Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hamm Wisdom

Monday, January 28, 2013

Selfish Runner Syndrome (SRS)

Considering a marathon requires a lot of running in preparation for the feat, it's unfortunate to realize that running makes me a real a$$. Yesterday was the big 13 miler and I technically accomplished the goals I had set out for myself. I didn't dump or puke, pass out mid-run or yell at any strangers and finished it at an 8:22 pace, which was better than what I'd expected. I did, unfortunately, yell at my husband. I bitched at my supportive, funny and kind husband. To make a long embarrassing story mercifully short, he came up to meet me for the middle section of my run and I lashed out at him...on the run and then again at the house when I got home. Why you may ask? Good question.

I had gotten irritated that Graham hadn't shortened his own run so that he would be fresh and ready to push my pace. I had gotten majorly pissy over the fact that he hadn't re-routed mid-run, cutting his own workout short, so he could meet up with me and run the remainder of the trail as I was finishing. I justified as I ran, asserting that he should have done all of these things to help me, because I was the one running a marathon. I failed to hear all the me's or notice the fact that my worldview had unfortunately slid out of perspective...and suddenly revolved completely around me.

Oh gosh, it really is real isn't it?

After the run, the aforementioned second hissy fit at home and a pretty quiet lunch, all the me's were finally starting to sink in and it had become painfully evident, even to me, who was at fault. Graham then gave me a candid, un-sugar coated, kick in the ass, dose of reality that only someone who truly loves you will care enough to do. He cited a skewed perspective and unfortunately I knew it was more than that. I realize that individual sports as opposed to team sports naturally have a more singular focus as you are the only participant. I recognize that you and you alone are accountable and responsible for your results...and you sure as hell want them to be good, so you work hard and sacrifice a lot. But with all that realized, it doesn't give you license to start thinking that the world revolves around you and your training. Unfortunately I had and bottom line, my training was becoming all-consuming and making me fairly selfish.

Does anyone else suffer from selfish runner syndrome (SRS)? More importantly, how do serious runners keep a balance with real life? I'm not even a serious runner - simply a runner who's trying for something that serious runners do - and I'm having trouble maintaining perspective. Running demands self-discipline, introspection and helps you achieve your personal goals while smashing internal barriers. But does the constant focus on one's own running give the sport the potential to breed SRS at an alarming rate? I fear it just might. Fortunately, Graham was very forgiving, though he has asserted that he will no longer be joining my long runs. I'll use this blog as my public proclamation that though I currently suffer from SRS, I will make a concentrated effort to change. I will try to remember that the world does not revolve around my marathon training and that my life shouldn't either. I will endeavor to get less uptight about my training and less furious if my results aren't precisely what I intended. I started this whole thing wanting to have fun with it; I will strive to remember that...concurrently making Graham's life little less taxing.

Maybe if I keep up my mantra, I'll reward 
myself with these! Wait, what???

Thus, my new goals for runs are these: 
1. Don't dump or puke in public
2. Don't pass out mid-run - stay conscious!
3. Don't get angry and yell at anyone (strangers, friends and spouses alike) 
4. Have fun! 

Feel free to remind me of that on heartbreak hill :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Daunting Sunday

Sundays were usually a nice relaxing day for Graham and me. We'd sleep in, eventually waddle into the kitchen to make coffee and fight over the comics through bleary eyes. Once the caffeine kicked in, we'd fry up some bacon and whip up multi-grain pancakes and eggs with avocado. If we were motivated, we would hit up open gym at CrossFit West and if we weren't, we'd wander to Verve or The Abbey to drink some more coffee and read the afternoon away. Sundays were lovely days for us. They were.

Considering I'm already nervously mapping and re-mapping my long run tomorrow, it's safe to say that tomorrow will not be the languid, relaxed day that Sundays once were. And although I fuss, it's exciting too. After a few re-routes, this is the 13 miler I have planned out. This will equal the furthest I've ever run, so it will be interesting to compare to previous half marathon times. I'll post results after the run. As always, I'm shooting for a puke and dump free run, where I stay conscious the entire time and scream at zero strangers...fingers crossed!

Create Maps or search from 80 million at MapMyWalk

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Case of the Crankies

On the plane ride back to gloriously temperate California from snowy Saint Louis (I really will not miss seeing this temperature displayed on the dash when I get in a car), I had finished the book I brought and couldn't play any more games of Temple Run on my phone because my eyes were starting to cross. G was again engrossed in Hawking's "The Grand Design" and I feared if I asked any questions, he would start to weird out at me as he often does when whatever he's reading is bending his brain anew...so I left him undisturbed. 

As I often do these days, I began to think about running. Do I even like running? Why do I run? It started as a means to an end with the "end" being endurance for soccer. By the time I graduated college, it was basically a habit and a way to stay active. Okay, but there are plenty of others ways to stay active - most notably CrossFit - that I really enjoy...but I always still run. Why? I tried to come up with some profound reason, but it just boiled down to this: it makes me feel good. Obviously right now, I am running with a specific goal in mind (not dying on the streets of Boston), but in general, running is my go-to to get happy.

I'm pretty happy and easy-going, but like everyone, I can descend to a very crabby state. To put all my flaws on the table, I get fussy a lot and these are the main triggers:
 - when I'm hungry. Quick side note here that just a couple weeks of marathon training has caused a noticeable spike in my hunger levels and I've started carrying granola bars in my purse in an effort to stave off the rage and fury that hold hands with hunger pangs.
 - when I'm tired from lack of sleep. Contrarily, I'm a much better person when I'm bone tired from a workout.
 - when I haven't worked out, but wanted to. This usually comes with charming additions of indignation and  affrontedness for being so deeply mistreated (not sure who to blame when it's my own poor scheduling that precluded it...)
 - when I don't get enough "me" time
 - when I feel like I'm stagnant
 - when I feel like my husband is unjustly dividing his attention between me and something else (when he's insisting on doing something ridiculous like working...pssht)

As I write these things out, I'm struck by what a child I am and by how many temper tantrums running helps tame. When I run, I obviously get my exercise fix and my "me" time. But I also get a daily sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. When I'm following a training schedule (as I often do even if there is no race on the horizon), I have direction and motivation. Everyday that I attempt and complete a workout, I'm progressing. Working towards something big and scary like the Boston Marathon is even better because in addition to everything else, I get a little rush (one fourth pure terror, three fourths excitement) of anticipation that keeps me going every time I think about the race. Running manages my fuss factors beautifully. It also helps that G knows how to expertly toe the line between paying attention to me and giving me space, while being completely supportive. He even told me that he would probably stay married to me even if I dumped my shorts during the marathon. 

Bottom line, I'm grateful for running and for Graham. I'm also grateful to Brian Day for asking me if I was going for a sub 3:30 marathon...that made me feel awesome. To answer your question, that would be amazing and if we're being real, is probably also amazingly far from what will go down. Though I don't have a goal pace or time in mind (yet), you (Brian) asking me has endeared you to me forever. 

As of now, my goal is simply to live through it :) 

Best tweet today...

Monday, January 21, 2013

So this is really happening, huh?

Me on the final mile of the US
Half Marathon in San Francisco.
I doubt I'll be looking so chipper
on the final mile in Boston!
Last weekend, my long run wasn't too terrible - about nine miles. It was still within the realm of "manageable". This weekend the long run jumped up to 11. I made it through the run and was feeling accomplished and content. As more time passed after the run, the feeling that the worst was over increased. Suddenly, reality pimp-slapped me out of my fantasy-land and I realized that the long runs are only going to get longer from here on out. Beyond that, not only am I going to have to battle through longer and longer runs, but I'm going to have to do so every weekend. OH MY GOD, so this is marathon training...wow, reality is kind of brutal. 

Going into the run, I had been feeling alright about it, but once you get over 10 miles, I've found that things tend to get pretty real. The legs really started to get pissed at you, your system sometimes launches into hyper-speed digestion and...execution and your attitude can tank real quickly. So with all those possibilities in mind, the run went well: I didn't collapse, crap myself or yell at any strangers. Job well done, I guess. If I can say those same three things after the Boston marathon, I will be a happy girl. 

I kept a consistent pace and only got aches after the run. In fact, while my husband and I were at the movies watching Zero Dark Thirty that night, suddenly I couldn't bear to keep my legs slightly bent anymore. I urgently whispered that I needed to straighten my cramping legs as I jutted my stiff limbs into his personal space. Graham is 6'3'' and is generally too big for anywhere we go and his leg space is at a premium. He kindly didn't exclaim as I thrust my feet into his legs, but just tried to get out of the way without upsetting his drink. He even helped massage the ache out of my legs after the initial panic had subsided. 
See? He's huge and towers over the Guatemalans.

Besides being stuck with me for life, G was probably the person best suited to understand and deal with my sudden leg cramps. In public spaces (buses, planes, theaters, even some restaurants) he is often a giant in a small man's world. On planes, he's pretty jammed no matter what seats he's in and gets slightly claustrophobic in the tight spaces. I often have to try and massage out the"crazy legs" that incapacitates his calves and thighs. Trying to reach his calves in the cramped spaces of coach is a pretty funny and awkward sight for all. Now that I have apparently developed post-long run crazy legs, the score might be evening up. We'll see how many more incidents I'll have that he'll have to handle...isn't marriage awesome G???

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ultimate Goal: Temple Run running

G playing Temple Run...shortly after I
took this he let me know that rage was
coursing through his veins and he wasn't
going to bed until he got a million points
without any powerups...just play and you'll
Although my euphoria from the previous workout had been long forgotten and the process of getting myself ready and running was not easy, I did run again on Tuesday...at the gym. I mean come on, a run is a run. Plus, it was speedwork and thus, conducive to the treadmill. It helped to drag my husband along with and to know that someone was miserable along with me. While I was chugging through the 1 mile slow, 3 miles fast, 1 mile slow I kept wishing that running was as easy as it is for the little guy on Temple Run. It's a game on your phone to which Graham and I are legitimately addicted. I highly recommend you install it if you haven't played it before. You're an Indiana Jones looking guy and you run through these temples avoiding obstacles and collecting points. The longer you can stay alive and running, the higher your score and the faster little Indie runs. I couldn't stop thinking about the game - as more time passes he gets faster. 

What if it was like that for me? What if the longer I ran, the faster I went and the more gold (energy) I collected? Sometimes you see people running who look like they're the Temple Runner come to life. They stride smoothly and strongly at an impressive clip and I can only imagine that the longer they run, the faster their gait. It's easy to write them off as some lucky a-hole who scored majorly in the genetic lottery and came out part gazelle. But if I'm only slightly more mature, it's actually kind of inspiring to see really good runners. I've seen the same guy at Queeny Park in Saint Louis (an awesome park with tons of trails) three times now. We seem to be running comparable distances though his bouts look much less labored than mine. The first time I saw him, he was powering up hills on what Graham's family has dubbed the "roller coaster" section of Queeny. I convinced myself that he was just starting his run and had fresh legs. The second time I saw him twice and he was about 4 minutes from lapping me as I did two big loops. I couldn't pose much of an argument that time. The third time I saw him I was stretching post run as he cruised by me to complete yet another loop. He gave me a big smile and said "what a great day for a run!" as he glided by. You can't not like the guy. He was rocking it and from the looks of things, he did so frequently. What a cool thing. That kind of dedication to and mastery of running is not something I have right now, but maybe someday. In the meantime, I'll endeavor to be less of a hater and try to emulate that kind of effort. Hell, in 13 weeks or so, maybe I'll even be a little closer to Temple Run running.

Oh and over the course of me writing this blog, my 28 year old husband played countless games of Temple Run, threw at least three tantrums (one of which included him literally slamming his balled up fists into the bed), declared he would play "one more game" at least three times and then finally stopped in a major huff with lots of dramatic sighing and fussing. After all the antics, he picked up the book he is currently reading "The Grand Design" by Stephen Hawking and quietly settled down to read before bed. The man is complex.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January is freezing...who knew???

So, Graham and I live in Santa Cruz, CA and no doubt, the weather is pretty idyllic. So much so that after a while, you truly forget that there is any other kind of weather. We've even gotten as far as to wish that there would just be a really rainy and crappy day in the Cruz so you can watch movies inside without feeling guilty for not going out and being active. Well, a January trip to Saint Louis has cured that. On Saturday, when I bungled through my long run, I was sweating in shorts and a tank top - it was sunny, about 67 degrees and very California-esque. So of course I barely took note of the weather and didn't appreciate it. 

Brand new Lulu running gloves and Runder Unders made
the cold much more bearable!
On Sunday, the high for the day was 30 degrees with sleet. WTF? I decided to try a free Lulu yoga class and was driving to the store when freezing rain started to fall. I literally had no idea what to do. Keep in mind I lived in Saint Louis for about 6 years during and after college. I flipped on my windshield wipers in a panic, smoothing the icy rain into an opaque icy sheen all over my window. Much worse. I was wracking my brain trying to remember what was right...do I pull over and scrape the window? Do I hope for the best and drive blind? Fortunately I finally remembered, ah yes, the defrost. Catastrophe averted. I was able to comfort myself further with retail therapy after class.
This Californian is very proud of my
cold run...probably too proud

My four mile run later on was in 27 degrees. My quasi frozen snot clogged my nose and 4 minutes into the run, my ipod stopped functioning and I got double side stitches. Maybe it was the pumpkin muffin I hoovered shortly before the run... On the cusp of a tantrum, I focused on my breathing as I've heard that breathing in your nose and out your mouth alleviates a side ache. I became fixated on my breathing, which quickly took on the cadence of a choo choo train with me exhaling in powerful, quick bursts. I went on like this for the remainder of the run and ignored the sideways glances from walkers wondering who the hell was chugging up behind them. Though breathing awareness is good, I'll try to tone it down. By the time I finished the run, I had a hair icicle and I felt great.

Hair icicle

Isn't it funny how right after a work out, you have a temporary high? While you're on it, you can't remember why you were hesitant to exercise in the first place. You feel invincible, strong, athletic. Stretching in running tights and an under armor top after the run, I kept thinking that the chill was so refreshing and rejuvenating  I felt amazing and couldn't fathom why I had balked at 27 degrees. It was awesome. I felt like I could run for hours more. I was late to go meet my brother (who also lives in Saint Louis) and so I trundled off to the car. As soon as I closed the door and jacked up the heat, my high immediately vanished. My legs began to complain and I remembered how much I hated being cold. Do we only get exercise highs because we know that the exercise is over? But if the high is our bodies' way of celebrating the completion of something difficult, why do we feel like we could continue on right then and there? Maybe we're just trying to end on a sweet note so that you'll do it all over again soon. Either way, I came down off my high pretty hard and while I stood in the steaming hot shower afterwards, I thought "well yeah, I'm definitely never doing that again." I hope for my own sake, that I do train again come Tuesday.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Week 1 is in the books!

Like I said before, my sister in law offered me her bib for the Boston marathon and my husband guilted me into accepting it. Bottom line, my sister in law, is a stud and she didn't give up the bib lightly or without good reason. In fact, she probably has the best reason for doing so as she recently gave birth to one of the cutest babies in the world. I know I'm biased, but she literally popped out a Gerber baby...anyone who has seen her daughter will back me up on this. Suffice it say, she and her husband, were pretty busy raising the Gerber and the hours of running just weren't feasible. I didn't have such a watertight excuse. In fact, I didn't have much going on at all and there was that little part of me that had always wondered if I could do a marathon. That little spark of interest in conjunction with my husband's prodding (and the fact that he went ahead and told her I would do it while I was still waffling in the other room) sealed the deal. 

Too late for Week 1, I jumped into Week 2. I'm doing the mid-week workouts
from the faster plan and following the prescribed long runs of the slower plan...though that worked for this week, I'm predicting I may rethink this

That was two Saturdays ago and I spent the day scouring the internet and local book stores for running plans that didn't immediately terrify me. I found one that was less horrifying than others and with dismay, realized that it called for a long run on Sunday. Apparently, I wasn't ready to actually start running, so I decided to skip my first long run and peruse more plans. Thinking about running doesn't qualify as actual training? Damn. I took the Monday rest day because come on, that's what was prescribed! I couldn't reason my way out of Tuesday though and dragged my husband on the 1 mile slow, 2 miles fast, 1 mile slow run with me. I just kept thinking "dear God, how am I going to run 26 frickin miles?" Is this same thought going to plague me for another 13 weeks? I fear that it might. The rest of the midweek workouts weren't terrible, though I did spend most of them obsessing about the big 26. When my long run rolled around, my legs were really pissed at me about the consecutive running days and decided to be real A-Hs on the long run. I slogged through two long loops at Queeny Park (we're now in Saint Louis visiting our families) and only completed the second half of the run because there was a girl with a dog ahead of me running a little faster than my ambling waddle who made me angry enough to continue through the discomfort. To the blonde girl who unknowingly kept me going, thank you. To her dog who took a surprising number of dumps along the run (allowing me to catch up to them again), thank you even more.

I've started reading the book I dutifully checked out at the library, "Runner's world complete book of running : everything you need to know to run for fun, fitness, and competition." Amby Burfoot, who won the 1968 Boston Marathon and the long-time editor of Runner's World magazine, tries to keep the tone positive and encouraging, but I found that any mention of specifics - times, distances, splits, numbers of any kind really - set me on edge and made backing out sound amazing. Definitely not what the book was meant to inspire. I finally got to a section about the mental side of running that delved into the crucial role a runner's state of mind plays in their development. This helped some and thinking about how the girl and her dog forced me to keep going, perhaps I'll rely on my extreme competitiveness and inner taunting to get me through this thing. Though most of the runners will probably cross the Boston finish line before me, I'll beat one or two dammit...and undoubtedly be extremely proud of it. Ah, isn't Graham a lucky man to be paired with someone so mature? Don't answer that.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

So it begins...

If you're reading this blog, you're probably related to me or a friend that I goaded into it, but regardless of who you are, thanks for reading. My husband, Graham, convinced me to start blogging about this very stupid thing that I decided to undertake: the Boston Marathon. This blog will describe my attempt to get myself ready, in only 14 weeks, for the Boston. The title of this post pretty much sums up my feelings about running it...that and my deep fear that I might dump my pants in front of thousands of spectators.
Yeah, I married Harry Potter...
Two weeks ago I was a contented CrossFitter, sweating my buns off at CrossFit West about 5 times a week and doubling up on a few days with jogs. The jogs were easy and the WODs were tough and overall, things balanced each other out. I could comfortably kick it for a 5 mile trail run and I felt like I was improving at CF, building up a tiny bit of endurance with my kipping pull ups. I should mention that my hands were quickly taking on the texture of twin cheese graters...Graham will back me on this. When I try to soothingly rub his arm or neck, he'll often pull away in pain as my calloused skin rasps against his. Oh well, a little thing like lumberjack hands was not going to make me leave CF. We'd been CrossFitting for about eight months since we began in an effort to tone up before our wedding. Suffice it to say, we didn't stop after the wedding because it really is as cool and addicting as everyone says. We were immediately hooked and I wasn't sure what could make me stop...I certainly didn't think it would be to run a marathon.

I am predicting that marathoning will not be nearly as fun or addicting, but who knows, my predictions are usually way off.