Oh, man. I’m back from vacation and riding the motivation-struggle bus hard. It was a great vacation. A beach vacation is very different for us because we usually go hiking in national parks, but it was still fun. I loved how easy everything was–no flying, a relatively quick and easy drive, lots of nearby places that were easy to get to, and, of course, Django came with us.
I left for vacation with no plans to continue my formal training for the week. I brought my running things and planned to run when I felt like it. That’s exactly what I did, and it was wonderful. But that taste of running for fun when I feel like it left a very sweet taste that has me craving more. By Sunday, coming down hard from my vacation high, I not only skipped my long run but also decided to quit marathon training. Guys, I was in a bad place!
It’s Monday, and the worst is now behind me. I’m a very positive person and don’t stay in a negative mindset for long. I’m not quitting training. However, I’m making a really big change in my focus, and I might eventually need to switch from a full marathon to a shorter distance.
On top of the motivation struggle, one of the reasons I wanted to quit training was because I’ve gained weight. I finally lost 11 pounds of the weight I’d gained from training for marathon #1 right before this training cycle started. As soon as this training cycle started, I got hungrier and struggled daily to control my eating. I also stopped tracking my points in Weight Watchers. You can guess what happened. I haven’t weighed myself because I know it would wound my psyche, but I know I’ve gained weight. I’m once more uncomfortable and not happy with my body. I hate that feeling!
In the six years since I originally lost 35+ pounds and have maintained the loss, the only times I’ve gained weight were when marathon training. I know plenty of runners–the majority?–who have no problems with weight gain while training. But for me it’s a huge challenge that I haven’t been able to conquer.
You aren’t supposed to restrict your calories to the point that you aren’t fueling your body enough to handle the stresses of training. But for me, I can’t find the balance between eating enough to fuel my training and overeating. These past 9 weeks, I’ve been overeating. And then I ate like crap on vacation.
The turning point for me was in Ocean City, MD. If you’ve been to Ocean City, you know that there is a 2.14-mile boardwalk that’s essentially nothing but junk food options. We got there with empty stomachs and ate, one after the other, French fries, caramel popcorn, pizza, and Orange Julius. Not vegan, but I’d decided to have them anyway, because, vacation. While I’ve recently eaten non-vegan things like eggs and tuna fish for protein, I do not eat dairy. I don’t know if it was all the dairy or just from eating so much, but I felt absolutely awful. That was when I knew the bad eating had to stop.
When I ask myself whether I’d rather run a strong marathon or be at my normal weight, my answer is the latter. I just feel too uncomfortable, and I want to get back to feeling good about myself. So now, once again, my focus is on losing weight. I’m back to tracking on Weight Watchers. Will I be able to control my eating as my mileage continues to ramp up, when I get hungrier? If the answer is no, then I won’t continue to increase my mileage, which likely means switching from a full marathon distance to something shorter. I’m okay with that since my weight is now my top priority. But I’m going to give it my best shot to keep marathon training first.
Now that I’ve aired out my confessions, here’s the weekly recap.
Week at a Glance
- Training mode: Training for the NCR Marathon November 25, 2017 using a Hansons’ Marathon Method plan with the 80/20 method applied to it
- Days running: 3
- Miles this week: 12
- Miles this training cycle: 242.24
- Miles this month: 98
- Miles this year: 775.48
- Strength training: 1 session
Our first day at Dewey Beach was spent walking a lot on the beach. It was very windy with very strong currents thanks to Hurricane Jose, so Django didn’t like the ocean or walking on the beach much. By the second time we walked to the beach from our rental house, about 10 minutes away, Django knew the street that led to the beach and would refuse to walk up that street!
It rained in the morning, again thanks to Hurricane Jose, so again I didn’t run. We took a short drive to Cape Henlopen State Park and walked around the park, but Django pretty much refused to walk much on the beach. This would be a long week if he wouldn’t go on the beach!
Easy run: 4 miles
I was itching to run by Wednesday. I ran on the beach from Dewey Beach to adjacent Rehoboth Beach, which is about 2 miles away. I ran the whole time on the beach in the firmer sand by the water. I loved the ocean breeze, which was awesome because it was 70 and sunny. But running on the sand was really tough. My heart rate kept climbing, and I frequently took short walk breaks to bring it back down.
In the afternoon we went to another local park, the Delaware Seashore State Park, which is essentially a big beach. Fortunately, Django discovered a sandbar and realized he could lie in the water without the waves getting him. We took a long walk on the beach, with many breaks for Django to cool off in the water. He even took a little nap on the beach!
Dave and I also celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary on this day! We usually try to have our vacations coincide with our anniversary and always love celebrating somewhere fun together each year.
In the evening Dave and I walked on the beach from Dewey to Rehoboth for our anniversary dinner and then back again, another four miles. Between that, my morning run, and our afternoon walk, I probably got in over 10 miles of beach walking/running for the day.
Easy run: 4 miles
Oh man, my legs were soooo sore from the beach running and walking the day before. But I wanted to run, so headed down to Dewey Beach and ran the opposite way, which were essentially private beaches that you could walk or run through but not hang out at.
In the afternoon we drove to Assateague Island National Seashore, famous for the wild horses that call the barrier island home. I was there on vacation as a kid, and the wild horses were one of my favorite childhood memories. There was a series of children’s book featuring the wild horses (Misty, if you remember!), and seeing the horses in person was like a dream come true for young me. So I was really looking forward to seeing it again!
Pets are not permitted on trails or at guarded beaches, so we only had one option with Django, a big unguarded beach. But with three days of beach walking behind him, Django was having none of it. He would walk 10 steps then lie down in the water for about 5 minutes. We’d urge him on, and he’d walk for about a minute before stopping, looking longingly over his shoulder at the entrance, and lying back down in the water. Finally we just pulled out a towel and sat in the sand with him.
We did see the wild horses driving through the park, but by that point Django was so exhausted that he barely acknowledged them.
We also managed to get a picture of the three of us without Django facing his butt to the camera, which he loves to do.
My legs! My legs were beyond sore. I woke up sore and exhausted and decided to take a rest day.
We gave in to Django not wanting to walk on the beach and took him on a long walk through the residential areas between Dewey and Rehoboth. It was actually a really fun walk since we like to walk through residential areas whenever we travel. We did go out onto the beach for part of the walk, but it was short and Django was okay with it. In addition to him not liking to walk in the sand, I think there’s just nothing interesting for him to smell besides a few dead fish or crabs and nothing upright for him to pee on. So I think it was just boring for him!
With Django sufficiently worn out, Dave and I drove to Ocean City, a little less than an hour away, and left Django at home to sleep. We’d read that dogs aren’t allowed on the beach or boardwalk at Ocean City until after September 30 (though people did have dogs). This was the day of bad eating I mentioned before.
We walked a lot on the boardwalk, which was surprisingly very busy for an off-season day. I would never want to go there in the height of summer when I’m sure the crowds and traffic are ridiculous. Dewey and Rehoboth, in contrast, were not crowded at all. My mom said we went to Ocean City when I was a kid, but I must have been really little because I didn’t remember any of it.
Easy run: 4 miles
We were leaving to go home, so I wanted to get in one more run. My legs were still sore, so I ran the same route we walked Django on through the residential areas, then on the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk, then on the beach. Unfortunately, at the end of the beach part of the run, I got bit by a dog!
Dewey Beach is very dog-friendly, and dogs are allowed on the beach off leash after September 1. This is the reason we decided to stay there. There were a ton of dogs on the beach all week, and they were all very well-behaved. On this day, I was running toward 3 people whose 3 dogs were all playing on very long leashes. As I went to run past, the people were taking selfies and not paying attention. One of the dogs, a dachshund, came running at me, barking, jumped on me, and bit my leg! I had my water bottle with me so squirted it in the face and yelled, “Stop it!” That stunned the dog enough that the owners were able to get it under their control. I wanted to immediately get away from them so kept running. But shortly after, I looked down and saw blood on my leg, bite marks, and already a bruise. I should have gone back to ask them whether the dog was up to date on vaccinations–you are supposed to show a vaccination record to get a temporary dog license to take your dog on the beach, which we did, but I’m not sure everyone does–but I was distraught. I yelled at them to tell them their dog bit me but then just kept running. Ugh! The bite is small and not bad, but irresponsible pet owners drive me nuts. If you take your dog to a public beach, you need to be in control of it for everyone’s safety and not let it run around on a 50-foot leash and attack people while you’re taking selfies.
Speaking of selfies, I took these before this happened, so at least part of the run was fun.
Strength training: 25 minutes
Back at home, I woke up tired, cranky and depressed that vacation was over, and still sore. While the shore had perfect weather all week, sunny but not too hot, I’d come back to a heatwave in Pittsburgh. It was warm in the morning and supposed to get up to 90 that day. There was no food in the house, and all my running stuff was still packed away. So, I decided to skip my long run. I just couldn’t. Instead, I did 25 minutes of strength training.
This week will be all about getting back into my routine and focusing on healthy eating.