March 19, 2011

The Purim Aftermath

Posted in Training at 12:33 pm by Lisa

So my favorite holiday here in Israel has to be Purim. I don’t think I was too aware of it growing up and I’m not a huge fan of dressing up BUT I love the food that goes with it! Obviously, I’ll eat the doughnuts on Chanuka and the honey cake on Rosh HaShana, but hamantaschen (or oznei haman, as they’re called here), win every time. And lucky (or unlucky) for me, the kind I like best are the most pedestrian kinds made in the supermarket. No designer bakery versions with fancy filling needed – the cheapest (and easiest to come by) are the best!

And then there’s the mishloach manot – these are plates of candy, cookies, and various other treats that are given to friends and neighbors for the holiday. I’ve never really done them before (except, of course, very graciously accepting them from Sivia and family who are so very generous when it comes to supplying me with candy!) but this year I got into the spirit of things and therefore have the makings of these plates in the house, as well as the aforementioned, very generous gift from Sivia.

Well, it turns out (duh!) that these holiday fixins are not exactly the right type of fuel that a body needs to run 32km. And add to that the work party the evening before with 2 glasses of wine – I can’t even remember the last time I had even one glass! – and yet more junk food from a bar (fried this and that, various cookies, etc.), it’s no wonder that I could only do 16km on Friday before calling it a day.

Which was very demoralizing and because I really didn’t realize how the food (or lack of real food) effected me, I was very down and nervous about my chances of having any kind of successful run in just three weeks time. Luckily for me, I had a scheduled appt. with my “Chinese doctor” (he’s not at all Chinese but practices Chinese medicine (accupunture, accupressure, horrible-tasting potions, various herbal cigar concoctions, etc.) and it makes me laugh to use that expression), or Itzik as the rest of the world calls him. I never thought I’d be a believer but honestly a session with Itzik means the difference between taking more than 15 minutes to hobble down one block and actually feeling I can walk home like a normal person without a pathetic shuffle. Anyway, after a lengthy discussion about my feet (which are just scary to look at between the various blisters, callouses and black toe nails, and the heels which seem to be acting up yet again), he took me to task about my eating habits. (Which by the way, is also a constant lecture from Lior but I guess I’m fed up with hearing it from him and, if possible, he has even worse habits than I do, so I’m just “yes, yes, I know” when Lior starts in on my nutrition but I gave it a listen to Itzik (which I’m sure will piss Lior off greatly when he finds out about that!)

Anyway, here comes yet another sacrifice – all the candy and wrapped cookies went into a plastic bag, which was thrown to the back of a cabinet. You didn’t really think I was going to throw that stuff out, did you?!? I mean I did throw out the remain hamantaschen (sob!) without having even one this morning! Nah, that’s the reward for after the marathon. But until then, I’m going to keep my diet as clean as possible, with a focus on the protein and healthy carbs that I need to get me successfully to the finish line.

So I sort of feel like I’m going through a detox these past few hours (pathetic, I know) and since I didn’t finish my run yesterday, I checked in with Lior as to what I should do about it. We both thought that to go for another 20km today would be the right thing to do. I’m already feeling better so hopefully the run this afternoon will be ok. I probably should have done it in the morning but I wanted to go to the gym and after checking the tv schedule I should be there between 2:00-4:00 to catch the best of the last weekend of Biathlon) (Yes, I probably should be doing it outside but I’m bored of outside running at the moment.)

I’ll see how this approach works. It might be that just the thought of getting to dive into that bag of candy after the race will be the incentive I need to cross the finish line faster than ever!

March 5, 2011

The Mental Game

Posted in Training at 10:14 pm by Lisa

After I tell someone that I’m training for a marathon, the usual comment is “oh, there’s no way that I could that.” My usual comeback is that it’s really a mental issue – just about anyone can do a marathon. What’s really hard about it are the mental games that you have to play – it’s such a long training period, and face it, a lot of these runs are just boring and hard. To be serious about it, you have to give up some things (I’ve missed two trips on the Israel trail so far, as well as another one coming up. I’ve decided against some runs and races with Etgarim which would have been a lot more fun.) But what can you do? You basically have to commit to the training because while maybe some people can wing it, it’s an effort to do the 42km and you have to put in the time.

So I’ve been thinking that one of my weak points in my training is my mental strength. I’ve started running again with Lior, in order to improve my times. And inevitably, I get to a part of the run where it’s just hard and I want to stop. Not slow down, just stop completely. And then the whining starts. “I can’t anymore, I have to slow down”. Sometimes he pushes me on (that can either be some verbal encouragement or an actual physical push) and sometimes he lets me get away with it (I suspect those are the times when he had a late night drinking the night before and is just as relieved as I am to slow it down). In any event, in all cases after those runs, I’m a bit annoyed with myself for “giving up” so easily. It’s really just a few more minutes to tough it out, what’s the big deal. And it’s not a physical thing – I could do more if I tried. But it’s the mental aspect that gets me. I start in thinking it’s too hard, it’s too fast, I’m too tired, I can’t do it – and that gets me every time. Definitely something to work on.

Yesterday’s run was a brutal one – 28 kilometers – and I didn’t expect it to be so hard. A little scary to think that in about 5 weeks I’m planning on going another 14km on top of that 28. I guess this is where the mental strength comes into play. “I’ve done it before.” “Just take it 1 km at a time.” Zone out. Just focus on putting one step in front of the other. etc. etc.

In the end though, I did it. I can’t say it was pretty – it was a true slog and I finished way slower than I would have liked. I’m only now getting over the effects of the run (immediately after, I met up with Raz for coffee and he offered me his grandparent’s walker – which I most definitely could have used!).

In any event, I think I know the reasons (or excuses) for it being so difficult but whatever the reason, I finished it in the end so I’m going to chalk it up to a victory in mind over matter. And that’s actually what counts in the end.

I’ve got one of those training runs with Lior scheduled for tomorrow morning (another 6am run – but how can I complain when we’re running on the boardwalk, just 50ft from the Mediterranean sea?) The goal is to get through the run without too many negative thoughts – and if so, I’ll consider that a win as well.

I’m going to wear one of my new nifty headbands – modeled below by Liam and Dylan. Aren’t those two adorable? (Liam’s ears don’t normally stick out that way but I think Elaine had to use them to keep the headbands from falling off his face!)

I’m off to bed – early day tomorrow!