Friday, December 26, 2008

Hello again.

It's been quite awhile since I've updated this thing, for three reasons: 1) I'm on vacation, 2) I haven't really been running much, because 3) I've had the flu. I've gotten some other exercise in, though--a LOT of yoga.

I got to Michigan last Thursday night, the 18th, ready for two and a half long weeks of relaxation after a crazed period of ultra-work before the holidays. I managed to get in just before a series of snow storms hit the mitten state; that night, we got about twelve inches, and we got another three the next day. We had a brief break in snow on Friday for the temperature to drop down to 8 degrees with a negative 20 windchill. No running for me. I did manage to get down to my mom's yoga studio down the street, though, where lovable hippy Peggy teaches a combination of Vinyassa and Yin yoga ("Harmony yoga"). Since I'm my mom's guest, she gave me a week unlimited for free, so I've been determined to make the most of it. I went Friday, Saturday (9am!), and Sunday mornings. I wasn't expecting to be so sore...I've done Bikram in the past, but Vinyassa and Yin exercise completely different muscles. The poses are also more difficult, since your body's not already stressed from extreme heat. I finally understand why EE finds Vinyassa so appealing. Maybe I'll have to join her in NY sometime.

After yoga on Saturday, I did get in a run. We google mapped out a route through my neighborhood, which is very hilly and was still snow-covered. The temperature had climbed to 15 degrees, and I was determined (at that point) to stick with my training schedule. I trudged up snowy hills (okay, and occasionally down) for 3.4 miles, and collapsed in my doorway at around 40 minutes. I was dizzy and nauseated, and really have to learn to drink more water.

Sunday was too cold for any outside activities, so I stuck with just the yoga. That night, I went with the sisters to Ypsi. I had planned to use Weezie's gym ID and go running there, but last minute Christmas shopping and catching up with D$ ended up taking over my life. I did go to Bikram, though, on both Monday and Tuesday.

And then, dun dun dun! I got the flu. D had it worst of all, but Weezie and I got the remnants. Still, it kept me off my feet for Wednesday and Thursday (though didn't stop me from eating lots of bad things on Christmas), and I've still got a pathetic little cough.

Today I felt healthy enough to get back in the game. Mom and I went cross country skiing this afternoon, eager to beat the warm temperatures (60s!) predicted for tomorrow, when everything will melt and the Christmas spirit with it. We skied 3.8 miles in a rather pitiful 2 hours, during which I fell on literally every single hill we careened down. Skiing requires some semblance of coordination, and I don't possess much. When we got home, I set out to run a quick 2 miles, but once I got going, felt like I could do that same 3.4 mile route that I did last week. I made it, wheezing only a little, in 36 minutes. Getting better. Still, the totals are kind of laughable.

Week 3 totals: 5.4 miles, 6 hours of yoga, 3 rest days (5 no run days)

This week so far: 3.6 miles, 3 hours of Bikram, 2 rest days (4 no run days)

I still have tomorrow and Sunday to get a few more miles in, though, so we'll see. Mom begins her training with me tomorrow! She's been dreaming about running, so I'm optimistic.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ultra Quick Update

This week is insane, and I barely have time to update this thing let alone get any running in. I did manage a quick trip to the gym on Monday, though. I only had a few minutes to spare, so I just did 2 miles at a quick pace (for me) of 10 minutes a mile. I don't know how people can sustain faster speeds than that for more than half an hour or so; at just 20 minutes, I was pooped.

Rest days Tuesday-Thursday this week. Hopefully I'll have the willpower to resume training on Friday, my first day of vacation.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Progress! End of week two.

Sadly, I did not make it to Bikram on Saturday as planned. Instead I lay around with J. for the majority of the day, ate a ginormous brunch, and then when J. left for his flight, I went home to nap some more.

I kind of made up for it with Sunday, though. Mainly because EE is my roommate, and she is hardcore. After work in the morning, I was planning another evening of work/lounging, but EE suggested we go for a run together. Now, in the past, I have been very hesitant to run with anyone, but particularly with EE. She is a dynamo and runs fast, far, and often. I didn't want to slow her down, or kill myself trying to keep up. But EE is all about me pushing my limits, so she ran (slowly) with me and became my short-term, very encouraging coach.

And we ran...4.4 miles!!! I shattered my previous longest distance of 3.7 miles. It was a really nice night, and we went up to Prospect Park and back. Though I struggled, it wasn't TOO bad. I have to learn to spit. Phlegm just builds and builds, and when I attempt a hearty runner's loogie, I end up with a shower of spittle all over my face. Sorry. That's gross, but true. Anyway...We started out slow and steady (maybe even a little slower than I usually go), and most of the way there was uphill. EE tried to coach me on breathing, but I'm not very good at following directions and ended up patheticly hyperventilating. When we reached Grand Army Plaza, we ran in place for a little bit to catch our breath (or for me to catch my breath--I don't think EE was really struggling) and watch the Christmas tree lights change colors. It was beautiful, and really felt like a reward for all of that uphill action. Then we headed back, and the half mile downhill helped me get my confidence back.

By the time we were on level ground, EE decided it was time for a little heart work out, and thought we should do some fartlek training. Fartlek means "speed play" in Swedish, and involves running hardcore (though my idea of "sprint" may differ from other people's) for a little while (in my case, a block), and then slowing it down for a block to let the heart recover. It was HARD, and because I am a wuss, we only did it for six blocks (three sprints), but I did find that I was able to keep up a slightly faster pace even after we stopped the fartlek. And EE is very encouraging and lavish with her praise for my minor successes, so she had me feeling pretty proud of myself for each small accomplishment. In fact, she celebrated my first 4.4 mile run before I'd actually completed it, at about 6 blocks from home. But it was just what I needed to really push through, and together we sprinted the last 4 blocks (the liquor store sign next to my apartment glowed like a beacon of hope on the horizon)...and then I felt like death upon arrival at 53 minutes (somewhere between 11 and 12 minute miles). Still, I felt great about finishing, and breaking the 4 mile barrier. I want to get to 6 by the end of Christmas break.

EE says she's super energized after a run, and I do have that initial adrenaline rush right after, but about 20 minutes later, all I can think about is sleep (but this isn't much different from how I am the majority of the time, so who knows?). Ani came over and EE made us a delicious meal and then we tried to work, but I was crashing from the start.

Week 2 totals: 14.1 miles, 3 rest days

This week is going to be a lot tougher to schedule, running-wise. I leave for Michigan Thursday evening, and nearly every second of time before then will be devoted to work. I brought gym clothes today in case I can squeeze in a short run before getting back to work on my edit, but other than tonight, I don't think I'll be able to exercise again until Friday. I guess I'll just have to make up for it in the latter half of the week. I don't want to dip under my 14 mile total...


Friday, December 12, 2008

Quick Update (because I'm swamped)

I've run the last two days, and both runs have felt more difficult than any other since I started training last week. On Wednesday afternoon, I took a mid-day break from work and followed the same route that I ran last Saturday: to Fort Greene Park, around the park, and back--about 3 miles. And I felt like hell from the moment I started running. I felt like my legs wouldn't work at all, and even crawling along, I was immediately exhausted. At just three blocks from my house, I considered just giving up and going home, but I tried to repeat the old "90 percent will" mantra, and kept going. I made it to the park, and then the sky opened up and it started POURING. And, weirdly, my run got a lot better after that. I guess I had the motivation I needed to keep going and speed up the pace (I wanted to get home ASAP!), and it was a really warm day, so the rain actually wasn't too miserable. Made it back at 33 minutes; 11 minute miles this time instead of ten, but hey, at least I finished.

Yesterday was gym day, and I logged another solid 3 miles on the treadmill in 34 minutes (1.5 incline, speed of 5.3). It sucked pretty much the whole way, but again, I was just glad to get through it. I'm not sure what's up with my body...It seems to be rebelling after adjusting so well to regular exercise at first. Two bad runs after a rest day. Hmmm. I had a glimpse of what it might be like to enjoy running on Monday--until they closed the gym, I really felt like I could keep going forever. I really hope I can get back there soon.

Today is a rest day, and tomorrow, back to Bikram.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Treadmill, take two.

I am really not cut out for treadmill running. It's somehow boring and terrifying at the same time. In addition to being a clutz, I am someone who cannot really walk in a straight line and sort of zigzags through daily life, so it's--and I know this sounds utterly ridiculous--kind of a real challenge for me to run straight and actually stay on the treadmill. I also have a lot of trouble with the steady pace that the treadmill enforces, so when my mind wanders--and how could it not with the same exact thing in front of me for 45 minutes?--I start to slow down and end up stumbling.

I went back to the gym last night after work, and was pleasantly surprised to see Monday Night Football on one tv to my left. The trouble was, I couldn't seem to look slightly to the left without my feet veering left as well, which of course resulted in several more near-death experiences. I finally gave up and zoned out staring at the anti-drunk-driving poster straight ahead.

I set out to break my 4 mile mark for the first time, and was well on my way...when they closed the gym and cut the machines. I've got to start getting there earlier. A bit of a bummer for sure. I ended up running 3.7 miles over 40 minutes at a 1.5 incline and speed varying between 5 and 5.7. My body was so sore/tired/miserable after what I did to it at Bikram the other night--my lower back was screaming!--but I pushed through. Almost there! I was feeling really motivated to get up this morning and finally get to 4, but after staying up until 2:30 working last night, I couldn't drag myself out of bed.

I'm still not on track for improving eating habits, and am forever reaching for the cookies. Today's a rest day, and a chance to ultra carb it up with F. over a pierogi dinner. Mmm, pierogi, how I love thee.

Tomorrow: work from home and take a run break over lunch.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Weekend, end of week one.

Well, I had planned to go to the gym on Friday, but since I got there just as they were closing (the Web site lied!), that didn't really work out. So instead of doing yoga on Saturday, I decided to get some running in. After lazing about the entire day, I finally headed out at dusk. I ran to Fort Greene Park, once around the park, and back, which I think is just over three miles. I'm trying to pay more attention to my body's reaction, and it's definitely taking some time to adjust to regular exercise. My ankles felt really week from the start and I was tripping here and there for the first quarter mile or so, but with the Colorado mix I made for EE blaring and a specific route in mind, I got into a nice rhythm. When I started to head back from the park, I realized it had only been 20 minutes and that I could probably make it back in 10 if I pushed myself a bit. I was surprised to find that I was able to do it without feeling like death, and actually sprinted that last couple of blocks. 30 minutes for 3 miles. Improvement! I'll admit that I spent a good while after congratulating myself. This was probably the first jog that I have somewhat enjoyed. It wasn't the thing I'd most like to have been doing, but my body felt good, the distance felt manageable, and seeing progress was really uplifting.

This morning I worked at the coffee shop, and then after passing out a J.'s for an incredible three hour nap, I went to Bikram. Gah! Hell. It's been quite awhile since I've practiced (maybe since Mom came in June....?), and it was a total nightmare. Despite drinking 72 oz. of water today (a record for me since I generally live in a constant state of dehydration), I was nauseous the whole hour and a half, and holding each pose was a struggle. Might've had something to do with drinking heavily last night and dancing for hours in honor of Vaz's birthday... But I got through it of course, and did feel really great after--except for the fact that I had to face a longish walk in bitterly cold and windy weather. I plan to return next week. Even with a rough class, I realized how much I've missed going to yoga regularly. EE is also trying to suck me into vinyasa though, so we'll see.

I've been trying to eat better and drink more water, but old habits die hard and I can't seem to resist the sugar. I also need to do some grocery shopping to keep me from eating out all the time.

Tomorrow: gym. I don't want to take a rest day in the new week until I've gotten at least one treadmill workout in.

I wasn't going to tell anyone about the race or the blog--mainly because I'm not sure I can really go through with it, especially if Mom drops out--but I'm finding that telling people makes me feel more obligated to follow through. Not to mention that EE and Alvina are both crazy running people and have a lot of great advice to share.
Week 1 totals: 8.7 miles, 1.5 hours yoga, 3 rest days

Til next time...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Back for more

After a day of slacking and seeing "Milk" with Rice, today I got back into the swing of things with an ambitious (for me) early morning jog. I set the alarm for 5:45, and after a few snoozes, finally got going at 6:15.

It was uphill on the way to Prospect Park and I was feeling pretty pessimistic, but once I got into the park, I actually really got into it. It's so much more motivating to run outside, among trees and other runners, than to run on the treadmill with nowhere to look except at the seconds crawling by on the display and with threats of a dangerous tumble forever on the brain.

I ambled along to Feist and Fiona Apple for a good 45 minutes before returning home, and, apart from some initial tiredness in my legs, was feeling okay for pretty much the entirety of the run. Turns out, the one drawback to running outside (besides inclimate weather--today was quite mild/nice) seems to be that I can't keep any sort of decent pace without seeing those little numbers on the treadmill. The reason that it felt easy running for 45 minutes was probably because I only ran 3.2 miles, which J. and I mapped out on google maps. I realize it's a pretty laughably slow pace at 14-minute-miles (J. actually did laugh at me, heartily, if I recall), but my goal here is endurance, not speed, and with training hopefully I can work up to a pace that'll be somewhat less embarassing on race day.

Tomorrow I'll return to the gym, and Saturday I plan to get back on the Bikram yoga train. Still feeling optimistic.


* Note: whenever I say "run," please read: "jog," for obvious reasons.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I don't know where to start. The first post feels difficult to tackle, much like the More Magazine Half Marathon does. That--the half marathon--is the point of this blog: I decided two days ago that I was going to aim to complete the half at the end of April. I like the whole all women empowerment and good health thing, and I also like the idea of actually accomplishing it. It's the training that I'm not sure I like the idea of...I'm determined to rope my mom into running it with me (race rules state that I have to run with someone over 40 to be eligible, and my mom is one of the fittest women I know), and since we're hundreds of miles apart, I'm hoping that this blog will serve as motivation for the two of us (Hi, Mom!) over the next five months.

Now, some people may think that five months is plenty of time to train for a half marathon. "It's 13 measly miles!," these ultra-athletes scoff. "I trained for a marathon in two months, and I finished in three hours!" To these people I say:

- You are better than I am.
- I am not a runner. At about two miles, my heart feels like it's going to explode.
- I am in the worst shape of my life. I had to dig my gym card out from under a sticky pile of candy wrappers yesterday. It bears the scars of dove chocolate and sour patch sugar.
- I have no will power. See: pile of candy wrappers.
- Did I mention I hate running? So does Mom. This could be difficult.

But! I'm still going to give this thing a shot. I should be able to do this, right? Alvina's 69-year-old dad ran the full marathon a few years ago. Surely I should be able to whip my merely quarter of a century old body into shape...even if my former dancer's knees are already threatening a mutiny. According to More's Web site for the half, you need to be able to run for 30 minutes without stopping before beginning your training in order to have a shot. The training schedule I'll be using is a 12 week program, and I've got 21 weeks, so theoretically, this should be a piece of cake. *Cough*.

Goals for Half Marathon Training:
- Run--or, let's be honest here, jog--entire half marathon on April 26th.
- Work up to a "managable" 10 mile run before then.
- Run 4 days a week.
- Do yoga once a week.
- Start eating better (cut back on sugar and take-out, stop neglecting key ingredients like protein and iron)
- Lose a few pounds (see below minor freak out)

Training Begins
Freshly motivated and inspired from looking up different training schedules and browsing emotional pictures of last year's finishers, I headed to the gym last night. I normally (and when I say "normally" I mean when I actually go, once every two or three months) try to alternate between cardio and weights--because why go to the gym just to run when there's plenty of pavement outside? But yesterday I only had running on the brain and went straight for the treadmills. Plus, it's freeeezing outside. I guess I should purchase some cold weather running gear or something...

I don't really know much about gym equipment and don't know what I "should" be running in terms of distance/speed/incline/heart rate, so I usually just push random buttons until the thing starts moving. This time I set out to run a 5k (5.3 speed at an incline of 3). I jogged along to some Stones and the entertaining sight of these two old guys and their trainer doing leg swoops while lying on their backs...yes, paranoid people everywhere, when you do ridiculous things at the gym, I am watching and laughing at you. But karma is a bitch, and I'm sure you're laughing at me, too, because just as I was getting into my pace (re: starting to feel like death at 2.5 miles and 29 minutes), I tried to change a song on the ipod, accidentally detached the ipod from the headphones, flung the ipod down and, whipping around to catch it, tripped and almost killed myself on the treadmill in my face-first fall, much to the amusement of the 15-plus people on treadmills behind me, I'm sure. Thus, the name of this blog. I am the clumsiest person ever, and treadmills are not my friend. Still, I plan to go back for more later in the week. Maybe these things get easier...?

Which reminds me--the weight thing. I've always been fairly comfortable with my body/weight, or at least enough so that I don't obsessively diet or pinch my fat in the mirror (mostly because, though I'm not super thin, my weight hasn't really fluctuated much since high school). I don't really weigh myself except when at the gym, which, turns out, can really come to bite you in the ass. Because when you only go to the gym every two or three months, it can be a real shocker when the progression is as follows:
July: Oh, look, I'm at my normal weight. How normal I feel.
September: Hrm. I've gained a couple since last time. Maybe I should exercise more.
December: How the eff have I gained 8 freaking pounds since July?!! Oh yeah...I've only consumed candy and cupcakes since then.
So: eating well. New goal.

That's all for now. Today is a "rest day," which is funny since I just started training yesterday. But I've got a movie date with Rice, so I'm letting it slide. Tomorrow I plan to wake up at 6 and do a Prospect Park run before work. We'll see how that goes...

More soon. I promise they won't all be this long.