Saturday, April 30, 2016

Victories...almost.

The Dark Side Half Marathon isn't going to be a race I remember fondly. But there were two things I took a little bit of pride in that I have not achieved in other races.
  • Negative splits... almost. In the four other half marathons I've run, I had to practically crawl across the finish line. During this half, I was able to run each mile at the same pace or faster until the very end. I believe I could have hit a pace in the 8 min/mile range for my last mile, except the course narrowed for a while onto a dirt path, creating a slower bottleneck that was tough to get around. Still, I was in shock at how good I felt after the race. Usually I'm left wondering how a half marathon is half of anything. Makes me think I should have tried to run a little bit faster during some of those earlier miles.
  • Running the entire race...almost. In 4 of 5 half marathons I've done, I began losing steam after mile 9 or 10. I'd always finish out my race using some form of the run/walk method, even in my first and fastest half marathon. This time, I didn't need to walk at all... except through ONE water station. That doesn't really count, right? I just haven't mastered the ability to drink water and keep running yet. You can see exactly where that was below:
 


Good stuff, right?

So now I've just got to get faster for the Avengers Half. And I know I can do it because I just had six months of experimentation to figure it out. I know what I need to do. I'm not going to lose time messing around with faulty heart rate monitors this time like I did last time. I have to throw in more sprints and faster runs in my training. And I have to build some strength.

But shaving off two minutes per mile in the next six months still sounds a bit daunting. And kicking my training off with an injury doesn't bode well.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Undercover Boss

Today marked my first attempt at running since the Star Wars Half. It didn't go very well. Although there's no longer visible bruising on my right foot, there's still pain. It's been almost two weeks since I ran last, and really would have expected to be healed by now. So it will be a while before I'm going to attempt running again - I can't risk further injury, as I'm going to need all the time I can get to be ready for the Avengers Half in November.

I'm wondering if I might have been better served going back to work instead of going on a cruise right after the race, as at least I'm keeping weight off my feet when I'm working. Most people equate cruising with putting your feet up by the pool, but I get way too excited about all of the activities onboard Disney Cruise Line so I usually end up running all over the ship. Rest assured... there was plenty of hot tub time too... I just ended up being on my feet more than I usually am during a typical week.

So let's get to costumes from the race, since that was one of the highlights I mentioned yesterday. I have two favorites, but let me be clear - I respect anybody that can run these races in costume. It's hard enough to run 13.1 miles to begin with - but to run holding lightsabers and wearing face paint? No thank you.

Unfortunately, Disney banned full masks this year, so no full Chewbacca costumes were seen on the course. But I saw plenty of Ewoks, Jedi, and even one Darth Maul.

My two faves:

1. "Matt." I saw my first "Matt" while waiting in line for the bathroom before the 10k, but I didn't really scrutinize his costume all that closely. Just looked like a dude in a blonde wig and orange security vest. My husband started laughing and pointed the guy out to me, saying "I just figured out his costume." That's when I took a good look and recognized the Kylo Ren Undercover Boss SNL parody. So clever.



2. Barf. While I saw quite a few "Matts" over the course of the two days, I only saw one Barf during the half marathon. Bravo, friend.


Maybe after I hit a sub 2 half, I'll think about running a race in costume. But no fun allowed until I reach my goal.

Today's exercise: 4ish mile painful run

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The good

I've gotten the bad and the ugly out of the way. Back to regularly scheduled programming.


Even though I have to live the rest of my life with a new worst half marathon record, I can’t say I didn’t have fun during the Dark Side Challenge. So here are the non-running related highlights. Some of these photos are going to be Disney watermarked, but #sorrynotsorry... not paying an arm and a leg for really unflattering photos of me.


Tangent: Anybody else think it should be a crime to take photos of people running a half marathon? I mean come on. Really.
  • Running with my husband: It’s so rare that I run with him. I’m much too competitive. We stopped for photos at a few of the mile markers, and hammed it up as much as we could for the course photographers. I think he appreciated having the company, except when he’d suggest a walk break and I’d push him to run just a little farther than he wanted.
At Mile 2 during the 10k


  • Disney's attention to detail: Even the mile markers were way fun, although I think they really had to reach for 13 villains to display for the half marathon.
We will finish what we started.


  • The costumes: I could probably dedicate an entire post to this. In fact, I will at some point.
  • Meeting Phasma… I’m convinced Gwendoline Christie was in this suit. And if it wasn’t really her, this WDW character should get a pay raise. Spot on.
I'm a little short for a stormtrooper.


  • …and Darth Vader. The original baddie. Space Lord Voldemort.
This will definitely make an appearance as our family Christmas card in the future.


I have a few running related highlights, but saving those for another day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Making Health a Priority

As much as I want to get to the positive stuff about the runDisney Dark Side Challenge, best to probably get all of my bummer stuff out of the way. I’ve never been more convinced that I need to always make health a priority than right this moment.

Before I left for the races at Disney, I learned my stepmother was in the hospital. You might remember her as the lady who had just been down to Florida to visit me three weeks ago and passed judgment on my choice to not eat McDonalds.

What I failed to share is that she’s been in my life since I was 12 years old and is one of the most compassionate and genuine people I know. She's my second Mom. Last year, she successfully fought skin cancer. She’s been keeping up with recurring doctor’s visits. We figured that ickyness was all in the past.

When I saw her in early April, even though she looked like her normal self, she wasn’t feeling 100%. My father confided in me that he believed her cancer had returned.

The day after she left my house, she went back into the hospital.

My last conversation with her was about how much she loved and missed my dog, Joey, and how the doctor had given her medical marijuana (funny when I realized that must be why we were having such a rambling conversation), and how she was mostly optimistic but they just needed to get a few additional test results.

And that was it. I ran my races and then left for a five day cruise, on which I had no access to email or my phone.

When I returned and started seeing what everyone was up to on Facebook, I saw a few posts from a family member and learned things had really gone south while I was away.

My first phone call was to my father.

My second phone call was to United Airlines to book a rewards miles flight back to New Jersey.

And here I’ve been since, helping my father try to live life as normally as possible, as he has pretty much been spending 24/7 by her side at the hospital.

Here’s what I know: She caught a virus in the last hospital she was in, and moved to a better facility. She’s on a respirator. Her organs are failing. She’s only 60 years old.

My 2nd mom sitting with my dog on my front porch earlier this month.
I don’t understand. How could this have gone so wrong so quickly?

So now I work during the day. I visit her at night. I cook for the family. I do laundry. I help my brother get to work and help him process what’s going on. And mostly, I try not to worry about my father and the future. This is not a scenario I ever imagined for him. One of the reasons I felt ok leaving NJ last year was that I figured he didn’t need me because he had her.

This family needs her. She's got too much life left to be lived!

Please send positive thoughts her way.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Do or Do Not.

There's a lot of "Life" being thrown at me right now. I'm struggling to decide what to tell the world about first.

This is the post I never thought I’d be writing when I started blogging in September. I don’t want to write it. But with each passing day, I’m forgetting details, so I guess I'll get it started and perhaps one day I’ll work up the courage to hit “publish” on this.

No surprises, but the Dark Side Half Marathon falls squarely in the “Do Not” category.

Spoiler alert: It wasn't all bad. I'm just going to save the good... and the ugly... for another day.

But for now... I hate the Dark Side. Definitely following the path to the light from here on out.
 
I did, in fact, log a new half marathon record: Worst. Half. Ever.

By a solid 14 minutes.

It’s not like this caught me by surprise. I knew it was coming. Still, I found myself getting a little choked up every time my Garmin alerted me another slow mile had passed. At the mile 11 marker, I saw the race clock at the exact time I would have needed to cross the finish line to achieve my sub 2 goal.

Yes, there were some tears. This was not the way it was supposed to have happened.

I had been doing the math the entire race, but having the visual confirmation of my impending failure really stung, especially since I had 2.1 miles left to go and knew at that point I’d be clocking the slowest half marathon of my life.

When I ran the Star Wars Rebel Challenge last year, I raced the 10k the day before and still managed to move the needle in the right direction for my half (2:07 compared to 2:10 for Wine and Dine, the race that previously held the honor of being my worst). I didn’t even bother to race the Dark Side 10k on Saturday morning this time around, opting instead to “wog” with my husband. So technically, I should have had more "juice" to race my half this time. It just didn't work out that way. I hate that I've lost so much "ability" in just over a year's time.

I also hobbled away with a fantastic new injury, so my running shoes have been collecting dust since the race. Here’s your warning – the following is not for the squeamish. Doing my best to publish this below the fold, so you have time to detour to Facebook or something where you’ll find happier photos of me.
























































EWWWWW. That is a gross swollen purple foot.



Photo was taken the day after the race. It's looking much better a week later, but still not 100% healed. I'd say send positive vibes to my foot so that I can pick up training for the Infinity Gauntlet Challenge, but I need positive vibes to go elsewhere right now.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

See you on the Dark Side

Today - run around like crazy wrapping up work projects, clean up to prepare for guests, drop the dog off at Grandma's house, pack, squeeze in a short run and a manicure (self-care is a must!) and get a free cup of coffee at Wawa.

Tomorrow - Off to Orlando.




The thing I'm most surprised by at this point? Not meeting anybody else who is running this race! Where are all of my fellow Star Wars/runDisney/running geeks?

Well, if you are running it and happen to see me, feel free to say hi.

That's all she wrote.

Today's exercise: 2 mile treadmill run @ 15 min/mile

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Blogroll the Ninth

Happy 200th post to me! Maybe I'm finally running out of things to say.

Can't believe I only have one more workday - then it's off to Orlando for Star Wars weekend. In the meantime, here's what I read this week. To start, two random fun things:
Train Like an Athlete:
Eat Like an Athlete: 
Think Like an Athlete: 
Sleep Like an Athlete:
Today's exercise: 3 mile run
M1: 15:13
M2: 16:01
M3: 15:54

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Stay calm, stay calm.

Alright, running friends, who else will admit to compulsively checking weather forecasts hourly in the week leading up to a race? Weather.com has become my new best friend over the last day.


PM thunderstorms on Friday will bum me out, for sure - only because it will mess with my poolside plans. But the real concern here are Saturday and Sunday mornings, when the races occur.

I've actually lucked out weather-wise with every single race I've registered for over my adult running career. The only one that was close to being ruined because of weather was my very first half marathon, which was April 22nd, 2012. This is what I posted to Facebook 48 hours before the race - you can see I was agonizing over having to run my first half marathon in a downpour:

That wall of green was coming my way for race day.

Sidenote: Just realized I'm coming up on the four-year anniversary of my first half marathon! Oh, to be able to go back in time and meet my old self at the starting line to give her a heads up as to how close she'd come to hitting a sub 2 half. She would have made it happen. One less walk break? Just kick in a super sprint at the last mile? Wonder how things would be different today if I'd have hit the sub 2 way back then.

Luckily, the rain held off until the race was over. Which meant it remained overcast and cool for the two hours I was on the course - couldn't ask for anything better than that!

So this weekend's forecast gives me just a little anxiety. The humidity is a bit high-ish, but I can manage. I'm leery of those PM showers on Saturday... if they don't roll through until later than expected, that could impact the half marathon Sunday as it starts at 5:30am.

Of course, if the race were canceled, it's hard to say how disappointed I'd actually be. I mean, it would be like I'd get a free do-over.

Today's exercise: Unplanned rest

Monday, April 11, 2016

On pride

"This is not how I thought this day was going to go."

Sorry Han. Here's hoping it doesn't get as bad for me as it got for you.
In less than one week, I will have completed the Star Wars Half Marathon. And it's not going to go how I thought it might when I started the blog back in September.

I will not be doing it in under 2 hours. In fact, it's likely I'll be recording my slowest race time ever.

Between preparing for my upcoming race and hearing that I have a lot of work to do if I wish to keep my front teeth, I'm taking a lot of blows to my ego this week... which was fragile enough to begin with.

But you know what? I have NO regrets. Bring it on, public failure.

You think failing privately would have made me feel any better?

Imma survive this. Every day, I actively make a choice to post. I choose to share this. I could have kept it all to myself. I could have never started the blog. And I could have stopped writing when I knew I wasn't going to achieve my goal.

The truth is that I've realized everyone is starring in their own movie, and I'm just an extra. Does anybody care if the extra runs a sub 2 half marathon? Hell no.

There was never a real risk to my pride, right? And look at everything I gained out of putting myself out there. A Jedi Master reached out to coach me off the run, eat, repeat cycle. I have six months worth of detailed notes that can help me figure things out for the next half marathon. And I started out thinking I'd have to quit running at some point if I ever wanted to get healthy, and learned that just isn't true.

Oh, and for those who have been with me for a while, remember this post? The one about New Year's Resolutions and having more fun? I think my real failure here is lack of keeping up with the fun.

So I'm going to do whatever it takes to have fun at my races (remember, there are actually two, even though I've been so focused on the half marathon only) next weekend.

And then I'm going to have to figure out what I want to do with this blog afterwards. I'll be taking at least a week off for vacation, but it's TBD what happens after that. I know I'll have to update my "Start Here" page. Not sure what else the future holds in terms of updates.

Today's exercise: Rest

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Last Long Run

Things seen on today's run:

  1. Advertising for St. Anthony's Triathlon:  And it's happening in two weeks, right after I get back from my cruise! I really love where I live now, there's always something awesome going on. Last month it was the Firestone Grand Prix (I have no interest in INDYCAR, but still cool), the month before it was Gasparilla (Pirate Christmas)... I just feel like I'm finally living my right life. I should have moved here years ago.
  2. Someone who felt the need to stop mid-run - to stop ME during MY run - to tell me my shoes were no good. (Reminder: I've been running in Vivobarefoot since January). His rationale? Not enough cushion and support, and that it would be bad for my knees and hips. I thanked him but let him know I had been running in these for a few months and actually have experienced less injury than I had in the last four years running in traditional shoes. (Ok, I've also been not really "running" either, but he doesn't need to know that). He shrugged, patted me on the shoulder (such a condescending move. ugh) and let me go back on my way.
  3. This thing:


What the hell are you? A chicken on steroids?
Whatever it was, it was NOT afraid of me.

So today's run - mechanically speaking - wasn't really all that great. I had so many interruptions. I had some really awful headwinds in some places. The overpasses sucked. My shoelaces came untied (I always have my husband tie my shoes on race day because he seems to know the trick to get them to stay).

But at this stage in the game, I don't care.  Considering I'm no longer aiming to achieve anything during next week's race, I just want to be happy and have fun. Wins: The weather was awesome. I got to break in a new pair of earbuds with my favorite running playlist - no metronome for me today. And I said hi to every dog on the trail. So I call today a success.

I've got four very busy, high-stress workdays to get through now. It's like going on vacation doesn't matter in my job - I just have to get my work done in four days instead of the ten days I'd normally have to do it. Somewhere, I'll find time to squeeze in two shorter runs - probably on Tuesday and Thursday morning.

I wish I could just fast forward to Friday!

Today's exercise: 10 miles:
M1:   15:57
M2:   16:21
M3:   16:35
M4:   14:39
M5:   15:05
M6:   14:58
M7:   15:51
M8:   15:16
M9:   15:05
M10: 15:41

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The garbage will do

Timehop reminded me that it was the 16th anniversary of the "More Cowbell" sketch on SNL:



 I think of this sketch every time I turn on my metronome app to help my cadence during a run.

Two weeks ago I deactivated Facebook because it was making me feel like garbage. I never intended to permanently say goodbye. I just planned on going back to it when I felt good about myself for a change. Like maybe after I hit that sub 2 half marathon goal.

But I learned that completely eliminating Facebook from your life is much harder to do than you think. About 3 days after declaring that I had deactivated my account, I was informed that I was actually still visible on FB. You know all of those third party apps or emails you sign up for that allow you to authenticate using Facebook? Well, I have a lot of those. It's just so easy to register for other platforms using Facebook. So whenever I wanted to use one of those other websites/apps/products/etc., it meant I'd automatically be logged back into Facebook.

What this means is that I can't completely fall off the radar. It doesn't mean I have to addictively check it every hour like I used to. I'd say my (short) FB detox has been good for me. After all, in just two weeks, I have noticed some improvement in my mood. I have definitely noticed an improvement in my focus.

But I've also missed out by not being on FB. I haven't kept up on what's going on in my friends' lives. My blog traffic has suffered since I'm not cross-posting in my FB groups. And I've missed out on social opportunities here in St. Pete.

It's been pretty difficult making new friends here in FL since my husband and I moved from NJ, partly because we both work from home and partly because we've moved around so much since we got here. Now that we're settled, we've got to start making local connections. I did get out today to my first meeting of Project Pup, a volunteer organization that certifies therapy dogs (I've got a screening appointment for my Joey next month).

Anyway, what do you think the first thing they told me to do was when I arrived at the meeting? "Like" them on Facebook.

Alright, Fakebook, you win. I'm back. But I'm going to make you work for me now.

Today's exercise: Rest.


Friday, April 8, 2016

It's the Final Countdown

Imma just put this here:


I can't believe I'm one week away from checking into my room at Disney's Yacht Club Resort and making my way over to the race expo for packet pick-up. I can not wait to see what we're getting for race t-shirts!

Race shirts are always hit or miss for me. They just can't seem to consistently get women's sizes right. If I get a women's medium, I'm taking a risk - either it will become clothing for my dog or I'll belt it and wear it as a dress (thanks, Wine and Dine). There's no happy medium (hah, see what I did there?) The Star Wars Half at Disneyland got it right last year. So I'm optimistic.

Speaking of optimism... I had a shitty run today.

But you know what? I'm fine with it.

Sure, I had high expectations after hitting MAF miles in the 14's last Sunday, but a lot has happened since then:
  • Having ended my marathon family visitation week, I'm back to eating healthfully, which means reduced carbs compared to last week. Maybe I'm just in an adjustment period.
  • I tried sprinting on Wednesday after work. It's been a long time since I last did sprint intervals. Maybe I wasn't fully recovered when I went out today.
  • I didn't sleep well last night. Woke up at 3am thinking it was closer to 5:30am and wondering why I was so awake. Didn't really fall back asleep, as I started to think about some crazy work deadlines I'm facing.
  • I received some distressing news yesterday from my dentist, also one of the things that kept me awake this morning. And while what she said does weigh heavily - in that it reminds me that some of the damage I've done to myself is irreversible - it does not mean my teeth are gone today. I can and will do whatever it takes to keep them.
One run on any given day isn't going to make a difference.

Today's exercise: 6 mileish "so what if it was craptastic" run
M1: 16:28
M2: 17:52
M3: 17:01
M4: 16:09
M5: 15:02
M6: 15:43

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Pulling Teeth

Let's start with a positive - new Star Wars teaser trailer if you haven't seen it!

And now the rest: I saw a dentist for the first time in over a year. It didn't go well.

I'll back up and let you know that I take meticulous care of my teeth. I've always been up on my dentist appointments, generally going every six months. I only let it go this long because my husband changed jobs last year, and I could no longer be on his insurance plan. So I enrolled in my own employer's dental plan, only to learn that the plan didn't cover the dentist I had been seeing.

So I figured since I was moving anyway, I'd just wait to find a new dentist here in Florida. But it kept getting pushed to the bottom of the priority pile. By the time I was able to find a new dentist nearby, get them listed as my primary care dentist, and get an appointment during a time that was mutually convenient for both of us, it was... well, today.

The thing is... I do have some problems. In my mid-twenties, my dentist at the time clued me in that I was headed for some serious trouble. It didn't make much sense for someone who brushes twice a day and flosses before bedtime, so my dentist just didn't believe me and didn't give me any other advice about my teeth.

Maybe had he known about my eating disorder - and all the accompanying nutritional deficiencies - I'd have something more to go on. But, as I've mentioned before, I was just not ready to talk to anybody about it back then, not even a licensed health care professional.

I continued to do what I could to practice good oral hygiene. With every move I've made - California to Connecticut to New Jersey and now to Florida - I'd have to see a new dentist. And each time, they'd look at me with concern and suggest my condition was something to be monitored.

Well, except for today's dentist. She kind of looked at me like I had teeth like this:



The first thing she asked me is if I had a mouth piercing (assuming she meant like a labret piercing) at some point in my history. Hah! Me? Hell no. I fainted when I got my ears pierced at 8 years old - a traumatic story (for another day) that has left me with a major fear of needles and a guarantee that I'd never get anything else pierced again.

Anyway, I guess the issues with my gums were similar to what someone would experience with that type of piercing. When I told her no, I never had a piercing, but was aware of my issues, she jumped ALL OVER ME.

Now, hang on - my prior dentists' all had concerns, it's true, but with each subsequent appointment, I'd usually be informed that my condition had remained stable. I tried to explain this to my dentist today, but she just said that all of my other dentists should be stripped of their licenses and that I was to blame for not seeing a periodontist AGES ago.

For real?

Well... my fault... my dentist's fault... it doesn't matter.

Being told you are going to lose all of your front teeth at 35 years old is pretty scary.

Just saying.

Eating disorders suck.

Today's Exercise: Rest.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Everything Old is New Again

I had a revelation today that I was actually introduced to the Maffetone Method almost exactly three years ago.

I was looking through another blog I used to manage for posts I could cross-post here because I'm lazy. That's not true, some days I just run out of time and figure why duplicate efforts?

All of the links I had are now broken since it's clear he updated and re-branded his site in the last three years, but anyway... here's what I had to say three years ago. I'm really wishing I had researched him more back then.

Dr. Phil Maffetone, I really wish there was an "About" section of your blog or somewhere I could easily find out more about you. Right now, I don't even know what you are a doctor of. Even Google can't tell me, although I see that you are internationally recognized as a fitness and health expert. So I'll give you a shot.

Someone recommended his blog to me - he writes about running and carbs, so naturally I'm a fan. And apparently he plays guitar too. What's not to like? (Ok, some of his blog entries could use a quick edit, but I won't judge. I'm not completely innocent of a few typos and run-on sentences myself).

As I restart a new attempt at going 14 days wheat free, I found this supporting article regarding Dr. Maffetone's two-week test, developed in order to help carbohydrate addicts quit cold turkey. What's interesting is that he started with a ten-day test - the same length of time that my longest streak to date has been - and here's what he found:

"At first, this new test period I devised lasted 10 days—the same period of time used in one of the studies I had reviewed. But the first few patients I used this new approach on needed more time off carbohydrates to fully appreciate the positive effects."

Ok. So although I start feeling pretty good after only a few days, as noted by my first experience passing up a cupcake, it will take me 14 days to really internalize all of the good vibes being wheat free can give me. And maybe turning down those cookies will be a lot easier after that.

I read on to the next blog about sugar addiction and learned the answer to why I don't binge on broccoli. He poses that sugar addiction may be the cause of binge eating. Before beginning this wheat free experiment, I had actually been looking for ways to reduce the amount of sugar I was consuming - like leaving it out of my coffee, or reducing it in baked good recipes and/or replacing with a sugar substitute. (I use Splenda for now, but may make the switch to stevia in the near future. I'd feel a little better about using something more natural). I'm assuming he's talking about added sugars here - not fruit. I'm hoping to retrain my sweet tooth to go after berries and citrus.

He has a lot to say about barefoot running. When I first had knee trouble a year and a half ago, I went out and bought a pair of Vibram Fivefingers and a copy of the book Born to Run*:



The book was fantastic, but the shoes made me miserable. They cut into my heels and left me in extreme calf pain after each one-mile session. I ended up going back to a stability shoe and enrolled in personal training to build leg strength. Ran two half marathons with no knee problems, so I never really thought about barefoot running again. With a lot of races to prep for this year, I'm not sure now is the time to break the Vibrams out, but Dr. Maffetone's interview with the book's author and barefoot marathoner Chris McDougall was inspiring. If my knee is still bothering me after my treadmill run today, I might need to think about this some more.

You know what they say about hindsight being 20/20...

*Amazon Affiliate Link. This means that if you click a link to Amazon through my site and buy something, I may earn a commission. Much obliged.

Today's exercise: "Sprint" intervals

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Spoiler Alert

It's official. I'm not quitting running:


Not too many have been with me since the beginning, but those who have know that my original intention was to run the Star Wars Half in under 2 hours and then quit running so that I could stop the run, eat, repeat cycle and focus on getting healthy.

After 2.5 months of training without improvement, I was clued into the idea that there was a way to keep running in my life and get healthy at the same time. I just needed to slow down for a while.

And slowing down for a while was great for improving my health... but hasn't worked out so great for getting me to a sub 2 Star Wars half (which, btw, is only 11 days away). This impending public failure has dealt a huge blow to my self-esteem. If I've seemed more despondent than usual lately, this is why.

I need to redeem myself.

So I decided that Star Wars can not be my last half marathon.

The Avengers Half Marathon will be on Sunday, November 13th, at 5:30 am. That's seven months away... and seven more months beyond when I started this blog.

Remind me when November rolls around that if I'm not able to run a sub 2 half marathon after 14 months of training, then I think it's pretty obvious it will be time for me to find a new hobby.

In the meantime, I'm going to take 60-second improvements in MAF times as a clear sign that there is NO WAY I'm not getting that sub 2 in November.

Today's exercise: Unplanned rest.

Monday, April 4, 2016

My brother

A Luke Skywalker he is not. I'm not even sure he knows who Luke Skywalker is.

Although we couldn't be any more different, I really enjoyed getting to spend some one-on-one time with my little brother, Brian. I've got 16.5 years on him, which makes me qualified to make fun of his severe case of millennial-itis. He'll be 19 years old in another week, and his mother still cried when she had to leave him on Saturday (my father and step-mother were heading on a cruise out of Tampa). I had a hard time holding it together when she was giving him instructions on how to pack his suitcase, and turned to him and said... through her tears... "You're a man, now."

Hahahahahahahahahah. Is it wrong that I can't stop laughing at this? Since that moment on Saturday, I've been singing this song (NSFW) at every opportune moment for Brian. He's been a good sport about it, even trying to see if he could somehow make it his ringtone. It's still stuck in my head today, so I'm glad I don't work in a traditional office anymore.

But in all seriousness, one of the things I miss most about moving away from New Jersey is hanging out with my brother. We're polar opposites, but always find the most random things to bond over. Like Super Smash Brothers, an old Nintendo Gamecube video game he has yet to beat me at. Or the New York Yankees.

Yesterday, we discovered a mutual affinity for binge watching episodes of Ink Master on Hulu. It's a reality show about tattoo artists that's incredibly gripping. I protested when he picked it out, but after five minutes of watching, I couldn't pull myself away. I promised him that I'd continue to watch the show after he left, and that maybe next time he came to Florida we could go get matching sibling tattoos.

Ok, that will never happen. My step-mother would break both my legs. No more running for me.

So today I felt a little bit down after I dropped him off at the airport at 4:00am for his flight back to NJ.

But the feeling only lasted momentarily... because then I realized marathon family visitation week was finally over.

Time to celebrate!

I wish. Had to put in a full day of work after aforementioned airport run.
At least now I can get back to my own regularly scheduled life. Sorry Brian, not watching Ink Master tonight, something much better just came out on blu-ray:


Today's exercise: Driving my kid brother to the airport at an ungodly hour.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A Great Disturbance in the Force

This is why I love runDisney:

Clever, Disney. I see what you did with your subject line there.

13 days to go. Here are some things seen on today's run:

  1. A Lamborghini. And a Tesla. And a DeLorean. And the Millennium Falcon. Ok, maybe not that last one, but they were setting up for some luxury car show down in the park where I usually run.
  2. An armadillo. I didn't even know we had those down here! From a distance, I thought it was a possum, but then it didn't seem to care very much as I got closer to it. I caught up with someone walking the path in front of me (I know, funny that I need to "catch up" with walkers still) to confirm the armadillo sighting, and he let me know that I was correct. He also said that's only the second time in the 40 years he's lived here that he's seen one. Now I wish I had taken a photo!
  3. And the most shocking thing of all... MAF miles in the 14's. My fastest mile today was over a minute faster than my best mile last time I ran at MAF. The last time I saw 14:30 miles was back in February during a really frustrating run at a higher heart rate. I know I kept drifting above 140 bpm during that run, whereas today I was able to consistently stay under 135.
And not just one mile in the 14's - but three!

WTF!

Everything about this week left my expectations low for this morning's run. Honestly, I was ready to take a "win" just for getting out of bed at 5:30 and lacing up. 

So it makes no sense to me that today would offer me my best run yet. What I'm learning is:
No. April Fool's Day was on Friday. I don't believe any of the above for a second. 

The only thing I'm learning is that I just don't have myself figured out.

Today's exercise: Really crazy confusing run

M1: 14:31
M2: 15:06
M3: 15:35
M4: 15:28
M5: 15:14
M6: 14:49
M7: 14:56

Saturday, April 2, 2016

SAD Hangover

Marathon family visitation week will soon be over. I will be sad when our guests leave.

But then again... I'll be less SAD.

In order to ensure my guests' comfort during their stay this past week, I had to bring in some staples of the Standard American Diet: bread, cereal, pancakes, chips, cookies, soda... These are things that are normally not allowed in my house because I know I can't say no. But some of the parental units have really strong aversions to vegetables that aren't white potatoes, and I'm not really looking to starve any family members.

The look my brother gives me when I suggest he should have some salad.
They can generally put up with how I eat without too much commentary. My in-laws watched with extreme curiosity when I blended up my coffee with some coconut oil each morning, but turned their noses up when I offered to make them some. Glad I had the foresight to pick up some half-and-half.

This morning, my stepmom was taking orders for a McDonald's run for breakfast. I had been hoping that they'd either want to go out to breakfast or that maybe they'd want to just have cereal at home. When she asked what I wanted from McD's - and I told her I'd pass - she felt guilty and immediately retracted and said everyone should do what Nicole wants to do.

Well... that didn't make me feel so great either. I reminded her that she's on vacation and should get what makes her happy, and not to worry about me anyway because I wasn't feeling so great.

100% true, since I've been nutritionally offroading pretty much all week.

Blaming illness got me out of a fast food breakfast, thankfully. So it's not like I'm being forced to eat SAD, but there have been some less than optimal moments.The rest of my problems from this past week stem from proximity to junk food. In the house = in my mouth.

Owning a home in Florida with ample guest space means I'm going to have to adapt to having visitors frequently. I just wish there was a way for me to be a good hostess without having to buy SAD staples. Eat every meal out? Nah - that would be hard on the wallet, time-consuming, and not sure we'd get everyone to agree on a restaurant anyway.

I wish I could put off having house guests until I have a stronger prefrontal cortex, but who knows when/if that will ever happen. Our next round of guests will be here for the Star Wars Half. Thankfully they are a little more paleo-friendly. And then we've got my cousins here the following week. I have no idea what they eat.

So... I don't really know how to solve this one. Suggestions appreciated.

Today's exercise: Unplanned rest.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Four Legs - Part II

Thanks for hanging in there while I wax poetic about cats. Completely understand if you didn't run right out and adopt a cat yesterday... that's what today's post is for.

I hope this is not the first time you are hearing that pet ownership is good for your health. There's tons of research out there that supports the fact that cats and dogs make your heart happy in many ways. I'm just documenting here what I've personally found to be helpful since cat ownership was forced upon me.
  1. 24/7 emotional support: Something about a warm, purring kitty on my lap makes everything seem right in the world. It's comforting to know something loves me whether I can run a sub 2:00 half marathon or not.
  2. Stress reduction: When they aren't waking up my house guests or scratching up the furniture, they can actually be pretty fun. Breaking out the laser pointer or a game of "Cat Fishing" on the iPad can be entertaining for them AND for me.
  3. Better self-esteem: I'm proud of the work we did to solve our feral cat problem. I also feel really good about adopting unwanted pets. I just feel needed, ya know?
Of course, all of the above also applies to my dog, Joey, a 9-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel we adopted three years ago. 

And - as a self-proclaimed dog person - he kinda helps me even more than the cats do.
For one thing, he makes sure I get some extra movement daily, a must for someone with a desk job. We take ten-minute walks together four times each day. (Note I said walks... Joey was made for warming up my lap, not running laps. You might want to check out this article if you're looking for a running companion). He's also good for my social life. I've gotten to know my neighbors really quickly because they always love coming over to say hello to him.

I have an appointment in May to screen him for participation in a program called Project Pup - if he passes, I'll be able to bring him into nursing homes, children's hospitals, etc. for therapeutic puppy visits with patients. 

Cats and dogs have really added something to my life, so I'd strongly encourage you to go out and adopt.

But if you can't, there are other ways to help your local animal shelter. When my husband and I started the Dale Road Cat Project, we were flying solo - but as word got out, we got some help, even from those who couldn't adopt a kitten. People donated to the cause - money towards our spay/neuter costs, food, towels (kittens are incredibly messy), cages... there were even a few who gave their time to come sit and play with the kittens, which was incredibly important in getting them used to people (a friendly kitten gets adopted more quickly than a timid one).

So if you have even a little bit to give, consider swinging by your local shelter.

Ok, I'll step off my litter box... I mean soap box... now.

Today's exercise: Rest