Anemia Update and Other Exciting Life Events

The last time we talked, I mentioned that I am a turtle anemic.  Well, I have since visited my doctor.  After careful analysis of my blood work, he determined that I am most likely experiencing a deficiency of iron, B12, folate, or a combination of the three.  He ordered more tests and hopefully I will know the source of the problem (and thus be able to correct it) pronto.  When I noted that I run more than the average bear, he informed me that my hemoglobin levels are such that it probably feels like I am running at 10,000 feet in altitude.  While this was certainly a relief to hear given my turtle-ness as of late, I am looking forward to returning to sea level.

Week 3 started off slow, but has quickly picked up speed.  Due to an ill-timed Bloody Mary on Presidents Day, I decided to make Monday an impromptu rest day.  I’m sure George Washington would have approved.  While it perturbed me to veer off course for a fourth day in a row, impromptu rest days, especially in times of imperfect health, are good for the soul (and feet, muscles, and cardiovascular system).  I easily pumped out 9 treadmill miles on Tuesday as a result of aforementioned rest.  Although I ran slower than usual, I felt good for the first time in weeks.  In related news, I learned that Bruce Jenner is definitely maybe transitioning into a woman.  Thank you People Magazine for making the miles fly by.

I had to capture this moment because I usually pull the emergency chord by accident midway through my run.
I had to capture this moment of treadmill perfection because I usually pull trip over the emergency chord midway through my run.

Due to 30th Birthday festivities this weekend (NOT MINE, I AM STILL IN MY 20s THANK YOU VERY MUCH), I decided to move up my long run to Wednesday.  Although all hard work outs (including the usual MGP run the day before a long run), have been shelved until further notice, I figured that Tuesday’s 9 miler would allow me to simulate running on tired legs.  Maybe it was the fact that the sun was shining for the entire 14 miles, but I actually felt OK for the duration of the run.  I felt a little sluggish, but that was likely due to the anemia rather than tired legs.  It’s funny how my legs automatically settle into an 8:45-9:00 min/mile pace during long runs.  I had to consciously slow myself down multiple times in order to keep my turtley breathing in check.

Although the sun was shining, it was still only 8 degrees when I started my run.

Swagger not included.
Swagger not included.

I passed some friendly horsies.

Neigh.
Neigh.

The majority of my route was an out and back on Spear St. in Burlington/South Burlington.  I always forget about this route.  The scenery is beautiful (with the exception of the mini mansions scarring what used to be Vermont farmland) and the shoulder is mostly wide enough to prevent me from becoming roadkill.  Nom.  The cars are generally few and far between.  With the exception of one monstrous hill in the beginning, the hills are rolling, which I love!  I also added on a couple city miles at the end of my run.  Note to self: college students are the worst at sidewalk hogging.  Also, since when did college students start looking like 7 year olds?  I swear I am still in my 20s.

I recovered with a little stretching and Gatorade in front of the fire.

Glacier Freeze is the best flavor.  Trust.
Glacier Freeze is the best flavor. Trust.

I probably should have foam rolled and/or stretched some more, but I was FREEZING!  Luckily, I remembered to braid my hair this time so my shower was quite enjoyable.  Sorry to abandon you, new BFFs Mr. Comb and Mr. Bottle of Conditioner.  Until next time.  (And there will be a next time.)

It's the little things in life!
It’s the little things in life!

Today, I have a recovery run on the agenda.  Given that it snowed last night, I will probably stick to the treadmill.  Also, I really want to watch highly intellectual television on Netflix.  Until we meet again…

Week 2 Recap

Adios Week 2 of Marathon Training!  I am officially 12.5% done with my 16 week training cycle.  Uhhh, that is actually really scary, especially in light of the ROUGH week that was Week 2.  Let’s start with the good before moving onto the bad and the ugly.  The good:

  • I ran 40 miles, only 2 miles short of my goal of 42 miles.  Pretty good, all things considered.
  • Despite insanely cold temperatures, I managed to run outside once.  Never mind the fact that this was a sad, sad run.
  • I received an awesome running-related gift from my Valentine:
I will start this as soon as I'm done with
I will read this as soon as I’m finished with the highly intellectual book on my nightstand about a woman who murders her cheating husband.  Priorities.
  • I foamed rolled!  It is amazing how much less sore I am the day after a long-ish/hard-ish run when I foam roll.  Must. foam. roll. often.
  • I ate chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast 2 days in a row.  Runger is real, my friends.
  • I soaked my sore muscles in an Epsom salt bath.  This relaxing experience nearly turned not relaxing at all when my water-loving Yellow Labrador, Basil, launched herself over the edge of the tub the moment I leaned back and shut my eyes.  She managed to get both front paws over the edge before I took a bubble bath with my dog stopped her.  Unfortunately, I did not have my phone nearby, but luckily cute things happen when you Google “yellow lab in bathtub.”
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Not as cute as Basil.
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Also not as cute as Basil.
Basil!  I die.
Basil! I die.

Okay, getting a little off topic here…

  • I did some strength training.  Not enough.  Whomp.  Does this still qualify as something that falls under the “good” column?
  • I purchased some new gummy bears running fuels.  After the stomach incident of 2014 (a.k.a. the time I barfed chocolate outrage Gu during the GMAA marathon), I am excited to try out new products.  Here is what I purchased:
So far I have discovered that the Strawberry Lemonade Nuun is an excellent hangover cure.
So far I have discovered that the Strawberry Lemonade Nuun is an excellent hangover cure source of electrolytes.

Now for the bad.  For a few weeks now, I have struggled to maintain paces that should be fairly easy for me.  I attributed this to treadmill running and evil snowy road running, but I was becoming increasingly concerned that something else was wrong.  I raced a lot in 2014, and according to the internet, over-training is a real thing.  Could all of the races and hard workouts of the last year be catching up with me?  I don’t run that much.  Well, last Thursday I received a phone call from my doctor informing me that I tested positive for anemia.  According to WebMD:

Anemia is a condition that develops when your blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a main part of red blood cells and binds oxygen. If you have too few or abnormal red blood cells, or your hemoglobin is abnormal or low, the cells in your body will not get enough oxygen. Symptoms of anemia — like fatigue — occur because organs aren’t getting what they need to function properly.

In a way, this news was actually a bit of a relief to hear.  An explanation for why I feel like crap when I run anything faster than 10:00 minute miles!  Furthermore, anemia is completely treatable.  Hopefully, after taking iron supplements eating cheeseburgers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a couple weeks, I will be back to my old self and be able to knock out 8:00 minute miles like they are going out of style.

Here is my weekly training summary:

Monday – 7 miles easy on the treadmill

Tuesday – 5 miles easy on the treadmill

Wednesday – 5 miles easy outside w/ 1 hard mile (This was an abandoned hill workout)

Thursday – 5 miles easy on the treadmill

Friday – Unplanned rest day thanks to anemia

Saturday – 11 miles easy on the treadmill (Felt like crap and had to cut my planned 14 miler short)

Sunday – 7 miles easy on the treadmill (Trying to make up for Friday’s unplanned rest day and Saturday’s too-short long run)

TOTAL: 40 miles

Final thoughts: Despite feeling lethargic and slow, I still managed to run only 2 miles short of my goal.  I am proud of myself for not giving up out of frustration, but rather listening to my body and giving myself permission to run like a narcoleptic walrus slow down.  I will continue to chug along this way until I feel better.

Just one more, I swear!
Just one more, I swear!

The Time I Almost Had to Chop Off All of My Hair

Where did we leave off?  Ah, yes.  I was midway through Week 1.  Well, Week 1 has come and gone.  Was it a success?  More or less.  I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it.

The Friday before my long run, I had planned on running 6 miles at marathon goal pace (MGP) (8:00 min/mile).  Due to frigid temps, I decided to run on the treadmill.  Mistake #1.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I have issues when it comes to running fast on the treadmill.  Mistake #2 was probably not canceling my run altogether due to illness but I am a crazy runner person and I will run unless I am dying and/or my legs are broken.  As a result of the aforementioned mistakes, my run did not go as planned.  I quickly realized that running 6 miles at MGP was NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, so I spontaneously decided to downgrade my plan to 2 x 2 miles at MGP.  Despite this downgrade, the run was still a struggle-fest.  It probably didn’t help that I had to blow my nose every 12 seconds.  (I’m sure my fellow gym-goers were thrilled by this.)  Here is a picture of me during my run:

JK, obviously I don't run in a bandana.
JK, obviously I don’t wear a bandana when I run.

Luckily, Saturday morning arrived accompanied by slightly warmer weather and only the flurriest of flurries.  I donned my winter running attire and headed out the door.  Twelve glorious miles here I come!  Screeeeeech…hold the phone.  I spent the first 7 miles struggling down a snowy dirt road.  During the warmer months, this particular road is my favorite, with the exception of one stretch adjacent to the smelliest farm in the entire universe.  For those of you who have not experienced the pleasure of winter running, running on snowy dirt roads is a a lot like running on the beach.  Seven miles felt like an eternity and probably super important stabilizer muscles I didn’t know I have ached after only a couple miles.  Eventually I veered off the beautiful, yet evil, course and found some sweet, sweet pavement.  My legs never fully recovered, but I was able to bust out a fast finish.  I finished Week 1 with 40 miles for the week.

It looks so innocent...
It looks so innocent…

As I alluded to in the title of this post, Week 1 was capped off by a somewhat traumatic incident.  Upon competition of Saturday’s long run, I discovered that not only was my hair tangled into 10,000 intricate and finely woven knots, but it was also frozen!  Instead of spending the hour following my run foam rolling/stretching/drinking my recovery beer smoothie, I was forced to spend it whimpering in the shower with my new best friends Mr. Comb and Mr. Bottle of Conditioner.  The moral of the story is ALWAYS BRAID YOUR HAIR DURING LONG RUNS!

IMG_1245
Had I realized the full extent of the problem when I took this picture, there would have been tears in my eyes.

Obviously, I am well into Week 2 at this point, but I will wait until it’s over to summarize the highs and lows.  I will close with a few random thoughts:

  1. I am overall pleased with Week 1.  I hit my goal of 40 miles, and I had some quality runs.  Due to snow/ice/cold, I ran on the treadmill for 28 of those miles and I only feel mildly murderous.
  2. I did a bit of strength training, although I can always do more.  I need to remember to break out the old stretchy bands for some fun-filled hip exercises!  (Including my favorite, the monster walk.)
  3. I need to foam roll more.  Every day, preferably.
  4. I own a lot of running shoes.  I have 6 pairs currently in the rotation, although 3-4 of these are nearing the age of retirement.

    My babies.
    My babies.
  5. I eat a lot of bananas.  Bananas are the perfect food.  I love bananas.
Sometimes I even make banana phone calls.
Sometimes I even make banana phone calls.

Week 1

Week 1 of marathon training started on Monday.  So far so good!  I created my own training plan for this training cycle, which is loosely based on Hal Higdon’s Advanced Plan.  Each week generally follows the same pattern:

Monday – Easy run on the longer side (1/2 the long run distance)

Tuesday – Easy run on the shorter side

Wednesday – Speed, hill, or tempo workout depending on my mood

Thursday – Easy run on the shorter side

Friday – Same distance as Monday, usually at marathon goal pace

Saturday – Long run!

Sunday – Rest/Eat all of the food

I am tracking my runs on a Google Spreadsheet.  All future runs are in red, and all completed runs are in black.  The plan is intended to be a “guide” because I have learned from past training cycles that things do not always go as planned.

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 11.30.30 AM

Due to snow and/or arctic temperatures, all of my runs this week have taken place on the dreadmill hamster wheel treadmill so far.  I have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill.  On one hand, I love that I can get a run in when it is -30 degrees outside and/or there is 3 feet of snow on the ground.  I love that I can run specific paces without thinking about it.  I love that I can run “hill” repeats on a whim.  I love that I can zone out while watching Netflix* on my phone.  However, I hate with a fiery passion that time seems to stand still when I’m running on the treadmill.  Six miles on the treadmill feels like 12 miles outside, and 12 miles on the treadmill feels like an ultramarathon.

* I would never, ever watch every episode ever of Pretty Little Liars while running.

Another thing I hate about the treadmill is that anything over 6.7 mph (~9:00 min/mile) feels like sprinting.  Outside, 9:00 min/mile generally qualifies as an easy pace for me.  Today, for example, I have 6 miles at marathon goal pace (8:00 min/mile) on the agenda.  Given that it is 2 degrees outside (not exaggerating – see photographic evidence below), I will likely run on the treadmill unless it miraculously warms up by at least 18 degrees.  Six treadmill miles at 7.5 mph?  I’m pretty sure my heart rate monitor is already shuddering at the thought.

My propane bill > The number of miles I will run in 2015
My heating bill > The number of miles I will run in 2015

As for tomorrow’s long run of 12 miles, that will be taking place outdoors even it means losing a few toes the feeling in my face.  The thought of running 6 consecutive days on the treadmill, and for 12 miles, makes me want to break things.

Modeling the latest in winter running fashions a few weeks back.
Modeling the latest in winter running fashion a few weeks back.

In addition to running all. the. time., I will be incorporating into my routine as much strength training as possible to prevent injury.  As any runner will tell you, strength training is a necessary evil.  It is necessary because a strong core (especially the glutes and hips!) is crucially important to both preventing injury and improving running performance.  It is evil because time spent strength training is time spent not running.  This may not seem like a big deal, but 1) running is awesome, 2) running is time consuming, and 3) time is precious.  It’s science.

Here’s to hoping for warmer times!

Some day it will be warm enough again that my outdoor runs require water!
Remember when I used to run outside in a tank top, get really sweaty, and carry water?  Yeah, me neither.