5K for Friday

I ran the Georgia Publix Half Marathon shadow run this morning, except we could either do the 5K or the 10K. Running anything longer involves shutting down traffic out here and that’s kind of hard to do.

I strained something in my upper back earlier this week that’s made it hard to walk upright so I’ve had to back off everything this week and try to do some remedial yoga. I felt pretty good but figured I should probably opt for the shorter distance in case I had trouble.

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LOVE my new Oiselle Lori shorts

I met my running buddy and we walked over together and got our bibs and shirts and then went over to the USO for coffee. Since we were so early, we had enough time to walk back to our rooms to drop off our shirts and make it back in time for the national anthem.

The course was the same as last week’s. I felt like I went out too slow last week so this week I pushed myself more in the initial surge and then tried to keep it up. It mostly worked. My watch didn’t get enough signal until about 0.4 miles in so my self-timing was off, but I at least still had splits.

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Mile 1: 7:40

Mile 2: 7:37

Mile 3 and change: 7:53

My goal was to keep my pace just under 8:00 and I felt pretty strong until the last half mile. There wasn’t a lot of people around and it was running up a slight incline so I felt a little gassed and I could see my pace was creeping up. I pretty much just tried to hang on and focus on my breathing and stride and pumping my arms.

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Finish line carnage

Overall it was very fun. Since my t-shirt says half marathon I will do another 10 miles to make up the extra distance.

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I went back to my room and did some post-running yoga while listening to Beyoncé’s new album, Lemonade (love it, by the way). My back is still nagging me so I will probably have to go see the physical therapist this week. I took a few days off from any physical activity, but I don’t think waiting it out is going to work though I am very glad it doesn’t seem to be bother by my running. So far cat/cow and a modified child’s pose seem to work the best at stretching that stiffness out, but I’m open to anything else that may help out.

 

Olé Volée!

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I’m really excited to announce that I joined Oiselle Volée flock today, a team of women who support each other and promote running.

I’ve really liked Oiselle and what they promote ever since I first saw them at a booth at the expo of my very first marathon, the Seattle Rock n Roll in 2010 (Oiselle is based out of Seattle) and I’ve been a fan of theirs ever since. I love how encouraging their runners are to each other and how much they all love the sport, no matter their pace or distance. I’m really excited to be a part of that.

Their Team Manifesto is called their “Principles of Flight.”

1. build the sisterhood.
We are only as strong as the bonds we build. And while most of us have them, we want to do more. We want to raise the ante in showing how women can support other women. To go further with the sisterhood …fostering strength and leadership not just in competition, but through every action, every day.

2. eat like a human.
No disordered, underweight competition. We know for a fact that this approach is a short-term benefit that detracts from strength, and can spread like a disease. Fuel your body, honor its workload, and create an image of health for other women to follow.

3. tell your story.
Running and racing is not enough to kindle a fire under track & field. By telling your story, you capture hearts and minds. And when you capture hearts and minds, you build the overall success of our sport. You are the story. You are the magic. Let her rip!

4. race with fire.
Fierce, beastly, carnivorous racing. The win, the podium, the qualifying time, the team score. We seek serious victories on significant stages. No matter the goal, the effort is marked by an unconditional desire to push to the limit…to go fast, and take chances.

5. compete clean.
No doping. No cheating. No monkeying with our natural state via chemicals or prescriptions. Eat well, work hard, run fast. Period.

6. be a superfan.
Get fans by being a fan. By being a crazy, cheering, yell ‘til your voice is hoarse superfan. After all, being a superfan, regardless of brand affiliation, is one of the most powerful things we can do to strengthen ourselves and our sport.

7. spread the love.
Oiselle won’t be for everyone, and that’s okay. But if you choose to be here, join because you’re nuts about the brand. You dig where we’re going, and you want to be a part of it. L-O-V-E baby, that’s all there is.

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I really like the passion they have as well as their commitment to racing clean and pursuing a healthy lifestyle. As a college runner I saw a lot of women who thought the only way they would be fast is if they ate nothing at all.

Incidentally, one of my favorite lines of poetry is by Mahmoud Darwish from his poem “The Earth Is Closing In On Us”

Where should we go after the last frontiers? Where should the birds fly after the last sky?

As a new bird in the Volée flock, I’m keen to find out.

Boston Marathon Shadow Run!

Many people know there are two ways to get into the Boston Marathon. Way number one is to run a qualifying time (and then some under) to register for the Boston Marathon. The second way is to run for a charity organization (which requires a minimum of $5,000 raised, not including transportation, lodging, or food during the stay). There’s also a few bibs that Boston Athletic Association (BAA) hands out to towns along the course, and military. I got to use one of those third bibs to run the Boston Marathon as a shadow run here in Afghanistan.

I was so excited to be able to “run” Boston out here, and I joked that it was more exclusive because of the chance of taking indirect fire and with our elevation, approximately 5,000 feet above sea level, it was a Heartbreak Hill the whole way.

I was also pretty nervous about running a marathon with minimal support and on a repetitive course, and also that IDF or threats might cancel it before or ruin my race experience.

We had a packet pickup which was like every other packet pickup, except there were no other vendors, and no race merchandise around. We got our bibs, a BAA lapel pin, a special edition Boston Marathon Afghanistan t-shirt (cotton) in the Boston Marathon colors of yellow and blue, and a print out of the map of the course and the schedule.

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I made a special effort to go to bed super early because I had my alarm set for 0200. I woke up to pee around 0100 and was too excited to really fall back asleep, which was fine. I got up, put my hair up, applied tons of BodyGlide and went to the office to make myself a cup of coffee.

I met up with some coworkers and we walked down to the start line where everyone else was gathered. We did a quick safety brief; this was the first race I’ve done where there was instructions for what to do if we had an attack while on the course, and then the anthem and then we lined up. We self-seeded so I put myself towards the back of the pack.

Our route was two loops, which sounds worse than it actually was. I was going to do intervals of 10 minutes of running with five minutes of walking, but 20 minutes in decided to go for broke and ran for an hour and walked for five to seven minutes. I think my longest walk break was almost 10 minutes though, a little more than halfway through.

 

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It’s actually a lot prettier in person

There was tons of support along the course with water, Gatorade, granola bars, and GU. I only saw one mile marker early on and didn’t see it on my second lap, which was fine with me. Not really knowing how far I was and just focusing on the time helped a lot.

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I’m happy because I have only a faint idea of how much I have left.

At one point on my second lap several buses full of local workers passed by us and the workers whipped their heads around to stare at me as they drove pass. I commented to the man running next to me that they’d sure have something to talk about to their families tonight. He was really amused at how every person on the bus (all men) had stared so blatantly at me and asked if I’d noticed that. Yup. Definitely noticed that and no, I’m never going to get used to that. He joked they’d all have to go see a chiropractor with how hard they’d all suddenly turned.

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This filter is called “Sweat.”

 

I mostly felt pretty good. My hamstrings were still tight from my two hard back-to-back Sweet Cakes workouts earlier in the week, and the tendon along my left fibula felt like it was burning and was swollen and painful to touch by the time I finished.

The weather stayed nice the whole way and the sun didn’t come out until about my last hour. Also, we had no rocket attacks which I really appreciated as well, though about mile 22 I was sort of hoping for any reason to end my pain.

Finally, I was in the home stretch. I was running next to two guys and we’d been leap-frogging each other for half the race. One of them asked us where we thought the finish line was because it was hard to see. I told him that “I think it’s by the ambulance…I’m running towards the ambulance” and we all had a chuckle at that.

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I used up all my willpower trying to move my protesting legs faster at the end and I could feel how heavy and tired they were, but I finished! I didn’t check the time, but I came in before another coworker who came in at 4:40, which is a MUCH better time than I’d planned on.

I collected my medal and went to get something to drink and eat. They had set up a little buffet for us inside, which was unexpectedly nice. Seriously, they did such a good job of organizing this entire event.

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I meant to do some yoga but while I was trying to get my slow network to pull up a video, I got a sudden case of the tireds (I’d been up since 0200, remember) so I opted to skip most of the yoga and go straight to the nap at the end. I’m sure I will be sore tomorrow and I’m planning on taking the day easy and just doing some light yoga and resting. I still can’t quite believe that I ran a MARATHON today!

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I rather like the “equipment green” and hot pink color scheme of this year’s jackets

 

Weekly Recap 11/16-11/22

I felt pretty good this week. It was still a light week so I took the opportunity to run a few times without any regard to time and just get the distance in. I think that, and just taking my easy runs well, easy, helped. It’s also less of a hurdle to me to not have to care about the time or pace on a run after I’m done lifting. I feel pretty thrashed after lifting and trying to keep my pace up is more of a chore than a challenge. I think just having one main focus helps keep me from feeling overwhelmed and then apathetic in the gym.

I’ve also noticed that how I’m feeling emotionally plays a big role in how much effort I feel like I can give that day. Since living here is like living in a hamster cage, there’s lots of time to marinate in emotions and little things can become big things because you don’t have much else to distract you from thinking about it over and over.

Sometimes I try to run with all of this weighing me down and it doesn’t usually work so well. If there’s a good movie on, or I have a really good podcast I can shed the cares and focus on the run, but it doesn’t always happen.

I’m still really happy with my lifting program. I got up to 175 on my squats, 125 on my deadlifts, I can do my back extensions with 22 pounds now, and I can bench press 97 pounds. That was all one set max, except for the back extensions. I only do three sets of those so I do one warm-up set and the other two are working weight. My goals for this week are to keep working at making these weights my working weight and another 10 or 20 pounds my maximum weight.

It’s hard to believe I’m only about six weeks from Dopey. I decided to splurge and booked the race retreat for the race mornings of the half and full marathon. I’ve never tried it before so I thought it would be fun to try it out and see if it’s worth the cost in the future.

 

 

 

 

October Extravaganza Bonanza

I follow a few running forums and one on Reddit offers a monthly virtual race just for fun. I decided to sign up for this past month in two events -the 1 Mile and the 5K. I’m still training for Dopey (though at this point I’m a combination of Sleepy/Grumpy) and needed something to motivate me a little more.

It was enough to motivate me to “win” 1st place in my age group in the mile and 2nd place in the 5K. For my mile run I used the two Magic Mile runs I had already scheduled and I used another training run for the 5K.

I also got a cool t-shirt for my efforts.

So glad they went with the technical fabric instead of the cotton!

My motivation has been at (what seems like) an all-time low recently. I even took a walk break today during my run, and my other ones have been super slow, too even if I knock the incline down to zero. So even if it’s little things like a goofy virtual race that can pump me up, I will definitely take it.

Weekly Recap 10/26-11/1

I am SO excited that it’s a new month! I finished another month in my run streak, got to do a little bit of traveling (and shopping!), bought some new shoes, and best of all, got to turn the page on my monthly calendar.

This week was a little hectic because of work and Monday’s meetings ran right through my usual gym time. I was a little frustrated so I chose to skip dinner and go for a run, though I did such a short run that I still had time to shower, change, and make dinner. Small benefits of being on a tiny compound – everything is less than two minutes away.

I kept with my pledge to do more lifting and did a heavy legs day on Wednesday, thinking the soreness would be worse on Friday than Thursday. Um, no. My leaden legs encouraged me to do my run streak minimum and then spend more time on the bike.

Saturday we did a special “Monster Mash” PT session for an hour. It was a lot of fun, but my back and arms are sore today from all the pull-ups we did (again, I avoid them because I suck at them).

Today was just an easy, hilly run meaning I took the hills as slowly as I wanted.

Tomorrow I’m going to try out a new lifting plan my husband sent me. I’m always game to try something new, and my husband loves lifting so I’m interested to see how this plan is.

Weekly Recap 10/19-10/25

I felt pretty good this week. I had some issues getting into the run on Tuesday so I stuck it out for a solid three songs and then skipped over to the bike. When I use the bike to cross-train, I try to keep it from being too easy by making sure I have lots of resistance and try to keep up a cadence of at leas 90. My pace was a little slower this one because I was doing some hills.

I’ve also been slacking a bit on my lifting. I resolved to rededicate time to it since it makes me stronger all around. I did a heavy legs workout on Thursday and followed it with a run, which definitely makes my pace slower but for lifts that use a combination of muscles, like deadlifts and squats, I want to do those first when I am still fresh and so I can make sure my form is solid.

I avoid bench presses and pull-ups and I know I need to work on them. I avoid them because I’m bad at them, and I’m bad at them because I avoid them.

I did my first “Magic Mile” as specified by the Galloway plan today. It was a little weird because I did it on a treadmill. I averaged a 7 minute mile for it, but I know I could do better since I had to manipulate the speeds by hand. Still, it was good to have some sort of baseline so I know where I stand and can tentatively predict my race times. I’m looking forward to improving on it in the next few weeks, too.

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This is pretty much how I’m feeling most days about training. I try to keep in mind that it’s only two more months (and four races, not including Castaway Cay). On the one hand, it does help motivate me to go to the gym and it makes my run streak easier since I feel like there’s a point, but there are some days where it is just such a hassle.

Like yesterday, I didn’t have time to get a five-mile workout in because we had some serious network issues that required everyone’s attention. I had to be satisfied with one mile and move my five-mile workout to today.

I just have to keep finding those smaller goals along the way. Virtual races help a lot, and so do other things, but that’s probably for another entry.

Off-Season Planning

Being deployed has really shown me how important smaller goals are in breaking up the long slog and helping the time pass. I’ve gotten to a point where I just focus on the present and the next small milestone, kind of like a long run.

Every year with the cooler weather I find myself staying indoors more and doing more cross-training and always, planning for the upcoming year. Now that it’s getting cooler here in Afghanistan, I’ve been thinking more about what races I want to sign up for next year. I deferred the Marine Corps Marathon this year so I will probably run it this coming year.

Since the Disney races are pretty expensive and the MCM involves a plane ticket and hotel, I will probably try to keep my other races closer to home. That being said, Alaska is the biggest state in the US so “close to home” can still be anywhere from 8-14 hours away and still in the same state. I am still considering another destination race, though.

Some also depends on when I get home since traveling can take a while and I have to go through a brief re-integration period on the backside and that may mean I miss some races in the area I’d like to do.

So far my tentative schedule looks like:

January 6-10 – Disney World 5K, 10K, Half and Full

January 12 (?) – Castaway Cay 5K

February 25 – Town of Celebration Virtual Marathon

June 18 – Either Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon or Midnight Sun Run

August – Santa Claus Half Marathon

August 21- Moose’s Tooth Marathon

September 17 – Either Equinox Marathon or Ultra. I want to do the ultra, but it depends on where I am with training at that point.

October 30  – Marine Corps Marathon

If I had unlimited funds and could get the time off from work, I’d love to run the new Disneyland Paris Half Marathon this next year. I love Disney races and I think it’s going to be so pretty and fun to run. As expensive as Disney races are, and this would be combined with a flight to Europe, I would absolutely love to do this. Maybe as an end-of-deployment gift to myself?

Weekly Recap 10/12-10/18

My overall mileage was good this week, but I still missed some distances because I was traveling and didn’t have the ability to go for a long run. I also didn’t expect to be traveling overnight and really wished I had packed more than just a travel blanket and an inflatable pillow – like maybe some earplugs and extra socks and underwear. Where I was for the night was right next to a huge runway so all night I’d be woken up suddenly by the sounds of enormous jets taking off and landing. One was so large that I swore it was the sound of the earth cracking apart.


Needless to say the next morning I was in dire need of coffee and looking a little haggard. Luckily it worked out and I got a flight back and the crew chief let me sit in his seat so I could hang out the window and take awesome pictures and videos the whole way back.

A fairly built-up village in a rural area

More rural

The outskirts of a major city

Anyway, I still got in some decent mileage this week. My 10-mile long run was a shadow of the Valor Run in dedication of all the female service members who have given their lives in service. I had to do it a day early but I think it worked out since I did 10 miles on 10/16 and there’s 160 service members I ran it for.

I was really hoping to make it home same day as my trip, but my meeting was later in the day and there were no more flights that night. On the plus side, I got to watch the new Conan the Barbarian movie in the USO, drink more coffee, see the end of Ratatouille while in the DFAC, confirm that the food at my base is wayyyy better than theirs (cottage cheese and no fruit to put on it? what?), and picked up a free copy of The Joy Luck Club.

In a Funk Friday

I’ve been in a bit of a funk this past week. Instead of feeling peppy in the afternoons when I usually work out, I’ve felt tired and sleepy. I’ve also felt sleepy in the mornings and evenings, too. I have been staying up a little late reading at night, but not enough to make me tired all day. No matter how much coffee or water I drink I can’t seem to shake my tiredness.  Last night I even slept for 11 hours

Part of this I think is because I’m deep into my Dopey training. This week is a step-back week, thankfully, so I have minimal mileage to get in, but it makes me nervous for next week’s mileage.

I’ve been using a few “tricks” to keep myself going.

  1. Something is better than nothing – any workout is better than no workout.
  2. Mix it up – okay, this may come back to haunt me on race day when I hit the wall because of too much cross-training, but in line with Reason #1, anything is better than nothing. So if I have miles to get in and I can’t handle the treadmill anymore, I’ll switch to the elliptical for a bit and then go back. The different movements keep me engaged.
  3. Split it up – I can’t spend several hours running in one stretch because of my work schedule. I have no choice but to break it up, unless I want to get up super early to try to get it in and believe me, I’ve tried waking up early and it just doesn’t work for me out here. I will go back to sleep every time. But by breaking my workouts into smaller, bite-sized chunks, I am much more likely to succeed.

I’ve got three months until Dopey. It seems so far away right now but I know it’ll be here before I know it. I’m going to keep chugging along with my training plan and try to stay motivated. And maybe try to find some sort of energy drink or pre workout to jump-start my body.