Sunday, December 5, 2010

First Half Marathon: COMPLETED!

What an awesome event and an absolutely gorgeous day in West Palm Beach. Mom came down to support me :) I'll write more later because right now, it's nap timeeeeee.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Starting Over

As you can clearly tell, by the lapse of time between this and my previous post, I have slacked (a regrettable amount!) in my running-every-other-day regiment. The first week I had company, the second week I was out of town, and this last week, well, I'm pretty sure that the only thing that was running anywhere was a bunch of petrified turkeys. I was able to run last Thursday - yes, Thanksgiving morning! Oh, and PS - running up and down the hilly roads of DC worked my gluteus maximus and minimus like the flat roads of Florida are never have. *ouch!

 So tonight my feet were practically clawing for those board walk planks with my body screaming, "Yes! We're running again!"  But let me tell you, 3 weeks of down time after 10 weeks of consistent training and Tonight felt like I was starting over.  I felt pain in muscles that are definitely not supposed to be hurting at a casual jogging pace. (Well, I'd call it more of a slow trot.)  I didn't know that the tops of my kneecaps could hurt.

My shoulder devil was saying, 'Katie, you wasted 10 weeks of your life. How difficult would it really have been to lace up and hit the street, JUST ONCE, over the last few weeks!'  But thank goodness that my shoulder angel piped in, 'Look at you, getting back in the game. Don't forget, Katie, your goal is to not walk one single step on Sunday, only run. You can do it, one step at a time, even if you're running slow and easy.'  And as they usually do, my shoulder angel won.  Starting over is hard, but it's really believe that it's all about psychological control. Once you've developed your mental strategy, you can re-build your confidence and focus on achieving the goals that you started out with.  It's like that wonderful attorney who was sitting on the plane next to me said: "Find the image that you want of yourself, and take baby steps, each day, to become that image. Life isn't planned, it's built on imagery."  Well, the image is looking like an unstoppable Katie trotting right past that final marker and sprinting down her last quarter mile.

Shoulder Devil 0   Shoulder Angel  365,109,265,473,776

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Onion Ain't So Bad

Soul Food and Southern Cooking told me tonight that by overcrowding the pan, I would be hampering my efforts to succeed in my vegetable medley sautee.  Never mind that, at 25 years old, I needed to look up online, how to sautee vegetables.  I read this teaching point long after my vegetables were nearly finished, crammed in their pan.  Naturally I thought I had ruined them and that the outcome of my dish was going to be horrible because of this hiccup along the way. This idea completely parallels my run today!

I thought I would look super chic in running in my signature lime-green sweatpants that my roommates back home have come to despise, and probably wonder how I manage to wear them nearly every day and still consider them 'clean.'  I snagged my matching headband and hit the streets.  Worst. Idea. Ever.  It felt like I had weights attached to my legs. And on top of that, it started RAINING as soon as I hit the board walk.  Now, I was running in soaked, cotton, pants.  Talk about hampering your efforts.  Thoughts raced through my head, "If you can't run with a little bit of extra weight, how are you ever going to make it 13 miles!"  I was frustrated. I did NOT feel like happy-go-lucky Sally Mae in the white dress.

This vegetable medley is part of a potluck lunch we're having tomorrow at work. I'm bringing veggies and garlic, red-skin, mashed potatoes (mhm!)  As I chopped my peppers, zucchini and squash, I figured that I should probably throw some onion in as well. Now, I despise onion in many, many things.  I would never have thrown that in if it was my own dinner.  But, I realized that a lot of people enjoy the flavoring that an onion can bring into a dish, so chop chop chop I did, and into the pan it went.  As I watched those red onions sizzle and pop into a gorgeous, crispy brown, the room filled with a fantastic aroma.  And it occurred to me: Those onions maybe be 'bad' to me, but they're creating something much bigger and better than I had originally planned.  They're going to flavor the dish, and everyone else is going to love them. 

I didn't plan to appreciate my rock-weighted cotton pants, elongating every step.  But upon reflection, and with this new onion thinking in my mind, I realized that there was a bright side to it.  I thought of how easier it will be to run on Tuesday, without the pants.  Without the extra weight.  This was an unforseen benefit of the drudgery of today to be witnessed only after the fact.

I guess you're always going to have an onion or two in your day.  But I bet you... for reasons understood now or later... that onion probablyyyyy wasn't so bad after all!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

It's the Little Things

I think Jaron's new song, "That's Beautiful to Me" pertains to a lot of things.  It really is the little things that make it special. Sure, I could digress into a when-you-have-a-bad-day-at-work-be-grateful-that-you-have-a-job-to-begin-with monolgue, but no, I talk about RUNNING in my RUN blog.

Tonight, there was a chill in the air.  Autumn has officially hit South Beach.  The crisp breeze caught in my lungs, with every step and breath. People were sheltered in residences or entertainment venues.  The board walk was a ghost town tonight.  Even the strip on Ocean Drive seemed quieter than usual.  I think that the change of season in the air, and the unfamiliar, solitary run tonight helped make me aware of little things about my running habits that make the experience... special.

I've noticed that I run with my arms relaxed down by my hips, not all stuffed up in my chest.  I've noticed that I have a lucky sports bra (which I might or might not have run in when it was dirty because I like it so much...).  I've noticed that I prefer to run on an empty stomach, no matter the distance.  I've noticed that I have a spring in my step once I've hit my stride.  I've noticed that I feel better running in a full out ponytail, rather than a bun.  I've noticed that I always smile or grin towards oncoming runners. 

But, I'll tell you. One of the BIG 'little things' that makes it special, is my ability to appreciate that every step taken, is oceanside.  Some people have never even seen the ocean, and never will throughout their entire lives.  They have only seen it or heard about it from the media.  Could you imagine that?  And here I have the liberty, no, the privilege, to jog between sea breezes and under palm trees, listening to that unstoppable ocean tide.

I guess I just want you to find something small, silly and special that helps you appreciate your circumstances.  Find the things that make you different from everyone else.  Those things distinguish you as a person.  At the end of the day, you answer to yourself - so be someone that you like.

Recognize that you are irreplaceable.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pace It, Sprint It and Throw some Lemons in It

Wow, the smoothest run I've ever had, and the longest one at that: 7 miles!  I probably averaged a 10 min mile, which is a WIN for me because I didn't cramp, pant, bleed ... or ... cry... ok ok so it's never that bad. But I definitely concentrated hard tonight, knowing it was the longest run I've ever had to this point.  It's SO crucial to pace myself.  As people will dash out in front and to the sides of me on race day, I will have no idea if they run marathons regularly, if they're early sprinters, or whatever their story is.  What I do, is set a comfortable stride.  Whether my comfortable stride is slow or fast compared to yours, I would rather make it through these seven miles without bleeding ... and ... wheezing .... and know that I could keep running into that next mile.  And tonight... I definitely could have!  I can sit here and chow down on my Healthy Choice Pineapple Chicken, and guzzle the third glass of my post-run staple, ice cold lemon water, and not want to vomit. It's the little things, I tell you.

I have been training myself, in all of my runs, to sprint the last 100 yards or so.  I know exactly what inspired this otherwise insane idea.  When Alejandro and I would take our three or four mile runs when I first started at this back in September, I had would get some psychological panties-in-a-bunch complex when he would run even the slightest bit in front of me.  So I asked him to run a half step behind me, and he would, and I would be able to concentrate better.  Then, somehow, he would slip into a hair's length of first place whenever we would cross those last few concrete squares of sidewalk, and I would get so frustrated, internally.  (Weird, right?)  So one night, I just sprinted right to the end, when we turned the final corner for the home stretch.  Problem solved.  Now, when I do it alone, I imagine coming down the home stretch of my nicely paced race, and sprinting majestically through my photo finish... and winning that grand prize of.... oh, wait. Not quite like that.  But I know, deep down, that this will benefit me on race day.  The pure final-mile adrenaline and the mental training that I've put myself through should make for one heck of a finish.

That, and those two little words circling round and round in my head,
"Be! Unstoppable!"

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Beach Running is HARD

I, quite stupidly, kept up a very malnourished diet this past week, and today's run was my smack in-the-face wake up call to make sure that I pay attention to my intake.  Since I was out of town all last week for work, and then caught in the usual back-in-the-office mess of this week, I failed on several occasions to make it to the grocery store. Now that I think about it, I wonder what I DID eat all week. ('s a blur of fast food kebab lunches and sandwich dinners...) I definitely committed a big no-no by skipping meals, and with that, key sources of energy and nutrition.  It all caught up with me tonight - my leg muscles cramped at only a block from the house.  I stuck to my #1 rule in training - BE UNSTOPPABLE - and ran through it, but holy Moses, that was painful.  (PS - I know  that it wasn't due to a lack of stretching because I rarely ever stretch before I run.  In fact, a recent study published by the USA Track & Field proves that stretching doesn't necessarily prevent injuries, and vice versa.) My body was screaming for vitamins and fiber.  So, I trekked to the grocery store after my shower, stocking up on my usuals, and scarfed down a slice of baked tilapia and cooked carrots with a glass of Malbec and slivers of chocolate to top it off when I returned home.  I do feel slightly more human once again. 

This whole episode reminded me how crucial my diet is.  My boyfriend got me crazy into vegetables.  "The more color on your plate, the better!" Not only am I finding a way to add tomatoes and asparagus to almost every meal, he taught me how to start cooking/incorporating vegetables that I never really liked into meals (e.g. peppers and onions).  It was hard without him by my side tonight.  I think I did alright, though the only things I got from Fitness Magazine's "The Top 7 Foods for Runners" were numbers 2 and 4.  *Sorry, that article's from 2006, but I'm sure the fundamentals are still the same today. I'll save the healthy eating tips for another day. Just remember, "The more color on your plate, the better!" And seriously, I have read more times over that chocolate is good for you, so I don't think twice about indulging in the milky sweetness at the end of my meal. And you shouldn't either!

So, back to my title...

I tried to run on the actual sandy beach today, instead of the boardwalk.  Only Hollywood can make that look sexy and fun. I was struggling to not look like a stumbling idiot in front of lovers taking sunset pictures or fisherman out for an evening catch.  Not only were my thighs burning from the extra effort of pulling one leg in front of other out of the wet sand, but I was also running on a 45-degree angle, as the stretch of beach by my house so slopes.  I think if I knew I was going to be running like that, I might have been able to make it a decent night's run, but I only lasted about 4 blocks, then turned back and headed straight for the boardwalk.  I only clocked five miles tonight. I'll leave the sexy beach running to Pam.

Ready, Set, BOO!

Here we go... down to the last month of training before my first race EVER - the Palm Beaches Half Marathon on December 5th.  I didn't want to be an over-achiever and kill myself with a full marathon, being my first race ever and all.  Wouldn't that be ... slightly ... ambitious?
I haven't been regimenting myself with this thing called a "training schedule" that it seems a lot of runners use.  Why disappoint myself if I can't make my daily quota according The Schedule? What if I was vomiting bad Chinese food for 12 hours and I couldn't run the 4.5 miles that I was scheduled to run on Tuesday? My entire week would be thrown off! More importantly, this training thing is new to me, and I don't want to frustrate myself when what I've started was intended to be fun.  I've been making a point to run every other day, anywhere between 4 and 6 miles.  That's been working well for two months. But as we drill down to the last few weeks here, I think it's time to start pushing myself into a few extra miles.

I need to buy new running shoes.  Paula Radcliffe wasn't the first one to say that you should train in the gear that you're going to race in and I've been running in an old pair of trusty Nike sneakers for about 4 years.  Time to shop! Obviously, I'll be sticking with Nike.  Maybe these 2010 Lunarglides? Well, definitely not white. One puddle and my $90 would be down the drain.  We were lucky enough to test-run them at my Nike South Beach Run Club and they were light as a feather.

The best thing about training thus far is justifying how many hours I sleep, and how many carbs I eat (aside from the fabulous ab tightening effects, ha!).  I'm lucky enough to be living in F-lat!-orida for a few months, and while I realize sandy beaches, a strong sea breeze and 80 degree October evening jogs peeeee-robably aren't conducive to simulating the 'norm' for a race environment, I'm glad I get to feed my new running hobby in such pleasurable conditions.

So as soon as this random-tropical-4-minute-downpour passes, my Cascada Pandora mix and I are  heading out for 6 miles of sea breeze and palm trees ~

Oh, and Happy Halloween!