Welcome to Carb city

Well here we are, one week out from Marathon day.  According my training plan, it is time to up the carbohydrate ante,  lower my protein and fat intake, and stop looking at the scale until next week.

Unfortunately that does NOT mean all the cake, cookies and ice-cream I can eat.  No, the idea is to eat pastas, rice, starchy veggies, and fruits, along with smaller quantities of lean meats.

This is foreign territory for me.  I am a certified carnitarian.  My idea of a happy meal is a big steak, with a side of bacon…maybe a small side salad if it contains more bacon, hold the bread and dessert.  What can I say, its just how I roll.  I try very hard to get in at least one small serving of veg. at each meal…but its an effort.  I have no problem passing up the bread basket at dinner…because that allows for a larger portion of meat.  For breakfast I am an eggs and sausage and bacon-hold the pancakes- and toast- and bagel- kind of gal. Nutritionists shall shudder I know, but just being real yo.

So, you can imagine how strange it was to fill my shopping cart with 90% carbs today.  So far the menu for next week will consist of:

Breakfast: a thin cinnamon raison bagel with peanut butter and nutella, with a banana and coffee.

Snacks of apple slices and cheese sticks, low fat  yogurt with fruit, raspberries, strawberries, and a few potato chips tossed in for good measure( because I like them that’s why).

Lunch : likely leftovers from dinner the night before

Dinners:

  1.               baked peppers stuffed with orzo pasta, tomato sauce, shredded            zucchini and parm cheese, salad and bread.
  2.               Spaghetti with meatballs and marinara with italian bread
  3.               Chicken picatta penne pasta with a salad and bread
  4.               Chicken fried rice with asparagus sushi and spring rolls

Right now this looks like an overwhelming amount of pasta, bread, etc…but we’ll see how it goes. I need to figure out a few good veggies to add in for sides…but that will take some thought. I’ve picked recipes that have lean meats and little fat to balance out all those carbs.  It still makes me nostalgic for a big juicy ribeye, or rack of ribs, or a big fat bacon burger…but I think I’ll survive my week.

Overall, the carb loading helps…it gives me something to focus on other than the journey ahead.  Our sermon at church today was Luke Chapter 5.  Its a favorite of mine.  Its the one where Jesus tells Peter to venture out into the deep waters and cast his nets.  Peter is out of his element in this story.  He’s tired from a long night of doing his best…fishing his heart out and coming up not just short, but completely empty.  I’m sure his confidence was a bit shaken at this point, and the very last thing he wanted to do was take his tired body back out into the depths and try to catch anything.  But he did.  He ventured out on faith and went even tho he was tired and a bit discouraged.  He was rewarded with not just a bountiful harvest, but one of amazingly supernatural proportions.

Right now I find I can identify with this Peter.  I’ve been training for 7 long months.  I’m tired…I’ve had some confidence shaking runs…and I’ve had some hugs and encouragement from the almighty.  Its still taking more effort than I would like to run the taper runs. I admit to being a bit scared…there is weariness and a desire to just put my nets away and be done.  I have been called out to deeper waters tho, and I will go.

If I really think about it, my harvest has already been supernaturally bountiful.  I have grown much stronger in faith and in my walk with God. I’ve had hours on my feet to have quiet time with my Savior.  I’ve learned how to truly commit to something even if I’m not sure its within my realm of ability-to get up and run and try even if I was tired, or sore, or discouraged.  I’ve learned to follow through with plans even when they get unbelievable hard.  I’ve learned to lean on God’s strength and the strength of friends and family when I was afraid that I couldn’t continue. I’ve learned that I have amazing friends and family who will support me through even my craziest endeavors. I’ve learned that hard work and perseverance really do make you stronger.

It was almost 3 years ago when I first managed to run for a whole 5 minutes at a time.  The person I was then would NEVER have believed that she could, and eventually would be able to run for 5 HOURS at a time.

So….lets load up on some carbs, get into the boat, and head for deeper waters.  Its time to throw out my nets and see if I can catch a finish line :).

Amazing Grace and Taper Tantrums

So I thought tapering would be awesome!  In reality, its been down right hard…kind of sucky really. I read all the posts abut how you can expect to feel anxious, jittery, and feel like you need to cram in extra miles…get twitchy from a need to run.  Yeah well for me not so much.  I got anxious aright, but it was because my legs and body just up and quit.  Apparently they didn’t get the memo that they were supposed to feel strong and raring to go.  I was supposed to feel bored and anxious to get out and run run run….I was anxious alright,  because I was literally dragging my booty through a sad slow panting mile at a time.

I ran 12 miles last Friday and those were hot, swampy Florida miles…nothing unusual there.  It was hot, it was humid, I sweat buckets, walked a bit to keep from dying…but finished per usual.  Sunday I ran 4mies.  I ran them at a moderate pace…and felt like I was going to keel over.  I was sweating like a snowman in a hot air factory and puffing like a freight train by the time I was done.  Hmmm. NOT the usual 4 mile run…I mean really…a week ago I had slogged through 23 miles and was breathing almost as hard at the end of this 4 mile run as I had been then! Fast forward to Monday.  I set out for a short ( ha…love being able to say that) 6 mile run.  Not even a full mile into said run, I was doubled over wheezing and puffing like I had just run a half marathon at a sprint….Hmmm…not good at all.  Well I tried run/ walk intervals and finally gave up on those by mile 2 and simply WALKED a full 5 miles.  No running…just walked.  REALLY NOT GOOD. UGH!

Needless to say I was worried.  I had a Marathon to run in 2 weeks and here I couldn’t run a MILE????!!!! What in the heck was I doing even trying to do this?! Had I imagined training for 7 months and putting in  a 21 mile, and two 23 mile runs in the very recent past?  First I panicked, and then I scheduled some blood work to make sure my hyperactive thyroid wasn’t going crazy on me.  The blood work all came back right as rain…no physical reason for my taper tantrums…just my body deciding its had enough or my brain giving out on me.  I wasn’t sure which, but I was WORRIED.  I prayed ( granted that should have been step one…but I am stubborn and slow in that department).  I asked family and friends for prayer too and tried not to wallow.  As it is, the plane tickets are purchased and the hotel is booked…we ARE going to the Flying Pig regardless.

So…Today ( Friday) I had an 8 miler planned.  I was actually a bit scared to suit up and even try today.  I knew it would be unbelievably discouraging if I did poorly…but a bacon runner’s gotta do what a bacon runner’s gotta do.  I prayed last night.  I prayed this morning.  It was a simple prayer: “God please give me Hope and a Hug out there today”.  I wasn’t praying for easy…just for possible…just for a hope and a hug from my Almighty Father..that was really what I needed most.

Well I got Hope.  I got a Hug…and I got an Big Hero 6 style fist bump from God himself this morning ( badaladaladala).  The first 3 miles hurt..I won’t lie.  My calf muscles were really screaming…BUT I told myself I absolutely HAD to run the first 3 miles…NO EXCEPTIONS…unless I was puking or unconscious.  It was tough, but I did.   Through those  3 miles, my heart rate stayed stable and I was only sweating cups not buckets…no freight train showed up to puff my breath away.  After 3 miles I just kept going.  Eventually my legs gave up the crying game and fell in line.  I never did stop to walk except for a couple of brief water breaks ( I don’t drink and run…not pretty).

I ran the ENTIRE 8 miles people.  And here’s the cool part…I wasn’t trying for any kind of pace or time…just trying to run, BUT I almost matched my race PR for the first 10K ( 6.2 miles) of the run…I was only about 3 minutes off of my best race pace for that distance.  And I finished running strong.  I was able to negatively split and run the last couple miles at a nice satisfying clip.

So here I am…sitting and sweating as I type this…tears still welling in my eyes.  I sit here in the midst of Taper Tantrums with the refrain of Amazing Grace echoing in my mind.  Yesterday I was empty but today I am full to the brim, my cup overflowing with grace, and hope, and holy hugs…all I had to do was ask.

Shake it off

I was supposed to run 6 miles on Sunday and then 5 today.  As you know, I ran my last Big Kahuna 23 mile run on Friday.  My legs laughed at the thought of running on Sunday, and tried to give me attitude today.  Sunday we went to Megacon, so I walked a TON and went up multitudes of stairs.  I decided that was enough punishment for my aching legs and scrapped the 6 mile Sunday run.

Today Superhusband was able to run with me.  I knew right out of the gate that 5 miles was going to be too ambitious for my still exhausted legs, so we set out for a 4 mile run.  Well a half mile in, and my calf muscles literally cramped up into a solid block.  Hmmm…that was a new and successful form of rebellion…I had to swallow my pride and walk a bit.  Once my legs gave up and started working again, we decided to run sprints.  Oh my that was fun!:)

Turns out, I have been running such long slow miles for so many months that I had forgotten I even COULD run faster.  If felt so amazing and so very FUN to just let go and run as fast as I could for a short period.  Of course, we took a few walking breaks in between since we were running so hard in the sprints…but it was FUN! I haven’t had FUN running in….well I actually don’t remember when.

My fastest mile was a 9:21…I CAN still run when I need to!  I felt like a kid again, just running for the pure joy and fun of feeling the pavement pound by and the wind in my hair.  It. Was. Glorious!

I have to truly thank Superhusband for running this morning.  If he hadn’t been with me, I would have likely turned for home when my calves cramped up.  I certainly wouldn’t have taken off in a blind sprint to race him to the next light…I would have missed reconnecting with the joy of running, and missed the fun 🙂 ( I know…fun and running in the same sentence…who have I become???).

Anyway, here’s to the run that almost wasn’t.  To giving myself the grace to run 4 instead of 5 miles, and to have some fun out there for a change! Here’s to running partners who push you, and who know when to just take off and race you to the next light! Thanks baby!

Welcome to Taper Town

I had my last looooooong run before the marathon  Friday.  A) YAY!!!!! WOOOHOOOOO! I ran ANOTHER 23 miles! WHOOP-WHOOP!…and B) It was a terrible horrible awful very bad no good run AGAIN. BOO. HISS.

Hitting the wall in my last 23 miler really threw me for a loop, so I did what I do so well…researched the heck out of it.  I learned all about glycogen depletion and fueling properly, etc etc…Most of the “experts ” out there say that bonking…or hitting the wall is due to fuel depletion and or dehydration.  A proper fueling strategy is supposed to help you avoid that dreaded wall. This next run was actually scheduled to be a 20 miler, but I really wanted to try to run the 23 just one more time and see if fueling and hydration could make it better.  Yeah…I should have stuck with the 20.  Note to self…STOP PUSHING YOUR LIMITS ( anyway…that was foreshadowing  y’all)

Well that’s all fine and good.  I planned ahead for this run.  I had enough GU to refuel every hour and shot blocks to toss back every  half hour or so.  I had 3 water stops built into my run…at mile 6,10 and 15 ( one more than I had last time).  I also carried Gatorade and had money to purchase more at my last water stop.  I generally don’t eat before a run, but that is a big no-no for a super long run. THIS time I got up at the ungodly hour of 5AM to eat an eggo, nutella, peanut butter and banana sandwich ( oh happy carbs).  The day before the run I ate good food, a sub for lunch with some pickles and olives ( salt content to help with electrolytes), and a reasonable portion of spaghetti for dinner.  I did everything the way I would like to do it for race day. I did everything I could to prep my fuel reserves and to support my body through this run. Again..I did everything I COULD to make this run better than the last.

The morning of the run I ate my breakfast, took Super Son to school as early as I could, downed a GU and some water and headed out the door.  Because of school drop off I got our the door at 7 AM…not as early as would be ideal in the Florida heat, but it was as early as I could get out, and it was 2 hours post breakfast, so I was on track according to Dr. Google.

I actually felt pretty good for the first half ( which is usual for me).  I was dreading mile 15 because that’s when I usually start feeling the run.  I was drinking a good bit more than I had for my last 23 miler, and fueling on schedule.  My stomach wasn’t loving the GU and Blocks, but it wasn’t queasy either.  By mile 15 I was still feeling pretty good.  I took a pit stop at the 7-11 and then happy happy joy joy…I got stuck behind some guy who was trying to buy a prepaid phone and had 50,000 questions that the sales clerk had no clue about.  I stood there, time tick ticking on by…until finally she got tired of my sweating all over her floor and decided to check me out while he went back for phone choice #3.  It was like getting stuck behind an SUV full of undecided people in a drive thru when you are starving….AARRRRRRRGGGGHHHH!

Anyway, back on the road and at mile 15…I was feeling better than I had last time so that was a plus.  Between mile 17-18 it got HOT…now it is Florida and mid morning so it was already hot…but it got HOTHOTHOT.  I looked at my weather app and it had shot up to 82 degrees with a heat index of 86! It was a completely cloud free breezeless day.  I started to realize that no matter how much water/ gatorade I took in…I was going to be loosing more than I could replace.   I had been running for almost 4 hours at this point and I was starting to feel it.  I was tired of the crappy GU and blocks and would have given my right arm for a cheeseburger.  MY feet were just starting to bark, and my legs were getting heavy…BUT I still felt better than I had last time…so onward! At mile 18-20 I got jumpy because this was where the WALL hit last time around.  I remember the very spot on the pavement where it hit too…this time I passed that spot and kept going.  I didn’t feel remotely good, but I wasn’t feeling mostly dead yet.  I managed to keep going fairly well-although at a very slow pace- until mile 21…and there my friends it hit…the WALL.  I just ran out of gas.  I managed a very slow kind of shuffle-walk for most of the final 2 miles.  I ran maybe 20% of the final 2 miles…if you can call my Quasimoto like shuffle hop-lunge a run.  It was ugly…again. In spite of all my careful prep and strategy, I ran this 23 miles in an incredibly slow time of 4:55. That is just 5 minutes less that I ran the last 23 miles….REALLY????????  And 4 hours and 55 second is really really depressing…I was hoping to run this marathon in 5 hours or less and that just seems impossible now.  Oprah with her 4 hour and 30 second time may as well be an elite runner compared to my snail’s pace!

So on the one hand, if I had just stopped at the 20 miles that I was scheduled to run, this post would be quite different.  I would be all smiles telling you that this run was so much better than the last and I am super confident I can finish the marathon that is looming in 2.5 weeks.  Instead, I pushed myself to see if I could do better and ended up feeling quite nervous and scared of the up coming race.  I really don’t know how I’m going to manage 3 more miles AND a section of course that is a 5 mile hill…I have had such a hard time running this distance, even with the best of preparations, AND its been a flat course.  The race has that one giant 5 mile hill and several rolling hills to tackle too.  I feel like I am in pretty deep water here.

If I weren’t a woman of faith I think I would be tempted to call it off and just admit defeat without even running.  I am faithful tho that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.  I am so much stronger than I was when this all started.  I was able to run for a whopping 2 and a half hours when I signed up for this marathon, and now I am running for almost 5 ( ugh).  When I first started running, I couldn’t run for 5 minutes…so that is really amazing and miraculous progress.  It’s easy to forget how far I have come in the midst of the pre marathon panic.

I also know that this is how God works.  He doesn’t want me to run this in my strength, but in His and His alone.  When I DO cross that finish line…no matter what my time…it will be clear that God got me there, not my own two tired wall hitting feet.  I won’t lie though…I am disappointed.  I really wanted to see progress.  I wanted to be more confident and sure at this point.

But as Mick Jagger said so very well,” you can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes…you might find…you get what you need”  I needed a better fueling strategy.  I needed one more long practice run before race day.  I needed to dig down and find Faith at the bottom of my failings and fear.  I needed to turn my eyes away from what I can or can’t do, and toward my heavenly running partner.  I needed to let go of my self-reliance and take His hand and face the starting line. I needed to let go of me  a bit…Yeah, I got what I needed after all.

“Phidippides died after 26 miles. But he ran 140 miles twice just days before. Overtraining got him, not the marathon.” — Kevin Strehl

Well its down to the wire time! In 4 and a half weeks I will be running a marathon.  Last post gave you the 411 on my first run of 20 miles ( 21 actually but who’s counting).  I did pretty darn well after that, all things considered.  I was surprised to be able to run at all on the Sunday and Monday following that Big Kahuna.  As this post will tell, I haven’t done nearly as well since then.  There have been a few road blocks among the way, an encounter with the dreaded WALL, and a milestone reached.

The following Friday, Sunday and Monday runs were small in comparison.  I only had to run a 14, a 7, and a 10.  I laugh now to use the term “only” and “14 miles” in the same sentence…but relatively speaking it WAS a light schedule. Friday I dutifully suited up to run the 14 miler…and ran into technical difficulties by mile 4.  From out of the blue, I began to have a stabbing pain in my lower inner right knee.  I slowed down, I walked a bit…no pain when walking, but stab stab stab when running.  No bueno! I had a schedule to keep darn it and this is make or break time!!!  Well, several prayers and 2 miles later I conceded that the pain just wasn’t going to quit.  Apparently I had out run my knee’s good humor and it was drawing the line.  After a consulting with Dr. Google, it looked like I had a mild ( hopefully) case of bursitis/tendonitis…a common overuse injury( thank you 21 mile run).  I cringed and made the decision to scratch the two remaining runs for the week, replacing them with walking sessions, ice, and rest.  This did NOT make my type A- schedule- following- Hulk-self happy.  I did my best to appease my inner she-hulk with prayer and a heavy dose of faith.  My mantra for the weekend was ‘God’s got this, he’s got you, and he knows what you NEED to run’.  So here, at the most critical, crazy, hectic training point…I found myself missing valuable miles.  I had a calm spirit and a very nervous mind.

Fast forward to this week. This was to be my BIG GIANT 23 MILE RUN.  I had this big boy to run, and one more 20 before tapering.  I had my Gu and shot block fueling strategy laid out, my water stops carefully planned at miles 10 and 15, My gear had been carefully washed and assembled for days.  Wednesday afternoon I started to sniffle and sneeze. I felt a bit tired and just plain fuzzy.  By Thursday I was feeling worse.  My temperature was hovering around 99 ( and I usually run low).  Things did not BODE WELL for my big 23 mile run the very next day.

Now I must say, usually this is the point in the story where I just Lose My Stuff.  I don’t do well in situations like this…you know, you plan and plan, taking every precaution you can…and things just fall apart.  Yeah historically this is when my inner she hulk just comes unglued.  I don’t know if it was divine intervention, or just congestion on the brain and lack of oxygen, but I managed to hold it together for once.  I prayed like crazy, rested as much as I possibly could, and simply went to bed hoping for the best but prepared to reschedule this mega run.

Lo and behold, I woke up the next day and felt human. I didn’t feel like a million bucks, but I felt a heck of a lot better than I did the day before.  So with high hopes but realistic expectations, I set out to run as far as I could.

I ran the first 10 miles really well.  My knees had enjoyed their little spring break vacation and were happily going with the flow.  I made it to my first water and bathroom break feeling great over all.  Miles 10-14 were pretty good as well.  Round about mile 14.5 My body  realized we were running for the long haul and started to send in complaints.  It was also starting to get really really hot…the kind of heat where you can feel it radiating up from the sidewalk.  It seemed to take  forever just to get from mile 14-15.  At mile 15, I had another break and filled up my water bottles.  It had taken me 10 miles to empty them for my first stop, but I had drained them dry in only 5 miles this time. Like I said…it was getting toasty!  The next few miles were noticeably harder…and my pace had slowed a bit. I was nearing mile 18, and realized my watch battery was NOT going to make it.  I texted super hubby to let him know and realized my phone was ALSO giving up on me!  Bottom line: I knew my route was close to 23 miles…but I would have no way of verifying that.  My longest run to date and I would have no recored of it…now that just hurt!  Round about mile 18.5 I thought I saw a car I recognized.  I figured I was just getting slow and fuzzy headed, until the car pulled over in front of me. My heart jumped for joy as I blearily realized that said car was Super Husband coming to my rescue to give me HIS GPS watch, fully charged, so I could finish out my run with certainty!  Super Husband indeed!!!  He was literally my hero in that moment!!!!

Thank heavens for Supper Hubby, because my watch DID give up the ghost right at mile 19.  At mile 20, so did I.  My body just started slowing down and there was nothing I could do about it.  Every step was painful.  My hip joints, knees, and feet were jarred painfully with each step.  To make matters worse, I had run out of water and my last GU packet had fallen out of my belt somewhere along the way.  I have honestly never been in so much pain while actually still running.  I finished the last 3 miles in an awkward hunched shuffle step/jog/walk kind of combo.  I think I averaged a painful, plodding 15 minute mile at the end of the whole thing.  It was no joke.  They say that a marathon begins at mile 20 and now I am getting an inkling of just what they mean by that.  I felt emotionally and physically empty by the end of the run.

So that whole circus of fun was on Friday.  I am incredibly happy to have been able to go 23 miles!  Its hard for me to wrap my brain around that distance even tho I was the one who did it. I did not think I would be running AT ALL on Friday and I managed to complete the longest run of my life!  On the other hand, I am sobered by just how hard that was. I couldn’t have walked 5 more feet if I had been on fire on Friday. I still need to tack on 3 more miles to finish the marathon…and 5 miles of the marathon will be a very long hill climb. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried.  I certainly respect the distance…as a matter of fact I have become a bit scared of it at this point.

I was scheduled to run 7 miles on Sunday.  How in the world anyone could EVER run almost a marathon on Friday and turn around and run again on Sunday is beyond me.  I tried…and managed one very painful mile.  It just wasn’t going to be possible.  In addition, I was supposed to run another 8 on Monday.  I managed to walk close to 5, but running was just not possible yet.  Here is where my work schedule is shooting myself in the foot.  Ideally I would be able to run Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Well I can run Mondays, and I can run Fridays, but Wednesdays are a 7:30 to 7:30 kind of day.  There just isn’t time to squeeze in an hour to 2 hours of running before 7:30 or after 7:30 on Wednesdays, therefore I have a Friday, Sunday, Monday schedule.  Now that I am running the big miles, there just isn’t enough recovery time to manage the Sunday, Monday runs effectively.  Between my knee and the long run fatigue, I worry that I am losing too many of those smaller base mile runs.  Its a sad reality that I just may not be able to get in enough base miles to make this all logically work.

So my brain is worried.  I know I need more base miles at this point than I have been able to amass in the last 2 weeks.  I am trying hard not to listen to my brain.  I am trying instead to listen to the quiet faithful voice in my heart.  My brain is screaming about base miles and minimum weekly miles not being met, smaller runs missed, and how much harder the marathon will be than even my toughest training run.

Underneath my brain and its screaming antics, there is a quiet whisper in my heart. It quietly agrees that I am not enough, my training is not enough, the miles are indeed so very very long, the race so very hard. In those same calm steady tones, the whisper reminds me that I am not running this alone. I may not be enough, but He is…I am not trying to run this in my own strength. It reminds me that was never the plan from the beginning. God has been my running partner in this from the beginning and He will be with me to the finish line and beyond.  I was never designed to do LIFE alone, much less a tiny thing such as a marathon.

So I have a choice as to which voice I will listen to.  In the end the outcome will be the same.  I am at a point where I can only train as physically hard as my body and schedule will allow or I will get injured and not be able to run at all.  My race entry is paid for, travel arranged.  I am going to run this marathon God willing.  The only variable in the equation is whether I spend the next few weeks wrapped around the axle of my worry over things I cannot change, or resting in the arms of Faith.

And so again I repeat my mantra “God’s got this, he’s got me, and He knows what I NEED to run”

Wishing you all a restful week my friends 🙂