Archive for January, 2010

Something really crazy

January 31, 2010 2 comments

I signed up for a 24 hour run on July 18th that goes around the Schuylkill River loop (Kelly drive to west river drive). It’s two weeks after the Portland marathon, and it 24 hours! 20in24

Before your brain explodes, let me say that there is no reason I have to run the entire 24 hours. I can run as much or as little as I want. The run is for a good cause, Back on my Feet , which is an organization that helps the homeless through running. I get to set up my stuff in or outside of Lloyd hall, and can stop at any point and start running again when I’m ready.

But I’m aiming for at least 50 miles. And if I train well, I hope to run 50 miles in the first 12 hours of the race, stop and take a rest, and then continue walking and running for the last 4 hours. My first goal will be to keep moving forward for a certain number of hours (to be determined, based on training and the recovery from the Portland marathon), with the secondary goal of finishing more than 50 miles.

I will be fund-raising for this race, so keep me in mind when you are thinking of causes to donate to, and I will post the link to the fundraiser page when I get it set up properly.

Categories: Ultras

The Half Marathon Decision

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I want to expand on this point which I didn’t highlight in the last post. I am exchanging my goal of running a marathon on March 21st (and July 4th) for the goal of running a half-marathon on the 21st in preparation for the Portland marathon on July 4th.

I started this blog hoping that I would be better than the advice posted by other about new marathoners’ ability to compete in multiple marathons. I saw the Yuengling marathon on my birthday, and decided I should run it (beer plus running, who am I to refuse that?). The goal was to keep up the fitness I achieved while training for the Philly marathon, to overcome the winter workout lull, and to prove that the main advice online was for newbie athletes and may not fit YOUR lifestyle.

Well, what I say now is that I couldn’t defeat winter, and recovering from the marathon mentally took longer than I expected. I don’t know if my ability to run a second marathon four months after the first ever marathon would be different in the summer, but I suspect it would. My resolve was definitely weakened by evenings of darkness. Fortunately, from now until June every day is getting a little bit lighter.

I still feel positive about my fitness goals, I think my decision to run a half-marathon is more a representation of the flexibility it takes to maintain an athletic schedule. I guess my winter experience is a testament that the same goal will not always inspire the same preparation and work in training. As I mentioned, while I am disappointed I won’t run a full marathon, a half is also a challenge; maybe I will focus on speed. By letting myself skipping the longest runs, I can favor other activities (like hiking and rock climbing).

And biking to work… Jeez, I can’t believe how the weather change today. I took a short hike to check some of the places I GPSd yesterday and it was beautiful! Nine hours later I nearly freeze on my bike ride home. Fortunately I had lots of layers at work. I barely noticed the ninja hood. I also somehow managed to not get blown over by the wind from the west. Glad I decided to skip the running today, that bike ride was enough of a workout.

Categories: biking, marathon

Winter Biking

January 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I decided to go Septa free this week. This decision was partially dictated by funding requirements, but also because I am in a training mood. Last week, I was GPSing the park trails and was outside hiking 2 hours on Wednesday, 2:30 on Thursday, and outside climbing through Multi-flora Rose and other spiny things for 5 hours on Friday. This burst of sunlight and activity sparked a desire for More! in my brain. I made the decision to run a [mere] half marathon in March on Tuesday. While sad, that choice released some guilt I had been feeling about not running, and I could focus on how awesome it was to be hiking and outside for so long for three days in a row. Yesterday was actually a terrible day for me to try to be Septa free. Because of the rain I had to scrounge literally the last $2 of change (that Septa machine digest… there are still pennies unclaimed) in my house to take the trolley, and I worked late so I was not looking forward to walking home, but I made it!

Today I pumped up my deflated bike tires and hit the road. The morning was a really nice ride; the sun was out. Coming back though… I thought the worst part of winter biking would be my face and hands freezing, but the problem is the ears. All the wind rushing past numbed my ear canals. At moments it was painful. I’ve been inside for half an hour and my ears and surrounding area are still cold. Fortunately I bought a crazy ninja/bank robber mask with my REI gift card. Tomorrow I will bring it with me; I hope it fits under my helmet. I may look like a freak, but my ears will not pain me if they are protected! Today I was unprepared, tomorrow will be better.

I am currently warming up and mentally preparing myself to go on a run before hitting the bar. I finished my side project this weekend, put it in the mail today, and my credit card cycle just refreshed. I can finally afford a random celebratory beer, and have reason to celebrate! Local 44 here I come. After a run though. Must… go… running! Do not be deterred by the fluffy robe, nor by the bed.

Back to the “I feel like training” part: I just bought the “Ultimate Workout Log” on MLK day. The writing-stuff-down-thing is another reason for this increased desire for training.

In sum: for extra motivation, buy a workout log, get tons of winter sun, decide on an achievable training goal, and try a car or Septa free week!

Categories: biking, training

Fourth time’s the charm

January 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Last week I ran in the gecko shoes for the fourth time. I went a bit over 4 miles (tried out a new accelerometer!), and at mile three, I became aware of how well the shoes were molded to my feet. The feeling I was waiting for! The left shoe was still aggravating the blister on my heel, but the rubber sole felt great. The first time I ran in the shoes, I kinda felt like my feet were flexed throughout the run, keeping the shoes stretched. No longer! The shoes fit!

I just came back from another 4-ish mile run in the shoes. Blister still there, and this time I had to stop in the middle of the run to remove small sharp shards of something, but again, the shoes felt well molded to my feet. During this run I didn’t think about my form at all. My shins felt a bit pounded, but that was all. I feel great now.

I also had three beers in the hours before 6pm (I left to run at 9:17pm). Beer plus running is an interesting combination. I think the main thing alcohol affects is my stamina, but it could also influence my impression of how fast I am going. I hate when I climb the two stories to my apartment after a night of drinking and being temporarily out of breath with my heart racing. Two floors?! And I’ve been in this apartment for a year an a half! I blame the beer!

But I do recommend the gecko shoes. I think I will make the mental shift from “trying these crazy shoes out” to “trying to switch to using the gecko shoes on most of my runs”. Maybe next Philly marathon I will be the runner in the Vibram Five Fingers fielding the questions, convincing others that they too can make the switch to barefoot-like running =)

“You ran a MARATHON?? Are you Crazy?”

January 9, 2010 1 comment

That is the attitude of my entire my family. Probably a significant amount of the rest of the people I interact with on a daily basis think that as well.

The answer is “No”.

I just know what I need. I need to run (or play Ultimate) on a close-to-daily basis. I don’t possess the power to exercise without an ulterior motive. And unlike a large portion of the population, the only distance that seems large to me is a marathon. Thank you, cross-country! I tried to train for the Broad Street Run in May 2009, but 10 miles didn’t seem like a big deal. I also found out early in the training schedule that the run was on the same day as Spring League finals, so that didn’t help… but while my body may be more out of shape than I expect it, the cross-country (and subsequent Ultimate) training has prepared me mentally to scoff at distances below 8 miles, and to not take distances between 8 and 13.1 miles too seriously. The only race that will motivate me to train regularly and decently is a marathon. (I also scoff at a number of track workouts when they are on paper, and I know I am DEFINITELY not in good track workout form, but isn’t running all about the mental game?).

People also asked what I thought about during the marathon–I wasn’t wearing headphones. I don’t wear headphones most of the time I run. I don’t need it, and headphones make me feel cut off from the world. I almost always have a song playing over and over in my head. If I let whatever is in there play, it automatically matches my pace which keeps me generally running at paces I can handle. Other stuff I think about while running long distances is just whatever–the weather, the people I pass, any injuries that might be flaring up at the moment, the last thing that made me angry, the next exciting Ultimate game, why I like the color red, etc. I consider running a form of active meditation. Not that I have ever tried real meditation, but it’s a time to reset my mind and just exist, and from what I hear that’s one thing you get out of meditation.

I have a set of headphones designed for running which wrap around my head and cradle my iPod shuffle (square version) at the back of my head. According to the New York Times, research shows playing faster music makes you move faster without you thinking about it (which matches what I see in reality). That’s why I bought the headphones, but I am not always in the mood for music dominating my run and I don’t always have time to make a good play list for the run. Running is a time to let my thoughts go, and music playing in the background tends to overpower whats in my head.

I also object in general to using headphones while doing things like riding the trolley or walking around. I like to hear the world around me. (And in some situations, I don’t like layering music over loud machine noises).

Going back to the original theme of the post, I had people over for a celebration immediately after the marathon. I sent minions (read “family and friends”) down to let in new guests. When my aunt went down to let in a friend, they apparently met eyes and immediately shook their heads and said “She’s crazy”.

Well I think all YOU are crazy for not running.

Categories: marathon, running

Happy New Year…

For the holidays, I got sick. I caught a cold from my brother after Christmas, and after New Years Eve got severe chest congestion. I had to use Vick’s Vapor Rub for the first time in my memory. So with all the Holiday bustle and the two colds, I didn’t run much (or do much of anything, actually). I managed to do about 3 miles in the Vibram FiveFingers and an hour outside on a bike between Christmas Eve and yesterday. Fortunately today I felt better! Just in time for Winter League tomorrow night!

I think all the sitting I did in the last ten days stressed out my back. It felt on the verge of going out without me (teehee, I don’t know where I got that line from, probably some mid-life crisis book of Funnies). After sleeping on the floor (sleeping sandwiched between my sleeping bag and my comforter=awesome!) I felt better this morning. Still a bit of a twinge on the trolley ride home, but I was able to run about 5.5 miles with no problem.

Today I ran in regular sneakers. Compared to the most recent gecko-shoe-run, today was wonderfully thoughtless–I didn’t have to think about the weirdness going on with my feet, I just ran. The last time I ran in the gecko shoes, it was better than the first serious run, but I got two small blisters on the side of my heel. For the duration of the run I was thinking about my feet and legs (“Is this painful? Was that? Am I landing correctly? Is that feeling in my knee something being exacerbated by these shoes or the normal knee weirdness? How are these shoes changing my form?”). I will give the gecko shoes another run on Friday or Saturday and post any new thoughts. So far I say the shoes are not clearly better or worse than the other shoes.

My plan to run a marathon on March 21st is under review. I meant to get serious about training last week, but the cold got in the way. The difference between “3 months to train” and “11 weeks to train” is rather large in my mind. I am worried about stressing my body too much by training for a marathon that is too close, and worried that if I give up that goal I may not work hard enough at training in general. The other wrinkle is I can’t afford the entry fee until next month (Grr! Money issues!). The money issues mean that by the time I can pay I will have done significant training and may be able to decide if I should do a mere half marathon that weekend instead. (Though the late payment also increases the chances the two marathons that weekend will sell out).

And how to avoid it: Resolutions. This year (decade even?) I am going to procrastinate less. I have let myself become addicted to Hulu and to watching TV shows (my roommate has about ten seasons of shows I hadn’t seen yet… I’ve gotten through a significant portion of that at this point). At first, I watched TV while doing dishes and other such productive tasks, but recently I watch because I don’t feel like doing anything else and thus avoid doing productive things in the evening. So I am resolving to cut myself off from Hulu and DVDs for the most part (maybe allow myself one TV show a night, with an exception for TV Show overload during particularly stressful times). I am resolving to be more productive. Since my no-Hulu plan went into action yesterday, I have achieved positive results. Yesterday I put away all the clean laundry and some other odds and ends I had left sitting out for a number of days (or weeks in the case of the odds and ends). Today I made social phone calls (HOLY CRAP, making phone calls?? who DOES that anymore!?) and watered my poor plants that have been craving water for days. I made a plan for fixing my ailing laptop and for doing all that was left undone when I got my new desktop two months ago (like installing Adobe… can’t believe I haven’t done that yet). I have a plan for finishing the New Jersey project ASAP when I get the computer situation under control. I hope in the upswing of being productive in life, I will be more likely to achieve any and all fitness goals I have.

What happened was my life became like my favorite Hot Hot Heat quote: “Friday night I’ll raise my glass and say ‘Tomorrow things will change; I can’t afford to wait!’ But by Monday morning my alarm clock knows how this story goes and the end is the same as the start.” But now, with new 2010!!!! plans, things really will change. Because while TV is satisfying, I can’t go on not having Adobe Acrobat on my main computer.

And a final note: Some of you may not know about my plants… there are somewhere between 50 and 115 potted plants in my apartment. Watering them is not a task to take lightly =).