When I first started to toy with the idea of training for the Rocket City Marathon, I did what any tech-savvy young(ish? I’m young-ish, right? Guys?) runner would do: I googled that shit.
I read so many “How to run a marathon” pieces of writing, my brain began to hurt. And, what I found was that most of the articles (blog posts, pinterest pins, vlogs, tweets, memes, etc.) recycled the same 10 tips or so over and over again. Give yourself enough time to train. Learn how to fuel properly. Build up to your long runs slowly.
Find a running partner.
That one came up again and again. I understand that there are many, MANY benefits to having a partner (or group) to train with, especially for a long, taxing event like the marathon. Running with a partner means that someone else is out there waiting for you for those 6am runs, and if you don’t show up, that makes you a pretty big asshole. It’s also a source of entertainment—I imagine the miles often must fly by when you have someone to talk with, laugh with, groan with, and cry with when the miles get really tough. Having someone to train with can help you to push yourself further and faster, and can serve as ample distraction when you’re on mile 18 of a 20 mile run and wondering why the ef you ever thought it was a good idea to train for a marathon in the first place.
I’m not training with anyone. I’m training with, to quote my good friend Beyonce, “Me, myself and I.” So I thought I’d write a little bit about what it’s been like to train for my first marathon solo.
Training for the marathon all on my own wasn’t really a purposeful, conscious decision—I just don’t have a running partner. Never have. When I go home, I’ll run or walk with my mom or sister. And my sister and I ran a half marathon together a few years ago. But, for the most part, I run solo and always have. And in many ways, despite knowing all of the advantages of running with other people…I like running alone.
I’m sure I could find a running partner if I really tried. And Huntsville has a really active running community, so if I were looking for a group to train with, again—I could find one.
But running has always been a form of “me” time—which feels all the more precious now that Lila is here. God love her, but this little girl:
…is quite the handful. Especially now that we’re in full-fledged toddler mode, it feels like every minute of every hour of every day is filled with…well, noise. Screaming. Crying. Laughing. New words. Toys that talk. Songs about listening to your body when it’s time to use the potty.
The list goes on and on.
And so, what I’ve found more than anything is that training alone has allowed me to carve out designated hours, three or four times a week, of blessed, blessed silence.
For the most part, since the marathon itself won’t allow headphones, I’ve been trying to do my training without music or podcasts. Which means that I’m running for upwards of three and a half hours:
…with nothing but my own thoughts.
So you might be wondering…what do I think about on those long runs?
And the answer is—to some extent, I couldn’t really tell you. I’ve always been good at letting my mind wander and floating off into daydreams, and I feel like that’s come in handy during these training runs. Really, I just let my mind…go. I think about Lila. I think about possible assignments and paper topics for my classes. I think about blog posts I want to write (like this one!), and recipes I want to try. I think about vacations I’d like to take, places I’d like to travel. I think about names I might like for our (non-existent) second child. I think about celebrities—Chloe, why’d you take him back, girl?!? I think a lot about whether we’ll ever *really* know what went down between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
No, right? I mean, clearly, the answer is no.
So in other words—I think about a whole lotta nothing.
But you know what? I find it incredibly…well, relaxing. I don’t get a lot of time to spend simply thinking to myself these days, so to have hours of that on a run feels like a luxury.
I also think about running. I watch my pace. I imagine myself on race day—crossing the finish line and finishing strong. Oftentimes I’ll break my long runs into mental segments—it sounds a lot less daunting to think of twenty miles not just as TWENTY MILES, but rather as a half marathon, plus a 10k and a mile. See? Easy?
Running all those miles by yourself isn’t easy—but then, should it be? On my long run on Sunday, around mile 17, I found myself thinking, “DAMN IT, this is hard!!!” And then I thought…well, duh. You’ve just run 17 miles. Of course it’s hard. Time for some words of wisdom from the great Jimmy Dugan:
It’s cheesy. But it’s also true.
Training for this marathon has been one of the most difficult, but rewarding things I’ve ever done. And I still have a month left, haha. Occasionally, I wish I had someone to commiserate with, someone to bitch to when the miles get really tough—because they do.
But for the most part, I’ve liked training for it alone. It’s made it not just a physical challenge, but a huge mental one as well. When I cross that finish line, it’s just going to be me. And there’s something great about knowing that I got there totally on my own—alone.
Is it just me, or did Halloween seem to last FOREVERRRRR this year? Our first Halloween party was three weeks ago, and since then, we’ve been doing Halloween-related activities every other day, it seems!
I exaggerate…but only slightly.
For our first “dress up” Halloween party, a party with the parent friends we’ve made through the Little Gym, we went as the Flintstones:
…but unfortunately didn’t get a single picture of the three of us together! You’ll just have to imagine what Ryan looked like in his Fred Flintstone costume…it was pretty glorious.
That tutu—that shit’s homemade. I made it up at school, during my office hours. Totally how I’m supposed to spend that time. My students rarely stop by, so whatever—it’s fine.
Lila got pretty rough and tumble at the first Halloween party, so by the end, the tutu was looking rough. Luckily, we had auxiliary backup costumes at the ready.
For our other Halloween festivities, we pulled out some hand-me-down Sesame Street costumes from my sister’s family. Lila was afraid of the Elmo costume at first—and I kind of don’t blame her. When it’s not being worn, it’s basically like a giant Elmo skin:
Frankly, it’s all a little too “Buffalo Bill” from Silence of the Lambs for my taste.
But. That being said, I did want her to have a costume. So we were glad when she seemed to get over her fear of the costume. She even started sleeping with it, which was, again, creepy. But, we figured that at least meant that she would be okay wearing it to the various Halloween activities and events we had planned. And…we were right!
She wore it to music class:
…and then to trick-or-treat:
Sadly, on Halloween night, it was raining—lightly, but pretty steadily. We were trick-or-treating with another family in our neighborhood, but since all of the kids were really young, we basically visited about four houses and then wrapped up the trick-or-treating for the night, ha. We headed back to their house for adult drinks and indoor playtime. Works for me!
I know people say this all of the time, but I’ll say it too—Halloween is really fun with little kids. It was so fun to watch Lila “learn” how to trick-or-treat—she had NO idea what was going on at first, but by the end she had it down.
Hope you had a great Halloween!
Helloooo. Remember when I used to post recipes? Yeah, me too. We’ve been eating basic, low-fuss meals lately…things have been crazy up at school and at home, and frankly, easy stir-fries and pasta dishes are our go-to’s, night after night. Tonight, however, I ventured into the kitchen and made something different—and delicious!
But. We’ll get to that in a bit.
First…the pumpkin carving pictures! Lila LOVES pumpkins—she gets really excited about all of the ones we’ve seen on our walks and in the grocery store, and has a big stash of pumpkin stickers that she’s been sticking on things all week.
So, I figured she’d be pretty pumped to help out with our annual pumpkin carving festivities…and I was right.
Carving pumpkins is serious business.
After we removed the “pumpkin guts,” we set Lila up with a marker and her own little pumpkin, and Ryan and I got to work carving ours:
Finally, once the pumpkins were all carved (or, ahem, covered in marker), we tried to get a few cute photos on our front porch. Unfortunately, Lila was having none of that. These next few photos basically sum up the thirty minute experience of trying to get her to smile for the camera:
You win some, you lose some.
After the super-successful photo shoot wrapped up, I headed into the house to make some dinner—the aforementioned “not a stir-fry or pasta dinner.”
Gingery Sweet Potato Curry
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 medium spanish onion, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, minced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt to taste (depending on if your chicken broth is salted or not)
3 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp. red curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen)
1 can lite coconut milk
In a large soup pot, heat 1 tbsp. coconut oil. Add onion and cook for 10 minutes, until starting to soften. Add sweet potato and cook for another 10 minutes over medium heat. Add ginger and chickpeas. Season with salt and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Add broth and red curry paste. Stir well to incorporate paste, and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil for one minute, then reduce heat to a low simmer and simmer for 30 minutes, until mixture has thickened and sweet potatoes are soft.
Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add coconut milk and additional salt if necessary.
Enjoy along as a soup, or serve over rice!
So delicious—spicy, warm…and orange for Halloween.
We just wrapped up Paranormal 4…pretty weak as far as scary movies go, but you gotta watch some before Halloween, right?!
Have a great night!
Hi All! Sorry for the lack of blogging these days—things have been downright crazy at work. In addition to teaching my normal classes, I’ve been in charge of a high school poetry competition this semester, and the workshop (one of the major events for the competition) was on Friday. Glad to have it over and done with—and it went well!
Yay, Poetry Out Loud!
Running has been going well. After my half-marathon last weekend, I went on some easier runs last week during the week…I took it pretty easy, because I had a daunting distance ahead of me for the weekend: 18 miles. I woke up on Sunday a little nervous, but ready to tackle the mileage. The Hal Higdon book I’m using as a guide for the training really stresses how important the long runs (18 miles plus) are for the runner—both physically, but also mentally. The physical benefits are obvious—these runs prep your body for the (insane) marathon distance, come race day. Mentally, those runs serve as confirmation that you CAN run the marathon—they’re a real confidence builder—if they go well, that is, ha!
Luckily, this run:
…went well! My splits were all around 10 minutes or 10:30, which is exactly where I wanted to be. I only stopped to walk a few times, towards the end. The only bad part of this run was an unforeseen bathroom break that I had to take back at the house around mile seven. Take it from me, folks—don’t eat a dinner of roasted veggies and quinoa the night before a long run. Fiber isn’t always your friend.
Sorry. Now you know.
Other than that, this was a great long run. I’m sore today, but not too sore. Another thing my Hal Higdon book stressed was that you should finish your long runs feeling tired, but not exhausted—feeling like if you had to, you could still run a little bit more. That’s basically exactly how I felt when I finished up this run.
In other news, Lila is still adorable (most of the time). We took her to the pumpkin farm this past week:
It’s the same farm we took her to last year:
…but things were a little different this year.
How did she go from this roly-poly baby to a walking, talking toddler in just a year? Will wonders never cease?
Okay…gotta go teach. Gah! Glad to check in to the ol’ bloggie, if only for a bit!
Hope you’re having a great week!
Well, I finally did it:
A sub-two hour half! This past weekend, we headed up to Chattanooga, Tennessee so that I could run the Four Bridges Half Marathon.
I was talking to my sister a few days before the race, and I told her that I honestly had NO idea how the race was going to go. Since deciding to register for the full marathon in December, almost all of my training runs have been pretty slow—I usually hover between a 9:30-10:30 pace, depending on how far I’m going. I knew that with the kind of training I’ve been doing lately, a sub-two hour half might just not be in the cards at this point. Plus, I’d heard all sorts of things about what a hilly race this half was—obviously the bridges would provide a climbing incline, plus Chattanooga itself is a very hilly town. I had kind of resigned myself to the fact that I’d be finishing kind of slow, and that was okay.
We spent the Saturday afternoon before the race picking up my race packet in the park, eating an amazing vegetarian dinner (Sluggo’s is our Chattanooga tradition!), and just relaxing before the early morning:
(What, you don’t ride horse statues topless when you visit new towns? Whatever, weirdo.)
The morning of the race came EARLY—5:15 early. The race started at 7, so I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time to eat, drink coffee, dress, warm up, etc., before Ryan and Lila dropped me off. They ended up dropping me off at the base of one of the bridges that I’d be crossing just a few minutes later.
I can’t say enough good things about this race. It’s relatively new, so I’d heard that there were problems in previous years with organization, water stands, etc., but everything ran very smoothly! The race began just a few minutes after 7:00, and we were off! This race route WAS hilly—but it was also BEAUTIFUL! Running over the bridges was a really cool way to see the city, and seeing the sun rise over the Tennessee River about thirty minutes into the race was a breathtaking view. I was running naked—that is, no Garmin, no music or i-phone…just me and the miles! It was strange to have no idea what my pace was, especially since I had a specific goal in mind! I *felt* like I was going pretty fast, but sometimes I feel that way during training runs, only to look down and see that my pace is way slower than I’d thought. Still, running without the Garmin was a good thing overall, I’d say—it allowed me to not stress out about pace and to just enjoy the run.
Still, when I started to close in on that last mile, I was wondering—will this be under two hours?! How long have I been out here?! I pushed really hard for the last mile and gave it all I could, hoping that it was enough. As I crossed the finish line, I saw Ryan and Lila cheering from the sidelines. It sounds so cheesy to say, but seeing the two of them when I finish these races really is SO great—it just makes me feel so proud and happy. They’re the best two supporters I could ask for.
I crossed the finish line, got my medal, and stumbled around looking for the clock. Someone next to me said something about 1:57, so I figured that was pretty close to my time—under two hours! Yay! I was excited—but I also wanted to see the race results to know for sure what my official time was.
Well, they went up this morning, and it’s official: 1:56: 36! That’s a pace of 8:57, which is WAY faster than I would have thought I could have run this race, especially with all the hills! This is a nice confirmation that all of the hours of running I’ve been putting in lately—even slow running—*have* been paying off, even if sometimes they feel like they aren’t. I feel a bit more confident going into the rest of my training for the full marathon now. I’m not going to run it fast, and it’s not going to be easy, but at least I’m starting to feel like I can drag my ass across that finish line, come December.
Hope you had a good weekend and that your week is off to a good start—we’re dealing with a doozy of one over here. Crazy school stuff, grading, etc. Gotta power through it!
Have a great day!
People who have run marathons have told me that there comes a point where it feels like your life has started to revolve around the race and running. I don’t think I’m there *yet,* but I can see that point quickly approaching. I make decisions about weekend activities, bedtime—heck, even meals—with running in mind, these days. It does feel like it’s starting to take over a big chunk of my life (and blog, ahem), but usually in a good way.
And so, I guess it should come as no surprise that I spent a lot of this weekend…well, running.
On Saturday morning, we were up bright and early:
to head up to Monte Sano (a mountain with trails and hiking about 15 minutes from our house) for the Monte Sano 15k.
In true Murphy’s Law fashion, Lila actually slept IN on Saturday and had to be woken up to head out for the race. The race started at 8, so Ryan and Lila dropped me off around 7:45, and a quick fifteen minutes later, we were off! It was a nice crowd—a little over 400 people, I think. Not huge, but also not tiny.
I was a little nervous about the race. I’d heard that it had long, rolling hills all the way through…and it definitely did. The hills weren’t too bad though, and the race was really pretty and scenic. Even without headphones or a running partner, the race went by pretty quickly. One hour and twenty-five minutes later, I was excited to see a cheering crowd of two (three if you include cookie monster…), waiting for me at the end of the finish line:
So sweet! I can’t say enough about how supportive Ryan has been during this marathon training (and we’re really only still at the beginning, ha!).
My original intention was to run the race slowly and then tack on an extra 6 miles to make it my long training run for the weekend, but alas, I got caught up in the spirit of the event and ran much faster than I would have for a normal long run. I was pleased with my splits by the end:
mile one: 10:31
mile two: 9:01
mile three: 8:48
mile four: 9:09
mile five: 8:29
mile six: 9:09
mile seven: 8:42
mile eight: 9:10
mile nine: 8:30
…plus some change at the end. Not bad at all for such a hilly route. Still, I was wiped. I made the decision to just head home and save my official long run for the next morning, hoping that I wouldn’t be SUPER sore from the race.
This morning, I woke up ready to tackle my long run. Ryan told me yesterday that it seemed like I needed to get a GOOD long run under my belt after a few off weekends, and he was right. My run this morning was tough, but it also left me feeling good about the training (and races) to come—I ran it slow (hovering around a 10:30 pace) and smart (LOTS of small sips of water throughout, plus fuel in the form of sports jelly beans). By the end of it, I was tired and taking walking breaks, but I also felt pretty strong and good overall.
Fifteen miles, 2:36:37. I’ll take it!
Someone was interested in helping me with a little foam rolling when I got home:
Mama, can you feel that extra weight in your thighs? I hope so!
And now…we’re resting up and enjoying a beautiful day of weather. I’m ready for that rest day tomorrow—my legs are pretty sore! Gotta get some work done before school starts up again tomorrow…the weekend definitely felt too short!
Hope you had a great weekend too!
Morning, morning! We’ve had a great start to the week here. I went on a nice run yesterday after taking Monday off, and just returned from another run this morning as well. I ran into this sweet face at the end of my run this morning:
(No, Mom, I don’t want to kiss you right now. You’re real sweaty.)
…which is always a fun treat.
My long run on Sunday was…not great. I had fourteen miles on the schedule…I made it 13.6. But those 13.6 miles were pretty fucking awful, because of, I think, a few different factors. I was running in the afternoon (I definitely prefer morning), after a 4.5 hour car ride home from Asheville on which I did NOT do a lot of hydrating (gotta avoid those unnecessary stops!), after a weekend of food, wine, and little (okay, zero) running. Also, my garmin conked out, so I was using my i-phone to track my miles. You know what starts to feel heavy after 10 miles or so of running? An i-phone.
And yeah, yeah—I know. Excuses are like assholes, right? I obviously have a LOT of excuses for why this run felt so difficult. But you know what I really think it is? Running is hard. Running 13.6 miles is hard. Running 26 miles is going to be REALLY hard. And if I have ANY chance of making it through it on the other side, I’m going to have to plan ahead, and run smarter.
One things I’ve realized? A sub two-hour half might not be in the cards for me this year. In order to adjust my training schedule for the marathon, I’m going to be turning at least one, but probably both, of my half-marathons into training runs. Which means that after running 13 miles in the race, I’ll be tacking on anywhere from an additional 4-6 miles. Which means that I probably should be running them at a much, much slower pace.
When I signed up for what I thought was going to be just one half in October, I was thinking in terms of speed—I wanted to be FAST for that half-marathon. But, now that I have the ultimate goal of the marathon in December, I’m having to readjust my race goals from ones of speed, to ones of distance. Because really, at the point I’m at now in my running, it’s not going to be both. And while it would feel great to run a sub two hour half, I know it will feel even better to complete a marathon.
So. Speed is out. Distance is in. Long runs are going to be more focused on pace, hydration, and fuel—two things I haven’t had to give *that* much thought to in the past. I think one reason why I felt like DEATH after Sunday’s run was because I started the run dehydrated, and it only went downhill (ha!) from there. I bought a handheld water bottle to take with me on my longer runs, and will be making more of an effort to really hydrate beforehand as well.
I’m still basically terrified at the thought of all the training that is ahead of me, and I think to myself at least twenty times a day, “What makes you think you can run a marathon?!?” Who knows—maybe I can, maybe I can’t. But I can at least try.
Also, on an unrelated note, this happened yesterday:
…and it was fucking adorable. Seriously. That is one cute fall fairy, if I do say so myself. She also had her 18 month check-up yesterday (?!?!), and was OFF THE CHARTS for her height percentage. Girlfriend is going to be one tall drink of water.