Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Back To Basics

So I mentioned after my marathon that I wanted to start focusing on my nutrition again, which has been simply abysmal since the start of the summer.  A lot of it was that I was stressed from work, and tracking food just simply got to be too much.  Once I added the marathon training in there was stress on top of stress.  I needed something to ease up in my life, and my healthy eating and commitment to slimming down ended up being the sacrifice.  I'm not saying it was a wise idea, it's just kind of the way things happened.  And I think a lot of people automatically assume that when you are doing training runs that you turn into a toothpick, but it's actually pretty common for people to gain weight when they run.  That's what we're going to roll with anyway.  ;)

I'm definitely not happy with how I look right now, especially since I've lost a lot of muscle tone and am pretty convinced that I'm getting some flying squirrel wings on my arms which is NOT cool.  My pants don't fit great anymore either, and I'm falling into that "I'm throwing on a dumpy hoodie and jeans to cover the rolls" mode.  I weighed last night and was surprised to see that I haven't really gained as much as I thought considering the debauchery of the last few months (only 10 pounds), but to illustrate how important strength training and muscle is, my body shape is totally different and not in a good way.  I know some people make light of yoga or think that it isn't that tough, but I had way more muscle tone when I was doing it on a regular basis than I do now.  Regardless, I've acknowledged my failings and am going to buckle down and get back into it. 

The full and half marathons have given me a new confidence in myself that I can stick things out, so I feel good and hopeful about getting back into my nutrition and finally getting into the physical zone I want to be in.  Seriously, if I could tough out the painful last 10 miles of the marathon, then I should have the fortitude to not shove 12 salted caramels from Costco into my face every night. I really want to be in a healthier state for my upcoming races.  I want to improve my speed and also not look like Jabba the Hut in my race pics!  I was pretty horrified by some of my NWHM pictures, so it's like yeah, it's time to quit horsing around and get back into things.

As usual, I don't believe in crazy diets or completely cutting out anything, I'm just going to your basic calories in/calories out, "I can live with this for the rest of my life" approach.  Here are some of my intentions starting today:

  • Drink more water and hot tea:  I don't do too bad on water really, but I have so much loose leaf tea at home that I need to enjoy, and I really want to focus on making sure I'm hydrating myself enough.  I know I did so much better with eating when I drank a ton of hot tea, and now that it's cold weather again, it just seems right.
  • Start eating better breakfasts, including putting my Vitamix to use and making fruit/veggie smoothies:  My breakfasts are usually not my problem meal but usually it's just boring cream of wheat, so I don't feel like I get variety or even the nutrients I need.  I treated myself to a Vitamix blender over the summer, and it makes amazing smoothies, so I want to utilize that more for breakfasts.  It's just so easy to get in a lot of yummy raw foods in at once, and I'm usually pretty full if I have one of those in the morning.
  • Getting more fiber in general:  I do so bad with this, and I need to get better.  Fiber means happy days and being lighter, and typically when I get more fiber, it means that I'm eating the way I'm supposed to.  And I think whether we want to admit it or not, we all love being able to go "big potty" without issue. 
  • More yoga:  I mentioned this after the marathon, but I want to get back into regular yoga practice again.  I didn't have back, hip or foot pain when I was in regular practice, and I want my muscles back!
  • Moisturizing my skin more:  I know this sounds like a weird thing to focus on, but it just kind of falls into that whole taking care of myself thing and that I want to be better about it.  I want to take care of my skin so that it hopefully is kind to me and somewhat bounces back as I shed weight.  I've been really focusing on it since Saturday, and already am so happy with how much better my skin looks.  I'd also like to try to feel a little more girly and pretty, and you can't be girly and pretty with alligator skin!
Of course it's only Tuesday, but I've been doing pretty well this week with my food.  I'm tracking again, which is unfortunately something I think I'll have to do for the rest of my life.  I just don't do well going rogue.  But it feels good to get better food in my system, and I haven't been terribly hungry or gotten headaches.  I have indeed had smoothies for breakfast.  The one I made Monday was super gross but I drank it anyway (beet, beet greens, pineapple, lime and a banana), but the one today was freaking delicious.  I used plain kefir, which was a total impulse buy, and blended it with pineapple, strawberries and a pear.  SO good.  It's been pretty basic other than that.  Salads, lean meats, baked sweet potatoes, homemade chicken noodle soup, etc.

I haven't started the yoga or my training runs this week.  I wanted to start back with my nutrition and food tracking, get it ingrained as a habit again, then add my fitness back in.  I

Monday, October 28, 2013

Race Announcements!

I can't tell you guys how good it feels to be at home and back in a more normal schedule, and to even sleep in a little!  Even so, I felt so strange this weekend not having a long run scheduled, even though it was the bane of my existence all summer.  It felt even more strange to not have anything to work towards, and I know I said many times that I couldn't wait for both of my big races to be over, and now that they are I just feel weird.  As I said in my last post, I had a super positive experience during the Nike Women's half, and by the end I had that same elated feeling when I crossed the finish line that I normally have.  As soon as I was done I couldn't wait to get online and see what races I could sign up for next!

Next month I'm signed up for two races here in Portland, both holiday themed ones.  I'm pretty excited about them because I love Thanksgiving and Christmas, and both of these races are low pressure things where we're just going to have fun.  And I made my poor, long suffering husband sign up with me for both of them, and I love when he runs with me, even though I know it's not his thing.  The first race is the Ugly Sweater Run 5k, and is definitely just a silly thing for fun.  We joined a team with a couple of our coworkers (one of them is the girl I roomed with in San Francisco and who ran the NWHM with me).  I don't know where the heck I'm going to get an ugly Christmas sweater, and was joking with my mom this weekend about how bummed I was that we still didn't have some of the ones from my childhood.  We had some super bad ones in the late 80's/early 90's era, and that shit was NOT ironic.

The second race is the Oregon Turkeython on Thanksgiving Day, which should be a good start to the gluttony.  I am doing the 10k and Eric is doing the 5k.  I have always wanted to do a Turkey Trot, and I will be completely honest, I am obsessed with medals now and I really wanted the tacky ass turkey medal that you get for finishing the race.  This is the glorious medal I'll be getting:

I mean....I'm not going to lie, I'm kind of excited.  I'm almost more excited for it than I was my marathon medal, lol. 

Now for the bigger running announcement that I mentioned yesterday.  I haven't really talked about this, but I have a 2 month sabbatical coming up next year in January and February, which I am pretty excited about.  I've been toying with what to do during my time off, and one particular thing kept coming up for me as something I wanted to do.  I knew at some point I wanted to go back to Louisiana to hang out with my family since I don't get to see them that often.  Just for "fun" I kept looking to see if there were any local races going on during the time I roughly wanted to go down, an one kept jumping out at me.  I decided to go for it this weekend and sign up.

Now don't get riled up, I did NOT sign up for the full marathon, only the half!  No way am I even considering a full ever again without about a million stipulations, but a half?  Absolutely.  This one is in Baton Rouge, and I couldn't be more thrilled to run a race in my home state.  And of course, I'm pretty thrilled about those medals lol.  For those who are like "WTF is that", it's a running shoe print with a Cyprus tree in the middle.  I love, love love it!  I called my parents to tell them that I am coming down for 2 weeks to visit and will be running the race, and they just about peed themselves.  It will be nice for them to be able to see me race, which they've never been able to do before since I live so far away.

It feels good to have some races in the hopper, and to have something to work towards again.  Running is funny like that.  You bitch and moan about it, but it does become a part of your life that you feel lost without.  Races are totally addictive (medal or not), and I am very happy to have some coming up that are all about having fun.  The Louisiana Half is going to be fun too because of seeing my family.

So those are my announcements!  Now you guys get to look forward to me continuing to post craziness about my running training!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Nike Women's Half Marathon Recap

Good lord, am I EVER overdue on this recap.  When I was in San Francisco, my hotel charged $12 for internet per day, and there was no way my cheap ass was paying that much just to use the internet, and then when I got back into town, our week was so busy that I didn't have time to sit down and thoughtfully write out the kind of post I wanted to write.  So, here we are a week later.  I'd planned to kind of do a 3 part thing and include a ton of pictures and stories about the other crap we did, but I'm just going to keep it to this one blog post since I need to slay the dragon and just get it done.  I'll probably do a little "outtake" post with all of the pictures and stuff I didn't post here.  For now, I'll post just about the race.

The Nike Women's Half Marathon is the biggest race I've ever run when it came to the number of participants.  The only thing that has ever come close was the Shamrock Run here in Portland, which I think had about 32,000 runners, but the NWHM was almost 40,000!

The race had an agonizingly early start of 6:30 am, and TNT required that we meet up in the hotel lobby at 5:15 (!!!), so I was up at 4:30 am.  I was a bit irritated because there was no good reason for us to really meet that early since it was just typical TNT nonsense of standing in circles talking about being purple warriors, passing out buttons to wear at the race, talking a million pictures, crying and lecturing everyone about eating enough salt.  Everyone was super peppy too and all up in each other's faces, which that early in the morning and no coffee is just not for me.  I am always pretty quiet before a race because I have a ton of adrenaline, even if it's something simple like a 5k, so I was a tiny bit miserable having to fake sunshine and flowers at that hour.  So much more to the whole TNT thing that I'll get into at a later date.

Finally at 6 am we walked the 3 blocks or so over to our corrals.  I finally took my chance to break free of the group and worm my way into the middle of my corral so that I could be in my own headspace and quietly prepare to run the thing, but of course a group of TNT people somehow found me and were blabbing to me non-stop and asking me a ton of questions.  *sigh*  I just resigned myself to not being able to have a moment's peace until the race actually started.

To give you an idea of how many people were in the race, the start time was 6:30 am, but I didn't cross over the start like until 7 am.  I know the picture is blurry and you may not be able to tell, but there is a faint blue strip WAY in the front center of the picture, and that's the start line.  That should give you some perspective of how far back I was.  There were still like 3 or 4 blocks worth of people behind me!

If you love San Francisco, the route for the NWHM is super cool.  We ran right past Fisherman's Warf, which is one of my favorite things, as well as Alcatraz Landing.  I probably would have had a better finishing time on the race, but I stopped and took a million pictures along the way, and it was all worth it.

For the first five miles, the race was so insanely crowded that I couldn't even move my arms that much without hitting someone.  I was also getting annoyed with people who were walking and blocking the way of the runners.  I obviously support anyone who wants to sign up for a race, but if you feel like you will need to walk most of it, then the rules of the road apply...slower traffic to the right!  I was doing some crazy dodging and passing moves, all while trying to make sure I didn't eat it on the uneven pavement.  I kind of wish I'd lied and stated a faster time to get in a corral that had a bigger ratio of runners, which is a complete "note to self" if I ever do a bigger race again.

The one thing I didn't even really think of until I was in the race was "oh yeah, San Francisco has big ass hills!"  I'd had a couple of locals tell me the course was flat, which would be like me telling an out of towner that Portland's obsession with bacon, beer and hipsters is on the minor end of the scale.  (in other words, all lies!!)  When we hit our first hill, I was cursing every person who'd called the course flat, because it was brutal.  EVERYONE stopped to walk at that point.  In a crazy way though, I do feel like it took pressure off areas of my legs that normally get worked out too much.  Here is a picture of the biggest hill (and my alien thumb), which just got foggier and steeper the higher up we got.

Despite the hills I have to say, my energy levels and body treated me right during the race.  There was never a point where I felt bummed out, stressed, tired or even that winded.  I had Gu in my pack, but it actually hurt my stomach the first time I took it, so I cautiously took some Cliff Bloks at one of the aid stations.  I felt great after I ate them!!  Usually Bloks hurt my stomach and make me feel sick, but for whatever reason they went over well during the race.  I think the trick was that I would eat one, then wait until at least another 0.75 to eat another one, but who knows.  I was pretty happy that I took enough Bloks with me to squirrel away in my bag for the remainder of the race.

The aid stations were pretty decent, though at many of them they were running out of water, and all of them were crazy disorganized.  I can't really fault them though, having to keep up with that many people.  There was also Nuun at every station, which I had trained with and was used to, so that was just fine on my stomach.

The spectators at this race were pretty decent, but definitely not as good as Portland.  There were some pretty funny signs around that I wish I'd taken pictures of, but I DID capture a picture of another runner's shirt that made me burst out laughing.

Such a cute shirt, even though I guess that means I'm not a nice girl, since I did go all the way in Portland!  ;)

All of a sudden (or so it felt like), I was at mile 11, and realized that I was almost done.  I believe my exact thoughts were like "hell, why didn't I just do a half marathon in the first place?!?!"  I guess the trick to having a pretty easy half is to run a full marathon a couple weeks before!  Thankfully the rest of the route was downhill, so I ran for the remainder of the race.  The next thing I knew, I crossed the finish line and ran towards a tuxedo'd fireman holding a Tiffany box!  Grabbing that box was totally thrilling, since I've never owned a Tiffany anything in my life, and since I knew it was going to be a one of a kind necklace.

So that's the necklace, which I LOVE.  The "X" is since it's the 10th year of the Nike Women's Marathon/Half Marathon, but I most love the side that just has the simple engraving on it, which is the side I wear it on.  I am so proud of it, and still so in awe that I own a Tiffany necklace!

My finish time was 3 hours and 22 minutes, although I think I could have done a sub three if I hadn't fiddle farted around and stopped for pictures so often.  I also had to wait in a really long porta-potty line, which easily was a 10 minute deal.  I'm still pretty happy with that though.

Afterwards Eric and his friend Oliver took me to a local cafe for a victory brunch.  I had quite possibly the best chicken and waffles ever, as well as a really amazing cup of coffee!

I know all of that wasn't the most detailed recap of every little thing that happened during the race, but at least you guys know I survived now!  I can also happily report that the race was such a positive experience and so much fun that it completely revived my love of running!  I know I'd told you guys that after this race that I was going to retire from running for a little bit and well...that's kind of a big old lie!  I not only am going to continue running, but I am already signed up for three races!  Two of them are local races and will be in November, and I have yet another destination race in January that I will be telling you about in the next blog post.  All I'll say for now is that I'm pretty excited about it, but it's not a full marathon!  I haven't changed my mind about not wanting to do another one of those!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fall Photo Blog

Fall is my favorite time of year, period.  In the South I never got the changing of the seasons, it's either hot or seriously freaking hot, so since I moved to Oregon I can't get enough of having an actual autumn season.  Eric and I have an annual tradition of going to the local cider mill and getting our Halloween pumpkins and some goodies.  Today was the first day in a long time where we had nothing going on, so we decided it would be perfect to head out to the mill.  I don't want to get too wordy, I'd like to let the pictures speak for themselves.  Needless to say, we had the perfect Sunday.

The diva queen of goats at the cider mill "petting zoo".

I hate to see him leave, but I love watchin' him go...

A girl and her perfect pumpkin!
We're romantic and artsy fartsy
A few of these, a couple of caramel apples and 2 gallons of apple cider.
Stunning and red...
Pink Floyd sun catchers in a local cafe during lunch

Wine tasting in the fall sun.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Brown Margaritas

Today I did something almost as hard as my marathon, which was get up when I was immensely hungover and had about 4 hours of sleep to go on a 4 mile walk.  God.  Yesterday was one of the worst days at work, which is saying something in the scope of this year.  One of those where you come home and cry (as you're doing overtime) until your husband forces you to get up and go out to dinner to get your head in a different space.  We tried out this Mexican place we'd never been to before that I had babbled to him about when I was totally doped up before my Lasik surgery.  I guess many years ago a friend had told me this place had margaritas that were so strong, they were tinted brown from the amount of tequila.  I was insisting we go there after my surgery, because you know, what better thing to do after 2 Xanex and eye surgery than go drink.  Obviously we didn't do that (I was out by the time I got to the car), so Eric suggested we go there last night.  I guess if there was ever a night where I needed a brown margarita it was this one.

True to the legend, the margaritas were pretty damn strong and indeed seemed to have that faint goldish tint from tequila.  I of course had two large ones.  The food there was okay, I think I liked it a little more than Eric did.  I am not sure that we'll go back, just because the food didn't blow us away and the service sucked.  I guess I'll just have to make my own brown margaritas!

Unfortunately between still being upset about work and drinking too much, I popped wide awake at a little before 1 am, and couldn't go back to sleep until 4, then had to wake up at 6.  UG.

See, I have not trained with my Team in Training team for the whole summer.  When I saw my coach out on the marathon course, I promised I'd go to the last training so that I could pick up some stuff I need for the San Francisco trip, and to decorate my race shirt.  That was all well and good until I was hungover and running on no sleep, but a promise is a promise, so I dragged myself out of bed and drove to Vancouver freaking Washington.  No coffee, no breakfast, not even any water.  Also, I was pretty sure that I was sweating tequila out of my pores.

The training walk was ok.  I did the 4 mile route option and walked with a nice older lady who is a coach on the team.  She was also very quiet so we just kind of had a peaceful walk without a lot of chitchat.  I am a bit worried about my leg.  I noticed during the last mile of the walk that tendon was really barking at me.  At one point we all jogged across a crosswalk since the light was about to turn, and my leg really didn't like that at all.  I still have another week before the half marathon, so I really hope that my leg settles down.

I am definitely ready to get the half marathon over with.  This getting up on the weekends and having obligations stuff sucks.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


It's funny, I've had more than one person over the last few months tell me they appreciate me being so honest and full of candor about my experience with training for and running the Portland Marathon.  I especially got a lot of that after posting my marathon recap and the Q&A yesterday.  A few times in person, and lots of times via blog comments.  I get the sense that these people aren't getting the real scoop on running from other sources and are somewhat relieved to hear my crazy stories.

I come from pretty honest stock.  My grandmother (dad's side) was brutally honest and hilariously sarcastic.  She also taught me everything I know about using curse words to their full potential.  I just absolutely worshiped her and miss her every single day that I am awake.  My Oregon aunt (also dad's side) who is more like my sister and BFF also is bluntly honest to a fault and also has a fantastically sarcastic wit.  My mom's side of the family also pulls no punches.  Maybe it's a being from the country thing, we just all kind of tell it like it is.

I don't think anyone wins when they are spoon fed a sugar coated reality, especially when the stakes are high.  It would be a horrible disservice to say that training for this race was all unicorns and rainbows, because when someone reads that, trains for their race and has those bad training days they'll say to themselves, "I must be doing something wrong, because Mary had a great time training."  I think keeping it real allows people to prepare themselves for what could happen.  Running seems like such an elegant sport sometimes doesn't it, especially when you see those lanky gazelle people in their tiny running shorts.  They always make it look so effortless too.  Except, I'm friends with a couple of the weird gazelle people, and they face the same running woes us chubby mortals do.  They also go through the same cramps, injuries, horrible runs, chafing and near pants crapping.

Doesn't it make you feel better that the gazelle people also experience these issues?  Doesn't it make you feel more normal?  Exactly.  And that right there is why I'm honest.  Knowing that some of these struggles are normal and come with the territory when it comes to running lets you prepare.  It lets you educate yourself on what to do to combat the struggles, be they emotional or physical.  It gives you the ability to commiserate with other runners.

I hope my honesty doesn't scare people away from running or marathoning.  Just because something comes with struggles doesn't mean it's not worth doing.  It's kind of like owning a certain black greyhound.  Your couch may get taken over, you may have to pay $200 to an emergency vet when she eats an entire onion she stole out of the pantry, and she may leave revenge piss puddles on your carpet if she's PO'd that you've been gone too long.  But at the end of the day when she makes you laugh by doing something derpy and ridiculous, or sweetly puts her head in your lap to be scratched it's all worth the aggravation.  Not that I am talking about a specific black greyhound.  No, never....

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Final Marathon Thoughts

Oh man, I could just kiss myself for thinking ahead of time and taking 2 days off of work.  Yesterday was pretty rough, mainly due to that tendon in my right leg.  It's super painful and there is a ton of bruising (there is a picture below in the middle of the post), but I iced it and rested all day yesterday.  Today when I got up, the pain wasn't quite as bad, though the bruising is pretty gnarly.  I can do a kind of pained old man shuffle as opposed to hobbling, so I think by tomorrow I'll probably be at 80%.  Otherwise I am having a grand time watching trashy ass Lifetime Television movies (for the record, men will ruin your life according to the gods of Lifetime), laying on the couch and eating leftover pizza.

I wanted to post some final reflections on marathoning now that I've had a couple days to recover, and thought it would be fun to do it in a Q&A format!  So here we go:

Q.  Are you happy you did the marathon?
A.  100% yes.  It's one of the greatest things I've ever done in my life.

Q.  Is there anything you would change?
A.  My lack of training, by far.  I mean for the last couple of months, I've only done my long runs, so I ran once a week.  Yeeeeah.  I didn't train nearly enough, and it definitely hindered my success.  I also stopped doing yoga, which was a huge mistake.  I lost so much muscle tone and flexibility, both which would have helped me out on the course.  I also wish that I'd really been more serious about dropping weight before I started the process.  I'm not saying chubby people can't do marathons, but I certainly didn't do my joints/feet any favors by being heavy.  Between my weight and my lack of training, I am VERY lucky to not be injured worse than I am.

Q.  Could I do a marathon?
A.  I think anyone who has the drive and desire to CAN do a marathon.  It is not easy, but you CAN do it.  I saw people of all shapes, sizes and ages out on the course.  I saw people much heavier than me out there.  I saw people well into their 80's out there.  It's all about being willing to put in the conditioning, time, and to be able to propel yourself emotionally.  There will be times where it's really tough, and the only thing to keep you going will be your own determination.  Also, please don't follow my example, make sure that you train properly, and that you don't eat like a fool.

Q.  What tips do you have for training for a marathon?
A.  Prepare yourself ahead of time for the emotional ride, because there are times where the process is going to be the most awesome thing in your life, as well as one of the most horrible things in your life.  Work out ahead of time what you are going to say to yourself when things are tough and you want to quit.  Trust me, that time will come.  Tell a shit ton of people you are doing it, because there were times that the only thing that kept me going was thinking, "Oh crap, all of these people know I'm doing this, I gotta get out and do my long run today or I'll look like a loser."  Be patient with yourself, forgive yourself for the bad runs, and try to not put pressure on yourself.  If you are new to running, seek out as many running resources as possible.  Read books and blogs on running.  Get a running coach and/or make friends with runners.  You will have bizarre questions that only runners will understand (butt cheek chafing anyone?) Surround yourself with supportive people who don't mind you yapping about running all of the time, and who will pull you out of a dark place when the training gets tough.  If anyone says anything negative about you running a marathon or implies that you can't do it, they are a butthole who is probably jealous of you and would never attempt something so awesome themselves, so screw 'em.

Q.  Would you ever do a marathon again?
A.  My knee jerk reaction is no.  I know you should never say never, especially when it comes to running, but I know deep in my heart that it's not something I want to go through again.  In any race I've ever done, as soon as I cross the finish line I say to myself  "Hell yeah, I wanna sign up for another race!"  I did NOT do that after this race. I was so relieved to be done that I cried in public.  The training is a complete time suck, even the half assed amount of training that I did.  The whole process is very physically grueling and sometimes traumatizing emotionally.  It utterly sapped my joy for running to where I am adverse to it, and that makes me really sad.  I think I'll find that love again, but not right now!

Q.  Seriously?  Even after saying it was the greatest thing you've ever done?
A.  Yes seriously.  Probably.  I mean, would I love if I had a marathon record of faster than 7 hours?  Kind of.  Will I experience a major void in my life for not attempting another one to better my time?  Probably not.  The only way I'd ever consider it even is if I was like 70 pounds lighter and it was a spring marathon, so I wasn't training in the summer.  We all know how I feel about that.  But yeah, my gut says that I'm done with the 26.2.

Q.  What is the worst thing about doing a marathon?
A.  Definitely the emotional aspect.  At a certain point, your body only carries you so far, and you have to carry yourself the rest of the way.  If you're a self deprecating gomer with low self esteem like I am, finding that strength and fortitude is very, very difficult.  The physical trauma to the body isn't exactly a fun time party either.

Bruises?  Flesh Eating Bacteria?  Who knows?!

Q.  Jesus, is there anything good about doing a marathon?
A.  Yes, absolutely.  The reasons TO do a marathon are the same reasons that people climb Mt. Everest or why Diana Nyad was driven time and time again to try to complete that Cuba to Florida swim.  Sometimes you are compelled to take on a challenge, no matter how crazy it is, because you know that the end result will be good for your soul.  It's hard to explain, but between the tears, the pain in the ass training, and just plain old pain, there were a lot of beautiful things about the process.  It uncovers greatness in you that you didn't know existed.  The marathon proved to me that I am more than a chubby, scatterbrained Sagittarius who has a hard time finishing what she starts.  I overcame that, and overcame myself to do something that not everyone does.  It taught me that I can follow through, that I am capable of doing something big.  It's an experience I'd recommend simply because it will show you everything that you are capable of, and because sometimes you have to answer that nagging voice telling you to do something.  (As long as that nagging voice isn't some kind of Son of Sam shit).  And there are the pleasant surprises that pop up too.  A couple of people told me that I am inspirational, which automatically makes me say, "Shit, really?"  But it also feels good to hear that.  A couple of people have said they started running because of me, which feels good.

Q.  What's next for you?
A.  Next is the Nike Women's Half in San Francisco, and then running and I are going to have a trial separation for a bit.  Along the way of training for a marathon, I lost the joy I had for running, and I think taking a little break and some time to reflect would help me get that back.  What I'd like to do next is complete the full cycle of my Ultimate Yogi  DVDs, which is 180 days.  Yoga is amazing for the body and mind, and I could certainly use help in both departments!  I also want to get back to focusing on my nutrition, which has suffered big time in the last few months.  Eric and I are talking about doing a Turkey Trot together at Thanksgiving, so that would probably be my next running related adventure after the Nike Women's Half.

Q.  But if you're not running, does that mean you won't blog either?
A.  Heck no!  I love writing on the blog, so I'll still be writing.  It probably won't be running related for a bit, but you can expect to see the blog turn back to more food and nutrition related posts, as well as my return to yoga and derpy pictures of Molly.

The ever elegant greyhound...
So I guess that's it for today.  If you guys have any other questions, I'll be happy to answer them in the comments section.  I do want to say a huge thank you to those of you who read the blog.  Writing my posts was so cathartic to me, and knowing that you guys were reading, following me and rooting for me was a huge help to me when things got really dark.  I felt very supported and loved!  XOXO!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Portland Marathon - A Recap....I Freakin' Did It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh my God you guys.  I did it.  I did a marathon.  It may not be the most eloquent or detailed recap, but it will have tons of pictures.

So nothing too dramatic about waking up yesterday morning, I woke up on time and was of course freaked out.  However I had everything laid out on a silver platter, so there was no stress as far as getting ready.  I was so nervous that breakfast was hard to choke down, but I had a smoothie made with coconut water/banana/strawberries and a Cliff bar.  Getting down to the starting line was fine, and there was no drama.  Eric hugged me, wished me luck, and left me to my own devices in my corral.

To quote Ron Burgundy, I was in a total glass cage of emotion at the starting line.  I cried when they did a moment of silence for those who were died or injured in the Boston Marathon bombings.  (Hearing over 15k people go silent at once is eerie and beautiful).  I cried when we all sang the Star Spangled Banner together.  I cried when they played "Sweet Caroline" as we all lined up, to show solidarity with Boston.

Here we are in our corral, patiently waiting to start.  And of course, I was patiently waiting and boo hooing.

So as I suspected, I was much faster in the beginning than I have been in training.  The miles were flying by and I was feeling great.  There were tons of spectators, bands and performers on the course, which was giving all of us amazing energy.  I can't say enough nice things about the support from the crowd, the volunteers and the random spectators who came out to cheer us on.  The people at the aid stations were so kind and helpful (one guy even gave me the score to the Saints game when it was in the 3rd quarter...they were winning, natch!  5-0 baby!!)  People were coming out of their houses and ringing bells, blasting music for us from their porches, and even sending their kids out to cheer our names and offer us food.  At one house, the owners came out and were offering us cups of beer, which I politely declined though I thought it was sweet and funny.  Portlanders are freaking amazing people.

Around mile 10 I ran into one of my coworkers, and we ran together for a bit.  I was actually very happy to have the company, and I think running with her pushed me a little more than I would have been otherwise.  We didn't even talk that much, but her presence was so appreciated because I was definitely starting to feel lonely.  (Thanks again Libbie!!)

So, I was doing pretty good until about mile 14, and then my hips started to go dodgy on me.  And of course, my damn calves started cramping.  It was a pretty rough freaking go from miles 15-20, and I kept having to pull over to stretch.  I was never so happy to see the St. John's Bridge at mile 17.  It's so beautiful and the day was so beautiful that it was a nice distraction.  You can't tell from the picture I took, but the day was so clear that you could see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Ranier and Mt. Hood all in a row.  It was a breathtaking moment that took my mind off of the pain for a bit.

When we were coming off the bridge a very hilarious woman ran past me and she tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Start running!  There is a camera ahead so we can't look lame!"  Indeed, there was a photographer up ahead, so I kicked it into gear.  Once we passed him she said, "Keep running girl, cause there's a big ass hill ahead, and that's when we can walk."  It just sort of cracked me up, and I definitely needed a laugh, let me tell you!

Once I was off the bridge, I started having a pain I'd never had before in my right leg.  It was a sharp, stabbing pain right where the leg bone and ankle connect, and was going down over the top of my foot.  Pulling over to stretch and massage it almost seemed to make it worse, and I started getting totally freaked out.  It's like, is this a blood clot, is it a stress fracture, what the hell is this?  Whenever I touched the spot, it felt roughly like I was touching a lit match to a sunburn.  The next three miles were really hard.  I was in an incredible amount of pain, the sun was beating down on me and I felt so alone.  I started tearing up and cried for probably about half a mile, but sucked it up before we got to the next aid station so that they didn't think I was crazy.

At that point we were in a neighborhood, and as I said, the homeowners in the neighborhoods were amazing.  Lots of cheering, encouragement and funny little signs all over the place.  I had to stop and take a picture of this one around mile 21, because it was exactly what I was thinking.

It's like, ain't that the motherfrigging truth.

I managed to have a surge of running for about a mile on a downhill part, even though it just about killed my leg.  My friend Dave and his wife Carrie met me at mile 23.5, and I was so happy to see them.  It was at a point where I really needed to see someone I knew and to talk to someone, because I was in a pretty bad state mentally.  I stopped for a minute to talk to them both, and they both gave me a ton of encouragement and some hugs.  Carrie was like, "You are so close, you are almost done!!"  I felt boosted by their pep talk and continued on my way.  I honestly don't know what I would have done if they hadn't been there, even having that 1-2 minute interaction with them did a ton for me mentally.

At mile 24.5 I ran into my coach for the Nike race, and she could tell immediately I was not doing well.  I started telling her about my leg and she was like, do you have a shooting pain that goes into the top of your foot.  I was like, yeah actually I do.  She said it was tendonitis of the blah blah, I honestly can't remember what tendon she said.  She handed me a mini Stick to roll out that spot, and then sprayed me down with some kind of Bio Freeze stuff.  It honestly didn't help that much, but it was a relief to know that it wasn't something more serious I guess.  She walked with me for a bit and gave me some pointers on how to treat it.  Again, and I am not normally like this when I run, but it was so helpful just to have someone to talk with.  I was just feeling achingly lonely and mentally drained.

When I hit mile 25, I wanted to have a mental breakdown.  It's the ultimate "so close, yet so far away" adage.  I was emotional that I was one mile away from being a marathoner, I was in pain unlike anything I have ever felt, and I was having to dig deep to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  When I rounded the corner to run towards the finish line, I started running again, even though it was the most painful thing I've ever felt to do so.  I looked up and saw Eric, my aunt and uncle standing there screaming my name and I began tearing up.  When I ran across the finish line and the guy said, "Mary Layton, you did it, you are finished!" I totally lost it.  I put my hands over my face and burst into tears.  The announcer must have seen my reaction because he said "Aww, you did it, you made it!"

So, there is a bit of controversy about what my actual time was.  My Garmin says that I did the marathon in 6 hours and 43 minutes.  When I go on the Portland Marathon site, it says that my time was 7 hours.  17 minutes is a pretty big difference, so I'm not sure what happened or which is right.  I mean the distance on my Garmin is correct, but whatever is on the Portland Marathon site is what's going to go in the record book.  I didn't look at my phone to see what the time was when I crossed the finish line, since that would kind of settle it once and for all.  All I'll say is that my Garmin has always been in synch with my race times for the last few years, so I'm not sure why it wasn't this time.

I have never gotten a medal for anything in my life, but I'd say that having a marathon medal as my first is pretty damn awesome.

I also got a rose (City of Roses and all) and a Douglas fir tree seedling, which is pretty cool.  Through it all I was crying like a maniac, and I'm sure I just looked insane.  I grabbed an orange slice and some doughnut holes, even though I was sick of sweets.  My stomach was a wreck after eating nothing but Gu, Cliff bars, gummi bears and electrolyte drink for roughly 7 hours, and for the first time in history, I didn't even want a beer after the race.  That my friends, is unheard of.  I've never declined a post race beer.  My stomach was just too messed up.

I exited the finisher's shoot and saw my family standing there.  Eric grabbed me first, and I collapsed into his arms and sobbed.  I was so happy to see him, and so happy to be done.  My uncle sneakily took a couple shots of our embrace, but I am really glad he did.  It was a pretty awesome moment in my life.

My aunt and uncle brought me two bunches of gorgeous roses, one set from them, and one from my parents.  I was stoked to see my aunt and uncle, and it meant everything to me that they'd showed up to see me finish.

We went home and I took a much needed shower and an ice bath, and then Eric went and got pizza and champagne to celebrate.  Afterwards I laid on the couch, then gave up the ghost and went to bed at 8.  My right leg is completely screwed up, and I have this scary red mark on there now that I'm hoping is a bruise from me rolling on it with The Stick.  Thank God I have the next 2 days off of work, because 1) I can barely walk, and 2) I need the emotional break!

I'll leave you with a picture of my finisher's shirt.  It's beautiful and awesome, and I couldn't be prouder to have it.

I will write another post tomorrow with some more thoughts and feelings on the marathon once I've had some time to process it, as well as a preview of what's next for me.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Portland Marathon - Packet Pickup

I know I'd said that I probably wasn't going to write a post today, but I am so nervous about tomorrow that I thought I just needed to talk things out, plus I picked up my packet last night and took tons of pictures!

The packet pickup was at the Hilton in Portland, so we just zipped down after work.  The ordeal of getting into the bowels of the hotel to the Expo part was comedy gold, I mean, it literally took a good 7 minutes of going down random stairs, hallways and roped off places to get to where I was supposed to get my bib.  Eric and I just kept looking at each other and laughing every time we had to turn in yet another direction.

The second I was handed my bib, my stomach dropped.  I literally felt a surge of terror unlike anything I have ever felt.  It made everything real.  My next moment of terror is going to be making sure that I get my chip thingy (that red strip) on my shoe right.  A very nice volunteer took me through how to do it, but I'm sure I'll be freaking out tomorrow and forget.  There's a lot of "pull this tab off, fold this, thread this through your shoe, etc" drama, and for someone who can't handle saran wrap without a level 5 cussing fit, I'm sure it's going to be good times.

I absolutely love the tech shirts we got for the marathon.  I love the blue, the logo, and the Remember Boston logo is a classy touch.  People may not know this, but Portland's name was decided in 1845 by a coin flip.  The other name that our city could have been called?  You got it, Boston.  You can read more about it here on my friend Wikipedia, it's a really interesting story. The coin used in the flip is at the Oregon Historical Society, and we got to see it a couple of years ago on a walking tour.  So cool. The romantic and the history lover in me loves having Portland and Boston's names on the same shirt.

The next thing that was making me have a panic attack was seeing the course maps blown up to my size.  Nothing like seeing your future pain on a giant poster board!

See, it's so big, I couldn't get the full map in the photo!!  Just....terrifying.  ;)

My other piece of swag was a cool poster.  It's simple, beautiful and very Portland.  The top left panel is a replica of the Thompson Elk statue in downtown Portland.  Top right panel is Mt. Hood, one of the most beautiful places in Oregon.  Bottom left is the St. Johns bridge, which is part of the marathon route and is stunningly pretty.  And of course bottom right is an homage to our nickname, The City of Roses.  And you can't see really, but the ribbon in the middle says "Remember Boston".  I definitely want to get this framed!

I've been taking it easy today, but am freaking out a bit for the obvious reasons, but also because I am getting sick.  I felt it coming on last night, and have felt like crap all day today.  My teeth have hurt all day, which usually means I'm going to get majorly sick.  Nothing to do about it now, other than try to rest, get enough fluids, and hope that it can hold off for one more day.

Wish me luck my lovely readers.  :)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Vega One, Overalls and Oh Yeah, A Marathon!

Just wanted to hop on here really quickly because I'm waiting for my computer to do something, and while it takes 5 years to do that, it gives me a minute to blog.

My marathon is Sunday.  Everyone keeps asking me if I'm nervous, and it takes everything within me to not say "Well f*ck YEAH, wouldn't you be?"  Yes, I am nervous.  Terrified.  Excited.  Ready.  Lots of other feelings.  And sometimes, I am denial that it's happening. 

I am going tonight to get my packet/bib and whatever else comes with all of that.  I think there are a couple of shirts and trinkets that you get, so I will try to post pictures.

To end on a lighthearted note, when I logged into my Blogger account, I always like to look at the stats of where traffic is coming from because I'm nerdy like that.  It also will show you what web searches are causing your blog to display, and I'm always mildly amused at the things that my blog shows up for, but really got a chuckle out of the ones for today.  The first one was "my so called life overalls", which at first I was wondering why the hell I would show up for that.  Then I realized that a few runs ago I was remarking about a woman who was wearing overalls and made a comment about My So Called Life.  It's so funny, it's exactly the type of random crap that I search for on the internet, but I am sort of intrigued at why someone would be searching for that.  Are they looking to purchase overalls?  Did they read my blog and not know what the hell my reference was because I am 700 years old?  Did they want to walk down memory lane?  Oh the possibilities!  And if you happen to be the person that searched that term, don't worry, I do not judge you.  You should see the crap Eric and I look up at home, mostly to settle arguments over movies/actors.

The other search term that made me laugh was "vega one poop".  Judging by how many searches I've seen my blog come up for that relate to Vega One protein powder, it sounds like I'm not the only person who (as my brother so eloquently puts it) got the "ass piss" from it.  If you are a new reader, or somehow stumbled on this via a web search yes, Vega One is evil.  You will, ahem, burn the candle at both ends after consuming it.  Just don't.  And if you already ate it and are wondering why the hell your insides are coming out of your mouth and other places, then I'm so sorry.  It's definitely a horrible product.

Tomorrow I am going to be resting and relaxing, and then Sunday will be the big day.  I plan to do some Facebook updates, but don't expect any recaps until Monday or Tuesday!!  Wish me luck!