Feeling Tired…but Feeling Determined!

You know how all the articles out there say that you should take a rest day if you truly need it? I feel like today would have been the perfect day to just cool it. When my alarm went off it just felt even more jarring than usual – I actually reset it so that I could sleep in until my usual work time…but then reminded myself just how much I love (and need) my strength-training class…and all I could hear was my mother’s voice in my head: “Get up, you lazy thing.” (love my mom!) So I did. And I went to class and it was just what I needed – tough but manageable, and I felt like I really worked hard today. I know all those squats and lunges are going to keep me strong in my legs, and I definitely need a lot of work on my upper body strength and core conditioning, so I know I made the right call.

That being said…I know workouts are supposed to be this magical energy elixir and you’re supposed to feel all kinds of jazzed up throughout the day…and while sometimes that’s very true for me…today was not one of those days! All I did was yawn. During my lunch break I sat outside in the sun and found myself closing my eyes more than once, and I also tried to sleep a bit on the train ride home. Because I knew my day wasn’t done yet – I still had 3 miles to get in!

I know I could have skipped the run tonight and been okay – it was just 3 miles after all, and so far I have not skipped any of my requisite runs. On the other hand…it was just 3 miles…and I haven’t skipped any of my requisite runs. 🙂 Plus while it is hot here today (I think it was in the upper 80s this evening), there’s been zero humidity – it was really just such a gorgeous night for running. So I did it. And I maintained my speed and while it did feel a little challenging at times, I got it done – and I feel SO much better now!

Tomorrow is my sanctioned rest day and I will enjoy it thoroughly. When I don’t work out in the mornings I get to sleep an extra hour and a half before getting up for work – it’s going to feel awesome! Saturday’s run is 13 miles and I feel ready – my 12-miler was a real confidence boost so I’m ready to build on it. Of course everyone has bad runs now and then so by no means am I taking a good run for granted – but I’m ready to get out there.

I hope everyone is having a lovely evening! Happy pre-Friday!

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Am I a Runner Yet?

Good evening from a pleasantly warm Chicago!

Lately I’ve been reading a ton of running-related articles and one of the questions they pose is when people consider themselves runners. For me, if I’m having a conversation with someone and running comes up, if the other person says “I’m not a runner” I always say “yeah me neither!” I guess in my head a “runner” is someone who does so effortlessly, who can just lace up and get out there and enjoy himself/herself.

But the more I think about it, the more I’m becoming that person. I see other people running and I wish I were there. I finish a run and I think about how I’m going to approach my next outing. I READ RUNNING ARTICLES in my spare time, for god’s sake!

This morning I needed to get in 3 miles and I knew I wanted to get them done quickly. Enter the treadmill. I can try to “sprint” to the best of my abilities on the Lakefront trail, but if I really want to do anything “speedy,” I need to set the pace on the treadmill and let it take me away. Tuesday night I had this vision in my head that I was going to run 3 straight miles, no walking break, at a 10-minute pace. Admittedly Tuesday night I also had a vision that I was going to get up extra early so I could fit in both a run and a yoga class, and naturally that plan was disbanded when I woke up at 4am in disbelief that I had less than an hour of sleep to go…but I digress…

I knew I couldn’t just hop on the treadmill at such a quick pace (for me – for anyone else this is plodding along!!), so I had a plan in my head – I’d warm up for 5 mins or so with a really quick walking pace, then I’d reset the timer to start from scratch at the 6.0 level. And…I totally did it! I’ve run that distance sans stopping before, and I think once I ran 2 miles at a 10-minute pace…but never, ever 3. Never. I felt amazing! Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of times that I wanted to just take a quick break or slow it down to a speed I’m more accustomed to, but I just kept going. Part of it was the new songs I’d downloaded and part of it was just watching the mileage add up and know that I didn’t have much longer to go.

And right as I was approaching the 3-mile mark, I started to wonder – am I a runner now? Because I feel like anyone can get out there and run some sort of ratio, especially at my usual pace – but can just anyone hop on a treadmill and run 3 miles at a 10-minute clip? I know when I first started I definitely couldn’t. For that matter…just a few months ago I probably couldn’t! But I just did and I proved it to myself and it felt awesome. So I’m getting closer to declaring myself a runner…on my way. 🙂

Beautiful Early Morning Run

This morning I wanted to get my 6-mile mid-week run in – I knew technically I could have slept in and taken my run after work, but I knew I’d feel better if I just got in in beforehand. My mid-week runs are getting longer, and this was the first 6-mile run I’ve done before work in Chicago (last week my run was in DC and I was able to sleep in a bit) – point being, I wasn’t too sure how dark it would be when I needed to get out on the trail, and I wasn’t too sure how safe I would feel. As soon as I got onto the path (at 5:40), I realized I had nothing to worry about. The sun was just minutes from coming up and there were a lot of people already out there. This made me feel relieved because I have another 6-miler next week and then a few weeks at 7. I know I’ll still feel fine running early enough to get the 7 miles in. Once it increases to 8…we’ll see. 🙂 I usually feel extremely safe when I’m running outside but Chicago IS a huge city and I do get distracted with music so I want to be careful.

Anyway, I ran north along the trail and felt pretty great as soon as I got going – it was hot out but not humid, and the Lake looked gorgeous. By the end my app told me that I’d run a good 30 seconds faster than my long run pace, which is great, and my last mile was nearly as fast as my first. Definitely a confidence-boosting run!

At this point in my training (just 10 weeks to go!), I’m really pleased with the work I’ve done on the mid-week runs. When I trained for the Marine Corps marathon, I thought of the mid-week runs as preparation for the long runs, and while I did fit them in most nights…there were definitely others that I skipped the gym entirely. I just didn’t take those runs as seriously as I should have. Now I realize that they’re just as valuable as the long runs, just in a different way. I think the work I’m doing throughout the week is building the foundation for my big run, and challenging myself with these shorter distances – both in speed and in incline – is going to pay off in the end. At least that’s the hope. 🙂

I’m still struggling getting my head wrapped around 26 miles – especially when I first start a long run. After all these years, running still doesn’t come easily to me, so when I’m huffing and puffing away and it’s only minute 3 of my 5-minute run cycle, immediately I start questioning the whole thing and I’m filled with doubt. Music is a good distraction for those thoughts…usually…and it helps during the long run to have people to talk to…but I still need to figure out some mantras to tell myself when those voices in my head get chatty. Even this morning, within the first few minutes, I started panicking about my pace and actually had to tell my brain to shut up.

So that’s where I’m at this week! Two more quick 3-miles to go and then 13 on Saturday. MAYBE tomorrow I’ll actually get to the gym early enough to sneak in my run before the yoga class…we’ll see!

A Few of My Favorite Things…

Good evening!

Today is a scheduled rest day for me – I was actually feeling antsy about it earlier in the day but I am really trying to stick to my training schedule as much as possible, and if a rest day is called for, a rest day I shall take. I felt so good yesterday morning after my 12-miler that I was able to do my high-intensity cross-training class – I felt awesome! And I still feel that bridge/skullcrusher set in my triceps, C!

Since I didn’t work out today I thought I’d focus on some of my favorite running accessories – I see other bloggers do it so why not. 🙂 First off, apparel – must run in my Brooks stability control sneakers. I bought them when I first started running 11 years ago and have been faithful to them ever since, side from a short dalliance with an Adidas stability shoe and a Mizuno one. When I need to replace a pair (for me, that’s twice a year, typically), I just walk into a Fleet Feet and ask for the latest iteration of my sneaker model – it takes two seconds and I walk out of there with cushiony, bouncy sneakers. And always in new colors – my last version was PINK (which I totally loved) and my current one is blue (which is also cute but I do heart pink). The way my training season is going, I’ll be buying a new pair before the big day, probably mid-September before my 20-miler.

Socks – right now I’m alternating among Bombas for my regular workouts, Feetures for short runs, and my go-to Balegas for long runs. My Balega running socks are suuuuper soft and cushiony – like a tiny pillow for my toes! I never get blisters when I wear Balegas on long runs, and they last forever. The Feetures are a new addition to my running clothes drawer; the ones I have actually have a little bit of stability control woven into the fabric. They are thin, so I don’t wear them beyond 5 or 6 miles, but I feel like I’m helping my feet when I wear them. They’re also great for walks. The Bombas are kind of halfway between the thickness of the Feetures and the Balegas – perfect for a regular workout.

Clothes – I am committed to capris (with a drawstring band) in warm weather and full-length running tights in the cold weather. Some of my friends wear shorts when it’s super hot out but I actually don’t mind the capris at all. If it’s that hot, I’ll wear a sleeveless tank (I LOVE the ones from Athleta with the elastic bottom – they totally stay in place, especially during my cross-training workouts when I’m doing burpees and planks and crazy yoga poses – I never have to worry about my shirts getting out of place), and if it’s more temperate I’ll wear a regular t shirt. Always with the dry wick material. Always.

Sports bras – oh good God, I could go on forever on this subject. Anyone who knows me has heard me whine about how well endowed I am – it’s hard enough for me to find normal tops, let alone sports bras that will be supportive and will last. Right now I’m committed to an Enell bra with front hooks – “committed” because I accidentally ordered three on Amazon (long story!), and I will say that they really do hold me in and eliminate most of the bouncing. On the other hand, I need a LOT of Body Glide (next!) so that my chest isn’t totally marked up with chafing after a long run.

Body Glide – something I never used until this year! Looking back, I’m not sure how I trained for the Marine Corps in the middle of the DC summer without it – oh right, I barely ran during that training session! Now I slather it all over my chest and on my left arm (next!) where my iPhone band goes. I think the last run I took without the Body Glide was the Soldier Field 10-Miler over Memorial Day weekend – suffice it to say, I learned my lesson. No more runs sans this product, at least not in hot weather!

Arm Band – it’s funny, I was trying to remember what I did with my phone when I first started running – and then I remembered – I left it in the car and actually held a DiscMan with me when I ran! Amazing how technology has evolved in such a short time, and how products have evolved right along with it. I’m not crazy about the arm band I have now – I really, really liked the one that I used when I had the iPhone 5, but it didn’t fit my 6 so I had to get a new one. This one is…meh. It’s multi-purpose, meaning it can also hold an Android, and I think that might be part of the problem – I may need one actually tailored to the iPhone. The good news is that I can play around with the screen without taking it off; the bad news is that I never feel like it’s appropriately secure – it either feels too loose or too tight. But it’s manageable for now…I may treat myself to a new one before the big day…maybe when I buy my new sneakers!

Bananas and Shot Blocks – I really, really don’t like bananas – I would never choose to eat them. But god bless them for being the one food my little tummy can tolerate first thing in the morning! As of now I won’t run more than 6 miles without eating a banana ahead of time for energy (I used to try to push the distance, but no longer – I have seen the value of the pre-run snack and I am sticking to it!). And after some experimenting last weekend, I’m going to try again to eat 3 Shot Blocks once I’m around 45-50 minutes into the run, and continue the trend. I happened to buy a box of the wild cherry SBs in bulk from Amazon, but I’ve also had the mixed berry and the margarita flavors – all yummy! Some come with extra salt and some (like my current flavor) have extra caffeine – if slurping down gu isn’t your thing, I’d definitely recommend trying these. I also liked when I tried the Jelly Belly sports beans – they’re like jazzed up jelly beans – but I wasn’t coordinated enough to chew them all and run at the same time. 🙂

Foam Roller and Stretching Band – two new purchases that I think will help me stay loose and limber. All I did was Google “foam roller for runners” and I found a bunch of videos and pics to lead me through some sample exercises, and the stretch band I bought actually came with an instruction manual of sample stretches, so I’m hoping I stay diligent and do at least one or the other every night. I also have a yoga mat and have done SOME yoga poses at home – just not enough. But I’m working on it. 🙂

Music – When I do the long run with my group on Saturdays I leave my phone in the car, but when I’m on my own I rely on music to power me through the run. Just a little while ago I was scrolling through the RunHundred.Com website for songs – first I did it by decade (I picked 1990s), then I did it by tempo of the song (130-149 BPM or higher seems to be my sweet spot). I’m picky about my music so typically I’ll download a bunch of songs and run through them once – if they resonate, I’ll keep them, otherwise I’ll delete them from my phone. There’s nothing worse than hearing the start of a song you’re not in the mood for but not being able to slow down and putz around your song list until you find a new one!

Apps – Right now I’m just sticking to RunKeeper and we’re doing well together. I’m still suspicious of the speed it whispers in my ear but I figure it’s just a gauge – if it’s not wholly accurate, whatever. I’m pretty rules-oriented in my real life and I know sometimes I just need to take a break. 🙂  I really do want a fancy schmancy Garmin watch but I’m using that as a weight-loss incentive! 🙂

Belt – last but not least. When I first started running, my coaches beat into us the importance of carrying water with us – it’s funny, I notice that more runners seem to rely on water fountains, but I much prefer having my own. I guess it’d be weird to run a lot and suddenly put on a belt with a full water bottle and try to get accustomed to the feeling, but it’s all I’ve ever known so I’m totally down with it. I still try to get drinks at the fountains and the water stops when I need it, and that way I’ll still have my own supply if needed. There is a tiny zippered pouch on my belt and that’s where I carry my Shot Blocks, Chapstick, and sometimes Kleenex (I put my keys in the zippered pocket of my running capris). It takes a little finessing to get the belt to rest on your waist in a comfortable and secure spot, but once you do, you’re good to go.

And that is all from me! Off to find a few more tunes and then it’s bedtime…early to rise tomorrow for a 6-mile run before work!

12 Miles – Feeling Great!

Good Morning!

So very happy to report that my 12-miler was a success! I had some real trepidation about this particular run – my 7-miler last weekend was just so unpleasant, and my 6-mile run in DC was also a struggle. I knew I’d had a good 10-mile run in CT two weekends ago, so I just told myself I only had to do 2 more. And I did!

It’s funny – it was a warm morning here and everyone was talking about the heat – but compared to the weather last weekend and especially the temps in DC, it felt like heaven to me! Very low humidity and the sun just isn’t that strong so early in the morning (plus many parts of our running path are shaded). To me it was a welcome relief.

Usually I get a little anxious when we first start off – for some reason it always seems super fast to me. But this morning I just felt really good. And kept feeling really good. And even though most of the time I was towards the end of the group (there were only…9 of us today? Somewhere around there), we kept a pretty tight pack, so I was never too far from my pace leader. We stopped at every.single.water.fountain but I didn’t mind – I told myself that this is the trade-off in running with a group; pace and distance are done for you but you do have to go a little slower sometimes. Then again, not unlike my DC run, this time I partook in a bunch of the water breaks, so ultimately I benefited!

My tummy totally behaved itself. And I experimented a bit with fueling; I had my typical pre-run banana and this time I ate 3 shot blocks once I was 45 minutes in, instead of an hour. I think it worked, because I didn’t get sluggish after an hour and a half like I sometimes do. And I took 3 more once we’d gone just under 2 hours – I knew I didn’t have much more to run but it felt like the right thing to do. And my stomach totally handled it – success!

My little arch discomfort is still kind of there but definitely isn’t preventing me from doing anything. After I got home I took out a stretch band and worked on my hamstrings and quads and calves, so hopefully concentrating on those stretches and incorporating the foam roller will help keep me loose and will work out any kinks. A girl in our group today was telling me about how she had to drop out of training last year after having finished the 20-miler because of a stress fracture on her heel. She said she realized after the fact that she did have plantar fasciitis, so I do need to keep an eye on my arch in case this does turn into something bigger. Hopefully with some preventive work I’ll keep it at bay.

That’s about all from here! So happy that this was a good run – I needed the psychological boost!

Double Workout…Doubly Tired :)

This morning is the strength-training class at my gym, the one I use to try to get toned. It’s important to me to keep up with conditioning exercises during training because I don’t want to lose the (still minimal, but good for me!) strength that I’ve developed over time. I’ve read a lot about runners who lose muscle mass during training and I don’t want to be one of them…it’s just more to work on when the marathon is over.

But I also had to get another 3 miles in. And I also wanted an evening off…I didn’t want to have to have another workout after work.

So I got up at 4:45 to sneak in those miles before the class. I went straight to work on the treadmill to reclaim the (slow) speed that I’ve been working on and it definitely felt grueling. I don’t know why the wind suddenly seems lost from my sails, but I felt like I was struggling to keep up…and it was just.three.miles.

Afterwards I went to my strength class and just felt bogged down. I’m so much better – and can use heavier weights – when I’m fresh. It almost felt like a waste to try to do both this morning – like I couldn’t give either workout 100% so I had to settle on 50% for both. Next Thursday I have plans after work so I may have to duplicate this again…but although I love the idea of having nothing to do after work, I know that breaking up the two workouts is the best way to go.

If I’m feeling positive I can point to two things that are making me feel sluggish – residual jet lag from Berlin compounded by a quick trip to DC, and maybe getting to that point in training when the increasing mileage just starts to take a toll (though…if that’s the case…it’s a tad alarming since we’re only a third into the season!). I think maybe next week I’ll start trying some energy chews before runs – even those with low mileage – to both train my tummy better and for the caffeine and electrolytes.

Of course my fear is that I’m not cut out for this, I don’t have the stamina, just getting through half a marathon doesn’t mean completing an actual marathon is something I’m capable of…those are the thoughts that go through my head when I’m having a tough run.

I’m really glad I’m off tonight, though, and also glad tomorrow is a rest day. Not only do I need to recover from a bunch of weighted squats and lunges, but I absolutely need fresh legs for the run on Saturday. In brighter news, I no longer think I have plantar fasciitis (or anything terribly wrong) – the discomfort I wrote about yesterday in my left arch is still there somewhat, but much decreased. I really do think it had something to do with being on my feet so much in Berlin. And the foam roller arrived – currently working on it right now!

Restorative Run

Ciao!

Happy to report that the weather this morning was simply gorgeous and perfect for squeezing in 3 miles before work. I felt so much better running this morning than yesterday – it was a good 10-15 degrees cooler and zero humidity. Interestingly my speed was definitely not what it typically is – per my RunKeeper app I was a good 30 seconds slower per mile than I usually am -but I’m trying not to worry about that. I needed to get my miles in and I did, and I still ran them about on par with what will be my race pace in October. I’m hoping tomorrow’s run is a bit speedier.

One thing I’m monitoring is what I think could be the beginning of plantar fasciitis. I noticed last week that my left arch was starting to hurt a little bit, and the discomfort (it’s definitely not pain, just mild discomfort at this point) has continued and moved up a bit to my calf. Obviously I did some Googling and it does seem to match some of the signs of PF, which evidently I’m prone to since I have flat feet to begin with (thanks to my dad, hahaha). 🙂 I ordered a foam roller and stretch bands on Amazon so I’m going to try to work on it myself, plus there’s a physical therapy office inside my gym, so if it gets worse I can get it checked out professionally. I’m not sure what caused it but I have a feeling it could be related to my work trip last week. So much of my time in Germany was spent on my feet and walking around, and during those trips I’m just in ballet flats, not exactly the most supportive shoes. I’m hoping this thing goes away on its own (with some stretching effort on my part) and that I don’t have to take a break or anything. Like I said – just very mild discomfort right now – just don’t want it to get worse!

I also had my first meal planning session with my nutritionist tonight. I really like the plan – it’s fairly similar to what I eat already, but with a concentration of calories towards the beginning and mid-parts of my day, vice at night, and fitting in the carbs earlier in the day as well. But there’s still some wiggle room so it won’t feel completely rigid. The recipes are definitely easy enough for me to put into practice, and I can send her some of my favorites too, to see where they might fit in a day. It’ll be a challenge for me to get used to smaller dinners and fewer carbs at night, but a lot of my eating habits are just that – habitual – not necessarily based on need. So we’ll see how it goes. I’m quasi excited about it – I secretly love trying out new diets. 🙂

Running in the Heat!

Early Monday afternoon I took a quick flight to Washington, DC – my home away from home. I lived in DC for ten years and I have a bunch of friends there, to include my BFF, K. She was kind enough to host me on Monday evening so that I could attend a meeting at the TSA on Tuesday. Earlier in the day I did my cross-training workout for the week, the interval class that I love, so I was feeling really good. Plus K’s condo complex has a pool, so once I got to DC we immediately headed into the water to catch up and cool off – because DC is HOT in the summertime!

I love running in DC, especially around the Mall and the monuments (the trails are beautiful too, but the Mall is super easy to get to from where K lives). This morning I needed to get in 6 miles – I was worried about a repeat of my terrible run on Sunday, so I did what I could to manage the heat – I was running by 7am, I ate a pre-run banana (which I rarely do for short distances), and I brought my running belt so that I could hydrate whenever I needed to. Usually I have this rule where I don’t drink or eat my energy gels until I’ve been running for an hour (I feel like I need to give my tummy some time to adjust), but today I told myself I’d just start drinking as soon as I needed to.

And I needed to drink pretty much right away! It was just a regular July day in DC but it was so much hotter and more humid than what we’ve had in Chicago lately – it’s been hot here too, but it was more intense over there. Not only did I sip at my water bottle throughout the run, I even stopped at water fountains for extra drinks here and there AND I got lucky – when I was running past the Washington Memorial the sprinklers were on so I intentionally ran through one of them to cool off!

The good news – I finished. All 6 miles, in the heat. The not as good news – good god it was a SLOW run! I nearly died when my RunKeeper app chimed in with my average pace – it just kept increasing and increasing. Now I know there were two factors that contributed to my turtle-like speed – one, I did have to stop for traffic here and there, with zero movement. Second, while the area around the Mall is hardly hilly, there ARE inclines, and I think I naturally slowed down on them because I’m just not used to inclines anymore – Chicago is so flat. Part of me wonders if maybe my body naturally slowed down from the outset because it knew it would have to preserve energy to overcome the heat…but I’m not sure I can give myself that much credit! Stopping for traffic usually drives me nuts – I hate screwing up my time just because of traffic lights – but I won’t lie, this morning I wasn’t sad to take a lot more breaks than usual!

If I’d had a similar run here – a super slow one – I’d be concerned, but I think given all of the factors I shouldn’t get too worried. We’ll see how my runs tomorrow and Thursday go – each is only 3 miles so I’m not all that concerned; the real question will be Saturday’s 12-miler. But that’s 4 days from now and I want to go eat dinner – no time to worry about it now! Good night!

Guten Tag!

Good morning from Chicago, after a whirlwind trip to Berlin!

I had such a great trip – both in terms of work and fun. The weather was gorgeous (low 80s, breezy and sunny) and the colleagues I met were just wonderful to work with. I’d been to Berlin once before but only for a few hours (part of a larger sightseeing tour), so it was nice to see the city again.

But let me back up. First, I had a GREAT pre-trip run on Tuesday. I had to do 5 miles before work and decided to get them done on the treadmill – I have more control over speed when I’m on the machine, so there’s less of a chance of running slowly and consequently getting to work late! The run felt great – I started at a slightly faster pace and steadily increased throughout the run – not my plan, but I was feeling so good that I went for it. I like getting in a good workout before a long flight; I feel like it helps to ward off the antsy feeling I get from sitting around too long.

I arrived in Berlin in the early afternoon on Wednesday and my coworker I was traveling with suggested we meet in the hotel lobby around 6 for dinner – which left me plenty of time to nap and get in a quick 3 miles in the fitness center. I know everyone has different opinions on how to combat jet lag; for me, after a lot of trial and error, I know I function best when I’m able to sleep just a few hours after arrival and then start fresh. I took a nice two-hour nap and was ready to go when my alarm went off. Thankfully the fitness center at the hotel was really nice – several treadmills and a few ellipticals, plus plenty of dumbells and fun workout stuff (a big ball, kettleballs, resistance bands, etc). It took me awhile to figure out the speed to use (since it was in kilometers) but ended up running the whole thing sans stopping and finishing fast – I felt great.

That evening, my coworker and I walked over to the Brandenburg Gate, about a mile and a half or so from our hotel, and had dinner at a cafe; the walk was great and the weather was perfect. We got back to the hotel around 9:30 or so; we had to be back early because we had to be up early the next day to start work.

Thursday we worked steadily throughout the morning and finished up around noon; again I had several hours to kill before dinner. I considered doing some sightseeing but I knew I wanted to sleep a little and get back to the gym, and this time I needed to add weights after the run. Again it was a great experience – another nice run and then an improvised weight lifting routine – I just tried to mimic the lifting I do in my strength-training class and deliberately targeted my upper body, with some squats and lunges thrown in to keep my legs in shape for running.

On Friday we had an even earlier start, but again finished up around lunchtime. This time I was ready to get out a bit – I took a nice 2-mile walk to one of the city’s museums and explored for two hours or so. I could have stayed longer but I really was feeling tired and sore – the work I do when I’m on travel involves a LOT of walking around and standing around, so adding that to my workouts and walks to dinner, plus lingering jet lag – I was ready to get back to my hotel. I had enough time to take a quick nap before meeting up again with my coworker for my last dinner in Berlin. We went to the city’s oldest beer garden and I loved it! I really don’t like beer very much but when in Germany…it just feels like the right thing to do!

Finally it was time to come home. I had to fly from Berlin to Newark and connect to Chicago; we landed early so I was able to hop on an earlier flight home (originally I wasn’t due to get home until 5 but with the new flight I was home by 3), so I was grateful for that. I had all intention of getting in my 7-mile long run once I got home, but somehow I just lost my motivation. I’m not exactly sure what happened. I can’t blame jet lag because I slept fine on the plane, and I definitely ate enough to fuel the run. Granted it was pouring rain when I got home, but I easily could have just run on the treadmill – but then I psyched myself out of that because I didn’t want to be the only person at the gym that late on Saturday evening (which I probably wouldn’t have been but the thought alone made me blanch). I also knew that I could just do the run this morning and do my cross-training tomorrow…so that’s what I went with.

I finally got out around 8am today for what I thought would be a pretty straightforward run. I started off feeling okay…and then not so much. I’m not exactly sure what went wrong because there are so many things that were different about running this morning, but suffice it to say, these 7 miles were a real struggle for me. For one thing, it was HOT and humid here today. 8am is still an early start time, but my group runs typically kick off at 6:30, so already I was getting kind of a late start. Second, I always eat a banana before a long run but I didn’t have any at home, so I didn’t eat anything. Third, it’s very rare for me to crave a particular kind of food but last night I really wanted pizza – once during half marathon training I had pizza before a long run and I was just fine; I assumed it’d be okay today. Not so much. I made it through about 4 miles and really started doubting that I’d be able to run through the rest; I was hot, thirsty (I had water with me but wanted to space it out since my tummy was already on the fritz!), and my stomach was doing flip flops. It was fine when I was on my little walk breaks but as soon as I started running again it would cramp up. I slowed down and tried to take it easy but the whole thing was just really hard.

I’d say that I learned my lesson…I’m just not sure what lesson I learned! 🙂 I guess next time I’ll be sure to have a more basic dinner the night before; I don’t really know if the pizza was what bothered me but I feel no desire to test that again. I’ll also make sure I have my pre-run banana (I didn’t think it was absolutely necessary today because it was just 7 miles; I should have taken that distance more seriously). Other than those two factors, I’m not sure what else I would do differently. One thing I will take from this run – again, right around mile 4 or so was when I really didn’t think I’d run the whole way, but I DID – I got through it. It wasn’t pretty but I kept telling myself that I was going to get through it. That’s been a significant difference from the last time I trained for a marathon – back then, I would have just defaulted to walking and I would have just been pleased I got in the requisite distance. So far during this training session I have not once taken a break from running. Even during my half marathon training, only once did I walk for 2 minutes instead of 1. So even though this was a more challenging run than I’d anticipated, I still got it done, and that’s what matters.

And now it’s back to normal, sort of – I have a quick trip to Washington tomorrow but I’ll be back by Tuesday night, so my plan is to take my interval training class tomorrow morning before work and to run in DC on Tuesday morning, which I love. It’s hot there too but after today I’m ready for it!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Happy to be home!

Bound for Berlin!

Good evening! I am off to Berlin tomorrow for a few days for work, so I’ll be taking a small break from blogging – unless the mood truly inspires me and I want to plunk down on the keys from the hotel business center.

This morning I went to my favorite interval training class for my cross-training workout. Technically I suppose I could count the yoga and long walk I took yesterday as cross-training, but I prefer something more intense. Today’s class totally fit the bill – my favorite cardio move was jumping lunges as you stretched a resistance band across your chest and my favorite strength move was using the body bar to do upright rows and a chest press. The last move of the class is usually a core one, and today we used exercise balls – the idea was to roll out so that your shins are still on the ball and you can move your legs into a crouching position and straight back again. I guess the first two or three sets I was okay with, but then I started to lose my balance and the ball positioning a bit. The alternative exercise was mountain climbers and I wish I’d switched to those earlier in the exercise; I only got one round in and they felt great – and more effective than the ball thing. I’m sure in reality it’s a great exercise but I think because mountain climbers are more simple, I should have just done more of those! Ah well!

Tomorrow morning I will get in my mid-week 5-mile run before work, and hopefully in Germany I’ll be able to do two sets of 3-mile runs. The hotel has a fitness center and I should have some down time (especially on Wednesday after I arrive), so I think it’s do-able. Unfortunately I don’t get back in the States until 5-ish on Saturday, so I will miss my group run. But it’s a cutback week so I only have to do 7 miles, which I’ll take care of on Sunday. No big deal.

That’s about it from a very humid Chicago! Have a good few days and I’ll write when I get back. Auf Wiedersehen!