July 29, 2011


I haven't posted in a while because...I'm too hot. It's too hot to take out the kayak, too hot to ride my bike, too hot to walk from the parking lot to the office. Too. Hot. I can't remember the last time I arrived at work without my clothes stuck to me. We all know this summer has been miserable.

BUT! I've braved the elements before to stick with my training plan, and I'll do it again. Technically, I don't start training for my first marathon for another two weeks. But the plan is going to be tough, and I've been training harder and building up my mileage just so I'll be ready for week one. I'll be following the Run Less, Run Faster plan (I'll post my detailed plan soon), and it calls for three days of running at a specified pace and at least two days of cross training.

I don't cross train, and I don't think I've ever successfully exercised more than four days a week on a regular basis. Training is time consuming, and with both Trea and I working and taking care of our home and trying to have some semblance of a life, there just aren't enough hours in a day. But 26.2 is a big deal, and I know I have to push myself to work out on days that I don't feel like it. As That Pink Girl says, if you want to be successful on race day, you have to pay the man. Put in the miles. No shortcuts. So a few weeks ago, I started cross training.

Before I started doing longer mileage and pushing myself hard to follow the RLRF plan, I wanted to ease my body into a new schedule. I kept my mileage low (not necessarily on purpose) and started running three days a week and taking a spin class two days a week for cross training, just like the plan says. It has been SO HARD. Being active for that many days, working new muscles, trying to add in speed work...it's all been quite an adjustment. But I'm getting used to it, and I think I'll be ready to start my training plan and stick with it in two weeks.

And I learned that I LOVE spin class! I have a bike, but I'm too lazy to load it in the car and drive somewhere that I can actually ride it since my streets are too curvy and narrow and dangerous, so it mostly just sits in the garage. Unless I'm snowed in. Spin class seemed like the perfect cross training option since I'm a terrible swimmer and I need to build up my quads anyway. Plus, it's an excuse to workout in air conditioning instead of outside on the surface of the sun. Trea goes with me, and we push ourselves incredibly hard every single class, and I can tell it's making me stronger. And it's fun!

Spin class
Yes, I'm a nerdy blogger and made Trea take my picture in the spinning room.

It was so terribly uncomfortable at first, um, in places where I'm not used to having pain. But a gel seat cover solved that problem (mostly), so now I look forward to class, and I'm always proud of myself for doing more than just running and working harder to get in shape.

Do you spin? Ride a real bike? What do you do to cross train? 

July 14, 2011

An extreme test of my physical and mental limits

I do believe I've lost my mind.

I have entered a race that required me to sign the scariest waiver I've ever seen. I have agreed to participate in an event that promises to be a "hazardous activity...an extreme test of my physical and mental limits that carries with it inherent risks of physical injury that cannot be eliminated completely, including but not limited to an above-average risk of death and/or serious injury."

To do this race, you also have to be cool with "close proximity and/or contact with thick smoke and/or open flames...inadequate competition equipment and/or equipment failure." Contact with open flames?? Yes, this is a fabulous idea. In fact, I should PAY someone to LET me take these risks. I have most certainly lost my mind.

On September 17, I will be participating in the Hillbilly Porkchop Roundup 5K River Run in Fort Smith.

Judging from the last event's photos, there promises to be more mud than open flames.

In just a couple of short months, I will be climbing a rope cargo net, getting sprayed by a water cannon, swinging on a rope like Tarzan (or Jane) and crawling through the mud. There are 16 obstacles on the 3.1 mile course. The description for number 16 simply says, "If I told you, you wouldn't do it! Don't ask!" I'll assume that's the one with fire.

Why would I sign up for this? Well...because all the other kids are doing it. I'll be on a team with the NWA Jogaholics, my favorite running buddies. So at least if I come in contact with open flames, someone will be there to put me out.

July 13, 2011

A change of scenery

This unbearable heat wave has made it simply too hot to run, so I've headed for the hills. Trail running is my new favorite thing to do.

I discovered trail running last summer, but I never really embraced it until 100-degree temperatures forced me into the shade. I run in the evenings during the week, and it's still blazing hot on the road at 6:30 p.m. But trails offer a smidgen of relief, and having to watch every step I take so I don't face plant over a tree root keeps things exciting.

Also? They're gorgeous.

Trail running

When I run on the road, I get bored easily. I rely on my iPod to keep my feet moving, and I check my Garmin about every 30 seconds. I have never finished my run and thought, "Bummer, I'm sad those 4 miles are over. I really want to keep going." It's always a countdown until I can stop, breathe normally and chug chocolate milk.

But on the trails, I never listen to music. I focus on every footfall to maintain my balance, dodging rocks, roots and tree branches. I trudge up hills and fly down the other side. I startle squirrels, and mountain bikers startle me. There's no time to check my Garmin because I might trip and fall. Plus, I already know it says I'm going terribly slow. I don't worry about my pace on the trail. I trot more than I run, and I consider it a success if I run the whole way without walking or falling down. I usually run with Trea, but I've never ventured into the woods alone just yet. I need someone to lead and break through the spiderwebs.

Trail running

Trail runs are also fun as a group. It's a single track, and we run single file. It's an excellent excuse to get together with friends and forget about who's fast and who's slow (me!). We moan and groan on the tough sections, take wrong turns occasionally, but we always have fun.

Trail running

This change of scenery is exactly what I've been needing!

July 5, 2011

4 on the 4th

Is there anything in this world better than shiny new shoes? I don't think so. I have had a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 10's since last summer, and they have served me well. For a while, I tried switching them out occasionally with Nike Frees to build up my strength in my calves and feet, but I haven't run in my Frees or anything else in several months.

When I was training for the Bentonville Half Marathon in the spring, I started getting blisters on my right foot any time I ran more than 4 miles. At the time, my shoes weren't worn out yet, and I don't know what was causing it, but I've been very much looking forward to getting new shoes in hopes that it would solve the problem. My old Brooks have somewhere in the neighborhood of 330-ish miles on them, so I helped myself to a shiny new pair on Friday!

New shoes

I love the color, love the fit, and they felt great walking around the store. The sales guy told me all about some new technology that Brooks used in the Adrenalines this year, something about a gel that's firm when it should be and will also be soft when it needs to be. All I really absorbed is that this year's model is available in better colors. Red! So I have been impatiently waiting until Trea and I had the time and energy for a run during the long holiday weekend. We got up early yesterday with plans to run 6 miles.

We had a thunderstorm over night, so everything outside was damp and the day wasn't hot yet. More storms were coming, so the clouds spared us from the sun and we were hoping to finish up before we got rained on. We tried a different route, so I was extra excited about the change of scenery. I set out in my shiny new shoes and felt good for about 2 minutes. I looked down at my Garmin, and I was barely moving. My feet felt like lead. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. The weather was perfect and I felt good, but I just couldn't make my legs go. Pretty soon, my feet started to cramp, along with my calves.

I made it only half a mile before I had to take both shoes off and stretch my miserable cramping feet. That helped for a while, but I continued to have to stop and walk. At one point, a few of my toes went numb and I was getting angrier and angrier. I wanted so badly to run. The rest of me felt good, but my feet refused to cooperate. Also, I had just spent a sizable chunk of cash on shoes that seemed pretty useless.

Halfway through the run, I gave up. My feet were cramping again, so I just turned around and started walking back toward the car. Fuming. I still didn't feel like I should be finished running and was so frustrated. After walking for a few minutes, my feet had calmed down, even though I hadn't. I took off running again, hoping to at least make it a four-mile day. About that time, there was a rumble of thunder and the skies opened. Fantastic. Just when my run couldn't get any worse. I looked around for a place to take shelter so my iPod wouldn't get ruined, but didn't really want to stop and sit out the storm. So I kept running...and realized a cool rain shower felt kind of nice. I stowed my iPod in my SPIbelt with my sport beans and ran listening to the rain in the trees. Surprisingly, my feet felt OK, and for a few minutes, everything was peaceful.

We ran by a little creek through a park and saw a HUGE bullfrog hopping down the path in front of us. As we got closer, he took a big leap and jumped over the tall bank into the creek, making us both giggle at how silly his giant feet and legs looked when he took a dive. My awful run somehow became a happy run, and I learned that when it's warm outside, I love running in the rain.

We finished up at 4 miles instead of 6, but it felt like enough for my feet. I'm still not sure why a new model of  the same shoe would feel so awful, but I'm hoping I just need to break them in or get used to them. I'll give them another try before giving up. And hopefully it'll rain.


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