500 Street Fights…Or 50 Miles…It’s Legit

Screenshot_2013-08-13-09-02-05-1I think I have used this Vin Diesel clip from Knockaround Guys before…I will use it again. Truth is, if I could figure out how to use it in every single post, I probably would.

So a tiny bit of background explaining yet another (back to back) race recap (sorta) from the chick that rarely does them. Actually, this is going to be the last time I state that disclaimer. I think that I am buying into the idea that “race recap” means “Mile 1 I breathed, then mile 2 I ate some stuff, then mile 3 I hit a wall…” But I digress…

Kelley and I enjoying the post 50 mile run festivities

Kelley and I enjoying the post 50 mile run festivities

I belong to an awesome virtual group called the Women’s Running Community. I have just worked with them to bring a chapter, WRC – Lowcountry, here locally (if you are interested, we would love to have you!) They have another niche group called WCR – Ultra Running to cater to the crazies. The admin for that group, Corina, is an awesome sport of whom I am quickly growing fond. She asked if I would share with the group some of what goes into preparing and completing a 50 mile race (aside from the psychological review).

I am not going to bore you with the “what you already know”s. And let me be clear once again – this is what works for me. I do not live in the land of “everyone needs to.” I love minimalist running, plant based eating, heavy lift cross training. I do not taper, I don’t really know the tactics of a proper recover. I know what a training plan is…even if I don’t know quite how to use one. This works for me – sometimes. It is always a work in progress. I may do it different tomorrow. You might too.

However, one of the constants in my “training” (gosh, I really hate calling it that), is the fact that I have a very real, very full life. One husband, four kids, three pets, a career, awesome friends, a running column, this little bloggy thing…yeah, I am extracting the marrow fully out of the bone of life. So I have to watch my schedule. And, most importantly, I have to be real with myself.

Therefore…

How do I train with four kids (and all that other stuff)?

My runs are largely unsexy and unholy early. They are on a super boring, short distance repeater route in my neighborhood. This is out of necessity since most mornings I have to be finished with my run by 0630. So, even a 6 or 7 miler has to be started around 0500 or 0530. There is NO WAY I am adding travel time to that just to get to a route that is more fun to run. So, I have discovered a few apps that make the miles a bit more interesting. I have a rosary player, a zombie game, and an audiobook subscription – lifesavers all.

Even on the weekends I start super early. Typically these are my long run days. So to run 20-30 miles, I have to still start at 0500 or 0600 to get it in while the rest of the family is sleeping in and to be finished by lunch. Training for ultra distances nixes the off day after a training run. So I run long on Saturday and still need a 6-12 mile run on Sunday.

But look at that mess up there? Seriously, there is not always time for that. So I don’t make all my runs. I don’t log all the miles I am “supposed to.” I don’t always get in those back to backs. Sometimes there is a super tired husband, and a cat that has peed outside of the litter box, and a kid who is having a melt down, and a house that seriously needs a wipe down, and a yard that needs to be mowed, and grandparents I haven’t seen, and friends I haven’t lunched with, and parents who need some time, and a book that needs to be read…and I just. don’t. run.

600672_539915602739929_1109972797_nSay it with me… Just. Don’t. Run.

Then there are times where all the above is true and if I don’t get some miles in, the other crazies in my head are going to forget how bad I look in prison jumpsuit orange and cut you. In those cases, screw the rest and just. go. run.

Say it with me…Just. Go. Run.

So, how many mile DO you run a week?

Not enough I am sure. My goal as a runner is to be able to run a 50 miler whenever I want. I want to be the kind of runner who, at the drop of hat, a running buddy can call and need a training partner, a pacer, a race buddy, and I can go – regardless of some point on a training plan.

So the goal during the week is usually 50 miles. I. Never. Make. It. But that is okay. I usually come in around 30. But I know that as loose as I like to be with my “training schedule,” the cold, hard fact is that chance of injury increase when regular mileage does not support the long run. So, while I cut myself tons of slack, I do not make excuses and justify the punk out.

What do you eat on the run?

988674_561407983924024_781717531_nBeer and salted potatoes are my favorite. Ginger Snaps and PB&Js rank up there pretty high too. I LOVE coconut water, be careful though. Too much could, ummm, ruin your time. The upside is you will know where all the bathrooms are the next time. I try really hard to not do a bunch of artificial stuff – they wreck my tummy and I think there is something seriously weird about spending money with a “Health and Nutrition” company who thinks putting trash in their products is a good idea. But that’s just me. I stick with Hammer products mostly and drink a pretty good bit of HEED.

As a side note, I just started with a pretty regular regime of sweet potatoes. So far, the results have been just short of astonishing.

Walking vs. Running

This one is easy…whatever I feel like with only a few caveats

  • “Hell, a 15:48 pace to finish? You can walk that!” is WAY  harder than it sounds – I prefer to run and get it over with.
  • Once I start walking, it is super hard to get started again. I try not to do it too often. I envy people who can transition easily.

And, when all else fails, remember the brilliant advice of Ray Krolewicz…

“There are no low points in ultra marathons. I get sleepy sometimes and I take a nap.”

Staying Motivated

KeepGoingFeatIn my last post I told you that the “how to get started” question is the one I am asked the most. It is, hands down. In the effort to be completely transparent, I must clarify that this is the case because I don’t consider any version of  “are you insane” to be an actual question. That wins the thing most often said to me and is therefore not in the running to win anything else.

The series of conversations usually go something like

~ How do I get started

~ You just do…I have expanded on this a bit before…you can see it here, and here, and here

~ How do I keep going

~ **Crickets**

I absolutely love these questions and conversations. I wish I did a better job answering them. I am just so keenly aware of how personal running is, I try never to say you “just have to” do anything except wake up.

But I was asked again yesterday…and the day before that. And I have promised to give you something. And I will. But know that this is just one woman’s journey. If you have something else that works, do that! (And tell me so I can try it!) If you try something you read here out and don’t like it, that’s fine too. I have tried on strategies from some of the coolest people in the game only to find out we are just practicing a different brand of cool.

I am not you. You are not me. Running any distance at all is a test. We all do what we have to do to get through it in the most body and spirit appreciating ways possible.

dc201bd1411190c7d12c96534a23e3e4Let me highlight that “any distance” part. Sometimes folks get hung up on the distance they do or don’t run. Hell I get hung up on that. Don’t. I have run 20 milers that felt like eating cotton candy and 5ks that felt like they were trying to rip my legs off. Right now as I sit here writing this I am procrastinating like a big dog to keep from running my short training run.

**Update – I did go run…in case you were curious 🙂 **

It is any given day. Just because you felt it yesterday doesn’t mean that you will feel it today. When I use the words “run” and “love” in the same sentence – I mean it. And I am one of those people who put “love” in the verb category – it is not something I feel, it is something I choose to do.

But it isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it is so hard, it doesn’t happen. And in all honesty – 9 times out 10 it is a mental failure, not a physical one.

282272_405509929495292_1880671413_nLet me clarify a few things in that sentence. First there are some times that you really shouldn’t run. I am not a doctor or anything, but I am pretty certain that rest, recovery, and rejuvenation are vital. I am not talking about not running on those days. As I have said – there is a difference being being smart and punking out. You know what that difference is.

Second – I did use the word failure and I meant it. If I intend to do something, am capable of doing that thing, and choose not to do that thing in a way that I feel guilty about later – that is, in my book, a failure, You may call it whatever you like. To me, that’s about as close to textbook failure as a person can get.

So here are a few of the things that work for me more often than they don’t…

Pain is temporary Be accountable

I tell people about my insanity. Do my facebook posts seem obnoxious to you? Does the fact that I blog about this stuff seem self indulgent? Do you know that when I am in a room the topic of running will probably come up? Yeah, I know all that stuff too. When I am thinking about bagging a run, skipping it all together, or otherwise under performing, I know you will see me.

It is my fishbowl accountability. I hate the punk out. It makes my soul hurt. I am not public about all this stuff simply because I am proud and seek accolades. I do it because I am scared and have the tendency to be a lazy cow. I do it to keep my laurels from getting comfortable. I know there are folks either making better choices because of my story or poised ready for me to look stupid.  I plan on being a serious win for one and a huge waste of time for the other.

600672_539915602739929_1109972797_nKnow Your Why

You need to know why you do it. You need to know what makes you want to what it is you are doing. And don’t let others feel self conscious about your why. I have some who say they run because others can’t, to raise money, to save humanity. Others run for beer, chocolate, and chicks. Hey man, whatever. This is your race. Just know what it is.

Run with a Friend

Long runs have become an incredible time of bonding with friends. It is also a great way to pass the time and learn new techniques. In some places, it is also way safer. Buddy running or group running can seriously energize an otherwise halfhearted run.

Run Alone

Yeah, I know what I just said. But sometimes, spending 4 to 6 hours with another person is more painful than the run itself. There is a lot of mental stability that comes with spending that time with yourself. It is also quite possible it will happen in a race. You need to know how to deal on your own just in case the need ever arises.

Read

This has been an amazing technique for me. I have Audible on my phone and some really great books. While I hardly ever have time to sit down and flip pages, you can cover a ton of chapters during a multi-hour run.  Podcasts work really great too!

Pray

God and I have the most wonderful conversations on my runs. It has been some of the most powerful prayer moments that I can remember. I have found apps to put The Bible, The Liturgy of the Hours, and The Rosary on my phone. Talking to the Creator, using the body He created in the midst of His creation…just awesome.

This is still a work in progress for most people I know so I would love to get your feedback on it.

A Little Bit on Getting Started

Just Go Run“What do I need to do?”

That is probably the single most asked question I get. And while the last More than Miles column from Connect Savannah is obviously not all encompassing, it is a great (in my not so humble opinion) overview of some of the resources available to new and aspiring runners.

You can read the full article here. I suggest it as I was able to work Memorial Day, a 100 mile race, and Zombies all into one 800 word article. However, if you know nothing else, know that I said this…

One of the best things about running is pretty easy to start. You don’t have to really do anything that most of us aren’t already equipped to do.

I subscribe to a pretty pared down version of running. I don’t own a lot of clothes, gear, or shoes. In fact, if I was certain I wouldn’t cut my feet open, I would drop the shoes too.

I don’t wear a heart rate monitor or a super sexy multi-sport, waterproof, laser shooting, GPS watch either (although I totally would if I could bring myself to buy one). Therefore, you will find that I subscribe to the “just get started” school of thought.

Mareesa TorresBig thanks to Mareesa Torres, a Savannah attorney and Fleet Feet CREW coach, and Mary Seigel, Ultra Runner extraordinaire and Savannah Strider member, for helping me with this piece.

These amazing women do more than just run for themselves – they carry those of us wanting to be better further along. They support and encourage making us all better runner and better people.

You can check out CREW training here.

Savannah Striders can be found here.
Mary Siegel
For my facebook folks, I encourage you to check out Running Bloggers and Savannah Moms Run This Town. Both groups are a wealth of information on all topics. For this article, they were very helpful in gauging which apps were the most (and least!) helpful, useful, and popular. However, don’t blame them for the Zombie thing…

all that blame belongs to Massuto and Waz 🙂

Training the Way You “Ought”

First CommunionAs some of you may know, it was an amazing weekend for my family. Our daughter Savannah received her First Holy Communion. She was very excited and it was a beautiful liturgy.

During the entrance procession of the children, it was obvious that there was something slightly different about a few of the kids – my Savannah being one of them. In our parish, First Holy Communion typically happens when the children are in the 2nd grade. Savannah is in the 6th grade.

My husband and I completed our two-year conversion journey Easter 2012. The children were baptized on the Day of Pentecost that same year. That put the littles in alignment with their peer group. This Easter season, the two older children received the sacraments that “caught them up” with their peers. Madison, communion and confirmation. Savannah, communion.

We are now, as far as Catholic families are concerned, “on track.”

During the liturgy, I considered all the hard work both my family and the respective Catechists had put into walking through and making informed decisions about this journey. Father Joe, Sister Mary Ann and Cyndy Glasscock, in particular, walked alongside our family the entire way. It was, in many instances, unorthodox – even for converting families. Mark and I took two years to do what can be done in only one. The children were given every opportunity to decline the invitation to join the church. They were given special instruction and asked lots of thought provoking questions to ensure that this was for them. The children were allowed to choose their own Godparents.

We didn’t quite do it the  way some would say you “ought” to.

But, the way we did it was right for us (and, as an aside, in accordance with Church teachings 😉 )

I considered the how the same has been true in my health and wellness journey. (Yes, I think about running during Mass on a regular basis. I pray about it even. If you are one of my running buddies, chances are pretty good that you too have been prayed for or had a rosary decade said for you).

I did not coming into fitness the way you “ought.” My first successful, albeit non sustainable, attempt was for the sole purposed of losing baby weight. This current, seemingly sustainable, journey is a bit whacked out too. I mean seriously, who in their right mind decides they are going to an ultra marathon runner at the age of 36 with a husband, four kids, a dog, a cat, a turtle, and a full time job? I mean, it seems to be a little late in the game and the schedule demands are nothing short of, well, demanding.

I did not come into nutrition the way you “ought.” It wasn’t until the habits of my children were regrettable skewed to the unfortunate that I decided to open my eyes and pay attention. I waited until my habits, tastes, and likes were fairly engrained before I decided to take action and learn healthier ways. I eat differently than every single member of my family.

I miss my training goals on a regular basis. I still have yet to find the gumption to do one speed work drill. Yesterday I had an Oreo. Even if I was completely inline with my schedule, there would still be some who would say I run too far and eat irresponsibly. On Fridays I let the children buy ice cream at school if they have had good behavioral marks that week. I still let them eat lunch at school.

I don’t train, eat, raise, function, as some would say I “ought”.

But I feel right on track.

If you saw the look on her face in that church on Saturday morning knowing she was about to receive the body and blood of our risen Savior, an act that not all subscribe to at an age where even those who do is still considered late, you would know she felt nothing of “ought” and everything about “right on track.”

Are there for sure wrongs? Yes. Are there better ways? Yes. Are there practices that will lead to better results when followed? Yes.

Should we freeze up, quit trying, give up what we love, forget the whole thing, throw in the towel, and, in general, consider ourselves less than because we have not lived up to another’s “ought.” Never.

April 29, 2013 Results

Log my first +40 run week to include 2 speed work sessions
– 28 miles, 0 speed work, I DID get my 22 miles long run in though 🙂

3 Nike Training Club Workouts
– 2 NTC workouts, 1 Insanity Workout

15 minutes of stretching every day to include one Yoga class
– Arg! Stretching! So easy yet so hard. I DID get the Yoga class in…more on that soon…

Plan and track all food, drink, and supplementation
– I tracked it better than I planned it, but both were better than last week

Week of May 6, 2013

  1. Log my first +40 run week to include 2 speed work sessions
  2. 3 Cross Training Workouts
  3. 15 minutes of stretching every day to include one Yoga class
  4. Plan and track all food, drink, and supplementation

Making choices that encourage our bodies, minds, and spirits to say “Thank You!” 

Finding Success in the Failures

success-consists-of-going-from-failure-to1There is something interesting about that word “failure”. Actually, there is a lot interesting about that word. Rest assured I am not in the mood to get into all of them right now. It can be kind of a downer for a Monday morning and seriously, who needs that?

The interesting thing that I am thinking is as often as I still use the word, I rarely ever mean it as a soul crushing defeat description anymore. I am, thank God, getting to the point where I don’t really have those very often anymore.

What the word is becoming to mean the majority of the time is

I had a goal of “A” but I only got to “B”. What do I need to do about that differently?

Now don’t get all excited. I am not jumping on the “everybody gets a trophy” bandwagon. What I am saying is that if striving to be an Ultra runner has taught me anything, it is this

If you continue to define yourself by one moment, one meal, one training session, one run, one goal – good or bad – you will miss all the wonderful things that ultra running, that life, offers. The joy is in the fondness of memories, the seizing of the day, and the respectful preparation of the future.

Last week I did something I never do – I set written, short term, measurable goals for myself and published them here. I thought it only proper to report of how the week looked compared to how I actually did.

Track all food and drink

This went beautifully! I learned that I am not taking in enough calories to compensate for my activity. The problem is I drink a lot of water and I eat a lot of food. However the food is big bulk low calorie coupled with the water – I feel full most of the time.

I am also at my target weight/body fat. Therefore I have nothing to pull from when I am empty. Couple that with a poorly planned fueling strategy this weekend (which I will talk about in a sec), I am the poster child for a great article written about the importance of taking in enough calories by Madeline. (I can’t find the article – Madeline, will you link it in the comments?)

**Note – The Lose It app takes into consideration exercise into the daily calorie counts. The calorie count you see is a net of what I ate minus what I spent. The budget is based of calorie allowance for weight maintenance. 

15 minutes of stretching every day

What can I say? I find stretching painfully boring. Yes, I realize it is super important. Yes, I know i should do it any way. I did manage to do the stretching routines 3 times this week. And that is 3 more than last week. AND I have scheduled myself a fantastic Yoga class on Friday at Awaking Yoga studio  in Richmond Hill with the fabulous Jillian Stafford! Progress, baby!

N TC3 Nike Training Club Workouts

This one I did too, although not without some serious discomfort. If you have never used the Nike Training Club app, you really should consider it. I was thrilled when it finally became available for the Android after being exclusively iPhone for so long. It is free, it is easy to use, and it is hard on the body.

After the first workout, my suspicions were confirmed. My lack of cross training was seriously affecting my overall ability to stay fit. My runs were suffering. The morning after the Drill Sargent workout my whole body hurt. I expected my upper body to be sore, but my lower half? I am a distance runner for goodness sake! Couple squats and I’m walking funny? Yep, gotta use those muscles in all kinds of different ways.

Log my first +40 run week

I didn’t quite get here. But I am am a better runner for the short fall. I picked up three key points that I did not really have cemented in my mind. They, for me, are big ones.

  1. Speed work is important. I am never going to get faster and stronger if I don’t work faster and strong. 
  2. Planning routes does have its place. While there is a lot of freedom is going out and just running, some days there is comfort in knowing just where you are going to achieve your desired goals.
  3. Preparation is key. I can’t make up for water I didn’t drink, food I didn’t eat, training I didn’t do yesterday today. It doesn’t work that way. I also have to remember that my life now requires that spur of the moment trip packing requires more than just a toothbrush. I no longer live out of a drive through window or on chips and salsa. Before I zip up the duffel bag, I need to remember what it take so give my body the best chance to do what I need it to do.

The biggest success this week? Goal setting works. And I don’t mean it works in the global sense. I mean I am making it work in the personal sense. There were quite a few times this week when I thought about cutting corners. But I knew that I was tracking the progress. More importantly, I knew that you would know. Accountability is an amazing thing.

I appreciate you all being here for it.

Week of April 29, 2013

  1. Log my first +40 run week to include 2 speed work sessions
  2. 3 Nike Training Club Workouts
  3. 15 minutes of stretching every day to include one Yoga class
  4. Plan and track all food, drink, and supplementation

 

**Quote Photo from Lifehack.com

“I’m Bored…let’s find something hard to do!”

My dear husband swears this is the mantra of my life…

I’m bored…let’s find something hard to do!

The first time he said it, I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment or him making a bit of sport at my expense. The third time, I realized it was a loving little bit of both.

I thought about it for while as this perception is not necessarily one I wanted to communicate. However, I first had to figure out if it was true.

And, at its root, it is.

He didn’t say relaxed, comfortable, having a bit of downtime. He said bored.

And if I am bored, then there is no challenge. If there is no challenge, I get lazy. I get lazy, I become a lesser version of myself.

And, no, I do not care to be a lesser version of myself. 

So while it may look like I just enjoy the hard, the more true thing is that I would rather discover all the God given potential I have been blessed with. I would rather see exactly what I am a capable of – then try to do more.

I didn’t realize I had gotten bored. But I did. Just a little.

I blamed it on the weather…when it is cold, I have a hard time getting out of bed and outside for my early morning runs.

I blamed my schedule. I am still adjusting to working a 9-5. The gym time that I used to switch up my routine and add in some cross training has become nonexistent.

I blamed my sudden change in diet. While it wasn’t really that big of a change or that sudden, it was pretty profound and for reasons I had never had to deal with before.

I blamed it on a lot of stuff…and with blame nearly always comes complacency. Complacency cannot run 50 miles in Beaufort in July. Complacency cannot care for her family. Complacency is not healthy.

And I have come to far to go back to being unhealthy.

Combating complacency will be different for everybody. It just depends on what areas of your life have been affected the most. Mine are schedule and diet.

Because my time is under some pretty hard constraints, I find myself wasting a lot of it. My brain says, “there is no time to do anything productive, so let’s not do anything at all.” Yeah that works.

Because my eating habits can be seen as faddish, extreme, difficult, unhealthy, unnatural, and temporary, I have forgotten that my food is my business – not a result of an online poll. True, I share (and I will more in the immediate future) and I ask the masses. But not for permission or validation, rather a constant evaluation of being my best self. I have allowed myself to make exceptions without structure. This leads to irresponsibility, guilt, and a useless 5 pounds.

So, I’m bored…let’s find something hard to do. 

Life ChallengesBlock schedules kill me. Tracking drives me nuts. It just triggers a part of my brain that rebels against the structure.

Goal writing scares the shit outta me. Especially the little, timed ones. The big, long distance ones are less scary. There is room for error, procrastination, catch up. But the other, especially the weekly…those require pretty intense focus and allows for very little sway.

So, without further fear or hesitation, my first set of weekly goals made a bit more serious by the sheer act of publicly publishing them…

Week of April 22, 2013

  1. Log my first +40 run week
  2. 3 Nike Training Club Workouts
  3. 15 minutes of stretching every day
  4. Track all food and drink

Now, let’s see what happens 🙂

 

**Photo credits
Believe to Achieve
…and Spiritually Speaking

Gearing Up and Walking the Dog

If you have not read this, (I will tell you…but we have to talk about this first) please do that first. Seriously. Thanks 🙂

It is true that I should have been writing about this all along. When Lisa says it, it is almost always true. But I didn’t. And I know why.

I didn’t know how the walking would turn out. I didn’t know where it all would lead. Truth be told, I still don’t. Who in the world wants to embark on a journey of such a personal nature in a public way without knowing the end? Well, I don’t know who would, but I can tell you who wouldn’t. This girl.

Fear is a funky thing. And we will talk about that maybe. Not now I don’t think. I don’t really feel like giving it any play right now. But, just know, if you are fearful, frustrated, failed before – you are not alone.

In 2010, I looked like this ~ and that ain’t so bad. 30 something Momma of four. Busy woman, limited schedule. A little extra weight, a little soft. But my clothes fit poorly. My energy was down. My blood pressure was up. And Karen Handel still looks great.

However, in the middle of the summer (swimsuit season!!) this happened. And you can read all about that “AH Shit” moment here.

And I was over it. Sort of…this picture was taken in May…it will take me THREE more months before I actually DO anything.

Battling self-esteem issues, depression, stress, and general mental and physical pissed offedness (<< should SO be a real term), I needed to get to where I loved to be – outside. But the phone and the kids and the chores and the world follow you outside. The dog needs a walk…so that’s what I did…

On August 12, 2011 at 6:41 a.m., I laced up my shoes, leashed up my dog, turned on my Nike+ app and walked. Ka’nani and I covered 6 miles in an hour and a half. It was amazing. So I walked some more. (I switched trackers a few times…I don’t use Nike+ anymore. I am on Endomondo and you can friend me here.) **UPDATE** I am also toying with the idea of using DailyMile. With the number of friends I have using it…I may not have a choice.

And I just walked…nothing too serious. And don’t let the high mileage fool you. I was poking along pretty good. There were walks where I averaged more than 17 minutes a mile. Towards the end of the month I had picked up some speed and started jogging. But that was only because my body said it was time and it was okay. Even then, I never broke the 11 minute mark. That 8 mile stint that you see on the 24th took me nearly 2 hours. And what a mind clearing two hours it was!

By the end of the month, these were the numbers I had accumulated. But let me tell you a few things about them.

I had lost NO weight. None. Nada. Read that again…the scale DID NOT move.

And that pissed me off a bit. And I had to do some soul-searching about that for a minute. Because while the scale reflected nothing, my personal well-being was starting to reflect a lot.

I felt stronger. I felt stronger. Yep, I typed that twice. Why? Because that one change changed everything. It wasn’t about being skinny or fast ~ it was about being better today than I was yesterday. It was about mental fortitude and physical ability. I didn’t have to compete against anything but my own challenges. And I was winning!

And I was just walking the dog…

Ka’nani August 12, 2011