Rachel's Marathon Blog

Tackling the first marathon...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

runner's world

Okay, so maybe I will post just a little bit, even if I'm not quite back up to form yet. Like I said, lots of cross training, not a whole lot of running. I decided I'm going to try to ease the running back in and if I feel any IT band issues, I'm going to meet up with the university trainer where I work, as per David's suggestion. Maybe now that I'm doing lots of cross training classes-- strength, abs, pilates, etc-- those will help build up those muscles that cause problems with the IT band.

Here was my dilemma yesterday: I had decided I would run 4 miles between my house and the university, then shower and meet some friends at five for drinks and a movie. But we were still getting intermittent rain bands from Rita (that storm is HUGE!), and it was also 90 degrees, so I decided to drive to the university. I had left my gym bag in my husband's car, so after picking that up I only had thirty minutes to do a workout. It was pouring rain and there was an empty treadmill in the gym.

I really wanted to run. The iPod was charged and a playlist was ready with some reggaeton and songs by Shakira and M.I.A., this new Sri Lankan-hip-hop sensation from Britain. In the old days I would have done a hard three miles with a few hills thrown in, followed by a few sit ups, then off to the showers and to meet my friends. But I'm trying to make different choices now because I realize how fragile some of these injuries are-- they just come out of nowhere and sideline you completely. So I did two miles, followed by ten minutes of stretching and strength work. Boring as hell, but I think this is what I have to do. After last January's marathon, gone are the days when I could just tear out for a run without stretching much and have no problems.

So, if you have thirty minutes only to exercise, don't fill it just with running-- it might save you in the long run to do the stretches and strength work as well...

Monday, September 19, 2005

still hibernating...

I am taking a break from blogging about running... because running without IT band problems has become a problem lately. Since I came back from six weeks overseas, I thought that a nice break would help, and I eased into it again, first running one mile, then two, then up to three, but as soon as I start increasing the mileage (no more than 10% a week, believe me), the illiotibial pain comes back. So I'm doing a lot of cross training right now and keeping the mileage very, very low. Hopefully if I build up my strength again the IT problems will eventually go away.

Running is also hard for me in the summer. I'm a wimp. It's still the hot season down here in Florida, with plus 90 degree temps every day and no relief in sight except that provided by the slightly cooler weather that seems to come with hurricanes. And there, slightly cooler is relative-- we had a week of temps in the mid-80s with Ophelia, which dumped a little rain on us but not much else.

Until I start to feel like a runner again, I'm lurking on other RBF blogs and occasionally commenting... but if you like food, check out my other site at:


Saturday, May 28, 2005

summer hibernation

I'm leaving tomorrow for Morocco. It's probably a good thing, too, because I've had serious motivation issues lately with running. I had so much energy and adrenaline getting me through my first year at a full-time teaching job, taking me through my first marathon, two half marathons, long runs on the weekend, etc, and with the onset of the Florida summer heat (Note to David: how do you deal?) and the ending of the school year, I am just exhausted, completely wiped out. I still make myself go running every other day, but the runs are seldom of high quality. I've temporarily lost that drive that made me want to bounce out of bed in the morning and hit the pavement. Sometimes I even put on my running clothes early in the day only to keep them on all day because I can't motivate to get out the door until the last possible instant. The only good thing I can say about my runs is that I've managed to make 4-milers a regular part of my "bare minimum" physical activity-- which used to be just a three miler every other day. I haven't been motivated to lift weights or do any ab work (ahh, how i miss power abs), and I can already see the muscle loss.

I just can't be a drill sergeant on myself year-round, and I'm okay with that. I tend to have cycles of motivation with everything in my life-- periods where I'm reading and writing prolifically, periods where I can do nothing but watch TV, periods where I'm cooking like I'm on audition for Food Network, and times where I can barely throw together a taco dinner kit. I have to fight that Protestant work-ethic guilt, but I try... Cycles of motivation--do you other RBF'ers have similar issues?

So, not sure about whether I'll update while I'm gone, but I'll be back, and looking forward to catching up with the rest of you... I'm just going into some Florida summer-induced hibernation...

Saturday, May 21, 2005

day at the beach

day at the beach
Originally uploaded by rachelita2.
One week until I leave for an extended trip... to Morocco. I've been going to Morocco ever since a study abroad program got me hooked in college more than ten years ago. I went to grad school to study Morocco further, and lived there for two years while doing my fieldwork. I met my husband there, on an earlier visit. Now we have his family to visit, and I have some research to do-- so my trip is going to be equal parts work and pleasure.

When I lived there from 2001-02, running was a bit of a challenge. We didn't live in one of the more cosmopolitan cities (Rabat or Casablanca), where the sight of a female jogger would not be out of the ordinary. There was one place in the city of Fes to run, an abandoned race track for horses, and I had to get there very early, say, 6 a.m., when the heart patients who'd been told by their doctors to exercise were walking around. Any later than seven and the unemployed stoners would already be up in the bleachers, and I might have some unwelcome company on my run, some guy trying to pick me up.

Morocco is not a country where most of the women are veiled. On the contrary, a visitor would see just as many women in jeans or short skirts as women wearing headscarved. You can see from this picture a typical day at a very crowded beach-- where women are in bathing suits just like they would be here. Women and men now attend college in equal numbers, and women are a significant presence in the workforce.

Yet still, there's something about running that women just don't seem to do in equal numbers as the men, which is too bad, because as you know, some of the best runners in the world are Moroccan. So sometimes I'd get tired of fighting off the men who thought I was out to get picked up (wearing sweatpants even in the summer, and modest t-shirts) and I joined an exercise club, where I could run on the treadmill to my heart's content. There were lots of exercise clubs in Fes, but the newest sensation when I lived there was American Steel Fitness. The owners were Moroccan-American, and they'd imported all their equipment from the US at great cost. (The funny thing was that many of the female members didn't want to use the weight machines because they were convinced they'd get big muscles like a man, no matter what they were told). There were aerobics classes, too, although for the most part, they were never as tough as exercise classes are in the US. I had a lot of fun at that club, though, so I plan to check it out when I go back and see how it's doing.

Unfortunately, I may not feel like braving the harassment to get much running done, unless I can convince my husband (who has knee issues) to go with me. I may take a lot of walks with my mother-in-law. But my running is going to be winding down considerably for the summer now. Maybe that's a good thing-- give everything time to heal, and while all of you Northerners are enjoying your full running schedules, I'll live vicariously through you. I'll try to report back whenever possible, although I may be doing more cooking and eatingthan running for awhile...


Originally uploaded by rachelita2.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

end of the year

The school year is finally over. I gave my last exam yesterday, and although I have a mountain of papers and exams to grade, the end is in sight, the students are headed home, and things are winding down. I saw off my parents and my mother-in-law this morning, then went for a three-mile run in the late morning heat, admiring landscapes and making plans for mine. (I have been in Florida exactly a year today, and I can't get over how flowers bloom here year-round-- bougainvillea, Mexican heather, lantana, plumbago. I have planted one of each but now want a yard full-- a riot of color). I went grocery shopping, bought some hummus spread, chicken legs to marinate in a tandoori yogurt sauce recipe I found in the latest issue of Food & Wine, and a six pack of Sam Adams. Now I'm set to sit back on the porch and start grading.

I did withdraw my name from the New York marathon lottery, and I felt okay about that decision. Thanks for the supportive comments. My running partner called last night and asked if I wanted to run the Marine Corps marathon with her in October, and although the prospect of having a buddy to train with sounded tempting, I think I would still have to decline. I'm not ready to do another marathon just yet, and I'm also not totally convinced that I'm built for them. Injury-wise, I fear that training for another might put me out of commission for running entirely-- there are still some lingering problems that I didn't have before I started training, and I blame the bi-weekly 16, 18 and 20-milers... I'm going to plan a few half marathons sometime in the winter-- Miami? Tampa again? Definitely Orlando... That will give me the thrill of training with out the agony of de-feet. Ha, ha...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Run for the trees

tree on house
Originally uploaded by rachelita2.
I ran a 5K race this past weekend with a really cool theme-- adding more trees to the environment, which is especially welcome this year since we lost so many with the three hurricanes that hit us last fall (witness the giant laurel oak that fell on top of our house). Every participant in this race gets a tree-- I convinced my friend Amy to run and she gave me hers, so I wound up with a baby cypress tree and a baby live oak, both of which I planted in my yard, where a gaping hole remains from the aforementioned laurel oak.

I hadn't run a 5K since last summer, and my time ended up being 25:42. I never got the chance to do any speedwork due to my nagging IT band issues, but I wasn't upset about it. The race was still fun. I saw one of my Team In Training buddies, an extremely fast man in the 50-54 age group who ran his race in just under 20 minutes and just took up running in the last year. (Don't you hate people like that?!)

The humidity was already pretty intense at 7:30 in the morning. I ran my first mile too fast-- 7:56. I knew I couldn't keep up that pace, especially without really training. The second mile I was having some breathing cramps, which scared me for a few minutes, but I slowed down and they went away. The last mile went through some nature preserve that is only open one day of the year for this race. I was excited for the race to be finished so I could head back to the starting point to collect my trees.

Having run several different types of races now, I have concluded that I really prefer the medium distances. 10K's and half marathons are great because you have to learn to pace yourself, and they go on for long enough that you get to appreciate the scenery. I have a harder time appreciating the scenery with 5K's, when I feel like I'm sprinting and I don't really get into any sort of rhythm. I suppose I could train for one and try to master it-- and maybe some new goal setting is overdue since I've decided I don't want to run another marathon anytime soon-- but in terms of form I really just like the longer races.

I tried to take photos of my baby trees, but they're so small they blend in with all the other greenery. Great mementos, though, and the coolest race souvenirs I have received so far.

Friday, April 29, 2005

afternoon running

I almost always run in the mornings before work, usually around 7 a.m. At that hour in Central Florida, it's still cool, all the bougainvillea, plumbago and other exotic flowers that seem to bloom year round are covered with dew, and I always feel like I'm starting my day off right. Yesterday I was too tired to get up early, so I decided to run after work.

Around 5 pm these days, temperatures are still in the low 80s, but the humidity has not yet kicked in (it will soon-- then no more afternoon running). I changed in my office and turned on the iPod and the Garmin Forerunner. (A side note-- I've had the Garmin for four months now. The battery only fully charges to 5 hours. What's up with that? It started out with 13 hours.) I did my few minutes of walking and stretching and hit the road, taking a new loop all the way through downtown Winter Park, an upscale shopping and restaurant district, through a neighborhood of multi-million dollar mansions, then back to the campus. 4 miles.

The afternoon run felt harder than usual. The temperatures were getting to me a little bit, and I had a stitch in my side and stomach cramps-- my first thought is always, what if I have an attack of appendicitis in the middle of nowhere? The stitch went away after awhile, but the smell from all the cars at rush hour didn't make the best air for breathing. I was pleased, however, to see that running at 5 o'clock in Central Florida does wonders for one's tan. I can't believe how strong the sun is here.

When Runner's World printed articles during the winter about running in the cold, I was grateful I didn't have to think about that. I probably will have to get used to running in the heat, though, without getting heatstroke (which has happened to me before). As your northern race calendars start to fill up with spring and summer races, our season here is starting to wind down. Last year I ran a brutal 5K on the 4th of July, when the temps hovered at 90 by 8 a.m.

I suddenly don't want to run the New York Marathon anymore. I registered for the lottery, but the numbers aren't drawn until June so I'm wondering if I can withdraw. Marathons require so much training, and the thought of dealing with all these little injuries that spring up from nowhere and doing 14-milers in August just doesn't appeal to me right now. I may not be cut out for marathons-- I do enjoy half marathons; I know that for sure-- but the daunting prospect of training for another full one is, at the moment, making me think it might take the love of running out of me entirely. Does this make me a wimp?