Tuesday, January 22, 2013

EN Outseason Week 2, Part 2

Who knew what an impact my comment about eating a turnip would have?  Boy, oh boy.  While most people that commented wished me well, there were several comments about the turnip as well.  It’s just a veggie, people, not something weird like escargot.  It makes me giggle that my eating habits caused such a stir. :-)

Turnips - It's what's
for snack.
If you must know, the turnip is actually pretty nutritious.  It’s loaded with vitamins B6 and C as well as folate, calcium, manganese, potassium, copper and dietary fiber.  Really – check it out for yourself… Turnip Nutrition
Even Joe tried them

When I last blogged, I was gearing up to get on the treadmill for a short run.  Yeah, that was an epic fail!  I managed to walk, not run for fifteen minutes and then I was D-O-N-E.  I showered and climbed back into bed where I remained for the rest of the day, again.   I had a little bit of energy by the end of the day so I “taught” Joe how to assemble lasagna.  In reality, Joe watched and I assembled it and then he put it into the oven. 

By Thursday, I was feeling somewhat human.  My fever was just low-grade, but the coughing continued.  I was, in fact, feeling human enough to saddle up for bike workout #2.  It wasn’t pretty, but I hit all of my targets.  My chest was burning when I was done and instead of unclipping my shoes from my pedals, I just slid my feet out and shakily dismounted.  I quickly got into the shower and dressed.  I think the ride helped to rejuvenate me a bit, something I desperately needed after two days in bed.

Friday, ah Friday.  Joe told me that I’d actually start to look forward to my rest days and he was correct about this one.  Against Joe’s better judgment, I was still planning on running the half marathon on Saturday so I really needed that rest day.  Not that I hadn’t been “resting” for two of the three days prior, but that was a different kind of rest. 

My sweet old girl
As luck would have it, my sweet, little old kitty Tessa has been off of her food for a week or so.  I had started her on canned food in hopes of getting some weight back on her.  Alas, the only thing it did was cause her some GI distress.  She was starting to get that scroungy cat look and was very lethargic.  Having had two elderly kitties with kidney problems, I wanted to make sure she wasn’t headed down that road as well.  Off to the vet we went, me hacking away as we went. 

Thankfully, the vet thought she was all right and that her GI issues could be easily remedied with a little pro-biotics.  Apparently, we’re not the only species that a good pro-biotic can be beneficial for.  Truly, after a couple of days on the pro-biotic she does look a little perkier, but she’s still not eating much. 

The afternoon was spent helping stuff race packets and then leading my sweet Girl Scouts at their meeting.   One of our assistants was running her first half the next day and was nervous to say the least.  Being the good team mom that I am, I, of course, invited her over for pizza at our house.  Cori’s S.O. is our training buddy and “little brother” (and occasionally mistaken for Joe’s son) who just happens to be deployed right now.  We told her all those things that you always tell someone before their first big event – she was gonna do great; she was prepared; we’d all be there cheering for her, etc.  I like to think that we alleviated some of her fears.

Before the weekend, I asked Joe how I should handle my weekend workouts with the race being on Saturday.  He told me since it was a race weekend, to just flip my workouts – run on Saturday and bike on Sunday.  No problem.  If I was still feeling crummy, I knew I could slog it out for a couple of hours and then collapse into bed again. 

Saturday morning dawned clear, calm and cold, like 29 degrees cold.  Perfect!  Yes, this root veggie-eating girl actually prefers to run in the cold than in the heat.  My thing is - you can always take clothes off if you get too hot in the cold weather, but you can only take so much off when it’s hot.  No one needs to see that much of my junk trucking down the road! I just love that crispness in the air of cold mornings.  You can take the girl out of Wisconsin, but I guess you can’t take Wisconsin out of the girl. 

Some of our Crazy Joes before braving the cold.
We arrived early since I had volunteered to help with packet pick-up.  I love helping out on race mornings - to give people a few encouraging words and a wide, warm smile.  I know all too well how alone and scared one can feel at your first big race, especially if it’s not in your own town or you don’t have your athletic supporters with you.   

Despite having run over a dozen half-marathons in the past five years, I still get a little nervous.  I’ve gotten my PR and I know I can run the distance on any given day.  I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone but myself.  Saturday was no different.  I was honestly going out to just have fun and to finish.  It was to be my first race wearing my Newtons and no orthotics and sick to boot, so I wasn’t sure how my feet and legs would fare.

For years, I’ve worn K-Swiss K’ona running shoes.  Like most runners, it took me several brands and styles of running shoes before I found one that worked for me. I’ve worn the K’onas for about four years and have loved them!  I always had two pairs to train in and had my orthotics in my pair that I ran long races/runs in.  (I wear orthotics because my metatarsals on my left foot are too close together and cause pain when I run long distances.)

In the past year or so, I’ve really been focusing more on improving my running skills.  I finally admitted that I really did need to <gasp> do intervals to improve my running fitness and times.  And, to be able to extend my running career and save what was left of my pre-arthritic knees and hips, I had made the shift to running more and more on the treadmill, saving outside runs for races and special treats. 

All that was left was to focus on my gait.  Like Joe with his neon pink aero helmet, you can spot me coming from a quarter of a mile away by my gait.  I don’t know if it’s a direct result of breaking my leg when I was twenty-one and having to relearn to run or that I’ve run funny my whole life, but truth be told, I have a goofy gait.  Perhaps it’s because I run with a slow cadence.  Whatever is the cause, when I run, my right leg kicks out at a weird angle. 

My cool Newtons
Friends and training buddies have been trying to convince me to try Newtons for about a year.  I loved my K’onas so I’ve been giving the Newtons the Heisman.  With all of my efforts now geared to improving my running, I finally decided I should perhaps give them a try.  The first couple of times I tried them on, I reaaalllly wasn’t too sure about them.  They were nice and light, but the structure of the sole was weird.  I told myself that I’d get a pair and start training in them after I ran the half-marathon with Joe’s sister, Becky.

Right before Christmas, Joe bought me a pair of Newtons' Disancias – the neon pink and yellow version.  Whoo hoo!  They looked cool, but would I love the feel as much as the look?  I dutifully started out wearing them for very short runs, increasing my mileage in them by half-mile increments each week.  The difference was amazing.  After only one week, I could immediately feel the difference when I changed back into my K’onas to finish my runs.  My feet liked the Newtons way better! 

When we went to Colorado for Christmas, I chose not to bring my Newtons to cut down on packing and, because I knew I wouldn’t be getting much running done.  I had been running four miles in my Newtons before Christmas so when we got back, I decided to make the leap; to see if my years of running in somewhat minimalist shoes would be good enough to go the distance in the Newtons.  I figured if my feet or legs started to hurt, I could switch into my K-Swiss and finish my long run.  Twelve miles in my Newtons felt great; I had happy feet.  I was thoroughly hooked on my Newtons!  Still, I’d only run in them on the treadmill.  Would they feel just as good outside and at the higher cadence that I’d been trying to run?  Had my gait really “improved”?

Despite his earlier protestations that I not run, Joe started singing a different tune Saturday morning, telling me he thought I could PR again.  What?!  I marveled at his change of attitude, but kept it to myself.  I repeatedly told him that I was just gonna run what felt comfortable and cross when I did.  New shoes, new gait, new cadence, and sick to boot.  Not a good recipe for a PR to be sure.

Nauseated, but triumphant
in 2011
Being the creature of habit that I am, I love this race.  It was the first half-marathon that I’d ever run and I run it every year.  I even ran it three days after a kick-your-ass chemo session – nauseous, but determined to run it again.  I will be sad when we move and I can’t do this race anymore, but for now, it’s one of the highlights of my race season. :0)  Each mile, each turn is like an old friend.  I know that once I hit the hill at mile 10, I have only one more small hill by the horse stables and then I’m home free.  I know when to start listening for the crowds at the finish line and to start looking for my peeps.  Yes, there is comfort in the repetition of doing this race every year.

Mile 8-9 with my Newtons buddy,
Diana, and yes, smiling.
Perhaps it was because I was doped up on cough medicine, but I had a great time during the race.  Not wanting to send myself into a coughing fit and asphyxiate myself like I’d been doing in the days leading up to the race, I ran at a very comfortable pace.  I was cognizant of my cadence for most of the race although, me being me, I did get distracted regularly and would have to rein myself back in.  I think I was smiling for more than ¾ of the race.  Really.  I felt so incredibly lucky to be there, doing what I loved with a bunch of my friends.  I had great songs on my iPod and for each song, I ran for someone special.  I felt blessed to have so many special someones in my life!  The miles flew by.
Mile 12 and still smilin'

I truly felt wonderful for most of the race.  I had no problems with cramping, none!   Yay for turnips!  My nutrition was dialed in, my wardrobe was dialed in, my mindset was dialed in.  I ran mile nine with one of my training buddies and Newtons mentor, Diana.  The hill at mile ten was a little tough, but not as tough as in years past.  Mile twelve-thirteen I ran for a friend who is battling pancreatic cancer.   I pray that her chemo works as well as mine did.  And then, the finish line was right in front of me. 

Striding to the finish line 
While I didn’t PR, I came in right at two hours.  Not bad for someone who was laid up in bed with the flu three days before the race!  The only problem I had was from mile twelve to mile thirteen, I had several instances where it felt like someone grabbed my heart and gave it a really tight squeeze and then let go.  I felt like maybe I skipped a beat or something.  Each time, it made me catch my breath and slow down a bit.  I had not gone that far to pass out just before the finish line.  I always tell myself when my mind starts to try to sweet talk me out of accomplishing my goal, “You can walk/puke when you’re done.”   Nope.  I was gonna cross that finish line on my own volition, no need for someone to drag me across <I love that slogan, btw>.

Joe took his age-group.  I finished.
Cool medal this year!
I couldn’t breathe when I finished and, of course, had a coughing fit, but after a couple of puffs on the old inhaler, I was good to go in a few minutes.  I had promised Cori that I’d go out and pace her in if I was capable.  So, I handed my medal and my race belt to Joe and started walking back on the course to find her.  I cheered people on as I came upon them, telling them they were x # of turns to the finish line, or whatever it looked like they needed to hear at that moment.  I saw many friends on their way in (I apparently was one of the first few of our crew to finish).  This is the part I love about racing – seeing all my friends and training buddies on the course.  I snapped pix and gave hugs and high-fives.  Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader! 

Cori and ENer Blake at mile 12
When I found Cori, she was running with Blake and hurting.  Something had happened to her foot and she was not a happy camper, but she was determined to finish.  Blake went on ahead and I stayed with Cori.  Slowly, walking and running, we made our way to the finish line.  I ran ahead to get pix at the finish line for her.   We all cheered her in, proud and happy to welcome another to our ranks of “half-marathoners”.  She immediately said she would NEVER run a full marathon to which I laughed and told her that’s what we all say… 
Proud of this girl!

All and all, it was a good day, but I still had a bike and run workout scheduled for Sunday.  Typically, I do my workouts when the kids are still in bed or at school.  Yesterday, we all slept in so, I ended up doing my workout while they started on their weekend chores and on each other.  Joe’s trainer is in our sunroom with my treadmill, but there is not enough room for my trainer as well, so my trainer is in the living room - right where the kids have direct access to me. 

Trying to get a workout in with children around is like trying to talk on the phone or go to the bathroom by yourself.  Joe can close the door when he’s on his bike and keep them away.  I cannot.  The sniping started immediately.  And then, there were the requests and the tattling.  I don’t know why I even bothered to put my iPod on.  Finally, I told them all rather firmly to, “Please stop talking to me and turned up my headphones so that I couldn’t hear them.  Thereafter, when they tried to approach me, I would shake my head and give the “I can’t hear you…” sign. 

Joe had told me that the second set of fifteen-minute intervals at Z3 would feel easier than the first two sets of eight-minute intervals at Z4.  Uh-huh.  Who was he kidding?   How could that be?  Eight minutes was almost half as short as fifteen minutes.  But, yet again, he was right.  The two fifteen minute intervals did feel easier, but not the twenty-minute run afterwards.  No, that my friends was hard.  And, to top it off, Coach Joe pointed out that my cadence was too slow.  “I ran a half-marathon yesterday!  I’m tired!” I whined.  And then, because I’m really trying to be a good EN disciple, I pushed myself, increased my cadence, and finished my run.  You know what?  The second half of my run was slightly easier at the higher cadence. 

Here’s to today’s rest day – this week, I EARNED it!  And, in case you were wondering, Joe says that my gait has changed.  Now, you can’t pick me out by my gait, just by my uber-cool neon shoes.   
A well-deserved nap after a rough week.

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