Friday, December 9, 2011

So much has happened

If October was an emotionally demanding month, November turned into a physically and mentally demanding one.
Mob The Comet Alzheimer's Bike Ride
Finding a new home in the 'burbs
Going to work early in the mornings and working at lunch on Phillip's birthday presents 
Spending a week making decorations and napkins for our Thanksgiving dinner
Early Thanksgiving with friends at our downtown home. (Thanks Mary!)
Phillip and Katie's birthday dinner in Atlanta a few days early
My last day at Color Wheel
Phillip's birthday dinner on his actual birthday at Casa Mexicana in Cape Girardeau
Thanksgiving in Sikeston
Family Pictures after Thanksgiving
Packing up all our stuff
Moving into our new place
And throughout all of this, studying for the GRE

What does this have to do with running?   It's possible that throughout all this running might have gotten the boot.

Ok.  That's not entirely true.  I did manage to get in 9 runs. To be honest, with as much that happened in November, even getting in 9 runs is ok with me.  But I've got serious making up to do in December.  Fo sho.  And it ain't going to be pretty. 

End of November stats:
Total miles run in November:  36.0 (down 51.4% since October.  Dang.)
Farthest distance in November:  6.23 miles ran plus a 20 miles bike ride
Total miles since August:  265
Total calories burned since August: 24,520

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Keep On Keeping On

What a month October has been.  New changes have been decided on, some have been acted on, and in the meantime, we kept on running.

On the 22nd, we ran in the Oakland Cemetery's Run Like Hell 5k.  As part of the Halloween spirit, we all dressed up.
Thanks Joshua!
The looks on everyone's faces when they saw our Jackie Moon look-a-likes, priceless.

Lessons Learned from Injury #3:  Do not attempt to turn around to talk to your friend amid a crowded street, just after missing a tree in the face, and not seeing the approaching curb.  You will stumble, fall, and scrape your hand.

Injury #2 is slowly but surely healing.  It finally just looks like a long scratch on my arm.  Injury #1 is barely visible.  Yay!

The following day was the long 10-mile run.  Remembering our previous 10-miler made this one feel a bit daunting.  I just felt so tired the entire run, and was nervous for this one.

In trying something new, we sipped on Gatorade during the run instead of water.  I personally don't enjoy drinking Gatorade while working out, but I was willing to try anything to keep up my energy, and had a 1/2 water and 1/2 Gatorade mixture.  I also tried little energy bites that I would eat every 15 minutes or so.  Phillip wasn't as much of a fan of the little bites, and stuck to his Gatorade.  I was surprised by how much they really did help, and will definitely continue this new tactic on the long runs.

Now what I need to figure out is a good recipe for sports drinks and energy bites that I can make myself so I know exactly what I'm putting in my body.  Until then, Gatorade will have to suffice.

A few more runs throughout the week, and here we are, back at Sunday.  We decided on going on long runs every other weekend until we're more comfortable with those distances, meaning we have this weekend "off".  And we almost really did take the weekend off.

Until today when I guilt tripped myself into going for one. 

You know when you know you need to do something, and you just don't want to do it, but realize that's the time when you really need to?  Yep.  It happens.

And for the best.  My run today was the best paced run I've had in quite some time.  Maybe it had to do with running mid-afternoon.  Maybe it's because it was surprisingly nice outside.  Whatever it was, it worked.  It worked great.

Great for Phillip, too.  He was totally going to skip out as well, but luckily for him, when I got home and told him how I did, it seemed to guilt trip inspire him, leading to his own great run.  Awesome!

Tomorrow is the last day of October!  It's doubtful that I'll get another run in.  I have to dress up in my costume for work, and it's likely to take all morning to get ready.

Which leads me to my end of the month stats!

Total miles run in October:  74.1 (up 23.3% since September!)
Farthest distance in October:  10 miles
Total miles since August:  209
Total calories burned since August: 20,344 (yeah, baby)

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What a week

Thanks Katie!
What a busy and emotional week this has been.  Last week Saturday was just loaded with things to do.  We had the Walk to End Alzheimers in the morning, that afternoon Phillip went off to donate blood while I had to go work at a festival for a few hours, and then we spent the evening with his sister and her boyfriend.  No time for a run at all. 

Then Sunday rolls around, and so does a 10 mile run.  I figured that 10 miles would be a piece of cake if the week before I ran 9 and felt awesome after.  Phillip was able to join me, and we decided to keep this long run interesting by driving up to Marietta and running up there. 

We started off great.  We stopped early on at the Kennesaw Mountain Visitor's Center for a quick bathroom break.  10 miles is a long run, so we figured it would be a good idea to empty our bladders before we started our trek. 

Unfortunately, within 20 minutes or so we had to alter our course to find the nearest bathroom to stop again.  Stupid bladder. 

With that taken care of, the rest of the run was just looooonng.  (I say this now.  Just wait til I start running 20+ miles.) On top of that, there's just no way to avoid hills.  They suck.  Until you're done with your run and realize hills are actually good for you. 

Long runs like this one gives you a lot of time to think.  So many thoughts went through my head.  What am I going to be for Halloween?  What do I get to eat after I'm done?  Why does this run suck so much?  That kind of stuff.  I did realize that my 9 mile run the week before was so great because I ran on about as flat of a trail/road as I could find in Georgia.  Dang.  Stupid hills.

After the grueling 1 hour 53 minute run was over, we met up with Phillip's dad at Waffle House, where we promptly scarfed down an omelette, hasbrowns, and half a waffle each.  It was so good.  Then, hot tub!  It does a body good.

Alas, 10 miles really pushes your body to do things it doesn't normally do.  Phillip and I both felt the after-effects of it for days after.  Our bodies were just so tired.  I was falling asleep much early at night and having a real hard time getting up in the mornings.  I couldn't muster up any energy until Wednesday to go for a run, and even then it was just 2 miles. 

On top of that, Phillip has been busy looking into grad schools, while I had an incredibly emotional week of work that caused a chain reaction of figuring out my next step.  Unfortunately, I've found that this kind of stress can be really un-motivating.  I had no desire all week to get on my running shoes and get out the door.

It wasn't until Friday that I managed another run, with it being only 4 miles.  But remember:  No run is too short!  While my 2 and 4 mile runs were nowhere near what I should have run, they were better than none at all.  Right?

It's now Saturday, and we have another busy day ahead of us.  I'm going to try to in squeeze another short run today in anticipation of a possible 10 mile run tomorrow. (Already? Dang.)


In other news, injury #1 for Phillip is slowly but surely healing.  He's back to running! Injury #1 for me is also almost completely healed.  Just a bit of a scar showing. 

I might have already earned injury #2...only a week after getting injury #1.  It's possible that it was also acquired while on a run with our dog, who got spooked by another dog and her leash somehow caused a rope burn on my arm.  Very unsightly.  And very slow to heal.  A week later and it's only now starting to scab. 

I'm going to have to keep a chart on my fridge to keep track of how many running related injuries I get throughout this whole training process. The ones that are conincendentally acquired whilst running with the pups gets an extra star. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Early Days, Cooler Runs

The weather has a crisp breeze in the air, the leaves are starting to turn colors, the sun rises later and sets earlier.  Fall is upon us.

Running in the cooler weather has brought much needed satisfaction in improvement.  I no longer feel like I want to die five minutes in.  I can run a consistent, moderate pace the duration of however many miles I run in a day.  It feels great.

I do miss summer, with the long days, the warm sun, the carefree feeling of the season.  I don't miss the serious heat, the humidity, the mosquitos.  Who am I kidding, I still have to deal with the mosquitos.  Bah.

I'm typically out the door by 6:45 a.m. on my run days.  Seriously?  Yes.  My work schedule is such that I get extra time in the morning to get a run in, but in turn, I get home later in the evening than I'd like.  I've tried running after work, but I'm not a fan of spending what little time I have already on an hour of running.  Plus, working with kids all day leaves you drained.  So, my solution is to get up early and go.


With the sun rising later and later, it can still be pretty dark when I'm on the road.  I have to admit, the early morning foggy mist is pretty cool.

The downside to all of this is come the weekend, all I want to do is sleep in.  Oh, sleep.  Oh, comfortable bed.  Oh, warm blanket.  How I love you all.

The downside to sleeping in is the long runs that have to get done.  And with all our roadtrips behind us, no more excuses.

Today's goal:  9 miles.  Total miles: 9.16.  Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes.  I broke my normal 10 minute pace!  I felt great the entire run and could have kept going.

Phillip's goal was just to slowly get back into running.  His total miles: 7.24.  Total time: 1 hour and 5 minutes.  Phillip's pace broke 9 minutes.  Even with a sore knee he's still faster than me. 

And now, I'm beat.  Can't get off the couch tired.  And bloated.  Ugh.  And have been super hungry all day.  Dang.  I'm very concerned of the forewarned weight gain that comes with marathon training. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Battle Wounds

After our first 9 mile run, we were pooped.  Tired.  I took the next run-day off.  Two days just weren't enough time for me to recover.  Phillip, however, knocked out 4 miles.  The next day, we joined a pick up game of soccer.

And then it happened.

After a quick bite to eat after the game in downtown Marietta, we started towards our car to go home.  All of a sudden, Phillip feels a pain in his knee.  His knee goes out.  He can't walk.  He has to lean on me in order to walk across the street to our car.  Oh no, this isn't good.  About a year and a half ago, Phillip had the same thing happen during a game of soccer and was out of commission for weeks.

Spending the next two weeks taking time to ice his knee and rest, he hasn't been on a run until today.  But he's back baby.  And he's got me being over-protective, giving him those looks only a teacher can give and reminding him to take it slow.  He'll be kicking my butt in no time.

Meanwhile, I've been keeping to the training program as much as possible.  Weekend runs have been out, due to lots of road trips, but starting this weekend, no more excuses.

Every once in a while during my morning runs, I'll bring along our dog Odette for a bit of exercise.

This past Tuesday I was on a 5 mile run, with Odette by my side.  My run took me to the main road just outside our neighborhood.  On the sidewalk right where I came out of is a section that is difficult to pass through.  One side of the sidewalk is blocked by a lamp post; two feet away there is a large metal box of sorts blocking the other side.  Not much room to get by with more than one person.  I look down at Odette to make sure she had enough room.  I see that she does.

And then it happened.

As I run by, I feel an incredibly sharp, intense pain on my shoulder.  I look up, and discover attached to the lamp post is a metal box.  My shoulder discovered the corner of said box.  My shirt has a quarter sized hole in the sleeve.  I try my best not to cry as I push through and keep running.

At a stop light, I check out the damage.  Oh man.  I did pretty good.

You can already see a bruise forming.

During my lunch, I was curious to see how much this new injury of mine had progressed.  It got all shades of reds and purples in a hurry. 

My kids at work got a good kick out of it.

After a bit of a peroxide wash, along with neosporin and band-aids, my shoulder is healing quite nicely.  The bruise is slowly fading and the scratch is starting to close up.

I'm happy to say that Odette made it through the whole incident unscathed.

As this is the end of the month:

Natalie's stats:
Total miles ran in September - 60.1
Total miles since August 2011 - 135
Total calories burned - 12,944 

Thanks RunKeeper!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It Starts

The thing about running is, the first time you try it, you're either going to like it or hate it.  For those of you who like it, great.  If you're like me, you might not like the fact that 2 minutes in you are panting for breath, looking at your watch thinking 'It's only been 2 minutes?!', take a walk break, and continue in such a manner until you decide it's been long enough and finish gracefully.

The next day, what do you do?  Do you quit?  Give up?  Realize that running is no fun?  Or do you realize that it was only Day 1, and it can only get better from here?

It will get better.  It has gotten better.  Here's what I've learned.

Lesson 1:  You have to keep running

When I started running consistently back in January, I had to run almost every day in order to kick butt at my 5k in March.  I started out barely able to run up a hill (and there are a lot of hills in Georgia), and gradually became one of the fastest runners in my training group.  It took 6 weeks, but it felt great when I crossed the finish line at my race knowing all that work paid off.

It's been months since that first race, with two more in between, and here we are training for our first marathon.  It's not until April 2012, and here it is September, but you better believe that we have already started now. 

Since Phillip and I started seriously training in August, there were a few attempts at running 7 and 8 miles, but our bodies just weren't having it.

Instead of forcing something my body wasn't ready for, I scaled back and focused on being able to run the shorter distances to gain endurance.  In doing that, Phillip and I were able to run our first 9 miles last week. 

Silver Comet Trail
Granted, those 9 miles were on the Silver Comet Trail, with such a slight increase in elevation that you really don't notice.  We'll just call it flat.  I had forgotten what it's like to run on flat land.

Lesson 2: No run is too small

After finishing the 5k in March, I gradually stopped running as much, despite having a 10k to train for in July.  Once the 10k had passed, I almost stopped running altogether.  Bad idea. 

We signed up for the marathon, and made ourselves put our running shoes back on.  I got so frustrated because I had such a hard time running at a decent pace.  I kept having to stop to walk, and I felt like my legs were full of lead.  I hated feeling like I was holding Phillip back.  What had happened?  It was like my body just lost the ability to run.  My training program wanted me to run 6, 7, 8 miles, but I could barely run 3 without stopping. 

Instead of giving up, I scaled it back.  I started running 2, 3, and 4 miles.  I still had to stop to walk, but I kept with it.  Eventually my endurance improved, along with my pace, and I could run the entire time without stopping. 

Running, even if only for a short bit, is better than none at all.  They all add up in the end.

Lesson 3: Record your runs

Find a way to hold yourself accountable for all your runs.  Having some visual of what you've already done will really help to get you to your goal. 

 I have a training program on my fridge so I see it everyday. 

For my 5k, I would mark off every run in sharpie with a sense of accomplishment. 

Now, Phillip and I keep track of everything on RunKeeper.  This site is awesome.  It's easy to create and save routes so I know exactly how far I'll be running.  It calculates my calories burned and keeps track of the total miles I've run for each week, month, and since I signed up.  I can make comments for each activity, which I actually do.  The difference in the comments from the earlier runs and now are amazing.  Before I would vent about all my frustrations, whereas now I'm glowing and keep saying I'm having great runs.  Talk about motivation to keep going. 

Lesson 4: Your feet are your friends

Treat your feet well.  Buy good shoes.  Go to a specialty running store and have them test you on a treadmill so they can help you find the best shoe for your feet.  Do it.  Your feet with thank you.

These shoes are no good. My poor feet...

So much better.

Lesson 5: Keep hydrated!

The first 7 mile attempt was in the middle of the day with temperatures in the mid- to upper-90's.  In my naivety, I didn't bring any water.  None. 

Luckily, my run took me to a park that had water fountains.  If it hadn't, I don't know if I would've made it home.

After that, I vowed never to leave home without water again.  I invested in a water bottle that straps to your hand and haven't looked back. 

A good rule of thumb that I've read many times is to always drink before you're thirsty.  Whatever your drink of choice is, make sure you always bring it with you, even on those short runs, and drink it!

I'm no pro.  I'm still working out all the kinks.  I've read about sports gels, certain things to eat before and after a run, how to improve speed.  Oh man.  There's so much out there written up on this.  This is certainly going to be an interesting experiment. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

How it all came about.

Back in early 2010, I was tired of sitting in my apartment like a lazy bum.  Feeling sorry for myself, mindlessly browsing the internet, I stumbled on the idea of running a marathon.  A marathon?  Sure, I shrugged.

This was back in the early days of my budding relationship with Phillip.  Back when anything I asked, Phillip would jump at the chance to do with me.  And vise versa.  (Luckily, this is still very much the case.)  So I asked if he'd like to do run a marathon with me.  Yes! he replied.

After thinking about this, I decided perhaps I should figure out if I can run a 5k first.  I mean, come on, a marathon?  Running 26.2 miles?  Without stopping?  Yeah.  Probably  not.

The one that started it all.

The marathon idea was scrapped, but not the running.  We signed up to run a 5k in April of that year, and started training.

Fast forward to New Years 2011.

On one of our many roadtrips, we were discussing goals for the coming year.  We had moved to Atlanta, GA, and every July 4th Atlanta hosts the annual Peachtree Road Race, which up until very recently is the largest 10k race in the world.  I want to run that race, Phillip says to me.  Ok, I said.

Dang.  I gave up running after May of last year.  I got bored with it.  I'm going to give this another chance.

So I signed up for another 5k.  I went to a training program held at a local running store every Tuesday morning for 6 weeks, and kept a copy of the weekly runs on my fridge to hold myself accountable.

 It worked.  I kicked butt at my 5k, beating my previous time by a minute and a half. 

Add caption

During my training for the 5k, Phillip was busy psyching himself up for the Tough Mudder race.  All I can say is that it was pure insanity.  Essentially he had to run a half-marathon, throw in a bunch of obstacles, oh, and run up and down mountains while you're at it.  Yuck.  The pictures speak for themselves.
The ice tube and pit obstacle.

The Smoke House

The Monkey Bars

The Rope Bridge
The Balance Beams

The Electric Shock.

The Electric Shock.  What a great idea.  (Sarcasm anyone?)  Just before running through these positively and negatively charged lines, you had to jump off a 40 foot plank into ice cold water.  Seriously.  They dumped truck loads of ice into the water all day.  And then made you run through the electrically charged mud pit before you crossed the finish line.  Lovely.

Just in case you forgot.
Before and After

Next up:  The Warrior Dash.  We needed something fun to look forward to. 

July 4th was here before we knew it.  We were (mostly) ready.  We gathered with the masses at the start line.

The sound went off, and so did we.  Pretty soon after we started our race, Phillip took off.  I'm much slower, and took my time.  We kicked butt, with Phillip coming in at 55:48 and me at 1:04:02.  Not bad for our first 10k.

This brought us back to the original question.  Do you want to run a marathon?  If we're ever going to do it, now is the time.  We looked up the article Running Down a Dream that Phillip had read many years ago, written by his old college friend.  After reading his experience with running a marathon, we decided that if he can do it, we totally can.

So.  All of this leads us to what this blog will document.  The training.  The sweat.  The almost tears.  The aches.  The sore feet.  The countless miles.  The massive amounts of water consumed.  The research.  The discovery of what we are capable of.

The marathon.

And we WILL kick butt.