Spring Brings Good Things

Happy first day of Spring! It’s almost as exciting as the first day of fall for runners, right? After yesterday’s down an out post was posted, my day got remarkably better. First? Peyton Manning is now a Denver Bronco. I can live with this. He has a team, I know someone who lives in the city of his new team, and yes, I am going for opening weekend. Already decided. There is a 3pm press conference, one which I will not cry while watching, and I’m excited about that.

Thank you ESPN.com for this amazing visual.

What also happened yesterday? I got an appointment with my doctor for tomorrow afternoon at 5pm. As usual, his secretary was super sweet and got me in as soon as possible. Having worked for a Neurologist in the past, I know how stressful the life of a medical secretary can be. Everyone thinks their ailment is worse than everyone else’s, and you’re left to make the decisions about what is an emergency and what can wait. Sitting at my desk now I regularly use the phrase “It’s not life and death guys”. Well, in that setting it is. I give anyone who works in the healthcare field all the credit in the world for dealing with patients on a regular basis. You are a better, more compassionate, stronger person than I am. Kudos. And for the woman who understood my urgency and said “Oh no, that’s only a month away. Better get you in and fixed up ASAP”, you are my savior. I will reward you with Marylous tomorrow.

I also spent a good deal of time emailing back and forth with Jeff and Sarah about how to handle this weekends 21-miler. We have come up with the following plan: Ideally, I will get the all clear from my doctor to give it a shot. Less than ideally, I will spend 3 hours on the elliptical. I’m really, REALLY, hoping for an all clear. And a cortisone shot. Both of those would be awesome.

Whatever makes my knee not look like this.

Looking forward to the rest of the week, I’m excited to get a clear plan of action for the weekend, and celebrate our last long run with my teammates. You develop a serious sense of camaraderie with people when you have the shared experience of sacrificing Friday nights, waking up early on Saturday mornings and logging double digit runs through one of the toughest marathon courses for 4 straight months. I’ve thought about what I’m going to do with my Saturday mornings once April 17th rolls around, and to be honest, I’m going to miss the team training runs. I’m sure more than a few tears will be shed at the last one.

Knowing that 4 weeks from today I’ll be recapping how Boston went is slightly terrifying to me. I am looking forward to racing instead of training, and to having a month of running whatever distance feels right and whatever pace I feel like. But I know the Boston Hangover is going to be a tough one. Just hoping no one finds me on a roof somewhere….

How are you celebrating Spring fever? Cleaning? Running? Beaching (in March! Crazy!)?

Bad Timing

Sometimes things in life are timed perfectly. Tax returns coming just in time to plan a summer vacation or invest in an updated wardrobe. The break in the hot weather just before a race. Your favorite work out song coming on the radio just as you’re pulling up to team practice. All good things.

Other times, the timing is so awful you feel as if some cruel power at be planned it just to ruin whatever it is you were looking forward to. Like when the 34 day sunny streak last summer ended the day we left to go camping, and we canoed down the Saco River in a monsoon for two days.

It was fun, but it rained. A lot.

This weekend could have been a case of perfect timing. Friday afternoon I looked at my inbox and found this little gem.

Oh hey Bib number, I've been waiting for you.

 

Sadly, this appears to be one of those terrible cases of timing. Late last week my right leg started bugging me. It wasn’t pain, but there was just a general feeling of uncomfortableness stemming from my knee. The outside of it, kind of resonating up and down. I assume this is my IT band flaring up again, which is something I dealt with last year. I thought this was behind me, but still, I took it easy late last week and Saturday just to be conscious of it and hopefully give it time to heal itself of whatever decided to make it mad. Since retail therapy solves most things in my life, I went to Marathon Sports and abused the 20% team discount they were offering that day.

 

Finishers jacket and the sneakers I will wear on Race Day. It was a dorky runners Christmas.

I enjoyed the weekend of St. Patty’s festivities and general Irish-ness with my favorite Polish family. They take holidays very seriously. All of them. I even met this little guy, who I may or may not have thought about kidnapping.

His name is Kuna. Like "Hakkuna Mattata"

After the St. Patty’s festivities were done and over with I thought “Ok, let’s go out, just for a few miles and see how it feels”.

Well, it felt terrible. Two miles in it was uncomfortable despite the knee brace, then at mile 3- Boom! The feeling went from uncomfortable to painful with one bad step. I stopped, frozen in my tracks on the side of the road. Boston is 4 weeks from today. This can’t be serious. I stopped, I stretched, and figured “Ok, just slow and steady until I get home”. Nope. Two more steps and I realized this is not just a cramp that will subside. I got home, limped to the freezer and spent the next hour like this.

 

Hey ice pack, looks like we're going to be friends again.

The evening was spent in bed, with lots of ice packs and lots of nervous WebMD-ing. To be completely honest, I’m terrified right now. I’ve put in so much work and prep for Boston over the past 4 months, and to have to deal with this right now is just not what I thought the week before the 21-miler was going to be. I know life doesn’t go as planned, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (thanks Kelly Clarkson), but there are certain times when I need to hope for the best because the alternative just isn’t a possibility to me. Not this time. I dropped out of Chicago 2011 because of injury, and I never planned to do it again.

Obviously my first phone call this morning was to my doctor, and I’m hoping his nice secretary will hear the desperation in my voice when she checks her messages this morning. After talking to some friends who have been through similar injuries close to race day, their recommendation so far has been to ask for a Cortisone shot. I’m normally not a huge fan of this idea because I know it’s just going to make the problem itself worse, but if it’s between racing on a so-so knee and dropping out of Boston with 4 weeks to go- shoot me up doc.

I’m very unnerved by this whole thing, and I just want to get to a doctor and see what’s wrong.

Has anyone ever had a cortisone shot? Good results, bad, indifferent? Help!

Favorite Things Friday: Things That Keep Me Healthy

First things first this Favorite Things Friday people. Today is exactly ONE MONTH until the Boston Marathon. One month. 4 weeks from Monday. Holy crap holy crap holy crap. Being one month out, that means today brings some serious changes. First…

One long run left before the taper. This week is 12 miles. Next weekend is the 21 miler. Then it’s a whole lot of taper before the big day. I’m thankful I’ve already decided on a fall marathon so I can take a month of running whatever feels right and then I can jump into a new training plan. I need my plans people.

Excited to run this tomorrow

I have eaten healthy for 5 days in a row. Well, sort of healthy. All of my meals have been healthy, but I’ve also eaten dessert every night. Not something I normally do, but I’ve been craving it so I haven’t deprived myself. When mom makes fudge cake, who am I to say no? it would hurt her feelings. I tell her it would, and she encourages the eating.

It’s officially very spring like, and the forecast has an 80 degree day next week. This has me even more concerned about it being unusually hot for the race. There’s nothing I can do to control the weather, so I’m just preparing myself as best I can. Like staring at the Weather Channel for at least 30 minutes every day as if it will suddenly start offering “45-Day Forecast”s. This isn’t likely. But I like to think someone will have some insight and let me know. No? Not how it works? Dang.

Hey 75, you look nice. Stay around for a while. Like, forever.

The month prior to race day is all about being healthy. Listen to my body. Run. Cross train. Sleep. Lots of water. Lots of Netflix to take my mind off of the fact that I’m going to be running a very challenging 26.2 in front of everyone I know. And in case you were wondering, these are my favorite healthy things…

SteamFresh Veggies: I love veggies. I don’t love peeling, washing, steaming and picking. Steam bags take care of that for me. It’s wonderful. Illusive fresh tasting, good for me veggies, no more! I will eat you every night because all I have to do is throw you into the microwave for 6 minutes. Amazing.

Gym Classes: Some gyms don’t offer classes, and I think that’s really sad. Really, really sad. Sometimes you need to change you workout up a little, and trying out a new class that’s already included in the price of membership is exactly what I need.

Quinoa: It’s like macaroni, but healthier. I can’t eat pasta every day. But I can eat quinoa on days I can’t. It makes the carb withdrawls easier.

Remembering that my health is a gift: Running for Children’s Hospital has reminded me how lucky I truly am to be able to even have the ability to walk, nevermind run. To hear the stories from week to week about the children my teammates are running in honor of is truly humbling. So I get sore? I should be grateful to know what a good workout feels like. So often we are hard on ourselves because of a bad split, or curse ourselves out because we walked for 5  min at mile 17 because we cramped up. So what? We have the gift to be out there in the first place. A lot of people don’t. I try to keep that in mind, and get out there every day to be sure I’m making the most of it.

Happy Friday everyone! What keeps you healthy?

Weekend (and early week) Recap: 18 Miles, Heartbreak Hill and I Got Drunk Off of One Glass of Champagne

Happy Thursday everyone! I will admit, I started writing this post on Monday morning. It had started out like this…

“This week is already promising to be better than last. The sun is shining, it won’t be dark when I get home from work and the massage I got yesterday has helped improve my state of mind and my ability to stand up without a hint of soreness. All good things.”

Well, this week has been good, but man oh man has it been busy. Crazy busy. But, we’ll get to that.

Saturday morning was 18 miles out-and-back on the Boston Marathon course.  I started out solo as usual, but at the mile 2 water stop I met two great girls from my team who were running just about the same pace I was. I decided company is always nice, so we ran together and started chatting. Turns out, one of the girls (Katie) knows some of my best friends who live in North Caroline. Knows as in was the Maid of Honor in one of their brother’s weddings. Small world, huh? It was great to meet an unexpected mutual friend and have something to talk about for the three and a half hours of hills. Lots and lots of hills.

As we ran we both shared stories about why we were running and how we were at least attempting to balance training with having a life. It was encouraging to hear that I’m not the only person who stays in on Friday nights, is too tired to go out on Saturday nights a lot of the time and gets teased by their friends for constantly saying “Sorry guys, can’t make it, training run”.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the long run this weekend. I realize that everyone training for Boston (or any race) this winter has been incredibly spoiled weather-wise. There was only one run in the snow, and one in a wind/rain storm. Compared to last winter where the snow mounds on the side of the Carriage Road were 7 feet tall, we have no right to complain. Saturday was low 50’s with a slight breeze. This amazing training weather does have me slightly convinced that race day is either going to be 90 degrees without a cloud in the sky or 50 and flooding rains. I’m from Massachusetts, we’re skeptical when we get too much good weather.

A few water and stretch stops, more than a couple stops waiting for traffic signals to change and a walk up the last hill on the way back (I hit a very frustrated wall), I think my actual time was somewhere around 3:32. I never pause my Nike+ while on long runs. I try not to pay attention to it, and if it messes up a couple splits when I stop for water or stretch a quad, well it is what it is. Overall, I was perfectly happy with my time. Jeff says long runs reflect about :90/mile slower than we will do on race day, and a 10:30/mi race day is fine with me. Would I like to be closer to 9:50? Absolutely. But for my first Boston Marathon, I’m not complaining.

While I love training on the course, the whole out-and-back thing is getting intense. Those nice downhills on the way out become torturous uphills on the way back. Thankfully, when we got back on Saturday, Coach Jeff let us know that this was the last out and back involving HeartBreak Hill we’ll be doing. He also said that this run was harder than the actual marathon will be based on the number and incline of the hills. Sweet?

Post run I decided to conduct a little experiment of my own. Now, being a good marathoner, I know the importance of the post race celebration. Food, friends and (most importantly)- booze. I’m a good trainer- I don’t drink unless for very special occasions, I eat right and I try to get my 8 hours of shut eye. But once I cross that finish line, I’m all over it. Realizing that 4 months of no drinking may decrease my tolerance all by itself; then add in the 26.2 miles I’ll be running before that, and I realized I may need to do a “sobriety check” on myself. So after my 18 miles, I went home, took a long hot bath to relax my muscles, and then popped a bottle of prosecco and poured myself a glass. It was pretty.

I figured one glass while I cleaned up, made myself lunch and relaxed on the couch would be nice. And it was very nice. It was also quite powerful. Turns out, Brittany + One Glass of Prosecco = Drunk. This could present a problem on race day when the post race celebration gets crazy. From now on there will be a glass of wine post-run. You know… training. It’s ok, Coach Jeff signed off on this plan.

The rest of Saturday consisted of very little food, and a lot of stretching. I went out for a little bit to get some shopping done, and maybe eat a cannoli. Ok, I went out for the cannoli and shopping just sort of happened. I need to work on eating immediately after long runs. Right now, I usually just eat something that night, go to sleep, and wake up on Sunday morning so ravenous that I eat more than any normal person should in a 24 hour period. Not the best practice.

This ravenous eating lasted through mid day yesterday (Wednesday). Monday night was beautiful, so I went for a 4 miler… outside… after work. It was incredible. 61, sun setting and the most hopeful “Spring has Sprung” run I’ve ever had. I was in love. I was even more in love with the crabcake, whole wheat pasta and green beans that I made myself for dinner.

I love when I have time to actually make myself a real dinner. I’ve been doing it every night this week and it makes me feel like a healthier person. Except when I end with fudge cake topped with chocolate chip ice cream. That does not make me feel healthy.

Aside from the running and attempted healthy eating, this week has been filled with crazy busy work days, yoga, attempts at spinning and not so patiently waiting for Peyton Manning to pick a team. I did find an interesting article today on Boston.com today, that actually suggested I should be “snacking” every 20-40 minutes while training. Really? 20-40 Minutes? Does no one else find this excessive?

Tonight I’m going for another 4 miles outside, even though it’s not nearly as nice as it was Monday. They can’t all be winners, but I guess I should run through it anyways.

How has your week been? Any fellow Boston-ers out there getting nerves yet. Maybe?

Favorite Things Friday: Things That Cheer Me Up

Welcome to Friday everyone! It’s been tough, but we made it. Overall, I had a pretty productive week, which is always nice. I ran, I yoga-d, I Zumba-d and I even took the time to foam roll last night. Exciting stuff.

Last night’s Zumba class was everything I remembered and more. Yes, I looked like an idiot because I haven’t been in so long I forgot a lot of the moves. Yes, I thought I looked super sexy at certain points and most certainly looked like an idiot. And, most impressively; Zumba kicked my butt! It’s such a different workout than what my body is used to I could feel my underused muscles screaming with joy. My instructor incorporates weight training into the class as well which I appreciated. Makes it feel like a more legitimate workout to me.

Today is a rest day, and tomorrow will be 19 miles, out and back in Wellesley. This means HeartBreak Hill- again. I’m hoping these runs of it actually do make it seem easier on race day, and aren’t just a cruel torture. At least I know what I’m getting into?

So, where I’ve needed a significant amount of cheering up this week, I was reminded of the little things in life that can cheer me up when I’m feeling down. Therefore, tin he theme of this Favorite Things Friday, I present to you the things that cheer me up:

Jim Singing to Billy Joel: Few things can make me snap out of a bad mood like Jim rocking out to the Billy Joel greatest hits album. He takes it very seriously. To the point where he made us listen to it on repeat during our Saco trip last summer. So if I’m ever in a cranky mood and there is an iPod hookup in sight, you better believe I (not so) sneaky put on the greatest hits and within 5 minutes I’m feeling better.

Puppies: Pictures of puppies, actual puppies, bulldog puppy stuffed animals. If there is a puppy involved, it will make me smile.

This is my bulldog, I named him Bondi. He's a good cuddle buddy.

Reese Peanut Butter Cups: You would be surprised at what has been the one recurring theme in every relationship I’ve had in my adult life (all 3 of them). If you bring me a Reese cup, I will probably forgive you for whatever I’m mad about. It will also make me very happy, and you’ll get all the credit.

Last year when Jim left for Florida my aunt had this combo waiting for me when I got home. The Reese's didn't make it through the weekend.

Yoga: Running helps me clear my head, but if I’m cranky odds are I’m going to run so some angry, angst filled, sad white girl music. I’ll feel powerful and all that jazz at the end of it, but it doesn’t always fix the mood. Yoga on the other hand will always put life in perspective and help me reach my happy place. And for that I’m grateful.

I can totally do that. Sort of. Definitely not on a beach.

Country Music: I’m given a never ending amount of crap for this at work, but I love country music. Love. It’s just happy (mostly), cheery, let’s just forget about life and get drunk good music. Yes Toby Keith, I will lift my Red Solo Cup.

There are other things, but those make the top of the list. So if you’re having a bad week, I suggest you try some of these things out. They may not bring Peyton back to Indy (and you thought you were gonna make it through a full post without me mentioning it?)- but it could put a smile on your face for a few minutes.

What is your favorite “Bad Mood Turnarounds”? Anything I should be trying?

No Excuses

Today is about no excuses. Spring is officially here, Peyton is all smiles in press conferences again, and I’m getting over my “I’m just so tired and need to work my training schedule around that” and getting up and at ‘em with 5 and a half weeks to go until Boston. That’s right, I’m feeling motivated today.

Yesterday was my rest day, so I took the opportunity to eat a pastrami sandwich and catch up on this weeks Biggest Loser. I really do love this show. To watch people who have never led an active lifestyle, or who faced a horrific circumstance which forced them to have to give up an activity that they loved; regain their strength and motivation to become healthier people and lead more active lives is just flat out inspiring. Seeing Dolvett in tights this week didn’t hurt either. I normally watched on the treadmill on Tuesday nights, but seeing as I gave up treadmills for Lent, I had to Hulu it last night. I’ve realized it’s great to watch at night because you feel remarkably guilty going for the late night snack after you just watched someone lose 90lbs in 10 weeks.

Now, as I’ve mentioned I’ve been kind of struggling to get up early lately. Which is a problem I’ve never really had before. I am blaming it on the training for the most part, but I think I was also using the training as an excuse to get away with it. So this morning was my own version of “No Excuses” (this season’s Biggest Loser theme). Yes, getting out the door by 5:45 to get in 5 miles before work is tough. Even in the gorgeous spring weather we had today, it was a struggle for the first half mile or so. But then I felt amazing. It’s like that picture I found on Pinterest says…

 

It might hurt at the time, but damn it feels good after

Today I also start my double sessions. From now until June I’ll aim to have 3 days a week where I run in the morning and do a class at night. I really like the classes my gym offers, and marathon training has forced me to cut some of them out because I was running at night instead of in the mornings. No more. Morning runs, followed by more yoga, more Spin/Muscle Tone Mix, more Zumba. I don’t know why, but Zumba always makes me feel super motivated. The class I go to has all ages (18-65) and it’s great to see a lot of the women excited to be there because they don’t feel pressure like they do in other classes. It’s a bunch of girls dancing around for an hour thinking we look super sexy but really probably looking ridiculous. And I kind of love that.

The other part of this “No Excuses” route is to stop saying “I’m in marathon training, of course I can eat whatever I want”. This is just not true. Eat like crap, you will feel like crap. Plain and simple. I prepped all the healthy food on Sunday, so that has made meal planning super easy, but it doesn’t do anything to turn down that brownie that stared me in the face at work yesterday. Sure, I could eat the brownie. But I shouldn’t be surprised when the number on the scale doesn’t change next week.

Oh Kate, you're so wise. Like an anorexic buddah, covered in Versace.

So with that, I’m off to kickstart my super-motivated day. But not without leaving you with the “Peyton Manning Farewell Song” that a co-worker sent to me this morning. And just when I thought I’d make it through today without tears…

How do you stay motivated? What excuses do you find yourself using that you need to kick?

It’s Been A Rough Day

Ok, I’m not going to pretend it’s been a happy cheery day in my world. As I’m sure you all saw this morning, Peyton Manning was released by the Colts. Given my undying love for Peyton, this is pretty much ruined any hope of having a good day that I may have possessed when I woke up this morning.

See that confetti, Irsay? That was all Peyton.

 

Then came the press conference. Yes, I cried. No, I’m not proud of it. I didn’t want to get emotional, then Peyton started talking about how much he loves the city of Indianapolis, how we all need to put into perspective that this is just football, everyone’s real attention should go to the victims of the recent tornadoes and how he plans to help them. Come on! You’re being kicked out of the city by the evil Jim Irsay, and you take the time to say how concerned you are about the tornado victims? You, Peyton Manning, are the classiest man alive. And I love you. Have I mentioned that lately?

 

Don't be sad.

So, with all this bad news, I had to come up with some good news. And here it is: I picked a Fall marathon. That’s right! A lot of thought and a few more pro/con list comparisons, and I picked…

 

The Newport Marathon! It was a hard choice, so don’t worry Marine Corp, I’ll be there in 2013. But when it came down to it my heart was with Newport. It’s close to home, one of my favorite cities, and if I’m really feeling motivated over the summer I can drive down there and take a pass or two at the actual course.

 

So, there you have it. There will be a lot of tears today (mostly from me) and I will be wearing my old school Tennessee Jersey to bed tonight to make myself feel better. In case you were wondering.

Is anyone else as sad as I am about this Peyton stuff? Someone, anyone?