Tag Archives: marathon training

Training Journal – Hazards of Being a Cheapskate

Let’s be real here. No one actually enjoys energy gels. If I want a shot of energy that I’ll like eating, I grab Honey Stingers or Clif Blocks chews. They have the consistency of soft Dots and taste pretty good. Before a race or hard training session, I’ll eat a pack to get me going. Energy gels though…

History lesson: energy gels were created by people who hate joy for people who like punishing their bodies, because running ridiculous distances and biking a hundred miles will drain you of energy faster than cheap batteries in a game controller. They started showing up in the mid-eighties in clear packets that allowed everyone to see the terrible mistake you were making in real time. Since then, there are more packages and flavors than I can count but they all have one thing in common. The consistency is one level above glue, which means that your mouth desperately wants to chew it but when you try it feels so very wrong.

Runner’s World ranked 27 flavors of Gu, ostensibly the most popular gel brand, and I wasn’t surprised to find the unflavored one at the very bottom. Every runner friend I have always says the same thing when the unflavored Gu comes up in conversation: “who hates themselves that much?” Everyone has a flavor that they like (or tolerate the most), and mine is Jet Blackberry. I buy it by the box at my favorite running store and try and keep at least one in my running belt for emergencies. It’s pretty cheap but for a family on a tight budget, sometimes sacrifices have to be made. My other favorite is mocha Clif Shots, but there’s only one place that sells them around here and they’re expensive, and also the store employees are kind of snobby.

The last couple of long-distance races I ran had Gu at every water stop, and even though I had stuffed my belt with enough to last 15.5 miles I took one at every station because eating free gel is highly preferred to dipping into your own stash. Another race was the same way, and I took one every time again and squirreled them away for later consumption.

Then tragedy struck.

While running a half marathon, I went to a water stop and saw a box of gels. I grabbed one with my water only to discover that it was Gatorade Endurance. “No problem,” I thought. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.” It was not. The flavor was okay but the consistency was what I imagine sadness must taste like. It was more of a soup than a gel and I swallowed it as fast as possible, vowing to never make that mistake again. Unfortunately my cheapskate nature overtook my reason at the next water stop and the thought of saving money won over my distaste for the gel/soup. I not only ended up eating four of the things, I brought one home with me and promptly buried it in my bag.

The other day I went for a run and neglected to pack any Gu. There was one packet of something in the very bottom of my bag and…it was the vanilla Gatorade one. Desperate, I put it in my pack and went for a run. When it was time to refuel I tore it open and poured it into my mouth and friends, it was even worse hot. Somehow my stomach did not refuse it, but I immediately went to FWRunCo and bought a box of Jet Blackberry.

Moral of this story: always stock up on Gu.

Advertisements

Training Journal – Miles for Mollie and Taking it Slow

Runners all over the world watched the story of Mollie Tibbetts and her disappearance following a run. Nearly every female runner has experienced harassment on the trail, and nearly every female runner runs alone at some time. When her body was discovered, it was devastating.

A beautiful woman’s life was cut short when she had so many miles left to run, so women everywhere are running them in her honor. Mollie ran 6 miles. This morning I took to one of my usual trails alone and ran 6 miles for her. We can’t live our lives in fear, and even though I’ll be carrying pepper spray in my running belt now, I’m not going to stop running. That’s how Mollie would want it.

Speaking of strong women, I did another virtual 5K with my friend Karey! This one was a Harry Potter themed race; the Dash Against the Dark Arts. The medals were so cool! They opened like little books and have a glow in the dark moon inside.

Karey has had an exercise setback recently, and high impact movements cause her pain so we weren’t able to run this one. Instead, we power walked the 3.1 miles and had a good time. I always love spending time with her and I’m hoping we can look for spiders again soon. I’m also going to find another virtual 5K for us once I’m back from my conference in September.

Training has been spotty at best recently but it’s still coming along. My recent 10 miler was at a great pace and I have hope that I can do both the Skyline Challenge and the marathon within their respective time limits. This weekend I run 13 miles. I’ll probably toss in an extra 0.1 and call it a half marathon. I’m actually ahead of where I am supposed to be in my schedule so it’s all going to be fine in the end. I can feel it!

Training Journal – Panic Mode Engaged

16 WEEKS UNTIL SKYLINE CHALLENGE

Mistakes were made today.

Yesterday I made the mistake of looking at a calendar. I was immediately struck by a bone-deep horror when I realized that I only have 4 months to train for the Skyline Challenge. I’ve got to go from being a lazy slob to running 22.5 miles in 5 hours. That means I have to sustain a pace of 13:20 or less to finish the Challenge. Consider me kicked in the ass.

MaximumEffort

I spent some time last night working up a new training schedule that includes three runs a week, two spin classes a week, two swims a week at minimum. On Saturdays that I don’t work, I can take an extra spin class, and some Fridays I can do a short track run like I used to on Friday nights.

The marathon itself is further away – 6 months – but if I can complete the Skyline challenge (and that’s really all I want), the marathon will be a piece of cake. I’ll have an hour to run another 4 miles, and I’ll have 2 more months to get ready. It’s still scary and I can’t believe I’m considering doing either of them, but I’ve done scarier things and come out the other side in one piece.

superherolandingToday I went to spin class, which was rough considering it’s been like a month since I’ve been to it, followed by a nice easy 3 mile run. In 96 degree weather. If you don’t believe in climate change I’m not sure what to tell you except go outside and run in this heat that was definitely not this intense last summer. I know, I was running in it last year too.

I came very close to heat exhaustion today. Scratch that. I fell victim to heat exhaustion today. By the end of the run I was dizzy and my face was dry, in large part because the (only) water fountain that’s at my halfway point was either turned off or broken so I ran 3 miles in the heat with zero hydration besides the two bottles of water I drank at the Y. I was too overheated to even finish walking to my car so I laid on a bench in the shade until I felt better, then went back to my car and chugged another bottle of water.

Lesson learned, I guess. This weekend when I get paid I am definitely getting a hydration belt. I even know which one I want. I cannot get through another distance run without one, especially one longer than 3 miles.

Training Journal – Back on the Horse

The hardest thing about running (and being active in general) is making it a habit, especially if you didn’t grow up learning the importance of exercise. For me, I have a terrible tendency to let a small thing completely derail me and it’s hard to get going again.

I was doing great running, cross-training, and eating healthy but then I got strep throat and my pain medication stopped working, and everything spiraled down. Every time I wanted to get up and run I felt guilty for not going and I promised myself I’d start up again my next day off. Or the next. Or the next.

As much fun as I had at the Hell’s Half Acre 25K, my time was atrocious compared to the HMSA Masters 25K last year. It impressed upon me the importance of hitting my training hard again if I am going to make it to the marathon. Then I talked myself into being a slug and didn’t run for almost 2 weeks.

Today I decided it was enough. I had a headache when I woke up so I didn’t go to the gym for spin or swim, and was disappointed in myself. I reminded myself that the Trinity River Run’s Skyline Challenge is in October and I have to kick myself in the butt. Now. So I ate something, had a little caffeine, and went to run.

Then I got to the park.

It was 97 freaking degrees out and felt like I’d stepped into a furnace. I could have gone home. I wanted to go home. Instead I went to the gym and ran 3 miles on the indoor track. It definitely felt like I’ve been slacking but it also felt good.

Tomorrow morning I am going to get up and go for a run with my friend Amanda. Even if I’m slow I have to start somewhere. Never give up, never surrender.

Training Journal – Military Miles Half Marathon

img_3737I’ve been a little quiet about my health, both mental and physical, because I always feel like no one wants to hear about it. You’re here for books and kittens, after all! Last week, however, was extremely rough for me as I suffer from chronic pain in my hands. It was bad enough that I became somewhat depressed about things and was feeling a little hopeless, so I decided to handle my physical issues in my favorite way – running all the miles!

I went to Dr. Google and looked up June races, and found one in Las Colinas called the WW Military Miles half marathon that looked promising. After a little bit of internal debate and a conversation with Charlotte, I signed myself up for 13.1 miles in the Texas heat.

Now I know I said I would never run another race in the summer after the Badass Texas half but I was certain I’d do better because the elevation wasn’t so crazy. Also, they gave me really nice socks (pictured above).

img_3741

The race was pretty good! I didn’t do better than the Badass half but I definitely enjoyed it more up until the last 3 miles when I once again felt like I was baking. They were awesome about keeping us hydrated and trying to keep us cool with iced towels and water every mile, and a lot of the course was shaded trails. It was hot and I was exhausted from finishing a book the night before, but it was a lot prettier and I just feel better running under the trees.

I finished with the exact same time as last month but I’m proud of myself, and I feel so much better. My hands are still killing me but hey, I don’t run on my hands! I got so down about what I’m having trouble doing that I completely forgot what my body is still capable of doing. I also wore shorts again because good gravy, Texas is hot in the summer.

Also, bonus kitten pic of Robin Lord Tater Tot snoozing!

img_3665

Training Journal – Bad Mother Runner

For those of you who don’t know, I actually have two stepdaughters. I haven’t seen either of them in years due to circumstances, but I do think of them often. I don’t think this necessarily means I’m a mom, but I do spend a lot of time mothering my cats so there’s that. Anyway, it’s my love of cats that got me into this nonsense in the first place.

You see, our clinic has a cat. I’ve mentioned her before, and everyone refers to me as her bestie. Because of something I did during an emergency with a patient, she broke her leg and I’ve been beating myself up about it for days. I had a really rough couple of days and decided that I needed to do something to feel better about myself. Enter the Mother’s Day half marathon.

Even though it was going to be a full 2 weeks sooner than I planned for my first half marathon since doing the Cowtown half, I had planned to run 9-10 miles on Sunday so

this didn’t seem like too much of a stretch. I was nervous, though, super nervous that I would fail or hurt myself, or just plain finish last. That’s happened to me before and it’s really embarrassing, even though I know I should be glad I finished.

It actually went really well at the beginning. I managed to sustain a 12:07-12:15 mile for 9 miles…then the sun came out. I do not do well in direct sunlight or with steep hills, and this course had a little of both. I didn’t improve my time from last year but I also didn’t do worse, so I’m calling it a win. I also got this great purple medal, which was just an added bonus.

In two weeks I’ll be running the Badass Texas half marathon with my best friend, and I’m hoping I’ll do a little better but if I can just stay at this level I’ll be happy.

And hey, my time on Sunday was about 10-12 minutes faster than February, so there’s that.

Training Journal – Highly Suggestible

As we have already established by my marathon training, I am very easy to talk into potentially bad ideas. My friend Richard talked me into a marathon. My best friend talked me into the Badass Texas half marathon in three (!!) weeks. And now it seems my spin instructor may have talked me into a triathlon.

A little background here: it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve trained for a triathlon. I’ve actually done one as a matter of fact, a little indoor triathlon at the YMCA in Wisconsin. My proudest moment was not being the last person out of the pool. I am an AWFUL swimmer. I’m also terrible on a bike. So why am I doing this?

I’m a very big believer in conquering your fears. So even though the thought of putting my face in the water gives me panic attacks, I go swimming twice a week. One of my other close friends wants me to go bike riding with her so she can teach me not to leap off my bike instead of stopping it. I’m hoping that I’ll not only gain enough confidence to complete Baby’s First Triathlon, my running will improve as well.

This month my goal is to swim 1/4 mile twice a week, go to spin class twice a week, and run 3-4 times a week. If I have a goal – say, a triathlon to train for – I’ll be more likely to stick to this schedule.

Next stop, Badass Texas half!