>Marathon Training: Week 11, and Lent

>Monday: 4 miles at the gym, worked on arms/abs
Tuesday: 7 miles at the gym, worked on legs/abs
Wednesday: 3 miles at the gym, worked on arms/abs again.. decided to retire my first pair of Asics after an achy run that should not have been achy
Thursday: rest
Friday: yoga with a Yogamazing podcast
Saturday: 18 miles allllll around Peoria. Seriously. To get 18 miles out of the decent parts of town I combined all my normal routes.

Gabi is out of town this weekend so we did this one on our own. It was the biggest mental battle I’ve had to fight yet. I had dreams about it the other night, and last night after work I just couldn’t relax. I was so anxious! I made myself get out of bed around 5:30 and was out the door by about 6. I was able to watch the sunrise.. so pretty. It was windy, though – 20-30 mph. My hands froze as I didn’t wear gloves. Honestly, I was lazy and didn’t want to look for them this morning.

My Camelbak didn’t come this week, so I took a 24-oz bottle with G2 with me. It wasn’t bad carrying it, as I’ve done it before. I also took two gels and my cell phone in my belt. Normally I don’t take my cell phone, but when I’m out and about for that long I figured it was a good idea. I used one gel and drank all the G2.

I don’t think my HR topped 165-170. I felt great in my heart and lungs. By mile 10, though, my legs started aching. Knees, thighs, hamstrings, hips. Ouch. But I pushed through and still finished with a decent pace of 11:00. That’s really good for such a long distance! There were times, especially towards the end when I felt like I was literally hobbling down the sidewalk. It’s amazing I made it up the stairs.

I’ve drank three glasses of decaf iced tea. I took a bath and used my Tub Tea I got at Walnut Street Tea Co. in Champaign last time we were down there. I think it really helped, too! It was called “Soothe the Muscles”, a blend of lavender and sea salts. They’re about $6 each, but oh so worth it.

Now I’m enjoying a yummy breakfast, and later I’m going to catch up on Biggest Loser and do some knitting.

One thing I’m really trying to break out of is totally gorging myself on carbs the day of or after a long run. It doesn’t take that many carbs eaten to replace what I lost (2200 today), and I should still keep a good, balanced diet.

I made a commitment to give up sweets for Lent this year. For those of you who are not familiar with it, Lent is the 40 days preceding Easter beginning with Ash Wednesday that signifies the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting and being tried by the devil. Growing up, we always celebrated it and gave up something. Normally, giving up a food doesn’t help me in my walk, because I become so legalistic about it and stay focused on not eating that one thing.

This year, though, I have recognized the role that sweets play in my emotional health. If I’ve had a rough day, or feel sad, I eat ice cream at home or go through the DQ drive through. When I want to relax, I equate that with eating sugar. This practice adversely affects my walk with God because in those rough times I should be turning to the Word for “food” so to speak. A pint of Ben and Jerry’s really won’t bring long-lasting results. It only brings guilt and lots and lots of calories!

I’m sharing this with you not to say, Oh, Look how great I am!, but to make myself accountable. I’ve spent too much time overeating and casting my cares on sugar and it’s going to stop! I’m also trying to balance out my diet and make it as healthy as I can. I’ve been making most food at home and trying to shop around the perimeter of the grocery store.

The Bible is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago when it was written and spoken in the synagogue and early church. Fasting can still play an important role in your spiritual walk. I’m excited to see how this commitment will affect our preparations for moving and what we will be doing in El Paso. The last thing I need to do is get caught up in innumerable lists and worries.

>Financial update

>On a different note, Aaron and I are just $60 shy of paying off $23,000!!! That’s over a third of our total debt. It’s so encouraging as I create the budget for living in Texas to see that besides our rent, utilities, gas and food, our monthly bills are only $824. I love the financial freedom we have been experiencing.

I ate fast food today for the first time in six weeks. Man oh man, my stomach is not happy. But it was so good. (Taco Bell!) I have been very careful about eating out, whether it’s going out with friends or getting a coffee at Starbucks. And let me tell you, I’ve saved so much money. I take out $300 every two weeks in cash for gas, food, toiletries, gifts and spending money and it lasts those entire two weeks. My drive to work is 25 miles one way, so I spend a good deal of that on gas. I’ve become so used to paying actual cash for things that to pay with a debit card feels like I’m using a credit card.

Our financial goals for the next few months are to keep paying extra on the next loan in addition to our minimum payments and to save, save save! We know driving across the US of A will be pricey, and who knows when we will actually get reimbursed for moving expenses. I’m also not sure if there’s any maintenance that we’ll need for the Camry before we go. New tires are probably on the list.

Phone bills, however, have not been pretty lately. For February, we’re shelling out $200 for my phone alone. Are we willing to give up talking every day? No. Are we willing to balance the budget by cutting back in other areas? Yes. And thank goodness it’s only for a few more months.

I guess I’m finally starting to get excited about moving to Texas (or wherever, if orders change). Last night I started checking out apartments off-post. Soon I’ll start cleaning out boxes that have been packed for almost a year.

>Get right back up again

>Although the week has been long, it’s been successful in my neck of the woods.

I’ve been drinking water like it’s going out of style, and my bladder tells me so, haha. The scale at the gym weighed me in a few pounds heavier than a week ago. I’m honestly not sure if it’s just because I was overeating pretty much every day (but I did burn thousands of calories week before last) or if it’s because my body is so thankful for rehydration! I’m sure this is normal, but the backs of my thighs are getting so muscular, like so much so that my pants are starting to feel snug.

I’m completely over caffeine headaches, but I will tell you that nothing this morning sounded better than a grande white chocolate mocha with an extra shot. I have to say that with no caffeine and tons more fluids, I’m feeling more clear-headed and I don’t think my moods are fluctuating as much.

For my running this week I went to the gym. I’ve been training outside all winter long and frankly, I’m sick of it! Sick of the layers, the cold hands, etc. And honestly, seven miles on the treadmill the other night wasn’t too bad. I made sure to drink water as I was running, and I wore my heart rate strap. The treadmills at the gym pick up the HR so I was able to monitor that. Everything was fine – no crazy spikes, and no SVT episodes at all this week.

I had my echocardiogram on Tuesday morning before work. It was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever had done (well, you know, besides getting stitches when I was 14 and having my heart stopped two weeks ago;). The technician was very friendly and explained everything to me. It’s just amazing to see the heart in its glory… I honestly don’t know how one can not believe in a Creator after learning about how the heart works. Or even how our bodies function at all! The doctor still hasn’t called back with results, so I will probably be calling them early next week. I am confident, however, that this is not a chronic issue as long as I take care of myself.

I did get the results back from the blood draw, and my ferritin (iron stores) were at the lowest of the range, a 6 on a scale of 6 to 137. People don’t start feeling normal until that level is around a 50. And it can take months to get my iron levels back to that. My cousin who is a nurse told me to eat raw red meat! Haha. I will definitely be eating red meat for awhile. It’s a very good excuse to eat steak on a regular basis. Mmm.

>It’s all mental at this point.

>…almost. With a 16-miler under my belt and 18- and 20-milers to go, plus the training between all those long runs and tapering, the marathon is closer than we think. Only eight weeks away. And I’m freaking out.

It probably has a lot to do with taking the week off, but our run yesterday was just not a good run. I felt tired, like I was struggling through only six miles! I know you have some runs that are worse than others, but for me those have been few and far between.

These unrealistic expectations for the marathon are killin’ me. Never having been an athlete before, I should not expect to run my absolute best race on race day. It’s 26.2 flippin’ miles, and I will feel every one of them. I should take it easy mentally, going at a pace I can sustain for that long and feeling excited before, during, and after. I have it in my mind that if I don’t finish in five hours, it’s not worth the try.

What kind of baloney is that? It’s a MARATHON. One percent of Americans can say that they’ve run the 26.2, and in eight weeks, Gabi and I will both be able to say that.

The time in the end doesn’t really matter. Maybe I will run another marathon and be able to PR (personal record), maybe I won’t. The important thing is that I finish it.

And just so you all know, I might wear my medal for days. 😉

>Marathon Training: Week 10

>This was a week of rest for me. I was able to put into perspective how much time I spend training… it’s a lot! But this week after work instead of rushing off to the road or the gym, I was able to relax and continue my evening activities. I’ve been trying to drink at least 64 oz of water a day. I’ve been taking an iron supplement in addition to my multivitamin. The caffeine withdrawals haven’t been pretty. I had a horrendous headache last night. Thankfully it was gone when I woke up this morning.

I reluctantly pulled myself out of bed this morning at 5:15 AM to get ready for our run. We’re going by the Runner’s World SmartCoach training, for the long runs, and our run today was only six miles. It was painful, at least for me. Our pace was only 10:54 for a 6.56-mi run, which was the pace we sustained for 16 miles last weekend. It’s crazy thinking this morning, “We’re going for a run that will last only an hour!” My average heart rate was 174 (pretty common for a hard run), and the max was 221. I’m not sure if the 221 was an SVT episode, but I felt ok throughout the run and my HR came down pretty fast after stopping.

I’m going to rest today by taking a shower, drinking some coffee, and taking a nap. The dishes and floor need to be done, as does a load of laundry, but I can get that done sometime today. I also need to go to the store.

My last thought for the morning: the trees are budding!! Spring is almost here.

>Reevaluating fitness goals

>I’m home today with some sinus/cough thing, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to also rest up from my exciting weekend. Anyway, it’s been a good time to think and reevaluate my fitness goals.

Two years ago I wasn’t running, at all. I was just getting into working out and eating right, and restricting my calories in order to lose weight. About this time last year I hit my goal weight and have maintained ever since. I’ve definitely fluctuated in either direction about five pounds.

I hit a new record in weight back in December, and I’m not sure, thinking back on it, it was the best thing. I had been amping up my running quite a bit, but I was obviously restricting calories too much because I was still losing. With the volume of running I’ve been doing (48 miles in January and 94 in February!!) I should be eating plenty of calories to sustain this level of endurance.

My weight goal for the marathon was 10 pounds less than what I weigh right now. I was thinking I was being preemptive, because I had been losing a little bit with all the running. I scratched that today and put it back to just one pound less than where I am right now. My body is obviously comfortable with this weight, as I did maintain it for several years when I was a teenager.

If anything, I would like to ditch the scale and BMI altogether. The caliper method is a much more accurate measure of body fat percentage, though I’m not sure how to go about getting measured that way. I would like to build up more muscle, and if that means putting on a few pounds, then I’m all for it. So… here are my fitness/nutrition goals:

1) Run the marathon! Have a remaining safe eight weeks of training by eating correctly and staying hydrated!
2) Cut out all caffeine. I’m starting to feel the headaches today.. ugh.
3) Keep a good base after the marathon. I’d like to be able to run a half marathon without too much trouble or extra training.
4) Do more strength training by doing pushups, crunches, yoga, resistance machines, Body Pump, whatever. I want to be able to do real pushups and pullups.
5) Stop worrying about the scale! I know I don’t need to lose any more weight and I feel great with how I look now!
6) Explore other cross-training such as hiking, biking, etc. When we move I’d like to spend lots of time outdoors exploring the new sites. And we’d like to take a camping/hiking trip through the Grand Canyon pre-children. Once we have children, outdoor activity and exercise will just be a part of everyday life.
7) Stop over-analyzing everything I eat. It’s great to have self-control, but if I over-indulge every once in awhile, there’s no reason to beat myself up.

Spring is almost here! Dusting off the old and preparing for the new!

>Decaf please.

>Hello friends. Halfway through my marathon training, I thought I encountered a possible setback, but am now relieved to say that I can go full speed ahead after a week of rest.

I’ve had little heart flutters now and then through the past ten years or so where it feels like my heart is racing and in my throat, but it goes away within 20 seconds or so. This morning when I was getting ready for church, it caught me by surprise and didn’t let up after several minutes.

I had spent the night at my best friend’s house, and I told her mom about it when she got up (her mom is a nurse practitioner). She took my pulse and it was around 165, but blood pressure was fine.

After 30 minutes went by and it didn’t subside, even with trying different things, we decided to go to the hospital. Amelia went ahead to church. We were both scheduled to sing on the worship team, and I was supposed to play. Thankfully she could play in my place.

Her mom Carey took me to the ER. It’s a small town and I got in very quickly. They took my blood pressure and hooked me up to an EKG, which confirmed that I was having an episode of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).

After another 30 minutes went by, my HR was down to around 145-148, which is still ridiculously high for just laying there. They gave me a dose of Adenocard via IV, which basically stops your heart for a few seconds and resets it. That was the weirdest feeling ever.. very unsettling! But it did its job and my HR went back to normal, 60-70. Since I’ve been running, my resting HR is lower, 55-60.

They drew blood and monitored me for awhile and then let me go.. Carey and I went to get breakfast.. I was starving! So glad Carey was with me because I wouldn’t have known to get blood work done. The ER doctor just wanted to send me on my way.

Today I left work after lunch to get to my appointment with a doctor in Carey’s office. The first thing the doc told me was that I was significantly anemic. She didn’t give me any numbers, but she prescribed me iron pills to take twice a day. I was also dehydrated, which honestly does not surprise me. Twelve ounces of Gatorade on a three-hour run doesn’t really cut it.

The doc ordered an echocardiogram so that they can take a look at my heart and make sure everything is fine. I have that scheduled for next week. I go back to her in six weeks to have blood drawn again.

She did say that I can run long distances in preparation for the marathon (yay!) but that I need to drink enough fluids before, during and after. I’m going to be taking this week off of strenuous exercise. Our schedule has only six miles for Saturday, and if I feel back to normal, then I’ll go. Otherwise I’ll pick back up with training next week.

Lesson learned! So, here’s my plan: no caffeine, good rest, good sleep, healthy eating, and lots of fluids. I’m so thankful that so far it’s nothing serious and that it’s easily managed by small lifestyle changes. I would love it if I could manage my diet well enough to get all my nutrients and vitamins from food.

I stopped into Starbucks on my way out of town and saw Emily. She let me have her mark-out for the week: decaf House Blend.

Here’s to a restful and thankful week! Spring is right around the corner.