Monday, August 27, 2012

Running Ruins My Hair

Distance: 12.5 Miles
Time: 1:45
Days Until Marathon: 40

So - I have just under six weeks left until my marathon. SIX WEEKS. That time is going to go so fast and dear god, let me stay on track with my training so I don't die in six weeks. There has already been a casualty as a result of this training.

All of the miles that I have logged for this race and the races I did earlier in the year have taken a toll on my hair. It is bad enough that I am NOT BLESSED with thick, lush hair. No. I have stringy, brown hair. It feels like spider webs. (That drives guys wild, let me tell you.)

When I decided to run the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, I made a pact with my hair. I said, "Look, I'm going to grow you out until we do this marathon together. You've stuck with me for all of these miles, all the headbands, all the sweat and sun." And that is how "Marathon Hair" was born. I'm notorious for chopping all of my hair off on a whim, so this really is new for me. It is making me crazy, too - I almost cut it off today and then - I remembered - Marathon Hair. Pact. Etc.

Well, running around for hours everyday in under the sun makes my marathon hair a gross shade of brass. I'm a brunette. Browny fo' life! So - this golden tint makes me mad. I hate it, in fact. Puke.

I FINALLY GOT MY BROWN BACK.  And thank the lord for that! 
Or L'Oreal. Whomever.

Before: Icky copper hair and angry profile.

After: Brown in the house! I look upset, but no. Maybe a comb though.             

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Runner's Gift Guide: Fall Running Must Haves

The seasons are definitely changing here in Wisconsin. I'll be honest: I am not a huge fan of the summer. I think she is a cruel, sweaty mistress and I am always relieved to roll into Fall.

This time of year, I start to struggle with dressing appropriately for my runs. I've gotten used to sleeveless tanks and itty-bitty running shorts to combat the insanity of running on 100 degree days. But now, our temps are starting to drop little by little (AMEN!) This past week, I was able to work in some of my running capris and I even carried a light jacket. Fall and winter running are notoriously unpredictable, so a gal has to be prepared for all outdoor running conditions. This got me thinkin' - I NEED NEW GEAR!

Let's check out some of my favorites for keeping my fall marathon training fast, functional and fashionable.
Women's New Balance 1600 Marathon/Road Racing Flat, $110

Women's Northface Stormy Trail Jacket in Razzle Pink, $169

Women's Saucony Omni LX Tight II, $65

Lululemon Track Time Jacket, $128
Northface Coolmax Arm Warmer, $32
Women's Puma Faas 350 S, $85

Thursday, August 23, 2012

To Compete Well, Eat Well: Vegetarian Zucchini Pasta

Yesterday, I mentioned that I am a vegetarian. If you want to be technical, I am a pescetarian. The difference is that I do not eat meat, with the exception of seafood. I LOVE ME SOME SEAFOOD.

The reason for my slightly omnivorous lifestyle is mostly about food textures, but honestly - I just prefer vegetables to meat. You could make the fanciest steak in the whole world and I would just be like "eh." Meat, schmeet is what I say. I should also mention that a big part of my food preference is that I run so much. I do believe that what you put in your mouth counts. I try to keep it clean and light - and I conserve food calories so I can drink beer after I workout. (Kidding, kind of.) Seriously, nutrition is super important to me.
Since I love veggies so much, I have a pretty large garden in my backyard. A lot of my meals are provided by the kale, tomatoes, kohlrabi, zucchini, beans, peas, greens, strawberries growing there. It is also all organic. No chemicals, 'yo. I am always looking for new, tasty recipes for the bounty of veggies from my garden. I hate to waste (I don't waste - I compost) so I eat a lot of grilled veggies, salads, smoothies, etc.

Today, I tried out Zucchini Pasta - because I have an extremely overzealous zucchini plant in my garden. You can only eat so much zucchini bread and grilled zucchini, ya know? I overhead Clinton from "The Chew" demonstrating this recipe and I just happened to have all of the ingredients to make it happen! I didn't make the tomato sauce like they did - but otherwise - I followed the recipe pretty closely starting with this beautiful assortment from the garden:
One massive (still tasty) zucchini, cherry tomatoes, green pepper, garlic clove, red onion and a whole lotta love. The only other ingredients I used were a little bit of olive oil, sea salt and ground black pepper. Using a carrot peeler, I sliced the zucchini into "papardelle" style noodles. This was a lot of fun, actually.
Everything looks classier when you put it in a geometric white bowl! Even Cheetos. Next step, saute zucchini noodles in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. In a separate pan, I cooked up the remaining veggies. I prefer my veggies to stay kind of firm and to keep their shape, so I never cook vegetables for very long. In fact, sauces are a little gross to me. Give me chunks or give me ice cream.
The noodles are done when they are tender. I took them off of the heat for a little bit and then put them in - you guessed it - a classy, white, geometric bowl. I topped it with my veggies, a turn of the pepper mill and a little bit of parmesan cheese. 

I have to say - this was delicious! I was surprised by how noodley the zucchini texture was! Simple, healthy and CHEAP. Those are the words I live by. Get cookin' people.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Blistering Pace: The Perils of a Sockless Runner

Distance: 10 Miles
Time: 1:14
Days Until Marathon: 45

According to my marathon training plan, I was only supposed to put in 6 easy miles today. BUT - from the second I woke up, I was full of energy and I knew I would run longer. I like to eat breakfast about a half hour before I head out for a run and 90% of my breakfasts are this concoction here:

Plain greek yogurt plus a variety of berries and fruit. I would add honey, but I don't have the words to explain how much I hate honey. Did I mention I'm a vegetarian? Well...sort of.

My plan for today was to run for as long as I felt like keeping up a half marathon pace. I decided I would take out my new Saucony ProGrid Kinvara 3s for a spin. I've only worn these bad boys on a handful of shorter runs, like 6 miles at most. I refer to them as "the Patriots" for obvious reasons.

They are as blinding in person as they are in this photo. Nothing about them says, "I move slowly." I believe that function and fashion are on equal ground when it comes to shoes. Let's be honest, there are some really lame looking running shoes out there.

I got the new Kinvara's from Foot Locker after I got the gift card for winning the Lighthouse Run. They are different from what I would usually wear, since I'm into super-light, minimalist shoes. Don't get me wrong - these are actually very light, but they offer a lot more support than my New Balance Minimus or Nike Frees. Therein lies today's problem.

You see, the back of the Kinvara has a taller rise on the ankle than any of the shoes I have worn over the last several years. This matters when you count in the fact that I NEVER WEAR SOCKS WHILE RUNNING. EVER. In fact, I don't wear socks in life either. On the rare occasion that I have a deathly flu, maybe I will put on some wool socks but otherwise - no socks. I hate 'em. They feel disgusting and do not get me started on when they fall down into your shoe. (To answer your question: no, my feet are not rancid because of this habit. One would think so.)

So, today's run started off pretty fast. I ran the first four miles around 6:50 pace, but I felt great. My legs were light and responsive, so my splits were fast. Around mile five, I noticed the dreaded burning sensation on my ankle - you know - when your skin starts to peel off with every step. BLISTERS! Grrr. Inevitably, my pace suffered. I ended up running 10 miles at about 7:24 min/mi. Towards the end of the run, I decided it was better to sprint through the pain rather than suffer longer with lumbering, strides.

This is a frequent occurrence because of the whole "no socks" thing. I have a theory about it though. The more blisters I get, the more I am toughening up my feet. Eventually, I will have an entirely custom skin sock of protection, right? I must be pretty close to that point, because I barely have any feeling in these puppies. Good thing my boyfriend doesn't have a foot fetish and I have stock in pumice stones. No socks fo' life!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

There Is No Finish Line

Distance: 9 Miles
Time: 1:12
Days Until Marathon: 46

The weather was really great today for a nice, slow run along Lake Michigan. I am still recovering a little bit from the 18 miler I did on Sunday - my knees are being jerks. I suppose, I should stop playing tennis if I am trying to get these knees to heal.

I have less than 7 weeks until the Lakefront Marathon in Milwaukee, so I have to keep up my mileage. I would like to do so without all the limping, grinding and crying though. Speaking of the marathon, it was just announced today that Nick Symmonds of USATF and Olympic fame will be attending the event. Joan Benoit Samuelson is also scheduled to take part in the events leading up to the race. She'll be premiering a Nike documentary, There Is No Finish Line. Very cool. Very effing cool.

"There Is No Finish Line", short teaser from Sarah Henderson on Vimeo.

Greetings: In Search of an "Impressive Run"

Hello! Let's begin with the obligatory "welcome to my blog and this is why the blog exists" post, shall we?

First of all, I am a runner. I've been a runner since I was about seven years old when I saw my dad go "jogging." Of course, my style of running is nothing like my dad's, since his included no shirt, denim shorts and I swear he carried a boom box on his shoulder. (I think my memory is failing me or maybe he was epically cool in the 80s.) So - yes - I have had a long love affair with running, but this blog is mostly meant to keep me on track with my running goals. A tiny bit of the blog's purpose is spite. Yes, spite. Do you have a second, because I would like to tell you a story of triumph, humiliation and sweet revenge.

Let's get the basic background information out of the way, so you can follow along with ease.
  1. I am presently thirty years old - but a really cool version of 30.
  2. I ran in high school. I was team captain of the cross and track teams. I was a sprinter, a jumper and a distance runner when I had to be.
  3. I did not run in college, because of leg injuries and simply not enough time. (*cough* lazy *cough*)
  4. During and after college, I kept running so I wouldn't get fat and to stay sane because my head WILL spin if I do not run every day
  5. I'm a science teacher and middle school cross country and track coach
  6. I started competing in local road races last year - at the age of 29. Got it?
Since I had been running about 30-40 miles a week for the last fifteen years, I randomly decided I would compete in my hometown's sweetheart race, The Lighthouse Run. With only one week of "training" specifically for the event, I took 4th place in the 4 mile race. Shocked and really freaking excited, I started training for this year's race - the 2012 Lighthouse Run.

With one year to train, I set the goal simply to beat my time from last year (26:51 - 4 mi.) I upped my mileage a little bit and included Insanity (which was accurately named.) When I stepped up to the starting line the following June, I felt confident but I did not expect that I would win. I actually won. SAY WHAT? Not only did I win, but I achieved my goal and beat my time from 2011. They gave me a freakishly large trophy of a handsome woman and a $100 gift card to Foot Locker. I was so excited, until...(drum roll)...the newspaper article about the race came out at 11PM that night.

You can read the article for yourself here but the Cliff Notes version of it is this:  

I won the race; however, the time was "not impressive." In fact, I set the course record for having the slowest winning time in the history of the event. Slowest champ of ever.


I was beside myself when I read that article online. I didn't know what to do, so I just sobbed. Suddenly the giant, handsome trophy in my living room was mocking me. "Look at this big, stupid trophy you get for being the slow champ! Ha Ha Ha" Something that should have been really awesome and only fun quickly became a source of embarrassment. How fair was it to compare my little silly race to the previous winners, including the likes of college athletes on track scholarships or Jenny Crain (you know - the elite USATF runner?) I moped around for exactly one day - and then, I got pissed.

Maybe, I shouldn't say "pissed;" I felt slighted and that something I worked hard for had been kind of taken from me. More than anything, I felt motivated. If my run was not impressive to the reporter, I would have to get impressive - which is why this blog exists: I am in search and in training for an impressive run.