Monday, June 29, 2009

Guest Post by Nicole

Since I'm on vacation, Nicole offered to share some thoughts about training for the Chicago marathon.  We're going to meet up in Chicago where I'm sure we'll find that we're instant friends in person just like we are in blog land!

Hello readers! My name is Nicole, and I'm creeping over to Melanie's blog from The Marathon of Life! Since she is over exploring Europe you get to listen to me ramble on & on about running! Yep, you guessed it. I'm a runner, too!
 
This year I'm running the Chicago Marathon. A special thing about this is that it is my first marathon! Actually, there are two special things about this marathon. Melanie is running it, too! I'm so very excited to meet her and a BUNCH of other awesome bloggers that are coming from all over the country to run Chicago. It's going to be a blast and an unforgettable weekend!
 
My training has been in full swing for 3ish weeks. So far things are going pretty good. Unlike myself, Melanie has ran several marathons so her training program is a few weeks less than mine. Once Melanie gets back from her adventure, we have plans to do our long runs on the same day. I think it will be cool to experience a 'virtual' running partner & have someone to talk to before and after each run. Running is so rewarding & I think God everyday for strong lungs, a good heart & tough legs to keep me going!
 
Happy running :-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thoughts on Marathon Runners from Danielle

Since I'm away on vacation, my good pal Danielle wanted to share some insight on why marathon runners make great friends! Leave her some love!


Breaking News: Long Distance Runners Good for More than Marathons!

(Warning: This blog post contains crap.)


Marathoners are good at running long distances. But I was thinking that perhaps because they've trained themselves to run for ridiculous amounts of time, they've also unwittingly trained themselves into being pretty good friends as well. Now, don't get me wrong. Melanie was a great friend before she began running races and marathons. But I'd say that she's become even more of a best friend now that she's run 26.2 miles an inordinate amount of times. So, in honor of one of the best friends I've ever had, I decided to compile a list of reasons why marathoners make great friends. 


Marathoners are in tune with their bodies. This means that they are pretty much willing to talk about anything, especially poop. Because runners can't be hindered and weighed down by a bag of full bowels as they keep on pace and focus on their stride, they are totally cool with crap. And as a best friend, I appreciate Melanie's openness. So, for example, say my poo has been floating lately. She's the friend I call up and say, “Hey, Mel, my poo is floating. Do you know what that means??” And because Melanie runs marathons and is on speaking terms with her body, we can discuss these things without feeling totally grossed out. So, one thing marathoners are good for is discussing bodily functions without shame.


Marathoners are freaking machines. No, really, they are. You can't run a marathon without putting in all the hard work and discipline that comes with the training beforehand. So, basically, a marathoner will be a walking agenda/party planner/wedding consultant/job hunt helper/anything that calls for a schedule. Melanie has helped me design invitations, develop portfolios, schedule my life, and was integral in my recent employment. If your marathoner is not prone to discipline and designing schedules that work in 20 mile runs around vacations, anniversaries, and life in general, you need to make sure they are legit. 


Marathoners have awesome bods. Yep. I mean, that's a no-brainer, right? Now, normally, you hate your best friend for being in better shape than you. But with a best friend who runs marathons, you understand why they look so much better than you and you don't have to be depressed about it at all. You can look at their awesome thighs and think, “They don't rub together because she runs X amount of miles a week. Duh. Of course my thighs rub together because I'm not a crazy person who can't help pulling on the running shoes. I am a normal-thighed person.” There is that. 


Also, because marathoners are always running, working out, cross training and all that fitness crap, they can be pretty encouraging gym buddies. So, while you're puffing away on the treadmill next to your marathoner best friend whose thighs are avoiding each other like oil and water, you can take a break to look at the body you could have if you just trained hard enough. So, to reiterate my twofold point: a marathoner gives you an excuse for not looking like a marathoner, OR a marathoner gives you something to hope for if you ever decide to run more than one Kanye West song at a time. 


Marathoners are patient. It comes with the territory. First of all, a marathon itself is just dang long. Second, the months leading up to a marathon are even longer. It takes a lot of patience to train the right way and at the right intensity to avoid injury. Or, take Melanie for example, you've seen her be patient with her body as she recovers from her cracked hip. She's not pushing herself too hard, but she makes sure to schedule (see point #2) reasonable expectations for herself. This also makes your relationship less volatile as best friends. Because girls can be snappy and sometimes stupid (roll your eyes all you want but you know I'm right), having a marathoner as your best friend gives you a little more leeway to be yourself and make a few mistakes. You goof up, you think she's never going to talk to you again, but that ol' marathoner patience kicks in and you have another chance to try again. Not that I've ever done anything to warrant patience being thrown my way....


Marathoners can run really far. This is beneficial not only to their own heart health, but for their friends as well. Let's say somebody steals my purse (just pretend I carry a purse, okay?). The thief might be really fast, but Melanie can run for at least 5 hours, so no matter where they go, she can follow at a steady pace and eventually gain on them and proceed to beat them with my purse as they lie on the sidewalk holding their sides from the cramps. Or, let's say I want to steal somebody else's purse. Marathoners cross train! So that means they can take off at a pretty good speed and then slow it down into a long-distance pace. I steal the purse, hand it to Mel, and off she goes with a good 5-hour lead.  


I have faith that my research has proved extremely helpful to those of you currently looking for a new or an additional best friend. Marathoners are committed in their relationships, in it for the long haul (at least 26.2 miles of friendship), and they can advise you on your poop, your pooping habits and your pooping strategies. 


So, go befriend a marathoner. But not Melanie, because she's mine. 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Does Wakeboarding Count as Cross Training?

After the race on Saturday, I hopped in the car with my friend Brian and headed to Tim's Ford Lake to meet up with friends Paige, Christina, and Stephanie at fellow friend Ben's family's lakehouse.

We found out that Saturday ended up being the hottest day of the year so far in middle TN, so we all agreed there was no better way to spend it than on the lake. We enjoyed floating in the water and taking the boat out for a ride. We also did a little tubing, something that I have always enjoyed.

I'm pretty sure I hadn't been to a lake in over four years, so it felt great to get back out on the water for the first time in a while.

We grilled out and had dinner, taking it easy and enjoying one another's company before calling it a night.

Sunday, we got up and had some yummy pancakes and mimosas for breakfast before slathering on the sunscreen and heading out for another 90°+ kind of day. This time we got a little more adventurous, and I tried wakeboarding for the first time ever. I had learned how to waterski a few years ago and thought that if I could figure that out then surely I could figure this out.

I think someone said they hated me after I was able to get up on my very first try. (I can't help it... I have strong legs, good balance and a low center of gravity working in my favor!) Granted, I didn't stay up long. I tried maybe 8 times or so, and each time I got a little better at getting up and staying up. Once I finally got the hang of it and figured out how to stay up and enjoy the ride, I was too worn out to keep doing it. I'll definitely have to try this again next time!

We also got a little creative with our tubing. We decided we should try to build a pyramid, so Brian and Ben got on their hands and knees on either side of the tube and I climbed up on them to be the top of the pyramid... all while moving. Crazy, I know, but we weren't going really fast.

We got some great pictures of the events, but they're all on someone else's camera. I'll have to share later.

This morning when I got up, I could hardly move! My whole upper body is super sore from the wakeboarding, and I have a bruise on my leg that I think I got from our pyramid attempts. Oh well... it was worth it since we had so much fun!

This will probably be my last post for the next 2 weeks since I'm heading to Europe. I've got a few guest posts lined up to break up the days for you in your Google Reader. When I get back, be prepared for lots of stories and lots of pictures!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Race Report: RC Cola & Moon Pie 10-Miler

On Saturday, I headed down the road to run my first race of 2009 (and since my injury last year) in Bell Buckle: The RC Cola & Moon Pie 10-Miler.


This is one of my favorites races in the area, and this was my fourth year in a row to run in it. I keep recruiting new friends to join me, but I'm not so sure that I win them over with the idea of running the race as much as with the idea of a great meal at Miller's Grocery afterward.


This year, my pals Bennett and Tim decided to run along with Bob and his daughter Danielle's new hubby. My parents, Danielle and her mom all came along as spectators.


This race is advertised as hot, hilly and humid. All things are true when it's the third Saturday if June in middle Tennessee. However, this was definitely the hottest Moon Pie I've ever run. In fact, they said on the news last night that it was the hottest day of 2009 so far in Tennessee. We're pretty sure the heat index was really close to 100 before we were done with the race.


I started off conservatively, hoping to maintain 10-minute miles and use this as more of a training run and fun "first race back." The first 2 miles are down a long stretch of road with no shade. It didn't take me long at all to be drenched in sweat. I was excited about the water stop at mile 2, but I was pretty disappointed I had to stop and wait for water. In fact, I had to do that at all the water stops. They were not prepared and were scrambling to get water cups filled. This hasn't been a problem in past years, so it was kind of disappointing to see them struggle with it this year.


I kept going and soon found Bob. He was feeling pretty good and headed on his way. Soon after, I got to the big hill (big as in 7.6% grade for a tenth or two of a mile) and Matt found me. We chatted for a minute before I stopped to walk and he headed on.


I always walk up this hill. I think I spend way too much energy trying to run it, so I just walk as fast as I can. Two men that I'd been running near the whole time also stopped to walk, and one of them commented that he had never been in a race where everyone stopped to walk... because it was true. No one around us was running. I laughed to myself because that comment revealed he had never run this race.


There was actually some ice cold water at the top, but it was even an official water stop. The man who lives right there just always comes and sets out water for the runners. I felt like a new woman after I drank that water.


Of course, that didn't last long. I was happy to cross the 5-mile mark in 51 minutes. I was also happy because I knew there'd only be one or two more hills that aren't so bad.


I saw a guy wearing plaid shorts and a collared polo. I have never seen that in a race before. I had hoped to hang with him and beat him, but it turns out that Abercrombie was pretty fast.


I kept my eyes peeled for Amy, but I knew she'd be running faster than me and was likely already way closer to the finish than myself.


Around mile 8, I realized that other than my extended time at the water stops I really was keeping my 10-minute mile pace. I also knew that my music was definitely playing a big factor in getting me through this race. I couldn't help but laugh when Gwen Stefani's "Hollerback Girl" came on (don't judge, it's good to run to) and she got to the part about " This sh*t is bananas, B-A-N-A-N-A-S." I thought to myself, "this sh*t IS bananas! We are insane for running out here right now!"


I finally saw the mile 9 sign... right beside a big unshaded hill. I knew it was straight to the finish after that, so I kept on pushing and got myself to the top. I really wanted to start picking it up, but I just couldn't.


There was a girl that I had been going back and forth with for a few miles, and I decided that I had to beat her. Even though I thought it might lead to a finish line pueking incident, I started to sprint. I beat her. I had an uncertain few seconds, but I managed to not toss my cookies. The bottles of water at the finish were ice cold, and I'm pretty sure they never have been in previous years so this was exciting.


I didn't feel so hot for a while, so I passed on the finish line food and moon pies. I had to make a couple of portapotty trips, but I didn't really feel better until I was able to get inside the car with the a/c and cool off.


My watch said I finished in 1:41:26. I had hoped for 1:40, but I knew the extra time was from waiting at the water stops. I wasn't about to run past them... I NEEDED the little bit of hot water I could get at each one. They've never had a problem in the past, so I never dreamed that I should have run with my fuel belt. My official time ended up being 1:41:24 (yay 2 seconds!) with a 50:24 5-mile split... all in all, I stayed pretty consistent for the whole 10 miles, so I'll take that.


The whole gang headed to Miller's Grocery for lunch. This is an amazing little spot that has some true southern food that is delicious! It's the perfect way to end the morning.


I made a quick trip home and then headed to the lake for the rest of the weekend. I found this to be a nice way to recover! More on that in the next post.






Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Little Preview


This is what I'm packing to go to Europe... minus Tucker of course (he just has to have constant attention).  The only thing not in the picture is a pair of pants I need to get back from my mom (she was hemming them) and the jeans and shirt I plan to wear on the plane.  The candle and plates at the end of the table are obviously not going either.

Some of that stuff will go in my carryon bag or purse.  So all in all, I'm proud of myself for taking as little as possible but still making sure I have what I'll need.  I like to be prepared.

I think it hit me this morning.... that "oh my gosh I am going to EUROPE in like 5 days!!!!" feeling.  It came when Bennett called me and we spent 30 minutes going into detail about everything we were each packing and assigning things for each of us to carry (ie, he's bringing a power adaptor, I'm bringing some Woolite).

I can't wait.  I got my legs waxed yesterday so that I won't have to shave.  I need to paint my toenails so I can happily wear my Chacos. (I'm not really that vain, but I don't like to wear sandals without painted toes... it's my attempt at making my runner's feet somewhat pleasant to see naked).  All I need to do is put everything in the bag, grab a couple of last minute items, and wrap up a few things around the house.

This is going to be one great adventure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Melanie's Chicago Marathon Training Plan

If anyone is curious about what I'll be doing for the next 16 weeks as I train for the Chicago marathon, you can view my training plan here.

This plan is mostly from the book Run Less, Run Faster (the FIRST plan).  When I got my marathon PR in Huntsville in 2007, I did it after using a very similar plan that had me running 3 days a week.  I really think my body operates best when I run 3 days as opposed to 4 or 5.  That's just me.

I altered a few things from the plan in the book.  Mostly, there were things that I knew from my previous four training cycles that didn't suit me... so I changed them to something I knew would work better.

Of course, I won't be following the first 2 weeks quite as closely as I'd like since I'll be in EUROPE!  I will definitely get the two long runs in, but the other runs will be substituted with a TON of walking.  I'll pick up with week 3 when I get home and hopefully won't find that missing those four workouts will hurt me.

I'm also going to make a point to try to get to one spin class a week, one yoga class a week (or pilates), and do some strength training once a week.

Oh... you're not misreading.  I'm running a half-marathon 8 days before the marathon.  Don't freak out.  My training plan called for 10 miles at marathon pace on that day.  That day is also the day of one of my favorite half-marathons that I have run every year they've had it. I don't feel like I can miss it.  So, I will MAKE myself use the first 3 miles as a very gentle and easy warm-up before I run the last 10 miles at race pace like the plan called for.  I'll probably cut a couple of miles somewhere along the way those last 2 weeks as well.

So there you have it... this will be a big part of my life for the next four months.  I can already tell it's going to be worth it.

The little aches and pains...

If it's not one thing, it's another.

My body is determined to not let me have peace about my running.

I ran a terrific 5-miler last night. I had gone to dinner with my family and talked them all into coming to the park with me. Mom, dad and sister set out on a walk as I took off running. It wasn't terribly hot, but there was a lot of humidy and that post-thunderstorm mugginess that has you sweating before you even reach the quarter-mile mark. But I felt great!

Mile one. 8:56. 8:56! What the heck is that 8 doing in there?
Mile two. 18:10. Ok, a 9:08ish mile. That makes a bit more sense, but dang I'm fast tonight.
Mile three. 27:36. Ok, good. Slowing down to a more normal 9:20ish pace.
Mile four. 36:15. I'm consistently staying around the 9-minute mark. What is my deal?
Mile five. 44:57. WHAT?! I just ran an 8:30 last mile? Impossible. But true.

I was tired. I was breathing heavy. But I was proud that I was about to run a 45-minute 5-miler. It's been a while since I've done that. Could I maintain that pace much longer right now? I don't think so, and I don't think it's smart to try just yet. But still, I was pleased.

I went home and rolled out the ITbands a bit with my foam roller. They continue to protest a bit about all the running, but it's nothing terrible. I followed this up with the Bundt Cake Sundae at Sonic. Sure I ate back everything I burned and probably more, but it's summer! And it's Sonic! And they only have these for a limited time!

Today I'm feeling some aches that I'm not happy about in my left leg. Keep in mind this is the leg where I had the cracked femur neck and that I couldn't walk on for most of December and part of January. I can never tell if that leg just hasn't gotten its strength back or if I'm making up phantom pains. But for now, my ITband feels weird on that leg. The muscles in my thigh around where I felt the fracture pain feel funny. And my ankle has an odd ache. None of it is painful. None of it bothers me during the runs. So I know I don't need to be worried.

But still, it's soooo hard after what happened to not freak out a bit over these things. I keep trying to remind myself that I KNEW when something was wrong last year. I also keep reminding myself I have NO reason to worry. My injury healed. And I've been taking it super slow as I started running again. And I've been taking in calcium that I need daily for months now to make sure it never happens again.

It's bound to just be that as I've started increasing mileage, my left leg is protesting a bit since it lost some strength. Maybe it really just hasn't built it all bakc up yet.

But man I'm ready for it to catch up. I hate this nervous feeling when something on that leg aches, especially when it's a muscle around where I felt the pain last time. I was warned that this would happen and that it's normal. But still.... it needs to cut it out. I'm about to start doing a lot of running for my marathon training!

I decided that I'll just take it easy this week since I've got the 10-mile race on Saturday. No, I'm not really running all out like I'd like to be, but it's still a race. Not to mention, it's the first race I'm running this year. I haven't run a race in over 6 months! So even though I won't be getting a new PR, I'd still like to do well. So I'm going to do a light run tomorrow and call it a week so that I'm not worn out before the race and so these little aches have time to go the freak away!

Ok, thanks for letting me vent all of this. By the way, I wrote an exceptionally funny blog post in my head last night as I was falling asleep. I couldn't wait to write it and post. And now I can't remember anything about it that made it so funny. Grrrr.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

One Week til Europe

I am not a morning person. I have known this for years. So I don't know why I keep thinking I'll actually get up and go run in the morning. Once again, it didn't happen.

Maybe once I get back from Europe and am no longer in "vacation mode" it'll be easier. Or it'll just be hotter, and I'll know when the alarm goes off that if I don't go do it then it means I'll be running in a far worse sauna later in the day.

But it's not to that point yet, so I'll be heading to the park later this evening for a 5-miler. I called my sister to see if she wanted to come do some walking while I'm out there. Her response?

"Mel, have yout looked outside?" Sure, it's black as night because of all the thunderstorm and tornado warnings right now, but I imagine that'll be gone before 6:30 tonight.

So here's to getting a run in. I haven't yet, but I will. And then I'll probably come home and eat 2 cupcakes and negate any calories I burned. Good thing I run to train for marathons and not to lose weight.

Last night, I did most of my packing for Europe. I can't believe that a week from RIGHT NOW I'll be on a plane to Europe. Actually, I'll be on a place to New York. THEN I'll get on a place to Europe. (Stupid Nashville International Airport not actually flying international. Haven't figured that one out yet.)

I know it seems a little silly to pack a week in advance, but I like to be prepared. Plus, this way I can make sure I don't wear anything this week I want to take. And figure out if I need to go buy anything. I didn't really pack yet. I just put everything on my kitchen table and made a note of the final things to add (toothbrush, razor, etc.) when I put everything in the bag before I go.

I got a very exciting call from my travel buddy today. I planned our lodging in Ireland, and he's planned it for England. Turns out that one of his friends that we're staying with offered to take us to her parent's house in Sussex on our last day, show us around, stay there, and then drive us to the airport to come home that Monday. Yay fun!

Free Shoes!

Want a chance to win a $75 gift certificate for some free shoes?!

Yeah, me too!

Go visit Steve in a Speedo here for your chance to win!

Also, if you don't read his blog regularly, you should be. Seriously.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

10 Miles!

Untitled from Mel Belle on Vimeo.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Life and Times of a Marathon Runner

Even though I'm still two weekends away from beginning my fifth marathon training cycle (!!!), I'm already getting back into my "taking it easy on Friday night" routine.  You runners know what I'm talking about... when you have to be up before daybreak on Saturday for a long run, you're not exactly getting wild and crazy the night before.  (Most weekends at least... every now and then something comes along that keeps me out too late pre-long run.)

Since I have my first double-digit training run tomorrow since before my injury (10 miles!) and then a race next Saturday (10 miles!), I thought I'd kick off my quiet Friday nights now.

How did I spend it?  First, I came home from work and vacuumed.  I keep a VERY tidy house and there's never clutter (everything has its place), but I'm not really a stickler for the cleaning part.  I usually give the bathrooms a deep clean once a month, and everything else happens whenever I notice that I really need to clean.  Vacuuming is my least favorite activity, and it doesn't help that I have a really crappy vacuum.  I just can't bring myself to spend money right now on a freaking vacuum cleaner.

Next, I took an hour and went to the Zumba class at the YMCA.  I thought it'd be a good way to get some cardio without really overdoing it the day before a long run.  We'll find out tomorrow if this was a good or bad idea, but so far I think it was a good one.  I don't think we really did anything that would make me sore or make my legs too tired.

Once back home, I had a bit of a grilled cheese fail when the burner heated up faster than I expected and I totally burned one side of bread.  This was quickly corrected, and I'll be finding out tomorrow if grilled cheese is a smart pre-long run meal.  :)

The rest of the evening I had laundry going and I made spice cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  YUM!  I totally ate one and then put the rest away.  I'm not sure what I'll do with the remaining 23 cupcakes since I don't really need to eat them all myself.

I'm about to head to bed, but I just made a few discoveries.  In order to spare my hair from blow drying it yet again, I pulled it up earlier after a shower into a twisty, messy bun.  I took it down and discovered that my hair actually had dried in this messy, curly way that I think looks kind of cool.  Disregard my total lack of make-up.


I also found something else that may be a little gross, so I apologize.  In all my years of running, I've never lost a toenail.  Now, I have indeed lost MANY toenails... but it was always from the years of doing ballet on pointe.  I don't really think it's that gross to lose a toenail, and it doesn't bother me.

Nonetheless, I was surprised today to find I had lost one.  I felt something odd as I was walking around.  It just felt like something was stuck on my toe.  I looked down and realized it was my toenail literally flopping around, hanging on by the tiniest little piece of nail.  I pulled it off and realized that a new toenail had already mostly grown in underneath.  Odd.

It's not like I've been running THAT much.  I guess maybe my toe just knew it was time for a new nail and made it happen.  Here's a photo that illustrates the nail that came off (on my finger and noticeable since it still had polish) as well as the new, unpolished nail.  Disregard the chipped nail polish all over.  My pedicure from 6 weeks ago finally started giving in.  I need to get it redone.


Off to bed for my 5:45am alarm.  Last night I woke up on the other side of the bed and found Tucker curled up on top of my pillow.  I'm pretty sure he edged me over.  He used to sleep on it by my head when he was a kitten, but that was a long time ago.  He's much bigger now.  I took back my rightful spot, though I still let him stay on one side of the pillow, and went back to sleep.  I'm kind of hoping that was a one-time thing and not something he's going to start doing every night!

Book Recommendations

I probably should have asked sooner, but oh well...

I'm going to a fantastically awesome used bookstore tomorrow in an attempt to find a couple of books to take with me to Europe for some reading on the plane, bus, before bed at night, etc.

I need some suggestions. Anyone know of anything light and fun to read? I don't read a lot of chick lit, but I could go for that on this trip. I don't want anything heavy or that I have to concentrate on.

So, any recommendations? I'd probably suggest to offer me author names since it's a used bookstore. I might not be able to find specific titles as easily.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thursday Thoughts

Wow, thanks everyone for all your kind and encouraging words yesterday. I certainly wasn't fishing for that, but at the same time I really appreciate it. Sometimes I need someone else to look me in the eye (so to speak) and remind me that I'm spot on with what I need to be doing right now.

So, if you're keeping tabs on me, I leave for Europe in less than 2 weeks! I've got a good little list of things I need to take care of in addition to packing, but I've managed to already cross a few things off. I've gotten housesitters and catsitters, so I was kind of thinking that maybe I should get some blogsitters.

With that said, if you have any desire to write up a guest post for me to use while I'm gone so that there will be more than the sound of crickets chirping here in marathon Melanie land, that'd be awesome! If you know my email, feel free to email something directly to me and I'll schedule it to post. If you don't know my email but would like to guest post, leave me a comment on here and I'll be in touch. I'd need all posts before Sunday June 21st so that I have time to copy and paste them in here.

Last night, my sister and I joined our parents at Outback to celebrate their 32nd wedding anniversary. We don't usually eat there, but we had a gift card. I ate a fairly healthy meal of grilled chicken and rice.... after consuming a very large portion of a bloomin' onion and at least a loaf of their yummy bread. But hey, special occasion, right? And I did kill myself with Level 2 of the Shred DVD beforehand.

I finished working it off (or at least part of it off) this morning. Here's the thing folks: I am not a morning person. I love the night. I love staying up late and getting things done and watching Jimmy Fallon (did anyone see Zach Morris on there earlier this week?) Even though I've had my mornings off work for a month now, this was only the second time I managed to get a workout done before work. It's just not really my time of day.

However, I had to be a the doctor's office by 8:30. I know we all love that annual visit to the lady doctor, yes? I really don't mind the visit... but I really don't enjoy the whole "going to the doctor" experience. I do my part and arrive 5 minutes early, but it's still 30 minutes after my appointment time when I'm called back. I just don't understand how you are 30 minutes behind first thing in the morning.

Nonetheless, I kept my cool. Fortunately, they didn't keep me sitting in the paper gown for more than 2 minutes. Even though I know the doctor has probably seen worse, I had to apologize to her that I hadn't shaved my legs. I would normally never go to the doctor without shaving them, but I explained I'm getting them waxed next week before going on vacation. She didn't mind, and then this led to us having a nice conversation about Europe while she got all up in my business.

With that out of the way and a thunderstorm brewing, I headed home to eat a quick snack. I was super tempted to crawl back in bed with my kitty cat and watch Regis and Kelly while the storm raged on outside, but in true Tennessee form ALL channels were overtaken by the weather crew. I tell ya... I understand coming on tv for hours at a time when there are tornados. But a thunderstorm? Send the little scrolling banner across the bottom and tell us there's a thunderstorm just in case we're too dumb to notice when we look out the window and leave us to our regularly scheduled programming.

So with no other excused, I donned my running shorts (yes, hairy legs and all... After 3+ years at my gym and never being hit on there, I felt confident I wouldn't be scaring off any potential gentlemen suitors today. And hey, I'm going to Europe. So whateve.). I got to the gym and found that apparently a lot of other people have nothing better to do at 10am on a Thursday during a thunderstorm. Don't other people work? Haha.

I got a nice little speed workout of 8x400m in, so by the end I had run 4 miles in 41 minutes once you factored in the warm-up, walking in between intervals, and a quick cooldown. My shins still feel a little achy, but it's nothing terrible. I have a dull ache in my left hip. It's hard to not freak out when that happens. I KNOW that injury has long sing healed and more than likely the ache is just a sore muscle, but it still causes a little fear to rise up. I find myself stretching different ways trying to assess where I feel the ache so that I can tell myself it's just sore. No sharp pains, so I'm thinking it's just my hip still getting back into pre-injury shape.

Did anyone watch the first performances on So You Think You Can Dance last night? Awesome... I can't wait to tune in tonight. I haven't developed any favorites yet, but I'm sure I will in time. I was super pumped to hear about the Step Up 3 film that's being made.

Wow, this post is all over the place. It's kind of how I feel today. I have a ton to do in the next week or so between packing and planning and running and racing (next Saturday!) and work and having some fun. Looks like this summer is shaping up to be a good one. I hope so anyways!

PS - I WILL catch up on the 300+ posts on Google Reader before I leave. But then I'll disappear for 2 weeks and probably come back to 1000+ posts to slowly but surely catch up on. I'm still out here reading, even if I'm not commenting as much. You all rock!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gearing Up for Training

Yesterday I got my 5-miler I had planned in at the park after work. Even though it was ridiculously hot (aka 89°), I managed to keep around a 9:48 pace. This isn't as fast as I would like to be by any means, but I think it's still a pretty decent pace considering the heat, humidity and the fact that I really haven't been running a ton of mileage just yet.

I have to admit something. I have a tendency to be kind of hard on myself. I am definitely a perfectionist, even though as I've gotten older I've become more comfortable with just being sure to do MY best instead of being sure that what I do is perfect.

As I was running yesterday, I couldn't help but feel a little frustrated with myself. I'm nowhere near the kind of shape I'd like to be in before starting marathon training in 2 weeks. I really wanted to be confidently running the half-marathon distance before then, and at this point I haven't even hit the 10-mile distance yet.

I know I shouldn't be beating myself up over this. I am going to be running 2 10-milers before my training plan starts... and the first long run on it is 10 miles. I am running at a really good pace all things considered. Sure, it's not fast enough to run a 4:00 marathon, but there's no reason to be worried about pace right now. And the 4:00 marathon is my lofty goal... my realistic goal is to just get a new PR... anything better than 4:31:23 will do.

I just have to remind myself that I was playing it safe and smart the past few months. I needed to take it easy and be sure I didn't overdo it as I was getting back into shape.

The thing is, I am in really good shape right now. Maybe I could have been better, but I don't know that I could have done anything to be in substantially better shape for this marathon training cycle aside from completing a marathon training cycle beforehand.. and that wasn't possible this time.

I'm trying to be realistic about what this training cycle is going to be like for me. I'm trying to remind myself that even if this marathon isn't a 4:00 marathon, I am going to have plenty of other opportunities after it to try again. No matter what, running the Chicago marathon is going to be AWESOME.

So... here's to not worrying and not being hard myself. And here's to knowing that I'm about to start training for another marathon and the whole 16-weeks from the first run through the marathon finish line is going to rock.

Bring it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On Dancing...

People who have met me sometime in the past 7 years or so often do not know about something that was once a big part of my life.

I used to be a ballerina.

I'm not talking a few classes when I was a kid. My parents put me in ballet and tap classes when I was 4. I didn't stop taking them until I was 19. There were 7 years of jazz and 8 years of pointe added in there as well. By the time I was in high school, I was in the most advanced classes at my academy and spent several hours every Saturday dancing and preparing for the big recital in June.

I really loved it. It was a part of me. Ultimately, I quit because I was ready to full engage in college and the many activities it included. I took a ballet class to fulfill one of my PE credit requirements in school, but I was bored with the basic barre work. I always felt like the only way for me to really keep dancing would have been to become a dance teacher myself. I certainly don't think I was exceptional enough to make dancing a career.

Last night, I watched the sequel to Center Stage called Center Stage: Turn It Up. It wasn't as good as the first, but I still enjoyed every minute. I'm not going to lie, I have a soft spot for cheesy dance movies like these or the Step Up movies. I think it's because dancing is always going to be a part of me.

It's kind of the same reason why I love watching So You Think You Can Dance every single summer. I miss the dancing.

Sure, I might bust a move at a wedding reception on occasion, but it's not the same. Plus, I was always a ballerina. The moving and shaking of hip hop or more contemporary stuff was never quite my thing. I really enjoyed tapping, too, but how often do you run into someone busting out her tap shoes. (Note: I still have all my dancing shoes.)

I find myself missing ballet. There's no taking the ballerina out of me. I still walk around with my hips turned out. I still naturally stand in first position. Balance moves in yoga class come naturally most of the time. And I feel like I could easily pick ballet back up.

After watching the movie, I couldn't resist pulling out a couple of recital tapes from my high school days. I wasn't flawless by any means, but I definitely look like a ballerina.

I'm tempted to find a ballet class to use as some cross training. I was in really good shape in my dancing days, so I can't imagine that a little ballet work wouldn't help supplement my training.

We shall see.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Hills are Alive...

I did something yesterday that I haven't done since like October: I ran hills.

Listen up folks, when I say that I ran hills it's pretty serious stuff.  We have a park here in Nashville that runners like to use for all sorts of hardcore hill training.  I've been running the 6-mile loop for several years now, but I'm still an 11.2 mile loop virgin (though I plan to change that sometime very soon!).

There's a reason why Lee Greenwood sings in "God Bless America" the lines about "from the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee..."  If Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, then Tennessee is the land of 10,000 hills.

I did surprisingly well considering I had to take time off from running for an injury and have only been running on flat terrain since my return to running.  There's this one stretch of hill on the loop where you climb for a little over half a mile.  That's a long time to run up with no relief!

I've made it all the way up before, but there have been plenty of occasions where I needed to take a break before continuing on.  Yesterday?  I kept waiting for my heart to reach that point where I felt like I better walk so that I could continue to breathe, but it never happened.  Before I knew it, I was at the top!  I continued on with topping hill after hill (I swear it feels like you go up more than down on this path) until it was time to coast down to the end.  6ish miles in an hour.  Yay!

I had really wanted to run 9 miles, so I came home and ran another 3 in about 30 minutes.  I'm feeling like running a 10-miler in 2 weeks isn't going to be too difficult.  I'm also excited that I'm feeling confident about starting my 16-week training plan for the Chicago marathon in about 2 weeks.

My shins are a little sore today, which I am sure is from running hills for the first time in months.  I won't run again until Tuesday so I've got time to baby them a bit.

In lieu of taking a nap post-run, I went to the pool with some girlfriends.  It's the first time I've put on my swim suit this year, and even though I haven't been as hard core about my fitness lately, it was nice to feel confident putting it on.  That's one of the many things I love about running.

Hope everyone has been having a lovely weekend!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Past Few Days

Thank you to everyone for your thoughts, prayers and sweet comments regarding the death of my Grannie. It's certainly been a sad week for my family. She was a very special lady that was loved by many.

We held the visitation on Tuesday evening. I have to admit that I'm not very good with that kind of scene. It's not even so much the fact that it's a sad occasion. It's more that I don't really know what to say to people when they tell me they're sorry or ask how I'm doing. I also don't really tend to be the kind of person who gives out tons of hugs to people she hardly knows... so that makes the whole thing a little awkward for me. Nonetheless, it was nice to see some familiar faces and to know that a lot of people cared for Grannie.

We held the funeral on Wednesday morning followed by the burial next to my Pop Pop in the local cemetery. I know that we are meant to outlive our grandparents, but it still feels so odd to me that I've already lost a set. I guess I just don't feel old enough for such things.

My Grannie was actually my Pop Pop's second wife. They married in 1982 about a year and a half before I was born, so they're what I always knew as my grandparent's on my dad's side. She had lost her first husband to lung cancer and had a son and a daughter from that marriage. Neither of them live around here, and both of them have kids. When it's all said and done, Grannie had 8 kids (combining her's and the stepkids) and 13 grandkids (combining her's and the stepgrandkids). I have never really gotten to spend much time around my "cousins" from her side, so it was kind of nice to see them and catch up with them now that we're all adults.

On Wednesday evening, my "cousin" Chris was still going to be in town. I saved him from an evening in his hotel and took him to eat with my parents. Then, we headed downtown to the Big Bang... because you can't come to Nashville and visit me without me taking you there. We had a great time, and it was nice to get out and have a little fun instead of just sitting around sad. It was also fun to get to know him a bit better and share stories about our grandmother.

Due to all this activity, I've only managed to get a quick 4-miler in when it comes to exercise. I am definitely feeling underprepared for my 10-mile race coming up and for starting my marathon training, but I'm not worried. It will all work out just fine.

Thanks again for everything this week. Here's a picture from our night out. I stole Chris's hat!


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New DMB Album Drops Today

I had planned on going to the gym this morning, but when I woke up I felt exhausted by the thought of the 4 hours I'll be spending at my grannie's visitation tonight and opted to sleep in. I figure I'll take my bag and change and go on the way home tonight after it's all said and done.

I found it a little ironic today when I checked my mail and found my copy of the new Dave Matthews Band album that I pre-ordered. Yes, I'm a big nerd who pre-ordered the album. (Heck, I'm a big nerd who got a copy of the leaked version weeks ago.) But hey, I got 4 cds for like $20 doing it that way because you also got a 3-disc live trax volume with the new cd. I didn't pay extra to receive it on the actual release day, so I was kind of surprised to find it.

In some ways, it's kind of comforting to be listening to the new tunes today. I think maybe it's because so much of the album is wrapped up in the death of LeRoi Moore, their sax player.

I'm really pleased with the new album. Dave can't really do me wrong, but I find this one even more enjoyable than their last. If you want to check it out, just go here to listen to the whole thing for free! If you like what you hear, then buy it!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Happenings

  • I enjoyed a lovely weekend in Louisville at the NCAA baseball tournament. I've certainly watched more baseball in the past few months than I have in my entire 26 years of life. The guys did well at representing MTSU, and even though they didn't make it to a super regional, I think they have a ton of be proud of. MTSU hadn't made it this far in quite a while, and they had never been a number two seed. I think they did great!
  • I also toured the Louisville Slugger museum. It was pretty neat to see bats being made. We also got a mini bat at the end!
  • My grannie passed away over the weekend. It is indeed very sad, but it's also kind of ok. She was getting old and had very little quality of life being stuck in a nursing home bed. I know she was probably just ready to go and join my Pop Pop up in Heaven. We've got a lot going on the next few days with the visitation and funeral, so I might not be posting frequently. Please keep the fam in your prayers.