Tag Archive | marathon training

The Wisdom of the Hundred Acre Wood

I run the Walt Disney World Marathon in five short days. Many things seem to be conspiring against me, as they often do. I’m feeling very stream-of-consciousness like about the whole thing so excuse me while I regurgitate some thoughts bopping around in my head.

Two weeks ago I caught a nasty cold. Just two days before my scheduled 20 mile training run. I couldn’t run it.

The 20 miler got pushed back a week and I ran it in Kansas City over the Christmas break. It was 20 degrees outside. I was still getting over my cold. I hacked up a lung running that thing. I also think my body went into shock because of the cold. I’m a wimp about weather.

Because the 20 mile training run got pushed back a week, my taper period got cut short. I developed early symptoms of shin splints after that 20 miles and since my taper period is shorter, I don’t have as much time to nurse it and recover. I’m investing in KT Tape and I never take off my compression socks. My fingers are also all crossed.

My family is in turmoil. My brother is making life challenging in a way that is hard to put into words. It’s kind of private, although he is very public about the whole thing, so I won’t go into it. It sucks. Big time. I’m angry, frustrated, hurt, depressed, resentful, scared, and a few other negative emotions that don’t lend themselves to endurance running. I have to learn to battle these emotions when the running starts. I wish I was a Jedi.

But then there are things to look forward to…

AltraI have to be honest. I chose my running costume for the marathon because of how well it would match my shoes. Now that the marathon approaches I couldn’t ask for a more appropriate mascot. Piglet. The biggest heart in the littlest body. The most courageous in spite of danger, the most giving in spite of adversity, the sweetest little love to ever be written into existence. Piglet is scared and nervous most of the time, but moves forward anyway. Of course, he does so thanks to Pooh.

You can guess what I’ve convinced Brad to wear for the marathon. I know he humors me and thinks it’s mostly silly to dress up for these things, but I do see great meaning in it. In the most fundamental and pure of ways, Brad really is my Pooh, and I’m his nervous-nelly of a Piglet. He’s my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my strongest support, and my love. When I don’t think I can do something he gently reminds me that I can. When I feel anxious about something he convinces me not to worry. And he’s the handsomest Pooh bear you’ll ever meet.

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Then there’s our Eeyore, who is also running the marathon with us and I’ve somehow coerced into a running costume. Our friend Neiman. He’s such an Eeyore. Everyone’s favorite little black rain cloud. Eeyore is such an interesting character in the Hundred Acre Wood. Milne is quite brilliant to include him when you think about it, because there’s no use pretending that darkness doesn’t exist. There’s no use ignoring the fact that some people can’t help but think “why bother?” Because once you accept those people, or donkeys, for who they are, you’ll realize what they have to offer you. Eeyore, despite his gloomy disposition, is a great friend to Pooh and the gang. Always saying yes to helping. Always there, even if he doesn’t feel like it. Sometimes you have an Eeyore in your life to remind you that sadness doesn’t blot out kindness.

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Photo on 1-5-14 at 2.01 PM #2Pooh and his pals in the Hundred Acre Wood practically raised me. I was obsessed. Something about the simple wisdom and whimsy of A.A. Milne rang so true for me. It nurtured my creativity, my friendliness, and my sense of poetry. I still have my very first Winnie the Pooh bear from when I was a little wee girl. I’ll never let him go. He’s funny looking and his red shirt never fit quite right, but I love him. I’m thankful for Pooh. I’ll try to be brave like Piglet. I won’t take Eeyore for granted. Now if only we had a Tigger. Any takers?

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Pooh & Piglet

And so in the spirit of Pooh-like optimism. Here are some things that HAVE been going my way lately.

I got sick three weeks before the marathon, instead of three days before the marathon. This makes me very lucky.

I get to go to Disney World.

I found a bunch of leftover KT Tape in our apartment last night to treat my shin splints.

I found the perfect Piglet running clothes. Photo preview coming soon.

I got a raise at work which means extra cash to pay for this trip which means less stress.

I have two working legs and two working feet.

I have support from my friends, my family, and from a slew of complete strangers. Go #teamRunDisney!

I got my new Driver’s License in the mail weeks before I was expecting it which means my airline ticket will now match my identification which means I don’t have to travel with my marriage license in the hopes they’ll let me on the plane which means I can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

I found out our niece will be in Orlando at the exact same time, and hopefully we’ll be able to share a celebratory beer on Sunday night.

In a strange twist of fate, I have someone to babysit our cats while we’re gone.

I managed to make dinner and Fast Pass reservations on Disney’s crazy new My Magic+ Experience without too much of a headache. Knocking on wood that that keeps up.

Oh and did I mention I get to go to Disney World?

Piglet Square

I’m scared, nervous, and trepidatious. I’m excited, eager, and bold. I fall asleep with anxiety in my heart that I won’t finish/will get sick/succumb to injury. I wake up with confidence that I can do this. I am Piglet! Hear me squeak!

“It is very hard to be brave,” said Piglet, sniffing slightly, “when you’re only a Very Small Animal.”

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Behind the Scenes of a 17 Mile Run

Oh hi! So I’m training for a marathon. If you’re friends with me on Facebook or Instagram then you’re sick of hearing about it. If you’re exclusively a Running to Tahiti reader then you may actually be wondering “Is she still training for that marathon thing?” I haven’t written about it that much for ironic reasons. I don’t have time to write about marathon training because I’m too busy marathon training. I guess it’s a good problem to be too busy living your life to sit down and write about it.

Long story short, yes we’re still in training. The marathon is in approximately one month. I’m kind of freaking out. This is the furthest I’ve ever pushed myself to do anything. It’s hard. Really hard. I’m also surprising myself and making it happen, so it’s amazing. I’m also very excited to go to Walt Disney World in one month. Disney World!!!

Since we’re too busy running to write Brad thought we could kill two birds with one stone and record one of our long runs. We’ll let the run speak for itself. I leave you with this, a behind-the-scenes look at a run lasting almost 4 hours. That’s half of a full work day. Running. Just running. Think about that. Venice, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu. We had to hit 4 cities to traverse enough distance. This marathon stuff is not for the faint of heart, or the easily bored.

Enjoy!

Running the Home Stretch

We are almost to Tahiti. We are almost to Tahiti! I find this so hard to believe, as Tahiti has been a bit of a distant dream for these past three years, despite our active plan to get there. The number of miles left to run has remained in the 4 digit area code for what feels like so long.

Until now.

I truly can’t believe it but we collectively have less than 800 miles to run. Less than 800 miles to white sandy beaches, crystalline waters, sea creatures, tropical cocktails, and exotic adventures. Less than 800 miles to our Honeymoon!

That 800 miles will fly by. How do I know this? Because we’ve created a built-in carrot to insure that we keep on track for this final stretch. It’s called the Walt Disney World Marathon on January 11. If Brad and I stick to our training schedule, which we simply must if we have any hope of finishing our first marathon, we will arrive running on the shores of Tahiti the week of December 15. Just in time for Christmas. Happy Christmas to us! We won’t actually make travel plans and get there until sometime in the spring, but this Christmas you can bet our hearts will be in French Polynesia.

The road has been paved with literal blood, sweat, and tears. As well as vomit, panic attacks, dirt, chaffed skin, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and sunburns. Amidst the injuries and struggles we’ve also had joy, laughs, adventures, and some of the best memories in our 7 years together so far. That’s what running is all about. The incredible beauty in the challenge.

After Tahiti Brad will likely scale back on mileage and FINALLY get rid of the pesky plantar fasciitis that plagues him. I see a bicycle and a swim cap in Brad’s future. Me? I think I’ll stick with running for awhile. It’s become a very important part of me. Running makes me feel strong, sane, and grounded. As long as I’m injury free (knock on wood) I think I’ll always be running somewhere. The question is, where should we run to next?

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800 countdown

How to Know if You Should Run a Marathon

Last week I bumped into a neighbor in our building and got to chatting about his experience having just finished the LA Marathon. To use his words, it was the hardest thing he’d ever done in his life, painful as hell, a humbling experience, amazing, and life changing. This sort of contradictory reflection is not uncommon I’m noticing. I myself have never run a marathon, though I’m sort of obsessing about it lately and trying to compute in my head whether I’ve got it in me. About 70% of the time I’ve got that optimistic runner’s brain that says “hell yes I can run that.” But there’s that 30% that throws me, and I’ll tell you what populates that 30%. The content is completely anecdotal. I hear stories from other runners about seeing people collapse, cry, vomit, and even go into cardiac arrest on the marathon course. Yes that’s probably rare but it’s still terrifying and begs the question: should we be running this kind of mileage? I hear women say things like “it was harder than giving birth” and all I can think is, well damn, why would I do THAT? I don’t even get a baby when I’m done. I’m not going to lie people, as much as runners proceed to talk out of the other side of their mouth using phrases like “life-changing,” “spiritual experience,” and “incredible,” the allure of those terms are not quite outweighing the fear of heart attacks, collapse, and vomiting in front of thousands of people (I’ve already done that, rather not repeat it, ask me to tell you the story sometime).

Ultimately I think I get it. As a runner I can understand the thin line between pain and pleasure. The sense that the accomplishment isn’t worth it unless it was earned through sweat and tears. We run BECAUSE it’s hard, not in spite of it. But I don’t know, this whole marathon thing seems to take that to a new level which leaves me wondering, is it necessary for me? Can I get that same feeling of achievement, accomplishment, pride, from my happy little half marathons? The problem is that I think the answer is no. We always have to top ourselves. We need a stronger fix to get the high! It’s no wonder that veteran marathoners often evolve into ultra-marathoners; but the truth is, we all do have a line that we really can’t cross without seriously endangering our health. We push that line, boy do we push it, but it will only bend so far. For some runners, that line is a 135 mile ultra-run through Death Valley in July. For Bruce Dern, who has run over 104,000 miles in his lifetime (he’s 77, you do the math) that line was to run from California to Colorado. Why stop there? For runners like Robert Garside, there pretty much is no line! He ran around the world.

So I guess what I’m really struggling with is not whether or not marathons are a healthy or smart thing to do. Thousands of people successfully complete marathons every year. The evidence suggests, overwhelmingly, that it’s possible. What I’m struggling with, what I don’t know is… where is my line?

There are a lot of things I don’t know about myself. I have of late been struggling with, to turn an overused phrase, an existential crisis. Questions eat away at me. What am I supposed to be doing with my life? What career should I really be pursuing? Do I really want to have children someday? What kind of actor am I? What is my myth? What is the story I’m meant to tell. Who the hell am I?

It’s all so annoying. Such first world problems,but they plague me. There are really two things I feel certain of right now in my life. I’m certain that I’m in love with Brad Light and want to spend the rest of my life with him. And I’m certain that I enjoy making Whimsy Dos and bringing a little floral beauty to the world. There are more ancillary certainties as well. I know my cats are the best cats. I love California and I never want to leave. I know I know I know that cilantro tastes like soap. Those small certainties comfort me, but the big questions remain.

I chip away at them. I try to breathe and remember that worrying about the questions often distracts us from the answer. I try to just live, because ultimately these are all rather western concerns. What I am supposed to be determines my success rate. My success rate determines my status in the world. My status in the world determines my value in the world. My value in the world is EVERYTHING. Very western. To quote my brother, “sometimes a beautiful sunset is more important.” I believe that. I do. I guess I can’t help but still succumb to the pressures of our little western definitions of identity. I do want to feel as though I’ve fulfilled some sort of destiny. Made a contribution. I’m turning 30 this year. So many of my friends have already done so much. Mothers, fathers, doctors, lawyers, physicists, teachers, movie stars. What have I done? Doesn’t feel like a lot.

Oy! Now I’m falling down an existential rabbit hole of doubt and self-pity. Not my intention! Wow, not the direction I thought this post would take, but what a discovery that is. I’m not going to edit it. All of this has been on my mind. I’ve been trying to work it out, and I’ve realized as I’ve put it into words that THAT is what that line represents for me. Running takes on metaphorical meaning in so many aspects of my life, this being no exception. So that line, that limit, whether it’s running a marathon or running around the world, where is it for me? What am I made of? What can I accomplish? Who am I? Not knowing has obviously been incredibly frustrating, on the course and off. So I guess there’s only one way to answer my own question. I have to run a marathon.

BIG announcement, like, big

Last weekend I watched my friend not only finish the L.A. Marathon, but kick it in the butt. Brad and I drove him to the starting line at 6:00 am. The sun continued to sleep soundly somewhere past the horizon while Dodgers Stadium overflowed with 20,000+ eager and excited runners. As we pulled into the drop-off area, inspiration filled my lungs. I couldn’t believe not only how many people took on the challenge of running a marathon, but how many of them were in the same physical condition (and maybe even a bit worse) than me. I couldn’t help but excitedly think if they could do this, I could do this. And I can.

With no further ado I have an announcement to make. I will run a marathon in 2015.

In case you weren’t sure, that’s 26.2 miles.

I’ve been toying with the idea since about one week after I finished my first half marathon. Immediately after finishing I thought that running that distance twice in a row sounded like the most insane idea I’d ever heard of, and I couldn’t believe ANYone actually did it. But it only took about a week to forget the pain before I started thinking not only of running another half as soon as possible, but entertaining the notion of greater challenges. I imagine it’s a bit like having children. During childbirth and immediately after I think most women curse their spouse’s name and swear they’ll never do this again. Doesn’t take long before that cuddly little bundle wipes away the memory of the pain and you start prepping another baby’s room. So yes, I’ve been thinking about it for years, (the marathon thing, not the baby thing) and I’m done thinking. The only way I’m going to find out if I can actually do it, is to just frickin’ do it.

So I’m going to do it.

Why wait until 2015 you ask? Well I’ve got this little thing called a wedding to plan. Brad and I are getting hitched in July 2014 (BRAD AND I ARE GETTING HITCHED JULY 2014!!!!!) and I don’t need to add to the stress of wedding planning by trying to squeeze in 15 mile runs on the weekends. 2014 is the year ‘o’ love. As soon as we get back from our honeymoon, let the training begin.

The goal right now (and I hope I hope I hope I can make it work) is to run the Walt Disney World Marathon. We’re talking about a marathon people. My FIRST marathon. It’s a big deal. You want your first time to be special, y’know? Whether or not we’ll have enough money leftover to fly to Florida for a running vacay after saving for a wedding and honeymoon remains to be seen. If it doesn’t happen, then it’ll either be the LA Marathon or the California International Marathon that takes my marathon V-Card.

So there you have it! You heard it here first. Accountability officially in print on Running to Tahiti.

I will run a marathon.

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supergirl day 4 – 8

Day 4

BREAKFAST

  • 1 packet organic oatmeal
  • 2 tsp raw turbinado sugar
LUNCH
  • mixed green salad w/ cucumber, goat cheese, tomatoes, garbanzo beans and balsamic vinagrette
  • 1 iced tea
DINNER
  • Snacky Foods at the “Wonderlust” opening night party:
  • hummus with pita, 2 slices cheddar cheese, 4 fresh figs, sampling of fresh tropical fruits, and a few itty bitty bites of spinach sour cream dip (I couldn’t resist!)
Day 5
BREAKFAST
  • 1/2 egg white omelet with swiss cheese, spinach and mushrooms
  • a few bits of potatoes
  • 1/2 english muffin with apple butter (no regular butter)
LUNCH
  • mixed green salad with tomato, cucumber, onion, carrots, fresh bean sprouts and balsamic vinaigrette
DINNER
  • 1 Trader Joe’s green chile tamale (again, not like normal fat full Mexican food. This stuff from TJ’s is not bad for you)
  • 1 Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala burger (amazing!) on whole wheat bread with onion
  • 2 fresh figs
SNACK

  • 1/2 slice Trader Joe’s garlic naan with low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese, avocado and mini heirloom tomatoes
  • raw organic almonds
Day 6
BREAKFAST
  • Organic Instant oatmeal with 1 tsp organic brown sugar and 1 tsp butter (weekend splurge)
  • 1 banana
LUNCH
  • 1 tuna salad sandwich from One Life Natural Foods. Tuna on wheat bread with lettuce, bean sprouts, carrots and somehow-not-bad-for-you mayonnaise
  • 1 serving Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips
DINNER
  • Thai Tom Yum soup from Chan Darae (lemongrass soup. Delish!) with shrimp
  • 1 cup brown rice
Day 7
BREAKFAST
  • Starbucks Cool Lime Refresher
  • 1 serving raw organic almonds
LUNCH
  • Mixed greens salad with tuna, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, red onion, croutons and lite caesar dressing
DINNER
  • Spaghetti with Mama Coco’s basil marinara sauce (this is THE best pasta sauce in the world. Run out and look for Mama Coco’s. You will thank me)
  • 1/2 slice Trader Joe’s garlic naan
DESSERT
  • 2 bites Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. I caved! I know it’s wrong. Anything with the word “chunky” in the title is NOT on the Supergirl diet. But I only had two widdle bites. I swear! 
Day 8
BREAKFAST
  • 1/2 Vegetable sandwich. Weird breakfast food I know, but I was craving it. I read some good advice once that said don’t feel limited at breakfast time. Just because it’s breakfast doesn’t mean you HAVE to have something sweet or with eggs in it. If you feel like having a sandwich, have a sandwich. Healthy choices are more important than staying in the breakfast box
LUNCH

  • 1 small greek salad with kalamata olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, and lemon oregano dressing
SNACK
  • 1 Tuna bistro box from Starbuck’s
  • Trader Joe’s Thai Lime & Chili Cashews. These are to die for. Proceed with caution however, as it’s very easy to eat more than one serving
DINNER
  • Homemade vegetable stir fry, made in olive oil, with 1 cup brown rice and 1/4 cup shrimp
DESSERT
  • 5 dark chocolate covered almonds. Get off my case. Both dark chocolate and almonds are antioxidant rich superfoods, so eat up Supergirl! 

super foods for supergirl

The Disneyland Half Marathon is in 8 days. I know that my training process this year has not been quite as robust as it was last year. What can I say, life gets in the way sometimes. It’s alright though. There is nothing I can do to change the miles I have run before this moment. There are things I know, and things I can control. I know that I’m going to run that race in 8 days despite not having trained as vigorously as I should have. I can control my preparation from now until then. I will not miss any more training runs. I will not freak out. I will meditate. I will breathe. I will go with the flow. I will have a great time, hopefully.

A major factor that I can control and that I believe will have a huge impact on my race performance is what I put in my body. If learned anything from my crisis last weekend it’s that no matter how in denial I am or how hard I plead to the contrary, my body and all its various systems are sensitive. I am not like Brad who can go without food or water all day, throw back a cup of coffee and go run 6 miles. It sure must be convenient to be that resilient, but my body needs a lot more tender love and care. For the next 8 days I am committing to a very strict diet of whole, fresh, healthy, performance boosting superfoods. I’ve never been strict enough about this and frankly I’m curious to see if it changes how I feel on race day compared to last year. 

To keep myself in check, I’d like to share with all of you every morsel that I eat for the next week. I’m not going to count calories as that’s really not what this is about. It’s about listening to my body and only giving it optimal fuel when I need it. It’s common sense that onion rings and a hefeweizen are not going to help me run so it really doesn’t matter how many calories they have, I’m not eating them. Oh, did I mention beer? That leads me to a major point. There are some basic ground rules for the Supergirl diet, one of them being zero alcohol. Oy. It’s going to be difficult, but no No NO alcohol between now and race day.

If I feel great and I run like Supergirl next Sunday then you’ll have a nice little meal plan for when you run your own half marathon some day. Which you will!

*NOTE* I’m a pescetarian (I eat fish, no other meat) so you won’t find any poultry, pork or beef on this meal plan. Hopefully this will also serve as documented proof that you don’t have to eat a ton of meat to get a substantial amount of protein. 

Day 1:

SNACK: 20 raw organic almonds and 5 fresh black cherries
  • LUNCH
  • 1 c spaghetti with marinara sauce (not ideal but I didn’t want to waste the leftovers so I employed some major portion control. Plus, pasta is actually good runner’s fuel and tomatoes ARE a superfood)
SNACK: 2 slices cantaloupe, 2 tablespoons eggplant hummus, 15 Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers
  • DESSERT
  • 1 c Greek yogurt with honey
  • 1 c raspberries
SNACK: 1 Smart Dog Veggie dog
Day 2:
  • Breakfast
  • 1 c oatmeal with 1 tsp raw turbinado sugar
  • 20 raw organic almonds
  • Lunch
  • Mixed green salad with roasted red peppers, cucumbers, black beans, avocado and goat cheese with lite balsamic vinaigrette
  • 8 oz. green iced tea, sweetened with agave nectar
SNACK: 15 Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers, 2 tbsp eggplant hummus, 1 donut peach (not to be confused with a peach donut)
  • Dinner
  • Raw vegan “taquitos” – made out of almonds and bean sprouts. Was actually pretty good
  • 1/2 slice garlic naan with 1 tbsp mozzarella cheese and 1/4 avocado, sprinkled with salt and pepper