Runner’s Brain?

Lately, when I’ve been running my long training runs, I’ve later suffered from what I’m calling (unscientifically) “runner’s brain.”

Let me explain: Once I’ve pushed through those final, long miles, I walk to cool out and bring my heartrate back down. No worries there. But then I find myself doing stupid things that isn’t like me. After one run, while driving downtown, I just turned in front of an oncoming car that was right in front of me–I didn’t notice them until I was suddenly like, “Holy crap!” Thankfully, the other driver was more aware than I was. This was after missing a turn I have always taken…

This past weekend, I couldn’t talk in complete sentences that made any sense at all. M would laugh at me as these antics continued on…not even able to hand him my card (well, I did, but my hand was empty).

So it makes me wonder…could it be the lack of oxygen from the run? I couldn’t find anything upon a search online, but maybe someone else can explain it for me. For now, I’m going to try to avoid driving after my long runs for at least a few hours…

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11 Miles = Tired Legs & More Doubts

11 & Done!

Saturday was one exhausting day for me, and it all started with my 11 mile run. This would be my last long training run for two weeks because I’m heading to Reno for the AKC National Agility Championships this week and won’t have any time (nor know of any place) for a long training run. I’m hoping to sneak in a 30 minute run here and there while we’re away, but I’m not holding my breath. (I’m a little nervous about running around a city I have no clue about, even with my phone and a friend.)

So, anyway, I mapped out my 11 mile run the day before with trepidation because I had to run it all by myself–not the most inspiring run. Luckily, as I was getting ready to run, a friend texted me asking if she could run 4-5 miles with me. So we decided on a place for her to meet me in my run, and after two miles, there she was! It was really refreshing to have someone to run with at my same pace. We chatted about the upcoming Nationals and other things, which helped make the miles go by easier. We conquered an extreme hill by the horse farms, and then she started to pep talk me for the remainder of my run (she was having a friend pick her up because she had an appointment to get to). It was great to hear someone say, “You’ve got three miles left? You can do that! Piece of cake!!”

Yes, we walked some–after that extreme hill we needed to!–but I’m OK with that. I was rather frustrated with my short walk a little after I hit 8 miles because I was hoping to just run those last three miles. I mean, after all, that’s a 5K right? I should be able to run a full 5K without walking, right? But it was a 5K after one and a half 5Ks…so a 0.10 mile walk is acceptable right? I’m trying to convince myself of that and not be down on myself for walking.

I ran most of the run without my MP3 player, but after my friend left, I had to plug-in and pump it out for the last three miles. I started yelling out the mileage, cheering myself on as I got closer to the end. I even passed a woman running who looked like she was just starting to run and struggling a little–I offered a smile and a wave, said hello and as she passed I said “Looking good! Keep it up!” I don’t know if she heard me, but I’d like to think she did and she appreciated the cheer.

OK, so here are the splits. (Take-home: I really need to work on my consistency with my running times. Any tips would be appreciated.)

Mile 1: 8:48
Mile 2: 9:00
Mile 3: 9:22
Mile 4: 9:20
Mile 5: 10:41 (included the extreme hill and walking afterward)
Mile 6: 10:18
Mile 7: 9:28
Mile 8: 9:40
Mile 9: 10:12 (walk)
Mile 10: 9:58
Mile 11: 9:59
Total: 11 miles in 1 hour 46 minutes 54 seconds (9:46 average)

It amazes me that I am running for longer than 30 minutes now…I never thought I’d be one of those who could run for a couple of hours. However, it is getting very hard trying to fit in these long training runs as my schedule is starting to get busier as the temps are getting warmer. I’ve already been asked if I’ll train for another half marathon after the Derby Half, and right now I can’t honestly say yes or no. I might not be able to train for another one this year (I am getting married in October and have a wedding to plan), but maybe I’ll run in the Bluegrass Half (which is held a month prior to the Derby), or the Indianapolis 500 Mini (held in mid-May)…but we’ll have to see. I am definitely going to start doing 10Ks (first one on the docket is the Bluegrass 10K on July 4 this year.

Right now, I’m just not sure how I’m going to get through 13.1 miles–after I hit 11 miles I wanted to try to push a little longer, but my legs said, “Hellll no!” There was no more moving them forward fast. It was a long walk back to the gym where I was meeting M. I was still sore on Sunday. The doubts are flowing in my mind, “If I struggle at 11 miles, how can I push through to 13.1!?”

A Busy Weekend

This was Dally Friday evening, pre-bath, enjoying one last romp at her favorite park before getting ready for Reno.

Yesterday was extremely busy, with my 11-mile training run (post to come, I promise!), yard work, and getting Dally’s things together for her trip to Reno. Remember how I’ve talked about doing agility with my two dogs? Well, Dally (my Pembroke Welsh Corgi) and I qualified for the AKC National Agility Championships, which are being held in Reno, Nev. She’s leaving before me because she’s riding across the country in a car full of otehr dogs, and one brave man who is driving them the 36 hours there.

Here’s my post from my dog agility training blog (Agility On Stumps) about her preparations. I’m going to be needing lots of positive vibes this coming week, folks…

Well, Dally’s bags are packed… She’s had her toenails have Dremeled, her toe hairs trimmed, and her dirty rough scrubbed to a brilliant white. She’s had her last chiropractor appointment. She’s as ready as she’ll ever be for the AKC National Agility Championships.

We’re heading to Cincy later today to meet with Dally’s ride to Reno–a couple from Columbus, Ohio, who are also competing at Nationals. Elissa runs a brindle French Bulldog named Scribbles (#1 Frenchie at the AKC Invitational) and her husband, Roger, runs a Pembroke (with a tail) named Keebler. Elissa is an animal behaviorist and Roger is a chiropractor (perfect combo, right??). Dally will be riding with Keebler, Scribbles, Gus (Camille’s dog, who they are also picking up at Queen City), another Pembroke named Hope, and an Australian Shepherd…all in a Toyota Rav 4! Roger will be heading West early Monday morning and hopes to make the trip in three 12-hour sections–depending on the weather (it’s a 36 hour drive to Reno from Columbus).

I’m more nervous, right now, about sending Dally off with them. I’m just nervous about how she’ll react to me “abandoning her” with these two “strangers” and how she’ll handle all the other dogs that are riding with her to Reno, let alone all the dogs at Elissa and Roger’s place. Call me overprotective, but I just worry she’ll be overwhelmed and upset. But, I think she’ll be OK once she gets into a routine with Roger and the other dogs.

All I know is I’ll be counting down the days until Thursday, when I fly out to Reno with Camille and we meet back up with Roger and the pups. I’m not going to want to let go of Dally once I see her!!

I’ll keep you updated on how things go…Elissa will be updating us on Facebook when she hears from Roger, so I’ll be glued to Facebook more than I already am.

 

Recipe: Grilled Summer Squash

I love it when it’s warm in the evenings–it’s more inviting to grill outside! We usually try to grill year round (as long as the weather isn’t too bad/cold), but when it warms up, we fire up the grill every chance we get!

One of my favorite things to grill, next to chicken, are veggies. I learned a simple technique (yes, I had to read about it in a cookbook…I’m still a newbie when it comes to putting together full meals!) last summer that helps add flavor to your veggies while grilling, yet make it easy.

The solution? Aluminum foil! Yep…just pull out a sheet of aluminum foil and create a pocket for the veggies and seasoning, then fold it up into a pocket and place on the grill. Every few minutes I go to check on the veggies and stir them up (be careful pulling the foil pocket off the grill–use grilling tongs or hot mitts to protect from the heat), refold, and place back on the grill. The length of time on the grill depends on the veggies (how big you sliced/chopped them) and the amount. The general rule is usually around 20-30 minutes.

Earlier this week we had grilled chicken strips with grilled summer squash and sweet potatoes. It was just M and I, so I sliced up one summer squash for the side. So this is what I did for this meal:

  1. Slice up one summer squash (larger slices I cut in half), place in the middle of aluminum foil sheet (shiny side up, and I learned to spray the middle part with butter cooking spray first, to help stop the veggies from sticking to the foil while cooking).
  2. Sprinkle whatever spices you want (some times I add minced garlic and garlic powder, but this night I just added a “Rosa Maria” Italian seasoning) all over the veggies, then toss them to coat with the spices.
  3. Place a couple of bits of butter/margarine (I use Blue Bonnet Light sticks, and the amount of butter/margarine depends on how much you want) amongst the veggies.
  4. Fold up the sides of the foil and fold down to make a pocket. (I usually shake up the pocket just to stir things up a little more.)
  5. Place in the middle of the grill (unless you have something else to grill at the same time) and close the top.
  6. Every five minutes, or so, carefully remove the pocket, open up, and stir the veggies, ensuring they aren’t sticking to the foil (if they are, it’s alright to spray the bottom with the cooking spray again).
  7. Once the veggies are to your likeness, remove and enjoy!

 

I forgot to take pics of the prep process, but here's the after. Even the "burnt" pieces have good flavor, so they aren't ruined (win!).

I’ve done this with zucchini, summer squash, and mushrooms mixed together, as well as red potatoes cut up in smaller pieces. I’d love to try a veggie grilling basket, but we’re registering for that for the wedding. 😉

Enjoy with the rest of your grilled meal for a healthy taste of the summer! 

Our yummy "early summer" dinner! The chicken strips were marinated in some low sodium soy sauce and the same seasoning as the squash was.

Divide & Conquer?

Life has been crazy busy, so I apologize for the lack of posts lately…

Training for my first half marathon is starting to get more serious–I worry more about my long runs than I have the past couple of weeks because I know it’ll take me longer to complete these runs. My 10 miler last weekend opened my eyes to the fact that I need to think about my routes more in advanced than as I’m driving there, and I need to be serious about keeping a steady pace.

This weekend I’ve scheduled an 11 mile run, which will be my last long training run for almost two weeks, since I will be flying to Reno next Thursday for the AKC National Agility Championships and won’t be back until Monday. I’m comfortable with that because I know I probably need to rest my legs, and I was due to have a “short long training run” with how much mileage I’ve been pumping out. So with 11 miles nagging at the back of my head for this weekend, plus tons of things I have to do this weekend, it makes me wonder how can I fit in almost two hours of running?

The friends I ran with last week are only running 8 this weekend, so I’m still three miles ahead, and would need to get those miles done early. However, their pace is a lot slower than mine (I want to keep a 9:30-10 pace, they were running between 11-12 minutes per mile). Is it helpful or hurtful to slow my pace by two minutes? Sure it might be able to save my legs and allow me to run the whole 11 (or, rather, the 8 with them), but am I doing myself a disservice?

The other thought is, would it be better to divide and conquer the miles? Say run six earlier in the day, then run five later that same day? Or run three a little before meeting with my friends at my own pace (maybe a little faster), and then run with them, at their pace, for the remaining 8? I’ve heard of marathon runners dividing up their long runs when they’re pressed for time, but to me that sounds counterproductive. I feel like I need to run the whole amount because this is all new to me–my mental training needs to increase with the mileage to help me through the whole 13.1 miles, as well as my body’s stamina. Would running half and half, even if in the same day, derail all of that?

So many thoughts and questions going on. Either way, I’m going to get my 11 miles in this weekend, but I’d rather not run the whole thing by myself–that’s the hardest part of training! To have someone next to you makes you push yourself because you don’t want to stop.

What’s your opinion? Any advice would be great!

10 Miles of Emotions

Decided to re-use this image because if I didn't love the accomplishment I felt at the end of every trying, long run, I wouldn't love running.

I hit a milestone when my Garmin flashed 10 miles–the farthest I’ve ever run in my life (there has been a pattern here lately) and the end of an emotional run. Rather, the end of an emotional week.I had to do my long run on Sunday because I had an agility trial with the dogs on Saturday, and thankfully some of the friends running in the Derby Half with me run on Sundays, so I tagged along. Unfortunately, though, they were only running 7 miles, while I had to hit 10. So I tried to get there a little early (timing fail, only got there a little over five minutes earlier) so I could get in a couple miles before they started their run. So I only got in 1.5 miles before they texted me saying they were on their way. I had to go back to get my water bottle, so they got a head start. I ended up running about five miles by myself–no music (hadn’t packed my headphones because I figured I’d be running with friends), and hot temperatures.

Oh yeah, remember how last week I was running in my winter running pants, long sleeved running shirt and fleece (and had been dressed like that the past couple of long runs)? This week the temps were at record highs in the upper 70s! I was running in shorts and a t-shirt, and I made sure I had my water with me to keep me hydrated. But one thing I forgot? Sunscreen. Whoda thunk that I’d need sunscreen in mid-March, especially after running fully-clothed the last couple of weeks? So now I’m sport burnt arms, with a Garmin water tan line, and a tan line on my thigh from my IT Band strap. Yay for warm weather running! (Am I officially a runner now?)

ANYWAY, back to the 10 miles: There was a point in the run (about 4 miles into it) that I was just frustrated with everything. My legs were tired, I was so hot, I just lost all motivation. I walked for .10 miles after the first three and told myself I could walk again at 6, but at about 4.5 I couldn’t make it. I relented and walked, took a sip of water, and ripped open into my (first-ever) Gu (strawberry-banana) and slowly ingested half the packet. (I’m not 100% sold on the flavor, nor the texture, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it the more I run and the more I eat it.) Then I did a few shoulder and neck rolls and told myself I was in the middle of nowhere on the Legacy Trail, I had to run, so I might as well make the run worth something and run to 10. So off I went, continuing to put one foot in front of the other, cheering as each mile ticked down.

Then I finally caught up with my friends–finally!! I reached 5 miles and turned around to run with them. It was then that my pace slowed because they were going at about a 11-12 minute mile (I was averaging 9:30-10). It was hard to slow my pace down, but I think I needed that because I needed to gather my legs and enjoy the run with my friends for a couple of miles.

It was what my mind needed, and we pushed together until I hit 7.5 and they had just under a mile left. I took off on my own, yet again, and told them I’d meet up with them in 2.5 miles. That’s when it got hard again. It didn’t help that I was running towards the end of the trail, so if I had more mileage to go, I had to double back and run back through the trail, yet again. Talk about killing your motivation! The next time that I run on that trail, I need to plan things better and know when my half-way point is so I can just run out and back.

Mile 9 was the hardest for me because of the running small down-and-backs, but I started talking to myself and saying things like, “0.20 miles left…you can do this…anyone can do anything for two minutes!” And I did.

In that run, I had ups and downs with my enegery and efforts–just like I’ve had all the past week. When I finished, I walked and felt a little sick, but I was done. I don’t know how I’ll feel when I have to do 11, 12, or even when I actually have to run in the half marathon! But I know that I need to work on my mental strength as well, and continue to push myself.

My splits:
Mile 1: 8:45
Mile 2: 8:55
Mile 3: 9:13
Mile 4: 10:00
Mile 5: 11:09 (this was my mini mental breakdown)
Mile 6: 11:11 (joined up with my friends)
Mile 7: 11:32
Mile 8: 11:16
Mile 9: 10:26
Mile 10: 10:19
Total: 1:42:39 for 10 miles (avg. 10:17)

Not my fastest, not my best, but I did it. I only walked twice, and that was all within the first half.

Here’s hoping the next week of running, and life, goes a little better. I only have one more full week of training before I leave for Reno for the AKC National Agility Championships, which means I won’t get to run for almost a week (so this will be my “rest week,” which I think my legs are needing), then I’ll hit it back again, hard, for the last couple of weeks before the half marathon.

How Personal …?

I need some fellow bloggers’ opinions. There are times when you just need to vent and let everything out, and for me some times I like to handle that by writing. Now I have a blog, which was meant to chronicle my wedding planning and fitness journey, and maybe give a few hints at other parts of my life. But how personal is too personal on an open blog?

There have been a few things in the past week that have upset me greatly and it feels like there’s no one to really talk to in person about it. I undertand names can be changed, but I don’t know who all really reads my blog, so should I worry about hurting any feelings or upsetting anyone? I don’t want that–afterall, this is my personal blog, but I don’t want to get too personal.

So how personal do you like to read into someone’s blog? How personal is too personal?

Proud Alum: Go Racers!!

It’s the start of March Madness, and for almost everyone living in Lexington, they’re wearing their “Kentucky Blue” and preparing to cheer on the Wildcats in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. For others, though, they’re one of the few to not be on that bandwagon, and they’re cheering for another team (GASP! I know! How horrible would that be!?). I’m one of those people.

I’m a proud alumnus of Murray State University. I’ve always been in love with that school since the weekend my parents and I took a tour before I decided to attend there. Those were the best four years of my life. It may have been a “suitcase school” (meaning a lot of the students left campus every weekend, most to go home, but I didn’t–home was 6 hours away), but my friends and I always found things to do (it helps when you have a horse, or two, to ride and take care of).

So it’s with great pride that I do a shout-out for the Murray State Racers–the last of the unbeatens in Division 1, home of one of the top three point shooters in the country (Cannon!), and home of one of the best mascot–Racer 1!

I’m proudly rocking my navy blue (not “Ky Blue”) at work and will be a little sidetracked come noon today as they take on Colorado State.

GO RACERS!!!

Dog Walks: Do You Consider it a Workout?

Ever since I got Dally, my Pembroke Welsh Corgi, I feel like I’ve been more active. Now, granted, I got Dally before I moved away from my parents’ farm, so I was always busy in the barn and never had a chance to get bored. But when Dally and I moved to Texas for an internship, I moved into my first apartment (if you don’t count my dorm room at Murray State). If it hadn’t been for her, I probably would have turned into a pile of mush because I might not have done much working out, walking, or even started running.

I love, and look forward to, our lunchtime dog walks--especially when the sun is shining!

When I moved to Lexington, I institutedlunchtime dog walks because I lived near work and I could walk a loop that took about 10-15 minutes. It was a great way to get Dally to stretch her legs, and a great way for me to relax from the morning and gather myself for the afternoon in the office. When LaMesa came along, the lunchtime dog walks became even more important because she has a lot of energy. The lunchtime walks are about 0.75 miles, and as long as the weather isn’t horrible, we walk–cold or hot.

I try to walk the dogs almost every day. In the summers I love to walk them after we eat dinner because (A) It stops us from eating more, and allows the food to start digesting (I’m a bit of a snacker even after dinner), and (B) It’s cooled off enough for them to walk and be comfortable. Winter walks are hard after work because of the time I get back from the gym (it’s already really dark) and the temperatures. However, this winter has been very mild, so we’re still able to get those walks in, ranging from 1.5 miles to maybe close to 3 miles.

The walks usually occur through the neighborhood or around the park we live by, and I like to take the girls through the tall grasses (off the asphalt path) because it is better for their conditioning (makes them hop through the grass, thus using their back and core muscles). Some times we even run through some of the grass to get them to chase me and work on their speed, and just to have fun.

There are some people whose only workout involves walking dogs. It’s a great workout, as long as it’s long and the inclines vary, but is it enough? It’s been known that walking is heart healthy, and for some people they tend to lose weight walking–which is great! But what do you think?

I believe dog walking can be great exercise, but you just have rev it up every once in a while: do some sprints with your dog in the grass, or maybe take a break from the walk, let your dog relax while you do jumping jacks or push-ups/sit-ups in the grass. I wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from walking their dog–in fact, even I encourage everyone, even if you have a giant back yard. It’s great for you and your dog’s minds and creates a great bond. I hate it when I miss a walk with my girls, and trust me…they let me know they’re unhappy to miss a walk!