Twenty Six Point Two

run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Training Real Talk

A couple of weeks ago, I did a long run of 16 miles. It sucked.

At the time, it sucked because of the route I chose. I get lazy with picking my routes sometimes (my garmin is basically dead, which makes me just want to run routes where I know the distances already). That morning, I ran a route that consisted of starting with a nice long downhill and then it flattened out for awhile before I just turn around and run home. Which means a long ass uphill climb on the way home. 

I've noticed that when getting back into shape, getting my endurance back on hills is the LAST and HARDEST part of the training puzzle for me. A little, tiny, baby hill is enough to send my legs into pansy mode and particularly so at the end of a long run. My legs are little bitches on the hills these days. So, that run felt particularly terrible at the end.

The rest of the day, I noticed that my left achilles was feeling.... well... tight, I guess? I don't know how to describe it except to say that normally I don't even think about my achilles, but when walking around all day after the run, I was feeling it constantly. The next morning I was meeting Liz and Melissa for a flat, easy 7 miler. When I got up and out of bed, my achilles was super tight and painful. It got a little better as I got ready, but when I started the run it was pretty painful. It wasn't getting any worse, and the pain was bearable, so, I just kept going.

After the run, it was a little stiff and tight, but after a few hours, it got much, much better. The next day, I just ran a little jog with my dog and with The KoB and it flared up again. So, I decided to scale back a bit on the long runs. The thing is... aside from fatigue... I pretty much never have weird running pains. So, when something persists it freaks me the fuck out.

After going easy on the longer runs for a little while, I am happy to report that I ran 12 miles on Saturday and aside from a little stiffness to start out, the achilles felt fine during the run and after, so I'm planning on testing it out with a 15ish long run this week. I need to get some quality distance runs in if I'm going to survive my early March marathon.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Progress... Slowly.

The Year of Vain Amy has started off well.

I've been diligently counting my calories, I ran 50 miles last week, and I've been keeping up with my face washing/moisturizing/retin-a-ing. The only thing I didn't do... is lift weights. But, I count banging a crowbar with a hammer while in a squatting position as strength training for the weekend. No, it wasn't a Crossfit exercise, I was helping The KoB pry off parquet flooring that is glued onto concrete at his house.

Any Crossfitters that want to get their 
workout in for free, email me!

Overall, I'm feeling really good and motivated. I'm excited about my running and about 2015 and the races I am planning to do. 

One thing I'm not excited about... is the weather. First, I'm want to complain about how we had like 2 days of sunlight for all of December and I'm also going to complain about the arctic cold that we are currently getting (and going to get).

Like, I honestly don't mind the cold, as long as the sun is shining. But when it's cold and cloudy... I get MEGA bitchy and miserable.

I haven't really been running any workouts lately, so, I don't have any updates for you on that front, but I'm hoping to get back into the routine next week. For the first time in maybe a year, I am really enjoying my running and honestly,  I'm just kinda rolling with it. I took an unintentional break from workouts during the holidays, and I haven't really gotten back into them. BUT, I will. 

So, anyway... not a lot to report over here...

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Hello 2015

For months I walked around, eating whatever I wanted, skipping runs to sit on the couch while I ate popcorn and watched television. And for months, nothing adverse really happened.

Also a fair bit of this was happening, as well.

I was like... FINALLY I have mastered my metabolism and made it my little bitch. I am Queen of the World.


And then one day I woke up and my pants didn't fit anymore. Meh. I'm just bloated, I thought. And then a week later... the same thing. It was like, I went from 2-3 pounds of extra Kit Kat weight to JABA THE MOTHERFUCKING HUT overnight.


After a week of eating my mom's delicious holiday cooking, I finally decided on Monday that it was time to get this shit under control. I didn't work up the nerve to step on the scale until yesterday, but I was pretty fucking horrified by the number on the scale. Like... you know when you try to brace yourself by coming up with a TERRIBLE number so that when you actually do get on the scale and it's of course lower than that because you aren't a fucking cow, you feel better about yourself? Yeah, I was 5.2 pounds heavier than the terrible number in my head. COW ALERT, COW ALERT!

Needless to say, I'm on the wagon. I am in full on calorie counting mode. And since it's the new year, I thought it would be a good idea to just roll this into a 2015 Resolution. So, here are the things I am going to be focused on this year, in order of importance.

So, every year I'm like.... ohhhh.... I want to get healthy and treat my body well and eat kale and learn to love my body. Fuck that shit. This is the year of Vain Amy. I am going to finally dedicate the time and discipline to get into the BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE. I am going to be 35 in a month and if I don't do it now, when will I? I am going to hit my goal weight and while I might only stay there for 2 days, I will DO IT. So, that means I'm going to actually have to lift at some point. Any suggestions of videos or books or classes for that... please leave in the comments. I need help because I despise lifting. 

To continue with 2015: The Year of Vain Amy, I am finally going to buckle down and follow through with my skincare regime. My mom is 64 years old and has better skin than me. !!!!! For Christmas, she bought me the entire skincare product line that she uses and I am going to follow through with it each and every day and when I run out of something, I'm going to re-order it. I want to be able to wake up on a Sunday morning and look in the mirror and think... Hmmm... I'll just go without foundation today, instead of shrieking at the horror that is my splotchy complexion.

I had an epiphany this year. I want to make movies. I've always wanted to tell stories and for ever and ever, I thought that meant that I had to be a writer. Except, I suck at writing (e.g. THIS BLOG). And then it dawned on me.... I can tell stories VISUALLY. DUH. So, I got a camera for Christmas and I am already excited to shoot, plan, edit, and make some little home movies. I think this is it, you guys. I think I might have finally found the creative outlet that I'm built for!

After years of setting book goals based on the number of books read in a year and years of shying away from BIG books (Anna Karenina, for one) because of that goal, in 2014 I didn't set a goal. But, I did keep track of the books I read and the number of pages in each book. So, in 2014 I read 14 books and a total of 6,759 pages. That's an average of 18.5 pages a day. So, for 2015, I want to average 25 pages a day. (Which is a huge goal).

I feel like I've fallen of the music wagon in the last 10 years. I used to get so passionate about music and lately, I would rather listen to a podcast. LAME. So, I was kind of thinking of coming up with a thing where I listen to 1 cd each week and focus on that cd. Like, it can be something I've just bought, or an old cd that I've forgotten about.  I don't know, this is probably the one resolution that won't be fully flushed out. But, I do want to make a conscience effort to get back into music.

The things like communicate better, listen, further my yoga practice, travel more, run more, further my career goals, knock off states, and cultivate relationships are things that aren't "resolutions" but just something that I'm always striving for, so, I feel like I don't need to list those things out. 

I feel good about 2015 and what it will bring. Let's go, 2015. I'm ready!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Catch Up

So, yeah, I've been running. But it's kind of the same ole stuff... so, let's talk about something that I actually have pictures of! My life lately.

Christmas was wonderful. Present-wise, I made out like a stinking bandit: GoPro Camera and loads of accessories to go with it, Ipod Shuffle, a Jawbone UP 24 (which my entire immediate family has, which is TOTALLY FUN you guys), and this amazing travel bag from Lo and Sons:

Have stylish bag, will travel.
Ahem, The KoB.

But the best part of the holiday was getting to spend loads of time with my immediate family, eating a boatload of cheesy, creamy goodness, and I got to spend some time with this little stinker:

My Cousin's kid. Who is quite possibly,
the most adorable little boy on the planet.

The KoB got me some cookie cutters for Christmas, (including a llama one!!), so we made cookies on Saturday. Damn, I forgot how fun decorating cookies is:
Between this and the box of chocolates his mom got me
one of my new years resolutions is

I also got to spend some time with my favorite, most perfect, little niece who is crawling around like a little champ!
I die.
Pay no attention to The KoB in a women's Christmas sweater.

Cutest niece ever.
She'll be racing soon enough.

The weekend was capped off with a text from a great friend that she got engaged on Sunday! Overall, it was just a perfect family and friend filled holiday week. I had 3 days off of work and soaked in every minute of it. I am so thankful to have a healthy, happy family and I hope you all had a fantastic holiday, as well.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bell Ringer 25K Race Report

The race was held at Montgomery Bell State Park which is about 45 minutes from Nashville. The Park was offering a package deal for room and meals the night before the race and since the race started at 7am in the morning, the decision to stay there overnight was a no brainer. The KoB and I actually managed to escape work a smidge early and got to the park before it got dark.

We checked in, got our race packets, and then headed to the buffet for an early dinner. Now, I was fully prepared for there to be VERY little on the buffet for me to eat. Particularly since it was advertised as a Pasta Buffet and I try to steer clear of gluten before long runs/races. However, I was pleasantly surprised. They had a really well stocked salad bar and delicious baked potatoes. They even had a veggie lasagna dish that was low on the pasta and high on the cheese. Since it wasn't a goal race, and I cheated and had a little bit of it. No regrets. And the best part of all.... SOFT SERVE ICE CREAM MACHINE!

This is what I do to Soft Serve Machines.

So, yeah, the food was great. The rooms? Ehhhhh... You know when you are watching an episode of Dateline and they show the motel that the "innocent" husband stops at as he was fleeing going out of town for an "impromptu" trip? Yeah, that's what the room looked like. Except it did have a great view of a lake. And it was clean. 

It was worth staying in a 1974 decorated motel room to be able to just leave 15 minutes before the race started and head to the start line, though.

My friend Liz had signed up for the race as well and so we found each other beforehand and started the race together. The race started with a long stretch on the road, which I always welcome, as it gives people a chance to get warmed up and fall naturally into their paces (after their initial take off too fast pace). After the road, the trail was still pretty wide, so it made for a really nice first few miles of the course. 

When we finally did hit the single track trails, the first thing I noticed was how nice the trails were and it dawned on me that they had actually taken the time to blow the leaves off the trail. It was amazing!!!! 

Liz and I stuck together and ran and chatted non-stop for the first 11 or so miles. (My apologies to anyone around us who had to hear us blathering on and on about radon and family Christmas plans). We were having a blast. The trails were pretty easy and we took our time and when we hit the aid station around mile 9, I couldn't believe that we had ran that far already! 

Me and Liz killing it.

And then a couple of miles later... the inevitable happened. I BONKED. And bonked hard. I started to feel it coming on and I ate a couple of fig newtons at the aid station, but at that point, it was probably too late. I started to slow down significantly. I got a little foggy headed, regretted not carrying a handheld or any food, and on one of the steep uphill hikes, my calves started to twinge like were wanting to cramp. 

I still managed to push myself and run as much as I could. But slowly. There were few people during this stretch (Liz smoked me around mile 10 or so) and it was a struggle to stay in the zone mentally and physically. 

 Yeah, it looked like this.

I finally finished and immediately ran back to my hotel room where I was just completely out of it for about 20 minutes. I tried to lay in bed (although I just could not get comfortable or concentrate on laying down) and I forced myself to eat a little popcorn and drink some water. I didn't take a shower, because I knew I didn't have the energy to blow dry my hair and there was no way I was going out in the 40 degree weather to spectate the 50K with wet hair. Eventually I started to feel a little bit better. I put on about 15 layers of clothes and headed back outside. 

When I finally recovered, I was actually pretty happy with my race. Sure, it wasn't pretty at the end, but I pushed and I never just gave up and decided to hike it in. I kept at it, and ran/shuffled whenever I could. I was also pretty encouraged by the fact that the finishing times were slower than I had thought they would be, so the trail was tougher than it felt. 

The KoB finished the 50K well and when I saw him come out of the woods, I KNEW he was 3rd male overall, so as I tried to run behind him to the finish line, I told him that and then someone else told me that I had forgotten a guy, so he wasn't. OOOPS. Sorry. (And according the results there were a couple of other guys in there. But there is no way I forgot 3 guys finishing. But it doesn't matter, anyway). 

A race pic of The KoB and the KoB's brother.

Overall, I loved the race. The aid stations could have had gels and the trails could have been marked a little better. Also, I could have done without the controversy of the park rangers giving runners lifts after they had gotten lost. But, it was the first year of the race and the fact that they blew the leaves off most of the trail was HUGE to me. 

I will definitely be back next year and I'll fuel better AND I'll run the 50K.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bell Ringer 50K Rant

 UPDATE: So, the results have been posted online and it looks like all has been rectified. I'm not sure how it happened. But, I'm just really freaking glad it got fixed. I think it's pretty ridiculous that this whole ordeal went down the way that it did, but at the end of the day, they got it right (finally) and that's all that matters. I MIGHT take this post down... but, for now, I'm going to leave it up. 

I ran the Bell Ringer 25K this weekend, and I will post a full race report of MY race experience another day this week. Spoiler Alert: It was AWESOME until it wasn't.

After I had recovered from the race, I put on about 15 layers of clothing and headed outside to watch the 50Kers finish.

After 2-3 men finished, a woman came blazing up the steps. We were all cheering for her and watched her run up the hill (the finish to this race was just ridiculous) to the finish line. I was happy for her, but admittedly, a little disappointed that my friend, Meredith, hadn't been the overall female winner.

I didn't have much time to think about it though, because pretty soon I saw a familiar red shirt and blue cap start weaving its way through the woods and I started screaming my head off... It's the KoB, it's the KoB! So I ran over and started yelling at him. And then, right behind him was another guy. So, we started yelling at The KoB to run faster, there was someone behind him!!! He ran by our little cheering section and I started jogging/waddling behind him all the way to the finish. He even pussyfooted around on his way to the finish line. When he finished and turned around and saw a guy immediately behind him... he was... like... "Oh, I thought you guys were kidding."

And then he looked at me puzzled and said... "I've been watching my back for the last few miles... no one was behind me... where did he come from?"

We stood around the finish line for a little bit and then our friend and Sonofabitch, Jeff, finished. And he was pretty fucking pissed. He said that the guy that finished right behind the KoB had been let out of a Park Ranger's truck about a mile back.

I immediately was like... ohh... well, he must have just DNFed or something. Although, it did seem weird that he was running pretty hard on his way to the finish. And, if you had DNFed, why would you even run through the finish line?

After another minute, The KoB asked... where's Meredith? And I told him that she hadn't finished yet. And he was like... "ohhhh shit. She took a wrong turn." She had been in front of him the whole race and he had never passed her. So, he knew she had gotten off course.

Sure enough... a couple minutes later, she came up the hill and finished and she had gone the wrong way at an intersection. She ran on that wrong trail until the trail dead-ended and she realized her error and ran back to the intersection and got back on course.

Damn, it sucks, but ya know... it happens all the time and not just in trail races. How many times have you heard of the head of the pack runners either getting off course on their own or even being led off course by a the pace bikes that ride with the leaders? It sadly happens all the time.

When the awards were handed out, we found out a shocking discovery...

The Female Overall Winner had also taken that wrong turn. (Not the shocking part).
And a Park Official picked her up in a truck and dropped her off further down the trail ("where she would have been if she hadn't gotten lost" they said). She then hopped out and finished the race. And won.

I'm just going to let that soak in for a minute.

The Obvious:
If you ride in a vehicle during ANY part of a race. Ummmm... that should be an automatic DQ. You shouldn't even be allowed to have a finish time, let alone be the overall winner.

The Esoteric:
What trail runner actually ACCEPTS a ride in a vehicle and then just finishes the race and accepts her finish time and her award? WHO FUCKING DOES THAT? You know, I once got into a van during a race. And that race was a DNF for me. Anyway she was PISSED. She was pissed that she had gotten off course. Well, you know who else got off course and didn't get a ride? Ummm... the REAL Women's winner. The person who actually ran the entire way.

Honestly, I kind of understand the Park Ranger's error here. I mean, if you're not a runner... you might think that if they get lost, yeah, it's okay to give them a lift. It was the first year for this race and to my knowledge, none of the Race Directors or organizers are runners. They all work for the State Parks Dept. (which was pretty obvious during a lot of the race, but, more on that during my race report). So, I could see him offering her a ride. (And apparently others, too, since other people like the guy who finished after The KoB, did the same thing). But she took it. And she's not a first time trail runner. She has ran many trail races before. WTF?

I HAVE to believe, that she was just pissed and delirious and underfueled after the race to have agreed to accept not only a finish time, but the overall winner award. And I have to believe that she got home afterwards and was like... holy shit, what am I doing? I didn't win the race.

The Fallout:
The prizes for 1st and 2nd overall? A four night all-inclusive stay in CANfuckingCUN. I mean, if, the prize had just been like a pair of socks or something.... then, okay. BUT SERIOUSLY? CANCUN???? So, the person who was awarded 3rd place, truthfully, should be packing up a bikini and some flip flops. But, instead, she's stuck with a pair of socks and a plate.

The Insult to Injury:
The woman who was wrongly awarded and wrongly accepted the 1st female award, was also told by the Race Director, that they were so sorry about her getting lost, that they would comp her entry to next years race.

SERIOUSLY?????? I swear to god, it was like bizarro world at that awards ceremony. She was boo-hooing about getting lost and telling everyone about it, like she didn't understand that she was missing the entire point here. She was not the victim. She's going to Cancun, she didn't have to run any extra because she got lost, she got to hop in a truck and take a ride up the trail.

Even a couple of days later, I just cannot wrap my brain around this. 

If anyone reading this has any updates or clarifications about this story, PLEASE SHARE. I am really hoping that I just dreamed this whole thing or got some part of the story (like, the part where she hopped in a truck during the race) wrong. And I will gladly update this post with any information I get!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Track Break.

One of the things that Coach suggested for this go around* is to eliminate track work. I didn't hesitate one second in agreeing with her.

Now, don't take this the wrong way. I absolutely think that track work builds speed and strength. I am proof of that. And furthermore, I always enjoy track intervals. And I'm good at them (for marathon training at my paces, we aren't talking blazing speeds here). It's fun to whiz around a track and end up out of breath and holding your knees. I love that feeling.

But there are a few reasons I'm okay with skipping it this time around.

1. I have always maintained that for me, track workouts don't build confidence.
I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's because I don't come from a track and field background. So, I don't just automatically associate certain times with certain paces/speeds. I honestly don't know what's good or bad, so, its' not like I finish a workout and think.. DAMN, I'm so fast. I just think... DAMN, I killed that workout. But then I'm like.... WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

Or maybe it's because I don't have a very mathematical mind. I have a hard time calculating time when I'm running (or, let's be honest... any time). So, I'm not thinking... ohhhh this is XYZ pace. I'm just like... is that the pace I'm supposed to hit?

I will say that 1600s do build confidence, because... (duh) easy math.

2. It's not a weakness.
Generally speaking, I haven't had much trouble in the past getting my track workouts done. I barely ever missed one and I almost always hit my target paces.

Track work is so zen for me. I love how explicit it is. Do XYZ at QRS for T times. It gives me a break from my brain and appeases the part of me that loves order and specifics.

Since I'm not trying to PR at this spring race, I really want to work on my weaknesses and the execution of the long run is really my weakest link. So, I want to focus more on tempo runs, marathon pace runs, and doing specific paces DURING my long run. Mentally, the long run feels like the opposite of track work. Where the track intervals soothe my OCD by giving my brain something to focus on, the long run just feels like a mental mess, where my brain doesn't have something to hold onto, so, it's just out in lala-land and easily manipulates me into feeling like I'm tired when I'm actually just fucking bored.

3. It makes my weakness even weaker.
So, here's the deal. I do my track workout early in the week. It's a specific set of paces, distances, and numbers and so it's easy for me to just get caught up in doing them and I usually get a little competitive with myself and do them faster than I'm supposed to. I nail the shit out of it and then come Saturday for my long run, it's less specific and my brain has time to think and get bored, and since I'm physically exhausted (see: track workout from earlier in the week) and I just get the miles in.

I think spending time focusing on the long run WITHOUT track work during the week, will help me start to build my tolerance of exhaustion for training and make me realize how I'm SUPPOSED to be doing my long runs, and maybe I will take things a little easier at track workouts in the future, with that in mind.

All this to say... I will still be incorporating some fast running in my training. I will be doing progression runs and hill repeats, strides, etc. The fun leg-turnover kind of stuff to build strength and some muscle memory. But, for these 14 weeks of training, I will not be visiting the track. And I actually think that this track break will turn me into a better runner in the long run. (Hahahahha).

The track will still be there when I'm ready for it. But for now, it's time to harden up and get these long runs under control.

What's your training weakness? Any other Long Run Weaklings out there?

*I need a name for this training cycle. Any suggestions?