Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chicago Marathon Training: Week Eleven - Stretch & Foam Roll

Thank you for your suggestions on my last post about my back and leg pain, I really appreciate it and the tips you left have helped.
Here is a quick recap of last week's training.  

Monday: 50 minute Run - 3.59 miles
Tuesday: 60 minute CorePower Yoga 1.5

Wednesday: Tempo A and Four Stride Drills - 3.78 miles
Thursday: REST
Friday: 33 minutes Yoga Meltdown Level One
Saturday: REST
Sunday: 8 mile Long Run -8.25 miles

Monday I still had some numbness in my toes, but otherwise my run was good.  I did a nice loop around my neighborhood and kept an easy pace.

I went back to yoga on Tuesday which was great.  It was a very full class for 10 in the morning, but we did lots of hip openers which I always need.  

Wednesday was a new tempo workout and I ran over to the Green City Market.  This one went as follows: easy run 10 minutes, run at tempo 20 minutes, easy run 10 minutes.  I felt good and kept a nice pace.  The workout ended with four stride drills.  The outside of my left knee felt sore in the last stride, but I iced it when I got home.  The numbness in my toes subsided though, which is a plus.  

Friday I had to be at work early so I got up and did my standard Yoga Meltdown DVD.  It is always a good start to the day.

I like to do my long runs on Saturday, but I had to work at 7am.  I didn't want to run in dark and it was too hot after work so I decided to run Sunday instead.  I had a Clif Kids Chocolate Chip Z Bar and some water before heading out.  
It was a pretty day, although it did get a bit warm as I was ending my run.  I enjoyed listening to my book and kept a steady pace taking only two short walk breaks to have some chews.  It was a cutback week so eight miles was on the schedule.  I ran just a bit more so that I ended in a more convenient location to get back home.  
After walking and stretching I made my way to Etno Village Grill.  I always see it when I ride the train and decided to stop in for a burger.  I seem to always want a burger after a long run and this seemed like a good time to stop in.  It is a small restaurant with lots of burger options.  They use seasonal ingredients, grass fed beef, hormone and antibiotic free meat, and use eco-friendly practices in the restaurant.  It sounded right up my alley.  Lots of things on the menu caught my eye, but I decided on the small Vampire Hunter with fries.  Can you guess what was in it?  It was a 1/3 pound burger with asiago cheese, sauteed mushrooms, roasted garlic, chive cream spread, and fresh greens. 
The burger was cooked perfectly and all of the toppings were good.  The meat just need a bit more seasoning and it would have been perfect, it was almost there.  A good meal none the less.  

I did some online research after writing my post last week and think I figured out that is my sciatic nerve that has been bugging me.  So it really is all connected.  I have been focusing a lot more on stretching longer after runs and after standing at work all day.  Foam rolling has also been really beneficial.  I am trying to get more yoga classes in too because they really make me feel good and are a nice compliment to running.  Stretching and foam rolling are such easy things to do and really make a difference in how I feel after runs.  

I haven't run in compression yet, but am still using my socks for recovery after runs.  
I bought some compression sleeves to use on my long run this week so we'll see how it goes.  I am continuing to stay on top of this and listen to my body, because I do not want to be sidelined before the marathon.  Thankfully things are slowly getting better. 

What is a go to meal you enjoy after a long run?  What are some of your favorite post run stretches?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chicago Marathon Training: Week Ten - Strange Aches

Here is the breakdown for Week Ten of my Chicago Marathon Training:

Monday: 60 Minute Run - 4.35 mi
Tuesday: 38 Minute XT - Yoga Meltdown Level One Plus
Wednesday: 40 Minute Tempo and Four Stride Drills - 3.6 mi
Thursday: REST - unplanned
Friday: 1 hour XT - Hot Power Fusion Yoga
Saturday: 16 Mile Long Run
Sunday: REST

Monday was a good run.  An hour on a weekday can be tough to fit in, but I had a later shift at work so I wasn't crunched for time.  I just ran a loop through my neighborhood and kept a relaxed pace.  I really enjoyed listening to my book too. (World Without End)

Tuesday I did level one of Jillian Michael's Yoga Meltdown.  I felt really good and focused throughout.  I made sure to check my posture in my poses.  I added a few more hip openers and stretches at the end to add some more time.  

Wednesday was a faster paced run.  I decided to run to Whole Foods to get some groceries. I ended with four strong stride drills as well.

On Thursday I was supposed to run for 45 minutes but decided to take a rest day instead.  The past few days I had been having some lower back pain.  I couldn't get comfortable sitting or lying down and all the stretching I did didn't seem to relive the pain.  I scheduled a doctors appointment (with my own, new health insurance!) to have it checked out, because it just didn't feel right.  Thankfully she didn't notice anything out of place, just a tight muscle in my back, but pretty much told me to take acetaminophen to help with the pain.  She said most lower back pain goes away by itself with a couple weeks.  It is just weird, because I don't feel pain when walking or running.  

I thought some yoga might help and Friday walked over to Core Power Yoga for an early Hot Power Fusion class.  I think it has been over a month since my last one and it was so good to be back.  I wasn't has strong in all the poses, but it was a good, sweaty class. 

I got up early Saturday morning to get in my long run of 16 miles in before work later that day.  Before I left I ate a black cherry almond Clif bar and water.  It was dark when I started and as I reached the lakeshore I got to see the sun rise.

Once I made it to the lake I ran north about two miles and then looped back south to Oak Street Beach and then turned around and ran back north on the inner trail through Lincoln Park.  The weather was so much nicer than my 12 and 14 mile runs down south.  It was about 55-6o degrees and perfect for running.  I was able to keep a pretty steady pace with my heart rate in the right training zone.  I took short walk breaks every two miles or so.  I fueled with my favorite Fruit Smoothie Honey Stinger Chews around miles four, eight, and twelve.  I also had G2 around six, twelve, and fourteen.   
About halfway through I started to notice some strange cramping in my left calf, toes, and foot.  I had to stop two or three times to stretch out my legs which helped some.  It was just really annoying and something I have never felt before when running.  I think it might have been related to the tight muscle in back.  I just stayed focused on my form which helped me finish the 16 miles.  A brand new personal distance record! 
I stopped by City Provisions on my way and grabbed a bottle of chocolate milk which was delicious.  
I had just enough time when I got home to stretch, foam roll, shower, and eat a peanut butter and jelly toasted english muffin before I going to work.  
At work I noticed that the toes on my left foot felt kind of numb.  It was more uncomfortable than anything else.  I work at a spa and asked a few of the massage therapist what they thought and they suggested rolling a tennis ball on the tight muscle in my lower back.  That definitely helped relieve some of the tension and made the numbness in my toes subside.  I don't know what is going on, but I think it is all connected. 
After standing and walking around all day at work, I was ready to put my feet up when I got home and enjoy some Ben & Jerry's Half Baked ice cream.  

Sunday I massaged my back some more with the tennis ball before heading to work again.

Right now my back is still a little sore, but feels better.  My left calf and toes still feel strange and a bit numb off and on.  I have been wearing compression socks whenever I am home to help my circulation.  I think things are getting better, but I may go back to the doctor if it doesn't feel better soon.  I just don't know what the deal is.  It is not painful, just weird and annoying.  I haven't noticed that running makes it any worse so I am still following my plan.  I am taking more time to stretch and foam roll in hopes this will work out any kinks.  If something hurts I will be sure to stop and reevaluate though.  

Has anyone experienced something like this?  Any advice on what I should do?  What is one of the first things you drink or eat after a long run?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to Beaufort

Two weekends ago I finally had a chance to go back and visit my family in my hometown of Beaufort, SC.  It has been a year and half since I was last there so it was nice to visit.  
I flew into Charleston Thursday afternoon where my younger sister, Caroline came to pick me up.  She recently finished up a year of service in the Americorp and came to South Carolina so we could all be together.  We went to one of Caroline's favorite places for lunch Five Loaves Cafe.  It is a small cafe that makes local and fresh food.  We each got a half sandwich and salad.  
Caroline got the caesar salad with tortellini and the mushroom goat cheese burger while I got a roast beef sandwich and a spinach salad with polenta croutons.  
My sandwich was good, although the mustard was a little too sweet for me.  The spinach salad was tasty though.  Caroline's mushroom burger and salad were really good I definitely see why she gets it every time.  

After lunch we drove down to Beaufort where my dad and brother Patrick were waiting for us to arrive.  Beaufort is on the coast of South Carolina so there are lots of rivers, inlets, islands, and creeks throughout the town.  I was born there and lived there until I was about 13 when we moved to Florida with my mom and step dad.  My dad's side of the family still lives there so it nice to go back to see them and see some of my favorite places from my hometown.  It is a pretty small town but full of history as it was established in the early 1700s.  

My grandparents and aunt, who live just down the road from my dad, invited us over to see them and go out to dinner.  We went out to one of our favorite restaurants, Fuji.  It is a small Japanese restaurant that is pretty popular in the town.  
My dad and grandfather knew everyone that was in the restaurant and said hello to them all.  I ordered the shrimp plate with brown rice.  It wasn't quite as good as I remembered but still pretty tasty.  The shrimp sauce is still the best around.

Afterward we stopped by Dairy Queen for a cool treat!  I got a chocolate dipped cone which was so good.  I haven't had one in forever.

On Friday, Patrick, Caroline, and I decided to go to nearby Fripp Island to hangout at the beach and pool.  We have spent many a summer at Fripp and it was fun to go back for a day.  It was a beautiful day for the beach.  We got Publix subs, pretzels, pineapple, and water to enjoy at the beach which was the perfect beach meal.  

After a couple hours at the beach we went to a small pool by the marina for a bit as well.  The three of us had a great time hanging out together, I wish we could do that more often. 
Such a pretty picture, right? ;)
After we got back home I noticed that had gotten really bad sunburn on my thighs.  They haven't seen the sun in forever and were super red and painful.  I was in the water most of the time, but I guess that little bit of sun was too much.  I spent the rest of the weekend rubbing aloe on them.  

That evening we went back over to our grandparents house for a family dinner.  Our cousins were already back to school early, but a couple of aunts and uncles were able to stop by.  My grandmother made her delicious cheese and tomato grits and lima beans.  It was delicious!  My dad also got some fried chicken since most of the people in our family like to have meat with their meal, but Caroline and I stuck with just the grits, beans, and bread.  Lots of stories and laughs were shared throughout the evening.  When we got home we watched the Olympics before heading to bed. 

My plan Saturday was to get up early for my 14 mile run, but I must have been tired and slept two hours past my alarm.  Like I mentioned in my training recap it was a really tough run, but running around Beaufort was nice especially the historic downtown area.  

After my run we decided to go out on the boat for the afternoon.  Since my last visit my dad built a small dock off the back yard into the creek so we could have our boat back there.  
The creek behind Dad's house.  It's quite beautiful.
Dad picked up some sandwiches, from one of the best sandwich places ever, called Alvin Ord's.  I got the turkey which came with mayo, two melted cheeses, lettuce, tomato, and onions all on fresh baked bread.  Caroline, Patrick, and I ate them up on our way out to the sandbar.  Since the boat can only hold three people we road out from the house and my Dad and two of his friends met us out there.  I kept my burned thighs covered up from the sun with a towel on the boat and relaxed in the water the rest of the time.  
We used to go to the sandbar almost all the time with my dad growing up so it was nice to go out again.  When we saw storm clouds rolling in a few hours later we packed up and headed back home.

Once we were all cleaned up we went out to Upper Crust and shared a Malibu Beach pizza  It had spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and feta cheese on it.  The crust was perfect with just the right amount of chew to it and a bit of crunch.
Caroline, Dad, and I then went to the local theater to watch the Dark Knight Rises, which I enjoyed.  I had handful of my dad's popcorn and Caroline and I shared a small bag of Twizzlers.   
I was pretty exhausted after such a long day and went to bed as soon as we got home.  

Sunday we had to say our goodbyes.  Caroline left early since she had to drive so we said goodbye to her first.  Patrick and I had to bring the boat back around to our dock.  It was a nice ride most of the way, until we saw big storm clouds lurking.  We were just in our regular clothes and thought we had beat the rain when were hit with stinging rain as we approached the creek.  It then stopped for a bit, but right when were getting ready to dock back home the skies opened and it began to pour.  We were both soaking wet as we walked up to the house!  Dad had picked up breakfast from Bojangles for us though.  After changing, I enjoyed a chicken biscuit and a boberry biscuit, which was so tasty.  We watched some Olympics upstairs for a bit and then I had to head to the airport. 

I left from the Hilton Head/Savannah Airport which is a great little airport.  It was small and clean and I barely had to wait through security.  After a close transfer in Charlotte I made it back to Chicago in the early evening.

I really had a great time back in Beaufort.  I loved being able to spend time with my siblings and dad and visit with other family as well.  Whenever we are together I always wish it was longer.  Hopefully my next trip won't be two years down the road!

What is one of your favorite meals your grandmother made or makes?  What's an activity you enjoy doing with your sibling(s) or family?    

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicago Marathon Training: Week Nine - Halfway Mark

That's right, I am halfway through my training plan for my first marathon.  Here's the breakdown of the week.

Monday: 60 minute Easy Run - 4.4 miles
Tuesday: 30 minute XT - Yoga Meltdown Level Two
Wednesday: Tempo B Workout - 3.51 miles
Thursday: REST
Friday: 35 minute XT - Yoga Meltdown Level One
Saturday: 8 Mile Long Run
Sunday: REST

Monday I was back in Chicago from my trip to Beaufort and the weather here was much cooler.  I kept a relaxed pace and ran to Whole Foods to grab some groceries.   

Tuesday I was supposed to do 40 minutes of cross training but I was tired so just went with 30 minutes of yoga.

Tempo and speed workouts are for Wednesday and I was just not feeling it.  I so did not feel like running.  I made a deal with myself that I would run for at least ten minutes and if I still didn't want to continue I would just stop.  I went the ten minutes and decided to keep going.  It wasn't great but I did it.  I did however skip the stride drills at the end.

I was very happy for a rest day Thursday.

Friday was again supposed to be 40 minutes of cross training, but I just did level one of Yoga Meltdown instead which is around 35 minutes.  

The weather Saturday was perfection.  The sun was shining and it was a comfortable 68 degrees when I ran in the morning.  I feel so much stronger and capable running in cooler weather.  The heat just drains me.  I ran from my apartment to the lakefront and down the outer and inner trail to the farmer's market.  I kept an easy pace and felt really good running the eight miles. 

I ordered a new pair of running shoes and headphones earlier and was able to use both for this run.  I got the same kind of shoes as last time, the Asics GT-2170s.  My old ones were getting pretty worn so it was definitely time for a new pair.  
I got some awesome new headphones too.  I had previously been wearing Yurbuds, which I liked, but they have gotten pretty worn and it was time for something new.  When we were at the Georgia Half Marathon in March there were some new headphones from Auria that caught my eye.  My mom got a pair and I finally got some myself.  They are great because they sit comfortably in your ear so you don't get that ache in your ear like with a regular earbud.  They also allow ambient noise to be heard which is good for safety reasons when I run on busy streets or paths.
I was hungry after my run, but unfortunately had a not so great breakfast.  I went to try the Original Pancake House.  It had a good Yelp score, but the food was just not good and not what I wanted.

I can't believe I'm halfway through my training plan.  Eight more weeks left and the next few are going to be intense as I tackle new distances.  I am a bit intimidated but am trying to take it day by day.  

When you don't feel like running do you skip the workout, do it anyway, do another activity, or something else?   

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chicago Marathon Training: Week Seven and Eight - Run and Work

The past two weeks have been quite busy for me.  After getting back from Orlando, I have had work every day.  I had an eight day work week before visiting my hometown of Beaufort, SC to see family there this past weekend.  My days were long and consisted of running, working, eating, and watching the Olympics.  

Week Seven:
Monday: 60 minute Easy Run - 4.3 miles
Tuesday: 45 Minute Cross Training - Water Aerobics Class
Wednesday: Tempo B & Four Stride Drills - 3.93 miles
Thursday: REST
Friday: 30 Minute Cross Training - Yoga Meltdown L1
Saturday: 6 Mile Long Run
Sunday: REST

I was still in Orlando Monday so I woke up early to try and beat the heat.  I went on one of my old routes around our neighborhood.  This run was much better than the long run the day before.  

Tuesday, mom and I decided to check out a water aerobics class at the local YMCA.  I first took a water aerobics class in college, when I had some issues with my knees and this class was pretty similar.  We used water weights and a belt throughout the class.  It involved lots of pool running and skiing, jumping jacks, high knees, and then kicking work near the end.  The ladies in the class were mostly there to gossip and weren't really working that hard.  I think mom and I were the most dedicated to working hard.  You can definitely get a good workout from the moves, but it just wasn't as intense as it could have been.  It was a nice change of pace for a cross training workout though.  

By Wednesday I was back in Chicago and did a new Tempo workout.  This time I ran easy ten minutes, tempo ten minutes, two minute walk, ten minutes tempo, and ten minutes easy.  This workout was a bit of challenge.  I also messed up my timing on the second ten at tempo and ended up running eight instead of ten, but my "easy" final ten, weren't really easy.  I was pretty close to tempo for at least five more minutes.  

Friday I went back to my standard Yoga Meltdown DVD.  I like this workout, because it is short, intense, and effective.  I feel like I am in a bit of a cross training rut and need to try some different things.
Saturday I woke up early to find it was a nice, cool morning outside.  I ran from my apartment down inner Lakeshore Drive to the Green City Market.
I fueled with a mini clif bar before the run and ate a few Honey Stingers halfway through.  It was a pretty day and I felt good through the run. 

Week Eight: 
Monday: 60 Minute Easy Run - 4.12 mi
Tuesday: 30 Minutes Cross Training - Yoga Meltdown L1
Wednesday: 40 minute Run with Four Stride Drills - 3.64 mi
Thursday: 45 Minute Run - 3.21 mi
Friday: 30 Minute Cross Training - easy swim at beach and pool
Saturday: 14 Mile Long Run
Sunday: REST

Monday was just an easy run up and down a neighborhood street.  I was tired at first, but felt better as I went along.  Listening to my current book really helps during these kind of runs.  I recently started World Without End by Ken Follett, the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, which I listened to when training for my first half. 

Tuesday I was supposed to do 40 minutes of cross training, but I had the closing shift the night before and had early shift this morning so I shortened it.  I have done this DVD so many times that I skipped all of the set up and explanations of the moves to make it quicker.  

Wednesday I was still tired, but this was a better run than Monday's.  Wednesday's are the faster runs and I ended up keeping a pretty decent pace.  My four stride drills weren't the best, but no big deal.  

I got up around 4:30am Thursday morning to fit in this run before my flight to South Carolina to visit my family.  It was dark when I started so I ran down well lit streets and ran without my iPod for the first two miles to be safe.  I was tired to start, but felt good when I finished.  

Friday I was in Beaufort.  My brother, sister, and I went to the beach and pool that day.  I took it pretty easy as far as cross training, but I did swim in the both the ocean and pool for a light workout.  

My plan for Saturday was to get up around 5:30am so I could get an early start and beat the heat.  I set my alarm, but slept through it and didn't wake up until 7:30am.  I jumped out of bed as soon as I realized what time it was and quickly got ready to head outside.  I had a big glass of water and Black Cherry Almond Clif bar for my pre run fuel.  
I was mad at myself for sleeping in because it was already over 85 degrees when I finally ended up getting outside.  I brought my two mini bottles of G2 and my handheld bottle of water with me to stay hydrated.  Beaufort is a pretty small town and my route of 14 miles almost took me all around the perimeter.  
Long runs are supposed to be slow, but this was really slow.  The heat and humidity really got to me.  It was worse than my 12 miler in Florida the other week.  My heart rate was higher than the range it is supposed to be in for these long runs.  It was difficult to stay in that range.  I ended up walking many times to refuel with Honey Stinger chews, water, or just to bring my heart rate down.  
My route took me across the big bridge which goes over the river.  It is about a mile and a half long and pretty tall so sailboats can go under it.  
I stopped at CVS around mile five to cool off for a minute and top off my water bottle.  I tried to find shade wherever I could to stay away from the heat of the sun.  I ran through a few of my childhood neighborhoods and by some of the houses we used to live in.  Halfway through mile nine I stopped at Piggly Wiggly to refill my bottle with ice cold water which was so good.  I then made my way through historic downtown Beaufort before crossing the drawbridge.  
My dad was nice enough to pass by me twice while he was out and about at work.  There were even a few other people who honked or waved at me as I was running which was nice encouragement.
This run was so hard.  I was tired and hot and got side cramps a few times.  I wanted to cut the run short a few times, but knew that I could finish it and would be glad when I did.  I wish I had gotten up sooner so that I could have beat more of the heat because I think that was the most difficult part of the run.  I finished near Publix and picked up a chocolate milk and stretched before my sister picked me up.   
Even after drinking all that water on my run I was a bit dehydrated and had a headache so I made sure to drink lots of water and the rest of the bottle of G2 I had.  Although it was difficult I was so glad when I finished those 14 miles.  That is a new personal distance for me, as the longest I have ever run is a half marathon.  It took me about three and half hours to complete, but I did it.  

Things have calmed down with work and travel this week, but training is definitely picking up.  I am really in the thick of marathon training now.  

What are your favorite cross training workouts? How do you get through tough workouts?