Monthly Archives: December 2015

Shifting Gears

Frosty the Snowman's cousin, Grainy the Sandman.
Frosty the Snowman’s cousin, Grainy the Sandman.

With the marathon now behind me- two weeks behind, in fact, and the holidays winding down, it is time for me to stop resting on my laurels and look forward to what fitness in 2016 will mean to me. The past few months have been incredibly busy ones; not only was I in the midst of a super-duper running regime with my eye on that marathon finish line, but after spending much of spring and all of summer unemployed, I started a full time job just before Thanksgiving. Having the structure of a running program already in place helped keep physical activity a part of my daily life as I made the transition from person-who-has-more-free-time-than-she-knows-what-to-do-with to person who now-is-required-to-sit-at-a-desk-for-eight-hours-a-day-and-is-struggling-to-find-time-to-make-gym/dog walking/cooking-priorities.

With the completion of the marathon comes a brief and necessary respite from an intense running schedule, but without the set-in-stone dates with my running group, I’ve been finding it a challenge to make my workouts a priority. The biggest problem I’m faced with is that I’m a morning person and I’d like to be both at work and at the gym in the mornings because it is when I am at my best. Because I am bound by the limits of science and physics and because I do not know where Hermione Granger stashed the Time Turner necklace when she was finished with it, it is not possible for me to be both at work and at the gym simultaneously.

I am fortunate in that my new workplace (at a job I am starting to really like for its mental challenges even though I wish I wasn’t sitting at a desk for hours on end) is flexible and I am allowed to set my own 8 hour workday schedule. This is a huge blessing, and I know it. Because of this flexibility, I have been able to get myself into work as the sun rises and be at the gym ready to go by 4:00 pm. This is, in theory, plenty of time for a normal person to fit in a good workout and still have enough time to make a healthy dinner, and this is where I must find a way to compromise between my laid-back, no hurry no worry, unemployed schedule when I had to be sure to stretch my daily tasks to fill all of my waking hours and my new schedule of one who is gainfully employed and there now seem to be more things to do in a day and, even though I wake up a full hour earlier, less time in which to do them.

For me, the solution, as always, is planning. I’m taking time this week to buckle down on my meal planning so that there are fewer spur-of-the-moment trips to the grocery store for a single item and I’m also trying to make sure I have a loose idea of what I want to accomplish at the gym each week. It is much easier to decide that I don’t have time to go to the gym when the gym is this vague idea of somewhere I will go to do something in order to get a little sweaty; it will be harder to talk myself out of going when I know that Monday is “arms” day and Tuesday will be “legs” day because on Thursday I want to go for a run which means “legs” day can’t be on either Wednesday or Friday. Having a concrete plan makes it much harder to say “no thanks, I’ll pass,” and that is a good thing especially when it feels like my schedule, as often happens this time of year, has wound itself out of control.

It’s mind over matter for us as we wind down 2015 and look forward to new beginnings. It is time to make a plan and give ourselves a hard time if we make excuses and don’t stick to it. Its time to find a goal to work toward- it doesn’t have to be a big goal, maybe you’d like to be able to stay on the elliptical for 20 minutes without feeling like your heart will burst, perhaps you’d like to start lifting weights and have your eye on being able to do some biceps curls with the 10 lb dumbbells without dropping them on your toe, or it might be as simple as dragging your tired, sweatpants-clad butt off the couch and taking a mile walk five days a week- these are good goals! I’ve set myself another big goal of running the Hapalua Half Marathon in April and hopefully improving my time, and having that looming on the horizon will help keep me from becoming fused with the couch (so will the awesome new running skirt my parents gave me for Christmas! I can’t wait to take it on its maiden voyage).

Remember, as you’re setting your post-holiday fitness goals, to set some simple, easy to attain goals alongside your bigger, harder goals. It can be overwhelming to work toward the goal of losing 10 lbs if you don’t have the gratification of first accomplishing the goals of eating more vegetables, walking at least 10,000 steps in a day, or making it to the gym three times in a week along the way. These smaller goals help you achieve the bigger goal and give you that nice feeling of accomplishment, and there is no better motivator than feeling accomplished.

Seeing double? Laundry just became less of a priority- thanks Mom & Dad!
Seeing double? Laundry just became less of a priority- thanks Mom & Dad!

 

Advertisements

I RAN A MARATHON

In case you hadn’t heard, last Sunday I RAN A MARATHON.

Yes indeed-y, I- the girl who not even a year ago, would rather have walked ten miles barefoot in the snow than run three miles wearing comfortable sneakers in a climate-controlled gym, the girl who could only run if there was a piece of cake in front of her and a rabid panther behind her, the girl who’s face used to get so red and breathing so labored after just a short bit of light jogging that people stopped her to make sure she was “ok”- ran 26.2 miles and lived to tell the tale.

Finish
Packet pick-up on the Wednesday before the race.

After making our way to the starting area and standing in line for far too long waiting to use some Porta-Potties, Don and I joined the mob of runners lining up in the early morning darkness of downtown Waikiki to await the official start of the race. The elite runners wereName Flag directly in front of the mass of commoners in a roped off holding area of their own, and, although I was not close enough to see, I presume they were off like a pack of jackrabbits as soon as the starting shot sounded. Don and I got to enjoy a little bit of the fireworks show that marked the start of the race because, even though we lined up pretty close to the front, it was still another 5 minutes before the crowd thinned out enough so that we could actually started running.

It's 0330, do you know where your sneakers are?
It’s 0330, do you know where your sneakers are?

We wound our way through Chinatown, past the Honolulu City Lights all lit up for Christmas, and out of Waikiki, and I struggled to find a space of my own. I had intended not to waste a lot of energy zigging and zagging around other runners, but in order to avoid running into people who were stopping to take pictures of the fireworks, the Christmas lights, other runners in costumes, etc., I had to do a little bit of maneuvering. My right knee, which had been giving me trouble since the 20 mile run but had been feeling good the week leading up to the race, started to twinge around the 5k mark, and I worried that it was going to make my run a miserable one. Fortunately, the twinge remained only a twinge for the duration of the race.

As we made our way up the hill near Diamondhead, I braced myself for some hard running because all summer long, people who had run the marathon before would mention the “dreaded Diamondhead hill.” I’m not sure if it was the excitement of running the race, the cheerful enthusiasm of the high school-aged volunteers holding the lane markers on that stretch of road, or the training on essentially every hill that could be found on the Windward side of the island that helped me out, but I was up and over before I knew it. It was probably a combination of excitement, cheer and training that got me to the other side wondering if that really truly was the “dreaded Diamondhead hill” or only a small precursor of something more hill-like to come.

The excitement of the day got me to the halfway-mark before I even knew what was happening and I felt great. Because I had water with me and I had trained all summer, I was able to skip the first several aid stations and get out of the crowd to find a space of my own. At the 13 mile marker, my FitBit timer showed 2:30 exactly, and I knew then that, because I would get more tired and likely slower the longer I ran, I probably wouldn’t make my goal of running the entire race in less than 5 hours, but my goal didn’t seem all that important in the moment. What did seem important was that there were volunteers who had dragged themselves out of bed just as early as I had in order to stand in first a light drizzle and then the hot sun to hand me a cup of cold gatorade or give me a high five, also important were the families in Hawaii Kai who, because our route went through their neighborhood, were trapped at home and instead of grumbling about the inconvenience stood on their lawns to offer us oranges, pretzels, candy, and a spritz with the garden hose; seeing the first elite lady-runner flying up the hill in the opposite lane felt pretty important as did hearing the cheers of “you’ve got this!” “you guys are amazing” and “keep smiling” and reading the cleverly-crafted signs- my favorites were the ones that read “Go, Random Stranger, Go!” and “Run like Kanye is going to give your medal to Beyoncé” and, of course, “Beer in 10 miles!”

The spirit of the moment kept me feeling pretty good until about mile 18 where some volunteers affiliated with our running group had parked themselves with an aid station just for us. I stopped at the aid station to take some more Advil, have a little soda (Coke is surprisingly satisfying while running) and do a bit of stretching. I maybe stopped for too long because as I started again I noticed that my LEFT knee was starting to ache and feel quite stiff. Until I paused at mile 18, I had only taken short power walking breaks through the aid stations and I made myself power on again until mile 20. At mile 20, I took a longer walking break which was bittersweet because it felt good to rest for a few minutes but I find that the longer I walk the harder it is to start back up again. I made it to mile 24 before I allowed myself another short break and then soldiered on to the end. When I finally saw the finish line up ahead, I felt relief like I’d never felt before. I imagine it is the same kind of relief that a parent who has lost a child in a crowded mall feels when the child is finally spotted tearing the leaves off a plant near the fountain or the relief that my friend, Kath,  who was charged with watching my beloved escape-artist puppy on my wedding day, felt when she finally caught him after he slithered out of the office and ran amok around the North Country for a few hours (an escapade I learned of years later but which explained why she was hours late to the reception!). As soon as the finish line was in sight, I found my third or fourth wind and sped up. I started passing people and was once again zigging and zagging to get through the crowd with only one thought on my mind: the sooner I get there the sooner I can STOP EFF-ING RUNNING 

Thanks to Mike's (center) training, we did it!
Thanks to Mike’s (center) training, we did it!

My final time was 5:02:51 which I’m pretty happy with considering that fact that I used to hate running and 26.2 miles is an obscene distance to attempt to run. After being adorned with my medal, I found Don still in the finisher’s area lying on some bags of ice. I knelt upon those bags for a few minutes, refilled my water bottle, and we went in search of our running group and our friends who not only baby-sat Jack for us the night before (no escaping this time! What a difference 7 years makes.) but also got out of bed early enough and hung around the race long enough to cheer us on both in Hawaii Kai and at the Finish Line.

I’m still pretty impressed with myself. Not only did I run a MARATHON and not only did I finish within breathing distance of my goal, but I kind of had a good time. This week was

Post-race compression stockings = recovery
Post-race compression stockings = recovery

tough; when I awoke Monday morning the only parts of my body that weren’t stiff or sore were my fingers. Everything else hurt. I spent all day alternately looking for food to satisfy my ravenous hunger and wishing people would leave me alone so that I could take a nap at my desk. The creakiness improved throughout the week but when I went for a short “recovery run” (as recommended by Mike) on Thursday, I felt like a bucket of bolts and both knees threatened to fall onto the ground and stay there. As often happens when someone has been working toward a special event and has successfully completed that special event I now find myself plagued with some sort of sinus infection/cold type illness. It doesn’t really matter though, because I am a badass who ran a marathon.

I learned a few things during the race: everyone says that the final 10k of a marathon are the hardest- and they’re right, a good solid training regime with lots of stupid hills will get you to the finish line, and the kindness of volunteers and spectators (for what has to be the most boring sport to watch) can really make a gal feel good when she is deliriously wondering if this is all just a terrible nightmare in which the mile markers continuously reset to 20 and she is trapped in a Sisyphean cycle and will never see the finish line.

I imagine that running a marathon is sort of like childbirth; people say they forget how painful it is and that is how they end up doing it more than once. I hope so because I think I’d like to do it again. I’ve signed up for the Hapalua half-marathon in April, but for now I will let my running muscles recover and focus, once again, on my weight lifting and HIIT training because I know that having a strong core is as helpful to being successful as a runner as running up all of those god-damned hills is.

Thank you to everyone who sent me wishes of luck, playlist suggestions, and all-around good thoughts, thank you to the Windward Endurance Training group for accompanying me on this journey and dragging me along when necessary, thank you to Don for agreeing to this madness (although he has forbidden me from signing up for any more restaurant newsletters since this is how we got involved to begin with), thank you to Dave and Rosie who perfectly executed both dog duty and cheerleading, and thank you to the organizers and volunteers of the Honolulu Marathon- I never went thirsty and my spirits didn’t have the opportunity to flag.

The view from the Royal Hawaiian- our digs on Marathon Eve.
The view from the Royal Hawaiian- our digs on Marathon Eve.

We did it!

  This right here is my very own Finisher’s Medal from the Honolulu Marathon!
We had a good time; everyone from our group finished. Don ran his race in 4:13 and change and I was a little past my goal in 5:02 and change. Don and I are feeling pretty sore but also pretty relieved to have finished. More later, but now- to rest and rehydrate. 

Happy Marathon Eve!

FullSizeRender-34

‘Twas the night before marathon and all through the town not a single runner could be seen wandering around in a nightgown, ‘for the Big Day was tomorrow and on marathon eve all runners are sleeping- dreaming of finishing with ease.

They are tucked into beds in hotels and their homes while they dream of finish lines and hitting their heartrate target zones.

The carbs have been eaten, sore muscles foam-rolled, all that remains to be determined is in Mother Nature’s control.

Will the day dawn clear, bright, dry, and breezy in order to make their epic run easy-peasy?

Or will there be hot sun or- even worse!- a pounding rain to make their long slog even more of a pain.

Whatever the weather, these runners are well prepared; they’ve logged many miles jogging to and fro, here and there.

They’ve run up and over hills and down into the valleys, on wide, clean sidewalks and through cluttered back alleys. They’ve run morn and night, in rain and sunshine, and now are prepared to kick some behind.

So, rest easy, little runners, and build up your strength because tomorrow brings a run of considerable length. But know that you’re ready, it’s your time to shine, just take it easy and get to that finish line.

The Final Countdown -or- OMFG. The Marathon is THIS Weekend! What Was I Thinking???

If you’ve glanced at the countdown calendar on the ole’ bloggy-blog you may have noticed that the marathon is FIVE motherf@&#ing days away. How did it get here so quickly?

Our running group has seriously cut back on our distances in the last few weeks; since the big 20-miler, our long runs have been 7, 10, and 5 miles respectively and the weeknight runs have lessened in intensity a bit too.  My knee is feeling tenuous, but I think that it will hold up through the race. It has to because I’m running it and I’m gonna win.

I wanted to see if you were paying attention there; of course I’m not going to win the marathon- but I am going to finish and I’m going to enjoy every second of it. Some I may enjoy more than others- for example, I think the seconds just before I cross the finish line and crumple to the ground in a sweaty, blubbering heap with a malasada clutched in my grimy fist will be the most delightful, while the seconds immediately following the realization that IM-ONLY-HALFWAY-THERE-OH-MY-GOD-I-STILL-HAVE-THIRTEEN-POINT-ONE-STUPID-STUPID-MILES-TO-GO-HOW-DO-I-CALL-AN-ÜBER-AND-HOW-FAST-CAN-IT-GET-HERE? will be particularly hard to enjoy, but I’m determined to enjoy the experience from early morning start to (hopefully) late morning finish.

There are two good things about the marathon being less than a full work-week away: 1. soon it will be over with and I will not have to anticipate/dread it any more. I will no longer compulsively contemplate how pleasant or unpleasant each and every road I drive on would be to run. I will not need to base my decision on whether or not to order a second margarita on factors of when I last ran, when I will run again, how much water I have consumed in the past 24 hours, the relative humidity, and the temperature forecast to insure I maintain proper levels of hydration. 2. CARB LOADING!!!!! Did you know that it is recommended that you up your carb intake for an entire week before running a marathon? I’m in heaven. I’m going to eat BAGELS, I’m going to eat PASTA and POTATOES and I’m not going to feel an ounce of guilt about any of it- gotta boost those glycogen stores, you know?

Not to get all sentimental and oh-thank-goodness-I’m-blessed-with-my-health-and-two-fully-functioning-legs-and-the-support-system-and-financial-means-to-embark-on-such-a-wonderful-experience-and-the-opportunity-to-achieve-goals-and-learn-so-much-about-myself-ey on you, but, well, yeah; I am blessed with all of those things and this has, so far, been a pretty great experience and I have discovered things about myself and accomplished goals I could only have dreamed of (actually- had nightmares about) a year ago, and I’ve made friends. Friends with whom I am united with against blisters and chafing and hot asphalt without shade. Friends who understand that communion of a spiritual sort early on a Sunday morning doesn’t always happen between four walls and a steeple. Friends who commiserate over strains and sores and politely ignore the fact that I just made a port-a-potty stop a few miles ago…and a few miles before that one too. Training for a marathon is no small thing and it gives me the warm fuzzies to be part of this community of weirdos.

The day approaches. I’ll be wearing bib number 16877 if you want to check my results out online. I was originally hoping to do the damn thang in under 5 hours, and as I grew stronger with my training, I started to toy with the idea of doing it in 4:45. Now, with my knee threatening mutiny, I’m hoping simply to finish and do it at a run. I’m looking forward to this week of rest (two super short runs this week- I may just walk them) and stuffing my face with delicious carbs. I’m also crowd-sourcing suggestions for a fresh marathon playlist. My friend Kath has made a few recommendations and if you’ve got any ideas, I’d love to hear them- I need lots of songs to get me through 26.2 miles!