Monday, March 24, 2014

Long runs or "Why is there always a headwind?!"

I have to admit something here... If you asked me in person, I was honest, but I tried to hide my true fear on this blog for some reason... but I was not 100% sure I was going to be able to handle the marathon this year.  I think I mentioned that training felt particularly hard these past few months.  I didn't start out as ready as I wanted, I fell and hit my head on my first run (that later resulted in whiplash and PT), it snowed every minute of every day this year, and I just had a lot of trouble feeling like I had time.  I had to alter my training schedule a few times and I was getting pretty worried about my long runs.  Even a three miler I did last week felt tough.  My 18 miler this weekend really made me feel a lot better!

First of all, the weather was beautiful on Saturday, just a little windy (and some rain, but we'll get to that).  I have a loop that's just over five miles through Woburn and Winchester.  Somehow no matter which direction I was facing, there was a head wind.  It wasn't constant, but wow, it was strong! 

I decided to stop worrying so much about my speed.  I know it's not going to be what I hoped, but I was never going to win.  I just want to finish.  Any finishing time will be a PR for me since it will be my first completed marathon.  I want to enjoy it.  I decided to take the advice I got from a random gentleman in the lobby of the Stoneham Theater last year, "Walk before you think you need to.  When you feel the best, take it easy".  I decided that I would drink water at every "water stop" and maybe take a little walk every couple of miles. Just for a minute or so unless I really needed it before or for longer.  For my first "water stop", I picked a water bottle from my belt to find that I had only filled the two Gatorade bottles, not the water.  Of course.  I knew I was going to run by a park and I was pretty sure there was a water fountain, so I decided just to fill them up.  And it wasn't on.  Of course.

 I was feeling way to good to let it stop me.  I stopped in Burger King and filled up my water at the soda machine.

I took my walking breaks, ate my Clif Blocks, enjoyed the sun, and then around mile 8, it started to rain.  It was still pretty warm and I was wearing a baseball hat, so no worries.   It rained until about mile 11 and as the clouds parted, "Here Comes the Sun" came on.  Well timed, iPod.

I felt great, I felt strong, I had very little chaffing, and most important, I felt like I could do it.  I used my Mindful Practice thinking and acknowledged any discomfort and pain and it really works. I mean, it doesn't go away, but I didn't dwell on it. 

One quick "review".  I made a quick visit to the lovely people over at Marathon Sports in Melrose to pick up some new socks.  For some reason, my toes just go right through them.  I keep my nails short, I always have someone help me get the right size and brand, but I always seem to end up with holes in the toes.  They recommended a Darn Tough pair.

I mean, look at the packaging
First, they're guaranteed for life.  Second, they are SO comfortable.  I know I've said hundreds of times that you should never try something new on a long run or on race day, but I was desperate.  I was pretty much out of socks.  They stayed put, they breathed, they wicked, and I had no blisters!  I'm sold.  And I recommend them!

Next week is my last bump up in mileage. It's 20.  I never got to 20 last year because of a poorly timed chest cold.  I'm ready this year.  Let's do it!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Geese, toes, and Mindful Practice

Training has been TOUGH this year.  The weather has not been all that helpful, my schedule is more full than last year, and I've been dealing with some injuries.  Remember how I fell first run out?  I'm in PT for neck/shoulder/back pain most likely from that.  It's helping!  Just a pain.

In my last few runs, I've revisited some old running routes.  Horn Pond turned out to be mostly ice and snow free.  It's been busy since the sun has been out the past couple of weekends.  The geese and ducks are back.  And the geese still scare me. (One totally came at me today... never make eye contact)


Normally, my toes cause me the most pain during my long runs.  I mentioned this to the Mindful Practice instructor at the YMCA.  Usually, when they start to hurt, I try to pretend they don't.  I try to tune in to my music or focus my attention on another body part that does not hurt.  Her advice was to acknowledge the pain without judgement.  I'll be honest, I was skeptical and I also wasn't 100% sure I knew what she meant.  I decided to give it a try today on my long run.

First of all, the weather was great! Yesterday was a little bit warmer, but I taught Zumba in the morning and didn't think a long run after was a great idea.  When my toes started to ache, I thought about the advice.  It was hard!  Of course my first thought was "OUCH!"  But then I thought "Ok, they hurt.  Let's just see what happens"  Eventually, it stopped bothering me.  The less I thought about the pain as "Ouch", the less it bothered me. 

Unfortunately, my hamstrings joined the "ouch" party towards the end, but I didn't have the miles and time left to see if it would go away. 

I'm going to start going to Mindful Practice since I have a month off from theater.  If I can get my toes to stop hurting, I can't wait to see what else it does for my training!