Monday, August 30, 2010

11 mile long run of crampy pain.

I had such high hopes for my 11-miler on Saturday. I was coming off of a great 10 miler in Brooklyn, I was meeting up for the first time with an area running group, and I was eager to show off my mad (slow) running skills. However, somewhere along the way it all went horribly awry.

The day started off like gangbusters, I met with the group bright and early at 8am. They were all truly fabulous and friendly, which seemed to bode well for the run. We started off at a brisk pace, but probably no faster than where I want my marathon race pace to be. It was all going fine until about mile 3. Mile 3 is when the pain hit. My calves had apparently decided that 3 miles into a long run was a great time to seize up and cramp.

So with both of my calves resembling hard balls of excruciating fury, I decided it was probably a good idea to stop and stretch. I thought this would help matters, but no such luck. I started off again, trailing behind the group, and running at about an 11 minute mile pace. I trudged along, but my calves were getting no better. In fact their tightness was cutting off the circulation to the rest of my leg. By mile 4 both of my feet had gone numb and tingly from lack of circulation.

By this point, the group was out of sight, however one intrepid member kept running back to check on me, make sure I was okay, and tell me the route. At this point I could have cried. Not only because I was in pain, but because it was just so freaking thoughtful of her and of the rest of the group to check up on me and make sure I wasn't writhing on the ground in agony.

I eventually made it back to the meet-up location, having slogged my way through the remaining 7 miles. So I got my 11 miles in, but it was painful and disheartening and slow (even for me). I have been running long enough that I know that it’s not easy, and that it’s not lacking in pain, but this was just a bit too much. The only thing that got me through was repeating to myself: “you can do this, only x number of miles left. Come on Diane, you can do this.” I don’t want or need my runs to be effortless. In fact, I would like to push myself to go farther and faster, I just don’t know how I’m going to complete 26.2 if my long runs are this hard.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Weekend of travel, celebrating and running

This weekend was my dear friend Beth's engagement party, which necessitated a trip to Brooklyn (the arm, it was twisted). I took the bus down Friday night, and was able to do a little catch-up with Beth (whom I do not see nearly as often as I would like to), watch Stomp the Yard, and have a refreshing glass of wine. All-in-all a pretty nice way to end the work week.

Saturday was scheduled to be my 10 mile long run, and I must say that I was a bit nervous about it. However, unlike the nasty 3-miler from earlier in the week, this run went brilliantly. My route took me through various sections of Brooklyn, including Park Slope and Prospect Park. The roughly 3.3 miles around Prospect Park was by far my favorite part of the run. In general, I love running in parks and green spaces. There’s just something about pushing yourself while communing with nature that is invigorating, especially when you’re a city girl who doesn’t see much of nature outside of the parks. I ended up finishing the 10 miles in 1:50, which is a bit over where I would like to be pace-wise. However, I have been consistently shaving seconds off of my pace on long runs, thereby giving me hope that it wasn't a mistake to register for the 4:15 pace group!

This was, in fact, the best run of my training thus far. I don't know if it was the fact that I had ready access to water, the fact that I'm trying my hand at mid-run refueling (the jury is still out on sports beans), or the fact that I was exploring a new place while running, but whatever it is this run left me feeling great about my training. Something direly needed in order to keep up morale after the last few weeks of bonking at the end of long runs.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The easy 3-miler that wasn't

I was supposed to do an easy 3-miler on Tuesday. This did not happen, mainly because the oppressive heat and humidity of the east coast summer returned with a vengeance. The day was sticky and hot, and I thought it best to not die on my run.

However, I did run my 3-miles yesterday, and it was painful. How is it that just last week I was thinking that 5 miles is a piece of cake, but this week I could barely manage 3? My legs were leaden, my calves were cramping, my hip was singing with IT band related pain. All this added up to a run that had more walk breaks than it should have.

But it's done, and there are more and better runs on the horizon.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Righteously sore

I ended last week with a bang, training wise. On Thursday, I did speedwork, and while normally I don’t mind speedwork, this week I got a bit over excited. In other words, I loved the speedwork a bit too much. Perhaps it was the two whole days of rest, perhaps it was the weather that was in the 70s and sans humidity, but I did my 1600 repeats at a speed that was much too quick pour moi. The first 1600 was accomplished in 9:03, and the second was in 9:20. I was supposed to finish them in 9:45 (which is my pace goal for Philly). Now one wouldn’t think running two miles quicker than anticipated would be a problem, but by the time I began my mile run home, I felt like my legs were noodles and my lungs were going to explode out of my chest à la alien.

I had a 9 mile long run on Saturday. I ended up doing three, 3-mile loops, and the first two loops were great. Loops one and two were done somewhere between 10 and 11 minute mile pace, however I totally bonked loop three. In fact, I bonked around the end of mile 7. Apparently anything over a 10k requires both water and fuel. I was hungry, thirsty, and had reached the very last of my reserves. This means that I’m going to have to learn how to 1) run with some sort of hydration pack and 2) figure out this whole GU, sport bean, refueling on the run thing. Obviously I can’t do the trusty soccer refuel of orange slices and Gatorade at half-time, but I’m going to have something out, because the runs only get longer from here!

I concluded the weekend with a 15 mile bike ride on Sunday. All of this end of the week activity has left me feeling distinctly sore. My legs are freaking killing me! I now make this lovely groaning noise when I try to get up after sitting for 20 or more minutes. It's very attractive, in a wildebeest sort of way. Here's hoping the three-miler on tap for tomorrow helps shake out the rest of the aches and pains!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

An ode to (and a lament on) badges of honor

I have bruises up and down my legs. Because the Northeast is in the midst of a humid, hot summer, I have no choice but to wear skirts and dresses (ignoring the fact that I like to wear skirts and dresses). Inevitably, the combination of bruises and leg baring articles of clothing leads to some interesting conversations. Conversations that center on the myriad lumps, scrapes, and bruises that decorate my legs.

I like to think of these things as badges of honor*. The bruises on the insides of each of my ankles have been garnered on the many miles I have run in preparation for my first marathon in November. You see, the inside heel of my shoe will hit the inside of my ankle, and this leaves a nearly indelible mark. However, the more miles I run, the more times my heel hits my ankle, and the more visible the mark becomes. By the time November 21st rolls around, I fully expect that you will be able to see these twin bruises from space.

My knees are quite spectacular thankyouverymuch. They are surrounded by scrapes and bruises, most of which have come from my weekly soccer games. I’ve been playing soccer for most of my life at this point. In fact the only activity I’ve done longer is running. Soccer is great. I get to spend time with amazing people, kick a ball around, and work out some serious frustrations. However, being the physical sport that it is, soccer leaves me battered at the end of the day. My knees reflect that.

Every bruise and scrape that mars the elegance of an outfit (she says as if her outfits have elegance) is a testament to the fact that I work hard and play hard, and I see them as points of pride. However, there’s pride and then there’s pain. My legs hurt so much on Tuesday and Wednesday, and my knee was so swollen, that I ended up cancelling my recovery run. Not postponing, but full-on cancelling. It was the best thing for me (legs feel great today), but it was truly disheartening to find my war wounds getting the best of me.

On tap for tonight: 5 miles, with 3 miles of speedwork.

*Well, all of them except the nasty one on my shin. That, and any other mark that I get from bumping into a table or tripping over the cat, is just another sign of my own klutziness.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A fresh with zucchini fritters

This summer I went to Greece for the first time. It was simply amazing, and although I only spent 10 days there I am dreaming of the food and of going back for another visit. In honor of that, and since today was a rest day, I decided to cook up some Greek food on this balmy evening.

Since it is balmy, I wanted something as simple and quick as possible. Something that preferably didn't use many heat producing kitchen items. Therefore I opted to go with the Kolokithokeftedes (or zucchini fritters). I first had these at the Faros Taverna on Naxos in the Cyclades (the same archipelago as Santorini), and they quickly became one of my favorite foods.

I adapted a recipe from Whipped (one of my favorite food blogs). However, I had to make a few substitutions.

Instead of dill, I used a combination of rosemary and oregano. My local grocer didn't have any dill, so I used other herbs that made me think of Greece.

I also didn't grate the zucchini, as I believe my box grater is in storage. Instead, I used a food processor to chop the zucchini into small pieces.

Finally, I used store bought tzatziki.

Here's what the final product looked like:

It was delicious, and the perfect dinner for a warm, summer night.