Monday, June 29, 2009

WalkerRuns is Busted

I won't be running the marathon. Long story short-- tendonitis in my hamstring has gotten bad enough to prevent me from running much. PT is helping a little, but still pretty painful, and not worth risking further injury.

Call me if you want more details. I'll write more about it soon-- just kinda bummed out about it right now and trying to find other things to think about.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fresh Blood

I had a nice run last night (yay). I ran with my co-worker Lisa who's been learning to run (using the Couch-to-5k plan) and is doing her first 5k this weekend. It was a big run for her-- 30 minutes.

It was awesome to run with a non-marathoner for a change-- someone to help put things in perspective and remind me how far I've come in the last few years. I remember clearly when a 30 min run was a huge accomplishment. When a 5k was really pushing the limits of what I could do. It made me stop and appreciate what I've accomplished with my training this spring. To even think that I can attempt 20 miles this weekend is huge, and I need to take time to be proud of that, to live in the moment, not to just be thinking of it as another step towards the ultimate goal. Doing so takes a little of the pressure off.

Oh, and it was raining, which was really nice. There's something about running through the forest in a light spring rain that feels so cleansing and natural. A great way to wash away the stress and expectations that I've been hanging on myself.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Weekend Run Report

The difference between the mile and the marathon is the difference between burning your fingers with a match and being slowly roasted over hot coals
-Hal Higdon, famous marathon coach

This weekend was a step-down, just 8 miles. It was tough, though. I was just so tired. Tired from a 40 mile bike ride the day before. Tired of having my (fill in the blank with whatever body part you'd like) hurt. Tired of wondering if my body is actually going to hold up for this. Tired of not enjoying my run.

There I was on one of my favorite trails, on a beautiful Sunday morning, and I wasn't appreciating it at all, because I was running through there, not taking time to stop and enjoy the scenery, to smell the forest. So I just sat down on a log and cried. I just let it out, whatever pent up stress and worry was in there. Not a big sobby cry, just a little weep. But it felt good to just stop. To not have to run. To enjoy the smell of the trees. And then to get up and finish my run.

It felt good to have that little moment, and I felt stronger for the rest of my run. But apparently I didn't get it all out of my system. I got home and made myself and egg sandwich, and was barely able to keep my head up while eating it. I just wanted to crumple up and sleep forever. Jim was waiting for me to eat and change so we could go ride horses. I told him I needed 5 minutes to lay down. So I plopped my legs up the wall and took a few deep breaths... and started to cry again. It was just all too much. I needed rest badly. So he went on without me, and I stayed on the floor with an ice pack and watched Biggest Loser re-runs for an hour or so, and cried some more.

And then I was better. He came back and picked me up, and went for a great ride. And then I came home and had a relaxing evening at home, watched a light-hearted movie, ate lots of good food, and was in bed by 9.

It amazes me how emotional this training has been. I don't quite understand it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


As I mentioned in my last post, my music really helped give me some much-needed energy on my long run this past weekend. And, I recently got a cool cd in the mail from Cathy that has lots of good tunes for running.

My plan for the marathon is to run the first half or so without music, so that I can enjoy the sounds of others' footsteps and breathing, as well as the birds that will be singing that morning, the fans shouting encouraging words (if there are any fans up and out in the country at 6am). But I'll have my music with me so that when things start to get tougher and I'm less interested in talking, I can pop in my earbuds and get some fresh energy thru music.

I currently have about 40 songs on my mp3 player. You can now enjoy a subset of these tunes as you read my blog-- further bringing you in to the WalkerRuns experience! The Playlist at the bottom of this page will play songs from my running mix in random order-- you can play with it to change the settings, etc. Have fun with it.

Some of my running mix songs are upbeat, hip-hop songs that make me want to turn my legs over faster. Some are slow and thoughtful, helping me to reflect on the cool experience I'm having. Some remind me specifically of some of you or of specific times in my life that have been really great. These really seem to be the best-- for instance, every time Closer to Fine comes on, I think of Robyn, and can feel her good thoughts, and know that she's running with me in spirit. And "Stronger" takes me back to rockin' out with Amy on the way to ski the OSCR; the song gives me a little bit of her "can do" spirit.

I'd like to add more songs to my mix for marathon day, and I need your help. It's okay that you can't run with me on July 12. But, you can run with me in spirit by dedicating a song to my mix. Just do it like you did with radio dedications back in middle school (if you grew up in the '80's, don't even pretend like you never did that!)!

Leave a comment here telling me what song you think I'd like to hear-- so that when it comes on during my run I'll get some good energy from you! (If you're technologically impaired, call me or email me and tell me what song it is.) I'll download the song and add it to my mix for marathon day.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Good Advice

Another long run down.... 18 miles yesterday. It was pretty great, really. Not easy, but not impossible. Of course there were some aches and pains along the way, but nothing serious. Luckily my stomach issues have cleared up; my stomach still wasn't HAPPY about running, but it didn't revolt, either. Oh, and my second toes on both feet are less than thrilled-- one is especially bruised/blistered, and I'll likely lose that nail. And for a while I had a sore/tight spot in between my shoulder blades, but I did some stretching and consciously tried to relax my upper body, and that seemed to work.

I hooked up with a couple of gals that I haven't run with before, and talked with them from miles 4-ish to 10-ish. We were all going at a pretty similar pace, so it was nice to have some company. For the last several miles we weren't really into talking, but still stayed pretty close together for the rest of the run.

The last few miles took some mental strength. I gave myself rewards-- walk breaks every mile or so. And I found energy in my music (a special thanks to Cathy for sending me some new running tunes!!!). I noticed that my moods and energy levels really changed quickly-- I'd find some gumption when a new song would come on, but after a few minutes, I'd be tired again. But then a new song would come on, and I'd get a little perk again.

So, it was a successful run. I learned a little more about what it takes to just keep on going. I got another huge confidence boost knowing that I can go that far. But I was very ready to be done when I got back to the start point. The following 20 minutes of cool-down were actually more painful than the running. And actually for the next several hours my body was basically in shock-- it didn't want to eat, didn't want to stretch, or walk around, or sit in a tub of cold water (though I did all of those things).

So I can kind of imagine, but can't fully grasp, what the full marathon is going to feel like. I don't know if I can imagine going another 8.2 miles! I mean, that's about an hour and a half more. Where is that energy going to come from?!? What kinds of sensations/emotions is that going to evoke?

I called Robyn, who's been my best friend since we were 12, and who's run several marathons and 1/2 Ironman triathlons, and who's been my inspiration and source of wisdom/experience, and left a message to the effect of my ponderings above. Here's her email response:

Congrats on making it through your 18 mile run!! That's HUGE. Here's what I thought when I heard you say "I'm not really sure how in the world I will be able to run another 8.2 miles":

1. I suspect that you will get through the first 10 miles of the race purely on adrenaline. You'll be so excited and ready that it will take you that long to really settle in. That's a quick 10 miles down before you know it.

2. Yes, this is going to be hard. You knew that when you signed up. In fact, that's part of the reason you signed up. You wanted to experience the hard. The last 6 miles will be particularly difficult. Find a way to be o.k. with that NOW.

3. I encourage you to invite the pain in. The pain you will feel will be your signal that THIS is what you signed up for, THIS is why you're doing this, THIS is why so many other people do not do this, THIS is why crossing that finish line will feel so, so, so good. The pain tells you that NOW you are running a marathon. Get clear on your reasons. They are what will get you through the pain.

4. Walk breaks are your friend in your first marathon. Think relentless forward motion. Consider walking before you NEED to so that you will WANT to run longer in the latter part of the race. Focus on your goal: Crossing that finish line. Period. Walk breaks take nothing away from that goal.

5. When you find yourself getting cranky (and there's a very high chance that you will be cranky at some point.) , remember what you can control: Do you need to eat? Do you need to drink? Do you need to walk? Do you need to refocus your form? Do you need to go external and focus on the crowd, etc? Do you need to go internal and focus on a mantra? These are all things within your control that will keep you moving forward.

I have no doubt that you can do this. It will be one of the hardest, but one of the simplest things you will ever do: Just keep moving.


Thanks for the advice! You're right-- I want to know what hard is. I want to explore just how strong I can be. This will be a great opportunity to do that.

I'll be writing out my invitions to the race here soon, and will make sure to extend a special one to PAIN. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

TOTALLY Unrelated to Marathon Training

(but interesting anyway):
When I'm not training (which, really is like 99% of my life, though I think about training way more often than that!), I spend a good bit of time (say, oh about 8 hours a day) sitting at my desk.

Yesterday I was doing just that, quietly working on comments on a land use plan. I heard a faint rustling from above. And, since anything can distract me when I'm trying to think hard, I took a moment to rhetorically ponder "What was that?" But I quickly re-focused, back to my work. Then I heard the rustling again-- little scratching noises from above. It became louder and more persistent, sounding like it was coming from the air vent that's above my desk. I looked up a few times, but saw nothing.

Then a few minutes later some debris floated down onto my keyboard and desk from above. I looked up once again, and there he was-- a squirrel!

Apparently he's trapped in the ducts of our central air system. I called our admin. assistant and said, "Hey Addi, who should I call if there's a squirrel in the air system?"

"Oh my gosh!," she replied, "A squirrel?! What are you going to do?"

"Uh, I called you," I said, stating the obvious. That was the extent of my plan.

So she called the building maintenance guy Larry, who apparently called Animal Control. This was yesterday afternoon.

A little while ago I returned to my office after being out for a few hours, and noticed paint chips, duct insulation-type material (probably asbestos, as this building is really old), and other non-manmade materials (if you get my drift) scattered about my desk. Apparently my visitor had returned.

My boss decided he should get involved, use his Department Head status to help expedite the action plan. So here's his letter to Maintenance:

The squirrels are, as we speak, shoving "stuff" through the ceiling vents onto Carly's computer and desk on the second floor. Her office is becoming uninhabitable to humans. Anything we can do to speed up Animal Control? Or should I just bring in a .45 automatic and ventilate the ceiling (after evacuating the third floor, of course)?

This could be an opportunity to show off my wildlife capture & handling techniques. Too bad most of my experience is in trapping large carnivores in remote mountainous settings.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

What goes up...

... must come back down.

After a few weeks of enjoying a Runner's High, I had a yucky run Sunday and have felt kinda cruddy since.

According to my schedule, I was supposed to run just 6 miles on Sunday. But I was feeling pretty good, decently rested, muscles felt good, and so I decided to run 12 miles with the Advanced Marathon Plan folks. My justification was something along the lines of 12 is still shorter than 16 or 18, so it's a bit of a break, not increasing my distance from last week, and thus giving me a bit of a rest week and since I missed the 14 miler a few weeks ago, it sure wouldn't hurt to do 12 this weekend and we're running the trails on up into the Rattlesnake Recreation area, and so it'll be a fun route and totally gorgeous, so I want to run farther.

All good rationale. And I felt decently good for the first 4-5 miles (except for being bummed that Patricia wasn't there to run with (turns out she showed up late)). But around 5 miles in my stomach started feeling yucky. And continued to feel bad the rest of the run.

Which began a whole host of other issues to whine about, including (but not limited to) the following thoughts:

this trail's really rocky and uneven and I'm not used to this and my hips are getting sore and ow, I just stepped on another damn rock! and who the hell puts trails in rocky places anyway?

it's 9:30 in the morning and already friggin hot; we should start our runs earlier; who are the whiny crybabies who don't want to get up early on a Sunday morning so we don't have to run in the heat?

I could just get up and run by myself earlier; not like I'm running with anybody right now anyway, 'cause they're all faster than me

why do I do this anyway? so I can get constantly reminded of how slow I am? why am I so slow? how come I can't run faster? how do those other people run so much faster? this sucks.

i'm cranky. i'm having a bad run. i hate having bad runs, they make me cranky. maybe i'll listen to music to cheer me up (turn on music; flip through several songs) all these songs are stupid. i'll just listen to the birds. oh wait, no good birds anymore becuase it's too damn hot, and all i can hear is my breath and my footsteps running over these stupid rocks anyway.

crap, I have to poo again. third time on this run (fourth time for the day), and I used all my tp on the first one. so yay, more wiping with leaves. did I mention that this run sucks?

I hope Anders isn't still waiting there at the 3 mile mark with the aid station. I'm so far behind everyone, it's embarassing. I'm always one of the last ones, which is bad enough, but I'm especially slow today what with my poo breaks, rolling my ankle on a stupid rock and having to walk for a while, having to walk up the stupid hills 'cause they're kicking my butt, and having to walk down the other side 'cause running down jostles my stomach too bad and makes it more upset. yeah, I hope he's given up and gone on back to the trailhead.

oh but he better still be there, I want some cold water.

okay, there he is. (grab some water, say thanks for waiting, continue on) just 3 more miles to go. that's not far. no big deal, Self, you can do that. oh, but if someone were to offer me a ride back to my car, I'd totally take it.

oh really? would you? is that what training for a race is all about-- getting a ride when things get tough? why don't you quit whining and dig down and find some guts and keep on running.

oh, I have guts. they're about to come right up. Yeah, I think I'd feel better if I could puke. at least then I wouldn't feel so bad about being whiny, I'd have a legitimate reason for feeling like a wuss.

(no puking occurs, but I contine to walk/run the remaining 3 miles, feeling like crud the whole way) okay, almost back. go grab some snacks and chat with the other runners. oh, but look, they're all leaving right as I get here. probabaly better-- now I don't have to pretend I like running.

Ah, what the mind can do when the body is slightly unhappy. And vice versa, in a very circular way that's hard to discern which is driving which.

All I know is that the run sucked. But an hour after I finished it, I was at the running store turning in my Marathon Registration Form and money.

Yep, I'm sick.

No really, I am kinda sick... my tummy's still not really happy. I left work early yesterday and went home and slept a lot, and I still don't feel great today. Not bad, but not great. Like I have a little bug that I'm fighting. (is it a bug, or is it the Grumpy Worm?)

Who knows. Luckily, in my world of Funky Fysics, what goes down must eventually come back up. So hopefully I'll be able to get fully rested and recovered this week, and be ready to rock out 18 miles (on a gravel road, not a rocky trail) this coming Sunday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's to Come

Wow, I just looked at the schedule and realized I only have 6 more weeks of training for the marathon. Holy cow-- I can't believe how quickly this thing is coming up!

After my big 16 this past weekend, I ran 3 yesterday and am headed out for a 10 mile run this afternoon. Tomorrow I'll bike to work (16 miles), and Friday morning bike about 20 miles with Eleanor. Friday at noon, when I have a massage appointment, is the official start of a Rest Week for me!

We've been building every week for quite a while, with rest weeks interjected every 3-4 weeks. But from here on, the training shifts to adapt to the higher mileage and try to avoid burnout (or injury). Instead of building for several weeks at a time, we'll be alternating build and rest weeks.

So what does the rest of my training look like? Well, I'll show you below. I've posted my general schedule-- what the week will typically look like. And below that is the break-down of the long runs and mid-distance runs.

General Schedule:
Sun: Long Run
Mon: Rest, or short recovery bike ride
Tues: 3-5 mi run OR 1 hour bike PLUS Yoga For Runners class
Wed: Mid-distance Run
Thurs: 3-5 mi run OR 1 hour bike ride
Fri: 1.5 hour bike ride
Sat: Rest

Long-range Plan:
WEEK: Long Run/ Mid-Dist. Run
May 31: 6 mi/ 4 mi
June 7: 18 mi/ 8 mi
June 14: 8 mi/ 4 mi
June 21: 20 mi/ 8 mi
June 28: 8 mi/ 6 mi
July 5: 6 mi/ 4 mi
July 12: 26.2 mi

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Amazingly Recovered

Seriously, I'm amazed at how good I feel after Sunday's run. I'm not sore or tight anywhere! I spent yesterday totally chilling-- an easy half-hour bike ride, followed by a nice drive to St. Ignatius, an afternoon of lounging in our friends' yard (they live at the National Bison Range-- so a rather nice yard!), and an evening at home watching "Australia." We went on a short walk mid-afternoon, and I realized going up the hill that I was kinda tired (granted I was carrying a 14-lb baby in my arms), but not sore or stiff at all.

Whatever I did for recovery worked! Was it the soak in the ice-cold river? Was it the Aleve I took immediately after my run? Or was it the beer and fried chicken I ate that evening? Don't know which it was-- so I guess I'll have to do all three again after the 18 miler (weekend after this). ;)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sweet Sixteen

Yesterday's run was monumental in building my confidence for the marathon.

Not that I can really imagine running 10 more miles than what I did-- but I can imagine running 2 more, or even 4 more. And they say that if you can run 20, you'll finish the marathon.

I was pretty nervous starting out, and it took me the first few miles to relax and get into the groove. Then just as I was getting into it, we hit The Hill. We were running the last 16 miles of the marathon course, and the one big hill in the course comes around mile 12-13, so we got to experience it yesterday.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I liked it. It's a great hill-- not too steep, not too long. It'll go up for a few minutes, then a little plateau to catch your breath, then on up again. It's gorgeous scenery, winding up above the Clark Fork River. I felt really strong running it, and hope to remember that good feeling on race day when I meet The Hill again.

Other than that, the run was pretty uneventful. Patricia and I ran together for all but the last half mile or so. We had great conversation and story telling for the first 10 miles or so, and then started tapering off our talking as we got more tired. But it was still nice to have a buddy to hang with. She's a riot, and a total trooper. We're probably the slowest people training for the full marathon (we got passed by most all of the folks who ran 20 miles yesterday), but that's okay with us. We're not in it to win it!

I'm still experimenting with nutrition, and don't think I've got it down yet. I decided yesterday to go with just PowerGels, plain water, and Endurolyte tablets. Seems like if I mix any electrolyte drinks (Gatorade, Heed, etc) with gels, my stomach has a tendency to revolt. So I'm thinking that gels will be my source of calories, and the tabs can help with electrolytes. But, I have to find a better solution for carrying my pills-- the back pocket of my running shorts on a muggy day isn't the answer-- they dissolved in my pants!

My stomach wasn't psyched about the run. After just 4 miles or so I was feeling sloshy, and I really hadn't drank much water at all. But I often get this yucky feeling in my belly, and it makes me worry that it'll turn into a horrible cramp-- sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Luckily yesterday it didn't. But I didn't take in much for the run. In all I think I had:
- less than 2 full PowerGels (100 calories each)-- about 3/4 of one at the first aid station (mile 4), then another 1/2 of one after the second aid station (mile 8-ish), and another 1/4-1/2 of one in the mile or so after the last aid station (mile 12-13)
- one Endurolyte tab
- maybe 20 ounces of water (max)

When I look at that I wonder how in the heck I finished. But I did. And I never really felt like I was "bonking" or running out of energy. I did get a side cramp at the very end, though, and a bit of a headache after we were done, which could've been due to lack of electrolytes. My face and skin definitely felt very salty, so I know I was losing some. But I wasn't hungry at all for many hours after the run-- I forced myself to eat a part of a bagel and some watermelon when we got back, but that's all I had for several hours afterward.

It's odd for me to not have any appetite! I guess when I run I just turn into a camel! This week on my 8-mile mid-week run I think I'll try some solid fuel-- ClifBlox or something like that. See if those work for me better than the liquids. Who knows. Running is such a personal thing, and there's no set formula for what will work-- just have to figure it out for yourself.

One thing that did work, though: after cooling down and stretching and driving back to the starting point to get my car, Patricia and I soaked our legs in the cold river. Ice baths are supposedly a great tool for recovery. They hurt like heck, but I for one believe in them. When we got out of the car, we were both walking around like a couple of old ladies-- stiff, stiff, stiff. But after just 5 minutes or so of plunking ourselves in the river waist-deep, the stiffness wasn't quite so bad. And today I feel great-- I'm not really sore or stiff anywhere, which I think is incredible!

Okay, enough writing-- time to go out for a short easy bike ride in the beautiful morning sun. One step closer...

Friday, May 22, 2009

9 AM

and I've been up for nearly 4 hours already. Morning looked like this:

5:00- alarm went off; hit snooze bar

5:10- got up, got dressed (this took a while 'cause I had to dig thru the dirty laundry to find the perfect shirt... laundry day tomorrow)

5:20- made tea, ate 1/2 a granola bar, grabbed my already-packed bag of clothes, food, etc

5:30- drove in to Missoula

6:00- got to my friend Eleanor's house; got my bike out and pumped up my tires

6:02- broke a valve on my tube

6:20- with Eleanor's help, finally finished changing my tire (the first time I've had to do it on McDreamy, took a little while to figure out)

6:21- took off on our ride (a 20-ish-mile loop from town out to Blue Mountain, up Big Flat road (for those who aren't from around here, Big Flat is a total misnomer!), over the Kona Ranch bridge, up Mullan, across Reserve, and back into town to Eleanor's house)

7:50- ran thru the shower

8:00- ran out the door with promises to do it again next Friday morning

8:15- got to the Chiropractor's office for a much-needed adjustment

8:45- grabbed a bagel sandwich (egg, tomato, sprouts) and a cup of coffee

9:00- sat down at my desk to work

9:01- busted! decided to blog for a while instead of work

now- seriously, better get some work done today!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Redemption Run

After my last post, I took off for my 14 mile run. I met up with Kevin after a mile or so, and was already huffin' and puffin', and my heart rate was at about 90% of its maximum-- something I usually only achieve if running up a super steep hill or doing sprints or in the last half mile of a fast 5k... not a heart rate zone that's ideal for the first few miles of a 14 mile training run!

Kev ran a mile & a half with me, then headed for home so he could go kayaking (much nicer activity on a hot day!). This was my response to his email asking "how was the rest of your run?":

terribly. i didn't go much farther than where you peeled off before deciding to turn around. too hot. and not just from a whiney perspective but from a there's-a-real-chance-i-could-get-seriously-ill-if-i-continue perspective. so i jogged as slowly as possible the way back, but still was quite queasy, totally drained of energy, and with a way-too-high heart rate.
lesson learned= when cooking with high heat, the object is merely to sear the meat, not to cook all the way thru. slow-cooking requires low heat so as not to burn.

Ugh, so overall, my long run this past week didn't happen. I'm realizing that I can't keep doing the things I usually do and still train for a marathon-- I have to really pay attention to rest and recovery, more so than ever before. And I can't go from running in (max.) 60 degree weather to running in 87 degree late-afternoon heat without some consequences!

It was just a series of bad choices that were making me really wonder again WHY am I doing this? Do I REALLY want to run a marathon? Is this worth having at least one body part hurting at all times? Is this goal more important to me than being able to work on the ranch all weekend? Is it worth not being able to hang out and drink beer on my back porch on a Saturday night because I have to run the next morning?

I had a few days of uncertainty, but then in a parallel train of thought with a project I'm doing at work (in which I'm realizing I need to narrow the scope and really clearly define my goals, and not try to accomplish too many things with one project), I decided that YES, I am going to keep trying. I'm going to dedicate myself to the goal of crossing the finish line of the marathon, and not try to simultaneously lose weight, get in overall-body shape, improve my riding, etc. etc. I'm going to focus on the goal, and do what it takes to reach that goal. And then 7 weeks from now, I'll be done, and I can set some new goals that may include being more well-rounded. But for now, I'm going to go out and have a good run.

So that's what I did.

It was a beautiful afternoon-- sunny, blue skies with white ploofy clouds, a perfect temperature (maybe 60?)-- and I ran with my training group for the first time in a few weeks and was able to grab some good energy from being around a lot of other runners. And I had a few gals to chat with as we jogged along, including my new best running buddy P.

And it was a perfect run. Everything felt good the whole time. I had fun.

Now I look forward to 16 miles this weekend. I look forward to making plans to do some mellow activities on Saturday-- rather than "give up" the opportunity to work with Jim on the ranch, I'm "taking" the opportunity to go to the Farmer's Market for the first time this year, to hang out with my friend (and former running buddy) Amy for a while, and to spend a nice relaxing day tootling around.

I'm sure the pendulum will shift again... but for now, I'm going to enjoy the upswing!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Poor Planning

I worked on the ranch too much Saturday and wore myself out, so decided not to run on Sunday (a few other factors went into that decision, too, but I'll spare you the details of a sore knee, a seriously bad mood, and a strong desire to not HAVE to do anything for just one day in several weeks).

Then last night I started feeling bad about skipping a run, so I decided to make it up today after work. Now it's 87 degrees and sunny and windy.

At least by 8pm when I'm getting done with my 14 miles it should be cooling off quite a bit.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I just got a massage. Much better than a rolling pin.

I think I might have to make that a regular part of training-- every other week, maybe?

Not just for pies anymore

Last night after my run my legs were tight. Imagine that-- after running 23 miles in the past 6 days, my poor little muscles were a little whiny.

I did some stretching, but that wasn't getting me the relief I needed. So I started rubbing my quads, doing a bit of self-massage. Which was okay, but still, I needed something... more.

Something hard... Something to dig into my muscles... Something I could roll down my leg...

I had just the thing.

In the kitchen drawer, with the measuring cups and flour sifters, was my new best post-workout tool: my ROLLING PIN.

It works great-- just roll out your quads like you're making a pie. Then think of those calves as biscuit dough-- you don't want to completely flatten it, but you want to get it into a workable form.

Oooh, it hurt in a good way. But I couldn't quite get my glutes and hamstrings myself.

So I employed Jim to run the rolling pin. I laid down flat on my tummy, and he helped work the backside for a while. Not without some snarky comments about using kitchen utensils on myself ("what, are you going to start using the fork to comb your hair now, too?"). But I didn't care. I just laid there and drooled as he rolled up and over the tight spots.

Maybe we should open up a new shop-- C&J's Pie Shoppe and Massage Parlor

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Running on Empty

Saturday morning I did my 12 mile run. I had lots to do that day, so I got up decently early (for a Saturday, at least), but not early enough to eat breakfast and let it settle before running. So I just ate a few bites of a banana and hit the road. It was totally gorgeous-- sunny, mid-50's, green grass and lots of tulips in peoples' yards. Good running.

But after about 4 miles I was famished. I ate 1/2 a PowerGel, but didn't have any water with me (my "aid station" was at the Scheffer Ranch at mile 6), so I couldn't really choke down the rest until I got to mile 6.

I had my second PowerGel at mile 9.5 or so, at the Frenchtown Pond State Park, where I could get some more water. There was a Subaru parked there handing out water and snacks to cyclists who were participating in a 50 mile charity ride. I stopped to say hi, and was hoping they'd offer me some of their orange slices... but the old guy didn't get the hint. So I continued on for home.

Once I got home, of course, my stomach was too tired/jostled to be hungry right away. So I made an easily digestable source of calories-- a mango/yogurt smoothie-- for a quick recovery meal.

I was never super weak or feeling under-fueled for my run. Gosh knows I have enough reserves to keep me from starving out there. But I learned that I really do need to make time to eat something a little more substantial before heading out on a 2+ hour run. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Must See

If you haven't heard of Team Hoyt before, you must check out this video:

(warning: have tissues handy)

It's all in my head

This past weekend I ran 10 miles.

It was the 3rd time in my life I've done a 10 mile training run.

The first time was in Oct of 2007 when I was training for my first half marathon. My friend Katie rode her bike alongside me to keep me company and give me sports drink as needed... but mostly to help give me the moral support I needed to get thru the run. And again, last June I did another 10 miles with Amy while training for the half marathon, and again it seemed like "whoa, this is the big one."

For both of those 10-milers, they were the longest training runs I'd do in prep for my race. So it was a big deal. I knew if I could do 10, I could complete my goal of 13 miles.

This past weekend, however, the 10 mile run wasn't a big deal. It was a mere step towards the goal, nowhere near the longest training run I'll do. So in my head, I didn't make it out to be anything special. And it wasn't. It was easy. I didn't feel like I had to schedule nothing else for the rest of the day. I wasn't overly tired or sore afterwards (unlike the last two 10 mile training runs I've done). It was just another Sunday run. No big deal.

So what's different? Am I in better shape? Maybe a little, but if so, not much. Was the run route easier? Nah. Was it that I had it in my head that the 10 miles wasn't a big deal. Yep. That was totally it.

Distance running makes me realize how much I can change reality by changing my perception of it. If I tell myself it's going to be a hard run, it's going to be hard. If I tell myself, though, that it's no big deal, just a nice long fun run... that's what it turns out to be.

The same applies for other aspects of life. Giving work presentations, for example. If I get myself psyched out, thinking "this is a turbo-important meeting; everyone's going to be critical of me; I hope I don't screw up and say the wrong thing; what if they ask questions at the end that I can't answer..." then I typically don't do as well as if I walk in with the attitude of "well, I'm just going to give this a shot and hope everyone appreciates that I'm trying hard, and hopefully they have some good ideas and compelling questions for me at the end."

It's really empowering to realize that I can control a situation by controlling my perception of it. Of course there are always external factors that are beyond my control. But there's a lot I do have a say over.

So this weekend I'll be doing a nice, easy 12 mile run. By myself. It'll be just shy of half the distance of my goal. No big deal, right?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

First Marathon Dream

I had my first dream about the marathon last night. I say "first" because I'm sure there will be more to come as my anxiety about the event grows and my training intensifies.

In my dream I was running along just fine for a while, but then there was a mandatory part of the course where you went into a school gymnasium and had to grab a basketball and make three shots before you could continue the race. I was totally upset, not knowing that this was part of the requirement. I've never been good at basketball (or any ball sports, for that matter), and thus was anxious about making my shots, which made me shoot worse.... Oh, it was terrible. Much angst. Many missed shots while other runners continued on past me.

I won't spend too much time psycho-analyzing that dream (though there are several themes/sources for the images). But as I'm here in this rest week before a big month of building longer and longer runs, I do have some anxiety, and it's obviously creeping into my subconscious.

Will I be able to run these distances? Will my body hold up? Are there unexpected obstacles? How will I deal with them?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How Many Miles?

When I first started marathon training, Amy asked me "SO, how many miles will you run in training to run 26.2 miles?"

Good question. But one that's maybe a little dismal to think about! But curiosity finally got to me, and I did the math.

If I include what I've already run (since starting training on March 8), and then follow my schedule exactly between now and July 11, I will have run a total of 319 miles.

Thus far I've run 69 miles. That means I have about 250 miles yet to run in the next 11 weeks.

Oh my. (I knew I shouldn't have done those calculations!)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Sweet Run

Yesterday's run was kickin'. I felt terrific, my form was great, running felt good, the sun was shining.... all in all just terrific! And for some reason, my pace was amazing, too-- I averaged 10 min/mi for 8 miles. That's fast for me! It just felt great. I even had some good conversation with a gal in my running group for about 2 miles ('til I had to veer off for a potty break).

Better look back at my journal to see what I did the previous few days, and see if I can try to replicate that run. Next week is a rest week, with just a 5 mile "long" run. Then the miles really start to climb in May: 10-12-14-16! So anything I can do to get that good feeling again will be appreciated.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Weather Report

I just found this picture on my computer. It's from my birthday, when several of us went to Lolo Pass to x-c ski. When we started out it was -5 degrees. We warmed up fairly quickly once we started moving, but brr those first few minutes.

Today, however, is a gorgeous spring day, about 50 degrees and sunny. I just woke up from a nap in the sun-- I drove back to Missoula from Seeley Lake after a meeting, and got kinda sleepy on the drive. So when I got off the interstate near my office, I pulled into a trailhead, turned my car so the sun was shining in the back window, put the back seats down, and crawled in the back to nap for 30 min in the sun. It was terrific! Now I'm ready to face the rest of the day!

The weekend promises to be stellar, with sunshine and temps in the low 60's Fri and Sat, and up to the 70's by Sun and Mon. Holy cow! I'll have to swap out my running tights for shorts!

I'm headed out this afternoon to buy some clipless pedals for McDreamy (my road bike). I got shoes a few months ago, and have been practicing on the spinning bikes at the gym. This weekend will be my virgin voyage out with the real deal... scary! Jenny's going to go with me, and she'll be trying a road bike for the first time. So it could be quite the clown show. That'll be Saturday. Then Sun. a.m. is an 8 mile run. Should be a fun weekend! Yay SUN!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Make-up Day

After riding (horses) hard on Saturday and not feeling like I got a good rest day... and being how it was Easter and there was no group run yesterday, I decided to postpone my long run til this afternoon. So I'll be heading out solo, on this route:

If anyone wants to join me, come along!

Friday, April 10, 2009


Thoughts during my 16 mile bike ride in to work this morning mostly centered around the prefix "Brrr":

Brrr...rrr. My toes are cold. 39 degrees may be a bit cool yet for an hour-long ride.

Brrr... akes. Easy does it riding across the gravel patch at the bottom of a downhill stretch.

Brrr... eakfast. Man, I'm looking forward to a turkey bagel once I get to work.

Brrr... ave. Yep, it takes a bit of courage to commute this far on my bike.

Brrr... eak. Looking forward to a rest day tomorrow!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

22 more to go

Alright, the knee's cooperating pretty well these days. Yay. On Sunday I made it thru 6 miles using a run/walk plan (ran 5 min, walked 2 min), and did just fine. Yesterday I ran a full 4 miles without walking at all. I started getting a little knee twinge a time or two, but then I'd fix my form and it would go away.

So I'm now running 4 miles straight again. Just add 22 more miles to that, and the marathon's over-- no sweat, right?

Uh, right.

The one thing I have decided, based on my learning experience with the knee thing, is that I really need to focus on recovery as much as on the running. That way hopefully I can make it without any more over-use issues. It's influenced my plan-of-attack a good bit. Here's what I'm doing these days:

  • I'm running just 3 days a week-- Sunday long runs, Wednesday mid-distance runs, and a short (3-5 mi) easy run on Fridays.

  • Other days of the week I'm spinning and/or swimming, plus trying to stick with my PT exercises to balance out the strength in my legs. And making sure I have good core strength. So I'm plenty busy, but letting myself have good recovery from the runs.

  • The runs are taking top priority, and the other workouts are meant to be "active recovery" sessions, and/or intended to help better prepare my body for running. For example, this morning I went to a spinning class, but instead of really pushing it hard with high resistance, I just ignored the instructor and continued to spin at a high rpm but low resistance, helping to work out my legs without asking too much of them. It felt good (and the instructor didn't mind me doing my own thing!)

This weekend's long run is 7 miles, and I'll try running the whole thing. Or perhaps I'll just hop...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Training Log

I've been keeping a pretty good training/eating log for the last month or so, jotting down what I've been eating and what workouts I've done, along with some notes about how I feel physically and emotionally. The hope is that
1. writing things down will make them more real (like when I eat 10 malted easter eggs at work in the middle of the afternoon), and
2. I can start to see some trends in how I feel relative to what I've eaten or how I've trained in the past few days

Today's a good example. I'm beat. Ever since I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed at 7am, I've felt like I could easily just lie down and go straight back to sleep. My brain's not fully functioning at work. I'm just not all there today. And I know that my run and strength training this afternoon will take a lot of effort to get through because I just don't have much energy.

So why might that be?

Well, let's look at the past few days: Wednesday I swam in the morning, then ran that evening. And I only got about 6.5 hours of sleep (but ate pretty well all day). Yesterday I did a spinning class and big upper body workout in the morning. I had yogurt & granola for breakfast, pretzels for a snack, a salad with tuna for lunch, a whole wheat roll for a snack. Then I went for a 2 hour hike. Then out with girlfriends to a shi-shi wine bar for a delicious bottle of wine (split 3 ways) and fru-fru appetizers for dinner (savory cheesecake, spicy pork lettuce wraps, and vegetable napolean). All were delicious, but maybe not a complete meal. So then I got home late, got to sleep a little before midnight. And wonder why I'm lethargic today. Is it the slight lack of sleep? Is it the slight lack of calories after workouts yesterday? Is it the wine? Is it a case of the Fridays? Or is it a combination thereof?

I suspect the latter. But it's good to notice and evaluate the proximal causes. I definitely don't want to feel like this on race day. Or before long training runs. So I need to figure out what makes me feel good and energetic, as well as what makes me feel like all I want is my blankie.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Catching up

Golly, didn't realize it'd been this long since I last wrote. There's so much to catch up on. When I last wrote, my knee was bothering me a bit. So I didn't run for a week, and it was still somewhat swollen and sore, even with the rest and just walking. So last Thursday I talked with the coach for the marathon class I'm in, and he suggested I see a Physical Therapist about my issues. So I did. Here's the gist of things since:
  • basically, I don't have any serious injury, just irritation under my patella
  • the PT suggested that I do some strength training to increase my quad and glute strength, some drills to get me used to landing on my mid-foot or balls of my feet while running instead of landing on my heels (which puts a lot more of the shock of impact on my knee), and a return-to-run program for the next few weeks (similar to the Couch-to-5K plan I did a few years ago)
  • the irritation and swelling have decreased a bit, but not all the way yet; I'm itchin' to run, but being careful not to push too fast thinking that I'm better when I'm not
  • so I've been doing a lot of cross-training-- swimming and biking, mostly (indoors for both... it's still snowing here)
  • I even tried a water aerobics class. I had some preconceived notions going into it, but thought I'd give it a try-- "who knows, it could be a good workout," I told myself. Uh, no. 'Twas not a good workout. 'Twas little more than me and a bunch of severely overweight and/or over-aged ladies bobbing around in a pool for an hour. It sucked. I tried quite hard to get my heart rate up, which mostly just got me some bad looks from others because I was making too much splash. At the end the instructor asked how I liked the class, to which I said that it was okay but not nearly the intensity of workouts I'm used to. "Oh," she said, "it's deceptive-- you actually burned 20% more calories doing a workout in the pool than you would have on land." Bull$*#! You can't tell me that splashing around in the shallow-end with my heart rate not over 120bpm burns as much as an hour long run in which my heartrate is around 165bpm and I burn about 500 calories. Nope, I don't believe it.
  • So no more water aerobics for me. But I'll continue to swim laps and spin, and run every other day (low miles, high frequency is the prescription for the next few weeks).
  • By mid-April I'll have to decide if I'm better enough to go for the full Mary or to shoot for a good half. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

That's What Friends Are For

The following is an email conversation I had this morning with my good friend Sally*

(*actual names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent!)

"i'm in a sad funk today. don't know if it's hormonal or build-up from all the relationship stress this week (not mine, other peoples'), and/or my knee is hurting and swollen from a run yesterday... whatever the cause, all i want to do today is go home and go back to bed. and cry. it wouldn't take much to get me to bawl today.

that's not what i need help on-- this funk will pass. but while i'm in it, i know i'm vulnerable, and there's a bagel store right across the street. and chocolate shouldn't be hard to come by, either. i could totally binge.

remind me that i don't want that stuff. i don't need it. my yogurt and granola will make me feel better than 3 bagels will."


"Sounds like all of the above and I can totally empathize - I had a super hormonal day last Thursday and this Tuesday a super emotional day where I did come home after work and cry super hard - but it was GREAT and cleansing - sometimes it is just really really good to cry and feel your emotions. We had a tea ceremony in my meditation class and we have been working on opening your heart - so I am spouting "feeling"

AND you are right, you will feel much worse if you binge on a bunch of stuff - take my burger episode last Thursday when I was hormonal - I felt full and heavy and not better at all. Maybe this afternoon you can treat yourself to a really nice piece of chocolate - not alot, but a fancy one - because it is also okay to be good to yourself and giving yourself a break and chocolate is a really nice treat in small doses (I am not doing a very good job here, am I). My point is, for me, I do better when I am not as strict and let myself have the small treats here and there. But, do not just eat a bunch of crap or crappy hershey's chocoloate - go spend a bunch of $$ on a really small piece if that is what you are going to do - and wait until much later to do it - because then if you really want it you will still want it. And NO BAGELS - they are stupid, empty crappy carbs and really not that great. LIKE MY BURGER Everyone has days like this and you should not be too strict with yourself. Sorry about your knee - what happened. Did you guys make spin this morning??"

"Thanks-- you're the best!

I'll keep the chocolate option open for the afternoon and see if I need it. Good suggestion on getting really good stuff (plus, I'd have to walk to Worden's to get it, so I'd burn some calories doing it, rather than waddling across the street to get a pack of M&M's).

We did go to spinning this morning, but I only span (is that a word?) for a minute or so, and decided not to do it. My knee was still swollen inside, and I didn't want to push it. I don't know what happened to it-- probably just over-use. Although I've been running 2-4 miles 2-3 times a week (so about 5-10 miles per week) throughout the winter, I didn't run much at all in mid-Feb/early March after my wisdom teeth and such. So I was only doing 5 or 6 miles a week for a month or so, and then jumped it up to 17 miles last week. Too much too fast, I think. Even though it felt good cardio-wise, that jump might have been a bit much for the joints. I started getting a pain in my knee last Wednesday on a run, but shrugged it off to getting-back-into-it pains. It didn't get any worse, but didn't go away for my next 3 runs. Then last night I did a big hill run, and it definitely started feeling worse and I got some internal swelling. So rather than push it right now, I'm going to rest a few days, then start back in slower-- do the beginner marathon plan, which has shorter mileages and smaller jumps in the amount of miles each week. And on the "optional" days, choose to cycle rather than run most of the time-- to keep my cardio and leg strength up without putting so many hard miles on. Hopefully that will help. It's tough not to get immediately discouraged when something's not right physically, but I need to be smart, take the rest, and remain hopeful that it'll get better.

So here I sit with an ice pack, and a couple jars of glucosamine and ibuprofen. Let's heal!"

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Checking In

Just a quick check in to say training's going well so far. Last week I ran a total of 17 miles (over the course of 4 days). Crazy to think that in a few months I'll be running 17 mile in one day!!!

I also did some cross-training (spinning class) on two days, and also did some strength training (mostly core and upper body) on those days. And I took one day as a rest day.

I'm trying to plan ahead for my meals, so that I make sure to always have good, healthy foods on hand, and avoid getting super hungry and pigging out on crap. For the most part that's been going well-- but beer can sure put a kink in a plan. I've shed a few pounds already, which is nice. I have quite a few more to lose to get back to where I was last summer at the peak of my triathlon training. So more work to go. But if I stay pretty smart about what I shove in my face, those pounds should shed pretty quickly as the mileage starts to increase.

I'm looking forward to my mid-week mid-distance group run this week (5 miles). The cool thing about these group runs is not knowing where we're going... makes it a little exciting, something to look forward to. It's a sunny day and supposed to get decently warm (after a dusting a snow last night), so should be a good evening to run.

I'll check back in soon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thinking Ahead

Right now, the thought of running 26.2 miles is fairly unfathomable. But, as I begin slowly increasing my miles, it's never too early to start thinking about strategies for getting myself across the finish line.

I've heard experienced runners say that in a marathon you run the first 10 miles with your head, the second 10 miles with your legs, and the last six miles with your heart. So what does running with your heart mean? What strategies will I use to push thru those last 6 miles?

I found an article on Runner's World that reported some tips used by a marathon pacer-- (pacers are experienced runners who'll run a set pace for the whole race to help others run their goal time.) Here's what this one gal said to help keep runners focused in the last 6 miles:

"Okay, everyone, this is where we start taking the race one mile at a time. For each mile, I'm going to ask you to focus on something. For mile 20, your focus is on the reason you're in this race. Is this a Boston qualifier, a personal best, a dare from a friend?"

"Five miles left. Now for this next mile, I want you to focus on all the work that you've done to be here, and how it's all paying off now."

"For this mile, 22, we focus on the personal support system, on our families, friends, children, parents? -everyone who has helped you over the past few months. Give them a silent shout-out of thanks."

"Three miles to go. We all have a personal hero, someone who has been through something so much harder than a marathon. Let's think about what they got through, and use that strength."

"Just two miles left, guys. Remember a time in your life when you demonstrated great strength in some other arena. Tap into that strength now. Only one tenth of one percent of the U.S. population finishes a marathon every year, so you're about to achieve something special."

"Last mile, everybody. You are going to do it! Every step at this point is erasing that distance to the finish line."

I like the idea of a new focus point for each mile. What about you? What strategies have you used-- in a marathon or in other situations where you've had to rely on more than just your mind and/or your body to get you thru a situation? I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I'm Back!!!

Whew, that was a nice 2-month break from blogging. I honestly was running out of things to write about, and just needed a break from training and blogging.

Now I've had my break, and I'm ready to be WalkerRuns again. This year I'll be taking my running to a whole new level-- shooting for a full marathon in July, and then perhaps a speedier half in November (but we'll cross that bridge after July).

Unlike last year where I had lots of races and lots of goals and new activities (swimming, biking, triathloning), my non-workout life is just too complicated now to handle multi-sporting. And so I've decided to have one clear and simple goal: to run the Missoula Marathon on July 12.

Because I can't imagine running 15+ miles on my own, I've joined a training class that's organized thru the local running club, Run Wild Missoula. Over the next 18 weeks we'll meet twice weekly for group runs-- a mid-distance run on Wednesday nights, and a long run on Sundays. The routes will be pre-determined (and chalk marked!), and there will be aid stations along the way! We'll have guest speakers come and talk about various aspects of training-- PT, nutrition, etc-- and will have access to several seasoned marathoners for advice. And everyone was given a training schedule that will at least lay the framework for the training-- with options for modifying based on personal needs/schedules. But Sundays and Wednesdays are the group runs.

I'm psyched for the class. It takes a lot of the thinking & preparation off of my plate. I don't have to worry about taking time to map out a route, drive around and drop of water bottles, beg friends to run part of it or ride their bike along with me for company... I just show up and run with other folks who are crazy enough to want to run a marathon, too! I don't know anyone doing the class yet, but am looking forward to making some new running buddies as time goes on.

I'll write more in the coming weeks about why I've decided to do a full marathon (I'm sure that question will run through my mind more than once!), and the experiences I have along the way. So stay tuned!

Thursday, January 1, 2009


New Year's Resolution #26: Take a break from blogging for a while.

For the past few months the blog has seemed like yet another chore on my overly-busy to-do list. What with everything else I have going on these days, I just haven't been finding the time or energy to write much.

The blog was a great tool to use to keep me on track and keep me connected to friends when I was in Kalispell, where I didn't have much of a life going on besides work and working out. But these days, I'm finding plenty of other social fulfillment. Instead of having to write about my workouts with my friends, I just go and meet them for a Pilates class and a soak in the hot tub after my spinning class. Or I go for an after-work cross-country ski with them. Or whatnot.

Plus, I'm finding it hard enough to find time to get my runs in, much less write about them! So I think it's time to lift the BlogBurden off my shoulders for a bit and focus on other things that are important.

If you're really missing the blog, you can read back through the archives-- there are 152 posts from the past year or so... that should keep you busy for a while! Or you can look for me on Facebook. Or email me. Or call. Or stop by and go for a run.

Thanks for reading, and I'll return soon...

Archived stuff:
For the last decade or so I worked as a field biologist, at times doing some pretty intensive hiking, backpacking, etc, but at other times spending several months relatively sedative. At all times I ate pretty much the same way--mostly decently healthy foods (or so I thought), but lots of them! Within a given year, it wasn't unusual for my weight to fluctuate 10-15 lbs.
Over the last year or so I've determined to make my own health and fitness a high priority, above jobs and potlucks and whatever else. I've learned to run, learned more about good nutrition, have lost nearly 15 lbs (and kept it off for 6 months!), and am feeling much stronger and more confident in my athletic abilities.
It's taken deciding to dedicate myself to myself. Sounds selfish, I know. Which is why I started this blog. I know I’m not the only one who’s had lifelong struggles with fitness, self image, weight control, etc. Hopefully others can learn tips, empathize, and perhaps be inspired by my experiences. Join me as I work towards some personal health-related goals and train to complete several local endurance-sport events in throughout the year.

Aug 1: 135.8
July 25: 135.4
July 18: 136.2
July 15: 138.6
July 3: 140.0
June 27: 138.4
June 20: 139.4
June 4: 139.8
May 23: Weight= 139.6
May 9: Weight= 141.4
Apr 18: Weight=140.6
Apr 11: Weight=141.1
Mar 28: Weight= 140.0
Mar 21: Weight= 139.8
Feb 14: Weight= 139.4
Feb 7: Weight= 137.4
Feb 2: Weight= 138.6
Jan 18: Weight= 139.2
Jan 11: Weight=139.6
Jan 4: Weight= 141.4
Dec 28: Weight=144.6
Dec 21: Weight=144.2
Dec 14: Weight=141.0
Dec 7: Weight=142.6