Saturday, July 31, 2010

No Excuses

Am I part of the cure?  Or am I part of the disease?  (Coldplay)

This week I read a wonderful blog post over at No Meat Athlete regarding responsibility, apologies, and excuses.   Honestly, there isn't really anything new within the post, but the way that it was written and given where I have been at in my own thinking, it helped me to look at some things in a different light.  Initially, the post discusses accepting responsibility for our training, but ultimately, the writer helps me to see that excuses and responsibility for my actions goes so much deeper than just my training.

Whatever happens, I am responsible.

One might say that they can not be responsible for everything that happens.  After all, things happen that are well outside of our control.  What we ARE responsible for, however, is how we approach the given situation.  Even in the worst of scenarios, we choose how we will react, how we will act.

My trust in God isn't any less, in fact, I feel that this could help strengthen my relationship with Him.  If I truly trust in His Providence, the only decisions I need to make is how I look upon the struggles and blessings each day brings.  Will I be a victim, will I be resentful, spiteful, pitiful, industrious, joyful, peaceful?  The choice is mine, and with that choice comes responsibility for what I have chosen.  If I chose poorly, I can choose to change my choice!  And if apologies are needed, they don't need excuses attached to them.  

If I make a choice that I am not entirely sure was the best one I could have made, do I make apologies along with excuses to justify that decision, or do I accept that I made a decision that wasn't the best and learn from it?

When I apologize to someone for something, to I automatically add in an excuse to try and smooth things over for myself and/or the situation?  As Matt suggests, "keep the sorry, lose the excuse".

As far as training is concerned, I have a choice to make each and every day.  Do I choose to run, cross-train, rest, recover?  I have that choice and once the choice is made, I am responsible for all ramifications of that choice be it whatever it may be.  Do I choose to use food as filler or as fuel?  Whatever my decision, my body will not allow me to forget what that choice was and I am responsible for the choice I made.

I have made a personal pledge to adopt this thinking into not only my training, but my life.  I will embrace the decisions I make as mine.  I will make an effort to apologize when needed and not excuse to justify.  I will change what I can rather than sulk about a given situation.  And if I choose to do nothing, I will still have made a choice. (Thank you, Geddy Lee!)   

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Over It

I have had several days to reflect on Captain Karl's and I think I've hit on most every emotion, mostly negative, that I could have. 

I wrote a race report in my personal journal fully intending to share it here, but I've decided against that as I don't think it will do anything to help anyone else and it certainly won't help me at this point since I have moved past the experience.

I have always said that there is a lesson in every experience and certainly in every race.  As unpleasant as this experience was for me, I learned many, many, many things in a very small amount of miles. 

So, with lessons learned and eager to put the knowledge into practice, I look forward to ramping up my training for the October race.  I am counting my blessings that I don't have a more serious ankle injury, merely a sprain.
I ran a mile on it today and while it isn't completely normal feeling, it doesn't cause me pain.  Therefore, long runs will begin again. 

I am making a few changes to my race plan, and those plans will be shared the closer I get to the start line.  For now, I need to focus on consistent training and strengthening. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Not as Expected

The race did not go as expected and I am scratching my head trying to figure out what lesson to take from this one. 

Nursing an injury and praying it isn't more than what it appears to be. 

DNF'd at mile 17.  Asthma issues were the culprit until I realized how badly I wrecked my ankle.  One lesson for sure, do NOT over use your inhaler.  140 bpm is a bad thing...

Full report to follow soon.  Or maybe not.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Less planning more wondering

This week is proving to be a bit of an exercise in patience and trust.  I went for a run on Monday which was supposed to be a 6 miler, but very soon into the run, I noticed that my chest was very tight in spite of the use of my inhaler.  After a mile, I decided to cut the run down to 3 miles and had the pleasure of observing my thought process regarding the upcoming 60K quickly begin to disintegrate.

Having dealt with many bouts of bronchitis and related asthma, I had a pretty good idea of what was beginning to happen and I started to become very concerned with how I would ever get through this weekends "training run/race" with my body seemingly deciding to betray me.  I returned home quite discouraged and confused as this appeared to have come from no where.  I haven't felt sick at all.  In fact, I've felt wonderful with the exception of the pork incident.

I have been frequenting the pool lately and while there I have been attempting to put a few laps in.  I remember swallowing a nice gulp of water on Saturday and wondered if perhaps that is why my chest was fighting something.

I decided to shut everything down for training this week, including the strength training, and reserve my efforts for Saturday.  Of course, this didn't sit well with me, but the famous verse, "Run Smart", kept playing in my mind.

On Tuesday morning, I was debating on a visit to the doctor, but I knew that I had no fever, no other symptoms to report other than the chest tightness and just that familiar feeling that something bad was coming.  By about 11 am, I remembered that I had a supply of Advair which is an inhaled steroid and something that I only use when I get sick.  The doctor has told me to use it to prevent things from getting worse and I had forgotten about that.  I am not big on taking medicine, but when it comes to my respiratory system, I do not mess around.  I've lost too many days and weeks of training to chest infections.

By dinner time, I was walking the dogs and felt so much better.  Advair is very fast acting, and thank goodness.  I was really wanting to run, so I did.  In my flip flops and skirt, with both dogs loving the little jaunt.  I still had a bit of tightness with the run, so I didn't go too far.  I did get to bed and tried to get some decent rest in.

Today, I have had no chest tightness to speak of.  I was able to get through my strengthening program and tonight, I put a nice 6 miler in, including a few hill repeats.  I wanted to push myself slightly to see how my breathing would respond.  All seems well and now I can get back to the business of planning for the 100 mile race.

The little boys and I have cleaned several rooms top to bottom, but there has not been much for the donation pile this time around.  I guess I did a pretty good job earlier this summer getting rid of things.  Planning for our homeschooling year is next on the agenda.  I've put it off far too long and now I have only a month to pull everything together.

Alicia, Ryan, and my sweet granddaughter will be moving back to Houston within the month and Brianna will be heading back to school.  It's never a dull moment around here, that is for sure!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tapering means planning

As I head into this next week, thankfully completely recovered from the pork nightmare, my legs are feeling fresh and ready to run Captain Karl's next Saturday evening.  What that means for this week...the clock with move quite slowly and I will drive my family insane as I begin my ritual of organizing, reorganizing, and de-cluttering everything in sight.  When I have energy I can't spend running, it usually means a the kids need to start nailing down anything they don't want to end up in the donation pile.

I have been reviewing my 4 week blocks of training over the past 3 months, and I am surprised at how consistent I have become.  This was my number one goal and I am elated to have been able to reach it.  Looking forward to the next 3 months, I will be shifting my goals a bit to incorporate my first 100 miler, core and upper body strengthening, as well as power-walking.  I already know that at least SOME of my 100 will involve walking therefore, making sure that I am "walking with a purpose" even when I am tired and want to quit could be the key to my finishing my race.

I have been more consistent with my strengthening over the last 3 months as well, but it's time to get very serious about this.  If I expect my body to hold up for this distance goal, I need to prepare it to actually be able to remain upright for that distance.  Since my upper body and core are the weakest of my links, this will be another key to reaching my goal.

My overall training plan I am still tweaking a bit, but I am getting closer to finalizing it and I am really looking forward to beginning it.  Tapering week is great for the OCD part of my homelife, but for my running, it plays with my mind way too much. 

I am not looking to break any records on this race, as it is supposed to be a "training run" towards CR 100.  It is a bit early to think of it that way, but just as OT 50 gave me a new appreciation of what running over boulders is like and what climbing is, Captain Karl's will give me the mental perspective of a night time race on unfamiliar terrain. I am hoping to attend at least one training run in Bandera.  I am not sure that this will happen because of our family schedule.  Hopefully, I can create a rigorous enough plan with stairs, lunges, hills, speed work, and long runs to be strong enough to claim a personal victory in October. 

I hope to post my plan soon, probably including initial goals and the first 4 week block of training.  As I review each block, I will make adjustments accordingly to fine tune "the plan". 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pay Back of Pork

The legacy of the Pork dinner and Raccoon pie lives on.   Never, ever, ever, ever, ever again.  Never.  The morning after the infamous meal, I had demonstrated a SIX pound weight gain!  I must have weighed myself 10 times to make sure I wasn't crazy, but sure enough, on Thursday morning I weighed in at 117.  Friday morning I weighed 123!  I am not fixated on my weight on any given day, however a 6 pound increase overnight was a reason for concern. 
I also lost several runs as a result of feeling like crap.  I am still not at my weight pre-pork, but I know that as I continue cleansing my body with healthy greens and smoothies, I will not only loose the extra "fake" weight, but I will feel better.  I have had stomach issues as well as issues with fatigue. 
I ran a 20 miler yesterday and after mile 8, felt like I was about 80 years old.  Everything hurt.  My hips were tightening, my ankles ached, and the good old hand swelling returned.  I am convinced now, more than ever, that for me, a vegan diet isn't just a choice, it's what I must do to remain in my best health. 
Yesterday's run was my last long, long run before Captain Karl's.  I wore the Nathan vest again and it was comfortable most of the time.  I did have a time wear it appeared to be rubbing on my back, but I was able to fix that and determine that a will wear a different shirt next time.  I carried 70 ounces of water with me and felt like I was drinking enough, but once I got home and cleaned it, I realized that I did not drink nearly enough.  I only drank 35 ounces the entire run.  Clearly this was not enough.  I felt completely drained the rest of the day and the act of drinking water reuqired more effort than I had available. 
I suppose that is one disadvantage to the vest.  I like the hand-held because I can actually "see" how much I am drinking.  As well, the hand-held serves as more of a reminder to drink because it is right there.  I know that sounds crazy because the vest is "right there" as well, but being in the hand, it is difficult to forget to drink.
I also become paranoid about running out of water.  For that reason, when I know that there will not be any water available, I tend to conserve what I have, just in case...
I am going to run with the vest again this week as that is my plan for the race.  Honestly, I would rather run with hand-held, but given that it is a night course and I will be running with a flashlight and head lamp, I need to have my hands free. 
I met another vegan runner yesterday.  It was nice to talk with a kindred spirit and I wish I was a quick as he was because I would love to pick his brain some more on how he does nutrition during his long runs and races.  He is training for Leadville which is something I would like to be able to attempt some day.  It will be nice to follow his progress.
The home-front has proven to be fairly calm of late.  We are mid-summer and the kids and I have been enjoying days at the pool, Wii's Just Dance, and visitors from Bean's college.  What an amazing bunch of young people I have met through Franciscan University.  Knowing that she is surrounded by people of strong faith and commitment to the Church is very reassuring in these days of uncertainty.  The students are definitely a different type of young person than what we are shown in the news.  They care about their country, their faith, their world.  They are actively involved in what is going on around them.  They have a pretty good idea of who they are and where they are heading.  Quite an accomplishment for students 19-25.  I'm still trying to figure all of that out for myself!  I am encouraged and hopeful for our world because of these young people.
Now if I could just remember to not eat pork...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Vegans Should Probably Not Eat Pork

Just sayin'...

Yes, the husband made a delicious batch of Filipino Pork Adobo, for Bean and a few of her collegemates last night.   Pre-plant-based eating, this was my FAVORITE meal.  I could not resist the wonderful smell of vinegar-simmered meat, and so, I indulged a bit.  Funny how indulging most always implies, "this is going to hurt later"!

Yes, the adobo was wonderful, as always, but I am still, 15 hours later, feeling as if I am lugging around a very large brick in my gut.  One of the collegemates was kind enough to make an amazing, non-vegan pie topped with homemade whipped cream.  We have dubbed it Raccoon Pie, not sure why, but it stuck, kind of the way the pie has stuck to my gut as well.  Again, another delicious indulgence.  Amazing actually.  So, I'll be working on trying to cleanse myself of all of this today and get back to business on the plant-based wagon. 

Training vs Raining:  Raining wins.  Especially when there is lightening associated with said raining.  I don't mind running in the rain.  In fact, I welcome it, but I do draw the line on training in the in it is a different story however.

I am hoping that today's inclement weather does not include thunderstorms so that I can put a few miles on the roads.  Captain Karls is not far off and I don't want to loose the momentum that I have going into the race.

Tip of the day...  Keep a nice stash of Papaya Enzyme on hand for those "can't resist that adobo" moments.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sleeping In

One thing I would never recommend to any new runner is that if they have a long run scheduled on the 3rd of July, in Houston, they should NEVER sleep in.  And if you should happen to not hear your alarm, you may want to consider heading to the beloved DREADMILL or waiting until the moon is high in the sky before donning those precious running treads.

I, being not the brightest candle on the block, decided that I would merely switch my back to back long runs when I realized I missed my alarm.  First, I must say, I don't even recall the alarm sounding.  I know it must have, because it's set on my Blackberry and that thing won't let me miss anything!  I must have heard it and turned it off without ever really waking up.  Amazing still was that I was able to accomplish this without my glasses, which I must have to navigate the ol' Berry.

Saturday is typically the day I run the longer of my back to backs.  This week 18 miles is on the schedule.  Sunday I had a 10 miler planned, so I switched the two runs and set out on my 10 miles at about 11:30 am.  Mind you, this is Houston, the city closest to the sun, and the remnants of Hurricane Alex are keeping things nice and, shall we say, moist.  In my estimation, because of the cloud cover, I assumed that I could deal with the humidity since the sun was pretty well tucked away behind many clouds.

As soon as I was ready to go, the clouds parted and the sun came out in its full glory.  The scene was set for a nice runner roasting.  I planned to take the run slow and easy, with walk breaks every 10 mins so that I could reserve as much energy as possible for the entire run.

The first 2 miles were fairly uneventful with the exception of some loud thunder and dark rain clouds that began to creep into view.  I figured I was the only idiot, er, I mean, dedicated, runner out in this mess.  But, alas, I was not.  This community is filled with idiots, er I mean, dedicated runners.  I saw at least 4 other loons dodging the weather and praying the heat didn't kill them.

Mile 3 and 4 were also fairly uneventful, with a water stop of about 3 mins.  I drenched myself with water in efforts to keep my core cool.  Mile 5 and 6 were on hills, probably not the best route for a day like today.  But I managed the hills at a nice easy pace with walk breaks when indicated.

I have several turn off points on this route to get home if needed.  I was feeling pretty drained and knowing that I still would have to put 18 miles in tomorrow, I decided I'd cut the 10 miles short, reserving some endurance for Sunday.  I figured I'd probably come in with 8.5 - 9 miles and considering the conditions, I was happy with that.

As it turns out, the run was shorter than I had thought, 7.7 miles, but the pace, even with the walk breaks was not too bad; 10:29.  

When I arrived at home, my kids asked if I had run through the sprinklers.  I looked like I had jumped into a pool and didn't bother to towel off.  Dripping wet would be an understatement.  It was a miserable afternoon for a run, yet I am glad that I went.  I know that each run is an opportunity to either learn or gain strength from.  Today was both.  I learned that planning walk breaks is helpful under conditions such as today.  It allowed me to finish a run and still have energy left to go about my vocation as mom.  I also believe that the strength comes by getting out there when I really, really didn't want to.  I know that to reach my large goals, I must do more than go through the motions.  I must invest myself as completely as possible.  Even when I don't feel like it.

So, will I ever sleep through my alarm again?  Probably.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June Recap

As I began June, I was one week into my commitment to run no less than 5 days a week.  I had not really set any distance goals for June, just the goal of consistency.  I am so pleased that I did not miss my goal of running 5 days, and in fact hit 6 days most weeks.  By the end of last week, I was looking at numbers and became very excited at the prospect of actually hitting 200 miles for June.
I felt compelled to make an effort to reach 200, however, Tuesday night running didn't fall into place, so I missed my goal by 10 miles.

My goals for July will remain with the focus on consistency above all else.  If I hit my weekly mileage goals, 200 miles will be easily reached.

The big scene this month will be Captain Karl's 60K.  While it's a shorter distance than the 50 miler I love to run, I am really looking forward to this race.  The terrain will be challenging as it is in the hill country and I am not.  Therefore, my training on silly little bumps we call hills here can't truly prepare me for what waits for me there.  This race is a night run which will be a good precursor for me to run Cactus Rose 100 in October.  I love running at night, I love running trails.  I even love running trails at night!  What a combination!  I've been running some trails here at night with little to no light.  I try to allow my eyes to adjust and they seem to do a pretty good job of it.  I don't plan to run any races without light, but in an effort to be prepared for a possible light disaster, ie...I forget the light, the batteries die, the thing cracks and breaks...etc, I won't be too freaked out by it all.

This month I have seen a more consistent long run pace and what's even stranger, my tempo runs have become quicker!  Last night, thanks to rain associated with Alex, I was only able to get a few miles in.  I decided to run hard after a warm up mile.  I ran an overall pace of 8:35, with the tempo miles I ran at 8:00.  For some, this would seem like a recovery run, for me, I was hauling butt!

My acclimation to the heat seems to be in place, though I am afraid to say that because it has a way of coming back to haunt me.   I am running the "hills" at a nice clip and try to not let my pace drop while running them.  Maybe this will help with the more challenging terrain.

Nutrition has been fun to play with as well.  Here is what I am currently using... most of this comes from the suggestion of Brendan Brazier and his book Thrive.  He addresses what I have been trying to figure out for some time.  The question of how to eat whole, healthy foods while running and racing and not sacrifice all that I do in training as far as eating goes just to through it in the toilet during a race.  Somehow shoving gummi bears and cookies into my gut at mile 40 of a 50 doesn't seem like the right thing to do.  And it doesn't work well for me.  Stomach problems ensue and I am miserable.

Before the runs I am sure to hydrate with water.  Every single run.  I also am doing the smoothies in the morning or afternoon to give me the extra energy that I get from them.  Vega's Whole Food Health Optimizers have single-handedly fixed many issues I was dealing with from fatigue to girly problems.  They are, quite frankly, gone.  Take that for what it is worth.

Right before running, I use my inhaler for prevention of EIA, then I eat a nice big handful of golden raisins or about 3-4 dates.  I fill my water bottle and go!  I usually carry a fruit strip (fruit leather) with me if I need a little extra boost, usually for my 8-10 milers.  When I get home, I like to drink the recovery drink that Brendan's book gives the recipe for.  It's amazing and it tastes great!

For my weekend long runs, I have been using his energy pudding before the run, his recipe for a sports drink on my run, and then the recovery drink.  I carry golden raisins, cashews, dates, and fruit strips with me.  I also bring along a honey packet and S-caps.  I use the S-caps beginning about 2 hours into a run to be sure that I am not losing too much in the electrolyte department.  I've run 18 miles as my longest run with this nutrition, so I need to make a longer run before I give it a 100% approval, but honestly, what product or combination there of would I be able to say works 100% perfectly each time?

I am hoping to set a time goal for Captain Karl's.  Not sure realistically what it should be.  My pace has dropped quite a bit so I don't even really know my training paces very well right now.  I know I should run a 10K to figure out my new paces, but I don't want to take time away from my mileage to do this.  Insanity would best describe my thinking.

Again, I've come to the conclusion that ultrarunning is a truly personal event.  You can take advice from many, but no one but me can know how my body will respond.  I don't even know that most of the time.  I suppose with experience, this will get better, but as I read the blogs and experiences of those who have been doing this for a long time, every race, every run can be a new adventure.

I love the social aspect of what we do.  I don't think I could stay with it if it weren't for that, but in the end, learning to be alone on the trail is where my race will be.  To that end, I am running my long runs with people for some of the mileage and alone for the rest.  Trying to get the mindset I will need to finish my race in October.