Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Big D Half Marathon 2013

The plan to get back on track after my Easter gorging didn't ever really get implemented. I went to yoga a couple times and lifted weights once, but other than that I just lazed about. I really began to regret this high level of inactivity on Friday when Nicole suggested that we run the tenth anniversary of the Big D half marathon on Sunday.

Big D

I've run my share of races with little-to-no training. This isn't intended as a boast. I am often terribly sore afterward and walk funny for a few days. But in any event, we registered and were geared up for our fourth half marathon.

This was not my favorite race that I've run. The organization of the event was poor at best. As any serious runner will tell you, the pre-race pee is an important ritual, essential to one's success during the event. It's is the last chance to ease nerves, and it also sheds a few extra ounces, cutting weight for the long run ahead. But for the 5,000 or so that signed up for this race, not to mention spectators and friends and family, there were only 20 port-a-potties at the starting corral. 20! Thus, the lines were 75-100 people deep each. Waiting in line got extremely frustrating, as the starting line announcer was being pushy, telling the racers to get to the start ASAP. After waiting in line for 15 minutes, we were still about 30 people away from a port-a-potty, and I had to go! I got out of line and was prepared to go behind a tree when I noticed an unmarked building with a side door open. I walked in and discovered that this was the "convention center." There were no signs indicating that this small building nearby housed more toilets, and significantly shorter lines!

Then there were smaller issues, such as tiny mile markers. Also, my time isn't showing up on their website. It appears as though I didn't even run the race. I've contacted them and they said they're working on it. Until then, I'm relying on my Nike run app.

It wasn't all negative, though. The course winded through some very nice neighborhoods (houses in the millions of dollars) and even went by White Rock Lake briefly, providing some of the better views you'll encounter running in Dallas. They had plenty of hydration stations along the way, each offering water and Powerade, and a couple of the stops had orange slices. Then there was plenty of food at the convention center afterward. They offered bananas, coconut water, and egg and potato breakfast burritos. And the staff was friendly, which is always a plus.

I ended up running my fastest half yet, crossing the finish line at 2:05:06! My overall distance was 13.3 miles, hence the discrepancy. Since I haven't really been running consistently, I can only attribute this success to an improved diet (though I did fuel up the night before with half of a pizza and two bottles of my favorite beer).

Being that close to sub-2 hours, while great, is also somewhat frustrating. I can't help but think that if I'd simply picked up my pace in a couple extra spots, or hadn't stopped to pee three times, maybe I'd have finished in under 2 hours. Oh well. Next time!

My newest finisher's medal.

I can't say whether I'd run the Big D again. While my experience wasn't really negative overall, nothing stood out enough to make me excited to do it again next year. But on the other hand, I do enjoy a good breakfast burrito.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Sunday overeating and getting back on track

As Easter Sunday winds to an end, I look down at the food-baby (triplets?) I'm now carrying around. A few people came to our apartment for brunch today. Between the biscuits, sausage-gravy, bacon, eggs, bacon/maple french toast, coffee, and mimosas, I can safely say that I've already carb loaded for the next week and a half.

I didn't get much exercise this week and I'm noticing it in the way I feel. But Dallas is getting warmer lately and I should be able to reboot get my training this upcoming week. I have hot yoga on Monday and Wednesday. If I throw in four outdoor runs and maybe a weights session or two, I should be right back on track.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Walking out your front door can be the hardest part of your workout

Sometimes I just don't want to exercise. It's easier to make excuses than to just suck it up and start moving. However, one problem with excuses is that they travel in packs. One piggybacks off the previous, and before you know it, you've gone a whole week without working out. And now you're mad at yourself so you call your friends Ben and Jerry, who are always eager help you through it.

But I've also found that stepping out of my front door is generally the hardest part. If I just get off my ass and get moving, the rest is usually easy.

I had every excuse available to me today: achy legs, reading and studying for school, general lack of motivation. My legs were killing me due to a partner yoga inversion workshop Nicole and I did yesterday. We had a great time, and learned a bit of proper preparation and technique for getting into headstand, handstand, and scorpion. But it involved a ridiculous amount of "hopping" while our hands and forearms stayed grounded. (This is to get your body/mind accustomed to the feeling of upside-downness.) After we were done hopping, there was supposed to be "controlled" lifting of our legs. There was little control involved, as my core and legs and glutes and shoulders were on fire at this point. Though Nicole and I both did pretty well, we still need a lot more practice.

So here we are, the next day, and my legs still feel terrible. But I knew if I didn't go for a run, I'd be disappointed with myself later. I'd already done my long run this week on Tuesday, the day before my wedding. I figured today could be a lighter day. But I still really didn't want to go.

So I grumbled and moaned as I slowly put my running gear on. I figure I looked a bit like a little kid who really doesn't want to go somewhere, but knows he has to, so he scowls the whole time he pulls his clothes onto his body in sharp, jerking movements. And then out the door I went.

I started jogging before I even let my apartment complex. No warmup. Maybe it was an effort at self-sabotage, and I'd be forced to limp back home before I even hit the end of the street. My body, however, had other things in mind.

My legs didn't bother me at all during the run, save some minor knee pain around mile six or so. The only other bother was the occasional side-stitch. But I felt good. My legs were light, and ended up carrying me to a new PR!

New 10k PR!

Here are my totals for this week:

Monday: Hot Vinyasa Yoga - 1 hour

Tuesday: 9.01 mile run - 1:25:08 (9'27" pace)

Wednesday: Rest Day

Thursday: Hot Vinyasa Yoga - 1 hour

Friday: 2.86 mile run - 25:00 (High Intensity Interval Training, with warmup and cool-down)

Saturday: Partner Yoga Inversion Workshop - 1 hour

Sunday: 7.11 mile run - 1:05:00 (9'08" pace)

Running: 18.98 miles; 2:55:08
Yoga - 3 hours
Ben & Jerry - neither

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My last day as a single man

Nicole and I are getting married tomorrow! I'm excited to be marrying my best friend. I look forward to spending the rest of my life with her. Originally we were going to have a minimalist wedding: just the two of us, a photographer, and a justice of the peace. But this quickly ballooned into something a bit bigger, though still not too big. We will have most of those with whom we are closest. But we cannot invite everyone. We simply don't have the money, not to mention a venue, to accommodate every friend and family member. Nor do we wish to turn this into a giant party.

So of course, many family members are choosing to feel hurt for themselves, rather than happy for us. By focusing on themselves during our wedding week and shifting the spotlight off of the bride-to-be, they are showing how truly selfish they are. It's not that those without invitation are unwelcome or unloved, but there just isn't really enough space. Nicole's family is immense, and there's no way we could invite all her aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. My family, though smaller, would still be too big for everyone to fit into the JP. I think the best thing Nicole and I can do, after assuring these people that we meant no offense, is focus on ourselves. We can't get so caught up in trying to please everyone else that we lose sight of the fact that this is our wedding.

Nicole and I went to relieve some of this family-drama tension at hot vinyasa yoga last night, along with her cousin who is visiting from Florida. It was a good class, full of warrior 3 (Virabhdrasana III), chair (Utkatasana), and lots of other leg-killing poses. I planned on running for a half hour before class. But my hamstrings were tight, so instead I just got in a vigorous twenty minutes, then headed downstairs to the yoga studio to start stretching before class.

I'll head back to the gym today for one last round of "Shedding for the Wedding." Maybe a heavy run, followed by some time on the row machine, and finish up in the sauna. I also need to pick up a vest I had taken in, and make sure my outfit for tomorrow is ironed and ready. 

Nicole is having a girls' day, with mani-pedis and champagne. Other than going to the gym, I'll probably just hang low and read and relax. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ear-sphincters and eliminating negativity

Last Wednesday I went on a run and started to get frustrated less than a half-mile in. The complaint: my earbuds wouldn't stay in my ears. I've had problems with this in the past. I even bought some ugly Adidas "sports" earbuds that had a silicon sling that anchors to the top of the ear. They were uncomfortable and hideous ("can't-you-tell-from-the-color-of-my-snot-that-I-have-a-bad-cold-yellow" best describes the color), and despite the pickaxe-like contraption on top, they still fell out. I returned them the next day and went back to the old, round, equally uncomfortable earbuds.

Whose earhole is this big?

A few months ago, I splurged and bought myself some of Apple's new "ergonomic" EarPods. (Okay, they're not that new. But new for me.) Supposedly, the EarPods are designed to fit into your ear a little more tightly, creating both a better fit and better sound. I call bulls**t, at least on the first claim.

New-ish EarPods

Back to my run last Wednesday. I've been running without music more frequently, but this time, I was ready to jam out. However, the run-gods had different plans. My ears were performing their own form of peristalsis (my fiancee's favorite word), working vigorously to reject the foreign body crammed into them. The buds were shooting away from my head as if my ears were blowholes. I couldn't keep them in for more than a few seconds at a time.

I started to get annoyed. They fell out again. My thoughts were leaving my run and my form, and going to ear anatomy, of which I know less than nothing. I put them back in. Maybe I was born with abnormally small, deformed earholes? No, that's not it. Out again. Do ears have sphincters? Maybe that could help explain this inconvenience. No. They don't. Back in. But what about the wind? The steady breeze of 15-20 mph with gusts well into the 30s was more than enough to keep my ears Deadmau5-less for my run. By gum, that's it!

Once I realized that the gale-force winds were causing my earbuds to steadily pop out, I just tucked them into my pocket and focused once again on my run. It's no use contending against mother nature.

Annoyances often pop up and add unwanted displeasure to our daily life. Some of these inconveniences are small and trivial, such as uncooperative electronic devices or a person cutting you off in traffic. But if we can learn to just accept the situation for what it is, and not react with negative emotions, then we can focus instead on the things that are going right. One shouldn't react to a situation, but rather simply be present in it. Negative emotions rarely do anything to fix a situation.

 For example, this run didn't start out exactly as I'd planned. I let the situation get the better of me for a few short moments. Then I quickly eliminated the negativity and refocused. One of the things I've learned from yoga is to set my intention. My intention for this run was not to listen to good music, but to have a good run.

And I did. By focusing on the positive (how my body felt, how my lungs were holding up, etc.) instead of the perceived/fabricated negative, on my run of just under four and a half miles, I set a new 1-mile PR. I finally hit sub-8.

Not a by-product of negativity.

Busy couple of weeks

The past couple weeks have kept me pretty busy, and unfortunately I've neglected my blog. I've been drowning in a sea of mid-terms, essays, and late nights at work, not to mention excuses.

In between all the mandatory happenings, quite a bit has been going on. I've still been getting in a decent amount of yoga, adding a few new poses, and running, setting a couple new personal bests. I was able to meet one of my personal heroes. And I'm getting married next week! I plan on writing about some of this in more detail in the upcoming days. But for now, I'm off to study for another midterm!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Katy Trail with the dogs and margarita-fueled long run

This past Sunday I went to the Katy Trail near downtown Dallas with my fiancee, Nicole, and my best friend, DJ, who recently moved back to Dallas from Phoenix. We brought our dog, Mia, and he brought his pit bull, Tegan. The day was sunny and cool and there was a steady breeze that was always noticeable but never imposing. It was amusing to watch the reactions as we passed other people along the trail. They'd see our five month old yellow lab/golden retriever mix and smile and point. Then they'd see the three year old pit with a spiked collar and their face would contort into a some combination of alert and scared. But Tegan is a great dog. Both dogs were well-behaved and it was a nice, pleasant walk.

Tegan and Mia

We stopped at Company Cafe and ate on their dog-friendly patio. It was my cheat day, so I had a chicken fried steak and eggs with a jalapeƱo gravy. But it was gluten-free, so it was justifiable as being somewhat healthy. (Almost like those who order a diet coke with their double cheeseburger and fries in a clueless attempt to save a few calories.) Oh. And to help wash down my "healthy" meal, I had two margaritas, also gluten-free.

I somehow tweaked my ankle recently, and it randomly shoots a sharp pain down the outside of my foot, so I've eased back on running lately. I'm taking a sort of long term approach to my marathon training. But after we got back home from Katy Trail, I started feeling somewhat guilty for my lack of running, and my knee hadn't hurt me all day. So I laced up and headed out for an easy long run. I felt good.

After chicken friend steak and
two margaritas? I'll take it.

I haven't had anything to drink since that day. Nicole and I made the joint decision to stop drinking for a while. And I'm thinking of making the transition to full vegetarian. Not because I feel like I overdid it that day or anything, but just out of awareness of and respect for my overall wellbeing. I just find that my body feels better when I'm not putting a bunch of crap into it. (Surprise!)