Saturday, August 5, 2017

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training, Weeks 3 and 4

Week 3.  
Saturday, as usual, was a rest day.  I was supposed to run 3 miles on Sunday but I ended up shifting everything forward a day... meaning that I would be doing my first run of the week on Monday morning.  I ended up doing run/walk intervals and it was tough but I got through the run.  I had been planning on running again on Tuesday morning (which is usually a rest day for me), but life had other plans... as I was leaving work on Monday night, I got a flat tire leaving the parking lot.  This led to a 2 hour wait for roadside assistance to come out and change the tire.  Needless to say, it was a very late night--I didn't get home until after 2:30 am and probably didn't fall asleep until closer to 3.

I didn't get my run in, but I figured I could just run on Wednesday after work.  Life got in the way again, though, as about halfway through my shift I came down with a headache that refused to go away.  I felt pretty miserable, and I knew on Thursday that running was NOT going to be an option.  (Insert sigh here).  I was feeling a little defeated but I knew that I still wanted to get the miles in anyway, so I went for a 4 mile walk up north to Pratt Beach and back.  It was hot, so hot, and so humid, and I don't know that it really helped my headache all that much, but I was glad I did it and got the miles in.

Friday was the last day of week 3 and I was supposed to run 5 miles.  I waited until the afternoon, until my headache was mostly gone, to give it an attempt.  I decided I'd just do an out and back on the Lakefront Trail since there would be good availability of water fountains to fill up my little handheld water bottle if I needed it, and it turned out that I did.  I felt like I was pretty well hydrated before I went out but I ended up needing to slow down pretty frequently--it was so hot and humid.  (This I've begun to notice is a common thread, thinking I'm hydrated when I could definitely be more, so I am trying to make a concerted effort to drink more water.  It's so simple but I am so busy during my workday that sometimes I forget!)  Somewhere around mile 2, I could feel the fringes of a headache coming on.  My foot and my knee were kind of bothering me a little bit.  I was so happy to get to 2.5 miles so I could turn around.

Ohh it was a struggle.  At mile 3.5 I could feel a panic attack coming on and I had to stop for a tiny break.  It was rough... but I had all but convinced myself I couldn't do it and if I couldn't run 5, how could I possibly do 26.2?  I did some breathing exercises and drank some more water, composed myself, and finished it up.  I reminded myself that I still had a lot of time left to go, and a lot of strength left to gain, and that it would be entirely possibly for me to make it happen.  I was definitely willing to try.

Week 4.
What a great week!  I got in all of my miles, which felt like a huge accomplishment.  I ran 3 miles on W4D3.  W4D5, I ran 4 miles on the LFT; it was cloudy and kinda stormy and the atmospheric conditions were perfect for an afternoon run.  Even though I had been up super early for work that morning (and the morning before), I still made it happen!

I did some cross training in the form of a 3 mile walk down Clark for W4D6--ended up checking out a coffee shop in the neighborhood that I'd always passed by, but never stopped in before.  It was a nice little adventure even if it was pretty humid out.  The next day, Friday, was long run day.  I had 9 miles on the schedule for the day, and I was bound and determined to make each and every one!  

In the end, I was successful.  I went all the way down to Belmont Harbor and then I came home.  It was challenging, but I was proud that I had gotten it done.   It was not without cost, though...  Near the end, I started having foot pain that, by the time I was home and had showered and went to get dinner with Tom, would not go away and did not feel okay.  It felt a lot like what I dealt with last summer, the pain and injury that would inevitably end my training early.  Being at the end of the 4th week, I knew I still had plenty of time.  I knew remaining cautiously optimistic and listening to my body was the best course of action.  From there, it was onward to the next week.

Monday, June 19, 2017

8 Minute Memoir, Day 27: Grandparents

"Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do.  Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children." --Alex Haley


My siblings and cousins and I are definitely blessed with the love of our grandpa.  There were a lot of things that made my childhood a fun one, filled with learning and imagination and adventure, but my grandpa had a large role in making that a reality.  My paternal grandparents passed away before I was born, and my grandma passed away when I was really young and my brother was a baby.  In a way, I have always felt like he loved and supported me enough for all of my grandparents.  Every girl should be so fortunate!

Seriously, I have so many awesome memories from being a kid that include my grandpa in some way.  I loved going over to his house and spent many afternoons there playing with various old school toys that had been around forever (like the Fisher Price barn) and all kinds of board games, looking at all of the stuff, the relics, in the basement storage room... sliding down the stairs to the basement on cushions, playing outside in the yard, cautiously exploring the foundation of the burned down barn just to the east of the house (even though I have a feeling we probably shouldn't have been doing that), learning to ride my bike on the long shallow hill of his driveway.  I first learned how to drive in a pick up truck on empty country roads dancing through corn fields and acres of soybeans, my grandpa in the passenger seat.

Living far enough away from my family that I don't get to see them all the time is probably one of my least favorite things about being an adult, though I do positively love the life that we have built out here in the city by the lake.  I wish I was able to see my grandpa more often, but I'm so lucky to have all of these memories in the meantime.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Jess Goes Running: Marathon Training, Weeks 1 and 2

Wow!  Here we are!  Somehow this came up more quickly than I thought it would; May was a busy month, though, so it's no surprise that all of the sudden, I was finding myself at the start of Marathon Training.  Again.  Oh man.  Knowing how things ended for me last year, I was, and am, bound and determined to not let it end that way again.  I am trying to really listen to my body and not be so hard on myself this year.  I really want this to be a success and I really want to cross that finish line in October.

Week 1 did not start out with a bang.  In fact, to my dismay, it ended up being a week of walking.  Long story short, I twinged my knee the Wednesday before training was set to begin.  On Sunday, which was supposed to be the day of my first miles, it was apparent that running was not going to be an option.  So... I did the next best thing.  I walked instead!  Miles are miles, and these early ones are all runs that I can handle and do regularly, anyway!  What was important to me was getting active while still allowing myself to heal.  For the long run?  I walked just about 5 out of 6 miles, still a workout to be sure!  As I progressed through the week, my knee bothered me less, but I still didn't want to push it that much.

It would figure that at the start of Week 2, just when my knee was starting to feel better, I came down with a summer cold.  Ugh, it sucks to be sick any time of the year, but when it's hot out, it's even worse.  I definitely didn't feel up to running through that, so I walked 3 miles on Sunday and took an extra rest day on Monday.  Tuesday was a planned rest day for me anyway; Wednesday I was supposed to do 3 miles, but I decided I would push it to Thursday as I still wasn't feeling the great and the weather wasn't particularly nice.  (Tom was supposed to run that night, too, for his own marathon training plan, but decided to postpone to Thursday as well).  Even that night, and into the day on Thursday, I wasn't really confident that I would be able to run on Thursday.

Except I knew I had to try.  I was starting to feel better from the cold, and my knee was feeling back to normal.  So I went out and did it.  3 miles, at run/walk intervals, and pretty slow (which I expected, as it was my first run in a few weeks), but I got through it and was no worse for the wear!  It was a pretty lovely sunset and I enjoyed it even though it was still pretty hot out.

Yesterday, the last day of Week 2, called for a 7 mile long run.  I really didn't think trying to run all 7 miles at once was a good idea, though, given I hadn't been getting that much distance the previous few weeks.  So, I went for what I figured was the next best option and split it up into 2 parts!  The first 3.5 miles took place in the afternoon, during the height of the heat and humidity, and it was pretty miserable.  I got through it but I wasn't sure if I really had it in me to do another 3.5.  I decided I would wait until later on in the evening, until it hopefully cooled down a little bit.  And sure enough, there was the most perfect cool breeze blowing in off the Lake.  The second run went much better, much more smoothly; I really enjoyed it!  The kind of run that makes you happy to be out there, doing it.  I ended up with 7.13 miles for the day and I considered that a smashing success!

Though it was not an ideal start, I am pleased with the effort I put into the first two weeks of training and the progress I have made.  So far, so good!  I expect that I will be back to running without walking intervals this week, and I'm looking forward to getting in the miles.  I'm feeling confident and ready for the work that lies ahead.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Jess Goes Running: May and Marathon Training

I don't think I've ever been happier for spring, for warmer weather and longer days.  I feel like I did a pretty good job of staying active throughout the winter, despite my injury, and I've seen an increase in the frequency and duration of my runs (and walks, and yoga classes).  In fact, April was my most active month since marathon training abruptly ended last year.

Well, here we are--it's May.  I've done a good job of getting out there and getting in the miles, even though it has been a little challenging (just a lot going on both in and outside of work).  I've gone on some pretty sweet runs and I'm proud of the work that I have put in.  There were times when I was in the lowest points of my injury where I worried I'd never run and be active without pain again, that I'd never get back to my old self.

The truth is, I still have days where my foot hurts.  Recently I've been noticing a few lingering issues in my right foot, which up until now had been unaffected by the issues plaguing my left foot.  Now, I've been pushing myself a lot at work lately and it's very possible that it's just strained from that; it could also be the beginning of plantar fasciitis, which my doctor always said was a possibility.  It's also possible that it's nothing and I'm just paranoid.  In any case, I am listening to my body and I'm not pushing it.

Like over my weekend, for example.  It was a beautiful day and would have been perfect for a run, but my foot was bothering me so I took the bike out instead.  It was the second time I've gone biking this year, and it was not without its challenges but I'm still glad I went.  I'm so happy I bought my road bike last year; I never would have done such a thing if not for Tom, who inspired me to get into cycling in addition to running.  I touched on this in my instagram post yesterday, but for as much as I love running, there is something really fantastic about cycling, too.  I'm excited to see how cycling fits into marathon training and I look forward to having it as a cross-training option all summer.

Marathon training.  It's only a few weeks away.  To say that I am nervous is an understatement; I am terrified.  I know what I need to do to be successful and I am confident in my abilities but the "not knowing" is a lot to deal with--because I felt like I was getting along okay but I got hurt anyway, and in the end my entire plan came to a derailed abrupt end.  To defer the marathon once is one thing, but to have to do that twice?  I really don't to go down that road again, and I will do everything I can to avoid it, if I can help it.

So... I have a few weeks to prepare.  And then, I'll work on eating well and sleeping enough and getting those miles, slow and steady.  I will get stronger mentally and physically and hopefully, on that Sunday morning in October, I will cross the finish line after 26.2 miles through the city that has stolen my heart and soul.  That is what propels me through my doubts and my fears... I want it so badly, even though I know it's gonna hurt like hell, and I am willing to put in the work.  I press on in the hope that I will be rewarded with the sweet victory of even getting to the finish line, the opportunity to fulfill this challenge that has eluded me.  Ahh, 15 days.  Here we go!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

8 Minute Memoir, Day 26: Daily Tasks

Though I'm definitely not a neat freak by any stretch of the imagination, I do like to keep things neat and clean.  I'd say our apartment is a pretty organized space, which is an impressive feat considering we live in a small one bedroom apartment that has two closets total (and a really small amount of storage space in general).

We keep up with sweeping and mopping and dusting regularly enough, cleaning the bathroom, too.  We don't have a dishwasher, so doing the dishes by hand is a frequent task.  I don't hate doing the dishes, but I don't love it, either.  Because of my ambivalence towards dishes, I try to just get it done as quickly as possible and try to occupy myself with music or a podcast while doing so.  A dishwasher is definitely on my must-have list for any potential future home.

We also need a washer and dryer, for sure.  Of all the standard household tasks, I probably like laundry the least.  It's just so time consuming, and tedious, and I tend to have a lot of laundry between my work clothes and all my running gear.  If I could do a load every couple of days or every other day then I probably wouldn't mind it so much, but having to go to the laundromat means that sometimes, we put off doing laundry longer than we should.  Which I'm sure is a pretty common tale.  Ah, well, we make it happen!  We do the dishes, fold the laundry, dust the shelves, get it done, and then we go running and play outside and the world spins on.  It's a system that works well!

Friday, April 28, 2017

8 Minute Memoir, Day 25: Outside

"Go play outside!"  I can still hear my mom's voice in my ears.  My brother and I--and our daytime siblings--were lucky to have the lay of the land.  Growing up, we lived on a rural road where we had neighbors but we definitely did not live in a subdivision like most of our friends.  We had a huge yard, with a swimming pool, a playhouse (built by my grandpa at his house and transported on a trailer over to ours), and a basketball hoop off the shed.  Hours and hours and many sunny days, snowy afternoons, spent playing and exploring and imagining.

So, we'd go outside.  We would play in the yard, play on the swings, walk across the logs that made up the planter on the west side of the house like we were on a bridge, crossing a wide river.  We had a trampoline for a little while, which was always a fun and dangerous diversion as we would often practice flips and wrestling moves long into the evening. We would frequently take our bikes and ride around the block, with the expectation there were certain roads we weren't allowed go on.  For the most part though, we had free reign of the neighborhood.  This was before cell phones, before kids started staying inside all day playing video games or obsessing over their phones.  Summers frequently found me with freckles and blonde hair bleached green from the pool, and I though I was never very athletic I enjoyed watching my brother and his friends play ball.

We created worlds of make believe and adventure in our backyard and beyond.  We used to ride our bikes down to the dead end just past our neighbor's house; there was a large, fenced off pasture and a small grove of trees and we would ride down there and be in another world.  Now the dead end is no longer a dead end and the large, fenced off pasture is now home to a mansion.  Though it wasn't really all that long ago since we were kids, running around outside until dinner, and then afterwards, until it started getting dark, it has changed so much.

I know times have changed since I was a kid, and I also know that I live in a very different area now than I did then.  But I hope that my kids can enjoy the freedom of playing outside like I did, that un-tethered excitement and joy, filled with possibility and adventure.  I can't wait to tell my kids to go play outside... to watch them enter worlds of imagination and nature.

Jess Goes Running: Feeling Like a Runner

(More photos from my adventures can be found here.)

The last time I really wrote about running, besides 8 Minute Memoirs, was February.  After a late fall and winter of healing, I was slowly getting back into running again, slowly trying to reestablish routines and find my footing.  It wasn't an easy few months, really.  Over the course of winter and the transition into spring, I realized that I not only had work to do from a physical fitness perspective, but also in terms of my mental and emotional health.  For a while, I struggled with feeling like a runner.  I felt so disassociated from the identity I had created and built for myself.  It had been a long several months since my injury and diagnosis, since my deferment of the marathon.  Nothing had gone like I planned.

Somewhere over the course of the last month or so... I started feeling like a runner again.  I was out there getting miles, without pain.  (I also was not experiencing any pain at work, another milestone...  I still experience some tightness when I'm getting out of the car after driving home from work at the end of the day, but stretching it out generally does the trick.)  I had a few really good, really powerful, really empowering runs... watershed moments.  I was, and am, slowly starting to get faster, starting to feel stronger.  I participated in my first race of the year, the Shamrock Shuffle 8K (my 4th time running!) and also went to my first interval training session with the Evanston Running Club, something I am planning on making a regular part of marathon training.  I subscribed to Stridebox, a monthly running subscription box and ran my first 5K of the year last weekend weekend--posts about both are forthcoming!--and have recently realized over the last few days that I am more or less back to my baseline from this time last year.

Not a runner.  Not a runner?  That's the same voice that told me I couldn't do it in the first place, the whole reason I started running  5 years ago... because I was tired of telling myself I couldn't do it.  I can, and I will, because I'm a runner.  And I've never loved it more.