Was is Worth It?

Since returning to the land of the living, I’ve been asked several times “Was is worth it?”  Sometimes the question is well intentioned, sometimes there’s a hint of sarcasm behind it, but at the base of the question, there is a genuine curiosity if running a marathon was worth the health problems that came with it.

My sweet friend Nicole from Masters to Marathons made this for me while I was sick.  I LOVE IT!

My sweet friend Nicole from Masters2Marathons made this for me while I was sick. I LOVE IT!

A bit of background for context first.  Three weeks ago (approximately a week before Rock-n-Roll New Orleans) I started to feel sick.  I spent basically the entire week before the marathon trying to get rid of whatever bug I had picked up.  By the Saturday before the marathon I felt about 85-90%.  Sunday, race day, I woke up with a bit of a sore throat but otherwise felt fine; thankful I had dodged the bullet on being sick race day.  Monday, after the marathon, I felt like I had been hit by a truck and then got progressively worse throughout the week.  By that Thursday it hurt to breathe and I was coughing up green stuff.  {TMI? Sorry.}  I drug myself to the doctor, got a lecture, a shot in the butt and the diagnosis of bronchitis and sinusitis.

I was put on two medicines but the damage had already been done to my system.  I spent the next four days (Friday-Monday) in my jammies, coughing so hard at times that it made me throw up.  I had zero energy, couldn’t really talk (no voice) and didn’t have much of an appetite. I lost weight which is always a concern since my BMI is an underweight figure.  Probably the funniest side effect of being sick is that I {still three weeks later} sound like a man.

My doctor confirmed that if I hadn’t run the marathon, I would not have gotten sick like this.  Since I ran the marathon with a compromised immune system, it gave free range for whatever viruses I had in me take me down for the count.

When answering the question, “Was it worth it?”, I take into account the fact that these people don’t run; I have yet to be asked by another runner if it was worth it.  Non-runners don’t understand the effort that goes into preparing for a marathon.  To them, this is just like any other race I run.  They don’t realize that I registered for it 9 months ago.  Or that I dedicated 4 months of my life preparing for it.  Four months of “I’m sorry I can’t {insert fun event}, I have to run”, 16 weeks of sore muscles & body aches, 112 days of mental battles and questioning my ability if I could actually do it.  Not to mention the amount of money that went into shoes, clothes, fuel, etc.  No to them, this is just a race.

To me, it’s much more.  This marathon was a test of not only physical endurance but also overcoming that annoying voice in my head that still tells me “You’re not a real runner.  You’re just putting on a good charade.”  Running is so much more mental than physical.  If I had decided not to run the race due to health reasons (which would have been the smart thing) I would have felt completely defeated.  Like that little voice inside me won.  “See I told you you’re not a real runner.”  If I hadn’t ran that day, Rock-n-Roll New Orleans would have always been the race that got the best of me.  I would have always wondered what if…  I know myself and I know I would have a very hard time forgiving myself.

All of that is what flies through my head when they ask me if it was worth it.  But I know they wouldn’t understand, so I just simply say, “Yes. Yes, it was worth it.”

The marathon was two weeks ago and I finally feel like I’m on the upside of this crud.  I’m still coughing and having sinus issues but I was able last week for the first time in 10 days to do something physical.  I went for a 2 mile run on Wednesday and then a 3 mile run on Thursday.  Both runs were slower than normal and exhausting.  Saturday I went for a 5 mile run with walk intervals and felt pretty good; although my pace (with the walk intervals figured into it) was 2.5 minutes slower than usual.  It’s going to take me awhile to get back to where I was but I’m ok with that.  All things considered, I would not hesitate to run the marathon again.

Don’t forget to enter my Huma Energy Gel giveaway – contest closes tomorrow at midnight!

Question:  Have you ever ignored physical symptoms just to compete in an event? Was is worth it to you?

Just for the record, I don’t advocate running while sick or injured.  It’s a personal decision and one that should be made with care.

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Weekly Workout Roundup

Looking back on last week, I have mixed emotions on my workouts.  I had some really great ones, and some really terrible ones.  Because I like to focus on the positive first, take a second to check out Saturday’s work  out.  🙂

*BOOM* Sub 2 PR!! I’ll have a full recap later this week, but suffice to say, Saturday’s race was ah-maaaaa-zing!  I kept a pace of 8:54 but what really surprised me is that I totally could have pushed it harder.  So a big thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your encouragement! I really didn’t think that I could do it.

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Another proud moment from last week’s workouts is the fact that I got in 215 {total} pushups.  If you remember, I decided to start the 100 pushup program again after failing to finish it last time.  I just nailed week 4 and today starts week 5.  This is really where it got hard last time but my friend Jennifer from Wine to Weightlifting started a “No More Girly Pushup Challenge” which is helping motivate me.

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Even though I’m 4 weeks ahead of everyone else, I’m really loving the support and encouragement.  Plus there are PRIZES!! Take a second to check it out if you’re interested.

Now let’s talk about where I fell short.  No cross training or weightlifting whatsoever and Tuesday’s 8 mile speed work session ended at only 2 miles.   Rarely do I cut runs short but my heart was just not there.  That was the night before Starla’s surgery and I just couldn’t focus on speed work.  I had full intentions of making it up but then I traveled for work the next day.

So here’s the breakdown of my workouts this week.

workoutroundup

Monday: (am) Yoga – hip flexors, (pm) 6 mile run.

Tuesday: (am) 63 pushups, yoga – sun salutations, (pm) 2 mile run.

Wednesday: travel for work

Thursday: (am) 72 pushups, yoga – hip flexors, (pm) 5 mile run.

Friday: Rest.

Saturday: Mississippi River Inaugural Marathon (13.29 mile in 1:58:24)

Sunday: 80 pushups

The marathon is now less then 2 weeks out which means that my miles are reduced significantly.   BOO.  I didn’t experience any taper madness during the first marathon so hopefully these next two weeks will go by without me clawing my eyeballs out.  I do plan on hitting the gym hard this week for both cross & strength training.

Question:  What was your proud moment from last week?

Random Thoughts from Speed Work

Last night my training plan had 7 miles of speed work on tap.   I’ll go out on a limb here and tell you that I am not speed work’s biggest fan.  I’m seriously a lazy runner.  Give me 20 miles of LSD (long slow distance, not the drug) over 5 miles of speed work any day.  But my training plan calls for it, so I dutifully do it.

exercise-motivation-requiredSource

I don’t have to be happy about it though.  Well, basically, I fight the idea all day long.  I know there’s no way I’m skipping my speed work, but there’s a part of me that still holds onto the ‘let’s take a night off idea’.   So off to the gym I went and hopped on the treadmill.  Bleh.

As I was on the ‘mill, I was watching everyone else at the gym.  They all looked like they wanted to be  there; nobody seemed disgruntled.  Then it hit me, I’m sure to others it seems like I want to be on there….on the treadmill….hanging on for dear life.  I had my game face on, I laughed occasionally at some random thoughts, nobody would have suspected that I had an internal battle the size of Bunker Hill going on.

So I wanted to share my fragmented thought process caused by last night’s speed work.  The next time you’re at the gym and see someone ‘really enjoying’ themselves, remember that you have no idea what’s going on behind the sweaty facade.

Before the run:

  • I have to stop at home first to  let my furry child go potty.
  • I really should make dinner.
  • I don’t have my blog post ready for tomorrow.
  • You’re running 20 miles this weekend.  You won’t miss these miles.
  • I need to clip my toenails.
During the run:
  • I really don’t want to do this.
  • Oh great… My warm up’s over.
  • Hmmm, it feels pretty great to stretch my legs out.
  • I should have peed before starting; only 5.5 miles left.
  • What is this Dance Moms show about?
  • Feeeeeel the burn.  Is it supposed to burn this much 3 miles into the run??
  • You can quit anytime, nobody here would know.
  • Someone call poison control! The sweat…It dripped into my eye!
  • If anyone ever talked to my kid the way this dance instructor spews hate, I would knock her out. (that thought was caused by the show I was watching.)
  • Man, I reeeeaaaally need to pee.
  • Why not just skip the cool down. 5.5 miles is still an ok distance.
  • Only one Yasso left!!
  • I’m pretty sure the people behind me thin I’m drunk. Why can’t I run in a straight line?
  • I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it! I’m about to lose control and I think I like it.
  • Last Yasso done! Oh wait, I still have a 1.5 miles cool down.
After the run:
  • I did it! Suck it Bart Yasso.
  • I wonder if the guy next to me would call the cops if I high fived him.
  • Maybe I should just apologize to him for flinging sweat.
  • I smell bad.
  • I really don’t want to get into the car with myself.
  • Why don’t I have to pee anymore?
  • I’m glad I didn’t quit.
Question:  Do you ever internally fight something?  What’s one of the most random thoughts you have during a dreaded workout.

Weekly Workout Roundup

Wow, this weekend really seemed to fly by! Saturday was a gorgeous spring (yes, I did say spring) day.  Temps in the low 70s and very little humidity.  I tried my very best to stay outside all day long and did a pretty good job at it.  After knocking out my 14 mile run (hooray for cut back weeks!) I hurried over to a local half marathon so I could cheer on one of my running friends.
The cowbell is ready for some action.

The cowbell is ready for some action.

She's teeny tiny in this picture but my friend Lorena is on the left.

She’s teeny tiny in this picture but my friend Lorena is on the left.

I had so much fun being a spectator and cheering everyone on!  After the race I hung out with friends at the post race party and then grabbed some pizza.
Yesterday, on the other hand, was rather unspectacular.  I had a project that I needed to get finished which kept me tied up from 8:30 am to 7 pm.  UGH! I didn’t get anything done that I had planned on.  No cross training, no yoga, no fun stuff outside.  Boo.  But on the plus side, I got what I needed to finished and submitted. *weight off shoulders*Oh well.
Today starts a new week so no use complaining about yesterday.  Here’s how I did on my workouts last week.
workoutroundup
Monday: 20 minutes of cycling (warmup), 7 mile run with 7 strides, kettlebell workout, 24 pushups.
Tuesday: (AM) Yoga – seated hip openers, (PM) 60 minutes of cycling (hill training) totaling 14.43 miles.
Wednesday: 7.4 mile run at 8:56 pace, Irish Coast Running Group.  I tried to hang with the fast kids but ended up losing them. 26 pushups.
Thursday: (AM) Yoga – hip flexors; (PM) 5 mile run.

Friday:  Mini upper body session.  Biceps, triceps, deltoids.

Saturday:  14 mile {hilly} long run (10:14 pace).

Sunday.  30 pushups.

Question:  Have you ever spectated a race? What’s your favorite way to cheer on runners?

Training Doesn’t Take Vacations

Can you believe that I”m running the Rock-n-Roll marathon in just 4 weeks?? AHHHH! I hope it’s just as amazing as the Marine Corps Marathon was.

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When I realized that the hubster and I were going to be on vacation during my 20 mile long run week, I immediately started trying to figure out a way to make my training plan fit my vacation schedule so I wouldn’t have to run 20 miles on my own.  During my vacation.  *face palm* Needless to say, the only thing I came up with was the realization that while I may take vacations, my training plan doesn’t.

Ouch.   So once I owned up to that fact, I came up with three options:

  1. Skip training altogether.
  2. Modify or reduce the amount of miles to run (or bike/swim etc).
  3. Suck it up Buttercup and log those workouts.

I know this is a tough one, but hopefully you were able to figure out the right option.  While #1 sounds fun, it spells d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r for whatever event you’re training for.  #2 isn’t a terrible alternative, but #3 is really the correct option.

Alright, #3 it is; you’ve decided to knock out your training runs – great! But how do you do that safely in a strange city, on unfamiliar terrain, by yourself? I’m so glad you asked!

Tips for training safely while on vacation:

Plan your route ahead of time.  USA Track and Field has an amazing tool that will help you build a course in any of the 50 states. You can look at courses in the area that others have created or you can create your own.  It’s a nifty (yes, I did just say nifty) little tool.  I encourage you to try it out even for spicing up your local runs.

track

Verify the safety of the route.  If you’re staying with family, talk to them to see what they think of the route you have planned.   Not staying with family or friends? Talk to the hotel staff.   They’ll let you know if it’s safe or not.

Make yourself accountable.  Tell your family/friends where you plan on running, what time you’re going to start and an estimated finish time.  Don’t deviate from this because if something happens this could provide police with vital information.

Try not to run before the sun comes up.  Because you’re running in unfamiliar territory, it’s best to wait until the sun has come up.  If this means splitting up your runs, so be it.  This weekend, I ran 8 miles on the treadmill (bleh) before finishing the remaining 12 outside.  It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.

8 miles on a TM isn't my ideal start to a long run but it worked.

8 miles on a TM isn’t my ideal start to a long run but it worked.

Listen to your gut.  Let’s face it, we all have those unexplained hair-raising moments in life.  Don’t ignore those feelings.  If something doesn’t seem right, trust your intuition and turn around.

Bring protection.  And I’m not just talking sunscreen.  You never know when you’re going to encounter a scary dog (or person) so it’s not a bad idea to carry pepper spray with you.  Since I’m somewhat clumsy, I was concerned about running with pepper spray at first.  I just kept thinking I would end up unintentionally spraying myself.  I’m happy to report I haven’t done that yet.

I’ve heard of some women carrying a small gun with them but that just seems insanely dangerous to me.  I’m cool with the pepper spray.  I just have a simple pepper spray but Ruger make some really awesome ones complete with strobe lights and piercing alarms.

This pepper spray has a band that slips around your palm.  Perfect and it didn't bother me at all.

This pepper spray has a band that slips around your palm. Perfect and it didn’t bother me at all.

Stay unplugged.  I know that running or biking to music provides an often much needed distraction but really you don’t need to be distracted when out on your own.  You need to be aware of your surroundings able to react if necessary.  Yes, it was tough at first running 20 miles without any music but by the end of the miles, I was enjoying the sound of my feet, the pattern of my breathing and the scenery around me.

My view. <3

My view. ❤

So there you have it; my safety tips for training while on vacay.  I followed each one of those tips and enjoyed my long run tremendously.  I know, I’m the rare breed of people that really enjoys long distance running.  I finished my 20 mile run in 3:28:18 which is a 10:24 pace.

Hubby couldn't stop laughing at me when I got back to the condo.  Between my Camelbak, pepper spray and non-matching outfit, I do look a bit scary.

Hubby couldn’t stop laughing at me when I got back to the condo. Between my Camelbak, pepper spray and non-matching outfit, I do look a bit scary.

Disclaimer, this totally wasn’t the post I was planning on writing.  I was originally going to yammer about my 20 miler but I like how this post turned out.  Hopefully you found it helpful.

Question:  What precautions do you take to keep yourself safe while exercising?

Marathon #2: 1/2 Way There!

I hope y’all had a great Christmas and that you were able to enjoy some down time.  I know I did! Unfortunately, I got to enjoy some sort of virus, too.  Boooo. I rarely get sick so it’s strange to be sick twice in one month.  Oh well, tis the season for stuff like this, right? I’m the living embodiment of a snot faced punk right now…

In my down time, I was looking at my current training plan and realized that eight weeks ago I ran my first full marathon and that in another eight short weeks I’ll be running my second 26.2, the Rock-n-Roll Marathon in New Orleans.  EEP!

rnr

I’ve been kind of unintentionally mum on my training for this marathon so I figured now that the ½ way mark has crept up on me, I’ll give y’all an update.

The first few weeks of training were actually spent recovering from the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM).  Just taking the runs nice and easy, keeping the legs moving and blood flowing.  My training girls and I decided that we didn’t want to lose any conditioning from the MCM so we kept our easy paced mileage in the manageable range of 20-25 weekly.

First run of marathon training numero dos.

First run of marathon training numero dos.

Then December rolled around and I realized that I had a ½ marathon in 9 days that I totally hadn’t prepared for.  The longest distance I had ran since the MCM had been 9 miles. I wanted to get at least one double digit run just to make sure my legs remembered how to act right so I squished a 10 mile run in the first week of December.  My legs did fine and I even PR’d at the ½.109141-111-018f

Last weekend I met with my running girls to tackle 15 miles.  It. Was. Freezing! Well, almost.  It was 36 degrees.  I realize temps like that are a heat wave to some of y’all but it’s freezing to this Northern-turned-Southern girl.  I didn’t want to get out of bed but after having some choice words with myself I made it to the designated meeting spot.  And I’m SO glad that I put my big girl panties because it turned out to be a spectacular run.  The kind where you just don’t ever want to stop.  At 14.5 miles I knew I wasn’t ready to stop so I said goodbye to my running girls and ran until I was content.  I stopped at mile 18 when my foot said ‘Hoooooooold up…What do you think you’re doing to me?’  I’m sorry foot, I got carried away…

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It was so great to have a run like that; I really needed it to get my head focused back on training.  I’ve been pretty apathetic with this round of marathon training.  When I was preparing for the MCM, come hell or high water, I wouldn’t miss a run.  I wish I could say that’s still the same for this marathon but the truth is, I’ve slacked off big time.  I’ve skipped a few runs and cut others short.  I’ve also totally skipped out on my yoga and cross training.  I have this ‘I’ve already run one marathon so I don’t need to train as much’ mentality which is going to get my tail in trouble.  The worst thing I could do is toe up to the line on February 24th without being properly conditioned.

Speaking of not being properly conditioned, I haven’t ran since last Saturday.  Thanks to that virus I mentioned earlier, I’ve decided to play it smart and give my body a break this week.  I’m going to try to tackle my long run tomorrow but I’m not sure how it’s going to go.

So with that being said, I’m totally getting down to business these next eight weeks.  I’m bidding adieu to my laissez faire attitude and welcoming back the ass kicking, take no prisoners Gina that put in the hard work to earn her first 26.2 eight weeks ago and who will earn her second 26.2 in eight more weeks.  Even typing that feels empowering.  I am woman, hear me roar! Well, right after I blow my nose.

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Don’t forget to enter my Sparkly Soul giveaway!! The contest closes tonight at midnight!

Question:  Do you ever get into a training rut? How do you get yourself out of it?

MCM Training Recap: Week 14

When I was typing the title to this post I seriously had to double check that I had the right week – 14.  14?? How in the world did that happen? I mean there’s only 16 weeks in my training plan so (go ahead and take off your socks for this insanely hard math problem) that means that there’s only 2 weeks until the Marine Corps Marathon!

Hello butterflies.  Nice to meet you.

This is the first week that I got to enjoy the benefit of {somewhat} reduced mileage.  I can’t really say I ‘taper’ because I still ran 32 miles.  I am happy to be backing down the miles because I’ve been experiencing pretty severe muscle aches that run up and down the side of my legs between my calves and shins.  They go away after 3-4 miles but then come back as soon as I’m done running.  Growing pains? Maybe I’m going to get some oober-bulgy calves?  *Sigh* Probably not.  I’ve actually taken to sleeping in my favorite compression socks (Pro Compression) after speed work helps relieve some of the post run pain.

Ummmm yeah, those are Mr. & Mrs. owls on my PJs. Don’t judge.

Speaking of speed work.  This week was chock full o’ it! Which is good because I know that speed work = faster running.  Yep, I did it.  I pointed out the obvious! Monday’s run included 6 miles with 6 strides, Wednesday’s run was 8 miles with 8 Yasso’s, and then Thursday’s run was 5 miles with 3 at marathon pace.  I got to chat with Duckie (the elderly guy I met while running Yasso’s last week) on Wednesday.  Turns out he was special forces in the army… i.e. The type of person who could kill you 36 different ways with a pencil.  I’m sure he has some awesome stories to tell.  I think it may become a Tuesday routine to stop and chat with him.

Then Saturday was the Gulf Coast 1/2 Marathong which was my first half of the fall! I’ll have a full recap on Wednesday’s post but let’s just say it was awesome! (And included a surprising PR, too!)  I have to admit that it was really strange only running 13.1 miles which is my shortest long run distance in almost 2 months; my legs were totally confused when I stopped.  I can honestly say that I feel very prepared for the MCM.  If any of you are training for a marathon, I highly recommend running a ½ a few weeks before your full.  It will give you a huge boost of confidence!

Annnnnnnnnnd with the end of week 14, I officially start to taper.  I’m pretty nervous about dropping down the miles and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t encounter the taper madness everyone talks about…  I guess we’ll see!  For now, I’m off to foam roll the kinks out from today’s ½ marathon.  I hope everyone else had a fantastic weekend, too!!

Tell me, what exciting things did you do this weekend? I want to hear from you!