Monday, June 30, 2014

The Angry Carb Monster

I like this whole 'regular update' thing; it's kinda nice :)

One really big change to my taper before Grandma's Marathon was to try Nichole's carb depletion/load cycle diet...thing. I was a little nervous before starting it since her blog posts on the subject weren't especially encouraging. Lack of carbs + first week of summer TA hours = potential for a meltdown

Honestly, it wasn't quite as terrible as I was expecting. I really missed my carbs, yes, and it was incredibly annoying to learn that just about everything has too many carbs in it for my pseudo-Atkins diet. It was hard for me to get enough calories in...there's only so much chicken and tuna I could stomach.

Thanks to my handy-dandy calorie tracker website, I could keep track of carbs and calories. I also downloaded a few Atkins diet menu plans to give me some ideas (totally recommend doing this!). So what did I end up eating?

  • Eggs. Lots of eggs.
  • Sausage links!
  • Almond milk (not terrible...get original, not vanilla since it has too much sugar AND CARBS)
  • Raw broccoli
  • Flourless chocolate keto cake (this, plus Erin's avocado totally saved me)
  • Turkey pepperoni
  • String cheese
  • Cherry tomatoes (only a few...)
  • TUNA
  • Spinach
  • Green pepper (again, not a ton)
  • Avocado!
  • Tilapia
  • Asparagus
I definitely got stuck in a rut with breakfast and I was really tired of chicken by the end. (I don't think I've eaten chicken, aside from a post-marathon burrito, since this week...) I also drank a TON of water, partially because all the sodium was making me thirsty, and partially because I was still kinda hungry and at least water was filling me up (and was carb free, to boot!). 

I had a tuneup workout on Tuesday of The Diet. Nichole adjusted my paces (SO MUCH SLOWER) and while I felt totally weird and not like myself at all, the workout actually went well. It was oh-so-nice to wake up on Wednesday morning and eat some pre-run animal crackers and then have a bagel for breakfast :) Spaghetti had never tasted so good!

I think this had a positive effect on my race. I had my pre-race UCAN drink, a UCAN gel, and two Roctane Gu's during the marathon, which is pretty normal. I never felt like I was in danger of an energy crash, which was pleasantly different. (Maybe it was my 2:45am bagel/breakfast #1...) Overall, I guess, I'll have to say that this is definitely something I'll consider before my next marathon. I don't feel like I was especially creative with my menu and, like I said, getting enough calories in was a challenge, but the end benefit was worth it!

Yay for crazy runner things :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

2014 Grandma's Marathon

Hey howdy ho, neighborinos! I ran another marathon this past weekend up in Duluth, MN (home of Kara Goucher!). Since I have been lax about blogging lately, I figured I should get this post up so you don't think I've fallen off the face of the Earth or anything...
Thank-you muffins for my catsitters and drivers :)
Travel food!
On Thursday, I flew into MSP where Nichole and company were planning on picking me up. My flight was delayed coming out of Indy (THANKS DELTA), so it was late when I got into the Twin Cities. Luckily, the Porath Prius was fully loaded with Rice Krispie treats, so Nate was happy. Wearing my bright orange Boston jacket was a smart move because the airport was pretty busy. Craig definitely had no problem spotting me as I stood in the middle of everyone, looking like a lost puppy.

Friday was chilly, foggy, and full of surprises! We stayed in a house that is rented out to four guys attending the UMN-Duluth. It reminded me so much of Thee Taj from my ONU days, hence the reason for wearing socks (at least) at all times...

My shakeout run post-packet pickup felt decent but not great. That's about how the Boston shakeout run went, so I wasn't worried. Plus, I spent most of the 10-15 minutes we were running talking to first-time-marathoner Amy and enjoying the scenery of downtown Duluth. Nichole put on her coach hat when we got back and made everyone talk about our race mantras and motivation and what our in-race nutrition plan was going to be. I really struggled with motivation after Boston and since I'm not a naturally super positive person, the 'warm fuzzy' part of the afternoon was difficult.

Box o' awesome
To make things better, though, Nichole brought out a surprise box for me! Matt had gone to the trouble of contacting tons of my friends and training buddies to make an awesome surprise box. I started crying as I read all the cards, but then there was a ton of chocolate and some sparkley nail polish and other fun stuff to turn my tears into a giant smile. I really have the best friends!

We spent the rest of the day watching (and then quoting) Top Gun and eating CARBS. (OMG, there's another post I need to do about CARBS or the lack the blog this weekend!) Off to bed early for a marathon in the morning!

Foggy morning in MN
I woke up at 2:45am for first breakfast on Saturday morning, then at 5:45am for second breakfast and to get
up for reals. It was a pretty relaxed morning since we were going to be dropped off at the starting line. I lost everyone when I had to take off my pants at gear check, but then I found Amy and Nate in the starting corral. I was really thankful to Claire and Jake for running out and getting me a pair of gardening gloves the night before because it was chilly! It was also really foggy, so being damp didn't help.

When the race finally started, my goal was to stay between 7:45-7:35 through halfway and then re-evaluate. Every once in a while I'd look down at my watch and see that I was cruising at 7:30s and I really had to hold back. It felt nice to be able to tell myself to slow down! The course, while totally enveloped in fog, was really beautiful. I felt like I was running in Oregon or Washington. You could hear the waves lapping on the rocks and fog horns from ships out on the lake. So nice :)

really wanted that 3:20!
Once half hit, I was just over pace for a 3:20 full, so I decided to buckle down a little and see if I couldn't make 3:20 happen. 'Just 10 miles, then a 5K'...'just 8 miles, then a 5K'...'just 2 miles, then a 5K'. The 5K, I decided at mile 13, was when BEAST MODE would kick in. Looking back at my splits, I think beast mode started at half! The last 10K was a very concentrated effort to GO. I wanted that 3:20 so badly, but it wasn't
until 5K to go when I realized that I was going to come in under that, even!

Am I going to make it?
I was so thankful to have Kara run with me for a bit during the last little twisty turny section by the finish. I thought I was going to bite it on a pretty substantial downhill, but I kept rolling along. It was so encouraging
to hear people cheering out "Great pace!" or "You look awesome!" as I was running at the end. I just felt so strong the entire time! Looking at some of the race photos, I know I still get wonky arms, but hot damn, I wanted that 3:20.

This weekend was more than just trying to set a new PR after 5 marathons around the 3:28 mark. I wanted June 21, 2014 to be memorable for great reasons instead of for the emotional baggage that's been associated with it. I wanted to prove that I am NOT a 3:28 marathon. I wanted that smaller Boston (and Disney!) Marathon bib number. I wanted to really reap the product of six months of hard training. I wanted to prove to myself that the 18 mile run I did on a treadmill was worth it, that not eating carbs for three days was worth it, that lifting twice a week and not drinking margaritas and going to bed early and waking up at the buttcrack of dawn for too many weekends was worth it. Setting a 10 minute PR was definitely the result of being so driven...3:18:16, and I worked for every second of it!

So was it all worth it, truly?

Yes, yes, yes. I know that I have the absolute best friends in the world here in West Lafayette, in Morgantown, WV, in East Granby, CT; that my running family in Northfield, MN means the world to me; and that I have a coach who is willing to dress up in a cow suit to cheer me on, believe in me even when I'm not totally sold, and push me beyond what I ever though I could do.

Training for a marathon changes your life. It's impossible to be the same person at the finish as who you were 26.2 miles earlier. This weekend renewed my passion for life and for running. You betcha that I'll be back out on the roads next week with a smile on my face and a new goal in my mind and even more passion and enthusiasm in my heart.

Running is a love/hate relationship sometimes. The races where you finish and feel like you couldn't have put an ounce more of yourself into it are where you make that relationship stronger. I finished with a huge smile on my face and another finish-line fist pump (watch it here!).

This race was the perfect end to a rocky journey. Thank you to everyone who made it possible!

All smiles post-race with Cory

Marathon crew and cheering herd!
EDIT: My lovely friends are also good proofreaders and told me I forgot to mention my actual time. Oops :)

Monday, June 16, 2014

How to...make a dress in less than 24 hours

I'm currently holding my first session of TA hours for the newly-started summer semester. I have one student. Yay!

I'm also currently trying to not think about foods with carbs in them (which, btw, is practically EVERYTHING). I would just about kill someone for a bread crust right now. Ugh.

Anyhoo, I went back to fair Ohio last week for a few days. Not as scenic as Wisconsin, but I got to see mum and dad for a few days and meet the new kitties. I didn't plan on doing anything terribly productive, but then mum asked if I wanted to swing by JoAnn's and I had to say YES of course, and then I remembered this super cute dress that Kristel made and YES, I would like to make that. In less than 24 hours.

So how do you do this? Lucky you, I have this super helpful step-by-step (mostly) tutorial! Here we go!

STEP 1: Pick a pattern that says EASY on the package. It will be a big, fat liar, but won't hurt your chances of success. (Pro tip: pleats are not easy.)

No directions in MEOW?
STEP 2: Cut out the pattern pieces. It's very helpful to have paperweights and/or other help during this stage. You should probably iron the pieces first as well to increase their appeal.
I'm just going to sit...HERE. This looks nice.

STEP 3: Cut out the fabric. Again, HAVE HELP. Or at least supervision.

STEP 4: Follow the zillion and one pattern directions. Get mum to interpret things, because if you're both staring at step 19 with perplexed looks, someone will come up with something to avoid permanently wrinkling their face in a ponderous look.

Gracie was such a good helper!
STEP 5: When things don't come together right, meh. No biggie. Sew it later.

STEP 6: Leave the hand stitching for later! It's almost wearable as-is. Try it on because you will look fabulous in your new dress!
OMG. So exhausting. Being cute, that is...

Other pro tips: Pins lots, use big stitches for machine basting, and use an invisible zipper if possible. They're actually easier to install sew in than a regular zipper, provided that you iron it into submission first (and hand baste - ugh, I KNOW - it into place).