Checking in, plus some words on supplements

(Warning: this post contains protein farts. Proceed at your own risk.)

Last week was a little busy, since it’s the end of the school year in these parts and students have papers that need grading and final exams that will eventually need grading as well. My side-project (dramaturgy for the Russian play that opens in a few short weeks) is starting to get busy, too, but the timing of that is pretty perfect since it will require my time and attention just when academic stuff is winding down. Sweet! Plus, I had old friends in town over the weekend for our annual pilgrimage to a spring steeplechase meet just outside of town, which was as always great fun. I wish we could do that sort of thing every month, though I realize that wouldn’t make the annual occurrence such a special thing.

Anyway, running-wise, I find myself falling into old habits of the half-marathon training program, except I’m not worrying about pace or intervals one bit. So I’ve been running my usual 3-5-3-mile runs on Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday (give or take a few tenths of a mile here and there), and doing a long run on Saturday morning (7.2 last week, which was broken up over two runs, and 8.5 this week, which was not), and resting on Monday and Friday and cross-training on Sunday. I switched the rest and the cross-training last weekend, which was a bad idea because it turned into Monday-Thursday activity, at which on Thursday my legs said “hey, we’re not training for anything, what the hell are you doing?” So this week I opted for the cross-training (just an hour at the gym, which was a nice break from all the work in the library I’d been doing) yesterday and the rest today.

That turns out to have been a really smart decision, since it’s been brought to my attention that I have my annual spring sinus infection ™, and the thought of going to the gym today is not one that any part of me entertains even mildly. (I woke up with a scratchy throat yesterday morning, and was a little concerned, but I thought I was just dehydrated. What seemed like four gallons of water later in the day, my throat was still scratchy, and my nose was beginning to run, and post-nasal drip was following suit. Today, I got the headache pressure. Hooray!) I’ll still go on according to my 3-5-3 schedule, but I may take the 5 down to 4 or even 3 depending on how I feel, and hope that I can make it to 9ish maybe 10 miles Saturday morning. We’ll see. I’m willing to exercise until illness moves into my chest, at which point I’m perfectly content to crawl under a blanket and find something mind-numbing to watch on TV.

Anyway, a couple of months ago I’d asked for dietary input from anyone who knew anything about reducing carb intake but still maintaining protein and fiber intake. I’ve since then somewhat re-thought this plan of reducing carb intake, because I’m back to running what I was running towards the middle and eventually end of my half-marathon training program, when I needed carbs the most. I am cutting out some carbs here and there – for example, oatmeal is now a twice-a-week-only breakfast, and whole-wheat cereal is only ever eaten on the mornings that I run (which, okay, is still four days a week, but still), and other breakfasts are now including eggs and Greek yogurt – and I’ve also decided that now is an okay time to start working some other stuff into my diet.

The first tip I got was about these guys – EAS AdvantEDGE Carb Control Drinks, in the rich dark chocolate flavor: http://eas.com/product/advantedge-carb-control-ready-to-drink

– basically, a protein-rich dark chocolate bomb that I’ve been drinking after my Wednesday runs, which I usually precede with a banana, some almond butter, and a couple of eggs. (This is all consumed over the span of about two and a half hours, so don’t go thinking I’m mixing this all together, because with the eggs? Ew.) I’ve only had a few of them, but I can say that so far they are a) tasty b) rather filling and c) doing quite a number on my fart quality. I’d experienced c) when I first started putting more protein into my diet in general about a year ago, so I’m assuming that it’s the same thing at work here – a lot of protein in a short amount of time makes those around me wish they were elsewhere pretty quickly. I can deal with it, though, so I think I’m going to keep on including this drink in my diet, possibly even twice a week.

The other thing I’ve added – and this was only a few days ago – was, after some independent research, chia seeds. I bought Nutiva Organic Chia Seed: https://store.nutiva.com/chia-seed/

– and decided that the first thing to do would be to stir a tablespoon of it into some water, let it thicken, and drink it. This wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great; the seeds clumped together really badly at the bottom, and I felt like I was drinking sludge (note: I drink very strong coffee that often resembles sludge at its bottom, but that’s a sludge I can deal with. This, not so much), so the next time I tried it I mixed the tablespoon with Greek yogurt and a dollop of honey. That was much better, though I’ve since tried it without the honey and I think that’s the way to go. The seeds don’t have much of a taste, but they cut the bitterness of the yogurt quite nicely and definitely do their job in helping me feel full. Often, at night, after I’ve had dinner, I get crazy hungry not too long before bedtime, and I don’t want to eat a big meal, but I also don’t want to not eat because I wake up the next morning practically gnawing an arm off. I drink tons of water, but that almost never seems to help; I think the Greek-yogurt-and-chia-seeds snack is the perfect option because it sates me without over-filling me and doesn’t contain any sugar that would keep me awake. The only hitch is that such a snack is also pretty high in protein, which is the thing that sates me, and so it’s the protein farts again that keep me awake. I’m hoping that in time this will work itself out, because I may start losing friends (not to mention lovers) if it keeps up.

The seeds are expensive, though, which makes me wonder if I can really make a tablespoon-per-day thing a habit. That bag contains 33 tablespoons – you do the math there – and cost $12 at the store where I purchased it. Given that I see it for cheaper online, it may do me good to start ordering it by mail rather than paying more at the local organic store, though it pains me to not support a good local business. Do I get a pass if I take the money I’d save and spending it at the city farmers’ market instead? 🙂

OK, well, that’s that. Fingers crossed I can kick this sinus infection in the butt quickly!

Things I did this weekend:

1) Attended an absolutely awesome unconference right here in my hometown. Ever heard of THATCamp? No? If you’re an academic type, you should check it out. If you’re not an academic type, you doubly should check it out. My brain is still buzzing from everything that got stuffed into it and knocked around on Friday and Saturday, which is a cool feeling. (Site here: http://thatcamp.org/)

2) Ran a 5k after entirely too much coffee and thought I was going to barf at the end, because I decided it would be a good idea to go out with the leaders. I was the only girl out there for about a half-mile, and then some other girl caught up with me and passed me. And then I decided I was not going to let her get away with that, and I chased her. And caught her, and chatted with her, and then felt a little bad about dusting her in the last 0.2 miles as we sprinted to the finish. I was the first lady finisher, and fourth overall, in 27:44, which is a new PR for me. (That’s an 8:43/mile pace. Um, I don’t do that.) I’ll not mention the total number of runners in the race (hint: it was under 20), but still, it counts, right?

3) Hit up the farmers’ market and totally got sucked in by the brightly voluptuous strawberries that have apparently just started coming in. I’m surprised that the bunch I bought has lasted the weekend. I also bought a baby basil plant, named Oliver, and snipped his leaves off to make pesto for Saturday’s dinner with saint of a boyfriend (we made pesto chicken farfalle, which was simple, but delicious). Because I kill things when I try to put them in the ground, he took Oliver back to his house with him to plant with the other basil plants in the garden there, to see if we could salvage what was left. (Oliver is really quite cute for a plant. I felt bad killing him after only one day.) We’ll see how that goes.

4) Spent a rainy Sunday yesterday relaxing at home with the boy and some beers, watching hockey and a couple of marathons of bad reality TV as we whiled away the day. I now have a mini-fridge in my bedroom, which has just enough room for a six-pack of beer and my water bottle. This could be a very dangerous thing indeed. In other news, football season is going to be awesome come September, because now I don’t even have to leave my room to go get more beer during games.

5) This is part of 1), but it’s awesome enough that it merits its own number: I learned how to make a balloon-camera for DIY aerial photography. I think I know how my free time over the summer will be spent. 🙂

And you? What fun things did you get up to?

On weddings and food

(Hang on a second while I wait for everyone who reads this who is drawn in by the title to start clicking around and then realize that I never write about weddings, and need to write more about food, and then leave – okay! Carry on :))

So, last weekend I was in Charleston for the wedding of saint of a boyfriend’s cousin. I’ve met nearly all of his extended family by this point, so it wasn’t an intimidating situation or anything – more like “hey, cool, I get to be his +1 in an awesome city that I need to see more of, for the wedding of someone I think is pretty darn sweet”. There were a few family gaps that got filled in, but by and large I spent time with people I’ve already hung out with a lot, and (happily) enjoy spending time with.

Charleston is a lovely city indeed, and I wish I’d had more time to take pictures, but as it turned out, we only had a couple of hours free the morning before the wedding, which we spent mostly looking for a place downtown to have lunch. I guess I should back up: we arrived late Thursday afternoon (the 12th), and had a rehearsal dinner on Friday (the 13th), with the wedding itself taking place on Saturday (the 14th). We left to come back on Sunday, the 15th. So, anyway, Friday the 13th a couple of us set out downtown to look around and maybe do some shopping, when one of us got a phone call suggesting that perhaps we shelve shopping for a quick lunch and then get ourselves changed and ready for the rehearsal dinner. Which we did, so there went that idea of a long afternoon of sight-seeing. My lunch was an outstanding bacon-and-mushroom quiche, which was a mere preview of what was to come later on.

Saturday after I got back from my run we went on a boat ride with saint’s uncle, the runner, and we got to see something I’m sure I’ll not see again in my lifetime: dolphins scooting fish onto the mudbanks of the river we were on, so that they could eat them. They did this awesome thing where they barreled out of the water sideways and forced the fish onto the mud, where they then got stuck and were available for quick taking. How smart is that? And then the dolphins decided to cavort all around our boat, which is just so cool if you’re used to mostly seeing dolphins swim in aquarium tanks. Absolutely amazing.

After that we had time to basically just shower and take off for the church – various family members had various obligations, so we had to get an earlier start rather than a later one, though it turned out that my obligation was to snack on food at the bride’s parents’ house before the last shift of people left for the ceremony. Oh heavens no, please don’t make me eat your cheese cookies. 🙂

So then there was the wedding itself, which was everything a wedding should be – the bride was beside herself, glowing and literally jumping with joy, and the groom was appropriately cutely nervous and slightly bumbling. The flower girls were adorable, the violinist was fantastic, everyone else was well-behaved; the ceremony went quickly, and the reception was in a beautiful location with great views and plenty of space for everyone and a great band and lots of laughing and dancing and general celebration. [I really like weddings, and the groom’s father gave a toast that contained a phrase that I think sums up what it is I like about weddings so much: “May this be the day you love each other the least.” On first thought, that seems an awful thing to say, but think about it – you’re so happy in that moment, but it can only get better and your love for one another stronger, right? Good God, I’m a romantic fool. Anyway, I think it’s that potential that I enjoy, that I get to see people so happy and know that they’ve barely scratched the surface of their warm fuzzies for one another. Blech! :)]

I could go on, but I’m teasing you with the ‘food’ bit which, let’s be honest, is definitely one of the best parts of this wedding in particular. Seven words for you about the reception: all-you-can-eat shrimp and grits. GENIUS. I may never go to a non-Southern wedding again. There were, aside from the grits, crab cakes, sausage-stuffed mushrooms, ham biscuits, pimento cheese sandwiches, mini-quiches, pork barbecue sandwiches, I guess some fruit and cheese and crackers and crudites (I saw other people eating them but somehow – somehow! – managed to miss them every time I went back for more food), and an open bar. What happens when you combine all of those things? You drink too much wine and eat 4 plates (plus or minus 3 or 4; a lady never tells the truth) of shrimp and grits with cheese and gravy, and then you’re thankful that you ate all of that food because the wine isn’t making you act stupid or even slightly tipsy. This also means you won’t be at all hung over on the next day, so that when you go back to the bride’s parents’ house for brunch at which they are serving all of the leftovers of the wonderful food you over-consumed the night before, you actually *want* to eat it, and are not the slightest bit sick at the thought of doing so. (I’m being serious here – when we arrived and I smelled the barbecue and quiches re-heating, I may have squeaked in utter delight. And then, um, eaten 4-plus-or-minus-3 plates of it all, and another slice of wedding cake. Uurrrp.)

The downside of this is that you might feel uncomfortably stuffed by the time you pile back into the car for the drive home, but the upside of this is twofold: 1) everyone else did the same thing as you, so you’re all buttons-bursting full, which means you don’t really have to stop to get dinner on the road unless you want to (which we did, seven hours later, at a Subway, where I nearly jumped over the counter at the sight of vegetables because I was craving them so badly); 2) when you do eventually stop, it will not be at a Cook Out, which you’ve already had once on this trip and cannot imagine having another time so soon thereafter. [For those not familiar with Cook Out, I suggest you visit North Carolina very soon, because you’re missing out on some wonderful greasy goodness and incredible milkshakes. It is, though, the sort of food you only eat a couple of times a year, if that, assuming that you want to not die of a heart attack.] We’d had lunch at Cook Out on the trip down to Charleston, and I could only stomach some hush puppies and a milkshake, so the thought of going there again three days later did not exactly appeal to me. Thankfully, I was not alone in that thought. I do love me some Cook Out, but not twice in one week. (Exceptions made for milkshakes, but my new rule with those is that for every other one I have, I have to run at least ten miles first.)

Do you feel full reading this? I do, writing it, and it makes me wonder how anyone lives in the South without exploding. I know that what I ate last weekend is not at all representative of what Carolinians eat all the time – except for the damn barbecue, which in South Carolina they insist on slathering with mustard. MUSTARD! For shame! Give me North Carolina vinegar any day, you hooligans – but man, oh MAN, could I not go more than a long weekend eating like that. Don’t get me wrong: I love, love, love me pretty much everything you can find down there except chitlins and other assorted animal leftovers, but there’s no way I could subsist on collard greens, grits, quiche, shrimp, ham biscuits, crab cakes, and sausage alone. I would love to, since they’re all delicious and astounding and, okay, my mouth is watering thinking about them, but especially given my dietary concerns, it’s just not possible. That said, I’m more than happy to indulge in those things for a couple of days here and there.

But wait, hang on, you might say – didn’t you mention that there were fruits and crudites at the wedding reception? Sure there were, and I’ll tell you why I ate exactly zero pieces of fruit or raw vegetables there: A proper wedding reception with an open bar involves drinking oneself to a pleasant buzz without going overboard, especially if one is in the company of one’s boyfriend’s parents and extended family. One does not achieve that pleasant buzz by drinking at a reasonable rate and snacking on strawberries and celery. THAT, friends, is a one-way ticket to Barfsville, party of you, because as great as those fruits and crudites are, they simply aren’t going to absorb your reasonably-consumed alcohol anywhere near as well as, say, shrimp and grits and baby quiches and barbecue sandwiches. So you return any sidelong glances from other reception-goers with a steely carb-fueled stare that says Enjoy that hangover tomorrow, drunkypants, and don’t dare get between me and those little stuffed mushrooms. And when you wake up the next morning starving and have to spend the morning cleaning the space in which you stayed instead of eating breakfast, and then several hours later you finally get to eat and you find out that it’s even more of the delicious fare you so heartily and soberly enjoyed the night before, well, it’s like Christmas for your taste buds.

So, yes, delicious Southern food. No raw oyster shooters this time, since it was the end of the oyster season, but that’s quite okay: there will be more. As it stood, there were plenty of hush puppies, cheesy fries, quiches, venison burgers mixed with jalapeno cheese, shrimp and grits and shrimp and grits, cinnamon rolls, cheese cookies, collard greens, the occasional spinach salad, milkshakes, sweet tea, did I mention shrimp and grits? Yum. I was, as I said, craving vegetables pretty hard by the time I got home late Sunday night, so I was more than happy to eat a metric ton of them for lunch and dinner on Monday (and Tuesday, and Wednesday, and so on…) I love food that’s outside of my usual diet, but as in all things, moderation is key – it was admittedly a relief to get back to my ‘normal’ daily consumables.

[In case you’re wondering, my Northern upbringing definitely has its share of slightly unhealthy food, which I really miss partaking of now that I hardly ever make it up there – and mostly I’m thinking of New York: macaroni and potato salads, Grandpa’s pancakes, lots of pasta and Italian dishes with plenty of Italian bread, soft-serve ice cream from the Mister Softee truck (whose dulcet tones are now stuck in my head… oops!), Dunkin’ Donuts, and, um, HELLO PIZZA (I am one of those rare birds who prefers neither Chicago nor New York style but instead asks why we even have to choose in the first place: why not have both?!).  I’m not trying to be elitist or anything; I know that ‘bad’ (or should I say – ‘bad for ME’) food exists everywhere in this country, not just in the South, but it’s just that I’ve been most recently exposed (haha I nearly wrote ‘explosed’ – ha!) to Southern food for the longest time, having lived here for (gulp) ten years now or something. I still remember all of the ice cream and cheese curds and onion rings I ate in Wisconsin, y’all!]

Such are my thoughts on weddings and food for now. I’ll likely have more thoughts on food soon (oh, who am I kidding – I have them about fourteen hundred times a day), but the wedding thoughts are going to have to wait for a little while longer. … Maybe. 😉

I know, I know, I said I’d stop writing about running. Oops…

Sorry; I can’t help it. I’ve realized fully that I’m addicted to it, which came about largely because of my week off after the half-marathon.

In the first 48 hours after the half, I was both on an absurdly potent runner’s high and also nauseated at the sight of seeing someone run. No kidding, I went out that night and was waiting for a bus and two people ran past me and I thought I was going to barf into the nearest trash can. My entire being just could not fathom the idea of running again that soon, which I later figured out was my body simply telling me to rest. Having that runner’s high throughout this was quite the jolt of cognitive dissonance; I was so stupidly floaty and agreeable and happy that I genuinely started to worry for my well-being. Dude just cut me off in traffic and made me miss that light which consequently made me miss my bus which made me late for work? Eh, no problem! Colleague for whom I pulled strings and rearranged schedules pitches a fit and backs out of what I’d arranged at the last second, citing it as a ‘waste of time’? Piss off, for all I care! I’m HAPPY! Frightening stuff, indeed. I’m zen sometimes, but not for that long. By Tuesday I was better, and started to get the itch to get back on the pavement, but I knew it was a good idea to ignore that itch. Conveniently, going to Charleston on Thursday morning offered me little to no opportunity to scratch said itch, and it also kept me busy enough that I wasn’t even thinking about how much that itch itched.

Until… that Saturday morning, that marked a full week after the half-marathon. (this is six days ago, in case you’re lost!) I’d had it in the back of my head that I would head out for a little 4-ish-mile run that morning, just to get my legs back under me and make sure all parts were functioning properly. I really wanted to do more like 10-11 miles, but I knew that this would not be wise – slow and steady is the way to work back up, folks! – so I told my potential running partners (saint of a boyfriend’s uncle and aunt) that I wanted to only run for about 45-ish minutes. We laced up on a beautiful, crisp, cloudless South Carolina morning, and off we went.

Well.

After 30 minutes they peeled off to go make breakfast for the rest of the family, and I told them I’d run a bit down the road and then turn around.

30 minutes later, I was back, and – aw, crap, I’d run a 10k. Oops. But it felt so good! And relaxed! And fun! And floaty! And suddenly I remembered everything I like – okay, love – about running in the first place. (Excusing myself to another helping of grits is but one of those things. Ahem.) It was then that I knew exactly how I’m going to be spending the next few months not-training before I start actual-training for the marathon: I can say all I want that I’ll do other stuff like biking and yoga, but damn if the 4-days-a-week of running a) didn’t work really well for me for the half or b) didn’t make me feel freaking awesome. Dammit. I’m… not really stuck in this Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule, per se, but it’s what I’m used to, and it felt so, so, SO good to get back on the wagon this past week (even with the weight lifting, which my arms and shoulders are heavily protesting) (and also, I can’t quite get used to lifting weights with manicured nails. It’s just… incongruous!) that I’ve given up trying to fight it. Mondays and Fridays can be biking or yoga days, or not, but I think the other 4 are just going to have to stay running days.

How do I know this is true for sure? I’d planned on a 7-mile run before the conference I’m attending tomorrow starts at 9am, but when one of the other attendees suggested that one of the sessions be held during a 5k run at 10:30am that day (this would take entirely too long to explain, but just trust me that it is an actual thing), my first thought was “oooh, yes!” and my second thought was “well, I can split up my runs and just do 4 miles before I get there at 9am – right?” Insanity. I’m shaking my head at myself. Totally, fully, balls-deep (sorry Mom, ask Gini what it means) addicted.

Another way I know this is true: my university is hosting its conference track and field championships this weekend, but due to my stupidly busy schedule for today and tomorrow, Thursday night (that’s last night) was the only time I could attend any of the events. I get a real kick out of watching people run twice as fast as I do, because I know I’ll never be that fast, and it’s truly awe-inspiring to watch people who can actually do it and do it well. I went over after I was done teaching my evening class, and caught the end of the javelin throw (vaguely terrifying – don’t turn your back on those guys) before the two events I’d actually intended to see: the men’s and women’s 10k. How fast are these kids? They peel off 5-minute miles as if it’s nothing. Me, I can barely pull off two consecutive 8:30-minute miles. And they look so damn effortless doing it. Anyway, it’s a sight to behold, but all I could think of while watching was “I WANT TO GO OUT THERE AND RUN WITH THEM EVEN THOUGH I KNOW IT WOULD KILL ME”. And this was after I’d already refused to run after a bus earlier in the day because I told myself I’d already run my 5k for the day. Seriously, who thinks that? Messed-up-running addicts, that’s who.

My university had a runner finish 2nd in the men’s 10k, and also had the winner of the women’s 10k, which was pretty freakin’ cool.

Also, apropos of nothing (because I swear I wasn’t checking out the men’s legs in those short shorts as they jaunted on by), I may or may not have signed up to volunteer at an all-men’s race in June solely for the fact that it will likely involve a lot of shirtless runners. Um. This is why warm weather is good, right?

ANYWAY… I have non-running stuff to talk about, so that will happen in my next post. But before I do that, SHOUT-OUT to Alyssa over at NJ Runner Girl (http://njrunnergirl.wordpress.com/) who is going to rock her first half-marathon tomorrow! Get it, girl!

Southbound for the weekend!

Yup, it’s time for a mini-vacation to Charleston for a wedding. I’m excited, as I’ve only been there in the winter and am looking forward to seeing it in its springtime glory. It’s not supposed to be terribly hot or humid – high 70s, mid-5o% relative humidity – so that’s cool. Har har har. I’m not sure how much downtime I’ll have, since I’m only tangentially related to the folks involved, but I anticipate having nearly zero internet time, which will be quite excellent. I need a break from the grid every now and again, and I think this couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

Mmmm seafood. I’m thinking about seafood – probably there will be some raw oyster shooters in my future. Yum. (This is from the girl who wouldn’t so much as go near a shrimp three years ago!) I’m sure there will be plenty of other gut-busting Southern food, which, I won’t lie, I’m also looking forward to.

I plan to get out for a short run – 4-5 miles – Saturday morning, just to wake up the old legs a little bit and prepare them for moving beyond a walk again. It’s been actually kind of nice taking this week off, though it was so beautiful out yesterday that I got more than a little jealous of the many people I saw out on a run, taking advantage of the sun. My body’s needed it, though; I’ve been sleeping like a baby this week, and am enjoying feeling the soreness flow out of my muscles one day at a time. It sort of surprised me how good it felt when the wonderful lady who gave me my pedicure this morning started massaging my calves and feet, but I figured it was just an indicator that I’m doing the right thing by resting the heck out of this week.

I also got a manicure, which is making me think I shouldn’t be typing, so I’ll keep this short. I’ve not gotten a mani/pedi in, um, six years, and this seemed like the perfect post-big-thing treat. It was delightful, and I feel pretty as a peach – my nails haven’t looked this good in a long time. It’s vain, yes, but it was a splurge I totally enjoyed. I’m a little afraid of showering or doing dishes or pretty much touching anything, which makes me think this is not the sort of thing I can be doing all the time, but just this once, it’s kind of awesome.

Okay then! Time to finish packing and head off to Richmond for the night, whereafter we’ll be up dark and early to head down south. See y’all on the flipside!

So, what’s next?

That is the question indeed… and I think I’ve got the answer, after a couple of days of good thought about it.

1) No running until at least this weekend. I built this into my schedule on purpose; it’s rather convenient that I’m going out of town on Wednesday night and am thus missing two days of work, which means I need to squeeze five days of work into three. That means doubling up on hours in some places, and rearranging in other places, which left me with approximately zero free time that could have been used to run. I’m doing this because I know my body needs the week to recover, even though it’s driving my brain crazy because it’s convinced me that I’m going to lose all of my running ability in seven days if I don’t do something. I know this is not true, but it’s annoying to have to quiet that voice.

2) My marathon training starts on July 9, which means that if I wanted to run another half marathon, I’d pretty much have to start training for it right away after my week of rest. While that sort of sounds like fun – and I know I mentioned in a prior post that I’d been considering finding another half to run this summer – I felt like I missed out on a lot of other activities while training (such as biking, hiking, playing other sports) for fear of overtraining or injuring myself. I want to do some of those things again, and I feel like I might get burned out if I make running my primary focus for another three months and then *another* four months on top of that. So, I’m going to run when the spirit moves me, which will probably be a few times a week, but I’m also going to do other stuff (and continue to lift weights because that’s never not good for y0u!).

2a) Part of my marathon training includes a half-marathon in week 9, which is the middle of September. How tickled pink was I to discover that there’s a half being run that very weekend down in the part of North Carolina where my mom and sisters live? I already emailed my mom: “Guess who’s coming for a visit in September!” I’m so excited for them to be able to come see me without having to travel too far (I’ve got them coming to see me in Richmond for the full, but that involves way more travel for them, so it’s nice for this one to be closer for them). Sometimes, the universe just aligns just so 🙂

3) “Other stuff” also includes yoga, which I’m currently exploring options for – there is a bewildering amount of yoga instruction offered in my town, as I’d alluded to previously, but I think I’ve narrowed it down to Bikram (the “hot” yoga, which, I know I said I didn’t want to do, but I’m willing to try anything once or five times if it’s within reason) or vinyasa. I’ll try both, and see which I like, and incorporate it into my week as needed.

4) MORE COOKING. Sweet Jeebus. I feel like I’ve barely had time to cook in the last few months, save some piecemeal nights here and there. I have to re-calibrate my diet anyway, since I was eating so much more – and so many more carbs – over the last few months. I’m going to start out by swapping some of those carbs gotten from grains and cereals for the ones gotten from veggies, and try out some of the protein drinks that were suggested to me here last month. I anticipate my stomach being pretty pissed at having to eat less, but I figure that with a reduced activity level, it shouldn’t be too bad… right? (I’ve found that green tea helps curb hunger pangs a lot, so I’m definitely going to continue to drink that as necessary.)

The great thing about this is that spring veggies are coming in, and our city market just opened back up, which means I can cook with fresh local stuff, which is always better than the alternative from the grocery store. I made a salad the other day with the spinach I’d bought from the market that had been picked that same morning, and it was astoundingly tasty – and made me never want to go back to bagged spinach ever again. I bought some kale there, too, and made kale chips, which HELLO why didn’t anyone tell me they had crack in them? They were so freaking good. Oh man oh man. Plus, I discovered last night that asparagus might be my new best friend: I burned the ever-loving crap out of it while pan-searing it (note to self: remember which skillets have faster cooking times than others), and it still tasted amazing. So, yes, I have more time for cooking to look forward to, and if these fresh-from-someone’s-garden veggies keep being in abundant supply, I’ve got good cooking to look forward to.

5) Maybe writing about things other than running. I know, I know – anathema! But it would feel nice to write about silly stuff sometimes, too, and I’m sure y’all would like to read about other stuff sometimes, too.

That said, I’m still so totally riding the high from the half-marathon this past Saturday. I’m glowing, inside and out. What a cool thing. 🙂

(Fun fact: I made it onto the results page! Granted, they gave results for the top 50 people in my age group and I was #49, out of only 75, but still – what a thrill it was to actually see my name on a results page. Cloud nine, indeed!)

I did it. I FREAKING DID IT!

EDITED TO ADD: Good God, I’m an ingrate. I owe gratitude to so many people: everyone who read this and put up with my seemingly incessant blabbering about running (which I promise will abate for at least a week :)), everyone who offered me words of encouragement and support, everyone who listened and offered advice and understood when I had to schedule something around a run, everyone who ran with me, everyone who got up early with me to cheer me on… you are all awesome. I am so very appreciative and lucky to have you in my life!

Ok. conscience clear. Proceed, post!

——

Half-marathon: checked off of list of “awesome things I will do again and again and again”. THAT WAS SO FREAKING AWESOME, YOU GUYS.

Sorry for the yelling, but I have like fourteen thousand things to say about this and I’m not sure how to do it. Maybe I’ll just give a play-by-play and see how it goes?

BEFORE THE RACE

I woke up at 3am because I was so excited I literally had to pee. After that, I dozed on and off until my alarm went off at 4:30, at which point I ambled out of bed and ate my pre-long run breakfast. It was cold outside – about 40 degrees – but it was only about 58 degrees in my house, so going outside into that didn’t feel too bad (I was wearing shorts, which turned out to be the exact right choice. Long-sleeve shirt, too, but that was also okay.) My sometimes-running-buddy arrived at 6am, and at 6:15 we left my house to walk to the 6:30 start – I live about ten minutes from the finish line, so being able to do that was the perfect warm-up. When we arrived, people were just starting to congregate and line up, and we only had to wait about six minutes before it was time to cross the start line. Running buddy and I put ourselves towards the back, because we both wanted to start out slooooowwwww.

MILES 1-3

At the start, the moon was still up and the sun was making its way up, so after we climbed the first hill at mile 0.1 (totally not kidding, but this was the perfect way to ensure an actually slow start!), we got a really great view of the full moon hanging over the backs of the buildings to our left. It was a bit chilly, but not terrible, and moving obviously made it seem less chilly. We set a good 10-11-minute-mile pace during the first two miles, and about a 12-minute mile for the third, at which point I decided to stop checking my watch every mile and just run and enjoy it. As it turns out, that was an absolutely brilliant decision, though it means I have no idea what my mile splits are until the very end.

MILES 4-7

At mile 3 we turned towards the “horse country” part of the course, in which we ran a couple of miles downhill next to a golf course and wended our way past some absolutely beautiful horse farms. Somewhere around mile 4.5 a deer shot across the road in front of us, and gave us all a good scare – no one was hurt, but I think the deer was more frightened than we were! Mile 5.5 was our first water stop (which I skipped), and then the road ended in a T-intersection – at which we turned left into THE MONSTER HILL.

When I drove this part of the course a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t entirely sure where I was supposed to go, so I got to that T-intersection and turned left and thought, Are you kidding? This thing is going to kill all of us. I got home and double-checked to make sure that I’d in fact gone the right way, and was not entirely pleased to learn that I had. At least I knew it was coming, though, unlike some people who made the turn, saw The Monster, and started cursing not quite under their breath. 🙂

Anyway, I did to The Monster what I do to all hills: put my head down, got my weight on the balls of my feet, and pushed. And pushed and pushed – and I tell you, all of that hill training I’ve been doing paid off. Monster was a piece of cake. Getting to the top rewarded us with a wonderful sight of rolling hills and fields and just – wow. It was gorgeous. We chugged along to the turnaround point near mile 6.5 – meeting the Easter Bunny along the way, who dropped a couple of pieces of chocolate here and there – and headed back towards The Monster to take it downhill.

MILES 8-9

Unbeknownst to us, the mile marker for mile 8 was actually at the bottom of The Monster next to a water stop, and I was so focused on getting water that I missed it entirely. I’d told myself I was going to take my snacky-fish snack at mile 8, but when I kept not seeing the sign for mile 8, I decided to just go ahead and eat them anyway, before we got too close to mile 9. They were perfect, and stuck to my teeth just enough to distract me from the nagging little bits of pain: in my hips, in the inside-ankle tendon on my left leg, and the tiny blisters on my right two big toes that hadn’t quite healed from last week. [My knees, bless them, were totally fine throughout. Whew!] I’m not sure if they were the cause of the second wind I picked up at mile 9, but seemingly out of nowhere I settled into this state of zen. I kept thinking, This is where your training kicks in. You’re hurting a little bit, but the worst is mostly over, and all you need to do from here is pick up your pace and trust your training. Trust yourself. About this time I sort of ditched my running buddy – we’ve long had an unspoken agreement that either of us going ahead of the other is always okay – and decided it was time to start passing people.

MILES 10-12

I was so totally in my zone in these miles. We got out of the golf-course horse-country part of the course, and started heading back down some of the hills we’d had to go up in the first few miles. I just kept a steady pace and focused on my stride, and I was surprised at how easily and naturally it seemed to come – even breathing was easy. I kept picking people off, just cruising past them, which I attribute to our seemingly extremely slow start. At mile 11 I realized I still had a lot left in the tank, and started really picking it up. We had one more annoying little hill to get up, and I dropped my face and got on the balls of my feet and pushed and pushed and then, two more turns and it was time to start the descent to the finish. The finish was a gradual downhill over my most favorite downhill in the city; I use it to finish my own long runs as a reward for the nasty hills I tend to encounter earlier in a run, and I was so excited that this race was finishing down that same hill because I knew exactly how to run it. I checked my watch at mile 12, and saw that I was on pace to get 2:15 – if I ran the last mile in about 8 minutes. Oh HELL YES, I thought. Trust your training, lady, LET’S FLY.

THE FINISH

And fly I did. Good God, I feel bad saying this but it was so much fun to pass people. I wasn’t sprinting, but I was going at a very good clip, and finishing as strong as I possibly could. I didn’t even look at my watch because I knew, I just knew, that I was going to make 2:15. About 100 yards from the finish I saw three girls who had been a good distance in front of me for the last mile, and my only thought was catch them. So I turned it up. And I caught them. And then – holy crap, I was in the finishing chute! And I was all alone! And oh my God there was my friend Jill and I was crossing the finish line and my arms went up and I just grinned and hooted and hollered. The clock said 2:20:30, and since I started at least five minutes later than the clock started timing, that was that – I knew I’d done it. 2:15. [The official results show that I did 2:15:38, which so totally still counts.] You could not have taken that smile off of me for anything in the world.

THE AFTER-PARTY

…and then I slowed down to a walk and realized how much everything ached. Eeek! Hips, ankle, blisters, calves, wooo Nelly did I need to stretch. I met Jill and she very kindly took some more pictures of me, and then I grabbed some chocolate milk and a banana and went back towards the finish line to find my running buddy. She came in about five minutes behind me, and we all chatted and stretched and got some water and took some more pictures.

Then, we did something I’ve been looking forward to for weeks: we went to the city farmer’s market a couple of blocks away, which opened today for the season. Four words: hot, fresh cinnamon donuts. I had two. They were amazing. I got some veggies, too, and then running buddy and I got some coffee and headed back to my house to watch the marathoners finish up – their course went up my street, once at mile 19.5 and again at mile 26. We got some beers, grabbed some chairs, and sat outside to enjoy the sunshine and cheer people on.

Here’s me with my well-earned Hopslam:

Yum.

We met some really awesome people, including a guy who was running his 43rd marathon since Labor Day, and we got chocolate from the Easter Bunny and free Dunkin’ Donuts and coffee from the people manning the water stop around the corner. All in all, it was a perfect way to spend the rest of the morning.

Running-buddy left after the last few marathoners went through, and I grabbed myself a shower, went grocery shopping, and am relaxing at home now. I’m heading out to see a movie in a bit, and then I’m going to celebrate later with some beer and good friends at my favorite watering hole.

I feel so freaking awesome right now. All of that hard work paid off in ways I couldn’t even imagine – I couldn’t have asked for my first half marathon to have gone any more smoothly. For now, my closing words will be these – and they pertain to the full marathon I’m doing in November:

Watch out, Richmond. HERE I COME. 😀