Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fundraising Update

So now that the marathon has been over for a few weeks and the last donations have most likely tricked in, I raised over $350.00!!! Thanks so much to everyone who donated!!! It means so much, and was such a tremendous help to the Food Trust.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I did it!!!! -Philadelphia Marathon 2008-

I did it!!!!! woohooo! I still have trouble believing I actually completed my very first marathon. Everyone keeps saying its such a huge accomplishment, but to me, it really doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I just went out for a (somewhat) leisurely very long run. So what if it was 26 miles? No big deal or anything. I really took it easy & went at an easy pace, I took my time and paced myself, I was very optimistic going into the race, and terribly excited as I lined up at the starting chute.

The entire thing was such an emotional experience. I was so filled with emotion that I broke down in tears immediately after crossing the finish line. It was so incredibly moving to run by all the spectators lining the finish chute and see everyone out there showing their support and cheering us on at the very end. The energy was contagious & I felt my speed pick up directly in proportion to the level of cheers around me. I'm not really sure what came over me, I was just so overcome by emotion, at the fact that I survived and I actually did it!! I was crying so hard after I finished, that I crumpled to the ground. I was convulsing in streams of tears. Some lady was kind enough to stop and pick me up, she asked me if I was okay, if I was hurt, and if I needed to find my family. Then she put her arm around me and walked me over to the massage tent where it was warm, and she comforted me the whole time, and let me borrow her phone so I could call my parents.

I was actually quite nervous at first. I legitimately felt sick to my stomach with dread for a few weeks leading up to the race. I knew deep down inside that I did not train as much as I should have, I did not run as far or as often as I could have, I did not push myself as hard as I should have, and I was in no shape to perform my absolute best in the marathon. All that aside, I knew deep down inside that I was perfectly capable of doing this race and there was no doubt that I was going to complete it. There was no question about it. That's the easy part. Now, completing it with a PR... that's an entirely different story altogether!

For the last week leading up to the race, I had a terribly sore throat. It was incredibly painful! It hurt to swallow just about everything, even plain water. I subsisted almost entirely off of tea with lemon, honey and cayenne pepper in varying amounts. (I read somewhere online that the cayenne pepper is supposed to clear your sinuses, but all I got was teary eyes and a burnt tongue.) As a result, I didn't get to properly fuel or hydrate as I knew I should have. I was really nervous about that, coupled with the fact that I didn't run AT ALL the entire week before race day, which wasn't such a hot idea either. Yes, I did get plenty of rest (8 hours every night!) but in all honesty, considering the lack-luster intensity of my training regimen, I really didnt need that much rest time. I really could have ran the entire week with minor tapering and still been sufficiently rested for the marathon. I also hoped that resting would help the sore throat heal faster. No such luck.

The night before the race, my throat was like sandpaper covered in miniature razorblades. Swallowing water was next to impossible and it hurt just to talk. Imagine me sitting at the dinner table with my parents who haven't seen me in so long, with them yapping away and asking tons of questions, me having a lot to tell them, but barely being able to eek out a word here or there with minimal discomfort. I went to bed extremely early. Sunday morning my throat was even worse! I swear I coughed up a tiny bit of blood in T-3 hours to the starting line.

It was FREEZING! We began the race in 27 degrees, and by the time I crossed the finish line, it was a whopping 30 degrees! Of course, after running for 4+ hours, I didn't notice the cold at all, but as soon as I stopped for a bit and let my body temperature drop, I definitely got the chills. At that point, no mylar blankets and no amount of warm, dry clothing was going to help me.

I got a medal! Everyone gets a medal just for finishing, but it is still awesome!! It's a good quality medal, and such a cool memento to have from the race and commemorate my accomplishment.

After the super-kind woman walked me to the massage tent, I stayed there and got a free massage. It was wonderful. I had to wait in line in the freezing cold long after I'd cooled off for almost an hour, but it was so worth it. The woman had a magic touch - she knew exactly where to focus - on my glutes and hamstrings. My glutes were killing me!!! I am seriously going to hurt tomorrow I'm sure.

Aunt Linda came to watch me! It was awesome to have her there along with my parents, cheering me on at the 19 mile mark... and again at the 21 mile mark! (the course went out & back at one point during the second half.) The crowds were pretty sparse throughout most of the marathon course. They arranged sections ahead of time called "cheer zones", where spectators could all gather to cheer together and get a clear view of the runners... so whenever we ran past said "cheer zones" it was simply awesome. The energy of the crowd carried me forward, and the running felt truly effortless, like I was floating along, whenever I passed a crowd of spectators. It didn't matter if it was mile 3 or mile 20... whenever I passed a crowd, I felt like I had just begun and could keep running forever. Which made it that much harder when we hit the long stretches of no spectators at all. Miles 14-19 and 21-25 were by far the longest stretches and the most boring parts of the entire course. This part was very scenic, running along the Schukyill River out to Mannayunk & back, but it was such a drag.

Mannyunk was awesome, with the crowds lining the streets, spectators cheering loudly, offering everything from beer, to cookies, brownies, and oranges, and the band playing right at the 20-mile turn around mark. The energy was incredible. It was by far the best most exciting part of the entire course. and right there in the middle of it all was my aunt & my parents! My dad even recruited a few surrounding people to cheer for me as well. I loved it.

I only wish that more of my friends could have come out to watch. I know so many people in Philly & South Jersey, yet not a single person made it out to cheer me on. Poor planning, lack of planning altogether, inability to get out of bed at 8am on a Sunday, and inability to find me on the course. Desirae Brown did come though!! she drove all the way down with her bf, but got stuck in traffic that was re-routed around the course & I never got to see her. She apparently was sitting alongside the course & saw me go by though! I also received so many text messages & phone calls that morning wishing me good luck!!

It was so cold that the foghorn froze at the start! The mayor had to speak a verbal countdown to get the race started. They did a tiered start... I think that's what it's called... when they let runners go off in waves? I read that this was something new they tried and it seemed to work well, it definitely alleviated over-crowding early in the course. However, it still delayed my start. It wasn't until about 15-20 minutes after the scheduled start time that I actually crossed the starting line. In the meantime, I was standing in line trying to stay warm and limber as my HR slowly dropped in the sub-freezing weather. I was surrounded by runners with similar sentiments.

At one point, just before the start, a woman with a camera and notepad who looked like a reporter came up to me and asked: "have you run this marathon before?" to which I replied "no, this is my first time." I thought this would interest her because 1) it is the truth and 2) it might be interesting to get a first-timer's perspective on the whole marathon gig. but no such luck. she responded "oh. well good luck!" and moved on to seek out her next prospective interviewee. I was heartbroken. I was SO close to being in the news! I guess I should take it as a complement. Perhaps the way I was dressed with my shorts layered over my leggings, my nifty fuel pack, headband, and Philly marathon long sleeve tee-shirt, coupled with the way I bouncing around the starting chute, perhaps all that coupled together screamed "experienced marathoner right here folks!" in which case I should be extremely flattered.

It was even so cold that the water froze on the ground at all the water stops! Every single time we approached a water stop, all the volunteers yelled "watch out for the ice!" I heeded their warnings & drastically reduced my speed to save myself from an unsightly fall on the ice. My strategy proved effective until the very last water stop. By the time I got there, I was so exhausted & famished that all I could think about was water, water, water, water... I was so completely focused on the outstretched hand in front of me offering that liquid manna, when just as I reached out to grab that glorious cup, my foot hit a slick patch of ice and slipped right out from under me. I dropped straight down into a hurdler's pose. Immediately, a bunch of runners gathered around me asking if I was okay and offering to help me up, it was touching to see so many people stop their marathon progress to make sure I was all right. I wasn't hurt though. I just got right up again, drank my water and kept on running!

My fueling strategy worked out very well. I bought a small, lightweight waist pouch at the expo the night before the race. I had planned on running the entire marathon with a plastic bag of candy & dried fruit in my hand!! How naive. That definitely would have screamed "beginner" to everyone around me, and probably would have been terribly annoying after a while. I brought gummie bears, sweedish fish, dried cranberries, dried cherries, and orange sports beans. I stopped every time I felt like I needed a little nourishment, and every time I stopped, I ate a few pieces of everything (a mixture). I ate more sweedish fish earlier in the race because they have the most sodium, and saved the sports beans for later in the race when I was famished & really needed the extra push. My sore throat miraculously disappeared mid-way through the race & I easily gulped down water at about 6 water stops, maybe more, to be honest, by now I can't remember such details. Just like I can't remember exactly what miles/times I stopped to re-fuel. I need to work on eating while continuing to run, it will save me SO much time.

I had to stop 3 times to stretch. It was so cold, and I was so late that I had time to warm up before the start, but no time to stretch properly. I thought I would be okay, but the lack of stretching caught up with me around mile 10. My hamstrings were so tight, I almost thought I was going to have to give up & finish with the half marathoners back at the art museum. I stopped for a good 2-3 minutes to stretch my legs, then resumed running. Less than a mile later, I realized I needed to stretch more effectively, stopped again & dedicated a solid 5 mins or so to loosening my overly tight muscles. It was enough to get me past the mid-way point. I flew through the crowds at the Art museum then dragged myself along the long stretch from 14-18, slowing practically to a walk here and there, for about 1 or 2 miles, picked up the pace again as I approached Mannayunk, and really started moving around the hairpin turn, then dragging myself once again along the longgg Schuykill stretch... the only good thing about it was that it was easier to cope with mentally knowing that I was on my back towards the finish! I had to stop again around mile 22 or so, just before the water stop where I slipped & fell on my ass. I stopped for a long time, stood in the grass, laid down on a wall and really stretched. I didn't think I was going to finish, my hams were so tight. I just plowed on through. Those last few miles were the longest miles ever.

All in all it was an amazing experience and I can't wait to do it again. Next time I will be absolutely committed to training the way I'm supposed to. I'm incredibly optimistic. Now that I know I can actually survive the marathon & do decently well with minimal preparation, I know that I could do so much better if I actually focused on training and really worked at it! I now have 2 goals: breaking 4 hours and qualifying for Boston. I'm going to use Philly as my qualifying race, because it's supposedly a great course for PR's and Boston qualifiers. In the meantime, I need to find a marathon to run this spring. And in the short interim meantime, I'm going to keep running... because that's what I love doing. I've always loved it, and this marathon experience just solidified that for me. I was so excited all throughout the race, I kept thinking, this is awesome, this is what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. This marathon will be the first of many. I am officially a marathon runner! cool. I absolutely can't wait for the next one!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Running for a Cause: The Food Trust

For my first marathon, I wanted to run for something bigger than myself. I looked at all the major charities, like Team for Training, and the MS Team for the Cure, but the major problem with most of those is I don't feel personally affected by any of them... *knock on wood* but I've been very blessed to have healthy people in my life, and no one very close to me has ever been affected by leukemia & lymphoma, aids, diabetes, cancer, etc... granted, my grandmother did die form cancer, and one of my cousins currently lives with cancer, but overall I don't feel that passionately about it to the point where I want to dedicate my running efforts to raising money for the cause. I wanted to run for a cause I TRULY believe in and TRULY feel very passionately about.

I believe wholeheartedly in good nutrition and exercise. So I did some searching online, and that's when I discovered the Food Trust. The Food Trust is a NFP located in Philadelphia that focuses on easy access to affordable, nutritious food for everyone, everywhere. Now here's a cause I can really stand behind!! I firmly believe in the life-long benefits of healthy eating, especially wholesome, nutritious foods. It was a perfect match! I kicked the idea around for a while, waiting to see how my marathon training was progressing before I committed to anything. In the meantime, I wrote to the Food Trust and asked them for help, suggestions, etc... I told them what I was planning on doing and they were beyond thrilled. They offered to help in any way they could. They even sent me a tee-shirt in the mail, along with a packet of newsletters that I could send to my prospective donors. Encouraged by their enthusiasm and support, I wrote an e-mail to all my friends, family, past co-workers, contacts, and acquaintances asking them to donate to the Food Trust. I think what they are doing is truly incredible, and more cities should model organizations after them! Regardless of how much $$ I raise, my main goal was to get the word out about the Food Trust. My hope is that with increased publicity, more people will be aware of the increasing problem of poor access to healthy nutritious food in low-income areas throughout the United State.

So, without further adieu... here's the letter:

Dear Friends,

In approximately one month, I will be running the Philadelphia Marathon in Philadelphia, PA. This is my very first marathon (26.2 miles!), and along with my commitment to training, I am raising awareness for The Food Trust, a non-profit organization based in Philadelphia that works to ensure everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food.

The Food Trust is working to lower the rates of diet-related illnesses, including obesity and Type 2 diabetes, by improving access to healthy food in low-income communities. In addition to operating 30 weekly farmers markets across Philadelphia, The Food Trust partners with over 100 schools and educates children about healthy eating. Their school-based programs, including the state-funded Kindergarten Initiative, have already reduced the incidence of childhood obesity by 50%. The Food Trust also works with city and state officials to increase the number of grocery stores located in lower-income neighborhoods through the Fresh Food Financing Initiative. (To learn more, visit www.thefoodtrust.org.)

In my opinion, The Food Trust addresses a glaring issue in modern society and espouses an extremely worthwhile cause - one that I care deeply about helping. As a runner and certified fitness professional, I subscribe to the "food as fuel" mentality. I also advocate eating healthy, wholesome, fresh, whole foods brimming with essential nutrients. It pains me to see the lack of access to fresh food in society today - and even worse, a lack of knowledge about the importance of good nutrition.

I wanted to run my first marathon for something larger than myself. That is why I chose to promote The Food Trust through my training efforts. I believe that given the right resources and widespread support, the Food Trust is leading the way in eradicating the nutritional crisis – and all the resulting health problems - in America today. I invite you to join me in supporting them and hope you will consider making a donation on my behalf. You can go directly to the website: http://www.thefoodtrust.org/php/donations/index.php.

Although I've been a runner for years, 26.2 miles is extremely intimidating and it is going to take hard work and commitment to get there. I am blogging my progress: http://community.active.com/blogs/julierunsphilly. Check back often for updates! Thanks for all your love & support.

In good health,


PS – Please spread the word!

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Reality Check

so it's been a while since I updated. to be perfectly honest, I've been completely exhausted. training is going pretty well. at least I thought it was going well until today... I've ran or cross-trained every single day for the past 9 days. I was very excited to be getting back into a routine.

the problem occurred today when I decided to look at a legitimate marathon training schedule. I have 6 weeks left. At this point, I'm supposed to be up to 30-40 miles per week. I haven't run more than 20 miles per week in the past month...

I AM SCARED that I'll never get up to the mileage I need & still have time to taper before the marathon. I'm not sure what to do. Should I jump up to 40 miles next week and pick up the training plan from that point? or should I gradually increase my mileage and do whatever I can, but peak at 30 miles per week? when should I start to taper? I want to make sure my muscles are fully recovered before the marathon... I've only done 2 "long" runs up to this point... a 12-miler and a 15-miler. I still have to fit in at the very least ONE very long run of 18 or 20 miles (ideally, I should have done anywhere from 2-5 of these over the past 4 months), and I have to do this before 2 weeks prior to the marathon. yikes! I know my fitness level is gradually improving, but I'm fearful for my running ability and the pre-marathon timeline. this training business is turning out to be a much bigger commitment than I ever anticipated.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Getting back into Pilates

my calves are screaming. they've been screaming at me ever since I finished my "hill" workout yesterday. It seemed like a good idea at the time...

so I decided it's time to throw a little cross-training in the mix. I thought it would be wonderful to do some pilates. In theory, this sounds like a great idea. I can relax, exercise, get a little cardio workout, and stretch out all my muscles. I turned down the lights in the spare room, popped in a relaxation CD, rolled out my pink mat & got all set. BUT... one small problem. I legitimately haven't done a full hour of classical (Joseph-pilates) Pilates since I moved... back in February... a whopping 8 months ago.

When I tried the exercises today, I couldn't believe how tough they were!!!! things that I used to do with complete ease were so difficult! My entire body is stiff, I have tight hamstrings and hip flexors for the first time in my entire life, my shoulders and elbows kept cracking, and my core strength is practically non-existent. Even my back hurt, and I definitely felt it in my abs! My fitness level decreased dramatically. I didn't even attempt to try the advanced stuff like the rollover and jacknife!! And I had to stop without even doing the side kick series because I was too exhausted. I couldn't understand why I was having such a hard time. Pilates used to be completely effortless. Then, I realized that before I moved 8 months ago, I was practicing Pilates regularly, teaching anywhere from 2-4 classes each week. Back then, it all seemed so easy. Looking back, I now realize how incredibly strong I was. I just couldn't believe how hard it was. Then again, 8 months is a LONG time.

Now I know what it's like to be a beginner again. If I learned anything from today, it's that I definitely can not ignore cross-training. Otherwise, I will be setting myself up for serious overuse injuries. ah, the perils of running.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hitting the hills

to mix things up a bit, today I did a "hill" workout on the treadmill. basically, I experimented with the gradient, raising & lowering the incline and speed to match my comfort level. I had no idea that treadmills could be so steep!!! the maximum gradient goes up to 15.0 (what is that measuring anyway, degrees??). At that incline, I could only jog along at a 12-min/mi pace... it was so steep!!! I did this for about a minute, then gradually lowered the incline until it was down to 10 (degrees??), then when I caught my breath I jumped right back up to 15, lasted there for about a minute, then had to gradually lower again, and repeated this process 3 times over 20 minutes. this is great practice though. it definitely gets your HR way up. I can't wait to do it again!

"hills are speedwork in disguise"... I will never forget these words of some famous runner (of course the famous runner is so famous I forget his/her name, but that's beside the point) the important part is the sage advice. you have to put in a lot of extra effort to go up a hill at any given speed. so when you get accustomed to exerting more effort and working harder, and put that same amount of effort on flat ground, you will go even farther. it's a basic physics principle. something about work and distance, but of course I forget the exact formula... after all, that was 7 years ago...

on another completely un-related note, I have a cramp in my right forefoot, which is incredibly annoying.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Impromptu 10K

post-boxing class today I hopped on the treadmill at the gym with absolutely no plan in mind. I figured I would run at least 3 miles, or however far I could get in a half hour, maybe 4 miles... or heck maybe even go for 5. the most I would possibly do is 6... and even that was really a stretch, based on the fact that it was extremely late at night, and I was tired, lazy, sore, and my ipod battery died. (I even thought ahead and brought my ipod so I wouldn't have to be bored with the typical treadmill drudgery. But, of course, since I haven't touched my ipod since summer ended, and I haven't charged it in equally as long, no amount of wishful thinking, prayer, or will power was going to get that thing to turn on.) So I was left with 4 choices: deal with it & do a short run, push through and go all out no matter what, sing to myself & listen to the music over the gym's stereo system, or just don't run at all. Obviously choice #4 was not a legitimate option by any stretch of the imagination. So I went with a hybrid of options #2 & #3... and I ended up running an entire 10K!!!! It was incredibly hard, and I struggled & pushed myself the whole way there. By mile 4.9, I was wondering how I would ever make even one more step, when one of the guys from my boxing class walked by, waved & said "you're doing GREAT!" That was just awesome. It gave me the motivation I needed to persevere through and complete an entire 10K. woah.

So, impromptu 10K. completed in 49:48. not too shabby at all. My pace translated into sub-8-minute miles!!! and the last 1.5 miles were even slightly faster!

there really aren't many benefits to running on a treadmill. It's boring, the scenery never changes, it's boring, you don't get the excitement, changing terrain, or fresh air that can only be found in the great outdoors, and did I mention it's BORING!? although there is one thing I really like about it: you can track your progress by setting the pace for your run, and setting the pace on a treadmill helps your body learn to identify what running at a certain pace feels like and helps you maintain a certain pace when you are exhausted, and otherwise would have already given up or at least slowed down.

I can't wait until my next 10K race. I'm really excited to see what my time will be. I'm registered for the Ben Franklin Bridge Challenge in early November, about 3 weeks before the marathon. So far, that's the only race I have scheduled between now & Nov 23.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Acorn Award

the weather called for light, misty rain all day, turning into torrential downpours by the night time... it was not looking promising for a run. I kept tabs on the weather throughout the day & noticed that it barely rained at all. (the weathermen were wrong! gasp! how shocking!) although the sky did look incredibly overcast & grey. soooo just before dusk I decided the time had come. It was time to venture outside and run. I was so excited & so proud of myself! I got about 1.5 miles away from my house before it started raining. really hard. raindrops collected in my eyes so I could barely see clearly, I was soaked, and I had to dash for cover under the nearest tree. I was also over-dressed, slightly over-heated & suffocating from the humidity. I was just over a mile away from my house, it was late, it was getting dark, and the rain wasn't showing any signs of letting up any time soon. soooo... I did what any sensible runner would do... I kept going!!!!

I forged ahead in the dark and the rain, armed with my reflective gear and LED flashlight. It was as much an exercise in mental toughness as physical stamina. perhaps even more so. Mr Heath, my old cross country coach used to talk to us about mental toughness before each race. We needed our minds to be like an acorn - unbreakable. After each race, whichever runner endured the most challenges, yet emerged triumphant, would receive the team "acorn." This honor was probably even more coveted than a first-place finish. The acorn award proved you were completely, totally, 100% mentally in the race, that you could persevere through pain, overcome obstacles, endure challenges, push through no matter what, and succeed against the odds. it's a valuable lesson to that applies to life in general.

mental toughness will get you anywhere. today, it got me through an 8 mile run. Mr Heath would be proud.

After all that, I'm really glad I kept going, because the rain cleared up within 5 minutes. If I had turned around & gone home, I would have been completely bummed. Instead, I was positively elated to be out running. The downpour broke the humidity, and the rain cooled me off, so after that I was good to go! I seriously considered doing 12 miles, but cut it short at 8. The only thing that stopped me from going the distance was the fact that it was rapidly getting darker outside, and I didn't want to be out running in the pitch black for too long. Running at night is very very scary, unless you have a personal bodyguard, ninja, or friend named Mike to guide & protect you on your nightly run. the pitch black really scares me when I'm out alone. I'm afraid I'll either A) trip over something I don't see on the ground, or B) get hit by a car who doesn't see me until it's too late. so I try to avoid the scenario as much as possible. Either way, now that it's officially fall, it gets a lot darker a lot earlier in the day, so I didn't want to stay out too long... plus, my legs were sore!!! My legs just did not want to move, which made it a very tough run, especially through the winding hilly roads of Greenwich.

despite the fact that it was cut short, today's run was pretty significant. the important thing is that I went out in the first place. I stuck it out through the rain. I ran up hills, in new unchartered territory, in the dark, when I my legs were completely sore. I seriously was going to go the distance (if it wasn't so late & dark).

mental toughness will get you anywhere.

I give myself the acorn for this one.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Have your cake & eat it too

Wednesday was another unintentional "rest" day. I've had a lot of those lately... I planned to run. I really did. Then I got carried away at work and ran out of time...

Thursday the exact same thing happened. Instead of running, I ate 3 pieces of cake. cake instead of running... that's a fair trade-off, don't you think!?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Random Run

After boxing class today, I randomly decided to run on the treadmill, since I was already at the gym... ended up doing a quick 3 miles in 25 minutes. That's a pretty disappointing time considering I used to run 5K's in less time than that. I guess you could call it speedwork. I basically did intervals adjusting the pace from 8:30 down to 6:20 min/miles at the end. It was so hard! I was pretty sore during the run & I'm extremely sore now.

Monday, September 22, 2008

"Night Moves"

Yay for running at night! I'm so proud of myself for making it out of the house after dark and having enough energy to put in a quick 3 miles. This run was reminiscent of the old "Night Moves" days... in college, I used to run late at night with my friend Mike. Thanks to Mike, I made it out the door countless times to run well after dark, when I was otherwise ready to crash for the night. I would be lounging around the apartment, my roommates would be in their pjs watching a movie, and Mike would show up at our apt door, clad in shorts, tee shirt & sneakers, all eager smiles and bursting with energy, LED flashlight in hand... he had WAY more energy than any college-aged guy I've ever met.. and a child-like enthusiasm about literally everything he did. With Mike's trusty flashlight guiding our way, we masterfully navigated the winding streets of Fairfield, CT and tactfully avoided being hit by passing cars. I struggled to keep up with Mike as he bounded along effortlessly, slowing down as needed to match my pace. We had a few good chats along the way, and occasionally our other friends would join us. We affectionately referred to our adventures as "Night Moves." We had a theme song. We even started a facebook group. I really miss those days.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

New Sneakers!

new shoes arrived yesterday! yay! can't wait to use them. I have no idea how far I'll go today, but it's Saturday so it's going to be a long run, I'm excited to go, and it's a beautiful day outside =)

Thanks to the guys at New Balance Cherry Hill for sending them so quickly! I've been a loyal NB customer since I bought my very first pair of running sneakers wayyyy back in '02 at the Haddonfield Running Company (At the time, my cross-country coach knew the owner and sent our entire team there, because it was pretty much the only place you could go to at the time and get a proper gait analysis, expert advice, and get properly fitted with speciatly running shoes. I ended up with the NB 764's and through the years, have grown with the shoe... 765, 766, 767... and on to the most recent upgrade: 768. I still have that very first pair of 764's, and it's amazing too see how rapidly technology and cushioning has advanced in such a short period of time.) Which brings up another interesting topic: the benfits of modern cushioning and support technology vs the "barefoot revolution," but that will have to wait until another day. Right now, I am going for a run!

15.2 miles later.....

that's right! I just ran 15.2 miles! that's farther than I've EVER run in my ENTIRE life. It's farther than my typical average weekly mileage. I ran through Rye, Harrison, and Purchase, NY and into Greenwich, CT. And it only took me 2 hours 40 minutes total (I had to walk up a couple of hills, plus I stopped once to ask the mailman for directions, and a few times to check my heart rate). Other than that, it was a pretty uneventful run. Very peaceful areas. I went down tons of residential roads lined with private estates and gated driveways, the kind of roads that twist & turn every which way, that wind in & out of trees, up & down hills, and alongside brooks & fancy golf courses. Don't get me wrong, it was not the most amazingly scenic route, but it was very peaceful being out on those roads... since there's no businesses for miles, no intersections or stoplights and practically no cars on the road... it's just you and the road, except for the occassional car or cyclist.

This is only week 2 of training and I already ran 15 miles. woah. Maybe this won't be as tough as I thought. Then again, I am probably diving in head-first way too soon, and it will probably end up being even tougher than I imagined. I probably won't even be able to walk tomorrow.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Week #2 Update

training was derailed once again this week. The week started so well on Monday with an 8-miler on the treadmill at the gym after work... that's right folks, I ran 8 miles on the TREADMILL... what a drag. I'm going to have to get used to it though, given the crazy work schedule and the fact that I really don't like running when it's dark outside... and I can't drag myself out of bed early enough to run in the mornings, so it looks like my options are treadmill or bust. Either way, it was an amazing workout, I zoned out and ran a pretty easy pace, around 8:30 for the first 6 miles. I had only planned to run 6, but pushed myself to keep going. I really struggled through those last 2 miles, alternating between going all-out (around 6:30 miles) and short rest/recovery walks, I completed the entire 8 in under 1 hour 10 mins. Sweet! So proud of myself. I felt fantastic, was completely exhausted in a good way, grabbed a smoothie, then drove home & went right to bed.

Tuesday I was lucky enough to get out of work at lunch time and do a quick 3.5 miles around Stamford.

Then things got crazy at work. I had my runs all scheduled, just like last week, but I ended up having to sacrifice on Wed-Friday. The search I am working on is falling apart pretty quickly, so I had to spend pretty much all day scraping up new candidates, and despite all my efforts, ended up with absolutely nothing to show for it. The absolute last thing I could possibly do was leave the office to spend an hour of my day running. It was awful. By the time I got home each day, it was dark out and I didn't have the energy left to do anything.

To top things off, after Monday's run, I developed 2 gigantic blisters on my left foot, one right on the inside of my arch, and one directly on the ball of my foot, between by big toe and my second toe. Whenever I attempt to pop blisters, I always get carried away and end up cutting them off entirely. That's exactly what I did this time... exposing about 2 inches of raw skin... it hurt so bad I had to wear flip-flops. Chances are high that I probably couldn't have gone running even if I had the time.

This absolutely can not happen again.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What a wasted weekend...

This weekend was a complete disaster. Training was derailed in a huge way. It all started Saturday morning. I was going to go on my first "long" run... somewhere from 8-12 miles depending on how I felt... at an nice easy pace (to recover from yesterday's speed workout). My dad called first thing in the morning to tell me my cousin was playing field hockey in Greenwich. but he had no details, like time, location, etc. So I spent half the morning calling all my family members, trying to figure out where & when my cousin was playing. I would decide when to run once I figured that out... then I found out she was playing in Darien, which is a heck of a lot farther away than Greenwich (40 mins vs 10 mins), and I wasn't going to make it in time. I got hungry, so I had to eat something. Then I had to let my food settle. By then it was mid-day, the hottest part of the day, and I decided to wait until it got a little cooler... I read magazines... went online... got hungry again... ate again... food settled... (what a viscious cycle)... then I got caught up reading and by the time I looked at the clock I realized if I left it'd be dark outside by the time I got back. Plus I was hungry and minorly exhausted from sitting around doing nothing all day. So Saturday was shot.

Then Sunday arrives and I'm determined to fit in a run some way, somehow. After all, it was OK if I missed Saturday, since it was the day after my speed workout, and rest days are an essential part of training, but 2 rest days in a row? when I've only begun training? forget it!!! that's a recipie for disaster. if I don't start running regularly and get in the habit now, I'm never going to be ready by marathon day! On Sunday, I didn't wake up until noon. The only thing I wanted to do all day - besides run - was go to the Rye Farmer's Market. So I had this brilliant idea: I was going to run there! By the time I decided all this & got ready to go, I realized that if I ran to the market, I would have exactly 5 minutes to peruse before they closed at 2:00. I put on my running attire anyway, grabbed a water bottle & towel, hopped in my car, and drove to the farmers market, fully intending to bring my purchases home, quickly drop them off, and then drive to a nearby park. Back at the house, once I put my fresh produce away, I didn't feel like going out again, so I didn't. I sat around being lazy & lethargic, reading, eating ice cream and pretzels all day. And before I knew it, Sunday was shot too.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Week #1 Update

My first week was a success! After my run on Tuesday, I was so thrilled with the idea of getting out of the office mid-day and fitting in my runs by scheduling them ahead of time, that I went ahead and planned the entire week in my outlook calendar. I ran every single day!

Monday, September 8, 2008

A good place to start: The Beginning

it begins...

I woke up today absolutely determined to go for a run. There was no question that I would go. I packed my bag and was mentally prepared to go out at exactly 12:00 noon. I was 100% resolved. Then, it rained. I'm not talking like a light misty rain either, this was the kind of torrential downpour where you look out the window and can't even see through the raindrops, it's just a sheet of water. You pity the poor fool who gets stuck outside and swept away in the inevitable massive flood that ensues. It was unbelievably disappointing.

But I was determined to go.

There was no way I was running outside, so I snuck in the NYSC across the street and did a short interval treadmill workout. YAY!!! I was so psyched that I went, and now I'm all charged to keep going. As soon as I finished, I was on such a high and remembered exactly why I love running in the first place.

So today unofficially marks the beginning of my "training". I put that in quotation marks because to be perfectly honest with you I'm not following a set training plan. There are a few reasons for this. First, I don't think I can stick to a pre-set program that someone else lays out for me, and if I tried and missed a day or two, I'd be so upset and disappointed in myself, so I'd rather not set the expectations that high. Secondly, I'm determined to make this work in my own way, on my own time, There are very few things I get to do anymore where I call the shots and I am in control, so I want to design my own training program. Besides, I want this to be fun, and I need to be able to comfortably fit in all the miles without sacrificing too much. The plan is to fit in the running around my lifestyle, not to re-arrange my life around my running. Ideally, I want to find some sort of blend, where running just becomes part of my life. Experienced runners may read this and sadly shake their heads, thinking that I'm doomed for disaster, but I'm determined and hard-headed enough to make it work. Finally, I don't really know what I'm doing. Sure, I know a lot more about running than most people out there... after all, I did high school cross country, I've done countless 5K's and 10K's since then, and I've been a casual runner on & off for the past 10 years. I get a lot of good tips and ideas from reading Runner's World, Running Times, and Marathon & Beyond. I also have a network of family, friends, and coworkers who've recently completed marathons and have loads of first-hand advice. After all, they've been there before. I'm armed with all this knowledge, but when it all comes down to it, this is a completely new experience, unlike anything I've ever done before, and I have no idea how it's going to turn out. I like that uncertainty - it's kind of exciting.

So I'm just going to run with it and see how it goes.