Mainely Running
Join me as I train in Maine and race all over the world in pursuit of my goal to run a marathon on all 7 continents

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Crappy Day

For all those people who think all the travel I do for my job is glamorous and exciting, let me tell you, sometimes travel just sucks. Today was one of those sucky days.

I worked until midnight and it was close to two by the time I got to sleep, so when my alarm went off at 7 my body was not happy. But I dragged myself out of bed, slugged down some nasty hotel coffee on my way through the lobby, and headed out in to the rain to go to the gym. Except when I got there, it was still closed. Wonderful. I knew if I headed back to the hotel my bed would be too appealing, so I sat in the parking lot and caught up on Words with Friends and Facebook. After a week stuck in little gym, I was totally over it. I tried my favorite 20-20-20 workout, but my workout still seemed to crawl by. When I finished I pulled out my cell phone to see an e-mail that my flight was cancelled and I had been rebooked on a later flight. So, I took the time to foam roll before heading back to the hotel. By the time I showered and had breakfast, I got another message that the later flight was delayed. At this point, I decided it would be faster to just drive than wait around all day for a flight that might never leave. 5 hour drive, not ideal, but I could handle it.

Except, when I called Avis to change my car reservation, they told me I couldn't keep the car I had. No amount of pleading or arguing on my part could change the decision, so I had to back-track an hour and half to the Arcata airport to exchange my car. In my new rental car I hit the road again. The drive could have been beautiful, through the redwoods and down the coast on 101. However it was pouring rain and incredibly windy, so I couldn't see anything and just concentrated on staying on the road.

Driving and taking pictures? Probably not a good idea. Did it anyway.

I stopped at the closest thing I could find to a town for lunch. The only restaurant that wasn't a chain didn't look like much, but I was hoping it might be a hidden gem. It was not. I ordered  tomato, avacado, and swiss on a basil bun and minestrone soup. The soup was so bitter that I couldn't eat it, and that's saying a lot because I'm a pig I eat whatever is in front of me. The "basil bun" turned out to be a stale hamburger bun topped with some mayo with a little dried basil in it. The tomato and avocado were not ripe and totally flavorless. The cheese was microwave for a few seconds but not fully melted. So much for a nice lunchtime pick-me-up. I knew I needed some caffeine to keep me going so I headed into the gas station next door. I got a toffee almond cappuccino as a treat and grabbed some kettle corn to munch on. I didn't think I'd ever say this because I am a sugar addict I have a wicked sweet tooth, but the cappucchino was way too sweet. It made my teeth hurt. But, back on the road I drank it anyway. And ate the whole bag of kettle corn. I then had an hour and half of a queasy sugar high before I totally crashed. 

The few times it wasn't pouring, it was pretty. There were tons of cheesy tourist attractions I could have stopped at- like the trailer made out of a hallowed out redwood log, or confusion hill, but I was not in the mood. I just kept flooring it as much as possible, which wasn't often. The rain and slow cars in front of me kept me from ever going above 60.  500 miles and about 8 hours later I finally made it to Santa Rosa where I had to go get my third rental car of the day. 

It was a crappy day, but at least it has a happy ending- spaetzle, spinach, and nice glass of pinot at Monti's.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Getting Stronger

I am up in Humbolt County in Northern California for the week for work and the forecast for the whole week has looked like this. 

Yep torrential downpours and gale force winds. Landing in the tiny 6 seat plane was not a whole lot of fun. The nasty weather means that I've been stuck in the gym all week. So, I figured it was a good time to start working on one of my new goals: more strength training. In an effort to pull myself out of my post marathon funk, I am trying to refocus myself. So I have 2 new goals- one is to focus on speed since I've been doing mostly slow slogging in marathon training, and the second is to do more strength training particularly for my core, hips, and glutes.

So my workout this week looked like this:

Monday: 50 minute total body elliptical workout at 3 am before leaving for the airport (my elliptical has a workout option that is 3 minute cardio and then a minute where you get off and do a strength workout).

Tuesday: 45 minute run on treadmill, 20 minutes on elliptical, and lower body strength training (inner outer thigh machine, leg press machine, lunges and squats on Bosu ball, and abductors with a band.)

Wednesday: Upper body strength training ("Push" workout from Oxygen magazine) and 55 minute step class.

Thursday: Abs and 55 minute spin class.

Friday: 47 minute run (because I wanted to make my distance 5 miles), 20 minutes on elliptical, and lower body strength training (inner outer thigh machine, leg press machine, lunges and squats on Bosu ball, and abductors with a band.)

And I must be doing something right because wowser, I am sore!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Travel Buddies

As of 3 am this morning, I’m back on the road. I’m en route to Eureka, California (which by the way takes me as long as it did to get to Rome!). It feels a little lonely after having had my cousin along for company last week. When I travel for work I pretty much always travel by myself. For business that’s good because everything is faster and I can get a lot of work done. When I travel for pleasure though, I want company! But I’ve learned that you must pick your travel companions wisely. Just because you like to spend time with someone for an hour or two once in awhile doesn’t mean that you’ll like to spent 24-7 with them for a week! On this most recent trip to Rome, I took my little (little age wise in that she’s 10 years younger, but not little height wise) cousin Lindsay. It’s always risky traveling with someone new, but I was really happy with how well it worked out. It got me thinking about what makes a good travel companion. Here is what is the most important to me.
My favorite travel buddy of all time- my Mom.
-Similar sleeping habits. For me this means they won’t mind going to bed at 10, they will appreciate getting a solid 8-9 hours of sleep, and can get up and out of bed quickly in the morning without me nagging. For this reason alone I can’t travel with my brother. He drives me nuts by keeping me up all night and I drive him nuts trying to get him up in the morning (and really he still considers 2 pm the “morning.”

-Likes to be active. You don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to work-out with me, but you can’t mind that I always will. You do however have to like walking. It is always better to explore on foot than in a vehicle. Bonus points for wanting to try other active adventures like biking, kayaking, or going into the bouncy house at a carnival. 

Friends who want to do a bike ride through the redwoods in Northern California even though it's freezing rain are awesome travel buddies!
You must be willing to try strange alcohol and food.
 -Be an adventurous eater and be fairly obsessed with food. I firmly believe in the “When in Rome,” principle. When I’m in Rome I want to eat what they eat in Rome, not what I could eat at home. Thus I shun all forms of American fast food (well I totally do that at home too, but anyway…). This doesn’t mean we always have to eat exactly the same thing, but just that you should be open to new things. Lindsay is a vegan, so I missed having a cheese eating buddy, but she did get into the spirit of Italian coffee, gelato (the non-dairy fruit flavors), and wonderful vegetable preparations.  Be willing to take the risk of eating something from a street vendor, help me steal as many nutella packets as possible from the continental breakfast, and be willing to splurge on an awesome, expensive meal every once in awhile.

 -Willing to explore the obscure but also be totally cheesy. The anthropologist in me likes to go beyond the surface level tourist stuff and see the real culture. But sometimes I like to be a total cheeseball and do the tacky tourist stuff too.
In Seattle? Yep you have to pose in front of the fish at the market!

-Adaptable, responsible, and fun. When I’m on vacation I don’t want to have to take care of someone else. I like knowing I can fully trust the person I’m with to take care of themselves and some of the travel plans and arrangements. And when travelling, something will inevitably go wrong. You’ve got to be able to keep a sense of humor and roll with the punches. I totally know that I will have my bitchy moments, so I need someone who can tell me to shut up and get over it and then get over it themselves.

Who do you like to travel with and why?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Oh Toe is Me

Yep, I'm sexy and I know it.
Okay I apologize  for the horrible pun in the title of this post. I just couldn't resist. So yesterday at the beach I stubbed my toe and cut it on this piece of wire fence that was mostly hidden in the sand. It hurt, but I soaked it in the freezing water for a bit, and then went on my way. No biggie. But then last night I went out in the these very cute high heeled red peep toe shoes. I wore them into the play, but by the time the show was over, my foot would no longer fit back in my shoe. It ached all night, and I woke up this morning to a big fat purple toe that feels like it is going to explode when I walk. Wonderful.

My planned cardio kickboxing class was definitely out since it's all jumping around. Good thing I already have my bike out for the season. I shoved my fat toe into my bike shoe and headed out. Normally I'd just be thrilled to be on the road this early in the season, but after the crazy warm weather this week 45 degrees felt pretty darn chilly. I had on wool socks, tights, bike shorts over my tights, a tank, a t-shirt, and a long sleeve. I started out in my normal fingerless gloves, but didn't even get to the end of my driveway before I went back for full gloves. I have turned into a wimp. But I sucked it up and got in a nice 25 miles out to Black Point and back.

But really why do I keep getting hurt doing the stupidest things? 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Post Marathon Blues

Yep it's official folks I've got the post marathon blues. Until yesterday I was feeling pretty darn good, but then I crashed. Maybe I was a little zealous in my 40 miles of bike riding (After my 26.2 in the am, I biked to meet a friend for lunch and then to beach in the afternoon). Maybe the reality that I'm not going to be able to squeeze in another marathon this spring finally sunk in. Whatever it is, it hit hard.

It was better than it looks here.
I was supposed to go on a date last night but the idea of changing into real clothes and putting on make-up was not at all appealing. I knew I wouldn't even begin to make a good first impression, so I cancelled. And then I bailed on my back-up plan of meeting the girls at Margarita's for ladies night because obviously 5:30 pm is way to late to leave the house. I did rally enough to make dinner because I was starving. In fact since Wednesday I have been constantly hungry. I sauteed some kale, mushrooms, onions, and white beans and tossed them with pasta and some of the truffle oil and cheese that I smuggled brought back from Italy.

I ate it on the couch. And then I stayed on the couch watching TV until I finally gave up and went to bed at 9. 

This morning I went to step. It was my first non self paced workout and also the first with impact since the race. I had strange aches and pains all class and felt like I was moving through mud. Ick. I just wanted to sleep all afternoon, but it was amazingly nice out and I knew I had to do something to un-funkify myself. So I whipped up a pick-me up of ice coffee, almond milk, vanilla protein powder, and sugar free hazelnut syrup and headed off to Higgins Beach. I love exploring all the awesome outdoor places by my new house!

Sideways feet. This picture will not let me turn it around.

Once I was there, I did feel better. I mean really, what problems in the world can't be solved by having warm sand between your toes. It so felt like summer, until I tried to go in the water. I figured it would be kinda like an ice bath. It was. I lasted about 23 seconds.

And now I am trying to motivate myself for my rescheduled date tonight. I hate first dates.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

How long does it take to recover from a marathon?

There was an interesting and timely article in the New York Times this week about how long it takes to recover from a marathon. The article isn't totally conclusive because there is no great way to measure recovery and of course it varies from individual. But the general consensus is that it take 2-4 weeks to recover physically and up to 6 months to recover mentally.

This generally is what I've found in my marathons. With each marathon I've done, I've found that the recovery process is easier. After my first 2 I was totally fried mentally and physically. I could barely walk for close to a week and didn't even want to think about running. After Antarctica I was pretty exhausted physically, but so elated by the race and trip that I immediately started thinking about my next race. And this week, I feel great. I wasted way too much time on-line last night seeing if there is any way I can fit in another international marathon this spring while I'm in shape. But it just doesn't look like it will fit in with my work schedule. Sigh, life can't be all about vacations.

I'm forcing myself to take it easy this week to let my body recover.

Monday: Nothing because I was traveling home all day. I did do some stretching and yoga in the middle of the airport and on the plane, which got me some funny looks and embarrassed my cousin, but hey you do what you have to do.

Tuesday: 45 minute easy elliptical session and upper body weights. And a massage. Oh how I love massages. I would almost run a marathon every week if I could get a massage every week.

Wednesday: 40 minute swim. 1 hr yoga class. 20 minute ab video.

Thursday: First bike ride of the season! I was just going to do an easy hour, but it is so incredibly nice out! It's supposed to be 80 today. That NEVER happens in Maine in March.

Kettle Cove
And have I mentioned how much I love being back in Maine? I passed 6 lighthouses on my ride today and countless lovely ocean vistas.

The self portrait thing wasn't working. But hey nice bike helmet.

Can I take a picture while still riding my bike? Um not really. Crappy picture and I almost fell off my bike.
So I ended up riding for almost 2 hours and did 26.2 miles. I realized I was at 25 miles so I circled around for bit until I got till 26.2 Yep, I'm one of those people.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Italian Contradiction

When I'm in Italy I am always struck by how seemingly contradictory it is that everyone is so thin in a country that is famous for its food. I mean I ordered a medium women's race shirt and I couldn't even come close to fitting into it. I easily fit into a medium here.But when I'm there, I see how it all works. The year I spent in Italy was probably when I had the healthiest relationship with food and my body. I ate good things, I exercised moderately, I didn't stress out about either food or exercise, and I actually lost weight without trying. Here's how it works:

1. Meals are events, especially dinner. Sometimes they last several hours. The secret is that you aren't eating the whole time. You are talking, laughing, savoring the food. This trip we tried to embrace that every meal, from sitting outside on our delightful rooftop terrace for breakfast, to picnic lunches in sunny piazzas, to long lingering dinners.
It was not all that warm but we insisted on sitting outside to admire the view anyway. We're Mainers, we can take the cold.

2. Portions are smaller. I have the problem of eating whatever is in front of me, no matter how big it is. In Italy that's not a problem because they serve you a portion of food that is meant for one person at one meal. Dinner is all served ala carte, meaning you order an antipasto, a primo (pasta, risotto, etc), un secondo (meat or fish) and contorni (sides). So you can order according to how hungry you are or order a few dishes to share. I leave meals feeling satisfied but not stuffed.
Lindsay's vegan pizza and my truffle pizza. Maybe the best thing I ate there.

 3. The food is good and natural. Food in Italy is actually food, not chemicals. So it is incredibly good and satisfying, even in smaller portions. Gelato comes in a dish that is easily half the size of an ice cream here, but I never feel like I didn't get enough because it's so yummy.

Okay, so not the best example of portion size, since this was the biggest and most decadent gelato I had. The famous tartufo in Pizza Navona. 
4. Exercise is a part of life. I easily walked 5-6 miles a day when I lived in Siena just getting to the bus and to school. And I lived on the 14th floor and there was no elevator. Italian cities and towns are set up so that people walk where they need to go instead of driving. I've tried it here, but I basically get run over. In Rome we were on our feet all day everyday (not so good before a marathon, but hey you gotta live).

Spanish steps, hotel stairs, the Vatican... we climbed a lotta stairs.

I love how effortlessly healthy I feel in Italy, but I can already feel it slipping away. On my way home from the airport I got stuck in traffic for a long time. I had to go to the bathroom and ended up at Burger King (it was the only option). And then I ended up with onion rings. I felt awful after I ate them. Yesterday I ate breakfast and lunch at my computer trying to catch up on work and dinner in front of the TV. I drove to the grocery store and bank even though it was easily nice enough to ride my bike. I'm falling back into being an American.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rome Marathon 2012

Woah, what a crazy and amazing week. My time in Rome went all too quickly because it was absolutely packed with fun. There's no way I can possibly recap it all in one post without it being impossibly long, so I'll split it up into a few posts. Let's start with the whole reason for trip- the Rome 2012 Marathon!

Nothing in Italy starts early, so the race start wasn't until 9. I got up at 6:30, changed into my race clothes, and headed up to breakfast. I usually have nut butter toast before a long run, and I had come prepared with my own almond butter, but I didn't think to bring my own toast. Since there was no toast, I had my Justin's almond butter on digestive biscuits. It was amazing! And although i was dying for a cappucino, I didn't think the dairy would be kind to my stomach so I stuck with plain espresso.

Then we headed down the hill to the Colosseum for the race start. To save my feet we took the metro, which actually didn't save my feet at all because it was a lot of walking just to get to the train and then I had to stand on the absolutely packed train. The start line was insane. This was the biggest race I've ever done by far, there were 13,000 marathoners and 13,000 doing the 4k that started at the same time. I was totally intimidated.

The organization was pretty terrible. It was hard to tell where to go and we were forced to walk a long, long way through miles of crowded fenced in paths to get to the corrals. There also was no official start, at least not that I could hear. All of a sudden we were just running.

Amazingly my cousin managed to find me in the crowd and get a picture that I'm kind of visible in. Can you spot me?

The narrow city streets were packed and the footing on the old cobblestones was very uneven. I realized pretty quickly that it was not going to be a quick race. So I just settled in, stuck to my planned 3:1 run walk ratio, and plugged along. Here are my observations from the race:

-The first time you hear "That's Amore" while looking at the Colosseum looming over you, you will get totally choked up. By the time it's played 10 times in a row, it loses emotional power and it just annoying.

-When the "scenic course" description is followed by warning about cobblestones and rough roads, it means you'll be too busy looking at your feet to see most of the scenic course.

-Having oranges and bananas at aid stations instead of gels means that the 1/4 miles after the station will be a slippery mess of orange and banana peels.

-Sponge stations are awesome. Every 5k or so there were big tubs of water filled with sponges. I am grossly sweaty and salty when I run so it was nice to wipe off the salt cakes so I looked a little more human. It also felt really cooling. However, don't use the sponge to moisten your mouth. The water is soapy and your mouth will taste nasty for the next 5k.

-"Forza", "vai", and "brava" sound way cooler than plain old "Go."

-Way more men than women run in Europe. The race was only 17% women. Which means the porta potties are nasty and have no toilet paper. It also means there is pee all over the ground by the start. This is a problem when the start is also the finish and you want to sit down after the race.

-European men like to wear little tiny spandex shorts. They also like to adjust themselves and touch themselves a lot while running.

-The Italian idea of spectating is to stand on the side of the course smoking and looking at anyone who is sweating like they are disgusting.

-Sitting at a patio cafe in an Italian square and eating awesome food is great, if you are one of the people sitting at eating. When you're at mile 23 of a marathon and hungry and tired, you really hate those people.

-St. Peters and the Vatican is breath taking on an ordinary day. At mile 18 when it's shining in the sun at the end of a long open avenue and you're getting a little loopy, it will make you cry.

I don't know if it was the slower pace, or that I was well trained, but I felt good. I saw the mile 20 sign and literally did a little kick, to kick down the wall. I never hit it.
My host fam got a shot of me around mile 13
My legs never totally locked up. Sure I was tired, my feet hurt, my hip was a little sore, but I always had the feeling that I was okay, that I could finish. And then I was climbing the last little hill past the Circus Maximus where my cousin and Dutch host family were waiting. They were the push I needed to get up and over. I coasted down the small hill to the Colosseum and then I was across the finish line. My finish time was 4:35 which is 20 minutes slower than my PR. I was a little disappointed, but one thing I learned from the people on my Antarctica trip last year is that doing the 7 continents isn't about being fast. It's about enjoying the experiences and being good to your body.

I collected my medal, which I love. It's a bronze abstract model of the Colosseum.

I got my blanket and fought the crowd to get my food bag (a lousy apple and bottle of water.) I stumbled my way over a grassy area and laid down with my feet in the air. I thought that was pretty good, but then a cute Italian guy offered to rub my feet. Um okay. I didn't even care that I was smelly and sweaty. After we rubbed my feet, he rubbed my legs and back too. Thank you cute Italian stallion!

The finish area was a complete zoo and since I was phoneless I gave up on finding my cousin and host family and was just going to walk back to the hotel alone, since that was our back-up plan. But then I walked around a corner and there they were!

The hugged me even though I was icky
 It's just so nice to have people cheering for you during a race and waiting at the end. Luckily I was feeling good because I had no other way to get back to the hotel other than to walk the 1.5 miles back up the hill. I did use the microscopic elevator at the hotel though- 5 flights of stairs weren't happening!

After a shower and some stretching I didn't want to waste my last night in Italy lying on bed so we headed back out. First, a wonderful cold glass of bubbly prosecco at an outdoor cafe by Santa Maria Maggiore. Then a huge lovely bowl of fresh pasta with truffles. Paradise.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Destinazione Roma

Hey guess what? I'm leaving for Rome TODAY. Yup, I'm a little excited. Pasta, gelato, pizza, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, wonderful shopping, amazing historic sites, fantastic art.......... oh yeah and a marathon.

That's going to be my challenge- having a fantastic trip, but not eating myself into a stupor and walking my feet off, before the race Sunday. I did a fantastic 6 miler this morning to give my legs a nice shake out before the long plane ride tonight. It was another amazingly warm day- it is never this warm this early in Maine. There were so many people out on Willard Beach and even more dogs. I inspired quite the dog race as I went running by. They pretty much all beat me.

 And I will not be blogging (much at least) while I'm in Rome. The absolute best vacations I've been on were Antarctica and Ghana because I had to access to phones or the internet. This forced me to actually relax and pay attention to what's going on around me. So see ya in a week!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sunday Funday

I usually spend most of my Sunday in airports and on planes, so when I actually have a whole Sunday and home, I make the most of it. Yesterday was no exception.

I started off with a nice 6 mile run. It was a warm sunny morning, but pretty windy. I wanted to do my good old favorite run on the bike path out to Bug Light, but I'm afraid that I'll run it to death. I tend to do that when I find something I like, eat it, play it, watch it, or run it so much that soon I'm tired of it. So I set off on an exploration run. Kinda fun to not know what's coming. I ended up down by Willard Beach.

After my run I headed to the gym to check out the new Sunday morning yoga class. Generally I don't love the yoga classes at my gym and feel like it's worth it to pay to go to a yoga studio. The atmosphere at the gym is just not as zen inducing at the studio. And the instructors at the gym usually teach a yoga class or two in addition to a bunch of other classes, but aren't yoga specialists. This one though was pretty decent. It at least got out the kinks in my legs.

When I got home I spent an hour or so in the sun spot on my living room flooring reading the paper, and then made a batch of OMG Pancakes. They were just as good as Tina said they were, especially with blueberries and maple syrup on top.

Mid afternoon my Mom and Gerry came down to visit. I took them to Bayside Bowl, which is the best bowling alley ever. You can drink while you bowl and it has a super fun atmosphere.