Monday, January 10, 2011

I Can Run, But I Can't Hide

Saturday's Run: Come and go sun, chilly but not cold temperatures, air so fresh it tasted like running river water in the mountains: I got lucky with the weather and at last managed to do a semi-long one on the Boulder Spring Half course, out by the reservoir (see pic above).

This didn't mean I escaped Boulder's hordes of faster runners. Nope, they were gathered in the parking lot when I arrived, stretching their quads, laughing, either going on or coming back from a group run. I saw quite a few people out on the roads, too, and even got passed dramatically at one point. It happened later in the run, when I had some techno going on the iPod and was feeling sort of goddess-like. Then suddenly, a tall lithe dude in shorts and racing flats blew by me, restoring my inner goddess to her appropriate state of mortality with just one revolution of his well-honed stride. I felt his wake as strongly as those of the many SUVs that spewed gravel in my face that morning.

Mostly, though, it was perfect, the sort of outing that reminds me why I love running. I felt as though I belonged outside, like the cows and horses I passed along the way. All of my cells felt clean and purified when I had finished.

It's a course I've run four times before, twice in the half, once in a 10K and once (five years ago) in the full marathon they also stage there in the fall. So you'd think I'd know it well. But doing it on a training run, so much less urgent, I had the mental space to learn a thing or two.

The race is an out-and-back course. I don't like out-and-back courses. On the way out, you get psyched out by how each step carries you further away from where you began and thus from where you will finish. And on the way back, you get psyched out by how far you have to go. But it is what it is, and my distaste for this type of thing makes it all the more important that I do lots of training runs out there. I'm going to try to do all of the long runs there from now on (weather permitting).

The main thing I learned from Saturday's run is that this particular out-and-back is also up-and-down--as in, you're mostly going up on the way out and mostly going down on the way back. You can see this in the splits and elevation profile recorded by my Garmin (linked below), and I sure felt it on the run itself. For the entire first five miles, it was like running in sand, and I wondered if I was getting sick. Then I turned around, and suddenly it was like flying--even on the odd uphill. My last mile was the fastest of all, even though the course levels out there a bit. Overall I came in 11 seconds per mile faster than my target pace.

When I ran this race in October, I disappointed myself by missing my target of sub-2-hours by almost 5 minutes. Part of the problem was that I, aided by that second-half downhill trend, ran miles 8 and 9 with someone much faster than I. And then, when the little up-hills and that last flattening hit, I bonked.

My job in March will be to make sure that doesn't happen again.

Food Issues: Why is the food thing so hard? I don't want to whine. But it's so hard. I managed not to add any weight over the holidays, but I'm definitely not eating like a marathoner. Each day is remarkably like the next. I eat a super healthy, substantial breakfast (steel-cut oats, berries, lo-sodium V8 juice, a hard-boiled egg) and keep the healthy thing going until lunch, when it often falls apart because healthy options for lunch and dinner are SO BORING!!! Why would I eat turkey on wheat when I can have a Chipotle burrito?

I know why, and I know that a big part of my problem is organization. But the other part is simply that food that I make and measure just doesn'

Fortunately, my nutritionist sessions will resume on Thursday when I meet with Martha again for the first time since early December. I need to keep telling myself that 8:52s on long runs are great--but how much faster could I go with ten fewer pounds weighing me down?

Aches and Pains: Last Tuesday, I attended a workshop on "Losing Your Pooch," your pooch being that unfortunate slumpy stomach that so many of us ladies who have had kids must live with. Pre-pregnancy, my tummy was the only part of my body that I liked. It was almost concave, it was so flat, and I used to look at it to comfort myself when feeling fretful about my, um, full hips and thighs. Now I don't even have that.

I came away from the workshop educated about diastases recti (separation of the six-pack muscles caused by the expansion of the uterus), and eager to try the simple exercises meant to correct mine. Mostly, these exercises involve variations on the theme of sucking in your stomach, with *lots* of repetitions several times a day. On Wednesday I did them faithfully, five times that day, just as the plan detailed. On Thursday morning, I woke up with a lower backache so intense that I couldn't stoop properly. I emailed the physical therapist who taught the class, telling her I hadn't added any other exercise to my regular regimen and that nothing else could explain it. She suggested maybe I need to massage my C-section scar, the argument being that the exercises may have irritated the scar tissue.

Maybe that's the case. But seeing as I'm someone who wants to qualify for Boston, and recurring back aches of that magnitude would certainly interfere with that goal (as would the program's stricture against running and most other forms of aerobic exercise), I think I'll just live with my "pooch" for a couple more years.


  1. Yay on the run! Running in that weather earns a golden star just for the temperature, brrrrr.

    I am WITH YOU on the food. While I don't think I've actually gained anything I'm experiencing an ever-increasing binge/guilt/recovery cycle, which needs to stop. And it's totally that I miss the taste of things, like I've glommed onto half a dozen meals that are perfect and filling and nutritious, but as tasty as they are they still get boring. I especially miss bread, not that I've cut it out completely but I definitely have scaled way back (too many calories, not very filling or nutritious). And sweets.

    Oh, and the pooch- yes, I also am She of the Formerly Flat Stomach, and also I have terrible back problems, but I've been able to do a lot better on the back issues since I started regularly doing a strength training/'core' workout once a week. I do Jillian Michaels videos because they are convenient. My back's been way better and my stomach, while there's still a pooch, seems more tolerable.

  2. Hey Penny--Yeah, that physical therapist really scared me; she talked about all these things that go wrong in your nether regions if you don't fix the diastasis. I'm not sure if I buy all of it, and I'm certainly skeptical of anyone who tells me not to run because I gave birth four years ago. I do believe the exercises she showed us work. I'm just not prepared right now to focus on that to the exclusion of more important goals. The tummy, to me, is an aesthetic problem, not a medical one. And I'd rather run Boston than have my pre-kid tummy back.