Sunday, April 22, 2012

There's nothing like lacing up my running shoes after a week of rest.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Running Withdrawal

With the race behind me, I have decided to take this week off for recovery, thereby preventing any injuries.

The first two days I treated myself to my bed, ice, pain killers, TV and lots of Z's. I was ravenous and ate every two hours. I was tired, but physically tired from the race.

Days three and four post-race I was able to do more and enjoyed my sudden increase in free time and met with up with friends. I started to increase my caffeine consumption, because the lethargy started kicking in, and I felt like I needed constant caffeine, even though I had been sleeping really well and long.

Today, day five, I feel sluggish, tired, and lethargic that no amount of caffeine will take away. Also I'm still pretty hungry.*

I must be going through withdrawal from running.

As odd as that sounds, I read several articles indicating people can indeed become addicted to exercise, and when deprived exercise for several days, they can start to have actual withdrawal symptoms. It seems to fit my case, as I've been extra lethargic after work and in the evening, right around the time I would do my runs.

I'm anxious to start working out again and feel GOOD. Right now I feel BLAH.

Also it's a strange feeling to not be working toward something anymore. I loved looking at my training schedule and checking off every run. I would associate my days with the run I had planned. Now I can barely figure out if it's Monday, Tuesday, Weds.... etc, and even when the kids have to repeat that multiple times every morning at school.

Chocolate and coffee is calling my name.

*Out of curiosity I googled how many calories I might have burned on Sunday. The results indicated roughly 1600! That's an entire day's worth of food! No wonder I've been hungry every two or three hours. Also, it's been hard to not let myself slide off this week and justify eating whatever I want because of the race. If I'm not careful, it'll catch up to me eventually. At least I'll start running again soon!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Morning After

I can't move.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration. I can move, but with effort. And some pain.

Have you ever felt your muscles before? I mean like feel where they begin and end? Where they connect to the bones?

Today I'm feeling them. I'm aware of every leg muscle, and not in the most positive way.

Apparently I wasn't that warmed up when I started running. Either that, or I didn't cool down properly. Or this is completely normal, as I ran the fastest and longest and hardest I ever have. Yikes.

Thankfully at work I was able to sit down a lot and ice my sore muscles. The kids were too curious about my banged up legs. My colleague explained to every class about the half marathon, had them look at my medal, and asked them to take it easy on me today, because Ms.J was "T for tired". (The letter of the week is T).

She also informed me that it might take up a week until I'm fully recovered. Ugggggh.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy my one-week break from running and anything mildly strenuous and not feel guilty about sitting in my sweat pants after work while catching up on American shows with ice on my legs while nibbling on chocolate.

Cause I kinda deserve it after sacrificing nearly three months of my life to training properly.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Half Marathon Completed!

A few months ago when I signed up for the half marathon, 21 km / 13.1 miles seemed like such a long and unattainable distance.

But today I did it.

Funny thing is, it didn't seem long at all with all the hype and energy around me. I never thought "ughh, when is the finish line?" In fact, the finish line kind of scared me, as it basically was a long red carpet with thousands of spectators and cameras all looking at you. Talk about camera shy.

Before the race, I had read tons of blogs, forums, and articles about what to do and what not to do on race day. I'm so glad that I did, because it made the difference between enjoyable and miserable.

I started slow, paced myself, and by km 10 / mile 6, I felt really warmed up and good and thought I could kick it up a notch. I felt the same way 5 km further. And the last four km I was flying high on a runner's high and shaved off two minutes per km faster than when I had started. I sprinted the red carpet, which may have been unnecessary, but I felt the need for speed.

My legs felt like jelly when it was all over.

I walked through the drink stations, which could have added a couple of minutes on to my final time, but I'm glad that I gave myself that tiny break, as I never had to walk during the entire race.

I made sure I did a last minute potty break as my starting corral neared the beginning. I was probably one of the last ones out, but I wanted to avoid running into the woods and squatting like many of the other runners. Besides, my official time didn't start until I crossed through the starting gate, so it really didn't matter.

An action picture my friend Sarah got while cheering me on

I definitely wasn't toward the back for very long, and I finished strong with a time of 2:20:27. I ranked 9751, but I'm not sure out of how many. There were more than 36,000 participants total, but that includes the full marathon as well.

I'm pretty proud of my score, although I thought mid-race that it'd be cool to get 2:15 or under. However, my main goal was just to finish and that with a smile on my face, and  I more or less did that (a very focused smile of the finish line).
I had such a good time, that I think I can set a time goal for my next race.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

It's Here! VCM!

The big day is here: Vienna City Half Marathon.

It's 6 am, and I'm asking myself why the heck I am up so early on a Sunday-- even earlier than on a normal working day. Pretty sure I got up before the birds even began chirping.

The race is in three hours. In those three hours I mainly need to mentally prepare, eat breakfast, make several bathroom stops, and decide what I'm going to wear.

The latter will probably be one of the hardest things this morning. I've read very mixed reports for the weather. It's going to be that awkward cool temperature, where you're not sure if you should wear bundle up more or just go for the shorts. I've also read reports that it'll rain, so should I wear my windbreaker? If I wear my windbreaker, I can at least shove my iPhone in my pocket. If not, I'll have to wear my armband.

Decisions decisions.

The last two days I focused on increasing my water intake and decreasing my caffeine intake. I failed and had to get a half-caffeinated coffee yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday I'm pretty sure I ate enough pasta for a small family. Bring it on glycogen, I'm ready.

I went to the expo yesterday to pick up my race documents and it replaced my nerves with excitement. I heard and saw lots of internationals, which makes sense, as 36,000 people are signed up today. (That alone is somewhat intimidating for me.) Then I went to check out the finish line and coordinate a meeting point with a friend.

Back home after a carb-intensive dinner with a small beer (hey, you gotta live), I decorated my hat so my friends can spot me amid the other runners. The theme for this year's race is to celebrate the 150th year anniversary of Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss", and a friend of mine cleverly suggested that I draw a huge set of lips on my hat with fabric paint.

It might be unnecessary today to even wear a hat. The sun most likely won't come out, but the forecast had predicted rain, so I thought a hat might be nice to keep the rain out of my eyes. I think I'll wear it regardless, and if it starts to bug me, I'll just toss it during the race, as it was only five or so euros.

After the excitement from the expo wore off, the nerves started kicking in again. I "went to bed" at about 9, but I know I tossed and turned for what seemed like hours. I woke up with so much adrenaline in the middle in the night thinking that my alarm would surely go off at any moment; it was three in the morning. Another couple of hours of somewhat restless sleep and up at 5:45.

The good thing is that this adrenaline I'm running on serves as a kind of caffeine replacement-- I don't think that I've felt this awake without a morning coffee since one of the many times I gave it up.

Breakfast of champions awaits me: bread rolls with peanut butter and almond butter, banana slices on top, and honey drizzled on it.

Here I go!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Running: The Best Form of Sightseeing

One week until the half marathon.

I'm completely confident that I'll have no problem finishing. According to the many plans, tips, and forums I read, I have done everything correctly up to this point: weekly mileage increase; proper hydration before,during and after runs; injury prevention; proper nutrition; a positive attitude. The only thing I would have changed is perhaps adding a bit more strength-training and cross-training. But I'll save that for the next training phase.

I made sure to pack all of my running gear for my trip to Switzerland. I'm proud that I managed to get in four runs in seven days on my trip! On my first full day in Zurich, I even completed my last long run before the race. I found out that jogging is the best way to do sightseeing! I saw so much in a lot less time than it would take to walk around. I managed to get a bit lost at the end, so I ended up running 2 hours and 15 minutes, and I wasn't completely exhausted at the end of it. That means I'll surely have no problems next week-- knock on wood.

I also decided that I'll have to move to Zurich sometime just so I can go running around the lake. It's beautiful.

Confederation of Helvetica: Switzerland

This past week I spent my spring holidays in Switzerland visiting a friend from the States who currently lives in Zurich. Apart from Zurich, I also went on a day trip to the quaint little Alpine city Luzern. I also went down to Locarno in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland for a mid-week solo getaway. What I learned from those two days is that I prefer the company of others when traveling-- exactly what I had predicted beforehand.

Switzerland is a beautiful country full of mountains and lakes. Everything is so picturesque and clean.

However, it's a bit pricey for those who live outside of Switzerland. The pizza and beer I had in Locarno was about 25 EUR / 32 USD. I avoided eating out the entire week, with exception to the two nights I spent in Locarno. Rail travel is also incredibly expensive, but I bought a three-day Interrail pass for Switzerland, which ended up saving me about 100 euros on travel with my day-trips and trip down to Locarno.

Advice for those traveling in Switzerland: couch surf if you can; it'll save you so much money.

I enjoyed my week in Switzerland, but I was happy to cross the border back into Austria and understand German again for the first time in a week. Swiss "German" should be classified in its own language family. I'll take the Austrian Bauer (farmer) dialect any day over the Swiss German dialect.