Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bye Bye, Plan

*** First bit of business: If you haven't signed up for the 2nd annual Holiday Blog Gift Exchange, and you're dying to do so, please do so HERE.  Looks like we have a good, large group this year.  Can't wait!  If you participated in the exchange last year and are again this round, I still have your mailing address so you won't be hearing from me for it (so don't freak when I don't contact you), unless you moved, then please let me know that valuable piece of info.  If this is your first year in the exchange, I'll be in touch shortly to get your mailing address from you. ***

Okay, moving along....

The big news in Jill's running world is that I've abandoned my marathon training plan.  This is hard for me to say and even harder to swallow, but I think things are going to go better doing so.

I'm still running the Carlsbad Marathon, best I can tell at this point, but the plan I diligently worked on for weeks on end is finished.  11 weeks into it, 10 more to go, and Good-bye, plan!
There she is - Carlsbad Marathon Training Plan.  *sigh*
What's going on, you ask?

Well, first off, I'm not sure what possessed me to have a 21 week marathon plan in the first place; rarely - if ever - have I adhered to one specific marathon schedule for this length of time.  I'm sort of more of a take-each-week-as-it-comes girl; having done so many marathons in the past, I pretty much know what I need to do and have always preferred the week-to-week plan.  I guess I thought I needed a long drawn-out schedule since it'd been so long since my last marathon (thank you, heel!).  Second, just a lot of personal garbage going on right now and the plan was starting to cause me too much stress and anxiety when I wasn't able to what that white piece of paper said due to whatever stressful events I had going on that day; I'd go to bed feeling like a failure and that caused me to stare at the dark for endless hours.  Sleep deprivation is a runner's worst nightmare - at least mine.  Third, I may have bit off more then I could chew (did I just say that?).  The plan is ambitious.  Not one I couldn't handle in a prior pre-injury life, but apparently more than my body is ready for right now.

So....welcome to Plan B.  I don't really know exactly what Plan B is, but the goal is simple:
  • 1 day/week of mile repeats.  Last week I did 4 with each progressively faster until the last was a 7:15.  Not my fastest, but this is good for now.
  • 1 day/week a hilly tempo run of at least 7 miles.  
  • 1 day/week a long run - alternating each week between "long" and "medium long".  Long will be at base pace, medium long will have some marathon pace work incorporated.
  • The rest of the mileage will be maintenance miles, trying to sustain at least 50 miles/week.
  • Pilates twice/week.
  • Weight training twice/week.
  • Swimming at least once/week.  
And that's it.  Simple!  I actually feel liberated, in a sense, and felt great last week, my first week on Plan B.  No agonizing, burning feet pain.  Very little hamstring annoyance.  I even completed my first 20-miler of this training.  Now, don't all gasp when I tell you this but I did that 20 miler on my ... treadmill!
Treadmill long run.  Fully equipped with: laptop (on left side) to  play iTunes (I lost my iPod at the gym
the other day *sigh*); TV in front; numerous magazines to look through; water bottle; Perpetuem;
electrolytes; sticky notes and pen, just in case I need to remember something on the run; cell phone.
There were many reasons for the using the treadmill, but I just felt that with two previous failed 20 milers, I really needed to get this one done and felt this was the safest (and probably easiest) way.  I broke the run up into 3 segments where after each 6-7 miles, I'd go refill my water bottle, use the bathroom, whatever else I needed to do.  Happy here to report it was a success.  20 miles @ 9:48 pace with no feet or hamstring issues (ok, hamstring pretty unhappy from mile 10 on....but it's doing well now).  Again, not my speediest, but exactly where my pace needs to be right now.  

I think I've been trying to cram this marathon training into a place I left off back in life pre-injury, and I just have to come to terms - and accept  - that this is NOT going to happen.  Not yet.  I lost way too much conditioning for this aging body to jump into a 21 week program and think I can crank out my old 3:45 finish times.  Not.  Going.  To.  Happen.  

In 2002, I ran the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon.  Well, I didn't exactly run it, I pretty much walked the last 10 miles of it; I was severely dehydrated and afterwards spent a good 3-hours in a medical tent with an IV stuck in my arm.  Fun times!  Actually, it scared the living crap out of me and I vowed I'd never do another marathon.  And I didn't.  For 5 years.  But in 2007, on the 10th anniversary of my 1st marathon, I ran another marathon - the Dallas White Rock Marathon, the same one I ran 10 years earlier.  Yeah, I'm sorta geeky like that.

I had been running during this 5 year marathon racing hiatus, of course, and I did a few races here and there, but my endurance was tanked and when I trained for Dallas White Rock in '07, I started from scratch. Just like when I started my training or Carlsbad 11 weeks ago.  From scratch.  In every single aspect.  I ran Dallas '07 in 4:20something (funny how I can't remember the exact time....yet I can remember my first marathon in '97 exactly: 3:59:23 :)).

10 months after the '07 Dallas Marathon, I ran my first Boston Qualifier at St. George: 3:46:13.

I need to remember this.  I need to remember how when I first started back to running marathons in 2007, it took a lot more effort than just a couple handful of hard weeks.  I am NOT someone who is particularly fast or talented as a marathoner, I can't tell you what it feels like to win a race.  But what I can tell you is that I love the marathon.  I love how clean and pure and whole my body feels during the training.  I love crossing that finish line giving everything I have out there on that course.  I love conquering my weaknesses.  I love wearing that medal for a few brief minutes, it represents all the hard work I had to get across that line.  I hope I'm crossing marathon finish lines when I'm in my 60s (scary, that's not too far from now).  But the marathon doesn't come naturally to me, nor easily - I have to work, and work like mad - just to be mediocre.  

The point is: It's going to take me more than this 21 weeks of training for Carlsbad to get back the to the condition I was in pre-injury.  Maybe if things in my personal life were going smoother, maybe if I had a professional trainer, maybe more of this...maybe more of that, things would be different.  But that's not how it is right now.  This isn't going to ruin Carlsbad for me, it's just going to make it a little bit harder.  And that's okay.

A year ago, I wasn't running.  Now I am.  Relatively heel pain-free.  And that is an amazing feat.  No, I may not get across that finish line in Carlsbad in a time I have envisioned in my mind when I started, heck I may be crawling across the Carlsbad Marathon finish line, but I know now that at least I can finish.  

I won't let Carlsbad define who I am as a marathoner.  Rather, I'm going to use it as a starting point, a test pilot race in a sense, to the endless opportunities out there waiting for me.  Boston a 4th time?  Perhaps.  A 50k?  Definitely.  Trail runs?  Yes.  Pikes Peak?  Most likely.  Whatever they are, they are all there waiting for me....
Thanks, GZ, for the stolen quote
A couple quick kiddo updates:
- Celebrated Abbey's 21st birthday last week (whaaaaa).

Celebrating with her first "legal" margarita.  With brother, Brendan on the left, and  her cousin on the right.
Sorry for the crappy BlackBerry picture

I know this cake I made (from scratch even) is going to be the envy of all!  Sorry to shame you, Char, but this is about as good as it gets in the Jill household.  I'll take pre-orders for any holiday or special occasion cakes you may want. 
You can't tell from the picture but the middle has totally collapsed (why???) and yes, twin #2
stole a piece from the side before Abbey even got home to see it.  Unfortunately, I consumed
the vast majority of this thing.  ugh!
- Brendan spent last weekend practicing, and auditioning for, a Denver-based professional marching band drum and bugle corp - The Blue Knights (click on the link if you want to hear a fantastic piece they did last year).  He has one more 2-day camp in December and one more audition and then he'll find out if he made it.  This is a HUGE ordeal for him, and would be an incredible honor.  This corp represents the best of the best, all under the age of 21.  He scored well in a couple areas but got really nervous on his solo and messed up.  He has about a 50% chance of making it.....but the kid has such a huge heart and told me that is was okay if he didn't, just the experience and the opportunity to audition was invaluable and he's okay if he doesn't make it in for next year, there is always the year after.  I guess this kid knows what plan B is, huh?  

- Ryan's been slacking on his running now that cross country is over - as he should be, those kids worked their tails off during XC season (two of our state runners went to the Nike SW Regionals last week...the top runner for us ran a 15:15).  Ryan and I are running a 5K Turkey Trot on Thursday, I will be very interested to see how he does after his time off.  Me and 5Ks are absolutely the worst of exercise-induced asthma has me coughing up a storm the entire time and gagging on my lungs for hours after.  Fingers crossed I don't die!

I hope everyone has a very blessed Thanksgiving and if you're out there running any turkey trots, run strong and super fast so you can consume that many more calories later in the day - yum!  (according to Katie, we all need to run a 45 mile Turkey Trot to combat the average 4500 calories we'll inhale during our Thanksgiving meal.  Anyone know of any local 45 mile Turkey Trots?  I might even need a 90 miler...)

Run Strong, my friends!  Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

2nd Annual Holiday Blogger Gift Exchange

It's that time again (I know, really?)......
2nd Annual Holiday Blogger Gift Exchange

For those who of you who were around last year, I hosted the 1st Holiday Blogger Gift Exchange and it went fairly smoothly and was a lot of fun.  So what the heck, let's do it again this year.  Here's the rules:
  • Leave me an, "I'm in" comment if you're interested partaking in the holiday gift exchange.  Please also include your email address if a reply to your comment does not automatically take me to your email.  If you aren't comfortable leaving your email address in the blog comment, then email me directly:
  • Dollar amount is $10. 
  • Now, I know almost everyone last year spent well over this amount, but the minimum is $10.  Please don't gripe if you spent more and the gift you received was $10.  I have to put a dollar limit and this seems like a reasonable amount.  It's the thought that counts, right?  Right!
  • Canadian friends in the frozen North and others far away across the big blue pond can partake, just don't forget the U.S. dollar exchange rate.  And your gift may be a bit late, just let your blog buddy know you're from lands afar. 
  • Deadline to sign up is December 5th at 12pm MST (that's Mountain Standard Time.  Yes, there is such a time zone...go ahead and Google it).
  • Please share the exchange on your blog and direct them over here, the more the merrier.  Last year I think we had about 81 participating ... let's see if we can't double that!  Really....I have a plan this year to make the picking go more smoothly, I won't be pulling my hair and drinking lots of beer like last year.  Well, maybe lots of beer still.
  • I will email you each individually asking for your mailing address.  Believe it or not, a mailing address is needed to actually mail a gift :).  I will not share your address with anyone but whomever your gift exchange blogger is.
  • I will randomly pick a name for your exchangee and email you who that person is by December 8th-ish.  People, this is a Secret Santa-y type thingie so go don't blabbing who you are to your blog exchange-er.  Go over to your blog exchange friend and poke around to find out who they are ... but don't let on that you are their Secret Santa.  Well, you can if you're probably the same kid who snooped around in your parents' closet finding what your gift was before the big day.  I know who you are.
  • Do not renege on this once you commit.  Last year, I signed up to do the Secret Santa at work - something I usually ba-humbug at but thought this was a good attempt to lift my spirit.  The rules were simple: send little gifts for an entire week, place them in your work mailbox with little clues as to who your Secret Santa was, then on the last day of the week a larger gift was given and the secret was reveled as to who your Santa was.  Um....I got some gum on day one .... and then nothing again.  Ever.  Totally sucked!
  • You cannot ask me for a new name after I send you one.  I don't care if they haven't commented on your blog in 3 years, yet you do theirs daily.  This is your holiday blog buddy, love them with open arms!
  • Though this holiday gift exchange is not any specific religion specific, let's be courteous for those that celebrate and get our gifts mailed before the big holiday dates arrive.  I mean....really!!  Do not wait until December 24th to mail your gift.  I'll be flooding your email inbox if you do, I promise.  
  • Please blog (with pictures, if possible) your gift and who your gift exchange buddy is once your gift has arrived - and please thank them.  I will be watching!  I know last year I had to get on a couple people to hurry and get the gift sent...and though I don't mind being a big meany, I just don't want to.
  • I'll remind you every blog post I make (I know, I don't blog often, but I will try more with this little shindig), so don't worry, you won't forget!
  • This will be FUN!! It will!
  • I'm really, really tired and have to get up really, really early so if none of this make sense because I was rambling or if it's chucked full of, sorry.  Let me recap:  Tell me you want in the gift exchange, then buy a gift and mail it to the person I tell you.  Easy!
Here's some great gift ideas from last year:

Oh, you know who you are!!
And of course, please don't forget your host, runwithjill, if you're feeling a little extra giving this year.  She likes pink.  And sparkly. And anything running related.  Here, let me make it easy for you...

Ok, I think that's about it.  Let's Exchange!!!  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pilates for Dummies

My physical therapist has been nagging urging me for months to start going back to Pilates, particularly since I have this annoying hamstring on my left leg that seems to think it needs to be tighter than a cello string (which is a direct result of a hip imbalance, so I've been told).

"Jill, Pilates is going to help you loosen up the tightness way more than daily stretching or yoga, it's dynamic stretching, it will help balance your hip, it will make your core stronger which will make you a more efficient runner...." yada, yada, blah, blah, yak, yak....week after week.

A couple years ago, I used to go to a pretty cool Pilates place downtown called ... I don't know what it was called, the name has escaped my pea-sized brain... but the place used the reformer Pilates machine (which always made me think I was walking into some sort of torture chamber.  It actually sort of was).  The place came highly recommended from an ex-Bronco football player I worked with and it was incredibly cheap ($11/hour visit) and I could drop in, as needed.
Back then, my hamstring was annoying, too (nice to know some ailments just don't want to die) and this class really helped!  It was just a royal pain to drive a half hour downtown, sometimes in rush-hour traffic, so I stopped going.  Plus, there's no annoying hamstring when your foot's screaming and won't let you run.

But the thingie helped my hamstring.  A lot.  And, as a perk, really strengthened my core.

So I thought it was time to actually listen to the PT and go back.  But I didn't want to drive downtown and my uber expensive gym has a couple mat Pilates classes each week (Free!  Well, "free" with my uber expensive membership) so Monday was Pilates day.

I walked into Pilates class, at 10:15am on a Monday morning, with about 50 others (really?  At 10:15 on a Monday?), fully decked out in my brightest pair of Nike Tempo Shorts, grabbing one of the communal mats (gross!) and plopping my out-of-Pilates-shape bod right near the front so I wouldn't miss any of the instructions.  Yep, I was always one to sit in front of the class so as not to miss a word the teacher said.  Just call me super-geek!

The instructor, Janelle, was incredibly fit and in phenomenal Pilates shape.  Her leg rose straight up in the air and made a perfect damn T-shape.

Me and my tight hamstring raised somewhat in the air resembled more in the lines of the letter 7 (yes, that is my actual leg, taut hamstring and all.  Please ignore the junk on the floor and doesn't everyone lean their ironing board against their dresser?)

Despite the fact I can't get my legs to come even close to Janelle's; my toes are still frozen being barefoot in a 39 degree'd room; I was the only sole of 50 wearing Nike Tempo Shorts (when you own 30 pairs, trust me, you wear them everywhere); I think I caught some sort of infectious, terminal disease from the communal mat (where is my pink yoga mat, anyway?) - I LOVED the class.  Why?

Because I walked out of there without limping and clinching my hamstring and glute, which had become the norm lately.  I think it's helping.  And since that class two days ago, I've been implementing some Pilates moves after every run and I am noticing that I am not nearly as stiff.  And my 11 mile run today was literally, hamstring annoyance-free.  YES!

Here's some perks of Pilates for runners I found on the web:
  • Prolongs running career
  • Builds core strength for improved efficiency and endurance
  • Increases flexibility and range of motion
  • Restores natural posture and alignment of the body
  • Improves stability and balance
  • Corrects imbalances in the body reducing the risk of injury
  • Increases stamina and endurance through proper breathing techniques
  • Builds upper body strength without adding bulk
  • Increased concentration and mental focus
  • Less stress and tension
  • More efficient respiratory and circulatory systems 
  • Builds running efficiency, breathing and endurance.
  • Improves Running Performance 
And can help eradicate the following running ailments:
  • Week inner thighs
  • Twisting or dropping hips
  • Tight calf muscles
  • Tight hamstring muscles (YAY for Jill :))
  • Tight hips
  • Tight IT (iliotibial) band
  • Excess movement of lower back
  • Feet or knees rolling inward
So me and my Nike Tempo Shorts are going to continue to go to Pilates at least once a week - gimpy 7-looking leg and all - hopefully carrying my newly found pink mat, wearing (hopefully hole-less) fleece socks, and I'm going to dynamic stretch the hell out of the hamstring and put that damn thing out of it's misery.  And dangit, get some killer abs in the process.   But shhh, don't tell my PT, I don't want him to think he had a roll in any of this; he already has a big head from that 50k he didn't train for and ran anyway.  Hate him! ;)

I'm thinking Pilates is going to be my new best friend for awhile.  Or alcohol.  One of them is bound to get that leg slightly more vertical!  Now, if we can just find a solution for my aching feet....

In other running news:
- Not much.
- I cut my mileage back a little last week - I just feel my body isn't ready right now to be in the 60 mpw range without some consequences later.  And I'm not mentally ready to deal with it all right now.  I had a pretty decent 50 mile week and that's better than a crappy 60 mile week.  For now.
- I had a nice long chat with my neighbor, whom I ran with on Sunday.  Seems my whining and complaining about my inability to run a decent pace and rack up the mileage were starting to grate on his nerves.  I can't imagine why, though....who doesn't want to hear that same crap over and over?  So he sternly reminded me that really, I haven't been running consistently more than a small handful of months and to look how far - really - I have come in this amount of time....and that this whole getting back into some sort of place where I left off long ago is going to take more than one marathon training cycle.  I hate it when other people are right.  I'll touch more on this in the upcoming weeks as the marathon draws closer, but in the meantime, if you hear me complain about my pace or my lack of endurance - please yell at me to shut UP!
Week 11's numbers:
Run: 50.18 miles
Swim: 1.93 miles
Weights: 1:20:00

One last word....seems the consensus is that, YES, we in blogland DO want a holiday gift exchange again this year so look for that post early next week.  YAY, something else to blog about other than my pitiful pace (did anyone yell at me? :)).

Run strong, my friends!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bring on November! I think.

My twin boys informed me last night they were not going trick-or-treating.  What????  No more bags of candy sprawled out on my living room floor, no more picking out my favorites and hiding what I found, no more 3 week constant sugar high?  

I think I've hit a sort of a post-Halloween-partum depression!  .  

We've entered a new era in the runwithjill household, one which doesn't include costumes and sugar.  Sadness!

Here's a little picture I took from a couple pictures from years ago (sorry, way too lazy to fire up the scanner) when my kiddos were little.  I think the boys were almost 15-months and Abbey was almost 6. 

Clearly, I'm dorky enough to dress my kids all in theme-based costumes.  
So no dressing up for the boys this year ... but Abbey did go as Lauren Bacall (huh?) to work today; a terrible picture and for some reason I can't edit it but here she is...

So another Halloween has come to a close, I don't have any kids' candy to steal for the next 3 weeks, fall break is over and we're now back to the rat race called life.  Cross country and marching band are over now so that will help calm things down.  I did, however, get a part time job over the holidays, which starts tomorrow.  I take back the calm statement.

Anyhoo...what else is going on....

Saturday was the state cross country meet and the final meet for the season, at least for me.  Ryan did not make it to the state meet....I could vent about that but I'm being a big girl and letting it go.  I worked at the meet as a course marshall, and Ryan ran around doing whatever with the rest of the kids from track not running who were doing whatever.  Glowing, aren't we?

Saucony stepped up to the plate and we scored some pretty cool florescent jackets - sweeeeet!  It was so cold when we started, I think I had my winter coat in that green bag I was carrying, along with hand warmers, toe warmers and fleece gloves.  But as the day progressed it got warmer and I actually ended up with a sunburn on the ole face (I was out there for about 7 hours...cheering....and standing....and yelling at people to get off the course.  One jerk coach wouldn't move off the course and two girls were right behind him still running - so rude!).  I'm not sure what's up with my hair, definitely not one of my finest hair days so just look past that.  Actually, it looks like this the vast majority of the time.  Moving on.... our kiddos didn't do as well as they should have; we had one boy who should have placed in the top 3-4 but finished 19th I think.  And may others just not running up to their potential.  Just goes to show, even the best have bad days.

Wednesday's snow left lots of MUD!
That's our top runner there in the red with green and white stripes
Start line of the Boys 5A race.  About 40 teams, 300 runners!  Crazy!
Sunday, I had one of the crappiest runs I've had in a long time.  Woohoo!  An attempted 20 miler turned into a great 10 miles, followed by 5.5 acceptable miles, followed by 4.5 miles crawling-back-to-my-car-praying-I-didn't-expire-right-there-on-the-path.  I'm not sure what's going on, but my legs ACHE!  I am not sure how to even explain it other than they simply ache. Mostly my quads.  I have no idea if this is a sign of how ill-conditioned I am or something else going on but never have I ever experienced this painful ache before.  In my past life, I always had endurance on my side and though admittedly not fast, I always thought I could run forever.  Not so much now.  I'm also having some feet issues where they are just burning....and then there's this constant (and I mean CONSTANT) GI problems where....sorry to be blunt....I just have to stop and take a dump.  Every.  Single.  Run.  Even the 10K on my treadmill the other day.  Beth, call me, let's go for a run!  Things to think about and work on, for sure.  Nevertheless, I'm counting the whole damn 20 as mileage since I actually covered the distance.  I don't really care what y'all do, I'm counting them.

I "ran" the 20 on the Cherry Creek bike path which I can pretty much take from my house all the way downtown to the big REI store (I didn't go that far though, that would have been about 41 miles round trip and my legs had enough issues with 20!).  But, I took my camera along for the run this time to share.  Just a few days ago this path was so pretty with all the gorgeous fall trees hitting their peak colors, then the snow came last week and wham....all the leaves are mostly brown now.  

Let's Run!  Must be those stretched out legs that are making them ache, huh?
Start of my run....front range as my backdrop, Mt. Evans (14, 240' ) is the tall one peak.

Oh Conoco gas station how you have saved my life more than 400 times.
This is a mandatory water/bathroom stop along this course.

The gorgeous, old, LARGE, homes around the Denver Country Club
I'd like this house, please!
Hum....I just magically happened to appear right in front of my daughter's apartment :)  
Cheesman Park
Close-up of Mt. Evans from the above pavilion.
And that was that, my first 20-miler in about 2 years done and it couldn't have gone worse than it did.  But it's done!  I have a few more in this cycle so we'll just hope the next one ... or 3...go better!

Week 10:
Run: 60.1 mi 
Weights: 50:00 mins
*I did have a pretty awesome 10K treadmill run this week....clocked a 49:54.  I admit, I was moving my legs like something they haven't had to do in years during that last half mile to land under 50 minutes.  I know, sad, but that's how Jill rolls.  I also had a semi-decent 9 mile MP run.  Except that it was 15 seconds slower than what I'd like my MP to be...but that's just a minor detail!  The fact that my pace was about 20 seconds faster than the norm the past 10 weeks was an accomplishment.

October's Numbers:
Run: 208.85 mi (this is a whopping .5 miles over last month.  Considering I had a taper week and a sick week of only 33 miles each, I'll take it.   Admittedly, I crammed in 3 miles today just so I could get over last month's numbers.  Pathetic, huh?  Oh Yeah!!)
Swim: 4.29 mi
Elliptical: 3.0 mi
Weights: 4:15

November Goals:
- Investigate the achy legs, burning feet, and the GI issues.
- Focus on some speedwork now that the mileage is built.
- Hills, and more hills.
- More, more, more weight training.
- Dial in on the diet (is this sounding like a broken record yet?).  I have made some great strides the past couple weeks in the planning ahead department instead of scrambling at 6pm like was the norm most nights.
- More swimming .. and maybe a bit more biking than a big fat zero would be good.  Not sure how but whatever, I'll squish it in.

Finally, for all those interested, the Leadville 100-miler registration opens up today at 10am mountain standard time.  Kate?  You're always up for a good challenge!!  :).  Johann, this is perfect for you!!  Happy Trails?  GZ?  Oh wait, you have a bone to pick with Pikes Peak that weekend.  Anyone else?

I was just reminded of the holiday blogger gift exchange from last year that I hosted....should I do so again this year?  Yes?

Well, that's all I got for this week.  Until next time....

Run strong, my friends!