Monday, February 29, 2016

My goal: Harder to find than Luke Skywalker

I have been thinking a lot about what I could have done differently over the last six months to change where I stand today in preparation for my race. Maybe I shouldn't have started training in September. Maybe I should have taken a few months off.

Otherwise, I don't think I have a good answer. There's so much out of my control.

I was so desperate for something to work after three years of running my heart out and getting worse with each race. The Maffetone Method sounded like a brilliantly simple solution - run long distances at very slow paces, eventually get faster.

But it isn't that simple. It is actually quite restrictive. It apparently only works if every other facet of your life is dialed in perfectly. And my last three months have been far from perfect.

And, hate to say it, but the rest of my life is also going to be un-perfect.

So I think I finally found my goal today, almost a full week after he went missing.

My goal for the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge is to stop and get a photo with every single character on the course. Because that's fun, and having more fun was my New Year's resolution for 2016.

And then I will retire from running as I originally planned.

I will celebrate my retirement with good friends and no stress aboard my Disney Cruise in the days following.

And I will find a new outlet to direct all of my competitive energy.

I will accept that my best half marathon time was my first half marathon. It will never get any better than that.

Today's exercise: Rest

Sunday, February 28, 2016


Running is my abusive lover. So good to me at times, but mostly just breaks my heart. Figuratively and literally.

And I still keep going back to it.

I can't find my goal. My running today felt just as purposeless as yesterday. I tried slowing my MAF pace down another 5bpm - probably where I should have been for the last three months. When I hit my first mile at 17:54, I felt the tears coming. I wanted to quit my run right then. But I brushed them away and continued on.

I wish I could get a do-over on the last three months. I can't.

I wish I had more time. I don't.

Right now, it feels like I'm going to keel over running the 19.3 miles of the Dark Side Challenge. My husband does these races all the time with little to no training (sorry Ben, you know it's true) and I don't know how he survives. At least if we both die at the race, we go together.

Perhaps that's my new goal. Don't die during the Star Wars Half. Let's see if SMART still applies:

Specific: I will continue to exist by the end of the Star Wars Half.
Measureable: If I'm still upright and breathing, it's a win.
Attainable: Sure, lots of people run half marathons without dying.
Realistic: God, I hope so.
Timely: I have 48 days to figure out how to not die during the Star Wars Half.

I'm whiny like Star Wars Kylo Ren


This is ridiculous, right? The last I checked, there was no "despondent" phase of the Whole 30. The "official" Whole 30 timeline indicates I'm two days away from the "Tiger Blood" phase. I could certainly use some of that right this second.

Well, with or without tiger blood, I'm ready to begin digging out of rock bottom.

I just need to figure out what my new strategy is for this race.

Today's Exercise: Recovery "Run" -
M1: 17:54
M2: 17:25
M3: 18:12 (and yes, the last minute of this was going through my head when I saw this appear on my watch)
M4: 18:04
M5: 17:24
M6: 18:20

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bringing balance to the Force

If I truly am in grief over the loss of my goal, today must represent the anger phase of grieving.

What's been so difficult for me to accept this past week is not the fact that I'm likely not going to achieve my sub 2:00 half marathon goal - it's that I'm actually on track to have my worst half yet. When I changed the way I trained last November, I knew I was taking a risk that I might not become faster.

I was not prepared to handle the possibility that I'd lose speed, though. My run today confirmed it, and now I only have 49 days to get it back. I just don't understand.  I've put so much more time, thought, and effort into this than any other race.

When I take the 30,000 foot view of myself, I see that everything I am and everything I do is insignificant. It really doesn't matter to the universe whether I run a race in less than 2 hours. It doesn't matter to the universe whether I even show up to the starting line or not.

Why does it matter so much to me then? Why is *this* the thing I'm fixated on to make me happy?

If I zoom in a little bit closer, I see I have so much else to be thankful for. A great career, a wonderful husband and others who care for me, an inviting home (finally) in paradise.

The one thing I'm missing, though - the one thing that started this whole journey - is health. I was stuck in a destructive cycle between my eating disorder and purging through running, and knew I needed to cut the cycle by quitting running. I just didn't want to do that until I reached a sub 2:00 half marathon.

I have learned a lot over the past few months, and it has certainly put me on a healthier track. So what more could I possibly want?

A half marathon PR.

The universe finds ways to balance everything out. Maybe nobody is really allowed to have everything they want in life. What would I need to sacrifice in order to have this too?

Today's exercise: 5 miles

M1: 10:11
M2: 10:19
M3: 10:24
M4: 10:29
M5: 10:39

Friday, February 26, 2016

Mourning the loss of a sub 2:00 half

Think of a friend who motivates you. Inspires you to greet the day ready to see what new feats you might accomplish. Challenges you to be at your best. 

What if that person wasn't in your life anymore? 

My goal to run a sub 2:00 half marathon has been my best friend over the past few months. When my housing situation was at its most tenuous, when my grandfather passed in December, and when I couldn't breathe under all of the projects my employer piled on top of me, my friend was there to remind me there are always things in life to look forward to.

When each morning came, I could easily jump out of bed to go work for my goal - no more pulling the covers over my head and dreading the day. My goal helped me make good, healthy choices daily (mostly - there were a few times his back was turned and I'd sneak some treats). My goal pulled me out of my comfort zone, encouraging me to do things I wouldn't normally do. 

This week, he abandoned me. 

When I first felt his absence, I called out to him. Thought maybe, just maybe there was something I could do to get him to return. He didn't respond, and I withdrew under the crushing realization that he was in trouble.

Where do goals go to die?

There was nothing there to pull me from bed in the morning. Running? Too painful. Blogging? No point. Eating? Maybe tomorrow. I felt physically sick and emotionally empty. I know I did *something* to earn a paycheck this week, but I no longer had any inspiration to draw from to offer my best work.

No goal, no husband (work travel this week), no social circle here in my new neighborhood to lean on. Isolation has not been nearly as good a friend to me as my goal was.

But Isolation reminded me today that I should check the facts.

The race hasn't happened yet.

My goal is still alive.

He's just on life support somewhere right now. And sitting around wallowing in my grief isn't going to help him return.

So I'm going to go find him and bring him home - I just need to be prepared that he may not be exactly the same as I remember after the harrowing experience he's had.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Not doing the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs

I have been training using the Maffetone Method for 12 weeks now, which pretty much means "base-building" is over. I thought I'd try opening the throttle a bit to see how I might be looking for the Star Wars Half.

I didn't like the outcome of the experiment.

I couldn't even finish a 3 mile run... and I was running at a pace that was slower than last year's half.

For the first time ever, I wondered *if* I still even want to do the race in April.

But I quickly pushed that thought aside. Of course I still want to do it. When did I become so negative? I have got to start working on my perspective. This article suggests I can do it by getting back into regular meditation and learning to express gratitude.

I'll work on that, but in the meantime, let's take a moment to analyze why this isn't working for me and see if there's anything else I can do in the next 53 days to turn it around:
  • Discipline: A quick re-read of the relevant Primal Endurance chapters reminded me that the MAF approach only works when you stay disciplined about being in the MAF target heart rate zone. I've let myself drift beyond it on almost every training run. I let it happen out of frustration of not being able to run at the pace I want. Sounds like even a few seconds outside my zone can wreck me, though. Plus, there were sporadic interruptions of undisciplined eating occurring, especially during the weeks I was moving. I need to respect the process much more fully over the next two months if I have any hope of this working out.
  • Target HR: It is likely that the zone I have been aiming for - 130-140bpm - is still too high for me because I'm frankly just not that healthy. Without conducting formal MAF tests over the last few months - no access to a good 400m track to try it - I couldn't really be sure this pace is working for me. So I can try scaling back to 125-135bpm in future training runs, but my challenge here is that I can't actually run in this range. My slowest jog sends me upwards of 140, and walking drops me down to 120. This could be tricky, and even if I start now, it might be too late to help me for the race.
  • Intuition: I won't lie, when I woke up this morning to run, I wasn't feeling 100% motivated to do it. When I wake up at 5:30, I just know if it's going to be a good running day or not. 
    Star Wars Han Solo has a bad feeling about my run.
    Today, I was more like this.
    Nerves, stress, sleep - I know these things have not been dialed in appropriately to start incorporating faster runs. I wasn't ready for it, but did it anyway. So I'm not going to do it again until I feel I'm in a good space for it.
I can't easily flip the switch to "hope" from "hopeless," but for now I'll just try to find peace with where I'm at.

53 days left.

Today's Exercise: First "fast" run w/ core work:

M1: 9:24
M2: 9:47

3 Eggs w spinach, coffee
Tuna salad, TJ's Kraut2 tbsp coconut butter, EPIC bison bites, 2 HB eggschili w/ guac, mint tea

Monday, February 22, 2016

Blogroll the Fourth

11 miles yesterday left me a little more sore than I thought it would, so I took a break today. Gotta go help my mom figure out how to install a new TiVo tonight (yes, I'm pretty sure she's their only customer), so here's another roundup of all the stuff I thought was relevant this week.

Train Like an Athlete:

runDisney Star Wars Half Marathon running race medals
You have another shot at getting one of these medals...

Think Like an Athlete:
Eat Like an Athlete:
Sleep Like an Athlete:
54 days left.

Today's Exercise: Rest

3 Eggs w spinach, coffee
Chili w/ guac, TJ's Kraut2 tbsp coconut butter, EPIC bison biteschicken apple sausage, cauliflower, mint tea

Sunday, February 21, 2016

You have to relax for a moment

Usually, at some point during my daily runs, my mind always wanders to the list of other things I should be doing: housework, projects for my employer, taxes, cooking, running faster, etc.

And that didn't happen today. At least not as much... I found I was instead thinking about how much I appreciate the ability to live where I do and run where I can.

Running during morning sunrise
I don't remember when the last time I stopped mid-run to take a photo was. I'm always in too much of a hurry.
I see a sunrise like this almost every day I run, but thoughts about stopping to take a picture get pushed aside by reminders that I have to hurry up and get home, get back to work, get back to the stuff that counts.

But taking a pause in your day to relax counts for something too.

Here are my three favorite ways to slow down and relax:

1. Meditation: I used to be really consistent about incorporating this into my routine, but have lost my way a bit. And it really doesn't take that much time out of your day to do. See: What Might Happen if You Start Meditating
2. TV: Just an hour each night, though. I am a cable cutter, so I only get whatever is on Hulu/Netflix/borrowing HBOGo from my dad/etc. I won't get into my entire list of favorites, but my top three right now are The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and House of Cards. Jessica Jones is good. And can't wait for Silicon Valley to come back. There's a lot of good TV out there right now.
3. Sauna/Hot Tub/Warm Bath: I love using the sauna after a workout at Globo Gym, but I find myself going less there now that I don't like to use the treadmill anymore. Now that I've moved into my new house, my soaker tub is a good alternative! Doing bath time right includes candles, a good book, and some of these:

A warm bath with these bath salts is great for running recovery

Note that "food" is not on my list of ways to relax anymore.

Looking for any ideas or suggestions about other easy ways to incorporate relaxation into a typical day - leave a comment and let me know what you do.

55 days left.

Today's Exercise: 11 mile St. Pete run:

M1: 15:15
M2: 15:02
M3: 15:13
M4: 15:07
M5: 15:07
M6: 14:45
M7: 15:27
M8: 15:42
M9: 15:43
M10: 15:48
M11: 15:56

3 Eggs w spinach, coffee
Chili w/ guac, TJ's Kraut2 HB eggs, 2 tbsp coconut butterTuna salad, mint tea

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Feeling the Force

It's Day 6 of my Whole 30. When I completed Whole 30s over the last two years, the first week always brought some unpleasant side effects, like headaches or an unsettled stomach. This year, I'm not getting any of that. I'm thinking it's because I have *mostly* been eating this way over the last two months, with the exception of a sugar bender or two during the week of my move.

I did wake up at 3:45 this morning though. I'm familiar with this phenomenon from prior Whole 30s and - more recently - doing the two-week carb elimination test in December. I'm hoping this is not going to be a trend for the next month.

I also get the food dreams. They always involve me eating something off plan and then waking up relieved it was just a dream. Here are the ones I can vividly remember:
  • My husband offered me a slice of pizza and I ate it without thinking twice.
  • I was upset about something and wanted a Frappucino. In real life, I haven't had a Frappucino in a long time - I'm usually a hot beverage drinker.
  • I was on my way out somewhere and as I was walking out the door, my mom said: "Don't forget a cupcake!" You know, in the way that moms would say "Don't forget a hat and gloves, you'll catch pneumonia!"So I grabbed one from a nearby cupcake tower and went on my way.
Whole 30 put out a list of things to expect each day you are on the program. I typically do experience everything on that list, just not necessarily in the first two weeks. And I've NEVER experienced "tiger blood". Perhaps the excessive running I was doing during past Whole 30s prevented me from experiencing boundless energy.

Kill all the things when training for a half marathon run and eating Whole 30
But yes, this phase has happened before. Maybe it won't this time!
I expect different outcomes for this Whole 30 because my running is so much gentler on me now. I've mentioned I've *completed* two Whole 30s - but I don't think I've ever mentioned how many others I've started and quit. I've lost count. I do remember one time I even made it 15 days in - beyond the halfway point - and gave in to sweet pickles, of all things.

Because of past failures, I'd always enter into a new Whole 30 challenge with just a little bit of doubt.

But not this time. I am not worried at all about whether I can do it or not.

Even this morning, I was presented with a dilemma as my mother wanted to meet up with me for breakfast at our usual spot. I called ahead and found out the cafe cooks with Pam or liquid butter, both of which are not compliant with the diet. I explained I needed some alternative options and they ended up making me two poached eggs. That was the only thing on the menu I could eat, so I was pretty ravenous by lunch... but good to know I can still enjoy time out with my mom at our favorite breakfast spot.

I may have to purposefully end the diet early when I travel for work next month, but I'm going to do everything I can to keep it going. I'm going to work with our hotel and caterer for the conference to see what my options are.

The real challenge here is not whether I can make it 30 days or not - it's whether I can make these healthier eating habits stick.

56 days left.

Today's Exercise: Walking, core work, and planting some palm trees

2 Poached Eggs
Chili w/ guacPumpkin seeds, larabarChili w/ guac

Friday, February 19, 2016

Laser Focus

Ok, back to normal running today. I am still not sure what happened yesterday, because I felt exactly the same this morning as I did yesterday.

I'm so happy the weekend is finally here. Monday was a holiday, which was great, but I think my employer then expects us to get five days worth of work done in just four. It's impossible. It doesn't help that I have been having trouble lately focusing on getting any one task done.

It doesn't help that I let myself get distracted by reading articles about distraction.

There's a theory out there that suggests getting easily distracted is a sign of intelligence. So, naturally, I needed to find something that would tell me how easily distracted I get so that I know how intelligent I am.

Totally logical.

I took the one-minute quiz in the link above when I was looking for a distraction today, and apparently, I don't get that easily distracted and therefore must not be that smart:

My response time is slow. Just like my running.

The quiz is flawed, IMHO. What my score really represents is a desire to do something perfectly, even if it takes longer to do. As soon as I was tricked by one mismatched pair, I slowed down to ensure it didn't happen again.

And I know I'm still guilty of distraction, although it's not like I'm just spacing out - my distraction comes in the form of multitasking. I can attend a phone-based meeting, respond to work emails on my work laptop, and check Facebook on my cell phone, all while trying to get my cat to stop knocking things off my desk.

While distraction is a sign of intelligence, apparently it's only a good thing if I'm distracted by one thing at a time - because multitasking is actually making me dumber.

So, really, I should work to commit to being laser-focused on doing one thing at all times, including being distracted.

Don't worry, I'm confused too.

I guess that means I'm not that smart.

Or I just need to slow down during the workday like I have during my runs.  Gonna try implementing some of these ideas to help improve my focus.

57 days left.

Today's Exercise: 7 miles:

M1: 15:20
M2: 15:08
M3: 15:47
M4: 15:16
M5: 15:10
M6: 15:08
M7: 15:31

3 eggs with spinach, BP mocha
Tuna salad, TJ's KrautAlmond butterChili, mint tea

Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Yoda Moment

Despite yesterday's weirdness, I woke up at 5:30 this morning feeling really awesome. Like I was totally going to rock my run. I'm coming off of two days of rest, I'm on day 4 of my Whole 30, and I'm one day closer to the weekend.

I decided to drive across town so that I could run on the Pinellas Trail again this morning and get some sauna time at Globo gym afterwards. I hit the trail feeling like I was totally in the zone, ready to find my best pace yet.

So when I was alerted at mile 1 that my pace was 16:52 minutes per mile - almost two minutes slower than I expected to be - I was totally crestfallen.


I kept at it, thinking maybe it was an anomaly, maybe I'd find my stride at mile 2, but nope... mile 2 was even slower.

So whatever. Baby, I'm just gonna shake shake shake it off. Have at it again tomorrow and hope my body was just playing a practical joke on me. Real funny, Nicole. Get it out of your system now, the race is in 58 days.

I sauna'd and showered at the gym before work, and as I was in the locker room brushing my hair, a girl in her - oh, late 20's I guess - bounded in announcing "Man, I am feeling so sore but can't wait to be even more sore!"

I looked at her. And saw my past self, the 27-year-old me that picked up running for fun and eventually let it turn into punishment.

And I was all:

Star Wars Yoda says "Rest, We Must" after running.

"Oh, sweetheart," I said. "If you're sore, why not give your body some rest? Use the sauna or the hot tub or whatever you want, but recovery is part of training too."

She looked at me and laughed. "No way, love the endorphins!" and made her way out to the gym floor.

Sigh. The path to the Dark Side. Who's to say she'll end up like me, though? Even so - I'll keep an eye out for her and pass her a business card to my blog.

58 days left.

Today's Exercise: 4 mile "WTF" run w/ core work:

M1: 16:52
M2: 17:04
M3: 16:17
M4: 15:28

3 eggs with spinach, BP mochaTuna salad, TJs Kraut2 tbsp almond butterChili, tea

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Chewie, get us out of here

I am not having luck with my monthly massages as of late.

Today's experience was particularly disappointing because I woke up feeling sore this morning, so I was really looking forward to getting some help with that this evening. Between sore legs and not sleeping as well last night, I decided to skip this morning's planned run.

My therapist was a guy. Again. I'm just not nearly as comfortable with this scenario as I am with a female therapist for reasons I've listed here.

But - the last massage I had was good. Actually, all of my experiences with male therapists have been good.

This one broke the streak.

I've been "treating" myself to monthly massage for about five years now, and this one now holds the title of second worst.

My worst experience occurred last year when I had some pain in my right calf muscle and made the mistake of telling my therapist that. I don't remember how I injured myself, but I was hoping the massage would help. She used the opportunity to torture me instead. I don't even remember what she did - I think I may have blacked out from the pain. I know I was unable to walk for a few days afterward. I often wonder what I did that made her so angry with me.

So tonight's massage was almost as bad. I'm just not sure how much to write here because -  on the one hand - I find tonight's experience incredibly hilarious.

And on the other hand, I think everyone else in the world might judge my experience as incredibly creepy.

But I'm an open book. So here are some of the highlights:

  1. He started out by letting me know he was hearing impaired. Good to know, but it definitely made me anxious. I always feel just slightly less vulnerable when I'm laying face down half-naked on the table knowing that I can communicate with my therapist if anything doesn't feel good. Wasn't sure how I was going to do that if he couldn't hear me...
  2. I'm super ticklish, but I would say 9 out of 10 massage therapists I've had are good at avoiding the sensitive spots. And I get totally mortified when it does happen. Somehow, this guy managed to find all of my ticklish areas.
  3. I think he might have been playing "This Little Piggy" with my toes. I really almost burst out laughing at this point because the whole thing was just so ridiculous.
  4. He asked me if it was ok to massage my glutes. 
Star Wars Han Solo giving Luke a pointed look.
No. No, it's definitely not ok. So glad you asked first, though.

Anyway, after it was all over (and trust me, it did not end fast enough), he let me know I was in good shape. Thanks buddy. I like hearing that, really I do, but it's just kind of a weird thing for you to say right now.

I haven't been one to really care about credentials, certification, etc. before... but maybe it's time to start.

And so, I think with this experience, my days of using Groupon/Living Social/etc. for massage are over. I'll need to find another way to work massage into my budget using a therapist I know and trust.

59 days left.

Today's Exercise: Rest

3 eggs with spinach, BP mochaTuna salad, TJs Kraut2 HB eggs, pumpkin seeds, 2 tbsp almond butterChicken apple sausage, spinach

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Double digit run

Yesterday was a milestone run for me (at least in 2016) in that I hit double digits.

10 miles! It took forever, but I did it.

I was in a good mood, it was a holiday, the weather was perfect - I set out not really caring about my pace, just determined to hit a distance record. I left my Garmin watch face settings exactly as I set them on Saturday - no feedback about pace, just time and heart rate.

I think it helped me have a more even, consistent run than Saturday. Things are far better when you aren't getting beeped at every other minute.

Here's a graphical representation of Saturday's run - blue indicates my pace, red indicates my heart rate. See how choppy it is? When I said I was running - then walking - every other minute, it wasn't an exaggeration:

Garmin running data from a Star Wars Half Marathon training session
Average pace on Saturday was 15:14 min/mi

Now take a look at yesterday. Better - fewer peaks and valleys, at least until the very end there:

Better Garmin running data from a Star Wars Half Marathon training session
Average pace on Monday was 15:42 min/mi

So I learned I *can* run more slowly.

But what I think this is also telling me is that I can walk faster at a lower heart rate than I can run. Because even with all of that walking on Saturday, I was 30 seconds faster per mile than I  am during a consistent run.

After three days of running and covering 20ish miles, my rest day today was definitely earned. Hitting the pavement again tomorrow morning  - and tomorrow night is monthly massage night, woo hoo! (And if you are keeping track, note that I'm counting this early February massage towards January. I'm still not spoiled.)

I've also decided to jump into my 3rd Whole 30... er, might just be a Whole 24. I have been thinking about  doing this for a while - given I'm no longer running myself into the ground like I was during my prior two Whole 30's, something tells me that this is the time I could very well see some life-changing results. I still don't have a good 30-day challenge-free window to get this done before the race. I'm worried about a business trip I'm taking in March at day 24 - but I'm gonna try my hardest to see it through.

60 days left.

Today's Exercise: Rest

3 eggs with spinach, BP mocha
Beef, spinach, mint tea2 HB eggs, pumpkin seeds, krautBeef, spinach, mint tea

Monday, February 15, 2016

I do have my moments. Not many, but I do.

Cinderella's Royal Table at Disney last night was a good once-in-a-lifetime experience. But if you're 1/2 of a childless couple in your mid-30's, probably best to find a reservation elsewhere and let the kiddos take your table.

I learned character dining is not really for me. Especially princess dining (and no, Leia wasn't there). I certainly appreciated the offers from Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel, Ariel, and Aurora to take photos with me, but ladies, I don't need souvenirs that will remind me of my personal shortcomings for the rest of my life. The princesses are all very sweet and are amazingly good at small talk - even so, when you've had five rounds of princesses swinging by your table, you just want to be like "Hey, Sleeping Beauty, if you could just go back to sleep and let me eat my dinner, that would be awesome."

I also learned that Ariel is a pretty normal sized mermaid. There's nothing little about her.

Recommendation for Disney: wait to give my husband toys until after dinner is served, or else stuff like this happens:

My husband misbehaving at Disney's Royal Table
I got a wand, which is way cooler because now I can magic my way to a sub 2:00 half marathon. 
I will say this, though -  it's amazing what a night at Disney does for my mood. We saw two marriage proposals at CRT (aww), the food was good, and we got to hit the three best rides in the park - Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Splash Mountain (obviously, it's not a good ride unless it has "mountain" in the title).

My husband and I also invented a new park game for us to play. Our go-to game has been Park Scavenger Hunt. I'll usually set the initial find for the day - things like "child wearing Yoda t-shirt" or "someone using a scooter who really obviously doesn't need it" and the first person to find someone meeting that description wins. Then the winner gets to pick the next find of the day.

Last night, we challenged each other to find the most people wearing Disney Birthday buttons and say "Happy Birthday" to them. I won with a score of two... usually, every other person at the park is wearing a Birthday button, so I'm not sure where they were all at yesterday. But it did give us an idea for a future game to play - we're each going to wear Birthday buttons next time we go and see who gets the most "Happy Birthdays" from random strangers (park employees do not count!)

I had fun. And that was my goal for 2016 - to have more fun.

And - with the move and all of the stress that comes with it - fun has been severely lacking in the last two weeks.

So I'm happy today. A better mood today allows me to recognize just how whiny I've been over the last week. I had forgotten that the way I'm training now is a means to an end, not the end itself, and just because I'm running 15+ minute miles now does not mean I'll be doing so at the race in two months. I looked back through my logs and see that I'm at week 11 of the 12-week aerobic base building phase, which means I get to start throwing in a faster run in another week.

Plus, I'm reminded that the race is still two months away - that's still a pretty significant chunk of time to improve.

61 days left.

Today's Exercise: 10 miles:

M1: 14:51
M2: 15:29
M3: 15:36
M4: 15:53
M5: 15:46
M6: 15:32
M7: 15:50
M8: 16:01
M9: 15:46
M10: 16:11

3 eggs with spinach, BP mocha (just add cocoa!)
Grilled chicken salad2 HB eggs, pumpkin seedsBeef, spinach

Sunday, February 14, 2016

"I Love You." "I Know."

Happy Valentine's Day, Friends. Celebrating with my Valentine tonight at Cinderella's Royal Table. I reserved this months ago for the hubs, intending it to be a surprise, but Disney went ahead and loaded it to his "My Disney Experience" app the day after I made the reservation.

Surprise blown. Thanks, Disney. But I forgive you - as long as Leia is among the Disney princesses that visit our table tonight.

Anyway, I had a spaz moment this morning. My routine on Sundays used to involve meeting up with my mom at a branch of Globo Gym near her for spin class, and then having breakfast together afterwards. I changed it up after beginning Maffetone Method training though since I had a really difficult time keeping my heart rate in the MAF range at spin. So I'd still meet up with her at the gym but run on the treadmill instead. She's cool with that because we still get sauna time and breakfast to catch up on all the goings-on of the week.

But I kind of loathe the treadmill now. So I figured I'd slightly modify my routine and run on the Pinellas Trail - a 40 mile bike path - that goes right past Globo Gym. I planned on using the gym for strength/sauna/shower time afterwards.

Good idea right? Until I saw this:

My running route was fenced off.
So I grudgingly went back inside and started my run on the treadmill. But I was way overdressed, expecting to be running outside in 52 degrees (and, yes, that's cold), and my dreadmill run felt even more miserable than usual.

After a mile, it hit me... that the trail runs in two directions.

So I went back to the trail...

My running route was NOT fenced off.
Smart, Nicole. Just turn 180-degrees next time.
I was so thankful to be able to finish my run outside, but man. I definitely took a stupid pill this morning.

Star Wars Darth Vader thinks I'm stupid.
Thanks, Vader. Who said anything about clumsy?
62 days left.

Today's Exercise: 3 mile run hybrid w/ core work:

M1: 15:20
M2: 15:44

3 eggs with spinach, tomato, onion, coffee
N/AN/ADining like royalty at Cinderella's Castle

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Finding my Stride

I could not have had a more perfect day for a run.

I could not have had a more disappointing run.

My biggest frustration right now is that I can only sustain a pace that feels good to me for about a minute until my Garmin yells at me.

"The rent is too damn high" guy thinks I'm running too fast while training.
Whatever happened to this guy? Why isn't he running for president?
So then I have to walk for another minute to bring it down, and then I'll get jogging again, and then I get yelled at again, and the cycle goes on and on until I just want to throw my HRM into the ocean.

About two miles into my run, I stopped to change my watch settings because I realized I was stressing myself out about my pace. Every time I'd look down when my watch alerted me my heart rate was too high, I'd see just how slowly I was going and feel like crying. I'm sure that wasn't helping my heart rate at all, so I changed the watch face to only show me the timer and my heart rate.

At about three miles into my run, I also ended up shutting my iPhone off. I run with it for music and emergencies, but I had that nuisance problem of my phone taking photos of the inside of my pocket. I know when it's happening because after so many photos are taken, the music just cuts off. I was just not in the mood to fight with technology today.

These little adjustments made a difference, albeit minimal, for the rest of the run. But I was still irritated anytime my Garmin beeped. During one of my "slow-downs" around mile 4, I passed a guy sitting on a bench who yelled at me to keep running.

I gave him the dirtiest look I could.

Had I had the time or inclination, perhaps I would have sat down and politely explained to him that I would have loved NOTHING MORE than to keep running, or run faster even, but my watch told me no. 63 days left.

Today's Exercise: 8 mile outdoor run:

M1: 15:21
M2: 15:11
M3: 15:38
M4: 15:29
M5: 14:55
M6: 14:32
M7: 15:13
M8: 15:27

Friday, February 12, 2016

Blogroll the third

Not much new to report on plus I'm flat out at work today.

Star Wars C3PO thinks I've got too much to do.

So figured I'd share yet another list of things I read this week that I find relevant.

Train Like an Athlete:
Think Like an Athlete:
Eat Like an Athlete:
Sleep Like an Athlete:
64 days left.

Today's Exercise: Rest

3 eggs with spinach, BP coffee
TJ's chicken burger and baby spinach, teaTJ's Kraut, 2 HB eggsShrimp salad, TJ's Dark Chocolate

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Bitter. Cold.

52 degrees sounds warm.

Dwight Schrute thinks it's too cold to go running.

I like to squeeze as much running as I can in before work starts, so I buy myself some extra time by preparing what I can the night before. I'll check the weather to see what I need for an outdoor run, lay out my running clothes and shoes, pack a gym bag if I'm planning on using the treadmill instead of running outdoors, and make sure my heart rate monitor is accessible.

Last night, I saw the forecast for 5:30 am today indicated it would be about 46 degrees, so I added my hat and gloves to my pile of running gear. I thought about possibly doing another treadmill run instead of an outdoor run, but figured I could handle cooler temps. Considering I'd just run in near freezing cold on Sunday, 46 degrees actually sounded quite pleasant.

My alarm went off this morning and I stepped outside to walk my dog. It was right on the border of being warm enough that I knew a hat and gloves would feel sweltering during my run, yet cold enough that I'd still be uncomfortable without them.

I decided to leave them behind - I figured that maybe after my warm-up, my fingers and toes would feel a little less numb.

Again, Dwight Schrute thinks it's too cold to go running.

Even when the sun came up about an hour into my run, it was still too cold. And - just like on Sunday - I had a really hard time getting warm again today even after my run was over.

Tomorrow is a rest day, so I'll get another shot at running outside on Saturday morning - looks like it will be 54 degrees again then. I'll plan on wearing my hat and gloves, and just carry them if it gets too hot.

Anyway, I'd like to blame the cold again for another crappy "run", but I'm really just starting to feel like maybe this approach is just not working for me. These "wogging" paces are incredibly frustrating, I feel like I have to slow down to a walk every two minutes, and I'm just not getting anywhere. I want to run, damn it. A 6 mile run with a warm-up and cool-down should not take me two hours.

Here's someone like me...

...except she seems to be meeting all of her goals. Yes, she trains in lower heart rate zones, but also incorporates faster runs. She's smashed her weight loss goals not by vilifying any one category of food (looking at you, carbs), but by counting calories. She eats what she loves, but makes sure it fits within her calorie range for the day.

She also has anxiety but manages it with medication. That's the only thing I really don't want to do.

I'm going to see how things go with Saturday's run first, but I might be ready to make some changes.

65 days left.

Today's Exercise: Arctic run

M1: 15:49
M2: 15:50
M3: 15:58
M4: 15:19
M5: 15:02

3 eggs with spinach, coffee
TJ's chicken burger and baby spinach, teaTJ's Kraut, 1 HB eggs, HC LatteChipotle Carnitas salad w/ guac, TJ's 72% cacao dark chocolate

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Exercising your self-care muscles

My feet were feeling much better and I got a decent night's sleep after Monday night's cramp issue, so I had no problems getting up at 5:30 for my morning run today. I usually prefer running outside, but decided to hit the treadmill at the gym this morning since I needed to complete a few errands before signing on to work at 9.

For me, a "dreadmill" run first thing in the morning beats an outdoor run after work. I don't have that same "I should be doing something else" guilt that accompanies the end of a workday, unsatisfied that I've accomplished everything I could. Even taking 20 minutes to write this blog post feels self-indulgent because there's so much work to be done.

I'm not alone here, right? Don't we all think we can do more... do better... do faster?

If you're with me, you might dig this video about self-compassion.

I know I link to Greatist a lot. I just find all of their content to be SO RELEVANT. So you could probably just bypass my blog and sign up for their newsletter here.

And when you're done with that, stop beating yourself up and, ya know, give yourself a hug.

Star Wars Leia hugging Chewbacca

66 days left.

Today's Exercise: Treadmill run @ Globo Gym and core work

My Garmin was definitely off tracking, though - I'd estimate a minute per mile slower than what I have here:

M1: 14:30
M2: 14:42
M3: 14:09
M4: 14:30

3 eggs with spinach, coffee
3 eggs with spinach, teaTJ's Kraut, 2 HB eggsTJ's chicken burger and baby spinach, tea

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

May your feet be with you

I had trouble getting to sleep last night, even though I went to bed at a reasonable time. It partly had to do with how wired I was yesterday. My mind just would not quiet down.

But it mostly had to do with my feet. Sometimes, I think it would be better not to have them.

Star Wars BB-8 rolling, not running.

When I was training the way I used to - harder, faster, longer - nighttime leg cramps were a thing to deal with. I'd awaken and cry out in pain, jolting out of bed and scaring the bejeezus out of my husband. I could walk them off pretty quickly, but I'd feel pretty sore the following day.

And I'd probably still run anyway.

I'd always assume after these episodes that I wasn't drinking enough water. Articles like this one point out the number one cause of muscle cramps is a lack of hydration. But that couldn't really have been it - I pretty much only drink water. (Ok, some coffee and wine too).

I haven't really had any problems since I've slowed down, though - looking back, I have only logged one charley horse.

Even though they've become more infrequent, I haven't forgotten how painful they are. The cramps always start out in my feet before shooting up my leg. And I had that feeling in my feet all night last night, like I was going to get a cramp any second.

Thankfully, I never did get a full-on cramp, but my feet are still feeling a little bit sore today. So I'm not sure what's going on. When I look at the six other causes of cramps from that article, none of the rest really apply either.

Here's hoping it was just a side effect of another stressful Monday, and I can stave off future pain with better stress management.

67 days left.

Today's Exercise: Rest

3 eggs with spinach, coffee
3 eggs with spinach, teaTJ's KrautHam & Cheddar cauliflower soup, Trader Joe's Kale Salad