Tuesday, February 26, 2013

If I Blogged More...

In honor of the fact that I've written about two posts in the last four months, I've decided to write ten things you'd hear about if I blogged more about my running.

If I blogged more...

You'd hear about how I'm more excited to run Eugene this year than I was last year.

You'd hear about how I'm already thinking about marathons #8 and #9, but haven't committed to anything yet. (I don't want to commit without knowing where I'll be in terms of job and location.)

You'd learn about these Plantar Massage Balls I bought from Foot Traffic and how they're amazing.

You'd hear me talk about how said balls, my foam roller, and Epsom salt baths comprise my recovery trifecta. (I hope Seinfeld didn't trademark the word trifecta.)

You'd learn that I've concluded that running and religion are similar. (Running is an individualistic sport, but having a community/group of runner friends provides loads of support and motivation. Religion is based on one's relationship with some deity, but having a community of like-minded believers provides (or should provide) loads of support with living according to that religion's doctrine.)

You'd hear about how I'm super-stressed because I have about three weeks to finish classes and finish writing my thesis. (Maybe I could use said stress to fuel my training runs!)

You'd hear my nonsensical musings from my runs (though let's face it, my thought process while not running doesn't make much sense either).

You'd hear about why I got into running in the first place. (It's a long story that I tried to write in my head while on my run yesterday. I got as far as, "It seemed like a good idea." Isn't that how all of my good stories start?)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Food, Food, Food

After last week's PR/major life accomplishment, I think people have started developing expectations. Case in point: I ran with my running group on Saturday, and over a post-run breakfast, I told a few of them about my half-marathon. One of them asked when the sub-3 hour marathon would happen.

Yes, the sub-3 hour marathon is a goal. But first things first -- break 3:05 and BQ.

On Sunday, I went for my scheduled 15M run. While I was drawing the post-long run salt bath (yes, I'm making it a thing -- try it and you'll understand), I got a text from a friend of mine asking about injury relief. She's training for her first half-marathon, did a 12M run, and reported some pain behind the knee. I referred her to my good friend, the foam roller. (If you haven't foam rolled before, I fully recommend it. Either before or after you try that salt bath.)

While this isn't the first time that a friend has asked me for running advice, I'm honored to be consulted, because it means that people think I know something about the sport. Later that day, I couldn't control my hunger. If you ask my family, this is just a typical day in my life. But this was worse than usual! I spent the rest of the day alternating between trying to be productive with schoolwork, and eating so I could focus enough to attempt to be productive. Still, I realized that knowing "something" doesn't mean knowing "everything," and so I set out to learn more about refueling after a long run.

What do you do when you've burned 1,500+ calories on a run, and your body needs about 2,000 calories to carry out its basic functions? According to the math, you need about twice the calories you'd normally eat just to function normally. How do you work in this many extra calories?

I researched fueling after a long run, and found that the Live Strong website "How To Plan Post-exercise Recovery Meals" best explained things in layman's terms. It also cited Nancy Clark's "Sports Nutrition Guidebook" as a reference. I borrowed this from the library when I was training for Chicago and read it, and it's a fantastic book. Maybe it's time I invest in my own copy? And while I'm at it, perhaps I should get "Food Guide for Marathoners"as well.

OR I could just look into the Michael Phelps diet! Remember those reports of his 12,000 calorie a day diet during the Beijing Olympics? If any athlete knows about eating crazy amounts of food, it'd be him, right? Well, here's the 12,000 calorie a day diet, outlined (source: WSJ):

"Breakfast: Three fried-egg sandwiches loaded with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, fried onions and mayonnaise. Two cups of coffee. One five-egg omelet. One bowl of grits. Three slices of French toast topped with powdered sugar. Three chocolate-chip pancakes.

"Lunch: One pound of enriched pasta. Two large ham and cheese sandwiches with mayo on white bread. Energy drinks packing 1,000 calories.

"Dinner: One pound of pasta. An entire pizza. More energy drinks."

Said diet put into perspective. (Source)

Most of these foods are not in my normal diet, primarily because I try to eat healthy most of the time. (And by "try," I mean keep to the 80% healthy, 20% alcohol/everything else. I find that when I eat more nutrient-dense foods, I feel and function better.) So now the issue is, "Is there a way to consume seemingly exorbitant amounts of cleaner, healthier food?" In my research on the Michael Phelps Diet, I found this article from Men's Health that describes how his diet changed from the Beijing Games to the London Games. And an article titled, "The New Rules of Marathon Nutrition" from active.com. To sum it up, eat whole grains, lean meats, eggs, some dairy, and fresh produce, and eat until you're satiated.

So basically, just eat more of what I already eat? Oy. If you need me, I'll be at Costco, and trying not to go broke while fueling myself for this training. In the meantime, I'll also take other recommendations on balancing eating properly during training and not going broke.

(Disclaimer: Though I've taken nutrition courses, I am not a nutritionist or dietitian. If you want advice from a trained professional, you should seek one out.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kaiser Half...Again

I ran the Kaiser Permanente Half-Marathon for the first time last year (recap here), and liked it so much I decided to run it again. (Well, okay -- I found another super-cheap plane ticket, and coerced my friend into running this together again.) After my double-PR at Chicago, I decided that this would be a good chance to shoot for a sub-1:30 half and cross that off of my bucket list.

A couple weeks before the race, I received my bib and D-Tag in the mail (yes, KP mails these out rather than organizing an expo), and got really excited when I saw that my bib number would be "2222." (I took having such a cool bib number as a good sign.)

I'll admit to having pre-race jitters, but Erin, Jason, and some other great running friends helped remind me that they were feasible. (Key point: "If you can do 1:31 for the first half of a full-marathon, you can break 1:30 in a half that's only a half.") With that, I went ahead and wrote out the mile splits I'd need to hit to meet my goal (6:50/mi), because I'm a nerd like that.

Race morning consisted of a banana, a Starbucks run for some oatmeal (with dried fruit, nuts, and honey), and a cab ride to Golden Gate Park. After warming up, I went and positioned myself somewhere in the 7 min/mi group of the starting area. The race kicked off, and I spent the first mile weaving through people. I hit the mile 1 marker about 3 seconds off of my target pace, but made up for it in the next few miles.

Thoughts that went through my head while on the course:
1. The Ke$ha song "Die Young." (Up until about mile 7, I had "Let's make the most of the night like we're gonna die young" running through my head.)
2. "Use the downhill while you have it." (Some woman said this around mile 4 or 5, and I used it to help me along.)
3. "Back straight, eyes forward, and fly." (I need reminders to keep good posture and relax my arms when I run, and this mantra became the simplest way to remind myself of that."
4. "You got this!" (Erin told me that a few days before the race as encouragement."
5. "You're xx seconds ahead/behind of your goal." (At every mile, I compared my actual mile split to the one I planned out pre-race to see how much faster/slower I was than that.")

At mile 7, the downhill ended and we were running on flat ground along the ocean. The race became a bit tougher here, but not terrible. I reached the mile 9 marker in 1:00:03 (87 seconds ahead of schedule), and started feeling good about my prospects then. Around mile 10 or 11, it got even more difficult. After mile 11, I was only 30 seconds ahead of schedule (by my math that I later realized was erroneous -- note to self: don't try doing math after that much running). I told myself that I had two miles, and that I couldn't eat through all of my lead here because I had no room for error. Once I hit mile 12 and saw that I had just over 9 minutes to run 1.1 miles, I felt pretty good and picked it up a bit. I also started saying "Almost there!" to everyone I passed. With a half-mile left to go (approximately), I hit the biggest hill along the course and just told myself to push through it because I was almost there. Eventually, I saw the finish line, and it still had "1:2x:xx" on the clock, so I went for it. I definitely got a bit emotional after finishing because even though I didn't know my official time (according to Garmin, my finish time was 1:28:31), I knew that I broke 1:30 based on the gun time.

On the train ride home, my friend checked the race results on his phone (it wouldn't work on mine for some reason), and saw that my official time agreed with what my Garmin said. This meant that I had a 3 minute improvement from my previous PR, which was also cause for celebrating! We decided on a post-race meal of veggie burgers, milkshakes, and fries. I don't know if it were the place, my state of hunger, and/or my state of mind, but that type of food never tasted so good.

Pictures to come, but for now, I'm going to enjoy the rest of my visit in SF (and try to get homework done). And just in case anyone was wondering, my legs are rather sore (though that didn't stop me from walking about six miles today to do some sightseeing).