Aiming for an encore…

Having a 23-mile week has really gone to my head… enough that I want to do it again!

So I’ve been running, a lot…


3.6 miles on Monday…


3.6 miles on Tuesday…


3.6 miles on Wednesday.

I have a commitment on Saturday afternoon/evening, so I doubt if I’ll be able to run more than 3-4 miles on Saturday. Therefore I am going to have to adjust my long run… if I have time, I’ll do it tomorrow (Thursday); if I can’t do it then, I’ll do it Friday, and if I’m in a real pinch I’ll do it Sunday.

I stopped at Aldi’s today and was positively THRILLED to discover a 4-pack of Simply Nature Squeezable Fruit pouches for $1.79. That’s going to be my next test for long run nutrition. Now, I still have hesitations – namely, these things are BULKY and it will be challenging to carry a sufficient number with me. (Admittedly, I also do not know how many I will need!) But it’s cheap, which makes me happy, and I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

23 mile week

What a crazy busy week!

I ran a lot this week, in spite of the busy-ness, which felt really good. Like I already posted, I ran 3.6 miles on Monday and Tuesday…  

 …then 3.6 miles on Wednesday…

 …and 3.6 miles on Thursday!

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run on Friday, which was part of my incentive to run earlier in the week. My runs were all solid – nothing outstanding, but I was pleased that I was out there each day. In fact, my pace dropped just a tiny amount, but steadily, throughout the week – from something like 12:30 or 12:45, to 13:15, to 13:30, to 14:00. I figured that was because I wasn’t taking rest days. My legs still felt good so I wasn’t too worried.

I did have a small surprise on Thursday’s run…  

 This little puppy. I recognized her – I’ve seen her with her owner before – but she approached me a good quarter-mile from her house. In the street. Her owner has complained about not having time/money to put up a fence. I have to resist the urge to tell her that she shouldn’t get a dog if she can’t take care of it.  

 I picked up the dog – she’s still small, maybe ten pounds – and carried her to her home. Walking, of course. She’s awfully sweet, and she was awfully happy to see me, so I let this one go… but in another month or two, when she’s grown into a full-size Labrador, if they don’t have her restrained, I will be calling animal control.  

 I also found two cents on Thursday. Penny saved, penny earned?

 On Saturday, with my fresh legs, I ran 8.43 miles. It began slowly. It took me a mile to find my pace, but it felt good. I was also pleased that I was maintaining a slow(ish) pace, so I didn’t wear out my legs.

I didn’t have a chance to go to Walmart or the grocery store this week, so the only nutrition option I had was the fruit snacks. I wasn’t wild about it, but I figured it was better than nothing. I “front-loaded” the snacks, eating a little bit more at each stop during the first half of the run (about 4 fruit snacks/mile).  

 The first few miles were okay. I found my pace and was just doing my best to enjoy the feeling of the sun and the wind. I (briefly) considered turning around early, but reminded myself that I had to get to QuikTrip to refill my water bottle, and that meant I had to keep going.  

 QT felt great. Getting that far was an accomplishment. I went in through the side door and paused by the fountain drinks to recover and re-hydrate.

There were also a couple of people who commented on how hard I was working and how impressed they were by my running. Good for my ego. :)

I began to really feel it during mile 5. The bone in my shoulder, which I broke years ago, started aching. Referred pain, maybe? I also was becoming acutely aware of some chafing between my boobs. I think I had a spot where my skin was already raw, and during this run it rubbed along the length of my sportsbra’s upper hem.

At mile 6, I stopped to get a couple of fruit snacks out of my SPIbelt, plus a drink of water. I tried to swallow, but it just didn’t work. Before, I didn’t exactly love the taste of the fruit snacks (just wasn’t working during a run), but I could tolerate it. Now, it was like my body was physically rejecting the fruit snacks. I gagged and spat the fruit snacks into the grass. I could taste a bit of stomach acid in the back of my mouth, and I just stood still for a couple of minutes, wondering if I was going to throw up.

I didn’t even think to take a photo. I was too busy feeling crummy!

The feeling passed. I just knew that I couldn’t swallow any more fruit snacks, and that I would have to white-knuckle the last couple of miles. It wasn’t easy, but I pushed. Hard. I really threw myself into it.

It was not easy. For the next two miles, I gave it everything I had. It was not easy. I could feel the exhaustion in my legs, and it took a lot of focus to not let my pace slide because of it. At one point, close to the end, I was screaming out loud to myself, “Dig! Dig! Dig!”

I averaged a sub-14:00 pace. I’m still struggling with pushing myself beyond six miles – that’s where the exhaustion really pulls me down. The chafing between my boobs was (and still is) pretty bad, and I also got a mild spot of chafing below one arm. Of course it was frustrating to have my nutrition fall apart mid-run. But overall, I’m pleased. It’s a great pace, especially considering all the challenges.

This also brings me up to nearly 23 miles for the week (3.6 miles on MTWR and 8.4 miles on Saturday), which is definitely more than my usual. I don’t know what next week will bring, but here’s to many more miles!

midweek runs and long run fuel thoughts

I went for a run yesterday, and it was AWESOME. It was seriously one of those runs I wish I could bottle up. My legs felt strong, and I just felt glorious. I went to a movie last night so I didn’t have a chance to blog about it right away, but trust me, it was an incredible 3.6 miles.
I went for another run today, also 3.6 miles. Not as good as yesterday’s run, but I had a good time. Today’s run was a clearing-my-head run. I was frustrated with work, fighting writer’s block, and I went for a run since I knew I wouldn’t get anything done otherwise. (Did I mention I had writer’s block?!?!)

I’m still pondering my options for mid-run fuel. Since the fruit snacks didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, I want to choose something different for my next long run. I’m aiming for 15-30 grams of carbs per hour. I’ve narrowed it down to three:

Gummy Bears
14 bears=30g carbs
Pros: Cheap. Sweeter than fruit snacks, so it might be easier to swallow. Easy to carry.
Cons: Still chewy. Still requires swallowing. Might still cause me to gag.
This wins on price and bulk, but I really am worried about the gagging thing. It’s not going to do me any good if I start throwing up mid-run on a regular basis.

Gatorade Prime “gel”
One 4oz packet=25g carbs
Pros: Relatively cheap – I can buy it at the grocery store on sale for $1 per 4-oz tube.
Cons: Messy – no way to close the packet once it’s been opened. Kinda bulky.
For an eight-mile run, I’d need two 4oz packets (approx. one packet per hour). It would be cheap, and I think I could deal with the bulk, but the mess would be a problem. I wonder if I could find a gel flask that was pretty easy to carry. On the other hand, I would still have to carry at least 8oz of gel, which might be awfully heavy.

Energy gel (Gu)
One 1.1oz packet=22g carbs
Pros: Small, easy to carry. Potentially easier to swallow.
Cons: Expensive- $1.50 per packet or more, often sold in boxes of 24 or more. Difficult to find – not sold at grocery stores.
A far-out winner for density of carbs. An eight-mile run would probably require 3-4 packets (1-1.5 per hour). I’m a little concerned by the density of calories – would my body be able to handle that many calories at once? And it’s pricey. Then again, it may not be too bad if only need a couple of packets.

Pureed fruit (BuddyFruits)
One 3.2oz packet=15g carbs
Pros: Resealable lids. Reasonable price- less than $1 per packet.
Cons: Bulky. Very bulky.
I’m guessing I’d need 4 packets for an eight-mile run (two per hour). This stuff is is BULKY – four packets of this would be a lot to carry. And the cost would add up. However, it wouldn’t be messy thanks to those lids. And it might be pretty easy to get down.

All that, and I still haven’t drawn any conclusions. I’m leaning toward the pureed fruits, if only because that’s probably the easiest for me to acquire. Though gummies would be pretty easy too. We’ll see.

8 mile nutrition experiment

Yesterday, I ran 8.38 miles. 8.38 glorious miles.

I hadn’t planned too far ahead, but early Saturday afternoon, I realized that I had both time for a two-hour run and time to prepare for a two-hour run. I packed up my SPIbelt (a chrismas gift from my sister) with two packets of fruit snacks, slipped my iphone into my armband, and grabbed a chilled bottle of water from the fridge (one of those throwaway 16.9oz bottles).

This was the first time I’ve ever run with fruit snacks. Truth be told, it’s the first time I’ve ever run with solid food. In my past half-marathons and longer-than-6-mile runs, I’ve relied on Gatorade for my nutritional needs. That worked. However, the more I run, the more I wonder about other options. I knew I couldn’t run more than about 6 or 6.5 miles without bonking, unless I had some kind of nutrition, and I wanted to try something different.

On this particular route, approximately every one mile, there are natural “stops” in the form of intersections and street crossings. My plan was to eat 3-4 fruit snacks at each of those stops, along with healthy gulps of water. At a QuikTrip convenience store just over 4 miles away, I would refill my water bottle.

I started out at a slightly faster pace than I’d intended – closer to 13:15. I tried as best as I could to slow down but largely failed. (I’ve told you before, I’m TERRIBLE at pace!) I was optimistic about the fruit snacks, and I knew that (based on my pace) this run would be either amazing or a disaster. I reminded myself, several times, that my goal should not be a particular pace, but just to complete the run and not bonk.

After one mile, I stopped to open a packet of fruit snacks. Between the sweat and the moisture on my hands from holding a chilled bottle of water, this was almost IMPOSSIBLE. I stood there for at least three or four minutes, fumbling the plastic wrapper. Eventually, I was able to tear it open with my teeth (apologies to the orthodontist who spent so many years making my teeth straight). I tossed a few fruit snacks in my mouth, washed them down with water, and resumed my run.

The next couple of miles went well. My pace was fast – probably too fast, close to 12:30, but I felt great. I continued eating fruit snacks and drinking water about once a mile, though I found myself struggling to chew the fruit snacks. Somehow my body just didn’t seem to have the energy for my jaw. I wound up swallowing the fruit snacks whole like big old pills.


two miles – feeling good!

The fourth mile went really well. I was in a more populated shopping area, and I just felt incredibly hard core. It was great. My pace dropped even more, close to 12:00, and I thought again that this was either going to be a great thing or a disaster – either I was going to finish this run at a really amazingly fast pace, or I would horribly bonk and barely make it home.


four miles. outside the QT, looking into the sun.

I stopped at the QT and filled my bottle with water. Special thanks to the employees at this location, who didn’t charge me for the water. I still felt pretty good – a little more tired perhaps, but good.


*of course* I stepped in gum outside the QT. sigh.

My fifth mile was also strong. I was able to pull my pace back, closer to 13:00, but I felt strong and I was pleased with that. I had to stop at one point to get a pebble out of my shoe. I knew that, if I was going to bonk, I would probably be feeling it soon. The fruit snacks were not going down very smoothly at this point. Though I was swallowing them, it didn’t feel good. Remarkably my stomach was handling the nutrition okay. They were just hard to swallow.

Mile six was (mostly) downhill, which helped to keep my pace steady, I’m sure. My feet felt okay. My body felt good. This far in, I felt great. Fruit snacks, water, and I was off again.


six miles. still hanging on.

Mile seven, unfortunately, was mostly uphill. I kept running, but my pace dropped off quite a bit – down to 14:00 or 14:30. I mentally cheered myself on (a LOT), but my legs were tired.

At the top of the hill, at the end of mile seven, I grabbed a stop sign and leaned over, putting my hands on my knees to catch my breath. I must’ve looked like a mess, because the drivers stopping at the stop sign were all giving me thumbs-ups and fist-pumps. :-)

I really struggled to get the fruit snacks down. Swallowing them very nearly activated my gag reflex. I felt slightly nauseous. I honestly wondered if I would throw up during this last mile.

With only a mile left, I pushed myself as hard as I could. I had the odd sensation that my tired legs were barely moving at all, and I had to push through that several times. Every minute or two, I reminded myself to push and run a little bit faster.

I got home in one piece, tired but happy. I did not totally bonk, although I’m still definitely struggling with those last couple of miles. I’m not really satisfied with the fruit snacks. My stomach handled them okay but it did not feel natural to chew or swallow anything while I ran. I also feel like one of my challenges may have come from not taking in enough nutrition – in other words, that perhaps I needed to eat MORE than I did. Yet given the challenge of swallowing, this feels simultaneously impossible.

One of my complaints about energy gels has long been that I find them ridiculously expensive. I don’t like the idea of spending $5-$10 per run on fuel. At the same time, I wonder if my problem with the fruit snacks is the fruit snacks or the physical act of chewing and swallowing. If it’s the chewing-and-swallowing, then all solid foods might cause that problem. Gels, or at least some other semisolid food, might solve that problem. I need to research!!!

Better than nothing…

Ran 3.61 miles today. This was as close to a “bad” run as I get. There wasn’t anything bad in particular- it just didn’t feel good. My legs weren’t in the game. I struggled for every step. Better than nothing, I guess…

One unusual perk: around the halfway mark, I saw a deer. I first saw just a flash disappearing over a hill, which left me quite confused. “It” had the ears of a cat, but it was too large and it ran more like a dog. I created the hill and realized just how wrong I was. She eyes me for a moment, then ran into the stand of trees, but I was able to get a photo! (I think- it may just be the light. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.)

Turtle runs

Today’s run began with a software update. I was updating some software on my work computer, and what I had hoped would be a ten-minute update quickly turned into a five-hour update. Faced with hours of staring at a progress bar, I hurried out of my office for a run.

I grabbed my sunglasses, phone, and armband, and headed out the door. I was feeling pretty good overall, and hopped down the front stairs and around the car in our driveway.

Imagine my surprise when I see this:


That’s a 3-toed box turtle. He was sitting right in the middle of my driveway. I have no idea why – our house is on top of a hill, and we don’t have any water landscaping. It’s not exactly a prime turtle habitat. But whatever his reasons, it sure was fun to see him.
He is such a metaphor for my running – I nearly always feel like the turtle, slow and steady. I’ll get to the finish line, but I won’t be the fastest.

I’m surprised by his size. I know box turtles are usually about the size of a quarter when they hatch. This little guy was at least the size of my fist, perhaps a bit larger. I’m guessing he must be an adult (or very nearly so).

I hated to leave the turtle, but my run was calling.

I finished 3.6 miles. Felt fantastic today!

Oh, and by the way, I also crossed the 1000-mile mark on my Nike+ app today! I feel like I should do something to celebrate. Lacking inspiration, I’ll leave you with this:


Weekend 6

Yesterday I ran 6.3 miles. It was wonderful.

I suppose I probably should have stayed home to work, but a recent cold front brought our temperatures down to ~60F, and it was just so beautiful outside! The day was practically begging me to run!

I have not run over 4 miles since last June, and I was eager to get outside and push my legs farther. In fact, I was admittedly tempted to run over 8 miles. I held back for two reasons: primarily, because I have not been doing long runs recently, I know I am not trained for it, and secondarily, if I ran over ~6 miles, I would need to put together some nutrition supplies in very short order.

Interestingly, the first two miles were probably the most challenging. Even though my legs were freshest, my mind was fighting. I could feel hesitation inside me, questioning whether I really wanted to do this run, barely even a conscious thought but still rising unbidden.

Once I got into the third mile, I really found my stride. I ran easily, holding myself back, enjoying the sun and the freedom. 


In the fourth mile, as I ran downhill, I allowed myself to speed up and let go for a little while. Nothing feels quite as wonderful as the wind in your face and hair, and legs that feel as though they are flying.

The fifth mile was a challenge – uphill, with a great deal of mental encouragement to get me there. The hills leveled off, though the sixth mile still required a great deal of “mind-over-matter” pushing to force my tired legs to keep going.

I chose to run with headphones plugged into my phone and music streaming in my ears. This was my first non-treadmill run with headphones since that race last June… but also my first long run since last June. The music was a pleasant distraction, particularly during the fifth and sixth miles when I was fighting the tiredness in my legs, but I was surprised to discover that I was kind of annoyed by the presence of earphones in my ears. I constantly felt like I needed to adjust them. So strange.

I did get one blister. I first noticed the irritation at the halfway point. I actually thought it would pop and bleed, but it’s not bad at all:

In the end, my pace was around 14:00-14:15… much better than I expected! It’s encouraging to see these improvements. I still feel like I’m the slowest runner out there, but it’s nice to be a little bit better than I was.

the necessity of running

Most of the time, I run because I want to run. I run to challenge myself, because it feels good, because I can. Sometimes, though, I run because I need to run. 

Tonight was one of those times. 

My mind was so overwhelmed with thoughts, thoughts so deep and personal I don’t even dare to share them on this website. Running was the only way I could clear my mind. I ran, and I cried, and I tried to escape my thoughts. More often than not, I struggled to breathe, as my crying led to wheezing and refused to release its grip on my chest.

I ran in the dark, just me and a flashlight and a blinker. That, and the absence of other people on the streets, made it far safer to let the tears fall where they may.


This is my fake pseudo-smile. It’s so easy to fake a smile for the camera. Ever noticed that? It’s easy to smile for the split-second of a shutter. It’s so far from reality. 


This is much more honest. This is my ugly-cry, holding-back-tears face. 

My problems didn’t go away. I didn’t solve every crisis. But my life is so much more manageable with running. 

peculiar spontaneous runs and new themes

If you haven’t noticed, I changed the theme on this site. I’m much happier with the way this theme displays the Nike+ statistics in the sidebar. It’s fun to get back into the site’s code – it’s been much too long since I’ve done that!

Today was strange. I originally wasn’t planning to run today. My run last Monday was only mediocre at best. I went for a run on Wednesday that was absolutely dreadful. If the measure of a run’s quality is in the “just do it”, well, I did get out there and run. But it felt awful. I struggled every step of the way. Because of that, plus a terrible weather forecast (for running- 92F, humid, harsh sun), I figured I deserved a break today.

The morning and afternoon were remarkably productive. At 4:00, I realized that I had nothing planned for the next hour. I suppose the normal, sane thing would have been to kick back and relax for an hour. I certainly had plenty of excuses: “Monday and Wednesday’s runs were bad. It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s the hottest time of the day. You’ve worked so hard. You deserve a break.”

Instead I gave in to my inner runner, tied my shoes, and headed out for a run. It was hot and humid, and I intended to run slower because of that. It wasn’t easy at first – no surprise, as that first mile is usually pretty tough. So imagine my surprise when I discovered I ran the first mile at 13:12 pace – very fast, for me!

I kept chugging along, and honestly, it felt great. It felt great to be running at around a 13:00 pace, or even a little faster. It felt great to be running past cars and waving at the drivers. It felt great to feel the strength in my legs.


At about ~2.25 miles, I was approaching the bottom of what I’ve named “Hampton Hill”. It’s a pretty brutal hill, about a quarter-mile long, and the elevation gets steadily steeper. I’ve conquered this hill before, but it’s still far from easy. As I approached this hill today, as always, I was pumping myself up mentally. “You’re doing great. Don’t push too hard. Take it easy. Steady pace. Even effort. You can do it.”

At the bottom of the hill, I found myself repeating a mantra, a chant. With every step, I said to myself, “Easy (two, three, four). Steady (two, three, four). Even (two, three, four).” To my (oxygen-deprived) mind, the mantra seemed to be the perfect way to hold my (slightly faster than usual but not too fast) pace while pushing over this hill.

So… imagine my surprise when I got to the top of the hill and discovered, I hadn’t just held my pace. I had run the hill at a pace that was at least a full minute faster than the (slightly faster than usual) pace that I’d been holding. Race pace, basically. Yikes!

I actually had to pause at the top of the hill. The unintentionally fast pace had left me with a touch of lightheadedness (something I usually only experience at the end of races!).

About a half mile from home, my abdominal muscles started cramping. Even as I tried to push through it, my abdominals felt simultaneously weak and painful. I discovered pretty quickly that my body wasn’t going to keep running. I dropped to a walk, with some deep-breathing as I pushed through the waves of muscle cramping. I assume it was related to the stress on my muscles from my extra-fast hill run (though with my luck, it was probably just gas or something).

Here’s my splits from today’s workout:


Ahhhhh-mazing. I came home simultaneously exhausted and elated. I feel so incredible today.