Go Runner!

It seems like things are progressing really well for 85% of the running blogs I read.  Everyone is conquering injuries; getting PR's; following training plans and then some; getting in their stretching and strength training and foam rolling; getting a coach; running a super hard tempo run and finishing so strong that they felt like they could keep going!

How the hell does everyone make it look so easy?

That is one of the many appealing things about running.  You can always improve.  You really can.  Until you are an Olympian or are already devoting 40+ hours a week to it.  And so it's only natural that most of us would keep getting better and stronger at running with some effort.  Not even all that much effort really, just 5-10 hours per week.

I'm at a fork where I feel I've plateaued at getting stronger/faster with the current routine I'm operating.  I'm not surprised or disappointed, but the path I chose after resting to try and rid my buttcrease pain in October 2012 hasn't been conducive to getting better at running.

What path? My path has been to run miles at goal marathon pace regularly, a pace that is unclear to me yet, but has generally been between a 6:45-7:10 pace.  Plus occasional fartleks.  Plus a  run over 18 miles on the weekends.  The idea was that with all these miles at 6:50 pace, that pace would start to feel easier and easier.

Well what in the hell, it doesn't feel any easier.  Not one ounce easier than it felt before I dug out probably more than 100 miles at that pace.  4 miles at 6:45 pace still feels like one helluva speed workout to me.  Moreso in my legs than in my lungs.

I'm clearly missing some ingredient--whether it is that track workouts really DO matter and are necessary; whether I need to do more strength training (big surprise, I haven't done much at all the past two months); whether I need to take more days off, run less miles, run more miles, change my diet, add more iron supplements.  I don't know what it is, but right now the combination I'm working with has left me feeling like I'm going nowhere.

To be clear, that's okay with me.  I'm looking forward to not having a marathon in my view so that I can put even less effort into wondering what runs I should be doing.  For instance, this weekend, I really did not want to go on a long run.  Not at all.  But with 5 weeks until marathon day, I have limited weekends left to try and hit 21, 22, or 23 miles.  So I was feeling a lot of pressure to get 22 miles in.  And I hate when running feels like this, when I feel forced to do something I'm not looking forward to. It will be nice to not worry if I'm doing the right run, and just head out for 12 fun miles and then come home.  Or 22 if I happen to be feeling like it.  (spoiler: I did not hit 21, 22, or 23 miles this weekend).

It's also okay with me because I'm content with where I'm at (to some degree).  Knowing I can run a sub 1:30 half  marathon will always feel nice, no matter how many times it happens, even if I'm stuck at the same 1:27-1:29 result over and over again.  Progress would feel better, but it is still a fantastic feeling to know what my body allows me to do just by indulging in my hobby most mornings of the week.

So this reflection comes because this week was pretty sluggish.  Almost every run felt sub-par in one way or another, and almost every run was interrupted by some stomach issues.  (I feel healthy, but suspect my stomach is fighting off a minor bug? Or I developed a new sensitivity where I used to have stomach of steel?).

Monday: 0.  Kind of regret this -- it threw me off.  I was feeling great after my 102 mile week, then decided I should take a day off even though my body was craving a run.  I never fell back on track after taking Monday off.  Hmm.

Tuesday: 10.2 a.m., 4.7 p.m.  I had a date with the treadmill to try and best my 9.08 miles in one hour that I hit last week.  I hit 9.18 miles, but it doesn't count so much.  It was a terrible run.  Normally when I tempo on a treadmill, I'll hit 30 minutes and think "Nice! Only 30 minutes left, feeling good!"  This time, I hit 30 minutes and thought about giving up because I couldn't believe I had a whole 'nother 30 minutes to go.  I felt like crap.  And I stopped to stretch/drink too many times during that second half.  Fail.  I started at 8.8 mph, and bumped it up every mile until I hit 9.4 mph at mile 7, and then started bumping down.  Average pace around 6:32 or so.  Definitely did not feel "like I could to a few more miles!! Yippee!! So easy!!"

Wednesday: 11.8.  easy.

Thursday:  13.  Um, this was supposed to be 20 miles.  Yeah, I woke up extra early to get 20 miles in, thinking it has been hard to cram 20 miles into my weekends lately, but nothing was working in my favor.  I got in the car to head to the gym near my work, and the gas tank was empty.  Got gas.  Lost 10 minutes, maybe I'll still have time for 18.5 miles. Got on the treadmill; had to get off THREE times due to stomach issues.  Quit at mile 13 due to feeling awful and running out of time.

Friday: 13.  5 miles of fartleks at the front end.

Saturday: 4.5 a.m., 8.5 p.m.  Ran the with Gentleman in the morning.  I had slept in until 11:00a.m.  Yes, I really did.  After going to bed at 11:00 p.m.  Which is to say I slept 12 hours.  I don't know how I do it.  There was crazy construction going on in the apartment above, and I slept through it because of my superpower weekend lazy skills.  So, I ruined any chance of running in the morning, and didn't want to be running a 20+ miler through 3:00 p.m. on a promising Saturday.  I did have a minor freak out in my head about how I have a marathon coming up and SHOULD BE running at least 20 miles, and 4 was pretty pathetic.  I ended up compromising by sneaking in a one-hour treadmill run in that evening, 8.3 miles in one hour, progression run starting at 7.0 mph and ending at 9.3 mph.  Surprising how crowded the gym is at 8:00p.m. on a Saturday.  We headed out to a movie right after, which I'll mention more below....

Sunday: 18.6 slow blah miles.  Ate a honey stinger gel at mile 12.5 and felt a small surge afterwards, but still mostly blah.

total: 84.3 stupid miles.

I would love to feel better.  Possibly this is still an iron issue.  I have never figured out why I feel high on energy some weeks and completely drained on others.  Anyway...


I never think to describe myself as "someone who loves movies" because that seems like announcing "I'm a human in a developed country."  Everybody loves movies, right?  Well every now and then I meet someone who is like, "oh I haven't been to the movie theatre since 2008."  WHAT!?!? why!?!

I do love movies.  I love the movie THEATRE experience.  It is the only way I can give a movie the full attention it deserves, because a movie at home means I miss 23 scenes while browsing my ipad, eating food, taking a phone call, etc.  At the theatre, I'm all in, focused, crying all over the place.  There's nothing I love more than sending or receiving a text with the Gentleman on Friday afternoon at work that says "so-and-so movie at 8:15 tonight?"  YES.  Yes please, I DO want to to check out of this work week and sit on my butt while I transport to another time with beautiful actors.

I don't check in with the blog every time I see a movie, so I thought I would do a quick recap of the movies I have seen in the last 3 months or so now that Oscar season is approaching.  Inspired by my absolute favorite movie experience this past weekend.

Looper: while it has been a while since I saw this film, it still stands out to me as one of my favorites of the year.  It reminded me a little of another Bruce Willis film, and one that I have always been a fan of--12 Monkeys--in the way that the time-loop aspect gets your brain all hyped up for days afterwards.  The only problem is I don't think I will ever watch it again due to a few scenes that were hard to watch.   JGL for the win, I give this 8.5 out of 10 "go runner!" shout-outs.

This should be my new blog header photo.  JGL.
Darn it.  There is this picture of me where I swear I look like JGL, but I can't find it right now.  I'll share it in the future.  Get ready to have a crush on me.

Moonrise Kingdom: If you like one Wes Anderson movie, you'll probably find some joy in all of them.  This was better than the last few (Steve Zissou, Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox) but I wasn't as enthralled by it as some friends and critics.  It was long; the main actors were children; I can't think of what else to complain about.  Bruce Willis was a perfect addition to the cast of regular (adult) Wes Anderson players, and Ed Norton is so likable when he is doing comedy-ish roles.  7 out of 10 "go runners!".

I'm a quirky movie

Argo: Ben Affleck is a fantastic director.  He's 3 for 3 in my book.  This was also a nice little dip into history for someone like me who was not alive to remember the Iran hostage crisis, and didn't get to experience the sideburn bell-bottom era that was 1979. I can never pinpoint what it is about John Goodman that makes him so likable, but he and Alan Arkin provided some comic relief from the hand-wringing tension of the hostage escape plan.  8.8 out of 10 "go runners!"

This movie needs more bellbottoms.  And mustaches. 

Lincoln: Yes, DDL worked his tail off to portray Lincoln, the movie was interesting, beautiful, political, exciting.  I can't say anything else without sounding like a douchy historian.  JGL didn't impress too much here, but the mean old grumpy Tommy Lee Jones did.  My dad played football with Tommy Lee Jones, so I'm just one level away from having the chance to see his scowl in person.  8 out of 10 "go runners!" Minus one point for sadly learning that Lincoln's voice was nowhere near as strong as I always pictured the voice that would boom "Four Score....." Minus another point for Lincoln not being a vampire killer.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey:  I saw this to keep my husband company.  Kept the expectations reaaaallll low, which helped me only feel bored 20% of the time.  The sudden outburst of songs was super odd.  And kind of funny.  And why did one dwarf get to look normal while the rest had huge honkers? It passed the time. A lot of "there is no way they would have survived that" moments.  6.2 out of 10 "go runners!"

How'd Kili get so lucky?

Brave: I watched this at home on DVD which means I hardly paid attention.  So I hated it.  Also the twist is very....huh? Turns out this movie is about....huh? okay.  4.8 out of 10 "go runners!" Minus 5.2 points for Disney forgetting that the best Disney movies have songs.

Skyfall: This blog review was a bad idea.....I'm getting impatient and running out of adjectives....  What to say....the first Craig Daniels Bond movie, Casino Royale, is still the best one hands down.  I don't know if we're supposed to like M or not, but I'm with the bad guys on this one and think she is a cold-hearted B who I would seek vengeance on if I was Javier Bardem.  The villain who rocked the house.  7.3 out of 10 "go runners!"

Les Miserables:  Oh, my sweet Les Mis.  My love Les Mis.  I fell in love with the story when I was just six years old and my mom snuck me into the show in San Francisco (I think you had to be 8 years old).  I have since seen it several more times, fell deeply and shed tears with the Victor Hugo novel, and rocked out to the PBS soundtrack in its entirety during long runs.  And long drives.  I am not a fan of musicals -- I hate Rent; I hate Wicked; I like Jersey Boys; etc.  But Les Mis holds a very special place in my heart.  That said, I don't have a lot to add to the reviews that have all been told already.  The film was lovely in that it took you visually where the broadway performance can not.  The opening scene itself is stunning.  The actors don't hold a candle to the powerful voices of broadway trained actors, nor to the talent that is required of that unmatchable soundtrack.  I do think Hugh Jackman did justice to one of my favorite characters in literature, Jean Valjean, but nobody else quite hit the mark.  Maybe adult Eponine...regardless of the voices, it was still a joy to watch.  I spent most of the movie trying not to cry since my cool husband was busy being all "I'm bored, is it over yet." Sacha Baron Cohen sucked balls.  Because the story is still Les Mis, 8.1 out of 10 "I'm Jean Valjean's!!"

Well done monsieur Jackman

Everybody hates you Cosette.  Don't you know how much your father has SACRIFICED?!

Silver Linings Playbook: I believed the hype and got my expectations way too high.  In the end, it was no different than the myriad other films out there that romanticize mental illness.  Garden State, As Good as it Gets, etc.  The ending was stolen right from Little Miss Sunshine.  It was nice to see Bradley Cooper not play a hot suave guy.  5 out of 10 "go runners...I guess..."

Life of Pi:  Now. THIS is a movie.  I was blown all sorts of away.  I haven't had such a magical experience at the movies in a long time.  A beautiful story, and my eyes lit up like I was on a Disneyland ride the entire time.  I wouldn't save this for a home viewing, it is far too lovely looking on the big screen.  Just a beautiful film.  I'm not sure how word of mouth hasn't spread this movie harder.  10 out of motherfucking 10 "Go Richard Parkers!"

We saw Life of Pi this weekend at a speakeasy theatre in Oakland.  It's awesome.  We sat on a couch.

The couch to the left of the one with the people in it. 

Movies I haven't seen yet but still want to: Zero Dark Thirty; Django Unchained (afraid of the violence, never seen a Quentin film); Beasts of the Southern Wild; I think that's it.

Do you love the movie theatre experience? Favorite movie of 2012?