Friday, April 29, 2016

Runfessions for April

Oh, blogging, how I've missed you this week! And then Marcia hosts Runfessions? Too delicious to pass up, I'm throwing together a quick post because I have a few things to share from our trip. The Big Sur Marathon race recap? I'll be posting that on Sunday, but today's post is all about the shenanigans behind our trip to California. Because our trip was almost perfect. Almost.

Let the 'fessing begin...

Runfessions for April

I runfess...even though the race exceeded my expectations, the Big Sur Marathon expo was a little underwhelming. But there were a few oddities I thought I should mention. For example, as I was walking through the tent, a guy in a lab coat came at me with a rack of porcelain teeth, promising me he'd whiten my teeth in no time. Well dude, my front four teeth are capped. Oh, he'd remove any stains? Seriously? Who let this guy into a race expo? Then another guy came at me with a TENS unit, electrodes at the ready. These had to be the weirdest things I've ever experienced at a race expo. I met up with my husband, who offered to pay for my purchases, and we continued on with our "not a second honeymoon".

Runfessions for April

I runfess that after the Big Sur Marathon, my feet were hurting really badly. Even though I was basking in my post-race glow, I was struggling to follow my husband to the car. To his credit, he offered to pick me up, but nooooo, I had to be the hero. I mean, I ran 26.2, right? We crossed the street and passed an elderly woman walking with a cane. I commented that I could use her cane. "Bless your heart, honey", she said. And I felt really foolish because, yes, I just ran 26.2 miles. #runnerproblems

Runfessions for April
I'm sitting and yes, that beer helped dull the pain...
Yosemite was magnificent. Have you ever been there? My husband totally indulged my need for yoga poses. He even came up with ideas for spots I could do them. Really? Who is he? But it's too bad we had to share the park with other people. When we were snapping pictures of Tunnel View, there was a large group of tourists. Two guys were getting their picture taken. I attempted to snap a photo, and they asked me to move over. "How much room do you need?', I runfess that I asked them. They scooted away. Ooops.

Runfessions for April
Tunnel View. El Capitan, Glacier Point, and Bridalveil Falls all in one shot. 
While in San Francisco, we stayed in the most amazing little boutique hotel. Wine and cheese at 5. Breakfast in the morning. Fireplace in our room. Super comfy bed. Except I runfess I woke up in the middle of the night very itchy. In the morning, I inspected the damage. Only 5 bites, but very red and swollen, and all on the left side of my body. Bedbugs? Spider bites? I don't know what, but something got me. My husband got away untouched. Figures.

We got to the San Francisco Airport for our trip home. Our flight was delayed. And then it was cancelled. The pilot told us that the co-pilot's seat was broken and they couldn't find another plane. Have you ever heard this one? We made a beeline to customer service only to have to wait in line for about 2 hours. Rebooked to Denver with a connection to Chicago, we flew to the gate. We waited to be called. And saw the plane pull away from the jetway. Stunned, we approached the desk and were told to wait for our name to be called. When we were finally called to the podium, the customer service rep immediately copped an attitude. I runfess I may have used air quotes when I talked about the co-pilot's broken seat. And I got the hands on the hips and "ma'am"ed back attitude from the customer service asshole rep. Yep. Bottom line, we went to another customer service agent. Got travel vouchers, a flight home in the morning, and hotel and food vouchers for the night.

Runfessions for April
Oh those "air quotes"....
Got any runfessions? Any travel stories? Do you let this stuff just roll off your back? We did. We laughed about it, except the last one. 

I'm linking this post with Marcia at Marcia's Healthy Slice for Runfessions. It's just the best link up ever. Now I'm going to bed. It's been a long 2 days of trying to get home!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies

In case you didn't know, I'm running a marathon this weekend. Not just any marathon, but the Big Sur Marathon! My training is wrapped up and I'm hoping that what I did is enough to get me across the finish line. After all, there was very little running the last 6 weeks. Thank you very much, plantar fasciitis! I'm feeling a little restless without having much training on the plan this final week. I've got all this nervous energy and I've been buzzing around the house like the energizer bunny! I won't lie, even though I'm anxious, it feels good to have more time in my day to focus on other things besides training.

And yes, my wacky sense of humor has returned. Is it because I'm glad to be done with training or is it the taper crazies?

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies

What to do with all that nervous energy besides worry? What's a runner to do?

You sing out loud on your final training runs. Because they are shorter. Because there are no paces to hit. Because you just get to run. But then you worry that you aren't running enough. You remind yourself to trust your training. You remember all those deadlifts and squats Becky had you do and that is what will power you up those hills. You remember how much you love running. Your runs feel easy right now. You think maybe you didn't do enough to get ready. You remind yourself that you did enough to get ready. You try to forget that you still have to run 26.2 miles.
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
KB swings
You text wacky selfies to your friend who is running Boston alone. The selfies have all the marathon signs that drove you crazy the last time you ran one. But secretly, you hope to see some of these signs at your race. Because even though they sometimes annoy you, you appreciate the efforts. And they always make you smile. And smiling makes running feel a little bit easier.
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
I know it's a lion, but that's all I had at work.
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
Headstand? Running a marathon? Growing out your bangs?
5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
Yes, they do. BQ, baby.
You eat all the food. Including these yummy cupcakes that I won from another blogger, Sana. Oh yes, that happened. It's probably the best prize I've ever won from a blog giveaway. No hemp hearts in these babies. Just sugar, butter, and yummy goodness. I won't lie, though. I shared them with my boys. Because otherwise, I'm just a glutton.

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
From Georgetown Cupcakes
You obsess about hurting yourself or becoming ill before the marathon. Washing your hands becomes more than hygiene, it becomes a mission. You avoid sidewalk cracks, not only because you are superstitious but also because you don't want to trip. You also avoid any people who look sick. Which is kind of hard to do when you work in the medical profession. Your mind screams with possibilities. Every sneeze is potential for pneumonia. Every creak, every niggle, every twinge is a potential DNS.

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies

You read all the information you can find about your race and review the course map so much that you feel that you've already run the race. You know every mile marker, every uphill and downhill. You anticipate the guy playing the grand piano at mile 13. That big hill that starts at mile 9 and ends at mile 11. You start stalking the weather. Maybe you have more than one weather app on your phone. Maybe you have 4 weather apps and you check them all, favoring the app that has the best forecast. Every day the forecast changes and you imagine the worst. Looks like it's going to be windy. There's been plenty of wind here in Chicago. I can do this!

5 Signs that You Have the Taper Crazies
And away I go! This isn't my first marathon, but it's my first destination marathon! Funny thing, even after 3 marathons, I still get nervous and excited. I can't wait to start and I can't wait to be done. It's all part of the process. No matter what, I wouldn't miss it for the world. I won't be blogging the rest of the week. I'll be taking a little time off this week to enjoy my time away with my husband. You can stalk me on my Facebook Page or Instagram for race updates. My race recap will be up next Sunday.

How about you? What happens to you during your taper? Do you go crazy? Do you have a ton of nervous energy? What do you do to burn it off?

Thanks to everyone for following me through my training, my injury, and everything else. It really does take a village to train a marathoner. I will run with all of you in my heart!

I'm linking up with Deb Runs for Wednesday Word. Today's word is energetic. Who me?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 11

It's the final countdown to the Big Sur Marathon! One week to go until the race. This was my last full effort. And I am ready!

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 11

Monday: rest day. But I did stop on the way to work to steal me some sunshine. And a yoga pose.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 11
Reverse warrior
Tuesday: I had 6 miles on the plan, so I went to the pool for some pool running. The lifeguards were very chipper this morning. One of the lifeguards was dancing as he patrolled around the dive well. Apparently earlier this year there was an issue with a swimmer who complained that the music was too loud. Long story short, OSHA came out to check the sound system and found that it was within acceptable limits. So the lifeguards got their groove back.

I didn't get a selfie, though because they were just too observant! I thought maybe I'd get one in the locker room, but all the pool noodlers were in there, getting ready for class. I did overhear this: when asked by another noodler how she was feeling since she got out of the hospital, a lady replied that her "stupid doctor" put her on some heart medication but she's not taking it because she's "mad at him". Don't you love that kind of logic? I wonder how that's working out for her.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 11

Wednesday: There was speedwork on the plan but since I'm still taking it easy on my feet, I put my bike in the trainer for another GCN video. This one was called HIIT Intense Cycle Training Workout. It was supposed to be 40 minutes BUT there's a little surprise at the end. The instructor threw in an extra set of intervals. I laughed to myself because the people in the class did not look happy when he announced it. I wasn't either because this is another really tough workout. And dammit, there were ads in this video. One of them popped up right in the middle of that last interval too. That really threw me off. The other thing that I noticed is that there is one girl who is in every one of these GCN videos. I call her RBF because, RBF. She looks miserable in every video. At the end of this one she's talking with the girl next to her and I had the thought that this would be perfect for some bad lip reading. "How about that last interval?" "This guy is a real dick." "Let's go get Starbucks."

There was some yoga, after all that.
Big Sur Half Marathon Week 11
Twisted high lunge
Thursday: I headed to the pool for another hour of pool running aka aqua jogging around the dive well. For almost the whole time, I had the dive well to myself, with the exception of the lifeguards. With about 15 minutes left to go, the pool noodlers joined me for their warm up. One lady, a newbie, asked me if this was a class. I shook my head no, but thought to myself, do I look like a freaking pool noodler? I just picked up the pace and kept going.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 11
He moves fast!
Later I went to see Becky for my final session until after the marathon. She had a tough workout planned for me. I pulled the sled, loaded up with plates, down the street. Every once in a while, she had me stop and do KB swings, KB deadlifts, or sidesteps with the resistance band. When she finally let me turn around, she got the idea to have me walk backwards, pulling the sled. At least I could see the cars coming at me before they might hit me, right? There were more KB swings and sidesteps. No rowing today, thankfully. My hips, glutes, and hamstrings were sore. This will be good for those hills of California.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 11
This one's for the downhills

Friday: rest day.

Saturday: I had 4 miles on the plan and that's what I set out to do before work. It was a perfect morning for a run. 45 degrees, no wind, bright sunshine--oh my! Spring, where have you been? I took it easy, my legs felt good, and nope, no foot pain. I even picked up a penny for good luck. Could this be happening? 4.31m/8:39m/m

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 11
Warrior 2
Sunday: I had eight miles on the plan and I wanted to enjoy them since this would be my last run until Big Sur. I ran to my favorite place to train, the retention pond with the 2 mile loop. I haven't run much there since my injury. Even though it was early, the parking lot was packed. My foot didn't bother me much but the temperatures did. I haven't run in warm weather since Florida, 6 weeks ago. I'm not complaining, but it did make things a little tougher for me! What a great way to wrap up my marathon training cycle! 8.34 miles/8:54m/m

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 11
It doesn't get any better than this.
And now the final countdown begins. I'm not planning on running at all this week. Fresh feet is the goal. A little cycling, pool running, and yoga just to keep me from going completely nuts.

How was your week? Is spring happening where you are? Do you pick up pennies for good luck?

Good luck to everyone running Boston tomorrow!!!

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap. It's the place to be. You don't want to miss out, do you?

I'm also linking up with Erin at Her Heartland Soul for her Weekend Snapshot. Got a few of those in this post...

Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Club Book Review: How Bad Do You Want it?

"It turns out the essential challenge of endurance sports really is psychological"- Matt Fitzgerald, How Bad Do You Want It? Mastering the Psychology of Mind Over Muscle
If you are looking for a book that tells you how to reach your goals, this might not be the book for you. But if you are looking for inspiration, for that push past your perceived limits, or for stories about athletes overcoming challenges, this book provides that and more. In How Bad Do You Want It?, Fitzgerald shares stories of athletes, both well known and obscure who ignored the voices in their head that told them to stop, to turn around, to quit. Throughout the book is advice and information to help the runner build their mental muscles to help them race their best.

It was no coincidence that I chose this book for my April book club selection. With my bucket list race, the Big Sur Marathon, on the horizon, I wanted to read something that would drive me up those hills and across that finish line. Who knew that I would develop severe plantar fasciitis and have to bag my training plan, instead cross-training via bike and pool running? I needed all the motivation I could get, and I found plenty in this book.
"Endurance sports are therefore a game of 'mind over muscle'"-Matt Fitzgerald.
The book starts off with a discussion of the "psychobiological model" of endurance. Fitzgerald does a nice job discussing how the athlete perceives his effort versus what is actually going on in the brain. He says that the brain itself becomes fatigued during exercise, and this fatigue leads to an increased perception of effort. So the goal for the athlete is to change his thought process. He uses the term "the wall" to describe that limit, but states that an athlete can overcome that wall by working on mental fitness.
"The one thing an athlete can control is how she deals with what life gives her" -Matt Fitzgerald.
This quote kind of reminds me of one of my favorite mantras, given to me before my first Chicago Marathon by my friend Sandy, who has completed an Ironman along with many other endurance events. She told me to "go with what the day gives you". I've taken that advice to every starting line since then.  In the book, Fitzgerald says success is all attitude about the way an athlete feels. An athlete with a good attitude will perceive a lower level of discomfort and be able to push harder. Fitzgerald calls it "bracing yourself". He says you should always expect your next race to be your hardest race and prepare yourself for the worst to race your best.

Besides giving the reader a mental pep talk, Fitzgerald shares real life stories of athletes who pushed themselves beyond their limits to achieve a goal. My favorite story was about cyclist Thomas Voeckler and the 2004 Tour de France where he pushed ahead and wore the yellow jersey way longer than anyone would have expected. He was dying out there, but he hung on until stage 15 before he succumbed to the inevitable. But even though he didn't win he was a hero in his home country of France. As riders say, "the yellow jersey gives you wings" to describe the phenomenon of riding better once they have the yellow jersey. The jersey made Voeckler push way beyond his abilities because he believed he could. The crowds cheered him on, and that too pushed him. Fitzgerald describes that as "the audience effect", where the presence of other people has a positive effect on performance. You've probably felt that at a big race, when a spectator calls out to you and tells you you're looking strong. I know I have!

Book Club Book Review: How Bad Do You Want It?

There are plenty of amazing stories, but no book on endurance athletes would be complete without a chapter on Pre. Steve Prefontaine was a legendary runner. There's a great story about Pre running in the 1971 NCAA XC championships. He was challenged immediately by another runner who wouldn't give up. Pre was pushed to the limit but just wouldn't quit. Winning the race, he made it look easy but readily admitted that it wasn't. That's how he approached every race. He is best known for this quote which he stated before a race:
"The only good pace is a suicide pace and today looks like a good day to die".- Steve Prefontaine.
He often asked himself "is it worth it?" referring to pushing himself to the limits of his endurance. Yet he always rose to the challenge. He was tough. No doubt it was worth it to him.
"To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."-Steve Prefontaine
But the book isn't just about high performers. This book is for ALL runners. Fitzgerald talks about John Bingham as well. Bingham, who gave himself the nickname "the Penguin" is known for his slow, steady, back of the pack pace. He became the voice for a whole new group of runners. But in spite of admitting that he would never win a race, he still pushed himself to his limits.
"In spite of all my talk about the joy of the journey, at some level I'm a closet competitor." -John Bingham
He encourages runners of all abilities to chase their goals of getting faster for that transformative experience that comes with trying as hard as you can.

After reading this book, hopefully, we'll all be tougher runners. Just ask yourself: How bad do you want it?  Give it your best, no matter what your best is.

What did you think of the book? Did you draw motivation from the stories? How do you get your head in the game during a tough event?


Here's the link up badge! You can find the link up at the end of the post. The link up stays live for 2 weeks--it will close April 1, but the comments stay live forever! Don't forget to link back to this post, and please read and comment on the other reviews. If you want to review a different fitness-related book, please feel free to link up with us as well! Remember, sharing is caring! I'm so grateful to all of you who participate in the book club!

Next month we are reading Running: A Love Story 10 Years, 5 Marathons, and 1 Life Changing Sport by Jen Miller. This sounds like a book any us of could have written! Jen is a writer for Runner's World as well as the New York Times. I'm really looking forward to this one.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

You Be The Judge: Trading Bibs and an Invisible Finisher

There were two big stories this past week about cheaters that rocked the amateur running and triathlon worlds. One involved a blogger and a bib exchange for Boston, the other, a triathlete whose winning ways started to unravel. Cheating and doping in professional sports seems to be the rule rather than the exception these days. For professional athletes, the stakes are high. But for amateur athletes? All you've got is your glory. Is it worth it?

You be the judge.

You Be The Judge: Trading Bibs and an Invisible Finisher

A few years ago, I wrote a blog post calling out cheaters and inducting them into my Great Liars in Running Hall of Shame. I wrote that post after several runners used a picture of woman's Boston Marathon bib to run the race and collect a medal after seeing her pre-race post on Facebook. While researching that post, I found quite a few interesting stories about cheaters. I had to dig deep, though. There weren't a ton of stories at that time.

Since then, there have been some more well-publicized stories about cheaters. I've had several new inductees into the Hall of Shame which I wrote about, here and here.

You Be The Judge: Trading Bibs and an Invisible Finisher

Sadly, it seems to me that stories of cheating in amateur events have become rampant. This past week, two women were called out for cheating. One was Gia Alvarez, of the blog RUNGiaRUN. The story goes that Gia, who qualified to run Boston in 2015, was unable to run so she gave her bib to another runner. That runner ran a qualifying time, under Gia's name, and Gia registered to run this year's Boston Marathon. Gia used the finish time run by her friend who wore Gia's bib.

Confused? I was, initially. Let's break it down. There are two wrongs here: first of all, Gia gave away her Boston Marathon bib when she couldn't run the race. I know, I know, people do this all the time. But this is the freaking Boston Marathon, where qualifiers miss the cut off by a minute or less. A few years ago, a friend of mine just missed the cutoff, and she was devastated. So the way I see it, Gia's friend took a spot that a real qualifier could have used.

You Be The Judge: Trading Bibs and an Invisble Finisher
Guess who this is?
Maybe you still think it's ok, because Gia earned that spot, and she can do whatever she wants with the bib. Right? Well, I don't agree with that line of thinking but that's my opinion and it's my blog. Anyways, what about Gia running Boston this year using the bib that her friend earned? Sure, it was on the bib Gia gave to her friend, so technically it was Gia's bib. Right? And if my son wants to go to Harvard, he should get the smartest kid in his school to take the ACT for him.

By the way, I really want to run Boston, so maybe my friend Sara, who is sure to BQ at Boston this year, could give me her bib and I could run under her name in 2017. Does she really need to run Boston more than once? Sara? Hello?

Wouldn't that be asking a lot of a friend? Not only is Gia banned from all future BAA events, but it looks like her friend will be joining her in purgatory. Isn't that what friends are for?

Sorry, but to me, two wrongs don't make a right. Apparently I'm not alone in my thinking. The running boards on Let's Run have been going crazy with little or no support for Gia. She does have her supporters, though. And the blog lives on.

Moving on.

Another story, this one about a triathlete, Julie Miller, who won her division at Ironman Canada 2015. The second place woman challenged her, reporting that she never saw Miller on the course. Other women also reported not seeing Miller on the course. An investigation by course officials determined that there was no way Miller could have completed the course without cheating. She was DQ'd. Soon after that, she was DQ'd from previous wins at other events and has been barred from competing in any Ironman events.

Her excuse? She says she "lost" her timing chip that was attached to the velcro strap around her ankle. Turns out she "lost" her timing chip at other races as well. I'm not a triathlete, but from everything I've read, the velcro strap sometimes comes off during the race but no one has ever reported a "lost" timing chip. And to lose the chip at multiple events?

You Be The Judge: Trading Bibs and an Invisible Finisher

The New York Times posted an article detailing the investigation which you can read here. What I read was disheartening, as are all these stories. What's also disturbing to me is the increasing frequency with which these types of events are being reported. There's even a blog devoted to all things cheating called Marathon Investigation.

We're all amateurs out here, folks. While it's exciting to win an award--I won a few AG awards myself last year--is it really worth cheating a course to win an award? There's no money involved, maybe an extra medal, a pint glass, or something fun, and a few moments of glory when they announce your name. Plus the knowledge that you are pretty damn speedy. I get that.

When I ran the Sarasota half marathon this past March, I knew it was going to be a long shot for me to place in my AG. I looked at last year's results, and I learned that those old ladies can run fast down there. Factor in the heat and humidity, neither of which I would be able to prepare for in the frozen tundra which is winter in Chicago. As I ran the out and back course in Sarasota, the thought occurred to me that there were several points where I could have turned around early and cut some significant time off my finish. I would never do that because I couldn't live with myself knowing that I cheated. But it made me think about people who do. I bet it is way more common than we think, especially on an out and back course.

And no, I didn't even come close to placing in my AG in Sarasota. I came in 22nd place. Which is exactly where I should have been.

Would it be worth it to cut the course short?

You be the judge.

Have you ever used a bib that wasn't yours or given one away? Have you ever seen anyone turn around early on an out and back course? What do you think about Gia and her friend? Do you think being banned from all BAA events is too harsh? What about Julie Miller? Should she be banned from all Ironman events? Have you ever lost a chip in a triathlon?

I'm linking up with DebRuns for Wednesday Word. Today's word is judgmental. Maybe I am. I wonder if the other bloggers are. Check it out!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 10

It's getting real. Only 2 weeks to go until the big show. The foot continues to stay quiet and I'm feeling more excited than nervous! Here's how the week went down.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 10

Monday: I went to yoga at the studio. The entire class was done at the wall, which really helped me get into my hips. I was a little sore after my long run/long bike the day before, and the class really helped loosen me up.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 10
Triangle pose with a bind
Tuesday: I had an 8 mile run on the plan, so I pool ran for 73 minutes. I know, it's not an even number, but the lifeguards kicked me out of the pool at 8 am so the pool noodle class could begin.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 10
Someone asked for a video but I just don't know how I could pull that off. Those lifeguards...
Wednesday: With hill repeats on the plan, I put the bike back in the trainer and decided to do another GCN class. This one was called Extreme Fat Burning Workout. It was a spin class with tough intervals. Even though it was only 50 minutes long, it was 50 minutes of hell. I was a drippy, sweaty, tired mess after this one. A worthy substitute for those hill repeats.

Hero pose. Feeling infinitely grateful for all that I can do, even while injured.
I did yoga at home after that, doing my own Post Run Yoga workout.

Thursday: It was back to the pool for 60 minutes of pool running. The weather has been awful this week--it was snowing this morning--and I'm not minding my indoor workouts at all. No selfie from today's swim. I think the lifeguard is on to me.

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 10
Oh my gosh is this fun! But oh my gosh was I sore the next day.
After pool running, I went to see Becky for CrossFit. She changed things up a bit today. I was excited to see her pull out the slider board. So fun! She also had me do some hip work with the resistance bands. Then there were Romanian deadlifts. Followed by an all out row for 3 minutes again. I continue to improve on my pacing with that.

I met Marcia and Sara for lunch and we talked all things running. Sara's running Boston next week and she has been killing her training. I'm pretty sure she will BQ again. Marcia, who has run Boston a few times, gave Sara some last minute advice. And both of them listened to me moan and groan about my PF. We forgot to get a picture, but trust me, it really happened.

Friday: Today was a rest day but I had another runner meet up, dinner with Michelle, Penny, and Debi! We had never met Debi before but knew her from her FB page, Girls Run the 901. She was in town for the Lakefront 50k. Isn't it great meeting FB friends in real life? It's like we all knew her. She has the cutest southern accent and is a nice as you would imagine.

Michelle, Debi, Penny, and me
Saturday: I had a six mile run on the plan. I woke up to snow. I also woke up to my oldest son's wrecked car parked in the driveway. After I woke him up and learned what happened, I put on my shoes and headed out into the bright sunshine. As sometimes happens on a run, I processed this latest bit of mama drama while taking it out on the road. I had to keep redirecting myself to reign it in, and in spite of wanting to push it, I think I did a good job managing my pace. I also found myself singing out loud to Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name. Complete with fist pumping. I hope nobody heard me. Or saw me. 5.55m/8:39m/m

Big Sur Marathon Week 10

The day got better, though. I watched my youngest son compete in an area high school invitational gymnastics tournament where he placed 3rd out of 42 boys on the high bar. I may have cried. And he let me hug him. His team placed 3rd out of 14 schools. What a day.

There he is, 3rd place. On the podium! I'm so proud!
Sunday: Even though I had a 12 mile run on the plan, I cautiously decided I would run 10 and call it a day. It was blustery and cold, with some rain. I headed out to the bike path which would keep me from running directly into the wind for most of my run. My legs felt surprisingly loose and my foot was quiet. I paced myself around 9 min/mile and did a great job keeping my splits consistent. By mile 4, I made up my mind to do the whole 12. I was smiling and singing along to my playlist, but not pushing my pace at all. This was a really enjoyable long run--and I haven't had one of those for a long time! I stopped once to take a picture and that was it. My 12 miles took me right to my driveway and when I stopped, I was still surprised to feel minimal pain in my heel. 12 miles/9:08m/m

Big Sur Marathon Training Week 10
The hay's in the proverbial barn!
I thought to myself that this is how you should feel when you've trained for a marathon. You've done all your work--speedwork, hill work, tempo runs, long runs--and 2 weeks before the race, you should feel loose and ready. What amazed me about this run is that in spite of very little time on the road the last couple of weeks, I feel ready. Is it the pool running? The cycling? The weight training and CrossFit that Becky has been doing with me? Whatever it is, I'll take it!

How was your week? What's the weather been like by you? I'm so ready for spring!

I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia for their Weekly Wrap! It's a great place to catch up with everyone and see what they've been up to.

Friday, April 8, 2016

5 Thoughts About Pool Running

As a runner, there will most likely be some point in time when you need to take a break from the it due to fatigue, illness, injury, or just because you want to. If you want to maintain fitness, there are a lot of options. While dealing with plantar fasciitis and training for the Big Sur Marathon, I was really nervous about not running. My sports medicine doctor, as well as several of my running friends, suggested pool running. I decided to jump in and found it to be a worthy substitute for pounding the pavement.

Have you considered pool running as an alternative workout? I'm no expert on pool running, but I've got some thoughts to share with you.

5 Thoughts About Pool Running

Pool running is simple, but it is hard. I don't want to scare anyone off here. Let me just say that it is not as difficult as actual swimming. You don't even need to know how to swim to pool run. For pool running, I wear a floatation belt, but I have read that some people pool run freestyle. That would be really hard. My goal is to keep moving forward, and by wearing the belt, I don't have to worry as much about my form. You want to stay upright, just like you do when you run.

When I pool run, I just get in the pool and literally "jog" forward. With the water resistance, you don't move very fast. That can be deceiving. I try to take short strides and get my legs moving as if I were running. I make sure to lift my knees. My hands are cupped and I move my arms back and forth in the water. I don't stop the entire time. Make sure you are working and getting your heart rate up. Sometimes I'm puffing. My face actually sweats a little bit. When I finish my workout, I'm tired, as if I went for a long run. And I want to eat all the food.

Plan on your pool runs to be the same length of time you would be running on the road.

Pool running is boring.  Like treadmill running, you're not going anywhere for a while. At the suggestion of my pool running friends, I purchased a waterproof iPod shuffle and it was the best money I've spent. Actually, the only money I've spent, except for having to buy a new iPhone after I drowned my previous model when I trusted a waterproof phone case. Trust me on this. Get the shuffle. I listen to my running playlist, which I associate with some pretty great road runs. Those songs really motivate me. Today I had the thought that this would be a good time to try podcasts as well.

Notice the waterproof iPod shuffle clipped to my strap. The earbuds are waterproof as well. Winning!
The benefit to pushing yourself through a boring workout is that it mentally prepares you for those tough miles on a long distance run or race. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

Even thought pool running is boring, I had the thought that even more boring would be the lifeguard job. Sometimes I'm alone in the diving well, and I get my very own babysitter lifeguard. They're all young adults who won't take their eyes off me but won't make eye contact with me. It's a little unnerving. Maybe I remind them of their mom. But seriously, how boring to watch me jog in the water. Most of them keep pacing around the pool. I'm sure they'd fall asleep in the chair otherwise.

There's chlorine. When I go home after my pool running sessions, I immediately shower and wash my hair, but I still smell chlorine for hours after. Normally I like the smell of bleach. Being somewhat of a germaphobe, that chlorine smell just feels reassuring. But after pool running this smell stays with me for a long time. I think it permeates my nostrils. When I'm done at the pool, I kind of get a headache and feel a little queasy too. Is it the workout? Or the chlorine? Should I be fueling during my pool runs?

Then there's my skin, which now resembles tissue paper. I liberally lube up my skin with shea butter after a swim but my skin just soaks it up like a sponge. My iPhone doesn't even recognize my wrinkly thumbprint when I try to unlock my phone!

In the morning, there are a lot of elderly swimmers. It's kind of like a geriatric happy hour. I'm usually the youngest person there. While I'm jogging around the dive well, I have to share the pool with the pool noodlers, the elderly women who drift back and forth on their foam noodles. They gossip and talk about all their maladies. I've heard them talking about knee replacements, whose funeral they went to lately, their grandkids...and I think to myself: is that my future? Horrors! But I don't want to be a pool noodler! On the other hand, at least they're moving, right?

5 Thoughts About Pool Running

I'm lucky I get to go pool running. At any given time, there are plenty of injured runners, and I've learned that a lot of folks don't have access to a pool. The park district in my town has one indoor pool, and I feel really fortunate that I get to use the diving well. There are only 2 mornings per week that the diving well is free, and that's when I go. The lap pool is open every morning. I've never done pool running in the lap lanes. I'm not sure how well that would work because it's much shallower in the lap pool and most likely my feet would touch the bottom of the pool. Plus the lap swimmers probably wouldn't be happy with me sharing the lane.

I've been pool running for about 3 weeks and my PF has calmed down nicely. I don't know if it's time off my feet or if the motion in the water is helpful, but whatever it is I am grateful. Most likely I'll be continuing with the pool running for a while after Big Sur. It's not a bad backup plan at all.

5 Thoughts About Pool Running

Here are some links to articles on pool running, if you want to learn more.
Aqua Jogging For Runners
Head For the Pool
Pool Running: Why You're Doing it Wrong and How to Pool Run To Get Faster
A Nine Week Water Running Plan to Stay in Shape While Injured

Have you ever tried pool running? Any suggestions for funny running podcasts I could listen to? Any great body lotion to combat chlorine-induced dry skin?

I'm linking up with the DC Trifecta for Friday Five. Today's theme is fitness. I'll be fittin' this post right in with the theme... Anyways, Courtney, Mar, and Cynthia host this fun gathering! Check it out!

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