Saturday, November 30, 2013

On Being a Slow Runner

This morning I did my 13 mile long run and continued my three day running streak as part of the 2013 Runner's World Holiday Running Streak. I thought that after running 15 miles last week a 13 miler would be no big deal. Yeah, I was wrong.

From the very beginning, this run felt like a death march and as I struggled through all 13 painfully slow miles, I thought about what people think of slow runners. I came across a 2009 New York Times Article recently called "Plodders Have a Place, but Is It in a Marathon?" I know 2009 is ancient history, but as I read the article and some of the comments after it, I found myself getting angrier and angrier. Here is one of the more infuriating quotes:

The marathon I am training for has a seven hour time limit and while I am training to finish in 6 hours or less, finishing at all will be one of my proudest accomplishments. I used to be obese. My highest weight ever was in middle school when, at 216.4 pounds, I was one of, if not the largest girl in my class. I couldn't run a lap around the basketball court in gym class without struggling, let alone run an entire mile.

And now look at me. I am training for a marathon. Me. I am not a naturally gifted athlete. I have short chubby legs, mild asthma, and moderate to severe Crohn's Disease, among other things. Nothing about my body is built for running. More gifted runners could finish their runs in half the time it takes me. I am slow, but I am nevertheless a runner and I deserve to be called one.

I'm sure the Adrienne Walds of the world genuinely believe runners like me have destroyed the marathon, but I genuinely believe the Adrienne Walds of the world need to learn a little humility and empathy. Maybe you're like her. Maybe you ran past me on the sidewalk this morning and you felt superior because you can run a faster mile than me. Congratulations! Would you still feel so smug if you knew that in 2010 I had a Crohn's flare so severe that I needed three surgeries in the space of six months and I almost died? Does it make you feel big and strong to belittle me for trying to accomplish my running goals with a broken body? Do you still want to tell me that I didn't put in as much effort as you even though I trained for just as many months, endured just as much pain, and gave it everything I had to give just like you? 

Maybe, and this is where the empathy part comes in, you should stop measuring other people with a ruler you designed for yourself to make you feel tall. You know, the one that takes your strengths into account and conspicuously disregards all your weaknesses. How about instead you take each person's individual differences into account and recognize that your very easy might be someone else's very hard? And when that happens, you do not get to be a condescending jerk about it. One day, Adrienne Wald is going to try something new and she is not going to be very good at it. I hope everyone around her masters it immediately and I hope that the experience is humbling. 

Today, I ran 13 miles and continued my 3 day running streak. It was not an easy run and finishing took every ounce of perseverance I have.

My splits were slow and perhaps the people who ran past me on the sidewalk thought I had no right to call myself a runner like them. But I am a runner and maybe if they knew more about my life they would realize that our effort is the same even if our finish times are different.

Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 Runner's World Holiday Running Streak

The first thing I did when I woke up yesterday was jump on the scale. My weight has slowly been coming down since I started training for the Rock 'N Roll New Orleans Marathon nine weeks ago, and I wanted to stay accountable on Thanksgiving. I thought the best way to do that would be to start back posting regular scale pictures again. So, here we go:

As of yesterday, I am at 148.2 pounds. My goal is still to get to around 130, so I have a long way to go before I am at my goal weight. I had planned to run 7 miles on Thanksgiving so that I would have a bit of a calorie buffer, but when I logged onto Facebook, I saw a post about the 2013 Runner's World Holiday Running Streak and I decided that participating would be the perfect way to stay on track this holiday season.

A running streak is where you run at least 1 mile per day for the duration of the streak. Sorry to disappoint the folks who thought this was the no pants party kind of streaking ;). The Runner's World Holiday Running Streak runs from Thanksgiving Day to New Year's Day, so that means that I need to run at least 1 mile everyday until New Year's Day. Of course, I will still be following the Hal Higdon Novice 2 Marathon training plan, but instead of taking rest days off, I will be doing short 1-2 mile runs at an easy pace.  

The Holiday Running Streak began on Thanksgiving Day with a frigid 7 mile run. I waited as late as I could to start, but the feels like temperature was still 14 degrees. I wore my last pair of long running tights, a tech shirt under a warm running hoodie, two pairs of gloves, and a headband over my ears. My body was warm enough, but my fingertips still felt cold for the entire run. I saw several runners in the park wearing shorts and it blew my mind a little bit. They must be from somewhere far colder than Tennessee to think feels like 14 Fahrenheit is shorts running weather!

I spent the rest of Thanksgiving driving home and hanging out with my family. As expected, it was a day full of temptation. I didn't have time for a post-run snack before I got on the road and even though I ate a Larabar when I got to my grandmother's house, I was starving by the time the food was ready at 2:30 or so. I wish I could say that I fully stuck to the plan, but a few things I didn't intend to eat wound up on my plate. I got a spoonful of chicken and broccoli casserole, a scoop of mashed potatoes, a dinner roll, a sizable scoop of sweet potatoes, a small scoop of macaroni and cheese, some turkey and ham, a tiny bit of my cousin's strawberry, pretzel, and cream cheese dish, and a slice of cheesecake for dessert. I was not proud of myself, but the meal wound up being lunch and dinner since I wasn't hungry when I got home. I certainly ate smaller portions than I would have gotten before starting this journey and I didn't bring any leftovers home when I left. That is definitely an improvement of years past!

Normally today would have been a rest day, but I needed to run at least a mile for the Holiday Running Streak. I had no intention of braving the morning cold, so I waited until after lunch. My legs felt heavy. I thought about doing 1 mile and calling it quits, but I made myself run 2 since tomorrow's long run is only 13 miles. I stuck with the 2 minute run 1 minute walk intervals again. 

I tried not to pay attention to my time while I was running, mainly because I felt like I was running even slower than usual and I just didn't want to see the evidence of it on my Garmin. I was really surprised when I got home and looked at my splits. No wonder my legs felt heavy--I was running way faster than my comfortable pace! I think it will be interesting to see if and how long I stick with the Holiday Running Streak. Their idea was to get people through the holiday season without weight gain. Maybe if I keep reminding myself that I'm doing this to avoid weight gain I will be able to make it all the way through. Is anyone else participating in the 2013 Runner's World Holiday Running Streak? 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

If I Planned Thanksgiving...

This morning after breakfast I made time for a tempo (for me) run. Even though it is fall break, exam period at my law school starts next week. Since my entire grade for each of my classes is based on a final exam, this time of the semester is incredibly stressful. I am just proud that this year I am managing my stress by running instead of eating.

I deliberately waited to do my first run of the week today since tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I regretted it as soon as I walked outside. The feels like temperature today was around 16 degrees and the wind was crazy. It rarely gets this cold in Tennessee so I had trouble finding a warm enough outfit. I wound up wearing a pair of my aunt's old workout tights that were way too big, a tech shirt, a fleece, and thinsulate gloves. I was still pretty cold, when I had to wait at stoplights, but I just told myself to work harder during my running intervals so I could get warm. I decided to start increasing the length of my running intervals to 2 minutes and leave my walk intervals at 1 minute. My ultimate goal is to be doing 3 minute run and 1 minute walk by the time the marathon rolls around. 

Part of the reason I waited to do my first run of the week until today was so that I could start banking calories for Thanksgiving tomorrow. I also plan to get in a run tomorrow and maybe the day after that as well. My grandmother hosts Thanksgiving dinner every year and she isn't a very health conscious cook. My current plan is to have as much turkey breast as I want, a serving of sweet potatoes, and a serving of dessert. If I know my grandmother, that will be about all I can safely eat because everything else will be loaded up with butter, sugar, and other problematic ingredients. Of course, the sweet potatoes and dessert will be full of problematic ingredients too, but of the foods that are likely to appear tomorrow, those are the only ones I love enough to potentially gain weight over. 

I love my family, but I hate going to family gatherings now that I am on my healthy journey because I know that they will revolve around foods that I can't eat. As I was running today I kept thinking about what I would make if I were planning the Thanksgiving menu. Here is what I came up with:

Spinach Salad Bar w/ Assorted Toppings (Baby spinach, fresh fruit, sliced nuts, light salad dressings)
Possible Addition: A Light Soup
Fresh Fruit Bowl (strawberries, kiwi, fresh pineapple, apples, berries, etc)
Slow Cooker Candied Sweet Potatoes (with Splenda brown sugar instead of regular)
Alternative: Crockpot Baked Potatoes w/ Assorted Toppings
Turkey isn't my favorite protein, so I would make Crockpot Cranberry Roast (pork or beef) instead
(Source: Crockpot Cranberry Roast)
(Source: Greek Yogurt Cheesecake)
(Source: Healthy Chocolate Pecan Pie)
Sadly, if I suggested such a menu my entire extended family would mutiny because there are no mashed potatoes and the vegetables aren't smothered in bacon grease. Such is life, I suppose. What is your family having for Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Lemonade Cookbook Review (And a Winner Announced)

I was recently offered an opportunity to review The Lemonade Cookbook and I jumped at the opportunity. I am no MasterChef, but I do like to piddle around in the kitchen on occasion. Here are my thoughts on this particular cookbook.

The recipes are described as "Southern California Comfort Food From L.A.'s Favorite Modern Cafeteria." I wish I could say that I had eaten at Lemonade, but I haven't had the pleasure. As a result, I can't compare the recipes in the cookbook to anything at the restaurant or tell you whether you will now be able to replicate your favorite dish from the restaurant at home.

The cookbook itself is beautiful and well-organized. Some of the recipes do refer back to other recipes in the book, but they always include a page number for you to flip to, which I thought was helpful. The book is divided into several sections to make it easier to find what you are looking for, and as with most cookbooks, it is filled with beautiful food photography.

The recipes themselves are fairly concise, but I do think most of them would be best suited for someone who cooks frequently and has quite a bit of cooking gear at their disposal. Just flipping through the book I saw quite a few recipes that involved outdoor grills, cast iron skillets, etc. that aren't necessarily available in everyone's home. 

The next thing I noticed was that many of the recipes include a lot of ingredients, and many of them might be a bit pricey or hard to find depending on where you live. If you cook fairly often and keep a large number of ingredients and spices on hand, the recipes will be easier (and cheaper) for you than for someone who does not already have the ingredients in the house.

The great thing about the recipes is that most of them are relatively healthy. I saw a lot of lean proteins and vegetables. Most of the recipes relied on flavorful ingredients rather than fattening ones.

Bottom Line
What will you find in this cookbook? The cookbook is Southern California Comfort Food. This is not your Grandma's comfort food, though. There are quite a few dishes with international influences. You will see everything from soup to sandwiches, to seared ahi tuna. 

Who is this cookbook for? It is probably best for the intermediate/or advanced cook. I wouldn't buy this cookbook for a college student, for instance, but it would probably be great for someone who already cooks a lot.

Price: around $18 on Amazon

Full Disclosure: I was given a copy of The Lemonade Cookbook for the purposes of this review, but all the opinions expressed here are my own.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Hot Chocolate 15/5k Giveaway. The winner is

Jennifer, please email me at by Wednesday. If I don't hear from you, I will choose a new winner.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Weekend Miles

My long run this week was 15 miles. I originally wanted to run most of the miles in a local park that has a relatively flat running path, but when I got there they were having yet another event. Rather than put up with the crowd, I left the park and ran to the closest greenway instead. I really love that greenway, but it was such a cold day that I didn't like running that far out. I kept thinking that if I couldn't run the whole way for whatever reason and had to walk back, I would be freezing the whole way. Fortunately the run went well, albeit very slowly.

I thought about doing two loops of the greenway, but ultimately decided to run back towards the park and see if the event was over. The park is much flatter than the greenway and since my legs were feeling pretty tired, I thought it would be better to do a few easier miles in the park if I could. By the time I got back to the park the event was over and the running path was mostly empty. I only had a few miles left, but I needed to take a bathroom break. I went in a building in the park. My Garmin turned off while I was inside and when I turned it back on it was confused and beeped before mile 11 was over. It's not really a big deal since I just kept running until I got to 15 miles, but it did make my splits weird.

It turns out that running 15 miles really helps a girl get her priorities straight. Here are some of my thoughts after running 15 miles:

Everything hurts. I should probably stretch. What if stretching just makes everything hurt more?
I've definitely smelled better.
Why is the toilet so low? How am I supposed to get all the way down there?
Pasta. No, extra pasta with extra feta. No, extra pasta with extra everything!
Heat! Heating pad! Hot shower! Hot tea!
Nap time!

When I got up this morning, my legs were still mildly sore. Lately, I've been doing a short run the day after my long runs because it always makes my legs feel less sore. I didn't really want to run today since my 15 mile run was so hard, but I decided to try foam rolling my legs and make a decision about running when I was done. If you have never tried foam rolling, let me be clear. It hurts like crazy while you're doing it, but it makes your muscles feel better when you're done. My understanding is that it's meant to be a deep tissue massage. I spent about ten minutes foam rolling and my legs felt much better when I was done. I decided that I would do a 4 mile run after all.

My plan was to trot slowly during my running intervals with no pace goal in mind. When I got outside, though, the temperature was in the 30s and I ran faster than I intended because I was freezing. Instead of doing 1:1 run walk intervals, I started running for 2 or more minutes and walking for 1 minute just to stay warm.

I was wearing gloves, but by the time I finished running, I could barely feel my fingers. I kept seeing other runners in short sleeves or shorts, or both, and thinking they were crazy. As soon as I got home, I went straight for a hot shower and then curled up in a fuzzy hoodie with a cup of Trader Joe's Candy Cane Green Tea. If anyone needs me, I'll be curled up under my Snuggie studying for my exams.

If you haven't already, go enter my Hot Chocolate 15/5k giveaway. It ends tonight, Sunday November 24 at 11:59 PM.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Busiest Week

This might have been the busiest week I've had all year. That is why I did this run two days ago and haven't gotten around to posting about it until tonight. Fitting a 7 mile run into a jam packed week was not easy, but I needed every single one of these miles to de-stress and clear my head. I decided it was an audiobook kind of run so I just aimed for a comfortable pace that I could maintain for the whole run.

I'm currently listening to the audiobook version of The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. All the Picoult books I've read have the same basic formula. The story is always about a group of characters who are grappling with a controversial situation and the story always unfolds from multiple perspectives so that the reader has a chance to see all sides of the controversy. The Storyteller is classic Jodi Picoult. 

The main premise of the book is that Sage Singer, is a non-practicing Jewish woman who lives in modern day America. One day, a very old man named Josef Weber comes into the bakery where she works and they start to form a friendship. Eventually, Josef opens up to her about a terrible secret he has kept hidden for many years--he is a former Nazi. As if this admission isn't jaw-dropping enough, Josef asks Sage to forgive him and to help him end his life. So far, there are four main characters whose stories interweave to form the rest of the narrative. The modern story unfolds from Sage's perspective as she grapples with the fallout of Josef's admission and request. Josef tells the story of how and why he became a Nazi. Sage's grandmother, who was a young girl at the time of the Holocaust and who wound up in Auschwitz, tells her own story of survival. Finally, there is a fictional story, written by one of the main characters, that is essentially an allegory of what happened during the Holocaust. I know all of that sounds complicated, but it is easy enough to follow, and it has been an entertaining companion during some of my longer runs lately.

After getting in two mid-week runs, I felt a lot calmer about everything I had to get done this week. Example: I had a mock trial yesterday and even though I was not completely happy with my question outline and I could have spent the day panicking, I decided to curl my hair instead.

I'm glad I didn't spend anymore time worrying about it than I did. It was a pass fail assignment anyway and as it turned out I didn't need to worry. The whole thing went great, and other than the part where it ran five hours past my usual dinner time, there weren't any problems. Now if I can just get through my exams life will be great.

Oh, and just in case you missed my last post, I am giving away a free registration for the Hot Chocolate 15/5k this week. If you are interested in entering, you can find more details about how to enter here. The giveaway is open until November 24, 2013 at 11:59 PM.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hot Chocolate 15/5k Giveaway [Closed]

I have written about the Hot Chocolate 15k before. If you have been around for a while, you may already know that I am a Hot Chocolate Blogger and will be participating in the Hot Chocolate 15k when it comes to Nashville on February 15, 2014. 

I thought some of you might be interested in getting your hot chocolate fix too, so today I am giving away a free race entry that you can use for any of the upcoming hot chocolate races that are not sold out.

The Hot Chocolate races are a little bit different than other races because you literally run for chocolate. Instead of a finisher's medal, you get a sweet finisher's mug.

Oh, and the goodie bag? It isn't actually a goodie bag. It's one of these:

The races include a 5k and a 15k option and there are races coming up in the following cities:

Atlanta--January 26, 2014
Chicago--November 2014
Dallas--February 8, 2014
Los Angeles--2014 TBD
Minneapolis--April 19, 2014
Nashville--February 15, 2014 (Enter Code: DOWNSIZEMUG for a fee travel mug!)
Philadelphia--April 6, 2014
Phoenix--December 8, 2013
San Diego--March 23, 2014
San Francisco--January 12, 2014
Seattle--March 2, 2014
St. Louis--December 15, 2013

If you are interested in winning a free entry to one of the Hot Chocolate races above, here is how you can enter:

1. Leave a comment below telling me where you want to run for chocolate.
2. Like Downsizing and Hot Chocolate 15/5k on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you did.
3. Follow @DownsizingBlog and @HotChocolate15k on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you did.
4. Follow me on Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin' and leave me a comment telling me you did.

Each person can enter up to four times. You have until Sunday, November 24 at 11:59 PM Central Time to enter. The winner will be announced on November 25 and you will have 48 hours to email me or a new winner will be chosen. Good luck everyone!

*Disclaimer: As a Hot Chocolate Blogger, I receive a free race entry for posting about the race on my blog and promoting it on my various social media accounts.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

On Edge

Have you ever had one of those days that just I don't know what it was, but I just felt on edge today. I was on call in my Criminal Procedure class this morning, which basically means that the professor calls on you without you volunteering and you have to answer questions about the material in front of the whole class. It's called the Socratic Method and it's a hallmark of pretty much all law schools. 

After class I had some free time so I decided to watch a couple of episodes of a Canadian show called Flashpoint on Netflix. I've been watching the show as the seasons are posted on Netflix and I really enjoyed the season finale of the most recent season posted on Netflix, or at least I did until I got on IMDB and found out that it was actually the series finale because the show was cancelled. I watched the last episode ever of a series without realizing it and now I kind of feel like I lost a friend unexpectedly. I feel like I didn't get to  say goodbye to the characters!

By the afternoon, I had gotten a few emails that left me feeling stressed out about my life  and I decided that I just needed to go for a run.

I'm pretty sure the weather app on my phone told me lies. The app said it was 50 degrees fahrenheit, but when I went outside in a short sleeve tech shirt, the air felt awfully cold so I went back and changed into a long sleeve shirt instead. I thought about wearing gloves, but decided against it in the end. I regretted it later. My torso felt warm enough, but my hands were like popsicles and I kept pushing myself to do my running intervals faster so that I could either warm up or get done faster and take a hot shower. I was really happy when I looked at my splits and saw all those 12:XX miles. It made me feel better about life, the universe, and everything. If you get that reference, we should probably be friends.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Rainy Run

I was originally supposed to run a 5k today, but it was cancelled because we were supposed to get severe weather. I still wanted to get in my last short run of the week, though, so I waited for a break in the rain and headed out after lunch. It was still sprinkling when I left, so I wore a hat to keep the rain out of my face and I put my phone in a sandwich bag to keep it dry. I wasn't really worried about my clothes because I figured they were going to get wet from me sweating anyway. With the light rain, they would just get wet a little bit more quickly. No big deal.

I kept worrying as I ran that the sky was going to open up and pour at any minute so I did my running intervals a little faster than I meant to considering I ran 14 miles yesterday. 

Part of the problem was the other runners and walkers who were also out braving the foul weather. Every time I saw another runner coming toward me on the sidewalk, I made myself keep going or even speed up so that they didn't see me start my walk break. In the first mile I decided to try to catch and pass this couple that I saw walking their dog in the distance. Eventually I managed to run past them towards the end of one of my running intervals. Then I stopped running a few seconds later to take a walk break. I'm sure they thought I was crazy.

I hit two steep hills  in mile 3 and they slowed me way down. The muscles in the top of my thighs started screaming at me and it took every ounce of willpower I had not to walk up them. I kept telling myself that I would appreciate those uphill miles during the marathon because they would make my legs stronger. Plus the Rock 'N Roll New Orleans marathon course is supposed to be really flat. If I can make myself keep going when I'm tired on a hilly course, I can definitely make myself keep pushing forward on a flat one. Oh marathon training. You are teaching me so many lessons in perseverance.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fourteen Miles

This morning, I had 14 miles on the schedule. For everyone keeping score at home, that is my longest run ever. I've been nervous about it all week, and I was still nervous when I got up this morning. I couldn't decide what I wanted for breakfast and wound up settling on pancakes. After that I filled up my hydration pack with ice water and tossed in a couple of Nuun tablets for good measure. I checked the weather before I left and wasn't happy with what I saw. The temperature was in the 50s by the time I got outside, which is about ten degrees hotter than I like my running weather, and when I stepped outside the air was heavy with the threat of rain. 

I decided to get going and hope that the rain held off until I was done running. It was a really hard run. I did the lion's share of the 14 miles in a local park. I always think running in that park will be a great plan because there are fewer cars and it is relatively flat once you get into the park. I have a very selective memory. If you don't get in and out of that park early, you will have to deal with the people who flock to the park for events later in the day, people who generally get in the way of the serious runners, walkers, and everything in betweeners.

Today's irritation was this group thatappeared to be filming a video for a children's song. A stupid one. In the middle of the running path. They were this random group of children, their parents, and a low-budget camera crew and they basically commandeered a section of the one mile loop and wouldn't let the runners through. I don't know if they actually had any business being there, as in a valid permit from the city and permission from someone other than themselves. All I know is that every time I had to run through the parking lot or on the side of the road to avoid their foolishness, it made me cussin' mad.

When they finally left I thought I was in for a few more peaceful miles in the park. I thought wrong. No sooner than the first group of park interlopers left, a group of people doing some sort of charity walk took to the path. Fortunately they didn't seem to stay for very long. Unfortunately, by that time there were a ton of tailgaters in the park with their smokey grills and it was really hard to breathe every time I ran past them.

My irritation gave me something to focus my attention on other than my sore muscles, and I guess I should be thankful for that. On the other hand, I spent my run annoyed at the people of the park. Gotta love them introvert problems.

Up to this point I haven't really focused on fueling for my runs because one of the owners of my favorite running store told me that I probably didn't need to eat anything during my half marathon. He's an experienced runner and running coach, so I figure he knew what he was talking about. Since I was running longer than a half marathon this week, I decided to start experimenting with eating during my long runs. I took one of my applesauce tubes with me and decided to eat half of it around mile 4 and the other half around mile 8. It worked out fairly well in terms of my stomach, but I think I might try a few other things before the marathon because I think carrying the applesauce tubes is going to be kind of bulky. 

In any case, I finished all 14 miles. Check out my Fitbit stats for today:

I have walked more than 30,000 steps in a day, but today I ran nearly 30,000 steps. I was kind of proud of myself since I used to aim for 10,000 steps per day total. 

This wasn't a great run. I still felt pretty sore from Thursday's fall and I felt like I was struggling to make myself keep moving because it was so humid outside. I was not very happy while I was running, but I was certainly ecstatic that I finished. It felt really good to follow through with something I wasn't sure I could do. Now I just have to get through a 15-miler next week.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

My Middle Name Is Grace

My middle name is Grace. Okay, that is a complete lie, but after tonight's run, I'm thinking I really should change my middle name to something ironic. Grace would be an appropriate choice. Let's rewind before we get to that, though.

This run started out on a rough note so I guess I should have expected it to finish on a rough note as well. I had a really stressful day and even though I was tired, I really wanted to run tonight just to cope with all my negative feels. The first mile was harder than usual. My legs just felt heavy and uncooperative. I was supposed to run 7 miles and I could tell from the beginning that they were going to be some very difficult steps.

I planned part of my route to take me through a local park. It was really pretty, and I enjoyed the scenery and the people watching. I knew since I started my run sort of late  that it would get dark during my run. I thought about leaving the park when I lost the daylight, but there were enough people in the park, many of them women, to make me feel relatively safe as the sun went down.

I made sure to turn my music off so that I could be more aware of my surroundings. Plus, there were streetlights at fairly regular intervals and I was carrying my pepper spray. I'm not a huge fan of running at night, but I got through the miles I planned to run in the park without incident. I was out of the park and on my last mile when my foot caught on an uneven part of the sidewalk and I went down like a domino. Before you ask, yes it hurt.

That particular sidewalk has been treacherous with pine cones and other debris since the leaves started to fall, and I've almost hurt myself several times when I stepped on pine cones wrong or almost slipped on wet leaves. This was way worse than that. In the split second after I tripped and before I hit the ground I thought I was going to be able to regain my footing, but no dice. I managed to scrape my elbow pretty bad, I have a knot on my knee, I tore the palm of my new glove, I scraped up my Garmin, I landed hard on my cell phone (thank God for Otterbox), and I severely bruised my pride. 

I was up and moving again within seconds of the fall, mainly because I was embarrassed that I had become a mildly entertaining spectacle to all the traffic along the street. I guess I should be happy that it was dark and I wasn't seriously hurt, but really universe? I've had a string of bad days and weeks here lately, and I was wondering if I could get a little good luck for a change.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Boots Are Greater Than Sandals

This is week 7 of marathon training and this is the point in the training plan where things really start to get real. For the first 6 weeks of the plan, there are two 3 mile short runs per week. This week, the two short runs increase to 4 miles. There is also a mid-distance run on the schedule every week that started out at 5 miles during the first three weeks of training then increased to 6 miles for the next three weeks. This week, that mid-distance run increases to 7 miles. Oh, and my long run this weekend? Yeah, that is supposed to be 14 miles which, by the way, will be the longest distance I have ever run. If I manage to pull it off, that is.

Before this week, I think I have been telling myself that this is no worse than half marathon training. It was easy to buy into that line of thinking when none of the distances on the training plan were longer than the 13.1 miles I had already run and already knew I was capable of. Now, I am staring down more miles than I have ever run before and my goal suddenly looks bigger and scarier than it seemed in my head. I'm too stubborn to give up now, but the task just seems so much bigger the further I get into training.

Even with all of that going through my head, this run went pretty well. I had a late class today and since it was our last meeting and the class was relatively small, the professors brought food. I probably should have shunned the calories, but I was hungry and I knew I would have to do this run immediately after class if I wanted to catch the last of the daylight. I decided to eat a little bit so that I wouldn't be hungry during my run, and somehow that turned into me putting 3 crackers, at least two tablespoons of guacamole, 3 small slices of honeydew melon, 3 chunks of cheese, and a brownie on my plate. It was enough food to fill up one of those dessert size plates, and I cleaned that plate. It was certainly not my finest moment, but it definitely could have been worse.

Part of the reason this run felt so great was the temperature. Tennessee has finally realized that it is, in fact, autumn, and that the temperatures are, in fact, supposed to be below 60 degrees Fahrenheit on occasion. We've had a few mornings where the temps actually dropped below 40 and I've definitely been enjoying the cooler weather. I'm sure the summer lovers are hating this weather pretty hard, but I've been waiting for it for a while. I developed an intense fondness for coats when I lived in New Haven and I will argue that boots are better than sandals for always.

Monday, November 11, 2013

5 Gift Ideas For Runners

The other day one of my aunts called to ask what I wanted for Christmas. As I was listing a few of the things I wanted, I realized a lot of them were running related. I thought I would share the top 5 running items I've been coveting in case anyone was looking for a gift for the runner in their life.

5. Road ID--the Wrist ID Slim $17.99

I have a nasty habit of heading out for runs without bringing an ID with me. I frequently run along busy streets and sometimes drivers just don't pay attention to the pedestrians crossing the street. Hopefully nothing will ever happen, but in the event of an accident, it might be good to have my name and emergency contact information somewhere on my person.

4. Shower Pill Wipes--$10.00


I am currently training for an out of town marathon and I periodically think about what I will need to take with me on race day. I've read several race recaps on other blogs where the blogger mentions bringing a change of clothes to wear home after the race. I can't imagine putting on clean clothes if I am still sweaty and smelly, so I would also want to bring some sort of wet wipe so I can clean up a little before I put on fresh clothes. Enter Shower Pill. I haven't actually tried these wipes, but I've read enough reviews to know that most people who use them seem to like them. They are individually wrapped, making them easy to toss in a gym bag, and they are bigger than most wet wipes making it easy to clean your whole body with just one wipe. It sounds like the perfect thing to bring along for race day.

3. Nuun Electrolyte Tablets--Pack of 4--$24.00
When you sweat, your body is losing more than water. After longer runs I like to replace electrolytes with Nuun. Nuun tablets are great because they come in these slim little tubes that are small enough to take with you in a belt. You just drop one in water and you're good to go. They don't have added sugar and I think they taste better than bottled sports drinks. These would be a great stocking stuffer.

Sometimes I like to drive to parks to run and hike, but I really hate the idea of getting in my car sweaty. I try to remember to bring a towel to sit on on the way home, but none of my towels are big enough to cover a whole car seat. I would love to have one of these to keep in my car. I imagine there are a lot of gym-goers out there who would also appreciate one of these bad boys.

1. Flipbelt--$24.99

I have tried several ways of carrying my stuff when I run and still haven't come up with one I really like. I've tried the Spibelt and didn't like it because it moved around too much. During the half marathon I put my keys and a few other things in the pouch on my handheld water bottle. I wore my phone in an arm holster that day so that I didn't have to carry it. It worked out okay for the half marathon because I didn't plan to take any gels or other food during the race, but I will need to take in calories during the marathon and have to find some way to carry more stuff with me. I've seen a lot of really positive reviews on the FlipBelt and I asked for one for Christmas because I'm really hoping it works for me.