Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pace Yourself

On Tuesday I tried my very first speed workout with my Garmin watch. 4 x 800, which is a 1/2 mile or two laps of a 400 meter track. It was rather challenging. I had no idea how fast I should run during the speed intervals. Fortunately my dailymile friends had some good advice. One of them even gave me a link the Macmillian Pace calculator. All you have to do is plug in a distance and time, and it calculates what pace you should be aiming for on different types of runs. I learned that I'm not very good at pacing myself. I shouldn't be pushing myself so much on all of my runs. Now I have a target pace for short runs, speed workouts, medium runs, and long runs. I can already tell it's making a difference. Instead of being tired and barely making it through runs at top speed I now feel comfortable during runs and still feel like I can go further after I finish. I need to pace myself.

I haven't always been good at pacing myself. Okay, I'm still not really good at it. This week has been no exception. Friday I strained some tendons in my left arm. I pushed myself and kept practicing despite the fact that my arm hurt. Big mistake. I know better, but I wanted to do better at my lesson, which I eventually ended up canceling because my arm was bothering me too much to even play. I needed to pace myself. I always feel like I push myself to meet the expectations of others instead of pacing myself and making sure things are right. Before my senior year in high school I was at a summer program when I ended up severely straining my left forearm tendon. I still had concerts, and an audition coming up and I kept going. I did 5 concerts in three days. It landed me in physical therapy for the next four months trying to get rid of the pain. I missed the audition, and my college auditions didn't go well. I pushed, and I had bad technique.

Fast forward to grad school. One day I was walking from the library and a lovely gust of wind turned my violin case into a kite. I strained a tendon in my right shoulder three days after my graduate violin recital hearing (thank goodness it was after the hearing!). The doctor I saw gave me a note to all of my music teachers. He didn't want me to push, and he was going to make sure no one else pushed me either! I had to take a week off. My violin teacher wasn't happy at my next lesson (he was out of town when I hurt my shoulder so I at least had a break from lessons), but I had paced myself and was pain free and working hard toward my recital which was three weeks later.

You would think I had learned my lesson after all of this. Even when I'm not hurt I still push. I feel like I disappoint people a lot when I'm not at the level they want me to be, or doing what they think I should be doing, but I've learned that it's more important to do things right than to have all of my pieces up to tempo, or anticipate what people think I should be doing. It's better to do things right than to push and only do them half way. I keep reminding myself of that. Yesterday I practiced for the first time this week. An hour and a half all pain free. I didn't get to everything, but what I did do was good. I've set a foundation for the week to build off of as things get better. I keep reminding myself that it's more important to make sure things are right than to push myself with the amount of material or speed. This week I'm focusing on pacing myself!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Overwhelmed and frustrated

Right now I have ice on my shoulder and wrapped around my left wrist. Things were going pretty well earlier in the week. I finally found the right spot for my chin rest so I can hold my violin without messing up my shoulder. It also means I can get around the fingerboard much easier, which means I play better. Things were sounding really good. And the came Friday. I put an IKEA bookcase together and apparently did in my left shoulder and wrist. I couldn't play at all on Friday. It still hurt yesterday, but I practiced anyway. I felt like if I called and canceled my lesson I would be in big trouble. Today I was doing okay. Still a little sore but getting around. I'm pushing myself. I know what I'm doing is wrong. My lesson last week didn't go well. I feel like everything is suppose to be up to tempo, and perfect. I can't seem to get there, and it's making me very frustrated and inpatient. It makes me feel like I'm never going to get to where I want to go. I've messed my left wrist up pretty bad before. It took 4 months of PT to be pain free after a serve tendon strain. My doctor thought it was tendonitis, the hand specialist he referred me to rolled her eyes. I know that I shouldn't be playing when it hurts.

So, I've stopped, which is incredibly frustrating because I have so much to do. But I know that I'm never even going to get to the audition if I don't stop and take care of things. I'm sure tomorrow's lesson is not going to be great, but I can't help that or worry about it right now.

I'm going to take the dogs for another walk, make some white bean chicken chili for dinner, and wish I had a chocolate cupcake instead

Thursday, February 18, 2010

No more knots!

This morning the knots in my calves disappeared!! While this may not sound like a big deal, it a huge step forward. I started noticing after my first marathon 2 years ago that I get a lot of really bad knots in my calves after a run. I would stretch and use my massage stick, but I could never really get rid of them. Until this week. I have done more squats, push ups, lunges, and sit ups than I have ever done in my life this week, and I can tell they are making a difference. I suspect that the combination of squats, lunges, some awesome stretching, and my massage stick have made the difference. Despite a less than stellar run this morning (everyone has a bad one from time to time) I currently do not have any knots in my calves! Despite some tired legs from strength training it feels really awesome. If this is a sign of what is to come, I'm pretty darn excited!

On a completely unrelated topic, I found a few things yesterday that I wanted to share:

The New York Times had an article yesterday about figure skater Tanith Belbin. She talks a lot about her struggles with eating and how it affected her training. I think it's so brave to share such an important message. I started running as a way to get healthy, and to try and avoid the health problems that have plagued my parents. Within the last year I started making small changes to how I eat so that I can be an even stronger runner. I think that's part of the reason this article has been on my mind so much. How you eat can play a huge roll in how you feel.

The other is a video made by a fellow Team in Training member about her honored hero. It is so beautiful and moving. There were a few tears while watching it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Strength Training - It's not just for runners!

I hit me this morning as I was doing my post run strength training that it's been exactly a year since I started adding push ups, sit ups, and other such exercises into my regular fitness plan. Recently I rearranged things to go back to some more traditional strengthening exercises, and I immediately noticed a difference, in my violin playing! Yes, I said my violin playing. Not that it isn't already showing up in my running, but you wouldn't believe the difference it can make in other walks of life as well. A lesson I realized yesterday as one of my students and I were on the floor of my violin studio doing push ups. She busted out 4 of those bad boys (she's only 7!! I should also mention that I don't actually make any student do push ups. She brought it up).

So what's so great about strength training?

  1. Posture, posture, posture! If you can't stand up straight it's going to start hurting at some point. It's the sad reality and one of the primary reasons I got hurt in high school right before all of my college auditions (can you say really bad timing!!). Even the smallest adjustment, or strengthening can make a difference
  2. Those push ups sure do make my arms stronger! Which is a really good thing cause I have all of these audition excerpts that require the bow to bounce, which needs some serious arm strength when you on the 5th one and still have 5 more to go...
  3. Musicians are like athletes. Don't want to get injured? Get those muscles stronger and make sure you're using them the right way!! (same goes for runners)
  4. Are you tired after that 3 hour rehearsal or concert? You have to hold that instrument up some how...
  5. Hills? What hills? (okay this is clearly a running one)
  6. You'll be ready when you end up in a push up contest with a 7 year old!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow, Snow, Snow (and finding pretty colors)

The snow has come to Atlanta!!!! I've been as giddy as a school girl since it started, which, while slightly distracting, has been rather helpful. I'm suppose to find pretty colors in my audition excerpts (I am not kidding!). Not the easiest of things since excerpts are a small part of a piece taken out of context. Think of them as a musical quote. Without context it's hard to find shapes and color (colors serve as a way of adding layers and musical interest. In a way it's exactly what it sounds like. Different moods in music bring out different colors associations and phrasing). Not only did I start feeling more secure, but I felt like I was at least starting to find some colors and phrases in the music. I actually felt happy after I finished each excerpt, which is a new feeling. I still expect to be picked apart at my lesson on Monday, but I at least feel like I've caught up to where I was at the end of last week before leaving for Florida. I like being happy when I play. I have to say it was a pretty awesome feeling, and I sound pretty darn good!

And since I'm so giddy over the snow here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

just starting

proof there's just a little bit

okay, so it's more of a muddy, slushy mess than anything

2 hours later 

who threw that snowball at me, and where did it go?

the forest behind the house (okay really there are tennis courts and a golf course back there)

So far I think we have about an inch, and it's still coming down. Hopefully the Team in Training GTS will still happen Saturday morning so we can all go running in the snow!!! Especially now that I finally feel like I'm kicking whatever I came down with after the race Sunday. Hope you're having fun in the snow where ever you are!!! (and the Olympics start tonight!!!!!)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tallahassee Marathon

I had a really awesome weekend while I was down in Tallahassee for the race. Friday night I got to see one of my best friends from college. As usual we ended up back at her house playing Wii golf with her husband and my sister. I'm a little rusty. The commentators for the game said I was having a "brain boo-boo" at one one point. If only they knew the half of it.

Turns out I had a pretty big "brain boo-boo" when it cam to packing my race gear. Saturday morning I got up to go for a short run and discovered I did not have my running capris for Sunday morning. Hmmm. My TNT staff coordinator is reading this and rolling her eyes. She sent my the packing list from Nike. I printed it out, and was checking things off. I still failed (head hanging in shame). I had plenty of shirts for the race, but not anything to wear on the lower half. Bit of a problem... Enter Sports Authority to save the day!!!! I found an awesome pair of Nike running tights to wear. I was worried I would end up being too warm, but I really, really liked them. Turns out it was a very happy accident. (I should also say that the Sports Authority saw my tweets on twitter about my trip and sent a kind note saying how glad they were that they could help and wished me luck on my race!)

Sunday morning got here fast. I went to bed early Saturday partly because I was tired, and partly because I wasn't feeling really well. In all honesty running the race may not have been the best decision, but it's what I decided to do. It was windy. Really windy and cold. The starting temperature was somewhere around 40 with a windchill of 34 (and in case you're wondering Tallahassee is in Florida...). I debated if I should wear a long sleeve shirt or not. In the ended I went with it. Another smart decision that I would appreciate later in the day. So, dressed, feed, and ready, my sister and I headed out to the start.

the start

Mile 1.2 I couldn't feel my fingers or toes

I had a lot of fun for the first 10 miles. I thought about friends, and honored heros from Team in Training. I made mental pictures of the course to help me on the way back to the finish. (2 favorites came back to back. The 2 ponds filled with red and green algae where I pretended the trash was really birds, and the retention pond and industrial buildings. It did look like much, but I really liked it). I meet some fun people along the way. A half marathoner in these cool plaid running shorts who was encouraging everyone after they made the turn around. After the half split I met Don. This was his 70 marathon. I started talking to him because he was wearing a 2008 San Francisco Marathon shirt. Since I had just finished Nike out there in October I thought we would have some things to talk about. It was fun having someone to chat with for while. He also suggested running on the dirt path/trail beside the bike path we were on so it would be easier on the joints. So, thinking about my friend Angela, I ran a couple of miles on the dirt trail, stepping over rocks and sticks, and thinking maybe running on the dirt wasn't so bad if all trail were like this one. At mile 10 I passed the first guy headed back to the start. I'm pretty sure he won the race because the next group I saw behind him was 2 miles back (and yes he looked like he could be from Kenya).

Things were going pretty well until I hit the turn around, and that's when it got really windy (I'm thinking at least 15 mph wind gust) and cold. Plus I haven't run more than 14 miles on a completely flat surface. My hips were not so happy. But I wasn't going to stop. Don caught back up to me and we chatted some more until I had to stop at mile 17 to get my water bottle refilled. I also started eating a few pretzels. This wasn't anything new. I've done it lots of times on Team in Training runs and been perfectly fine. I don't know if it was because I wasn't feeling really great, but my stomach did not like them. I was so hungry during the race (I eat more than I ever had even though I had to force it down at points), but my stomach was incredible unhappy. Mile 18 was probably the hardest of the race. I really wanted a Team in Training coach, but there wasn't one. I had to be my own coach. So, I thought about what my coaches would say. I thought about my friend Jim and I remembered the orange wristband he had given me (I also wore my Nike finisher necklace). Could I finish? Hell Yeah I could. That little wrist band got me the last 6 miles home. I just put one foot in front of the other. I started getting back to some of the mental pictures I made for myself earlier in the race. I started counting my foot steps. I tried to ignore the fact that my stomach was trying to revolt (the thought of throwing up might make me feel better crossed my mind) especially in the last 2 miles, and then I turned off the trail. The next thing I saw was the very top outline of the football stadium. I was sooo close. within 1.5 miles. Someone said there was no crying in marathoning. I yelled back that that wasn't true as I was forcing back tears. I was sooooooo close, and it hurt so much. By the time I made it to the track at mile 26 I was bawling. I hadn't been this emotional in a race in a long time. I had thought a flat race might be a good thing. I had no idea how hard it would prove to be. The weather was brutal. It reminded me of my very first marathon (2008 ING Georgia Marathon). I could see the finish. My sister was there yelling and cheering me on. I was bawling. I had nothing left. For the first time ever I did not sprint to the finish, but I finished!! And I PRed. My garmin Clyde (who happily beeped my mile splits, which actually really helped keep me focused) showed just over 4:50, with the race clock showing 4:57. Early in the race it looked like I might finish somewhere between 4:15 and 4:30. I'm actually really okay with my time. Sure it's not what I wanted, but something really awesome happened. I didn't let myself down mentally. I wasn't always positive, but I didn't let myself wallow in disappointment as time slipped away or my stomach failed me. I think considering how I felt on the course my time is pretty awesome.

almost there. bawling my eyes out

I made it!!!

I'm looking forward to my next race after I recover. Thanks goodness it's only a half marathon :). I loved the Dailymile Speirs challenge so much that I'm working out a plan to add more strength training into the mix. I don't have any regrets from the race, I wouldn't do anything differently. I'm quite proud that I ran 26.2 miles almost completely alone for most of the race (there was no cheering on the course outside of the waterstop volunteers). It makes me feel stronger. I don't feel like my marathon race times have caught up with my shorter races (although early on my splits we're awesome!), but that gives me something to keep working towards.

Friday, February 5, 2010


So, apparently it's cool to give your Garmin a name. I had to think long and hard on this one. I couldn't just give it any name. I wanted it to mean something. And then it hit me. I had the perfect idea! See I am a die hard fan of Team in Training. They are my second family, not just because I see them just as much if not more than some of my own family, but because they are some of the best people I have ever met. And then I started thinking about why I joined Team in Training. I don't like cancer. It has visited my family too many times (3 to be exact), and the last time it took someone. My Uncle Clyde passed away from cancer the summer of 2008 and four days later I signed up for Team in Training. So, in honor of my uncle I present:

My Garmin Clyde (and just to get this out of the way, yes my name is Bonnie, and I run with a Garmin named Clyde. There!). Clyde and I are on the way down to Tallahassee for his first race Sunday morning. I'm sure he's up to the challenge :) Go big or go home right? :)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

1st run with Garmin

The Garmin has arrived!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I'm not excited at all if you can't tell ;p). I was so nervous that it wouldn't come on Wednesday because UPS only said that it was in Atlanta and in transit, but not out for delivery. Way to make an impatient lady stress UPS :).

Originally the Garmin was going to stay in the box until after I complete Sunday's marathon. HA!! My friend Kristen said she would have gotten it right out of the box and gone for a run. She's a smart lady :). I did in fact take it and the heart rate monitor out for a "test run" this morning. That's when I realized that Nike+ hasn't been completely honest with me. I had to run a little further than I did yesterday with Nike+ get all 3 miles in, and the Garmin says I wasn't going the same speed that Nike+ says I run. That's okay. Nike+ was a great way to get started with running. I can't wait to start playing with some of the features on my Garmin. That of course means I need to figure out how the thing works in the first place. I've read the manual 3 times now. I'm still not sure I have it all figured out yet. No worries. Usually I figure most electronic things out just by playing with them.

Apparently there is a tradition amongst runners to name their Garmin device. The very first thing I got on my Dailymile post this morning was what was my Garmin's name. I don't have a clue. I'm not big on giving things names. I mean the dogs have names, but my car and my violin are nameless and will remain that way. So, what should I name my Garmin? Any ideas?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A look back

I've been thinking about the past a little bit. I started this blog while training for my 3rd marathon. Now I'm about to run my 4th. A look back:

  • 2008 ING Georgia Marathon - my very first marathon. I fell on my 15 mile training run, which sidelined me for a while. Then I proceeded to twist my left knee, which is when I discovered I needed orthotics and became a die hard Big Peach Running Co. fan (they figured it out immediately. My old store completely missed it). Time 5:46 Weather: cold, 25 mile per hour wind gust, and down right miserable. But I finished!
  • 2008 San Antonio Rock-n-Roll Marathon - my first event with Team in Training. If you're thinking of doing a full for the first time this is the way to do it! I really wish I had! I learned a lot. I didn't get injured (got some bad shin splits & had some shoe issues, but no injuries!). Time 5:04 even after pulling my left calf muscle at mile 17
  • 2009 Nike Women's Marathon - 2nd race with Team in Training. I had wanted to run Nike since I first really started running in 2007. The first half wasn't bad (2:16 with all of the hills!), but I cramped up bad during the second half and ran out of fuel. Was disappointed that I missed my goal time (4:30), but looking back it was a good learning experience. Cold and windy. Time 5:00. Didn't really deserve a PR, but that's what I got
I can't believe that I'm getting ready to run my 4th marathon. I don't know what to expect. I've learned a lot over the past three. I'm stocking up and bringing extra fuel for the race. Thanks to my chest cold my legs are super rested and relaxed. For Nike I set a goal time for the race. I'm not doing that this time. I've learned my lesson. I've been fortunate to PR in all of my races in 2009, and broke some good time barriers. My 10k PR (59:17) is now under an hour, and I'm in better shape now. Same story for the 5K (27:33), it's under 30 minutes and was early last year. I finally ran a 1/2 marathon, so I have a time in that now (totally backwards I know, but that's just the way I work). My best races have come when I don't pay any attention to my watch and just run and have fun. So, that's the plan for Tallahassee. We'll see what happens...

(the Garmin Forerunner comes Wednesday. SO STINKING EXCITED!!!!)