Sunday, August 28, 2016

10 Miles of Pain or the NH 10 Miler

Let me just start by saying I have plantar fasciitis. I won't go into what it is now, you can find more information HERE, other than to say it causes an incredible amount of pain in your heels.  To find relief, I have tried all of the conservative methods of treatment (rest, ice and compression to name a few).  I've also been seen by a podiatrist who gave me 2 cortisone shots, one for each foot, an acupuncturist and a chiropractor.

I'm still in a fair amount of pain.

So being the smahty pants that I am, I decided I would be fine to run the New Hampshire 10 Miler, one of the hilliest races around.  If you remember I did a practice run with my Mom's Run This Town group and thought it was great, tough, but doable.  It helped that it was a relatively cool morning.  I really felt like this practice run gave me my mojo back.  What I didn't like is that it brought me down this crazy road of foot problems with no relief in sight.


Onwards and upwards, right?  After doing everything I could this month to ease my foot pain, I spent the week before this race prepping just like I would, hydrating and eating the right foods.  I woke up at 6:45 am on the morning of the race feeling calm, cool and collected.  The nice part about going into a race with an injury is your expectations are really, really low.  I wasn't going to PR.  My goal #1 was to just get it done.  Goal #2 was to avoid further injury.

I succeeded in both those goals.

I started out feeling great.  I was trying to keep to an 11 mm even though I knew I could have cranked it up a notch.  I had to keep some energy for those killer hills and I didn't want to risk injury early on.  I was afraid if I really pushed my speed, my Achilles would give out.  It was definitely aching by the end.

 I made sure to wave a friendly "hello" to every face I recognized from my running group and gave out words of encouragement when I saw one struggling.  For most of the race, I was able to get in the zone and just enjoy the ride as I like to describe it.  It's a beautiful thing to just enjoy running.

Then the hills hit.  The worst is at mile 4.  I didn't even try to run it.  I just walked.  My body and my foot needed it.  My game plan was to hit every water stop and dump it on my head.  It was hot at the 9 am start, 72 degrees and climbed to 80 by the time I was done.  Thankfully, the humidity was low so I wasn't miserably uncomfortable.

I hit the 5 mile split at 1:02:21 and was pleased with my time.  My best 5 miler time was 54 minutes at the Boston's Run to Remember which was flat and I just had fun with.  All things considered, being 8 minutes behind that wasn't terrible.

Thankfully, most of the second half of the race was in the shade.  The hard part for me at this point was my body felt great, I had fueled properly and I was hydrated, but my foot was starting to scream in pain.  By mile 7, I was overjoyed that I just had a 5K left, but I was really having to slow down because the pain was only getting worse.  There was a nice downhill around this time too that I would have loved to sprint down, but my foot wasn't having it.  It was a fight all the way down.  Last time I ran this, I lost my left hip and quad.  I didn't want to suffer that pain again as it through out my back in the process.

Like I mentioned, it was a burning hot day, with low humidity thankfully.  As always, I packed my hydration pack backpack which holds 2 liters of water.  It was so hot and the course was so hilly that this was the first time I'd ever drained it!  I still can't believe I drank 2 liters of water that day!

The last 2 miles were in the sun, up a hill and there was a crazy amount of traffic going by including about 100 motorcycles.  The race traffic got so tight that if the person in front of you was walking then you were too because there was no room to pass.  I ran most of the last mile and even turned on my Facebook Live to stream myself going over the finish line.

I wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone who supported me in the last few weeks while trying to heal myself.  I feel like it was a group effort to get me across it so I wanted everyone to experience that finish with me.  Getting all the extra encouragement floating across my stream while I ran was great too and lead me to a strong finish.

My daughter waiting to cheer me on.

I was especially thankful to my husband who insisted on driving me there because he was afraid I wouldn't be able to drive myself home with my injured foot.  As always, I love seeing him and my daughter at the finish line.  It is something that I look forward to the whole race.  My 3 year old even gave me a butterfly tattoo that morning so I could think of her while I ran.  It brought a smile to my face when I looked at it.  I'm sure I looked like a loon to the other runners.

Overall, this wasn't the worst race that I've ever run.  I'm proud for getting it done even though, in retrospect, I shouldn't have done since it will set me back in my recovery process.  But I'm a stubborn Irish woman who makes a commitment and sees it through.  As usual, I'm trying not to beat myself up over the fact that the rest of my body felt great and just wanted to RUN.  My mind and body HATED having to walk, but I had to play it smart and safe to get it done.  Besides, I got a really sweet medal at the end.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

15 Deliciously Low Carb Casserole Recipes

Fall is almost here!  Can you believe it?  I feel like I was just planning our summer adventures yesterday.

Now it's time for cozy sweatshirts, bright, colorful leaves, pumpkin picking and casseroles.  Casseroles?  Yes, this time of the year tends to be incredibly busy for parents.  The easiest dinners I know how to make that don't involve my crock-pot are casseroles.  I love being able to just toss a bunch of ingredients in a baking dish to cook in the oven while I get other things done.

Back to School shopping with my new Preschooler!

  My daughter is entering preschool this fall so I know there will be some activities and skills that we'll need to reinforce at home so that will eat up our free time.  If I can spend just a few less minutes standing at the stove then I'll do it.  For me, the answer is casseroles!  

And without further adieu, here is a round-up of 15 deliciously low carb casseroles!

Monday, August 15, 2016

What Happened When I Didn't Eat for 24 Hours

I've gained 5 pounds.

There I've said it. After working so hard to get the baby weight off over the last year and a half, the fun of summer has finally caught up to me. Too much BBQ, beer and sweet treats.

It's time to knock that shit off.

So today, I started a 24 hour fast. No food, just my bulletproof tea and water for 24 hours. If I'm still feeling good after that then I might push it to 32 or even 38 hours.

One hour at a time though.

Why do it?

I suffer from high levels of inflammation that was detected through a C-Reactive Protein blood test.  Over the last year, I've been able to get it under control through intermittent fasting, a low carb, high fat diet and running.  I also suffer from Leaky Gut, so limiting my eating hours to just 8 a day has allowed my gastrointestinal system to heal itself.

Many doctors believe that intermittent fasting promotes fat burning for fuel instead of glycogen stores.

The average sized person has between 1,000,000 - 150,000,000 calories of fat stored in their body.  That is enough fat for a normal sized person to survive 1-3 months without eating depending on their size and level of activity.  For more information, on how this all works check out Butter Bob at Butter Makes Your Pants Fall Off.  

OK, back to how I am feeling.  

My start time is 9:00 PM on Day 1 because that is when I finished my last glass of wine (yep, I've been bad).  

At 6:00 AM, 9 hours into my fast, I had my bulletproof tea which is how I start every morning.  I was feeling fine.

By 9:00 AM, (just 12 hours in) I wanted to eat!  It was so hard to be surrounded at work by food and to resist gobbling it all down.  

11:30 AM is usually when I eat lunch.  I drank hot tea with nothing added.  Irish Breakfast Tea to be exact.  I'm not going to lie, it was gross and quite possibly the last thing I wanted to eat on a burning hot day, but it filled up my belly.

When 1:00 PM rolled I was apologizing to my co-workers about the bear that was trapped inside my belly.  I was also chugging water to make my belly feel full.

3:00 PM or 18 hours in I was fading fast and losing my resolve.  I was ready to reach for the emergency snack in my bag that I packed just in case I couldn't hack it or just felt really sick.  I felt gross to say the least.  I was weak, hungry and felt like a headache was coming on.  Amazingly, once I got up and made myself busy, I felt a whole lot better.  The best part?  By hour 19, I had a ton of energy.

So much energy that by hour 21 or about 6:00 PM I was doing a short workout modified to take into account the plantar fasciitis in my feet.  I was still hungry but I had enough energy to get through and I was in no way starving.

I've made it to hour 23!  Mentally, I'm done.  I'm tired of just feeling tired.  I'm tired of feeling hungry.  I'm having a hard time thinking straight.  I realize I am probably also tired from the long day since it is 8 PM, but the constant hunger isn't helping.  I do notice that my stomach feels less bloated and hard.  When I press it, I feel pain.  I chalk that up to my Leaky Gut. By 8:30 PM I am preparing something to eat.

I will end my fast at the 24 hour mark.

The hardest part about this fast is getting out of the habit of eating at designated times.  Just because we traditionally eat breakfast early in the morning doesn't mean that we have to especially if we are not hungry.  Also, I found myself reaching for food just because it was there for the taking.

Next time, I will start my fast earlier in the day.  On a typical day, I stop eating at 7:30 PM, not 9 PM.  I think that really made it harder for me to start it that late in the day.

Here I am a day later. Honestly, I don't see much difference between these two pictures. I FEEL better, less bloated and gross and I can say that those shorts fit a lot better. So don't the shorts that I haven't been able to wear all week because they were cutting off circulation. Now I didn't weigh myself because I'm concerned more with getting my insulin levels down while letting my gastrointestinal system heal although I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about those 5 pounds I've gained. Plus, I'm training my body to burn fat for energy again. Today, I will fast for 16 hours which is the norm for me. 

If you are thinking of fasting start small, 14 hours then 16 and then jump to 24 when ready. It can be done and your body will thank you for it. 

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

  • Decreased body fat and body weight
  • Decreased blood glucose levels
  • Increased growth hormone levels
  • Decreased food related stress
  • Decreased chronic systemic inflammation 
  • Increased cellular cleansing 

If you are interested in starting a low-carb diet, here are some books that will help get you started:

What do you think?  Will you try intermittent fasting?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

10 Miles of Hills For Breakfast!

As I mentioned before, I've been really slacking lately on my half marathon training.  Well, October 2 is going to be here before I know it - just over 2 months to go - and I need to get serious.

Part of the reason I've been slacking is it is summer and there are just so many more fun things to do than running in the heat and humidity.  When a 2 mile run is a struggle to push through, you know it is HOT.  Plus, with all of these fun activities comes beer and yummy, but oh so unhealthy food.  Sigh.  It's almost August though and I have 2 big races on the books so it's time to find my mojo and get serious about this.

Side note:  I'm running the Sun Run and Dual Challenge on Sunday, August 7 and the NH 10 Miler on Saturday, August 27.

So when my Moms Run This Town running group had a training run for the NH 10 Miler which is billed as hard and hilly I immediately signed up.  Then I almost immediately regretted it.  In fact, the night before I had to convince myself to go no matter how impossible the task of running 10 miles of hills sounded.  Side note:  I haven't run that far since my half marathon almost 2.5 months ago!

I shocked myself when I actually rolled out of bed at 5:15 am on a SATURDAY to get to the starting line for 6:30 am.  What was I thinking?  I had an irrational fear of being left out on the course by myself, getting lost and then *gasp* having to call my husband, who undoubtedly would still be in bed, to come find me.

Luckily, none of my fears came true.

What is truly wonderful about my running group is that you can easily find a few women who have the same fears and the same pace as you.  About 20 women showed up and I went out with the last group to leave so there were 6 of us.  I put in my headphones and told myself to keep the pace slow to start with, but not so slow that I'd get left behind (irrational fear, remember?)

My first 3 miles were great!  My legs felt fast and strong.  I easily passed a group of 5 women that had started out a few minutes before us.  That was before we hit the hill at mile 4 which was a monster!

I had no delusions of grandeur here.  I told myself if I needed to that I could run/walk up the hill which is exactly what I did.  At this point I lost one of the women in our original group.  I was OK with that since I knew a few other women were behind me so I wasn't going to be the last on the course - irrational fear here, remember?

I made it over that monster slower than I know I can do, but still at a damn good pace for me:  11:16.
At mile 5, I refueled using my sports beans and walked.  The walk break I think really helped me conserve energy for the rest of the hills.

At mile 7, I just started to hurt.  My left heel throbbed with every step (eff you plantar fasciitis)  and my right hip was screaming in pain.  I had lower back pain the previous weekend that I think actually originated in my hips.  While I rubbed my right hip and quad, I made a mental note to visit my chiropractor sooner rather than later.

There were more hills and I continued to use the run/walk method on them.  I kept telling myself to not race my long run.  This was a test.  Get the feel for the course.  I wasn't going to get a prize for going whole hog and possibly injuring myself in the process.

Mile 8 had a good sized downhill that I thought I could make up some time on.  Wrong.  I just hurt.  My upper right leg was screaming.  I've never experienced that on a downhill before.  It hurt worse than the uphill did!
Super excited that I hit a 6 mm pace in the beginning! But holy hills! 

By the time I reached mile 9 and I saw the last hill I let out an audible, "Oh my God!"  It wasn't huge, but I couldn't believe we had another one.  I was so happy to get up and over it because it was smooth sailing from there.  It helped that I knew I'd be seeing my car soon which meant I could go home.

I made it back to the start line at mile 9.5 and realized I had missed a side street that I was supposed to take to make up the last half mile.

I went out for a 10 mile run so I was determined to get 10 miles done.

I ran around the parking lot like a nutcase until my Garmin read 10 miles.

My final time was 1:54.  Not bad.  My PR is 1:47 and it was a virtually flat course.

Overall, I couldn't have been happier with this run.  I was only off my PR by 7 minutes and there were a whole lot more hills.  My legs were happy, I felt like I was fueled right and my lungs and stomach were content.  The best part?  Little to no humidity.

Two more weeks and we go out for another practice run.

I'm excited!

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Monday, August 1, 2016

How To Stay Fit While On Vacation

Summer is a time when most people getaway. Even though we didn't take an expensive week long vacation this year, our family still took a few days off here and there for several long weekends away.

All of those days away from home can really mess up your training plans or just make it hard to maintain your fitness level. That doesn't mean you have to give up on staying fit during your time away from home and work, you just have to get creative and find the time to fit some level of activity into your plans.

YouTube an Exercise Video

I personally love the Super Short Strength Circuits from Another Mother Runner. They require no equipment and you can quite literally do the moves anywhere. At the most your time commitment is 4 minutes. Now everybody can find 4 minutes to strength train even while on vacation, right?  Click HERE for a quick ab workout that also works on balance for runner's.  

Bring a Jump Rope

I'm stealing this one from a close friend whose trainer had her bring one with her on a recent trip. She jumps rope for 12 minutes in 3 minute intervals broken up by 30 seconds of rest. If you haven't done this since you were a kid then it is a good idea to ease into it. It's a great cardio workout, it's easy to pack the rope and again, you don't need a ton of space.

Just Run

Going for a run is a great way to see a new city. You can generally see more by foot than a car. One look at where you are on Map My Run and you can easily plan a route. For extra security download Road ID which will send an alert to your designated loved ones that you are on a run and they'll be able to follow the route you take.  If you are stationary for more than 5 minutes it will send out an alert, the idea being that you've been hit and can't move.  Also, packing your running gear isn't going to take a ton of space. Yes, you will need to make room for your sneakers, but everything else is pretty easy to pack in your suitcase.

Took a run through the Botanical Gardens in New Jersey!

I hope these tips help you feel less guilty while you are away!  Now the hardest part is staying away from all of the yummy food while your traveling....

What are your tips for staying healthy while on vacation?

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