I understand that we have to represent the brand in exchange for discounts on products and other perks. I'm happy to promote the products and share product reviews and discounts on social media. But the requirement to purchase the kit and wear it to every race bothered me. A lot. Shouldn't they be providing the kit? Sadly, I've parted ways with that company. 

News you can use....
I runfess that on my nightstand, I have a stack of Runner's World and Running Times from July to present. Between my niece's Girl Scout magazine sale and my CARA membership, I think I'm subscribed through 2017. I need to get through the pile before the next issue comes. Yesterday, I read the December issue of Runner's World and besides the usual array of running articles, I learned a few new things:
-Did you know that smoking marijuana is a "thing" for many long distance runners? Apparently the natural endocannabinoids aren't enough for that runner's high...nope, these runners toke up on the run. For nausea control and that chill vibe, apparently. That might be the only way you'd see me running an ultra distance. But if you want to try pot running with a shorter distance, the 420 Games might be for you. It's a 4.2 mile run. Brownies at the finish.
-The best shoe for you? Is the one that fits. A large retrospective study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the best running shoe for a runner is the one that is the most comfortable. And there you go. Advice you can take to the road. Oh, and maximalist shoes are a "thing" now. And "bounce" shoes. 
-Finally, I learned that RBF (resting bitch face) is also a thing in running (RBF) as well. Explains why often I don't get runners waving back at me. Apparently, this is how I look most often: 

I'm not having a bad run. It's just my RBF.
What do you have to runfess? Any brand ambassadors that are required to sport logo gear for races? Ever been recognized by a random stranger who knows you from social media? Any great buys from holiday sales you want to share? Running bitch face anyone? 

Besides linking up with Marcia, I'm also linking this post with the DC Trifecta for Friday Five. Head over to Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia's blogs to see what everyone is sharing today.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pessimism vs. Optimism

It's so easy to get caught up in a cycle of negativity. Trust me on this one. I've got the DNA for negativity. But the first step towards improvement is awareness, right? I've had a lot of practice, and once I realize my mindset is heading south, I'm pretty good at turning my thinking around.

I've had some help too. My coach Becky refuses to let me complain or even apologize for a less than stellar effort. In fact, if I utter a negative thought, it's burpees for me. You can't make a runner run for punishment, right? Don't tell her this, but while I don't know that I'll ever love burpees, I'm minding them less. I've gotten stronger and they aren't as hard as they used to be for me.

Maybe that's all part of her plan?

Anyways, life has tried its hardest to drag me down these last couple of weeks. As Cousin Eddie would say, "shitter's full".
Sorry for the crude reference.
From National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Enough's enough. When Deb gave this week's Wednesday Word prompt, the word optimism, at first, I thought, what do I have to say about being optimistic? Life hasn't exactly been a bowl of cherries lately.

As it turns out, I have a whole lot to say. I recently wrote that post about training in the winter. I'm going to expand these thoughts to running in general. Maybe even life in general.

Clearly, I need this. Let's break it down:

-The pessimist just complains or whines. It feels good at the time but gets you nothing.
-The optimist acknowledges the issue, but turns their thoughts around to a positive mindset. If you struggle with this, like I do, then maybe you need an extra push over to positivity.
-I've included mantras to repeat to yourself when you're feeling particularly negative.
-And because I'm a goofball, there's the jokester's perspective, which just basically makes fun of everything. I do that too. Because sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh.

Don't roll your eyes. It really works.

Meet the Pessimist, the Optimist, and the Jokester and their approach to the run:

Pessimist: It's cold, it's dark, it's hot, it's raining (whatever).
Optimist: Wow, -2F! That's pretty cold. But the sun is out. I've done this before. I can do this. I can do hard things. I'll need to layer up. OR Yes, it's raining. It can't always be sunny when I run. Running in the rain can feel good.
Jokester: Free shower!
Mantra: If we waited for perfect conditions, we'd never get anything done.

Embrace the conditions.
Pessimist: Man, this run sucks. I feel horrible. I'm a sloth. I give up. I'm going home.
Optimist: I do feel tired today. Not every run is a good one. But I told myself I'd get 4 miles in today, and I'm going to do that. No matter what it takes. I'll feel so much better for finishing.
Jokester: There's pie at home!
Mantra: Not every run may be good, but there's something good in every run.

There's something good in every run. This was my first speedwork session last summer while training for Chicago. The good thing? I finished.
Pessimist: I loathe the treadmill. I feel like a hamster on a wheel. This sucks. I hate this.
Optimist: I don't like running on the treadmill. How can I make the most of this workout? Intervals? Speedwork? I've got a great playlist to help push me.
Jokester: (singing) "I'm on the road to nowhere..."
Mantra: Every step takes me closer to my goal.

I do loathe the treadmill. It's a necessary evil. Every step takes me closer to my goal.
Pessimist: I don't want to run 20 miles. It's too far!
Optimist: 20 miles is really far! I'm going to feel so much more ready for my marathon after tackling that distance!
Jokester: Chuck Norris never ran a marathon.
Mantra: I can and I will.

Last long run before Chicago. I can and I will.
Pessimist: Running is hard.
Optimist: Running isn't easy, but I'm getting stronger with each run.
Jokester: Run? I thought you said rum.
Mantra: The body achieves what the mind believes.

This was a great exercise for me. Forcing myself to write about optimism actually helped me feel more optimistic as I look forward to February and starting my marathon training cycle. I'm sure I'll be coming back to this post to remind myself to always look on the bright side!
"Imagine something good about every race you run, and learn to be an optimist."-Jack Daniels

What to do you do to turn those negative thoughts around? Are you naturally an optimist? A pessimist? A jokester? What's your favorite mantra?

I have a new one after Monday's yoga class: Chill Out or Burn Out.  Best advice I've gotten lately.

I'm linking up with DebRuns at Wednesday Word. Check out what all the optimists are saying!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Wellness through the years #WellnessThatFitsYou

What does wellness meant to you?

What does wellness meant to you?

Over the years, the meaning of wellness has changed for me.

In my 20s, wellness meant looking good in a bikini. Bouncing back quickly from a night of partying. Never much of an athlete, I started running 5ks and 10ks. Battling anxiety, I began to learn that I could gain a lot more than physical fitness from my new pursuit of wellness.

In my 30s, I became a mom to 2 boys. Wellness took on a whole new meaning. Not only did I want to regain my pre-pregnancy fitness, I wanted to stay mentally fit. Less concerned about body image, I learned that running could bring me that calm I needed to face the day. My runs were a priority. I ran before the sun came up to get it done. A new activity, yoga brought serenity and recovery. I made time for wellness. Hey, if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy, right?

In my 40s, wellness meant tackling middle age head on. The goal was to be able to keep up with my growing boys. I didn't want to be one of those moms who sat on the sidelines, watching her kids having fun. I upped the ante on the road, running half marathons and my first full marathon. Those long distances became an addiction and a prescription for the stresses of raising preteens. With the increased pursuit of wellness came a natural transition to healthier eating.

Now in my 50s, my wellness has taken on an even greater priority. This mom of teenage boys does it for herself. Besides yoga and running, I've been strength training with a CrossFit coach. I am running at paces besting those I hit in my 30s. I joke that I've found the fountain of youth. But really, it's no joke. With smart training, I plan to continue to challenge the conventional wisdom that older women can't compete. The past 3 years have left me amazed at what my body is capable of. Mentally, I have been challenged with teenage drama and life stresses, but I draw on my strength as a runner and a yogi to navigate those challenges.

Wellness. Joy. Strength. Energy.
So today, what does wellness mean to me?
-Wellness means lining up at the start of a race ready to run and be competitive in my age group.
-Wellness means taking up new challenges on the run.
-Wellness means enjoying an ice cream cone and not worrying about the calories.
-Wellness means keeping up with my sons.
-Wellness means still being able to get up on one waterski and slalom my way across the lake.
-Wellness means getting up into a headstand and not worrying that the fall to the ground will hurt me.
-Wellness means a good night's sleep.
-Wellness means staying strong in the face of life stressors.
-Wellness means loving my body for how it looks and all it can do.
-Wellness means finding joy in the journey.

Wellness is my biggest motivator for staying fit. Wellness gets me out the door. Wellness makes me run. Wellness makes me ride. Wellness makes me strong.

Wellness lets me breathe.

What does wellness mean to you?

I'm submitting this post for an entry to win a week at Wellfit Malibu. The contest is sponsored by Run to the Finish, The Healthy Maven, and Fit Foodie Finds. Wouldn't this fit nicely in my year of destination races? Ok, it's not a race, but it's all about wellness and health. Hey, a runner's got to recover, right?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Loss and the run

2016 has not started out well. This was the week I was ready to get myself back on track. Over the weekend, I prepared last week's 3 blog posts. I was on a roll, and the words just flowed. I love when that happens.

No sooner had I hit publish on my blog post about getting out of my January funk did the wheels once again come off the proverbial bus.

We noticed during dinner that my dog Cleo, who had been acting perfectly fine all day, did not come to beg hang out at the dinner table as she usually does. But at age 13, she was sleeping more than she used to and we just figured she was tired.

After dinner, I heard a noise from her crate. I was shocked to find her moaning and panting. I carefully picked her up and took her to bed with me, just like I used to do with the boys when they were little and sick. Restless, she couldn't get comfortable. She kept panting. I couldn't sleep. Worried, I finally packed her up and took her to the animal ER.

Tests were run, IV fluids given, and some morphine for pain. The blood work showed something really bad was happening to her. The vet wanted her to stay overnight. But I brought her home where I knew she'd be more comfortable.

I couldn't sleep. The sun came up and Cleo was still panting and shaking. She couldn't stand up. I woke up my youngest son and together, we drove back to the vet, Cleo on my lap.

After an ultrasound of her abdomen, the vet laid it all out for us.

Tumor. Bleeding. Old age.

No options to treat. Actually, no options at all. Except for one.

The decision was surprisingly easy. She was miserable. End her suffering. Let her go.

At the vet, getting ready to say goodbye to my sweet pup. One last picture for mom.
My head was spinning. 24 hours ago, she was sitting next to me, begging for Cheerios. Later, walking through the freshly folded laundry. We had just bought a new bag of food for her.

And now, we were making end of life decisions?

We left the vet with only her collar and a pawprint. And so many tears.

The next morning, I awoke in my bed, alone, exhausted after another sleepless night. All night I swear I heard Cleo padding around the house. Click, click, click. The sound of her nails on the hardwood floors. A deep sigh as she settles into deep sleep. My imagination hard at work. Playing cruel tricks on me.

Unable to relax, I got out of bed, I knew what I had to do.

The sun was coming up. It was 3 degrees outside. Brutally cold. No matter. I needed this run. I layered up and headed out into the cold. I let myself go. I didn't feel the cold. My legs felt light. My music, so familiar to me, carried me through my familiar neighborhood route. I ran mindlessly.

My ninja eagle on this cold morning
In the past, there have been other runs like this one.

After a miscarriage, so many years before. Fast and sweaty, finding power and strength from a body that I felt had betrayed me.

Another powerful run after the loss of my mother-in-law. Aversive to doctors, she was diagnosed and gone in 6 weeks. The only medical person in the family, the medical decision making rested on my shoulders. On my runs, I found strength to lead the family forward.

And just last year after our troubles with my oldest son came to a head. Anger, sadness, and feelings of failure all propelled me forward on the road.

When I came home from this run, chilled to the bone, there was no Cleo to greet me. The house felt empty. I shrugged off my layers and got ready for work.

On my way through the house, on the floor, was one of Cleo's toys. Just where she had left it the day before after carrying it around to show us. Triggering a flood of memories. And more tears.

This is the hard part.

I miss my little pup. She greeted me at the door every night and announced to the family that mom was home. This was the dog who couldn't wait to go to bed at night and "helped" me to pull down the covers so she could get her spot on the pillows. Who showed everyone who came to our house Elmo, her favorite stuffed toy. The pup who begged for pizza crust on Friday nights. Who sang in her crate when she was lonely. Who ate a pound of bacon she managed to snatch off my parents' kitchen counter. With no ill effects. Who loved to swim with the ducks in the lakes where we vacationed in Wisconsin. Who couldn't wait for me to pull my sweaty socks off after a run so she could run away with them.

So many memories.

Sweet, sweet Cleo. So much personality. She was a character. She loved everyone. And everyone loved her. Her tail never stopped wagging.

We all can only be so lucky to have such a dog. Unbridled joy. Unconditional love. A life well lived.

My life, so much better for having Cleo.

Keep wagging, my friends. Run like someone left the gate open. Chase your dreams. Never stop playing.

Thanks for reading. I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia at their Weekly Wrap. This was my week. How was yours?

Friday, January 22, 2016

5 new songs that will ROCK YOUR RUN!

I love to listen to music when I run. Back in the olden days, before there were iPods and iPhones and digital downloads, I rarely listened to music on the run. It simply wasn't convenient. I had a handheld Sony cassette walkman that I would run with at the gym. But when I ran outside, it was just me and nature. Sometimes it was really hard to finish a run with nothing to listen to but my ragged breathing.

Thankfully, that has all changed. Spotify has transformed my runs. Instead of having to listen to a whole album or making a mixtape, I can change songs on my playlist in the blink of an eye! And running is so much easier with tunes to push me. Music is the great motivator. I found this great article on Runners Connect, which cites the connection between running and music. If safety is a concern and you don't want to run with music, there's a benefit to listening to high tempo music before you run as well!

What kind of music do you listen to? One of the studies cited in the article above found that louder and faster music predictably made runners run faster. But according to one expert, who was interviewed for Women's Running, the effect of music on running wanes over time. This is because the brain adapts to the stimulus, the music. He recommended running 2 days with music and one without. He also recommended changing your playlist frequently.

Which is something I do on a regular basis. There are always a few songs that stay on my playlist forever and ever. Songs like Tom Petty's Running Down A Dream, which bring me memories of great runs from the past. There are a few other songs that when I hear them, put a little extra pep in my step, based on the success I had while listening to them in the past.

The research doesn't recommend one particular genre of music. Music choice is highly personal. But when I'm looking for new songs to add to my playlists, most of the recommendations I receive are pop songs or dance songs, genres which are not my favorites. When I need a push, I listen to rock or rap. It's loud, it's fast, and it's the perfect prescription for a long run.

Either that or more cowbell...
Here are 5 new rock songs that are pumping me up with great beats and motivating lyrics:

Halestorm I am the Fire

"I am the fire, I am burning brighter, roaring like a storm, and I am the one I am waiting for, screaming like a siren, alive and burning brighter..."

Coldplay Adventure of a Lifetime
(author's note: I hadn't seen the video until I wrote this post. I wasn't expecting the dancing I have to get that image out of my head...)

"Turn your magic on, um she'd say, everything you want's a dream away and we are legends every day..."

Cage the Elephant Mess Around

"...she'll show you what she's made of, yeah she's comin' for ya, she's gonna try to break you, yeah she's comin' for ya, no she don't mess around..."

Tame Impala Let it Happen

"It's all around me, all this noise, but not really as loud as the voice saying let it happen, let it happen (its gonna feel so good)..."

X Ambassadors Superpower

" I'm gonna superpower, it's a bird, it's a plane, Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, I got that, I got that, I got that superpower..." 

Are you on Spotify? I'd love to follow you! You can connect with me here.

What's your favorite genre to run to? What songs are you loving lately? Got any recommendations?

I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta for Friday Five aka Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia! It's free Friday and I was thrilled to share my music faves. Check out what everyone else is fiving!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Less is more: Quality race training

Streaking, setting mileage goals...those posts are filling my Facebook feed these days. Kara Goucher challenged followers to run 2016 miles in 2016. Her husband Adam is sponsoring the challenge on his Run This Year website. You can sign up for $25 and complete the challenge solo or as part of a team with 1 or 2 other runners. 2016 miles? That's a heck of a lot of miles for the average runner.

I've already posted about why I won't be streaking. And this year, I won't be setting any mileage goals. In 2015, I set a goal to run 2015 kms, which is 1252 miles. On December 31, I completed that goal, which is the most miles that I have ever run in a year. After that, I took 2 weeks off to let my body recover.

That mileage goal of 1252 miles in a year was harder than you might think. I'm a recreational runner, a nurse practitioner who works full time, and a married mom of 2 teenage boys who runs a few half marathons and maybe one marathon per year. I have a full life outside of running. I run for stress relief and health. My average weekly mileage is between 20-25 miles. My highest weekly mileage during marathon training was 38 miles. I simply can't do more than that without risking injury.

In the past, I've gotten some flack for my low mileage marathon training. Common wisdom for runners is that to run fast, you have to run far. According to an article by Matt Fitzgerald in Competitor magazine, "the more we run, the better we race". Makes sense. But he also says that there is a point where too much training leads to injury. The key, it seems, is to know where your limit is.

For me, that limit is pretty low. I'm ok with that. I've been running for 25 years, and there are a lot of miles on these legs. I'm grateful to still be running and at paces that make me competitive in my age group. But when I train for a race, I try to make every run a quality run. So for those 4 runs I do in a week, each one has a purpose. There's a long slow distance run, speedwork, and 2 short-mid distance runs at race pace.

My marathon training plans capped the long run at 18 miles. What, no 20 mile run? Yep, I heard plenty about that from other runners. Bring it on! There's nothing magical about that 20 mile run. Legendary running coach Jack Daniels sums it up nicely:
"Don't worry that you won't be able to complete a 4:30 marathon if you have never run beyond two and a half hours in training. In fact, it is not necessary to train at such a high percentage of your race distance no matter what the course."--Jack Daniels
Remember too, I'm not only running during marathon training. There's cross training in the form of cycling and those HIIT workouts that Becky has me do. Some weight training as well, and yoga to stretch me out. The naysayers are going to naysay.

This is marathon training.
I read a funny quote in an article about CrossFit Endurance attributed to Jay Johnson, a former track coach from the University of Colorado regarding CFE: "No Kenyan has ever seen a kettlebell."

This non-Kenyan sees a lot of kettlebell.
Most likely not. But I'm not a Kenyan. That's a whole different genetic makeup. Have you ever really looked at the runners around you at a race? Unless you line up in the front of the pack, most of the runners are made up of all shapes and sizes. Not a Kenyan amongst us in the middle or the back of the pack. Since the majority of us are not genetically gifted like an elite runner, we need to ask ourselves, why are we training like elites? Why not cross train? Why not run for time instead of distance? What about running quality miles instead of massive quantities of miles? Why risk injury?

What about "junk miles"? Laura at This Runners Recipes sums this up nicely. A lot of runners run "junk" miles. I do too, especially when I'm not training for something. Sometimes it's nice to "just run" without a goal in mind. There's still that love of running, and those "junk" runs are all about that. We all need those runs. But in a low mileage training plan, there isn't room for junk miles. Adding in a run just to run is increasing your chance for injury. That includes streaking.

I'm not saying you should do CrossFit Endurance to train for a marathon. In fact, my coach Becky, who is a CrossFit coach instructed me NOT to read the book. But what she has me do is a happy medium of some of the components of CrossFit incorporated with smart running. For me, this has kept me mostly injury free (I'm currently battling PF) and running at paces I haven't seen since my 30s. Her approach is all about quality workouts. The proof is in my finish times.

Besides, this training is fun!

Fun for my coach too!
You know my motto, everything in moderation. So that's why you won't see me streaking or chasing a high mileage goal. I love to run. I love to race. I like to have fun. And I don't like to DNS.

I'll see you at the starting line of Big Sur.

Do you run a high mileage plan to train for a big race? Do you incorporate cross training into you race training? What do you consider a quality training plan?

I'm linking this post up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word, which is quality!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Moving forward

The mental funk has lifted. What a wacky, stressful couple of weeks it has been. I feel sufficiently recovered from the holidays and am ready to roll! January, you got nothing on me!

My big news is, and I've got a few bits of news to share, that this week I finished working on my Big Sur Marathon training plan! For Big Sur, Becky isn't writing a training plan. She told me this race is all about fun. I agree 100%, but I think most of you would understand that I need the security of a training plan for a marathon. I can wing it with a half marathon, but a full? Not so much. I'm glad I have the experience of 3 marathons--that gives me the confidence to do the planning on my own. It's not as if I have to start from scratch.

I sat down on Thursday and reviewed the 2 plans she made for me in the past. I stuck with most of what she had done because hey, why fix something that isn't broken? Because this is Big Sur and there is a 2000 ft net gain and loss, I have to do hill training. Since I only run 4 days/week, I mixed those hill days with speed work. Living in the flatlands of northern Illinois, I've never trained for hills before. For Big Sur, I need to train not only uphills but also downhills, and the treadmill isn't going to be a great option for that. Keep in mind that Becky's kicking me in the glutes and that will help me a lot with those hills.

Wearing my deadlift socks! My running shoes are too cushy for these weights.
Since I don't have a specific time goal for this race, I feel confident with this plan and excited now that I have something on paper. I've made a 12 week training plan. I officially start training on January 31. The next two weeks will be spent ramping back up again after my two weeks off running to rest my foot. Oh, and by the way, I've included one day of cycling each week. I told Becky and she looked surprised!

"You like the bike?!" she said, a little puzzled.

Hey, it's my marathon training plan, right?

Yep, I've fallen in love with my bike all over again. Who knew indoor riding could be so fun? In fact, I've enjoyed it so much that I invested in a Wahoo Blue SC device that measures speed and cadence. You know I love my gadgets. This device will help me make my indoor training even more effective than the heart rate training I've been doing. I'll be interested to see how I can make it useful when I ride outside as well. Any of my cycling/triathlete friends out there care to offer any advice my way? I'm open! I'll share more information on the Blue SC as I get used to it. I will comment already that the thing is really touchy. The magnets have to be thisclose.

Also, this week, I've had a blast with SweatPink/Fit Approach's #flexandflow yoga challenge. The poses have been fun, but I've really had a blast being creative with the pictures. If you don't follow me on IG, here are a couple that were reposted:

Twisted chair on my way to work
Camel pose in the studio
Frog pose on my way home from dropping my son off at school. 
The biggest news of all is that I'm back on the road! I was going to make Sunday my triumphant return to running, but the predicted high temperature was 8F. With -20-30F wind chills. I don't know about you, but that just didn't make me excited to start running again! Saturday morning was sunny and 30F. I took my run to my favorite bike path. One section was covered with ice, but I was able to take a little detour on the road. No need to break any bones.

It felt great to be out there in the sunshine and fresh air. I took it easy (average pace was 9:09m/m) and ran 6 miles. I'm trialing shoe inserts that I received from Align Footwear, which are supposed to help my PF. I liked that there is a heel cup on these, keeping my heels stable and lifting my arches. During my run my foot was pretty quiet, but when I got home, it was a little sore.

I still haven't made an appointment for ART. I'm a little scared. I hear it's quite painful. Wimpy? Sure. Let's see how things go the next week or so.

Moving forward feels good. I've never trained for a spring marathon before, but it is great to be back on a training plan again. There is no better way to lift yourself up than to have a plan with a goal, right?

Except for a sense of humor. Laughter is the best medicine.

And on that note, I wanted to share with you some wisdom from one of the spammers that I blocked this week:
"No matter if some one searches for his required thing, thus he/she desires to be available that in detail, therefore that thing is maintained over here."-Anonymous
I'm not sure what it means, but it sounds really deep and profound. I'm still thinking about it. This may be the best one I've gotten so far. I feel like it deserves it's own meme.

Have a great week!

How was your week? Are you participating in any yoga challenges? Any clever, profound messages you've received this week?

I'm linking up with Tricia and Holly for their Weekly Wrap. And anxiously awaiting their WDW marathon recaps!

I'm also linking up with a new linkup, Flecks of Lex's The Week Behind! Check it out!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Book review: Fast Girl: Running From Madness by Suzy Favor Hamilton

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?

Apparently not for Suzy Favor Hamilton. She made a name for herself as an Olympian....and as a high paid escort. She was apparently so skilled as an escort that she even ranked #2 on an escort website at one point in time. Go big or go home. While she was touring for Run Disney and the Rock and Roll Race series, she also made arrangements to meet clients on the side. On the down low. Multitasking. Getting the most bang for her buck.

Bad pun, I know.

She didn't just meet clients in Vegas. But Vegas is where most of the action happened.

I don't know who to be more disgusted with--Suzy or her husband. This book left me speechless.

Ok, I'll back it on up. Suzy Favor Hamilton was a top middle distance runner in the 1990s, competing in 3 Summer Olympics. In her final event, she saw she wasn't going to win and faked an injury, falling to the track. She readily admits this.

Yep, she threw the race because she wasn't going to win. Just try and get your head around that one.

After retiring from competition and settling into life in Wisconsin as a partner in her husband's real estate business, Suzy was unsatisfied. Diagnosed with depression, she started taking an antidepressant. For her and Mark's 20th wedding anniversary, she suggested a trip to Las Vegas. The trip included skydiving and a threesome with an escort, both at Suzy's suggestion. She felt a rush from the experience with the escort and suggested to her husband that becoming an escort was something she'd like to try.

And he agreed? My head almost blew off when I read that part.

Suzy blames her promiscuity on bipolar disorder, which she says resulted from the antidepressant she was prescribed. Interestingly, a major side effect of SSRIs is a suppressed libido. Not in this case, it seems.

All Suzy's trips to Las Vegas were made with the knowledge of her husband Mark. I can understand that bipolar disorder leads to acting out in all sorts of ways--excessive spending, drinking and drugs, and sexual promiscuity, but instead of helping Suzy, according to her story, her husband allowed her do just what she wanted. She says he didn't approve, but he knew and he stuck around.

Does this seem odd to you?

Can you say enabler?

Or is Suzy looking for someone to blame?

Clearly she was out of control. I read most of this book with my mouth hanging open. And it's not a well written book but it is a page turner. First I had to try to fathom her husband's complicity. Right now, my husband is trying to wrap his head around my 2 spring races which involve plane tickets and hotel stays. Trips to Las Vegas to have sex with other men? For money? I believe that he might draw the line at that. Although I don't know for sure. I've never tested him on that.

What kind of husband would go along with this?

In the book, Suzy talks about being afraid of failure. First as a runner, and then as a prostitute. On her prostitution journey, her ego got the best of her and she became careless with her clients, who eventually figured out who she was. It was finally a reporter with The Smoking Gun who outed her. On the day the story went public, Suzy convinced her husband to go hiking. While they were driving, she tried to throw herself out of the car. Finally, her husband drew the line, and she got some help.

It takes a lot to get Suzy's husband to stand up to her. I probably should cut him some slack. But this story is just so hard for me to believe on so many levels. There's so much drama and so much blaming of everyone around her, as well as blaming everything on the bipolar disorder. I never felt that she had any regrets or took any responsibility for her behavior.

Initially, I found Hamilton's book to be dragged down by superfluous detail. But as the story moves forward, the storytelling improves, and I found it hard to put the book down. It was like reading a tabloid story or watching a car wreck. You know nothing good is going to come out of this story, right?

Personally, I was disappointed that there was so much detail and glorification of her sexual conquests. Clearly, she was proud of her prowess. She talked about how she wanted to be the top escort in the world.

I would have liked more detail about her life as a collegiate and Olympic athlete. She had so much talent and tons of opportunities with companies that wanted to sponsor her, based on her reputation as a runner. But that's not what this book is about. I will admit that it was fascinating to read about someone who had it all but was so willing to live life on the edge.

Maybe she was so out of control because no one around her threw out a safety net. Everyone just let her do her own thing. It seems like she had so much power over all the people in her life. The whole time I read this book, I kept asking myself why no one tried to intervene.

I should cut Suzy some slack because of her illness. There's probably plenty of blame to go around besides her husband. Her parents who pushed her? The University of Wisconsin for putting her in those easy classes that all the athletes pass? The coach who told her that her breasts were too big for a runner? Her competitors who were possibly doping? Her sponsors? Her doctors? Her pimp?

In the end though, she comes back to the realization that she still has running. After reading this book, I'm not entirely convinced.
"I run now for the freedom it gives me. I run because it feels good. I run because it is good for me--for my heart and for my head. But it isn't all I do. I am still constantly in motion: in my running shoes, on my bike, on my yoga mat, exercise is my drug of choice now....
...In these moments, on the path with my feet hitting the ground, I feel peaceful. I am myself, living the life I want, not the one that others expect from me or the one that I created out of fantasy and confusion. My life now isn't perfect. Far from it. But it is a life of contentment, and for this I am incredibly grateful. "

Life goes on, and now Suzy has become a yoga instructor. She also has said she's decided to devote more time to being a better mother to her young daughter.

I hope so.

I didn't attempt to contact Suzy Favor Hamilton for an interview because there are so many stories about her on the internet, as well as some live interviews. She was featured in Sports Illustrated and People Magazine as well as on 20/20. All these stories are readily available.

Did you read the book? A lot of people told me that after seeing Suzy on the news that they had no desire to read her story. I'm curious about what you think. If you don't have a blog post to link up, feel free to post in the comments. Be sure to check out the other reviews. 

Here's the link badge! Link up is at the end of the post. It will be live for 2 weeks, so if you haven't read the book, you've got plenty of time! It's a quick read. Be sure to link back to this post! Remember sharing is caring.

Next month we're shifting gears and reading It was Me All Along by Andi Mitchell. This sweet memoir was written by a young woman who struggles with body image issues and weight loss. It has received great reviews. Should be another good one! Book review and link up will go live on Friday, February 19.

Click on the photo to purchase from Amazon (affiliate link)