Monday, October 31, 2011

Hurray for Chocolate Milk!

Remember how I did my first double-digit long run? Ten miles. And after, I realized I didn't know how to recover properly from a long run. I did some research and chocolate milk kept popping up in all the articles. I figured I would try that instead of the other products they have on the market that would cost me more. Starting drinking chocolate milk, and never got another headache after a long run, and always felt great. Found a good article this morning on exactly why it works:

Benefits of Chocolate Milk After Your Workout

Published October 30, 2011
To get the best results from your training, ensure that your post-workout drink or meal is up to par. After your workout, your body is most receptive to using amino acids to repair muscle tissue, while using carbohydrates to restore muscle glycogen.
One of the best post-workout options is chocolate milk. Most prepared chocolate milk beverages are made with 1% or 2% milk, but you could also create your own fat-free chocolate milk by adding some chocolate syrup to regular skim milk. This will provide you with the benefits of carbohydrates, while giving you the optimal protein source found in milk.
Do make note, though, that different brands will vary in total calorie content, so even across the 1% varieties, the fat content may be the same, but total calorie content (typically ranging from 90 to 200 per 250 ml) will differ.
Here’s why post-workout chocolate milk tops the list when it comes to fueling yourself after a hard session at the gym.
Protein Content
Post-workout chocolate milk is beneficial because of its protein content. Every cup contains between eight and 11 grams of protein, with the Clover and Bravo Foods brands containing the most. Ideally, you’ll want to consume between 15 and 25 grams of protein after a workout, which equates to 500 to 750 ml of chocolate milk.
Also, a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that, when taken immediately after exercise, milk-based proteins promote greater muscle protein synthesis than soy-based proteins.
Finally, another reason why post-workout chocolate milk is beneficial is because cow’s milk contains about 80 percent casein protein content and 20 percent whey protein content. This is ideal because the whey protein is fast-acting, allowing amino acids to get right into the muscle tissue, while the casein protein is digested slower, providing a steady stream of amino acids over a lengthier period of time.
Carbohydrate Content
Turning to post-workout chocolate milk immediately following your lifting sessions is a smart move because of the types of carbohydrates it provides. The total carbohydrate count will vary depending upon the brand you choose, with most coming in around 20 to 25 grams of carbohydrates. The highest carb count is found in Hershey’s 2% Chocolate Milk, which rings in at 31 grams, while Hood’s Calorie Countdown 2% Chocolate Milk has the lowest carb count (5 grams).
This sugar will cause a spike in insulin levels, driving the glucose molecules into the muscle tissue and replenishing the energy stores for your next workout. Without this insulin spike, you’re going to be looking at a slower recovery period, which could mean more time out of the gym.
A study by the International Journal of Sports Nutrition had subjects perform three interval-style, exhaustion workout sessions on separate days, and then monitored the recovery that was demonstrated. The subjects consumed either chocolate milk or a carbohydrate replacement fluid post-workout.

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Going out for a long run this morning after the girls go to school, and will have my chocolate milk waiting for me! The area where I will be running a quarter marathon in March is loaded with hills - I'm going to drive over there, park, and tackle some of those hills.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What Now?

So I continue to be on a "high" from running the half-marathon and want to keep going. I have to be honest and admit that I can't say I enjoyed everything during the half - as I said, those hills and last 2 miles were brutal and I was hating it. BUT, the sense of accomplishment and wanting to do better next time is pushing me to coninue. I do have two races in my sights - in March, I will run a local quarter marathon (6.55), then April, I plan on the Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville. Now that one has been described as being incredibly hilly and difficult, but the same people that say that also say it is a blast. Am I looking forward to another hilly course? No. It makes my quads hurt just thinking about it. But I'm going to take it as a challenge, try to train with even more hills added to my runs, and this time finish with a huge smile on my face and looking up. My other goal will be to do no worse as far as time, but I'm not going to focus on speed-work.

I've run twice this week - unfortunately, I had to do them on the treadmill. Our weather has been rainy, incredibly windy, and freezing. I can do each element individually, but not all three together! I will be able to do my long run (6 miles) outside this weekend. I'm a little nervous about being able to keep up my running this winter. It was possible in TN because winters were so mild, but I've heard they are rough up here in Indy. I guess if they roads are clear, I'll be out there, but I may have to start getting use to my treadmill again. Ugh.  Honestly, I don't know what kind of running schedule to be on right now...I figure I'll try to keep it around 15-20 miles a week, so that when I do start training for a race, it won't be such a shock to my body.

I found this article on and thought it was good:

by Paul Koks in Training Tips, image by Alex Bellini

How to Become a Successful Half Marathon Runner

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Everyone comes to long distance running differently. Some start out as casual weekend runners who find themselves addicted to racing after doing a 5K for charity. Others start out as successful 5K runners who decide to try going longer distances. Still others are complete beginners with no running experience who decide they want to run a half marathon right from the start.
Whatever has brought you to join the league of beginning half marathon runners, you will need some insider training tips to make it through that first race successfully and (hopefully) many others afterward.

Why are You Running?

You are more likely to make it through training and that first half marathon if you draw motivation and inspiration from at least one well-defined goal. The desire to hold your head up high and say that you finished a half marathon may be what gets your feet moving in the beginning, but it is not what will take you to the end of the race and into training for the next race.
Make sure your goals are very clear, so you can focus on them and feel inspired by them. For example, you might want to finish the half marathon with a particular time or you might want to raise a certain amount of money for the charity your race will benefit. There has to be something that drives you to keep going, even when you have blisters on your feet, its pouring rain, or you have the sniffles.

Honestly Assess Your Starting Point

Be very honest with yourself regarding where you are right now with your running. If you can barely run a mile without collapsing, do not start a half marathon training plan for runners who can comfortably run five miles. If you try to push yourself too fast, you will either end up injured or frustrated and worn out. You set yourself up for failure in the end.
If you are a complete beginner, then you can still train to run a half marathon. You just need more time to train than a more established runner.

Focus on Distance, Not Speed

If you keep running, you will eventually get to the point where you can focus on picking up speed, but that should not be your focus as a beginner. Focus on becoming more comfortable with running longer distances so you do not feel intimidated about running the half marathon and one day the marathon.
Training for distance simply means including a long run in your weekly training schedule. These long runs should be performed at the speed at which you want to complete the half marathon or slower and they should get progressively longer the closer you get to race date. Do not skip these long runs! They will build up your long distance comfort and endurance.

Increase with Moderation

Start out with a weekly mile schedule that fits your current ability and then increase your miles by 10% or less each week (if you feel ready). Remember, assess the beginning schedule according to a realistic idea of what you are currently capable of doing. You want to challenge yourself, but not to the point that you make your workouts impossible to get through. You also don’t want to set yourself up for overuse muscle injuries.
Your increase in miles should be gradual. You may choose to add more miles to your long run one week while pumping up some of the shorter runs on other weeks. Just make sure your increase is never more than 10% from your previous week miles.

Invest in High Quality Gear

Don’t skimp on the cheap running shoes. Gear up with shoes designed for your feet and which feel comfortable. Make sure you have clothing that is comfortable so you don’t have to worry about chafing and other discomforts.

Go for Natural Foods

You do need to eat for energy and optimal health when training for a half marathon, but you do not need all of the gimmicky products now on the market for runners. For example, a good sports drink will keep you hydrated throughout a workout but you don’t necessarily need gels. You definitely don’t want to mix gels or water with sports drinks. A sport drink is all you really need to get through a long run.
Stick with very simple, nutrient-dense foods. You need lean protein, lots of fruits and vegetables, and a healthy intake of water (when not running). Whole grains may be consumed, but you don’t need a lot of them. You don’t need bars designed for runners if you are eating wholesome foods.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mission Complete!

I did it! I DID it! IdiditIdiditIdidit!

I accomplished my goal that I set out to do five months ago. A goal I never dreamed I would be able to do. But it wasn't easy yesterday - in fact, the last two miles were miserable and when I crossed the finish line, I didn't feel excited - I was actually this mix of emotions that were mainly, well, pissed off and disappointed.

The night before the race, I hardly had any sleep. My mind was going a mile a minute and all I could think about was the race. I kept sitting up to check the clock, worried that the alarm on my phone wasn't going to go off. It did, and at 5:30 am, I bolted out of bed and into my running clothes. I went downstairs, got my one cup of coffee and started my steel-cut oats. Getting everyone ready and out the door on time to get parking at the race was my biggest concern, but it ran so smoothly and we didn't have any traffic to worry about! Ray was a huge help (still sick, but such a trooper), and the girls were so cooperative.

 It was in the low 40's Saturday morning, which isn't so bad, but the WIND...omg! The wind that was whipping around was freezing. We could have stayed in the truck longer, but I had to go to the bathroom so bad and seeing all the other runners start to walk toward the site made me nervous. I hit the porta-potties (with not a single person in line!), then we made our way to where all the runners were hanging out. There were three big bonfires with runners huddled all around them trying to keep warm. We found an empty hay bale to sit on and the girls and I wrapped a blanket around us - teeth chattering, legs shaking. I was beginning to think the sun would never come up and give us some relief.

I ended up visiting the porta-potties two more times. Unbelievable. The second time, a few lines were forming, but I got in quick. The third time, about 30 minutes until the race began, I ended up waiting in line about 15 minutes! While standing there shaking from the cold, a man behind me started up a conversation. He had been running for 28 years and was going to do the marathon that day. Very nice man, but delusional. He was convinced I would be running marathons soon. Ha! I've learned to never say never, but good grief...

A voice came over the loud speaker and announced it was time to get in our corrals. Squeal - it was time!! I gave Ray and the girls a kiss and found my corral. Being so cold, I didn't do a bunch of stretches like I normally do, but managed to squeeze in a few while in line. I felt ready though. I love that it was a small race - not the mega races I have seen on tv. There was a total of 2,098 runners for the half. My corral (E) got up to the start line in no time! I think that was my favorite part of the race - hitting that starting line. So exciting!! I crossed the line and spotted my family - the girls jumped up and started cheering. What a great feeling. I hit start on Garmin and off we went.

It was a narrow road in the beginning, so I kept a close eye on my surrroundings so I didn't crash into anyone. I was very pleased at my pace - I didn't start off full of adrenaline, like a bat out of hell. I was very calm, relaxed and running my race. It wasn't long at all before runners started to thin out and I didn't have to worry about hitting anyone - just enjoy myself!

The first three miles were a breeze. I just ran and took everything in. I loved looking at the surrounding beautiful park, loved hearing the footsteps all around me, seeing all the runners ahead of me, and listening to the conversations going on from people running together. We soon hit some of the hills I was worried about. I had seen these hills prior to the race, and they had scared me. Turns out, I had no problem with them. I saw so many runners having to stop and walk, and I was proud that I felt good going up them. At the top of what I thought was the biggest hill of the run (HA!), I saw Ray and the girls on the side of the road (that's when the picture was taken). Made my day to see them so excited for me - I went from thinking they wouldn't be able to make it, to having them give me such a boost. Love my family.

As the race went on, I was just so happy about how well it was going. Except...I had to pee!!! I actually had to pee at the starting line. WTH? After how many times at home and three times before the race? Good gosh. I managed to make it to mile 7 and stopped at a park restroom that didn't have a line. Thankfully, there was only one other person inside, so I got a stall and hurried. I was in such a hurry that I gave myself the biggest wedgie that I had to nonchalantly work out back on the trail with everybody running past me. Grrr. I got back into the groove and carried on.

Right around mile 9, I started to feel a little tired. I had taken some chews and water at mile 5, and had a few more. I was doing great on my pace though - kept it up right where I wanted to be. I had no idea what was ahead of me...Mile 10 was brutal. The entire mile was nothing but up and down steep hills. My legs were screaming at me. On the steepest of hills, I just put my head down, took short strides and told myself to just keep going. I passed many walking. I had just a few more feet to go to the top when my legs just quit. My mind said run, my legs said walk and there I was walking. That's when I started getting mad. I forced myself to run again when I got to the top of the hill, only to be met by even more hills. I made it through them though - I have no idea what my pace was at that point. I didn't care - I just wanted to get through this part. It just had to flatten out.

Mile 11 was a mile of negotiations. I was feeling like the hills had zapped me of all the energy I had left, but I couldn't possibly quit at this point. I was so mad at my legs, the course (which was absolutely beautiful - what a stunning park! But those hills!), the fact that I still had a good ways to go, the fact that I had to keep convincing myself to push on...this isn't the way I wanted to be feeling. I ran on at what started to feel like a shuffle. I remember even asking myself at one point "Why the hell would I want to do this again?!" Around 12.5 miles, I got a cramp in my side that just seemed to take over. I had had more cramps during the race but had been able to run through them. This one almost had me doubled over, so I had to walk. I probably walked a total of 45 seconds, but it felt like forever. I could hear people cheering and the announcer over the loud speaker - I was close.

I told myself I wasn't going to finish this damn race walking, so I started my shuffle again. What gave me a little more fuel was hearing complete strangers on the side of the road yelling, "You can do it, Amanda!" "Finish strong, Amanda!" I wish I had had energy for one final kick to take me over the line, but it was all I could do to get there. I did manage to throw my arms up - probably looked like I was celebrating, but in my head, it was more like a f* you to the last three miles.

Ray and the girls ran over to the rope, so excited for me and cheering, but I couldn't even talk. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't even do that - I was so exhausted! I grabbed a water and banana and finally made my way to them. Ray ran up carrying my chocolate milk and gave me a hug - told me how proud he was of me. I just leaned into him and stayed there trying to pull myself together. The girls were fascinated with my medal. We sat down for a little bit, but the wind was still whipping and I started to get the shakes. When we got to the car, I just couldn't believe the mood I was in! I look back on it now and laugh at how mad I was and what I was mad about! Mad at hills! I can do something about being mad at my legs...I need to cross-train before the next half I run. Yes...there will be a next half. I had a delayed reaction to my accomplishment - later yesterday, after a shower, food, Ibuprofen and a good nap, I was proud. It all began to sink in what I had done...I ran a half-marathon. I didn't quit. I didn't chicken out. I did it. And I want to get better at it.

Official time: 02:10:47

Friday, October 14, 2011

Expo Day!

It's race packet pick-up day! Boy, I feel giddy! And today's weather is crap, Sunday's weather is crap, but tomorrow's weather looks beautiful - sunny with a high of 66 degree/low of 49. Perfect. Only anxiety there is do I wear short sleeves or a long sleeve? I think I'll have my options laid out and decide in the morning.

Besides going to the expo to get my packet, I need to charge Garmin, charge the iPod, get all my chews and fuel belt together (leaving the water bottle off and just use the aid stations), study how to put that damn timing chip on my shoe (that is actually causing me some stress!), and gather all the snacks and drinks for Ray and the girls.

That may all be in vain though. Ray is sick. I'm praying he will recover enough today (which he has off) and the antibiotics will do their magic, that he can go tomorrow. If he doesn't go, the girls don't go. If they don't go, I will have no one there. That breaks my heart. I spent all day yesterday crying about it and just doing my best to convince myself I can still do it. I don't think it would bother me so much at the start, but crossing the finish line after all this hard work, and after all that it means to me, and having no one there I love to share in the's painful to think about. So, I have to stay positive.

I can't believe tomorrow is the big day. Squeal!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I Will Be First Place

My husband has taken up racing, and has two first place medals that he likes to wave in front of me to prove he is a champion. If the medals were for running, I'd be jealous...and a little frustrated...but, luckily, it's for go-cart racing. Serious go-cart racing. They dress as if they were in a Nascar race and speed around a track at warp speed, and he has won twice.

I want to win. Yes, I see just finishing as winning - I honestly do. It will be a HUGE accomplishment to cross that finish line, and I will be on such a high from doing so. But I want to win. So, I decided I'm going to make my own category and WIN! I'm sure I won't be the fastest in my age group, so I can't go with just age as my category. It'll have to be something like this:

Winner in the Category of: 38 years old on the verge of turning 39
                                           Has two daughters & celebrate 10 years of marriage
                                           Has been running seriously for 10 months
                                           Wears a knee sleeve on her right knee
                                           Uses the Pink Lemonade Honey Stinger Chews
I will own this category....

Saturday, October 8, 2011

T-Minus 7 Days

...but who's counting, right? Me! This time next Saturday, I'm hoping things will have gone smoothly getting everyone up and dressed, I've eaten my steel-cut oats and cup of coffee, my light layer of mascara went on w/o a mess (hey...I am not a natural beauty, and if someone is going to be at the finish line with a camera in my face, then dammit, I want to look halfway decent - as one possibly can after running for more than 2 hours. Don't judge.), and we're pulling into a spot in the parking lot that is just a couple blocks from the start. And the butterflies in my tummy haven't turned into raging spastic butterflies that force me to make friends with a porta-potty.

Race Day Weather Report - sunny with a high of 64 degrees.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mother Nature - Please Be Nice

I've been keeping track of the weather for race day. Yesterday, it showed sunny with a high of 65 degrees. Perfect.

Today, it shows 60% chance of rain, with a high of 65 degrees. Ugh.

I'm trying to remember that the race day is still pretty far out in terms of getting the correct forecast - it's probably going to change every day up until a couple days before. I feel the need to be prepared though. I don't have anything waterproof - what to do?! I just bought a new cold-gear hoodie thinking race day would be freezing. Hubby is going to kill me if I now go out and buy a waterproof jacket! Throw me a bone, Mother Nature - it's my first race!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Race Dreams

Very real dream last night...I was at the race, and it was delayed due to bad weather. When they decided to start again, I was late and literally had to jump out of the car at the start line. No time to even stretch. On the course, there were no markings, no volunteers, no way to know which trail to take. I ended up following other people who were going the wrong way, so we would have to stop and backtrack. I became so disappointed and bummed that my time would be way off and the race was ending up a joke. Ha!

I'm going crazy. I think I'm just ready to get this over with!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Countdown Begins...

Under two weeks until race day. Gulp.

I'm going to try to think everything out this week, and be organized. I'm going to get my haircut (it's at that nutty in-between stage where I can't put it in a ponytail, but it's getting long and irritating. Just cut it off!). Make a decision on my race-day outfit (ordered a new cold-gear hoodie from Under Armor - bright green so the girls can easily find me! Hope it fits...and damn, it's getting cold out!). Drive out to the course so I can time how long it takes to get there. Figure out what I'm going to pack Ray and the girls to snack on while I run, and find all their coats/gloves/hats to keep them warm that morning. I need to make a list...

Training this week is easy - 3 miles, 3 miles, then 6. I had to break in my new shoes on my 8 mile run the other day. I went out on what should have been an easy 4 mile run last week, and my legs were killing me after just a mile. I was getting that feeling I would need to change shoes for a while now, but thought I could hold out until after the race, but that awful 4 mile run convinced me it needed to be done. My legs were tight at the beginning of the 8 miles, but then they seemed to "relax" and felt great the rest of the run. Glad I had the new shoes handy!

My oldest is home today with Strep...hoping I don't get it, but if I do, it better show up this week. Vit. C and handsoap will be my best friends this week!