So hey, I had a birthday. And stuff.

Hi! Welcome to your March update on my life, running and not – except probably I’ll have a race report after the half I’m running on St Patrick’s Day, so maybe (OMG) you will get two posts this month. I guess I’m just not interested in writing when I’m not actively training for a race: not to say that I’ve not been training for this half, just that I’ve not really been following a structured plan this time. My basic plan has been: Run more miles (30-35/week). Don’t get hurt. Rinse, repeat.

As I write this, a winter storm is making its way to my state, and we’re expected to get anywhere from 6-14 inches of snow depending on whom you ask. As far as I can tell from my library seat, nothing has started falling yet, but I confess that I’m somewhat giddily excited about the prospect of running 6 miles in a blizzard tomorrow morning. Am I insane? Yes, but this is not without precedent: on my birthday, I had one of the most awesome runs of my life.

My birthday was three days ago, on the 2nd. I went skiing (for the last time this season) with Saint and a bunch of folks from our outdoors club; we rented a slopeside condo, which meant opening the back door and stepping onto the lift. No joke – that was most of the reason I went on the trip. (Also, it was my birthday, and there was skiing. Come on, how could I not?) We drove up late on Friday night, and it was snowing at a good clip when we got into West Virginia, which was a pleasant surprise – they’d been getting snow in bits and pieces during the week, but I hadn’t expected it to continue. We went to bed not long after arrival, and I set my alarm for early early in order to get up and get a few miles in before hitting the slopes.

I should note at this point that I’d known earlier in the week that I was going to be skiing for the weekend, so I recalibrated my running schedule so that my long run for the week would fall on Friday. This resulted in a ridiculous amount of shuffling things around and generally losing sleep in order to get everything done, but I pulled it off: at 2:30pm on Friday afternoon, I set off to run my own half-marathon around town, because (as I said last time) I knew I wanted to run at least a 13-miler in preparation for this upcoming half to prove to myself that I could get the distance without dying. So, I figured, why not just run the whole damn distance and call it a day, and then get in an easy 3-mile run on Saturday morning (actually, 3.3 because I was turning 33), and an even easier (because I will probably be hung over) 2-mile run on Sunday morning? (this was running at the top of a mountain, mind you, where it is not warm and not flat. Ahem.)

So, that’s what I did. It was cold, it was overcast, it was windy, and I got unbelievably lost because I have an incredible ability to miss turns onto trails when trying new things, and while I did eventually find my way back to a familiar place, I had to then re-route my entire run by stopping into a library to get on a computer to map my run to see a) how far I’d gone and b) how on earth I was going to get the rest of the distance in AND still manage to run the errand I’d planned to (literally) run on the way home. [I now call this run “the most roundabout way of picking up a prescription ever”.] I did all of these things with relative success, and by the last two miles was grinning like an ass because I was having such fun running, and I knew I could do it, and yeah, it hurt a little, but my body was responding when I was asking it for speed, which was encouraging as hell.

To make a long story short, I got all my stuff done, we went west, I went to sleep, I woke up Saturday morning, and then I looked out the window.

Powder.

Oh yes. It was the skier/snowboarder’s dream: Giant, fluffy, dry white flakes of magical happiness pouring down from the sky. Oh holy fuckballs, YES: I get a powder day for my birthday! I had to consciously stop myself from giggling because everyone else was still sleeping, so I did my warmup exercises and hit the road.

It’s funny: I am a total wimp about running in the rain, and if it’s even a bit precipitory (totally made that word up, hush) I will make a beeline for the treadmill, which I loathe, because being wet is just that uncomfortable for me. But, I didn’t even think twice about going outside to run in a heavy snowfall, which – again, we’re at the top of a mountain – is also likely to be very cold and very windy. Whatever! It’s powder! Snow doesn’t stick to my glasses! I don’t care! Let’s go, bitches!

So, off I went. It was probably the coldest run I’d had in my life to that point (Sunday came close), which was made apparent to me as soon as I started hocking loogies that were mostly made of blood because my nose was so dry. (TMI, sorry.) But the snow wasn’t sticking to any part of me, and while it was slippery, I went slow and just enjoyed the quiet of the air and the crunch-crunch of my feet. The wind I could have maybe done without, but what doesn’t kill you makes you have another beer later, right? Anyway, on I went, on and on and on and on, and… hmmm. Where was my turnaround point? I’d mis-mapped my run, and overshot it by over a mile, and so I ended up running nearly 5 miles instead of 3.3, but that was fine: I felt awesome. And like such a badass: who’s stupid enough to run in the snow like that? But, really, I hardly felt it after long enough, and if you asked me if I’d rather run in a blizzard than in the summer or even spring, I’d totally choose the blizzard.

Sunday’s run ended up being right around 2.5 miles, and it was no less blizzard-y, though I was a smiiiiidge hung over as I’d expected, so it was a bit slower and more painful than I might have liked. But, it helped clear the cobwebs away, and had me all perky and ready to hit the slopes right at 9am when they opened.

Oh yeah, so there was skiing, too, which was the chief reason I was a bit sore on Sunday. What happens when you, the East Coast skier who is starved for non-icy, non-groomed skiing, are confronted with a powder day? You ski the ever-loving shit out of every run you can, and out of every bit of trees in between those runs that you can. That’s exactly what Saint and I did, and it was a total blast. Throw in some lift beers or three, and the ability to participate in a modified slalom race that they have set up that anyone can do (and holy crap, was it fun, even if he beat me by 5 seconds which is a loooong time in a slalom race), and the most awesome conditions I’ve ever seen this side of the Alps or Vermont, and you have a most fantastic birthday indeed. Throw in on top of that a half-hour in the outdoor hot tub down the road (there was snow blowing all over us but I never felt cold!), and a surprise cake from Saint, and as much Bell’s Expedition Stout as I can handle after all of that, and you have THE most fantastic birthday. It was really, truly awesome; there’s nothing more I could have asked for, which makes me a very lucky girl indeed.

Sunday’s skiing was more of the same, but we only made it a half-day because we were both worn out from having skied so hard the day before. We did do mostly tree-skiing (which I should note is by and large not allowed at this mountain) until we got yelled at (rightfully) by ski patrol from the lift, so we went elsewhere and did some more, away from watchful eyes. Yes, I know it’s dangerous, and I know full well that if I hurt myself it’s my own damn fault for ignoring posted signs that say “DO NOT DO THIS YOU MORON”, but in my defense, I’m so much more careful in trees for that exact reason. Also, I can count the number of times I’ve been hurt tree-skiing on exactly 0 fingers; I’ve sustained the most terrifying crashes on the open slopes with other people, which makes me think that trees make better company for me and my two ski-clad feet.

Anyway, after playing in a winter wonderland for a few hours, we called it a day and headed back home (very much against our collective wills, because two powder days is a hard thing indeed to leave, but one must teach and work, alas), where there were showers, burgers, and relaxation. Monday (yesterday) it was back to work, and looking at that forecast I’m getting all wistful, but… but. I’ve had my season’s fill of snow, and it was a great birthday weekend, PLUS if I somehow tempt fate by going skiing one more time before the half, I know damn well I’m going to fall and actually break something this time, which is not what I want. So, I call it a season, and am satisfied with that.

Back to the running side of things, yes, I am stupid enough to go running in a blizzard tomorrow, though if it gets too bad I’ll bail and find a treadmill. This is my last 30-mile week before I taper down to 20 next week, which is good because I need to spend less time running and more time working next week anyway (spring break? What spring break? Ha!).

So… yeah. That’s it! I had a birthday, and stuff. See y’all again in about two weeks. 🙂

In which I am annoyed. (Warning: poop talk ahead.)

But wait: yes, I am five (5) (V) days out from my first marathon and am entirely too cognizant of this. Yes, my last long run on Saturday proved to me that I am beyond ready to run this thing. Yes, it’s weird mapping out dinky (to me) 2- and 3-mile runs for this week. Yes, I am nuts for running in shorts in 35-degree weather this morning, but my legs are still forgetting that they’re really actually okay with this. Yes, I am sure that I am going to go insane – and drive all 5 of my readers insane – with the lack of running I will be doing this week. And yes, I am grateful that I have a lot of work to do this week to help keep the craziness a little at bay. I’ll probably address all of that later on in the week, but for now, you get a post-Halloween treat!

Yup, this is one of those NSFW posts I keep promising you, so if reading about other people’s rear ends and their troubles makes you squirm, get out now.

Okay, so if you keep reading you can’t complain about gross things any more.

Really.

Okay! So I know that in the grand scheme of Things That Are Bad in People’s Lives, this currently is astronomically low compared to what People Who Are Not Me are going through. But that doesn’t mean I’m still not irked by it. I’m irked enough to broadcast it on the Internet, if that tells you anything. My apologies if you stumble on this during your dinnertime; I think I put this off for most of the day because subconsciously I knew that fewer people would be reading at this time of day, at least on the East Coast of the U.S. where I am and where I think most of my readers are. But then I think: we have an Election tomorrow, so more people might be Internetting? I don’t know. Anyway, if you’re in the U.S. and you just read that, GO VOTE TOMORROW MORNING. Or I’ll poop on you.

Ahem. Anyway, I went to my butt doctor last week, as alluded to in my last post, and she gave me a different medicine to try, as I also alluded to in my last post. In case you don’t hang on my every word (tsk), I was nervous about switching to this medicine because it’s the oral version of the first butt medicine I started taking after my UC diagnosis last December. I don’t know why I stuck with those suppositories for so long, because they ended up being awful: my anus itched constantly, and only ever stopped when I cleaned it out with soap and water, so basically, it stopped itching once a day, for the merciful period in which I was showering. As soon as the next poop came, boom! Back came the itch. And I was pooping pretty much every time I used the toilet, and it was no longer the round, solid, dark toilet bombs I was used to flinging into the bowl. No no, this was much less formed and almost… orange, like I’d eaten nothing but carrots for weeks. Because it was soft and less formed, it started requiring much more TP usage to get myself clean, and even then I’d never feel like I got everything, which led to digging around, which over enough time led to irritation to the point of inflammation, and then an hour later I’d fart and think hmmm, was that a fart or a poop? and often have no way to immediately get to a bathroom to find out. And then I’d start thinking I’d just crapped myself, and with no way to fix it would just have to walk around smelling like poop for a while, the thought of which was superbly embarrassing, because sometimes I’d be doing things like teaching or meeting with students or driving people to work. Oh, and the gas? Mortifying. Silent farts became impossible. The constant stream of soft, orangey, stinky, reluctant-to-leave poo was frustrating as all hell, and within a month or six or maybe even ten or twelve weeks, I called my doctor and said, “We have to try something else because my ass is dying”.

So, she put me on a cortisone butt foam, which is a steroid and intended for short-term use. I’m not sure how short short-term really is, but the medicine she’d first had me on *is* intended to be for long-term use, so the hope was that I could try the steroids for a bit and then try the oral – pill – version of the original suppository. Within three days, the butt foam was working miracles. The first thing to go was the itching anus, and everything else followed suit within a couple of weeks. Christmas! I could fart and be confident that it was, indeed, made of air and air alone. I’ll spare you other details, but suffice it to say that it was a huge improvement.

Alas, all good things must come to an end, so I was very, very gradually – over the course of seven, eight, nine months? – tapered off the butt steroids with an eye towards getting me on oral medication. That day finally came last week – Thursday to be precise, the day after my appointment with my butt doctor – and she told me I could keep the foam for maintenance purposes, and use it “as needed”, in her words; to my understanding, only if symptoms get so unbearable that I need a temporary solution until I can get in touch with her. I asked her if it was really such a good idea to be switching medicines so close to my marathon – runners have a long, storied, and not always pleasant relationship with poop, which both of us openly discussed – and she said I would be fine. I believed her, and on Thursday morning started the medicine.

Well.

Here it is, Monday evening, and I have to actively resist the urge to spend the rest of the evening sitting in my bathroom scratching my ass. It itches so damn much. Everything that happened with the suppositories is happening again, and I’m pissed about it. (there’s a joke there somewhere…) Now that I’ve compared the dosages, the four I take every morning are giving me four times as much drug as the one suppository I was taking last year. They’re extended-release, which I guess is maybe why I continuously poop soft and orange all day, and why the gas and the uh-oh-what-are-these-really farts keep going, and why the itching will. Not. Stop., except when I’m just out of the shower. Thankfully, the two runs I’ve had since I started taking the pills – on Saturday, and this morning – have passed without incident, but when I am in the middle of running 26.2 miles I want to be thinking about anything other than wow, my ass itches SO MUCH right now, can someone please kill me? Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but this is *exactly* why I was hesitant to start taking a medicine this week that has proven troublesome to me in the past. Maybe my doctor thought the pill form would be less awful? I don’t know.

So I’m torn between sending her a message saying “guess what, my old friend Anal Itching is back again with a vengeance, and he brought ALL OF HIS FRIENDS to the party”, and waiting a couple of days to see if things even out, so that I’ll have been on the medicine a week before saying anything. Maybe this just needs time to iron out the kinks? But I thought that last time, too, and suffered for no reason for like three months. There have to be other oral medicines out there I can use, right? But also, man, I spent 130 fucking dollars on this bottle of pills, and I still have sitting in my closet the mostly-full box of un-used suppositories from last year that I kept “just in case” the butt foam didn’t work, and I spent a pretty penny on those, too, and I would be doubly pissed if I end up having to just throw the pills – and all of that money – away and spend another $130 to try something else (my insurance has a really nice $100 deductible whenever you start a new medicine, and when you renew your insurance every year. It’s shitty, yeah, but what can you do? If I don’t have insurance, I get kicked out of school – it’s required for all students here!).

Errrrrgh. Arrrrrgh. Insert pirate noise here – it just sucks, and it’s frustrating, and it’s not a distraction I need this week. Or next week, really, when I start taking my major graduate exams that sort of determine whether or not I get a PhD (but no big deal, right?). ARRRRRRGH.

Okay, I feel better now, at least in my brain. My ass… well, that’s a different story.

Sorry. But you were warned. 🙂

Probably my shortest post ever!

Not much to do with running here. Well, maybe: my visit with my doctor yesterday was quite fruitful. I’m finally moving onto oral medication, but I’m a bit nervous about the timing since it’s the oral version of something that as a topical medicine bothered me very much and was generally quite disruptive. That I’m starting it a week and change out from a marathon isn’t… pleasing exactly, but my doctor thinks I’ll handle it just fine. I hope she’s right! 🙂

And this is a bit of a throwaway thought, but why does my doctor have to have the most unfair knack of working with hot internists? I can’t quite get over how difficult it is to talk about my poop with a straight face with a very, very, very good-looking guy. It’s really hard to not be embarrassed when you hear the words “my stool is usually bla bla bla but now it’s bla bla bla” (and that’s the very toned-down version) coming out of your mouth but all you’re thinking is “wow, you have got AMAZING eyes. and hands. and that smile!….”

Ahem. Anyway… nothing else to see here. 🙂

This is what I get for messing with THE PLAN.

I’ve been mostly good about sticking with my training plan for the marathon. I haven’t missed a single run; some long runs have been rain-delayed by a day, and some midweek easy runs have become tempo runs and vice versa for the same reason. I did some of this with my half-marathon training and everything came out fine. Well, this week, Hal Higdon has his revenge on me for assuming I know better than he does.

This week’s breakdown: midweek – Tuesday, 5 easy; Wednesday, 5 tempo; Thursday, 5 easy. Weekend long: 19. No problem, right? Except Tuesday was totally rained out, so I figured I’d make Tuesday my tempo run and Wednesday an easy run, with an eye on Thursday’s weather to see if it could also be a tempo run. (The answer is that it won’t, unless something happens today like it did yesterday.) This worked out well since I was crunched for time on Tuesday anyway. Tempo run it was. And tempo run went great.

I got started a bit late with Wednesday’s run, and was a bit pressed for time since I suddenly had a meeting in the afternoon that hadn’t been previously scheduled. But it was hot, and humid, and sticky, and I just wasn’t feeling it for the first couple of miles. Which may have been – or it could have just been my inherent clumsiness – why I totally failed to see a giant crack in the sidewalk on which I was running. The worst part about this is that I stumbled, sort of regained my balance, and then took several stutter-strides forward in what was ultimately a failed effort at staying upright. BAM. Down I went, left-knee-first, right-palm-second. I think I even slid a couple of feet, too.

So of course I got up and assessed the damage, which was lots of blood and an already-angry-looking bump of swollenness on my knee and a nicely scratched palm. Thankfully, I’d had the good sense to wipe out across the street from a convenience store, so I was able to get some paper towels to wipe myself off as best I could before continuing on. I mean, what else can you do, right? So I became that person running down crowded streets with blood trickling down my leg, which made me feel both bad-ass and gross at the same time. Adrenaline is a fantastic thing, let me tell you: not only did I not feel any pain until I stopped, but I also ended up accidentally making it another tempo run, this one even faster than Tuesday’s. So I think I’ve earned an easier run today, in slightly cooler weather.

But man. That little bugger got big and red and angry when I was done with my shower! I iced it for most of last night, and I think it’ll be okay; it doesn’t hurt now, but then, I haven’t tried to put 5 more miles on it yet.

What Hal doesn’t know yet is that I plan to split my weekend-long-run 19 miles into a 6-mile warmup and then a half-marathon, about two hours apart. Please, no one tell him. I don’t need to shed any more blood this week in the name of the run. 😛

I’ve slept through my alarm many times…

…but never have I slept through it to miss a run.

Until Saturday.

I wasn’t even particularly tired on Friday night; I laid down at 11pm to get up at 4am, per usual, to start my long run at 6am, per usual. 5 hours of sleep is plenty for me, and I’d gotten about 7 hours on Thursday night, so if you follow the school of thought that subscribes to “your Saturday run depends on the sleep you got on Thursday, not on Friday”, then I was good to go.

Except. I was sleeping in a room with a really loud fan – I was visiting saint of a boyfriend, so this was not my room – and I put my phone inside my purse without turning the ringer up. I left my purse open, sure that I would still be able to hear the alarm go off at 4.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I woke up and immediately ascertained that it was not dark outside. Whatthefuh, I thought, and then looked at the clock. 7:38. WHATTHEFUH-?! I bolted out of bed, fumbled my glasses onto my face, checked my phone to make sure that I had indeed missed both of my alarms, and stopped- there was a sound outside.

Rain.

I peeked out of the blinds. A virtual monsoon- whatthefuh? I’d had no idea it was supposed to rain, much less torrentially. I dug out my laptop and checked the radar: rain, rain, rain, with no signs of abating. Right – then and there, I made two snap decisions: 1) go to the bathroom immediately 2) long run happens on Sunday now!

[I later realized that I should have seen this coming: last year, the last weekend of August was when Hurricane Irene dropped its rains all over the mid-Atlantic, and I was also then stranded inside on Saturday and forced to run on Sunday. Huh.]

So, having decided on long-run-on-Sunday, I pittered about for a bit and decided to just switch my cross-training and long-run days, which is perfectly allowable under The Plan. I’d hoped for a break in the rain to go for a bike ride, but when it became obvious that that was not going to happen, I hit up saint of a boyfriend to fire up the Wii to do some of the Fit exercises. Great idea, right?

Well… Yes. And no.

I started out with some yoga to warm up, and then did some boxing and stepping and more boxing and hula-hooping ang yoga, and then moved on to the strength exercises because I figured it would be better to get my glute- and hamstring-strengthening exercises in instead of doing them on long-run-weakened legs on Sunday. I worked the ever-loving shit out of those muscles, and felt great, if a little wobbly, by the time I was done with them and had thrown in some skiing and more boxing and yoga. I stretched, showered, and went on with our day as planned.

Saturday night it became apparent to me that I was going to be a bit sore on Sunday. Before I went to sleep, I gave myself a quick massage and set three alarms on my phone to wake myself up at 4am, and put the phone on the hard wooden surface of the nightstand next to me and turned the ringer waaaaaaay up.

4am came, and my phone went off, and I barely heard it. But I heard it, and grogged myself into waking up, and started to get out of bed.

When my feet hit the floor, I had one very acute thought: OW. The entirety of my upper legs- basically, everything from the knee up to and including the butt – was sore. Not just oh-this-is-a-little-bit-of-DOMS sore, but you done gone messed up real, real good sore. Immediately I knew that a) going downstairs was going to suck and b) this was going to be a 14-mile run not without pain. But, what can you do but run through it?

After much silent cursing to myself and even more silent groaning as I eased myself down the stairs, at 6:15am I was out the door and on the pavement. The run itself was absolutely wonderful; I ran part of the marathon course I’ll be doing in November, and it was fantastic – when the leaves change, it will be even more so. The weather was perfect: 68 and overcast, though the 98% humidity I could have maybe done without. I took plenty of water and snacks with me, and hydrated and ate appropriately, and absolutely 100% did not bonk or even come close to anything resembling a wall, which was awesome. I feel dumb using the word ‘nice’ to describe a long run, but that’s exactly what this run was – everything just fell into place and it was such a great thing.

Except.

Dear God the downhills. 🙂 I think this was the first run I’ve ever had where I was wishing desperately for flat or uphill terrain, because the downhills are all on your quads and glutes and hamstrings- and there were, unfortunately for me at the time, plenty of downhill stretches on this run. [When the marathon comes around, I know I will be grateful, but on Sunday I was not so much at all…] It was painful, yes, but certainly not the worst thing I’ve ever been through, though I was laughing most of the way at how pathetic I knew I was going to look later on in the day hobbling around on sore legs. I stretched for about 30 minutes when I was done, but in the back of my mind I knew: this is not going to go away until Tuesday. Enjoy! 

And here it is, Monday afternoon, and I am pretty much laughing with every step I take because I look like a fool. I have a 4-mile run tomorrow morning, and I’m not actually sure that I’ll be un-sore in time for it, so I’m planning a route with as little downhill running as possible- though, the more I walk around, the less it hurts, so who knows how tomorrow will go. Lesson learned: strength exercises THE DAY AFTER the long run, NOT NOT NOT the day before, at least until my muscles acclimate to them a little more!

In other news, there’s an all-women’s 4-miler this Saturday at which I’m volunteering. This is my first time actually volunteering for a race, and I’m manning the water stop at mile 3.1. I might be more excited about this than I ever was to actually run the thing! I can’t wait to soak up the atmosphere of the event from ‘the other side’ – I’ve run this race 4 times, most recently last year, and it’s a pretty cool experience as a runner. I’m secretly (maybe not now that I’ve said it) super-pleased that it’s almost exactly 7.5 miles from my house to the race course, and hey, my long run this week is 15 miles…

I hope I can wake up on time. 😉

Stupid things I did last week – and some not-so-stupid things to counter them.

STUPID THING: This is old Olympics news, but I failed to watch the USA-Canada women’s soccer semifinal a week ago. I was… just puttering around after work, and didn’t think to watch it online or anything. I was following along with a friend who was liveblogging it, and that was exciting enough, but when I saw the replay of the winning goal later on, I wished I’d seen more of it.

NOT-SO-STUPID THING: I did watch the gold-medal game of USA-Japan, online, as it happened. I was very nearly late to a rehearsal because of it, but that game was no less nail-biting. I was pleased that my viewing had no cursing effect on our ladies’ play, because I’m still convinced that I’ve made several teams lose just by watching. (I know that’s silly. I don’t care.)

STUPID THING: This was Wednesday of last week: I came home in the early evening and noticed a wasp flitting around my mailbox. I opened said mailbox to get the mail out, and the wasp flitted dangerously close to my hand. Instead of grabbing the mail and walking away quickly, I swiped at the wasp to get it to go away. It didn’t. I turned tail and ran, and it chased me, and stung me. Only once, but as soon as it happened I knew that that was the exact wrong thing to do. I immediately went inside and put ice on it; I’ve since then kept an eye on the mailbox to see if more wasps have been around  it – one has been dancing around the underside, but I’ve left it alone, and as soon as I get a spare evening I’m going to go spray it and see if any wasps remain the next day – but I’ve by and large given the mailbox a wide berth. Our poor mailman; I feel like I need to leave him candy or beer or something. Speaking of beer, I decided right after the wasp sting that the only thing that could make the pain lessen was to go drink beer with some friends. Solid thinking, right?…. read on….

FOLLOW-UP STUPID THING: Wednesday morning I’d already run 6 miles, as per week 5 of my training program. Occasionally I run with the Hash House Harriers in town – a drinking club with a running problem – and Wednesday evening they posted an Olympics-themed run at a pub near my house. I figured I’d hang out with them for a bit since it was my first free Wednesday evening in quite some time – never mind my wake-up time of 2:45am the next day to go running with my old running buddy from the half-marathon, whom I’d run into on Tuesday night and made promise to go run with me on my Tuesday/Thursday short runs from that point forward. I had no idea that the Hashers had recently become much more of a running club than a drinking-and-ambling club, so when we ended up doing a hot, sweaty, under-hydrated 4.5 miles, I was a bit apprehensive. We finished around 9pm, which is already my bedtime, and I was hungry, so I stayed to have dinner and another beer at the starting pub. I got home at 10, in a considerable amount of post-I’ve-just-run-10.5-miles-and-now-have-to-run-another-3-in-7-hours panic, and thought long and hard about calling my running buddy and telling her that our meeting would have to wait until next week (which is now this week by this time). I didn’t, and went to sleep instead after downing a bunch of water. My alarm went off at 2:45 per usual, and I met running buddy at 4:45, and off we went for what was easily the slowest 3 miles I’ve run in a very long time. By the time I got home Thursday night, I was completely exhausted from not only that excessive running but also weight-lifting. I got a good 8 hours of sleep that night, which was totally necessary, and quite blissful.

NOT-SO-STUPID THING: I wore my new shoes on my 3-mile runs last week, and have, I think, broken them in enough to wear them on all of my runs (3, 6 at pace, 3, 9 long) this week and then probably from this point forward going on to the marathon. My old shoes had already been at just about the point of wearing out, but I wore them on my long 12-mile run on Saturday because I thought it would be better to do that than try to take the new shoes out on a long run too soon. My hips have been telling me to switch shoes already, so I hope they’ll be happy with the change and stop giving me twinges already. But, wearing the old shoes on Saturday could have been one thing that contributed to the next stupid thing, which was….

STUPID THING OF EPICNESS: So, yes, Saturday was supposed to be a 12-mile slow run. My roommate, who ran her first marathon last year – the exact same one I’m training for this year – agreed to come with me on this run; she’s faster than I am, which we both knew going in and were okay with, and the main reason we ran this thing together was because it was out of town on country roads near a peach orchard that was serving all-you-can-eat peach pancakes late Saturday morning. My logic was this: wake up early, go out for a 12-miler, refuel with pancakes, and go on with my day. Foolproof, right? Roommate mapped out a 12.5-mile loop that was agreeable to me, and off we went, having zero idea of the topographic layout of our run. (We suspected it would be “rolling hills” because of the location.)

Two things we didn’t count on: GIGANTIC rolling hills and one road being a private road that forced us to double back and add another half-mile or so to our total. So we ran 13.1, which, again, is not a problem per se since I’m comfortable with that distance, but throw in the extra 4.5 miles from Wednesday and that means I’ve now run 29 miles in a week in which I was only supposed to run 24, after a week in which I ran only 21. I don’t think you need to be a genius to know that that is bad. Add to that the facts that a) I didn’t walk before we started running like I always do; I didn’t want to hold roommate back, so I agreed to starting at a slow jog, which b) turned out to be a super-fast first 3 miles because the scenery was gorgeous and so was the weather, and most of it was downhill anyway, and c) when we stopped for water at mile 6, I didn’t drink nearly enough because I was afraid of cramping – take all that, and it’s no wonder that at mile 10, I got this horrid, dreadful feeling from the waist down.

Yup. I hit the wall, big time. My legs felt like they couldn’t go on any more, and my right leg went numb entirely after I ignored the cramping in my right calf. My hips were screaming at me to stop, and my angry tendon was joining in the chorus. At one point my roommate circled back to me – we agreed that it was okay for her to run ahead of me but circle back to make turns with me so we didn’t get lost – and I panted, “is this what it feels like to hit the wall? I want to be shot in the legs right now” – to which she responded, “oh yes, I’ve hit it too”. We still had, unbeknownst to us, three miles to go at that point, but we were out in the middle of the country with no way to get back to her car (and the peach pancakes) except to keep going.

So we did. It was pure and utter hell, but I willed myself to put one foot in front of the other. Mostly it was me thinking to myself, “so what if you hurt? You’ve been through worse. You’ll get through this. Also, PANCAKES.” Over and over and over. When we made our last turn for the last mile, which was mostly uphill with two large inclines, I got mad at the increase in elevation, telling myself I was just going to take this pain out on the pavement. And you know what? Somewhere around mile 12.5, the pain dissipated. My legs started working again. My steps became larger and more purposeful, and by the time I hit the last hill I knew I’d be okay. I came in actually smiling, striding hard and confident, and feeling actually pretty darn good. It was a slow 13.1 – 2:25 – but it felt great by the end. Not gonna lie, those peach pancakes were absolutely fantastic, especially when topped with peach frozen yogurt. YUM.

But, yeah – knowing I can hit the wall and still work through it and come out fine? HUGE. A huge thing to know now, rather than in mile 20 of the actual marathon. I know now what I did to cause it, and I know now how I need to react to get through it, and so much of a marathon is mental that I’m glad I had this experience to remind me of that very fact- when your legs fail you, sometimes all you’ve got left is your brain to get you to the end.

The promise of peach pancakes didn’t hurt, either. 🙂

Let’s see what this week brings, eh? Sigh…

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!