Marathon #2: Week 14

Monday.  Today after class and a nap, I found the energy for a recovery run.  I can feel fall in the air, and the cooler temperatures just make me itch for a run.  I haven’t run by the river much lately, so I headed down to the river trails and had an absolutely delightful 7 mile recovery run.  Way to start off the week!  I tried some Huma gel, not really because I needed but just to test new nutrition without having miles to go if I cramp up.  I tried the strawberry flavor which was basically like eating pureed fruit.  My stomach liked it, so I’ll be trying it again.015Tuesday.  The track is closed tonight for another event, so we ran 400 meter sprints in a neighborhood.  That felt strange, especially since the last 100 meters or so was an incline.  I pushed hard and found myself running those sprints about 5-10 seconds faster than usual!  That made me insanely happy.  I’m not sure if it was the weather or just the fact that I’m getting stronger, but I’ll take 1.5 minute 400s!  I topped off that speed with a couple of slow miles for 4 more miles tonight.

Wednesday.  Leg day at school.  Body weight or near body weight deadlifts blew out my legs, so facing a 7 mile tempo run tonight seems a bit daunting.  Thankfully, the hills were kept to a minimum, and even though my legs protested the entire way, I hung on to tempo pace for the entire time.  It was cold tonight, too.  I wore a long sleeved t-shirt for the first time this training season and was perfectly comfortable.  Maybe fall really is here.

Thursday.  Field trip day at school.  We visited a gym to get exposure to another type of training.  The workout was basically a circuit, with each circuit a set of 4 different exercises.  We went as hard as we could through those exercises for 3 minutes, rested a minute and then repeated that cycle for 3 times before moving on to the next station.  The station my group started with included tire flips.  I was super excited!  I’ve been wanting to try flipping a tire but had never had the opportunity.  I found a 190 pound tire and went at it.  Fun times!  No running today.  I’ve already got 18 miles in and with 18 on the schedule for Saturday, I don’t want to risk injury by running too much.  I tried to get some studying in, but it’s hard when you’re being used as a pillow!014Friday.  Naps and more naps following work.  Yep.  That’s how I roll on a Friday.

Saturday.  We’re down to only 2 really long runs before race day.  That’s hard to believe.  Today we ran our longest run of the training season, 18 miles.  Temperatures were nice and cool but still warmer than during the week.  One thing I really love about starting runs at 6:15 a.m. is watching the sunrise.  Today was cloudy, so we didn’t see much of a sunrise, but here’s a sample of what we get to see.  002Anywho, I decided to go with shorts and a tank top today and discovered I was dressed perfectly.  It was a good run.  I got tired quicker than I would have liked.  Around mile 13, I started to become aware of how tight my legs were and feeling stiff.  Had I been alone, I would have walked, but that’s why I’m thankful I have a group to run with.  I kept going, focused on my music, remembered why I do what I do, and eventually, I started to feel a bit better.  Still, though, I was happy to see the store at the end of mile 18.  I’m just not sure how work’s going to go tonight…being on my feet 12 hours after an 18 mile run???  Either the activity will help work out the soreness or I’ll just curl up in a ball when I get home in the morning!  It’ll be an adventure.

I’m happy with training this week.  I got in a total of 36 miles.  I should be on track to get 40 next week.  I’m getting my nutrition plan worked out.  I still have one more type of nutrition to try next week, but I’m starting to feel optimistic about running another marathon.  My goals for next week:

  1.  Run 40 miles total.
  2.  Try one more type of nutrition.
  3.  Stay focused.  C’mon, girl.  There’s only 5 weeks left!

Talk to me:

What’s your favorite part of the day?

Do your pets like to sit on you?

How Do I Get Started?

There’s one question I get asked a lot that I still struggle to answer.  When people discover that I’ve lost over 60 pounds, I get asked, “How do I get started?”

I wish there was an Easy button for that.  You just smack the button, and Boom!  You’ve got the will, desire, and motivation to lose weight, right?  Yeah, it doesn’t work that way.  I’ve thought a lot about why this time stuck for me.  I’d tried many, MANY times before to lose weight and was never successful.  What was different this time?  If you’ve followed my weight loss story, you know there were several things that had a huge impact on me:  Made to Crave, goal setting, realizing fat didn’t happen overnight, accepting that safe weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week.

But how did I get to the point of being ready to make changes?  I think, for me, it all boils down to two main things.

  1.  Education.  I spent the first 8 months of 2013 just reading.  I read Made to Crave which gave me a new perspective on my weight issues.  I read about setting realistic goals in the context of losing weight.  I read about fad diets, about what they consisted of and the pros and cons.  I read about weight loss in general.  As I read different things and synthesized what I was reading, I came to the understanding that I was using food inappropriately.  Instead of using it as fuel for my body, I was using it to treat other issues like stress, boredom, and fatigue.  It became crystal clear to me that diet pills are potentially dangerous and that fad diets do not produce lasting results.  I learned that I had unrealistic goals when it came to weight loss.  And probably the biggest message that oozed out of everything I was reading was that weight loss needs to be a LIFESTYLE CHANGE.  I can’t just change what I’m doing for a few weeks or months.  I needed to find something that gets and keeps the weight off that I can live with.  In a word, my weight loss plan needed to be SUSTAINABLE.
  2. Finding my why.  Yes, I had to have a reason beyond “I don’t want to be this size” before I could began losing weight.  I think weight loss is like other things in life that we attach value to.  For some people, paying boatloads of money for a painting may be worthwhile because they attach a different level of value to the painting than me, who may look at it and say, “Yeah, it would look good in my house,” but that’s not reason enough for me to empty my bank account to buy the painting.  Same with weight loss.  I had to find a reason that made it worth my while to work hard to lose the weight.  When I found it, making those healthy choices suddenly just seemed like the right thing to do.  Not that making those healthy choices was always easy, but I had a higher goal to reach than just being a smaller size.  Does that make sense?  Sure, I wanted to be a smaller size, feel better, look better, but the one thing that made all the hard work worth it to me was  my desire to put food back in its proper place in my life.  I was tired of being controlled by food.  Maybe your why is to keep up with children and grandchildren.  Maybe your why is to lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes.  Maybe your why IS to look better (there’s nothing wrong with that if that’s enough motivation to kick your butt in gear).  There could be a million reasons why people want to lose weight, but I’m convinced that having a reason important enough to invest the time and energy that lifestyle changes demand is key to getting you to the starting line.

So I don’t know if that’s helpful or not or even makes sense.  But for me, once I really understood what weight loss involved and what would be required of me and I had a reason worth losing weight for, everything came together, and weight loss simply became a by-product of a healthy lifestyle.

Here’s to you and being ready to take the first step down the path to health and wellness!

Talk to me:

What’s your why for wanting to lose weight?

Have you read any health related books or articles that have been especially helpful for you?


Marathon #2: On to Week 13

Monday.  It began like any other Monday, bleary eyed from a long night shift walking into the gym to begin another week of classes.  Today’s class workout was a BOSU ball workout.  Totally kicked my butt.  I have my runs figured out to get 37 miles this week.  Today is recovery run day, but unfortunately, sleep overtook me when I got home from school, and I didn’t even get a single mile in.  Stink.

Tuesday.  Determined to make up my recovery run from last night, I ran to CrossFit, hit a back squat PR at 125 pounds (finally, passed the body weight mark!!!), and ran home, taking the long way home to get in close to 6 miles.  Next, our class workout was a tabata of 3 circuits of 4 exercises each.  Tabata is 20 seconds of work, going as hard as you can, followed by 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds.  Holy cow, I thought I wasn’t going to make it.  When I got home, my left knee was bothering0124919d68ca4cbdbd95b201b2a1a8eb4e562bb43a me a bit.  It’s been bothering me off and on for months now, but lately it’s been acting up a bit more.  So I sat on the couch and caught up on Netflix while I iced that aching joint, hoping I’d be good to run speed intervals at the track tonight.  Well, I went to the track with my knee still hurting, hoping an easy lap or two would be enough to shake it off.  No such luck.  After a mile, it was still hurting.  I decided the prudent thing to do would be to not run, especially to not run fast.  Stink again.

Wednesday.  That darn knee is still hurting.  CrossFit was all abs today, so I did that workout followed by a back and shoulder workout for class.  I bailed on our speed and agility drills outside and just walked the parking lot.  I am too close to the marathon to risk injury, and I’m afraid if I keep pushing an already slightly angry knee, I’m going to push myself right out of the race.  Another stink.  But things felt better after more rest, ice, and ibuprofen, so I ran 7 miles tonight at tempo pace with my intermediate group.  It was a tough run.  Summer has reappeared, and my legs were just obliterated from CrossFit, but I managed to get ‘er done with only a brief walking break.

Thursday.  Still hurting.  I decided kicking in our kickboxing class would not be wise.  I threw the punches and then jumped on the stationary bike for a bit.  Even that motion bothered my knee.  It looks like no running again today.  Stink, stink, stink.

Friday.  The knee’s still talking to me.  It’s not excruciating pain, but things definitely don’t feel right.  I felt twinges all night last night at work.  So aft01b72a292dbbd7f16346c79441376e9840c24cdb8cer a nap, I went to my chiropractor appointment for other lingering issues and the issue of my knee came up.  He thinks it may just be tight quad muscles, thankfully.  So he did his thing, and I did the stretches he gave me.  No running again today.  Stink, yet again.

Saturday.  The knee feels better.  It’s not 100% but I ran basically without pain, thankfully.  Today was our first really fall like run.  I traded in my tank top for a short sleeved t-shirt and debated (and eventually decided against) wearing a jacket.  Temperatures were 40 something, but I knew I’d warm up quickly.  And I did, but those cool temperatures stayed with us for the entire 13 miles, making for a pretty sweet run!  Today was supposed to be a race pace day, when we run our training miles at race pace.  We were a small group today, though, just me and the guys, so we pushed the pace and for most of the 13 miles kept around a 9 minute/mile pace, which is much faster than marathon race pace.  It felt great!  And I tried bonk breakers again with no problem.  Things are looking up!01e37fb0e4ad354246e0686d5d8571856e7f52f012So a kind of disappointing week of training.  I fell quite short of the 37 miles I was going for, but the next 2 weeks are crucial mileage weeks, and if I can be healthy for them, backing off this week will have been worth it.  My goals for next week:

  1.  Roll and stretch…a lot!
  2.  Shoot again for 37 miles.
  3.  Plan my marathon nutrition and try it out on next week’s long run.

Talk to me:

What are you working on this week?

Marathon #2: Week 12 — Already???

Good grief.  Here it is time to post week 13 and I’m just getting around to updating you on week 12.  Sheesh…Well, better late than never.  Here’s a recap of week 12.

Monday.  It’s hard to believe it’s the beginning of week 12 of this marathon training session.   In some ways it seems much longer, but then again, I think how can we be this far in?  This Monday wasn’t as tough as  some Mondays.  Maybe the cooler fall like weather helped.  I was actually looking forward to my recovery run, and I was having such a sweet run, I tacked on an extra mile (well, close to a mile).  I tried some bonk breakers on my run, not because I needed the nutrition but just to try out something new without having miles and miles left if it doesn’t agree with me.  I did fine with them and am planning to try them out on my long run Saturday.img_1244

Tuesday.  Track day.  And today the schedule calls for 3-4 1600s.  That’s 3-4 really fast miles.  I was NOT looking forward to it, but because the evening track session was canceled, I went in the morning, when it was nice and cool.  Maybe it was the cooler temperatures, although I’d like to think it’s because I’m getting stronger, but I ran those 1600s with no problem.  Sure, I was winded and ready for a break at the end of the fourth lap, but I was able to sustain the pace without struggling as much.  That made me insanely happy!

Wednesday.  As part of my fitness and health trainer program, we get to take lots of field trips to try out different forms of exercise.  Today we did Bikram Yoga.  Hot yoga.  That was definitely a new experience for me.  It’s basically doing 90 minutes of yoga in a sauna.  Yoga is humbling to me.  It makes me realize how much work I need to do in the flexibility and balance department.  So while I sweated buckets during the yoga session, I felt invigorated and relaxed, like I’d had a nap, when it was over.  That night I ran with my intermediate group for a tempo run and got in another 6 miles.

Thursday.  I’ve been having really great runs this week, feeling good, loving the weather.  Fall is definitely in the air, and the cooler temps and lower humidity just make me feel like running!  I had to actually tell myself that I couldn’t run today. I try to only increase my weekly mileage by 10% to avoid injury, and with 18 miles under my belt already this week and a 16 mile run coming up Saturday, I’ll be over 10%.  So as tough as it was, today I rested, aside from the kickboxing we did in class.

Friday.  Another rest day, but it wasn’t so bad since I had to work last night and felt super tired.  Today was a day of multiple naps!

Saturday.  Sixteen miles!  My longest run of the season, and it felt great!  img_1256It makes me believe I might actually be ready to run another marathon.  I tried mustard again today.  I’m finding that eating a packet of mustard after a super sweet packet of Gu really isn’t so bad and is, in fact, a nice change from all that sweetness.  I also tried another round of bonk breakers.  And…no problems!  Yay!  I really like them.  They’re not as sweet as other energy gels, and while they’re sticky, the residue left on my teeth dissolved quickly.  I’ll definitely be trying more of them.  Today after my run, I met my family at the zoo.  It was Asher’s first time at the zoo.  He found Nemo in the fish tank! 01fb77c83e3947d4cd4e575f82a58aaf220ab5e513 Unfortunately, I could only stay for a short time since I had to get some sleep before heading into work for my 12 hour night shift.  But still, a fun ending to a great run!

So another good week of training!  I ran a total of 34 miles.  I’m headed for 40 miles/week, so this week gives me confidence that I can do it and will be there in about 2 weeks.  Then, it’ll be maintaining that mileage for the next month before tapering starts for the big day.  Starting to get excited…kind of.

My goals for next week:

  1.  Try a different flavor of bonk breakers.
  2. Shoot for 37 miles, total.
  3. Roll and stretch.  My left IT band has been nagging at me, telling me I haven’t been rolling or stretching enough lately.

Talk to me:

Do you think including balance and flexibility exercises in your exercise routine is important?

What’s your favorite animal to visit at the zoo?

Marathon #2: Week 11 in the Books

Monday.  Another Monday.  Another week of training.  Another bleary eyed start to the week.  Today was especially brutal in the sleepy department.  I could hardly stay awake in class, and needless to say, my recovery run didn’t happen.

Tuesday.  It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep will do for a body!  We had a leg workout planned for class today, and since I still had homework to do, I skipped CrossFit.  But hello, legs!  I decided to go all out on my last set of deadlifts and hit a deadlift PR at 135 pounds! Tonight at track, my hamstrings were protesting, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to run fast.  The track workout was 8 x 600.  I usually struggle to run any distance over 400 meters at track pace, but I knocked out those 600s without a problem.  Yay!  Maybe I am getting stronger!  The icing on the cake was getting to celebrate my niece’s fourth birthday after track.001Wednesday.  Holy sore hamstrings.  Walking is a challenge.  I’m not sure how I’m going to run tonight, especially after that CrossFit WOD this morning that had me running (or more like shuffling) 100 meters while holding a 45 pound kettlebell… I decided to run a slow couple of miles before our group run tonight in the hope of loosening up my hamstrings.  It worked a little.  Our group run was 4 miles at tempo pace, so I got in a total of 6 miles.  I’m not sure my legs would have carried me much further.

Thursday.  Wow, I am really second guessing the wisdom of that set of super heavy deads.  My hamstrings are still super tight.  But I decided to get my recovery run in as soon as class was over.  I knew if I went home first, good intentions wouldn’t be enough to get me out the door again.  I was hoping to get 6 miles in, but even with walking intervals, I only got in a little over 5 miles.  My legs just couldn’t take it.  And 005I know that just as important as getting in miles is listening to my body.  I don’t want to push myself too much and risk injury.  Plus, it was super hot.  I wound up with this interesting sunburn.  Fun way to go to work…004





Friday.  Finally a rest day.  My legs don’t feel quite as tight and sore, but all the same, I’m glad I can just rest today.  Rest and roll.  That’s all I did.  Seriously.

Saturday.  My legs felt almost normal when I woke up, thankfully.  I’m not sure I could have faced a 13 mile run with sore legs.  It took me a while to wake up, but once I found my rhythm, it was a pretty good run.  It was stinkin’ humid, but there was a nice breeze that made half marathon distance bearable.

All in all, it was a fairly uneventful but solid week of training.  I got in a total of 27 miles.  What do I need to do differently next week?

  1.  Stay the course.  Focus on the goal.  Be determined to get those runs in.  (I see a lot of pep talks in my future over the next few weeks!)

Talk to me:

My niece had a Flash themed birthday party.  Who’s your favorite super hero?

What’s the worse sunburn you’ve ever had?

How to Run a PR

Most of the races I’ve run this year have been a PR for me, a personal record.  I’ve somehow managed to complete the distance faster than I did last time.  How did I do it?

I did it again Saturday with the quarter marathon.  Last year I ran the quarter marathon in 1 hour and 3 minutes.  Saturday I ran that same race in under an hour (59:52), and after completing a 5K just 30 minutes before.  I found myself wondering how PRs happen.  What did I do to run that same race course and distance 3 minutes faster than I did last time?

As I thought about that, I realized that there is some logic to the madness.  I didn’t just go out and run a PR.  There was some preparation involved.

  1.  Run varied paces and courses.  My weekly runs are never the same pace or the same course.  Sometimes I run 12 minute miles on a treadmill, a super easy run.  At the track I run 7:30 minute miles or faster.  At least once during the week, I’m running 5 miles at about a 9 minute/mile pace.  I’m also running hills, not every week, but regularly, and running varying distances.  Some runs may only be 3 miles.  Longer runs, especially now that I’m training for a marathon, are over 15 miles.  But I think the key to getting a PR is varying pace and course.  Running faster helps you run faster, and changing the course works your muscles differently.  Put that all together and when race day comes around, your body can go faster regardless of what the course throws at you.
  2. Decide you’re going to try for a PR.  For me, there’s something about going into a race knowing that I want this to be a PR that prepares me for the effort that will be needed.  Racing is about pushing yourself to begin with, but when you decide to go for a PR, there’s a bit of extra effort that’s needed.  It may come on that hill when your legs are screaming for mercy but you know if you walk, you won’t make your time, so you keep going.  Going for a PR is motivation for me to keep going.
  3. Know your limits.  Pushing yourself is important for a PR, yes, but it’s also important to know what you can do.  If you’ve never 005sustained a pace that would be needed to get your PR, you may not get the PR.  Sometimes in shorter races, I like to push myself a bit more just to see if I can sustain that faster pace.  I ran my last 5K in just under 26 minutes, and I know that’s about my limit right now.  I’m going to have to work a lot more on speed before I break the 25 minute mark.  But have realistic expectations.  My goal often times is just to beat my last time, even by a few seconds.  I don’t usually go into a PR with a goal of shaving 5 minutes off my time.  Sometimes my goal going into races is just to make the same time I did last time.
  4. Evaluate yourself, the course, the weather.  Some days runners are just “off”.  You may not feel quite your best.  You may be tired.  Allergies may be making you cranky.  Whatever it is, sometimes you just don’t feel like you can run any faster.  And the course may be a difficult one with lots of hills.  It’s hard to maintain a faster pace on a hilly course, at least for me.  The weather, of course, can play a huge role in speed and your performance as well.  Heat and humidity can really slow a runner down.  Rain slows me down, too.  I’m super cautious about not slipping on the water.  Sometimes the best you can do is just finish the race, which is okay too.  Not every race has to be a PR.  Take everything into consideration and decide if this will be a good race to try for a PR or not.

So that’s my guide to getting a PR.  Now, go out and get one!

Talk to me:

What other advice would you give to someone to reach a PR?

What motivates you to keep working toward a goal?


Marathon #2: Week 10, 63 Days to Go

It’s not like anyone lives to read my blog posts, I’m sure, but still I feel like I’ve neglected my little project here.  With time stretched thin, something has to go, and unfortunately, this week, it was blogging.  But, hey!  It wasn’t running!  Here’s how the week shaped up:

Monday.  Another week.  Five more hours of class on no sleep.  Today became my rest day.  I just couldn’t get myself out the door.  But I got some studying done with the help of my sweetheart, Sunny.006Tuesday.  I caught a CrossFit WOD this morning, then…track night.  My favorite, NOT!  But this week wasn’t too bad.  We ran ten 400 meter laps, and the temperature was mercifully a little cooler.  Running 400s is not too bad; it’s the distances longer than 400 meters that make me want to curl up in a ball and die right there on the track.  With a warm-up and a cool down, I ended up logging 5 miles tonight.

Wednesday.  Another 5 miles in the books!  I ran with my intermediate group which ended up being a tempo hill run.  We always run tempo pace compared to my marathon base pace, but keeping that speed while going up hills was a bit challenging after all that speed work last night.  But I did it and came out feeling strong.  Maybe it was that email I got that reminded me the marathon is just 66 days away.  Yikes!  There’s nothing like a reminder that the race you’ve set your sights on is just around the corner to make you determined to run your runs and run them strong!

Thursday.  After all that fast running and all those hills (believe me, Tulsa has some hills!), I decided to make today my recovery run.  I was going to run outside when the sun started to come up, but I woke up early and with the threat of rain, I just jumped on the treadmill, set it at recovery pace, and knocked out 6 miles.

Friday.  After all the gym time my classes require, CrossFit and running this week, my quads were super sore.  I usually take a few more r016est days when I have a race that week, but not this time.  So I spent some time with my good friends, gemini and super nova ball, rolling out those tight legs.  I followed that with a soak in some epsom salts with menthol.  Lovely!  I’ve never tried this brand before but the menthol is very mild and left me feeling very refreshed and not nearly as sore.009Saturday.  In place of our long run today, we participated in a local race for a quarter marathon time trial.  I decided to double and do the 5K distance followed by t011he quarter marathon (6.55 miles).  My strategy was to use the 5K as a warm up and race the quarter, but I ended up running a bit faster than I’d intended to in the 5K and still racing the quarter.  But I PR’d my quarter marathon coming in at 59 minutes and 52 seconds!  Yes!  To do that after running  3.1 miles, with semi sore legs (they felt a lot better when I woke up), and on a course with hill after hill the last 3 miles, I’m pretty happy.  And I got this nifty water bottle for doing both races!015So…I’m fairly happy with my training this week.  I didn’t try nutrition during the race today as I’d planned; my stomach just wasn’t feeling it.  I think it had something to do with pushing myself in 75% humidity.  Ugh.

My goals for next week:

  1.  Stay focused mentally.  I need to keep those 63 days in mind and remember I don’t have much time left to train.
  2. Really focus on trying new nutrition again.  I want to try some chews to see how that goes over instead of just gels.
  3. And of course…RUN!

Talk to me:

What new and exciting thing happened this week?

How did you make time in your busy schedule to get some exercise in (because I know you did, right? 🙂 )

Marathon #2: On to Week 9

Monday.  Labor Day.  No school!  Yay!  It felt strange coming home from work and taking a nap instead of rushing off to class, but I liked it!  I was looking all kinds of forward to getting a recovery run in and maybe having time to take my bike out for a spin.  I haven’t had time to cycle since school started.  Unfortunately, I tweaked my ankle on our run Saturday, and all day my ankle just felt stiff and kind of sore.  I decided the prudent thing to do would be to rest it.  Nuts.

Tuesday.  No class again thanks to college transfer credit for the subject we’re studying this week.  I’m looking forward to a week off, but my ankle is NOT happy.  Walking is a bit painful today, although my ankle doesn’t seem to be swollen.  I guess I’ll do the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) thing and see what happens.  Another day of training missed.  Growl…002Wednesday.  What do you know?  RICE does work.  My ankle actually feels pretty good today.  Even though I don’t have to go to class, I decided to go in for the gym time.  Since I don’t have to lug my backpack, I decided to run the 2.5 miles to school at recovery pace, do the workout, and run recovery pace home again.  My ankle felt fine after the run, just a little stiff, so I decided to catch up with my weekday running group for a tempo run tonight.  Another 5 miles, but this run was much faster at about a 9:15 minute/mile pace.  I guess there’s nothing like squishing all my runs into one day, uh?

Thursday.  Since I have to work tonight, I slept in today.  I’d like to make up the speed workout I missed on Tuesday, but I’m feeling like my legs need a bit more recovery from my 10 miles plus strength/cardio workout yesterday.  Hopefully, I can get the speed run in tomorrow.

Friday.  Well, so much for getting in that speed workout.  Thursday night’s shift was brutal.  My 12 hour shift turned into 13.75 hours of constant motion.  I got home absolutely exhausted.  After a 3.5 hour nap, I dragged myself to an appointment, feeling sick from lack of sleep.  I made it back home after a few hours, collapsed on the couch, and woke up at 10 p.m., deciding maybe I should just get in my bed.  So much for running today.  Grrrr…

Saturday.  My favorite runs of the week!  The run started off wi001th temperatures in the 60’s.  Love it!  While it was super humid, there was a nice breeze for the entire run that kept me feeling nice and cool.  We went an easy 15.09 miles, and I felt like I could’ve gone another 5 or 6 miles.  I love runs that end like that!  Today, I added mustard to my nutrition plan.  I was a bit nervous, but eating a packet of mustard wasn’t that bad at all.  In fact, following a packet of super sweet Gu gel, the tang of the mustard kind of tempered that overwhelming sweetness.  Good day all around!

So what do I need to do differently next week?

  1.  Keep getting my weekly runs in!  Unfortunately, I missed another run this week, but I’m determined to stick to the training plan and get those runs in next week.
  2. Try peanut butter crackers and mustard in a race situation.  Next Saturday, instead of our weekly long slow distance run, we’re running a race.  I’m doing the 5K distance followed by a quarter marathon distance (6.55).  A shorter race should be the perfect time to see if I can manage eating a cracker and a mustard packet on the run.

Talk to me:

What progress are you making in meeting your goals?

Which would you rather eat:  mustard or pickle juice?

My Pick for Protein Bars

I don’t know about you, but when I started looking for the best protein bars out there, I got quite overwhelmed.  I mean, holy cow!  There’s a plethora of bars, all claiming to be the best one.  And so many flavors!  How do you began to even choose one?

As an endurance athlete, I actually need a bit more protein than the recommended daily amount for women. And because I’m away from home so much and often times participating in several different types of physical activity in a day, I decided to try protein bars to supplement my diet when I’m on the go.  By the way, WebMD suggests the daily protein requirement for most men and women is about 10% to 35% of your total daily calorie intake, which comes to about 46 grams of protein for women and 56 grams for men.

To choose a bar, I began by looking at the bars that had the highest protein content and the lowest sugar content.  Then, I looked for the shortest list of ingredients.  I wanted something that had more natural ingredients instead of a bunch of processed “stuff” in it.  My choice came down to Quest, Six Star Protein, and Pure Protein.001I’ll be evaluating each bar on price, nutritional content, and taste, and then, I’ll tell you my overall pick.

  1.  Quest Bar004
    • Price:  Quest bars were the most expensive at over $2/bar.
    • Nutritional content:  Quest bars have 180 calories, 8 grams of fat, less than 1 gram of sugar, 23 grams of carbohydrates, and 20 grams of protein.  There are about 13 ingredients on the ingredient list, and I can pronounce all of them.  (That’s kind of my litmus test for how real the ingredients are!)
    • Taste:  I’m trying the double chocolate chunk flavor.  The bar is chewy with a texture almost like a brownie.  The chocolate tastes real but not overwhelmingly sweet.  There is a bit of the artificial sweetener (stevia) aftertaste, but it’s subtle.  I actually find these bars quite yummy!
  2. Six Star Protein002
    • Price:  This was the least expensive bar at about $1.
    • Nutritional content:  This bar has 190 calories, 8 grams of fat, 6 grams of sugar, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 20 grams of protein.  The ingredient list is a bit longer, but again, I can pronounce everything on the list.  I do not see an artificial sweetener listed on the ingredient list.
    • Taste:  The flavor I am trying is peanut butter chocolate.  It looks like a candy bar with the chocolate coating the bar, and it’s chewy like a candy bar.  The flavor, however, leaves something to be desired.  It doesn’t really taste like chocolate or peanut butter.  In fact, there’s not much of a flavor at all.  Taste wise, I’m not a fan of this bar.
  3. Pure Protein003
    • Price:  This bar came in at a little over $1.
    • Nutritional content:  Pure Protein has 180 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of sugar, 17 grams of carbohydrates, and 21 grams of protein.  The ingredient list is similar to the other two, with ingredients that I can pronounce, and for this bar, I do not see any artificial sweeteners listed.
    • Taste:  This flavor is chocolate deluxe.  This one, too, looks like a candy bar with a chocolate coating.  But the inside is more of a cake type texture.  It definitely has a chocolate flavor but there’s a bitterness to it that’s not very appealing to me.

So which is my choice for protein bars?  I like the Quest bars best.  While the nutritional content is similar for all bars, taste wins out for me, and Quest bars had the best taste.  One disclaimer that I need to make is that I did not try other flavors of Six Star or Pure Protein.  However, after discovering Quest bars, I did try other flavors of Quest.  I found that I like the ones that have some type of chocolate in them–cookies and cream, mint chocolate, chocolate brownie.  I did not particularly care for the fruity type flavors like strawberry cream, apple pie or the cinnamon roll flavor.  To me, those flavors tasted way too sweet and not enough like the fruit for my liking.

Talk to me:

Do you have a favorite protein bar?


Maybe I Should Just Quit

I’ve had a thought in the back of my mind over the last week or so.  For the last few days, though, it’s moved to the front of my mind, and I’ve actually spent some time thinking about it.  And after a weekend of super tough shifts when breaks and sitting down for 5 minutes were the stuff of dreams (well, there was that one bathroom break when my eyeballs were about to float), I’m finding myself thinking even more about it.

The thought has entered my head of quitting marathon training.  Yep.  I’m hanging my head in disappointment that I’ve had the thought, but there it is.  I’m thinking of quitting.

I’ve been thinking about feeling tired, trying to run 25-30 miles a week, working full time, keeping up with 20 hours of physical class time plus homework and study time, cross-training, maintaining a house, keeping up with friends…I have a full schedule.  It’s tiring.  And I find myself wondering if it’s worth it?  Is running another marathon really worth all the effort and extra time?

As I’ve entertained the thought of quitting, I’ve been thinking about other people I know who are going through tough times.

I think of a couple of friends who are battling cancer.

I think of my refugee friend from Sierra Leone who tells of hunkering down in her house while bullets flew through the windows.

I think of my Sudanese friends who hid in the fields while their village was raided and burned.

I think of people I know who’ve lost babies.

I think of people who are working two or more jobs just to kind of make ends meet.

I think of people who would probably love to run but for some physical condition never will.

I think of my cat when the vacuum cleaner appears.  (Hey, even cats can have tough days!)003Don’t you love how hidden he is?!

Those people are really having a tough time, and they just can’t make things better by deciding to quit.  When I think about my little bit of fatigue as I chase down my dreams, well…how can that compare to losing homes and jobs and people you love, or having a big, noisy monster chase you in your house?

So will I quit marathon training?  NO!!!  I may want to quit and may think about quitting and whine and complain because I’m tired, but I won’t quit because…

  1.  I refuse to throw in the towel when the going gets tough.  This toughness in temporary.  I know in November, my schedule will ease up.  And I grow in the tough times.  When my strength to just be patient is gone because I’m worn out, I find myself praying more, depending on Jesus to give me the patience I just can’t find on my own.  Growing my faith is a good thing!  So no throwing in the towel.  My hat stays in the ring, and whatever other cliché you can come up with to say, “Heck, no, I’m not quitting!”
  2. I’m a competitor.  I never would have said that of myself at 180 pounds, but finding my inner athlete underneath all that fat ignited a spirit of competition within me.  I’m not the type of competitor that always has to win and is always competing with other people.  I’m a competitor against myself.  I want to test my limits, to reach that athletic goal, to beat my best time.  And that’s part of why I know I won’t quit marathon training.  I ran my first marathon in 4 hours 37 minutes and 22 seconds;  I know I can do it in 4 hours 30 minutes.  I KNOW I can!  And by George, I’m going to train my tail off and keep trying until I get there.
  3. In the end, it will all be worth it.  So the ending may not look like what I want it to, but just following through and persevering will be worth it.  There’s a strange sense of satisfaction in finishing something tough that makes me look at life and say, “Bring it on!”  So whether I run a 4:30 marathon or not in November, I’m going to have the satisfaction of knowing I didn’t give up when I cross that finish line.  One way or another, I’m gonna do it.

So there you go.  I’m in this marathon training thing until the grizzly end.  And strangely, reminding myself of why I won’t quit has given me renewed determination to keep on training.  I CAN DO THIS!  (I hope.)

Talk to me:

What do you tell yourself when you need a pep talk?

How do your pets react to the vacuum cleaner?