Monday, December 7, 2015

Ten Things I Learned While Running A Marathon: Part II

I meant to post this right after Part I, but I forgot, mostly because I got really busy right after Part I and was traveling and doing an insane amount of chalkboards. So I apologize, but here's the rest of them:

6. Energy to Burn
So at the start of my training for my marathon, I decided to do a Whole30. Not because I was doing marathon training, it was completely unrelated and coincidental. Well, being a ShotBlok girl FOR LIFE, you can imagine the conundrum when I realized that, whoops! Those are definitely not Whole30 compatible!

I found some tasty no-bake energy bites that did the trick, and switched from using Margarita flavored shot bloks to using sodium pills that I found at my local running store. I have continued to use the sodium pills, simply because I like them better than choking down the oddly flavored margarita shot bloks, though you have to be paying a lot more attention to your body when you're using the pills instead of a pre-planned shot blok intake! I usually pop the first one at 45 minutes and then I have another once every hour of running. That seems to work. The tricky part is when you're last hour won't be a full hour: I learned the hard way to take one anyway. The dizzy spells, fatigue, and confusion (yes, confusion!) the rest of that day were not worth the "guessing." You do have to be careful, but if you take too much you'll just pee it out or sweat it out. Plus, I have a dear dear friend who fell into a coma from lack of sodium...please be careful out there!

For my actual race, I had re-introduced shot bloks into my system - and they are still my preferred snack during a run - but it was nice to mix it up with the no-bake energy bites and the shot bloks. The bites gave me some different nutrients than the shot bloks and visa versa, so it seemed to work best with my system.

Remember, race day is not the day to experiment with this! Make sure you have your fuel intake worked out before race day!

7. The Right Fit
So one thing that 13.1 miles never taught me that 26.2 miles did for sure was that $17 socks are actually an important investment. For years I've been running in my Asics Cushion Socks in the Highlighter pack because when you're running, the brighter the better, and these socks are sooooo comfy they're like wearing slippers.

With 26.2 miles I discovered that those socks were not going to work as I had several training runs where my sweat-soaked sock got pulled down by my sweat-soaked shoe! Not a good combo! I ended up swapping to Feetures! Light Cushion running socks after trying out a pair that I had picked up in my goodie bag at a Ladies' Night event at my local running store. I prefer the merino blends - because I've started wearing them year round! - and they feel a little more cushion-y, but the regulars are good too.

8. It's All in Your Head
Running 26.2 miles is a lot harder mentally than running 13.1. I remember when I first started running true distance (greater than 6 miles in my world), I had a serious paradigm shift after I made it through my first 10 mile run. 13.1 seemed very attainable. Up until I exceeded 18 miles for my marathon training, it was still a very reasonable number in my mind.

After mile 18 I ran into a problem.

Just like those running memes that you see all over the place which are along the lines of a runner's inner conversation, this is how my distance conversation goes for myself:

"Shoot, I've only gone one mile. Twelve to go."

"Well, I'm really doing an out-an-back so it's really only 6 miles to the turnaround and since I've gone one already it's only 5 miles. I can totally do 5 miles."

"Actually, since I've gone 1 mile, it's only 2 miles until I get to eat more shot bloks and I love snacks. Wow, 2 miles is totally easy. I can do 2 miles."

And all of a sudden, my crazy runner brain has pared 12 miles down to 2 miles. Which anyone can do 2 miles, right?

Well with 18+ miles you start thinking, wow, I've gone 15 miles and I still have five more to go. I've been running for over two hours and I still have almost another hour of running left. Suddenly, a marathon doesn't seem so attainable.

My friend who's an ultra-marathoner always tells me to break it down by snack breaks, and take it three miles at a time, but having only done one of these suckers, I wasn't able to wrap my little runner brain around that. A marathon was much more mentally challenging for me than a half marathon ever was.

9. You're Crazy
The disbelief of people around you when you tell them that you're running a marathon is astonishing. At least with many of the folks I encounter. Half marathons seem to be all the rage these days, and while you still get the occasional "I could never do that," I definitely don't get it as often as you'd think. A marathon distance pushed responses to my statements from "Wow, she's done a lot of half marathons" to "Oh my god, are you insane?"

It's a long long way.

10. Finisher
By now, it's been a solid three months since my marathon and I've blocked out a lot of the agony. To the point where running another one sounds like a potentially good idea. But there was a strong sense of success and contentment once I finished my race that I never get with my half marathons. I mean, I always feel successful with my half marathons, but the contentment of running 26.2 miles was a whole new experience beyond your standard "runners' high."

It's a life experience that I'll always treasure and never regret. And I'll never say never to another one.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Ten Things I Learned While Running A Marathon: Part I

I finished a marathon! Whoohoo! On September 6th, 2015, I ran my first full marathon. 26.2 grueling miles. Here are TEN THINGS I LEARNED WHILE RUNNING A MARATHON (PART I):

1. Training is more of a commitment than the race
And what I mean by that is that in my training to get to the mileage point I needed in order to feel comfortable going into the race, I ran big runs of 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, and then another 24 miles. For someone at an 11 to 11:30 minute per mile as I was, that's a 3.5 hour PLUS commitment on a weekly basis. For six weeks. So for every week for six weeks I had to find four hours in my busy schedule to run...before it got to be 80 degrees, and since 90 was the running temp for much of our high desert summer, that meant 5:30 and 6 AM start times.

2. You're not the only one racing with you, you're just the only one running
By this, I mean, who is awake when you're awake and pounding the pavement to chat with you on the phone as you're bitching and whining and hurting. Who is willing to stay on the phone with you for an hour or so to get you through the next six, eight, or ten miles. I spent a lot of time on the phone with my parents and with my friend Taran. Taran because she is three hours ahead and it was a decent hour, and my parents because by the time I was truly dying, they were usually awake (around 7 or 7:30AM). I also got a chance to check in with other people who I don't normally, however, and that was a true gift. There were a number of people who ran a couple miles with me here and there - safely nestled in my ear, connected through the miracle of cellular service.

By this though, I also mean the day of the race. My goal was 4 hours and 45 minutes. In my mind, that meant my CREW would see me off, have breakfast, meet me mid-point, and then see me at the finish. They probably thought that initially too.

The night before, however, husband's godmother innocently asked, "well have you thought out your checkpoints and where you are going to see her?" That lead to an in-depth poring over the course map where we determined that spectators could see their runners at miles 5.5 and 9 quite easily, as well as check in at mile 13 as the race crisscrossed the start/finish area in a figure eight. I declaimed what I thought my pace would be and we mapped out times for my CREW to be them leisurely stops about an hour in (5.5 miles), a half hour waiting game where they had to cross the street to see me as I looped three and a half miles to mile 9, and of course, another hour-ish until I made it halfway.

The only problem with our strategy, however, is that I took off from the start line in the 30 degree weather with energy to burn (more on that later) and muscles that were too frozen to know what was happening. Instead of an 11 minute pace, I clocked sub-tens for the first couple miles and finally texted my CREW via Siri that I was ahead of schedule.

Needless to say, they missed me at mile 5.5 as I arrived almost ten minutes before I said I would - by the time they called to see where I was, I was rounding off the end of mile six. But they scrambled and saw me at mile 9, caught me at mile 13, and then my husband's god-sister valiantly offered to pace me for a mile or so at mile 14, which was wonderful and then again at mile 22-24, which was much needed. My family and Tyler's godfamily hip-hopped the remainder of the course (easily once they caught on to my speedy pace), and were the most supportive team ever.

My mom and dad with Banyan and Mom's new corgi puppy, Scout. Best crew ever, though the pups got a little tired of waiting around for everyone.

So you're not the only one running, you're just the legs of the whole operation. Everyone needed a nap by the time we were done!

3. Dress to Impress
So this summer in Bend was abnormally warm, for the first time in the five years since we moved here, we invested in an A/C unit. Mostly because we were scared of killing the animals because it was so hot, though it did have the side benefit of helping us humans sleep easier.  Bearing that in mind, I tried to be as wise with my training runs as humanly possible, rising at a ridiculous hour in order to be done before the temps elevated much over 75 degrees. After my race in June that ended in 85 degree heat (and later got to the high 90s), I wasn't interested in repeating the experience.

True to form though, Bend nights finally got cold again, and we had the first chilly weather of the season for Labor Day weekend, when I had my race. It was TWENTY EIGHT degrees when I started my race.

When you run a half marathon, there isn't a whole lot of need to have variegated gear to account for changing weather. You're just not running that long. For my marathon, the temp was supposed to go from 28 degrees to 65 degrees in the ~5 hours I would be running. Think: down vest to tank top weather. This was a whole new ballpark for me as I don't own running sleeves and didn't own cold-to-hot headwear (I love my new Buff headband and wear it constantly). I started in my Northface jacket over a slimmer zip up sweater that I could shed while running, but decided against the heavier jacket minutes before the start of the race and just started in the zip up. I tucked my red, chilly fingers in the sleeves of the jacket and was happy I wore thicker running pants than I otherwise would have.

But sure enough, by mile 13, the jacket was gone (handed off to my CREW) and the headband not quite so firmly over my ears, and I was toasty and heated in a tank top! It's a different sort of animal, dressing for a marathon...

4. Too Much of a Good Thing
So you know how it's not usually until after the fact that everyone tells you the stuff they assumed you knew? Apparently many hobby-marathoners keep their high mileage (20+ miles) runs to two or three at the most. I did FIVE and ran into a wall. A very hard wall made out of thyroid fun, exhaustion, nausea, and some dizziness. "Overtraining," friends told me. "Right," I scoffed. And then runner friends mentioned the aforementioned fun fact about high mileage runs. Thanks, guys.

The one advantage to overtraining is that it literally forced me to taper for a solid two weeks. So while I was nervous on race day, because I hadn't done more than 10 miles in a row since two and a half weeks prior, I had energy to burn and that kept my little legs pumping and made it impossible to slow myself down to where I "thought" I should be! I finished ten minutes ahead of my goal, and was running solid ten minute miles until mile 18, when I was training at 11+ minute miles.

Finished with a mileage pace 45 seconds per mile faster than my training runs!

5. Music to Move To
What you don't realize is how much time you'll spend just running. Ugh. Lots. For my race I managed to get through with a pre-planned playlist: don't guess with this! I sat down and spent a couple hours putting together a playlist just for my race. With my half marathons, I usually just skip around my entire library as necessary or I use RockMyRun - a very cool running playlist app with pre-mixed playlists. Don't screw around with a full marathon though.

For my training runs, I made a lot of phone calls. Lots.

And listened to a couple books on tape.

So for my actual race, I did have a book on tape queued just in case, but between my music and my crew, I never actually needed it! There's something to be said for knowing you're going to see friendly cheering faces every four or five miles.

Soooo this post is now really long, so you'll just have to wait til the next one for the remaining things I learned!


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Not Even Gonna Say It

I'm not even gonna say it: I have all these wonderful intentions of writing and then it gets lost by the wayside in my busy busy life.

The irony of my 25-30 hour/week job is that I only work that much so that I will supposedly have time. To spend with my furry animals, to spend with my husband, to go running, and read, and draw.

I feel like I need to show you my week last week...

On Wednesday I literally had no time for myself. And it was my day off! I started my day at 6 because I just don't have time to sleep. I did some work for a client before husband and I hustled off to look at a house (we're looking to buy...more on that later), at 8AM. From there, I rushed off to a meeting in town at 9AM. That meeting went until about 10:30AM which is perfect because I had to fly off to a dermatologist appointment on the other side of town at 11AM (annual mole check, you're welcome, Mom). I rushed home after that appointment around 12:15 and had just enough time to meet my client for her chalkboard pickup at 12:30. From 12:30 to about 3, I did some more client work, websites, sketches and such. Then I put on my running clothes and Jamie made it over to my house to go for a little (3 mile) run.

After we get organized for that it's about 3:15 and then by the time we're done chatting and she leaves it's 4:15. I have 20 minutes to hop in the shower so I'm not super stinky for acupuncture! Rush off to that appointment, which I admit, is incredibly relaxing so we could call that "me" time if you'd like. And then from there I have to drive straight to another meeting at 6:15. I got home around 8:30pm and promptly fell into bed.

Not to mention the bland diet I had to be on all day that day for a medical test I had to do on Thursday morning. Chicken and rice all day, baby!


At least you know I mean well.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Day 31

You really have a moment of "Oh, it's over?" on the morning of Day 31. Not that you can actually go out and eat whatever you want, because the reintroduction process takes about 2 weeks, but while grocery shopping last night and scouring the labels as I've been required to do for the last 30 days, I had the jolting realization that I wouldn't have to today.

The Whole30. Man, that's been an experience.

Do I feel better? Yes. Is it this magicalwonderfulsuperfragillisticcureall that it's advertised as? No. "Tiger blood" never showed up. I got a little perkier around day 23, but not the "advertised" day 16. Granted, with Hashimoto's they did say it might take longer to see results...and the last few days I've recognized the deep, bone-weariness of a thyroid imbalance (hence the blood test I'm going to have done this morning so that they can adjust my medication) it's a difficult thing to call.

Am I glad I've done it?


Would I do it again?


Has it changed how I feel about certain foods?


If I knew then what I know now, would I still do it?


Would I recommend it to anyone interested?


They ask you to look at the foods that you thought you'd miss, or that you used to eat regularly and if you don't miss them at all, avoid reintroducing them or reintroduce them but eat sparingly in the future. Surprisingly, I'm not so sad about yogurt and cheese. Ice cream, yes, but yogurt and cheese? Not so much. Will I avoid brie in the future? No, but who can? Will I buy string cheese and daily yogurt any more? Not for a while anyways, unless my husband wants them.  I also surprisingly don't miss pasta all that much. Seeing as it was a major staple in my life, I never once was like, "I need pasta" Cereal though, man oh man. I bought non-gluten grained granola last night so I can have some on Friday instead of waiting until next week (part of that darned reintroduction). And I do miss tortillas, but mostly in the "I could really go for a burrito right now" sort of way. The only bread I miss is sourdough, and with my new sourdough starter, maybe I'll be able to make it myself in the future.

One thing I've learned from doing the Whole30, and I'm sure everyone who has done it has learned something similar: there are a lot of foods that I've been eating that I don't really care to eat anymore. And I like the anti-inflammatory results so much that I will limit my sugar intake moving forward, avoid processed and unnecessary added sugars (though more when it's convenient...I still refuse to pay $5 for lunch meat, though I don't eat a whole lot of that so not so much a concern), and lessen my gluten intake to special occasions.

Will all of this change come pumpkin spice latte season? Probably, but the knowledge that I can reset and remind myself that whole eating is not the end of the world is a nice little thing to have tucked in my pocket.

One thing I will say about eating this way, however, is that my grocery bill has at least doubled, though I would be unsurprised if it hasn't tripled. This is not a cheaper way of living, for sure.


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Yummy Running Snacks - That are Whole30 Compliant!

In my desperation to find a snack that I could make or buy that would truck my through my 15 mile run tomorrow, I stumbled upon a tasty recipe for "No Bake Coconut Date Energy Bites" on

I modified it and now it's a delicious, chocolatey burst of caffeine and energy perfect for my run tomorrow!

I used my handy food processor for maybe the fourth or fifth time since I received it as a gift at my wedding. Standard blade, yes please!

With my additions, the initial dough was a little wet, so I added a few more coconut flakes and it balled right up!

Now doesn't that look delicious? I made them a little bigger so I only have to unwrap one at each snack stop (every three miles) on my run.

Delicious Chocolatey No Bake Coconut Date Energy Bites
Makes approximately 11 bites

1/3 cup cashews
12 dates, pits removed - the original recipe called for medjool, but Fred Meyer only had one kind and it wasn't that...
1/2 cup coconut, shredded, divided
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. coffee, room temperature or chilled - or H20, I need the caffeine boost when I'm booking!
1 Tbsp. 100% unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Pulse cashews in a food processor for 10 seconds.

2. Add pitted dates, 1/4 cup coconut flakes + 1 Tbsp. coconut flakes, the coconut oil, cocoa powder, and coffee.  Process for a minute or until the mixture comes together and no big nuts or dates remain. If too dry, add more coffee a tsp. at a time, if too wet, add coconut a Tbsp. at a time. 

3. With a spoon, scoop out approximately 1 Tbsp. of mixture and roll between hands to form a ball (I scooped probably a tablespoon and a half or more because I wanted a bigger fuel ball on my runs).

4. Put remaining shredded coconut in a bowl and roll the balls in the coconut. Wrap in wax paper for easy carrying or put each one in a muffin liner and refrigerate for an hour before storing. 



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Doin' It

So I started Whole30 on June 29th. I wanted to start the 28th, but needed the recovery carbs after my race. Here's some thoughts from my first couple days!

June 30th, 
8:20 AM
24 hours without sugar and it's all I think about. I'm so dramatically starved for it that I'm seriously wishing husband steps away from the kitchen long enough that I can scoop a funfetti cupcake out of the garbage.

9:46 AM
Dragging. When did I get tired? I was plenty perky this morning (albeit craving the sugar). I was good dancing around the kitchen and making my stupid everything-free lunch...

11:13 AM
Company decides to buy us lunch, today of all days. And it's burritos! Oh the horror. I miss beans. And tortillas. And cheese...oh man, cheese... Stay strong, no breaking. It hasn't even been 48 hours...

4:28 PM
Feeling perky. That salad wasn't so terrible and I'm thinking about the Larabar I get to eat before I go to ultimate frisbee practice. Which I know breaks the "craving sweets" rule, but it's day two. Rome wasn't built in a day. Maybe this diet isn't so bad.

July 1st,
10:17 AM
At the grocery store. They don't have the Larabar flavor that I like and so many of the damned things have chocolate in them. I miss chocolate. Grocery store on day three is a terrible idea, especially with the end caps of Oreos, gummy bears, marshmallows and Hershey's. I would kill for chocolate right now. Doesn't help that I woke up with a headache and a sour stomach.

4:25 PM
Starving. I apparently can't get enough to eat...I'm craving everything.

It's now been nine days, and some cravings have abated. I'm only thinking about sugar two or three times a day rather than every waking moment. I'm glad it's summer and that the fruit is so delicious this season though! On my run this morning I clocked almost 12 minute miles though, so my body hasn't adjusted yet. Soooo slow but at least I made it all five miles!

Stay tuned because I had an adventure into Whole30 compliant energy bites in preparation for my run on Thursday (15 miles and ShotBloks are not compliant! Gotta get my snacks in!)...they're delicious and super easy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


So there's this crazy thing that I think I can do: it's called Whole30. I mean, if a girl can run a half marathon 11 times, she can cut out alcohol, grain, sugar, dairy, and legumes for 30 days right?

One can only hope.

This is based on a recommendation from several people for many reasons: it's an anti-inflammatory diet, which will help with my joint pain and back pain, it can help with my Hashimoto's and possibly hurry the balance of that damned organ, and it can help me figure out if I'm actually allergic to something without having to pay $500 for the name a few of them.

Today, when first attempting to grocery shop for this crazy diet - as my start date is Sunday after my race and I want to make sure that I'm stocked and ready so there's no slips on day 1 - I was surprised at the fact that most deli meat, or at least the cheap stuff I'm used to buying, all has sugar in it. WTF? It's meat, right?

Sigh. Scratch that easy go-to off my list. I'm not paying $4.50 for half as much as I usually get for $3.99. Ask me again in week 2.

Apparently I'm gonna need to start eating eggs like it's my job to get the proteins and carbs I need with my exercise routine.

The intro to both the books I have in my possession regarding this diet start with "This is. Not. Hard." They go on to detail that giving birth is hard, coming back from Iraq missing a limb is hard, and dealing with a life-threatening, incurable disease is hard, but giving up sugar is not hard.

Okay, fine. I get it, not hard. But could they make the shopping for it easier? Thankssomuch.

I'll keep you updated on how things go. Also, I've signed up for NWM2015 in SF. And am 90% sure I'm going to do a marathon in September.

So much for only doing two races this year: race number one of three is on Saturday!