Saturday, July 31, 2010

Thoughts While Running 13 Miles

Well, folks, I ran 13 miles today.

I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this, but 13 miles is kind of far. Like, really far. Like ridiculously far for someone who's longest run before starting training was 6 miles.

I don’t even know how to describe what it’s like to run the half-marathon distance. That may have something to do with the fact that I really can’t think right now because my body is still trying to process what I just did. The best way might be try to review my internal monologue. For those of you who know me well, this should be pretty entertaining.

Starting point: “Alright, I’m totally going to own this run. And, I'm so happy it's not 104 fucking degrees. Whooo! Let's do this."

Miles 1-2: “Slow down a bit. You’ve got quite a distance ahead of you. No. Seriously, Alisha. You're going to hurt yourself. Slow your roll.”

Mile 3: “Huh? My knee kind of feels funny. Maybe I should ice it when I get back and wear the brace for the rest of the day. It's the latest and sexiest fashion accessory, I'm sure. On the bright side, if I meet an attractive man tonight, he'll be really impressed that I ran half a marathon today.”

Mile 3.5: “Alright, knee. I don’t like you, and you apparently don’t like me. If you give out now, I will not be happy.”

Mile 4: “Georgetown is pretty. I’d like to live here whenever I can afford to shell out big dollars for a row house."

Miles 4 – 5: “Oh man. I should totally go shopping later.” (I was on M Street near all of the shops. I don't think about shopping all of the time, I swear.)

Miles 5 – 6: (While running past the State Department) “Hey, that guard is kind of attractive! Quick, run faster and look hardcore. Now, smile a bit. Sweet, he smiled back!.”

Mile 6: “Oh heyyyy, Honest Abe.”

Later: “Gee, there are a lot of slow moving tourists. Outta my way!”

Mile 7: “I kind of have to pee. Where to do marathoners pee during races? What if they have to go number 2? Didn't someone go on themselves at the end of the New York City Marathon a few years back? That's a party foul. God, I need to pee. Like. Now...BATHROOM!”

Mile 7 (after bathroom break): “Yes! Free bird! And this bird you cannot cha-a-ange!”

Mile 8: “Sweet! I’ve got five miles to go, and I still feel great!”

Mile 8-9: “Fuck, there’s a difference between First Street NW and First Street NE. I really need to remember that. Oh look. There’s Charlie Palmer’s. I’m so going to stuff my face with steak during restaurant week. Gah…need to get back over to First NE if I want this to count. Okay. There we are.”

Mile 10: “Ow…”

Mile 10.3 “Ow, Charlie, Owwwwwww.”

Mile 10.5” “Dude, seriously, if another guy says something to me or looks at me with lecherous eyes, I’m going to kick him in the balls.”

Mile 11: “Going…to….die. Hm…there’s a CVS. Maybe I should stop and get more water.”

(I picked up a very large bottle of water, stood in the longest line ever, was very pleasant to a surly cashier who clearly hates her job, and chugged the entire bottle near 20th and P.")

Mile 11-12:”Running uphill is the worst. Just the worst. It's start to get warmer. Oh man. Am I done yet?”

Mile 13: “It hurts and it’s still hurting! Oh wait, I’m done. FUCK YEAH!”

I rolled on the floor for a while when I made it back to my apartment and chugged Gatorade. Then, I sat in a warm bath for an hour.

It feels great to have run 13 miles. It hurts, but I'm definitely having an "It hurts so good" moment. I think my plan is to sit for just a while longer before I attempt to look like person again and head back out into the world.

The next long run is 15 miles. If you want to join me, let me know. Then, of course, I'll end up saying a lot of the above out loud.

Happy weekend!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Holy crap, I'm running 13 miles tomorrow. I kind of feel like those guys in the David Blaine: Street Magic video.

(Sometimes, when I'm sad, I watch this video.)

I just looked at my mapped route, and all I can think is "What the eff!?"

I'll let you all know how it goes. My only goal: Don't hurt myself.

PS -- I have the best friends. Thank you all for being so wonderful.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A "Life" Post

Alright, so this is totally lame, but I'm going to vent for a second because I spent most of the day thinking that everything that I do or say is somehow wrong. Of course, in thinking about this, I was quite the unproductive research analyst. I managed to get a few things done, but everything took so much longer because I was distracted. I don't know what's going on. I mean, one minute I think I have everything under control; the next, I'm second-guessing. And, all of this just seemed to start today -- maybe because I was tired, maybe because the reality of the GRE is starting to hit me, maybe because I'm worried about relationships (the non-existent romantic one and those with friends and coworkers). I don't think I've done anything wrong, but I just feel like I am not doing a damn thing right.

It's difficult to explain.

So, I won't. At least not here...

You know? I think the moral of the story is that anxiety is starting to rear its ugly head and causing me to over-think every detail of my life. To some extent, it's healthy to want to know exactly what your supposed to do in your lifetime and know exactly how to accomplish your goals. To another extent, it's completely crazy to obsess over every little detail. Somehow -- with hard work and that inexplicable magic that seems to nudge people in the right direction -- things work out.

I also may need a vacation.

This will all look very silly in the morning.

Thank God for being healthy enough to run. Seriously. I couldn't wait to get out there today and have some time to clear my head.

I'll be okay. I think it's time for a little self-reflection.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Moving Forward

Week 4 - Done. Moving onto Week 5:

Long run: 13 miles (!!!) I mapped out 13 miles on gmap-pedometer. Holy cow!
Total for the week: 23 miles

I struggled a bit yesterday during my 8-mile run. I completed it, of course, but it was hard. I knew going into Saturday that the temperature would be about 100 with humidity. I thought that an early start would allow me to escape the heat. That logic doesn't work in DC,unfortunately, and I could definitely feel the effects of running when it's way too hot to move.

Thankfully, today's weather was so much better. It rained while I was in my Russian language class. Or, rather, the sky opened and gave way to a deluge. But, for once, it cooled off after raining. Running was so much better.

For added fun, I created an On-the-Go playlist before I started:

"Devil Went Down to Georgia" (Just yesterday, I found the all-metal version of the Charlie Daniels classic performed by Steve Ouimette. I won't tell you why I knew that such a version existed because it will reveal how much of a nerd I really am. Holy shit, running to the dueling guitars was friggin' awesome -- so awesome, in fact, that I listened to it twice.)
"Butterfly" - Crazy Town
"Free Bird" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" - Fall Out Boy
"Damn, It Feels Good to be a Gangster" - Geto Boys
"One" - Metallica
"Green Grass and High Tides" - The Outlaws
"Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey

This is the best playlist ever. I love every song on this list*, and every song on this list is perfect for running. And, it's approximately 40 minutes, so it was a great test to see if I could finish my run before the playlist ended. I think I did it, if I adjust for the time lost when I couldn't move forward because I had to wait for a traffic light. (I jog in place when I need to wait for a walk signal/an opportune time to cross.)

But, anyhow, off to my normal Sunday activities -- which include drooling over Eric Northman on True Blood and Don Draper on Mad Man.

*Yeah, that's right. I love Fall Out Boy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ke$ha Parody

No Ke$ha parody will top "30 Rok." You really can't go wrong with:

Wake up in the morning feelin like Liz Lemon
Got my glasses I’m out the door, I’m gonna get my geek on
Before I leave brush my teeth and maybe grab a snack
‘Cause when I leave for the day I ain’t comin' back

But, I kind of like "My Run is my Drug." (And, I'm not even a real runner yet.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Week 4

Whoa, it's almost the middle of Week 4 -- which means that I've been at this for nearly a month. Heck yeah!

I'm apparently getting over some weird sickness that kept me home from work yesterday. I guess if your body tells you that you shouldn't drag your mucous-filled self to your office (lovely image, no?), then you should probably listen and spend the day either curled up in your bed or sprawled on the couch watching I Love Lucy. I'm still going to train this week, but I'm going to slow it down a bit. Maxing out in Week 4 is definitely not part of the plan.

Total Miles for Week 4: 21
Long run: 8 miles
Special Goal (if I'm feeling 100% on Saturday): Improve time of July 3rd run

In the end, time won't be a factor for the marathon -- my goal is to finish. Adding the additional challenge is just something to work toward on Saturday.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Thought

I saw this reblogged on Date by Numbers and thought it was worth sharing:

Get dirty. Get fucking filthy. Get poor. Get off your ass. Get desperate. Get dangerous. Get vilified. Get vile. Get romantic. Get fucked. Get fucked up. Get moving. Get productive. Get pro-active. Get your own life. Get doing anything. Get it before you’re 40, with kids, a mortgage, and every other responsibility that relegates fun to an afterthought. Get going before cancer, before 50-hour work weeks, before body pains, before school loans, before your sense of humor goes. Get fighting. Get fighting, fucking, running and smiling. Get smiling because the older you become, the less you’ll smile at silly shit. Get started. Go.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

No Pain, No Glory

Somewhere around Friday afternoon at 3 – at about just the time when I felt my eyes bleeding from staring at an Access database – I took a break to browse the interwebs. I ended up at Runner’s World again and started to poke through a few articles. I found this especially appropriate:

“An hour into my Montana long run, the sun crept over the mountains and a creek snaked out of the woods, its gurgle glorious. I settled into that state, the so-called "runner's high," though that name fails to capture its beauty. What happens to body and mind when you go long is, like all of life's most rewarding treasures, a mystery, and its value is commensurate with its mysteriousness. If I knew exactly why and how a 20-miler worked its magic, I might not treasure it as dearly.” ---From Michcael Parker in “A Long-Distance Running Love-Affair”

Today, I completed my first 10-mile run and understood the concept of "runner's high" more than I did sitting in my office on a Friday afternoon (or ever, for that matter).

It was damn hot in DC again (surprise, surprise), but 10 miles on a treadmill was not happening. After breakfast, I let my often passive-aggressive Wii Fit guide me in a few yoga stretches, and I filled myself with water. By 10 AM, I was out of my apartment. (For the record, I’m kind of impressed that I was able to get out of my apartment at 10. I crawled into bed around 2 AM last night after seeing the last screening of Inception in my neighborhood – SO INCREDIBLE --but I digress…)

Despite the temperature and dripping with sweat before the end of the first mile, I felt great. I wasn’t tired, and I was hydrating whenever I could (I filled a water bottle and carried it with me – the smartest idea I had this morning). I hit a little bit of a wall near mile five, which I suspect happened because that was the point in my run during which I was directly in the sun and/or was in desperate need of a bathroom break. But once I ducked into one of the restrooms on the Mall and splashed water in my face, I was good to go until I hit mile nine.

Put simply, I ached. I was hot. I was tired. My motivating songs played long before I needed them. With every step forward, I was pretty sure that I was just going to give up and stop this silly marathon training altogether.

In the midst of all tat, something else was going on -- something that kept me going. That magical something that "happens when you go long."

A high: A high that made me forget the cramp, the feeling of exhaustion, and the urge to quit. A high that made everything else not related to running irrelevant. A high that made finishing and proving to myself that I could run 10 miles the only two things that mattered in that final push.

And, with that, I finished my run with an average of 10 minutes per mile.

My cool-down walk (the last two blocks to my apartment) took what felt like an eternity. But, I was so proud of myself that I didn’t care. I opened the door, chugged a powerade, and soaked in a tub filled with warm water and bath salts (the second smartest idea that I had this morning). There was celebratory towel time, movie-watching, and the best nap I've had in my life.

- - -

With this run, folks, we’re coming to the end of Week 3. I have three miles to run tomorrow, but after today I imagine such a distance will go very smoothly – unless my body decides that training tomorrow is simply out of the question.

We’ll see, though.

If I have any say in the matter, we’re going running. And, it’s going to be awesome.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Music for Running (2)

I rediscovered Crazy Town's "Butterfly" this morning. Holy crap, where have you been these last eleven years? Those lyrics! That beat! Running with you will be so much fun!

Also, friends, that song was released in 1999. I was 12. TWELVE. I hadn't even entered my teen angst stage. Cue the nostalgia...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week 2: Done

Week 2: Complete.

Thursday was still a bit hot to run outside. I totally could have done it, but I would have hated myself by the end of it. Another four miles on the treadmill in the bag.

Saturday morning, I awoke to the sound of rain – a huge blessing but not the best for running outside. And, clearly, I am the center of the universe which means that it should only rain when it is convenient for me. I spent a fair amount debating whether or not I should swap my long run for Sunday – when I knew that the weather would be great – or sucking it up and running on the treadmill. After checking every five minutes to see if the rain would stop, I decided to suck it up and run on the treadmill. It wasn’t bad, but I definitely started to get bored after mile four. I think that six miles is my max for running in place.

Today, I ran outside for the first time since last Sunday. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and I did a bit of exploration toward the middle of my run. The whole thing took a little longer than planned because I slowed my pace a smidge to compensate for the temperature. Honestly, it was a gorgeous day, but it was still pretty toasty outside when I went out.

Time aside, there was a small victory on the return to my apartment. Depending on my route, the last leg includes two hills. Usually, the hills are enough to make me want to quit running and walk back. Sometimes I give in. Sometimes try to run and end up walking. Neither crossed my mind today. Instead, I ran the complete distance uphill and felt damn good when I was done.

- - -

I’ve been toying with some thoughts about encouragement and the self-esteem boost that I’m experiencing (it’s kind of awesome to look in a mirror and genuinely like what you see), but they’re inchoate at best so I will probably share them at another time. In the meantime, you all should know that you’re awesome, and I'm extremely thankful to have your support! Seriously.

Onward to Week 3! Total mileage: 20. Saturday’s long-run: 10 miles.

With work, pub quiz, Lady Pod, GRE prep, and my never-ending quest for true love (I watched The Princess and the Frog last night, and dammit if it didn't put strange ideas in my head), it should be a great week, and I’m ready for the challenge.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

(Your love is like a) Heat Wave

Math is hard, and I’m apparently bad at counting.

I went over my training schedule last night to figure out what my running requirements were for the week of August 14, which happens to be the date when yet another standardized test will decide my academic fate....

Ah yes, the (wonderful) GRE.

I was very relieved to see that my long run for that week isn’t terrible and can easily be done before or after the test. But, I did notice that something was a little off when I started filling in the dates in my Excel sheet.

Basically, I can't count. When I made the schedule I thought I had 18 weeks plus one "base week" to ease into running. Not so much. As it turns out, I have 18 weeks including the base week, but I imagine that there are worse things that could happen.

Aaaaaaanyway, since my long runs increase every two weeks (last week was eight, this week I’m back to six, and next week I’ll do ten, for example), it just means that I’ll skip one of the weeks when I reduce the distance. (Friends who run: That's not a huge deal, right?) I’ll most likely fudge with the weeks after my test date. Even though I know that it would be tons of fun, I really would prefer not to take a four-hour exam and run more than eight miles in a single day.

In other news ---

I signed up for's virtual trainer the other day. The site allows you to track calories (consumed and burned), provides recipes, and has plenty of hot tips to get the summer bod you've always dreamed of. (Honestly, the last piece is not my style. But, I am very excited about the recipes and calorie journal.) It's been very useful so far and has forced me to think about getting healthy amounts of calories and eating the right foods for proper nutrition. The American flag cake (thanks to 17 and Baking) that I baked for the fourth is excellent for calories but not so great for everything else. Except a sugar high. A reaaaaaally big sugar high.

If you haven’t heard, it’s bloody hot in DC. Yesterday’s high temperature rose somewhere around 103 degrees. (Yesterday was one of the many times it’s appropriate to quote Ron Burgundy: “It's so damn hot! Milk was a bad choice.") I saw a few brave souls running outside yesterday evening, but I'm not that crazy and decided to move training indoors. Four miles on the treadmill sounds boring at first, but sensory overload definitely helps pass the time. I had music and watched most of an episode of Bones until some annoying person changed the channel to watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Thank goodness I was at the end of mile four when that happened. I was very comfortable at a 10:00 minute pace, but I increased the speed during my last mile just for fun. Surprisingly, it went well. After my run, I went back up to my apartment for electrolyte replacement, post-run stretching, a warm shower, towel time (my favorite time), and GRE time (not my favorite time, but I don't feel nearly as stupid as I did when I first started this process).

Hm...there are quite a few links in this post. Oh well, here's one more for you -- one woman's tale of running and reinvention. Inspiring? You bet it is!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday Morning Link

As promised, I present to you a link to incredibly delicious oatmeal cross posted in Cat's blog (which you should all read): Eat Like Us. Your taste buds will dance with delight!

Oatmeal with Greek Yogurt and Honey. And Cinnamon. And Granola. Or Nuts. Oh, Fruit, Too.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

End of Week 1

It turns out that eight miles isn’t a terrible distance to run. In fact, I might have been very comfortable during the entire distance.

Cat, a goddess who can turn ordinary kitchen ingredients into pure deliciousness, recently turned me on to a wonderful breakfast that combines oats, fruit, nuts, and Greek Yogurt. Easy, delicious, and perfect fuel for a long run! (Recipe to come.) I started my morning with a serving, a glass of milk, a ton of water. About an hour and a half later, I took the metro to my starting point.

Part of the beauty of my run was the chance to run near a ton of landmarks: the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol. Running was a bit of a challenge to figure out because portions of the mall were restricted or closed in preparation for Independence Day festivities.

There were a couple of times when I thought I was pretty sure that I couldn’t go any farther. Somehow, I think my iPod could sense this and immediately played “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Living on a Prayer,” and “Hearts on Fire.” All three were enough to get me going. “Party in the USA” was the last song that played and definitely contributed to my excitement for Independence Day.

Jenny and I ran three miles this morning, and it felt amazing! I’ve never felt so good during a run.

It’s the end of Week 1, and I’ve got 17 miles in the bag.

Now, onto celebrate America!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Yesterday, I ran three miles on the treadmill (which was only a little boring) and learned that I am medically cleared to destroy every bit of my body with exercise. Hooray!

After my run and before going to the office (6 AM is a wonderful time of day), I took the trip up to Friendship Heights to visit my physician. When I told her that the purpose of my visit was to discuss training for a marathon, she kind of gave me an “OMG, really?” look. I was a little worried at first but as we talked about my medical history, it became clear that she was super into the idea -- or as much into this as the doctor of a 23 year-old can be who wants to run 26 miles can be.

I had a ton of questions about the impact training would have on my body, what foods I should eat to compensate, and what I could do to avoid injury and fatigue. By the time I left the office, I felt super confident about starting to train seriously.

As far as recommendations went, my physician encouraged me to continue taking Vitamin D supplements. I started taking them in September when we learned that I was deficient. Now that I'll be asking my heart, bones, and immune system to work harder than they have, 1000 IU daily will be a very good move. I should also make sure that I eat 60-70 grams of protein per day. I understood this as "You now have permission to splurge on Greek yogurt."

After runs, I should replace electrolytes. My doctor recommended powerade because it's lower in calories, but I also learned that I can make my own electrolyte-replacing manna by mixing baking soda, salt, sugar, orange juice, and water.

Upper body exercises should be added to my training routine. She recommended 3-5 pounds on my non-running days.

Finally, I should do less running on sidewalks and explore more jogging paths. That sounds fine, but I won't be doing too much of that unless I have a running partner. (Anyone want to run long distances with me?) I tend to stick to sidewalks so that I can stay on main streets with traffic, people, and businesses. Even in the early morning, I feel a bit safer sticking to where the people are. Like Lisa Landry, I've seen Law and Order enough to know what happens to the jogger.

Today, I went to the registration website but decided to wait until I have an estimate of my finish time to officially get on the roster. I'll probably do the calculation after my 3-mile run on Sunday.

Eight miles tomorrow and ample opportunities to celebrate America. Have a wonderful and safe weekend!