Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Shamrock Half Marathon

Yesterday, I ran my 7th half marathon and second Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. I had high hope going in to this event because I had set my PR here in 2009. Well, the day did not disappoint.

Now, on paper, this race should not have been great for me. The weather on Friday was spectacular, so hubby and I decided to sit outside on our deck and drink beer. Well, one beer led to another, which then led to getting a pizza because we were not in the mood to cook. Overindulging two days before a race is probably not in the manual under "good ideas." We were much better on Saturday, however. We ate well and went to sleep early. Despite our going to bed at a reasonable hour, we did not get as much sleep as we had hoped. The winds were blowing so hard (16-17 mph) that is was causing the balcony railing to shake and make noise. I woke up several times and wondered how it would affect the race. It was still windy in the morning, but I don't think it was a huge factor in the race overall. Once you add that I have not been running long distances (I think I did 8 miles in January, last 13.1 was at the Kiawah Island Half in December) and have only been running once a week, I should not have done well at all. My attitude when I started the race was not to worry about a PR, but to just have fun. If it didn't happen, it didn't happen.

I started the race feeling pretty good. I knew the course and knew that it was pretty darn flat. This race is known for it's crazy costumes, and this year was no different. Everyone is in such a good mood - people are just out to have fun and get the beach party sponsored by Yuengling at the end of the race. I was running along feeling pretty good at about mile 4, and I decided to check my watch. I was a little slow off my PR pace, but it wasn't too far off. I had lots of race left, so I decided to experiment. I thought of my intervals like a CrossFit WOD. I thought I would see what would happen if I pushed a little bit harder through the last 45 seconds of my two minute run interval. I worked on it for awhile, and saw that my pace was now at my PR pace. I was encouraged.

I decided that I was going to go for it. I was going to leave everything on the course. I thought about my friends at CrossFit and about the mental toughness to get through those difficult workouts. It's OK to take a break, but then get right back to it. Try to get just a little bit more before the beep lets you know that it is time for a walk break. I stuck to that idea, and it worked. By the halfway point in the race, I was below my PR pace. I knew it wasn't over yet - I would have to keep pushing and get a negative split (faster on the second half of the race than the first) to get the PR. I kept pushing, and when I got tired, I would adjust the surge time - 30 seconds, 25 seconds, then 20 seconds. Then, there was the wall.

At about mile 11.5, everything seemed to go. I was really tired and my left IT band at the knee was really hurting. I was checking my watch, and I could see my pace slowing. People were lining the road, yelling for the runners. I was trying to suck it up, counting down the distance remaining with each interval. For the last mile, I had to literally concentrate on two minutes of running at a time. We made the turn onto the boardwalk, and I could see the finish about a 1/2 mile away. I was aching, but I ran it in. I could see my time, and I knew it was close.

I managed my way through the gauntlet of folks with the medals, water, finisher's hat, finisher's shirt, and food. I found Bill, and thought I might collapse. My legs just could not take my weight anymore. I was so thankful that our hotel was about 50 yards away. I did manage to make it back to our room, but nearly lost it when we could not get the door open. Standing hurt too much. I went right in to a cool bath, and I really think it helped my legs. After soaking for a bit, I was able to take a shower and get dressed so we could leave the hotel and get a much needed celebratory burger and beer.

I checked the website for my official time last night, and it was to the second the exact time of my previous PR. Sure, I wish I could have broken it, but I am happy. I did second guess myself for awhile - what if I hadn't stopped to drink the water at that one stop? What if I had had my Sports Beans instead of Gu? What if I hadn't done CrossFit and actually trained to run? Well, it doesn't matter now. I did it, I finished it, and I am happy with the overall race. I learned that I can push myself. Just wait until next year.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What to eat?

I am becoming more and more interested in nutrition as I continue to train and exercise. I know that my diet is not optimal. I pretty much eat what I want when I want to eat it. I do manage some restraint and try to eat somewhat healthy when we are eating at home. However, when I am eating out, well, all bets are off.

The problem is that there are so many different ideas for how one should eat. Hubby and I are lifetime members of Weight Watchers. I can't argue with the success I have had on their program. I lost over 60 pounds by lowering portion size and eating items with low point values (all foods are given point values in the WW system we used and you are given a certain amount of total points to eat on a given day). After I reached my goal weight, I naively figured I would just stick to the plan without having to count anymore. Well, it didn't work, and I would guess I am about 25 over my goal weight now.

But is WW the right plan for me now? Then, I wasn't really into fitness like I am now. I certainly was not running or participating in triathlons. There just seem to be so many options out there. I have several different cookbooks that are supposedly for athletes:
The Athlete's Plate
The Runner's Cookbook
Food for Fitness

They are all great books, and I have enjoyed recipes from all of them.

CrossFit is big on The Paleo Diet. Paleo Diets are supposed to be made up of things that our hunter gatherer ancestors could eat - lean meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I like the idea of this diet, but the recipes I found in the cookbook all seem pretty complicated to make. Our gym is trying to rollout a new nutrition program based on this idea. I hope to be able to attend their upcoming Q&A session to find out more.

This week I also received an e-mail from a yoga/spinning studio I have attended that was promoting a raw food diet. I was immediately intrigued by this idea and have added the blog associated with this e-mail to my favorites list. I do want to find out more. The woman at the studio took a raw food challenge with her friend (the blog author) for 30 days and said she felt fantastic.

I don't know. Maybe my ideal diet is something in the middle. A portion controlled veggie, fruit, nuts, and sushi diet-with beer.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Well, it can't be good

OK, so if you have read this blog at all, you know I am a triathlete. I am starting to train for the longest race of my career, a half iron distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run). Well, I guess I am training with my friends who have long races earlier in the season (my race is at the end of October, so I will start focused training this summer.) I realized a few weeks ago that I don't really like bike riding. That could be a bit of a problem over a 56 mile course.

I am a decent swimmer and I can manage a half marathon. I just really don't like to bike. It hurts - plain and simple. It is just an uncomfortable thing for me. It hurts my shoulders, my lower back, my elbows, and my...lady parts. That darn saddle is not pleasant. I also find that I am just not good at biking. I will go riding with friends, and even when I think I am doing well, I fall far behind. It is just so disheartening.

I did my longest ride ever a few weekends ago. It was 50 miles over a fairly hilly course. I did it, but it just took everything out of me. My body was so achy, I told AC at one point that I would walk back to the start pushing my bike if I could. I can't really imagine running after it, but, then again, I will be so happy to be out of the saddle that running may be a breeze.

People keep telling me that I will love the course of my half iron distance because it is really flat (hubby and several friends did this race last year.) Still, I don't know that a flat course will help. I will still have to be on the darn bike for 56 miles.

One woman told me that I should do upper body work to help my biking. I am already doing CrossFit, and I will continue to CrossFit to build strength. Will it be enough? The same friend said to carry pain relievers with me during the race. That may be my best bet.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Reflection on Oscars - One week later

OK, so I have been a slacker about blogging lately. Sometimes, I just don't have anything to say. Other times, I just can't find the time to say it. Well, I figured after going on and on about the Oscars, I had better finish the thoughts with my review of the actual show.

This year's show was underwhelming, to say the least. The fashions were amazing - I was not disappointed there. The show itself was just...bad. I don't know what happened. I was so looking forward to seeing Anne Hathaway and James Franco host the show. The commercials the two of them made for the show were so cute!! Once they started, it was like there was no chemistry. Anne was very enthusiastic about being a host. She is GORGEOUS beyond words, but her hosting was nothing special. James is also quite handsome, but he just seemed like he didn't want to be there. He didn't really seem all that interested in the proceedings. They seemed so good on paper, but it didn't work. I hope they go back to older comedians next year.

I think the other problem is that it is the last award show of a long season. There are no surprises anymore. The same 4 people took the awards for acting in the major categories. We have just done it to death now. There is no intrigue, no anticipation as the envelope is opened. You know which name will be called. At one point, I wanted to yell at the TV "just give Colin his award so I can go to sleep!" It was taking too long to get to the end we all knew was going to happen.

I almost wish I didn't watch the show. I didn't learn anything unique or different with the show. I could have watched a 10 minute wrap up of the event and probably been OK with it. I used to enjoy the Oscars so much, but they have lost their spark. I will still watch all the nominated films (6 of 10!), but will I watch the show again? Time will tell.