A Very Busy Taper

Last we chatted I ran 22 miles, bought a house, and was getting super pumped up for race day.

I was also overwhelmed. Big time.

Not much has changed, except now I am officially in Taper Time.

How I envisioned Taper to be:

  • Lots of rest
  • Plenty of healthy, homemade meals
  • Easy, low-milage runs
  • Feeling bored and restless due to the fact that I would not be putting in as many miles
  • Time to plan race day details like what I will wear and what my fuel will be
  • Time to reflect on this training season and the type of race I want to run
  • Blogging tons about every emotion I will be going thru in anticipation of my very first marathon
  • Relaxing before the physical demand of running 26.2 miles

The reality of Taper:

  • Tearing up carpet and approximately 680 nails from the floor where the carpet was tacked down, refinishing wood floors, cleaning out my new fireplace, painting the fireplace, cleaning a chandelier (with a million crystals! so time-consuming for a light fixture that will soon be replaced!), painting my new livingroom, scrubbing three bedrooms from ceiling to floor (including four closest), and power cleaning the kitchen including all of the appliances and every drawer and cabinet….. A shit-ton of home projects
  • Forgetting to eat and when I do remember it is always take-out because I am a gypsy at this point in the move…dishes and pans are packed away. Blah.
  • Running off of little sleep. Rest? What’s that?!
  • No time to blow dry my hair or call my mother no less blog, reflect, or plan about my upcoming marathon.
  • Running around like a chicken with my head cut off and a to-do list eight pages long

Moral of the story: things never go as planned. I had no idea that one big life event (buying my first home) would overlap with another big event (my first marathon).

Buying your first home is very exciting, but also very exhausting. Especially when you buy a home that needs lots and lots of updates and you happen to schedule your big move seven days before THE RACE that you have been training five months for.

Needless to say, I did not picture my taper time to be so busy. I barely even notice the fact that I am not running so much because I am up to my ears in home projects. In fact I am having a hard time finding time to squeeze in my last few training runs!

By the time I set out for my eleven mile run on Tuesday (my last ‘long’ run until race day!) my achilles tendon was screaming in pain. I think due to all of the home projects (the majority of which I was crouched on the floor to do) my body was rebelling. Panicked that I had made it thru five months of training only to feel major pain now, I put on my proactive game face: advil to keep the swelling down, compression socks, elevation, and rest. Today I am feeling much better, but it was a wake-up call that I need to take better care of myself before the race. Noted.

With the big moving day this Saturday, I have lots and lots of stuff to do. If I think about it too hard I will have a panic attack, so I don’t. I am just trying to cross as much off of my to do list as possible in the given day, focus on this move, get settled in as quickly as possible, and then switch gears to MARATHON DAY!

It’s 10 days away! I have plenty to keep me occupied so I am sure that these 10 days will fly by. In the meantime I plan on drinking plenty of water (operation hydration is in full effect!), rest as much as possible, remember to eat and as healthy as possible, and try to take a few minutes here and there to embrace this busy, yet exciting time.

I almost feel like I am being cheated out of the tapering process because life has been so crazy! So tell me, what is your favorite part about taper and your least favorite part?

Mandy Moore Miles Please, A Tale of 22 Miles

Can I whine for a minute? Why yes I can. This is my blog after all. Ok. Here it goes.


Here is a piece of unsolicited advice:
When and if you train for your next marathon, do not buy a house that needs more face-lifts http://cookiesandcups.com/2-ingredient-pumpkin-brownies/than what Joan Rivers has.

Packing, refinishing hardwood floors, painting, taking a bazillion trips to Lowe’s and Home Depo, working 40+ hours a week, and fitting in all of your training runs is impossible tough. Eating a balanced meal when all of your pots and pans are packed away and you are trying not to buy any groceries so that have less things to move is impossible tough. Oh, and the act of actually moving…finding a day to take off from all said activities to move your entire life’s belongings from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’ is …well… impossible tough.

{Insert Mental Breakdown Here}

When I am faced with anxiety and chaos I do several things:

1. Count my blessings

2. Take deep breaths

3. Acknowledge that it is just a season

and finally

4. Realize…

When life gets tricky, you just have to roll with the punches. For me, this meant skipping Run Camp on Saturday and moving my 22 mile (last long!) training run to Sunday. I was worried that without Run Camp’s support, I would not be able to pull off this run. Luckily two other runners from my group, Christine and Teresa, had to push their run back also so I had partners for my Sunday mission.

We set out at 8am sharp and decided to run 11 miles out on the Kalamazoo Kal-Haven trail and then turn around for our 11 miles back. I awoke that morning to lightning, thunder, and downpouring rain but it cleared up almost as on cue for our 8am departure time. Overcast, gray, and humidity took its place.

22 miles can not only be physically daunting, but mentally daunting as well. Even when you are in great running company. If it weren’t for two very awesome friends of mine, Rachel and Allison, surviving this run would have been a lot more challenging than it already was.

Rachel and Allison showed up every two miles for the full 22 mile run. They parked Rachel’s Land Rover and stood outside with the hatchback open offering gummy shark candies, gatorade, water, Gu, kleenex, and insane amount of moral support and cheering.

I may just name my unborn children after these two heroes of mine. For real. To wake up early the morning after their long 20+ mile run to come and cheer us on for hours…well, that is just a whole lot of selfless awesomeness in my book.

Rachel even had personalized water cups for each of us. I love mine. Even after my long 22 mile run, I have saved it to drink celebratory beer out of.

How could I have a bad run when I was being hydrated from this?!

Quick recap of my last LOOOOONG run before taper:

  • The first few miles were tough. It took a bit to adjust to the humidity and find my groove.
  • I was SUPER hydrated thanks to my hydration-station rock stars. In fact I had to pee not once, not twice, but three times. So maybe I was a tad too hydrated.
  • My new shoes are finally a perfect fit! I wore them and my feet thanked me.
  • Pain reliever at mile 11 was a great idea.
  • I ran the first 11 miles and then Galloway-ran the last 11. Still not sure what I will do on marathon day, but I most likely will incorporate this method for a good part of the race.
  • Valuable lesson learned: Body Glide can sweat off. Ouch!
  • Was I sore when I finished? Yes. Did I feel like I still had 4.2 miles in me? Yes. Maybe. We will see on May 6th.

Overall, I felt pretty solid and strong and I am happy that I went ahead and did a 22 mile training run verses the 20 mile run that the training plan called for. I think it is a mental thing. I did not use my GPS for pace, but instead set it to distance. I wanted to take the time pressure off and run by feel. Maybe I just did not want to get discouraged with my time like I did on my 20 mile training run. This run the victory was strictly in the distance.

That’s a wrap on my weekend long runs! I have 10 on the agenda this Saturday, 6 next Saturday, and then it is race time. 17 days people!!!

Now if only I can fit in time for my weekday training runs. And they said taper would be hard…

Tips and tricks for balancing life and training? Leave me a comment!

Shoe Woes

Last week I bought myself a spiffy new pair of ascis. I loved the color and although a different model than the current pair I was wearing (which they no longer make), I thought that they would work just fine. Better than fine in fact. I mean, hello! Purple laces! Can it get much better than that?! 

I was eager to break them in so I took them for a quick two-mile run right away.

They felt just ‘ehhhh’. Not as magical as I had hoped they would. No worries, I thought. Sometimes these things take time.

Run #2 in my new kicks: A ran a little longer, but the shoes did not feel any better.

Surely the third time would be a charm! So I laced up my sexy new laces and headed out for my 10 mile run on Tuesday night.

At 5 miles my feet felt uncomfortable. By mile 7 I was in major pain. At mile 10 I wanted these shoes from Satan off my feet ASAP!

Needless to say my magical, purple laced shoes did not deliver. Back to the shoe store I went.

After working with a very patient, young man for way too long, I am now the owner of the worlds ugliest running shoes ever. And before I show them to you, let me remind you that it is not a fashion show that I will be wearing these to. No. It is a race.

It is not a fashion show. It is not a fashion show. It is NOT a fashion show. <—–(I have been repeating this to myself ever since I have left the store.)

Here are the ugly shoes that I have to embrace whether I like it or not because they are the only shoes that my stubborn feet found comfortable:

Besides being ugly, these shoes ran me $60 more than the first pair I tried! Yuck. I hate paying so much for ugly. Oh, right….I am paying for comfort.

Ok. So they are not that bad. They just do not have the coolness factor of my purple laced beauties. In fact they kinda remind me of old lady sneaks.  Whoomp, whoomp. As long as they get me to the finish line pain free, I do not care how dorky they look.

Apparently this model has more arch support and my flat feet need all the support they can get. I do not remember the exact model that they are. I will just call them model GEL-ugly. I just pray that they work. I have three and a half weeks to break them in so I am on crunch time.

After switching out my shoes and impulse buying a way too expensive tank top that I can not afford (put me in a running store for long enough and I can not be held accountable for giving into temptation), I met up with my hubby to walk thru our new home. We took tons of ‘before’ pics before we start tearing up all of the carpet to refinish the wood floors.

I will have to give you pics as we go along, but here is one of us in front of our new casa:

Home sweet home! We will be spending the next week painting and such before we officially move in. It is an older home (built in 1929), so there are plenty of things to update. We are ready to get our hands dirty and work hard to make it ‘ours’. I am so excited and slightly overwhelmed. But more so excited :-)

How long does it typically take you to break in a new pair of running shoes? Color? Comfort? Price? What factors do you consider before purchasing a new pair of kicks?

The Time Where I Ran 20 Miles and Did Not Die

Ever since I began training for the Kalamazoo Marathon, the date April 7th stuck out to me in all of its blinding glory. On the seventh day of April, I would attempt a 20 mile training run. Back in December, when running anything over a half marathon frightened me, this run seemed unreachable, haunting even.

Of course, you don’t jump into running 20 miles. No. That would be frightening and haunting. Instead you work yourself up to it gradually. That is what I did. 14 miles, 15, 16, ect. Week by week, tacking on a little more. When I hit sixteen miles, I began to gain confidence and realization that the marathon was within my reach.

Which brings me to Saturday. I woke up so ready to tackle my longest training run to date. I was borderline ecstatic to get outside and run! There was just this overwhelming feeling of feeling able and confident that I could do it.

I met up with my wonderful team, The Transformers, and we set out around 8 am. Half of my group was planning on 18 miles and a few of us were going 20. The plan was to run 9 miles out with them, turn around, run 9 back as a group, and then the three 20 mile runners would add-on two miles at the end. Got all that?! Great plan, lots of energy, and we were off!

The weather was cool to start, in the high 30′s, but warmed up quite a bit over the hours that we were out there. I dressed in layers and by the end was rocking a tank top. Gotta love Michigan.

We decided to try the Galloway Method again since it worked so well for us on our 18 mile training run. 9 minute run, 1 minute recovery for 20 miles. The first 6 miles flew by. We all had lots to catch up on and so we chatted the miles way.

We ran the actual marathon course which was both good and ugly. Good because we get an idea of what we are up against on race day. Ugly because we are up against some crazy hills. It actually was not that bad, but we hit the hills on miles 6.5 and 8. On race day we will be hitting them on mile 20.5 and 22. We might not think they are ‘not so bad’ then.

We definitely took our time and had lots of fun on this run. I never felt like I was pushing myself too hard and we kept a nice and easy pace. Before we knew it we were at the 9 mile turn around point.

After the turn around it we cruised along for a bit due to the fact that we were now going down the hills that we had just worked so hard to come up. I did not set my GPS on this run, and decided to go by feel, not numbers. And overall I felt great! I stayed plenty hydrated and fueled, something that I am good at :-) I need to have a happy belly! I had a few sports beans, half a cliff bar, and two Gu gels over the course of 20 miles. And of course I stopped at all of the water stops:

Before I knew it we were closing in on 18 miles and it was time to drop off a few of our teammates. Only two miles to go. My running buddies Christine and Rachel were my partners in crime going for the big 2-0 with me.

The first mile was up hill which was mentally and physically tough at this point in the run. We talked ourselves thru it, but it seemed like a really loooong mile. When we hit mile 19 though we all had big, cheesy grins on our face. We were totally running 20 freakin’ miles for the first time EVER! And we were going to live to tell about it!

Wrapping up the run was pure elation. We did it! It was awesome! Watch out Kalamazoo Marathon, the Transformers are ready to roll run out!

We spent the next 20 minutes stretching and reliving our glory. Oh, and eating bagels!

I would like to say that I felt nothing but sunshine and rainbows for the rest of the day, but sadly (or pathetically on my part) that was not the case. Even though I told myself time and time again that I would not get hung up on numbers or time, I decided to do some math in my head to estimate how long it took me to tackle this run and it was not pretty.

I just felt in my heart that I can do better. Come race day, whether I come in first (haha!) or last, I want to know that I gave it my all. I want to know in my heart that I did not leave anything out there on that course. Make sense?

I want run a race that I can be proud of.

I have one more long run to go before taper and I plan to give it 110%. Even though I can get a little discouraged time and again (don’t we all!), am trying to keep in mind what my original race goals were:

Goal #1: To start and complete the Kalamazoo Marathon on May 6th, 2012.

Goal #2: Have fun and stay injury free! (Ok, so maybe that is two goals!)

I think that I am on my way to doing that!

Do your race goals change as your training progresses? Do you write down your goals as a reminder to yourself?

One Month Countdown

The countdown is on! One month from today I will be running my very first marathon. I am BEYOND excited :-)

I have no idea what to expect on race day, but I do feel prepared. I have put in months of training and with only two more long runs to go before my taper, I feel almost ready to get out there and see what 26.2 is all about.

But I still have some work to do…

I invested in some new kicks this week and now I need to break them in. These are the shoes that will carry me across the marathon finish line:

I also have to get the BIG 2-0 training run out of the way. 20 miles. Wowza. Even driving twenty miles seems far, I can not believe that my legs will carry me that far. It is an awesome thought and it will be even more awesome to experience it….tomorrow morning!

Yep, I am waking up bright and early to tackle this baby. I even have my party favors all ready to go:

What else do I have to do before race day? Well plan my race day outfit of course! I just purchased the Lululemon Turbo Run Shorts and I am in la-la-love. So comfy! I think that they will be making a Kalamazoo Marathon race day appearance…

I just love the zip pocket in the back. Perfect for storing extra fuel!

I also need to update my iPod playlist, but I am having a hard time because I can not seem to find anything new that is actually any good.

I know. First world problems at its finest.

I still have a month to figure it all out. I am all open for music suggestions and what sort of tank-top I should pair with my Turbo Run Shorts!

On another note, a very dear friend of mine named Daelynn has started a blog called Little Miss Magic. She is currently training for her very first half marathon. Go and give her some love and encouragement! She would be oh-so-happy to hear from you :-) 

This is Dae. See, she is full of love!

Are you counting down to any races? What kind of music do you love running to? How far in advance do you plan your race day outfit?

18 Miles, Galloway Style

18 miles is IN.THE.BOOKS!

And now I have a brand new BFF. His name is Jeff and we are like peas and carrots.

You might know him as Mr. Galloway. Well, even though we have yet to meet I am already smitten. Ok, so maybe not with him per say, but definitely with his method of training. I decided to tackle my eighteen mile long run this past weekend with the his run/walk method. I ran for nine minutes, walked for one and then repeated until I reached eighteen miles. It went FAN-TAS-TIC!

I felt strong, my legs (although fatigued at the end) held up pretty darn well, and my time was BETTER than my 17 mile run that I did a few weeks ago. Hello Mr. Galloway, I think you know your stuff.

I did feel a little weird about this method for a hot second. Like I should be running the whole time, otherwise I was cheating the run. But I got over it. I WAS moving the whole time, giving my body a minute to recover after running stronger and harder for nine minutes, instead of running sub-par.

I will be trying this method again with my 20 mile run that I have this upcoming week. My body felt good and my time was improved. Win, win.

In other news, life is about to get very busy. Joe and I are closing on our new home next Monday! We are so excited for our new roles of homeowner. I will share more about the home later, but it is older and needs lots of TLC and updating.

That means Joe will have to channel him:

And I will have to channel her:

God help us.

Between packing, moving, marathon training, working, painting, and updating our new home (geez, I am tired just thinking about it!), my post may be few and far between over the next month. Have no fear, I will not leave you for good! You are not that lucky ;-)

And finally, I have a new favorite song that I love running to. Enjoy!

Do you recognize it from the Microsoft Internet Explorer commercial?! It was just so catchy that I had to look it up and download :-)

Have you ever tried the Galloway running method? What tunes are your running to this week?