Thoughts On Running Long And Strong

Today’s Happy Note: I’m officially in love with my creative writing class — the people, the teacher, and the materials are all great.  It’s about Lyric Essays.  Today we reviewed one of my pieces.  It is a piece I am tremendously proud of — it sort of encapsulates the last three or four months of my life.  I feel like a lot of times with writing, my best work comes out of nowhere.  I start putting words on the page without knowing where I’m going and then all of the sudden there are pages full of words and ideas and I have no idea where they came from.

I will always be writing. Always always always.

Marathon Training: I was supposed to get in my second 20 miler (read the recap of the first 20 miler here) on Sunday, then do a rest day yesterday, then a speed work day today.  Unfortunately, the LSAT sucked the life force out of me on Saturday.  I didn’t wake up until 3:00 on Sunday.  Yeah, long run wasn’t gonna happen.  Especially since I needed to see USB. 🙂

I took Sunday as a complete and total rest day. Yesterday I had yoga class (it’s not really vinyasa-style so we always just hold a bunch of random poses for a long time; this is actually kind of nice because it increases the stretching factor) and did 6 miles.

I was determined to get in my 20 miles today and I did! It meant getting up at 6:00 which is insanely early for me.  But I did it.  I wanted to run it at about an 11:00 minutes/mile pace.  I was almost exactly on target!  I finished just over 3:40,  which would put me just over 11:00 minute miles.   BUT I stopped for water bottle refills several times, along with some stretch/walk breaks.  I used some leftover pear cider mixed with water for some sugars instead of plain water.  I liked the idea in theory, but cider does not taste good while running.  You would think that would be obvious, but my groggy self thought it was a great idea.  I think for future long runs and the marathon I will do watered-down gatorade.  I also took about ten small dates along with me to eat (they’re really mini).  They tasted really dry and I had to force them on.  I find it so hard to establish an effective fueling plan for long runs.

Anyone have any ideas?

I am also torn about walk breaks.  I can’t decide if they make me faster or slow me down.  I don’t have any kind of ethical problem with them — I think they can be a great tool for runners — but I just can’t seem to figure out if they work for me.  I took maybe four or five today, one every four-ish miles.  They felt good, but I also felt like it would have been less disruptive to just run continuously?

I had a lot of joint pain on the run.  Grrrrr.  Especially afterwards — I actually found it pretty difficult to walk today.  My muscles feel great — worn out but still strong — but the damn joints hurt.  I notice it in my hips and sacrum a lot during longer runs and I honestly don’t know what it means.  Sometimes it is worse than others.  It isn’t bad enough to necessitate stopping training, but I know that I will take a break from running after the big day.  I feel like a good anti-inflammatory would help, but you can never take anti-inflammatories with blood-thinners.  Also grrrr.

That was a lot of running talk!  Phew.

Today’s eats:

After many long-runs worth of experimentation, I am quite confident that the only thing I can safely eat before one is a banana.  Many other runners eat full on breakfasts beforehand, but that would never work for me.  So bananas it is.

I got back and had 20 minutes to shower, edit a paper, and get to class.  Crap.  Not to mention eating.  I felt a little queasy so just decided to sip on gatorade during class.  Afterwards it was noon and I was ready to eat!

I had the weirdest craving for Chinese noodle soup.  So that’s what I had.  Long runs have taught me to always listen to my body!

The salty broth was perfect.  I had all the soup (minus some of the chicken, which I am saving for later) and about half the noodles.

About an hour later I had a cinnamon raisin bagel with walnut raisin cream cheese.

Late afternoon snack of pb pretzels and trail mix.

Dinner was light and refreshing — I don’t have a huge appetite on long run days much of the time.  Don’t worry, my hunger will be back tomorrow! 🙂  This was a smoothie with vanilla soy milk, lots of ice, vanilla hemp/whey protein, a banana, and half an avocado.  Topped with a crumbled granola bar and sesame almonds.  I had another serving or so of the almonds while “cooking.”

The marathon is officially less than a month away!  I am getting a bit nervous, but also very excited.  New York is supposed to be a very fun course with tons of spectators/cheerleaders.   Any readers/bloggers running and want to meetup?  I’ll probably plan something closer to race day!

Alright, time to go call my mom and USB.  Separately, though.  That would be weird if I was calling them at the same time…

Goodnight dearies!

Update: I just had the most delicious, satisfying snack I have ever had in my entire life.  Two eggs scrambled in earth balance with babybel light cheese (x2) and maple turkey and salt.  I was craving salt, fat, and protein like nothing else — I literally felt like I would collapse if I didn’t have some!  I am now munching a big apple. 🙂

Grete’s Great Gallop/Mental Health Update

Today’s Happy Note: The sunshine on my skin in the afternoon.

Mental Health Note: I have been struggling a bit lately, I must admit.  I don’t necessarily feel sadder than usual — in fact, I feel more in control of my depression than I have since, well, before I was depressed (which was long, long ago — like middle school long ago).  It’s the body image stuff.  It’s miserable.  It’s painful.  It makes me want to die, in certain ways. I feel like I’m being taken back to a dark place in my life — say 2-4 years ago — where my body was never good enough.  Every single day was spent hating myself, because of my body.  Everyday.  I thought of so many ways to say “I hate you” that it isn’t even funny.  It wouldn’t even make a bad comedy routine.  It’s too sad.

So this moment finds me facing difficulties with my body and my weight, and, as a consequence, my mental well being.  The most frustrating thing about this anxiety and weight gain and hatred and queasiness — whatever you want to call it — is the fact that I know better than this. I know not to do this.  Not to work myself up into this state.

I guess that admitting how much I am struggling is a good first step.  Better than outright saying “alright, I’m a failure, I’ll just give up and let it all get worse.”

Also, I surprised myself and opened up to USB about it.  That was a big step for me, I think.  A really big step that I’m proud of.  And L, as always, has been there for me.  I think I sent her an email late last night and she responded today, a Saturday, with a long comforting response.  I guess I haven’t talked a lot about therapy/L lately, as things have become more and more private, I guess.  It’s a really beautiful feeling to know that someone is there for you 24/7, no matter what, when, where, why.  She’s there.  And I need her, very much, at this moment in my life.

Grete’s Great Gallop Race Report!

This morning was my third official half-marathon! Unlike my first two (read my recap of the NYC half here), I was not going into this one with the goal of running fast or PRing.  I had two goals:

1. Get into a “race mentality” — early wake-up, race breakfast, getting ready to run fast.

2. Run slightly under Marathon Goal Pace.

That’s it.  Plain and simple.  And I satisfied those two goals, which means that I am happy with the experience.

A few notes:

~I probably should have slept for more than 4.5 hours last night.  USB is such a wonderful, wonderful distraction though…I’ll be sure to get 8-10 hours of sleep before the marathon.

~I went out at a solid 10:00 pace and worked my way down to a 9:00 (overall average pace was 9:36).  This is good.  I would like to replicate this slower-to-faster strategy on marathon day (although probably being a bit slower overall).

~I think GU Shot Blox are my favorite mid-run fuel.  I had to take a clif mojo bar today which wasn’t ideal.  I also need to figure out my ideal method of carrying fuel or water.

~It’s time to get new shoes!

~If I can run a half marathon in 2:05:50 at the end of a 57-mile week, with relative ease, I most definitely can run a marathon, while tapered and well-rested and properly-fueled, under my goal pace of 4:30!

So today was an experiment of sorts.  A happy, succesful experiment.  I’m pleased.

Oh, and USB took me to get a foot massage afterwards.  I can’t really explain what I feel for him.  But just know that it’s a lot.  I feel a lot.

Tell me about your weekends thus far?!?!  Any races? Long runs?  Non-running related exciting happenings?

What do you do when you feel like you’re in a mental health rut — like you’re slipping and you want to be able to get a better hold of things but you don’t know how?

Goodnight friends!

Yoging II

Today’s Mini Goal: Since I only have one class tomorrow and I’ve already finished the readings I am going to get a head start on the rest of the week’s readings and assignments.  I am normally a major procrastinator, but I’m working on taking baby steps away from that.  Hopefully this will help!

Before I start, major congrats to Meghann on her amazing running accomplishments this weekend!  Wow!

LONG to do list today but I got through almost everything!

The day’s “blah” stuff included studying, cleaning, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, and email catch-up.  Now onto the more FUN and HEALTHY things!

Today was another yoging day (see the original Yoging post here).  I just realized both my yoging adventures have been on the last day of the month.  Weird.  Maybe I’ll have to make it a tradition.

I headed down to Yoga Shala around 11 for the donation class.  I really like their studio and would like to support it more — and many other studios around the city too — but honestly, at $15-$20 per class, I really can’t afford to.  Sad.  ‘

Today’s yoga class was the perfect combination of relaxing, breathing, challenging, and strong.  I love the teacher, but I am totally blanking on her name.  We ended up doing a lot of leg poses like chair, warrior, and down dogs.  I thought this would make the run, which I set out on directly from the studio, really tough, but it actually didn’t.  It kind of felt like a brick triathlon workout, a la Caitlin.

When I first started yoga I couldn’t do even a single chatturanga without falling on my chest.  Now, I can do them through a whole vinyasa class pretty easily.  My arms have gotten so much stronger.  I can also consistently get into side crow now!  I love how we can see immediate, noticeable improvements in our yoga practices.  And the best part is that since it’s our own practice, we don’t have to be able to do the same things at the same time as everyone else!  Some days I can hold a nice, tight headstand for 10-20 breaths, others I fall flat on my back after one.  I love how yoga is always changing us.

After my happy little class I set out to run!  The plan was sixteen miles.  My legs felt very heavy for the first two-ish miles and I was mentally/physically struggling and then something just clicked.  All the sudden I felt like I could fly — it wasn’t an effortless sort of flying, but the effort that I put in felt amazing.  I used the Garmin again and it worked spectacularly for most of the run, with two serious hiccups: at various points during the run it just sort of deleted my mileage.  The first time it did this it missed at least a mile, based on my pace calculations.  I looked down at the watch, saw 52:00 and thought, “great, since I’ve been flying around a nine to nine-thirty mile, I should be at about 5.5 miles, give or take a few tenths.  Nope.  Garmin said 4.45.  I was quite peeved, but just added a mile on (mentally) from there on out and finished at 15 miles, assuming that it was actually 16.  And just so you don’t all think I’m one of those crazy people who insist that I’m going way faster than I am, I timed the next mile (from 4.45 to 5.45) and it took me exactly 9:30.

But despite the minor technical snafu, I was still feeling really good.  It was just one of those days when my legs clearly wanted to be running.  I felt like without this run, they would have been angry at me!  I did almost the entire thing along the Hudson River waterfront and it was so perfect.  Temps in the 30’s, a sprinkling of wind, sea birds making their sea bird sounds, rivers of melting snow, wonderful little wave patterns in the bays.  Speaking of birds, I have officially seen a robin, a cardinal, and a blue jay on various runs in the last week.  Spring is most definitely on its way.  Hooray!  This is one of the best bonuses of being a runner: you get to see the seasons up close and personal, and you come to notice all the little details that foreshadow the transitions from one season to the next.

Every time I looked down at my watch between miles 5 (ish) and 13, I was cruising along at paces ranging from 8:45 to 9:45.  I was so happy with myself.  I was occasionally in the low tens, but I quickly made my way back down again.  I am normally not this fast on long runs at all, so I was really surprising myself and having fun with it.  I knew I would finish well under my 2:45 goal.  I had half a clif bar between yoga and running and the other half around mile 6.  I also had a bag of dried berries and almonds that I munched on at approximately miles 9, 12, and 14.

At 13, I suddenly and totally hit a wall.  Not a wall like “crap, I’m tired but I can still maintain a pace just a bit slower than this”, but a wall like “crap, my legs won’t move and I’m running 12 minute miles.”   I have never experienced this during a long run.  At.  All.  Sure I’ve gotten really tired and slowed down at the end plenty of times before, but it was never quite this bad.  Not sure if I was insufficiently fueled or just tired from yoga or if my unusually fast pace was taking a toll.  Whatever it was, I told myself to just suck it up since it was only three miles left and I certainly wouldn’t die.  Admittedly, the slowness wasn’t entirely my fault; I was running into a very gusty headwind and for a while it was even hailing in my face.  I was also running portions through snow/slush/ice and my left hip started hurting really bad.  But I’m not going to complain because overall, it was a good long run and definitely helped boost my speed confidence.

Okay.  Too much running talk.

Food talk:

I’ll let the pictures talk today.  I really wanted to record everything I ate to make sure I wasn’t over- or under-fueling, so there are a lot of pics.  I think I did a pretty good job, although it’s almost impossible to replace 2000 burned calories, and I don’t aim to.  For an endurance athlete of my size, it’s totally fine to not make up all the calories I’ve expended on a really long training day; my body has a bit of “extra”, so I’m not worried.  With that said, I certainly tried to consume lots of nourishing things for my hungry, worn-out body!  At the same time though, I will admit I had some disordered-eating thoughts, like “OMG, Caronae, are you really going to eat a whole 250 calorie clif bar?”  Um, yes, self, I’m in the process of running 16 miles, so I am going to eat that whole clif bar if you don’t mind!

Breakfast: soy chai latte, diet lemon snapple (hey, I was really thirsty and not in the mood for water), and 7-grain bagel with pb and coconut.

Yoging snacks: clif bar and berry-almond mix (I’m out of gus).

Post-yoging: toast with PB, pb, and banana, pb pretzels, and chocolate raspberry sticks.  Mmmm.  Oh, and in that mug is plain soy milk with about a teaspoon of maple syrup stirred in.  This is one of my best kitchen inventions ever.  The flavor combination just works wonderfully; smooth, nutty, sweet, creamy — all at the same time!  Probably works with almond milk and regular milk too.

Afternoon tidbits: gala apple, granola nubbin.

Dinner: steamed broccoli, massive pile of random veggies topped with spinach, vegan dumplings with white cheddar (paradoxical?), cornbread, and lamb burgers.  Lots of delicious food that made my belly happy.

Dessert: raisin bran crunch (a bit too processed, but I was randomly having a very serious craving for it), chocolate chips, plain soy milk, and chunky PB.

So there you have it.  My eats.  I probably had a few more chocolate chips and bits of PB thrown in there, but that’s pretty much everything.

What are your favorite meals to eat on the day of a long run?  If you’re not a runner — which, btw, is fine by me! — what are your favorite post-workout eats?