10 miles in Murder Common

My mood is stinky lately. Reeeeall smelly. Like a foot.

I hate that I’m so affected by bad weather, but I can’t get rid of this feeling that I just want to go home and enjoy a normal life where I can go outside. Everything about my life in London is great and I’m really happy … but so unhappy at the same time.

Saturday morning was kind of good, weather wise. I ran 10 miles in Wimbledon Common, but I started to get upset toward the end of my run because it was getting cloudy and rainy, and stayed that way for the rest of the day – including for my party!

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I was loving Wimbledon Common because I had no idea there were so many trails and private places. I started thinking it would be a place where I could easily be killed. Later when I told one of my friends about how amazing Wimbledon Common was, the first thing he said was that a woman was murdered there a few years back. Great!

I don’t think I need any more details. It’s a great place, and if you haven’t been you definitely need to check it out!

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I didn’t have a running partner this time, but 10 miles (mostly) wasn’t as hard as I thought. It’s amazing how quickly you get in shape. Up until the fourth mile I still felt great and wasn’t tired at all.

Then I came across some soccer fields that had a track spray painted on the grass. For some reason I don’t really mind running around a track. I wouldn’t want to do it for 10 miles, but 2-3 is fine. I kind of just space out and don’t even think about running.

Plus, running around the track enabled me to set down my fanny pack and water. Yeah, that’s right. I wore a fanny pack. Even though I’m a pretty big supporter of fanny packs and can’t wait until the day they come back into fashion, any time I wear one I still pray I don’t run into anyone I know.

I own two fanny packs.

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The last mile was so tough. My legs felt dead, and even though I’d brought energy bars for the occasion, I was too tired. I still managed to run, but at the slowest of paces. My knees were also hurting, which has been worrying me.

I half-ran, half-hobbled past the fair in Wimbledon Village, where there were lots of food tents, activities and tons of horses.

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By that evening my legs were really feeling the run. Even though at the time I felt like I had a good run, I was doubting my ability to run this marathon. I felt really badly, but that was partially due to the fact that I hadn’t eaten all day. I was too busy cooking and serving to actually eat, so by bedtime I felt awful. All I could think was: if I feel this terrible after 10 miles, how am I ever going to complete the longer runs to finish 26 miles??

I have a few shorter distances before it picks back up in a couple weeks, so I’m hoping these will be better! And of course I’ll be sure to focus on proper nutrition and eating – that was a bad one-off.

It also helps that my blogging friend Jill has decided to get a bit crazy and sign up for a marathon herself, so she says she’ll be running the distances with me – except in Italy 🙂

She has signed up for a marathon in Budapest, which I think is SO cool. I kind of wish I’d signed up for a European race, and turned it into a racing holiday. Perhaps next year – depending on how my first marathon works out!

Nine miles through central London

Yesterday was my longest run in my month of marathon training.

I had to take a week off because I over did it last week, and I’ve never before moved my body nine miles in one direction without the aid of a vehicle, so I was nervous.

Luckily I had two people to run “with” yesterday. One actually with me, and one international running buddy. Jill, from The Cinquecento Project, is a fellow Mid-Westerner but lives in Italy, so she e-mailed me saying she’d coordinate to run nine miles at the same time. Really fun idea and I hope we can keep doing it! If anyone else wants to join in, let me know!

Although you’re not actually running together it’s cool to imagine you’re not alone and it also gives you more accountability because you know another person is going to be running.

My other running buddy was a friend from work. Normally I joke around and ask people if they want to run however many miles with me on the weekend and I usually get a head shake a laugh, but Hugh was crazy enough to agree to run with me. I didn’t believe it at first. I was like, “Ummm, what? Really?!?”

We met at Green Park, by Buckingham Palace, at 3 pm and did a giant loop around Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James’ Park, past Waterloo and back around to Embankment.
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Hello, Queen!

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I didn’t want to overdo it so we stopped after every mile and stretched and had water. And took pictures!

There was some kind of parade going on, and while we were taking pictures I stepped to the edge of the curb and noticed a bus pulling up.

Here’s the face of someone who thinks they’re going to get hit.

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We ran along the parade and into Kensington Gardens. I’d never been to this part before, but it was beautiful and full of dirt paths so we didn’t have to run on the hard pavement. I think this was a huge help for my shins as well.

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I’m such a tourist. With all the pictures we took you’d never guess we both live and work here.

All the sites we saw on this run made me think perhaps I should do a long run in every city I visit. See everything in a couple hours versus a couple days!

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We crossed the river at about mile seven, and had to walk most of the bridge because it was packed with actual tourists.

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We’d been in parks all day, but ended at Embankment so we had to stretch on a concrete slab.

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I went home, made a giant dinner that I ate as fast as I could and then iced my legs with broad beans (I’m a proud veggie lover, but broad beans = gross). I ain’t wastin’ no peas on shin icing. Peas are most definitely on my “get in muh belly” list.

Although I’m pretty sore today, I’m very happy to say I’m not having an ounce of shin pain! This makes me feel pretty confident and I’m already looking forward to next week’s 10 miles.

Marathon training begins!

My first two days of marathon training are complete. Two words: hot. sore.

I can’t say it’s in any way been easy. I took a month off from running because I was so busy before my mom came to visit, and then I had no time for even a single work out while she was here. It’s amazing how much of a difference a month will make in fitness. Before, I could run three miles and wouldn’t really feel tired afterward. After running three yesterday and two today, I am sore and so tired!

The month + of rain we’ve had in England finally left and we’ve been enjoying temperatures between 75 and 80, which is great!

It’s not too hard to stay motivated on my runs because I’m really lucky and have a lovely running route.

My favorite blue house:

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And other cute English homes:

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I live close to a large park, and it’s great because it’s not in the city center so there are no tourists! It’s well maintained and spacious, and every time I’m here I forget I live in a big, dirty city.

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Anyone who thinks South West London is anything but the best part of the city is crazy.

SW-4-Life, yo.

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As you can tell from all the pictures, I took a few walking breaks 🙂

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Another reason I love this park is because there is a good mix of pavement and dirt paths so you’re not always on concrete.

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I think I might be 75 years old. Every time I see a lawn bowling club, I really, really want to join. Doesn’t this look great?

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I can’t wait for retirement.

Crazy train

I’m going to start with a song because I’ve been listening to it all day. You’ll probably hate it, but if you feel like listening to a Kenny Chesney live cover of John Mellencamp’s Hurts So Good then this will make your day!

By the way, both Kenny Chesney and John Mellencamp are amazing in concert.

I woke up at 5 am today to make it to work by 6. You’d think I’d be tired after working this early all week, but no. I injected coffee straight into my system at exactly 6:01 and the rest is history.

I watched videos of roller coasters, white water rafting, and talked about skydiving. I Facebooked (yes, that’s a verb in my world), blogged and chatted my face off. This may give the impression that I don’t work at work, but I assure you I do. It’s just that on occasion people don’t have a lot of news to tell the world at 6 am.

Anyway, I was in a fit of giggles all day so I had to control myself. Then I was waiting on the train from Waterloo and just as it was about to leave a guy comes running full speed toward the doors shouting “IS THIS TRAIN GOING TO WIMBLEDON???” The doors slammed shut in his face and all was silent until a guy goes, “Not for you!”

I felt so bad for him because all Londoners have been there, but I lost it. Everyone around us started laughing, and seeing as how I was repressing my hyperness all day I was laughing out loud. Fifteen minutes later I got off the train and like a crazy person was laughing to myself on the walk home.

That’s when I decided I was never going to sleep tonight if I still had this much energy so I laced up my running shoes and ran 2.5 miles. It hurt. I haven’t been running since October 16, when I ran a 5K in Clapham. That hurt, too, because before that I hadn’t put on my running shoes since September 17 when I ran a 10K in the Air Force Marathon. Ow!

I’ve decided I definitely want to start training for a half marathon. It’s actually happening. I was looking into training plans this week and now all I need is to find a suitable race!

(tomorrow is FRIDAY!!!!!)

Air Force Marathon 10K Recap

I did it. I ran a 10K (as part of the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio) and it was so much fun. I never in my life thought I’d be able to run farther than 3 miles, and I’d never run a race before. Although I didn’t run the whole 6.2 miles, I ran more than 5 miles of the race and the parts I didn’t run were giant, very long hills. The picture above is my bib from the 5K I walked with my mom. I didn’t get a lot of pictures of my 10K because I forgot my camera in my car so the ones I do have are from my mom’s camera.

*Just a quick note – you don’t have to be a military member to compete in this race, and it’s also a Boston qualifier.

It was COLD that morning, so the outfit I had picked out got scrapped in favor of my sister’s long sleeve high school honors kid shirt.

One thing I learned from this race is to check the program and layout before you head to the race. In the long walk from parking to the race area there were maybe five toilets. This had people freaking out, and waiting in lines that were at least 30 minutes long. I had to go, so I jumped in one line and was seriously worried I was going to miss the race.

Luckily my dad works on that part of the base and had checked the layout ahead of time so he informed me there were at least 100 porta-potties near the start line. Boy was he right! There were 13,000 registered runners for the Air Force Marathon (including all the half marathoners, 10Kers and 5Kers), so they had toilets to spare!

Even better (for me) was that hardly any people knew about these so most were empty! They definitely should have posted signs along the walk to tell people about this cache of toilets.

I’m so glad I picked the USAF Marathon as my first race because it was great! It takes place outside the United States Air Force Museum, so they have a lot of planes parked along the last stretch of the finish lines along with dozens of mini American flags.

The 10K runners started with the full marathoners. There were a few thousand half marathoners so they had to start an hour later. A B1-B Lancer did a flyover just before the gun went off to start, and a couple people were chanting USA! USA! So funny. Brits always laugh when Americans do that!

It took me about two minutes to reach the start line. Our bibs were chipped, but I also brought a stop watch so I could have an indicator of my general time.

First mile went smoothly. I had to keep telling myself that I’d run many single miles and not been tired, so this was no different. I didn’t even think about the 5.2 miles after.

At the end of the first mile the dreaded hill started. It lasted about 3/4 of a mile I think. There were marathoners running up the hill, and running straight past me. I felt like a loser for walking up the hill when so many people were running it, but I had to tell myself I wasn’t competing with anyone, and I certainly wasn’t competing with people who had trained for a marathon!

At mile 3 I started to get really tired, but between 3-4 it was almost entirely downhill so I decided to run it all. Once I got to 4 I thought, “Well, I know I can fairly easily run 2 miles, so I’m going to just finish this.”

At around mile 4 I fell into pace with another woman in her 50s. I’ve read a lot of race recaps on blogs so I hear this happens a lot – you’ll fall into pace with someone toward the end of the race and you help each other push through.

I was so happy for this to have happened to me because it was really nice to have someone to talk to and I really don’t think I would have been able to run the rest of the 2.2 miles without her. She really motivated me and I needed it because around mile 5 it was just painful. My legs hurt SO badly and I wanted nothing more than to walk.

Even still, I sprinted the whole last stretch. All the airplanes lining the finish line that I’d previously thought were so cool – I didn’t even notice them as I was sprinting to the finish line.

I know I look a bit dumb here, but I wanted to show you my medal because I thought they were awesome.

My parents greeted me at the finish line with a pumpkin donut because I can’t get pumpkin flavored delicacies in England!

When we crossed the finish line they put a medal around our neck and gave us a blanket to warm up. Then we got the normal water, fruit, energy drink and … PIZZA!!

With my mom after the 5K race.

Next year’s Air Force Marathon is Sept 12 I think, so if you’re in the Midwest definitely check it out. It’s so. much. fun.

Destroying food to stay healthy?

I don’t know what Mariah Carey was talking about in her song “Breakdown,” but I’m going to assume it was about lifting weights and then breaking down and eating some really nasty Papa Johns pizza. What else could it be though, really? 🙂

(I’m not even going to pretend this is a good quality photo!)

Ideally when I work out I’d like to eat a healthy snack afterward. Sometimes though, what you really need is a big, greasy slice of pizza. I don’t think anyone should have to feel guilty about that. Health is just as much a mental state, and I truly believe food plays a big part in making people happy so why deny yourself treats every now and again?

In all seriousness, I’ve read some scary, but mostly sad, stories about bloggers in the healthy living community destroying what they deem to be unhealthy food so they don’t eat any more. For example, baking a batch of cookies or a cake, having a bite and then pouring salt on the rest or throwing it in the trash so they can’t consume any more. What??!

I’ve always felt lucky to be a healthy person and I haven’t been sick in about four years. I think it’s OK to eat what you want because moderation is the key, in my opinion. I’m a healthy weight and always have been, and as I said, I’m rarely sick.

Any time I have ever tried to follow a strict eating regime to try to be  “healthier” I’ve ended up eating worse and feeling worse. I’d have huge cravings for certain foods. Rather than being happy with eating one slice of pizza, I’d cave and eat almost all of the pizza. I’m obviously not a doctor, but now I do what’s right for me and what makes me feel the best. What better indicator of health is there?

I really wanted some of that pizza in all its greasy glory last night, so I ate it. Do I eat pizza every night? No. But I eat it when I want it, and I’m feeling just fine.

The world’s smallest muscles

I’m maaaaybe being hyperbolic. My muscles aren’t the world’s smallest, but if I could take a look at the muscles on my shoulders I’m pretty sure they’d look like a couple ultra thin, floppy pieces of parma ham. I’m so weak!

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I decided to start weight training again for multiple reasons, but largely because I missed the way I looked and felt back in college when I was in Air Force ROTC and because I’ve read in so many places that weight training also makes you a stronger, fitter runner.(Can you believe that’s me in the front during my AFROTC days?? Seems like so long ago!)

Although I’ve said before that considering the competition for such jobs I’m so lucky to have a job as an editor for a news wire, it’s difficult working in an office and not moving for 8.5 hours every day. SO that is why I decided back in April to sign up for the Air Force Marathon 10k Sept 17 when I’m back in Ohio visiting family.

Have I ever even completed a 5k race? Nope! Not an official one anyway. I wanted a lofty goal. I felt a 5k would be too easy because I already know I can run 3 miles with minimal training, but I’ve never in my life run a 10k – competition or not.

Back to my parma ham muscles. Yes, that’s the problem. I’m incredibly weak. Weight lifting has been challenging, but getting stronger hasn’t been the benefit I was expecting.

As I was doing the dishes tonight my arms were wobbly but I noticed I was smiling. Who smiles and does dishes?

Every time I lift weights I feel so much happier for hours, if not days. Not for being stronger, but for accomplishing difficult goals. For making a schedule and sticking to it. For choosing to better myself.

I’ve finally stopped reading other people’s blogs about their accomplishments and started working on my own accomplishments. It’s exciting, and fun! When I was working out in college I used ExRx.com as a starting point, and I’ve always found it to be the best source of information. It also has workout templates and videos for each exercise, no matter what method you are choosing to lift, whether it be machines, dumbbells, etc.

Today is Monday – the perfect chance for all of us to pick something and stick to it. Let’s make the most of today!