Thursday, July 31, 2014

Carb Load Thursday!

I can't believe I only have one more day to go! The morning started off with this wonderful email...
Exciting!!! Especially since I have the great exit row window seats with extra leg room (my knees are very grateful).

Today was all about...

I was told that the best day to carb load was 2 days before your marathon/half-marathon (as opposed to the day before). Hence I did my carb load today. What a struggle! Have you ever tried carb loading when your best options are hospital cafeteria food?

My breakfast choice was granola cereal with almond milk, grapefruit and coffee (yes I know...I needed to do better).

So this was my lunch choice: Spaghetti with marinara sauce and a grilled chicken breast...
Yup, it tastes as good as it looks people.

Then there was time for a snack before I left work (there should always be time for a snack)...
Between carb loading and all the water I've been drinking there is absolutely no more room in my tummy today. But sadly I still have to eat something "carb-rich" for dinner. I'm still thinking about what that will be. Any suggestions?

Today is my last physical therapy session!!! I'm glad I have come to the end of that road. I have a great therapist and the entire rehab team is wonderful, but the weekly co-pays? not fun.

I plan for an early bedtime tonight because my flight is at 6:30am tomorrow. Hopefully I will be able to fall asleep. I have been trying to go to sleep early and get extra rest this week but it really hasn't been working. Most of the nights have been like this...

Happy Thursday! When you hear from me next I will be in CHICAGO!!!!!

Is anyone doing a race this weekend? Any fun training plans or rave runs? 
What's your favorite carb loading food?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Got bling?

"Hello, my name is LeAnne (aka "this is my faster!") and I run for medals. It has been 73 days since I received my last finisher medal."

Everybody has their 'thing' that drives them to enter a race and compete. I'm not fast so clearly I don't enter races to try and win my gender/age division (or the event). I enter to get the medal. Not the shirt or the bag or the coupons. The medal.

Runners that don't race will tell you that "sometimes the competition takes the fun out of running". That may be true for them, but since I'm only competing against myself and simply trying to improve my time, the overall spirit of competition is great. That spirit of competition helps carry me through to the finish line. But the medal? Well, the medal is what brought me to the starting line in the first place. It's one of the reasons why I bother to sign up for the event. After all, if you're crazy enough to attempt to run 26.2 miles for fun, you can do that without paying registration fees, right? Although my longest race was not more than 15K (I'm combining the Doubles Ft Lauderdale legs since it sounds fancier that way), it's still a big deal to get up and spend my Saturday or Sunday morning running, so I require a medal for my efforts.

I wish I could wear my medal everyday for one whole month after each event. Not to boast (that's not really my thing) but just to have a "hooray I was able to do it" reminder to myself. But since that would probably be a little weird I keep my medals proudly displayed in my room...
You will notice Kaiyu's artwork in the middle (she is a big Usain Bolt fan)

My own are on the left and Kaiyu's own are on the right (along with all her ribbons from track).

Here is a close-up of my four...
I know it's not an impressive number of medals right now (I only started running a year ago) but by the time I complete my running bucket list it will be a lot more.

After Saturday I will add this one to my wall of bling...

Two more days!!!

What do you think about race bling? Is it important or not a big deal?
Which event has the best race bling?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Murphy's Law..

This morning I learned two very important lessons (the second one I actually knew already):
#1 don't underestimate the importance of race week prep.
#2 don't forget Murphy's Law.

I was exhausted getting up for this morning's run (I really need to try and go to sleep early for the rest of the week). I have to confess that I didn't enjoy my run, but I completed it because I knew I should (after all it's only 30 minutes). Plus, I didn't want to deal with "MWG" (missed workout guilt). Even though I was tired and my knee started to hurt (hence the Murphy's Law reference above), I still maintained (what has become) my "new normal" training pace.

I felt like this at the end of it...
                                                                ....(minus the gender change of course)

The half countdown continues...

Meanwhile, I've been seeking out race day pep-talks to calm my nerves, so I sent a message to my dad and we talked about the event..
I'm anxious about several aspects of the event. One being that I don't want to be the last runner on the course who, because of my slow pace, causes the activation of a "runner search and rescue" mission because I am taking so long (I'm not sure that's really a thing but the thought of them adopting a no runner left behind philosophy is comforting, albeit delusional)

I also called my brother and messaged my cousins and spoke with my friends at work....see?...I'm only a little nervous.

In addition to the event and the awesome finisher medal, I am also looking forward to visiting my new favorite restaurant, Bandera (on Michigan Ave.) on Saturday after the race. Sanya (my twin sister aka "athlete extraordinaire" and "#1 marathon running inspiration") discovered it on our trip there last month. I am almost as excited about the restaurant as I am about getting my finisher medal. Almost.

Happy Tuesday!

What do you do for your race week prep? 
How do you handle your pre-race anxiety?

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's here!!!

My official race day packet for the Zooma Chicago Half marathon has arrived! 
Race week has officially started. My focus this week is: proper meal consumption, getting enough sleep, and hydration. I have been looking at various hydration tips, because I know it's important, and came across this...
One of my former co-workers (a seasoned "halfer") advised me to hydrate from the start of race week (at least). I've heard that from other runners as well so I am following their advice. He also told me not to "over hydrate" during the first few miles of the race (to avoid the need to endure the porta potties later in the day).

I normally hydrate with water (and occasionally red Gatorade). I know many runners use gels and other electrolyte drinks, but I haven't tried anything else (and I know better than to try anything new on race day). The course will have both water and cytomax every mile or so. I'm praying the water is cold (or at least cool) by the time I get to the aid stations towards the end of the course. 
Today I hydrated as much as I could (and I feel like a camel) 

Four more days to go!

What do you use for hydration? 
Have you ever run at an event where they ran out of water? Share your story!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Weekend taper...

My taper weekend took on a whole new meaning today. I didn't run this morning. The last time I ran in Orlando I didn't have the best experience so I decided to do cardio instead. After 45 mins I was bored. Nothing compares to running outside. If I had planned better I would have run the perimeter of the convention center while my mom and sister finished the things they needed to do. As I was sitting in my car waiting I saw other runners that clearly plan their vacation running routes better than I do...

But I didn't plan the day that way so I'm not going to focus too much on that. I will do a better job next time.

Depending on how your calendar week starts, today is either the beginning of my race week, or the last day of my taper week. There are times when I like the thought of the week starting on Sunday so you can "start your week off right with a long run". But there is also the satisfaction of ending your week (and weekend) with a long run. My training journal ends the week on Sunday (so does the Galloway marathon training plan) so I will officially start my race week tomorrow.

Side note:
Some of my friends do their long runs on Saturdays so that they have Sunday to recover. I'm curious what other runners out there do. Does it depend on the day of the week that the event you are training for falls?

I'm looking forward to the half next week. I have less nervousness and more eager anticipation. I'm still concerned about my knee but I'm really trying to focus on the fact that I can do this.

I have come a long way since I started last year. My goal hasn't changed and I still plan to run a full next year but considering my injury I am going to be happy to complete the half for this year. I am also eager for the half to be finished because I have a new training plan for the remainder of 2014 and I'm eager to start it.

I get these pics with the motivational messages from various websites. I don't do a good job of referencing so this is my general disclaimer that these are not my thoughts. For most of them you can tell where to get them (or who said them). The ones with the sky background (2nd pic and the one below) are from an app called mileposts (it's a free app and these motivational quotes are sent daily).

Have a great LR for those of you running today!

What is your long run day: Saturday or Sunday? Why did you pick that day?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The best & the worst...

There is usually a story behind the advice runners share with other runners. When I first started my marathon training mission I soaked up a lot of information and saturated my brain (and time) with everything running. With that approach you inevitably try things or get advice that saves your life (and your legs). However, you also get advice or try new things that you may ultimately regret.

Best advice I ever got:
Take at least one day off between running days. This was the best advice because it has helped temper the inflammation in my hamstring tendons. By having more time to rest in between runs I am truly able to recover better and I am so eager to get out and run on my next scheduled running day. Plus I find that I appreciate those days so much more. As I get stronger as a runner and improve my form I will probably build in more cross-training activities on my non-running days. I am striving for overall fitness and health as the ultimate goal, but running needs to be a part of that.

Stop running. Really?! I was completely annoyed when my first physical therapist told me this. I asked her if I could be paired with physical therapists that are runners themselves and she responded with "You know, most physical therapists don't run. We know better". Well lucky for me she was able to find a few that understood my need to accomplish the running goals I had set for myself. My current physical therapist is amazing. When I cross the finish line next week it will be in no small part to having done physical therapy for the past 8 weeks.


Best shoes I ever used:
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 13. These are the first shoes I used when I started my marathon training (and the ones that I am running in now...different pair, same brand). I went to Sole Runners and they did the whole running evaluation on a treadmill thing (which was hard for me because I get dizzy on treadmills) and recorded how I pronated etc etc. The store is owned by my friend's husband who really helped find the right shoes for me (pic below)

Brooks Dyad 7. I tried these shoes for about a week and a half. They are ridiculously heavy, but I was told that they would "fix my pronation problem" so I tried them. They completely changed the way I ran but it was way too drastic and I ended up stomping my way through each run. I already have a heavy footfall but with these shoes I ran so loudly I was waking up neighbors in the morning!


Best training run I ever did (so far):
Running in Montego Bay, Jamaica with Del (brother-in-law to-be). Del, an avid runner, was great company. We ran down and then up West Gate Hills and although it was a short run the hills were hard! I ached all over after. It wasn't the location that made this run memorable (Jamaica will always be home no matter where on the island I run), but it was everything else about that weekend. We ran the morning after my grandma's funeral. When you lose someone you love you appreciate each moment you still have just a little bit more. I will never forget that run and even though my heart ached as I ran past my grandma's house (twice), it is by far one of my best training runs ever.

May 25th 2014. This was a painful training run. I had exacerbated my hamstring tendonitis at the Doubles Ft. Lauderdale race and each step was excruciating. I should have stopped and just rested that day but I was so focused on completing the mileage I was supposed to run that I pushed myself beyond the breaking point. The next day I called my orthopedic surgeon and got a referral to physical therapy (which was the next option for me before getting steroid shots in my hamstring tendons). I will never again ignore my body's warning signs the way I did that day.


Best race (so far):
Wings for Life (May 4th 2014). This was the inaugural event and it was AMAZING. You can see my Wings for Life race recap for more information about that event.

Doubles Ft Lauderdale (May 18th 2014). I haven't done my race day recap for this event yet so I won't go into a lot of details but let's just say that during the 10K leg the signage are horrible and the police officer (the one being paid to coordinate traffic and point runners in the right direction) was busy watching a few female beach joggers so a few of us didn't know where to turn. I ended up running the wrong way and it took me an additional 5 minutes to get back on track. I was beyond annoyed.


Best gear/supportive devices:
Mac David knee brace. I will write a comprehensive review once I have used it in a race, but so far I am a big fan because it gives my knee the support it needs without over compensating for my knee too much.

Hmmm can't say I have a "worst" to be honest. I haven't tried a lot of gear so far.


Best race week diets:
My regular balanced diet. I  really try to not eat after 5pm (I'm not crazy this actually works well for my body and my metabolism). I have a good breakfast; lunch is my biggest meal and definitely the most balanced meal I have (on a typical day). Recently I started cutting carbs after 3pm but I don't do that during race weeks.

Paleo. I didn't have enough carbs when I tried Paleo. I was soooo tired and sooooo cranky. I think it's a good lifestyle to adopt for most people, but for me it needs to be done in moderation. I couldn't personally do 100% paleo. I love food too much to start eliminating items unnecessarily. I can't eat dairy because of the ridiculous migraines I get, but apart from that I will eat just about anything (but it's usually healthy food don't worry).

Tell me some of your "best" and "worst" running advice, running gear, running events etc. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

My #1 cheerleader...

I keep my motivational "pep-talk" from Kaiyu on my phone...

She is my little running inspiration and a naturally gifted athlete. She runs track in middle school, but I introduced her to running 5Ks with the Miami Children's 5K (September 2013), and then she ran and won first place in her age-group at the iRun 5K (December 2013). Recently she ran a 5K with my dad and also won first place in her age-group...

You can barely see her "superman" socks in the picture so here is a close-up (from a previous occasion)...

I'm getting more mentally and emotionally prepared for my race next week, which is great. I had physical therapy on Thursday and with only two more sessions next week I feel almost ready to go...almost. 

Who is your running inspiration?
What are your training plans this weekend (if any)?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Jeff Galloway Meet and Greet

Many of you know that I started my marathon training by following the Jeff Galloway training program and his unique run:walk:run technique. Last month the local Runner's Depot had a “meet & greet” with Jeff to celebrate the launch of the new season for the Ft Lauderdale Jeff Galloway Training Group, and Kai and I were able to go.

Of course there was picture taking…

And autograph signing…

I was very excited to have the opportunity to meet Jeff and hear him speak. It's not often that you get to meet elite professionals in the running community, especially those that have the wealth of knowledge and experience that Jeff does.  After the picture taking and autograph signing was complete, Jeff spoke to the group (standing room only) about marathon training and his run:walk:run method. We all had the opportunity to ask questions and get tips and, since “sharing is caring” I am going to list a few of them for you:
  • When recovering from an injury it is OK to "walk" your weekly LRs; by doing this you maintain most of your endurance while still allowing your body to heal.
  • Have the right attitude during your training and during the race (as my physical therapist always says "endurance is mental")
  • Stay to the side during walk breaks (safety is a priority)
  • Keep strides short but have a quick turnover
  • "The Wall" is typically within 1 mile of the longest distance you have run
  • Do not over eat in the days before the race
Some of the tips are common ones I hear all the time, and others are unique to the Galloway marathon training philosophy. You can always sign up for e-coaching via his website and/or print a copy of the training schedules he recommends. I officially started with the marathon training at the beginning of 2014 (before that I was trying to marry a bunch of different ones together). 

Since I am in such a sharing mood I have put a picture of the marathon training program for you below (but please visit his official website for more details)...

There isn’t a single marathon program that is perfect for every runner. Essentially you have to figure out which one works the best for you and your goals, or adjust one to accommodate your needs and schedule. I learned the hard way not to try and follow the training plans that my friends use and not to try and take on too much too soon.

After my half (eight days away!!!), I plan to refocus my training. My goal is to go “back to the basics” and develop a comfortable foundation mileage of 10-15 miles for my weekly long runs. This will involve slowly building up from 10 miles, adding 1 mile per week and taking a recovery week every 3-4 weeks. I’m still going to follow the run:walk:run technique from the Galloway program, but have found that the significant “up and down” change in mileage hasn't worked well with helping me maintain my endurance.

(I also have some changes in mind for 2015, but more about that to come...)

Share your experiences with building up mileage on your long runs?

What training programs have you tried that worked really well for you?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Unsolicited Race Day Cheerleaders (and the iRun 5K recap)

There is a thin line between encouragement and boasting. Recently I read this article that provided two different views on runners who offer "encouragement" as they pass other runners on the race course. The article brought to mind my experience at the 2013 iRun 5K.

Before I continue I have to mention that I thought the race was great overall. It was well organized; the race coordinators provided great mile posts (for both the 5K and 10K); the turn around spots were clearly indicated; and, because it was a relatively small event, you didn't feel lost in a sea of runners elbowing their way to the finish line. Plus....most importantly....Kai won 1st place in her age group!

That being said, there were a lot of "professional 5K and 10K runners" at the event who were openly encouraging of each other throughout the course (yay for them). And then, obviously unable to contain their words of motivation, they proceeded to extend this "encouragement" to other runners on the track (like myself) as they ran the course again as part of their "cool down" routine. Did I mention that these were the 10K runners?! So not only did they complete the 10K (two times around the course), they also continued to run (you know...just for fun) and lapped me again while I was trying to complete the 5K. Yes, that was annoying.

It's bad enough that they were more than twice as fast as I am. I also had to endure the further insult of them letting me know the course landmarks. One of the runners said "Keep going! You're almost there! The finish line is just past the third stop sign after the white house with the blue gate, and then you make the second turn once you pass the fifth pedestrian crossing". Thanks.

Of course, I'm willing to admit that when races have volunteers throughout the course (at the water stations and turn around points etc) that shout encouragement as you pass them I am appreciative. The big difference is that they are supposed to do that. Plus, you are running past them, not the other way around. So their encouragement is actually motivating, not disheartening and "soul crushing", as Scott Martin so eloquently described in the article (link above).

The article was featured in Runners World and readers were polled to see which perspective (offering encouragement vs. not offering encouragement) they agreed with. Apparently I'm in the minority. Most readers think encouragement should be given. I am willing to concede that I run to a different cadence (literal and figuratively). I prefer to keep the unsolicited cheerleaders at a distance. I guess a good way to ensure that happens would be to run faster. guessed it.....this IS my faster!

This is how I console myself...

Let's hear it! Tell me all your race day pet peeves!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

These quiet moments....

Running is poetry in motion. And some days it's all about poetry. Today was one of those days...
~ LeAnne

Early To Rise...

Today I wake up before the sun
While most are sleeping my day had begun
I drag myself slowly out of bed
"Ten more days" I quietly said

I massage my knee and test it for pain
I look out the window and thank God for no rain
I start to get ready, brush my teeth, wash my face
Put on my Brooks running shoes and my McDavid knee brace

Although it's not my usual running day
I set my interval timer and am on my way
A thirty minute run is all I need
At a slow steady pace, not focused on speed

The morning calm subsides as the sky gets lighter
Humidity rises as the sun gets brighter
The minutes pass quickly, much to my left knee's delight
And I push myself to finish strong, to not give up without a fight

The time passes; I smile; this morning's session is done
There were periods of mild pain, but mostly it was fun
Now it is time to start my day
I'll count down the hours until I can play
"Early to rise" with the sun once more
Thursday morning I'll be back for sure.
                                                                       ~ LeAnne

What was the best part of your day today?

Monday, July 21, 2014

What life teaches a "Type A" runner

The theme for this week is be flexible. Often in life we have to make changes to our routine that are unexpected. We have to ''roll with the punches" or "let the chips fall where they may" and move forward. I have had to do that in life and have had to do that with my marathon training, because apparently I can't control every aspect of my life (no matter how many times I try to convince myself otherwise).

The biggest change in training that I have had to make so far was deferring my full marathon from this year to 2015. As much as I still wanted to attempt the full in October, I knew that with the amount of physical therapy I needed after my injury, and the number of weeks I was off of running, I would never be fully prepared (at least not enough to complete it safely).

As a runner, being flexible means many things. It means learning when you need to convert one rest day into two, because your body is aching and you still need more time to recover. It means adjusting your schedule to accommodate last minute trips (for work/emergencies/fun). It's about having a Plan B (or if you're like me a Plan C & D) and being OK with the change in plans (even when you don't have much notice). And it's about being able to step back, look at the bigger picture, remember the goal...the destination....and to appreciate each step that will get you closer to reaching them.

With that in mind, I am changing up my routine this week. This is a last minute change (unusual for me) but the reason for the change was planned months ago......(drum roll please)......My mom and baby sister (yes she is still the "baby sister" at age 27) will be in town and we have a weekend filled with gift shows, wedding dress shopping, regular shopping, and amazing restaurant dining (that last one probably should have been listed first). Luckily I can still fit in 3 days of running (yay!) and, since this is my taper weekend, the planned venue changes will coincide perfectly with a shorter LR on Saturday.

The half-marathon countdown continues!!!!! Eleven days to go!!!! (not counting today or race day). I'm getting excited...and nervous...but mostly excited...nope, mostly nervous.......nervously excited???

Closing thoughts for this wonderful Monday...

How flexible is your training plan? What is the best race day advice and worst race day advice you ever got?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ten miles down; Two weeks to go...

Humidity is my enemy. This is especially true when you are trying to complete a 10 mile training run.

Before I get into the training run this morning I'm going bring everyone up to speed:
My half-marathon is in 2 weeks and 10 miles is the farthest distance I have completed during training since my injury. I know I'm not going into the half with my body fully conditioned. But, unlike most of the runners that will be there, this is my first half-marathon and my goal is just to finish it before they start taking down the signs.
I read an article that said if you can complete two thirds of your race distance during training, then you will be able to complete the full race distance at the event. This is the philosophy behind many of the marathon training plans that don't take you past 18-20 miles for your long runs. So with that in mind, I felt ok only going up to 10 miles before my half (when I do my race recap in a few weeks I'll let you know if this philosophy is sound or not).

Back to this morning's 10 mile training run:
My morning training run started at 6:30am. At (approximately) mile 3.5 my friend and her daughter joined me for 2+ miles. After they left I continued for the remainder of the 10 miles. Confession: I had to walk a lot. The humidity was out of control and I felt dehydrated from mile 3.

Thanks to my insulated water bottle (that I left in the freezer overnight) I could only take advantage of a small trickle of water at a time (which makes me even more thirsty!). I have been hydrating all week but I clearly am not drinking enough so I will need to increase my water intake during the upcoming two weeks.

I had to "power-walk" the last two miles because my legs started to cramp and my left knee (even with the brace) was throbbing

I had some nice scenery during my "power-walk" period...

Once I completed the 10 miles I thought I was going to collapse. I tried my best to do a "cool-down" walk but it was hard stay upright. My overall average pace (mins/mile) was a lot slower than usual but I didn't expect anything else considering how much walking I had to do...

I'm icing my left knee now (as I type) and will be icing both knees on and off throughout the day (my left knee is the injured one but I don't want my right knee to feel left out so I ice it also). Even though I was outside of my min/mile pace zone (12-14 mins/mile is what I want to maintain in preparation for the half), I know that...

And guess what?! Tomorrow is my REST DAY!!!!!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Please send me your half-marathon tips! Also, what was your worst training run ever?