It’s officially official!

I’ve been training for the half marathon for a while now and I was never really going to back out but now I have no choice.  Last night, my sister and I officially registered for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Philly on Sept 21, 2014.  No turning back now!

 

I guess it is really happening!

I guess it is really happening!

And then I went for my running this morning which was 4 miles, a little longer than I am used to during the week.  First off, I got up super early, completely by choice.  It was nice because Teresa is already up that early since she has to leave the house for work so early.  I was awake enough that I could run early than I have.  I also planned a new route that was a real out-and-back, with no loops (a first for me).

It felt like I was flying on this run.  Was it the excitement from registering?  Or was it the fact that the entire first half of the new route was downhill?  When I got to the point where I had to turn around I was a little disappointed.  Was it because I wanted to see if I could run farther or because I didn’t want to run uphill on the way back?  We may never know.  I still felt really great on the way back although I did stop to walk for like a second.  I blame that on the fact that I was changing my music, putting it back onto the three songs I had on repeat the entire time.

My real question:  How is it only Tuesday?

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Music Mondays

I have a very eclectic taste in music.  I listen to pretty much every type of music.  I think the only exclusion is heavy metal.  From now on, every Monday I will give you a little taste of what I’m loving at the moment.

This week goes out to Iggy Azalea.  I love pretty much all of her songs right now.  Most of them have a great beat to run to.  This one is a little slower than the rest but when I need a mental jolt in the middle of a run, this usually does the trick.

Favorite line in the song: “Impossible is nothing, even when you don’t believe it.”  Is there anything more perfect to hear when you start doubting yourself on a run?  Like, even though you are telling yourself you can’t do it, you still actually can.  Perfect.

So here is “Music Mondays” #1: Impossible is Nothing- Iggy Azalea

Week 4 of Half Marathon Training

Maybe it’s because I ended on a high note… but this week was so much more enjoyable than last week!

Monday: Nothing

Tuesday: 3.5 mile run, It was insanely humid.  I cramped up and the air felt heavy so it was harder to breath.  I ended up having to walk a good portion of it.  At first, this run felt miserable and I felt like I was nowhere near where I should be for my training.  I was beating myself up for not doing enough.  Then something clicked in my head and I used all of that to motivate me to work even harder.  To make this run feel productive, I threw sprints into the walking whenever I could.  When I got home, I did planks, other ab stuff, squats, lunges, calf raises until I HAD to get ready.

Wednesday: I’ve been a little worked up about following exactly what the training plan says counts as cross training but that has just ended with me skipping it altogether.  Today, I decided I didn’t care anymore and did yoga for the first time in forever.  I found this video of yoga for runners.  It was only 20 minutes long but it felt amazing.  Definitely going to be adding more yoga into the mix.

Thursday: 3.5 mile run (maybe longer?)  I haven’t been running with the tracker on my phone lately since I can only get enough power out of it to provide me with music so I don’t know exactly how far it ended up being.  I did run farther than Tuesday though!  It was much cooler which makes running feel so much better.  I was also able to slow myself down so that I could run the whole thing.  When I got home I was ravenous.  I think I ate enough to count for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I did a little ab work, squats, lunges, calf raises and then had to get ready to go.

Friday:  This was a rest day, but not running related,  I went out to a fantastic dinner with my boyfriend.  We went to The Spread in South Norwalk (SoNo).  I had the chupacabra to drink which I loved because I love anything with mint and lime in it.  For dinner I had ricotta gnocchi that was melt in my mouth delicious.  For dessert we got the apple fritters and those were heavenly.  If you are ever in the area, I highly suggest you go.  I know I will definitely be going back.  And probably bringing everyone I know.

I was probably in such a hurry to devour this that I didn't notice this was blurry!

I was probably in such a hurry to devour this that I didn’t notice this was blurry!

Mascarpone cheesecake and heavenly apple fritters.

Mascarpone cheesecake and heavenly apple fritters.

Saturday:  Supposed to be cross training but I ended up doing a tiny bit of strength training and calling it a day.

Sunday:  Have you heard about how fabulous this run was?  I think it is becoming even better in my mind as the time passes since I first raved about it here.  A little bunny with a poufy white tail hopped across a dirt road right in front of me.  The only thing to complain about… when I first started, I was stalkerish distance behind a woman who was trying to run with her two dogs.  I could just see her up the road but never got close enough to pass her.  But what bothered me was how she was letting the dogs rule her run.  I could tell she could have been running really fast but the dogs were pulling her all over the place.  They pulled her over both sides of the road, stopped when they wanted, and kept getting their leashes tangled up.  I don’t know how she did it because I would have been so frustrated if I were her!

Four weeks done!  I can’t believe it!  Next week kicks up the mileage a little (half a mile on the regular runs and a mile on the long run).  After today’s run I’m actually feeling excited for it!  Yay!

My most enjoyable long run (ever?)

I think that was the best long run I have ever been on.  It wasn’t because I ran faster or had perfect form or was breathing perfectly.  It was just a completely enjoyable experience.

The first time I ran this distance was on a hot day.  It wasn’t a terrible run but I was a little intimidated by the distance and was pretty tired when I got home.  The second time I ran it, I ran the same route but I ran it with my sister.  She runs faster than me and I think she pushed the pace a little too much for me.  I also carried a water bottle the whole time (cramps).  And with a mile or two left I completely crashed and ended up walking the rest.  Not the greatest way to end.

This time I picked a brand new route.  I started at my house but I went down roads that I have never even driven on before (weird since I have lived in the same house since I was born).  I left my house and went down a road that is part of my usual loop.  At the end of that road, I turned left instead of going right.  Following that road, I crossed into the next town, which is also in the next state.  I ran in two states today!

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Connecticut anymore.  We must be over the rainbow!

Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Connecticut anymore. We must be over the rainbow!

As I crossed into NY, I hit the roads I’ve never even driven on.  A little further in and the road wasn’t even paved.  It was such a quiet area that a rabbit hopped across the road in front of me!  All the houses looked like old farm houses and it felt so secluded and peaceful.  While I was in that area, only one or two cars drove by.  I will definitely be running around here more regularly.

As I kept running I felt my stomach grumble the tiniest bit.  If I didn’t do anything about it I knew it would mean trouble.  Well, for the first time ever, I brought something along to fuel me up!  I didn’t have time to go pick up a legit sports fuel for running so I brought a fun-sized bag of Skittles.  After that first grumble, I decided it was time to open the bag.  I popped two in my mouth at a time over maybe a mile.  At first I was still on the downhill slide towards feeling crappy for the rest of the run.

But then it started kicking in!!!! The last leg of the loop last week is where I really fell apart.  The last leg of the loop this week (which happened to be the exact same stretch of road) was where I got the oomph to finish strong.  I ran the entire rest of the way home.  I even ran a little faster for that last part!  When I got home, I didn’t feel like I needed to collapse on the couch that instant and stay there for the rest of the day!  With this extra energy I was even able to make sure I stretched properly (for once!).

The other part of this run that made it so enjoyable was that it felt productive.  I didn’t put any pressure on myself to finish within a certain time.  With that mindset, I could go as fast or slow as I wanted with no worries.  Throughout the run I was able to take the time to focus on a couple different things.  I would focus on one thing for a little bit, just run a little, focus on something else, and so on.  I worked on breathing a little and my arms a little.  I noticed myself fall into a slouch as I got tired, so I took the extra focus to correct that.

When I got home, I saw that my pace was slower than usual.  But it really didn’t faze me like it did last week.  Knowing I had made some steps in other areas felt pretty darn good.

How did your long run go this week?  Try anything different on it?

The Best (and worst) Hairstyles for Running

When I first started running, I couldn’t wait to be the girl in the cute outfit with my ponytail swishing back and forth with each step.

medium_2593882681photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

I have mastered the cute outfit but nobody warned me about the ponytail.  No one told me it would smack me in the face.  Or that it is never perfectly centered so it makes me feel like I’m running crooked.  Or that I would need a new hair elastic every other time so it won’t fall out.  As I try to figure out what is going to work best, I will discuss the pros and cons of my current options:

1. The classic ponytail:

Pros: the easiest hairstyle of all, cute, keeps away bugs as it swishes back and forth

Cons: see my rant above

2. The low ponytail:

Pros: also an easy hair-do, stays pretty secure, doesn’t bounce around

Cons: not as cute (at least in my opinion), hard to re-do if you have headphones on, let’s your hair stick to your neck and back when it’s hot out

3. A bun: (First came to my attention as an option when I watched Scandal and saw Olivia Pope go for a run with her hair in a bun)

Pros: it almost feels like you have no hair, no swishing ponytail

Cons: Takes more effort, will fill out unless very secure, nearly impossible to fix while running

4. A French braid:

Pros: stays pretty secure, hair is out of your face, now swishing

Cons: takes more effort, traps in all the heat

5. Headbands:

Pros: keeps hair out of your face, cute

Cons: HEADACHES, can anyone actually use one without it slipping off your head???

6. Shaving off all my hair: This is most tempting in the middle of a run on a hot day.

Pros: It would feel so much cooler (temperature wise), no muss, no fuss

Cons: I don’t need to match haircuts with my boyfriend, you don’t have any other styling options, very hard to grow out

 

I still haven’t decided what my best option is. Maybe I need a haircut too but that involves more decisions!  Lately I’ve been going with a low ponytail and enduring the sweat.

How do you wear your hair when you run?  Any ideas other than what I listed? Please?!?

Week 3 of Half Marathon Training

Instead of saying what I should have done this week and how I didn’t do exactly that, I think it’s really only worth saying what I actually did.  Otherwise, I won’t realize how much I actually did and just beat myself up about it!

Monday: Making up for missing the long run on Sunday… I did the big loop plus a little extra so it was almost 3.5 miles.  I got nervous about getting home with enough time before I had to leave otherwise I think I would have gone further.

Tuesday: Pretty much the same thing as Monday.

Wednesday: Nothing… Figured I would rest up so the plantar fasciitis didn’t get worse.  I was also starting to feel sick so it was good to take it easy for that too.

Thursday:  Did the big loop again.  I added a little to the loop again but this time I added it earlier on, in a spot I haven’t run yet.  It was nice having the add-on earlier because it made the rest seem shorter.

Friday: Rest

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: I ran the 5 mile loop with my sister!  My phone is completely dead at this point so I had no music.  I haven’t gone for a real run with Teresa yet so it was interesting.  She likes to push when going up hill to keep up her momentum but I like to take it easier so I don’t have any asthma.  We were able to stay pretty even for most of it but towards the end I had to back off.  I also didn’t eat enough before the run and had to walk the last mile.  Afterwards, I made sure to stretch really well and now I feel pretty good.  I’m a little nervous for this week coming up as the mileage increases again.

This week I did a good job of not trying to go too fast.  Keeping my pace steadier let me run for longer without walking.  I want to keep that up next week.  I also need to focus on the strength training this week.  If I plan out tonight exactly what I am going to do this week I will be more likely to stick to it!

Another week down, and that much closer!  It wasn’t my best week but I got it done and I’m moving on to the next one.

***Now that I just reread this before posting it, I have to say it is a week worth being proud of.  I think this week was my highest mileage ever and did my longest run ever for the second time.  Negative feeling=gone.

Hindsight it 20/20

When I say it out loud now, walking miles around Boston carrying a backpack and wearing flimsy sandals sounds like a horrible idea.  And yet, it is exactly what I let myself do last weekend.  When my foot was sore the next day, I figured it would be better the next day.  When it was still sore the next day, I figured I should look it up online.

Type “heel pain” into Google and any runner can tell you what will pop up.  I have been fortunate enough to be injury free so far so I didn’t realize what the results would be.  “Plantar fasciitis.”  I knew it was something runners get but I didn’t think I would actually get it.  Everything I read about convinced me that this was my problem.  Luckily it was a mild case, but I still wanted to get ahead of it before it got any worse!

I took ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain, iced a little, and massaged a little.  I also put those horrible sandals away for good.  I saw that there were supports you could buy but I was too cheap to spend any money if it was still this minor. 

My mom is a nurse practitioner so usually our complaints are met with an eye roll and “hypochondriac” muttered at us.  This time when I told her that I thought I had plantar fasciitis, she said “sounds about right.”  Comforting… “I think I have something for it!”  Hooray!  She went to a medical conference last year and got free samples of everything you could imagine.  One of those was for plantar fasciitis and she still had it stashed away!

She gave me this plantar fasciitis sleeve (but size small).  I put it on and it felt amazing.  It has different zones of compression and put pressure right at the spot where my heel meets my arch (exactly the spot I wanted pressure).  I wore it the rest of that day, the next day, and one more day after that.  I tried wearing it at night once but I don’t think you are supposed to do that because it got pretty uncomfortable.  Before you know it I was all heeled up! (Ok, that was a bad pun.  Let me try that again… I was all healed up.)

This minor incidence didn’t affect my running at all but it is a good reminder to pay attention to how I treat my precious feet and running body.  I will try to wear more supportive shoes, especially when I will be walking a lot.  This is also a reminder to step up my stretching to ward off any other potential injuries!  Because as easy as it may be to plop down on the couch after a long run, I don’t want to end up writing another one of these about how I should have known to stretch after going on a long run.

The Rundown on Asthma

Asthma can be a frustrating and sometimes frightening condition to live with.  It doesn’t have to be if you have it well managed.  If you are going to be running and have asthma, I highly recommend you meet with your doctor first!  You can discuss treatment with your primary care physician but may need to see an asthma specialist.

When I go to see a doctor, I like to know what to expect and have some background knowledge about what they are looking for and what treatment could be.  Asthma will be evaluated based on severity and level of control and then assigned treatment based on those two factors.

First up… severity

It can be classified as intermittent or persistent.  If it is persistent it can be mild, moderate or severe.  To figure out your classification the doctor will consider how frequently you experience symptoms, how often it causes you to wake up at night, how often you use a short-acting beta­2-agonist (SABA) for symptom control and if it interferes with your normal activity.  They will also look at lung function measures like your forced expiratory volume, forced vital capacity and peak expiratory flow. 

Next up… level of asthma control

It will either be well controlled, not well controlled, or very poorly controlled.  The same factors are considered for level of control as in severity.   An “Asthma Control Questionnaire,”  “Asthma Control Test,” and “Asthma Therapy Assessment Questionnaire” are also used to judge level of control.

Finally… stepwise treatment approach

You should be placed at a treatment level depending on your severity and level of control.  Then you can step up if needed or step down if possible and asthma has been well controlled.  The following treatments are the preferred treatments, although some alternatives are available.

  • Step 1: For intermittent asthma, you should be prescribed a SABA as needed.
  • Step 2: With persistent asthma, you should be prescribed daily medication to maintain proper control of your symptoms.  The first step for persistent asthma is a low-dose inhaled corticosteroid (ICS).
  • Step 3:  The next step up is a medium-dose ICS or a low-dose ICS with a long-acting beta­2-agonist (LABA).
  • Step 4:  The next step up is a medium-dose ICS with a LABA.  If you reach this level of care or higher, you need to see an asthma specialist.
  • Step 5: The next step is a high-dose ICS with a LABA.
  • Step 6:  The last step is a high-dose ICS with a LABA and an oral corticosteroid.
  • Rescue treatment for all: SABA as needed for symptoms, possibly short course of oral corticosteroids for exacerbations.  If you are using the SABA more often, you should let your doctor know because you may need to step up your treatment.

All this information (and more of the details) was found on a handy table prepared at the University of Michigan.  The full guidelines and more can be found at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Week 2 of Half Marathon Training

Another week completed!

Monday- Stretch and Strength: I did abs and legs for strength training.  For stretching, I found a video online of a guided stretch.  Some of the stretches were good but it didn’t cover everything so I did some more stretching after the video.

Tuesday- 3 mile run: I ran the big loop, nothing special.

Wednesday- 2 mile run or cross train:  This week I went for a swim instead of the run.  We have a pool in our backyard so I didn’t have to go anywhere but it took a while to get the cover off and skim the top to get all the bugs out.  I did a combination of swimming laps and some pool running for 20 minutes.  I was more tired than I expected to be but I also haven’t been swimming much so I guess that makes sense.

Thursday- 3 mile run + strength:  I went for my run in the morning.  When I finished, the distance ended up being exactly 5k.  It was exciting for me that I was able to do a 5k early in the morning as a part of my half marathon training after taking all summer last year to work up to that.  I didn’t leave myself enough time to do strength training that morning so I told myself I would do it later.  I ended up going out that night with my boyfriend and my sister so I never got the strength training in.  Whoops!

Friday- Rest:  It felt awesome to wake up in the morning knowing I have been running for a year, even if I didn’t run this day.  It was a miserably rainy 4th of July and I spent most of it in the car driving up to Boston.

Saturday- cross train: I walked around Boston all day with my sister (the one who will be doing the half marathon with me).  We were carrying our backpacks with us since we were meeting up with our other friends later.  We walked miles and miles and were wearing sandals so by the time we were done we were exhausted.  We just count it as going above and beyond for cross training!

Sunday- 4 mile run: We stayed at our friends’ house Saturday night and were in no mood to get up early for a run so we didn’t.  We all went out and the boat and hung out at the beach all day.  We knew we would get home way too late to get the run in then so we went for a walk on the beach and are counting that as cross training.  I figured I will switch the days around so Wednesday’s cross training actually happened Sunday, the long run happened on Monday, and Monday’s stretch and strength will happen on Wednesday.

To keep us motivated through the weeks to come we have decided to do something race related each week.  This week we are going to officially register and book ourselves a hotel room.  Some of the other weeks we are going to pick out our race day outfits, plan out where we will go out to eat after the race, figure out what family and friends will come cheer us on, etc.  

Any suggestions for what we can add to our list?