Sunday, January 30, 2011

My first 16 Mile Run - I Surprised Myself!

I had one of those amazing run days.  Not just because I ran my longest distance to date, but all the more because it was one of those days where I felt like I could run forever (except for a few sharp pain in the hip here and there).

Yesterday, I did a 5 mile trail run with a friend - I was pretty sore from it this morning.  I slept in, took my time to loosen up, waited until I felt a bit more recovered.  I had debated postponing the 16 miler to tomorrow, but I knew there was no way I had 4 extra hours to dedicate to my already full day (all day work, evening networking event).  I had to just try it out and hope for the best.  

Here's a quick summary of my run, from pre-run prep to post-run care.

Pre-run Prep

  • Power breakfast:  steel-cut oatmeal + 10g protein powder (whey) + 1 tablespoon of Almond butter + fresh blackberries = nutrition and yummy taste!  
  • Coffee
  • Hydration and fuel prep:  Water, Heed mix, and pasty mix of Perpetuem in a flask (and on to my fuel belt)
  • Dynamic stretching and warmup
  • Mental prep
  • Miles 1-4:  from home to the Marina.  cloudy but no rain.  a bit of a wind.  easy strides, not even thinking how many more miles to go, as it would only discourage me
  • 5-8: back towards home.  started drizzling around mile 6.  left glute slightly starting to hurt.  took forever to find the right fit with the left shoe - adjusted shoe laces at least 6 times
  • Stop at home, refill water and change into something warmer, as I was freezing for some reason
  • 8-12: rain starts POURING down as I run back out.  however, only lasts about 10 minutes, then drizzle, mile 9, sunshine.  still windy.  around mile 10, a bit of dizziness started bugging me, feeling a little nauseous... went away in about 15 minutes. left glute really starting to hurt.  
  • 12-16: kinda in disbelief that i'm still able to run, while appreciating the 1 minute walk breaks every so often to stretch out my hips.  at mile 13.3ish, my left hip (in the back) snapped and almost felt like the joint repositioned itself or something.  It was painful, but it was quick.  calves were really burning, piriformis (both butt cheeks) were HURTING.  However, amazingly, I was able to pick up speed in the last mile, up to my first 4 mile speed!  I didn't understand where I was getting all this energy.  I could have gone 2 more miles if I were forced to.  Unbelievable feeling of joy and surprise as I finished.
Post-run Stuff

  • Recoverite:  has protein and glutamine, helps muscle recovery.  the chocolate taste doesn't hurt!  Hammer Nutrition products have been so amazing for me - love their quality products (Heed and Perpetuem are also Hammer products)
  • Rewarding myself with my favorite Triple Berry Cake from Sweet Lady Jane!  Our bodies can absorb and burn off pretty much whatever we eat within its first 20 minute window after an intense workout.  I took advantage of that window :)
  • Coffee - caffeine eases the pain
  • Stretch - hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, quads...
  • Ice - on those hips!
  • Hot shower
I couldn't contain the surprise and joy I was feeling from today's run.  Another milestone, but this time achieved under superb conditions.  I hydrated regularly, I refueled every 30-45 minutes, I started slow and maintained consistency, I just thought about the finish...not when I would finish, but that I will finish, I will not give up, and that I'll be so happy when i'm done.  And so it happened.  

My muscles are definitely more sore than my usual runs - I ran harder, and I ran the longest.   It reminds me of how sore I was after my first half marathon nearly 4 years ago.  I've come a long way.

Had fresh veggies and lean chicken and beef for dinner - and drank a lot of water throughout the evening.  

Next weekend is 18 miles.  I can definitely do it!!!

Usually fatigue reaches its max 2 days after a big event - at least for me.  Tomorrow I'll be ok, but Tuesday could get a bit challenging.  If there are any random changes, I will update...until then, I will just enjoy the awesome memories from today's unexpected triumph.

Good night

Saturday, January 29, 2011

16 miles longest run EVER

i'm mentally getting ready for my first 16-mile run ever.  

it's going to be very very tough, especially after 10 miles...but I will finish it, even if it requires me to walk some of's about getting the mileage in order to prepare for the 26.2 miles.  

it's amazing how i'm so nervous about 16 miles, but on race day i'm still going to have to run another 10 miles after that!  it's definitely hitting me more and more how tough this marathon is going to be.  therefore, I should prepare accordingly.

can't wait to update my blog tomorrow after the run is done!  what will i end up saying????

Sunday, January 23, 2011

12 miles done!

A quick word before I go to bed.

I wasn't feeling all that great so I didn't know I could do it.

Even in moments I thought my legs were too tired, I was able to accelerate!

The first 3 miles are always the most challenging, as the body struggles to find its pace. Miles 3-7 feel nicer, your body gets into a rhythm, with proper hydration and nutrition (Hammer Perpetuem Solids!). Miles 8-10, pain starts kicking in so does doubt. Once you get thru the period of self doubt and beat the constant temptation to quit, the last two miles become actually sorta fun because despite the pain u can taste the finish.

Came home and stretched, iced those crazy inflamed hips while drinking Hammer's Recoverite. It's got protein and glutamine that help muscle recovery - it has done wonders for me! Ate Indian food (a great treat!) for dinner. And drank lots of water.

I will be proud of being sore tomorrow.

Good night!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Saturday, January 22, 2011

We are what we See, We are what we Think

Reviewing the past three weeks…

Massive jetlag upon my return from Korea,

Sleepless nights finishing up a project the week following,

Announced to my current employer that I will be leaving (without my next job in place) and started a massive search,

A nasty sinus infection this week…

…all leading up to one thing:  CRAPPY TRAINING.

Leading a life with a full time (more like over-time) career, training for a marathon, trying to look for the next move in my career, trying to eat healthy and regularly while traveling more than usual, with a chronic pain condition…requires serious planning and maintenance.  While I hate to blame my condition for having to set limits to my activities, when it comes to the activities I commit to, I make sure I place high discretion in what I choose to do (or not do, e.g. not getting enough sleep) and when.  Especially in a professional setting, I make sure my responsibilities are met and I allow no excuses for any delays or underperformance.  This means, when the work needs to get done, I get it done no matter what, and I worry about getting enough rest later when no one is looking.  That is why exercise and eating well are hugely important me, because they help me keep the energy flowing and relieve stress.  If I sat around worrying about a possible flare-up because of working too hard and not getting enough sleep, really that wouldn’t do me any good – it would not only make me unprofessional, but it would also be something like anticipating something bad to happen (and trust me, if you anticipate it, it happens!). 

Sometimes, chaos happens.  It feels uncontrollable, but only I can bring back order – not by throwing in the towel and making everything stop, but by planning when to rest and when to work, when to eat and when to sleep, when to socialize and when to be alone.  And also, the attitude of not fretting in “scary” moments (when you think something will be bad for your condition, or would cause a symptom, etc.) and the flexibility to revise and re-plan preexisting schedules are absolutely necessary.

Training for the last 3 weeks were very wishy washy.  But I did maintain a semi-regular schedule of moderate-paced shorter runs (4-5 miles), and finished, in snail’s pace, a 15 miler just last weekend.  Whatever I could do, I did.  And instead of beating myself up for what I couldn’t accomplish, I felt good about what I was able to accomplish.
Well that is about to change for the next 3-4 weeks, until I leave for Argentina.  As my sinus infection is clearing out, I’m pumped about my 12 mile run tomorrow.  Yesterday’s quick 4-miler felt pretty good.  Today, I took it easy with a yoga session and a somewhat strenuous upper body/core strength exercise, in light of tomorrow’s long run. 

What’s amazing is that by the time I leave for Argentina, I will have done my first 20-mile run – EVER!  I wonder how I will feel during and after that run, but all I know is that if I somehow get thru it, no matter how slow, I can do the LA Marathon.  One thing I do caution though, is how it is going to affect my body afterwards – how will my recovery be?  Where will I hurt, if at all (besides the obvious legs and hips, of course)?  But I won’t know until I try… until then I have to just keep building up my endurance level. 

I was sort of in tears the other night, just randomly thinking about all the adventures to come, and realizing how far I’ve come to be able to enjoy them all.  4-5 years ago, I was bed-ridden like clockwork, every other week, felt like life meant nothing, felt like I meant nothing…with nowhere to go in my future.  Here I am now, planning my first marathon, planning my adventure to Patagonia in Argentina, and gearing up for the next stage in my career with obscene excitement for something new!  Had I not recalled the moment of my first triathlon when I was lying in bed sobbing, had I not taken that first step to walk 20 minutes around my neighborhood to start my training for my comeback triathlon, had I not used myself as my own guinea pig to try all sorts of different strategies and approaches to improve my health, where would I be right now?  Could I have possibly fathomed this kind of amazing future when I was sulking in self-pity almost half a decade ago?  No…but at some point I did know that life wasn’t supposed to feel that way, life wasn’t supposed to feel dreadful and sad and meaningless.  So just kinda went forward to reverse it…little did I know I’d be here right now. 
People ask, how did I do it?  To be honest, I mean, it’s not like I had a master plan when I started this whole thing.  It’s not like I knew what to do.  I just knew what it was supposed to feel like.  I went where my heart told me to go…when my heart was wrong, I stepped back and took a different route…which still came from my heart.  When I failed, I put that aside and tried something else.  When I succeeded, I repeated it.  I think my past blog posts do contain some of the things I’ve tried that worked and some things I tried but didn’t work at all.  All in all, I just tried whatever I read and heard of that I thought pertained to me.  And then found what worked for me. 

I wish I could help those who don’t know where to start.  But before you even do anything, maybe we start at what we are thinking first?  What are you thinking about your life?  Where do you want to be in 6 months?  1 year?  5 years?  Are you seeing yourself happy, kicking butt, experiencing what the world has to offer?  Or are you seeing yourself in bed, in pain, feeling sad, in a dark, dark room?  I do think that the moment I started to change my life was when I started seeing myself differently.  I saw myself crossing that finish line that once made me feel like a badass.  I kept seeing it…so I had to make myself cross it again.  6 months later, I did.  :) 

What do you see in front of you?  What do you see inside of you?  Is there chaos, darkness, and confusion?  What can you do to bring order, light and understanding?  What are you thinking?  Hopelessness, being the victim, and loneliness?  Or are you thinking hope, victory and love?  We are how we see ourselves, and we are what we think!  We have the power to change what we are, where we are…and sometimes even who we are.  Unfortunately yet very fortunately, no one else can do it for us. 

I am not a victim of this painful condition.  I may have it, I have to deal with it, but I will do more BECAUSE of it, not in spite of it.  When it hurts, laugh it off, endure thru it, then get back up.  Control and plan as much as you can, but what you can’t, just be open and flexible about the change in our lives…  if we have the vision of success, hope, joy, health and happiness, the chaos that happens occasionally should not threaten us.  The goal is the finish line of life – where we ought to raise are hands up in the air and make that big leap with a big, giant smile – whatever comes in between, we just gotta get through it with the knowing that the finish line is there.  And that we’re going to smile then.  Create your happy finish line moment.  Keep that picture in your head.  And let’s take steps, small, immediate steps, that we think will take us closer and closer…

This blog kinda sounds more like a speech…I got carried away.  :)