January 30, 2012

From headache to burns to misery

I had the worst headache ever. From Wednesday-Sunday. Five long, tortuous, miserable, dreadful, awful days. 

I tried Advil. I tried a massage. I tried cold compresses. I tried steam. I decided to try spicy food (thinking if it were a sinus issue, spicy food could eliminate the problem). This is where things really started to go downhill (not that they weren't already bad enough).

On Saturday (day four of major head pain), I decided to make some Korean noodle soup (extremely spicy and delicious). I cooked it, poured it in a bowl, and brought it to the table to eat. I took one bite. Then, I proceeded to spill the entire bowl on my legs. Yes, a bowl of boiling, spicy water on my legs. As you can imagine, "YOWEE!"

Spicy and dangerous
I flew out of my seat, threw my pajama pants off (don't judge; I wasn't feeling well and the PJ pants are comfortable) and ran into the shower to start running cold water over my poor legs. After 15 minutes, my legs finally felt somewhat back to normal. 

So, I still had a headache and now had red patches and the beginnings of blisters on my legs (I'll spare you the photos. You're welcome.).  I spent the rest of the night in a dark, unhappy, poor-me place. A majority of the reason for this feeling: I couldn't do a long run on Sunday with burn wounds on my legs. This after missing my Thursday run due to my pounding head. Boo!

My half marathon is Feb. 12. Just when I was getting in a groove, I get a massive, long-standing headache and burn my legs with spicy boiling Korean noodle soup. Gah!

On the upside, the headache is gone and the burns are healing (aloe vera is my best friend right now), and I think I'll be able to run again soon.

January 25, 2012

Wacky Wednesday

It's that time again. Time for randomness:
  • I want to go back to Hawaii. Like, really, really want to go back. 
Can you understand why I want to go back?
  • Although, I live in a pretty darn nice place. With a beach. And tropical weather. 

  •  Nancy Grace irritates to me to no end, yet I find myself watching her show quite often. Why do I do this? Why do I watch someone so annoying? Darn you, Nancy Grace.
  • Lately, I keep rapping these lines non-stop, all day, over and over and over again: "Psycho, I’m liable to go Michael; Take your pick, Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, Game 6." It's from Jay-Z and Kayne's "Paris" (the nice way to say it, trust me), and I can't stop. I'm not even sure I actually like the song, but I do love all Michaels mentioned. Maybe that's why?

January 23, 2012

I love running; I hate running

Tempo runs aren’t my thing. I’m terrible at picking a sustainable pace that is faster than my usual comfortable training pace. What is this pace? I have no idea. I think this is why tempo runs aren’t my thing (On a side note, whenever I hear tempo, I think of music. This makes me think of band. I played the trumpet and wore a terrible outfit with a funny hat).

Not my finest fashion moment.
But Thursday, after months of training, I finally rocked a tempo run. I picked a faster pace, and I ran that faster pace for 45 minutes (for a 60-minute total run). My average pace, including the warm up and cool down, was 11:04. For me, this is downright speedy. And, I felt awesome.

After this rockin’ tempo run, I was ready for my 9-mile long run on Sunday to be a breeze. I may have been ready for it, but there was no breeze. I felt some kind of strange calf pain for the first half of the run. Then, my left foot went numb. Strange.

During this time, my thoughts were:

“Why does my calf hurt? Running sucks.”

“My foot is numb now. Awesome. Running sucks.”

“I’m never running another half marathon. Running sucks.”

You may notice a theme here.

But, I just kept running (which is what I’m sure you’re supposed to do if you think you’re injured) and eventually it went away.

I stopped once to retie my shoe. I tried to put it off as long as possible because I hate stopping. I’m always afraid I won’t start again or I will want to keep stopping. But after retying, I restarted and didn’t stop until I hit the 9-mile mark.

From about the 5-mile point on, my thoughts were:

“This is awesome. Running rocks!”

“I love running, and it loves me. Running rocks!”

“I can’t wait for my next half marathon. Running rocks.”

Wide range of emotion, folks.

January 19, 2012

Race days

I picked up the January/February edition of "Florida Race Place," which lists running events in the area. Holy crapola! There are a ton of races. And, I want to run them all (well, all of them except marathons and ultras ... I'm not ready for that high mileage stuff yet). 

I've never had this problem. I just started running last year, and I kind of needed prodding-encouragement-pressure to sign up for any race last year. But, this year is a different story. I'm trained. I'm motivated. I want to push myself. I want to get faster. To be completely honest, I want some cool shirts and medals, too. 

So, I started registering. And this is my schedule (so far):

Feb. 12: Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon St. Petersburg
Feb. 25: Suncoast Classic 10K (my first)
March 4: Gasparilla Distance Classic Half Marathon
March 18: Florida Beach 5K
April 14: Turtle Trot 5K (I HAD to sign up for this. HAD to.) 

I'm slightly tempted to do another half on April 22. But, it's bound to be hot and it involves a big, scary bridge (as in a major hill). I'd kind of hate to end my race season on a bad race. I probably shouldn't think so negatively ... but, I think that's a wait-and-see race. 

So, my question: is this normal (I know I'm not normal, but is planning races in advance normal)? How far ahead do you plan?

January 18, 2012

Wacky Wednesday

Time for the weekly dose of randomness:

  • The boyfriend and I went to see “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” this weekend. We’re still talking about it. SO good. I didn’t read the book; I just watched the movie and enjoyed it tremendously. Go see it! 
  • I love celeb-reality shows in a serious way. Love them. But, I didn’t think I’d watch “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle.” Well, I thought wrong. I watched it once and was mesmerized. I think mainly because I love listening to T.I. talk. His voice has a soothing quality to it. 
  • Speaking of celeb-reality shows, “Ice Loves Coco” is back on Feb. 19. Yeah, didn’t think I’d like this one either. Turns out, I don’t like it, I love it! They are the sweetest couple, and I can’t stop watching. 
  • Does anyone else like almond milk? I randomly decided to give it a try, and wow! Deliciousness.

January 16, 2012

Long run love ... we're back together

After some recent long-run struggles and avoidance, I'm finally back in the groove. And, back in love.

My weekday runs (50-minute run on Tuesday (intervals) and a 60-minute run (40 minutes tempo) on Thursday) were kind of rough this week. When I write "kind of rough," I mean they sucked. When I write "they sucked," I mean I struggled the entire way and wanted to walk more during those runs than almost any runs prior. Yeah, they were bad. Not really sure what's going on there. So, since they were so miserable, I was a little nervous about my long run this week: an 8-mile trek. 

But, it was glorious. This run was extremely enjoyable, which is what I've been missing on long runs. We're reunited, and it feels so good.


January 12, 2012

A reason to run

My next half marathon is the Rock 'n' Roll St. Petersburg Half Marathon on Feb. 12. I didn't decide to run this race because there is live music every mile. It was more due to the timing, the location and my running group having a training program for it.

After being a long run loser lately (and hearing horror stories about other Rock 'n' Roll events), I haven't really been all that excited about this race ... until now. Now, it's all about the music.

I mean, wouldn't everyone be excited to hear this performed live at a post-race concert?

Or is that just me?  

January 11, 2012

Wacky Wednesday

I wanted a post where I can be completely random and not necessarily write about running, so the weekly feature, Wacky Wednesday, was born. Look for it here each Wednesday.

Now, onto the randomness:
  • I finally saw "Bad Teacher." I LOVE Cameron Diaz, so I've wanted to see this movie forever. My boyfriend doesn't necessarily like her, so when I told him I wanted to see this movie I knew he probably wouldn't want to see it in the theater. Imagine my surprise when he said he saw this movie with a friend and liked it! Hmph! So, last week I finally got around to renting it (thanks, Blockbuster Express with your $1 rentals). And, I found it quite humorous. Cameron is funny stuff, and I love the fact that Justin Timberlake's character can't dance.
  • I can't get enough of Bruno Mars. The majority of his songs are cheesy, sappy and totally unlike something I'd normally like. But, I don't like them, I love them. Seriously, this guy can sing anything, and I'd be enthralled.
  • I'm sad the "American Horror Story" season is over. There aren't many (any?) shows I look forward to watching each week (well, since Charlie Sheen got fired from "Two and a Half Men" anyway), but this is one I anxiously awaited. Each episode was suspenseful and explained part of a mystery.  And, it was superbly acted (Jessica Lange is just awesome). And, now it's gone. Boo!
If you don't watch, I bet this makes you want to start.

January 10, 2012

The long-delayed resolution post

Resolutions, ugh.
I used to always make resolutions. I like the idea of bettering yourself and setting lofty goals. Sounds great, right? It isn’t so great when your resolutions end in bitter disappointment and failure, which is where my resolutions usually end.
I made it a resolution for three years to start running and finish a 5K. Three years! And, I didn’t complete this goal until it wasn’t a resolution. This is the same year I trained for and completed a half marathon. It just happened naturally.
So, I made a resolution to not make resolutions.
It’s not that I don’t need to better myself. It’s not that I don’t need goals. Because, believe me, I do. I just don’t think I need them in New Year’s resolution form. Or maybe not such strict form. For example, I can remember in past years, writing this resolution: “I will go to bed before 11 p.m. every weeknight.” Sounds fabulous. But, it’s just not realistic. Sometimes work, friends, life gets in the way – as is the case with everything. But, I used to see myself as a failure when in the second week of January, I went to bed at midnight. Man, I blew it again.
So, maybe my resolution is to not make such strict resolutions (See? I already broke my first resolution of not making resolutions).
Or maybe I don’t call them resolutions? I can call them: things that would be nice to do in the new year (or something like that … it still needs work, obviously).
So, whatever they are, here are some ways I hope to better myself (in the health and running arenas) in 2012:
  • Get more sleep. (Hopefully, worded this way, I’ll see it as more of a mantra, a way to live. Not some dreaded resolution with an absolute bedtime.)
  • Work to be a better, faster, stronger runner. (Again, no time goals or specific races. Just a general goal.)
  • Get more consistent with strength training. (No number of days per week or minutes per day.)
They seem simple, non-stressful and not too extreme … I hope. And, in looking at them, they probably are resolutions (as much as I don’t want them to be). But, hopefully, more attainable (and less bitter disappointment and failure follow). 

January 9, 2012

Long run loser

After my first half marathon on Nov. 20, I really didn’t have a desire to run. After a week break, I finally got back into the groove (for the weekly speed workouts, anyway). But, I just couldn’t muster any desire to do a long run.
I’d try and would run 3 miles and call it quits. My longest run during this time was 6 miles. And, it was miserable. I probably walked half of it. I kept telling myself that next week would be the week I’d complete a long run. And, next week came, and I couldn’t do it. A few miles were OK. But, anything much more than 4 miles was getting into iffy territory.
As with all running-related issues, I started evaluating why I felt this way. And, I came up with a few reasons:
  • I’d accomplished the goal I worked so hard for (completing the Women’s Half Marathon), and I lost my drive.
  • With holidays, visitors and travelling, running took a back seat.
  • My last long run was the half marathon race on Nov. 20. Because it was hot, miserable and didn’t go at all like I hoped, I lost my love of the long run.
I think all of these played into my lack of desire to run a long distance. But, I think the last reason probably played the biggest part.
I used to love long runs. We lucked out with the weather for most of our long training runs for the half marathon. The weather was fairly cool (for Florida) for most of our longer distances. The training was working, and I could run a longer distance each week. After a rough 7-mile run one week, all of my runs were pretty glorious. I remember loving two 10-mile runs. They were just completely enjoyable. Then, this blasted half marathon came along and ruined everything. It was hot. It was humid. It was awful.
I'm only smiling on the outside.
Every time I thought about a long run from that point forward, I remembered that terrible run. And, I hated it.
With the holidays over, the visitors gone and the traveling done, I decided this past Sunday was the day to do a long run.
First step, tell my coach that I really sucked it up in regard to long runs. I really didn’t want to admit that my training was turning into a big pile of failure. But, I did. And, I felt better already. So, instead of running the 11 miles (yikes!) on my schedule, my coach suggested a 6-8-mile run. That sounded doable.
Second step, show up and run. At 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, I met my group for a still undetermined number of miles (but between 6 and 8) run.
The first few miles were kind of rough. My first few miles of any long run usually aren’t the best, though. So, I kept going. At the 3-mile turnaround point, I decided to keep going. The run still wasn’t a masterpiece by any means, but I’d gotten in the groove. I went another 0.5 miles before turning around. The last 3.5 miles were easier than the first, and I’m so happy I finally ran a non-stop 7 miles. And, my time was almost exactly the same as my (better) 7-mile run during my previous training (1:21). I’ll take it!
I have a tendency to take a turn to negative town, so part of the run I was so disgusted at myself for not being able to run the 11 miles on my schedule. But, toward the end, I felt happy for getting back out there and tackling a long run. And, replacing my last miserable long run memory with a pleasant one.

January 4, 2012

My recipe for speed: cold weather

I went back to my running group last night for the first time in two weeks. I ran on my own for a week and HATED IT. I missed my group in a serious way. Then, I didn't run the next week. Oops. A few others took a break, too, because our coach emailed this: "Everybody running still? Getting ready for a big race? Need any tips???" Oops.

I was really afraid that taking a complete week off from running would render me unable to run a mile. Seriously, I thought I would struggle and huff and puff. Thankfully, I was wrong.
It wasn’t my best run, but it wasn’t torture either. And, I ran 4.5 miles. No issues. Well, it was freezing! Yes, I know I usually say it is freezing when it is a blustery 62 degrees (which, for Florida, really is chilly – trust me). But, I’m serious this time. It was actually close to freezing temperatures during our run. And windy. And this made my shins go numb (I foolishly wore capri pants). But, the cold weather made the run easier because: (1) I run so much better in cooler weather; (2) as mentioned, my shins were numb (no feeling, no pain); and (3) I wanted to go inside; hence, this made me run faster.
After the run, my feet were in need of hunting socks (I don't hunt, but I'm a wimp when it comes to cold) and a heater.
The 4.5 miles included a 10-minute warm-up, intervals of 4x5 minutes hard, 3 minutes easy, followed by an 8-minute cool down. My first set of intervals was fast (for me) – I saw a 9 at the front of my pace (single digits – yes!). They slowed somewhat after the second set. But, I’m happy to be back with my group, and I’m happy to be running again.

January 3, 2012

Taking a break from breaks

After a two-week break from work, I’d like to say I’m refreshed and renewed. But, it would be a lie.
Unfortunately, along with my two-week break from work, I took a two-week break from blogging, an almost two-week break from the computer, a two-week break from eating or drinking anything remotely healthy (OK, that's not entirely true, but I ate a lot of crap), and a one-week break from running. So, now I feel like crap. But, with the new year comes a new me (or so it seems like the thing to say).
Prior to being new and improved, here’s what happened:
I never really got in the Christmas spirit this year, and I don’t know why. I put up the Christmas tree late. I started listening to Christmas music late. I never watched Christmas Vacation or Elf. I didn’t send out Christmas cards. Any gift I sent was late, and I still haven’t sent some (oops). I’m even still waiting on one of my brother’s gifts to arrive so that I can send it late.
I did receive this awesome Elvis ornament from Rachael (Thanks!) via Jenny’s Christmas ornament exchange. It rocks! And it arrived on time (unlike the one I sent). Sorry, Rachael.

Christmas was nice, but I still wasn’t in the holiday spirit. I even slept the latest on Christmas morning. That never happens. Well, every other day it does, but not that day.
After the Christmas festivities (and after family left town), I still had a week of vacation. So, we decided to take a trip. A dreaded road trip. I hate road trips. I hate sitting in the car for much more than an hour. So, an 8-hour car ride is my idea of torture. But, driving meant that Chloe could come with us. I guess she’s worth it.
This is at the Hard Rock in Biloxi. Chloe likes Billy Idol, apparently.
Family photo on the beach. It was cold. Like 62 degrees!
After spending a few days in Biloxi, Mississippi, we headed to Destin, Florida, to spend the new year with friends. After celebrating last New Year’s Eve out with sparkley hats, noisemakers and champagne, I was ready to do it again. Unfortunately, our friends were not. They claim New Year’s Eve is amateur drunk night. They are probably right, but I was a bit disappointed. So, we hung out at their beach condo (not a bad deal, I guess), grilled steaks, drank lots of wine (and champagne at midnight), watched fireworks and rang in 2012.
After getting home (finally … I still hate road trips), I had a day to put away the Christmas decorations, do laundry, watch some pretty awesome bowl games (although the best is yet to come … Cotton Bowl on Jan. 6 – go Cats!), relax (and not get in the car once) and try to head off the looming doom of returning to work.
Even though there is some reluctance about returning to work (not that work is bad (most of the time), but if given the choice, I’d rather not work), I am ready to return to a schedule. A schedule that includes running on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings. I’ve missed it.