I've gotten really lazy about taking that self-image picture, but have full intentions of getting back on track starting Week Nine. It just seems kind of silly because, even though I'm seeing changes, particularly the growing leg muscles (duh), I don't seem to be making any significant weight loss progress. As of today, I'm only down a pound and a half from the beginning of this training program. It's really not a huge deal though, because I know I'm getting faster and stronger each week, and I feel better in general. Why stress? After all, it's a rest day. :-)
If you're wondering how the vegan diet is going.. Well, let's just say, being a vegan is so much harder than being a vegetarian. It's a challenge, so I've decided to take it on gradually and learn from it as I go. Living dairy and meat free is definitely doable, it just takes a lot more thought and planning ahead, especially when you're training for a marathon. I've been pretty good about eating vegan for breakfast and lunch, but then I don't feel defeated if I'm a little more lax at dinner time (without losing complete control..ha!).
Monday - 4 miles
This week we graduated from 3 mile Mondays to 4 mile Mondays (yay!), which will continue through Week Ten. Today we took it to Downtown Orlando's beautiful Lake Eola Park. Tom and I split up again, which we just find is easier when running on crowded paths. This was an enjoyable run for me. I did about 4.5 loops around the lake while listening to some worship music on Pandora, and even singing along. Feeling so encouraged, I couldn't keep it inside. As I went along, I was delightfully surprised to find my pace picking up without any real effort. I finished with a 09:32 min/mi average. For me, this is fast. It felt so good. I ended up finishing only a few minutes after Tom and Jackson. (They must have been taking it easy.) Tom let me know that each time they passed the playground (where I take Jack every Friday after the library), he pointed and tried to direct them over to the swings! It's amazing how he can already remember these places. Of course we spent some time playing immediately after the run.
|Looks like he's in a daze, but he's humming along to the bounce.|
Tuesday - 7 Miles
Yep, Tuesdays have moved up from 6 to 7. (Hooray! Okay, I may have been genuinely excited about the 3 to 4 graduation, but this joy is slightly exaggerated.) Today Jack and I met up with our friend Cheryl from the ORC for three loops around the lovely Lake Baldwin. The temperature was noticeably cooler! Nothing makes those miles go by faster than having a beautiful sunrise and someone to talk to along the way. You almost forget you're running, almost.
|Little man fell asleep, but awoke exactly one second after this picture was taken, sitting up like a zombie.|
|...Then he enjoyed his breakfast before we headed back home.|
Wednesday - 4 Miles
Today we hit up one of our usual spots - Crane's Roost Park, for four loops around the lake, and I think we actually stuck together for the most part. I felt a little bit slower today, but still averaged under 10 min/mi. Jackson loves running around by the fountain after our workouts here.
|A large, grumpy looking bird.|
|Captivated by the fountain.|
|You can't see it here, but at the top of that tower, there is a giant golden globe. Jackson likes to shout up to it, "BAAALLLL!!"|
Friday - Long Run, 14 Miles
The plan for today was to head out at 4pm, shortly after Tom got home from work. Grab a quick snack and go. It takes a long time to run 14 miles, and we didn't want to spend most of it in the dark. Well, it didn't work out as planned, thanks to a switch in the usual nap pattern. Jackson didn't wake up till about 3:30, so we didn't want to rush off without giving him a chance to run around and play. So we had dinner and left around 5pm instead. We didn't realize our trail of choice, the Little Econ Greenway, would take us over an hour to get to and not have any convenient parking. While Tom found a nearby neighborhood to park in, Jackson got to spend some time on his feet. Meanwhile, the sun was setting. Needless to say, we started this run off on the wrong foot, no other way to put it. Tom asked, "Well, do you want to make this our cross-train day and just walk for an hour?" I just wanted to get it done with. I had spent all day thinking about it, and if I had to hold it off till Saturday it would just seem like I never had a break. Cross-train Saturdays are kind of a break that we look forward to. We had mentally prepped and physically fueled for a long run - So we did it. We ran 14 miles in the dark, on a trail we were unfamiliar with.
We stayed together the whole way, 7 miles out and back. At the beginning we felt unsure about it and prayed, "God protect us and get us through this." We heard some loud animals and were SURE it was some kind of primate..haha.. Still don't know what in the world that was, but we also heard and saw a pretty big owl. Boy was that thing loud!! The first half wasn't so bad, actually. Jackson fell asleep somewhere around mile 9 or so. Tom and I both agreed that we were both struggling around the time when we had like 4 miles left to go. I was determined not to throw in the towel and start walking, having another defeated walk back to the car (like my 11 mile run a few weeks back), I mentally did not want to return there, and it was worth the fight. I switched around my music a few times, trying to find something with an extra drive to it. Nothing was really cutting it, and the miles dragged on. Tom was having a lot of knee pain. I was just feeling fatigued in general. (Thankful that I got a nap in that afternoon, or I probably would not have survived- ha!)
By the end, we both finished with the same mindset, "God, I'm glad that's done." We did not feel like champions; we were just relieved to have it done and over with. We were at the car, downed some bottled waters and I just needed a place to sit. I didn't care how strange it looked when I pulled one of our beach chairs out of the back of the car and sat there, stretching my legs out towards the bumper. The neighborhood probably wondered at our choice of a tailgate party. Like I said, it was the least of my concerns. That chair was perfect.
Do I regret it? Running these long distances.. Is it all downhill from here (we can only hope..!)? Nah.. I know there are good days and bad days. These bad days, and it could have been so much worse, only make the good days better. The days when you are literally running on cloud 9, the endorphins pushing you on as you run singing, with a smile. Every day can't be like that. But I know that these days are the ones that make me stronger. They are the ones that I can look back on, while I'm on another long run, and think to myself, "Remember that day on the trail, in the dark, and I was so exhausted, but I managed to still run 14 miles straight without taking a break? Okay, yeah, I can do this too then." This is what it's all about. I love it.
Oh, and this was the farthest distance Tom and I have EVER run!!
|Our last view of sunshine.|
|We look forward to running this trail in the daylight sometime.|
|We passed a couple of parks at the beginning.|
|Tired little monkey kept falling asleep in between bites. I've never seen him chew so slowly.|
|The run that convinced Tom to get a knee brace.|
|There it is. All those steps summed up into a concise little map. Two and a half hours is a long time to run.|
We decided to take advantage of the College Park Jazz Fest 2012 and save our walk for that evening. Obviously too crowded to do any kind of cardio walking in the midst of the festivities, but College Park is a really cool district of Orlando and has some great neighborhoods to walk through. It was an unusually cool evening and we truly enjoyed the time with our little family. As much as we dislike Halloween and refuse to partake in it, lights are lights and Jackson, along with us, enjoyed several houses decked out in orange glow. It was too dark to get any quality pictures, but take my word for it, what a gorgeous night for a stroll along a lake and among historical houses, with the backdrop of jazz music and the energy of a nearby crowd - perfect!
On our way back to the car, we didn't really take time to watch the entertainers, however we were intrigued with this group of people. It wasn't your usual concert scene. There were candle-lit tables, complete with fancy dishware and wine and gourmet food lining up this whole stretch of road. We'd never seen anything like that! I mean, these people went all out, packing up their own upscale restaurant picnic, each one a little different. It was so cool!
|You can see one of the table set-ups there, but there were many more. We were just trying to get through the crowd, so couldn't really capture it.|
|Jazz Fest couldn't stir the sleeping giant.|