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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Let the refiner's fire burn...

Hello to all my friends in the blogging world.  In case you were wondering, I am still alive, though bogged down with so many things...reasons why I haven't posted on here in a while.  I was recently explaining to my husband that I haven't been blogging because my mind is a flood of thoughts and feelings lately and every time I try to sit and write about it, I have a hard time forming coherent sentences.  His response?  That's exactly what I should be blogging about.  After all, he reminded me, I am training for a marathon and there may be some support to be had by sharing this process with my fellow runners/bloggers.

So here are some of the issues weighing on me that have been affecting my training:

  • The weather.  Well, that's a given in any serious runner's life.  Like a carrot hanging from a string 10 feet in front of me, Mother Nature has thrown a few nice days at us - 40 degrees or higher, sunshine, dry roads - and then like the tricky, deceptive enigma that she is, she dealt us more snow, hail, rain, wind and cold temperatures.  Sometimes I think training for a spring marathon is for the birds.
  • Fighting a virus.  I haven't gotten sick in a long, long time.  Not this sick.  I picked up a nasty head/chest cold and it has totally kicked my butt.  Lasted over two weeks.  I'm still not feeling 100%.  It sucks the life right out of ya.
  • Increase in mileage = injuries and shaken confidence.  As I'm getting closer to the marathon (8 weeks out now), I've been adding longer runs and running more days per week.  After spending the previous 12 or 13 weeks focusing on my strength training and reducing my running, this increase has really taken a toll.  First, my hamstrings started acting up so every long run has become more and more painful.  This makes me wonder how I ever ran a marathon before.  On my last long run, which was 17 miles, my legs were hurting so badly that I had to rely completely on my mental strength to make it through the last 6 or 7 miles.  And now I'm having serious pain in my back.  As an old herniated disc has decided to flare up and give me problems, I have had to stop running altogether. :(
  • Balancing personal life with training. When things are peaceful in our home, it's a lot easier to focus on my training.  The past couple of months things haven't been peachy-keen within our family dynamics, which makes me feel like I'm on an emotional roller coaster.  I feel like I'm being self-centered when I focus on my training with the intensity that I am used to.  Sometimes there are other, more important things that take our attention away.  But that means my training suffers.
So here I am, trying to relax after a day of rest, thinking about my upcoming week of training and wondering how I'm going to go about allowing my back to heal without going completely crazy.  I've been doing some swimming instead of running, and I've found that the elliptical and spinning don't bother it too much, but none of those things are the greatest substitute for those long runs I need to get in before May 18th.  I just ordered one of those aqua-jogger belts and I'm going to give running in water a try.  Not sure how I'll stay entertained for a couple of hours at a time while I basically run in place in the pool, though.  Sounds very boring, but from what I've read, it is actually a really good way to maintain long distance running fitness levels.

I also will have to adjust and modify my weight training exercises.  For instance, barbell squats are out, as are bent over long bar rows and front raises.  I also have lots of pain doing pretty much all of my ab exercises.  This sucks.

On a positive note, though...I had a fitness assessment with Misty last Wednesday where I learned I am now just over 19% body fat and it feels pretty dang awesome to be in the 'teens!  Misty has helped me fine tune my nutrition plan and apparently we're having some success achieving the right balance of fueling all of my workouts while maintaining a small calorie deficit to accelerate fat loss.  I'm at about 2000 calories a day, I eat 6-7 smallish meals, all consisting of a lean protein and a complex carbohydrate.  Lots of turkey, sweet potatoes, cottage cheese, veggies, oats, berries and protein powder. :)

Another highlight came when I was doing my weekly pull-ups.  I was using a new spotter - a guy working in the the weight room unfamiliar with the way I usually do them.  He didn't give me much "help" when I did my first few pull-ups and I basically did them all by myself.  That was on Monday.  I was sore in my lats the rest of the week. :)

I guess what I'm struggling with the most is the mental aspect of coming to terms with the idea that this might not be my best race.  With each of the 5 other marathons I've done, I improved with each - some I made a lot of improvement.  I honestly can't say I've ever had a "bad" race experience.  I've read about other runner's racing experiences and there are always good races and bad races, and I could never imagine a race being bad.  Now I'm not saying that I'm anticipating that this marathon will turn out that way.  Of course I'm hoping for the best possible outcome - a beautiful, sunny day, me feeling well-trained, rested and ready to go on race day, injury-free.  I'm also trying to prepare myself to accept any outcome, knowing that some things are out of my control.  Luckily I still have 8 weeks to whip my body and my attitude back into shape.

When the refiner's fire threatens to burn and turn us to ash, perseverance, persistence and patience will pull us out stronger, renewed in heart, body, mind and spirit.  That, and a much needed vacation alone with my husband that we have planned for the first week in April when the kids are on their spring break and can spend a few days with their grandparents.  We've been married almost 14 years and we've never gone away, just the two of us, since our first child was born 13 years ago.  It's been a long time coming and I can't wait... :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Weekly update.

I don't know how I let so many days slip by before I remember I need to blog about life...before it's all forgotten.  Anyway, the past week was sort of a blur to me, for various reasons, but I did accomplish quite a bit with regards to my training plan.

Last Thursday I completed a 5 mile interval run before going to another awesome Muscle Fusion X class.  Friday I did my typical routine: chest and abs workout followed by spin class.  On Saturday I finally got a chance to run with my friend, Lisa.  The weather cooperated enough that we were able to do a 12.3 mile run  on one of our favorite (downhill) routes, which made for a great time: 9:30 min/mile pace with walking breaks.  I was annoyed that my tired, strained legs made it so we couldn't go a little further, as I had initially wanted, but I still felt like it was a good, long run.  Afterwards, Chris and I went to the gym before going to the grocery store and I was able to spend about 30-40 minutes doing some ab work.

Sunday I rested and felt much better by Monday morning.  I began the day with a 6 mile out and back run after dropping the kids at school.  The sun was shining again so I didn't mind the frigid temperatures quite as much as I usually do.  After my run I showered and then Chris and I went to the gym.  I did my back/abs workout then went to spin class, where we did intervals.  It felt particularly tough to spin on tired legs, but the great thing?  I'm pretty sure I burned about 800 calories in that class!

Monday evening as I started to feel the twinge of a sore throat and stuffy nose coming on, I got a text from my trainer Misty saying she and some other people were going to be doing stairs at the stadium on Tuesday, so I opted to switch up my schedule a bit so I could join them.  When I woke up I felt like crap, but I knew I would feel better after a workout.  First, I went to the gym and did my leg/shoulder routine, which took me about an hour and 20 minutes.  Again, not the smartest thing to do a leg workout before going to run stairs, but in the end it all makes for a good challenge, right?  Once at the stadium, I put in my headphones and got busy running up and down.  After a few minutes, I realized my cheap-o mp3 player was stuck on one song.  As I kept running and tried not to trip and kill myself, I messed with it but couldn't get it to do anything but play the same song over and over again.  One hour later and I had Heart Attack by Trey Songz memorized, and I think it's time to replace my mp3 player. :(

Today I still feel pretty yucky, but I've been loading up on the fresh vegetable juice and apple cider vinegar shots and I can tell my body is starting to kick it.  I was scheduled to do a 7 mile run today, but instead I went to the gym and had an assessment with Misty where we spent a good amount of time going over my schedule and making a few minor adjustments.  I've been feeling especially tired and losing my focus and Misty was worried I might be over-training, which is really counter-productive.  Hopefully with the changes we made to my training and my nutrition plan, I'll get back on track...especially after I get completely over this head-cold.  After finishing up my time with Misty, I went to the weight room and did my bicep/tricep/calf workout.

When I came home this afternoon, the wind was blowing pretty fiercely, but the thermometer said it was 50 degrees.  I put on a light jacket and headed to the walking park, but after just a mile and a half, I realized that the wind was making it way too cold for me and my runny nose, so I went home and did a yoga video instead.  Hopefully tonight I'll be able to finally get some sleep and hit the ground running tomorrow - literally - interval run and Muscle Fusion X!! :)