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Posted by ccira Oct 20, 2008


On my birthday (October 11), I foolishly decided to do an 11.5-mile walk! Foolish because I ruined my own birthday by getting excruciatingly-painful blisters. I can handle a lot of pain during workouts, but this? Actually made me cry. On my birthday! (I must say, though, I was extremely proud that I made it back, considering that I ran into Ryan biking a mile from home and I refused the bike AND a shortcut! Yay for mental fortitude! Plus this was the first-ever time I've cried during a workout, so I get mad Tough Points.) Fortunately, after much draining and airing-out, the blisters have healed, but I obviously have a vested interest in them never coming back. The experience was so painful that I haven't walked more than a few miles since. I'm afraid they'll re-form and never go away.



I have heard, though, that putting duct tape on your feet prevents blisters. It sounds crazy, but it works. I tried it on Thursday. Worked like a charm. I plan to get better tape (the stuff I used wasn't fabric-y enough) and use this trick for an upcoming half marathon. That's right, I'm doing another half! The On the Road for Education half marathon up in Mason City this coming weekend. It fits perfectly into my training (I have to go 13 that weekend anyway), so why not do my workout and get a t-shirt and medal?



Regarding my training, it isn't going as well as I'd hoped, but fortunately I know exactly why. My strength routine is too vigorous. As it stood, I was doing about 3.5-4 hours of strength training a week, not to mention cross-training and about 6 hours of walking. Something had to give. Last night I rewrote my entire training schedule, and this morning I rewrote my strength workouts to be way, WAY less intense and long. I still hit all the major muscle groups, but instead of 80 minutes these workouts will be about 40 minutes. Here's the problem - I've been in a sort of "build phase" before my marathon training, and as such I added a lot of muscle, but I've been working too hard and eating too much. This is causing me to feel really lethargic. Last year at this time I had a LOT of energy and it was because I was doing mostly cardio (1-2 hours a day) and not piling on tons of fatty foods. My diet has really gone downhill since then, although it still isn't technically AWFUL. I need to eat more fruit, but unfortunately all my favorites are out of season already, which makes it difficult to eat as well as I'd like. I function extremely well on a high-carb diet but my strength-training required more fat and protein. I need to get back to a diet of about 65-70% carbs from good sources.  Yes, I've gained about 10 lb of muscle in the last year, which is awesome, but I need to focus less on my muscles and more on my cardiovascular endurance.



On the plus side, I have started jogging again! It's very tentative, of course, but every run is better than the one before it. I need to take it very slowly. I wrote a build-up plan into my marathon training so that hopefully by race day I'll be able to safely do a 1:5 ratio or so for the entire race (if I want to - I'll probably take an hour to just warm up with walking only).  New pains are coming up,  mostly the top of my right foot. I plan to call my PT today and find out what's causing it so I can stop it. I'm probably just getting used to the new orthotics. My shins still hurt a little bit at various points of my runs but it's fine the next day. Compare this to a couple of years ago, when my shins felt like they'd literally been SHOT during my runs, and the next day were extremely sore and tender. Big improvement!




Plan For Success

Posted by ccira Oct 5, 2008


I've gotten in the swing of things! This past week I got my orthotics back, so I could start training again every day. It's been going quite well! I'm now doing two walks of about 6-7 miles a week, plus a long walk on the weekend. Strength training is stlll three times a week. After my orthotics break-in period (2 weeks) I'll be able to gradually start running again, which I am extremely excited about. I got new shoes yesterday at our TNT Team Day at the local running store, so from now on I'll be sporting the Adidas Supernova Sequence. They made my feet feel straight-up awesome. They have more support in the heel and a good, narrow fit, which I like.



I'm still optimistic that I'll be able to run part of the marathon. Of course, I am not going to risk running even a majority of the miles, so I'll probably walk the first half, then run/walk the last half at a 1:3 ratio or so. Maybe even 1:4. This might help me get through the race better, because I'll be looking forward to that last half and being able to run. I'll also be (LOL) extremely well warmed-up!



Another option is walking until the Magic Kingdom (around mile 11), then running through the MK, then walking again until I hit Animal Kingdom, at which point I can run/walk the rest of the way. I like running through the actual parks because that's where the crowds and photographers are.



If it sounds like maybe I'm overthinking this, I will readily admit it! I always have three strategies on race day, because if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.



1) Plan A: normal conditions, normal fatigue and pain.



2) Plan B: Excessive fatigue.



3) Plan C: Excessive pain.



Of course, if Plan C fails there is the possibility of dropping out, however this would only be an absolute last resort for me (i.e., if I am unable to walk at all). I never want to quit a race. If I can't finish, I want it to be because I had to walk and couldn't maintain a fast-enough pace, so I got swept. Of course, in an extreme case (such as a hamstring tear, God forbid), I have to be willing to quit.



On the plus side, there is also a Plan A+, which involves perfect conditions and no fatigue or pain. In this plan, I take a conservative approach until the last ten miles, at which point I will allow myself to speed up if I feel absolutely fantastic.



In all three plans I follow my three adages of distance running: drink before you're thirsty, eat before you're hungry, and walk before you're tired. And before you know it, poof! You're a marathon finisher. (Here's hoping!)




Training Is Underway!

Posted by ccira Sep 23, 2008


My official training began on September 8! It is going extremely well. I work out 6 days a week and have managed to get all workouts in (except one strength workout because I was still very sore from the previous one) until this week. Yesterday I had a strength day scheduled, which I had to skip due to some significant shoulder pain. I think I slept on it funny! Then today, I went to a new doctor to get another opinion about my shins, and he said it was an easy orthotics fix that would take care of it! So those have been sent in to the lab, which means I couldn't do my walk today and I won't be able to do the rest of this week's walks until I get my orthotics back. I can still strength train, though, and one week of not walking is fairly inconsequential since I was already doing higher mileage than my schedule said anyway. So I am extremely pleased that my shin issues may finally be fixed!



This weekend is our first group run (or rather, the first one that I can attend - the very first one was held during the Park to Park race), and as the "assistant volunteer coach" I am giving a presentation on strength training for runners. I know much about the subject! It's all about strong core muscles, resisting upper-body fatigue, and lower-body injury prevention.  Unfortunately I might not be able to participate in the actual group run because of missing orthotics, but I can at least teach the team a good strength workout!



I will close this short update with one of my favorite quotes, which is not technically about running but which I relate to running.



"Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up...but the body is never tired if the mind is never tired." -General Patton



This completely exemplifies my training philosophy. We work out not to carve totally diesel muscles and get faster and stronger. We work out to give us the confidence to know that we can do anything. Similarly, marathon training isn't just about making sure your legs can carry you 26.2 miles. It's about making sure your mind KNOWS that your legs can carry you 26.2 miles. That way, when your legs want to quit, your mind can remind them what they're capable of.




Medal of Honor

Posted by ccira Sep 8, 2008


Saturday was the Park to Park Half Marathon here in the Cedar Valley, and good news...we finished! I didn't have any doubts, but apparently my mom was quite worried. She did a great job! Got all the way to mile 10 before anything started hurting, which I have to say is amazing for a woman who had never walked more than 5 miles at a time. I was extremely proud, and glad she got to earn her first-ever endurance-event medal. Maybe she'll get the urge to earn another one someday!



She was no worse for the wear, but I got the most brutal blister of my life! It is on my right foot's pinky toe, and it literally takes up the entire bottom and inside of the toe. It is massive. I find myself staring at it in amazement. After several layers of New Skin (an amazing product!), I can no longer feel it. I'm sure it will quickly turn into a handsome callous!



My workouts are going well - walking a lot, obviously, and getting in some strength workouts.  Today I wrote out my complete marathon training plan, since we only have about 18 weeks left. I plan to build up to a 22-mile walk, and I'll try to jog when I can. I may need to switch to motion-control shoes - even though I have orthodics for my soles, my heel is probably moving too much in my stability shoe. The weather has been a bit cool and rainy lately, and I prefer working out when it's hotter (I'm strange like that!), so I'll just have to deal with that. Compared to the stress of dealing with cancer, these sorts of concerns seem ridiculous. That's why I'm so impressed by the Medals for Mettle program (, which gives people's earned race medals to those battling serious illness and injury. It helps put it in perspective that the people who benefit from cancer research are in the really tough race.



Again, I want to thank everyone who has donated so far, or who is thinking about donating! Every little bit helps! If you don't feel comfortable making an online donation, please email me at and I can tell you how and where to mail a donation. 




Fun Week!

Posted by ccira Aug 26, 2008


First of all, a big THANK YOU to everyone who has donated so far! You guys are the best!



My training is going quite well. On Thursday and Saturday I did strength workouts. I wrote myself two very tough workouts that I alternate, so Thursday was an endurance strength day and Saturday was a power strength day. Each workout took over an hour to complete due to the sheer number of moves I included - I like to hit the muscles in a variety of ways, so I usually do at least two moves for each muscle group. I also added new stability work (one-legged squats on a wobble board, to name one move!) and updated my ab circuit to be positively ridiculous...but my training motto is, what does not kill me will literally make me stronger!



Sunday was amazing - I did a long walk of about 9.5 miles in preparation for my September 6th half marathon. It felt great! I kept a fantastic pace and it felt super-easy! It didn't hurt that the weather was gorgeous. I love the weather in Waterloo/Cedar Falls...although I must confess that the wind is a bit much on occasion! Then yesterday (Monday) I rode my bike to the rec center, did a fitness class that I'm going to begin teaching tomorrow (excited about that!), then rode back home. Today I am SORE! That fitness class didn't fool around. Hopefully I can keep up the very-difficult tradition!



I'm totally psyched to begin workouts with the team. My life as a runner/walker has been quite solitary, and I look forward to feeling a camaraderie with others who have similar goals. In the end, it's just your body and the road, but at least there are people who can help you push through mentally. That's what endurance sport is all about - put the miles on the legs, yes, but it's primarily about mind over matter. That's one reason Team in Training is so great. When I did the 2008 WDW 1/2 marathon, I constantly saw the "purple people" on the course and on the sidelines, and everyone was cheering each other on. I'm sure that's a big reason of why so many people are able to finish the races, even if just 6 months earlier they hadn't run a step. There's a lot to be said for motivation, both in terms of  the fundraising and altruistic aspects, and with the crowd and team support.



I may need to take today off from workouts to let my legs recover from all the squats and lunges of yesterday's fitness class - I smell a high-protein-intake day ahead! 




Gotta Start Somewhere!

Posted by ccira Aug 21, 2008

Hello, everyone! Welcome to my blog. I'm extremely excited about training for my first-ever marathon in my favorite vacation destination (this will be my 11th visit in 20 years!), and being able to help raise money for the LLS while doing it! 


Since this is the first entry, I'll put down where I am right now. As a personal trainer, it is extremely important to me to be in shape. I try to work out every day, either with a 60-70 minute strength session or with cardio (preferably over an hour). I am currently training for my 4th half marathon (well, I suppose the training is my 5th half marathon training, since I trained for a half marathon in June that got turned into a 10-miler due to flooding!), which I will be walking. I have run/walked two half marathons - the 2007 Sturgis Falls Half Marathon in Cedar Falls, IA (which was my current PR of 2:50) and the 2008 Walt Disney World Half Marathon (2:54 - it was humid and hot down there!). I walked the Park to Park Half Marathon in 2007 in Waterloo, IA, with a time of about 3:17. I'll be walking that race again this year on September 6th, only this time my mother will be joining me! She smoked for forty years, quit cold turkey shortly after her 56th birthday and has not wanted a cigarette since - so I roped her into doing a half marathon!




Since this upcoming race will be walked at a slower pace than my others, I haven't been training for it in a traditional way. Instead of long walks going up to 10 miles, this time I am simply walking to and from work once a week (roundtrip of 8 miles).  I also get in a couple of other walks during the week of 5-6 miles. Strength training is about 3-4 times a week, and I usually throw in a bike ride of 60-90 minutes.




Nutritionally I tend to do well. I count calories, but I don't restrict them. Calories are, as any endurance athlete knows, extremely important! Especially carbs - if anyone else on my team is reading this, please do not fear carbs! They are your friends! I drink a minimum of a gallon of water a day - on heavier workout days I'll drink up to a gallon and a half. I recommend copious water consumption to anyone training for an endurance event. I make sure to eat small meals throughout the day and I always eat within 20 minutes after a workout.




Main concerns going into marathon training:




1) Short periods of laziness. Sometimes I have a week where I don't feel like doing much - low energy. Hopefully having the support of walking with new friends will help!




2) Fundraising! I am a bit scared that I won't make the minimum. Hopefully my friends and family will help me out by recruiting others to donate!




3) My shins. Due to biomechanical defects in my feet and shins I am extremely prone to severe shin splints and stress fractures. Currently my shins are at a point where running would be, well, very unwise. I take many precautions to ensure that I am able to continue exercising, and I'm not worried about not being able to complete the marathon - at this point, I remain hopeful that I will be able to run a portion of the course! If not, I will be fine with walking it in its entirety.




That's it for now. I hope to update this blog at least once a week with training updates. If you have any questions or comments, let me know! Thanks!