Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Minor Update

Wow, after reading my last thing I kinda sound nuts.. But that's ok.  This is my blog, I'm not interested in blog politics or "becoming a brand", or this new "business of blogging" thing.  I'm still living in the old LiveJournal days and this is pretty much just the same thing for me.  I'm just a mouth with a keyboard and a diary for the world to read.  Because voyeurs out there love this stuff and I feel a social responsibility to entertain.  I'll tell you one thing, though - posting up that you've got a running injury gets you a shitload of page views. #probloggertip Obviously people enjoy my misery.  And that's ok too.

This is the real deal.

Anyway, today was a long day and didn't quite go as smoothly as I'd hoped.  First of all my insurance played games with me over PCP referrals, etc.  Then the ortho office was SO busy and slow.  Then they both played games with each other back and forth over authorizing my MRI.  UGH.  Why does healthcare have to be so damn hard??

I love my ortho - he's a cool dude and most of all he's no bullshit.  Never have to beg for scans, never sit around playing the "what if" game and chit chat BS.. He's to the point and I like that.  His big concern for me today was the fact that this injury is again, pelvic in nature, and on the same damn side as the first one.  This has got to be because of my leg being longer than the other.... at least that's my call.  But, he wasn't messing around - he ordered Xrays immediately because the insurance requires them first (jerks), read those and then ordered the MRI up.  He had told me when I first talked to him "you know you're going to need an MRI, right?" and I just laughed because, well.. duh.  The deal here is everyone would prefer my not needing hip surgery before I'm an old lady for real!

After all the back & forth and crap, I am unfortunately unable to give any definite right now because I have to wait until tomorrow to call in so we can wrap this up.  But I will tell you what I know... 

My pelvis hates me.  The initial impression is that I have an avulsion on my pelvis where the sartorius muscle attaches.  It's looking like I straight up tore the muscle/tendon and part of the bone straight off the damn pelvis itself.  What frustrates me is that I don't know HOW or WHEN! It seems like something I really should have felt right away...  The thing is, this is a very rare injury that only typically happens to adolescent males ages 13-15.  Now, I've known for over 10 years now that I've had a very narrow pelvis... but to have a similar structural injury as a pubescent boy?  OMG crazy.  This kind of crap can only ever happen to me, I swear! lol  When I break myself, I do it right! ;-)

Again, I don't have any definite answers right now.  I'm fairly certain I won't be doing anything on my feet this weekend (my doc said he would prefer me to use crutches until my next appointment in a week - but I'm not sure I'm down with that.  I will be careful if I feel unstable, however).  Depending on the severity of this I probably won't run for a few weeks (4-6 at the least) and that's more than ok with me.  We'll see what another day brings.

Oh - the highlight of the day - I saw that my chart read: "young runner".  Yes!! Thank you for flattering me! ha! we'll just keep on the down low that after that said "with a history of stress injuries"...  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Marathon #2 - Training Week 17

Yes, I've been trying to avoid social media.  Yes, there's a reason I've been quiet and absent from everywhere.  I still <3 you all though, so even though I'm going back and forth between anger, sadness, and apathetic acceptance, I want to keep you in the loop and give you the lowdown.  Sorrynotsorry for the novel.

I guess I'll keep with the title theme I had going this whole time, but in reality, the "real" title of this post should be:  The End.  Why I'm not running the Pittsburgh Marathon.  And probably not the 5K either.

Sigh.  Warning:  I may utilize the f word a lot.  I'm pissy and will say pissy things.  This will be long.  You might not like what I have to say.  You might want to point a finger and tell me how wrong I am and how I screwed up.  Please save it.  I don't need it.

Well fuck.  So, if you read either my last blog post (which I still stand 100% behind why heart rate training is awesomeness) or my last run post on DailyMile you know that last Tuesday's run was crappy for me.  During the run, my left hip just felt wonky.  It wasn't bad, it wasn't even really pain.. it just felt weird.  But, you know taper crazies as well as my known fact that my first run after a long run always feels off, even if it's just the beginning until I shake it off.  It did loosen up during the run, so again, I didn't put too much thought into it.

Ok, let me back up and format this recap-style as I have been.

Monday: Strength & Core workouts.  Both went really well - I watched the Boston marathon during, so it helped pass the time.  I had my typical day after a long run fatigue happening but it certainly wasn't in one area and it definitely wasn't anything different than I've experienced for months on end now.  My biggest bitch about this workout was the commentators for the Boston Marathon.  I wanted to slap someone the next time I heard about either Meb being "old" due to being almost 40 or how small the women were.  I remember my comments after hearing that they were around 5'3 and 95 lbs was "wow.. I must be doing something wrong with my weight/muscle balance since I'm 5'4".  I thought about how I feel better now that I've gained some weight after my pelvic stress fracture and put on a lot more muscle mass.  At the time of my EQT 10 miler stress fracture I was between 94-97 lbs and was told that being that underweight contributed to the injury.  Thankfully lifting and marathon training bulks me up to between 106-110.  And again, I feel (and believe I look) a lot better.  But I digress... back to the recap.

Tuesday:  The crappy 7 mile run noted above.  The first 6 miles I did at easy pace and the last mile was on and off 30 second strides.  I did have to stop just after the halfway point to stretch because it felt like my whole leg just said piss off.  But a few seconds of stretching and I was good to go.  I actually felt worlds better the rest of the run and the strides felt really good.  I did not see any need for concern about this run at this time.

Then the rest of the day happened.  I went to the grocery store and then about my daily business.  The left side of my lower back, my left butt cheek, and my left hip just got more and more stiff as the day went on.  By the end of the night, I could barely walk without some weird leg swing/hobble action.  I took ibuprofen, foam rolled (which hurt like a mother fucker - especially in my piriformis area), stretched, and did some yoga poses.  One thing was for sure - I was not running 8 miles with mile repeats included the next day.

Wednesday:  I did a longer yoga session with specific poses for the lower back and hips.  I felt ok - I didn't have as pronounced of a hobble as the night before but my gait was still off.  Most of my pain was centered in my rear end and over toward the hip - again, that piriformis area.  My husband stretched me out and tried to use the stick and massage it out and he said it felt messed up.  I also had a definite pocket of swelling or something on the side of my hip that hurt to the touch.  I revamped my plans and scheduled a chiropractic and massage appointment combo for the next day. If this did the trick then I could get back on schedule and only miss that one run.  But anyway, more rolling, stretching, yoga and ibuprofen on this day.

Thursday:  I felt pretty good, so I got my running gear on and figured I'd attempt something - even a few easy miles.  I made it to the end of my driveway.  Nope - 3 steps into the run and the pain started.  I'm smart enough not to run through it.  So, that was that.  I went to my chiro appointment.  He did some ROM exercises as well as some trigger point.  He also noted my piriformis as he did some witch doctor routine to try to put things back in place.  I did feel a little relief, but it definitely wasn't a cure.  We scheduled again for this coming Thursday.  My massage was wonderful... again, it provided relief, but it wasn't a cure for whatever butt/hip thing is happening.  One thing the MT did say was that my hamstrings were crazy tight... and they usually are, but she worked her magic and they still feel freaking awesome today (which is frustrating to have great feeling legs but not be able to run).  More rolling/more yoga/more NSAIDS... I did do a lot of walking on this day as well.  Walking is not a problem.  I feel 99% normal and can walk with no issue.  I figure I walked around 2.5 miles Thursday.

Friday:  As tempting as it is to keep "trying" to run when I feel just fine walking and doing everything else in life, I believed my best interest lie in taking a full day to do nothing much running related for a day.  So, aside from more stretching and ibuprofen, I left myself alone, so to speak.  I did go out and walk around 2 miles again while I was out and about.  Walking feels good - I am not in any kind of discomfort during or after it.  On this day I noted that the pain in my rear end and back was gone and now all the bad stuff was centered in that pocket/bubble of bullshit on the side of my hip and it only hurt if you pressed on it.  Of course using Dr. Google was part of my lazy day and I self diagnosed myself with either hip bursitis, piriformis tear, or a stress fracture of the femoral neck - although the symptoms I have don't really align with the FNSF because I don't have any kind of discomfort in my groin or toward the front of my hip, when I have ran in the last days the pain is in my butt/back part of hip area, and I'll admit to being a psycho and doing the "hop test" and have no pain whatsoever while doing that.  But who knows... I thought my pubic ramus fracture was a hamstring strain too.. I am not a doctor.  Doctor Google did tell me that I'm infected with about a million things and it's a wonder I'm still alive right now.  Oh, the depths of internet knowledge!

Saturday:  I felt really good!  I did a light jog in the house.  On carpet - 100% pain free.  On hardwood floors - it felt weird, but no extreme pains or anything so I was headed out to run.  My kids needed to be on the North Side for activities, so I accompanied them and had my husband drop me off on the trail.  I started off my run around the 31st Street bridge.  I made it a little over 2 minutes before having to walk.  My butt/hip just felt so tight!  So I walked about 30 seconds or so and I felt much better and loosened up.  I started to run again.  It was not good.  The tightness/pain in the rear and hip started to build up to where I was not comfortable continuing the run.  I've learned a lot since 2013.  So, I was done.  I'd gone around 5 minutes and short of half a mile.  I walked over to Sarah Heinz House where the rest of my family was helping with the volunteer day.  It wasn't a long walk and of course, I felt better as I went.  I also felt ok throughout the rest of the day.  However, I knew there was no way I was going to get in my last long run the next day.  If I can't handle 2 minutes of straight running there's no way I'm doing 12 miles.

Sunday:  Aside from a slight hangover (hey, Yuengling, Rum, and Jack Daniels absorbing your rage and feelings happens), I felt good again.  Now, I knew better than to run, but honestly I've been eating like crap for several days feeding my emotions and I needed to get some kind of sustained calorie burn happening.  So, I rode my bike for 20 minutes, walked my neighborhood at a brisk pace for 20 minutes (ended up being about a mile and a half), and then did 20 minutes of exercises that mostly came out of my old PT routine - clamshells, steamboats, hip hikes, leg lifts, etc.  I felt accomplished for the first time in many days and my mood toward myself and my situation improved.

Total Miles Ran: less than 8.  Was supposed to be 32.
Total Running Workouts: 1+ - fuck it.
Total Strength Days: 2 - 1 strength/core day and 1 PT-ish day

Nutrition this week:  hahahahahahaha.  I'm just gonna fly the middle finger here because it's been a shit week.  And those macros just weren't happening.  I've put down a lot of alcohol, cake, ice cream, brownies, chips, KFC, and you name it.  I did have a fantastic vegetable curry and tempeh off the Whole Foods hot bar the other day, though.  I don't know why but when I eat there I always eat the vegan food and it's the best.  I can't cook it that well at home.  I suck. :(

So... what the fuck is next?  Well here's the deal:  I'm preserving my health at ALL COSTS.  I'll repeat what I've told myself a million times since Fall 2013: No medal is worth losing my mobility for months.  I'd like to keep my ability to simply walk, let alone try to do anything else.  Today I have some butt soreness and that side/back of the hip thing going on.  Otherwise I feel good.  I don't have anything other than Yoga scheduled and I'm going to keep it that way.  I have an appointment with my Orthopedic Surgeon on Wednesday morning and I'm hoping that I can get in for an MRI shortly thereafter.  I'm really hoping this is "just" a bursitis or muscular problem (I mean, Dr Google can't be wrong! lol).  But, if it's not, it's not and then I at least can get started on whatever healing process that entails.  If I can get a 100% confirmation that I have nothing broken in there and I can get some kind of fix/relief, I may attempt to walk/shuffle the 5K if I feel like I realistically can.  I've thought about the marathon, and while it kills that two years in a fucking row now I've been screwed on it (and seriously, fuck you Pittsburgh Marathon for not offering deferment or a transfer/refund system that doesn't suck total ass), I'm not going to risk my health over it.  I don't want to shuffle in a 5/6 hour marathon and feel that much worse.  I've never been on my feet that long, so it's not like I'm even trained to do that.

My current thoughts:
I'm pissed... but surprisingly enough totally ok with this.  I haven't been really enthused about this marathon from the start.  I mean, I didn't even register until just a few weeks ago when they said they were close to sell out.  When I heard I got into Marine Corps (which yes, I still plan on pursuing even if I have to Galloway it) my interest went down that much more.  Maybe it's because I'm a 12+ years now transplant to the area, but I always get amused by the hype of running "all the neighborhoods" in this marathon.  Newsflash:  some of them are downright shitty.  But hey, I'm bitter.  And I can say what I want.  Speaking of being bitter - you see the weather report for this weekend?  Too damn hot. 50s in the morning climbing into the 70s?  Fuck that, that's miserable.  Maybe this is my body just revolting and saving me from the misery.

There's a part of me that's excited to not have my body beat down on one day and have to take a week or more off of real life.  I'd originally planned for 10 days off of running post marathon and then a gradual summer rebuild in addition to more heavy strength training, cross training and carb cutting to get my bikini body back.  I miss fighting for position in front of the free weights mirror with the gym bros and I'm tired of feeling like a pansy when I try to pick something heavy up now.  I'm fixing to put in a huge order from Cellucor and and get my pump on.  So I'm a little excited that I might be able to start this earlier, especially if I rest now and heal up whatever is going on with my butt/hip.

I had 16 weeks of awesome endurance training.  I ran two fun races and got 2 cool medals! To say I'm not bummed would be a lie that I don't get to close the door on the plan as intended, but I definitely don't think it was a waste.  I don't know what went "wrong" or what happened to mess me up here at the very end.  Sometimes shit just happens and you can analyze it up one side and down the other but it doesn't change anything.  I still stand behind heart rate training. I guess if there's one thing that I could say that maybe I've learned or would do differently is that 18 weeks might be too long of a training plan for me.  I feel like I could have ran a marathon 2-3 weeks ago and been totally prepared for it.  JASR to the last 20 miler.. even to last week's 16 miler I felt great and like I could go on forever.  So, again, I don't know.  Depending on the outcome of my injury here I'll probably choose a shorter plan for MCM.

And really, if it turns out that hardcore running just isn't for me then I'll have to accept that.  I have lots going against me but I've always tried to make the best of what I can do - I have a very narrow pelvis (which is what prompted 3 cesarean sections), one of my legs is longer than the other, and I have hormonal issues caused by my thyroid - well, the parts that are left after that big ass tumor got removed.  I ran my one marathon in less than 4 hours.  That's a huge achievement for most people and I'm happy with that.  If I have to walk/run this year's MCM and then stick with shorter runs from here out, that's ok.  I have so many other plans in life and so much else I want to accomplish than continually lowering race times.  Too often I get caught up in the more/faster/better mentality and it takes away from the sheer enjoyment of simply being present in the moment.

Well, that's it for now.  I'm mad, I'm bitter, but really I'm fine.  There are good things happening in my future - they're just not all centered around OMG GO RUN FAST THINGS.  Cheers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Heart Rate Training Update - Proof in the Numbers

I had a pretty crappy run this morning.  I'm at the phase of taper where my body is saying "wtf" and trying to revolt.  My legs were stiff, all my muscles felt achy, my left hip felt wonky and I just couldn't get right.  It happens.  On thing I'm trying to do during this taper is stay positive.  And instead of sitting here dwelling on a bad run, I'm going to focus on good things.

I am planning on writing a post sometime after race day reviewing my training plan that I used.  A lot went into it, and there are so many things to talk about regarding it.  I want to wait until after the race because I won't truly know for myself how well it "worked" until miles 20-22-26.2 and afterward.

However, I do think this is an appropriate time to give you an update on the progress I've made in my fitness since going hardcore heart rate training.  I only have 2 more runs I think before race day where I will run at a steady state.  All my other runs will involve some type of interval, stride, goal pace miles, etc.  So, the base numbers that I have are pretty much my "final result" at this point... although I don't want to say final because I'm really hooked on this method and don't see myself not training via heart rate any time soon.

You can read my last post that detailed my history with heart rate training as well as the method I've used for this training cycle here.

I'm going to break this down by Mesocycle.  First, I want to note that I've done every single one of my runs since I started this training plan at the end of December with my heart rate monitor.  In my mileage buildup during November before starting the plan I did most of my runs with my heart rate monitor.  I did have a few runs where I did not use it.  So, this is 5-ish months worth of progress.

Before starting Mesocycle #1 I had been doing my runs at a "general aerobic" heart rate range that I had calculated utilizing the site   This ended up being different than the range I used during my marathon training plan once I started it (which, again you can read in my previous heart rate training post).  All of these runs were around 10:00-10:20/minute mile.

When calculating my paces, I threw out data from runs where I ran with a group and didn't pace myself, and runs that had extreme adverse conditions (like the time I ran 10 miles when it was -10 degrees outside and I was tromping through shin deep snow in places, and the time my heart rate monitor was just going crazy before it died and got replaced).

In Mesocycle #1, my average paces for each heart rate range were:
Recovery: 11:14
Easy:  10:11
Long:  9:11

Mesocycle #2:
Recovery:  10:48
Easy:  9:22
Long:  8:53

Mesocycle #3:
Recovery:  10:01
Easy:  9:10
Long:  8:35

That brings us to now - Mesocycle #4 - taper.  This cycle isn't over yet, and ultimately ends with the race, but like I said I hardly have any steady state runs.  But I have done recovery runs at sub-10 paces and my last long run I paced myself was 8:29 average.

So, at least for me, the evidence of improvement is there.  It's been a long road, for sure, but I have to think there is something right when I have been able to build up the miles I have while simultaneously bringing my pace down.  I haven't done long runs in the 8:30s since I was training for the Buffalo Creek Half Marathon in 2013 and I'm doing runs twice as long and on a heck of a lot more weekly mileage - and I feel better!  I guess one could argue that just running a lot of miles or simply doing any marathon training at all would have shown improvement.  I wouldn't argue that but I don't believe that I would feel this strong or have completed all the runs that I have if I had trusted myself to pace myself - especially "easy" or "recovery".  I missed one run this whole training cycle (knock on wood for this last week and a half) - and that was a 5 mile recovery run scheduled after my kid was in the hospital all night and everyone was just sick and tired.

This method of training is fabulous and I'm so glad I've stuck with it.  After much going back and forth on it, I'm planning on wearing my monitor during the marathon too!  I don't think I'm going to run the race strictly via heart rate, but I may use it as a general guide, especially in the very early (don't go out too fast) and later miles (can I push harder now or should I wait?).  I'm excited to see what happens - it's the nerd in me.

I fully expect my paces to get slower again after the race as I recover and probably during hot summer running, but I'm really intrigued by all this and I want to see what progress I can make in another 5 or 6 months (MCM is in 6 months and 4 days)!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Marathon #2 - Training Week 16

Here we are at week sweet 16.  Taper week one.  I'm not going too crazy just yet, but I do have a lot on my mind and I'll be posting about a couple different things this week.  But let's get to how this first week of taper madness went for me!

Monday: Strength & Core workouts

Tuesday:  This was my third installment of the 8 miles with 5x600m repeats run.  I was really happy to feel good during this run after running 20 miles on Saturday.  I was in a bit of a time pinch due to an awful succession of accidents on route 28 that morning.  I wish people would learn when there is an accident that the best option is to deal with it and be patient.  Getting aggressive in combination with rubbernecking is only going to cause another accident.  Ugh.  But - on a positive note, I really brought those intervals home again.  My paces ended up being: 7:01, 6:49, 6:58, 6:44, and 6:52.

Later I was able to get in a nice longer yoga session than I've done recently with focus on stretching out my hamstrings.

Wednesday: 6 mile recovery run.  Totally out of my element for the middle of the week.  I know it sounds silly but it was kind of a psychological letdown and while physically I didn't feel too bad (although I thought my IT band was starting to give me fits again - thankfully diligent rolling kept it in check), it was hard mentally to feel good about this run.  It happens, I guess.  Taper crazies.

I got in my full core workout again - and to make myself feel better about the run I added 45 secs to all my plank holds.  Because torturing myself is cool.

Thursday: Rest day!  I felt really freaking weird doing nothing this day.  I didn't feel like I needed rest or to recover from anything.  But, I was a good girl and didn't go crazy enough to try to squeeze some kind of workout in.  I know extra rest at this time - even if I don't think I need it - is important because I DO actually need it.

Friday:  I had an important meeting to go to early in the morning so a morning run was a no go.  But, I took my running gear along, changed when it was over, and headed out on the trail (thankfully I was nearby!).  I followed the plan and did a 4 mile recovery run with 6 sets of strides at the end.  This run just felt weird.  My legs couldn't decide if they wanted to go slow or fast, whether they wanted to lock up and be stiff or just glide along.  I know this is a typical effect of taper, at least for me, so I took it in stride (har har).  Honestly, the best part of this whole run was the strides.  I'm loving strides lately.
From all dressed up to this in a flash! I couldn't have planned it better!

Saturday: 9 mile easy run... although I wouldn't say this was the easiest "easy" run I've done this cycle...  This was the hottest temps and humidity to date and boy did I feel it!  It wasn't bad while I was on the tree lined shady part of the trail, but when it opened up to the concrete by the stadiums and on to just past the Casino the sun beating down was pretty bad.  AND like an idiot, I forgot to put on sunblock and now I've got a perfect tank top sunburn.  Boo.  My dermatologist would beat my ass.  My back is already covered in scars from her cutting "abnormalities" out of it and doing biopsies.  :(  Oh well, lesson learned (remembered, is probably the better word).  Anyway, my pace was faster in the shade than the sun and a couple of times I had a little trouble managing my heart rate, but really, it was an enjoyable run.  I'm really digging the sunshine and happy feels these days.

Sunday:  Last long run!!  I was really excited to hear on Facebook that the North Park lake loop was completed so of course I was going to give it a whirl!  I had 16 miles on the plan and I figured 3 lake loops plus a little out & back action was just what I needed.  I wanted to get up  and out early, but as most moms know, trying to get kids up and moving on your schedule sometimes doesn't go as you plan..  So, I started running a little later than intended.  Oh well.  It was another gorgeous sunny day and I planned to stay in a positive mindset and just enjoy the run.  This mostly worked because I did get irritated with the crowd on several occasions.  I really wish there were signs every 2 feet that stated "STAY TO YOUR FREAKING RIGHT".  I think I weaved in and out more today than I've done in races.  I tried not to let it piss me off too bad, so when I'd feel the anger monster take over I tried to look around at how sunny and green and pretty things looked and remember that I'm really blessed to be able to be out here doing this.

The first loop just flew by, the second one was ok, but was the one I really got irritated the most on, and the third I just got in a headspace of "think about the race... what to do, what to do" and I was really zoned out for most of it.  I think I may have had an out of body experience and just glided to the end, I don't know.. lol.  I do know by the third loop I was really hot and my heart rate was creeping up.  Usually I like to keep it on the lower end of the range, but it was getting toward the upper end of my long run range for sure there for a bit.  It was a successful run in that I worked out some mental kinks I had regarding race pacing and I was able to try out a long run in very warm temps.
Post long run sweaty selfie.  I was so happy to be done, but now I get to panic over whether my training has been enough!

Total Miles Ran: 43.11
Total Running Workouts: 5 - 1 interval, 1 recovery, 1 recovery with strides, 1 easy and 1 long
Total Strength Days: 2 - 1 total body + core, 1 core only

Nutrition this week: I'm going to go ahead and pat myself on the back because I did a great job this week (yes, even with the banana pudding).  After making a list based on my logs on My Fitness Pal from last cycle's taper, I did some shopping and stocked up.  This house is a happier place for my tapering runner self.  And I figure I'll crave less bullshit food if I have a whole bunch of other stuff here and ready.  One huge pet peeve of mine is wasting food - especially fresh veggies and fruit - so if my house is full of it I'll be in the frame of mind to "eat it before it goes bad".

Melty mozzarella, fresh tomato and pesto - yes please!
First week of taper - survived! Last long run - DONE!  This coming week I'm only running 4 days!  And my longest run is "only" 12  miles!  If I'm going to go crazy, I think this is the week it will happen.

I hope taper is starting off well for everyone.  We don't have much longer to go before this is all over and we have awesome medals!

Do you think he loves me?  At this moment he was purring so loud it was deafening.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

What I'm Really Eating

Yes, more food talk out of me.. big shock, huh?  Don't hate!

First, I want to let you know that I did get my banana pudding the other night.  I put a banana in it, so it at least included something healthy (I used skim milk too - so there!).  Then I went and screwed that up by putting whipped cream on it.  And added Vanilla wafers.  Hey, we've all got our vices.

That said, while I do treat myself and don't feel guilty about it (or at least try not to), I really do eat pretty healthfully the majority of the time.  And that's what it's all about, at least for me.  I can't stand "diets" that have you telling yourself "you can never have X ever again!".  That crap just makes me want whatever X is that much more.  If I know I can have something and, like I said in my last post - scratch the itch - then I can be done with it and move along.  It's not like I'm sitting here still eating banana pudding.  Last thing I ate was a Nugo Bar about 2 hours ago, to be honest.

Dinner the previous night was salmon, sauteed spinach with garlic and mushrooms, and a baked sweet potato with cinnamon.  Tonight I'm making pesto paninis with tomato and mozzarella.  Ok, I better stop before I make myself hungry and end up cooking dinner in a half hour.

Something I did the other day was go back through my My Fitness Pal logs and make a list of everything I ate during taper and carb load time for MCM.  What I ate last cycle worked, so I'd like to repeat that.  I figured I'd share my most popular foods list here in case anyone was looking for ideas of things to eat during this next week or so.  Also, check out my post on what I do to carb load for a race if you'd like.

These were the most common foods that I ate/drank during taper last training cycle:

Sweet potatoes (honestly, it's a wonder I'm not orange because I eat them constantly)
Pasta (duh)
Baked white or red potatoes
Brown rice
Yogurt (Greek and regular nonfat or lowfat)
Asparagus (and it's Spring and it's nice and fresh now - I've bought so much of it lately!!)
Green Beans
Salad greens (the favorites in this household are arugula, romaine, and spinach, but I do not discriminate on yummy greens personally)
Milk (almond, skim, and coconut)
Dried Apricots
Bread - (wheat, multigrain, or Ezekiel, usually)
Orange Juice
Rice Cakes
Egg whites
Chia Bars
Nugo Bars
Clif Bars
Nuun in water
Water (of course)
Grilled chicken
Lean beef
Turkey breast

I almost forgot to add the meat at the end because I honestly don't eat a lot of it, and by the day before race day I won't eat any at all.

Don't ask me for the list of what I ate after the marathon... First of all, I wasn't real coherent about tracking it... Also, it was pretty much whatever I could put in my mouth - I remember cake, watermelon, and a lot of beer and fried chicken... lol

Hungry?  I am now!  Might be time for a snack.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Taper Madness Check-in!

We are at the HUMP DAY of the first week of taper for those of us using a 3 week taper method for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  YMMV if you're doing a longer or shorter one.

So how's everyone feeling?  Going crazy yet?  Calm?  A little of both?

Feel like this guy, maybe?

Something strange that happens to me during taper - and this goes for marathons and half marathons - is that I start craving foods out of the blue like I'm pregnant.  They are those same really strong cravings too... nothing will satisfy it until I scratch that itch, so to speak.  I could make the most delicious food in the world but if I'm craving Oreos everything else is going to taste like crap until I get an Oreo.

My cravings thus far?  Pudding, tacos, and gyros.  I have been craving them for about 2 days now and I'm about to go nuts if I don't get to the store and at least make one of them tonight.  I even ate a piece of cake last night and it was just "meh" to me.  I know, I'm weird!

Something else that strikes me during taper is boredom.  You all know I've been running a fairly high mileage training plan.  I've been in the 50 mile per week range for over two months!  One of the key points in my plan is running long (well, they call it "medium long", but whatever) runs during the week.  Usually on Wednesdays I run anywhere from 10-14 miles.  Today I ran 6.  SIX!  And at recovery pace!  The struggle becomes mental for me because it feels like I'm not doing nearly what I've been.  I know that is the point of taper.  But this also makes me go freaking bananas because then I worry about what I'm eating... Obviously I don't need to eat to support long runs all the time like I have been.  I'm still hungry, though!  But if I eat I'll get fat... and if I gain a bunch of weight I'll be slower.. and if I'm slower then my goals get flushed down the toilet... and if my goals get flushed then what was the point of putting in all these miles... and then why did I waste the money on the race..

It goes on and on.  Thank goodness I haven't gone totally out of it yet, but I know it's coming.  I'm going to try to rein it in... But if I don't, at least you'll will have something funny to read over the next few weeks.

I'm thinking banana pudding... If I put a banana IN the banana pudding that makes it a serving of fruit and therefore totally healthy, right?  Plus, more carbs!  haha

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Marathon #2 - Training Week 15

I kind of feel bad this week that I didn't post anything other than last week's recap.  I honestly meant to post and had some stuff half written, but I never got around to it.  I was just in total "game face" mode all week, knowing that this was my last big week of training and I wanted to nail every workout.

Someone posted a pic of the mass of people before the Saturday SCRR run and I caught myself in it.  I had to zoom in on it and see this epic "game face" moment.  That's the "let's do this" face, the "I'm here to smash 20 miles in the face" face, and honestly, the "come on and sort the damn pacer situation out already and let's get moving because it's freaking chilly" face.

Monday: Strength and Core, baby.  Core work is a runners bestie.

Tuesday: 7 mile recovery run with 6 strides.  I beat the hard rain on this one, but really wouldn't have cared if I ran in it because it was so warm!  Finally - some heat and humidity training!

Wednesday:  The plan called for 10 miles including 4x1200m repeats.  It was warmer and more humid than the day before and I was thankful for it!  I'll take all the heat training I can at this point, especially on hard workout days.  I totally killed my intervals.  They were to be done at my same 7:15 pace or faster and I came up with these paces: 7:04, 7:00, 6:59, and 6:58.  Woohoo!  Best part?  I didn't feel like I was running at a hard speed at all during them.  I really felt great!

I did a short yoga session later that day, but admittedly, it didn't feel great.  Probably the first time I can say that yoga made me feel worse, not better for doing it.  Strange.

Thursday:  11 mile medium long run.  I certainly did not miss the rain this time!  The first half of my run it was pouring.  Then it stopped and the temperature just seemed to skyrocket.  I got really hot, my heart rate started to climb, and I had to slow down a little.  This is exactly why I've loved this week's weather.  I wanted to see how I would react to these situations.  Luckily I didn't totally spike out and I was able to keep myself in control.  This run was also my very last double digit weekday run of my training plan.  I'm relieved and kinda bummed about that.

I did a second round of my core workout that evening.

Friday:  Rest!

Saturday:  SCRR Marathon course preview run!  I've really been looking forward to this.  One thing that all these long weekday runs has done for me is take the stress/anticipation/fear out of the weekly long run.  I mean, most weeks it's only just a couple miles more than I normally do on a Wednesday anyway, right?  No biggie!  I figured I'd head out with the 9:00/mile group since I wouldn't be running by heart rate and my last two 20 milers were around 8:55 pace and 8:35 pace.  I didn't want to go out with the 8:30s and end up having a rough go of it (and I was further glad I made that decision after hearing that the 8:30s ended up being yet another 8:00 group!).  Our group was quite large, and everyone was pretty cool.  We actually had two pacers and they were awesome!  I actually ran side by side with one of them for a while and talked and she was great.  This was really the best SCRR run I've ever had.  Anyway, it was good to get out on the back portion of the course and also to run up the hill into Oakland again.  I really have no problems with that hill.  It's long, but it's not incredibly steep.  I felt amazing the whole run.. most of the time I felt like I was really holding back but I enjoyed myself.  At the last water stop our group broke in two - some were having trouble keeping up so one of the pacers stayed behind while the other kept on as planned.  I was glad to be with a group on the back part of the course because I think I would have gotten myself lost if I tried to do it alone.  Way too many traffic stops and street crossings... When we came to the last few miles I really felt great.  I couldn't believe how far I'd ran because it didn't feel like I had many miles on my feet at all.  During that sweet downhill I started to pull ahead of my group with a couple of guys.  I just felt too good and I had to stretch my legs out a bit.  I definitely wasn't pushing hard at all, I was just in cruise mode.  I think one guy kinda thought I was trying to race him at one point because he'd get faster then I'd get faster, etc then we realized how far ahead of the group we were and just cruised along together.  As we rounded the corner and headed back into Market Square I was really sad because I really felt like I was just warmed up and raring to go!  I was SO tempted to run an additional mile or two (last training cycle I did run a 22 miler), but I kept myself in check and told myself to stick to my plan.  So I reluctantly did just that.  The run ended up being a little short when we got back to the SCRR tent (it said 19.93 on my Garmin) so after signing the logbook I ran back up and down the street a little until I got past 20 miles.  It would have messed with my mind in a terrible way if I'd stopped at 19.93!  I got some stretching in, got picked up, and headed home still feeling awesome.

I got a nice surprise when I synced my Garmin and looked at my heart rate data too... My heart rate was super low for a lot of the run - even "the hill".  I even had miles clock in at easy/borderline recovery heart rate!  Nice! 
Calloway thought my compression socks needed warmed up before I put them on.  He was straight up mad when I tried to take them from him, though.  Weirdo.

Sunday: I allowed myself to sleep in and have a bit of a lazy morning.  Then I headed down to the North Shore Trail for a 4 mile recovery run.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but I was pleasantly shocked when it ended up being my fastest recovery run thus far!  I ran by heart rate the whole time as always, felt like I was just slogging along and enjoying the sunshine, and it just happened!  I will be honest and say I do feel stiff in spots, but hey, I know taper will fix that.

A friend of mine tagged me on Instagram to #stopdropandyoga and since I was on my run when she did that I decided to get some pics of the recovery yoga I did when I got home. :)  

Total Miles Ran: 52.19
Total Running Workouts: 5 - 1 recovery with strides, 1 interval, 1 medium long, 1 long, 1 recovery
Total Strength Days: 2 - 1 day both total body + core, 1 just core only.  The next two weeks are planned to be the same and I will do no strength training the last week.

Nutrition this week: I give myself an A-.  I did very well for the most part sticking with healthy, whole foods to achieve my macros, but you all know I ate a bunch of Easter candy and even stocked up on more when it got clearanced.  We love Peeps in this house.  I think the lemonade is my favorite this year. 

That's it, guys.  Mesocycle #3 focused on race preparation is complete and it is officially time for taper.  I will say that I AM prepared for this marathon.  I'm going to knock on wood and say I'm pretty confident I have a PR waiting for me.  I've never felt this strong or ready for any race I've ever done - let alone a marathon!  I just have to be smart these last three weeks, stay healthy, and try not to do anything stupid.

Happy taper to everyone running Pittsburgh!  Carb up, Calm down!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Marathon #2 - Training Week 14

Unless you've been living under a rock in the local running community, you are more than well aware that it is crunch time.  As of today, the Pittsburgh Marathon is just 4 weeks away!  Time to get in those last long runs and start to shift gears into recovery mode.  Are you excited?  

This week was a fairly solid week of workouts for me.  After JASR I had a little bit of an ITB flare up, but a few days of good foam rolling technique and I'm fine again!  I found I was getting a little lazy with my rolls... I do my same foam roll routine that physical therapy gave me for injury rehab every day.  However, after a little self evaluation I realized that 1) I needed to apply more pressure to the correct area and 2) I need to roll longer and slower.  I guess I had gotten into the "do it real quick before bed" habit and that wasn't doing me as many favors as it should have.  Lesson learned!

Here's how things played out this week:

Monday: Strength & Core workouts - I'm finally starting to have ab definition to show again.  Well, ok, on the days I don't make a total swine of myself (looking at you, Easter Candy).  I also need to upscale my planking again because it is back to easy mode.  I always laugh at clients/people in general who say they won't plank because it's "too easy and I don't get anything out of it".  ROFLMAO.  There are so many ways to make them more difficult and work every last shred of ab muscle you thought you never had.  The generic forearm or pushup plank doesn't even scratch the surface!

Tuesday:  The plan called for 8 miles with 5x600m repeats.  So, that's what happened.  I overdressed, as I tend to do in these in between seasons, and that made me a bit uncomfortable during the hard part of the run.  Which makes me mad.  Which makes me push that much harder because I'm mad.  haha.  My 600m repeats were to be done at 7:15 or less pace.  They ended up being 7:06, 7:07, 7:08, 6:57, 6:46 (see, I was hot and pissed off on those last two).  I really should have more self control than that... but hey, it happens.  I did have a good time during this run... I felt good (other than being hot) and my legs felt great, which was a concern after the harder effort at JASR.  To think I can recover and be back in the swing of things in such a short time after running like that still boggles my mind.

I did some recovery yoga later in the day.

Wednesday:  11 mile medium long run. Other than overdressing (again) this run was a breeze.  I ran from the South Side to the Jail trail and through the Northside and back.  It was a great day!

Thursday:  Unfortunately, Wednesday night our van shut off and would never start again.  We'd been having some issues with it lately and well, I guess it decided it had made its final trip (major electrical/computer failure.  More expensive to fix than replace).  First of all, thank goodness the kids are on Spring Break so we didn't have to worry about school and activities!  Second, this meant that until the van got replaced, I couldn't get to my normal run spots and had to suck up running around here.  Two things about this neighborhood: 1) Hills - everything from just rollers to extreme ups to extreme downs. 2) The sidewalks are terrible - either nonexistent or cracked/uneven and the streets are almost just as bad.  But, you do what you have to do, right?  Thursday was a rest day - when I took the time to map out a few routes to try out over the next uncertain time period.

Friday:  4 mile recovery run in my neighborhood.  I don't think I could have mapped out a more hilly run if I tried.  Wow... But, it was warm outside.. rainy, but a nice warm spring rain, so instead of getting irritated and putting that negativity in the whole run, I just shook it off and tried to enjoy some new scenery and a gentle low heart rate run (even if it meant I had to walk twice due to extreme hills jacking up the heart rate).  It was kinda funny.  Needless to say I went back to the drawing board for a new route.  

I did get in a strength/core circuit workout after my run, which I was pleased I had the oomph to do this week. 

Saturday:  10 mile easy run was the plan, and I did get that accomplished!  It sucked that it went from shorts weather the day before to cold weather gear again that morning, but oh well.  My husband worries about me running around here and since this was a longer run he was really worried (and I wasn't really thrilled either).  So what I ended up doing was mapping out a 5 mile loop from our house.  I did a loop, then came up to the back door of the house to check in, wave and say I'm all good, and then did another.  It worked out well.  The route I made was much better than Friday's run - at least the hills were more gradual/rolling instead of drastic ups and downs.  Saturday also brought other good news that afternoon - I had wheels again!!  Whew... while I was glad to make do with the local running for a couple of days I was glad I didn't have to do my long run here!

Sunday:  Happy Easter!  After two days in a row of hills hills hills, my legs needed a bit of a break.  So instead of going to North Park like I had originally planned for this run, I went down and ran my good ol' favorite city trails loop.  I felt really great.  It was a gorgeous day - bright sunshine, loads of people on the trail, it was warm, and I was just loving running for the love of running.  17.01 miles for the day.  I had to earn that Easter candy... Peeps, peanut butter eggs, jelly beans, chocolate bunnies... mmm.. I could feel guilty about all I ate today, but nope! I'm not gonna!

Total Miles Ran: 50.23
Total Running Workouts: 5 - 1 interval workout, 1 medium long, 1 recovery, 1 easy, and 1 long
Total Strength Workouts: 2

Nutrition this week:  Really, not bad until today.  haha. :)

One more 50+ mile week... Just one more... I've got this!

Sorry for the lack of pics this week.  All my pic taking energy got sucked up by my daughter's science fair project.  Sorry for the lack of even a cat pic.  Fail!