Fool in the rain

– that was me this morning. I hit the alarm for about half an hour too long, and consequently left for my run (11.5 miles) half an hour later than I’d have liked to. As such, I got caught in a drizzle at mile 6, which by mile 7 had turned into a steady rain, and which by the end was a downpour. I wear glasses, so seeing was nigh impossible by the time I hit mile 10. It’s not coincidental that I ran the last 6.5 miles in the same amount of time I ran the first 5; the last 1.5 especially was at almost-race-pace because I was completely soaked (even my shoes, the poor things!) and couldn’t even see far enough in front of me to avoid puddles (which I couldn’t). The upshot of all this was that finishing fast actually felt good, and the weather was warm and humid so the rain also actually felt good. At first, anyway. 🙂

I think all of that crazy bike-riding in addition to my running this week actually helped my legs feel really good today. My hips were hurting by the time I was done, but when I asked them to go faster for me they responded nicely. No soreness elsewhere, and the distance – the longest I’ve ever run before, by the way – actually felt easy. My experiments in taking water at the halfway-ish point and snacking on some gummy fish around mile 8 are working wonders; the water doesn’t bother my stomach by sloshing around like I was afraid it would, and the gummy fish give me a nice little sugary boost that really helps me pick up my run around mile 9. Added bonus, they stick to my gums really well so I get to concentrate on digging them out of my teeth instead of realizing that my legs are in any pain. It occurred to me earlier that the next time I eat gummy fish on a run, it will be during my half marathon, which is in two weeks**. AAAHHHH THAT IS SO COOL. I feel so ready, and so stoked, still.

**My 12-mile run next week is being split into a 6-mile easy-ish run right before I run a 10k race with some friends; we’re going to jog it, and probably drink a couple of beers throughout (we’re all members of the Hash House Harriers in town, and I agreed to dress up in costume and run with them). So, no gummy fish, since this won’t be a serious training run!

I did learn a very important lesson on this run: I am never again to eat sausages and onions the night before a long run. My stomach was… unhappy for the first 4 miles, and my belated apologies to anyone behind me who may have accidentally been blessed by my winds. Won’t be doing that again, I reckon… but it was very tasty sausage. Hrmph.

The rest of today was pretty relaxed. I went to an auto show (pretty shiny cars) and then headed over to an Irish festival for a belated St Patrick’s Day celebration, where I replenished calories with some Guinness (one pint of which was free, hooray!) and macaroni and cheese. Presently I’m back at home doing laundry (washing running clothes is really exciting to me for some reason) and listening to a thunderstorm take its sweet time rolling on by. The sound of the rain is very soothing, which is relaxing. It’s nice to have a night in, especially when it means I can hang back and listen to a storm.

OH! On Friday I met the author of my most favorite book of 2011 – Chad Harbach, who wrote a fantastic book called The Art of Fielding which I recommend everyone read. I bought a copy and had him sign it, and told him that I absolutely loved it, and he lit up with a big ol’ smile and I smiled back and he sort of chuckled to himself and later I learned why: I definitely had a giant piece of broccoli stuck in my teeth from lunch. Such is life… 🙂

Stress running

– by which I mean that apparently being stressed out is good for my running, since it translates into “I want to literally pound this frustration out of myself one step at a time”. Tuesday, that was a nice swift 5k with my sometimes-running buddy. Wednesday, that was a personal-best 8k on the treadmill for my tempo run. Thursday, that was an easy 5k that was more mind over matter (“can my legs take me just three more miles?”) and still not done at a terribly shabby pace. Wednesday and Thursday also had 8-mile bike rides in them – thank you, car problems – so I was extra-super-exhausted by the time Thursday evening rolled around. The car problems seem to have abated for now, and I’m being as lazy as I possibly can today, on my rest day, though I’ve been doing lots of self-massage and stretching to get the legs loose for tomorrow’s 11.5 in nice, flat, sunny Richmond. The half is two weeks away, and I’m terribly excited. I mean, like, how-am-I-going-to-sleep-between-now-and-then excited. I’m so ready for this. AAAHHH!

The stress has not been good for my stomach, though, nor I’m sure has all of the coffee I’ve been downing (oops) – but I swear it was necessary for me to have a black eye (coffee with two shots of espresso) for first-breakfast this morning. Eh. I’ll deal with it; the coffee is necessary for a) my continued functionality b) other people still being alive and not maimed somehow. 🙂

My March Madness bracket is half-busted; Michigan State and Cincinnati were two of my Final Four teams, though I realize now I shouldn’t have overlooked Louisville and I have no idea what I was really thinking picking Cincy. So long as Baylor and Kansas make it through, I have no problems with other outcomes. Fingers crossed!

Not at all speaking of breakfast again, some hard-boiled eggs are calling my name. And… maybe some more coffee. Wheee! Have a good weekend, y’all.

YUM

As I threatened yesterday, I made colcannon for dinner tonight in honor of St Patrick’s Day. Basically, it’s a dish made of mashed potatoes with cabbage mixed in; I prefer sweet potatoes, and like kale much better, so this is how I got the following. Boom goes the kale-cannon!

nom nom nom.

It’s a little blurry; sorry, but I was in a hurry to eat it. Oh my gawd it was so good. I anticipate making this again and again, because it was super-easy and super-filling and super-SUPER-delicious. YUM.

I modified this recipe: http://www.theveganchickpea.com/2012/03/sweet-potato-colcannon.html

Basically, I left out the cast-iron-pan step and used a regular skillet, only using olive oil, salt, and a dash of pepper – I didn’t have shallots, and my garlic seems to have gone bad, and our garlic powder is gone, oops. But it was insanely good just the same. I intended for there to be leftovers; there aren’t. 🙂

In basketball news, my team lost today, pretty badly, which was sad. But another school from Virginia pulled a major upset over the team we would have had to play had we won, which makes me wish even more that we’d won – what fun that would have been to watch! Ah well. I’m somehow still tied for first in my bracket’s group, so I’ll take it where I can get it.

OK, almost time to fall asleep to more basketball… early to bed, early to rise, early to run. So pumped for tomorrow. Boom goes the run-cannon!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

0.5) I got a lovely birthday card from my dear friend Suz, who I know reads this and (I hope) will see this here. Thank you! I will use what was inside when doing what I talk about in #3 below… 🙂

1) The weather has turned for the rather quite extremely unseasonably warm. While this kills any shred of productivity I have, I confess that I’m enjoying it – not that we had a cold winter by any means, but it’s nice to have some too-warm weather for a little while before it cools down and then gets warm again. Running outside this week has been a pure joy, though I have to be careful to hydrate adequately. I had the killer headache from Hades on Wednesday after my 5-ish miler (I got lost and had to make a few extra loops to re-calibrate myself), and I suspect that lack of water or food was the culprit.

1a) It’s been a good running week. Not really increasing mileage, but breaking in the shoes even more, and feeling comfortable and pain-free. Plus, running outside, which is such a huge mood-booster! Flowers and birds and breezes (which a week ago I was cursing for being too cold, haha) and sun. YAY.

2) Not at all speaking of lack of productivity, it’s March Madness and I love every second of it. I have to wonder why this darned thing always coincides with my schoolwork increasing, but it does force me to use my time more wisely, which is how I end up flipping between games while “preparing” comments for conference papers. Happily, my team got scheduled to play tomorrow afternoon when I have some free time, so I’ll at least be able to watch them once.

3) Because I’m of Irish heritage, Saturday is a perfectly good excuse for me to engage in stereotypically stupid behavior on a completely commercialized “holiday” that I’m pretty sure isn’t even celebrated in its country of origin. Since I can’t indulge in corned beef and cabbage (tummy issues, which have been plaguing me all week anyway since I forgot what I was doing and ate a rare steak on Sunday night that within 15 minutes I realized was a huge mistake, which sucks because it was so good and I love rare steak and it stinks to have to give it up! *breathe), I’ll be trying my hand at making colcannon for dinner tomorrow night. It’s a dish based on kale and potatoes sort of mashed together, but I plan to try it with sweet potatoes. Mmmm. And then I’ll be hitting the hay nice and early, so I can get up at 3:30 Saturday morning to get ready to do my long run at 5:30. Yes, that’s A.M. And yes, I fully realize that this means that I’m knee-deep in crazy, because this was my line of thought when it came to my long run this weekend: I have to be at our grad student conference at 9:30am Saturday. I know I’m going out to lunch afterwards, and – oh, crap, Saturday is St Patrick’s Day! …that means there’s no way I’m going to be in any sort of shape to run 10+ miles on Sunday, because BY GOD IT IS MY RIGHT (thank you, O’Dowd ancestors from County Sligo) TO GO OUT AND HAVE MANY DRINKS on Saturday night. Hmmm. Well, I guess I could get up at… um… what time? to run Saturday morning? Oh my Gawd, you’re kidding. Sigh. But my running buddy is actually willing to run with me at that time, which is awesome because it will be dark before we finish and I don’t want to go alone in case I get lost and accidentally do, say, 12 miles instead of 10ish.

*ahem* But I digress. Have a delightful weekend!

Relaxed and refreshed –

– for now, anyway; life’s about to get crazy-busy, but I sort of enjoy it more that way. Lots of school-related stuff coming up: our graduate conference this weekend, grading midterms next week, scheduling exams for people, March Madness, the like… Yes, I know March Madness is not an academic pursuit, but my team actually made it in this year so I’m a little more excited than I usually am. (I have us losing in the second round, though, so my enthusiasm is somewhat tempered. And this is not an irrational or unfaithful decision: they’re up against a very good Mizzou team if they do make it past Florida, and they’re playing on a very depleted and tired 7-man roster. I love my team, but I am realistic with my expectations. That said, if we can pull off some kind of an upset, everything else gets thrown aside for basketball. :))

I escaped out of town to Baltimore by way of Richmond for the weekend, which was the perfect little vacation to recharge my batteries. I got my 10-mile run in while in Richmond, and I took a new-ish route (but not TOO new; I’m still afraid of getting lost there, so I mapped out a route with like four turns that I figured would be pretty hard to mess up) that took me down some really lovely streets that were very quiet. Lots of good smells on this run – a just-opened Starbucks at one point, bunches of breakfast joints cooking up bacon, the like. Plus it was a gorgeous sunny morning with nearly no wind, and my knees felt great and my legs said ‘we may hurt a little, but we’ve got your back’. It was just a fantastic run, and I’ve now learned that massage after running is a very, very good thing – I had little to no soreness for the rest of the day (which was good because I spent the afternoon walking around the Baltimore Aquarium), and no soreness on Sunday, which was delightful.

So yes, Baltimore: LOVED the aquarium, always have, always will. I was with the boy, whose best friend from high school now lives in Fells Point, so we stayed with him and did some eating of seafood and carousing in the area Saturday night. Sunday night he took us out on his new sailboat, and I got to do some actual sailing for the first time in my life, which was quite fun. Another gorgeous, sunny day, peaceful on the water, not a care in the world… and then we had to hie back to Richmond to do some stuff, and then I had to hie back to home per usual to get myself ready for the return to the routine. But it’s not bad – I feel rested, recharged, ready to take on the whirlwind of things that will be happening in the next few weeks. Tacking into the wind, as I think they say in sailing parlance. Bring it on, life!

One month to go…

Yup, I’m exactly 30 days out from my half. I can’t believe how quickly time has flown, and I think I’m going to have a hard time containing my excitement in the next four weeks. I feel like I’ll be more than ready to rock this thing when it finally happens, provided I can stay injury-free. My knees feel great in the new shoes; that’s not what I’m worried about so much as being as freaking sore as I am on my third day of running in the week. [Right now I run long on Saturday, short on Tuesday and Thursday, and medium on Wednesday] Do I need to invest in one of those foam-roller things everyone keeps talking about? I stretch for at least 20 minutes after I’m done running every single time, but by day 3 I feel like I’m dragging tree trunks underneath me in place of legs. A day of rest will almost always fix this, but I’m worried about cramps and doing actual damage.

It’s funny though, I had the tree-trunk feeling today when I went out for my short run, but as soon as I took a 20-second pause at a stoplight and got going again, it went away and I felt fine. I didn’t feel too great to begin with when I woke up this morning – still really sore in my upper body from Tuesday’s lifting, plus in my legs from yesterday’s tempo run that turned into an interval run by the end which was fine though I felt like puking several times throughout – and I had a feeling today was just going to be one of those days where I’d have to just tough it out and deal, both for running and lifting. Yet after my run I felt pretty good, and lifted the hell out of those weights to the point of “ahhh, this is the GOOD kind of sore” exhaustion (a feeling I love, by the way), so it all evened out in the end. I’m just a bit concerned that the tree-trunk phenomenon keeps happening; I guess it shakes itself out after more than 3 miles, since I don’t feel it on anything longer than that, but part of me wonders how much of it is also attributable to my poor lower-body circulation. Like, I HAVE to put my feet up several times a day, or it just feels like blood is pooling in my ankles and I look at them and wonder how they’re not grossly swollen into gigantor cankles.  (Yum!)

I’m also a little irked that I seem to have gotten slower, but I feel like these things go in cycles and that I’ll get faster again, because about a month ago (hey!) I was peeling off pretty fast miles without a problem. I figure this will work itself out, as will the soreness issues, and that I’m really worrying for nothing – this is just the point in my training where I start getting really anxious about being ready (as in “I’m so ready I’m so ready please please please just let me DO IT already I wanna go go go GO!”), and start obsessing over little things that might be obstacles. I KNOW deep down that I have committed to training for this race, and I have fully honored that commitment (some might say to the point of obsessive insanity :)), and that I will do not only what I set out to do at the outset – ie finish the race – but that I will also exceed my own expectations – ie finish faster than I keep telling myself I will.

Okay, so note to self: KEEP CALM AND RUN ON. Crikey.

And yes, I’m way stoked for my 10-mile run on Saturday. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very, very glad that tomorrow is a rest day, but I know that come Saturday morning I’ll be chomping at the bit again, wondering when the clock will finally tell me I can GO GO GO already… !

Anyhoo. This week has been my spring break, which has involved little more than working and watching a lot of bad TV, which has been nice. Right now I’m watching ACC basketball tournament games and researching the circus; tomorrow I’ll cheer on my team (*ahem* go Hoos!), and later this weekend the boy and I will be taking off on a spur-of-the-moment road trip to an as-yet-undecided-upon location (something I’ve not done, um, ever. Wheee!). Break ends on Sunday night, and then it’s back to ‘reality’, but I plan to do everything I can to soak up my last few days of completely unfettered time. Allons-y!

First race of the year. BAM!

As the title indicates, this morning I ran my first race of the year – a 4-miler on a lovely, somewhat hilly, very-wet-thanks-to-last-night’s-rain course. Before the race, my goals were twofold: don’t finish last (I knew it would be a small race), and finish in under 40 minutes (thereby setting a new PR for the distance; the old PR was 41:04). When I got to the race and actually started running, I quickly tacked on a third goal: don’t faceplant, since the pavement is new and was quite slippery.

Well. I didn’t finish last (only about 100 people showed up, largely due to the weather, which was wet but not raining and a bit chilly, though not terribly so by any means) and I didn’t faceplant. I had sort of the idea that I could maybe even beat the sub-38:00 4-mile run I did on the treadmill a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot that a) treadmills are easier to run on because they offer you less resistance and b) unless you make it so, there are no hills on treadmills, and they slow me down considerably – when I realized we’d have a long uphill climb half a mile from the finish, I had a suspicion that that sub- 38:00 time wasn’t going to happen. But I knew that a sub- 40:00 was still possible, so I dug in and let go on the downhill.

To most everyone’s chagrin, the finish was uphill, and I got passed by a guy with a stroller (props to him, and that’s now the second time that’s happened to me in races finishing uphill. One more instance and it’s a pattern!). But I finished in 39:15! Which is less than 40:00! More importantly, I left it all out there – I ran the best race I could, and am very happy with the way I felt throughout (there were no mile markers, so I had to sort of guesstimate my pace). BAM. I am awesome.

Probably the rest of the day will involve some time at the driving range, a beer or three (one for each mile I ran hahaha), and definitely some more birthday cake. If I decide that I like the pictures that my saint of a boyfriend took of me during the race – and this is another reason I love this guy: he hates running, but he gets up early when I know he’d rather be sleeping to come out and support me and cheer me on, which is so huge to me, and makes me so grateful for him – I’ll post them a little later on.

Go forth and be awesome!

EDITED TO ADD: Pictures! Here you go: me at the start, me chugging uphill towards the finish, and me at the finish. Hooray!