How Not to Train for a Half Marathon, Part 2

20140518-163325-59605363.jpg

It seems highly unlikely that a woman who’s peanut M&M consumption is more regular than her exercise routine, who is chasing forty, and who’s attention span is lower than the high school seniors she teaches would be able to set a goal of completing a half marathon, let alone two in the same year.

Last fall I ran/walked my first half marathon and with my next goal in sight, I trained for my second in ways not recommended by your family doctor.

DON’T think that running and riding a stationary bike are the same thing. While the latter is definitely low impact and can be done, watching these guys

20140518-162430-59070455.jpg

and these guys

20140518-163054-59454451.jpg

is no excuse for not getting out there and allowing your body to feel your true body weight. It does not matter if there’s a new guy on the show.

20140518-164130-60090547.jpg

It does not matter if… Um…

20140518-163603-59763128.jpg

Well, maybe it does.

DON’T think that running with your dog will help you run faster. You might think that he pulls you when you no longer have the desire to get that stupid 13.1 medal when really all he is doing is dragging you to his favorite spots to drop a load.

Also your dog, such as this seventy pound lovable mutt here,

20140518-164639-60399580.jpg

may point out habits that you didn’t know you helped him develop as in

BUDDY! STOP DRAGGING ME TO STARBUCKS! WE’RE NOT GOING THERE!

*whispers* Okay, maybe later…

DO use past knowledge. I am lucky that I don’t have to work everyday so when I knew the date of the race, I immediately asked for the following day off.

20140518-170052-61252756.jpg

DO learn more about keeping up your energy during long races. After my first half marathon I could barely move once the adrenaline wore off. I crossed the finish line and grabbed a sandwich and water. What did I know about gels and carbing up the night before and sports drinks?

Absolutely nothing.

I divvied out the pack of three mini vanilla scones from Starbucks every four miles! Yep, pretty sure you’re not supposed to do that but did that stop me?

Obviously not since the halfway point for my second half marathon was within a half a mile from my house!

Hey babe, can you bring me a Coke Zero? I’m so thirsty!

Yep, I had a soda during a half marathon! In hindsight, I know I shouldn’t have done it but my husband shouldn’t have listened to me. Also I was delirious and freaking out a bit since there were several students I’ve subbed for all around the course.

Miss G! Hey, how are you doing?

Six miles later it’s

Gatorade! Here you go ma’am. Wait a minute, aren’t you my sub?

Yes, delirious.

DO encourage others to join you in your next race. Misery loves company. When I break down the facts of the race, it really is not all bad.

People who race are very encouraging. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of runners who take this very seriously. But more often than not, you’ll meet so many people who jog and/or run for fun. They are more than happy to share their stories with you. I would return the favor but I’m usually out of breath and/or melting after the first half.

While my genetics and lifestyle do not lend for a typical delicate and petite Asian body type, that doesn’t mean that I (or anyone else not built/trained for running) don’t have the strength or stamina to finish 13.1 miles. Both are essential for any sport and dare I say, anything in life.

Strength ? Check. Stamina? Check. Stupidity? Check. {Lol!}

Bottom line: if I can do it (twice), anyone can.

How Not to Train for a Half Marathon

20130925-081059.jpgSource

• Don’t start training a month before the race. Consult your doctor who for sure will think you’re nuts for waiting until the last minute.

• Don’t get sick three weeks before your race, especially if you’re a late start. You’ll need as many days as you possibly can to train.

• Don’t be arrogant. If you need a few days to recover from the flu, by all means take them.

• Do relish in the fact that your thighs are no longer BFFs. Now that you’ve incorporated physical activity into your daily life after a long hot summer hiatus, your thighs are now moving when you walk instead of the awkward stuck-together-never-moving feeling. Even if you’ve got thunder thighs, remember that thunder is POWERFUL.

20130925-131929.jpgSource

• Do accept compliments about your body from your significant other. If he says you look even better than when you were dating, don’t argue. This is one of the few times he’ll be right. Let him enjoy it.

20130925-131144.jpgSource

• Don’t doubt yourself even for a moment. If your goal was to run the entire thing a year ago but your goal now is to finish, don’t be so hard on yourself. That’s who you’re doing it for so DON’T YOU FORGET THAT!

20130925-131634.jpgSource

The Coughing Conundrum

The boy and I have been ill since Sunday. Probably the flu. Definitely fever. Definitely painful coughing.

I cancelled my sub job for Tuesday. Come to find out it was the WRONG TUESDAY and I was a NO SHOW for this morning!

Gets better. The kids missed their eye appointments this afternoon! All three of them! I forgot to cancel the appointment!

I think I’m delirious. R came home from work in the early afternoon and I had slept all morning! A whole morning wasted!

Now any sane person would think, Um, you’re sick. Of course you need your rest.

Alas, I am not sane. When R went to pick up the girls from school, he came home to find a freshly scrubbed kitchen floor and de-grimed tile countertops. Also, I was scrubbing the oven like there was no tomorrow.

The kitchen was getting disgusting and I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

After a delicious dinner of homemade sloppy joes, I changed into work out gear and said, “I need to walk. I’m gonna do six miles.”

“Are you serious?” R asked.

“Yes! The half marathon is in a week and a half!”

The first mile I thought I was a bad ass! I was walking for the first time in over a week. Last week I had a week long sub job in a kindergarten class that left me exhausted every day. I intended to walk a few times after school each day but I couldn’t. I couldn’t muster up any energy at the end of the day.

The second mile I was cursing myself for being so ambitious.

In the end I did six miles in under two hours. You’d think I’d be exhausted after having been ill for a few days and with little physical activity for the past week but I feel great.

Ask me how I feel in an hour.

Get Set…

It would have been pretty easy to ignore my alarm that I’ve programmed my phone to say “GET YO ASS OUT OF BED AND GET TO THE GYM ALREADY.” Okay, it doesn’t say that verbatim but it is pretty close.

It was my first full night’s sleep since arriving here in Minneapolis. I went to bed without having to tell kids to brush their teeth or change. Without letting the dogs out and letting the cats in. Without having to apologize for reading in bed while someone next to me slumbered.

It was quiet. A bit lonely but I knew I wouldn’t be here for very long.

I ate a chocolate chip muffin left over from the airport. (Hrrrmph, you don’t have to remind me of my last post, thankyouverymuch.) I took my time in the bathroom. I fell asleep to reruns of The Big Bang Theory.

It was nice. A bit lonely but I knew I wouldn’t be here for very long.

I got out of bed. I walked five miles on the treadmill at a pace I would consider too fast to which to windowshop. I won’t break any records with this pace but I feel like I can maintain this pace for three to four hours… which essentially will be how long I will be walking in this half marathon.

I need to mention that I am not impressed with the food here. It could just be hotel catering. It could be that nothing is in season. I don’t know.

Do you know how when you go somewhere new and you agree to keep an open mind but nevertheless you’re still disappointed?

We had Mexican food and no, I did not take a pic. It was not Instagram-worthy. No taste in the pico de gallo (jalepenos were nonexistent, not enough lime) and don’t even get me started on the guacamole. I thought I was just being picky BUT THEN I HAD AN APPLE.

Apples are apples, right?

No, not here. I picked up a fuji apple from the fruit bowl in the fitness room. THERE WAS NO TASTE TO IT. Not tangy. Not sweet.

I’m at the mall again. I walked a mile already but I’m not going to tell you what I had for dinner and I’m not going to tell you what I’m drinking in the Starbucks of the Barnes and Noble cafe either.

20130911-195746.jpg
Busted.

On Your Mark…

I went to see my doctor last week and while this is the strongest I’ve ever been, I’m also THE HEAVIEST I’ve been since being pregnant. Yikes!

I’m now forty pounds heavier than what I used to weigh in college, and probably twenty pounds heavier than what I usually weigh. Tough to see this in print.

I suppose I could mope and be sad which trust me I did but then I realized that race season is just around the corner!

Many people say they gain weight from the holidays. On the contrary, I think it’s a lot easier to pack on the pounds in sunny weather. I can’t feel my legs getting bigger in my cute A-line skirts and flowy dresses. Nothing like your fat jeans turning to your skinny jeans.

It’s been a hot summer and I can’t go outside in 100 degree weather. I just can’t.

Thirteen miles in one go is a lofty goal but I have about a month. The plan is to try to run a third (bear with me, keeping my expectations low so when I exceed them, I will truly have a moment) and walk the rest really quickly.

Even on my business trip and after only two hours of sleep I still walked five miles. Okay, not continuously and two of them were while sightseeing but the Mall of America is HUGE!

I can’t blame my husband for being an awesome chef. After all, he doesn’t force me to have sugar cravings after dinner. He doesn’t give me giant portions on my plate. I did have to tell him that I’m going to have to start cooking more chicken and fish, less red meat, and starch in minuscule amounts. Still, wouldn’t you think it would be hard to control yourself around homemade goodness such as this?

Russian Tea Cakes

20130911-192810.jpg

Homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Yes, he baked them from scratch. Yes, they tasted like they were made from God’s tears. Yes, the kids ate almost all of them so I didn’t have as many as my eyeballs would have begged.

20130911-193553.jpg

This would be cow tongue but I didn’t eat it. Our kids ate it! Glad they’re not picky like Mommy.

20130911-192937.jpg

And don’t forget birthday parties. My nephew (technically third cousin; he is my cousin’s grandson but because of the generational lineage, they want the boy to call me GRANDMA! Um, no…) celebrated his second birthday this summer. I did control myself but apparently not enough.

20130911-193237.jpg

20130911-193256.jpg

20130911-193311.jpg

We can’t forget about the new Japanese and Middle Eastern restaurants that have just opened in town. I think you can figure out which pictures were taken in the respective restaurants.

20130911-193831.jpg

20130911-193846.jpg

20130911-193904.jpg

20130911-193916.jpg

20130911-193939.jpg

On second thought, it probably is a blessing that I went to the doctor. My starting point would be a lot further behind me!

The Cross Training Collision

Ahhh… finally the answer to my running rut: CROSS TRAINING.

20121013-193902.jpg
I’ve been without my fave Zumba instructor for several weeks. I’ve started working again so I haven’t been able to get to the gym in the mornings. Saturdays that were previously reserved for Zumba were turning into race training days or race days.

20121013-193248.jpg

So today I Zumba’d like I have never Zumba’d before. My ass and the back of my thighs ached immediately after class. I forgot I even had junk back there to even ache!

The instructor even admitted that it was an easy class and thank goodness it was. I was so out of breath, panting like– well, me– in the summer. But it felt good. I can’t complain. When I finally get a chance to get back on the computer, I’ll check out classes I can take while the boy is at karate. My junk in the trunk hurting was a big sign, pun intended. Cross training wakes up the body parts that don’t get a work out when I run.

20121013-193856.jpg
Well, alrighty then.

The Angsty Confusion

20121010-194440.jpg
I don’t know what happened today. I had a job today, as I have most days in the past month because we really could use the money, but it was only a half day in the afternoon. Surely I had time in the morning after I dropped off the kids at school to go for a run.

But for some reason I couldn’t.

I asked a friend if she wanted to go to Starbucks after we dropped off our kids. She said no.

I saw my younger daughter’s kindergarten teacher who kicked ass on Sunday as she ran the half-marathon whilst I ran the 5K. She is so awesome.

And skinny.

I went home and realized that it was a late start day for the junior high and high schools in our neighborhood. I’d probably see some kids I knew when I was running. Did I really want to see anyone I knew?

I went home and grabbed the big dog. I couldn’t run with him because he can never pick a side of the sidewalk he is happy with. If we run on the left, he wants to go on the right. If I appease the change, he wants to go back. We walked a mile around the neighborhood.

What was wrong with me this morning? Where had all of my motivation gone? I should know by now that keeping my depression at bay centers around the trifecta of a mostly-healthy diet, regular exercise, and good nights of sleep.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that my trifecta has failed.

Last weekend my mom decided to have a barbecue in honor of her brother’s birthday… at MY house. So naturally I have a ton of leftovers and we’ve been eating them little by little.

I’ve been eating beef which does not do my body any good. I’ve had more white rice in the past few days than I’ve had in five months! I avoid white rice simply because it’s a gateway carb for me– I don’t feel full when I eat it so my stomach morphs into a bottomless pit that I would like to avoid at all costs.

My kids have been going to Grandma’s a lot since I started working and she’s got everything I DON’T BUY. It’s terrible. I don’t buy chocolate because I’ll eat it and by the time I get home I’m so exhausted that I can’t think, “Hello? Don’t eat that Twix because you’ll regret it later!”

Then I don’t think that. Then I eat it. Then I regret it.

I would much rather get up in the morning when it’s still dark out and run a couple of miles than get my day already going and pause to get a work out going. I don’t know. I feel angst.

Suze Orman, the awesome financial advisor she is, has often said on her TV show that people often feel they need MORE THAN when they FEEL LESS THAN. I suppose I feel less than now.

I am not sure if you’ve noticed but I often assign the tag “depression” to posts when I feel like I am actually depressed. I have not used that tag for a while.

Perhaps in all of my running around with the kids, with work, with volunteering, with training for races, I might just need a few days to myself. Maybe to center myself. Maybe to just chill. Maybe, just maybe, get myself some fake nails. But certainly not chocolate. Only regrets can come from chocolate (though none if a bar is enjoyed far and few between).

On my way to the sub job this afternoon, I passed by the local library and checked out four books. I just started Subterranean by James Rollins, the fourth Rollins book that a friend has lent to me. I quite enjoy his books and have read each of the previous three in less than forty-eight hours. This fourth one was started last week but have only now reached the second chapter. That in itself should have been a huge indication to me that something is off.

I don’t feel depressed. I really don’t know what it is. In the next few days I will reflect on my eating habits, cutting out useless sugary carbs when I realize I am turning to them. I will look for my old Pilates DVD and look into taking a yoga class tomorrow evening.

I think when I’m in this place where I feel like I’m stuck on a spider’s web, being pulled in different directions, I should stop fighting and do nothing. Revel in the act of doing nothing which really means everything anyway.

20121010-194451.jpg

The Grating Decay

It was very dark when I left for the race. I was excited but truly fearful that I wouldn’t be able to run the entire thing. It’s difficult to accept that the only thing stopping you is yourself.

I hate that I feel the need to compare myself to others and only now am realizing that it’s toxic. I used to say to my husband (it was a quote I had seen on Pinterest), “Hey, at least I’m lapping everyone on the couch!”

To which he’d reply, “It isn’t about that.”

Man, he knows how to steal a girl’s thunder.

We had a good laugh about that but ever since his accident, he sees things in a new perspective. As humble as he was, I know he has commented about how some people he works with couldn’t run even though it is imperative to their job that they are able to.

But he’s more sympathetic now. He’s there now.

I remember before my first 5K he was very supportive and he knew I could do it.

“But what if I’m last?” I asked.

“That doesn’t matter,” he said.

It doesn’t. I see that now.

I ran the 5K last weekend with my head in the clouds or as high as I could see. We ran through a huge park and the first mile flew by quickly. The trees were taller than most buildings in our city. There was no room for the sun to peek through. I watched kids cheering for their parents, people cheering for their significant others. I passed walkers and they passed me.

I was doing okay until the last mile or so. Odd since usually the first half-mile of any of my practice runs is the hardest. I have the trees and the still of the morning to thank for the distraction. The last mile I was acutely aware that it was indeed the last mile and I was feeling the effects of everything.

I didn’t have time to down a protein bar before the run. I thought I would have time to walk back to my car and relax after checking in but it was pitch dark and even though the park was bustling with participants, I listened to my inner voice and did not walk back to my car. My last two practice runs were only two miles and one mile, respectively. I was unprepared. I was hungry.

Then inspiration came in the form of a running coach of an older woman next to me. I heard him say, “Let’s close the gap on these runners here.”

He was talking about me and someone running right behind me. I shouldn’t have been but I was.

I was deeply offended.

He kept coaching this woman and giving her motivation and I was getting mad. I don’t even know why. His voice, although probably very encouraging to this woman, was grating and getting on my last nerve.

One hundred yards before the finish line, he told her, “Okay, time to sprint. Give it everything you got.”

OH HELL NO.

I sprinted like I had never sprinted before. Faster than any day-after-a-holiday sale. Faster than the big dog can get to an unattended waffle on the table. Faster than a toddler with a box of magic markers.

And oh, did it hurt.

But it felt good. I think I might have passed five runners in those last painful yards. I’ve never run like that before.

Even now, two days after the race I don’t even know why I was so upset. I did not have anything against the woman or her coach, who could have been her son for all I know. I just felt so drained, so emotionally and so physically drained, that I didn’t even realize I was thinking. I’m glad I did react in that matter though. I now know that even when that exhausted there is still some fight within me.

If it’s in me, then I know for an absolute fact that it is within you too.

After making this awesome Whovian poster,

20121009-160323.jpg
I trudged back through the field from whence I came and passed the mark for the last half-mile of the race. Half-marathoners were finishing a little over an hour after they started. I stared in awe for a few moments, gazing at their slender runner’s builds and wondering if I worked hard enough and long enough that I would ever be able to earn that body. Feeling slightly disappointed with the realization that the answer was NO, I started walking toward my car and thought, “Fuck it, I need to watch.”

I turned around and sat on one of the cement dividers on the side of the road. The runners who finished in record time all had the very sleek build but soon I began to see other body types.

I was searching for my body type.

Then I saw her. A woman who defied the slender runner’s body, who had bulky muscles, who probably had a regular body-fat percentage. She was powerful. She was fast. She was awesome.

I sat for about a half an hour and continued to see different body types. Though they were not as fast as the first runners I saw, thirteen-freaking-miles in two hours is still pretty awesome.

But I’m gonna be honest here. Thirteen-freaking-miles PERIOD is still pretty awesome.

Someone asked me how I got myself motivated to run 10K and a lot of thoughts come to mind.

– I need to make goals to make things happen in my life, otherwise I tend to putter along and make excuses.

– I Google’d major streets in my neighborhood and saw that if I ran to the grocery store and back it was only two miles but if I ran to the other grocery store it was only six miles. Running through my neighborhood with major landmarks in mind did not seem as difficult as running around in a circle twenty-four times.

– My father had a lot of problems with his health, a menu of preventative diseases that I wanted to make sure I didn’t order. He was not overweight but he smoked, did not manage his stress, and abandoned a typical Filipino diet for heartier, carbier fare. I figure it might be easier to change now before I was too old and stubborn. (Okay, I am both but oldER and MORE subborn.)

– I don’t want my kids to become dependent on processed foods and sugary carbs because I know I am dependent on the latter. I do buy the stuff because it’s convenient (Ramen noodles anyone?) but I make sure that I buy say chips OR ice cream, not everything at once. Plus it’s easier to say NO at the store. If it’s in my house, I WILL EAT IT.

– But mostly, my motivation comes from my husband. He’s a stubborn, old fool who once he stood for the first time after the accident, he declared he’d be walking within the the week. He did with a walker.

Then he moved to two canes, then one cane. That fucker did everything he said he would.

I don’t know if I told you that he’s a cheap bastard because he is. It hurts his feelings to pay twenty bucks for a pair of shoes from Payless Shoe Source. (I’m not knocking the store but my wide feet need more support to run.) “My feet only bleed for a week,” he’d say.

Right? (Oops, I think I did tell this tale before.)

But with those stupid shoes, he could keep up with SEALs young enough to be our kids and he’s even lapped Marines on the track with them.

So with all that said, I can’t find motivation to run a 10K?

His presence like that grating voice of the running coach, reminding me of the fight within me that I never knew I had. I will never have a runner’s body. I know that. I accept that. But with the body I have and with the fight within me, I know that I can make it more powerful than it has ever been.

10K next month. Half-marathon in March.