Running on gluten-free carbs…


My blog is moving!

Hey fellow runners and followers…

Please note that I have collapsed my blogs (as I was working on two of them…1 for food and 1 for running) into one.  Under the name The Celiathlete.

Therefore, this blog is moving to that one…so if you could please take a moment to visit my new blog and follow me there, that would be awesome.

You can find me here:

The Celiathlete

I hope you join me at my new space.  See you soon…

…and I’ll be updating hopefully this weekend.  Sorry I’ve been away so long…


The Chocolate 5K – Louisville, KY (March 30, 2014)

Sean Astin and me after finishing the Chocolate 5K - Louisville, Kentucky

Sean Astin and me after finishing the Chocolate 5K – Louisville, Kentucky

Race: The Chocolate 5K

Place: Louisville, Kentucky

Date: March 30, 2014

Time: 21:02* (UNTIMED EVENT)

There is nothing better than a race that combines three things that I love: chocolate, puppies, and running!  And thanks to No Kill Louisville, there was a fun, untimed event held on Sunday that involved all three of those things.  Yep.  All three of them.  No Kill Louisville helped put on The Chocolate 5K, which involved a 3.1 mile run/walk, Ghrirardelli chocolate (provided on the course and at the finish…not to mention two squares in your packet at packet pick-up), and…lots of animal rescue leagues.

The morning was cold.  I knew it was cold because I had to go outside and do my heel drops off the stairs of my apartment complex (and the only stairs available are outside!).  So, I dressed accordingly…in a long sleeve top, a pair of capris, and my compression sleeves.  I was actually running as part of a team.  My friend, and running compatriot, Dawn, was running with a team of co-workers and invited me to join their team (for the team discount price).  I was totally about that, so I did sign up.  I’m just getting back into racing and my speed is not back yet, so I intended just to see what I could manage.  After all, this event was not timed.  Sort of like the Glo Run and The Color Run.  Go out…get some chocolate…have a good time.  Worked for me!

Cathy and I headed out just about the time we wanted to, after each downing a bowl of cereal and having some coffee.  I brought along some Lärabars to eat as the race time crept closer (I had no bananas on hand…which is NOT good on race morning).  We piled into the car and off we went to Waterfront Park, the new venue for the race.  It was originally scheduled to take place at E.P. Tom Sawyer…but due to muddy trails and the like…it was moved to the paved Waterfront Park area.  I was more than happy about that.  Trust me.

We made good time down to Waterfront and even managed to find a parking spot under the bridge.  A short stroll through the little booths set up (for places like Earth Fare and all the animal rescue leagues that came out!), I made my way to the registration line.  Recent e-mails said that the turnout for the race was not good and there weren’t that many participants.  But there was a line by the time I got there for people picking up their packets.  And the line only continued to grow from there.  So…either people were trying to decided at the last minute whether to run or walk or not…this was actually a really, really big turn out!  I managed to get up to the table and told the volunteer my name.  She kept looking under BA, so finally I had to spell out my last name…”B-R-A…”  But she found me after I pointed my name out on the list.  She handed me a green bag that contained two different varieties of Ghirardelli Chocolate and my race bib and then sent me over to pick up my t-shirt.  After that, I was standing around for a second when Dawn and a co-worker of hers arrived.  They were going to get in line, so I went to go put my chocolate and t-shirt in the car so Cathy wouldn’t have to try to juggle it on top of the sign and my jacket I was going to shed before the race start.

As we were heading back toward the registration line, I was opening up my Lärabar (Jŏcalat Chocolate Mint…in case you were curious) and taking a big bite when a small group ran past.  They were in race numbers (not unusual at a race) and just doing this slow little warm-up run together, talking and smiling.  I eyed the guy in the middle in the yellow running jacket and the shorts as he went by.  After I swallowed my bite of bar, I turned to Cathy, who was having an epic struggle with the wrapper of her bar (she didn’t want to take off her gloves), and said, “That guy looked like Sean Astin.”  She heard me but didn’t respond.  I think she was really focused on eating the rest of her breakfast, but first she had to get to it.  I eventually helped her out and went to toss the wrappers away.  Dawn said her boyfriend, Matthew (I train with him a LOT), was going to run from his house to the race, do the race, and then finish up the remaining miles of his scheduled 20 mile training run.  Whew.  That made me tired just thinking about it.  Her other two co-workers arrived around that time and got in line to get their bibs and packets.  And they all consumed their chocolate as a pre-race sugar rush.  Or so I joked.  But…chocolate consumed…we were just waiting on the start.  Matthew arrived with a few minutes to spare and we helped him get his blinkie lights turned off.

A quick picture in front of the start line and some announcements were being made.  And then…I hear it…”And now a quick word from Sean Astin…who you might know from the Lord of the Rings Movies and the Goonies…as well as many others…”  And then he took the mic.  You better believe that I moved up to see if I had heard that right.  I had.  It was him.

Cathy still wasn’t paying attention, but rather getting artistic photos of the start line when I found her and said, “That guy I said looked like Sean Astin WAS Sean Astin.”

So…I do have this running (see what I did there?) joke about how Sean Astin is stalking me on my races.  He has run every Disney race I have ever been a part of and he also ran the Chicago Marathon last year when I did.  So…this was just further proof that the man is following me.  To come out to an untimed event for charity to run 3.1 miles just speaks so highly of his character.  He didn’t have to do it.  But he did.  And it made me love him even more than I already did.  He spoke briefly, and commented that the weather, for him, was perfect for running.  We all laughed because we locals were all in compression gear and there he was in shorts just soaking it all in.  God love him!

After he wished us all luck on the race, we were told to line up at the starting line.  The announcer began to give us the route, then simply said…”There are yellow arrows on the ground.  Just follow the yellow arrows.”  And with that…we were sent off with a whistle.

I found my stride early and was out with the first five in the pack, with others right behind me.  I didn’t want to push too hard.  Not on an untimed race.  I get frustrated with my lack of speed these days, and that is understandable, but my friend Andrea always reminds me…I’m healing.  I need to heal up and the speed will return.  So, for now, I can’t set time goals…I just have to run smart and run safe.  And that was my ultimate goal.  I followed the yellow arrows…and the people in front of me…for the first mile before I passed up the one female that was ahead of me.  My strides felt good.  No ankle twinges…so I kept on, just doing what I could to maintain.  It also didn’t help that I woke up that morning with some chest congestion and an intermittent cough.  No good.  This is what happened during the Triple Crown of Running last year and I did not want to relive that.  So, for the sake of being able to breathe without dying…I made sure I maintained a challenging, but even pace.

I passed up the table where they were offering Ghirardelli chocolate squares because…I was running.  I can’t run and eat chocolate.  So, I kept on going, rounding the corner up ahead and getting sent up a bit of an incline.  I pushed up the hill, not feeling any discomfort in the ankle, rounded the corner again, and then started on the gentle slope back down toward the race course.

Now this is where it got messy.  We had runners and walkers making their way up to the incline ahead, but were taking chocolate from the Ghirardelli stop as well, which was located on the side of the path where people running back toward the finish were now running.  Oh well…it was a fun event…you just go with it.  As I’m trucking along, I see Sean Astin running toward me and he starts applauding those of us in the front of the pack and telling us we were doing great.  I held up my hand and he high-fived it.  Awesome.  A moment later, my co-worker’s husband was running by and we high-fived as well.  It was a high-five kind of race and I was loving it.  A little ways down my co-workers, Laura and Kayla, were walking past and Laura told me to go catch up to the guy in front of me (it was her son…who was banditing the race).  I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that, but as I was coming into one of the final turns, I did pass the kid in the orange sweatshirt that had outpaced me for much of the first part of the race.  I managed to keep ahead of him, and came back into the familiar Great Lawn area of Waterfront Park.  One final turn and I booked it to the finish line, pausing my Garmin a moment after.  I was the 4th registered finisher across the finish line.

I was all smiles!!  Seriously…all smiles.  It has been hard for me to not focus so much on time, but what I’m discovering is why I love doing this sport in the first place.  Yes…PRs are awesome and should be celebrated and should be fought for…but sometimes you have to work back into that.  I have rediscovered the joy that comes with just being able to get outside and get that run in.  I have found so much positivity from the people who saw me struggle with my sprained ankle and who have seen my will and determination to come back.  It’s a slow process…but I’m making strides in the right direction.

Me crossing the finish line of the Chocolate 5K - Louisville, Kentucky

Me crossing the finish line of the Chocolate 5K – Louisville, Kentucky

After crossing the finish, I went to get some water and a couple pieces of chocolate.  Cathy and I each ate a square…and we waited for the rest of my team to come in.  But…about four minutes after my finish…here comes Sean Astin.  Seriously.  I cheered as he crossed the finish line and then went down the ways a little to catch his breath.  His companion (and sort of body guard) went to go get him some water and after a moment, I walked over to say “Hi.”  And he was very gracious and very welcoming.  We took a picture together and I told him the story about how I believe he’s stalking me.  I told him the races we had run “together” and when I mentioned Chicago…he said, “You ran in Chicago…with your hair like this and everything!”  He pointed to my pigtails.  I laughed and nodded.  We talked about our finishing times and he said his goal is to eventually, one day, run a sub-4 marathon.  I told him I had every belief that he could do it.  He told me that I was going to win the Boston Marathon.  Seriously…can I keep him?

I knew he was busy and had a schedule to maintain (he was in town for the Wizard World Comic Con Louisville) so I said goodbye.  He gave me a hug and told me to have a good day.  I thanked him for coming out to run.  And that was that.  A few moments later…my team came in and I cheered for them all the way to the finish!  It was an amazing day.

So…my official time for this untimed event, according to my Garmin was 21:02.  I want to note, however, that the course was only 2.78 miles.  So…I am not little miss speedy!  Trust me.  I didn’t even feel all that speedy.  And at that pace, I wouldn’t have come close to my 5K PR.  I was okay with that, but I wanted at least 3 miles for the day.  So I went and did a slow, steady shake-out for the remaining mileage before returning to talk with my friends a bit longer.  We were wrapping things up, and I had grocery shopping, laundry, and an apartment to clean…so I said goodbye to everyone and Cathy and I departed, stopping by the Earth Fare booth to say hi.  I might have forgotten to mention (and will blog about it maybe next month) that I am, once again, an Earth Fare Athlete Ambassador.  And I’m loving it.  So, we had a short talk with the person at the booth, who recognized me immediately.  And, after snagging some chocolate dipped banana chips, we headed out for the day.

I had so much fun at this little race.  I smiled the entire time.  I managed to not die from a rattly chest.  I pushed a little harder than I normally would.  I want my speed back.  It will come.  I keep telling myself…it will come.  But for now…strengthening that ankle and getting myself back on track is way more important.  I’m just thankful that I had the opportunity to take part in such a fun event for a great cause.  And I can’t wait to do my next one.

Marathon Training Week #16 – Easing into the taper

Marathon Training Week #16

Marathon Training Week #16

Taper Madness.

It’s very real.  And I am trying very, very, very hard not to let it affect me.  In fact, Runner’s World couldn’t have been more timely when they published an article on Taper Madness and how to go into the taper and feel good as you go through it.  Some runners, honestly, look forward to the taper.  I am not one of those runners.  Cutting back on mileage is not easy for me.  I love my long distance runs.  I do them with people and I do them alone.  Either way, I enjoy them.  But cutting down has proven to be a bit of a challenge for me.

Thankfully, there wasn’t too much of a difference in this first week of the taper.  It was sort of like going into a cut-back week during normal training.  Maybe these marathon training planners do know what they are doing.  I promise…I am respecting my taper.  I swore I would and I intend to do so.

So, as my miles get shorter…let’s take a look at how I’m dealing this week.

Sunday was a busy day for me.  I was having my birthday get-together with some peeps.  Many of my friends made it out.  A couple ended up not being able to make it.  My roomie and I had our friend Greg in town…so…that being said…I knew I needed to get up and moving that morning if I was going to get my long run in.  Having run 24 miles the day before I had no plans for speed.  In fact, I wore my heavier shoes to keep my pace slow and steady.  I was aiming for 10 miles that morning, and I managed an easy (although at times it felt hard) 10 miles before heading back to the apartment and getting showered and making some gluten-free madeleines for breakfast.  The rest of the day we were out and about before my favorite local food truck, Sweet ‘N’ Savory catered my birthday party at The Beer Store in Louisville, Kentucky.  My roomie got me a gluten-free beer to try…blech…still not into beer.  Just not my thing.  I stuck mostly to the water and was served up one of the most amazing three course meals of my life.  FROM A FOOD TRUCK!!  Richard and Ashley do fantastic work, but they really did some amazing things.  I was the only gluten-free person at the get-together, but everyone enjoyed the appetizer gluten-free savory crepes, the gluten-free ravioli for the entree, and the gluten-free crepe suzette with their homemade gelato for dessert.  We were all very full at the end but everyone enjoyed the food.  I think it was one of my favorite get-togethers yet.  So many different personalities and people and yet…we all came together for good food and a good time.  It was a good Sunday.

And Monday definitely came around way too soon.  My training plan called for 6 easy miles, so I was up and at it early.  The darkness no longer slows me down…but what does slow me down is super tight hamstrings.  The morning air felt great, but my legs weren’t wanting to move as they normally would.  I foam rolled after I hit my mileage, slower than normal, but I was okay with that.  I was going the distance, not going for speed and I do not push when something is twinging.  After work and a quick dinner, I was back out for my Monday Daily Double…with my running group.  That night we were going to go a different route because a tree had gone down somewhere up the way and they were sculpting it into…something.  Laura had heard about it and was going to lead us that way.  She said that she was going to block me from running out ahead because I was in taper mode.  It actually worked and I loved her for this!  I have good friends in the running community.  As it turns out, they had finished the sculpture and the tree now was a castle with a dragon wrapped around it.  It was AWESOME.  We completed the run after stopping to marvel at the tree art.  Ellen and I stuck together, talked while we ran.  She said I pushed her at the end, and we finished up a full 3 miles together.  She said my easy pace was pushing it for her, but it felt great.  And we hit wicked negative splits.  Despite my tight hamstrings…we had a great run.  After a shower, foam rolling commenced once more.

Tuesday was my cross-training day.  So, no running.  These no running days are the most difficult part of training.  I just want to hop out of bed and put in some miles.  But…I behaved.  I hit up the gym and hopped on the Arc Trainer for 45 minutes, using Program 1 – Level 5 and managing 2.79 miles.  Not bad.  I love and hate that machine.  But it’s great for cross training.  After that, it was the rowing machine for 10 minutes.  The rowing machine is tedious…and boring.  But…it works so much of your body.  I always feel it after the workout.  After that, I went downstairs for some strength training before heading into the office.  But my day didn’t stop there.  After work, it was right into my circuit training.  This new routine kicks my butt every time.  Seriously.  But that’s good.  Honestly.

Wednesday morning I woke to the task of hitting 7 miles with Negative Splits in my marathon training.  Pacing and speed work days are my least favorite of the week.  But, they are necessary.  So, I started off slow and steady and picked it up with each mile.  I didn’t feel like I was actually doing the whole negative split thing, but when I hit 7 miles, I surprised myself.  I actually had managed those negative splits.  It felt good out there that morning.  I didn’t push too hard, because my legs were still feeling my runs from earlier in the week, but the hamstrings were feeling loose again and much better.  So, I kept it challenging…just didn’t push my luck.  Quite happy with it.

Thursday morning was another 7 mile run…this time at an easy pace.  I decided that I would take my Newtons out for a spin.  It would be the longest distance that I had run in them since I purchased them, usually keeping them on for my fun run Mondays or some light jogging on Friday.  But, I’m doing this whole shoe rotation thing and I figured…why not?  I love these shoes.  You either love or hate these shoes, but I love them.  My 7 easy miles were done, once again, with negative splits and I shaved a full minute off my time from the day before.  If I had gotten these shoes sooner, I would probably wear them in my marathon…but…that might have to wait for another time.

Friday is the dreaded day of rest…that I respect and keep holy.  Kind of.  I went out for a walk, because if I don’t, I sit at my desk all day on Friday working my ass off in front of the computer.  So, this was necessary.  I had on my walking shoes, so I kept a great pace, and did some light jogging on the straightaways.  I ended up doing this walk/jog thing for 4 miles that morning, which didn’t take me too long.  Still had plenty of time to make some coffee and get some breakfast ready before resting my legs for the remainder of the day.  I had a lot going on at the office, but at the back of my mind I kept thinking about my long run…

Saturday…the long run day.  Not as long a run for me this week.  Like I said…tapering.  BLECH.  Anyway, my training plan called for a paced…yes…a paced 12 mile long run.  What does this mean?  As laid out by the plan, I was to run certain miles at certain paces.  I wasn’t feeling too confident about it.  And…I was going this one alone.  Lots of things were now going on during the day Saturday, so meeting up with my peeps wasn’t going to happen.  BUMMER.  I was lacking motivation this morning.  I hit the snooze button on my alarm, goofed around online, but finally decided the miles and paces weren’t going to run themselves.  I made myself a deal…focus on the distance…I knew I could run the paces…so if I didn’t hit it…whatever.  The distance is what matters.  The training plan called for Miles 1-2 to be done at my Long Slow Distance pace; Miles 3-11 at Marathon Pace; Mile 12 at Long Slow Distance Pace.  I nailed it.  In fact, I once again ran most of the miles faster than necessary.  I am working on that because I don’t want to be burned out when I am in my marathon.  I want to feel strong and good at the end.  Anyway…I was pleased with the way this run turned out.  It wasn’t easy…but I pushed through and showed that I didn’t have to doubt myself.  I am quite capable of these paced long runs.  I just never feel like I’m strong enough or good enough.  And that’s something i need to get over.

Next week the taper gets very real.  I keep eying the training schedule and shaking my head.  It will be so hard to work around the cutback on the miles, but I will do it…and I will continue to respect the lower mileage because I know what it is doing is getting my body ready for the big day.  My muscles are healing, getting stronger, and getting prepared.  And because of that…I will work through the miles as laid out by my plan.  It’s not easy…but I’ll manage.

Taper Madness…I can get through this, right?

Marathon Training Week #8 – Daily Doubles

Marathon Training Week #8

Marathon Training Week #8

Halfway!!  I am officially halfway through my marathon training for the Chicago Marathon!!

This has been one crazy week for my training.  Honestly.  Not just from a time perspective, but there was just a lot going on for me with my running and training schedule.  Some of it was part of the plan.  Some of it…well…some of it was bonus…extra…things I do for fun.  And that’s good to have in there every now and again.  The key is to keep it easy and run smart.  As long as I listen to my body and not get stubborn, I’ll be fine.

It seemed I was doing quite a few doubles this week.  That was not actually intended…it was just how it worked out.  Regardless, I can feel my legs growing stronger because while they have been worked hard once already, they still power through another run.  Sometimes faster…sometimes slower.   They run as they feel and I don’t push it.  I have a goal to come out of this year uninjured and so far that’s worked out for me.

Let’s take a look at this week of pulling double duty…

Sunday is either an easy run or a day of rest.  I normally opt for the easy run unless my legs are just crying out for some down time.  But, this past Sunday I was invited by my good friend Kelsie to go running with her running group.  I never turn down a chance to get out and run with people.  I have a blast getting out with others, talking, running, and just having a good time.  You don’t even think about the miles when you’re in that sort of a zone.  They were meeting up in Jeffersonville, Indiana to run for 11 miles.  I had done 15 the previous morning, but I was feeling up to it and feeling good.  I met up with her group at 5:30 a.m. and we all headed out to run across the Second Street Bridge and head up Bardstown until we hit 5.5 miles.  Turning around and heading back.  We all talked about races, goals, pace, and some amendments to our own goals we had set.  Kelsie and I figured out why we click so well…we’re both Virgos.  And we had really great conversation for much of the run, talking about fundraising, about family, everything.  Running was not the only subject, nor were our upcoming marathons.  It was a gorgeous morning with 57 degree temperatures.  We finished up just as the sun was coming up.  A beautiful 11 miles with good people and great motivation.  My legs weren’t screaming at me at all.  They felt strong the entire way.  It was an easy pace, with great people and I would certainly do it again in a heartbeat.

Minion cake for my Monday fun run group!

Minion cake for my Monday fun run group! Yes…I made that!

Monday returned with a vengeance.  The weather that morning was perfect for a run.  And I took advantage of that for sure.  I was scheduled for 7 easy miles, which I totally devoured that morning.  I was shocked, actually, since I was coming off a weekend of two longer than usual runs.  But my legs were still feeling amazing and that was what mattered.  I even managed some awesome negative splits.  And, as usual, Monday also brings around my group fun run after work.  After rushing home to eat a quick meal and getting ready, I grabbed a special cake I made for my group and headed out to meet up with them.  Laura had heard about a World Championship Dainty Competition going on in the area, so we headed a different direction than usual, up Eastern Parkway, and took it over to Goss, where the event was being held.  We all paused to watch for a few minutes, then continued along the way.  I mostly stayed in the front with Harry and Natalie.  Harry and I have been trying to get through to Natalie that she doesn’t have to sprint through every run.  Especially since she is recovering from arm surgery and now an injury to her leg.  She is stubborn though, but hopefully she’ll learn.  We finished up another 4.1 miles that day and then returned to the store to cut into and devour the cake I made.  What was this special cake?  I made a cake shaped like a Minion from Despicable Me.  We all love Minions in my running group.  It was a gluten-free and dairy-free cake…and it was a hit!!

Tuesday, however, I was starting to feel all that running.  This was a no run…but cross training day.  So, Cathy and I hit the gym.  She was returning from having her wisdom tooth out.  So, we hit the Arc Trainer first.  I did 45 minutes on Program 2 – Hills – on Level 5.  This was a challenge.  But I pushed through those 45 minutes of hills, which means a change in intervals, resistance, and inclines.  It was tough, but I managed 2.38 miles.  Then it was over to the Cardio Wave machine.  I love this machine because it moves my legs from side to side instead of just the standard front and back motion.  In 10 minutes, I did 3.69 miles and was ready to call it a day.  But some strength training was up next.  I hit that up, left the gym…and was supposed to come home from work and fit in some circuit training.  My legs were saying “NO!”  So, I decided with Cathy still coming back from her tooth and my legs telling me to lay off…we’d take a break this week from circuit training and come back to it next week.  We were both happy with that decision.

Wednesday is my speed work/pacing day.  This week called for a 6 mile tempo run.  And, aside from having some issues with my fuel belt staying in place that morning, I was mostly successful in rocking this out.  I held a great pace, I worked into the tempo, sustained it, then cooled down.  I felt good about it when it was done, I just needed to get past scooching my fuel belt down throughout the entire thing.  I fueled halfway through just as my sports nutritionist is requiring me to do while out running.  And it was a good pacing day.  When I finished it up, I felt good…so that was the important part.

Thursday…was insane.  I went out in the morning for my 5 mile easy run, which I managed better than I thought I would.  I didn’t check the weather like I normally do that morning, and figured it would be cool like the past few mornings have been.  Wrong.  The air was very humid, but I did have a wind.  A strong headwind that hit me on the inclines of this run.  Despite that, I still rocked out those 5 easy miles and even managed negative splits.  Thursday is also our other day to hit up the gym.  This time, I did 49 minutes on the elliptical machine.  The last four minutes are a cool down, but I was doing good, despite having busy legs all week.  I did 9.38 miles in 49 minutes that morning.  Then I went over to the rowing machine for 10 minutes.  The rowing machine always kicks my booty.  It just works my body all over.  It’s great cross training and great on the core, back, arms, and even the legs.  I really struggled this morning though, starting to feel the fatigue set into my legs.  So…I did 1.17 miles in those 10 minutes, then headed downstairs for a couple of strength machines.  But my day didn’t end there.  Nope.  Thursday was also the BlueMile Brew Mile at Molly Malone’s.  I haven’t missed a Brew Mile yet this year.  And the one at Molly’s is one of my favorites.  Despite having to run through Eastern Cemetery.  I had actually gotten there in good time and met up with Natalie.  We probably should have been stretching, but instead we just got to talking.  This happens with us.  We met up with Ellen and Andrew from BlueMile as well…and more talking.  Then Laura showed up…and we all just talked.  No stretching actually occurred.  Not really.  We were directed to walk toward Eastern Cemetery, so we did.  All of us lined up and we were given the course directions by Derek.  And then…we were off.  Despite these tired, overworked legs, I rocked off a mile in 6:42, which is fantastic for me, I think.  I wasn’t sure I would be able to push it having not stretched and having just really tired legs, but I got through it and I pushed and pushed.  It was a brilliant mile and all of us finished in great time.  Then, we headed back to Molly’s for the giveaways and drinks.  I bought Cathy a Magners while I sipped on some much-needed water.  I even won a $15 BlueMile Gift Certificate in the prize drawings.  WOOHOO!!

Friday…the much needed day of rest.  And I’m really good about obeying this for the most part.  I have been going out for a walk in the morning.  It’s not running…it’s walking.  Which, I suppose, doesn’t really mean I am resting.  And I tend to walk fast too.  So, that morning I went for 3 miles and did that in 34:26.  It was beautiful out.  Nice breeze.  It just felt good.  And, on lunch, Cathy and I went for another walk (pulling a double again!), in which we managed 1.65 miles in 23 minutes.  It was good and I didn’t push much because I knew Saturday held my long run.

Saturday morning came and normally I would be running with Matthew and company.  Matthew and Dawn, however, had decided to spontaneously run a marathon in Tennessee…so they weren’t going to be there.  I had 12 miles to run for this week, as it was a fall-back week.  A few other people needed to go that distance as well.  So, I met up with Laura and a couple of other ladies for the early start at 6:30 a.m.  We headed out from Bardstown toward the Second Street Bridge.  From there, the other two ladies turned around, as they were only going 6-7 miles respectively.  Laura and I continued on, heading down toward the Waterfront.  Here Laura took me the opposite way, away from the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge…which was a very scenic and new route for me.  And I loved it.  We had great conversation, said hello to other runners and bikers that we passed, and she even showed me the trivia about river boats.  Oh, and if you don’t know much about trains…Laura can fill you in.  I loved learning so much about them.  I just love trivia and knowledge…especially on things I normally know nothing about.  We reached our turnaround point, then headed back along toward the riverfront before taking Main to Market to Baxter back to the store.  I was going to stop at 12 miles, but I felt so good coming up the hill on Baxter, that I just kept going.  When it hit the corner near Blue Mile, I was only 0.10 miles off from 13, so I made Cathy run behind me as I worked to hit that 13 mile mark.  She jogged for about 20 feet before just heading to the car, where I met her after my watch hit that 13th mile.  And I felt good at the end of it.  Which was what I wanted to feel.  We had a Maroon 5 concert that night and I had every intention of rocking out another 12 – 13 miles on Sunday, despite getting home at 2 a.m.  But that…will wait for next week.

So, there was a lot of daily doubles going on this week, whether in running or walking.  But I can feel my legs are getting used to working even when fatigued.  And that, I feel, is a good thing.  The marathon is going to drain me…so knowing my legs can carry me through, even when tired, is just making me feel better about the entire situation.  I’m loving every bit of my training…and the extra stuff I do for fun.  Because I can’t just keep it serious all the time.  I love to run…so when the opportunity comes up to run a mile for charity…to run with friends…to bake a cake and share it with good people…that’s what I do.  It’s good for me to adjust my running, to take it easier than usual at times, because it helps build endurance and strength.  That’s a hard lesson to learn.  I can’t be all-out all the time or I will get injured.  Those long, slow distances are key to going the distance and making it to the finish line at the very end of it all.

Definitely looking forward to this coming week…which won’t include as many doubles.  In fact…Monday should be the only one.  I keep learning from all my training and fun runs.  I take in great advice, I learn about what my body is capable of managing, and I just enjoy the feeling I get when I hit stop on my Garmin and realize just how far I’ve gone.

I might have been pulling double duty this past week on the running, but I ran smart to ensure I could handle it.  And that is the key!

Marathon Training Week #7 – Cooling off and going long…er…

Marathon Training Week #7

Marathon Training Week #7

It’s July, right?  Right?  Because this week, save for the very beginning, brought about less humidity and cooler temperatures.  This has definitely boosted my confidence in my training and my running.  I don’t feel like I’m out of breath.  I don’t feel like I’m drowning in sweat (even if it is liquid awesome).  I don’t feel tired as quickly.  Mother Nature somehow brought me my confidence back with the much cooler, much more running-friendly weather this week.

After last week, this was a welcome change.  Especially with the long runs (yes…runs!) I had planned for this weekend.  Sweet, sweet relief.  And, to make it even better (who am I and what did I do with my former self?)…on Saturday my running group got poured on.  It was amazing.  It felt great.  It made me smile…even if I was getting poured on.  It didn’t last long…but it was nice to splash through the puddles and feel all badass for hitting that pavement in a drenching downpour.

This was a “scale-back” week for me in terms of mileage during the week.  But my long run this weekend was supposed to be longer than last week’s.  Last week I extended my long run to comply with my friend Matthew’s…so, this was technically a scale back as well.  I was okay with that.  These are important weeks for the body…because with the scale back…the following week brings back the higher mileage and now your body is ready to handle it.

But then…a second long run happened.  Because when a friend invites you to join her group for a refreshing, early, early morning long run on Sunday…you go.  It was fantastic.  I met a new group of wonderful people and I had a chance to really chat up Kelsie and we discussed our training…our hopes for our marathons…fundraising problems…and…clothing/shoes, etc.

This week…was the kind of week I needed.

Sunday is normally my easy run or rest day.  My roommate and I had a house guest this weekend, but I felt I needed to stretch my legs out.  After Saturday’s rough 18 mile run in extreme heat and humidity, then a lot of riding in a car…followed by sitting on a hard cement floor at a very fun roller derby bout…followed by more car riding…the run was a relief and gave these legs a chance to simply S-T-R-E-T-C-H out.  I choose to run hills though…which still doesn’t make sense now that I look back.  But, it seemed to be what my legs needed.  I could feel the strength returning to them with each hill that I powered up, despite having some residual aches and pains.  I took it easy, though…as that stifling humidity was still lingering.  It was all about pacing myself and keeping myself hydrated and fueled properly.  After the run, I showered, changed, and headed out to meet up with my sports nutritionist again.  This time we went over loss of sodium in these sort of conditions and what that means…how to fuel properly for that…what I’ve been doing right…what I need to improve on…and the like.  It was a brilliant meeting and I walked out of there feeling so much better about things.  Remember all those harsh comments about my body?  Well, she told me I looked healthier now than I did when we first met.  And that I should pay no attention to the negative people firing these comments at me.  She said simply…believe it or not…I am built like a runner.  Lean muscle.  And the people who said those things have no idea what they are talking about.  Her job was to make judgment calls about her clients based on looks as well and she said I looked healthy.  Then we hugged.  I needed that.

Monday morning took me back out into the wee dark hours before most people are even out of bed.  The air felt so heavy, humid, and wet that morning.  I did, however, get rained on for one glorious mile.  I think I smiled then.  It just felt better and easier.  It happened right in the middle of my 5 easy run…and it was a blessing.  Until it stopped.  And all I wanted after that was it to rain down on me a little more.  It was so refreshing.  But, alas…the rain was gone for the time being.  I did rock out negative splits, however!  Always a good thing.  Being Monday, that also meant it was my Daily Double…so I headed out to my running store’s fun run and we all ran with Natalie again, whose arm is feeling better, but her hamstring is dealing her fits.  We let her set the pace and we ran for three miles, winding up back at the store.  It was a hot, hot day for running.

Tuesday is the usual cross training day.  This week I was scheduled for 40-50 minutes of cross training.  That’s rather normal on Tuesdays now.  The only difference this week was that Cathy was left at home, having had her last wisdom tooth extracted on Monday afternoon.  All alone at the gym.  I got on the Arc Trainer for 45 minutes, using the Program 1 setting on Level 5, and managed 2.78 with various intervals, resistance, and inclines.  It was challenging.  Then, to finish it up, I got on the rowing machine for 10 minutes worked my core and upper body to the max, pushing for 1.19 miles.  I hit up a few strength machines before calling it a day.  That night…yoga to stretch everything out.

Wednesday is my speed work or pacing day and this week called for 5 miles of speed work.  This was supposed to be done at the track, however, Cathy was still out of commission and I wasn’t going to head off to the track alone while it was still dark out.  I do a lot of crazy things, but safety is always first and I didn’t feel safe going off on my own.  So, I decided I would have to dreadmill the speed work this time and make sure I hit up the track next time it came up in the schedule.  That was the deal I made with myself and with Cathy.   So, I hit the gym and set the treadmill for an easy 7 mph pace for my first mile to get warmed up.  Then I dug into 4 x 800 meters at 8 mph with 4 x 400 meters at 7.5 mph for recovery.  My last mile was back down to the 7 mph pace to cool down.  When I finished, I actually felt like I was too easy on the speed work and should push a little harder next time.  So, that’s my goal.  I tend to go easier than I normally run on a treadmill.  I don’t know why.  Most people are the opposite.  Go figure.

Thursday morning dawned and brought about my final 5 mile easy run of the week.  It was a gorgeous 60 degree morning.  And I loved it.  I had a bit of a twinge in my hip that morning, but I stretched really well and it went away.  And the entire time I was running nothing bothered me at all.  I polished off that run like it was nothing, no twinges after that or anything.  So whatever it was just required a bit of stretching.  And…once again I managed negative splits.  It was the kind of run I needed.  That was also my second day of the week to hit up the gym and I managed to get 9.18 miles in on the elliptical in 49 minutes.  Then rocked out 3.89 miles on the stationary bike.  I felt really good about how I did on those, but my legs were really feeling it all that day.  So, after hitting up some strength machines and heading to work, I made sure I stretched it all out that night with some soothing yoga.

Friday naturally meant it was the rest day that I never like taking, but have promised to respect it and keep it holy.  Which I do.  I don’t run or hit the gym or do anything at home.  I did, however, take myself for an early morning walk.  I managed 2.5 miles in 30 minutes, so that wasn’t too bad.  I tend to be a fast walker with these short legs.  Next time, I might have to slow it down some.  I just get lost in my thoughts and don’t even realize it.  But, the rest of the day it was rest, rest, rest because Saturday was coming and that meant…the long run…

Saturday is long run training day.  Run long at an easy pace.  This week, most people were going for the mileage my training plan called for, which was 15 miles at the Long Slow Distance pace.  I met up with my running group earlier than normal, at 6:00 a.m.  We hit the road, heading toward one of the parks and overshooting it to get to 8 miles…so that when we turned around…we wouldn’t have to run the worst part of Eastern Parkway here in Louisville near the end.  Instead, we would take that at a deliberate walk to cool down.  Now…on Friday I accidentally got hit with a case of accidental glutenization.  Let’s just say…stupid mistake led to major stomach issues.  So, I was a bit nervous about Saturday morning.  But I managed to rock out the run.  Matthew and I were having a much better run this week…and for the first couple of miles, we ran with the rest of the 6 a.m. group.  But, then…for the remainder, it was just us…until we turned around and met up with them again.  We stopped to talk for a moment, but then decided to head back to the store.  They told us to go ahead…because no one likes to get passed.  Matthew and I went on…and polished off the run, cooling down just as planned with a brisk walk toward the coffee shop.  I had baked up some gluten-free rosemary cheddar biscuits and some gluten-free/dairy-free/sugar-free banana oat cookie bites for everyone, and Cathy was at the coffee shop, generously handing them out for me.  We settled in to talk for a little while, then we excused ourselves because we were both starving and were ready to hit up my favorite Saturday breakfast spot – Annie May’s Sweet Café – for their gluten-free/vegan sausage and “cheese” breakfast sandwich.  I was pretty much on the go the rest of the day…finishing up grocery shopping and just hitting the malls to keep on moving.  Eventually, as the day went on, my stomach started to feel better.  I’m still not 100%, but at least I proved I had it in me to go the distance regardless.  I feel strong.

It turned out to be a fantastic week for running, once the weather changed and the humidity lifted.  I mentioned a second long run this weekend, which I rocked out at 5:30 a.m. this morning with my Virgo-in-arms and friend, Kelsie.  But…that will have to wait for next week’s blog.

I started the week on a high note, with a good, hill run and a great meeting with my sports nutritionist.  Then I polished it off with great running weather for my scheduled long run.  Life has been good to me this week.  And I am pleased to see that the nicer weather is staying this coming week.  See this smile…yeah…it’s been awhile.

See you next week!

Marathon Training Week #2 – From speed work to slowing down…

Chicago Marathon Training Week #2

Chicago Marathon Training Week #2

It’s amazing the lessons you learn through life.  Every day brings a new discovery, a new chance to improve on something, a lesson that needed to be learned, and everything in between.

Last week, I revealed that I was diagnosed with (granted) the most common form of skin cancer.  And while it is “common”…the fact that I had a nurse tell me I had any form of cancer broke my spirit.  It hurt.  It bothered me.  I didn’t let on…but when the reality of it struck…it really threw me off my game.  I no longer felt centered.  I was no longer focused.

What I had to do was strive to regain my equilibrium.  And I worked on doing that, staying positive, and focusing on something that truly made me happy.  My running.  Thank goodness for my training plan because it is keeping me accountable and keeping my mind off of things.

This was my second official week of marathon training and I was already looking forward to some of the scheduled days I had in front of me.

Sunday I went out for an easy run.  It was Father’s Day, so I dedicated 7 miles to my dad.  I called him later to tell him that, and that, ironically, I managed my fastest 7 miles to date without even trying.  And that the last mile of it was spent carrying a bag that had some almonds and an avocado in it, as I stopped by the grocery store while I was out.  Yes…I am that runner.

Monday morning meant I was back to the running in the dark.  I am continuing to fuel and hydrate according to the instructions that my sports nutritionist laid out for me and have been quite successful with that.  I have, however, discovered that I hate my hand-held water bottle.  I carried it with me on the shorter runs and just found it annoying.  But I don’t feel like wearing my fuel belt with water bottles on the shorter distances either.  But I need the hydration in order to follow the plan that she has laid out for me to guarantee my body will function right and properly under race conditions when I get to my marathon.  So…I carry the handheld bottle.  And hate it.  Monday morning was a scheduled 5 miles at an easy pace.  I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to race every run I do, which is a huge problem for me.  So, I often have to remind myself to slow down and take it easy.  It really is important.  So, I did the scheduled miles…then later that evening did an even easier run through the hills of Cherokee Park with my Monday fun run group.  It was good.  And I had a great conversation about my marathon from someone who has run it 6 times as well as other marathons I might want to look at in the future.  It was a good Monday.

Tuesday was the scheduled cross training day.  I’m so not used to waking up without going running, so this day usually throws me off.  I did 45 minutes on the Arc Trainer with hill intervals and on Level 5 and really rocked it out.  I was proud of myself.  Then I hit up the Cardio Wave machine for 10 minutes, which is like an elliptical machine, except that your feet move from side-to-side and instead of moving forward and back.  It is a welcome change for the legs.  While it is only 10 minutes, I worked it hard, upping my resistance and speed every minute.  It really works up a sweat.

Wednesday is the speed work and pacing day.  And this week was fartlek week.  Five miles worth.  Now, I attempted fartleks once before…but didn’t properly warm up and ended up with a nagging pain in my ankle/calf muscle for about 2 weeks.  This time, I used my first mile as a warm up and ran the fartleks the remaining 4 miles.  For those of you not familiar with the term, fartleks are where you alternate irregular fast and slow intervals, either by time or by markers on the course you choose to run.  As I run in the early morning when it is dark out, I couldn’t really keep track on my watch, so I chose different places to speed up and run through and then other places to ease back into an easy pace.  I ended up breaking a 5 mile PR by an entire minute.  Maybe there is something to this speed play stuff.  I had a great and fun run that morning.  It was nice to change things up.

Thursday rolled around and that was another easy run day.  This time it called for 6 miles.  So, I went out and logged those, once again reminding myself that I don’t need to race on these runs.  I took it easy, and ran at a decent pace for me…and finished strong.  I’m trying to work on that finishing kick…but I still usually don’t have the ooomph at the end of a run, no matter the distance, to really kick it into high gear.  I’m hoping my speed work days will help with that in the end.  After that, I hit up the gym for some cardio and strength training.  I felt strong that morning.  It was a good feeling.

Friday…the day of rest.  I dread Friday for this reason.  It is not easy for me to take a day off of running.  I get antsy and fidgety.  But, rest days are important for the muslces, the body, and the soul.  Honestly, it gives the body a chance to repair itself.  These days are vital when in training because these days help the muscles build up strength.  I know that sounds weird, but with each workout you fatigue your muscles and giving them a day off means they repair themselves and grow stronger.  And I definitely want to be a stronger runner.  So, once again, I respected the rest day and kept it holy.  I did opt for an easy walk at the gym on my lunch hour.  Nothing strenuous.

Saturday is the day of the long run at the Long Slow Distance (LSD) pace.  I am so lucky to have fallen in with a group of runners who have taken me in and are able to take me on new routes and new runs on these longer running days.  I was really getting tired of looping my neighborhood.  BORING!  I met up with a great group of people on Saturday morning and we logged my 11 mile training run in 1:36:10.  I was talking with one of the runners, someone who has just logged his 32nd marathon in his life, and he was telling me the importance of these runs being taken at a slower, easier pace.  It does help build up strength and speed in the end.  Just like rest days.  There will be those days where my training calls for Marathon Pace…but on these LSD days…I try to honor that longer slower distance.  I was so happy to have the company and the conversation on the long run.  It made the time fly by and the effort feel effortless.  Loving it.  I finished strong too.  Already looking forward to doing it again next weekend.

So, overall, not a bad training week at all.  I already see in the next few weeks, due to events and appointments, where I will need to tweak my training schedule, but I’m so happy with how this week went.  I am definitely focusing more on feel and my body.  I used to put so much emphasis on time, and a part of me still does, but through the training and through learning from other seasoned runners, I am discovering that the pace will find you at the race itself…you train right, and you’ll be ready to run one of the best races of your life.  Train too hard…and you get burnt out or injured.  And that is the last thing I want to have happen.  So, training smart and keeping my mileage and my pace in proper check.

Loving every run.  So that means I must be doing something right.

I am not sure if or how my procedure will affect my program, but I will find out on Wednesday when I go in.  The most important thing right now is to remain positive and do what is right for me and my body.  And right now…it’s getting rid of the basal cell carcinoma, healing, and having that weight lifted off my shoulders.  I’m going to keep on smiling.

One week and 10 hard-earned miles later…

January Running Challenges

January Running Challenges

I’m not one to set a goal and take it lightly.  I’m a fighter.  A pursuer.  A doer.

So, imagine my chagrin after declaring my 2013 running goal of running 1300 miles…and then heading out of town for the New Year…to be met with snow, ice, and roads that were not safe to run on while I was out of town.  It was still December at that point…but running in place (or sprinting around the island) in my friend’s kitchen was even worse than running on a treadmill.


But…my dedication to the Runner’s World Run Streak and REDD (Run Every Day in December) meant…I ran.  Even if it was running in place for  50 minutes to hit what would be 5 miles…all to simply get that run in.

Winter sucks.  I dislike winter.  I dislike it with a passion.  The cold weather is hard on my skin…and definitely not easy to get out in and run.  Oh, I’ll do it…I just don’t like doing it.  And if the roads are trecherous…it means the outdoor run has to move indoors.  This would normally mean a treadmill at the gym…but being out of town meant no gym.

So…my first run of January was done in my friend’s kitchen.  My second run…on a treadmill.  My third…I almost went outside for.  But the 19 degree weather turned me back around and pushed me back into the warm cloak of my apartment.  I also woke up with a migraine that day…so I endured my job at the office and then went over to the gym to pound out half of my required training run that day.


But this morning, I told myself to SUCK IT UP, CUPCAKE!  So…I layered up the running clothes.  Put on my reflective gear and blinking lights.  And I headed outside for my first official outdoor run of the year.  4 miles.  As it’s an early morning run, I stick close to home, so this is a 3-time out and back…but it gives me my mileage.  The darkness is a bit of a challenge, but I do have a light clamped onto my hat.  And the cold…well…it sometimes leaves me gasping for air…but it feels so good to actually move while running.

While I understand the need for cold weather, I am already looking forward to Spring.  These cold mornings are doing a number on me.  But I am going to do my best, on the mornings where it is tolerable, to take my run outside.  Because, when it comes down to it…that’s where I love to run.

Here’s to one week of working toward my goal.  Ten miles 4 days into it the year…not a great start…but not bad either!  Given the circumstances, that is…