Quick update!

I’m sitting here in my compression calf sleeves, which arrived yesterday, and giggling to myself about how silly they look on me. But, they feel fantastic; I’m going to bring them to work and wear them around there. (I’m out of the public eye, and few people are usually in on Fridays, so I feel totally okay doing this) I don’t think I’ll run in them just yet; I’d like to see how my legs feel when I wear them after running or on rest days before upping the ante, if you will.

My GI doctor appointment on Wednesday was actually a really good one; I went in almost immediately and only had to wait when I posed a series of questions that required my doctor (who was wearing really cute shoes) to scramble around to find some answers. Expected waiting I don’t mind; it’s when I have to wait for no reason that I get miffed. Anyway, she had some blood tests ordered for me because I expressed some concern about needing to pee all the time and being thirsty all the time; my UC seems to be holding itself in check just fine, and I’m continuing to taper off my butt-steroids, but given my family history of diabetes I thought it might be a good idea to ask why in the past several months I’ve been having these thirst and urination issues. I mean, it’s almost impossible for me to sleep through the night any more because I often have to get up and go, but I drink a ton of water because I exercise a lot, and especially now when it’s hot and humid outside.

So I got the blood tests done, and had great fun Googling the acronyms in the results. Everything was within normal ranges except my sodium, which was low, so I’m going to see a primary care physician next month to probably do some more blood tests and a urinalysis to figure out why that’s so. For now, my orders are to drink more Gatorade and see how that does me, which I’m fine with, and if I feel worse, I’ll move up the date of the PCP appointment.

Running-wise it’s been a good rest of the week. My abs are still sore from Wednesday, as are my arms from lifting yesterday, but it’s the good sore that comes from having pushed myself, which I’m totally okay with. I surprised my students with donuts and coffee this morning, which was a lot of fun because they had no idea I was coming, much less with treats; their reaction was pretty awesome. I bought myself a few donuts as well, and have just finished them and a tall cup of coffee while I catch up on the news. Mmm… donuts.

So that’s that! Happy Friday, y’all.

Advertisements

Just call me the run-killer. (Or the ab-killer, by tomorrow.)

*ahem* Allow me to brag on myself for a minute. I’ll wait for y’all to go scurrying away…

OK then. A couple of folks I’ve known for a long time are in New Orleans for a mixology conference, which loosely translated means that they’re spending this week eating and drinking and drinking and drinking and maybe eating some more and then Tweeting the whole darn mess. I’ve loved reading their tweets because they paint delightfully vivid pictures of their conference experiences, but the thing I’ve loved most is that more often than not they’re posting their “good night” tweets as I’m waking up to run. (Granted, they’re one time zone behind me right now, but still.) It makes me laugh because I’ve long since lost any ability to stay up past 1am unless I’ve had an ungodly amount of caffeine that day, and I admire these guys for their capacity to eat and drink and drink and drink and drink and eat and tweet for what seems like 18-20 hours per day. Not gonna lie, I’m a little jealous, too, since I wish I still had that capacity myself (oh, to be 19 again, which these guys are not- there’s the rub! :)).

Anyway, where I’m going with this is that lately I’ve been getting up at 3am to do my 5am runs, but today, due to a doctor’s appointment right after work that could take either ten minutes or two hours (the last time I saw her-  and this is my GI doctor, so it’s not like I’m going to walk out and find someone else – I was waiting over an hour in the examining room for her to see me; it was good that I’d brought a book that day), I decided that it would be best for me to just get my Wednesday run done before going to work at 7am. Today was a 5-mile pace run, which I was planning to do indoors anyway, so I was a bit miffed that it was actually nice and a bit chilly out when I left the house. But, that meant getting up at 2:30am in order to run at 4:30, because (yes, this is boring) it takes me about an hour to warm up, run the 5, and cool down, and then I always need at least 30 minutes for ab work and stretching. Which had me ending at 6am, but then I had to go back home from the gym (which is actually at my workplace, which is usually convenient) to shower and grab food. By the time that was said and done, I knew I’d be cutting it close to get back to work by 7, and due to an unforeseen traffic situation, I was a few minutes late – but I made it. Anyway, that’s why I was up at 2:30 this morning, in case you were wondering.

Being up that early and starting a run that early really made me question my sanity. Not that I don’t anyway, usually, but if you’d told me a year ago that I’d be doing just that, I’d have laughed at you. What sort of insane creature has this marathon turned me into? Some might say “obsessed”; I would say “determined”, because even though I haven’t been sleeping as much as I should have, and it would have been perfectly easy just to roll over and hit snooze and skip being awake at that ungodly hour, I got up and got myself ready because that’s just what I do. Now. It doesn’t even enter my mind to skip my run, even if I’m feeling crappy (unless it’s, like, actually crappy where I’m shitting myself or a chest cold or something more flu-like; then I give myself a pass). My lower legs have been ridiculously sore for the past two weeks – my calves especially – and they ache like no one’s business every time I wake up, so I could just as easily say “you know, I hurt, I’m out today”. But once I start running, that goes away.

And today I discovered that once I start running faster, that REALLY goes away. Usually my 5-mile runs go something like this: first 2 miles are slow-ish, I feel awful, but I know that if I slog through to the third mile, I’ll pick up, because it takes me a while to get going. Third mile I perk up and speed up; fourth mile I perk up even more; fifth mile I start to lose it and generally want to die by the time I’m done. This was not so today; I perked up quite nicely after the third, and even more through the fourth, to the point where I felt my form naturally adjust itself and engage my core – something I only noticed because the movement of running felt easy and free, which has never happened to me on a treadmill before. I’d already sped up from a 10:20 mile to a 10:00 mile, so when I hit the fifth mile, I knocked it down to 9:40. It’s hard for me to sustain that pace for very long when I’m tired, but today I was all-cylinders-go, no-looking-back. Half a mile out, I went down to 9:22. This isn’t fast by any means, but I felt like I was flying. And it felt so damn good! I finished the 5 at 50:10, which is a lovely 10:02/mile pace, which is right about where I want to be right now. I finished and thought, Hot damn, I just KILLED that freaking run. And it’s not even 5:30am yet. And then I went to do my ab work, which usually involves planks (ugh, but so necessary) and modified sit-ups and side-twists with a handheld weight. I started out using one of those medicine balls, but switched over to weights when I realized I could do 15lbs without a problem. Lately I’ve been using a 20lb weight, but today for some brain-fogged, runner’s-high reason I grabbed a 25lb weight and didn’t realize it until about two situps in. Well shit, I thought, may as well see if I can handle it anyway, since I’m too lazy to get up and get the 20lb one instead.

As it turns out, I can indeed handle that 25lb weight, though it was a struggle by the end and I am definitely, definitely feeling it now, and know that I will be feeling it even more tomorrow. But for fuck’s sake- why don’t I push myself more? I did twice today, and look at how awesome I did. I need to kick my own ass more often, and get myself out of my brain rut. I can handle more than I think I can. (Bookmarking this post right now for when my 20-mile long run is looming and I want to cry about it!)

So, yes, I’ve been awake for nearly 7 hours and I feel magnificent. I’m excited also because I decided to order some calf compression sleeves, seen here (obviously not on me, but I did order the black ones):

– and they should arrive tomorrow, which is great because it means I can start using them immediately. They’re supposed to help with circulation and soreness issues, which completely unscientifically I’ve decided is what’s going on with my lower legs, because the tree-trunk-feeling I get from not putting my feet up every half hour (and no, I’m not pregnant- there isn’t any swelling, either) is only getting worse, and I’m nearly at my last resort. So, I’m giving these a shot, and hoping that they a) are awesome and b) don’t look too stupid. (Haaahahahaha right.) I’ll post a picture of me wearing them, so you all can have a good laugh at my expense. Or, be jealous at my sartorial badassery.

I’m about to be late for that doctor’s appointment if I don’t leave now, so off I go. Wheee!

Week Two: done.

Yup, Week Two of marathon training is in the books. Week Three begins today with some much-needed rest; I feel like I need to pin a sign on my back that says “I’m taking the elevator because I’m taking ‘rest day’ to an extreme”. Yes, I have elevator guilt, but I also have aching leg muscles that need massaging and time to repair themselves, so the big electricity-eating box it is for me. I also, um, may have tweaked a hamstring moving a chair on Saturday, so I need to be careful with that- I’m really starting to think that yoga should become my Sunday cross-training default. (This is what happens when you decide I can move this recliner all by myself! Look at me go, I’m so str- OW what the hell was that in the back of my leg. OW OW OW put the chair down, stupid. So, um, oops. Adding that hammy to the list of things that need to be stretched and massaged at night!)

So Week One I sort of ‘cheated’ in that I swapped out a 5-mile pace run for a 5-mile easy run. If Week Two was any indication, this marathon training is not going to have a single week that goes according to the scheduled plan, though I know that two occurrences does not a pattern make. (I’m looking at Week Three thinking, Okay, this is IMPOSSIBLE to mess up: 3-mile run, 5-mile pace run, 3-mile run, 6-mile ‘long’ run. What could possibly go wrong? But then, I also thought it was impossible for the Nats to blow a 9-run lead against the Braves on Friday night, and well, look how that turned out. [They lost 11-10, in case you’re wondering.]) The weekday runs went as scheduled, but the long run did not. I was supposed to do a 9-mile long run, and I was running in not-my-hometown, so I mapped out what I thought was an absurdly simple out-and-back for myself that involved a total of 4 turns: three right, one left, the rest is just straightaways.

And yet. AND YET – I managed to get lost. I missed the second right turn because in mapping my run I failed to note that the name of the road I was supposed to turn onto was not actually the name of that road for another 500 feet; I was looking for a Glenside when it was still Horsepen, so when I saw Horsepen I kept going. At the next three intersections, there was no Glenside and I was starting to thank myself for bringing along a few Shot Bloks as a just-in-case, because I was definitely lost. I didn’t panic, because I figured that if I just made another right turn somewhere and headed east/south, I’d get back to sort of where I meant to be going, and if all else failed, I was prepared to stop and ask a car for help. As it turns out, I was correct, and managed to get myself reasonably back on track, and eventually back on the loop I’d originally planned out. But I was hurting; all told I went about 11.2 miles, which is not a problem for me per se, but I wasn’t supposed to do a double-digit long run for another two weeks. So it’s no surprise that my hips, IT band, angry tendon, and calves were all pretty pissed at me when I was finished. (They’ve been getting lots and lots of ice and attention and massaging and love and rest, though, erm, I did spend 4 hours on my feet in the kitchen yesterday making food for the week, BUT I contend that that was necessary for me to break in my new shoes, so I’ll take the tradeoff.) I also had the lovely experience of being aware that my blood was not going to my brain but to my muscles instead, and I was starting to feel the sort of wacky delirium that my roommate (who has run a marathon before and warned me of this) describes as “total air-headedness and slack-jawed stupidity”. One can argue that I have those moments enough as it is without the help of running, but there were definitely a couple of moments in my long run when I was very aware that I was in the correct mental state to get hit by a car. At least it seems that some part of my brain is trying to get me to survive this process…

In any event, I feel like the events of this week justify my adjustment of my schedule to swap my 11-mile run and my 9-mile run, which is supposed to happen the weekend after this coming 6-mile run. I’ll be in D.C. that weekend, so I might seriously just do laps around the National Mall until I’ve run 9 miles, since I got lost the last time I ran there even with a folded-up piece of paper with explicit directions and contingency plans in my butt pocket. See, this is why you should all be reading this blog even if you have no interest in running: marathon training is anything but boring!

I mentioned “new shoes” a few sentences ago, and yes, I am finally starting to break in the new shoes. I need to go back and re-calculate the mileage for my old pair (heh, “old” – I bought them in March!), but I do believe that the swap needs to be made soon, if the associated aches and twinges are any indication that the old pair needs to go. Putting on new shoes is fun, in a nerdy way – they’re so shiny-white and comfortable that it’s tempting to take them out tomorrow for their first run. I’m thinking Thursday, but we’ll see.

The weather continues to be horrible. I’ve discovered that 5am isn’t really the best time to run in terms of humidity, because even though the sun is not up, the moisture in the air can reach 90-95%, and it can make breathing a little hard. But, I’m sticking with it, mostly because my work schedule dictates that it be so. Once I’m done teaching for the summer (late next week, actually – eek!), it remains to be seen whether or not I continue the 5am runs. I kind of like them a lot, but with play rehearsals ramping up, pulling these consecutive 19- to 20-hour days is eventually not going to be good for me. I haven’t written in a while because last week was insane: running from job to job to job to play rehearsal or some other such function often had me getting home at 9pm and trying frantically to catch up with a day’s work when I’d have to be up at 3am the next day. I was totally, magnificently beat by the time Friday rolled around; this week I’ll get a bit of a reprieve from the madness, but next week and the couple thereafter it’s back to the 4-days-per-week rehearsal grind. Wheee!

If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks, and don’t worry, I’m almost done: I said I’d try to write more about nutrition and the food I’m eating, and I’ve not really done that, so I’m going to record it for posterity in case I decide that I want to do this again. (oh, who am I kidding: I’m totally thinking fall marathon in 2013 or even winter/spring marathon in 2014: why not?) I’ve been really, really enjoying the heck out of summer produce these past several weeks, and I will be sad indeed when the stone fruits go away, and when the veggies start going away, because eating in season really is a fantastic thing, and not something I’m used to paying attention to. I tend to eat the same thing most days with some little variations thrown in, and I rarely get tired of eating the same foods, though I will go through phases with some things (for example, I had a month-long affair with edamame but it just didn’t work out, so now I’m working on eggplant and seeing where that gets me). Anyway, here’s a rough look at my Monday-Friday food:

Mon & Wed: 

Breakfast 1: banana, spinach/strawberry/blueberry salad (on Wed, this is just a salad and a Kashi bar)

Breakfast 2: 2 scrambled eggs, whole avocado

Snack 1: fruit of some sort (either a peach or a nectarine, was apricots until last week), Kashi bar (on Wednesday, this is a banana with almond butter that I have after my run; I have this before the eggs and avocado, and after that, I have a protein drink on my way to work)

Lunch: pre-made frozen vegetables with sauteed zucchini (I combine vegetables from a few different assortments that Kroger sells; mostly it’s green beans, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, peppers, and lima beans), usually a couple of pieces of dark chocolate to wash it down (on Wed, the fruit snack is sometimes eaten here)

Snack 2: apple & almonds

Dinner: This is where variety happens, as it’s sometimes chicken (as it will be tonight), sometimes not, but usually a sweet potato (plain) with either frozen vegetables or frozen spinach. 

Bedtime snack (depending on hunger level and/or bedtime): Greek yogurt with chia seeds and blueberries

Tues & Thurs:

Breakfast 1: before the gym, this is 1 cup of toasted wheat cereal

Breakfast 2: right after the gym, this is a low-sodium V8 and a Kashi bar, and when I get to work, it’s a banana and the spinach/fruit salad from Mon/Wed

Breakfast 3: on my way to work, Greek yogurt with chia seeds and blueberries

Snack 1: fruits of some sort

Lunch: same as Mon/Wed, as is Snack 2

Dinner: Lately, it’s been a Gardenburger (I’m not a vegetarian but by God do I love their mixed-vegetable-medley patties) with sauteed zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplants. Sometimes when I’m rushed to get to rehearsal I’ll just make the Gardenburger and mix it into 2 scrambled eggs and have the veggies when I get home – they’re pre-prepared and just need to be microwaved to be warmed up. Or eaten cold, since they’re good that way too.

Friday: is the same as Mon/Wed until Breakfast 2, which is eggs with a can of tuna mixed in, minus the avocado. Snack 1 stays the same, but Lunch is a sweet potato plus the avocado. Snack 2 is the same, and dinner is often a crapshoot since I’m either going out of town or planning dinner with the visiting Saint of a Boyfriend. More often than not dinner is out on Friday, since I don’t much feel like cooking by the time it rolls around.

Saturday and Sunday: Saturday is more of a cheat day than Sunday, since I feel that my long runs justify me eating whatever the heck I want. Pre-run is always 2 cups of toasted wheat cereal and a Kashi bar; post-run is always a banana, sometimes oatmeal with chia seeds and almond butter, almost always a Clif bar later on if it’s a run of 8 or more miles. Sunday I still attempt some semblance of a balanced day since I do cross-training, but I usually tend to stick to the fruits-yogurts-Kashi bars-veggies-yogurt template I follow throughout the week.

Oh yeah, drinks: Water, water, water, holy crap I drink a lot of water, 2 cups of coffee, black, per day (3 if I’m really dragging, but absolutely no caffeine after noon), maybe a beer or two during the week and on Sunday, and as many beers as I want on Saturday – after my run. Supplements: daily Centrum for women, iron; twice a week glucosamine and ibuprofen as needed for aching bits.

Right, so, that’s this week’s stupidly long post. And now I’m late for my date with eggs and avocado, so I’m off to make that and soldier on through the rest of Monday. Huzzah!

119 days!

Yup, the countdown is at T-minus four months. That seems like forever from now, but I know it won’t feel that way soon.

Week One is almost in the books, and I’ve already cheated, hahaha – oops! But hear me out: I was supposed to do a 5-mile pace run on Wednesday, which would have been fine for me to do on the treadmill since it’s been so icky hot and humid gross as of late. But Wednesday dawned cool, slightly less damp, and cloudy. I made a snap decision to run outside instead and not have it be a pace run, because it’s supposed to be much hotter next week and, probably, the week after that, too. This means back-to-back Wednesday pace runs, but I’m okay with that (says me now, HA). And the run was great! In the end I was happy I chose to ‘cheat’ that way- I mean, miles are miles, and I’ll take them however I can get them.

Angry tendon has been decidedly less so this week, probably because I’ve been icing the bejeezus out of it every chance I get, and resting it with elevation as much as I can. Compression is the one thing missing from this, which is starting to make me wonder if I shouldn’t change that. Hmmm. A thing to think on, for sure. Anyway, I did an easy 3-miler yesterday morning and angry tendon didn’t even make so much as a peep. I’d been pretty sore all over going into Thursday morning, but a mile in I felt fantastic, which was odd, but not unwelcome. I had enough left in the tank to sprint the last half-mile, which almost never happens. Tomorrow is an easy 8-miler, during which I might explore the cool city park I found on a bike ride last weekend.

Running at 5am continues to be awesome. I do have a nagging worry about being mauled by a bear leaping out of a tree at me (yes, this is ridiculous because I live in a city, but this is central Virginia – anything can happen), but otherwise, it might be my new favorite time to run. The getting up at 3am when I’ve only managed to fall asleep at 11pm could be a problem, though. Hmmm.

I picked up my new pair of shoes today, too – my old ones are at about their mileage limit (already!), and it’s time to break in the new ones before too long. They’re so white and shiny! Eeeee!

That’s about that, for this week. Not terribly exciting around here; play rehearsals are going well, and baseball is FINALLY back on after what seems like the world’s longest All-Star break. I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do between the end of the World Series and the start of spring training. (Dear every other baseball fan in the world who knows that pain: help?)

It’s been a good week to get back into running. Feels good, man, feels good.

The Plan.

Here it is, in all of its scribbled-on glory, posted on my wall underneath my calendar and above where I hang my race numbers:

(Keen eyes might notice the URL: yes, it is Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 program. His Novice Half plan worked really well for me, so I’m hoping to have the same happy results with the full.)

Even though today is a rest day, it is still technically Day One of The Plan ™. Tomorrow, I get the gift of an easy 3-miler to kick things off. I know I’m ready for it, because I saw people out running earlier and thought, hot dog! Tomorrow I get to be you, and that makes me happy. And I was smiling, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just because I’d had some coffee.

There are a few changes to the plan as it was originally conceived, mostly to adjust for the half I’m doing in September, and in the last week when I’m tapering since the race is on a Saturday and not a Sunday. But, there it is. It’s big, it spans a lot of time, it looks terrifying to contemplate 8-mile-pace-runs in the middle of weeks when I know I’ll have lots of schoolwork to do.

But.

I wrote last time about some of my apprehensions, and one thing I’ve been thinking about since then is how emotional this process could be for me. A big part of the whole reason I decided to run a marathon in the first place is because last fall, something was wrong with my health, and I had no idea what it was, and I was scared that it was something really serious. I had one of those “this is your life, start living it and stop wasting it” moments, and it occurred to me that if I’m going to ever run a marathon, why not do it now? Life isn’t waiting for me. So, that’s why, at the ripe old age of 32, I’m doing this for the first (and not, I hope, the last) time. But having all of that in the back of my head is a bit heavy, you know?

While it is heavy, it’s also a fantastic motivator. There were days in half-training that I wanted to just skip my run and nap, but I didn’t do it; I pushed through whatever it was, and of course felt better afterwards. I was rewarded handsomely when my half was an amazing, fantastic, incredible experience; sticking to The Plan is something I know I can do, and something I know will pay off on November 10. I have so much in me driving me to go these 26.2 miles that I can’t see myself not doing it – even if, right now, I feel like I’m standing at the base of Mount Everest and squinting, just trying to catch a glimpse of the top, wondering what the view looks like from up there.

In 18 weeks, I’ll find out. And I cannot, cannot, cannot wait. 😀

ACK ACK

(That used to be the name of a Thoroughbred who sired many, many racehorses that ran in Maryland when I was growing up. It’s odd what sticks in your brain…)

So, deep breath: this is it. Monday is the beginning of the long journey to 26.2. I just typed that number and can hardly look at it: 26.2! How absurd! What sort of idiot does this? Voluntarily?

I just signed up for my second half-marathon, in North Carolina, in mid-September. That in itself is exciting; getting to run in a new state is also exciting, and getting to have my family there to throw water balloons at me is doubly exciting.

I have concerns, though. Mainly: can I even make it to 26.2? I recall distinctly how I felt after 14.5, and it was painful, which has me worried that getting up to 18 and 20 will be worse. I’m also probably irrationally freaked out that my longest run during this training is 20 miles, even though I’ve read a million times that if you can do 20, you can do 26.2. I didn’t run the full 13.1 before my half in April, and I was fine then, but the week before I’d run 12.6, and at that short (ha!) distance, a half-mile is nothing. Cherry on top of the sundae. This is adding an entire 10k to a 20-mile run, which is not nothing. I know that I will be tempted to sneak a 22-mile run in there, but I’m also betting that I’m going to listen to my body when it tells me “idiot, 20 is fine, and you need to rest”.

I’m also worried about angry tendon. I’m pretty sure it’s tendonitis, and as such I’ve been icing it pretty aggressively every chance I get, plus elevation and ibuprofen, and there’s not been any swelling, but it still hurts a little even when I’m just walking around. I really really don’t want to actually injure it any further, because I’ve been mentally in this marathon for nine months and I do NOT want some stupid thing I could have prevented getting in my way. So, I’ll be researching ways to rehabilitate and stretch it, and hope it cooperates.(Boyfriend’s dad is a PT, so he might have some free advice on how best to mollify angry tendon, which is nice.)

I’m also-also worried about training in the heat. This summer I have proven to be a faltering wimp when it comes to hot weather; biking seems okay, but when my schedule changes after summer school is over, I worry that running later in the day will end up being detrimental.

Really, I’m just anxious because this is a long road and I have a LOT of time to think about these things. There’s plenty about this process I’m looking forward to, for sure: having a goal again (so important for me), getting to eat more (also important for me :)), hooking back up with my running buddy, just getting back into the swing of running- pushing my limits, seeing how far I can go, not being surprised when I end up being awesome.

I’m sure you all are looking forward to the absolute blathering about the marathon I’m going to be doing between now and November, so if you bail on me and quit reading, I understand why. 🙂 That said, I’m going to try to write about more than just the running for this process: I also want to document my nutrition, cross-training, mental health, and what effects this is all having on my life outside of my two running shoes. So it might not be completely brain-numbing for you, should you decide to stick around.

Those are my thoughts this humid, sticky, hot hot hot Friday morning. I hope you all had a happy Independence Day, if you’re in America and were celebrating on Wednesday; I watched baseball, toasted an old friend at a surprise party, and caught fireworks almost literally from my backyard. It was a good, low-key day- one that, double-bonus, ended with cake. What’s not to love?

The journey begins…

Active rest.

I did a dumb thing this past week: knowing that my angry tendon was still somewhat peeved at me [a massage therapist* told me “I don’t want to say it’s bumpy, but it feels… bumpy”], I ran on it anyway.  I did slow, easy, short runs – 2.2, 4.2, 2.1 miles over three days – and angry tendon became increasingly more angry. So, I’m not fighting it back, and I’m giving it active rest (and lots and lots of ice at night) until marathon training starts on July 10, which is a week from Tuesday. “Active rest” means that I’m still exercising, just not running – so, weight-lifting per usual, biking, elliptical-ing, maybe some rowing if I get bored this week. The not-running is killing me, especially because I’ve just discovered that running at 5am when the stars are still twinkling and the sun’s not up yet and it hasn’t had a chance to become horrifyingly hot out is a really, really awesome (as in, I’ve nearly hit telephone poles because I’m gawking all open-mouthed at the sky) thing. But, I have all of the rest of the summer to enjoy that, so one week is not going to kill me. (I hope.)

Also, can we talk for a second about how marathon training starts NEXT WEEK? That is insane. I can’t believe the thing is only a little over four months away. I’m already so freaking excited. But I digress…

In case you’re curious, angry tendon is my posterior tibial tendon, seen here. It’s the one that runs behind the ankle bone, that is red at the top and then curves under the ankle bone and is then colored red and white:

Pardon the Comic Sans font; blame eorthopod.com, from whom I borrowed this image.

Anyway, so, in other news, it’s hot as hell outside right now. It has been for several days and will continue to be so for what seems like forever, but after long enough, you get used to it. I decided to thumb my nose at Mother Nature this morning by going out for a 14-mile bike ride at 11am, which is pretty much exactly when they tell you to start hiding indoors, but I had on plenty of sunscreen and was toting a ton of water, so I figured I’d be okay. Two hours later I was a bit sunburned (apparently they’re right: 30 SPF won’t do me for two hours during the peak-sun-hours of a 100-degree-heat-index day!), and rather thirsty and hot, but otherwise feeling not much worse for the wear. A frigid, ice-cold shower and about a gallon of water and some Solarcaine later, I was good to go. I’m planning to spend the rest of my evening watching Olympic trials coverage and sampling a chocolate raspberry stout from DuClaw Brewery – and by “sampling”, I mean “enjoying to completion”. 🙂

In even more other news, this week will be the halfway point of summer teaching, which has gone by incredibly quickly (and no one’s dead yet, so I count that as a victory). I found out yesterday that I got a role in a play at my local theater’s summer short-plays-festival, which is news that I love because I miss being on stage, and now is really the only time I have to devote any time to it, so that’s quite exciting. My Nationals continue to kick all sorts of ass, which is fun to watch still – though with rehearsals coming up likely in the evenings, it looks like I might be catching fewer of their games between now and the middle of August. But that’s okay! They can win without me watching.

Um, not really speaking of which, you know I love Bryce Harper, right? He’s on the ballot as one of the last 5 NL players to make it on the All-Star team, based on fan votes. If you like what I write here, would you mind heading to this link and voting for Harper? Pretty please? (You only have to do it once, though I’ve honestly lost count of how many times I’ve done it…)

http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/all_star/y2012/fv/ballot.jsp

I (and Bryce too, I’m sure) thank you in advance.

*I need to explain this, I guess: Saint of a boyfriend and I celebrated our three-year anniversary last weekend by taking off to West Virginia for a stay at a cozy and romantic bed and breakfast, which included dinner, spa service, and in-room champagne and chocolates. We were only there one night, but it was absolutely fantastic; on the way there, we stopped to do some wine tasting, and then arrived just in time to grab showers and then get caught in a freak rainstorm that totally soaked us on the way to dinner. After dinner (om nom nom so good) we went a race track to catch some horse racing, and then we came back, drank wine, and giggled our way to sleep. The next morning, we got breakfast (om nom nom also so good) and massages; I got a “hiker’s massage” for my legs, which is how the massage therapist got to know my bumpy, angry, tendon, and then we went horseback riding over in western Virginia. We spent two hours out on a trail with a man who has the most fantastic mustache and corny jokes this side of the Mississippi, and I loved every second of it. We had sunny, cool weather too, which helped immensely. Then, on the mustachioed man’s recommendation, we went to explore a nearby small town via soft-serve ice cream, a stroll through their Main Street area, and dinner at the pub he frequents, and then I surprised the boyfriend with his present – matching Stephen Strasburg paraphernalia, made funnier by the fact that he (boyfriend, not Strasburg) had gotten us matching Chris Cooley paraphernalia for football season – and another surprise: tickets to that night’s game of the Nationals’ minor-league Class-A affiliate Hagerstown Suns, where last year Bryce Harper knocked himself unconscious on the center field wall making an out. The game we saw was awesome. There were 32-ounce beers, foul balls flying literally right past our third-base-front-row seats (which you can get for $12, which I love), fireworks fifty feet away at second base after the game, and 25 hits between the two teams in a ridiculous 10-8 victory for the home team. After that, we drove back to my house, and collapsed for about twelve hours. The next day, we had a lazy breakfast, played volleyball with some friends, drank beer, and made gigantic portabello mushroom sandwiches for dinner.

It was a good weekend.

This weekend has been good too, if a little ridiculously hot and full of insane evening thunderstorms, but that’s summer, no?

Hope you’re staying cool, wherever you are. (And if you’re running, know that I hate you, just a little bit, this week. :))