Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Off-Season: Week Two

What does a runner *do* during the off-season?

Okay, most of us still run and maintain some semblance of base mileage. Two and a half weeks after my epic first marathon, I'm feeling a little blase about running at the moment. Yes, I'm trying to run every other day for a minimum of three to five miles, and I did run a low-key 5k last weekend. But my mind and body is telling me to take it easy and enjoy the off-season.

So. As mentioned in my previous post, I started my 'extreme body transformation' last week. Since this exercise program is so 'extreme,' I've already lost 10 pounds and shred 3% of body fat off my post-marathon/chocolate-cake consuming self.

I wish.

While those 10 minute ab sessions make me feel like I *should* be a lean flippin' machine, I've yet to be completely chiseled into a cut Greek goddess. The one thing that I am concentrating on while doing those bouncy plyometrics (burpees=yuck) and endless one-minute push-up intervals is how I deal with pain.

Although I experience different types of pain, I really think that ab pain is the worst. Flutter kicks, planks, crunches, v-ups, and a plethora of other ab exercises condensed to 10 minutes without any breaks = hellacious.

Because I hate ab pain so much, I've made it my mission to learn how to accept and embrace it.

So far, I haven't succeeded. Yeah, I can run for four hours and I have a passionate love affair with speed workouts (and really any other running workout that makes me want to ralph), but ten-minute ab sessions do me in.

New goal for off-season: CONQUER AB SESSIONS and YEARN FOR MORE. Hopefully, with that attitude, I'll be extremely transformed in no time!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Off-Season

Has it already been a week and a half since my marathon?

Is it really almost November?

Did I just read that snow is in our forecast later this week?

Wha? Okay, I've reached the tipping point. I'm officially in my off-season. While I could plan a December marathon at a margarita-soaked beach destination and make a vacation of it, I'm gonna take it easy and learn how to do this training cycle thing that my running coach talks about. Since he allegedly knows what he's talking about...

Let me back up. I'm almost fully recovered from the marathon. I took most of the week off from intense exercise. But, I did engage in some hard-core chocolate caramel cake consumption. Well worth an extra chin. The day after the race, I had a heavenly massage. Ahhhhh. And then I mixed in some yoga here and there, finishing off the week with a murderous kettlebell class with my sadistic trainer. Sorry teres major muscles for hindering your ability to function (and thus making me curse everytime I put on my brassiere). But at least I know what those muscles are now...

Yeah, I did get out there and run. On both Sunday and yesterday, I ran for three miles on each day. Strange. Almost as if I was learning how to run again, thus prompting a few 'who-am-I' moments. Left hip was hurtin'. Right knee had something going on. Weird gait. And I did this for 26.2 miles just a week ago? Are you sure that was me? I want proof besides a collection of goofy race photos of me exposing some major thigh action.

While I will mix in some low-key running (20-25 miles per week) during my off-season, my major goal for the next couple of months will be to lose some body fat. I gained about eight pounds from marathon training (and an extra chin from last week's chocolate cake binge), and I want to mix up my fitness routine. I've been at my plateau for about a year now. Although I was annoyed with the weight gain initially, I forgot about it pretty quickly. I just figured that my body was adjusting to the training. No biggie. I got a marathon out of it.

So. I signed up for a 10-week 'body transformation' session with a friend. Don't get too excited. Besides waking up early every morning six days a week, looking like complete wee-early-morning crap, and awkwardly doing scissor kicks in front of others (of varying fitness levels), I think this will be a good thing. Plyometrics (burpees galore - eat your heart out), circuit training, strength training, kettlebells, kickboxing, and yoga will be involved. I can live with that. I might actually like it.

Minus the cold weather and snow. And the creepy Santa Claus at the malls. But at least I can look forward to watching 'The Christmas Story' on AMC.


Welcome to the off-season!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Damn. I'm grateful to be a marathoner.

After five Clif shots, multiple cups of water and Gatorade, two blisters, one black toenail (my first ever!), and four hours and 12 minutes later, I officially became a marathoner.

And one of the best things to come out of Sunday's race? I finished wanting more. And I learned (or maybe taught myself) how to be grateful again.

I went into Sunday's race just wanting to get the thing over with while finishing strong. 'Strong' was my mantra; my marathon playlist was even titled 'Strong.' One of my main goals was to cross the finish line under 4:15. Luckily, I had a friend who was shooting for the same time. We ran together for the first 20 miles, which was great. I didn't feel pressured to talk all of the time, although I felt like her presence was a good distraction. We ran well together.

She started to slow a bit around mile 20; I didn't want to leave her, as I was feeling guilty already for running a few paces ahead of her. When she said, "We're in survival mode. Go on. Each man for himself now," I picked up the pace and ran the last 10k on my own. This is the point where the 'real' race started. The first 20 miles were fairly comfortable and steady. I felt like it was a solid training run with aid stations and fun crowd support. I was waiting patiently for that mystical wall of pain and pure misery to hit me at mile 20...

But it never came.

Sure, I had some very strange aches and pains along the way, but my so-called 'wall' was more like a two-mile annoyance. At mile 22, I started to see more people walking than running. The victims of the marathon were slowing, heads down, and clearly fatigued. Compared to them, I was feeling fairly well. For miles 23 through 25, I had to dig deep, I'll admit it. And it was annoying, mainly because I was so close to the finish, yet I still had to put in a solid effort to maintain my pace. wasn't the worst pain I'd ever endured. I definitely struggled more in shorter races than I had for this little 26.2-miler.

And then I saw the glorious 25th-mile marker. Wow. At this point, I turned off my Motley-Crue shoutin' iPod, and I started to smile. For running in my 25th mile, I was very lucid. I think I had a mile-long 'moment.' No loopiness or angry drunk episodes like during my long training runs. I felt strong; and I realized that I really am strong. I made eye contact with several spectators and just smiled. I had never felt so grateful. For having complete strangers around me. For having my broad shoulders and imperfect body. For having my life. For being me.

While I find it sad that I don't have moments like that more often, I'm grateful that I was even able to experience it. People say that the marathon changes them; many first-timers say that they feel like they can do anything after running 26.2 miles. I'll agree that it changes you. But for me, I became genuinely grateful for everything that I have.

Simple and sappy, yes.

But damn. I'm a very lucky girl.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Sunday. Sunday. Sunday. Funday. Funday. Funday.

After last week's post, I've calmed down a bit. While I'm not in ultra-relaxed post-yoga mode, I am (with much effort) trying to keep a positive attitude about my upcoming marathon. Okay, so I'll admit that I'm nervous. The 'what-if's' creep into my brain every 10 seconds or so, but I attempt to block them out immediately. And then they creep in again. And then I squash them.
Over and over.


I've been watching marathon movies and documentaries all week. Earlier this week, I read a bunch of running blogs highlighting each runner's 'first marathon.' Reviewing a majority of these recaps wasn't such a good idea (for me, right now - at least), especially if you don't want to read about extreme pain, throbbing joints/muscles, missed PR's, and post-run stomach ailments. I will admit, however, that I have yet to read a D.N.F.-marathon post. So, that's good.

Yep, keepin' it positive.

Anywho, back to the marathon movie marathon (M.M.M.). First on the list was 'Spirit of the Marathon.' Not bad. I think I related the most to the woman who ran alone; I also prefer to run alone during training runs (we'll save this topic for another day). I know all of you were expecting me to say that I relate to Deena Kastor the most, as I, too, have a dog and my half marathon time beats her marathon PR. And I've also placed first in a few local races of six people or less. But, I don't have my own massage therapist and daily coach(es), nor do I engage in high-altitude training. Oh, and I don't run with Meb and Ryan Hall. Yet. Except at the Bix 7 on the other side of the street.

What I liked most about 'Spirit of the Marathon' is that those who started the Chicago Marathon were able to finish. Oh, and they didn't seem to 'hit the wall' as hard as the bloggers I read earlier this week. I know. I should probably say that my favorite thing was the 'spirit' or something, but right now, at this point in time, what gives me hope for this Sunday is the 99% chance that I will actually make it to the finish line.*

Again, positivity.

*And at this finish line, I hope to find a chocolate long john with white frosting filling (as well as a six-ounce Michelob Ultra, of course). Seriously. I haven't had one in five years. Like this:

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Now that I'm over my initial excitement of tapering (which lasted for about two hours after my 20-miler last Saturday), I am officially stuck in the dark depths of tapering. And alas, how fitting that this marathon lands in the frightful month of October.

Coincidence? Hmmmm.

I don't think so.

Really, why don't we just have the Des Moines Marathon on October 31st? Seems like that would be more honest, since the idea of this race is one of the scariest things I've had to contemplate in recent memory (besides a couple of political figures, such as Steve King and a certain person from a certain state who can see a certain country from his/her house).

I think tapering should be re-named. Purgatory is more fitting.

Wiki's definition of purgatory is 'the condition or process of purification or temporary punishment.' I'm gonna emphasize 'temporary punishment.' Sure, I'm tapering to 'recover' (allegedly) from my hard training. I guess one could say that tapering is a process of purification via rest and recovery. But I call bull 'thit' on that notion. Tapering is (temporary) PUNISHMENT! It is SCARY thit. At this stage of the game, I'm probably the most marathon-fearing person out there.

But come to think of it, running itself is also a form of purgatory. The process of purification and temporary punishment seem to fit into the general definition of running, right? And then after I 'deal' with purgatory, I get to reach a state of (five to seven minutes) of happiness and glory, and I get to eat/drink/smoke/snort whatever I want for that day? Right? That's how this is supposed to work, right?

I'm going to have nightmares tonight. Jason, Carrie, Dr. Hannibal, Christine (you know, Stephen King's evil red car - she was freaky), and Freddy Krueger. Ha. They're child's play. They are nothing compared to the beast of tapering. And the idea of running a marathon.

Scary thit, man.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chronicles of Tape-Ring-ia

Oh yes, dear readers. We've made it to the wonderfully weird stage of marathon training, otherwise known as TAPERING.

WTF. WTP(hantom). Seriously.

Before my stupid-a$$ decision to run a marathon, I thought TAPE-RING was just a little ring-like object made of magical tape that Frodo and his little people friends (with giant, hairy feet) and that old guy wizard dude were trying to find in the Land of Narnia or whatever. But now that I've completed my epic 20 mile run (Clif Shots, I love you and am offering my hand in marriage), I'm stuck in the Chronicles of Tape-Ring-ia and all of a sudden I'm confronted with Voldemort's piercing Phantom Pains and the Wicked Witch of Bloat-ithia.


TAPE-RING sucks. I don't know what Frodo and Smigel (CREEPY) see in that thing.

Voldemort's Phantom Pain People of the Dark Wizadry Alliance Organization have zeroed in on my right hip flexor. Not cool, V.P.P.O.D.W.A.O. Where are Harry and Hermoine (really, since she's the one who runs the show over there and you KNOW that Harry has a thing for her) when you need them?

And the Wicked Witch of Bloat-ithia? Tilda Swinton plays her; you know who I'm talking about. She must have injected my veins with massive amounts of evil liquid-bean-potion while I was sleeping. And that one professor lady-good witch who deals in potions at Hogwarts cannot be reached via owl air mail right now because hunting season has started in the Midwest.

Good thing that my layover in Tape-Ring-ia is only for another two weeks. The V.P.P.O.D.W.A.O. is driving me mad...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Half-Marathon PR and...19 Miles

We're now in week 'blah blah blah' of marathon training. Yep, I still have no clue how long I've been training. I just train. I do what my coach tells me to do, as I curse under my breath and keep truckin' away. It's been quite an adventure so far, full of misery, pain, and...a PR!

I ran in Waterloo this past weekend for the annual Park to Park Half Marathon. Multiple running buddies had mentioned this race as 'THE' half marathon to do, as it really caters to runners. Sunny, 60 degrees, and FLAT as a buttermilk pancake. Excellent race support. A true 'runner's race.' Perfect conditions to PR. And PR I did. I finally broke my 1:50 shadow; that thing has been following me around for a too long (out, damned spot)...! I barely made it (1:49:47 to be exact), but I did. And I celebrated with a bagel and a six-ounce beer. No Twinkies could be found at the finish line this time. And then we drove home to watch the Iowa Hawkeyes show why they're the 'only football team in the state' (I *heart* Adrian Clayborn, but not in a creepy way like that stalker he had last year).

While I would've LOVED to take it easy this week, I had to get in 19 miles this morning. This is a run I usually do on Saturday mornings, but I'm flying to New Orleans this weekend. And I'm not about to do a 19-mile training run in a foreign land. I can handle shorter distances when I'm visiting unfamiliar territory, but 19 miles is pushin' it. So. I took this morning off from work (I think my work colleagues already suspect that I'm a little nutty, anyway). And I got in 19 SLOW miles of pain, misery, tight shoulders/neck (what up with that, kidz?), and Chocolate Outrage Gu (YUM).

Did I mention that it hurt? And that I just wanted to go home and fall asleep to the b*tch slaps of the Real Housewives of D.C.?

I marched on. I wanted to call it quits at mile 13, but I also wanted to get in this mother flippin' 19-miler done. I don't think I gave myself enough recovery time; I think a couple more days of recovery from the half would've been ideal.

But that's life.

Hey, at least I PR'd on Saturday. And I *think* I have one more long run before I go pre-marathonal (aka TAPER). And at least I get to celebrate this weekend by going to New Orleans. Bring on the hurricanes and naughty food, already. I've got a marathon to run!