The Half in Full

By 6:15, we were parked in Detroit, listening to music in the car rather than waiting around in the cold. My anxiety was at an all time high when Tina texted me to wish me a good race – this being the first long one I’ve done without her! We braved the cold and headed to the starting line. Shane picked up a coffee and did his best hype man impression, then gave me a huge hug before I headed off to join my wave.

Waiting for the Race

Ready to Go!

As my wave approached the starting line, I put on my music, closed my eyes, and tried to center myself. I said a brief prayer of thanks for that moment, for the months of training that put me there, for the blessing of good health. It’s totally cheesy, but I nearly cried when I heard Lose Yourself as we crossed the starting line.

Mile 0-1: The streets of Detroit are peaceful and quiet. We run west on Fort towards the Ambassador Bridge, twinkling in the half light. My favorite sign read something along the lines of “TIGERS LIONS MARATHONERS DON’T QUIT”. The deep flow of Stacey Pullen‘s Essential Mix was the right choice – Detroit techno on the streets of Detroit.

Mile 2: Around and around we go up to the bridge. I drop my $2 hat and gloves from Target – they’re almost too cute to let go, but too warm to carry with me. I start passing people, the hill training finally paying off as we make the climb.

Running up to the Ambassador Bridge

Mile 3: It’s windy on the bridge. I lost my headband, so my bangs are all up in my grill. There’s no sun to speak of, but that doesn’t diminish the views of Detroit and Windsor. I wave at a passing trucker, who plays an elaborate jingle on his horn.

Mile 4: Canada!

Mile 5: The Windsor waterfront is lovely. I take an espresso gel and pass up the water station. The streets are lined with cheering spectators despite the rain. One family has a table set up in their front yard with water and orange wedges on offer.

Mile 6: I am passed by a cyclist with no legs pedaling one of those lying down bikes. I immediately choke up. We wave at spectators in the riverfront hotels. My energy is starting to flag a bit, and I take my first water.

Mile 7: The tunnel! The tunnel is fast. The tunnel is loud. The tunnel is warm. The tunnel is fun. Our GPS watches lose signal as we race underwater. I make my one really stupid race decision and decide that I want to touch the international border placard – and then spin myself out because I didn’t slow down enough. Fortunately I avoid falling and actually hurting myself – and I pick up the pace to join the 9:44 pace group.

Mile 8: A member of the Canadian Border Patrol doles out high-fives as we exit the tunnel. Another cyclist struggles to hand-pedal up the hill, and I shout out encouragement as I pass him. All smiles through the gates at the border crossing.

Mile 9: It’s cold. It’s raining. We loop past Joe Louis Arena, and I pull up my hood to try to keep some of the rain off my face. No luck. Only 4 miles to go, though, and I’m right where I want to be – or at least I think I am, as I don’t remember seeing a mile marker for a while. I spot our car as we head down Lafayette.

Mile 10: Finally, a sign! I take water when offered, and am delighted to accept a handful of M&Ms from a spirit group. Who needs gels when there are M&Ms?! The road is flat and wide and I’m feeling good as we head up 18th. I pull out the cameraphone to take a picture of Michigan Central Station, but my pocket has changed a setting, so I quickly put it back. The mariachi band just before the next mile marker makes me smile.

Mile 11: The end is feeling near – but still far. We run through Corktown, where folks are sitting on their porches cheering us on. I stick right with the 9:44 pacer. A guy in a pink monster suit shows up from I have no idea where and runs with us for at least two miles. I’ve run out of Stacey Pullen, and switch over to Faithless for the duration of the run.

Mile 12: They’re starting to count it down for those of us finishing the half. I take two cups of water, but miss the Oreos on offer. I pull away from the 9:44 pacer, feeling reserves of energy I didn’t realize I had. My Garmin shows my fastest pace of the race yet as we near the cutaway point and mile 13.

Mile 13: I feel amazing. I feel strong. I feel tired but like I’ve just punched the go button that will get me across the finish line. I spot Shane right where I lined up to join my wave – he yells and cheers and snaps a couple of blurry photos as I run by.

Wave and Whoosh

Mile 13.1: Done in 2:05:50! I feel amazing and exhausted and oh so thankful for the space blanket and the medal and the food and water. I have beat my previous time by 13 minutes, and my goal by 4 minutes.

13.1! Space Blanket! Medal!

I slam a bottle of water, a banana, and half a pumpkin muffin. I get my picture taken with my medal and my space blanket. I slam another banana and a carton of chocolate milk while waiting for Shane to make his way out of the crowds. We hug and kiss and I don’t cry but feel like I want to. I grab another chocolate milk and a muffin for us to share in the car on the way home.

Happy and Relieved

Final stats:
Chip time: 2:05:50
Overall Place: 2538 / 8489
Gender Place: 1067 / 5311
Division Place: 217 / 883
Pace 9:37

Detroit half marathon: TOTALLY BROUGHT.

Prelude to the Half

Since I’m not getting much done in the way of course prep tonight, let me instead tell you about yesterday’s race.

Back in May, before I ran my first half, I was convinced to register for Detroit by a coworker who enthusiastically told me that the Detroit half is his favorite race. Running to Canada and back! Crossing the Ambassador Bridge as the sun comes up over Detroit and Windsor! Racing through the Detroit Windsor tunnel! Sign me up!

And so I spent the summer running home from work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every weekend started with a long run, often followed by breakfast at Afternoon Delight.

Saturday Morning

Midwest Runner Girl

Veggie Delight and letter-writing

I was under the weather this last week, and as the race approached, my anxiety grew. I read about the course. I read about nutrition. I tapered my runs. I changed my diet to make sure I was properly fueled. I looked at elevation maps. And then on Saturday, we drove to Detroit so that I could pick up my race packet.

Countdown

We shared a back seat picnic and spent the afternoon at the DIA. We had cappuccinos at Astro and read the race materials again. I made polenta for dinner and we went to bed early.

Detroit Industry

Race Prep

And then the moment of truth. The alarm went off at 4:30, and by 4:45 I had eaten a bagel, fed the cats, and dressed for success.

Ready to run 13.1

P90E Week 9: Pbbbbbbth

Monday: Much needed rest after the previous night’s debauchery, plus a middle-of-the-night collision with a poorly placed piece of hotel furniture. Instead, we cleaned the house, ran errands, did laundry, and all of that other domesticky stuff.

Tuesday: 3 miles, 27:17. I’m really digging these fast post-work runs. Another week, another class taught in my nasty workout duds.

Wednesday: Non-stop rain resulted in non-stop depression. The evening was thrown off by a post-work appointment. I graded instead of exercising. Oops.

Thursday: Chest & Back almost redeemed this week. It was my first time doing this workout, and the 52 minutes went by in no time flat! That said, I did actually fall on my face at one point, and the different flavors of pushups resulted in hilariously bruised knees. This workout is primarily body weight exercises, which may be why I liked it and also why it was so tough. Looking forward to this one coming around in the rotation again.

Friday: A quick 2 miles home from work before hitting the road to Rockford for the birthday weekend.

Saturday: I didn’t wanna do it. I didn’t wanna get out of bed. I didn’t wanna put my shoes on. I just wanted to sit around and eat all the food, but before doing so, I needed to get in 8 miles – which I did on the Perryville bike path. This was my first time running out there, and I’ll definitely be doing more of it when we’re in Rockford. There’s a bit of a roll to the path, and the lights are at convenient intervals for water breaks. I exchanged smiles and greetings with many other runners and cyclists out enjoying the beautiful day. And then I ate all the pizza and watched the football game with my family and soaked up the love and the post-run endorphins.

Sunday: More good intentions, this time of doing Legs & Back after driving home. Instead, we returned to a freezer left ajar, and I dealt with the mess while Shane got in his belated workout. I did get in a short walk with Mom, Jenn, and Max, but nothing really worth counting.

This week was supposed to be the last phase of P90E. Instead, I think it’s going to be the first phase of the rest of my fitness year – for a few reasons. I had started thinking in this direction after signing up for a kettlebells class through the campus rec center. I ended up dropping it because it was going to be a logistical nightmare and because I will at minimum miss 3 classes because of travel and the half. I was also concerned that this phase of P90X Lean doesn’t include a leg workout, which I need.

The Detroit half is five weeks away. In the next five weeks, my aim is to do three days of strength training (upper, lower, core), two short runs, and one long run. If I have to cut workouts, I’ll cut a short run first, then the core workout. The long run is non-negotiable. I’m going to rotate through the P90 upper body workouts plus Core Synergistics and Legs & Back. I’m going to keep adding my miles. I’m going to kick the half marathon’s butt, and then I’m going to follow that up six days later by running a 5K with my siblings.

I can do this thing. Or, as Tony would say, I can BRING IT. I probably won’t blog it, though, but I will let you know what I’m doing next, or if I have a fantastic run, or when – not ‘if’, ‘when’ – I successfully do a REAL pushup. It’s coming. I can feel it.

P90E Week 8: Rest

Rest week!  And I did just that, though I had good intentions of sticking to the actual rest week schedule.

Monday:  Shane just finished building up a new bike, so we biked to work together!  Whoosh!  I arrived home sweaty and wobbly-legged, so called that my workout for the night.

Tuesday: Just under 3 miles in 25:20.  Awesome.

Wednesday: The first of two No Good Very Frustrating Days kicked off with a sweaty bike ride to work and culminated with a very angst-inducing ride home.  I arrived home, my cheeks stained with tears of frustration, not wanting to do anything other than Eat All The Food.  Shane talked me out of it, though he agreed that I should probably take the night off from further exercise.

Thursday: 5 miles home, with a pit stop in the middle.  I’m not sure if it was the Mexican food or the unexpected 90 degree heat on a day when I was underhydrated, but my stomach was cramping!  Otherwise, a great run.

Friday: A belated Chest, Shoulders and Triceps.  My lifts keep going up, but I felt really weak and tired this week.  Just proof that I need to keep working hard!

Saturday:  Food got kind of weird today.  Saturday is our normal cheat day, but since we knew we’d be indulging at a wedding on Sunday, we tried to be good.  At the same time, I did my long run, so I was HONGRY.  7 miles will do that to a girl.  Also it is worth noting that we did our belated 60 day measurements before leaving town – while most of my numbers have stayed the same, my body fat percentage is down by 3% since June.  And THAT is awesome.

Sunday: Someone in the Daily Burn Four Hour Body group set up a virtual 5K for this weekend, so I logged my 3.1 miles in 28 minutes first thing in the morning while the rest of the house was still waking up.  I also danced well into the night at a super fun wedding, but I’m sure that effort barely made a dent in the champagne I was simultaneously consuming. 🙂

P90E Week 8: 71% brought, 29% punted

Things I Don’t Believe In And/Or Just Don’t Care About

  1. Flu shots. I don’t get ’em. It’s fine if you want to, but I don’t.  Vaccines, on the other hand, I am all for, and will take whatever is necessary.
  2. That antibacterial gel stuff.  What does it do other than give you a false sense of cleanliness and contribute to the development of resistant strains of bacteria?
  3. Biking on the sidewalk, even though there are places where it is encouraged by signage and permitted by law.  I don’t buy it.  There is exactly one stretch of sidewalk on which I will bike, and that is only because it is the only safe way to cross through a Y intersection to get to our house.  If I have to bike on the sidewalk otherwise, I will walk my bike.
  4. Lady Gaga.  There.  I said it.  I really couldn’t care less.
  5. Protein shakes.  While I understand that they play an important role in the lives and diets of many and are firmly ensconced in the Academy of Broscience, I don’t believe in them, and refuse to consider any diet that would require incorporating them into my life.

P90E Week 7: BROUGHT HARD

I spent a couple of days struggling with the disappointment and frustration of Saturday’s race showing – and thinking hard about what my goals are and should be right now. Is it realistic to try to do everything I’m trying to do? I don’t know. I emailed bad-ass runner friends for advice. I did a lot of reading. And I came to the conclusion that I need to make some changes in my diet if I want to be a happy runner for the next two months leading up to the Detroit half. So I’m working on that, and am starting to notice improvements in my energy. I also took measurements this weekend and found that while I haven’t lost really any weight since starting on this little plan of mine, I have lost at least 2% body fat, which is something!

Monday: Core Synergistics. Superman! Banana! Superman! Banana! No joke. I was tired and sweaty, but I brought it.

Tuesday: 3 miles in 26:45. I can’t even tell you how happy I was. I really, really needed that. I also carried on the fine tradition that I established last semester of teaching my LEEP class in my nasty workout duds. The students can’t see (or, importantly, smell) me, so everyone wins. That is, until Shane told me that I smelled like a burrito and insisted that I shower before bed.

Wednesday: Legs & Back. Let me tell you, doing this workout twice within 7 days is BRUTAL. My calves were screaming at the end of the calf raise sequence. I upped my weight almost everywhere. I’d consider that brought.

Thursday: 3.85 miles home from work, finishing at the Westside Farmer’s Market. I took it a bit easier on Tuesday as my calves were like angry fists and my thighs were feeling the squats and sneaky lunges from the previous night. I made an ill-advised stop by the garden, still sweaty from my run, and was attacked by a swarm of mosquitos. It’s been like this every time I’ve gone to the garden for the last month, but I still persist in thinking that I can stop by for a few minutes without bug spray. OH NO. Instead, the combination of workout exhaustion and at least a dozen bites in 5 minutes was enough to trigger a full-on panic attack. I took a hot shower and went to bed early.

Friday: Rest. I was supposed to do Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps, but put it off til Sunday.

Saturday: A perfect morning for a run, and I got in 6.5 miles before breakfast. Now that I’m feeling a bit better, I need to start building up my weekend distances before the half EXCEPT that I’m out of town 3 of the next 4 weekends. Oh well – I’ll make it work! Knees and calves felt a little iffy, so I walked some of the hills, but still finished in good time and then ate all the Afternoon Delight.

Sunday: I had good intentions of either Chest, Shoulders, & Triceps or an evening yoga class with friends, but last week’s twingey shoulder was back, so the best I managed was 2 hours in the garden (WITH Deep Woods Off) and a bunch of around the house sorts of things.

Week 7: Brought

P90E Week 6: Oof

Monday: I have a confession to make: I’m a compulsive Groupon shopper.  I don’t buy them indiscriminately, but I do have a hard time passing up Groupons or LivingSocial coupons for body work.  I’ve bought a handful this year, all for $40 and under, and have used them judiciously, most for race recovery.  I find massages tremendously restorative, but I have a hard time justifying the full cost, making me an ideal candidate for Groupon purchases.  Anyway.  Monday was particularly stressful, so I was very thankful that I had a massage scheduled, and also took that as an excuse to not do Core Synergistics.  Instead, I walked to work, then walked to my appointment, then fell asleep in the midst of a particularly vigorous Thai massage.  I guess I needed it.

Tuesday: Core Synergistics.  I admit it: I’m coming to love Core Synergistics.  Maybe it’s just that I love making fun of Tony.  Either way, I brought it.

Wednesday: A lot of walking.  I walked downtown and worked at a coffeeshop before a morning meeting (1.5 miles).  I walked back to my office from that meeting (.6 miles).  I walked home from work (2 miles).  And then, at 8pm, I went on a walk with Shane that turned into a jog (2.3 miles).

Thursday: I meant to do Legs & Back, but my right shoulder has been hurting since Tuesday night – so instead, I did a quick 3 miles while Shane lifted, then we met friends for dinner at Jolly Pumpkin, where I destroyed a salad.

Friday: My shoulder was still iffy, but I brought it to Chest, Shoulders & Triceps.  Shane can vouch for this, as he saw me collapse during at least two of the push-up sequences (even doing them on my knees!) and had to rescue me when I got stuck with a weight behind my head when I hit max reps.

Saturday: We both ran the Can Do Road & Trail Run in Kalamazoo.  Shane did an amazing job – it was his first race, and only his second run this year.  He stuck to his pace and while he was purple in the face when he hit the finish line, he finished strong.  I am SO PROUD of him.  Please note that I am not talking about MY run, however.  I did well for the first 1.5 miles, and then just hit wall after wall after wall.  When I looked at my Garmin data after the race, it showed that I hit 90% of my max heart rate (however that is calculated) at the half mile mark, and just kept going up, hitting 106% of max in the last half mile.  No wonder I felt so terrible.  Oh well – I finished in 45:56, less than a minute off from where I wanted to be, even though I felt terrible and had to walk a couple of 15-30 second stretches.

Sunday: Legs & Back.  Because yesterday’s run wasn’t punishment enough. No taking it easy. Just push push push through the three sets of 15 slow, 10 fast calf raises and the four different forms of pull-downs (since I can’t do pull-ups).  And then think hard about post-workout nutrition while slamming a delicious mushroom and Swiss brat we brought back from New Glarus.

Week 6: In the bag.  One more week and then I get a break.

P90E Week 5.5: Brought

Monday: I knocked out CORE SYNERGISTICS like it ain’t no thing.  Only minimal groaning, but plenty of making fun of the way Tony talks about Core Synergistics and swoons over Dreya.  Shane was reorganizing the basement while I worked out, and he was so annoyed by Tony that I don’t think he’s going to finish P90X.  He’s also been reading The 4-Hour Body, and I think all the talk of minimum effective dosage and also becoming superhuman has him questioning whether or not he wants to follow the P90X model.  Me? I’m sticking with it.  While I haven’t seen much change in inches, I can definitely tell that I’ve gained core and upper body strength – and that, my friends, is CORE SYNERGISTICS at work.

Tuesday: 2.25 miles in my new shoes, picked up for $45 this weekend at Elite Feet thanks to a Groupon and Groupon credit. Before they fitted me for shoes, they had me run on the treadmill, then had me try running with a metronome in order to shorten my stride, increase my cadence, and generally force me to run further forward on my feet.  I tried to do all of these things in my old shoes on my run home from work.  It wasn’t a fast run, but I certainly felt like I was working very hard and was very sweaty when I got home.

Wednesday: Legs & Back kicked my butt, especially the brutal sequence of 15 slow, 10 fast calf raises in 3 positions: feet wide, feet parallel, feet pigeon-toed.  I upped my weight, though, and am really liking pull-downs with increasing weight as a replacement for the bands.

Thursday: Woke up, ate breakfast, felt weird, and went straight back to bed with miserable abdominal stuff.  By the end of the absolutely gorgeous day, I was feeling stir-crazy but definitely not good enough to run, so I walked downtown and back to do an errand.  Better than nothing, and better than pushing myself when I was already not feeling good.

Friday: Still not feeling 100%, so I worked from the comfort and privacy of my bed, then BROUGHT IT to Chest, Shoulders and Triceps.  Upped my weights on almost every exercise, and only fell on my face once.  That’s right: I fell on my face.  I was feeling cocky and tried a one-arm push-up and then…splat.  I guess the tip of the day from Shoulders and Arms also applies: don’t break your face.

Saturday: Second cheat day since we started on the slow carb diet.  My parents came for the weekend, so we spent most of the day walking around the Henry Ford and generally indulging in things like pistachio-rosewater ice cream at Shatila Bakery and a South Pacific pizza at Jolly Pumpkin.  We took a break from familial togetherness in the afternoon, and I put in a surprisingly fast run: 3.2 miles in 29 minutes flat.  Three years ago, I ran my first 5K in 31:28.  I’m delighted by how far I’ve come.

Sunday: Between the family visit and general crampiness, I didn’t get a long run done this weekend.  That’s OK.  I was going to take today off entirely, but I didn’t feel like I could really enjoy snack dinner – wine, salami, flackers, cheese from Fromagination, and Bittman’s roasted chickpeas – if I hadn’t exercised.  For 2.5 quick miles, I focused on a quick cadence – and am now comfy on the couch, watching The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

P90E Do Over Week 5: BROUGHT

P90E Week 5: Umm…

This week was kind of a wash in terms of fitness.  I spent the week feeling totally exhausted – not sure if that’s an artifact of returning (and restressing) from vacation or of the new diet plan we’ve both started – but suffice to say that it sucks.  When I did manage to work out, I felt extremely fatigued, but pushed myself to finish what I started – that is, when I managed to start in the first place.

Monday: Tired all day and just could not BRING IT, especially not after the onset of a bad headache in the late afternoon.  Instead I ran errands and planned tasty low-carb meals and went to bed at a reasonable hour.

Tuesday: Biked to and from work, then did Core Synergistics.  I can tell that I’m gaining strength, but I struggled to finish.  No Dreya rolls.

Wednesday: Left work early so that I could lie on the heating pad.  No workout.

Thursday: Difficult 4 mile run home from work plus .5 mile cool-down.  My legs felt like lead weights.

Friday: Worked from home in the afternoon, so didn’t get to the gym until 8 with dinner after that.  Chest, Shoulders, and Triceps is so hard!  I swear Tony wants me to fall on my face and break my nose.  By the end of the umpteenth pushup variation, I was shaking with exhaustion, despite feeling pretty good throughout the workout.  I think I’m going to have to switch up the order of the Phase 2 workouts if I want to have any hope of bringing it.

Saturday: 7 mile run first thing in the morning on my first slow carb cheat day.  The cheat day was amazing.  The run? Not so much.  My legs felt like lead weights, especially on the hills in the last third of the run.  I stopped at 5 miles for a gel, and allowed myself to walk the steepest of the hills.  That was the trade-off for finishing.

Sunday: I had good intentions for doing Legs & Back, but instead I cleaned the house for four hours.

An important lesson I’ve learned about diet, fitness, and my emotional state is that I need to remember to be kind to myself.  Gaining or losing a few pounds, missing a workout or two – these are small triumphs and defeats in the grand scheme of things.  One tired week won’t undo months of good effort.  Or, as Tony says, “do your best and forget the rest!”  So that’s what I’m going to do.  The coming week will be a do-over for week 5, and I plan to BRING IT.