Sometimes I Wonder

Sometimes I wonder why I signed up for a marathon. I ran a half marathon a few weeks ago and nearly threw up on the finish line. I'm not kidding. Why do I want to run twice that distance when that was already hard enough? The following week I was particularly struggling with the motivation because it was the week after the Unplugged Half Marathon and my brain was like "hey, I already ran the race. It's time to relax." But no, that wasn't THE race that this training is all about! It was also a cut back week and I struggle so much with cut back weeks...

Sometimes I wonder why I signed up for a marathon my last semester of graduate school. This week I am supposed to be building up my mileage and I am actually almost at my peak training. While that's exciting on some level, it's also a bit daunting because this is also peak job application and peak assignment time (there is only 1 week of school left!). My schedule has never been so busy! The next two weeks are crazy. But the past few weeks have been too.

Some days I wonder if my body can do it. I went into training naive and stupid. I rarely stretched. Now I probably have IT band issues so I'm icing and rolling whenever I can. My quads are super sore. My claves while they are rock solid are so so so tight. It hurts to roll and I'm hoping they start to feel better soon.

I constantly have to remind myself that running is about so much more than just checking the boxes for marathon training. Sure I want to do the training because I love the feeling of crossing the finishing line with utter pride! I love setting goals for myself and crushing them. I also want to be my sister's prodigal trainee. But whenever I tell her this she says I am going to PR. Well, duh, Julie. That's because I have never ran a marathon before!

I need to constantly remind myself that

  • Running relieves stress
  • Running improves concentration
  • Running is social
  • Running is fun (now that the weather has improved!)

Running has also improved my confidence and helped me to see my potential. I never thought I could run tempos or speed workouts. And now it's just another workout. I never thought I could run a sub 1:45 half marathon. But I did it! I never imagined myself running 5-6 days a week and not hating every minute of it (especially after my poor exercise habits during my internship).

Every run is a new opportunity to see new potential or to push myself just a little bit more. And I see this confidence spreading to other areas of my life as well.

I worry about cutting back to listen to my body and prevent further injury. I want to be perfect and get all of my training in. Last week was hard because it was my biggest loss of miles yet (5 miles). And then I missed another 5 this week. I'm working through the mental challenges.

So in that sense, yes I am very busy and marathon training makes it a wee bit more stressful than it has to be. BUT on the other hand, marathon training has given me so much confidence and pride in myself that I feel better equipped to tackle my schoolwork, professional work, applications, interview, you name it. It's teaching me about balance and listening to your body and the flow of your life.  Bring it on.

Long Runs and Pantry Meals

This morning I woke up at 6am to eat something before my long run. Today was the longest training run of my plan and I was nervous and excited. I enjoy long runs, but usually because I am running with other people. Today I was going solo (well I ran with Rebecca for the first 6 miles and then was solo). Luckily it happened to be the only sunny day of the week and that helped immensely. I met Rebecca at her house promptly at 7:20am (it probably wasn't prompt, but wishful thinking...I am always on time except for running). We hit the pavement and started with an uphill climb...after a while we were chatting away and I barely even noticed we were running. I have so missed our runs together! It's been a few weeks and I feel deprived. She is honestly one of my favorite people. So down to earth and funny. I literally can talk to her about anything.

After 6 miles I stopped at her house to use the restroom (yay for three hours of running...) and grab her extra water belt. Did I mention she is extremely generous and lends me everything that I need?! I was worried about wearing it since I haven't run with one before and my stomach was bothering me, but it turned out to be great. I ate some fruit snacks, blew my nose, and hit the road. I started out slow because I was a bit apprehensive about running alone. I had a podcast going, but I couldn't help but think of all of the homework and assignments that I had waiting for me at home. After a while these thoughts dissipated and I just ran. I stopped twice to take pictures because I am trying to enjoy all of Burlington in the next month and a half. I need to take it all in while I can.

I ended up eating all of my fruit snacks because my stomach actually started to growl and feel hungry. That's a first. I was probably around mile 12 when that started. I truly wondered what time it was since I started running at 7:30. The legs were hurting around this time as well. Not necessarily my muscles, but my knees! Last week was a cut back week so maybe that had to do with it.

There was a little bit of wind during the first 7 miles out and a little less on the 6 miles back. So some of my later splits were faster. I knew Julie would be proud. I ended up running back on a few streets instead of the bike path to switch things up a bit. This required I go a little bit farther past Rebecca's street and then back in order to avoid this large and grueling hill right by her house. I finished and walked up the hill :) That, Rebecca would be proud of.

When I got back to my car I found a chocolate bunny! My only bunny of the season. Such a truly wonderful friend :) I somehow got into my car and drove home before waddling up to my apartment. I ate a banana and hopped in the shower. Unfortunately my chocolate milk smelled a bit off so I didn't want to risk it.

Never did I think that running a marathon would require so much body glide. Even after lathering myself up this morning (the sensitive spots that is) I still yelped once I got in the shower. It's a successful long run when I get in the shower after and nothing stings...but that rarely happens.

While making a random bowl of leftovers for lunch I snacked on some pineapple. This bowl didn't tide me over for long and I was soon snacking on the same thing as the day before (mini bag of popcorn with cocoa roasted almonds and salted almonds). A few hours later I had more pineapple and made some tea to bring to class.

After class I decided to whip up my favorite meal: mock fried rice! This meal can be made with any grain and any vegetables. It's so versatile! I used barley, kale and mushrooms this time and it was perfect. I love pantry meals, aka meals that can be made with anything that you likely have on hand in your pantry. Pantry meals should also be super simple and quick to whip up. This takes maybe ten minutes tops (not counting cooking the grain) and requires one pan (again, not including the pot for cooking the grain).

Mock Fried "Rice"

Ingredients

  • 1/2 - 1 cup grain of choice (I usually go with closer to 1 cup) - cooked ahead of time
  • Any vegetables you like:
    • carrots
    • onions
    • kale
    • mushrooms (great!)
    • frozen vegetables
  • sesame oil
  • 2 eggs
  • peanuts
  • soy sauce

Method

  1. Saute the vegetables in the sesame oil. If using onion start with that to brown. Saute until soft.
  2. Mix in the grain (it should already be cooked). Stir in the soy sauce.
  3. Once all heated and mixed together, push to the outside of the pan so there is a spot in the middle. Crack the eggs into the middle and break the yolk to scramble.
  4. Scramble the eggs into the whole mixture. Add more soy sauce if desired.
  5. Top with peanuts.

 

After dinner I curled up on the couch with a handful of mini cadbury eggs and Gilmore Girls. I can't resist mini cadbury eggs... and only having a few is not an option. I love them! I used to put them in the freezer in snack bags so that I wouldn't have more than a serving. They taste so much better not frozen so now I keep them in my pantry (aka cabinet) and I just pour a bunch onto a napkin. No more counting out eggs for me! A handful works just fine, sometimes multiple!

Being Flexible

Things don't always go according to plan. This past week was a perfect example. For one, I was supposed to go into Boston on Tuesday and then a blizzard hit...in March. I ended up going into Boston on Thursday instead. I was supposed to drive back to Vermont Thursday evening, but my car had engine trouble. Luckily my parents are amazing and I made it home and my dad took over from there. I was able to return to Vermont on Friday...only a few days late. Saturday I woke up with a flat tire and had to speed walk up the icy hill to get to work on time...not fun. I was supposed to run 6 miles that day, but after a miracle (aka help from Rebecca and her husband, whom I am eternally grateful) I ended up getting a new tire and going grocery shopping instead. Moral of my spring break: Things happen. You can't control them. And life wasn't made to be planned and executed perfectly.  While life isn't perfect, neither is marathon training or marathon fueling. And it's not supposed to be perfect.

Marathon training: This week, while staying at Julie's I took a rest day (which was beautiful and sunny) simply because I wanted to taste test donuts with Julie and Greg instead...it happens. Then later in the week I was kicking myself for skipping a day with perfect running weather when Mother Nature decided to dump over a foot of snow creating very challenging running conditions. But would I give back that day of donut eating for the run that I had scheduled? No.

I made plans to reschedule the missed run on Saturday after work. I knew this would be a mental struggle since the gym was closed that weekend (Spring Break), but I also knew that with the time change the days are longer and the sun would {hopefully} inspire me. Unfortunately, I had one of the most challenging days at work, not to mention dealing with a flat tire, and all I could manage to do was grocery shop, cook dinner, and drink some (or 2 glasses) wine. It was all I could muster and I had to accept that.

Speed work also didn't happen this week without a gym to use and icy sidewalks and/or snow everywhere. My long run this past week was so much slower because of the uneven and icy terrain. The motivation was also lacking since I was not at home most of the week and was dealing with a lot of change, drastic weather, and challenging situations. If I have learned anything this past year (aka while in rotations) it's that when things are difficult in one area of your life you need to cut yourself some slack in other areas. 

Marathon fueling: This past week was Spring break and of course I found myself eating more high fat, high sugar foods than normal...and drinking much more wine. You saw the picture of the donuts...and I had more time to cook delicious food. I've also been noticing that my clothes fit differently. While this bothered me one morning when trying to find something to wear to a presentation, it didn't last long. My body has come so far since this time last year. Rotations limited my physical activity and now I am running at least 30 miles a week! Last week I ran 15 miles consecutively which is my longest run to date. I also value my newfound relationship with sweets. If I want them they are there and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Tonight Molly and I enjoyed some of Trader Joe's version of Oreos and I happily dipped mine in peanut butter. I can't tell you the last time I had an Oreo with peanut butter (actually yes I can, it was Easter of my Freshman year...when I had given up chocolate for Lent and proceeded to eat all of the tempting foods). Now I can enjoy these foods and not feel like I am going to overdo it. I had a few Oreos and felt satisfied. There is a huge difference, from what I have noticed, in the way that I am approaching food and I no longer feel controlled by it. It's freeing, but a daily process.

I continue to struggle with intuitive eating since I am a planner. I try to budget myself while grocery shopping and plan my meals to a "T". However, then I find I am highly unsatisfied with the food that I eat. I've noticed by having more snacks available and more options of things to cook for meals I am more creative in the kitchen and enjoy the food more. Determining how to balance having more options while also remaining true to my hunger levels and letting that drive my eating habits is a continual process. There is no perfect way to eat, though, and normal eating can mean under or overeating on occasion.

All I can do is continue to train day by day and continue to practice intuitive eating meal by meal. It won't be perfect, nor should it be.

Happy training and definitely happy eating everyone.

Exercising For Fun

I used to hate running. Like actually despise it. Growing up running was my sister's thing. It was something my dad was good at and my sister was good at. It was something I did because I felt I should. color-run

(Color Run after studying - and eating - abroad for 4 months)

Running for me started freshman year of high school. My sister was recruited by the running coach and I decided to join as well. For the next four years I never let my track coach live down the fact that he recruited Julie and not me. I ran the long distance races because that is what Julie ran and being twins we had to do the same thing, right? Wrong.

first-half

(Before running our first half marathon together)

I forget when I transitioned to the medium-length races, but it was definitely for the better. I started training because I wanted to be better, I wanted to compete. Even still, I dreaded running. I loved talking with my friends while running and I loved being good. The 800 and the 1,000 meters were my races and Julie could have the mile and the 2 mile all to herself. But even still the actual act of running was still not enjoyable.

Looking back on this I can say that I didn't enjoy running because I did it for all the wrong reasons. I ran because my sister did. I ran because I was unhappy with my body shape and wanted to lose weight. I ran because I thought I should.

tired-at-the-trot

(Turkey Trot)

In college I kept running for the same reason. I felt like I had to run to either get in shape or stay in shape. I ran because I was dissatisfied with my body. Every run was a mental struggle to keep going. I felt like I had to reach a certain mileage or the run didn't count. And I hated every mile...every tenth of a mile.

turkey-trot

I should say that I did enjoy running with my dad and my sister. I enjoy running with other people because it's a social event. So I didn't hate that. I thoroughly look forward to times when I am home and can run with my dad.

dad-running

(Sorry for the blurry picture, but I love the reflectors)

My approach to running changed drastically this past year. My dietetic internship gave me so much more than I had expected. I learned how to ask for help, how to manage multiple commitments and how to accept things as they are. Multitasking became the norm. Nothing was as good as I wanted it to be, but with a lack of time it was simply as good as it was going to get. I rarely had time for exercise. While in my clinical rotations I counted my walk to the site as my exercise for the day because every other moment was spent doing work.

running-with-friends

(Running along the beach with friends)

When rotations ended I craved movement. And not because I felt like I had to get back in shape or because I disliked my body. Actually the past year of not having time to exercise and not being able to eat as well as I wanted to or felt I should transformed my mentality. I appreciate my body for surviving and succeeding in the past year. I feel accomplished and mature. I honestly feel like I can handle anything that comes my way.

That being said, I want to exercise now. More specifically I find myself wanting to run. I don't feel like I have to run every day to be a success because any day that I move my body is more than I could do this past year. I run because it feels good. I run because I value having the time to do so. I run because my body is healthy and strong and I can.

I am so grateful for my dietetic internship for giving me profound experiences and increasing my knowledge. I am also thankful for the life lessons and the change in perspective it provided.

I enjoy running now, but I didn't used to. Some days yoga sounds much better to me than running and that's okay. I'm never going to be the runner that my sister is, but I enjoy sharing her passion of the sport at my own level of commitment and desire. I enjoy cheering her on. For the first time in my life I am content with my body and I value all that I have been through. I will continue running as long as it feels good. For now, I look forward to my training runs and seeing what this marathon holds for me.

My First Marathon

My twin sister ran her first marathon a few years ago. In Napa Valley. Talk about go big or go home, am I right? My parents and I went with her because well she couldn't rent a car yet and we all clearly wanted to sip some vino. We had a great time vineyard hopping before and after the race. I ended up biking the last 5k next to my sister because she needed a little motivation. I simply took embarrassing pictures of her and told her that her legs were still there.

(This was not an embarrassing picture I took of her but rather a very embarrassing picture of myself...thank you mom. But it does capture the moment quite nicely.)

julesontherun

Afterwards she cried, looked terrible, and complained for days. I vowed I would never run a marathon. Ever. This girl is six inches taller than me and made it seem like the worst experience ever. My little legs would clearly struggle. (Side note: since then my sister has ran three marathons, qualified for Boston, and developed a passion for becoming a running coach. I don't know it seems like she may not hate it...)

julie-race-happy

Then there is my friend whom I run with. She likes to equate running a marathon to giving birth. Meaning that it's terrible and painful, but once you cross the finish line it's totally worth it. Well now I'm not not running a marathon AND I'm not having kids.

So why now? What made me change my mind? 

For one, I watched the marathon this past year and the atmosphere was so invigorating and exciting. I love races full of hype and wonderful spectators.

On the other hand I was running with my friend one day (yes, the one who thinks marathons are like child birth) and she was like "why don't we run the marathon?" I shut that idea down real fast. But then she elaborated with "what better way to graduate from grad school than to also run a marathon?!" That idea hit the spot... This would be my first marathon to top it off (and maybe last, let's not get ahead of ourselves).

So I bit the bullet. I registered for the Vermont City Marathon and the Unplugged Half Marathon. Why not right? Then I went out and bought new running shoes...since when does it cost so much to exercise? But I am in love with my shoes...

Rotations ended in December and I slowly picked up my mileage. Let me just tell you that after a year of hardly any time to exercise, it feels so great to be back at it. Currently I'm at 20 miles a week. I'm happy with that, but also ready to see what I can handle although I wish it would warm up already...The other day I ran when it was 11 degrees. I had three layers on under a down vest which is not made for running. I also had a ski scarf and hiking socks on...

Just like I can't stop thinking about graduation, I can't stop thinking about the marathon. It's going to be two great weekends back to back. One weekend I will spend with my parents celebrating my future and finally being done with school (I think my dad may cry out of sheer joy) and one weekend spent with my sister carb loading and crying through 26.2 miles...

For now I am going to enjoy my running scenery, my running company, and the time that I have to run. Stick with me through this journey. It will be painful for me, but most likely comical for you.