Sunday, September 30, 2007

It could have been worse

This was, by far, the worst week of training that I have had to date. I started the week out not feeling well, and as the week progressed, my ability to breath freely without coughing decreased dramatically. I did not run at all on Wednesday, managed to run inside on a treadmill on Thursday, took Friday off, and tried to run 5 miles on Saturday "with the team" because my mentor was expecting to see me.

In all honesty, I didn't think it would be that bad. I figured that since I was able to run on Thursday and took Friday off, I would be able to easily do the training run on Saturday.

However, I was wrong.

Saturday proved to be one of those perfect fall days. The ones where the sky is crystal clear, there's a hint of chill in the air foretelling cooler days ahead, a gentle breeze, and ragweed . Apparently, I have a ragweed sensitivity. Who knew? So limiting outdoor activity between 5am and 10am when pollen is typically emitted was not the best time for me to be outside. Ergo, the training run, starting at 8am and running through lovely foliage lined streets was during the WORST possible time for someone who apparently has ragweed sensitivity.

I was panting heavily after the warm up run (we run about a tenth of a mile and then stretch for about 15 minutes) and by far, the slowest person out there (which has been typical, but on Saturday was noticeable). Then, as we started the run, UPHILL, my mentor tried to send someone back to "pace me" - but I was coughing so much, I couldn't keep up the pacer's pace, so she moved ahead. Really, I'm OK running by myself at this point. I'm not trying to set any records and I use the time to think (sometimes reflective thoughts, sometimes what I'm going to have for breakfast, sometimes my mind is just blank - it's all good). So after pace person one moved on (in the first 10 minutes), pace person two tried to help. I sincerely appreciate the advice and the camaraderie, but like I said, I'm OK running solo at this point. So, after pacer two moved on, I somehow managed (ALONE and hacking and coughing) through mile 2 only to discover that my sinuses were bleeding, so I opted to turn around. Plus, to my surprise, there was someone just a bit ahead of me who yelled back - "how many are you doing - this is the 4 mile mark" and I said - well more like "coughed" - "Fah---or". So I turned around. I managed to stay with this kind soul for about 6 minutes, but then he pulled ahead, and I just prayed for oblivion so that I could make it back to my car. I seriously considered calling a cab on Peachtree, but since I was wearing my "Team In Training" official shirt, I thought I should probably try to stick it out.

Fast forward another 25 minutes - I think all the coughing affected my gait, and I ended up with a blister the size of a quarter on my right foot. I thought about taking a picture of it to post on the blog, but changed my mind on that one too.

So when I returned to the car, tired, coughing, and not able to breathe through my nose, I saw my mentor and immediately greeted her with, "I only did 4". The woman beside her, said - "that's great! just think - in a couple of weeks, you'll be saying 'I only did 16'!" I can't even tell you what went through my mind at that point. I was numb.

So I hobbled to the car, made it to Dominic's T-ball game (more one-on-one time with the ragweed), and then to the Georgia Tech/Clemson game to sit in the upper decks OUTSIDE where the breeze carrying the ragweed could find me. By nightfall on Saturday, I was ready for something indoors ... like staying up until 11pm making sausage balls, blueberry muffins, and brownies for an open house at church on Sunday morning.

My lego box is definitely full of something. But, all of the pieces did fit together - I woke up at 6am on Sunday morning to make ham and cheese biscuits, too. Everyone enjoyed the food at church. Afterwards, I walked on the blister for about 5 hours Sunday afternoon while enjoying a Japanese Festival. Good times! (The festival was really interesting and even with the blister, was quite fun!)

Now it's time to put the legos aways for today. Tomorrow is an official day of rest on the schedule. I'm ready.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hanging in there ...

I managed to run/walk/jog for about 2.5 miles today (indoors and on a treadmill). I decided to bail when I felt light headed and clammy. Great visual, right? It wasn't the 4 miles that I was scheduled to do, but hey, I did something (and I'm hoping that counts!)!!!

We'll see what happens tomorrow. I've loaded up with vitamins and minerals and claritin D. It could be worse.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Four is the magic number

I'm up to 4 miles ... sure, it's not actually running the whole time, but it's STILL FOUR (4) MILES!!!!! Here's the funny part. On Saturdays, the entire Atlanta Team (all participants connected with Team In Training) are supposed to meet for General Training Sessions (GTS). As discussed in prior posts, it is EXTREMELY important for me to participate in these GTS meetings. I have now been able to run with the team on TWO Saturdays.

I'm getting to the funny part, honest.

So this past Saturday, the team is supposed to meet "at the River". So, I assumed that "at the River" meant at the end of Columns Drive (in the parking lot for the Chattahoochee National Park entrance which is about 2 miles from my house and well, why wouldn't they pick the location that is most convenient to me?). Well, as we all know what happens when one "assumes".

Here's the funny part (finally).

I go to the parking lot (which coincidentally the same one that I use when I run on my own) about 5 minutes prior to the start of the meeting. That's kind of funny too because I'm rarely ever early or on time for anything, but I digress. So I get there ahead of schedule, and NO ONE IS THERE. Coincidence? I think not. I do spy, however, a TNT water stop ... someone standing behind a table with large coolers handing out powerade and water for TNT.

Ah HA!!!

So I casually saunter over and say, "Hey! Isn't there supposed to be a TNT training run here this morning?"
And the guy behind the cooler says, "Yes, there is! Are you part of that?"
As I stand there in my "official TNT running shirt", I say, "Uh, yes, but where is everyone?"
He says, "Well they always start over at the Powers Ferry Frontage Road end."

DOH.

So I run, and I do mean run, the 1.5 miles through the park down to the Powers Ferry end. Where, wouldn't you know, there's another water stop - but still no "TEAM". So I get some water, regain consciousness (because I made it down there in about 18 minutes which is pretty fast for me), catch my breath, do a few stretches and say (with much control) to the lady behind the coolers on this end ... " Hey, where is everyone?". She says with a grin, "They haven't started yet."

Nice.

So I did a few more stretches and sure enough, my mentor shows up a few minutes later. I started to jog with her so I could tell her that I had already run 1.5 miles and that I parked/started on the wrong side. Alas, her pace was a bit too quick for me, so I dropped behind. However, I did catch up with her at the second water stop (the one that I started on) and she suggested that I run with her the last mile. So we did and I worked on my breathing, and she was very complimentary! She said I was doing great for just 5 weeks in - called me a powerhouse! Which was really nice, but I wondered if she was confusing me with one of her other proteges? OK, I'll try to learn how to take a compliment.

I'm not sure how this week is going to go, however. I woke up this morning with a horrific case of sinus congestion, headache, and general icky feeling. I just want to go to sleep. Fortunately, as Monday is my official DAY OF REST, maybe if I take 10,000 MG of vitamin C, I'll feel better in the morning!

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 17, 2007

5 Weeks and Counting!

In case anyone was keeping track, YES, I did go to the General Training Session (GTS).

See previous post Every breath you take ...
for why this is important. Coincidentally, my mentor was not there. HOWEVER, ALL of the coaches and coaching assistants were there. They rock. Seriously.

Before we ran, we sat through a brief forum on fund raising. One team member has raised over 10,000 dollars in 2 (YES TWO) weeks by simply sending out emails. I can only hope that the recipients of my emails will be that responsive! This is for a great cause and all donations are 100% tax deductible!

OK - now back to running. My last easy run was on Thursday, September 13, 2007. It was 2 miles. It's all uphill from here. Literally. I ran 3.2 miles on Saturday and was slightly faster (well, not really) than the run/walk team that was training. It took about 41 minutes total including 2 water stops and a brief stretch right before returning to my car because of a cramp in the arch of my left foot. OUCH! But the good news is that I am breathing.

At this pace, including water stops and bathroom breaks, I might be able to eek out the full marathon in a blazing 7 hours. That's real time, not football time. 420 minutes. That's FOUR-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-MINUTES. Just for fun, it's 25, 200 SECONDS ... I won't write that one out for you. So, in 420 minutes, you could bake 10 bundt cakes, watch 7 episodes of Grey's Anatomy or 14 episodes of Thomas the Train. You could wash you car 20 times or wade your way through two Wagner operas. But me? I'll be running (walking some, jogging some, maybe even log rolling some) - but I will finish this.

My friend Laura is on day 7 of her 100 days (after the bone marrow transplant). There's one final round of chemo and then waiting. I know that she and her family appreciate all of the encouragement they have received along the way.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Every breath you take ...

As a participant of Team In Training (TNT), you are STRONGLY encouraged to attend the General Training Sessions (hereafter known as GTS) on Saturday mornings. I have been running, REALLY I HAVE. I keep a training log in which I record each run. In 4 weeks, I have run 35 total miles (that's about 35 times more miles than I have run in the last 5 years).

Also, as a TNT participant, you are assigned a mentor. Your mentor is responsible for ensuring that you are A) Training, B)Attending the GTS sessions, C)Making forward progress. My mentor, Page calls me every few days to check on me. She is fabulous, and for me, a bit intimidating in that she is an experienced marathoner and in WAY better shape than I am. But since she is such a good mentor, it's difficult for me to be intimidated for long. So for the last four weeks, I have had "GOOD" excuses for not attending. Heather and Erik's wedding, Dominic's first T-ball practice, and Dominic's first T-ball game. I actually attended the first GTS but had to leave early. So since I was going to miss the GTS yet again on Saturday (9/8), Page assured me that she would run with me at 6am on Saturday morning, before my T-ball obligation at 8:30am. So we met at the River (Columns Drive - the surreal 5 mile stretch of road that spans part of the Chattahoochee). The results of my one on one training session - I don't breathe (ahh, now the title of the blog makes sense) efficiently.

So my homework for this week is to breathe. Breathe deeply and slowly, control is the key word here. And those that know me would think that would come so naturally. My mentor suggested that I am panicking a bit ... taking into consideration that I ran/walked 2.5 minutes faster a mile with her than in my usual runs, and that I was nervous, and barely slept on Friday night because of being so anxious. So breathing will be my concentration for this week and YES, I will attend the GTS on Saturday, 9/15 no matter what.

Oh, and she also suggested that I might want to minimize the time my heel is on the ground. One thing at a time - maybe breathing will help that too!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Why?

This morning, I asked a series of questions in my head while I was running. They all seem to be related somehow.
"Why are all of these people up and moving around so early in the morning?"
"Why is it so peaceful to run by the river?"
"Why would I want to run/walk anywhere else?"
"When will the weather be cooler?"
"When will my shins stop hurting?"
"What am I going to have for breakfast?"
"What do I need at the grocery store?"
"Who do I have to call today?"
"How many loads of laundry do I have waiting for me?"
And the ever recurring question, "Why haven't I exercised in over 5 years?"

I don't have a good answer for the last one. Every "reasonable" excuse that I have used in the past half decade now sounds feeble. "I got pregnant", "I travel too much", I'm too tired", "It's so nice to sleep in", "I don't have any time". Exercise is great, running is awesome - I have been sleeping better, I have more energy, and somehow I even found the so-called elusive "time" ... so what has taken me so long to remember all of this?

I'm still working on that one. Maybe I'll figure it out on tomorrow's run.

Monday, September 3, 2007

And the beat goes on ...

This week, I have learned about running cadence - the number of times either foot strikes the ground in a minute with the ideal being about 90. What amazes me is that by paying attention to the number of times my foot hits the pavement, not only do I forget that it's 6 AM, I'm outside, it's muggy and unbearably hot, and I'm exercising, but it provides focus. (Please note that I didn't say that I forgot that I'm awake. I'm still trying to come to grips with that.) If I knew about running cadence (when I exercised and read books about exercising), I have completely obliterated it from my memory. Maybe, since running is clearing the cobwebs, I'll start to remember more things about the demon exercise. One can only hope.

I am up to 26 miles year to date, that's 11 days of running in the past 3 weeks and more miles than I have logged in the last 5 years total. I still cannot run (slow jog) the entire 3 miles, but I am running 3 minutes, walking 3 minutes for the duration of the run, which on Saturday, 9/1/07 took about 48 minutes.

The other amazing thing is that I had the perfect excuse NOT to train this weekend - I was out of town for a family wedding/fun-fest (seeing friends, visiting familiar places, etc.) - but I got up and ran and had witnesses that I even completed the task!

My husband told me he is proud of me, some of my friends have told me they are impressed, and one friend told me that she would even train with me!!!! (C, I won't hold you to it ... it may have been the wine, but I would be thrilled if you did!)

My shins are not as sore as they were but ICE is still my friend! (And please don't forget to DONATE !!!!!