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not sure where I stand

Well, This was supposed to be my last long run before the marathon. My training plan said to do 20 miles. I was a little unsure about making my last long run 20 and leaving 6.2 on the table. Now, I am leaving 8.2 on the table.
I ran 18 miles two weeks ago. Last week I knocked my long run down to 10 miles. The 10 mile run felt smooth and easy.
My plan was to make this weekend’s run like a race simulation. The Marathon starts at 8 a.m. I wanted to get up around 7:30. Drink my water and hit the road. Of course I slept in a little later. I am taking the Friday before the marathon off from work so hopefully I will be rested. I got up around 8:15. I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and got dressed. For some reason I was really hungry. I made a toasted English Muffin with peanut butter. I rarely have this as my breakfast. I finally hit the road around 9:15. For about 7 miles I was feeling pretty good. I always bring a water with me on the road. At about mile 10 I started to feel stomach cramps. Side stitches creeped up around mile 12 and didn’t go away until I was done. The weather was mostly cloudy and around 70 but with high humidity. It was 93% when I woke up. The humidity was brutal. Miles 1-10 I was moving along at my typical 8:50 – 9:35 pace. Miles 10 -17 I was slower than 10 minutes a mile. That is much slower than anything I normally do. I didn’t realize this at the time but after uploading my run on the computer there was a clear point where I hit the wall. In high humidity situations the body just can’t evaporate quickly enough. This can lead to increase body temperatures and lots of other symptoms. I hydrated plenty. I refilled my water bottle two times I refueled with an espresso Gu energy gel. I just could not get into a rhythm. My feet were killing me and my left hip was cramping up. I tried to gut it out for 18 but I couldn’t even handle that. 17.5 was the end. Normally when I am feeling this way I say to myself if you stop now you still have to walk home. I didn’t care at this point. I walked about a mile and a half back home. I took my typical ice bath on my longer runs. Right now I am dealing with aching feet and a sore left hip that feels like it could cramp at any moment. Also, just general fatigue. After I got out of the ice bath and shower I fell asleep for an hour or so. I am starting to second guess this a little. I think I can still do it if everything goes well but what if it doesn’t. Now the question is do I start my taper as my plan dictates or do I try to get up to 20 miles. I am 3 weeks out.

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How I became a runner. (sort of)

Beginning running is very hard. I always tell people that I am not a runner. I just pretend to be one. I am a firm believer that runners are born and not necessarily made. I lost 85 pounds and then I started running. Because I run a lot now people assume that I did that by running. In fact, I was never much of a runner. In High School I played three sports but why would I run if I wasn’t going after a ball or trying to score? I am now convinced that runners run because of their bodies, they don’t get their bodies because they run. An elite male runner is maybe 150 pounds at the most. I am still around 200 pounds depending on the day. I have wide shoulders and I lift weights a lot. For me to get down to that weight would be very hard. I have run two half marathon’s and am contemplating running a full this year.
When I first decided to try running I remember having trouble completing two miles. This was after I lost 85 pounds. I was a 12 letter varsity athlete in High School. I played college baseball. It took me 3 months of running once a week to get my calves not to severely cramp up. I needed some motivation. Men’s Health Magazine is one of my favorites. If you follow my twitter twitter.com/JoeLopez55 you know that I often retweet posts from Men’s Health. At the time I saw an event called the Urbanathalon. It was a ten mile race with obstacles such as cabs, building stairs, and even rope climbs. I was pumped for this event. It was a perfect combination of strength and running. It sounded a lot cooler than just running a marathon. Not knowing a lot of about these events I decided not to sign up until I was sure I could complete the event and not embarrass myself. A funny thing happened along the way. I got pretty good at running. I was following a 3 day a week training program which I did my long runs on the weekends. About two months before the event I was up to about 6 miles so I decided to sign up for the event. I logged online and saw that the race was sold out. I had no idea that there was a maximum number of people for the event. All my work didn’t go to waste. I found a half marathon in Jersey City one week after the original date for the Urbanathalon. I signed up immediately for the Newport half marathon and two months later in a steady rain I completed my first ever race in 2 hours 3 minutes and 54 seconds. A half marathon for those of you who don’t know is 13.1 miles. It was a lot of fun with a good crowd. The finish line had lots of free giveaways with food and drinks for the runners. I was hooked. Some races have themes and people wear costumes. Some races have bands along the way and free beer which is always a good thing. Some have whole weekends dedicated to the event. You can explore new cities and give yourself an excuse to get out of town for the weekend. The dinner the night of the race is always the best. After Baltimore my wife and I went to a Spanish Tapas restaurant and the Sangria was flowing. On top of me being a fitness fanatic I am also a bit of a foodie. Although I painstakingly watch my diet I like to indulge on a nice dinner on a special occasion. Finishing a race is always a special occasion. Signing up for a race even if it is a one miler or a 5k can give you the motivation you need to get started. Find a race near you by going to Runnersworld.com or Active.com. While I still don’t consider myself a runner, I like competing against myself. I like going for a nice long run on a beautiful spring day. How often do you get time to yourself? Nothing to do but focus on your breathing and get in the rhythm of your own thoughts. If you have tried running in the past and have failed try again. Remember my first try at it. Months and Months of sore calves and hurting feet. Go one step at a time. Take it slow. I would start with just one run a week. Your body will tell you what you need. I promise if you give it a shot you can learn to love it like I do. As you get better and your confidence grows you will begin to realize that the journey to the race is what makes you stronger. The race itself is just time to have fun and relax. So find a race near you and sign up. Maybe I will see you at my next race. Maybe I can finally do that urbanathalon.

Fage Fage Fage

Not sure what this is?  Well first of all it’s pronounced Fa -Yay.  It’s an incredible Greek yogurt that you can most likely find in your grocery store.  It has turned into my go to snack.  It has a rich and creamy texture to it.  Although it comes it many flavors I  choose the plain 0%. You will save about 40 calories per serving compared to the 2%.  They also have flavors but why not add in fresh natural toppings of your own.  I have mixed in honey, sugar free jelly, and fresh fruit such as blueberries and raspberries.  Really whatever you feel like is a good idea.  You can get a large container but I recommend the individual ones. They are 6 ounces.   It is a predetermined amount for your snack.  This eliminates mindless snacking.  This way you know exactly how much you are going to eat.  That is a good tip for snacking in general.  For example, don’t eat out of a large container.  Instead take out your pre-planned amount and put it into a smaller serving bowl.  You will be less likely to go back when the bag has already been put away.  The individual size Fage  0% plain has 90 calories.  It also packs a full 15 grams of protein to only 7 grams of sugar.  The protein will help you feel fuller longer.  Add in a tablespoon of organic honey and about 10 blueberries and you are looking at 150 calories.  Not bad for a night time snack.