marine corps marathon

Right, so I’ve got this marathon I have to run on Sunday : )

Actually, I’m pretty relieved it’s still going to happen! I’m running the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC.

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With the government shutdown, a lot of things were uncertain…including this event. Apparently, we were on a need to know basis and the Marines had decided that we didn’t need to know how close it probably came to being cancelled. With such short notice, if any of the course had to be altered there would have been no way to get a new one re-certified in time.

Fortunately, (for many reasons besides this race) this is no longer a concern and race day is almost here!! I have all of the usual pre-race jitters like: weather (which looks to be a non-issue!!), getting sick (bah!), taking the right metro train on race day, getting to my corral on time. You know, all of the things outside of your control that could go wrong. However, I know that once I arrive in the right spot, at the right time and feeling healthy (pleasepleaseplease) I’ll finally be able to relax and enjoy the experience.

Because after running over 400 miles during the last 16 weeks…26.2 more seems like just a drop in the bucket!!!

mcm training

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core yoga

Sprinkled throughout my latest experiment with Insanity and running…I’ve also been keeping up my yoga practice. I finished a month-long yoga challenge at the end of April. May wasn’t quite as consistent as I had hoped it to be, but I was still getting it done a few times a week.

I’ve been sticking with Tara Stiles, since after her challenge I had built up a very nice comfort level with it. Plus, her DVD collection offered so many different options…anything from 15 minutes of easy-going yoga to a strength building hour-long practice.

However, today I decided that I was getting a little too ‘comfortable’ with it and decided to mix things up a bit. After my daughter went down for her nap, I took a break from packing (have I mentioned that we’re moving?!?) and took Shiva Rea’s Core Yoga DVD out of the case for the first time.

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First up, I was a little confused by the menu. It offered a “Yoga Matrix” and apparently what this meant is that you can piece together your own yoga practice out of seven options (plus a 2 min shavasana). Thereby being able to customize your practice based on your primary focus for the day and also how much time you have available.

yoga matrix

Cool.

So, for my first try I selected: 1) Water Core (no idea what that was, but it sounded far less scary than the “Fire Core” alternative!) 2) Creative Core Lower Body 3) Agni Namaskar (Again…no idea what that was, but since I already worked out today I figured it was best to avoid the “Upper Body” choice.)

I have to say, this was by far the most interesting yoga practice I’ve ever done. It was definitely more ‘traditional’ than Tara Stiles. Tara doesn’t play into the whole ‘make an offering’ thing, she doesn’t get all ‘earthy’ on you and none of the Sanskrit names are used for her poses. I’m not necessarily saying I like one more than the other, it’s just that they’re very different and there’s an adjustment period. Shiva Rea is more traditional in some of those aspects, but then in others she’s in a league all of her own!

Right, so, Water Core. I enjoyed it, but there was some weirdness going on. In fact, there were moments when I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening. Partly because she was flying through odd tai-chi-like-movements and partly because of the interesting/blurred out camera editing…

what the

^^^What’s happening up there??!!^^^

Then we moved onto the Arni Namaskar. She opened up by letting us know we were about to embark on a practice centering around 109 push-ups.

Crap.

I just DID 109 push-ups this morning during Insanity!!!! *sigh*

I already felt invested in this, so there was no other choice than to hit the deck.

It was definitely a lot of push-ups, but it was broken-up into 12 rounds and as it turned out it wasn’t so terrible. I really enjoyed the rest of the video.  It’s so hard to pinpoint exactly what it is, but there is something missing from the more modern-style of yoga that is present in traditional practices. There’s a flow in the traditional ones that makes it feel less like a workout and more like fluid movement. If that makes any sense.

I think from this point forward I’ll be sure to mix up both the traditional and non-traditional practices since I feel that they each have something great to offer!

it’s insane

Yesterday I decided that it was finally time for me to give Insanity a try. I’ve had it for a while, but I didn’t want to start anything new during marathon training. At this point, I’m feeling 100% after the New Jersey Marathon and I still have just about a month before Marine Corps Marathon training begins, so I figured now (while I’m easing back on running a bit) would be a good time to check it out!

So, before the girls woke-up yesterday, I headed down into the home gym and got started. I opted to skip the Fit Test. If there is ever a Fit Test, I always skip it. I’m all grown-up now and I frown upon tests. Instead, I jumped right into Plyometric Cardio Circuit.

insanity

As the name suggests…there was many, much jumping going on. It was reminiscent of my experience with P90X2’s Plyocide last year. Towards the end, it was challenging to keep up with, my heart was pumping, but it was so very repetitive. The same moves over and over again. At least on the treadmill I can turn up the music and zone out. With Insanity you have to be totally present, which left me staring at the clock counting down the seconds until we did something different.

Then, randomly, they started doing yoga right in the middle. I don’t particularly like cramming 10 minutes of yoga in the middle of a high-intensity cardio workout. I skipped it. I already have my own yoga practice going on, so I don’t want to rush through it and end up wasting valuable cardio time.

Towards the end I was still going, but I was definitely feeling fatigued. It was a short workout out (especially since more than 10 minutes was dedicated to stretching), but it definitely required a whole lotta’ energy!!

Then this morning arrived. 24 hours later. Did I mention that I wasn’t sore AT ALL the day after my marathon??? 26.2 miles…no soreness. 30-ish minutes of Insanity and I can barely walk! I somehow managed to get a 4 mile run in this morning, but I have no idea how I got the food shopping done today as well. On my way home I actually let out a small whimper when I thought about all of the bags I would soon have to walk into the house.

Insanity definitely woke-up some of the lesser used muscles in my legs!! That right there earns it another shot. I’m not going to follow the calendar, I still run at least three days a week and I have no desire to double-up Insanity workouts on running days. As it is, a few times a week I double-up running with yoga…but I think that’s more of a complimentary pairing rather than an overboard fitness obsession!!

Tomorrow I’ll be giving Cardio Power & Resistance a try…which I’m not entirely sure is such a wise decision considering I have an eight mile run scheduled for Saturday morning?! Wish me luck!!

bring on the taper

Wow. I am officially less than a week away from my first marathon!!?!

I can’t say that my training went exactly as I had hoped. My foot injury back in January put a big kink into things. As a result, I lost a full month of training.  Eventually, there was a slow attempt at easing back into running and then a focus primarily on increasing my distance…but not wanting to push my pace out of concern for a ‘too much, too fast’ injury.  Oh, and just to liven things up a sudden change in the shape of my feet required me to ditch my running shoes about a month ago and invest in a new pair. For the first time in my life I’m officially wearing a wide-width shoe?!

Looking back over the last few months, I wish I could have gotten more than only three runs in per week. I also wish I was able to add in regular speedwork.  But you know what??? Even though those things didn’t happen I’ve got NO complaints! I am so very thankful to even be running at all right now!

Once I started back-up in February I decided that I would scrap a time-goal entirely. The course is open for 6 hours and 30 minutes…that’s my new goal, BUT…I would consider myself very lucky if I were to come in around the 5 hour mark. Not a very lofty goal, but my mindset has changed since my injury. It was either take it a little easy for this one, or back out…and there was no way I was going to back out just because I wouldn’t be able to rip-up the course with a (relatively) speedy finish time!!

Since things were going so well and physically I was feeling 100% I decided to go ahead and register for a local 8k. I was a little nervous at first, the idea of ‘racing’ two weeks before a marathon didn’t seem to align with my very conservative training plan! I ended up deciding to do it about an hour before the race! To be honest, I think it was Boston that influenced my final decision. It was the Saturday after and I just felt like I wanted to run…to be with a group, at a race and run without any concern for a PR.

8k

I’m so glad I showed up that morning!! It was a very challenging course…two MASSIVE hills, one was virtually a wall that I walked up while leaning forward with my hands on my thighs!! The other was a long, steep incline right up to the finish line.  Oooofah!!

I finished at 47 minutes…a 9:27 average pace. Five minutes longer than the Philly 8k back in November, but considering that I haven’t done any speedwork since December AND Philly was a totally FLAT course…well, I was pleasantly surprised!!

So, now I’m tapering. I know this because I am a paranoid wreck that I’ll get sick. Like right now…I suddenly have a sore throat, but is it a real sore throat or a taper sore throat??? If it’s a taper sore throat then I’m probably just thirsty : |

tara stiles yoga program

As previously mentioned, about a month or so ago I finally started back up with practicing yoga again. Up until this point, all of the videos (as well as the studio that I went to) offered up ‘traditional’ yoga. And that’s exactly what I was looking for. However, over the course of this challenge it was impossible to not come across Tara Stiles.

Tara is described just about everywhere as being a ‘rebel’ yoga instructor. I saw several articles where the authors had a lot of negativity to share regarding her method of teaching. Yet there were plenty more singing her praises.

Finally all of the controversy got to be too much for me. It’s like banned books. Tell me I should avoid something because it’s not in line with how things ‘should be’ and I suddenly HAVE to check it out immediately!!

So, on Day 21 (the last day of my Yoga Challenge) I opted for Tara Stiles Yoga Weight Loss and Balance. I was really curious about what I would end up doing with a yoga ‘rebel’ leading the way. During that hour we did some: plank position, upward dog, downward dog, forward bend, warrior pose, chair pose…wait.

WAIT.

What’s so rebel-ish about this??! Apparently, the only thing that makes her a rebel is that she chooses to use the English posture names as opposed to Sanskrit. Which being that English is my first (and only) language, it’s actually quite helpful.

Oh, and she also doesn’t randomly stop to tell me about how lotus flowers like ‘murky waters’ and to ‘root your sitting bones to the ground and give back the flow of energy to the Earth’.

Yeah, we’ve got a wild one here.

So, I didn’t find Tara all that rebel-ish. She offered up a nice 50-min long yoga practice. Pretty much the only thing that I didn’t like about her teaching style…

“Awesome, you guys.”

“Nice, you guys.”

Over. And OVER again, you guys.

Since that first video I’ve tried a few others by her and I’ve gotten past the “you guys” and I hardly even notice it anymore. Overall, I enjoy her straight forward style and really don’t see what all of the controversy is about.

Long story, even longer…I’ve decided to join up with her April Yoga Program!!

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I’m actually really excited about it. I’ve already received her This Is Yoga collection, so I’m all set and ready to go!!

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mile two monstrosity

17-mile long run…complete. I am well over halfway there!! On Saturday, I decided on a completely different route than I normally take. I knew there were going to be a few big hills, but the idea of just a straight out and back seemed a lot better than having to snake through side streets and crossing relatively busy intersections.

There was a monstrosity at mile two that seemed endless!! I started pushing my way through it and at about halfway I looked up to find that the end was nowhere near being in sight. Once I finally made it to the top I still had 15 miles to go.  Ooofah.

17-miler

In the end, it was a really good run. Very challenging at times, but I was able to push through and felt pretty solid the whole way. Since coming back from my foot injury I’ve been running during the week on the treadmill, so when I head out for a long run on the weekend it’s probably a really good idea to get some hills in anyway. My hope is that it will all balance out, particularly since the NJ Marathon appears to be a pretty flat course. Once it warms up a bit I’m hoping to start getting outside at least once for a mid-week run as well.

In other news, I had to retire my Nathan Quickshot***. Only for a bit, but I was sad to see it go. The Quickshot is beyond awesome, I trained with it all summer last year and it was perfect for the half-marathon I ran back in October. Unfortunately, 10 ounces won’t cut it for marathon training. I tend not to drink a whole ton of water, because I get stomach cramping pretty easily, so I figure 16 oz should be enough to get me through. Of course on race day there will be water stops I can utilize, but I always run with my own water as well. When I stop at a fluid station during a race I tend to take an unneeded walk break and they do add up by the end. So, I utilize them when necessary, but not every time.

The new 16 ouncer I’ve taken out on my 15-miler last weekend and my 17-miler this past weekend and it officially has my seal of approval!! The Amphipod Hydraform Handheld In-Touch. My iphone 4S fits perfectly inside of it (without it’s case and there’s no hole for the earbuds, so you have to loop the wire around and out below the zipper) and there’s room to spare! It’s comfortable and it was definitely worth the investment!

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***btw, in the quickshot post linked above i mentioned that it kept leaking…turns out it was NOT the quickshot, but the fact that i was putting a nuun tablet in…the carbonation was creating too much pressure. once i started putting plain water in the leaking stopped entirely.

a gentle nudge

The 21-day yoga challenge ended last week, but I’m still going at it. I have seriously fallen in love with yoga. I enjoyed it when I was practicing regularly several years ago, but this is very different.

Back then I was all about the workout. It had to be intense and I would only do it twice a week because I didn’t feel like it burned enough calories to make it worthwhile. I would only do Bikram because I felt like that was the only variety that would actually get my heart pumping. I often classified all other forms of yoga as being ‘boring’.

I don’t know if it’s a maturity-thing…I’m definitely older and maybe a smidge wiser. Or maybe I’m just in a better place body-image-wise. Whatever the reason, I’m no longer consumed with the calorie burn rate while practicing. I’ve been working on casting aside my competitive-spirit every time I step on my mat. Basically, I’m letting everything go and allowing myself to really enjoy this time that I’m setting aside for myself every day.

Yesterday I was rewarded with my first obvious sign of improvement during practice. My shoulders are (and always have been) extremely tight. For years I’ve done a lot of working-out with weights. Bench-press, pec-fly, delt-rows, etc. I suppose all of that must have caught up with me because back in August while doing a very simple/routine exercise I completely destroyed my left shoulder. It literally felt as if it crumpled like a piece of paper.

I went a while with limited mobility. Eventually it got to the point where I could move it freely again, but it’s never really been the same. I try to be mindful of it during practice, but not leave it out entirely. I’ve already discovered that to not do anything at all makes it far worse! I do what I can and I stretch to the point where it’s challenging, but not painfully so. It’s been long enough now that I know it’s limitations.

Then yesterday as I was in a wide-legged forward bend, I laced my fingers and lifted my arms above my back.

wlfb

I went as far as I usually do without discomfort, but then all of the sudden…whoa.

It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost as though someone gave me the gentlest of nudges…my shoulders widened slightly and my arms gently dropped much further than they normally do. I felt an openess and flexibility in that shoulder that hasn’t been there in quite some time! It was fantastic!!!

I also recently decided to start checking out yoga in the printed word. A yogi memoir, some yogi fiction (who knew there was such a thing??) and now a 365 day journey exploring yoga.

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Apparently, Meditations from the Mat is the yogi equivalent to the runner’s Born to Run! Hopefully, it ends up being just as good!