Random Thoughts of Tuesday

Please excuse the disorganized nature of this post.

Although, let’s be honest, my posts are always disorganized.  But today I can’t even attempt to put them together in a somewhat cohesive way, so this is just a random list of thoughts that have been on my mind.

1.  The red cups at Starbucks are back, as you probably know.  As someone who loves the holiday season, this makes me very happy, even if the quotes written on them are questionable:

2. Central Park in the fall never stops being amazing to me.  I am very aware of the fact that I talk often about how beautiful the leaves are, and it probably gets pretty repetitive, but I am always blown away.  I think a big part of it is because I am from Denver, and we just don’t have spring and fall in the same way they do here in the east.

This is the view from my bedroom. HA. If only. I was at a work event.

3. On a similar note, there are a lot of hidden gems in Central Park if you look for them. Everyone knows the big landmarks like Bethesda Fountain, but there is so much more to be seen.  For example, almost every bench has a plaque with a unique message on it from the person who sponsored it.  There are quite a range of inscriptions:

This one is hard to read, but it says "Earl the Pearl is Here, Let the Squirrels Beware"

4.  Pinterest has really started taking up too much of my time.  But I dare you to get on that website and not get stuck.  It’s dangerous.  But then I find things like this, so I think it’s worth it:

5. Considering this is a blog about running, I should mention that I ran a little over 6 miles today.  I took a mile for warm up and wanted the next 5 miles to be under 9:00 each, which they were:


Don’t let this fool you. I won’t be running the marathon with splits anywhere near these.

So there you have it. 5 random thoughts. Thanks for listening.

The taper crazies

The Big Day is officially two weeks away.  As I taper down my training, I have lots of extra time to think about my goals and plans.

That also means that I have lots of extra time to panic that I won’t be able to finish.

I have heard that tapering is the hardest part of training, because your body is used to doing a lot of work and doesn’t know what to do when you suddenly decrease your mileage.  More importantly, your mind doesn’t really know what to do with this change either, hence the “taper crazies.”  I generally consider myself pretty crazy on a normal day, so I don’t exactly need any extra help to push me over the edge to full on wacko.

It’s also marathon weekend here in New York.  The whole city fills up with runners and spectators, and the support and passion around the event is really wonderful.  But it does not make it any easier to calm your crazy nerves.

Yesterday I had planned to do 12 miles for my long run.  One perk of not spending 3+ hours running is the extra flexibility I had in my schedule.  I decided to sleep in a bit more than usual (and by that I mean I woke up at 7am instead of 5:30 or 6, so it really can’t be considered sleeping in) before I headed out.

I ended up making it to the Park right when the Dash to the Finish Line was happening, which is a 5K run that ended at the Marathon finish.  I decided to stop and watch for a little while.

I didn’t know anyone running, and this was a very causal race that was really meant for fun.  But do you want to know what I did?  I teared up.  Yep, crazy.  I told you.

I was thinking about the finish line in Philadelphia and what a big accomplishment it will be, and I guess the taper crazies got to me.

Once I managed to pull myself together, I was able to finish the rest of my run.  And holy crap, the Park is beautiful.

Not too shabby.

Like usual on my long runs, I wasn’t thinking about pace at all.  I actually tried to not look at my Garmin, and I ended up being pretty consistently around a 9:30 pace.

My legs felt a little heavy, but I was able to shake that out eventually.  I also stopped once or twice or twelve times, but how can you not stop to take a picture of this?

Looks fake, right? It's not.

Today I watched the actual marathon for a bit with my friend Jackie, and I finally let myself feel excitement. I was feeling a lot of nerves also, but mainly excitement.  Running is painful and challenging, but it’s also fun.  And I have never run a marathon, but I am willing to bet that it’s pretty efffing exciting.

Fear and nerves should be expected, because it means that I have put in a lot toward this whole thing and that I care about it.  Plus, I think fear can be a good thing, because it’s only really a problem if it stops you.  You can choose to take it as energy and use it as an advantage.

Or at least, hopefully I can 🙂

So for the next two weeks, I am going to be dealing with a lot of taper crazies and LOTS of nerves, but I hope I remember to get excited sometimes too.  And I’d like to go ahead and apologize in advance to all my friends and family for dealing with me.  Like I said, I’m usually pretty crazy, so everyone should be used to it, but I’m still glad that I have some people who put up with me.

Also, I am going to really enjoy running on lots of crunchy leaves.

I hope you all get out there to enjoy some leaves also.

Running is a mental sport

Last night, my roommate Dana and I were talking about running.  She has decided to sign up for the NYC Half next spring and I am SO excited for her.

I don’t know if I am in any place to be giving advice.  I am not a super fast runner; I am not going to break any records.  The majority of my training has come from books or from random websites.

But I do know one thing for sure: running is a mental sport.  In my opinion, you can train your body to do pretty much whatever you want.  The harder challenge is to get your head on the same page.

See the thing is, running is hard.  Sometimes if feels great, but it can also hurt like hell. That’s why you have to rely on your mind to keep going, because your body is screaming to stop.

There are many, many times when I have wanted to stop when I am out there. I have just learned to eliminate the option of quitting.

I have often regretted skipping a workout.  But I have never, ever, regretting doing one. The hardest step can be getting out of the door, so I often repeat that little reminder to myself.

When it gets painful, I remind myself that it’s supposed to be painful.   If it were easy, everyone would do it.  The pain will make me stronger.

A couple years ago, I saw this commercial about excuses:

It always puts my dumb complaining in perspective.

Recently, I think about the finish line to get me through.  The bleachers have been set up for a few weeks in Central Park for the finish of the New York City Marathon on Sunday. But today on my run (7 miles, average pace 9:15), the actual finish line was installed.  Even though this isn’t the marathon I will be doing, I got goosebumps looking at it:

Thinking about crossing the finish line is all the motivation that my mind needs.

If I have to crawl across it on November 20th, I will cross the finish line.

How marathon training has changed me

Before I started training for a marathon, I had heard stories of all the fun things that can happen to your mind and to your body by the time you finish. Several people had also told me that the whole process tends to take over your life, but I didn’t really believe it.

I was wrong.

First of all, I have spent a ridiculous amount of money on running clothes and gear. Whoever said running is cheap (me, in the past) is wrong.

Things I have bought that I didn’t have before marathon training include: a Garmin, a spibelt, a foam roller, new running shoes, numerous Gu packets, countless Nuun tablets, several new shirts and shorts/capris, lots of new socks, and a pair Yurbuds.

FYI, Yurbuds are awesome earphones that stay put, no matter what.  This may be hard to believe, but when you are sweating for over 3 hours, your earphones can fall out of your ears.  Yurbuds don’t do that. They stayed in place during my entire 20 miler in the rain.

These new purchases are now taking up the majority of my small bedroom:

Three pairs of running shoes. I rotate and use them all.

My wonderful foam roller. It hurts so good.

In addition to all of this new stuff, there have been a lot of other changes.  Especially to my body. Here is just a little sampling of fun things that have happened:

  • My feet are disgusting.  Like really, really disgusting.  I will spare you a picture, so you will just have to trust me.  Yes, I have already lost one toenail, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I lose another.  I know this really grosses some people out, but it honestly doesn’t bother me too much.  It’s easier without that toenail.
  • My leg muscles are bigger.  I can tell a difference when I put on some on my jeans and boots.  I am not surprised at all by this development, and I don’t really mind it.
  • I haven’t really been weighing myself, because I want to eat based on fueling rather than the scale, but I can tell you that I have not lost weight.  I don’t think I have put on very much either, but I do know that I have added a couple pounds of muscle.
  • I have obviously been hungrier.  I have finally gotten used to dealing with my hunger and knowing the best way to deal with it (lots of protein, eating often).  In the past I only ran to eat, but I am finally understanding how to eat to run. Though, I will never, ever be someone who gives up candy or wine or any of the other delicious treats I enjoy.

I’m sure you are all glad that you now know that much about my body.  I got to thinking about all of these things during my run this morning (splits below), but I am sure I am missing lots of other gross changes.  Don’t worry, I will keep you updated!

Guess who ran 20 miles?

I did! I did! I did!  Can you believe it?  I can’t, but it’s true.  20 Miles.

I was feeling a bit nervous about this run, but I had myself convinced that I would finish 20 miles no matter what.  No excuses.

So in anticipation of this feat, last night I had a delicious carby dinner and was in bed before 10. Marathon training has made me SO cool.  Although in all honestly, I don’t usually do much on Friday nights anyway.  But I will still blame the marathon.

This morning my alarm went off bright and early at 5:30am, and I spent a few minutes giving myself a pep-talk before I could actually turn on the lights and get up.

I wanted to practice as much of the the pre-race routine that I will use on November 20th. I had my standard breakfast of peanut butter on toast with a giant cup of coffee on the side. Then there were lots of sexy activities like applying body glide everywhere imaginable and using the bathroom 15 times.

After almost an hour of these lovely rituals, I made it out the door.  As some of you may know, the weather is less than ideal here in the Northeast.  But at 6:30am today, it wasn’t even really raining yet.

So I spent a blissful hour in the Park of mainly rain-free running.  Then the rain arrived. And it arrived hard.

But I kept going.

No, of course I didn't take this picture. But it sums up exactly the way I feel about running.

I am no longer worried about the weather in Philadelphia.  I ran the majority of 20 miles in gross wind and rain, and it didn’t slow me down all that much.

My plan was to do about a loop and a half in the park and then venture onto the west side drive.  But then, I had completed almost 2 full loops, and I decided that I would just run 3 loops and then add on a bit at the very end to finish the 20 miles.

So basically, my run was very repetitive.  I ran a lot of miles, but I didn’t really go anywhere. Weirdly, the repetition didn’t bother me.  Usually I hate doing multiple loops, but today I was fine with it.

Round and round Central Park

I ate a Gu at mile 5, mile 11 and mile 16.  I have to remind myself to do this, because usually by mile 5 I am not feeling any special desire to down a weird semi-liquid gu out of a packet.  But they really are important, and I felt pretty sustained when I took them about every 50 minutes.

There were plenty of times during today’s run when I felt tired or sore.  But I knew quitting wasn’t an option, which is the secret to getting it done, if you ask me.

I also have a tendency to look down when I run, rather then ahead, which means that I always manage to miss other people I know.  Several people have told me they saw me on the road, but I never manage to see them.  Today I saw my friend Kim, but only after she had said “hey” several times.  I was also at mile 15 and not very articulate, so it was not the best mid-run meeting.  But it was still awesome to see a friendly face.

This is 100% how I feel:

So you are welcome, Kim.  I know I looked good.  (Also: can you tell that I spent the morning googling running photos?  Yeah the rain didn’t exactly make it easy to take pictures.)

Before I knew it, I had finished 20 miles.  I don’t know if I ever thought that would be possible.  I was tired and sore when I got home, but that’s nothing that some frozen peas and nutritious post-run hydration won’t fix:

What? Is it not normal to drink a beer at 11am?

And now it is actually snowing here.  I’m glad I finished my run before that arrived, because now I can lay around on my couch and drink more beer.   I hope the snow doesn’t ruin any Halloween plans.  I personally have an awesome costume, and I will wear it no matter what. (In case you care, my friends and I are being the motorcycle gang from Sons of Anarchy, aka the best show on TV. Seriously.)

I am really proud that I was able to get this done.  20 miles is the most I will run before the Big Day, and now I will officially start my taper period.  3 weeks to go!

All about November 20th

So I am running a marathon on November 20th.  This much I have said.

But I haven’t really talked about how I came to the decision to run a marathon in the first place, let alone the decision to run the Philadelphia Marathon.

The truth is, I have always wanted to run a marathon.  I grew up playing sports that involved running, and a marathon seemed like a great bucket-list type goal that I would accomplish as an adult.

Then this summer, I suddenly realized that I am an adult.  When did that happen?  I don’t know exactly, but I figured that if I don’t start accomplishing some goals, I may never even get started.

Still, a marathon is a huge goal that takes months and months of training. So, late this summer I signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon with the intention of switching my registration to the half marathon.  This way I could train for a while and see how I felt, but I knew that the half marathon would be the smart race to choose.

But then the half marathon filled up, before I ever got the chance to switch my registration. Oops.  So, suddenly, I was running a full marathon.

It took me a while to even tell anyone about this development.  I guess I was scared to say it out loud, because acknowledging it meant that I might fail.

The way I am feeling about my training progress is a whole different issue, one that I will address in another post, but for now I am at least committed to finishing this race. No matter what.

In the mean time, the race website has made it very easy for me to see exactly how many more days I have to freak out until the big day:

HOLY CRAP.

That is very soon.  Very. Soon.

It’s crazy that I have spent the past several months training for one day.  That seems like quite a gamble, and there are so many factors that are out of control.  Like the weather.  It was rainy on my run this morning (5.75 miles, average pace of 9:05), and I realized that I could end up running a whole marathon in the rain.  Or in the snow.

That would be fun.  Or maybe not.

So now that I have gotten myself freaked out about weather, I will leave you for the day. Stay dry out there.

What do you think about while running?

I often get asked what I think about while I am running.  Doesn’t it get boring?

The short answer is no.  Not really.  My mind finds all sorts of things to think about.  In fact, this morning as I covered about 7.5 miles, I spent a good long time thinking about what I think about running.

I think about how far I have gone and how far I have left to go.  I try to find a way to cut the run short.  I think about how I can squeeze in extra miles.  I think about my day.  I think about the other runners.  I think about changing my Pandora station. I think about the weather.

I think about November 20th.

Sometimes, what I see during my run can influence what I think about for a while.  For example, when I see this building:

Good morning, Met Museum

I tend to think about how I have really been meaning to come visit for a while.  Isn’t there a new exhibit that I have been wanting to see?  I will come check soon.  I swear.  It’s so close.  I really loved my art history classes in college.  What was that professor’s name again?  I should have taken more art history classes.

And so on.  You get the picture.

There is also a very special thing that happens sometimes during a run where I think about nothing. It becomes just about running and breathing and moving, and those are the most peaceful times.

So, to answer the question – I think about everything.  Also: I think about nothing.

But for now I have to get going to work.  My apologies for the super short posts recently. Enjoy your Tuesdays!