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!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Numb and Drunk

I ran 17 miles this past Saturday. That's the longest distance I've run. Ever. And I didn't pass out. I didn't die. I was able to run the entire time. I got a weird type of runner's high, too. But I'll talk about that later in this post...

Marathon training is 'interesting.' Every Saturday I wake up early to a b*tch slap of a long run. Whether it's 13 miles or 17, I tend to get to a point where pain is pain and 'it' becomes flippin' numb. Actually, my mind becomes numb while my body (specifically my lower abs, trunk, and hamstrings) awakens in pain. My body starts to hurt around mile seven or eight. At about mile 10, I tend to think, 'Well, I've gone this far. Why stop?' Those two sentences tend to dominate my mind on these long runs.

Hey, whatever works...(!) I'll take it.

And about that runner's high: I seem to be getting very loopy later on in my runs. Loopy. Like, drunk. I don't know if this is a type of 'runner's high' or what. It's almost as if I get a little giddy because I'm almost finished with a long, hard run. After this giddiness subsides, I'll get a little pissy. I live in a high-traffic area, and I've started to yell at cars for getting in my way. Kind of like an angry drunk. Yep, and cussing. This happens a few blocks away from my condo; I get so anxious to FINISH the run, that I don't want to stop for a Hummer (R.I.P. obnoxious S.U.V.-military vehicle machine thing) or any other car. I want to be DONE! Hence, the mean drunk 'tude...

In other news, I'm running a half marathon on Saturday morning. My goal is to PR (like, under 1:50. Please. Already). Unlike the Drake Half I ran this past April, I want to feel good and strong at the end of this race. I want to have a kick and not want to die.

And hopefully, I won't turn into the angry drunk at the end of the race. Cross your fingers that I don't become 'that girl.'

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bring it.

Yep, September is rolling around. The long awaited month-before-the-marathon is approaching, and it is, in my esteemed coach's words, 'the toughest month of marathon training.'

Bring it on, kids.

This week has been strange. I had a 'short' 5k race this past Saturday in Sherman Hill. As the name indicates, the quaint neighborhood is full of intense hills. And although it was advertised as a 5k, it was really 2.86 miles. Lame. I finished first in my age group (again, bring it), but there was no time to celebrate, as I had to get in another seven miles immediately following my race. Who knew that seven miles could be more gruelling than a 14-miler? Seriously. It's crazy how mentally challenging it is to continue running after a race.

On Monday, my coach 'gave' me an easy day of six miles. And then I met with him on Wednesday. My face-to-face training sessions freak me out a bit. And they kinda pump me up. Oh, the paradox of running! Anywho, the plan was to run 3x10-minutes at tempo pace with a two minute jog between each. I was able to put in negative splits at my interval pace.

Yep, bring on September.

I'm ready.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Week Blah Blah Blah of Marathon Training...

So, it's August. Mid-August, to be exact. State Fair time. And where have I been? No, not in the hog barn gawking at large beasts while eating a fried Twinkie and a tenderloin. I've been logging miles and miles of endless pavement and sweat (and more sweat) in extreme humidity.

I *think* I'm in my sixth week of marathon training. Don't ya like how I'm not really sure how long I've been officially training? It seems like my entire existance is centered around my four runs of each week. They look something like this (more or less):

Monday: Speed work. Swoon.
Wednesday: Tempo or Kenyan run. Smile.
Friday: 4-5 mile easy run. La di-da.
Saturday: Long run. Uhhh, okay.
Sunday: EAT.

Monday is track day. I like Mondays. A lot. There's nothing like driving home from the track at 7 AM, completely drenched in sweat and ready for Monday. It's a great way to start off the week.

Wednesday is usually a quick run around the neighborhood. Tempo runs and Kenyan runs are not as fun as track days. I like that Wednesdays are usually challenging, though; I find that the last half mile of the tempo run is the toughest part for me. So, I guess I'm doing it right (at least that's what my coach tells me).

Fridays are easy. I don't put too much thought into these nice, smooth runs. I try to ENJOY these, but I find it difficult not to increase speed in the last mile. Yes, I need to learn a little discipline, folks!

And then Saturday rolls around. Remember those days of running races while completely hungover (and perhaps still intoxicated)? No more partying for this girl. I'm in bed by 10 PM on Friday nights, only to wake up at 5:40 on Saturday morning. After a small bowl of oats and agave syrup, I'm off for a long run. All by myself. In the dark. No one to talk to. But myself.

I think I need to join a group for these long ones. Boredom has started to creep in...

Yep. It's Week Blah Blah Blah of Marathon Training.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bix Recap

Bix. Bix. Where does one start?

Of course, I raced. As much as I could. And I followed up the race with a beer and a bright yellow-ish Twinkie. Balance, people. Balance.

It all started when we (my mom, aunt, and cousin) woke up at 6 AM on Saturday morning, preparing for the busy morning ahead. While one would assume that this is enough time to dress, eat, and drive nine miles to the race, one would be completely wrong in this case...(!)

My aunt is known to be THE DILLY-DALLIER. Because of this, we didn't park the car until FIVE minutes before a race (BIX) with 12,000 participants. Seriously. Parked about an eighth of a mile away, I jumped out of the car and yelled to my fellow family of runners, "I'll meet you at the running statues!" Hopping puddles and dodging other dilly dalliers (and their 'victims'), I got to the starting line right as the national anthem ended.

Okay. Here we go.

A couple of minutes later, we were off and running. Kinda. If practically walking up a hill is running.

Oh, the Bix got me again.

No, it wasn't the pouring rain that kept me down. Nor the massive, never-ending hills. People. People brought me down. All of the flippin' people running and/or walking slowly. All of those people who should've lined up toward the back of the corral. Just like last year, I was cursing and running on the sidewalks, and then on the grassy boulevard. I saw a few people trip over other runners (and literally fall). And then I saw the glow of Antonio Vega, Ryan Hall, and Lisa Koll, making their final push to the finish line. That distracted me for about ten seconds or so...

My hill training came in very handy for this race; I was able to run "through" the hills, only to be practically stopped by others who (again) practically walked once they got to the top of said hills. At about mile five, I finally got some room and was able to pick up some speed. While I didn't reach my goal of running under an eight-minute mile pace, I did improve my chip time by a few minutes.

And I did partake in the Twinkie. Twinkies just aren't as good as they used to be...

As I waited for half an hour for my other family members, shivering in the rain while drinking beer and gnawing on my crappy Twinkie, I thought about the whole race experience. So weird, when you think about it. 12,000 stinky runners/walkers, as happy as can be, drinking beer and gobbling Ho-Ho's in the pouring rain.

While pissed about my time, I was one of those happy runners. Weird. Running is a paradox.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

To Race Or Not To Race...

It was about a year ago when I ran the infamous (and insanely frustrating) Bix 7 in Davenport, Iowa. The Bix is an annual seven-mile race that includes two 'severe hills.' For the second year in a row, it's also the American National 7 Mile Championship (yeah - I'm defending my national title, folks). It's a HUGE race that attracts major elite runners, such as Meb Keflezighi, FAM (the eccentric Anthony Famiglietti - one of my faves) and for this year - Ryan Hall.

Major star-power. Killer hills. Shots during the race (kindly distributed by race fans). Michelob Ultra at the finish line. And Twinkies (seriously).

One would think that these are perfect elements for someone who likes middle distance races and free booze. It's also a fab run for those who like to gawk at elites at about mile three when they're (the physically attractive elites) in their last mile, pushing for the finish line. Last year I almost tripped while staring away at the awesome-ness of Meb.

Yes, it all seems too ideal.

Until you get to the starting line and you don't cross it until 10 minutes later. Behind walkers and those who line up according to their IQ and not their real time. Lame. I'm surprised I didn't get kicked out of the race last year due to cussing loudly while running up one of those 'severe hills' in the first mile, meandering between walkers and those runners who walk in the first mile. Seriously. People. Get with the program.

Oh, but I digress. Obviously, I didn't hit my goal time last year. And this year I'm considering downing a few beers before the race. My mother is running this for the third year in a row; and for the first time ever, my aunt and cousin are also partaking in the 'fun.' So...I could 'race' and try to line-up behind Ryan and FAM. Or, I could get a nice buzz going and continue to consume adult beverages in the form of Jell-O shots throughout the race.

Or, perhaps I could do both...?*

*Do you think I could persuade Ryan and FAM to a couple of rounds? Ummmm. Totally.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

And so, it begins...

Oye. Vey.

Yes, the official start of marathon training took place this past Monday, July 5th - a 'holiday,' as I didn't have to work. That's right, folks - America celebrated the Overpronator's first day of marathon training by guzzling cheap beer, eating grilled cheeseburgers (YUM!), and oooooh-ing and awe-ing at fireworks - all while I ran the barren streets of downtown Des Moines, huffing and puffing and trying to run off that demonic chocolate cake I ate the day before...

It has begun. And on day four, I'm still going.

On October 17th, I will partake in the Des Moines Marathon. Needless to say, I am a marathon virgin. Yes, I've completed a couple of 20k's (DAM IT!) and a total of three half marathons, as well as countless 5k races. But the beast of the marathon looms, and I really want to conquer that mother.

But, I digress. I started this week with an easy five miles, followed by a couple of tempo runs and then a nine miler coming up this Sunday. Not bad. I can do this, right?

I think the one thing that will help me conquer the motha is remembering to take it one day at a time. My running coach does not put my entire marathon training schedule online, meaning that I have not seen the entire master plan. I'm only able to see my training plan one week at a time. This is good. My mind doesn't get wrapped up on how LONG the training plan is, nor do I get obsessed about how hard it's gonna be.

Oye. But it's still gonna be hard.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Ever run naked?

Yeah, naked. You read it.

No watch. No Garmin. No emphasis on time or splits. Or distance, really. Just runnin'. Naked.

After my Dam to Dam race, my coach has been taking it easy on me. He hasn't assigned any speed workouts, nor has he increased my long runs. My longest run for the past week has been about six miles. That's it.

Am I a little worried about maintaining my fitness and endurance?

Ummm. Yeah.

While I appreciate this little 'break,' I was getting used to running un-naked. I was starting to look forward to structured workouts - and the constant urge to ralph.

I think my issue regarding 'naked' running is that I'm afraid of losing. Losing endurance. Losing speed. Losing fitness. And although my coach has been emphasizing the need for rest and recovery (cycles, really), I'm not yet completely comfortable with the idea that I should 'peak' and then rest and recover in order to peak again. While I know I shouldn't be at peak condition at all times - I feel like I've worked so hard to improve my running. Why should I relax and 'lose' what I've worked so hard to accomplish?

I guess I just need to embrace naked running. And enjoy it while I can...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Week Without Running


Okay, I'll be honest. I had a four-day 'vacation' from running after Dam to Dam. Four freakin' days. Did I survive?


Thanks to two-a-day workouts (spin class, yoga, and/or circuit training), I got through my 'recovery phase.' I'm not saying that I wasn't a major crab or anything. I tend to get really b*tchy when I don't run. Ask my family. And my dog, Otto. They'd rather deal with my obsessive running addiction than put up with stank-eye Stacy, putzing around the house, depressed and angry. I get unbearable. I can't help it. Must be some type of chemical imbalance that is out of my control...

Thank god that's over. Now I am fully recovered (okay, and somewhat refreshed) from my satisfactory performance at Dam to Dam. And I've been putting in some miles this past week. Last night I had a challenging speed workout with my esteemed coach. He rides his bike and gives me feedback while I spit bugs from my mouth and deal with my legs of lead. It's nice having a talking Garmin give me feedback and encouragement.

Again. Thank god 'recovery' is over. While I may have some hard work ahead of me (ummm, like training for a marathon - whateva), I'd rather suffer through it than be a stank-eye...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dam to Dam!

Dam rain. Dam wind. Dam soggy shoes. Dam to the Dam!

It all started late last week - one by one, little 'issues' popping up before Dam to Dam, the largest 20k race in the nation. Tapering was freaking me out. I had a little too much wine on Thursday night while watching 'Best In Show' (for the n-teenth time). And then I got a call Friday morning from my mother, informing me that she was driving herself to the emergency room due to a numb left arm and major dizziness.

Needless to say, my mind wasn't really on Dam to Dam Friday. I sat in the air-conditioned hospital with my grandparents all day. My grandpa touted the benefits of a Western diet ('fried chicken and mashed potatoes'), trying to convince my grandma and I that my mother's diet (which is much like mine, consisting of TONS of vegetables and whole foods) is the source of her sickness. Yeah. It was that kind of day, with a couple of one-minute interruptions from various doctors asking my mother what she ate for breakfast and then making her identify a photo of Abe Lincoln (seriously). While my mom is still alive and very much kicking, she has to go to the cardiologist this week to run some tests. I have a feeling that it was just gas that made her feel like crap. Hmmm. Perhaps grandpa is on to something...

Anywho, I get to sleep at 11 PM on Friday, only to wake up at 5 AM. After some oatmeal and chia seed, I put on my race-day best and then hopped on the yellow school bus at 5:45 AM. This is how they do Dam to Dam: catch a bus by 5:45 AM; the bus takes runners to the Saylorville Dam; and then the runners wait until the gun goes off at 7 AM. Well, it was cold. Raining. Windy. The bus dropped us off at 6:15. So...I popped a squat in the woods (everyone does it) and then stood in the rain with thousands of other soaked runners, just wanting to get the show on the road. Shoes soaked and soggy socks, I tried not to focus on the shivering mouths of the woman next to me. There were approximately four thoughts in my head at this time, including:

"This is the LAST time I do this."

"My bed is warm and cozy. Thus I want to get on a bus and go home."

"Let's get this DAM race going already."


Finally, we were off at 7:05 AM. Feeling good once I got a half mile into the race, I tried to focus on pace; I didn't want to go out too hard, like I always do. The first six miles went a little slow - lots of wind (I'm *that* girl who takes advantage of drafting), and a few teenage boys running while throwing cups of agua at each other after every water station. I was really trying to slow my pace to a 9-minute mile, which is on the slow side for me. I was all over the place during the first half of the race in terms of pacing. Each mile I made it my goal to slow down and really hit a 9-minute pace. I was able to slow it down around miles 7 through 9.

This is the smartest thing I've ever done.

Miles 9 through the end of the race (12.4, to be exact) went EXTREMELY well. I was hitting negative splits and ended up doing a 7:48 in the last mile. I didn't feel like I wanted to die (which is usually how I feel during the last few miles of a half). I was able to kick it into high gear and pass tons of people. Just how I like it.

My final chip time was 1:46:23. Last year I was finished the race in 1:50:45. 8:34 vs. 8:55. Sure, I'll take it.

And yes, I'll be back for this Dam race next year.*

*Sorry for the lack of info regarding the organization of the race. This is one of the most organized races I've ever experienced. Lots of water stations and volunteer support. And a very efficient packet pick-up. Oh, and they give you a dri-fit shirt. Score!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Hmmmmm. I don't know how to taper. It freaks me out. Cut down on running BEFORE a race? Weird. Scary.

So, I believe I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I have a running coach who plans my workouts and helps me stay on track (both literally and figuratively). It's been working out very well, as I've incorporated a lot of speed work and hill training. While the workouts themselves are tougher (you know, higher heart rate, tiring legs, and the urge to ralph), I feel like running itself is 'easier' because I have a clear-cut plan and am more focused.

That said, I have a 20k this Saturday (the notorious Dam to Dam - one of the country's largest 20k races). Since the Drake Half Marathon, I haven't been getting in a lot of mileage. I've been diligently following my coach's plan, but his plan hasn't been so focused on THE long run. While I was *supposed* to run only seven miles on Sunday (yes - that's it!), I kinda sneaked in a couple more miles. Why? Because I'm scared. I need confidence. Especially before a longer race like Dam to Dam. Yep. I'm a pussy.

In other words - I don't have enough confidence to taper.

Hmmmm. Maybe that's something I should work on...(!)

(So, I'll just leave it at that, since I've made this post into a therapy session.**

**At least this therapy session is free and allows me to work on my writing skillz...)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hills. Humidity. Hard.

Those were the exact words I posted on my Facebook page after a 6 PM run yesterday. The statement sums up the run. In other words, it was HELL. While I'd like to run along cold blue lakes and picture-perfect mounds of green grass (as so dreamily depicted in the photo to the left), I was barely moving along gum-stained and urine-tainted cement. Trying to seek refuge in the shadows of ugly buildings, I could not escape the humidity - nor the sun's heavy blanket! I was suffocating.
The plan was to do a mile warm-up, followed 10x150m hills (with 150m recovery), and then a mile cool-down. The humidity had me at the first quarter mile. I'd assumed that it wouldn't be *that* bad - with all of the speed work and focused training I'd done in the past few weeks. But no. I was yet again humbled by the seemingly simple act of running. While I did complete my mission, I stumbled into my condo, soaked to the core, wondering if/how I'm going to survive marathon training in the upcoming summer heat.
Summer is a-comin' to Iowa, and this girl needs to prepare...and hydrate.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Intervals, Strides, Tempo Runs...Oh My!

I never thought this day would come. I now look forward to hard runs - like the ones listed in today's post.

I've run on the high school track quite a bit these past couple of weeks. I HATED the track in high school; even the sight of black rubber with pristine white lines used to make me want to ralph. Memories of running the 1500 and 3k invaded my mind every time I thought of the track. I would get SO bored running back then. Eight laps felt like eternity when I was in my teens. During track meets, I'd enlist my friends (who were lucky enough to run the 100- or 200-meter races) to entertain me while running the 3k. Two-sentence conversations, anything - I was desperate for someone/something to make me forget I was running eight laps.

Twelve years later, I'm CRAVING the track. I'm not saying that I LOVE running 6x400s - especially not during the actual interval. Really, I want to ralph during those uncomfortable runs. But, the feeling AFTER those runs are BLISS. Seriously. It's a major high that is not attained after a long, easy run. It's special. Maybe it's the rubber that emits that certain high. I dunno. I don't care. I want more.

Addicted? Thank god. Yes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Marathon Training (For 'Reals')...

Yes, after a not-so-brief hiatus, the Overpronator is back and pounding the pavement. I've actually been running since my last post. And I have been cross-training. And I've showed up hungover for a couple of races (what's new?). And all-in-all, I've been livin' the dream, folks.

Here are a couple of highlights since my last post:

Completed Des Moines Half-Marathon in October '09
Completed (and survived complete hell) Drake On-The-Roads Half Marathon in April '10

I'll be honest with you, I *thought* my training this year compared to last year has been spot-on. Okay, so I've missed a couple of longer runs here and there, but I've kicked up the speed work. When I signed up for the Drake Half-Marathon, my goal was to beat my PR. I missed it by a minute. I blame the hills. These hills were practically ALL in the last half of the race, and they were those long, annoying never-ending energy-suckers. I was a-hurtin' during those last couple of miles. So...I struggled to the finish line, feeling defeated and pissed. And de-hydrated. And hungry. And pissed. Screw the medal.

That said, since then, I've hired a running coach. I'm that serious. Hard-core, if you will. I started his training plan late last week. I'll keep you posted on how this is all going. So far, I've completed THREE speed-work sessions. On a track. 'Nuff said.