Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Not ignoring Drs for a change

Runner's are not always the smartest when it comes to illness and injury. I believe the common phrase is: "Runners, ignoring doctors since forever". Goodness knows I have 100% been that runner. BUT I am trying to improve in this area... and in the last 7 days I have got a chance to practice being a smart runner.

Last week I got the beginnings of a cold. I was smart and took my runs down to a lower level and didn't push myself too hard, took a day off from work to rest and heal and low and behold  I started to get better. Then shit hit the fan at work, like hardcore hit the fan. And so I went out on what my coach calls A frustration run. This is the type of run where I run much faster than I should, and push myself do to distances and/or paces that I know better than to do. Then I follow that up with less than stellar nutritious decisions (ie: I have beer/wine). Which of course combined with the emotional stress and overall exhaustion from dealing with the day, makes the cold much much worse.

Then comes long run day, I had 15 scheduled with 7 at marathon pace. Last big long run of the training season. I wake up with a huge knot in my chest, barely able to breathe. So like the Smart Runner that I am, I went out for the run. Because, ya, that is what us runners do. Smart decision?? Nope, not so much. However I realized by mile 4 that pushing for marathon pace was NOT going to be a good idea. So I did, and you gotta give me some credit here, made the decision to not the pace miles. I broke off from my training partners and ran with a friend and completed 15 miles at my easy long run pace. By time I was done I was coughing so hard I couldn't breathe.. to use of my favorite phrases. It was NO BUENO!

So I was SMART and rested the rest of the day, and then went to good ole Target the next morning to buy yet another round of OTC meds. I thought about going to the dr, but ... nah... meds will take care of it. So I tried that. Talked to my Coach. He said "No more frustration runs, eat well, and get sleep". Okay.. Aye Aye Captain.. You are the boss. You got it! I rested the rest of the weekend. Laid back, hung out with friends, ate healthy, slept, all that good jazz.

Monday morning... ya, definitely need to go to a Dr. This is seriously awful. So So So Sick! And that shit hitting the fan from the week before got even frickin worse.  So, that means.... there went that healthy eating thing. Breakfast, good, Lunch.. what lunch? Aint got time for no lunch. That also means, getting to the Dr. got a lot harder. Finally get to the med express.. see a Dr  (a real jerk by the way) and get some heavy duty meds to kick what has turned into bronchitis.

Did I want to run? OH MY GOD YES! I needed to deal with the stress of my day. Could I have pushed through a run even though I was sick, yeah.. I could have been a STUBBORN  asshat runner and pushed through. BUT I WAS SMART! I went home, hung out with my main man (my black lab Waylon), watched some TV and rested.

Tuesday:  Every Tuesday morning I meet a buddy of mine for a morning run. I WAS SMART and cancelled. "Slept In". I am growing here, getting smarter. AND then I really got to exercise self-control. Tuesday is also my gym day. I did go to the gym... but since I still was having trouble breathing, I kept my ass out of the pool and weight room and just used the hot tub to relax.

And Now here I lay, relaxing. Not running, not eating junk food, just resting. Following doctors orders. Being Smart

So I guess the moral of this story is: be smart! Am I itching to run? More than I can describe. But I also know I have a marathon in 10 days and I push through this now, then there is a good chance I will be sick still in 10 days and won't get the time I want.

So, ya it sucks to be sick. It sucks to not be able to deal with the stress and hardships in the best way you know how, ya it sucks to see all your friends out running and you can't. BUT it will be worth it to rest!

So let's change the phrase to "Runners, making smart medical decisions, always".
Happy Running!

Monday, March 14, 2016

A non morning person's morning run

I. Hate. Mornings. This is not a big secret for anyone who has ever been around me first thing in the morning.  I am not fit company until I have had a cup of coffee. Like, you may get a unintelligible "morning" grunt from me, but usually I am going to just give you a good glare on my way to the kitchen to get my caffeine. Dark coffee, no sugar, no cream  Even as a small child I hated mornings and couldn't function. I remember my mom would to try to wake me up half a dozen times before she would get so fed up that I wouldn't wake up that she would toss a glass of cold water on me to get me out of bed.

I. Really. Hate. Mornings
So when people talked about how much they loved getting up at 5 am to run, how great it was to start the day that way, I thought they were crazy, loco, kooky! I mean, why would any sane person want to lose the ability to sleep a few more hours? That is just ridiculous!
THEN, last summer happened. 
See I was training for my first 100k, so I was running a lot of miles. And it was HOT and HUMID! I do hot and humid about as well as I do mornings. Not at all. I actually get very sick when I run in the heat, so when my running partners invited me to join them on their 5 am runs, I reluctantly agreed. This was especially a tough decision as I don't work in the summers, so I am able to sleep as late as I like. Therefore, voluntarily getting up at 5am, or before, is basically a small miracle. Now, when I first started running with them that early, I wasn't a huge fan. My body just doesn't get up and moving that fast, and being a non-morning person meant I would wake up 10 minutes before our meeting time, so I really only had time for a half cup of coffee before I had to head out the door. It was a summer of slow, grouchy miles.

That entire summer I stated, "This is only going to be for the summer". And then the in-explainable happened.... I started to enjoy running in the morning. Hold up, Pump the brakes, How the hell did this happen? I hate mornings! How am I enjoying morning running? Maybe I've lost my mind. Then fall hit. And I realized that I really liked starting my week off with a run, I actually looked forward to it. Something about starting a work week off with something that I love, something that relaxes me. So I kept running in the morning. Every Monday and Tuesday I would be out with my headlamp and blinky lights getting in the miles.

Then came winter. Winter is the perfect time to stay snuggled in bed under all the blankets. It's all cold and icy outside and my bed is all warm and comfy.... And I still got up, bundled up, and got my miles in.

I was becoming that crazy, loco person who loved morning running. Who talked about morning running and tried to convince other people how great it is. I started finding other morning runners to run with in my neighborhood. The final moment of transformation into full out morning runner hit this winter when my main morning run partner started working from home, so she started running later. I still needed to be out the door by 5:20, so that meant I either had to run by myself or run after work. By this point we were doing high mileage with speed work and hill repeats in the morning, so that meant doing hard workouts first thing in the morning.  I chose to get up and run by myself, and I LIKED IT! I liked the peace and quiet of the morning. No traffic, very few people, just me and the road.

Now something else has happened in this transition to morning runner, well two things actually. The first is I have gone from not being able to pick up speed in the morning to being able to jump right out of bed (because I STILL get up 10 minutes before meeting time) and hit some fast paces. The second is that I have become less of a non-morning person. I will probably never be the type who wakes up all perky and happy, but I am at least no longer a danger to be around when I first wake up, and even wake up early when my alarm isn't set.

So I guess the moral of this story is Never Say Never. And for those you of you who are firmly in the I. Hate. Mornings. Camp, well give it a shot. It takes a little while, but you may find yourself liking morning running. If nothing else, it frees up your time for other activities in the evening. :-)

So as I sit and drink my morning coffee, I wish you Happy Running!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Runners VS Drivers: Round 1

As I was talking to a buddy of mine today it came out that he had gone "Ambyr" on a driver during his run. One of those situations where a driver rolled through a stop sign with no real intent to stop and didn't bother to look to see if there were pedestrians in the crosswalk, almost hitting him. Then the driver yelled at my buddy, like it was HIS fault. And the term going "Ambyr" on the guy is a very real thing... I have this whole red headed temper thing that comes out when drivers are asshats.. However.. Let's really look at the situation of Drivers vs Runners

ROUND 1:  Turning right on RED

I can not tell you how MANY times I have almost been hit by cars turning right on red. I have almost been hit at 5 am when I am lit up like a frickin tree (no joke, you can see me a block away between my headlamp and led arm bands). I have almost been hit at 4:30 in the afternoon in broad daylight. And I have almost been at 7 pm. So basically, it doesn't matter the time of day, it's bound to happen. 

Drivers: In intersections where turning on Red is legal , drivers often only look to the left to see if cars are coming and do not ever look right. 

It is almost like the minute a person (and even some runners as painful as that is to think about) gets into the car, it is like they forget that there are sidewalks where people; walk, run, bike, let their children walk, etc. 

So they just don't bother to look for pedestrians. They don't check to see if there is a walk sign. They are only concerned about darting through the red light so that they can get somewhere 5 seconds faster. So they NEVER see that runner crossing the crosswalk. So a runner has to either come to an abrupt stop, which we all know can be tricky, quickly duck behind the car which can also be tricky, or get splattered by the car. 

And my absolute FAVORITE part is when the driver then begins yelling at the runner for making them stop! For real this happened to me twice in a 24 hour period. It was light out, I had a walk sign and was crossing in the crosswalk and this woman tried to blow through the red light, turning right and there was NO WAY I was going to have time to go around her or stop. And the she decided it was MY fault she had to stop and starts pointing at the walk sign (which had the white little walk dude btw) and yelling at me. AND then the moment of clarity hit as I "calmly" pointed at her red light and my walk sign. It was my right away, but she was in such a hurry she was willing to seriously injure me or even worse take my life because she was in a rush, and in her mind it was my fault! Less than 24 hours later, at 6 am when it was dark the same thing happened. I was lit up bright and had reflective gear on and this truck almost hit me doing the same thing. I watched him never look right, he was only concerned about cars coming from the left. Luckily I had time to go behind him, and I am sure it was more than a little startling when he heard the loud thump of me hitting the back of his truck. 

I quickly made this PSA to put on my IG and twitter after these events as a gentle reminder for drivers 

Runners: Have been known to ignore red lights and just cross because stopping is a pain in the ass or judge that " I have enough time" before the car gets to the intersection. 

Honesty time: I also have been guilty of this. I see a car far enough down a road and figure "I've got time". Ya well jokes on me if they decide to speed up. I have a red light, they have a green, it is not my right away. Runner's also can be real asshats when road running when it comes to who "runs the road". I mean lets think about it, person in a 2,000 lb car or person with a 4mm drop shoe. Ya, pretty sure that car is going to win in a head to head. And I have been that asshat. There have been a few incidents where afterwards I think to myself "and this is why drivers hate runners" or when my running partner threatens to "use your pony tail to pull you back". BUT I AM working on this! I feel like I have become a much safer runner over the last few months. I don't want to be an asshat and I can think of a 1,000 better way to spend my time than in a hospital or  morgue! 

HOWEVER, when that car has a red light, and the way you are going has a green light, IT IS the runner's right away and it is 100% legal for you to cross. That car has to stop

I try to make eye contact with the driver of the car when I coming so I know they see me. I am sure there are a few people in the city who think I am coming on to them ( and then there was the dude who sat at a green light and legit just stared... but that is another story for another time). But at least I know that they see me and I won't get smeared across the pavement. 

So In ROUND 1 of Runners vs Drivers: Turning Right on Red, Runners WIN 
But please please use caution, because drivers are not looking for you! 

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The rules of running conversations

One of things I LOVE about distance running is the people. It is one of the few sports/activities I can think of that people from every walk of life can come together and politics, religion, and views on any given matter just don't matter. Within running you create relationships with people that you might not  even be willing to acknowledge if you saw them out at the bar.
I have always said that the people you run with either become your greatest friends or your greatest enemies. And those people become the reason you set new goals, hit new paces and new distances.

So what are the rules of running together? Are there topics that are off-limits? Are there things you aren't supposed to talk about? Yesterday I had the opportunity to run with a mix of people I have ran with for years, newish run friends, and perfect strangers. So I really got to think about those rules as I went.

So yesterday I had to do 20 miles at race pace. So me and my running partner, Brit, jumped in with the 8 minute pace group. I had chatted with the pace leader earlier in the week, who happens to be a friend, and explained what we needed to do (7:50 pace).
So at the start of the run I look around and I know 3 people in the group: Brit, Jess, and Hector. I have known and run with Brit and Hector for years. Jess, I have ran with for a few months now. Then a couple miles in a couple more guys I have ran with a few times joined us. The rest of the group (4-5 guys) I have never met before. So a nice mix.

So the rules: 
Beginning of the run: Mostly chat with those I know. Catch up, what's new, etc. One friend is throwing a bar crawl for charity, so we chat about that. Races coming up for everyone, how's training going?  Me trying to convince someone to run their first ultra ( I have to sneak that in almost every group run!). And of course, we all have big personalities, so there are some vulgarities and loud laughs as we chirp at each other about all the things. With those that I know, no subject is sacred. Politics, sure! Current events, Sure! Random funny stories about shit we have seen and done, absolutely! TV show and Movies reviews, often! Completely inappropriate conversations about something we saw online, pretty much every run!

Now at this point, the guys we don't know have had a full dose of us. And they haven't sped up to leave the group or fell back to get away from us. So they are definitely potentially new fun running partners.

Now me being me, I have to talk to as many people as possible. So I come up on a new guy: What are the rules for talking to a new potential running buddy? As far as I can tell it is VERY similar to a first Date. It starts with the interview...
1.) Hi. How many you doing today?  
2.) Oh, ___ miles. That's great. I am doing ____.
3.) What are you training for?
4) Oh great, I have done/not done that one. I am doing _______.
5.) How many marathons have you done? Oh, that 's great.  I have done ___ amount.
6.) Oh ya, what's your name? Well, its nice to officially meet you____.

Alright, now that the necessities are out the way, you dig a little deeper into their running history.  You are trying to find out if they are someone you will want to run with for the next couple hours, and potentially again another day. So you start digging a little further into their running history;  what kind of running they do during the week, what is their marathon pr? Oh and don't forget where they live too.. just in case they live somewhere you can run with them during the week too.

Okay, now that the deeper details are out of the way. First date is going well so far... this person may be okay to run with. Similar running style, hasn't gotten offended by the things discussed between friends, and capable of carrying on a conversation.

This is where things get fun, because by the point you have gone through the first date interview with most of the people you didn't know, you are approximately 70% through the run. So you are several hours into the run. You are all kind of tired, you have been pushing each other through hills, flats, and downs. You have discussed paces and route options. You have kept each other distracted from the tired that has come and gone. And now the really fun conversations starts... Nipples. Yup, you read that right, Nipples. Because you see men have to deal with bleeding nipples. And someone had a run earlier in the week that they had that issue, so now there is a comparison of who has had bloody nipples and who hasn't. And how do you prevent them? And NOW we have shirts being lifted to show off bandaged nipples. Which of course as a female I don't have to worry about, which then starts a whole other conversation about women's sports bra's and how they protect nipples. So then we probably should design a sports bra for men to protect their nipples. Now at this point, we are are on the tail end of the run, so we are tired so the hilarity of this conversation has gotten to us all.
I think at one point we passed by an elderly woman who heard us loudly discussing nipple protection... and the look on her face as priceless.

And now the run has ended. We exchange Facebook information, because it turns out the first date run went well which means we can be facebook friends. AND we can potentially run together again. Finish stretching and leave with the "See you next week"'s.

So What Are The Conversation Rules of Running Together?
There really are no rules. There isn't anything is off limits after a certain amount of time. I have learned a lot about people through running. I mean, I would never, never, never ask someone I met at the coffee shop or bar if they ever had bleeding nipples. That is just not socially acceptable, until you run.
If you want to get to know someone on a deeper level, just run together! And they just may push you to your fastest long run ever without you even knowing it! :-) And just might become a great friend as well!
Happy Running!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The inner dialogue of a fast run

As I have been going through this training cycle, with an intent to PR, I have been sticking to my plan and doing (mostly) what my coach has been telling me to. I have done speed work, intervals, tempo runs, lactate threshold runs, hill repeats, marathon pace runs, half-marathon pace runs, slow runs, and recovery runs. BUT at the beginning of the week I was definitely feeling some serious self-doubt. Did I work hard enough? Was I actually improving? Could I actually do this?

I knew I needed to get a strong run to rebuild my confidence. So I hit up a really fast buddy of mine (think sub 3 hour marathoner) and asked if he would run with me. I told him I needed to do a run between a 7:15 and 7:25 pace, which has historically been hard for me for anything longer than a 5k. He said sure, we agreed on a place and time and away we went.

One mile warm-up on my way to meet him: Thinking to myself... "What did I get myself into, he's so fast, I am going to die and he's going to think I am a mess"

Meet-up: Outwardly "Hey, Hi, Ready... Let's go" Idle chit-chat ladeeda. Inner monologue "Oh SHIT, what did I just get myself into. I am going to die, nope, no death today. I've got this. I am not going to die... Okay.. here we go..."

Mile 1: Outwardly: Idle chit chat about his latest marathon, sizing up whether I would like to do it or not. Inwardly "Oh boy: 6:50 pace... I might actually die. Butttt I am getting words out coherently, so maybe just maybe I won't die... I hope I don't die. It's only mile 1... okay... think positive, you feel okay so far. Keep him chatting, it will distract you from the pace"

Mile 2: Outwardly, occasional phrase slips out, loosing the ability to talk. Inwardly: I'm not dead yet, look down at the watch, Holy ShitBalls still doing 6:50. Okay.. I mean three more miles after this... but this may be manageable. Oh wait, its getting dark.. I don't have my contacts in and my night vision is a bit blurry. Okay ask him to let me know if anything is coming up I need to avoid.. I think that was a full sentence.. if not he gets the point. Okay.. concentrate on not concentrating.. You can do this. 

Mile 3: Outwardly: Ya, talking is NOT happening. Inwardly: Slowing down, 6:58. Starting to feel this, yup, legs are still moving fast but also starting to feel a little heavy. But it's not too bad. It's only two more miles. I mean, what's two miles.. nothing... you've got this!"

Mile 4: Outwardly: " I really hate my life right now" got muttered at some point. Inwardly: Yup, def loosing it. 7:00 min pace... definitely falling apart. Oh no.. I can't fall apart. I mean I did say two miles was nothing... WHAT WAS I THINKING! Two miles is awful! This is awful.... no... no... this is GREAT. Think Positive. The snow is falling, I am running fast, oops.. I think I just ran in front of a car.. good thing I have lights on. This is why driver's hate runners. Oh Shit, slowing down.. speed back up.. Oh YA, now I'm rocking again"

Mile 5: Outwardly: Nada, Nothing, Zip, Zilch Inwardly: " Yup I am dying. Look down 7:15 SHIT I slowed down. How much left .8 miles, okay it's just .8 I can do it. Head up, legs moving, lets go Hinton! Look Down .65 miles.. I only went .15???? Noooooo. Okay.. Only a little over a half mile. It's okay, I got this. Running Running ladeedadada, Look down .5 miles... Holy F*&k, I am going to die. I am dying, it's official, my legs are going to fall off. Okay. That's it I am not looking down again at my watch. Well just a glance .3 okay it's .3, Okay, he's telling me we are almost done. Okay, I've got this. SHIT .25 still. I only went .5 AHHHH. When is the end, block after block, WHY ISN'T MY WATCH BEEPING YET??? Wait, that was it! It beeped! I'm DONE! 

Done: Outwardly: High five, keep my cool, Thanks for helping me. That was awesome. Great Run! Inwardly: I am putting every wide receiver in the NFL to shame with my "Hell ya look at me go" dance. It's a combo of the Dab, the Twerk, the twist, and the wave. It is pretty spectacular.

And now to a nice cool down mile. Oh yea, 7:53 is a cool down after that. And there is that runner's high. Ready for some food and beer. MMMMM

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

31 Days Until Race Day

One month = 31 days = 754 hours... then 15 weeks of hard work will be put to the test. Not that I am counting or anything. 
So in 2015 I didn't try to set any speed PR's, at least in that I didn't do speed training, and all that good stuff that comes with setting PR's. Actually in 2015 I ended up with a decent quantity of races and a distance PR. I did 3 full marathons (two which I was a pacer for), 3 50k's and my biggest distance yet, 100k. Just through sheer dumb luck and a lot of miles on my legs, I did manage a marathon PR of 3:33 and two first place overall female 50k finishes. But that was due to running 60-85 miles per week and doing insane back to back long runs (ie: 25 miles on Saturday then 20-30 miles on Sunday. OUCH!)

So this year, 2016, I decided I am going with less quantity and more quality. So I am starting the year off with my first full of the year and with a  goal to PR. And of course, trying to avoid the heat that May races bring ( I don't do well in heat), that meant an early spring marathon. And due to work obligations it needed to be driving distance. So of course that limited the selection and the one that got picked.. Charlottesvile VA. A hilly course. Of course I would pick a hilly course to try to PR on. I believe my exact phrase when me and my training partners were discussing it was "We are going to EARN that sub 3:30". Yeah, now 11 weeks into the training plan... I am getting slightly concerned. 

So for the last 11 weeks I have done speed work, intervals, tempo runs, hill repeats, marathon pace runs on hills, marathon pace runs on flat, slow runs, and slower runs. I have run 5 days a week, lifted 2 days a week, swam 2 days a week and even (for the first time EVER in my running career) built in stretching as a daily occurrence. I even asked a good buddy of mine (who is ridiculously fast) to coach me. Then I grabbed two of my favorite running people ever and we slugged through the runs, encouraging each other, helping each other reach new paces and abilities. 
So now there is 31 days left. Monday I did my last BIG track workout of the season after work and It. Was. Tough. My legs were tired from a fastish long run Saturday then a trail run Sunday. Then this morning I got up at 5 am and met a friend for a 6 mile hill run through a close-by neighborhood, and after work I hit the gym for a full body lift and long swim. This of course having become a typical beginning of the week, I realized I am ready for this training cycle to wind down.  Don't get me wrong, I genuinely enjoy speed work!! It is SOOO hard, but the feeling of pushing through the hurt to get to the finish faster than you thought you could is always worth it. Plus, I have always thought that speed work is kind of like an instant "Bad Ass Badge". I also genuinely enjoy lifting and swimming (there will be another blog about that later). So now thinking about this marathon,  most of the work has been put in. I am ready to finish up these last few hard weeks with fast runs and to get to the taper. According to coach I have two more fast runs this week, and then everything after this will mostly be race pace intervals and runs. 
I also give up "unnecessary sugars" ie: donuts, cookies, candies, chocolate bars, cupcakes, etc the final month before the race.  I caught myself with a package of whoppers in my hand around 11:00 am, then realized I was about to demolish them and put them back in the candy bin. No sugars is hard for me! But it has purpose in my training. 

SO I guess what I am saying is I am hoping and praying that I can hold it together for another 31 days and that all this hard work pays off. So if anyone see's me in the next 31 days, give a shout out! And if you see me with sweets, quickly grab it from me and run while yelling it's for my own good :-) 

Happy Running and Be Not Afraid of Hard Work. Because like me, you have to believe it will pay off!