January 28, 2011

Running on empty

I'm just completing my third week of half marathon training, and man, I am exhausted. I do nothing but work, train and sleep. In the last three weeks, I've been snowed in twice, and I was assigned an incredibly stressful and time-consuming project at work. Finding time to train would be hard under normal circumstances, but with these added obstacles, it's been a miracle for me to get my miles in. I was diehard at first, running on the snow and ice to meet my goals. But after three weeks of walking around like a zombie, I've missed two or three days of weekday training. BUT, I've already run 31 miles this month (and I have a 5-miler tomorrow {Eek!}), which is more than I've ever run in any month ever.

Before I started training, I was running about 2-3 times a week and doing nothing else. Now I have 6 days of activity, whether it's running, cross training or yoga class, and my body is feeling the strain. I'm following Hal Higdon's half marathon training plan for beginners, but I've altered it to fit my schedule -- making my long runs on Saturday, since that's when the race is, and adjusting some of the days so I can go to speed training with a local running group and hit a Sunday afternoon hot yoga class to stretch out the kinks after my longest run of the week. Here's my plan below (hopefully you can click on the image to see it larger). I followed Hal's schedule for one week before realizing it didn't fit with what I need, so that's why the first week is a little weird compared to the rest.

Because I'm serious about being able to run all the way through this nightmare my goal, I've decided that snow isn't going to stop me from training anymore. Already this year, I've seen too many of these days, when I can't drive anywhere and the roads are too slick for running.

So now this baby greets me every time I come home, and there's no excuse not to lace up my shoes.

And now I know why people call it the dreadmill. Probably doesn't help that the only place I have space for it is in my garage, so I get to spend 3.5 miles staring at my lawnmower.

Tomorrow I have a 5-mile run on the schedule, which is farther than I've ever tried to run. I'm nervous about being able to make it all the way, but at least I'll be able to enjoy an abnormally warm day of 65 degrees and sunshine before we have another snowstorm next week. It helps that this little fortune is stuck to the fridge with my training schedule, always reminding me to push through the pain and stick with my plans.

Happy weekend, y'all!

January 20, 2011

The grass is greener

Today, in a feeble attempt to preserve my sanity and to keep myself from fleeing to the southernmost tip of Florida, I am thinking of happier things. Instead of January, I am thinking of June. Patiently waiting for a time when temperatures will be higher than the wind speed. Picturing myself here.

Instead of here.

Back at Flamenco Beach, where the sand is as white as my husband and life is perfect.

A time of sundresses, flip flops, open sunroofs and green leaves. When the whole neighborhood smells like fresh cut grass and charcoal smoke.

When Country Time lemonade commercials come on every five minutes and the sight of kids jumping in a lake brings tears of joy to my eyes.

When we sit on the swing outside and watch the hummingbirds bicker until the bats come out.

And every weekend smells like Hawaiian Tropic instead of Vicks VapoRub.

Not a photo of me.

In the summertime, the grass is greener and I can run in the daylight until almost 9:00 p.m. I can run down my favorite path without fear of slipping on ice or freezing my nose off.

So even though it's months away, I'm (im)patiently waiting for June. When I can actually follow my training plan instead of being snowed in and I can run whenever and wherever I want.

And then I'll blog about being too hot.

*Special thanks to Lawgirl for tagging me with the Stylish Blogger Award! I'm not sure what it means, but I'm happy about it!

January 11, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside

Training for my first half marathon officially began this week, and it coincided with our first snowstorm of the year. Here in Arkansas, we are experiencing sub-zero windchills and more snow than we know what to do with. I worked from home yesterday because I can get much more done that way, but today I didn't have another choice. Roads were icy and slick, and since I already had my laptop at home, there was no reason to risk driving to the office. But after two full days of being here with two whiny dogs who don't want to stay inside but don't want to go out in the cold either, I was going stir CRAZY, and I went for my first snowy run.

Since I was home in the middle of the day, I was able to run in the daylight, which is a novelty lately, and even though it was wicked cold, the sun was shining bright and melting the snow a little bit. When I left, it was 19 degrees with a windchill of NINE. I bundled up in my warmest running clothes - two pairs of socks, the best pants on earth - Nike dri-fit thermals, a toboggan covered with a fleece headband, my super warm running jacket from Target and one of Trea's Buffs. So what if I couldn't move my head? At least it was warm.

As soon as I stepped outside, I realized the roads were worse than I thought, and I immediately began to worry about slipping and falling. But according to Hal, I had 3 miles to run, and I was too afraid to try driving to the gym. I walked very carefully around my neighborhood until I found a dry stretch of road that was in direct sunlight. It was only about 0.15 miles of snow/ice-free surface, so I just ran back and forth until I got my 3 miles in. And it was mostly a hill, so...bonus points for hill training. I'm sure the neighbors thought I was crazy running back and forth up the same stretch of road, but everywhere that was shaded by trees was covered in snow and ice.

My weather.com app did a great job of terrifying me of the risks of frostbite, which is why I opted for the Buff. It actually worked pretty well at keeping my face warm - until it froze from the steam from my breath. And then it was like wearing a big fat ice necklace. Thank goodness I didn't have to go more than 3 miles!

I haven't been running much the last month or so because of a minor knee injury, so my weekly mileage has been crazy low. One of the most important rules of running, I'm told, is to increase mileage by only 10% each week to avoid injury. So because I've only been logging about 5-6 miles a week, I can't just dive right into my training as I'd hoped. Hal's plan calls for 12 miles in the first week, which would more than double my mileage. Not smart to do this probably, so I ran/walked the last mile today, and I'll be hitting the gym more frequently these first couple of weeks for some elliptical action and stationary bike training. According to Coach Pink Girl, this will give me the cardio, leg work and mileage without pounding my knees.  

My snowy run wasn't ideal. It wasn't comfortable. My pace was ridiculous because I walked so much to keep from slipping on ice. But I felt so good for getting out there and sticking to my plan. So bring it on, Old Man Winter. I have 81 days to train, and it's gonna take more than a little wintry mix to slow me down.

January 2, 2011

Get geared up

I am not a zen runner. I do not simply walk out the door with no watch and no music and run until I feel like I've run enough. I set goals, I obsess over weather preparation and I take a lot of crap with me. A lot.

Things were simpler when the weather was warm. But now I have to make sure I have a light to see since it's dark all the time, wear a headband over my ears, sometimes layered with a warm hat, gloves, vest, etc. While some might view this as a weakness and think I should just get myself out the door and deal with it, my level of comfort is of the utmost importance when I'm running. If my gear isn't right, I break down.

Today, I intended to run two miles. But the moment I got out of the car, I knew I was going to have a bad run solely because of the headband I chose. Instead of wearing a hat layered over a Bondi Band, like I normally do when it's 35-ish degrees, I opted for a cheap fleece headband only. Big mistake. It was too loose, so it did nothing to protect my wimpy ears from the freezing wind. And it was just loose enough to tug my headphones out of my ears every time I took a step. (How can Apple produce some of the world's greatest gadgets but fail at designing earphones?!) So I ran one angry mile - fighting with my earphones and headband the entire way, dreading the cold-induced earache that I knew was coming - and gave up in frustration and went home. That headband is dead to me now. 

So even though it might take me 20 minutes to get myself put together for a run, it's well worth it to me. Here is only a sampling of my winter gear - hat, Bondi Band, Road ID, Garmin, headlight, and of course my music.

Of all the things I must take with me, my music is the most important, ya know, other than shoes and clothing. I listen to music constantly whether I'm driving or cooking or cleaning house, and I run better when I have a good song to motivate me. I use music sort of as an incentive or reward for running. When I hear a song I love on the radio in the car, I turn it off, buy it on my iPhone and I don't let myself listen to it unless I run. It's my version of a dangling carrot. Also, I don't let myself listen to my favorite running songs any other time besides when I'm running so I won't get tired of them too quickly. This is a money-saving incentive so I'm not buying music for new playlists every other week. So...here are a few of my latest favorites.

1. My Body by Young the Giant - All I could find on YouTube is the live version, but it's still awesome. The lyrics are perfect to make me pick up my pace!

2. Down by Jay Sean - I first heard this song when I saw the Pink Glove Dance video. Who couldn't love this?

3. Ours by The Bravery - I liked this one so much I had to buy the entire Eclipse soundtrack to get it. Yuck.

4. Bang Pop by Free Energy - Remember bad videos from the '80s? Yeah, so do these guys.

5. Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap - This would've been perfect for a Brat Pack movie.

6. Love the Way You Lie by Eminem feat. Rihanna - PARENTAL ADVISORY. It's Eminem; what did you expect?


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