Running and Fitness Report – February 2010

I’m a bit late with this report, but here you go:

  • Running: 70 miles
  • Swimming: 4000 meters
  • Core fitness workouts: 2
  • Lower body workouts: 2
  • Yoga sessions: 3
  • Pounds lost or gained: No idea


1.  My main accomplishment this month was the Virginia is for Lovers 14K.  I finished it in 1:50, which was a personal best for that distance because my pace was 12:38 overall.  For anything longer than 7 miles, my pace typically slows to 13:15 or so.  My race report is here.

2.  I stopped weighing myself until after the half-marathon.  It is just frustrating to run 20 miles one week and gain two pounds.  I refuse to keep being disappointed with my weight when I’m working so hard and eating well.

3.  Due to the increase in mileage in my training plan this month, I slacked off on cross-training.  My IT band has not acted up as a result so I’m not too worried.  After the half-marathon, I’ll add in more cross-training and do lower mileage runs.  The problem is that all of my runs now are at least 1 hour long and almost 3 hours for my long ones.  After that, I just don’t have time to come back and do strength training if I want to have dinner and enjoy at least some of my evening or weekend.

4.  We had a health fair at work last month where we got our blood pressure, cholesterol, and BMI checked and then talked to a counselor about our numbers.  All of mine are excellent except my HDL.  It is 47, which is normal, but they prefer that women keep it above 50.  I talked to the lady to try to find out what I can change to improve this number.  Here is the conversation we had:

  • Me: “What can I do to improve my HDL?”
  • Mean lady: “You can start doing aerobic excercise.”
  • Me: “Well, I’m a runner already.”
  • Mean lady: “Do more.”
  • Me: “I run 20 miles a week. My marriage might fall apart if I spend any more time exercising.”
  • Mean lady, with a look on her face that she didn’t believe me: “Well, you can eat more fish and nuts.”
  • Me: “Thanks, have a nice day.”

So, anyway, I am eating more fish and taking an Omega-3 supplement now.  I also snack on almonds on my breaks at work.  We’ll see if that works.


Booking Through Thursday – Winter Olympics

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You may have noticed–the Winter Olympics are going on. Is that affecting your reading time? Have you read any Olympics-themed books? What do you think about the Olympics in general? Here’s your chance to discuss!


I absolutely love the Olympics – Winter and Summer.  Watching the events this week has definitely taken over my reading time.  Generally, I watch very little television, and I watch on TiVo so what I do watch takes even less time, and I spend the rest of my free time reading or knitting and listening to audiobooks.  I’ve been trying to do more reading on my lunch break at work this week to make up for the evenings.  I usually knit and listen to podcasts at lunch to rest my brain from working with the public.

This year’s Winter Olympics are particularly interesting to me.  The US has some really great athletes that I am rooting for.  Shaun White, Shani Davis, Lindsey Vonn, Apolo Ohno, and Evan Lysacek are my favorites this time around.  I think the Olympics are so much fun to watch because these people have worked so hard to get to this point, and it is wonderful to watch them succeed, especially through obstacles like Lindsey Vonn’s shin injury.  I also love Canadian Alexandre Bilodeau’s story about switching from hockey to skiing because it was a more accessible sport for his brother who has cerebral palsy.  I was crying like a little girl when he won the gold and celebrated with his brother.

I have not read any Olympics-themed books.  I figure I’ve seen the Olympics so I don’t really need to read about them also.  One exception is a few running books that are about Olympic marathons.  Since I’m really interested in running right now, there are a few of those I’d like to read since I like learning about how elite runners train for races.

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

I am getting a little behind on posting book reviews.  Last week was my week for posting reviews to my library system’s book recommendation blog so I wasn’t really in the mood to do more book blogging when I got home in the evening.  Now that I’m done with that, I can get back to reviews here. 

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, running has taken over my life for the last few months.  Recently, I started listening to more books on my iPod while running.  My library subscribes to Overdrive, a digital download service for audio books.  The first book I downloaded – no surprise here – is a running book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall.

At the beginning of the book, McDougall states that his purpose in writing the book was to answer the question, “Why do my feet hurt?”  The book really ends up being about the legendary Tarahumara tribe in the Copper Canyons of Mexico and the more infamous members of the modern American ultrarunning community.  I found the stories of the races McDougall describes to be gripping, but the book suffered from a loss of focus in sections.  While listening, there were times when I had to try to figure out who he was writing about because he changed focus so quickly.  As a journalist, he is adept at describing the action in the races and locations.  I found myself listening long after I got back from a run to find out who the winner of a race would be.

Although unfocused at times, McDougall succeeds in arguing for a more childlike and fun approach to running.  His scientific interludes were interesting because scientists are finding that the human body is meant to run, even though modern running shoes may cause us to stride incorrectly.  I am not sure that I will convert to barefoot running, but I will try a few steps barefoot to see how my stride is different.  A recent study published in the peer-reviewed science journal, Nature, purports that athletic shoes do not improve performance.  A discussion of this study can be found here at Science Daily.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in running.  Even though McDougall could have organized the book better in places, it was interesting throughout and made me want to get out there and run.

Race Report – Virginia is for Lovers 14K

This Saturday, I completed the Virginia is for Lovers 14K.  Luckily, we live about 10 minutes from the race site (the Verizon Wireless Ampitheater in Virginia Beach) so I didn’t have to get up too early to be ready in time.  I got up around 6 and had a bowl of cereal and got all of my gear together. 

We got to the ampitheater around 7:15 and there was a little bit of traffic getting to the parking lot, but we made it with time to spare.  It was so cold standing around waiting for the race!  They delayed the start by 15 minutes.  I think that was due to the traffic getting into the parking lots. 

Overall, this was the most fun race I’ve participated in so far.  The only thing I would have changed is for them to put up those markers at the start that indicate where you should be according to your anticipated finish time.  Because no one really knew where to stand at the start, the first half mile was a little crazy.  There were walkers in front of me and fast folks behind me so I was trying to pass and being passed at the same time.  Due to this, I started out faster than I intended and couldn’t get myself to slow down later when the crowd had scattered.  I finally got myself to slow down to a 12:30 pace and was feeling really good until about mile 7.  The last two miles were a definite struggle because the wind really started to blow and I kept getting snow in my eyes.  I stopped to walk once to regain my energy and once because there was a hill that I couldn’t conquer with wind blowing in my face.

Even though the last few miles were a struggle, I was really excited because I knew I was going to finish the race faster than I had anticipated.  My husband was waiting to cheer me on not long after the 8 mile mark, and that gave me a little kick to push the last bit of the race.  The bibs for this race had the runners’ first names printed on them so it was cool that race volunteers and spectators would cheer me on by name throughout the race.  The last bit actually had us running through the ampitheater and then back out to the finish line.  It was a beautiful sight.  They called out each runner’s name on the loudspeaker as they crossed the finish line, and that was pretty cool.  My time was 1:49:55.

This is my first race with a finisher’s medal, and I’m so proud of it!  Since it was Valentine’s Day weekend, the medal is heart-shaped, and they gave each woman finisher a carnation.  There was a line to have a picture taken in front of a backdrop, but I was tired and freezing so I just wanted to grab my bagel and water bottle and get in the warm car.  I think my husband and I are going to do it as a couples team next time so we’ll probably wait then to get our picture together.

I knew several people who were running this race, but in the crowd of 3000 participants, it was impossible to find anyone so we just headed home when I finished.  I enjoyed some hot chocolate while icing my knees and IT band.

Here’s a picture of me with my medal and carnation:


Running and Fitness Report – January 2010

This year, I’m going to post monthly fitness reports.  Here’s the first one:

  • Miles ran: 42
  • Swimming meters: 8,593
  • Core fitness workouts: 4
  • Lower body workouts: 3
  • Yoga sessions: 4
  • Pounds lost or gained: 1.2 LOST 🙂


  1. I FINALLY lost some weight.  In my sixth month of running, I started losing pounds.  It’s a good thing my motivation to run wasn’t for weight loss because I would have stopped running months ago.  I don’t know what to attribute it to, but I did do more cross-training.  We are also eating in a lot more and eating a huge salad with dinner every night.
  2. This month I learned that I cannot push myself so hard with running or I will hurt myself.  Balance is key.
  3. I had hoped to do more strength training and yoga than I did this month so my goal is to increase both of those in February.  One thing I found that will help me to do more yoga is the free Yoga Journal podcasts on iTunes.  They are between 20 and 30 minutes each (instead of the 45 minutes for the iTrain ones I have) so I will be able to fit in more sessions of yoga.  I’m thinking of getting up early enough to do a session a few days a week.  It’s really nice that they concentrate on one area of the body so you really stretch that part.  So far the shoulder opening and hip opening ones have been really good.
  4. I plan to continue swimming at least once a week, and I hope to buy a bike sometime before spring.  That will be good for cross-training when it’s not so cold outside.  Running in the cold is one thing, but cycling seems like it would be very cold with the wind you create by riding.
  5. This month I also have the Virginia is for Lovers 14K on 2/13 so I’m looking forward to that one.  My leg seems to be doing well so I should be able to run the whole thing.  I might just walk through the water stops.

Here’s a picture of bad-ass me after a 7 mile run in the snow we got this past weekend.

Me after my hard core run in the snow.

The Stages of Injury or Why My Husband Deserves an Award

So I’m apparently really really ridiculously obsessed with running.  Last night, Dan said, “You know how you say your mom has an obsessive personality?  I think we found your trigger.”  Oops! 

I have been nursing an IT Band issue for the last few weeks, and I’m just getting back into running again.  I ran 2.5 miles last night, and I’m trying to be conservative to avoid irritating it all over again.  Now I just have a slight tightness on the outside of my knee when I go down stairs or sit for too long.  Not knowing that excessive sitting is a trigger for ITBS, I sat all day Saturday knitting on an all girl craft trip to the Outer Banks for the weekend.  That made it flare up a bit, but luckily not permanently.  Now I am standing up at the reference desk as much as possible.

My reaction to injury has been by the book according to The Competitive Runner’s Handbook.  It is very similar to the stages of grief, interestingly.  I was reading the stages out to Dan last night:

  1. Denial – Yeah, this would be when I did a really intense 3 mile tempo run and didn’t stop after 2 miles when my knee and hip started to hurt.
  2. Bargaining – “I will swim this week instead of running, do yoga and strength training, and then I’ll be able to run by the end of the week.”  When things didn’t work by my timetables, I moved on to the next stage…
  3. Rage – I read this one out loud and said to Dan, “Rage? I didn’t really go through that stage.”  Dan: “Oh yes you did.” Hehe, I must have a mental block from that stage.
  4. Depression – I think I’m on the tail end of this stage right now, hopefully.  I felt helpless that all my training would be for nothing if I don’t get better before my race on February 13.  Monday night and yesterday, I was very depressed about things.  The book notes that an athletes first injury, even if it isn’t that bad, is the worst.  Let’s hope so. 
  5. Acceptance – I hope I’m moving in the direction of this one.  We’ll see.  I’m hoping that the fact that I’m willing to consider walking some of the 14K means I’m not quite as mentally unstable as before.

2010 Goals

Rather than do a separate post for my reading, exercising, etc goals this year, I will do one post to rule them all.  So here goes:

Reading Goals.

  1. Do not sign up for any reading challenges.  Reading is for FUN.  Keep it that way.
  2. Do not read more than two books in a row by any author.   Variety is the spice of life!

Running/Workout Goals.  These came about due to sloppy training and a slight injury I’ve been dealing with for a week now.  My right IT band (runs from your outer hip to your knee) has been really tight and was causing pain for a few days last week.  I think the problem was due to not enough cross-training, strenth training, or stretching and ramping up my weekly mileage too fast.  Swimming, yoga, and strength training this week have helped it feel a lot better.  I will try to run again next week.  At least I picked a really cold week to be doing indoor workouts.

  1. Do IT Band stretches every day so I can keep running without injury.
  2. Swim, elliptical, or bike twice a week.
  3. Aim to do strength training 2-3 days a week, incoporating core, lower body, and upper body work.
  4. Yoga once or twice a week.
  5. Write my workout schedule in my calendar every week to make sure I fit everything in.

Other Goals.

  1. Make my house feel more like a home by decorating and organizing.
  2. Take more pictures.
  3. Visit my friends in Raleigh more.  I only went once this year, and that was not enough.

What are your goals?  I’m not calling them resolutions because they are not empty promises that I will give up on by February (like the people crowding my gym right now).

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

When I started really getting into running, I was reminded by Ash at English Major’s Junk Food that Haruki Murakami wrote a book about running called What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.  I love Murakami so was really excited to read this book.  I ended up putting it down for a while in favor of more instructional running books like Marathoning for Mortals and The Competitive Runner’s Handbook.  I’m really glad that I decided to take it home with me for my Christmas vacation because I really enjoyed it.

Murakami’s writing style translates well to a memoir about running.  I knew going in that he runs one marathon every year, but I had no idea that he has run an ultramarathon and also competes in triathlons.  Some of the most interesting parts of the book are his descriptions of the experiences of running these types of races.  My favorite part was the story of his first marathon.  Instead of entering a race, he decided to run the original marathon course from Athens to Marathon in Greece.  He did this in the middle of summer by himself with a van riding beside him to give him water.  This was such an amazing story because I can’t imagine wanting your first marathon to be so grueling.

There were many parts of the book that had me nodding and thinking, “Yes!”  This passage from page 9 was one of them.  It is exactly how I feel about running:

“It’s just that for some reason I never cared all that much whether I beat others or lost to them.  This sentiment remained pretty much unchanged after I grew up.  It doesn’t matter what field you’re talking about–beating somebody else just doesn’t do it for me.  I’m much more interested in whether I reach the goals that I set for myself, so in this sense long-distance running is the perfect fit for a mindset like mine.”

I am not competitive at all.  I don’t mind winning, but I’d rather not compete in the first place.  I also get pretty uncomfortable around people who are really competitive so running is a great sport because they aren’t competing with me.  I’m waaay behind the people who are going to be fighting for first place!

He also discusses how great running is for people who are solitary by nature.  I am an introvert who has to be an extrovert at work.  (Yes, public librarians have to talk to people all day.)  After working with the public for most of my working hours, I love just running for a long time by myself.  It recharges my batteries and helps me to be ready for spending time with other people.  It is completely “me time” that no one can interrupt.

I highly suggest this book to anyone who is interested in running.  Murakami talks about his writing process also, but not so much that I can say for sure that a non-runner would like the book.  Check it out from the library to see if it’s interesting to you or read the first few pages in the bookstore.

Marathoning for Mortals by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield

When I bit the bullet and signed up for the Shamrock Half-Marathon, the first thing I did – as any good librarian would – was look for books about long distance running.  I ended up putting hold requests on Hal Higdon’s Marathon: the Ultimate Training Guide and Marathoning for Mortals by John “The Penguin” Bingham and Jenny Hadfield.  I think both books have a lot of really good information in them, but Marathoning for Mortals was definitely geared more to the new runner that wants to complete a long distance race.  It is also much more evenly divided between full and half-marathons.

I would suggest this title to anyone looking to train for their first half or full marathon.  Bingham and Hadfield cover training, cross-training, injury prevention, nutrition, gear, and preparing for and recovering from race day.  In the back of the book, there are 8 training plans: 4 for the half-marathon and 4 for the full.  They encompass any way that you want to complete the distance: walk, walk/run, run/walk, and run.  I didn’t really look at these too closely because I’m using one of Hal Higdon’s online training schedules.

I especially enjoyed Bingham’s sections of the book because he is an advocate of long slow running.  My only speed right now is slow so it’s nice to read about a famous figure in the running world who also runs slow.  He also gives a lot of practical advice about what to expect.  One of my favorite passages is below.  Bingham is explaining what to do the night before the race to make sure you’re ready when you get up in the morning.

“You don’t need to worry about having the time to do all this.  You’ll have more than enough time because you are not going to sleep much.  You’re not.  So just forget about it.  You may try to sleep.  You may lie in bed and toss and turn for hours.  But you’re not going to sleep.”

There’s just something about knowing that everyone else has trouble sleeping the night before a race that helps me to not stress out about it.  The night before my first race was hellish because I couldn’t sleep, and I just kept getting myself worked up about how tired I was going to be in the morning.  Now I’ve learned that adrenaline will get you through, and you can crash later with a well-deserved nap.

The cross-training and nutrition sections are really helpful as well.  I learned that the yoga I do twice a week is really good for running and that I need to add in some strength training.  The nutrition section was interesting mainly because it dispels the myth that carb loading will somehow improve your performance.  It also explains when and how often to eat gels, which was something I was really curious about and got varying  answers online.

So if you’re thinking about running a long distance race, check this book out.  It’s a quick read that’s dense with good information.

10K Race Report

I forgot to post a race report from last week!  I’m going to be lazy and copy and paste the report I posted in the Ravelry running group here.  A picture will come soon when I remember to load the ones I have on my camera onto my computer.

I did the Turkey Trot 10K in Virginia Beach. Last week, all participants were sent an email urging them to use early packet pick-up because there were over 2000 people signed up! The process of picking up the bibs and shirts was a little crazy because I don’t think they were expecting that kind of volume. Last year, there were a lot fewer participants.

Unlike my first 5K in October, I actually slept on Wednesday night. Somewhere on the Ravelry running forum I had read that you should not get upset about not sleeping because you’ll still be able to run as long as you have been sleeping well otherwise. Somehow knowing this helped me to fall asleep because I wasn’t worried about it!

We got to the race about an hour early because we were worried about parking so we had to stand around for a while. I started to get a little nervous, but my two friends that were also running that day were chatting so I tried to keep my mind off of the long wait. The start line was a bit congested because there were so many people, but things got along pretty smoothly. One of my friends is a seasoned runner so she ran ahead of us. I could tell that the friend who was running with me was itching to go faster around mile 3 so I told her to go ahead. I was really wanting to stop and walk at that point, but being able to slow down a bit and not have to worry about holding my friend back helped me to keep running.

The second half of the race was on Mount Trashmore, a park with a paved trail. There were times when passing was difficult because of the narrow trail, but at that point people were more spread out into their pace groups. I ended up looking at a very hairy neck for a while because I was too tired to pass, and we were running at the same pace. I was glad to get my second wind and pass him. 🙂 I was so glad to finally spot the finish line. All I was thinking about was what I was going to eat that night at dinner! Since I was the last of my friends to finish, I got a cheering section at the end so that was fun. The crowd didn’t seem to be into cheering for anyone but their people so it was a treat. Krispy Kreme was a sponsor so I enjoyed a glazed donut on the way to the car.

A few gripes: the woman who flat out stopped in the middle of the road to tie her shoes. I almost crashed into her. Second, the group of girls who were so committed to running 4 in a row that they almost ran me off the trail near the end.

Overall, it was a great first 10K experience! I didn’t have to stop and walk at all. My chip time was 1:17.